Friday, March 19, 2004

Survived week three of MGT313. This class is certainly going a lot faster than the last. I feel like I'm actually getting something out of it. There is a 10-12 page paper due in class five, so if things get a little spotty here, that's what I'm doing.

The weather is starting to settle into the typical Michigan spring pattern of sunshine, snow, rain, sleet, slush, and mud. All within a five minute time period. The temps are fluctuating from the teens to nearly fifty degrees F, so you're never sure what you should be wearing.

Not much else to talk about other than that we will be heading up north to Pelston tomorrow to pick up our bathroom vanity/cabinet. It will be nice to actually be able to see what I'm doing when I shave. I'm still picking away at our power situation trying to get things hooked together and working. It looks like at least two of the batteries are beyond saving. That will cost around $600 to replace. We really need more capacity, but we can't afford it right now. Once the heating season is over, I can at least cut down the amount of time the generator is running. If I can get even some of the batteries in shape, that will help as well. With the trip to Pelston, it won't be likely that I get much done this weekend.


There doesn't seem to be much going on other than the Pakistan action against al-Qaeda suspects. It's been an open secret since we invaded Afghanistan that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were drifting in and out of Pakistan with the support of at least some Pakistan military and government elements. How high those reached has never been clear, but everyone pretty much accepted that any serious attempt to root out al-Qaeda would result in the overthrow of the current government. People openly friendly with al-Qaeda in control of nukes seemed to be the nightmare scenario no one wanted to even talk about. Conventional wisdom says that this action by Pakistan's central government will meet with strong resistance in the Taliban-controlled areas of the country. If we are lucky, the Taliban got the message of Afghanistan: we will remove anyone from power who harbors our enemies. The problem is that we have muddied that message with our subsequent actions. Iraq has no nukes; we don't like Iraq; we invade Iraq. North Korea is strongly suspected of having nukes; we don't like North Korea; we file a sharply worded protest with the UN. One can only hope that the Taliban doesn't learn the lesson those actions seem to teach. Musharraf isn't all that popular in his own country and barely controls the Taliban areas and parts of his military. The Taliban are a lot closer to obtaining nukes that, say, Iran. All the hard work has been done; all they have to do is topple Musharraf, which may not take much of a push.

And while we are distracted by the Middle East, things are heating up in Taiwan. Someone tried to assassinate the president, and France and China are planning joint military operations in the Taiwan Strait. China generally makes this a regular feature of Taiwan elections as an implicit threat to not elect anyone with a strong nationalist bent. Why the frogs are butting in is unclear to me, other than to be the typical pain.


The Mars rovers are reaching the end-game. NASA is turning off the collision-avoidance software so they can cover more ground in the little time they have left. Both have collected strong evidence for something remarkable: liquid water on Mars. Not just flash floods triggered by volcanoes or meteor strikes. Lots of standing water for a very long time. I suspect Mars is now the top priority at NASA. There are more probes and a sample return mission already on the board. Now NASA knows exactly where to go and what to look for. It wouldn't surprise me to see more surface missions added, and sooner rather than later. Evidence of microbial life on Mars will shake things up pretty good. Maybe this will be the spark to revive the interest in human space exploration that died with the Apollo program. Consider: these rovers have spent three months covering an area not much larger than a baseball field. A human geologist, even encumbered with a p-suit, could have been far more thorough and gathered far more data in a single EVA than the rovers have. Plus, we would have samples to study with every piece of lab equipment available at our leisure back on Earth. Rovers are a first step and can help us know where to send the people and what they should be looking for, but we should be way past that point in 2004.

And it is nearly time to go home, so I need to wrap things up here at work.

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