Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ayles Ice, Lohachara & Our Bi-Polar Disorder

Although they are thousands of miles apart, the Ayles Ice Shelf and Lohachara Island have a lot in common. They are the newest victims of global warming.

Canada now has a new floating island of ice, shown here breaking off from Ellesmere Island on August 13, 2005 ...

... while in India's Bay of Bengal an island has disappeared under the waves (It's now a smudge just below the island in photo), as blogged here recently.

Scientists reported today that the Ayles Ice Shelf, one of only six major ice shelves left in the Canadian Arctic, collapsed from the coast of Ellesmere Island into the sea. And it wasn't the first.

In 2002, the Arctic's largest ice shelf -- the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf -- broke up.

Is this news? It shouldn't be. In 2002, a paper published by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded by saying:
"The ice shelves [along the north coast of Ellesmere Island] were once much more extensive than they are today ... and it is reasonable to suppose that the disintegration of the Ellesmere Ice Shelf was a response to the pronounced warming during the last century ... It is difficult to ignore the connection between the state of the Ellesmere Island ice shelves, the state of the climate, and changes taking place elsewhere in the Arctic Basin. The ice shelves are bellwethers of climate change."
As a New Years resolution for 2007, we should wish all these ostrich-like politicians and skeptics to pull their heads out from the ice and see the bi-polar changes that global warming has already brought. Not to mention what's coming.

Categories: GlobalWarming, Canada, India

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Needle and the Damage Done (to Baseball)

Yet again, a federal authority is taking steps to restore integrity to America's national pastime forfeited by a shameful conspiracy between Major League Baseball and the Players Union.

Minutes ago, a federal court ordered that the urine samples of baseball players who tested positive for steroids in 2003 (the height of "juiced" baseball) can be used by federal investigators. This will undo a shameless, shady deal cut by MLB and the Players' Union to hide the evidence, protect the cheaters, and sell out the efforts of clean players.

That grey pall on Barry Bonds' name is one step closer to becoming a black mark, if his name is among those 100 samples that tested positive in 2003. Not that anybody seriously doubts his steroid use.

His personal trainer was guilty of steroid distribution, and sits in jail for refusing to answer questions about what Bonds knew. Hmm. Now why would he refuse to answer that question? Bonds' position is equally telling. He says that he never knowingly used steroids, though he admits using the infamous "cream" and "clear" distributed by Balco. What were the "cream" and "clear"? Steroids, as established in the Balco court case.

Anything to add Mr. Bonds?

Categories: baseball, steroids

Monday, December 25, 2006

No New Year for Lohachara

While most of us will celebrate the coming New Year with hopes for a joyful 2007, the people who lived on the tiny island of Lohachara in India will not. Their island, located where the great Ganges River meets the Bay of Bengal, is gone. It is the first inhabited island to fall victim to global warming. But surely not the last.

Lohachara had an address: Latitude 21.9 / Longitude 88.1058333.

It had a population: 10,000 inhabitants.

It had neighbors: Suparibhanga Island (uninhabited and also now submerged forever).

And now Lohachara has disappeared, swallowed by a rising sea. (It's the grey smudge just below the island in the center of the photo above).

I want to wish all those skeptical, "do nothing" politicians and "scientists" a special New Years wish ...

I wish for you to move to Lohachara's neighboring Ghoramara Island, or Sagar Island, or the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea, or Vanuatu ... stay awhile ... and then tell the world that global warming is not happening. I suggest, however, you bring some scuba gear and a boat.

Categories: GlobalWarming, India

Sunday, December 24, 2006

ODF v. OOXML -- Size Matters

Rob Weir has an excellent post comparing OpenDocument Format to ooXML, championed by Microsoft. The conclusion: Size matters.

The bottom line is that ooXML has a weight problem. Not only is it a bloated specification, but on average it also produces files that are bigger and slower than does its ODF rival when each is used by the same application.

This echoes the point made in my recent blog post about the practical differences between ODF and ooXML. In this Standards Smackdown!, differences in performance and complexity will likely impact decisions by developers about which standard to use.

Categories: OpenDocument, ODF, standards, ooXML