mm092: Nuclear proliferation – The riddle of Iran – Economist.com

July 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

A week has passed since I found this analysis in The Economist, the best magazine on the planet, an eternity in the ‘Sphere, but this is too important to let go by.

The morass in Iraq has distracted us from the very real danger represented by a nuclear Iran…


Economist.com






Jul 19th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Iran’s leaders think a nuclear weapon could rejuvenate their tired revolution. How can they be stopped?

“THE Iranian regime is basically a messianic apocalyptic cult.” So says Israel’s once and perhaps future prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. If he is right the world is teetering on the edge of a terrifying crisis.

While the world has been distracted by Iraq, Afghanistan and much else, Iran has been moving relentlessly closer to the point where it could build an atomic bomb. It has converted yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride gas. Now it is spinning the gas through thousands of centrifuges it has installed at the underground enrichment plant it built secretly in Natanz, south of Tehran. A common guess is that if it can run 3,000 centrifuges at high speed for a year, it will end up with enough fuel for its first bomb….

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Economist.com

Shockingly, Iran has been lying to all of us. What can the civilized world do? Deal with Iran preemptively? As the Economist notes, such a preemptive strike from the US or Israel would have dire consequences:

Even if it delayed or stopped Iran’s nuclear programme, it would knock new holes in America’s relations with the Muslim world. And if only for the sake of their domestic political survival, Iran’s leaders would almost certainly hit back. Iran could fire hundreds of missiles at Israel, attack American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, organise terrorist attacks in the West or choke off tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s oil windpipe. How could any Western leader in his right mind risk initiating such a sequence of events?

The succinct answer of Senator John McCain is that although attacking Iran would be bad, an Iran with nuclear weapons would be worse. He is not alone: most of America’s presidential candidates would consider military force….

The Economist’s writer believes that a diplomatic solution is still possible:

Iran is obstinate, paranoid and ambitious. But it is also vulnerable. A young population with no memory of the revolution is desperate for jobs its leaders have failed to provide. Sanctions that cut off equipment for its decrepit oilfields or struck hard at the financial interests of the regime and its protectors in the Revolutionary Guards would have an immediate impact on its own assessment of the cost of its nuclear programme. That on its own is unlikely to change the regime’s mind. If at the same time Iran was offered a dignified ladder to climb down—above all a credible promise of an historic reconciliation with the United States—the troubled leadership of a tired revolution might just grab it. But time is short.

Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Economist.com

Sensible advice, and based on past performance, we can have no confidence whatsoever that the diplomatic all stars running our government have any clue how to resolve this issue with any positive outcome.

George, diplomacy is more than sending Condi on a flurry of pointless excursions.

But, no matter who becomes the next Cmdr-in-Chief, the Economist reminds us that this issue won’t wait until January 20, 2009.

Okay, I’m terrified.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Advertisements

mm091: The Future of Internet Radio – John C. Dvorak

July 30, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Written recently and not so regarding Pandora.com, MUDGE’s radio of choice these days. And, I do mean choice, since anytime I’m sitting at my home PC, I’m choosing what to listen to, sans annoying commercials, jingles or DJs.

Here’s one of my favorite reads: John Dvorak, a pioneer in the business of all things personally computational, an amazingly well-informed person, and who (and I say this in the most complimentary way) makes the average curmudgeon such as yours truly seem like a cock-eyed optimist.

He’s got this to say about Pandora and its ilk:

The Future of Internet Radio
07.17.07
Will the success of Web radio spell the end of traditional broadcast radio?

Dvorak

By John C. Dvorak

Over the past month or so, there has been a heated battle between the music industry and Internet radio about rights and fees. Actually, over the past decade, there has been nothing but trouble surrounding Internet radio. I think it’s one of the reasons that podcasting emerged as an alternative to Internet radio. Look closely at podcasting, however; with the exception of the advanced auto-download via RSS aspect, it’s actually just more Internet radio.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Future of Internet Radio – Columns by PC Magazine

Dvorak points out that Internet radio has manifest advantages over broadcast: reach, on demand, and best of all, low cost:

The death blow, though, always comes down to money. The expense of streaming over the Internet is a fraction of what transmitter-based broadcasting costs. There is no big antenna, no transmitters, no special studios. Nothing within reason can change this metric.

For these $500 ears (a sad story for another time), the sound of Pandora.com is nothing less than superb.

And, as I’ve said at the top: no jingles, no “SUNDAY! AY! ay!”, no 20-minute blocks of clatter and clutter, no drive-time shenanigans from weasels trying to be Howard Stern (sui generis, which Latin phrase in this context means, “top weasel”), just music (of the non-classical variety) that I like to listen to.

I love Pandora.com! Let’s hear it for internet radio!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


mm090: The least bad plan for leaving Iraq. – By Fred Kaplan – Slate Magazine

July 30, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So, guys, this one’s lost. My generation’s Vietnam, indeed.

What now? Here’s an interesting idea…

Defeat Without Disaster – The least bad plan for leaving Iraq.

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, July 27, 2007, at 2:45 PM ET

Peter Galbraith’s article in the current New York Review of Books, “Iraq: The Way to Go,” is one of the most bracing essays written on the subject lately—a provocative but logical case for a U.S. withdrawal (though not a total withdrawal) that still manages to achieve a few of the war’s original goals.

I don’t agree with every plank of Galbraith’s proposal (more on that later), but anyone seeking a solution to this disaster needs at least to contend with his arguments.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The least bad plan for leaving Iraq. – By Fred Kaplan – Slate Magazine

Kaplan reports that the main tenet of Peter Galbraith’s proposal is:

He has now abandoned his plan for a partitioned federation, regarding the southern two-thirds of Iraq—the areas dominated by Shiite and Sunni Arabs—as hopeless. Instead, he calls for withdrawing U.S. troops from those areas and redeploying some of them to the northern sector, in order to protect the Kurds.

The Kurds need and deserve our protection, especially if it’s true that the Turks are massing 140,000 troops on their border with “Kurdistan.”

Kaplan is unhappy that Galbraith has pretty much written off Arab Iraq as hurtling toward a “sectarian bloodbath.”

If defending Kurds takes our forces out of the path of that certain (and ongoing) Sunni-Shiite bloodbath, I’m liking that idea.

“Least bad” would save some U.S. lives and lots of body parts (the fewer new cases at Walter Reed, the better!).

Any of our vast field of presidential wannabees weigh in on this? Michael Bloomberg, what do you think?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm089: With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

July 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Things I found on the way to finding other things…

The New York Times

July 27, 2007

nytmapping

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking

By MIGUEL HELFT

SAN FRANCISCO, July 26 — On the Web, anyone can be a mapmaker.

With the help of simple tools introduced by Internet companies recently, millions of people are trying their hand at cartography, drawing on digital maps and annotating them with text, images, sound and videos.

In the process, they are reshaping the world of mapmaking and collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other.

They are also turning the Web into a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found.

Already there are maps of biodiesel fueling stations in New England, yarn stores in Illinois and hydrofoils around the world. Many maps depict current events, including the detours around a collapsed Bay Area freeway and the path of two whales that swam up the Sacramento River delta in May. …

Using new applications such as Google’s My Maps, and a startup called Platial, the Times reports that these annotations of existing maps are adding rich new layers of data to the way people understand their world.

“What is happening is the creation of this extremely detailed map of the world that is being created by all the people in the world,” said John V. Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth. “The end result is that there will be a much richer description of the earth.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

In this case, once again the web is changing the world, which is changing the web — a true virtuous cycle (a typical outcome from the Internet).

We see this phenomenon everywhere we look: another great example, last week’s YouTube Democratic presidential debate.

As they’ve always said, information is power. Imagine the leverage we’ll gain as we add so many new potential sources of information (OLPC from our previous post, mm088) in places that are presently under-represented in our (Western culture?) collective world view.

Our world will simultaneously grow larger, and smaller.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm088: Meet the XO – eWeek

July 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Things I found on the way to finding other things…

We’ve been reading about the One Laptop Per Child initiative for some time now, and it’s utterly fascinating to see it closer to fruition, courtesy of eWeek. The story is lengthy and comprehensive and worthy of your time. Click any of the links to pursue this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 2:50 PM/EST

Meet the XO

Click here to see photos of the XO laptopThe OLPC's XO laptop

eWEEK’s Emerging Technology Looks at the OLPC’s XO laptop

See the XO’s Sugar Interface in Action. Get a first hand look at Sugar features such as the Mesh and see some of the applications bundled with the XO’s Linux-based operating system

The Hardware of the XO laptop – While at the OLPC offices we had the opportunity to get hands-on with the XO laptop

Podcast: The Tech of the XO Listen to a podcast of my interviews with OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen and OLPC President Walter Bender.


One Laptop Per Child’s XO (commonly referred to as the $100 laptop) is designed to change the world by bringing computing resources to children in the developing world. But the many innovations in the XO may also end up changing the world of technology.

Emerging Technology – Desktops and Notebooks – Meet the XO

What a tremendous achievement it will be if OLPC can really deliver these status quo shattering machines at a status quo shattering price!

As a lugger of classic laptops (often two at a time), I am more anxious than most to see the technology transfer promised in eWeek’s analysis.

And as a concerned citizen of the planet, I am anxious to see this playground leveling and globally empowering device placed in millions (billions?) of deserving hands — the sooner the better.

Wow!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


WcW003: Sometimes, it’s all about teaching

July 28, 2007

wcw1_thumb1

Web Conferencing Week

As filled with unusualities as was last week, this past week… was not.

The main theme was teaching. We wrote about this facet of my career quite extensively in mm018 and I don’t feel compelled to rehash here. It’s a significant portion of my responsibilities here at HCA (Heart of Corporate America remember, not its real name).

And, like all things everywhere, it either dies or changes. I vote for change.

For more than a year, we’ve been attempting to turn over some of the basic courses to an expert in our division’s training department. To that end I’ve provided annotated course material, one on one instruction, the opportunity to practice. I am this good teacher, right?

It’s been a bust. Last year the explanation was that the designated person didn’t start that year with this goal in her list of goals, and thus was unable to devote the time and attention required to mastering the material.

This year began with this turnover on this person’s the goals list, but after a kick-off meeting in February, and prompt transmission of updated curriculum to answer some concerns, the person has simply not responded to my queries for nearly three months.

I’ve been teaching this material for so long I suppose I have underestimated its challenges. You simultaneously are teaching a collaboration tool while smoothly utilizing that tool to deliver the lessons. And in order to teach effectively, you are attempting to interact with your students using a very limited sensory array, just their voices and whatever of the conference’s tools they are able to begin to understand.

Pretty demanding, upon reflection, and I believe totally overwhelming for the training department’s MIA “expert.”

So, Plan B. Our vendor has a partnership with an organization in the UK that has produced some workmanlike Computer Based Training (CBT) modules that I’ve persuaded our department to purchase on an enterprise basis. These don’t provide the HCA-specific content that so richly fills my curriculum, but as our IT division’s underlying software philosophy is to customize purchased applications as little as possible, the generic CBT should be quite sufficient, at least for the basics.

The idea always was to remove some of the repetitive burden of teaching the “level 100” coursework (originally to a live instructor), leaving the advanced curriculum, as well as individualized instruction for higher level personnel to yours truly.

So, this week: mostly teaching. The scheduled three classes, two of them with that 3:00pm start time (to accommodate West Coast participants, a few of whom, I’m thankful to note, were present) that is supremely wearing on me, as this type of teaching seems to demand an energy level more difficult to tap 7½ hours into my business day.

The week’s one conference facilitation gig (my other public responsibility — and hey, it’s July!) turned out also to be about teaching, although that was not the intention of that meeting’s leader, nor mine.

Arrived at the designated conference room a few minutes earlier than the routine 30-minute lead time called for, to find a dark room, arranged poorly to accommodate my gear, and without a built in projector for the expected live audience, or a speakerphone for the conference.

Then the leader arrived, simultaneously with the caterer with a snack array (odd for an 11:00am meeting), which mystified that leader, who by the way arrived without a portable projector.

Her assistant apparently had misconstrued the purpose and intent of the meeting, which it turned out could have been much more conveniently conducted from the leader’s office, since there was no expected audience in the room; the presentation was meant to be transmitted solely to a conference room at a facility in Massachusetts.

Okay, so I walked down to the nearby Audio-Visual crew office, to request that a technician deliver and install a speakerphone (which had not been ordered by that assistant), and we determined that as it was just the presenter and me that we could forego a projector, and simply sit together at one of the 12 tables in the room and work off of my laptop.

So, with much conversation about the assistant’s misinterpretation of the leader’s instructions, which concluded with my promise to forward said person (a former student, who apparently assumed that she understood web conferencing because she took my course; well in her defense the two of us had lots of popcorn and canned soda available!) a document we created a couple of years ago and which is posted on our website titled “Successful Sametime Conferences,” a checklist which calls out key requirements like projectors and speakerphones.

But as we waited for the 11:00am conference start, the discussion turned to what she does: Corporate Learning and Development, and her group’s increasing need to respond to the globalization of our employer. It is a small measure of the silos permeating HCA that she had no idea of what I do (the teaching part I mean) or how I deliver it. And we’re both part of same broad corporate organization.

Meanwhile, we sat on the phone, and in the web conference, patiently awaiting our Massachusetts audience to join us. 11:00am goes by, 11:05, 11:10, nada.

She gets up and uses the house phone outside the room to contact a different assistant, who phoned back shortly thereafter to report that the HR manager at the other end who had requested the presentation, and had called more than once to confirm that it was on the schedule, had suddenly that morning decided that her team had higher priorities that day and had unilaterally canceled the session, apparently without notifying anyone outside of Massachusetts. Ouch.

And, while my direct customer is not the subject of this next Life Lesson, her customers certainly qualify:

lifelesson32

So, a lot of furor for nothing. But, a good outcome, selfishly for me, and perhaps for her organization, since I was told that I will be asked to an upcoming meeting of the Learning and Development management team to discuss my globe-spanning technology (and perhaps more?).

What on earth took them so long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm087: You’re always hurt by the one you love…

July 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Constant reader of this nanocorner of the ‘sphere hasn’t had a long time to make this a habit. mm001 dates all the way back to the first week of May.

Guess the point is, MUDGE is quite new to this blogging thing, quite low on the learning curve as it were, and quite surprised that anyone beyond a small coterie of similarly inclined hobbyists even were aware of the existence of Left-Handed Complement.

Today, however, I was called to account for what probably should be classified as a rookie mistake.

Received a polite letter from Salon.com, asking me to remove the article that I posted a couple of days ago, as its reprint in full represents a potential violation of copyright.

Hi there.

I’m Walter Thompson, director of marketing for Salon.com. It’s come to our attention that your site features the full text of at least one article originally published on Salon.com. The original article may be found here.

The article appears in full on your Web site here.

Although posting an excerpt of copyrighted material is acceptable, republishing a work in full that’s owned by another party is a copyright violation.  Please remove this material from your site at your earliest opportunity.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.

Thanks,
— Walter.

Walter Thompson
Director, Marketing
Salon Media Group, Inc.
101 Spear Street
Suite 203
San Francisco, CA 94105
walter@salon.com <mailto:walter@salon.com>

Guess my wide readership (Lifetime: 1,178 hits overall as of 20:45pmCDT on 27-July-2007) is just too scary for Salon.com. And I hope I haven’t just compounded the violation by printing Walter’s letter in full!

But, MUDGE always intends to do the right thing, so here’s what mm084 looks like now, in part:

mm084fixed

Lesson learned.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Technorati Tags: ,