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Friday, February 16, 2007

Novaya Zemlya

I'm sad. In my absolute ignorance of geography, I just discovered this island, well, this archipelago of two big ones plus a host of small ones. It sits above siberia or there, and reminded me of the place where Stephen Baxter, in his book Behemoth, set his Mammoth stories. In his north siberian island, almost unexplored by humans with the exception of the southernmost part, which hosted a Soviet Air Force base during the cold War, a colony of mammoths manages to survive until our days. The story, mammoths excluded, parallels that of Novaya Zemlya, with another important exception. This site, since the end of the second world war until 1990, has been the main soviet site for nuclear testing, both atmospherical and subterranean. Reading wikipedia, one understands that roughly 70% of his enormous territory has been hit one way or another, by some of the 224 nuclear explosions, for a total of 265MTons. the largest Fusion bomb ever made, the Tsar Bomb (50Mton!!!) was detonated here. What a firecracker!!!

Now I don't think that there were any mammoths left there, since the human inuit-like population would have gotten rid of them much before the rise of western civilisation. But still, when I saw it on google maps I imagined it like an uncontaminated land... Kind of like Kamchatka, which instead, I read, thanks to the very strong military servitude imposed on it has been saved by exploitation of its resources, and is now the main and one of the few refuges of the pacific salmon (I read it on the NY Times some time ago, I think). As a general rule, I think that military servitudes (as they're called in Italy often have the very good side effect of protecting the nature in the training grounds. It holds true for the scottish highlands, for Kamchatka but also for some places in sardinia too. I'm pretty sure that similar examples can be found in the US too. Military exercises are very limited in time, and although they can be disruptive of the natural order at those times, ensure that the forest will be left undisturbed for most of the year, without noisy tourists to soil it.

But then again, one thing is having a tank strolling around for a couple of day, may be even some planes dropping some couple of tons of bombs, or disseminating even depleted uranium projectiles. nature can cope with this... But MegaTon bombs? Radioactive fallout? I don't think so... Do you?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Busy Busy Busy again... then nothing.

Just spent two hours putting together a presentation on the last two-weeks worth of work, one hour showing it, another one listening to my two co-post-dogs, then lunch... a short walk in the sun and that's it.

a few hours left before our dear friend/colleague is treated to a welcome party. then possibly swimming pool, or may be I'll feel guilty and head off home for a final rehashing of my thesis pictures.

Find it boring? well, story of my life...

let's put up a picture to spice up this post

A schematic of the way I plan to screen my pKas... yes it looks pretty enough... a detail of the central seelction in the next one.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Heavy news day this one...

On the heels of the Nowak affair, and right in time for valentine's Day, the NYTimes has a piece regarding the misdemeanor of famous (and not so) scientist of this and the past century...

I didn't know that Schrodinger was such a womanizer... ;-)

Google gets a slap on the wrist...

NY Times reports that the brussel court ruled Google guilty of infringing copyright for linking to articles of belgian newspapers.

I do not agree with the court, however. Google is linking freely available stuff, which is exactly what it does in any case. It is not bypassing any firewall or offering premium content for free.

If I were Google, I'd cancel them from the face of the web. See how much trafic goes to those newspapers website once every search in the major engines returns links to the competitors.

Happy Valentine's day!!!

LOL Happy valentine's day...

My lovely marie is busy at work this night, so no romantic dinner - in fact, we will not even meet. (sad sad luca - there seems to be a curse on my valentines)

Anyway, I bought her a present. A book. Well Ok may be she will not appreciate but I'm going to enjoy. So may be it's a present for me... uh...

Anyway, here it is:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

And there's more!!!

I'd like an Octopus and Peach cone, thank you very much!!!

click on the title (or here) to go to the original page

Yummi!!! Tasty Cookie...

Thanks to PZ Myers for these mo'fa'kin' spiders on a mo'fa'kin cookie...

And Oh, this is just too great!!!

The largest bit-torrent site around has launched an incredibly good initiative. Torrents linking to the oscar-nominated movies, so that you can download them and express your opinion.

I think it's rather nice, indeed. Just what I need to grab a couple movies for this weekend in the Ardennes

And you know what i think about p2p, pirates all this stuff. the world has changed. MPAA and RIAA complaining now instead of adapting to the new reality is like the horses's stable suing FORD for mass-producing cars. Get a (new) life... be creative and ask someone to sponsor your movie, so that you can distribute it with spots embedded. there's no need for middlemen (distribution houses) anymore.

Now, what?

Study: P2P effect on legal music sales "not statistically distinguishable from zero"

Take this, RIAA/MPAA!!!

sorry for ripping through without commenting but I'm off for lunch. may be later I'll update.

eccomi qua: will quote the article from ars technica: A new study in the Journal of Political Economy by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf has found that illegal music downloads have had no noticeable effects on the sale of music, contrary to the claims of the recording industry.

So, it's not ome bonker's (or lawyer's) study, but one peer-reviewed within a respectable journal. This confirms my idea. Those who download music either would not buy it in first place, or do it to sample at their own ease something before actually purchasing. If anything, pirated music does increase the awareness that something new has come out, exactly as radio broadcast does. The industry should be giving away the songs in radio-quality files, for exactly the same reasons.

And again on the matter of diets

I did post recently about my most beloved american gardener / journalist, Michael Pollan - author of "The Botany of Desire", which I loved, and "The Omnivore's Dilemma", which I'm going to.

Now, an article on the Guardian debunks the scientific credibility of 'Dr' Gillian McKeith, who's been abusing the PhD title, which she apparently got from a mail-university in the US or somewhere else. I didn't know i could get one like this, Stupid me for wasting years in research and half the evenings of the last year in writing a thesis. Pants!!! Why I'm not so clever as this PhD people?

On a pleasant side note, I've worked on the pictures and tables of the sixth chapter y/day. Hopefully that chapter is now FINAL (pending judgement of the external examiner). Tonight for the seventh, and may be by the end of the week i'll get to re-write better conclusions. Ah, how sweet is to see the end in sight...

After this is done, i'll be able to concentrate on... writing writing and publishing publishing this work before it's superseded and obsolete by other people.

And I'll have to do the same at work too. Well, my Word proficiency is now up to the job, I should be able to manage it. :-)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Do I have the time?

for a quick post? yes I do...

things to do today:

training. downloading the latest episodes of: Top Gear, Desperate Housewives, Battlestar Galactica. Oh, yes, write up the thesis since my ex-spervisor doesn't seem to be busy with it. At least it'll have less to correct.

cheers... gotta go to training, now.