More time

For those of us who asked for “more time” for Christmas have received our wish. The IERS has decided to add an extra second to the end of this year in order to keep Earth’s clocks aligned with its rotational velocity.


Renewed Fighting In Israel

Well I had intended to write a rant about EULAs today. And I had wanted to put off a post on Israel for a while longer. But it seems circumstances have conspired against me.

I want to state up front that I am biased on Israel/Palestinian conflict. As the son of an Israeli citizen I have a vested interest in the Israeli side and I want you to be aware that it colors my opinion and analysis. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people don’t mention such conflicts of interest in their analysis, so it is only right that I do so now.

Any full discussion of the conflict would have to start with a historical accounting from at least 722 BC if not earlier. So I will limit myself to discussing just the most recent round of violence as I am not currently prepared to discuss the full history.

The recently ended truce was originally negotiated by the Egyptians it had 6 key terms.
1) Egypt set the start time of the truce for June 19th (Both sides exchanged fire following this time)
2) Israel would reopen the Karni and Sufa crossings into the Gaza Strip by June 22 (The crossings were opened briefly following the 29th)
3) All Palestinian factions would refrain from using violence against Israel (Rocket fire fell to less than one per day but continued)
4) By June 29 Israel would no longer limit the flow of goods through those crossings. (Except for explosives)
5) Hamas and Fatah would “reach an arrangement on administering the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.” (The Rafah crossing has remained contested and mostly closed)
6) “Talks on the Rafah crossings and negotiations to over Shalit’s release as part of a prisoner swap with Hamas are to continue.” (While Israel did release a number of Fatah militants no other prisoner swap has emerged)

Both the Israeli government and Hamas conceded they did not expect the truce to last. And it seems both sides made only token efforts to enforce the ceasefire with the crossing only being opened for a couple of weeks (Israel closed them on account of continued shelling) and rocket fire out of the Gaza strip continuing (on account of the crossings being closed), though at a lower rate.

Now the cease fire is over. Discussing who is to blame for the ending of the ceasefire seems pointless to me neither side really seems to have taken it as anything other than a lull in the fighting.

What I think is important to note is that I do not believe we are just seeing a couple days of fighting before another ceasefire.
For a number of reasons not the least of which are the upcoming Israeli elections and Hamas continued refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. I believe this “worst day of violence in decades” is only a sign of things to come in what could very well could be the start of another intifada. After the Kadima’s failure to secure the return of its captured troops in Lebanon two years ago or Corporal Shilat in the Gaza strip it has fallen badly behind the Likud in the polls. The vast majority of the Israeli populace blames the Kadima for being to soft on militants and for blundering the war. A large land invasion of the Gaza strip seems to be the only way for the party to restore its viability in the upcoming election.

At the same time we see no sign of backing down from Hamas. In fact, they’ve called for “revenge” and suicide bombings. It seems clear that we are in for several more rounds of violence before things calm down again.

Update your browser

A major exploit was found in IE this month. All it needs  to take over your computer is for you to simply VISIT a page. “Microsoft estimated that one in every 500 Windows users had been exposed to sites that tried to exploit the flaw and the number of victims was increasing at a rate of 50% daily. ” Alternatively, you could switch to Firefox.

Also a new update for Firefox was released, though the fixes were more minor.

Carbonate Minerals found on Mars

Yet another promising find from Mars this week. NASA found evidence of Carbonate minerals, a key sign of the presence of water conducive to life. I am one of those who is very hopeful that we will find signs of life on Mars and elsewhere in the solar system. I think that the notion that Earth is somehow special and unique in the galaxy for having life is rather arrogant. Even from a religious perspective, there is no reason to believe that God did not create life elsewhere in the Galaxy or even the solar system.

Internet Outage in the Egpyt Middle East and India

For the second time in a year, not one, but two of the fiber optic cables which connect Egypt to Italy were severed near Egypt yesterday (by the time this post goes up two days ago). In fact, this time it was actually three. The network was designed to withstand a single cable loss, in fact a loss IS expected nearly annually, but it is supposed to be “incredibly rare to experience a dual-break.” The fact is, it has now happened twice in the same spot in one year, which seems more like foul play than random chance. Perhaps this is just me being paranoid, but if I had to guess, this is some sort of terrorism.

It would make sense for Islamic extremists to attempt to down the internet in the Middle East this way. One of the primary ideological drives of Al-Qaeda is to reverse the spread of western culture into Muslim countries. How better to achieve that aim then to shut down the Internet?