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Jacques T's Journal

28th January, 2005. 6:03 pm.

Evil robots... wars between robots and humans... terminator... it all begins like
this bbc report:

'The US military is planning to deploy robots armed with machine-guns to wage war against insurgents in Iraq. Eighteen of the 1m-high robots, equipped with cameras and operated by remote control, are going to Iraq this spring. Officials say the robot warrior is fast, accurate and will track and attack the enemy with relatively little risk to the lives of US soldiers. The robot fighter has been named Swords, after the acronym for Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems. It can be fitted with standard-issue M249 or M240 rifle, has four cameras, night-vision and zoom lenses, and costs 200000 USD.'

That's cheap. How much does a regular soldier cost ? Well, the
annual per-soldier cost
(including "maintenance" like feeding and housing and repair) is estimated at a staggering 220000 USD. So it's comparable. Of course, at a salary of $70/month, the cheapest by far remains the iraqi soldier. But they are less bullet-proof and pentagon-loyal than the SWORD.

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27th January, 2005. 10:42 am.

So, the screensaver that I've been using has finally paid off. No, I'm not using the computers to bulk-mail my credentials as a nigerian ex-president willing to share ten zillion dollars. The thing is calculating climate change. Probably more useful than trying to find little green men with seti. But it's the same idea: burn your cpu when it's not working for you. If tens of thousands of people do that, you've got one heck of a calculator. And so, after many months of work, the outcome is that we will all melt in fiery hell. To appear in Nature magazine. Ah why didn't I stick to aliens...

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6th January, 2005. 4:54 pm.

So... I told you I was bad at this journal thing! Anyway, happy new year !!!!

Lesseee what happened since the last entry... people I know get beaten up, scores of people die in the biggest Tsunami ever, I spent the new year's weekend partying in a castle in Barbençon. There. Up to speed again.

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30th November, 2004. 6:08 pm.

I found another argument to convince funding agencies to give me money. You would think this is difficult, seeing that at the moment I am working on spherical shells of electrons in a bubble inside liquid helium. And practical application do not easily come to mind. I mean, this is about as technologically applicable as a study on Joyce's Ulysses. I thought. All of a sudden, it seems spherical shells of electrons can cure cancer. Right. After the nanoshells are finished curing cancer, I'll ask them to make a quantum computer and if they've got time left a warp drive. But it seems to be serious. In lab tests, it cured a whopping 100% of the cancerous rat test population. The idea is to attach a nanoshell to an antigen. Antigen attaches itself to the thing you want to destroy. Shine in far infrared. The human body is transparent to that, but you excite the plasmon mode of the nanoshell, heating the thing and burning whatever cell you attached it to.
Verrrry funny is this we hire transfer students part of the homepage of Naomi Halas, the discoverer of nanoshells...

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26th November, 2004. 4:26 pm.

We went to an exhibition of old abbey books. It was really good. Some pictures are here.

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17th November, 2004. 9:48 am.

OK, I know conferences are fun and so meetings on many topics are getting organised, but this... Anyway, today I read the happy announcement of the start of the fourth world toilet summit. It's organised by the WTO (no, not that WTO, but the World Toilet Organisation), publishing fine books like the The 2000-2005 World Outlook for Toilet Tissues. Heather, an american friend of mine, always wanted to write a book about the toilets of the world, because she claims that in different countries toilets can be very different and people should be aware of that, but I thought she was joking. No shit, nothing is too silly nowadays. I wonder how historians will look back at this in a thousand years.

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15th November, 2004. 5:22 pm.

And it goes on.... There's a funny website where americans apologise to the world for having made the smirking chimp president. As a reaction, the world community responded with an apologies accepted website. And the neocons and other hellspawn responded with the predictable no we ain't sorry site.

And now that we're talking websites anyway, the Cassini probe passed by Titan and made some gorgeous pictures.

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8th November, 2004. 7:32 pm.

A couple of interesting new distributed computing projects have popped up:
http://www.physics2005.org/events/einsteinathome/index.html
and
http://athome.web.cern.ch/athome/ .
Both are nice physics projects, one to help detect gravitons and the other to help improve the design of the LHC at CERN. Ah I remember the days of seti@home, we were all searching for those lil'green men beaming messages to us.

Maybe the alien satellites monitoring earth have already transmitted coverage of the Bush election. Now for sure they're not going to contact Earth, having concluded we never got much further than the apes in Space Odyssey 2001. Bush the big bashing chimp won. And this time over, they can't blame it on the "Electoral College voting system that makes the Eurovision Song Contest look like a beacon of democracy and efficiency", to cite Michael Moore. Yeah yeah I know, I should get over it, but this happens when you live there for a while and develop some sort of emotional attachment to the place.

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3rd November, 2004. 6:21 pm.

International observers in Florida:

"The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.
'To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler,' said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe."

BTW, it was the first time that international observers (UN and EU) were sent to monitor the elections in the US. Maybe the UN should take up Castro's 2000 offer to send Cuban peace-keepers ;-)

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3rd November, 2004. 6:04 pm.

I don't understand these Americans. They chose for...

-four more years of making enemies faster than they can kill them;
-four more years of their scientific decisions being made by people who don't believe in the scientific method and make choices by divine revelation;
-four more years of debt that their children and grandchildren will have to pay off;
-four more years of racists and lunatics for their judicial appointments (sorry, fourty: new justices are to be appointed and are appointed for life);
-four more years of their soldiers being used as cannon fodder;
-four more years of looting their treasury and squandering it on corporate cronies;
-four more years of fear and darkness and racism and hatred and stupidity and guns;
-four more years of bringing global ecological disaster ever closer.

Congratulations, U.S.A.

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