Hidden Nook

"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Israeli's Helping Out With Katrina Effort

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(Jerusalem Post) "The work being done by IsraAID and their team members to help the people of Louisiana is greatly appreciated," [Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)] told JTA in an e-mail message. "They are providing support services for people who have been devastated by the tragedy, offering whatever assistance is needed as it is needed. Their presence will make the effort to get people home and on with their lives that much easier."

What makes this story unique is that the United States turned down Israel's request for physical help with Katrina (although we did accept Mexico's). These Israeli volunteers had to sneak in so that they would be able to help some of the victims of hurricane Katrina. The Israelis did everything from sit in daily planning meetings (which included FEMA, law enforcement, etc.) to help rescue survivors alongside of the fire department.

Their actions have received praise from not only received praise from other Congressmen (such as Rep. Charles Melancon,D-La.) but also surprised a few people as well.

"The soldiers were shocked seeing us," [Gal Lusky, founder of Israeli Flying Aid] said. They asked the Israelis, "How come you came from so far? You have your own troubles. You're such a small country.

"The answer," Lusky continued, "is that we're a small country but big friends. For us it was so obvious. America has been such a good friend for ages."

Israel's generosity has no limits, and despite their fierce side towards their enemies (watch out Hamas) they have displayed a willingness to aid any country in time of need, even Iran. Israel's have generally been a very loyal friend towards America, and one of the few nations who would probably be willing to go to any length in order to defend the United States politically, economically as well as militarily. Israel's contribution towards the hurricane Katrina effort will not be forgotten by America, and hopefully by future generations as well.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:17 PM • Email Post • •


Is Space For You?

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(Red Colony) What if instead of sending astronauts to the Moon and Mars for the sake of science and technology, we sent them there with the ultimate goal to build a permanent human settlement? And what if we made sure that as many average people as possible got a chance to at least visit one of these settlements (I mean actually GO THERE) instead of just letting astronauts and scientists go? [...]

And what if we made sure that smart and visionary business people got involved in the game right from the start to make sure that we created a whole new space economy in the process of settling these new worlds?

With the attention of the world focused on war, politics and everything in between, many people probably are asking the question, "Why should we focus on colonizing other worlds when we have plenty of problems on our own?" Although humanity has plenty of issues on planet Earth to resolve, space travel may help alleviate some of the shortfalls on this globe. Colonizing other worlds could provide humanity with a new source of minerals, resources and (better yet) an economy to market goods towards.

But if some still doubt the need to explore our universe beyond Earth's cradle, then perhaps an analysis by Kinshasha on the Potomac might provide "some insight."

(Jeff via KOTP) Earth is a single point of failure for the human race. There is no cost too great to ensure that if some disaster befalls Earth - be it natural or man-made - that humanity survives. I do not understand the attitude of people who do not agree with this or who are unwilling to support the development of the means to colonize, first the Solar System and, eventually, to expand to the stars. The only conclusion that can reasonably be drawn: they are dumber than rocks.

Humanity needs to colonize the solar system not just for economical issues or pure scientific enjoyment, but rather in an attempt to ensure the survival of our species. If any mayhem currently befalls our fragile world, then not only would humanity be unable to escape the impending doom (hint, hint) but the history of our world could potentially be wiped out without any notice from other beings visiting the planet (that is if they are out there).

Colonizing the lunar surface as well as the red planet is going to be hard, tough and expensive. But wouldn't such a feat be worth it if it guaranteed the survival of the human race?

By Darnell Clayton • 8:44 PM • Email Post • •


Pro Lifers Vow Of Silence?

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(Life News.com) Protests are normally an occasion to scream and shout about a political subject. However, next month, pro-life students will use a different tactic to protest abortion -- they'll keep their mouths shut in silence to make their message heard loud and clear. [...]

[S]tudents from hundreds of college and high school campuses in both the United States and Canada will take a vow of silence to express their contempt for abortion -- which has claimed one-third of their generation and continues to take the lives of over 4,000 babies per day in the United States alone.

This protest is being organized by Stand True Ministries which is holding the silent protests on October 25th. Those participating intend to seal their lips--literally--with red duct tape as well as distribute flyers about the reason for their silence. Of coarse, a protest can not be complete without the red arm bands, and many home schooled students plan on attending malls and other public arena's to broadcast their message.

"These students are excited to have a united opportunity to stand up for the babies with fellow students from around the country in a peaceful and effective manner," said [Bryan Kemper, president of Stand True Ministries]. "We have received many e-mails from students thanking us for giving them this opportunity, and telling us how excited they are to promote the event."

These protests will probably not only generate some media buzz (that is if they are "fair and balanced") but also some "forced exits" by security guards whose bosses probably will not appreciate the alternative viewpoint. In either case, pro life bloggers will probably be chatting about this event as the day approaches, and if lucky, the student body will be as well.

Editor's note: if harassed by mall security, contact American Center for Law and Justice for legal advice.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:02 PM • Email Post • •


Guessing Google's Page Index

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(New York Times) Google's chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said the company would remove the current number from its home page ("Searching 8,168,684,336 Web pages," it said yesterday) and instead ask users to guess the size of the new index.

Moreover, in typical offbeat Google style, there will be no announced prize for the best guess, although Mr. Schmidt did not rule out the possibility that one would be awarded. "We're suggesting that users do a little taste test," he said in a telephone interview.

Editor's note: Guessing Google's page rank is probably not going to be an easy task, but by standing on the shoulders of others this blogger's estimate is somewhere around 12,253,026,504 pages index with a high estimate of 14 billion. The Google Blog should give more details on how to enter the guessing game, and hopefully announce a prize of some sort (perhaps a tour of the Googleplex?).

By Darnell Clayton • 7:45 PM • Email Post • •


Google Wifi Spotted In New York

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(Hat Tip: Mark Evans and Caleb from the Gmail Lounge)

(Quote from Mark Evans) Google's semi-secret WiFi network has established a foothold in New York City. Someone who recently visited saw a plaque (left) and took a photograph. [...]

So how long is it going to take before Google unveils its WiFi plans? I mean, you can't have Om Malik and IP Media Monitor do all of Google's PR work, right?

Editor's note: There is little information to talk about as there has been no official announcement from the media, although it appears that Google has decided to test the Wifi waters outside of its native state in a place known for high taxes and lots of snow (after all, if you can make it in NY, you can make it anywhere). Perhaps a blogger who is closer to the state could test this out for the masses (i.e. Life Hacker or one their affiliates).

By Darnell Clayton • 7:26 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Israel Applying For UN Security Council

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(Jerusalem Post) Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman formally submitted Israel's application to the Security Council as part of the UN's Western European and Others Group (WEOG) Regional Group. Each year WEOG sends two of its 29 countries to the Security Council. The next available slot will open only in 2019.

As shocking as this may sound, this is Israel's first attempt at applying for a position at an institution long known for condemning the Jewish state. Israel seems to be encouraged by Ariel Sharon's visit to the United Nations in which it was welcomed with open arms due to the Gaza withdrawal. If Israel is able to win a seat on the Security Council, it would signify greater acceptance around the world, especially within their own region.

(Jerusalem Post) In another Israeli first at the UN, an Israeli-sponsored resolution will be brought for a vote before the UN General Assembly in either late October or early November. The resolution calls for the establishment of a UN-mandated Holocaust Memorial Day to be held each year on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Although it is doubtful that nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia would agree to this resolution, the proposed idea should have been adopted earlier as its delay certainly reveals the hostility felt against the Jewish state in the world community. President Bush will probably push for this resolution, which will hopefully find support from Chirac and Tony Blair as well (not to mention Annan too).

By Darnell Clayton • 11:21 PM • Email Post • •


Exploring Mars Via Balloons?

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(Red Nova) While orbiters can look at virtually any point on the surface of a planet, they lack the resolution provided by instruments on rovers or landers. Rovers, on the other hand, have limited mobility and cannot travel very far from their landing site. [...]

Global Aerospace Corporation of Altadena, CA proposes that the Mars exploration vehicle combining the global reach similar to that of orbiters and high resolution observations enabled by rovers could be a balloon that can be steered in the right direction and that would drop small science packages over the target sites.

It is surprising that this idea, (which is probably ingenious) was never suggested to NASA before. Balloons have been used before to explore other worlds, (such as Venus) and reintroducing them to the Martian world would not only be effective, but inexpensive as well.

After all, sending rovers to space would costs millions (if not tens a millions) while equipping one of these high tech balloons to scan the surface of Mars is probably inexpensive and would probably save much needed funds for other much needed projects (i.e. space elevator).

(Red Nova) Global Aerospace Corporation has designed an innovative device, called Balloon Guidance System (BGS) that enables steering a balloon through the atmosphere. The BGS is an aerodynamic surface -- a wing -- that hangs on a several kilometer-long tether below the balloon. [...]

Floating just several kilometers above the surface of Mars, the guided Mars balloons can observe rock formations, layerings in canyon walls and polar caps, and other features -- at very high resolution using relatively small cameras. They can be directed to fly over specific targets identified from orbital images and to deliver small surface laboratories, that will analyze the site at the level of detail rovers would do.

What makes this balloon more useful than a rover is its ability to scan for methane, which would aid in the search for life on Mars (bacteria size, of coarse). These balloons could also travel to more dangerous regions, such as the Valles Marineris canyon where it would be too steep for a rover to explore (not to mention dangerous for humans as well).

By Darnell Clayton • 10:45 PM • Email Post • •


Tel Aviv Legalizing Strip Clubs?

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(Jerusalem Post) The Tel Aviv municipality's recent decision to grant business licenses to striptease clubs has provoked the ire of women's organizations in Israel[...]

"We believe that the women working in these establishments deserve protection, which they cannot receive if these clubs are not licensed," [Elchanan Meshy, director of the municipality's business licensing department] said.

Meshy believes that there are currently only four of these strip clubs in operation inside of Tel Aviv, although the guys on the street could probably reference a few more to the government. Several women's organizations have expressed outrage of the licenses, comparing them to the legalizing of prostitution.

Although there are always health concerns involved with people "swapping more than spit," one wonders what the true motives for politicians for legalizing these types of businesses.

(Jerusalem Post) Liora Minka, who chairs the city's Committee for the Status of Women...called the argument made by the municipality in favor of the licensing process a "whitewash." "I am outraged by the legitimization of what is essentially the humiliation of women and trafficking in women as a form of artistic performance," Minka said.

Minka is probably right, as women who trade their bodies to satisfy another's pleasure generally carry little respect around most communities, and if anyone is doubting this, try listing strip teaser on a job resume and see how far that gets one through the door! Unfortunately for Minka, it seems that Tel Aviv is following is following its religious sister, Jerusalem, as the holy city has granted permission for a strip joint of its own!

By Darnell Clayton • 10:22 PM • Email Post • •


Happy (Belated) Birthday Google!

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(Hat Tip: Google Blog)

Google opened its doors in September 1998, and we've been pursuing one mission ever since: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. For our seventh birthday, we are giving you a newly expanded web search index that is 1,000 times the size of our original index.

Editor's note: So it appears that Google is celebrating by increasing their index three fold! With the debate about who has the largest index raging around the web, Google has declared victory over Yahoo's claim, stepping out of the index wars since each company has their own measure of how pages are really indexed.

But since this debate probably does not interest readers, (as they only care about whether the search brings back the relative result), this blogger will skip the "information presentation" and fast forward to the cake and gifts below.

For those Google fans out there, this blogger is offering free invites inside of Google's Orkut in celebration of Google's belated Seventh birthday (click here for details). If anyone else is seeking Gmail invitations, then simply email this blogger and one will be sent towards you.

Happy Birthday Google! We love you!

By Darnell Clayton • 9:53 PM • Email Post • •


Monday, September 26, 2005

A New Way To Terra Form Mars?

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(Red Colony) All we know is that Mars won’t retain its atmosphere in the long run, so we must take this into consideration[...] First, the sun on Mars must be blocked out so as to totally freeze its current air and all the air imported from comets.

This could be done with a large mirror that instead of directing more sunlight onto Mars, it reflected it away. Once Mars is an airless world coated with frozen gases, the towers must be built and the transparent roof constructed[...]

Once the ceiling is built, the sun is allowed to shine again and warm the frozen gases, creating an atmosphere and standing. Local biology does the same stuff as in terraforming, so everything progresses from here the same way.

This theory of how to terra form Mars may sound pretty far fetched, although with the red planet's lower gravity when compared to Earth's, this should not be too difficult of a feat to accomplish (after all, we seem to have the capability of build a space elevator). There is only one slight problem to this proposed solution for Terra forming Mars--what about the Martian hurricanes?

(Hubble Site) The Martian dust storm, larger by far than any seen on Earth, has raised a cloud of dust that has engulfed the entire planet for the past three months. As the Sun warms the airborne dust the upper atmospheric temperature has been raised by about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This abrupt onset of global warming in Mars' thin atmosphere is happening at the same time as the planet's surface has chilled precipitously under the constant dust shroud.

As astronomers and scientists race to establish a colony on Mars let alone terra form it they will have to take into consideration the weather patterns upon this world. Because of the low gravity, Mars will be an extremely hard planet to terra form as humanity first must raise the pressure upon this world, something the article notes will be difficult to achieve under current conditions.

If humanity is able to tame the red planet then it will be our first major victory in controlling the weather patterns upon another world, allowing us to not only reshape the planet but also the moons of Earth and some of the larger moons of Jupiter and Saturn. After all, what's the use at looking up at the heavens if one is not determined to visit the bodies that light our world?

Editor's note: Kinshasa, I concur...

By Darnell Clayton • 10:48 PM • Email Post • •


China Returning To Space

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(MSNBC) The launch of Shenzhou 6 is scheduled for 11 a.m. [on October 13th] at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Base, in the Gobi desert in northern China, the state-run China News Service reported on Sunday.

The military-backed space program is a major prestige project for the communist government. China hopes to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010 and operate a space station.

Launching astronaut's into space is something China prides itself on, being the only Asian nation and one of the three countries (after Russia and the United States) to successfully launch an astronaut without the aid of foreigners. One unique feature about the Shenzhou rocket is the "fault-detection and escape system," which basically allows the astronauts to abort the ship just in case a "Columbia incident" is about to occur.

(China View) The 8-metre-tall escape system, built atop the spacecraft, can detatch the Shenzhou VI from its rocket in case of emergency 900 seconds before and 160 seconds after take-off, according to Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper.

The duo to fly the Shenzhou VI will be chosen from the same pool of fighter-jet pilots who were part of the first selection process during which Yang was chosen. (Source*)

The mission will last approximately five days compared to China's first mission into space which was just 2.5 hours short of a day. The ship will also carry two astronauts and will be a bit cozier than the first launch into space.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:07 PM • Email Post • •


Intelligent Design Back In Courts

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(Partial transcript from In The Agora)

A Pennsylvania federal court Monday was set to consider whether school districts may teach a concept known as "intelligent design" prior to teaching biology lessons on evolution. Eight families in Dover, Pennsylvania, claim that teaching the theory in schools is a violation of the separation of church and state.

The "intelligent design" concept, developed by scholars over the last 15 years, sets forth the belief that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution cannot completely explain the origin of life, contending that an unidentified intelligent force played a role.

Editor's note: This case has the ACLU all over it, who seems more determined than any organization in American history to remove the concept of God from all public places (probably even the dollar bill!). More can be found over at In The Agora, although it is surprising that Stop The ACLU has not picked up this story yet.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:35 PM • Email Post • •


Ariel Sharon Wins Likud Vote!

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(Voice of America) Prime Minister Sharon narrowly won a crucial vote in his Likud party, fending off a challenge from former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu hoped to oust Mr. Sharon because he defied Likud ideology by dismantling 21 Gaza settlements[...]

A Likud official announced that by a margin of just 104 votes, the Central Committee rejected Mr. Netanyahu's bid to advance elections for the party leadership to this November-five months ahead of schedule. Now, Mr. Sharon will remain at the helm of the Likud until April.

This is probably a wise move for the Likud party, who although rightfully feel betrayed by Ariel Sharon, would have lost the general elections (assuming he would form a new party) as Sharon's actions have popular support across Israel. Ariel Sharon has been pounding Gaza, forcing Hamas to throw in the towel (at least for this round). Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted the results and will probably wait until April in order to challenge Sharon, although he might consider a better time to challenge Sharon as wars tend to favor incumbents in office.

(Voice of America) The victory is a coup for Mr. Sharon, who has proven time and again that he is a political survivor. He outmaneuvered his hawkish opponents and evacuated Jewish settlers from Gaza. And even though he went against the wishes of his own party, he managed to get a vote of confidence. One reason is that Likud members feared a split that would topple the party from power.

Ariel Sharon must feel like "a million bucks," after defeating not only his rival in the party but cementing his grip upon the Israeli political scene. With his party "publicly" behind him, Hamas humiliated and his meeting with Abbas "up in the air," it looks as if Ariel Sharon is going to enjoy a good week to the dismay of those who loath him.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:52 PM • Email Post • •


Poor, Poor Hamas

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(Hat Tip: Captains Quarters)

(BBC) The Palestinian militant organisation Hamas has announced an end to rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip after a weekend of escalating violence. Up to 40 rockets had been fired at Israel, weeks after its military withdrew from the territory.

In response to the rockets, Israel resumed its policy of targeting militant leaders in air strikes. Authorised by Ariel Sharon to make "unrestricted" strikes, its military launched new missile attacks overnight.

It looks as if Hamas has thrown in the towel for this round, unable to take the beating the Israeli Defense Forces have unleashed upon this terrorist group. Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas's leader declared the cease fire after Israel killed it's former leader, Muhammed Sheikh Khalil. Hamas has become rather unpopular in Gaza, as many see the Israeli air strikes as a response towards the rocket attacks upon Israeli soil. Egypt had a role to play as they convinced Hamas to end the attacks, although the same can not be said of Islamic Jihad.

(Jerusalem Post) "We're not happy with Hamas's position at this stage and in light of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinians," commented Khader Habib, a senior Islamic Jihad official. "But it seems that Hamas has its own political agenda." [...]

"The problem is not with the Palestinian resistance groups but with Israel's scheme to destroy the Palestinians' infrastructure," Habib said. "Hamas remains targeted by Israel, as in the past, and the Israeli occupation does not need excuses to pursue its aggression. Israel wants to drive the Palestinians toward civil war."

Islamic Jihad has refused to recognized the cease fire, and hopes to turn the Gaza strip "into a vast battlefield." Unless President Mahmoud Abbas steps in, Gaza will probably look like a battle field by the time Israel is done reminding Hamas of their critical error, although currently the only thing Abbas is doing is lashing out and refusing to take responsibility for his inability to act.

Update: It looks as if Hamas is not as repentive as one would hope for. The Black Kettle has the scoop...

By Darnell Clayton • 8:14 PM • Email Post • •


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Anglican Church May Split Over Gay Bishop

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(Hat Tip: The Black Kettle)

(Grand Folks Herald) "This is at least as much about power and control as it is about theology and Scripture," New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson told The Associated Press in an interview. "It's about who's going to be calling the shots, and who's going to be in and who's going to be out."

At stake is how 77 million Anglicans around the world, including 2.3 million members of America's Episcopal Church, define their religion and their relationship to one another. Robinson said he underestimated the opportunity his election gave conservatives to organize within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion of which it is a part.

What the gay Bishop fails to realize is the denomination's reputation which is at stake. By accepting a life style that contradicts the church's holy text, the whole denomination is threatened to being labeled as apostate in nature. If homosexuals want to be homosexuals, then that is their own business, but if they desire to be counted as Christ's disciples then they should at least adhere to the principles laid down by Him. If a person objects to certain criteria, they are more than welcome in joining the local cult next door, after all, disciples of Christ are not defined by what they say but by what they do.

(Grand Folks Herald) One participant was Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, leader of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes that rallies the conservative minority of Episcopalians.

"This is not a power play," Duncan said in a telephone interview Thursday, "except in the sense that Bishop Robinson's position in the church is a total innovation in the life of the church and what we face are two positions that can't be put together."

It seems that there is some reasoning within the Anglican denomination, as many seem to realize that the oxymoron "Gay Christian" does not sit very well with the biblical faith, much less than "praying atheist" does to the non-religious Darwinist. According to the article it appears as if the Nigerian church is severing ties with their western friends.

If the Anglican church insists upon condoning this lifestyle then the other major denominations should simply blacklist the entire as apostate and place along side of the other cults that have sprung up since Christ walked the earth. If one can not affirm the basic tenets of their faith (whatever it might be) then they are wasting their time convincing the public of their loyalty and might as well take their place amongst the foolish. After all, if you can not ascribe to your faith's main beliefs, why join it in the first place?

By Darnell Clayton • 11:25 PM • Email Post • •


Two More Google Blogs Surface

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Editor's note: Apparently Google Talk is not the only blog site officially from Google that is springing up. Two more blog sites, Google Labs and Google Video have both sprung up and are currently under "development mode."

A similar thing happened with Inside Adsense which came about as a response towards their sister department, Inside Adwords, which launched in order to help broadcast information towards their clients and answer general questions. But what value will these other blogs add to their respective departments?

With Google Video, the answer is probably obvious, as users can monetize their video content and charge a fee, sort of like Pay-per-view. This will present lots of questions for users and a blog site for them is the best means to address these issues.

With Google Labs, it may be simply more or less an announcement of new products, although if they do allow users to contribute to the development or enhancement of whatever Google rolls out next (or even select beta testing with reports on the site) then the blog will become quite interesting in the future.

The only thing left that is needed is a Google Print blog and then this author's Google Media will be complete.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:00 PM • Email Post • •


Emergency Blog Alert: Blogger Sued For $1 Million

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Brought to you via the Committee To Protect Bloggers

(Forest Park Review) Chris Welch, of the District 209 school board, and his brother Bill Welch have each filed $1 million lawsuits charging defamation against local blogger Carl Nyberg in response to allegations made by Nyberg on his "Proviso Probe" web blog...

The suits, brought by Chris Welch's law firm, James J. Roche and Associates, point to postings in which Nyberg calls Chris Welch a "liar" and implies that he is an unethical attorney. The suits also refer to postings in which Nyberg states that Bill Welch was indicted on criminal charges in 2003.

Editor's note: Apparently this appears to be one of those "he said, blog said" cases, involving a legal discussion on matters this blogger would rather not analyze. Perhaps someone else with a passion for the law (i.e. Glenn Reynolds or someone just as bright) would care to give their opinion on this matter.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:37 AM • Email Post • •


Space Elevator Becoming A Reality?

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(MSNBC) A private group has taken one small step toward the prospect of building a futuristic space elevator.

LiftPort Group Inc., of Bremerton, Wash., has successfully tested a robot climber — a novel piece of hardware that reeled itself up and down a lengthy ribbon dangling from a high-altitude balloon.

Although the length was only 1,000 feet, this is quite an achievement for the team who hopes to conduct a similar test one mile up into the sky. The goal of these experiments is to build a space elevator reaching 62,000 miles from Earth into outer space. Corporations as well as Universities have already signed up in order to compete for bragging rights as well as enable mankind to leave our planet's atmosphere without the aid of rockets.

(MSNBC) The space elevator would be anchored to an offshore sea platform near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. At the other end in space, the ribbon would be attached to a small counterweight. Mechanical "lifters" — robotic elevator cars — would move up and down the ribbon, carrying such items as satellites, solar power systems and eventually people into space.

LiftPort's plan is to take the concept from the research laboratory to commercial development.

Currently NASA sends materials, satellites, etc. into space via rocket shuttles which can become quite expensive as well as dangerous (something the Columbia tragedy has reminded us all about) and a space elevator may be a safer, cheaper alternative into space, although it probably wouldn't be as fast as say, a rocket ship. It may also provide another option of traveling to the moon, costing only $10 billion compared to the $100 billion needed to revisit the lunar surface (Hat Tip: The Space Elevator Reference).

By Darnell Clayton • 12:01 AM • Email Post • •


Friday, September 23, 2005

What Is Google Up To? Google Net Perhaps?

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(Hat Tip: Google Rumors)

(New York Post) Google's move to lease a huge space in Chelsea is part of the technology giant's plan to build its own fiber optic network and become a bigger player in the booming Internet telephone and wireless businesses.

The company is reportedly in talks to lease a whopping 270,000 square feet in the former Port Authority Commerce Building at 111 Eighth Ave. at W. 15th Street.

This building is viewed by many as one of the most important "telecom carrier hotels" in New York City. The former Port Authority Commerce Building houses thousands of web servers and coupled with Google's rapid buy out of "dark fiber" (unused fiber optic cable left over from the telecom bust) one probably suspects that Google is either acquiring the dark fiber for their Google Talk or perhaps (as rumor goes) building a "Google Net."

(New York Post) In a tantalizing hint at its plans for the future, the company has posted a job opening for a "Strategic Negotiator, Global Infrastructure," who will be charged with "identification, selection, and negotiation of dark fiber contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global backbone network."

"If Google owned the backbone, it could provide optimal data paths for its voice and data customers," said Rob Enderle of technology consulting firm The Enderle Group. "It would give Google a sustainable advantage."

Although Google is keeping its lips sealed about its next adventure, one avenue of thought is that they may be launching some kind of free Wifi internet service (funded by Ad Sense of coarse) or VoIP system in order to compete with Ebay's Skype. What ever the case may be, Google is drawing a lot of attention, stirring up the imagination of geeks around the blogosphere.

By Darnell Clayton • 11:25 PM • Email Post • •


Canada May Raise Age Of Sexual Consent

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(Hat Tip: The Black Kettle)

(Life Site News) Canadian Members of Parliament will vote on a motion next week that seeks to raise the age of consensual sex. The motion, M-221, introduced in March by British Columbia Conservative MP Nina Grewal, seeks to amend the Criminal Code to change the age of consent from 14 to 16.

Many Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP MPs have already said they would oppose the motion although the Tories are hopeful many Liberals will support the measure. The Liberal government has instructed its Members to vote against the motion as they say it denies youth the right to engage in sexual activity should they choose to do so.

This is a good measure for Canada, as the current law has given the "great white north" a reputation as one of the premier hot spots for sexual predators (especially American pedophiles). Fourteen year olds lack many of the basic privileges of their seniors, such as the ability to legally drive, vote, marry, as well as smoke (Editor's note: is smoking a privilege if it kills you?) and permitting them this privilege seems to fly in the face of practical reason.

But the bill is getting resistance from a community which has influence amongst the liberal parties which raises questions as to why they are resisting a bill that can protect children from being exploited by adults.

(Life Site News) Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada told LifeSiteNews.com the strongest opposition to the bill is coming from the homosexual community which is very influential in the Liberal, Bloc and NDP parties...

A poll conducted in 2002 found that 80% of Canadians believe that the federal government should raise the age of sexual consent from 14 years to at least 16. "We need to act now, before more innocent lives are ruined," [British Columbia Conservative MP Nina] Grewal concluded.

Apparently it seems as if some Canadians are more concerned with keeping their "options open" rather than guarding the next generation from exploitation by perverted minds. According to the article, Canada already has a lousy conviction rate for people caught within the child porn industry, frustrating American law enforcement officers trying to prosecute offenders.

If America's northern neighbor is unwilling to protect their own children from potential misuse, then there will be nothing great about visiting the Great white North as "Chester" may find it a convenient place to "rob the cradle."

By Darnell Clayton • 10:35 PM • Email Post • •


At Hamas Rally Blast Kills 15, Including Kids

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(Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit)

(BBC News) At least 15 Palestinians have been killed and scores injured in a blast during a parade by the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip. A truck carrying gunmen and home-made weapons blew up during the rally in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza...

Palestinian witnesses said a crowd, including many children, swarmed round the truck moments before the explosion.

As why children were allowed near explosives is anyone's guess, but it seems Hamas's lack of common sense has resulted in the deaths of Palestinian civilians, many of them children. Hamas is denying it's own blunder, blaming the worlds favorite scape goat, Israel, but the Palestinian Authority is holding Hamas responsible for the incident.

(BBC News) Video filmed during the rally showed a large cloud of white smoke rising into the sky, as hundreds of people ran from the scene of the blast...

An unnamed witness was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying "I was thrown several metres, then I looked behind and I saw people dismembered and lying on the ground dead."

The Associated Press news agency quoted another man, who gave his name as Hussam, as saying he helped pull three men out of the truck, two dead and one alive but with a severed leg.

It appears that tensions are building in Gaza after the Israeli settlement pull out, as Hamas (along with other terrorists organizations) have successfully smuggled weapons into the region with suspicion that Al Qaeda may have entered in as well. If Abbas is unable to prove his ability to govern Gaza then Israel really has no obligation to negotiate any peace deal with the PA. As long as terrorist groups demonstrate their hatred towards Israel via armed parades, why should anyone expect peace in a region long dominated by violence and bloodshed.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:00 PM • Email Post • •


School Expels Girl For Having Gay Parents

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(Fox News) A Christian school expelled a 14-year-old student because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter...

"Your family does not meet the policies of admission," Superintendent Leonard Stob wrote to Tina Clark, Shay's biological mother.

Apparently it seems that the parents did not read fine print when sending their daughter to this school as it required parents to uphold Christian values and not engage in immoral behavior "such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship." The parents of the girl who was expelled have decided not to fight the ruling and are sending their daughter to public school.

(Fox News) The district refunded Clark and Gray $3,415 — Shay's tuition for half the year plus an art fee.

Clark and Gray, who have been together 22 years, have two other daughters aged 9 and 19.

It seems that when it comes to deciding who may attend their classes, religious schools are often exempted from the same regulations that govern public schools, so any legal action pursued would probably be meet with little sympathy from the courts. As long as they are not receiving tax payer funds then there is little reason for the ACLU to step in. After all, they are a Christian school teaching Christian principals--shouldn't they be allowed to decide what type of students they admit?

By Darnell Clayton • 9:38 PM • Email Post • •


A Handbook For Bloggers

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(Hat Tip: Blogger Buzz)

(Reporters Without Borders) Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation.

This handbook goes through most of the generalities on not only how to set up a blog site but how to post anonymously, something very necessary if one is blogging from a closed regime such as Iran or China. Although this tool may me more than a refresher for experienced bloggers, readers are encouraged to take a look for themselves (note: pdf document) as there may be some useful information inside.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:19 PM • Email Post • •


Blog Passion (A New Focus)

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The ProBlogger - How did the Manolo get into blogging?

The Manolo - Ah, this it is the good question. The Manolo he had been blogging in the tiny small way for many years prior to the launching of the shoe blog, but it was always most unsatisfying because it was not about the ManoloÂ’s true love, the shoes, and so the Manolo he finally decided to follow his bliss by starting the blog about the shoes and the fashion.

Editor's note: After reading thisexcerptt from Pro Blogger and remembering the lessons learned from Hugh's book, "BLOG: Understanding the Reformation...," this author has realized that blogging about what your passionate about is what makes blogging exciting. It isn't the link referrals, or the Ad Sense revenue (although it does motivate one through the "dry seasons") but discussing what one is passionate about.

As some may have noticed near the top of the side bar, this blog's focus will shift towards the four main passions that this author loves to talk about. Although this blogger will continue to read most of the blogs (if not all) listed on the sidebar, most discussions will be related towards God, Space, Israel and Google.

Unrelated topics will be posted on other blogs with updates listed here to see what (and where) this author is blogging about (blogs listed on the sidebar). Without much further ado, let the blogging begin!

By Darnell Clayton • 8:53 PM • Email Post • •


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Google Talk Launching Blog Site

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(Posted on Blogger News)

It appears that one of the Google departments is launching a blog site of their own. Upon visiting the domain googletalk.blogspot.com a user will notice that a window pops up asking for a password and some identification. A similar instance happened with Inside Adsense before it was released, and this can only mean that the site is "under development" until they are ready to showcase their site to the blogosphere.

Spread Google Talk, a fan site promoting the Google chat has noticed the launching of the site as well. The site's launch will probably help the Gtalk team to highlight updates to the chat program as well as broadcast concerns, answered questions, etc. to the blogosphere and perhaps the media.

The site has not come out of its cocoon yet, so Gtalk fans will have to wait and see what new wonders Google will reveal about Google Talk.

By Darnell Clayton • 3:57 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Status Report And Blog Congrats

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Editor's note: Posting has been rather light lately, due to some "tweaking" of the site (recoding, switching feed readers, fighting comment/trackback spam, etc.) as well as becoming a moderator at Blogs 4 God, although that hasn't kept this blogger from surfing the blogosphere and reading some posts (and commenting when there is time).

Anyways, congratulations for these bloggers for becoming/being Google News sources, (along with Fox News, CNN, etc.). In order to honor the glorious status, their links will be updated in the correct category on this site.

Other sites, such as Powerline, The Blog Herald and World Magazine Blog (Googled here, here and here respectively) have also been included (if not for a while) into the Google News main frame. Congrats you guys! You inspire this blogger to new heights...keep up the great work!

By Darnell Clayton • 7:24 PM • Email Post • •


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Using Blog Search Engines As A Trackback

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Editor's note: One only has to take a look around to notice that something evil is happening to the blogosphere. Once a vibrant place to exchange ideas, the blogosphere has been infected by a vocal minority of individuals who are intent on spreading their smut upon a blog site in order to advance their evil agenda via link spam.

Although steps have been taken to defend the comment section, trackbacks have been left fairly open, forcing even the great blog powers such as Blogs 4 God, Powerline, and In The Agora to disable trackbacks altogether. Even the blogmother, Michelle Malkin considered leaving the trackback world, as the spammers reached new depths of depravity. All seemed to be lost...until Blog Search arrived.

Although the above is a "slight exaggeration" of the reality of the blogosphere, truth-be-told trackback spam has been an increasing problem, regardless of which filters, providers, etc. that you use. Although it may be easier to simply eliminate trackbacks altogether, a blogger would miss all of the chatter about their posts.

One great way to combat the spam, yet at the same time view who is linking back to you is to insert search engine links next to your blog permalink, allowing you to view who is linking to you without the annoyance of trackback spam. Here are a few examples below:

On further note these codes will only work if you have the ability to change 100% of your blog layout. As you've probably noticed below, I've implemented the last trackback hack, and hope this is was as helpful to you as it was to me. Until trackback spam can be tamed, this blogger may be sticking with these trackback hacks for a while.

By Darnell Clayton • 6:24 PM • Email Post • •


Friday, September 16, 2005

Israel Receives Warm Reception At UN

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(National Post) UNITED NATIONS - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday received the warmest applause in decades for an Israeli leader addressing the UN General Assembly, a sign the Gaza pullout is seen by an increasing number of countries as a catalyst for peace.

While the reception was far from a standing ovation, many noted it contrasted with the polite clapping of past years in the chamber, where large Muslim- and Arab-led majorities have passed hundreds of resolutions against Israel over the conflict with the Palestinian people.

Although the Gaza pullout is seen by many as unpopular (something understandable, especially if you were the one to lose your house) Ariel Sharon's gamble seems to be paying off, at least diplomatically. Although their continues to be a huge influx of weapons entering from Egypt to Gaza, (something the PA will have to halt if it desires to be seen as peace seeking) Sharon has gained new allies in the Middle East, as both Pakistan and the UAE have established ties with the Jewish state.

(National Post) the Gaza withdrawal, completed this week after 38 years of Israeli military presence in the coastal strip, has already led to warming ties with Europe. It has also made Mr. Sharon one of the most sought-after leaders at this week's summit, and leaders of Muslim countries are among those holding meetings with him.

Mr. Sharon spoke ahead of a private meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin and a day after meeting Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, leader of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.

Sharon was also able to shake hands with the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, a clear sign that relations between the two nuclear powers are becoming warmer. Ariel Sharon also mentioned his acceptance of a Palestinian state, although Abbas will have to prove his willingness for peace in the region first as there are fears that Al Qaeda may have infiltrated Gaza.

Editor's note: Iran was not too pleased with the speech, however, although Jihad Watch notes that Iran's received the cold shoulder at the UN which probably goes to show their popularity internationally. Ariel Sharon did mention that the Israeli wall was basically "here to stay," which made the PA Observer (they do not have UN status yet) very upset.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:56 PM • Email Post • •


North Korea Drops Out Of UN Summit

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(Reuters-Alertnet) "They dropped out, They are not speaking," the official said. North Korea's U.N. Mission declined comment...

Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun had been listed as a speaker on Friday in a preliminary agenda for the three-day summit, the largest gathering of world leaders with more than 150 heads of state or government in attendance.

Editor's note: North Korean speeches are generally filled with anti-American, anti-Japanese, anti-democracy rhetoric, so it is doubtful than any of the free world nations will miss their speech (the exception might be Iran).

(Reuters-Alertnet) Pyongyang is a focus of world attention over its nuclear ambitions after it boasted of having nuclear bombs and pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Editor's note: My guess is they probably didn't want to draw too much attention to themselves, especially as the US and Iran are not exactly seeing "eye-to-eye" regarding Iran's nuclear activities. Probably a smart move by North Korea, but I guess we will have to see what "spiel" they will have for the world at the next UN Summit.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:42 PM • Email Post • •


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Euthanasia In New Orleans?

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(Posted on Blogger News)

(Catholic World News) A doctor from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans has admitted to euthanizing patients, rather than leaving them to potential death at the hands of looters...

"They would have been dead within hours, if not days. We did not put people down. What we did was give comfort to the end," the doctor said.

The doctor claimed that their behavior was an act of "compassion," although it is interesting that nothing was mentioned on gaining the consent of family members or at least the individual (at least they attempt to do that in the Netherlands). All of the patients were given morphine shots, and if the first one failed, a second dose was implemented to ensure that the patient "died with dignity."

The report was corroborated by other witnesses, including local government officials and a hospital orderly. Emergency worker William 'Forest' McQueen supported the move by the doctors. "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die," he said.

With the federal government focusing on evacuating New Orleans, one wonders whether or not the justice department will investigate this "act of kindness" as the doctors have not only stepped beyond their own code of ethics but also the law as well (as this probably is not a case of willful suicide). The fact that local government officials virtually sanctioned such practices to operate in their presence speaks volumes as to their attitude towards the weak in society, especially the elderly.

But what is more astounding is the fact that there is no outcry amongst the public, and no demands of justice being shouted by the media elite. Since the media is keeping the doctor's name secret, family members may have a hard time finding out who exactly is responsible and urge authorities to press charges. After all, if this isn't murder, than what is?

By Darnell Clayton • 11:24 PM • Email Post • •


End Of Oil By 2027?

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(EU Observer) The chief of the Washington-based NGO Foundation on Economic Trends indicated that the world will have used up over half its oil reserves by 2027 at the latest or between 2010 and 2020 at the earliest.

"Let's hope and pray that we don't peak in the next two to three years, or we are going to be in trouble like we have never been before in human history", he said.

If this analysis is correct then Social Security will not be the only major thing the next generation will have to worry about. Oil prices could sour to $90 a barrel which would strain western nations severely and threaten middle eastern ones economically. Jeremy Rifki (a US Thinker who is becoming controversial now-a-days) is urging world leaders to develop renewable fuel resources in order to usher in "a third industrial revolution after steam and oil power."

Ironically of all the places, Jeremy places his bets on Europe to save the day.

(EU Observer) MEPs from the conservative, socialist, green and liberal groups who launched a new EU hydrogen manifesto on Monday echoed Mr Rifkin's arguments.

Under the scheme, the European Parliament hopes to raise money for hydrogen research by selling eurobonds to European investors, as well as pushing through energy-saving directives on higher car taxation, public transport use and home insulation.

Although "the experts" are warning of a future oil shortage, many industry leaders do not seem to be too worried as they cite that technology has generally outpaced any foreseen shortages, such as allowing for the conversion of non-oil hydrocarbons (like tar) into oil-type products. Technology has also allowed for oil companies to drill in new locations, such as the ocean, enabling them to drill deeper in order to satisfy the global economies need for "black gold."
Proven world oil reserves currently stand at some 1.18 trillion barrels, compared to 761 billion 20 years ago, and are not expected to run dry until 2045 at the earliest, British Petroleum (BP) said.

"Based on BP's work and statistics, the world is not facing a shortage of hydrocarbon resources", a spokesman said.

This is probably good news, although leaders from around the world probably should not delay in developing alternative energy sources as that could lessen the financial burden upon the consumer. After all, oil reserves are rather finite, and unless another source can be developed to replace it, humanity may literally enter into another dark age, something history probably advises us to avoid.

By Darnell Clayton • 10:47 PM • Email Post • •


Third Space Tourist To Visit Space Station

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(Space.com) U.S. scientist Greg Olsen, who will become the world's third paying passenger to catch a ride to the International Space Station, said Tuesday he hopes to do some research in optics and medicine while in orbit and has no anxieties about his mission.

"I don't view it as a risk at all," said Olsen, who is set to blast off in a Russian Soyuz ship with Russian Valery Tokarev and U.S. astronaut William McArthur from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 1.

Greg Olsen (who is 60) is flying with Space Adventures, and will spend about a week aboard the space station, and is now able to fly after a delay due to health concerns from an unspecified medical ailment (which has now cleared up). Olsen has invited some of his family and friends at the launch site in order for them to see him blast off. Russia (via Space Adventures) seems to be solidifying it's lead in the space tourism sector, as America has yet to produce a company that is able to launch its own citizens into space.

(Space.com) The cash-strapped Russian space program has sought to supplement scarce government funding with revenues from space tourism. California businessman Dennis Tito paid the Russian space agency about US$20 million for a weeklong trip to the international space station in 2001, and South African Mark Shuttleworth followed suit a year later.

Olsen was able to fund the trip through a small fortune he acquired from developing infrared imaging cameras and fiber-optic communications components as well as a host of other optic inventions. Olsen owns a company called Sensors Unlimited Inc. in New Jersey which he helped co-found. Although Olsen's trip may seem like another "deja vu space visit" by an American tourist, his future launch will hopefully revive the chatter about space travel outside of governmental assistance and hopefully bring humanity one step closer towards leaving his earthen cradle.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:49 PM • Email Post • •


Good News For Google!

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(Hat Tip: Google Blog)

(Google Blog) A Washington state judge ruled today that Dr. Kai-Fu Lee can immediately begin working for Google. (There's a profile of Dr. Lee in today's San Francisco Chronicle.) We're thrilled, and he's excited to get right to work on several big things, including recruiting, building our Chinese R&D center, and related government relations.

Editor's note: This is good news indeed as a loss in this case would have enabled Microsoft (who is getting better by the way, even if they imitate) to prevent dissatisfied employee's from leaving the company in order to work for it's current rival, Google. This latest ruling is probably not that much of a surprise, especially after a Steve Ballmer vowed to kill Google, revealing the companies attitude about the search giant king.

(Google Blog) But after listening to evidence at a two-day hearing last week and reviewing various documents and court briefs, the judge decided today in his ruling on Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction to allow Dr. Lee to work on a much broader range of things for Google. There are some restrictions, but the ruling basically allows Dr. Lee to do what we've wanted him to be able to do.

Editor's note: The court basically was unable to find strong evidence that allowing Dr. Lee to work for Google would somehow give them an unfair advantage over Microsoft, freeing Dr. Lee (and future employee's) to join any rival that they choose. Google isn't out of the woods yet, as a final ruling in January will finalize (hopefully) any details of the case, but as far as this blogger is concerned, Google has once again defeated the Microsoft and perhaps reminded the tech giant that Google's time has not come yet.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:28 PM • Email Post • •


Is Mars 20 Years Away?

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(MSNBC) People could land on Mars in the next 20 to 30 years provided scientists can find water on the red planet, the head of NASA's surface exploration mission said on Wednesday...

Asked how long it could be before astronauts land on Mars, Arthur Thompson, mission manager for MER surface operations, told Reuters in an interview in Lima, "My best guess is 20 to 30 years, if that becomes our primary priority."

In order for this dream to become a reality, astronomers are going to have to find an abundant supply of water on the red planet, otherwise any attempt to colonize the Martian surface will be in vain and the current road maps to terra forming the planet will probably evaporate. Although some water has been found upon the surface, astronomers are going to need a lot more evidence in order to convince NASA (as well as the public) that colonizing Mars is something better than a "good idea."

(MSNBC) Such a mission would take 11 to 12 months to get to Mars and it would be impossible to carry enough water for the astronauts, plus the water needed to make rocket fuel for the return journey, to cool the spacecraft and to generate energy...

Thompson said scientists had found a canyon on Mars "that makes the Grand Canyon look like a small canyon," where water could still be present. "There are indications that there is actually water that seeps out the side of the canyon, and going down the side it evaporates. We believe it's an ongoing process," he said.

Establishing a colony on Mars, although noble, will not be an easy task. Mars is home so some of the fiercest storms known to terrestrial worlds that would easily put hurricane Katrina (not to mention Andrew) to shame. Although there are other factors that have to be determined before settling on the red planet, (such as whether or not the red soil is toxic) a trek towards Mars will depend primarily upon whether or not there is enough water around to sustain a colony temporarily, if not indefinitely.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:48 PM • Email Post • •


Monday, September 12, 2005

Ebay Buys Skype, China Blocks Skype

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(Hat Tip: Junto Boyz, Committee to Protect Bloggers)

(C|Net) Company executives said Monday that eBay plans to pay $1.3 billion in cash and $1.3 billion in stock to the global communications company. It has agreed to hand over up to an extra $1.5 billion, for a total payout of more than $4 billion, if Skype meets certain financial targets by 2008, according to a presentation to investors on Monday morning. (Source*)

Ebay is quickly becoming the flea market of the world as it's acquisition of Skype will enable buyers and sellers to communicate quickly with each other, even if they are thousands of miles away and reside on different continents. With half of Skype's revenue coming from Europe and a quarter from Asia, this VoIP seems to be establishing it's presence throughout the world--everywhere that is except for China.

(Reuters) China Telecom has started blocking access to a popular Internet telephone service that is threatening its long-distance revenue, according to local media reports and Internet postings.

China's largest fixed-line phone carrier recently began blocking access to service from Skype Technologies SA, a European-based Internet telecoms services provider, in the affluent southern city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, according to the reports, including one in the Shanghai Daily. (Source*)

Apparently China is blocking them for economic reasons, as Skype's phone rates were better than China Telecom's, which charges users $1 per minute compared with Skype's 2.5 cents (US) per minute. China is threatening to fine those who attempt to get around it's censure of Skype, although many users are reporting their ability to access the program.

Although this may seem like a temporary set back for advocates of both capitalism and liberty, with other VoIP chat programs on the market, (such as Google Talk and AIM) communication to China may only be limited by a user's ability to use a PC.

By Darnell Clayton • 9:29 PM • Email Post • •


ISS Helping To Power The Space Shuttle

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(New Scientist Space) A system that reroutes power from the International Space Station to a docked space shuttle will allow the shuttles to make extended trips to the station.

The shuttle can currently stay no more than eight days at a stretch because of the limited amount of liquid oxygen it can carry onboard to power its electricity-generating fuel cells.

With a little help from Boeing, NASA's space shuttle will now be able to stay an extra four days longer in space which will allow astronauts to conduct more spacewalks, experiments and unscheduled repairs of the station without worrying that their battery might run out of energy on the ship.

Although this new feature will not shorten the amount of time to fully assemble the space station, it will allow the crew to spare the oxygen supplies as an alternative source for the shuttle fuel cells.
(New Scientist Space) The new system is scheduled for its first use on shuttle mission STS-119, which will carry the final segment of the station’s spindly truss and solar array. But five other shuttle flights are ahead of STS-119 in the flight schedule, meaning the system is unlikely to be operational soon. The system will require a spacewalk for astronauts to install some external cables to reroute the power.

With NASA beginning to phase out the current fleet by 2010, testing these features in the older shuttles will enable them to discover any bugs that may arise and hopefully make the ride up a little smoother.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:59 PM • Email Post • •


Methane Monsoons On Saturn's Moon?

[Expand Full Post] [Media Source*]

(New Scientist Space) Brief but powerful monsoons of liquid methane may lash parts of Saturn's giant moon Titan every few hundred years, suggest new calculations based on observations with the Cassini spacecraft. Astronomers also think they have observed thunderstorms growing and raining down on the moon.

Methane makes up about 5% of the Titan's thick atmosphere and is thought to rain down to the surface and then evaporate back into clouds in a cycle similar to the water-cycle on Earth.

This new theory may help explain why this "multi-million dollar methane moon" (Editor's note: nice tongue twister, heh?) is apparently so dry upon the surface despite showing strong evidence of river beds. Although new evidence revealed that Titan resembled more of a frozen waste land than a potential colony spot, this new theory may help revive Titan's former value once again.

The evidence comes from imaging radar data from the Cassini spacecraft. These reveal canyon-like features that end in triangular slopes that appear to be littered with cobbles a few centimetres wide...

But if the methane in Titan's atmosphere were concentrated into a single liquid layer, it would cover the entire moon in a blanket 10 metres thick. "The air is holding a lot of methane," says colleague Jason Barnes. So if it rains less often, it dumps more liquid--perhaps as much as a metre - at a time, he told New Scientist.

If confirmed, establishing a colony on Titan would pose a unique problem for humanity. Although the financial reward of acquiring the methane upon Titan's surface is probably estimated in the millions (if not billions), risking human lives in order to do so may not be extremely wise, especially if a "methane monsoon" could wipe out any beach heads established by mankind.

Astronomers will probably have to determine the weather conditions before launching a visit to this moon, but if it's found to be relatively safe, this moon would probably be worth it's weight in gold.

By Darnell Clayton • 8:20 PM • Email Post • •


Singapore Brings Charges Against Bloggers

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(Hat Tip: The Blog Herald)

(Yahoo-Reuters) The two ethnic Chinese men, aged 25 and 27, face charges for promoting ill-will and hostility between ethnic communities on their personal websites, or "blogs," in June.

The police said both men were accused of posting racist remarks aimed at Singapore's mostly-Muslim ethnic Malay community. If convicted, they may be jailed for up to three years or fined up to S$5,000, or both.

Unfortunately it seems that Singapore is one of the few "net free nanny states" whose sole purpose is to ensure that the harmony between it's citizens is not threatened, even at the expense of freedom of speech. Although it is unclear what these men exactly said on their blogs, this sad affair should go as a warning to all those traveling towards Singapore, whose "thought police" reach seems to have no limits.

(Yahoo-Reuters) Singapore police have wide powers to intercept online messages, and Internet service providers are required to block websites containing material that may be a threat to public security, national defense, racial and religious harmony and public morality. Political and religious websites must also be registered with the authorities.

Any government defending measures as extreme as these clearly has only the best interests of it's citizens in mind. Although Singapore is attempting to preserve a harmonious society, it's big brother attitude is suppressing freedom of thought, limiting not only what people can say but also minor items like what people can chew (i.e. bubble gum).

This nation is probably a socialist's paradise, although one wonders how long it's citizens (especially bloggers) can endure being micro managed on what is considered "fair speech."

By Darnell Clayton • 7:50 PM • Email Post • •


Emergency Blog Alert: Anyone Seen Omid?

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Via the Committee To Protect Bloggers

We have not been able to get any information on Omid Sheikhan since the third week in July. If anyone out there can find out if he is safe or not, please let us know.

Omid was arrested about nine months ago in the initial wave of Iranian blogger arrests. He was kept in prison over two month, including a month in solitary confinement where he was tortured.

Omid faces trial for allegedly breaking a variety of "moral laws," which range anywhere from drinking wine to corrupting the populace by throwing a birthday party. The main reason Omid is being tried is for "possessing satirical pictures" of Iranian political figures, something not taken lightly in a regime that denies freedom of speech.

By Darnell Clayton • 7:37 PM • Email Post • •


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Business Trip

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Editor's note: Due to a business trip out of state this blog will not be providing updates for the next several days. Until then however it recommended that users visit these following sites, as they will provide updates about what not only is going around the world, but also around the net.

But before that, if you have not had a chance to, I would encourage you to click that "red shiny cross" at the top of the screen, in order to help out with the Katrina effort. Many of these survivors have lost everything, and unless the government steps in I doubt that their insurance premiums (that is if they even had it) will cover their bases.

Now without further ado, here are some bloggers that this blogger recommends.

Update: Red Cross ad removed. It looks like New Orleans is returning back to normal. That is good to see.

Out of all the bloggers I have encountered, Michael Yon is probably the best out there, with no close second in site. Michael is a blogger who is embedded with a special forces unit in Iraq and not only has a dramatic story with each post but the pictures to back them up (may not be suitable for children).

Probably the most patriotic feminist (if not blogger) online, Cao has some funny and interesting stories to tell in her life fighting against communists, environmentalists, liars lawyers (i.e. ACLU) and the ever "politically correct" media. Cao's blog is one of the few out there that I wish I had the time to comment on more frequently and is a must read right after Michael's.

If anyone is curious on what the latest gossip is about the search giant king, Google Rumors is probably the first blog to turn to. Posting everything from the extreme to the real, this blog exposes "the next big thing" Google is planning on unveiling.

This blog discusses the up-in-coming theory of Intelligent Design, and how why it should be taught inside the classroom. Charting ID's advances and setbacks, this blog is a must read for the theist, deist, and even the atheist.

If any blogger has any questions about making money on their site, this six figure blogger (yes, he really does make six figure from blogging) would probably be the best to ask. I had a chance to listen to Darren during an international conference call and this man has plenty of advice for anyone interested in blogging as a full time career.

If Instapundit were Jewish and threw a Bar Mitzvah, you would probably end up with Israpundit. Now a recognized Google News source, Israpundit delivers news and views about the Holy Land, separating the facts from the spin and informing the world on what really is going on in the Kosher state.

The breaking source of the blogosphere, Blogger News delivers reports and analysis from nearly every perspective on the political scale. Blogger News (also a Google News source) is a great way for bloggers to get "more exposure" to their work as well as get a taste for what it is like in the world of journalism and yes, they have editors (this is also where I blog at and I encourage all bloggers with writing skills to join).

Of coarse I left out a bunch of other bloggers whom I regularly read, but these are probably the most recommend places, thus far. Well, I have to finish packing...I should be back around Monday. Selah!

By Darnell Clayton • 10:39 PM • Email Post • •


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Has Google Forgotten It's Own Birthday?

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(Hat Tip: Caleb from the Gmail Lounge)

On September 7, 1998, Google Inc. opened its door in Menlo Park, California. The door came with a remote control, as it was attached to the garage of a friend who sublet space to the new corporation's staff of three. The office offered several big advantages, including a washer and dryer and a hot tub. It also provided a parking space for the first employee hired by the new company: Craig Silverstein, now Google's director of technology.

With most of the world focusing on Katrina and Iraq, it seems that Google has forgotten it's own anniversary which is usually commenced by some new art design of their logo on the home page. Last year they had balloons and a six to replace one of the "O's" but apparently they seem to have forgotten to carry out the ceremony this year. Perhaps somebody needs to remind them?

Editor's note: Since today is officially Google's birthday, this author is going to celebrate by offering invites inside both Gmail and Orkut. For those desiring Orkut invites (of which this blog has plenty) simply visit this post and it will give you instructions on how to acquire a ticket to the inside (and no there isn't any cost to you or benefit to me--these Orkut invites are free).

Those desiring Gmail invites can simply email this blog author () and you will receive an invite to one of the greatest email services on the net (spammers not allowed).

Apparently (as of this post) a Google News search only brings up two news organizations celebrating Google's 7th year on planet earth. Perhaps many of them have forgotten, or perhaps many of them don't care. Well, in either case, if the media will not celebrate, the bloggers definitely will.

By Darnell Clayton • 4:42 PM • Email Post • •


Mars Volcanoes May Be Active

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(Newindpress.com) Images of the Martian landscape as captured by Europe's Mars Express probe has revealed that the fourth planet of the Solar System is very much geologically active.

Mars Express scientist Gerhard Neukum from Berlin University, while presenting the results of the probe at the American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Cambridge, said that the volcanoes erupted very recently, adding that the site could have ongoing volcanism.

This news may be a mixed blessing for such organizations like 4 Frontiers as an active geological surface means that a colony could potentially use geo-thermal energy as a heating source, as sunlight on Mars is not particularly all that warming. Such activity should also make it easier to locate water (that is if it doesn't all evaporate due to the low pressure), although living next to a volcano probably isn't all that comforting.

Dr Neukum, who acted as the principal investigator for the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express, which took the images in which the cones were discovered, said that there might be around 50-100 volcanic cones covering a flank of the North Pole about one million square kilometres in area.

He said that the cones were between 300-600 metres tall. He said that in addition to the North Pole, other regions with recent - and possibly ongoing - activity on Mars included the parts of Tharsis - home to the volcano Olympus Mons - parts of Elysium and the so-called highland-lowland boundary.

Although humanity may not appear on the Martian surface for another 20 years, Martian colonists will probably find themselves making a home on one of these shield volcanoes, if not living near the base of these volcanic giants. It is likely that such findings will encourage settlements to be established in the north pole (as there is plenty of snow) making them prime real estate upon the red planet.

By Darnell Clayton • 2:20 PM • Email Post • •


Blogger Retells New Orleans Escape

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(Hat Tip: Blogger Buzz)

(Michael Homan, partial transcript) I survived Hurricane Katrina, but it transformed me. I am a different person. I feel more loved than I did a week ago, and I very much appreciate all of the friends and family and even strangers who both helped me directly and who contacted me to say they were concerned and thinking about me and my family.

The world clearly has plenty of empathy and compassion left. I saw people slide down ropes out of helicopters to rescue people from rooftops. I saw my neighbors break into grocery stores, fill up their boats with supplies, and row through neighborhoods distributing food and water to those in need.

Editor's note: Michael details the harsh realities of the situation in New Orleans and some of the "ups and downs" of his brush at the Super Dome. Although Katrina is mostly unrelated to what this site focuses on, this story is a recommended read for anyone following what is happening in New Orleans, especially for pet lovers (see below).

(partial transcript) Certainly my relationship with my dogs Kochise and Mosey is stronger. For those who don’t know, I stayed behind with them to ride out the hurricane. It was an amazing experience, and the house outside survived with little damage. However the wind made the house racked, meaning the upper floor was blown so hard that the walls of the bottom floor now lean considerably...

There was a group of officials going around and taking people’s animals away. It was then that I decided to try to escape. I knew there were armed looters outside the camp, but there were inside as well, and I had Mosey, who is a pretty big dog and can be scary when she is barking. I could not have ever told my children that I gave up the dogs to save myself. Officials were not letting anyone past the city of LaPlace to pick up relatives, so I decided to try to sneak out of the camp and walk the 30 miles to LaPlace.

Editor's note: There is more before and after this story, and I would encourage all readers to view the rest of it here.

By Darnell Clayton • 1:55 PM • Email Post • •


Google Interested In Buying Reuters?

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(Hat Tip: Google Rumors)

(Guardian Unlimited) Reuters, the news and financial information group, became the latest stock to be caught up in the acquisition craze sweeping the London market.

Its shares, which have underperformed the wider market by nearly 15% over the past three months, closed 6.75p higher at 368.5p yesterday, excited by wild talk of a bid from Google.

Although this is pure speculation, a move by Google to actually purchase a news corporation would probably be unwise as it would place them in a similar position that Yahoo is in, which is whether to provide users with relevant information or to point them towards resources "in house" (in order to justify profits).

Editor's note: It is strictly the opinion of this blogger that Google should simply point users towards media and not attempt to develop these themselves. This has made many of their services (i.e. Google News, Google Video, etc.) popular as Google will even point users towards "the competition" if the query is the most relevant result. Besides, what value would a news organization like Reuters have for Google anyways?

By Darnell Clayton • 1:35 PM • Email Post • •


Is Yahoo Being Evil?

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It appears that when it comes to it's priorities, Yahoo places profits ahead of people. This comes as a disturbing sign, especially amongst bloggers as the last thing they need is a search engine working against them while living in a hostile environment.
(Blog Herald) The text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao - sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for "divulging state secrets abroad" - shows that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him, Reporters Without Borders said today.

Yahoo has been criticized in the past for turning a blind eye towards the Chinese populace, allowing censorship of not only it's search engine but also it's blog community (along with MSN) as well. China was able to apprehend Shi Tao after Yahoo supplied the government with his email address (along with his IP address) which allowed the regime to trace the signal back to Tao's personal computer.

Aged 37, Shi worked for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News). He was convicted on 30 April of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal message which the authorities had sent to his newspaper warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Although email companies are required to divulge information when shown a court order, Yahoo is setting a dangerous precedent for corporations in regions where freedom of speech is not highly appreciated. If Yahoo continues this pattern of exchanging freedom for profits, they may soon find themselves in last place among internet services.

By Darnell Clayton • 12:49 PM • Email Post • •


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