Friday, February 24, 2012

Collecting and Organizing Voice Memos on iTunes [iPod/iPhone]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The drift towards war with Iran [FT.COM]

Ingram Pinn

The question of whether a war will break out over Iran’s nuclear programme has been around for so long that it is easy to become almost blasé. In 2006 Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was already asserting dramatically: “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany.”
This year, however, feels different. The threat of war is much more real. A conflict would begin with an Israeli bombing raid on Iran. But it would be likely swiftly to draw in the US – probably the UK and France, as well, and possibly the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli fears are driving the process. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, has talked of Iran entering a “zone of immunity” – in which its nuclear programme becomes unstoppable – in the coming months. The Israelis are particularly concerned about plans to put Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities into hardened underground bunkers. Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, is said to believe there is a strong possibility of an Israeli attack in April, May or June.

But Israel is not the only factor. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are also obsessed with the need to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons. Barack Obama is still very keen to avoid conflict. But in a presidential election year, it is harder for him to rein in Israel. Britain and France – the two most important European military powers – are also seriously contemplating the prospect of conflict with Iran. Indeed, in marked contrast to the run-up to the Iraq war, the British and the French seem to be more bellicose than the Americans.
One European decision-maker recently laid out the possible cycle of escalation and counter-escalation. Israel would mount a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US would not condemn the raid, while Europeans would speak out against the attack – but only halfheartedly. When Iran retaliated against Israel, the Europeans and Americans would come to Israel’s aid, with defensive measures: perhaps, initially, in the form of naval protection.

But it is also thought likely that Iranian retaliation would be aimed not just at Israel but also at western interests – and perhaps even at the Gulf states. That would lead to a much wider conflict. US air power would be used to knock out Iranian retaliatory capacity. Any Iranian blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be swiftly challenged by the US navy, with some token European support. While the Gulf states could never support an Israeli attack on Iran, they might get involved in this second round of military action – if Iran were foolish enough to attack them first. All the discussion, however, is of the use of air and naval power. There is no appetite for sending ground troops.

Among some European decision-makers these steps are discussed with a calm – and even a hint of relish – that is slightly startling. So why the change in mood?

There are several factors. First, while Mr Netanyahu is not liked or trusted by his counterparts in Washington, Paris and London, Israeli and Saudi concerns about the progress of Iran’s nuclear programme are, to a significant extent, shared by their US and European counterparts.

Read the remainder of this excellent Financial Times article here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Richard Dawkins fluffs - or semi-fluffs - a question on the title of Darwin's book...

The correct answer is: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

According to Wikipedia, the apparently controversial 'Origin' can be summarised as follows:

Darwin's theory of evolution is based on key facts and the inferences drawn from them, which biologist Ernst Mayr summarised as follows:[3]

Every species is fertile enough that if all offspring survived to reproduce the population would grow (fact).
Despite periodic fluctuations, populations remain roughly the same size (fact).
Resources such as food are limited and are relatively stable over time (fact).
A struggle for survival ensues (inference).
Individuals in a population vary significantly from one another (fact).
Much of this variation is inheritable (fact).
Individuals less suited to the environment are less likely to survive and less likely to reproduce; individuals more suited to the environment are more likely to survive and more likely to reproduce and leave their inheritable traits to future generations, which produces the process of natural selection (inference).
This slowly effected process results in populations changing to adapt to their environments, and ultimately, these variations accumulate over time to form new species (inference).

Makes perfect (and observable) sense as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Troubled Americans> Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen

Personally the whole idea of a civilian carrying a weapon around and 'solving a problem' by shooting it is the sort of cavalier cowboy trailer trash mentality that too many unenlightened Americans are foisting on the world. Does it really solve problems, or does it teach that 'might is right'? Well, the pendulum swings, and when power shifts, careful of reaping the whirlwind. A better way of dealing with this would have been talking to his daughter in private, encouraging her...not giving her a lesson in spite and revenge. So she posted a message he didn't approve of on Facebook, he then did exactly the same. Kookoo!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Why everyone should worry about Greece [via The Economist]

SHOOT: Perhaps the clamour about Greece has faded into a vague cliche by now, something to do with the words debt, default, Euro and currency. Sounds pretty harmless right? The Economist doesn't think so, hence the number of covers dedicated to a serious, and worsening financial mess in Europe. For reference, the European bloc of countries represents the world's largest trading bloc, it's GDP exceeds the USA. If the Euro fails, the world financial system collapses. It's that simple, and that terrible, and thus far, only platitudes are being used to defend against the rising tide of financial apocalypse.

May 1st 2010 The Greek debt crisis is spreading. Europe needs a bolder, broader solution—and quickly
 July 10th 2010 Yes: the European Union will thrive if its leaders seize the moment in the same way they did 20 years ago
 November 20th 2010 Ireland’s woes are largely of its own making but German bungling has made matters worse