Absorbing information - how to keep from being lied to by your own brain?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Olin Levi Warner, Memory (1896). Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.
The International Herald Tribune has a piece today entitled "Your brain lies to you", about how the brain processes information, often incorrect information that has been absorbed so long ago that one doesn't remember where it came from, and therefore just retains it as information alone without context, which is what makes it easy for false information to slip in between the cracks and become permanent 'knowledge', which then gives you a false view of the world. Here's the article's explanation of how it happens:

The brain does not simply gather and stockpile information as a computer's hard drive does. Facts are stored first in the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain about the size and shape of a fat man's curled pinkie finger. But the information does not rest there. Every time we recall it, our brain writes it down again, and during this re-storage, it is also reprocessed. In time, the fact is gradually transferred to the cerebral cortex and is separated from the context in which it was originally learned. For example, you know that the capital of California is Sacramento, but you probably don't remember how you learned it.

This phenomenon, known as source amnesia, can also lead people to forget whether a statement is true. Even when a lie is presented with a disclaimer, people often later remember it as true.

With time, this misremembering gets worse. A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage.
It then goes into greater detail on how this can apply to everyday life, and politics:

Journalists and campaign workers may think they are acting to counter misinformation by pointing out that it is not true. But by repeating a false rumor, they may inadvertently make it stronger. In its concerted effort to "stop the smears," the Obama campaign may want to keep this in mind. Rather than emphasize that Obama is not a Muslim, for instance, it may be more effective to stress that he embraced Christianity as a young man.

Consumers of news, for their part, are prone to selectively accept and remember statements that reinforce beliefs they already hold. In a replication of the study of students' impressions of evidence about the death penalty, researchers found that even when subjects were given a specific instruction to be objective, they were still inclined to reject evidence that disagreed with their beliefs.

It seems to me that in general this is in general a useful function of the brain, because when I read a newspaper I don't want to be weighed down with where I learned the letter l, then the letter e, then the letter t, and then the first time I learned how to spell the whole word properly, and so on. The brain seems to be geared towards taking useful information, removing the context (it seems to trust that it's made the right decision in the first place when it absorbed it), and then putting it to better use, in the same way that learning letters leads to learning words, and then learning how a sentence works, then learning to read overall, then learning to appreciate literature, and whatever else comes after that if you take the time to train yourself in that way.

So what's a good way to counteract this? Interaction with others I think, particularly places like Wikipedia. In Wikipedia when you contribute to an article and the information is false, there's a good chance that someone will come along and erase it, and/or ask for a source. With your self-confident "I heard it somewhere, I'll just find the source and restore the edit" you then learn that the information was actually false in the first place, and gain a greater understanding of the world through this. The Straight Dope is also a good column to read to challenge oneself on things that one has heard before and has come to believe, but aren't based in fact.

Any other suggestions?


Presidential candidate Bob Barr lived in both Iran and Iraq while growing up

That's interesting, never knew that. I found this out while listening to quite a long (35 minutes) interview on Bloggingheads.tv when he mentioned the fact. Here's a minute from the video:

And the text of that part of the video:

Well, what about Iran?

I've lived, I've actually lived in both Iraq and Iran when I was growing up. I have at least a passing familiarity with both countries and with that part of the world. The current leader of Iran, the current president Ahmadinejad, is not the real decision-maker in Iran, and treating him as such really is mistaken. We ought to be dealing directly with the religious and the parliamentary leaders in Iran; those are the ones making the decisions. We ought to be working also through surrogates, those countries that are allies of ours that maintain a strong and robust economic and political relationship with Iran to find ways that they can work with us, and we with them, to start once again get(ting) back to the strong commonality of interests that we and Iran have had over the years. There's no reason that that cannot provide the basis for a positive, continuing dialogue to reduce tensions in that country.
To see the whole video, click here.

Here's what Wikipedia says about Bob Barr:
His father, an army officer who graduated from West Point, moved the family to various locations around the world while pursing his career in civil engineering. The second of six children, Bob Jr. spent his boyhood in Malaysia, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and finally Tehran, Iran where he graduated from Community High School in 1966.
Here's a view of the high school in Tehran Bob Barr graduated from:

Campus 1970's - Steve Davenport '72
Campus 1970's - Steve Davenport '72

Pity it doesn't exist anymore. According to the page on Wikipedia:

Someone once called the Community School "a laboratory of democracy at work." Besides the Americans, there were many students from prominent Iranian families and children from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, whose families were living temporarily in Tehran. Their parents were diplomats, exiles, military, professionals, oil industry personnel, etc. CHS represented 28 nationalities and eight religions, yet everyone studied and played well together, barely aware of the differences between one another or of the tensions among many of their homelands. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Zoroastrians, and Sikh blended without a problem. Above the school entrance, in beautiful Persian calligraphy, were the words from the Book of John, 8:32, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Some students learned the United Nations pledge of allegiance to the individual countries and flags and sang the United Nations hymn, the "Song of Peace," set to music by the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.

The school facilities on the new campus were a big improvement, but there was a downside. It was located at the end of a dead-end street in a dangerous part of the city where unrest and riots were particularly common during the late 1970s. The class of 1979 was the last and final class to hold a graduation ceremony on the main campus in June of that year, after which its doors were closed forever.

Jean Sibelius, of course, is the founder of gives the name to the music school in Finland that produced these guys, the Finnish cello metal band called Apocalyptica that first came to prominence with their cello renditions of Metallica songs:

This video looks like the Allegory of the Cave, plus cellos.


Japanese Wikipedia surpasses 500,000 articles / ウィキペディア日本語版50万項目達成

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Half a million, nice job. Only four other Wikipedias have reached that number, and the Polish Wikipedia though also with over 500,000 articles has a surprisingly low number of edits (less than Spanish, down at 370,000, making their articles likely to be much more detailed) so I still consider the top four to be English, German, French and Japanese.

So what's the special design they're using for this huge milestone? Here it is:

ウィキメディア財団理事選挙の開票結果が発表されています。(Wikimedia zaidanrijisenkyo no kayhyoukekka ga happyou sareteimasu. -- The results of the Wikimedia Foundation's board elections have been announced.)
ウィキペディア日本語版は6月25日に50項目を達成しました。(Wikipedia nihongoban wa 6 gatsu 25 nichi ni 50 man koumoku wo tassei shimashita. -- Wikipedia in Japanese has reached 500,000 articles.)

That's it? Well, congratulations anyway. You don't have to be that modest. Esperanto's still celebrating with this image after all:

Image:Eo Vikipedio 10000.png


Alpha Centauri seen by Cassini in orbit around Saturn

Cassini released an image taken from Saturn of the Alpha Centauri system today:

The triple (though only two are visible in the image) star system comes out really small compared to the rings, so let's eliminate some from the left and right and take a closer look:

There they are! After seeing the image one starts to wonder if the image was taken from a location closer or farther away to the star system than Earth (though the distance from us to Saturn is nothing in comparison to the distance to Alpha Centauri), and if so, by how much. Luckily the press release has already provided the information so we don't have to calculate it ourselves:

From the orbit of Saturn, light (as well as Cassini's radio signal) takes a little more than an hour to travel to Earth. The distance to Alpha Centauri is so great that light from these stars takes more than four years to reach our Solar System. Thus, although Saturn seems a distant frontier, the nearest star is almost 30,000 times farther away.

Okay, but this also depends on where Saturn is located right now compared to us. Luckily we have this chart of the night sky from Heavens-above.com of the southern hemisphere (I selected a location in Indonesia) which shows us the following:

There's Centaurus along the south, and Saturn's located about 90 degrees on the west side, which means that yes, it is ever so slightly closer to Alpha Centauri than we are.


Coheleth (Ecclesiastes) in Occidental/Interlingue: 1:1 - 1:7

There's going to be a new translation project starting soon by a colleague of mine, and since I've been curious about exactly how Occidental works recently I might as well translate Ecclesiastes into that language too considering how well I know it. I still don't know Occidental that well though so this will need corrections.

It's certainly true that Occidental is a lot terser than Interlingua.

As always, I'm using the New American Standard Bible, the version most faithful to the original meaning.

  • 1:1 Li paroles del Coheleth, li filio di David, rey in Jerusalem.
  • 1:2 "Vanitá de vanitás," di Coheleth,
  • "Vanitá de vanitá! Omnicos es vanitá."
  • 1:3 Qual avantage have li hom in omni su labor
  • Quel il fa sub li sole?
  • 1:4 Un generation vade e un generation veni,
  • Ma li terre resta por sempre.
  • 1:5 Anc, li sole ascende e li sole descende;
  • E hastante a su loco it ta ascende denov.
  • 1:6 Sufflante vers li sude,
  • Poy tornante vers li nord,
  • Li vente continua virler along;
  • E in su curses circulari li vente retorna.
  • 1:7 Omni riveres flue ad-in li mare,
  • Támen li mare ne es plen.
  • Al loco u li riveres flue,
  • Ta ili flue denov.


Are automatc translations to and from Spanish and Portuguese less awkward?

Imagem:Scene Constitution.jpg
I'm also curious by the way about other related languages such as translations to and from Norwegian and Swedish using Google's automatic translation service. Translations from English to Korean for example are intensely awkward and often make no sense whatsoever, so it makes sense that two related languages should have much less awkwardness when automatically translated. Not having an instinct for what looks awkward in languages like Spanish and Portuguese however, I can only guess what they look like to a native speaker.

I decided to use the Constitution of the United States of America since that's the only source I could quickly find on Wikisource that was in all three languages. Bible texts are usually each translated with a certain philosophy so I wanted to avoid that and stick with something written in a more or less modern language, making it easier to translate.

Even I can see a few awkward parts in the Pt-Es automatic translation on the right, such as "U. S. El Senado" for "El Senado del EE.UU." which I've noticed Google seems to have the most problems with. It's weird that they'd come up with that when the original Portuguese is "O Senado dos Estados Unidos". Could they be using a language such as English as a reference here to translate other languages?

Lastly, I noticed just now a feature on Wikisource that allows you to compare the texts of two languages side by side (for example to look at the Latin version it looks like this --> Latina and that arrow-looking thing on the right is to compare two languages). On the bottom left where there are links to versions in other languages there's a small button to the right of each language that brings up the other language right next to the one you're viewing to show them side by side. If the formatting is off though they don't really come up exactly next to each other.

Now, here are a few parts from the constitution to compare. First is English, then the Portuguese translation, then Spanish, and finally a Spanish that has been translated automatically from Portuguese.

English Portuguese Spanish
Automatic translation into Spanish from Portuguese

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Todos os Poderes legislativos aqui definidos serão confiados a um Congresso dos Estados Unidos, que irá consistir de um Senado e de uma Câmara de Representantes.

Todos los poderes legislativos otorgados en la presente Constitución corresponderán a un Congreso de los Estados Unidos, que se compondrá de un Senado y una Cámara de Representantes.

Todos los poderes legislativos se define aquí será por un U. S. Congreso, que constará de un Senado y una Cámara de Representantes.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

O Senado dos Estados Unidos deve ser composto de dois Senadores de cada Estado, escolhidos pela Legislatura por seis Anos; e cada Senador deve ter um Voto.

El Senado de los EE.UU. se compondrá de dos Senadores por cada Estado, elegidos por seis años por la legislatura del mismo, y cada Senador dispondrá de un voto.
U. S. El Senado debe estar compuesto por dos senadores de cada Estado, elegidos por la Asamblea Legislativa por un período de seis años, y cada senador tendrá un voto.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

O Vice Presidente dos Estados Unidos deverá ser Presidente do Senado, mas não deverá ter Voto, salvo se eles estiverem igualmente divididos.

El Vicepresidente de los EE.UU. será presidente del Senado, pero no tendrá voto sino en el caso de empate.
El Vice President de los Estados Unidos será presidente del Senado, sino que no tienen voto, a menos que también se divide.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

O Congresso deverá ter o Poder para instituir e coletar Taxas e Impostos, para pagar as Dívidas e prover para a Defesa comum e o Bem Estar em geral dos Estados Unidos; mas todos Impostos e Taxas deverão ser uniformes por todos os Estados Unidos;

El Congreso tendra facultad: Para establecer y recaudar contribuciones, impuestos, derechos y consumos; para pagar las deudas y proveer a la defensa común y bienestar general de los Estados Unidos; pero todos los derechos, impuestos y consumos serán uniformes en todos los Estados Unidos.
El Congreso tendrá la facultad de imponer y cobrar tarifas e impuestos, para pagar las deudas y proveer a la defensa común y bienestar general en los Estados Unidos, pero todas las tasas e impuestos debe ser uniforme en todo los Estados Unidos;


Creating Spanish-language version of bidz.com site results in spike in traffic / Aumento de visitantes al sitio web despues traducción al español

The Hispanophone world; the dark blue indicates where it is the official language, and the light blue indicates where it is used as a second language. = Image:SlashdotEffectGraph.svg
In my post on June 12th about how English is not going to become the world's second language is a quote from the British Council's report on the future of English as a language:

An analysis published in November 2005 by Byte Level Research concluded:

This data makes clear that the next Internet revolution will not be in English. While English isn’t becoming any less important on the Internet, other languages, such as Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese, are becoming comparatively more important.

English is by no means the only language in global business. Davis (2003) observes:

While English is a major language, it only accounts for around 30% of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is likely to account for less in the future. Neglecting other languages means ignoring quite significant potential markets.
In the same vein, a site I've never heard of (because it seems to be a jewelry auction site and two things I have no interest at all in are bidding and jewelry) called bidz.com reports a significant increase in traffic after creating a Spanish-language version:

Jewelry auction website Bidz.com reported "encouraging results" from its Spanish language version, attracting a traffic spike from Spain, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia during June.

“The Spanish translation of our website is yielding the desired results and we are encouraged that future translations into foreign languages will be equally successful," said David Zinberg, CEO of Bidz.com.

Bidz.com plans to launch an Arabic translation soon.

Arabic, hm? Interesting that they're going with that instead of something like Chinese for example. I would think that creating a Portuguese version from the Spanish one would be quite easy as well if they are interested in a little bit more traffic for as little effort as possible. Internetworldstats.com shows 58 million users of Portuguese on the internet compared to 122 million for Spanish.


More on the Korean particles 는 and 가

One week ago I wrote a somewhat detailed post on the difference between the particles 는 and 가 in Korean, two particles that people learning the language often have a devil of a time trying to figure out. A Korean friend of mine read the post and had a few supplementary examples. He writes (my extra notes just for this post are in italics):

Yeah, I found the subjective particles confuse many learners. This thing caught my eyes:

올챙이가 개구리가 되었다. (the tadpole became a frog)
고래는 물고기가 아니다. (whales aren't fish)

Maybe we can give a thought to this...

나는 그녀가 좋다/싫다 (I like/hate her)
나는 그녀가 예쁘다/아름답다/귀엽다/사랑스럽다/...(my judgement on her.. however, we know not all adjectives are possible. For example, 나는 그녀가 작다 doesn't sound right.) (First sentence: I think she's pretty/beautiful/cute/lovely. Second sentence that doesn't sound right: To me she's small)
Then my response:
mithridates wrote: Yeah, isn't it because 나는 그녀가 작다 has no emotion, no feel at the moment? It's more like a standard description and has no feel. It's like ones like 김치가 먹고 싶다, 그 영화가 제일 보고싶었는데... (I want to eat kimchi, I wanted to see that movie)

Japanese has the same with ga and wa/(w)o. There too ga has more feel to it. (waは=, (w)o=を, ga=が)
And then his response to that:
Yeah, subjective feelings. Another example:

나는 김치가 맛있다/맵다/짜다 (I think kimchi is good/spicy/salty)
but 나는 김치가 빨갛다 sounds weird. (I think kimchi is red)


Venus will be back in view in the evening soon / Venus pronto brillará en el cielo nocturno

I think I read somewhere that it'll be back in view in the evening starting around the beginning of July. That's good because I don't wake up early in the morning and there are buildings to the east anyway. Venus always looks best when you can start to see it in the evening just as the sun begins to go down, the sky darkens a little bit and there it is right above the horizon, the brightest object in the sky.

(all images are from heavens-above.com)

Here's the sky right now as of June 28th:

As the sun goes down in the west (on the right) you can see Venus just above it. It's still too close to see right now though but it's just about in view again. Two weeks later though it'll look like this:

And then by the time September 1st comes around it'll be way up in the sky:

So starting next week or so maybe we'll be able to see it if the sky is clear enough and we look for it as soon as the sun goes out of sight. The sky here in Seoul isn't that clear but I hope to see it again soon.


What do two colliding galaxies look like? / Abrazo gravitacional de galaxias

Saturday, June 28, 2008

They look like this:

The Gemini Observatory has taken quite a nice picture of two galaxies that have begun to collide. The two are 90 million light-years away from us (the closest to us, the Andromeda Galaxy, is 2 million LY away), and only 60,000 light-years away from each other, which is quite close.

We will also be colliding with the Andromeda Galaxy in a few billion years. It'll be interesting to see the sky a few hundred million years before that happens, because it'll keep on getting brighter and brighter in the sky as it approaches. When galaxies collide though there's so much distance between stars that they almost never actually collide with each other, but just affect each other gravitationally and then combine to become a super large single galaxy. Of course by then the sun will also be a red giant and Earth will be gone. I think.

Also, the Gemini Observatory is located in Chile as well which means they give out news releases in Spanish at the same time, and with the additional reference it makes it a lot easier to write up the news reports in a language like Occidental. I wrote up part of the press release in Occidental on the right for fun, because later on that's what press releases might look like after an IAL makes it big.

I'm not very good at Occidental though so I'm going to get it checked, and then I'll remove this line.

English Spanish Occidental
In what appears to be a masterful illusion, astronomers at Gemini Observatory have imaged two nearly identical spiral galaxies in Virgo, 90 million light years distant, in the early stages of a gentle gravitational embrace. The new image was obtained at the Gemini South telescope in Chile using GMOS, the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph. En lo que parece ser una ilusión magistral, los astrónomos del Observatorio Gemini han captado dos galaxias espirales casi idénticas en Virgo, a una distancia de 90 millones de años luz, en los inicios de un abrazo gravitacional. La nueva imagen fue captada en el telescopio de Gemini Sur en Chile utilizando GMOS, el espectrógrafo Multi- Objetivo de Gemini. In to quo sembla esser un ilusion expert, li astronomes del Observatoria Gemini ha captet du identic galaxes spiral in Virgo, a un distantie de 90 million luce-annus, in li comense de un suavi inbrassada gravitational. Li nov image esset captet in li telescop de Gemini Sude in Chile usant GMOS, li spectrograf Multi-Objetal de Gemini.
Like two skaters grabbing hands while passing, NGC 5427 (the nearly open-faced spiral galaxy at lower left) and its southern twin NGC 5426 (the more oblique galaxy at upper right), are in the throes of a slow but disturbing interaction – one that could take a hundred million years to complete. Al igual que dos patinadores tomados de las manos mientras avanzan, NGC 5427 (la galaxia espiral de frente casi abierto del lado izquierdo inferior) y su gemelo de más al sur NGC 5426 (la galaxia más oblicua del lado izquierdo superior), se encuentran en los arbores de una lenta pero inquietante interacción - una que podría tomar millones de años para completarse. Simil a du patinatores captent lor manus in passada, NGC 5427 (li galaxe spiral de facie apert al levul inferiori) e su gemelle de sude (li galaxe plu obliqui del látere dextri superiori), es in li dolores de un lent ma turbant interaction - un que posse prender plu quam cent million annus a compleer.
At a glance, these twin galaxies -- which have similar masses, structures, and shapes and are together known as Arp 271 – appear undisturbed. But recent studies have shown that the mutual pull of gravity has already begun to alter and distort their visible features. Al mirarlas, estas galaxias gemelas - que poseen masas, estructuras y formas similares, conocidas en conjunto como Arp 271- parecieran no estar afectadas. Pero estudios recientes, han mostrado que el mutuo forcejeo de gravedad ya ha comenzado a alterar y distorsionar sus formas visibles. Regardant les, tis galaxes -- que have simil masses, structuras e formes e junt es conosset quam Arp 271 -- sembla ne-disturbat. Ma recent studies ha monstrat que li mutual tira de gravitá ja ha comensat alterar e deformar lor formas visibil.


Today in history (Tarihte bugün) from the Turkish Wikipedia

Today in history from the main page of the Turkish Wikipedia, now at 110,500 articles.

Tarihte bugün -- Today in History

Olaylar -- Events
  • 1893 - New York borsası çöktü. -- New York Stock Exchange crashes.
  • 1916 - Hicaz, bağımsızlığını ilan ederek Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'ndan ayrıldı. -- Hejaz (western part of modern-day Saudi Arabia) declares its independence from the Ottoman Empire and separates.
  • 1917 - Yunanistan, İtilaf Devletleri'ne katıldı. -- Greece joins the allied countries.
  • 1950 - Amerika Birleşik Devletleri, Kore Savaşı'na asker yollama kararı aldı. -- United States of America makes decision to send troops to the Korean War.
  • 1954 - Dünyanın ilk nükleer enerji santrali Moskova yakınlarında Obninsk'de açıldı. -- The world's first nuclear centre is opened in Obninsk, near Moscow.
  • 1964 - Emekli Süvari Binbaşı Fethi Gürcan idam edildi. Gürcan, 22 Şubat 1962 de darbe girişimi nedeniyle emekli edilmişti. -- Retired cavarlyman major Fethi Gürcan is put to death. Gürcan was discharged on the 22th of February on charges of treason.
  • 1967 - Dünyanın ilk bankamatiği Londra'da hizmete girdi. -- The world's first automated teller machine goes into service in London.
  • 1976 - Fransız havayollarına ait bir yolcu uçağı Tel Aviv-Atina-Paris seferini yapmakta iken FKÖ militanlarınca kaçırıldı ve Entebbe-Uganda'ya yönlendirildi. -- An Air France passenger plane on its Tel Aviv - Athens - Paris route is hijacked by PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) militants and directed to Entebbe in Uganda.
  • 1984 - TBMM, askerlik süresini 18 aya indiren yasa tasarısını kabul etti. -- The Turkish Parliament passes a bill to reduce conscription to 18 months.
  • 1991 - İki gün önce bağımsızlığını ilan eden Slovenya, Yugoslav askerleri, tankları ve uçakları tarafından işgal edildi. -- Two days after declaring its independence, Slovenia is occupied by Yugoslavian soldiers, tanks and airplanes.

Doğumlar -- Births

Ölümler -- Deaths

  • 2001 - Jack Lemmon, ABD'li sinema oyuncusu ve yönetmen -- American cinema actor and director. (d. 1925)
  • 2001 - Tove Jansson, Finli romancı, ressam, çizgi karikatür bant yazarı ve çizeri -- Finnish novel writer, artist, line charicature band writer and cartoonist. (d. 1914)


SpaceX's Falcon 1 conducts firing, ready to launch from late July

Image:Omelek Island.jpg
Astute readers might remember a post or a news story claiming that the next Falcon 1 flight would take place in late June, and it's already late June. The reason for that was that the U.S. military has been making use of the launch area, so it's not SpaceX's fault here. In the meantime they're conducting more tests, which can't be bad.

On the 25th they conducted a "full launch dress rehearsal and hold down firing" and there were no problems. Here's what the article says:

"We are definitely not tied to the clock for this launch, and we are checking and crosschecking every aspect of the vehicle and ground systems to ensure a successful mission," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our primary concerns remain the safety and reliability of our vehicle, and the successful delivery of the Defense Department and NASA satellites to orbit."

During launch, SpaceX will use the extensive range safety, tracking and telemetry services provided by the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific. RTS will be closed for the national Fourth of July holiday, and resumes operations on 24 July. The next launch window opens 29 July and runs through 6 August, followed by one from 29 August to 5 September.

There will of course be a live webcast when the Falcon 1 is launched and I'll be watching.

Just in case some don't know exactly what SpaceX is, it's a very important company for space development because it's a private rocket launching company that is focused on bringing down the cost of sending payloads to orbit, and the lower the cost, the more people/companies/countries can participate in sending up satellites, probes, etc. It's also important in that it's a private company, as private industry is waaaay bigger than government-funded programs, and if private industry begins to succeed in space we'll be on our way to much bigger and better things. Here's what SpaceX says about itself:

About SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by internally developed Merlin engines, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any altitude and inclination, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous to planetary missions. SpaceX currently has 14 missions on its manifest plus indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts with NASA and the US Air Force. As a winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition (COTS), SpaceX is in a position to help fill the gap when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. Under the existing contract, SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for NASA, culminating in Dragon berthing with the International Space Station (ISS) and returning to Earth. NASA also has a contract option on Falcon 9 / Dragon to provide crew services to the ISS after Shuttle retirement.

By the way, the exact island where the launching takes place is called Omelek Island. It's the image up there.


Mars probably had rain, not just underground moisture

The planet Mars
After the discovery of ice on Mars, it's now thought that it used to have enough moisture in the atmosphere before to create rain from time to time. The article yesterday from spaceref.com
says that:

A new analysis of Martian soil data led by University of California, Berkeley, geoscientists suggests that there was once enough water in the planet's atmosphere for a light drizzle or dew to hit the ground, leaving tell-tale signs of its interaction with the planet's surface.

The study's conclusion breaks from the more dominant view that the liquid water that once existed during the red planet's infancy came mainly in the form of upwelling groundwater rather than rain.

To come up with their conclusions, the UC Berkeley-led researchers used published measurements of soil from Mars that were taken by various NASA missions: Viking 1, Viking 2, Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity. These five missions provided information on soil from widely distant sites surveyed between 1976 and 2006.

"By analyzing the chemistry of the planet's soil, we can derive important information about Mars' climate history," said Ronald Amundson, UC Berkeley professor of ecosystem sciences and the study's lead author. "The dominant view, put forward by many now working on the Mars missions, is that the chemistry of Mars soils is a mix of dust and rock that has accumulated over the eons, combined with impacts of upwelling groundwater, which is almost the exact opposite of any common process that forms soil on Earth. In this paper, we try to steer the discussion back by re-evaluating the Mars data using geological and hydrological principles that exist on Earth."

The final version of the study will appear online in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the journal of the International Geochemical Society, by the end of June, and in a print issue in August.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, hmm? That's Latin. Let's see when that journal began publishing...nope, looks like the Geochemical Society doesn't say. Well, I'll find out eventually. Anybody feel like making a call for me? I don't live in North America.
The Geochemical Society · One Brookings Drive, CB 1169 · St. Louis, MO 63130-4899 · 314-935-4131
And one more part from the article on the new analysis:

The planet is currently too cold for water to exist in a liquid state, but scientists generally agree that during the planet's earliest geological period, known as the Noachian epoch and dating 4.6 billion to 3.5 billion years ago, there were enough atmospheric greenhouse gases to warm the air and support lakes and flowing rivers.

But unlike Earth, Mars does not have plate tectonics to help generate volcanoes and other terrestrial sources of greenhouse gases to sustain heat, explained Amundson. He said that many scientists believe that by the time the planet moved from the Noachian epoch to the Hesperian epoch, dating from 3.5 billion to 1.8 billion years ago, water on Mars had either frozen or evaporated. (The planet is now in its third geological time period, the Amazonian epoch, which started about 1.8 billion years ago.)

The new study, however, suggests that liquid water existed in the Martian atmosphere into the Hesperian era.

To support this view, the team showed that soil at the Viking, Pathfinder and Spirit landing sites had lost significant fractions of the elements that make up the rock fragments from which the soil was formed, a sign that water once moved downward through the dirt, carrying the elements with it. Amundson also pointed out that the soil records a long period of drying, as evidenced by surface patterns of the now sulfate-rich land. The distinctive accumulations of sulfate deposits are characteristic of soil in northern Chile's Atacama Desert, where rainfall averages approximately 1 millimeter per year, making it the driest region on Earth.


Ron Paul speech in the House on energy prices and resolution on Iran

Location of Iran

Ron Paul spoke in the House today about energy prices and Iran, and a new resolution likely coming up that he is completely against that, though not officially a declaration of war, is strict enough on movement of people and goods that it somewhere in the same league. Ron Paul has been right about a lot of things (Iraq War, falling dollar to name two) before they first happened, and he's immune to peer pressure so he's always the first person you want to listen to when trying to guess at the effect of an operation, a bill, etc.

Lest anyone think he opposes absolutely any use of force, let's not forget that he was one of the few people back in the early 80s that believed that Israel was right to send in bombers (Operation Opera) to take out Iraq's nuclear reactors, because those represented an imminent threat. At the time there was quite a bit of criticism of what Israel had done, but not from Ron Paul:

(from the New York Times)
Paul was in Congress when Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in 1981 and — unlike the United Nations and the Reagan administration — defended its right to do so. He says Saudi Arabia has an influence on Washington equal to Israel’s. His votes against support for Israel follow quite naturally from his opposition to all foreign aid. There is no sign that they reflect any special animus against the Jewish state.
Here's the video:

Because I always think it's important that other people be able to copy, paste and automatically translate content into other languages, I've also typed out the five-minute speech. Here it is:

The Dow Jones average was down three hundred and fiftysome points, gold was up 32 dollars, oil was up another five dollars, and there's a lot of chaos out there and everybody's worried about four dollars a gallon gasoline. I don't think there's a clear understanding exactly why that has occurred. We do know that there's a supply and demand, there's a lot of demand for oil, the supplies may be dwindling. But there are other reasons for a high cost of energy. One is inflation. For instance, to pay for the war that has been going on and the domestic spending, we have been spending a lot more money than we have. So what do we do? We send the bills over to the Federal Reserve, they create new money, and in the last three years our government, through the Federal Reserve and the banking system, created four trillion dollars of new money. That is one of the main reasons why we have this high cost of energy and four dollars a gallon gasoline. But there is another factor that I want to talk about tonight, and that is not only the fear of inflation and future inflation, but the fear factor dealing with our foreign policy. And in the last several weeks, if not for months now, we have heard a lot of talk about the potentiality of Israel and / or the United States bombing Iran. And it's in the marketplace. It's being bid up. The energy prices are being bid up because of this fear. It is, has been predicted, if bombs start dropping, that you're going to see energy prices double or triple. It's just the thought of it right now that helps to push these prices, the price of energy up. And that is a very real thing going on right now. But to me it's almost like deja vu, all over again, as it has been said. We listened to the rhetoric for years and years before we went into Iraq. We did not go in in the correct manner, we didn't declare war, we're there, it's an endless struggle, we're in Iran, we're endlessly struggling there, and I cannot believe it, that we well may be on the verge of initiating bombing of Iran. Leaders on both sides of the isle, and the administration, that have all said so often no options can be taken off the table. Including a nuclear first strike on Iran. The fear is, they say, maybe someday they're gonna get a nuclear weapon. Even though our own CIA and our NEI says, a national intelligence estimate has said they have not been working, the Iranians have not been working on a nuclear weapon since 2003. They say they're enriching uranium. But they have no evidence whatsoever that they're enriching uranium for weapons purposes, that they may well be enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, and that is perfectly legal. They have been a member of the non-proliferation treaties and they are under the investigation of the IAEA, and Al Baradai has verified that in the last year there have been nine unannounced investigations and examinations of the uranium nuclear structure and they have never been found to be found in violation. And yet, this country and Israel are talking about a preventive war, starting bombing for this reason. Without negotiation, without talks.

Now the one issue that I do want to mention tonight is a resolution that is about to come to this floor if our suspicions are correct, after the July 4th holiday. And this bill will probably be brought up under suspension, it'll be expected to be passed easily, probably will be, and it's just more war propaganda. More preparation to go to war against Iran. And this resolution, H.J. RES 362, is a virtual war resolution. It is the declaration of tremendous sanctions and boycotts and embargoes on Iranians, very very severe. Let me just read what is involved in this if this passes and what we're telling the president he must do. This demands that the president impose stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran, and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials. I mean, this is unbelievable. This is, this is closing down Iran. Where do we have this authority? Where do we get the moral authority? Where do we get the international legality for this? Where do we get the constitutional authority for this? This is what we did for ten years before we went into Iraq. We starved children, fifty thousand individuals that was admitted probably died because of the sanctions on the Iraqis. They were incapable at the time of attacking us, and all the propaganda that was given for our need to go into Iraq wasn't true. And it's not true today about the severity. And they say yeah, but Ahmadinejad, he's a bad guy. He's threatened violence. But you know what, us threatening violence is very, very similar. We must, we must look at this carefully. We just can't go to war again under these careless, frivolous conditions.


Quo vade tu, Interlingue? - German Wikipedia users squabble over whether Occidental is natural or not

Friday, June 27, 2008

I just noticed yesterday that the talk page on the German Wikipedia for the language Occidental was surprisingly active last year. If you don't know any German the automatically translated page will still give the overall gist of it.

It starts with this:

Quo vade tu, Interlingue?

...Und 99,99% der Weltbevölkerung dürften sich vor einem Esperanto-Text vorkommen wie das berühmte Schwein vorm Uhrwerk. Andererseits wird jeder hinreichend gebildete Europäer auf Anhieb verstehen können, worum es in dem folgenden Absatz geht: (99.99% of the world is expected to learn Esperanto in front of their texts...however, educated Europeans are able to understand the following)

Li Europan Union es un gruppe de 27 states europan queles mantene inter se special relationes economic e politic.

Wieso? Nun: die Vokabeln sind international gebräuchlich, und ebenso deren Ableitungen. Das ist keine von irgend jemandem erdachte Hilfs- oder Plansprache, das ist reinstes, reales Europäisch. Li pur europan lingue sozusagen. (Why? Because the words are known internationally, this is pure European, etc.)

The other user is an Esperantist who does not agree. He says:

Die Form "li" scheint mir nicht so wirklich pures Europäisch. Ich kenne sie aus keiner anderen der derzeitigen europäischen Nationalsprachen. Die Form "europan" ist eine Krüppelform: praktisch alle europäischen Sprachen haben zwischen dem Stamm europ- und ihrer Adjektivendung ein betontes "e/ä": Englisch: european, Französisch: européen, Italienisch: europeo, Deutsch: europäisch, Schwedisch: europeisk, Russisch: ewropejski, ... Nur in diesem angeblich "puren Europäisch" fehlt das anscheinend. (the form "li" doesn't look so pure European. I don't know any other languages like that...almost all European languages have an e after the p, and he lists the examples above)

The first user eventually agrees with the other one that okay, li is completely artificial ("Li" als Artikel ist natürlich artifiziell, keine Frage.) but that it doesn't detract from the language as a whole, etc. Actually the article li is from medieval French, or so I hear. Provençal (Occitan) also uses it:

Provencal, Old lo, li, le, la, l', il, lh', lhi, los, las, les, uns, us, una
Provencal, Modern lo, lou, la, l', li, lis, lu, un, uno, una

Anywhere online where we can see a good debate between Occidental and Esperanto from way back when (let's say the 1930s and 1940s)?


Schola - another place to communicate 100% in Latin online

Today in my post from two weeks back on a Latin 3-day gathering in Buffalo, somebody left the following message:

IF you are interested in communicating in Latin, the Schola might interest you.
http://schola.ning.com is a web 2.0 type social networking site (like facebook) but totally in Latin. Schola started in early 2008, and has around 240 members, currently picking up 2-3 new members a day, as its presence becomes known online.
Ning.com looks like a really good site for this type of activity, so perhaps some lesser-known IALs might think about trying something there. Here are the rules for Schola:
On the left are also the latest Nuntii Latini news links, such as the following:
30.05.2008, klo 10.09

Percontatrum spatiale Americanum Phoenix appellatum, postquam iter decem fere mensium confecit, in planetam Martem feliciter appulit et suis tribus pedibus nixum in solo eius constitit.

Okay, so maybe not that recent. The site still seems worth signing up if you want to actually use Latin.

Here's one of the videos that one of the users has put up on YouTube of him showing Latin in practice:


Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about dark matter and the Mars Phoenix Lander on the Colbert Report

At the NASA Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., November 2005

One of the best parts of the Colbert Report is the focus it will often place on science and technology. In early May for example he had a talk with astronaut Garrett Reisman on the International Space Station. Today he had Neil deGrasse Tyson on for the fifth time. He's one of those few people that is able to explain science to anybody without having it come out dry and boring.

Actually, Wikipedia is telling me that he was also on the Daily Show twice. Perhaps it's because he's just that interesting. They talked about dark matter and the Mars Phoenix lander, so it won't be news to anyone that knows the subject very well, but it's also just worth watching to see how science can be explained without sounding like a textbook all the time.

Here's the video:


Today in history (Tarihte bugün) from the Turkish Wikipedia

Thursday, June 26, 2008

From the main page of the Turkish Wikipedia - current article count 110,294.

Tarihte bugün -- Today in history

Olaylar -- Events

  • 1530 - İlk Protestan Meclisi kuruldu. -- First protestant council constructed.
  • 1819 - Bisikletin patenti alındı. -- Bicycle patent obtained.
  • 1920 - Doğuda Milli Aşireti ayaklanması çıktı. -- Rebellion of the Milli Tribe in the east.
  • 1924 - Verem aşısı keşfedildi. -- Tuberculosis vaccine discovered.
  • 1928 - Yeni Türk alfabesini hazırlamak amacıyla kurulan Dil Encümeni, ilk toplantısını Ankara'da yaptı. -- The Language Council, created to prepare a new Turkish alphabet, has its first meeting in Ankara.
  • 1939 - Ankara Havagazı Şirketi devletleştirildi. -- Ankara Coal Gas Company nationalized.
  • 1945 - Birleşmiş Milletler kuruldu ve Türkiye, Birleşmiş Milletler Antlaşması'nı imzaladı. -- United Nations created and Turkey signs the United Nations' Pact.
  • 1964 - The Beatles topluluğu A Hard Day's Night adlı albümlerini piyasaya çıkardı. -- The album A Hard Day's Night from the band The Beatles goes on sale.
  • 1975 - Indira Gandhi Hindistan'da otoriter bir yönetim kurdu. -- Indira Gandhi sets up an authoritarian government in India.
  • 2000 - Amerika'da Genetik harita çalışmalarına başlandı. -- Work on the genome map in the United States begins.

Doğumlar -- Births

Ölümler -- Deaths


More on high oil prices (so-called $4 gas) and why it's not that bad

Image:Oil Prices Medium Term.png
A friend of mine (actually I translate the odd article there too) sent me this link to follow up on a post I wrote ten days ago about high oil prices and the benefit it can have on technology, and other difficult situations in particular and how they can provide a spur for innovation and growth. There seems to be a perfect timeframe and intensity for difficult situations that spurs innovation to the next level, and gives enough time for the new innovation to sink in. If the intensity is too low (in this case, if gas is still not too expensive) then innovation won't happen in the first place, and if the timeframe is too short then once the situation has passed people will sink back into their old habits and forget about the innovation they were using before when things were difficult.

This applies to just about everything in life, such as university: people in university are generally somewhat poor, paying for tuition with loans and working part-time jobs to supplement their lives, but at the same time there's a bright future a few years ahead if they work hard enough, so the current situation spurs people to work harder at self-improvement. This is also why a lot of bands only produce good albums for the first few years. After a few years of success the drive to succeed in spite of all odds kind of fades away into a type of soft, comfortable new reality.

Anyway, to the article. Here are some reasons why high gas prices can be a good thing:

  • A boom in mass transit. That's obvious, as many people can't afford expensive gas.
  • Lower obesity. More people are walking and biking.
  • Fewer accidents. Less cars on the road = fewer accidents.
  • Shorter commutes. Less cars on the road = less traffic.
And some more. See the article for more details.


Gregorian chant in Heiligenkreuz, Austria sells over 200,000 copies

I love Gregorian chant, and today the New York Times has an article on the monks at Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria that have become a kind of celebrity after the popularity of their latest album. According to the article:

When the album, “Chant: Music for Paradise,” was released in Europe in May — and shot to No. 7 in the British pop charts, at one point outselling releases from Amy Winehouse and Madonna — the trickle of press attention turned into a torrent. (The CD will be released in the United States on Tuesday.)

Now this monastery, where the daily rituals of prayer and work have guided life for 875 years, finds itself in a media whirligig at once exhilarating and unsettling for its 77 brothers.

“We’re monks,” said Johannes Paul Chavanne, 25, a Viennese who entered the monastery after studying law and is training to be a priest. “We’re not pop stars, and we don’t want to be pop stars.”

Too late: the album has made the monks of Heiligenkreuz a crossover hit, the latest example of how Gregorian chant, a once-neglected 1,000-year-old part of the Roman Catholic liturgy, can be repackaged for a secular society that savors its soothing, otherworldly cadences.

I thought that it might have been the same monks that I remembered from the early 90s (but not the name of), but that's a different group:

In 1994, the Benedictines of Santo Domingo de Solis in Spain prompted the last big revival of Gregorian chant with an album that became a phenomenon. More recently, the use of chant on the popular video game Halo has piqued interest.

Eager to get in on the trend, Universal’s classical music label took out an advertisement in Catholic publications, inviting chant groups to submit their work. Finding another ensemble like the Benedictines was going to be a long shot, the label’s executives figured.

“Not all monks want to enter into a commercial relationship because that’s not what they spend their days doing,” said Tom Lewis, the artist development manager in London for Universal Classics & Jazz.

But the advertisement was spotted by the grandson of a monk from here. He tipped off Father Wallner, who, in addition to his public-relations duties, runs the monastery’s theological academy and its Web site.

“An Austrian monk would never know what Universal Music is,” Father Wallner said. “We were chosen by divine providence to show that it is possible to have a healthy religious life today.”

...While monks in many monasteries chant, Heiligenkreuz is particularly proud of its singing, which has been honed over years by one of the monks, who used to direct choirs in Germany.

Nice. The first time I remember hearing Gregorian chant was in 1990 (I was 10 or 11) and every night I would listen to a station called AM106 in Calgary that had a top ten list at 10 pm, which I would listen to before I went to bed. One of the songs on the list was Enigma's Sadness Part 1, which starts with Gregorian chant and continues with it throughout the song. Most people know the song quite well but here it is just in case:

So where will the money be used?
The monks will never tour or perform on stage. And Heiligenkreuz will earn a royalty based on the sales of the album, which the abbot said worked out to roughly 1 euro per CD sold.The monastery’s share, Father Henckel Donnersmark figures optimistically, could be between $1.5 million and $3.1 million, which it will use to help finance the theological studies of young men from developing countries.
The only part I don't like is that they've made the music on the condition that it never gets used in video games or pop music. Pop music is where I first heard Gregorian chant and video games and their music can be just as beautiful:

But hey, I doubt your average monk is that well-versed in video games so it's no big deal.

Lastly, here's one of the videos they've uploaded to YouTube and an image of the abbey church from the outside:

Heiligenkreuz Abbey Church
Heiligenkreuz Abbey Church


Occidental - English translation on the English Wikipedia

I noticed a comment on the Wikipedia page for Occidental that no one had translated the sample text into English. Good point. So I had a go at it, and here it is:

Li material civilisation, li scientie, e mem li arte unifica se plu e plu. Li cultivat europano senti se quasi in hem in omni landes queles have europan civilisation, it es, plu e plu, in li tot munde. Hodie presc omni states guerrea per li sam armes. Sin cessa li medies de intercommunication ameliora se, e in consecuentie de to li terra sembla diminuer se. Un Parisano es nu plu proxim a un angleso o a un germano quam il esset ante cent annus a un paisano frances.

Material civilization, science, and even art unify themselves more and more. The educated European feels himself almost at home in all lands that have European civilization, that is, more and more, in the entire world. Today almost all states war with the same armaments. Without pause the modes of intercommunication improve, and in consequence from that the world seems to decrease. A Parisian is now closer to an Englishman or a German than he was a hundred years before to a French person from the country.
Maybe I'll have a go at a Spanish translation next. Or somebody else could do it before I do.


What do we do after a second Earth is discovered?

Image:Comparison TOS original remastered.jpg
After the article yesterday about the search for a second Earth getting tantalizingly close to fruition there was a new thread on the forums at space.com. It's already over three pages and if you like forum threads (because be warned that in parts it's rather silly) it's worth a read. There's actually not much in terms of information, but it's interesting to finally see the debate open up on exactly how we should approach a planet of this type once it's discovered, and if there's already some sort of life there should we still colonize it? Here are some interesting quotes from some of the users on the thread:


What then? Say we find a planet, and confirm that it is almost exactly like ours. What would the world's nations need to do? Is it even possible to go it alone, or only those with the will? What about all of our differences? Does this all need to come to fruition before we can even think about branching out?

Keep in mind for discussion purposes that, it would be confirmed that we found another Earth like planet. The distance is imaterial at this point, but for the sake of argument, lets say it was within 100 light years..

The point being that its gonna take something like this to "As Obama would probably put it" Inspire people about human spaceflight again. Human spaceflight desperately needs something humanity can relate to or it will eventually come to an end.

An earthly twin would provide that inspiration and human spaceflights (HSF) continuation IMO.

Of course, it wont be easy and for HSF, it likely will have to be international for the foreseeable future. I personally think we could go it alone if need be. But this is something that much of the world will want to be in on. I don't see that we would have to put aside our differences. We should but thats not human nature.


Another thing that I find a bit amusing, should we find a habitable earth twin... If we decide to send out a generation ship to make the journey, they probably won't be the first to reach Earth 2. Their journey will probably take so long that technological advances here on Earth will allow for a bigger, faster, better ship that will pass them up.


Turkey parliamentary delegation has awesome time in Kyrgyzstan

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Location of Kyrgyzstan

That's not a direct translation of the title of course. It does look like a fun way to visit Kyrgyzstan, though as with all political visits I certainly don't envy the short time period. I generally consider any visit under a week to be mostly a waste of time, but then again I'm not an elected member of parliament.

Today's news is from Hurriyet.

TBMM heyeti Kırgızistan'da
Turkish parliament delegation in Kyrgyzstan

Türkiye-Kırgızistan Parlamentolararası Dostluk Grubu Başkanı İbrahim Hasgür, Kırgızistan'da en çok Türk iş adamlarının yatırım yaptığını, en çok eğitim yatırımı yapanların da yine Türk iş adamları ve Türkiye Devleti olduğunu söyledi.
İbrahim Hasgür, the head of the Turkey-Kyrgyzstan Interparliamentary Friendship Group said that Turkish businessmen made the most investments in Kyrgyzstan, and that Turkish businessmen and the Turkish state made the most investments into education in the country as well.
Kırgızistan'da bulunan Türkiye-Kırgızistan Parlamentolararası Dostluk Grubu heyeti, başkent Bişkek'te üçüncü günkü temasları çerçevesinde Dışişleri Bakanı Ednan Karabayev ile görüştü.
The delegation from the Turkey-Kyrgyzstan Interparliamentary Friendship Group met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ednan Karabayev on their third day of meetings.
Bişkek Büyükelçisi Serpil Alpman ile Kırgızistan-Türkiye Parlamentolararası Dostluk Grubu Başkanı Jangoroz Kanimetov'un eşlik ettiği Türk heyetinin Karabayev ile görüşmesinde konuşan Hasgür, "Kırgızistan'da en çok yatırım yapan Türk iş adamlarıdır. Aynı zamanda en çok eğitim yatırımı yapan yine Türk iş adamları ve Türkiye Devletidir" dedi.
Serpil Alpan the ambassador in Bishkek and Jangoroz Kanimetov the head of the Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Interparliamentary Friendship Group were accompanied by the Turkish delegation. In the meeting with Karabayev Hasgür said that "Turkish businessmen are the ones that make the most investment in Kyrgyzstan. At the same time Turkish businessmen and the Turkish state are the ones that make the largest investment in education."
Karabayev de Kırgızistan'ın Türkiye ile her alanda başarılı işbirliği çalışmaları olduğunu belirtti. Kırgızistan'ın Türk yatırımcılarını beklediğini ve hükümet tarafından Türk yatırımcısına en elverişli koşulların sunulacağını belirten Karabayev, Hükümetlerarası Karma Ekonomik Komisyonu çalışmalarının canlandırılması gereğinin altını çizdi.
Karabayev also said that Kyrgyzstan and Turkey had successful cooperation in every field. Stating also that Kyrgyzstan expected Turkish investment and that the government would provide the most suitable terms to Turkish investors, Karabayev also noted that there was a need for activity of the Interadministrational Mixed Economic Commission.
Görüşme, daha sonra basına kapalı devam etti. Heyet bugün Ata-Beyit Anıt Mezarlığını ziyaret edecek, daha sonra Meclis Başkanı Aytibay Tagayev'in onuruna vereceği akşam yemeğine katılacak. Türk milletvekili heyeti bu gece Türkiye'ye dönecek.
The meeting thereafter continued closed to the press. The delegation will visit the Ata-Beyit Memorial Graveyard, and afterwards will participate in a dinner to be given in the honour of Parliament Speaker Aytibay Tagayev. The Turkish parliament delegation will return to Turkey this evening.


By the way, want to know what the Kyrgyz language sounds like? Here you are! Listen to any one of the mp3s there to get a good listen. I think it's my favourite-sounding one besides standard Turkish.


Lithuania, Apocalyptica, Finland, Conan O'Brien

Location of Baltic states

Just a bit of randomness. I came across a video yesterday on Lithuanian landscapes here:

Some might recognize that song as One by Metallica. It's played by a Finnish group called Apocalyptica, which is a group of professional cello players that first came to prominence with a CD of Metallica cover tunes played on the cello. Recently they've moved from simple cover tunes to their own songs, and here's one of them live:

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't include this video of Conan O'Brien's trip to Finland:

The reason he made it was because of this:
After meeting Finnish actor/director Lauri Nurkse on October 11, 2005, O'Brien discovered that he was popular in Finland, and began a long running joke that he resembles the first female President of Finland, Tarja Halonen. After joking about this for several months (which led to the recurring segment "Conan O'Brien Hates My Homeland" and his endorsement of her campaign), O'Brien traveled to Finland and appeared on several television shows, and met President Halonen. The trip was filmed and aired as a special.
The best part of the video starts from about 3:55 in, as O'Brien instructs the visitor to the country on how to say "welcome to Finland" in Finnish (hint: it's not even close to Finnish).


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