Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bits and Pieces - July 30, 2013

What people do in the mirror: everyday portraits by Heikki Leis.

Constructing the World’s Largest Self-Anchored Suspension Bridge. That's the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Could new states emerge in Central Asia? Reverberations from the Soviet Union.

What went wrong with arms control? And, I would add, what should be its objectives in the post-Soviet world?

The new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has been involved in the nuclear negotiations. It looks like he may take a more reasonable approach than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did. Here are three articles expanding on that.

A Directive for Maintaining Positive Atmosphere in Iran-US Relations. This is on a site that represents official Iranian opinion. It's also worth reading to learn how Iranians may view the United States.

Iran’s next foreign minister seen as an olive branch

Velayati on Negotiations

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bits and Pieces and a Few Words About Edward Snowden - July 12, 2013

Edward Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia. This was pretty much predictable, whatever you may believe about his motives. Without a passport, he couldn't travel, and the Latin American countries that offered him asylum weren't willing to send a special envoy for him.

I notice a real split between those of us who have some experience with intelligence-related matters and those who don't. It's very, very hard for me and others to believe that the FSB and others of Russia's secret services are benevolent enough to allow this poor seeker after truth to while away his hours quietly in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport.

Snowden disappears for two weeks or so - not seen in the airport, and even Wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald said at times that they were out of touch with him. Then he surfaces to a gathering of "human rights organizations" (which up until now have been harassed by the Russian government) and begs for asylum in a statement that contains many of the earmarks of Russian propaganda. Not to mention that some of those helping out have close connections to the Russian government.

Was he forced into this by the US narrowing his options by revoking his passport? (BTW, not having a passport doesn't make you stateless or not a citizen.) By poor judgment on his and Wikileaks's part? Or was something like this planned all along? Stay tuned.

In other news,

Everyone calm down, there is no “bee-pocalypse”

Looks like this should be a good series on working people in America.

Preliminary findings on the missile defense failure is that the final stage of the interceptor failed to separate. That's pretty bad - didn't even get close to destroying the target.

This is an impressive way to see the effects of a nuclear blast. Wellerstein gave me an advance look at it.

Why studying calculus is important- even if you don’t use it

Monday, July 08, 2013

Bits and Pieces - July 8, 2013

Over the weekend, I saw a couple of good posts from the past.

2008: Traffic jams and what you can do to help eliminate them

May 2011: Peer Review & Changing a Lightbulb: a Historian's View

About the past, but a new book and post: Photos of the Middle East from 1862

And up to date: Nine easy steps to your own audience-flattering ted talk.

The headline on this one isn't quite right: Oregon students will pay for their education, but at a rate they can manage. It's an improvement, but not the commitment to education for all that America has had in the past.