Link roundup for 5 May 2012

Sunday, May 06, 2012

--- First a reminder: elections today (6 May in Europe) in France, Serbia, and Greece.

--- Good news from a few days ago: the ESA has chosen to go with the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JUICE) over the two other proposals. Launch will be in 2022, arrival 2030:

The spacecraft would use the gravity of Jupiter to initiate a series of close fly-bys around Callisto and Europa, and then finally to put itself in a settled orbit around Ganymede.
I feel bad for the missions that did not get selected (because ideally they would all be funded), but when it comes down to it I will almost always prefer a mission that has more immediate and close appeal. An unmanned dedicated mission to 24 Themis (possibly a good location for human colonization) over Neptune, for example.

--- Dawn is now beginning to spiral upward in its orbit around Vesta after being given an extra 40 days in its current (and lowest) orbit. Departure for Ceres will be in August I believe, and in the meantime it continues to approach Ceres by virtue of being in orbit around Vesta (which is closing in on Ceres at the moment). Current distance: 96 million km.

--- Google's blog in Latin America mentions some challenges for tech companies in Spanish. Two are interesting: 1) Generating content: there is a lack of local content in Portuguese and Spanish. For example, there are 2.5 times more websites in German than Spanish, in spite of the fact that the Spanish-speaking population is much larger than the German-speaking one. 2) Develop e-commerce: in Latin America, electronic commerce represents between 0.3% and 0.6% of GDP, compared to 1% in developed countries.

 --- The Susquehanna town school district has decided to increase Spanish education and do away with French. Nothing wrong with increasing Spanish and decreasing other languages if the budget does not allow it, but the reasons given are quite specious:
Intensive, longer-term studies would help halt the slide, he said, adding that eliminating French would help students concentrate on a globally useful language. French is “a beautiful language, [but] not as relevant as it was years ago,” Sakol said. Revised language offerings could include Mandarin, Assistant Superintendent Kim Donahue said. “If you look at the top 10 languages, basically, it’s Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish,” she said.
French has grown from 200 million to 220 million over the past three years and will reach around 650-700 million by 2050. French is not the language of diplomacy it once was, but its current strength is by no means ebbing.

--- Google Alerts sent me a job ad in Montreal for a Papiamentu speaker. Not that good a job (call centre) but interesting to see.

--- Costa Rica snagged a group of 28 immersion students that had originally intended to go to Mexico. The change marks an end to a 15-year exchange, and took place due to safety reasons. Probably not an isolated incident.


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