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Friday, December 29, 2006

Off-beat Stuff!

China is going to use a 24-hour video feed from a snake farm as part of its earthquake warning system.

There are a lot of promising developments on the flu vaccination front, and this is one of them. It uses a different production method as well as a different protein, so it actually offers the possibility of mass immunization to prevent a pandemic.

I don't know what MoDo will have to say about this.... European researchers claim that housework reduces a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. The bad news? To get the full benefit cited, you have to do 17 hours a week.

Spain's Islamic Board petitioned the Pope to allow Muslims to worship in an ecumenical area in the cathedral in Cordoba. It used to be a mosque when Spain was ruled by Muslims. The local bishop said no. Of course, Hagia Sophia in Turkey used to be a Christian church. I wonder what would happen if local Christians petitioned to allow Christian worship there?

Chavez of Venezuela says he's going to shut down Radio Caracas Television because it has "conspired" against him. Chavez is a little confused about free speech issues for his opponents.

Hezbollah is paying bonuses
to Palestinian rocketeers based on the count of Israelis killed or injured. The "truce" has not been observed in Gaza, although the Israeli PM had ordered the army not to respond. A few days ago two teenagers were severely injured in a rocket attack in Sderot, and now the Israeli army is allowed to respond in a limited fashion. Sderot has taken the worst of the rocket attacks from Gaza for months; they have been under a continual bombardment for years. The situation there is serious and daily life is greatly impacted. There are casualties and bomb shelters in school yards; they have had to turn the schools into bunkers. Of course, the international media does not cover the reality. Joel Mowbray does.

Iran is in desperate straits, because its ability to extract its own oil is crumbling. Who was the banker that promised Hezbollah money to hand out in Lebanon if they started a war with Israel last summer? Cui bono?

Iranian oil: the argument that this (declining oil production) means they really do need nuclear power is one we will probably hear a lot in the near future. In reality, though, if they had applied some of the resources going to nuclear to their oil industry, their production outlook would be much better. Furthermore, if they were rational economic actors they would be building process industries (refining, plastics, etc) to generate more value-added from their oil resource.

I haven't seen anything on their natural gas situation, but most modern power plants burn natural gas or coal, not oil.
My understanding is that they don't even refine their own oil; I don't think they have the resources to do that. This is one reason why I think they want to annex the southern region of Iraq.

In any case, they aren't rational actors. I don't think they'll ever get much energy out of nuclear power. I think they want it purely for a threat.

With all that stated, I still don't believe that the world is in the position to debar nations from becoming nuclear powers. It's too easy to do, and with every extremist nation that does, a rational nation is pushed toward doing the same.

I don't see an easy out with this one.
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