Saturday, August 26, 2006

Writer finds improvement with fountain pen

Amy L. Wink has taught writing and literature at several universities. During a recent persoanl computer crash, she rediscovered the joys...and power...of putting pen to paper. Excerpts are below. Click on the title to read her entire article.

"As my initial panic subsided, I saw what I could do alone, independent of my favorite technology. I printed my edition manuscript and pulled out pencils. I found the notebooks I’d kept several years ago and reviewed what I had written by hand using the old technology I reserve for writing in my journals: my Waterman fountain pen. It came as a shock to find that I had forgotten how effective writing this way could be. Used to the exciting tools on the computer — the thesaurus, the word count — I’d forgotten that I had written the entire preface of the edition in long-hand well before transferring the draft to my computer. It’s not that I never used my pen or the notebooks I cached. I have, in fact, delighted in the sensual pleasures of the flowing ink and the lovely Japanese paper that fills the notebooks. That paper does provide, as the cover proclaims “most advanced quality” and “gives best writing features.” I love the way the ink works with this paper but I usually reserve that pleasure for my journal writing, preferring the illusion of speed in my other work. “Work” proceeds more effectively on the computer, or so I told myself.

In my break from computer assistance, I discovered a new truth: writing by hand can make my thinking go faster. This was a jolt to my fixed ideas indeed. As I developed my working life, my writing process, and my consciousness around my adored computer, I had ignored several strategies that worked as well or better to enhance my work. Though forced as I was to adapt because of my loss, the change in my own perceptions of my writing process were dramatic and refreshing. Instead of stagnating, I transformed my thinking. Instead of falling into inertia, I pursued my work, developing new energies as I did so. I discovered I could write 500 words in one hour.

Perhaps my computer had become more of a task-master than I imagined. Unlike the singular relationship pen has to paper, my computer holds all my tasks, so when I open the desktop’s folders, my attention remains divided among the projects I must sort through before starting on the one I choose. Putting pen to paper isolates the task at hand to the plain work of putting words on paper. Plain like Jane Eyre, without adornment, straightforward. My computer had become Blanche Ingram, right down to her alabaster skin."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Excite News - Dinky Pluto Loses Its Status As Planet

"Pluto, beloved by some as a cosmic underdog but scorned by astronomers who considered it too dinky and distant, was unceremoniously stripped of its status as a planet Thursday.

The International Astronomical Union, dramatically reversing course just a week after floating the idea of reaffirming Pluto's planethood and adding three new planets to Earth's neighborhood, downgraded the ninth rock from the sun in historic new galactic guidelines.

The shift will have the world's teachers scrambling to alter lesson plans just as schools open for the fall term.

Pluto, it's major moon Charon just below and to the right, and the recently discovered third and fourth moons

'It will all take some explanation, but it is really just a reclassification and I can't see that it will cause any problems,' said Neil Crumpton, who teaches science at a high school north of London. 'Science is an evolving subject and always will be.'

Powerful new telescopes, experts said, are changing the way they size up the mysteries of the solar system and beyond. But the scientists at the conference showed a soft side, waving plush toys of the Walt Disney character Pluto the dog - and insisting that Pluto's spirit will live on in the exciting discoveries yet to come.

"The word 'planet' and the idea of planets can be emotional because they're something we learn as children," said Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who helped hammer out the new definition.

"This is really all about science, which is all about getting new facts," he said. "Science has marched on. ... Many more Plutos wait to be discovered."

Pluto, a planet since 1930, got the boot because it didn't meet the new rules, which say a planet not only must orbit the sun and be large enough to assume a nearly round shape, but must "clear the neighborhood around its orbit." That disqualifies Pluto, whose oblong orbit overlaps Neptune's, downsizing the solar system to eight planets from the traditional nine.

Astronomers have labored without a universal definition of a planet since well before the time of Copernicus, who proved that the Earth revolves around the sun, and the experts gathered in Prague burst into applause when the guidelines were passed.

Predictably, Pluto's demotion provoked plenty of wistful nostalgia.

"It's disappointing in a way, and confusing," said Patricia Tombaugh, the 93-year-old widow of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.

"I don't know just how you handle it. It kind of sounds like I just lost my job," she said from Las Cruces, N.M. "But I understand science is not something that just sits there. It goes on. Clyde finally said before he died, 'It's there. Whatever it is. It is there.'"

The decision by the IAU, the official arbiter of heavenly objects, restricts membership in the elite cosmic club to the eight classical planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Pluto and objects like it will be known as "dwarf planets," which raised some thorny questions about semantics: If a raincoat is still a coat, and a cell phone is still a phone, why isn't a dwarf planet still a planet?

NASA said Pluto's downgrade would not affect its $700 million New Horizons spacecraft mission, which this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

But mission head Alan Stern said he was "embarrassed" by Pluto's undoing and predicted that Thursday's vote would not end the debate. Although 2,500 astronomers from 75 nations attended the conference, only about 300 showed up to vote.

"It's a sloppy definition. It's bad science," he said. "It ain't over."

Under the new rules, two of the three objects that came tantalizingly close to planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena." The third object, Pluto's largest moon, Charon, isn't in line for any special designation.

Brown, whose Xena find rekindled calls for Pluto's demise because it showed it isn't nearly as unique as it once seemed, waxed philosophical.

"Eight is enough," he said, jokingly adding: "I may go down in history as the guy who killed Pluto."

Demoting the icy orb named for the Roman god of the underworld isn't personal - it's just business - said Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of the PBS show "Star Gazer."

"It's like an amicable divorce," he said. "The legal status has changed but the person really hasn't. It's just single again.""

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hobbit or not? Species debate flares up - LiveScience -

"Skeletal remains said to be that of a new 'hobbit' species in 2004 do not represent a new species, as then claimed, but some of the ancestors of modern human pygmies who live on the island today, according to an international scientific team.

The remains were found in a cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia. The researchers say those remains show signs of microcephaly, a condition in which the head and brain are much smaller than average for the person's age and gender.

The skull specimen attributed to a newly designated species known as Homo floresiensis is at left. Researchers created computer images of the skull with the left side mirrored at the midline (center) and the right side mirrored at the midline (right) in an effort to show that there were growth abnormalities.

'Our work documents the real dimensions of human variation here,' says Dr. Robert B. Eckhardt, professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Penn State.

The skeleton, dubbed LB1, "looks different if researchers think in terms of European characteristics because it samples a population that is not European, but Australomelanesian, and further because it is a developmentally abnormal individual, being microcephalic," Eckhardt said.

The new analysis, done by several researchers, argues that claims of a new species — "Homo floresiensis," commonly called hobbits — are incorrect.

The results were published Monday in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Those proposing a separate species had claimed that early human ancestors, Homo erectus, traveled to the island about 840,000 years ago and evolved into Homo floresiensis, based on the discovery of stone tools on the island. This claim assumed that there was no subsequent human migration to the island until after Homo floresiensis died out about 15,000 years ago.

In the newly published paper, the researchers contend that this is false, because pygmy elephants arrived on the island at least two separate times, and during periods of low sea levels Flores was isolated from other islands by only a few miles. Repeated influxes by later humans were not only possible, but likely, they argue.

For LB1'S cranium, face, dentition, skeleton, they find that many of the key features previously said to be diagnostic of a new species still are present in the Rampasasa pygmies on the island today, along with evidence for growth abnormalities.

"To establish a new species, paleoanthropologists are required to document a unique complex of normal traits not found in any other species," Eckhardt said in a statement. "But this was not done. The normal traits of LB1 were not unique, and its unusually small braincase was not normal."

Excite News - Astronomers Offer Proof of 'Dark Matter'

"Astronomers say they have found the best evidence to date for 'dark matter,' that mysterious invisible substance that is believed to account for the bulk of the universe's mass.

Using a host of telescopes, researchers focused on the collision between two galactic clusters. They found that most of the gravitational pull from the aftermath of the encounter comes from a relatively empty looking patch of sky, a strong suggestion that there is something more there than meets the eye.

'This provides the first direct proof that dark matter must exist,' said Doug Clowe, a research astronomer at the University of Arizona.

Clowe and his colleagues used NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories to examine the 'bullet cluster,' a clump of galaxies that formed over the last 100 million years from the violent collision of two smaller galactic clusters. The object gets its name from a bullet-shaped cloud of superhot gas on one of its sides.

Most of the visible mass in the bullet cluster is concentrated in that cloud and another near it. But using a technique known as gravitational lensing, Clowe and his colleagues show that the force of gravity is actually stronger in a part of the cluster that appears to be emptier.

They will publish their results in a future issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"This is really exciting," said University of Chicago physicist Sean Carroll, adding that the observations demonstrate the existence of dark matter "beyond a reasonable doubt." Carroll was not involved in the research.

Astronomers have used dark matter for 70 years to explain various observations about the universe's behavior. They have shown that rotating spiral galaxies would fly apart if it were not for the gravitational pull of undetectable matter in addition to their stars. Other observations show that the expansion of the universe is being held back by a force greater than the gravitational pull of visible matter alone.

Though dark matter clearly provides the best explanation for such observations, Clowe said, "astronomers have long been in the slightly embarrassing position" of having to appeal to some mysterious, unobservable material in order to make things fit together.

Some physicists have even proposed that it isn't the amount and type of matter in the universe that needs to be adjusted, it's the law of gravity itself. They have suggested alternative theories that boost the strength of gravity on galactic and intergalactic scales in order to do away with the need for dark matter.

"It's always possible that there's some modification of gravity going on as well," Carroll said. "No matter what you do you're going to have dark matter."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Scientist says dolphins are dim-wits

The dim-wit here isn't the dolphins. Apparently this 'scientist' has never read *any* of the voluminous research conducted on dolphin intelligence. See my post here.

"Dolphins may have big brains but a South African-based scientist says lab rats and even goldfish can outwit them.

Paul Manger of Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand says the super-sized brains of dolphins, whales and porpoises are a function of being warm-blooded in a cold water environment and not a sign of intelligence.

'We equate our big brain with intelligence. Over the years we have looked at these kinds of things and said the dolphins must be intelligent,' he said.

"The real flaw in this logic is that it suggests all brains are built the same ... When you look at the structure of the dolphin brain you see it is not built for complex information processing," he told Reuters in an interview.

A neuroethologist who looks at brain evolution, Manger's views are sure to cause a stir among a public which has long associated dolphins with intelligence, emotion and other human-like qualities.

They are widely regarded as one of the smartest mammals. But Manger, whose peer-reviewed research on the subject has been published in "Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society", says the reality is different.

Brains, he says, are made of neurons and glia. The latter create the environment for the neurons to work properly and producing heat is one of glia's functions.

"Dolphins have a super-abundance of glia and very few neurons ... The dolphin's brain is not made for information processing it is designed to counter the thermal challenges of being a mammal in water," Manger said.

Fish out of water

Manger said observed behavior supports his iconoclastic take on dolphins as dim-wits.

"You put an animal in a box, even a lab rat or gerbil, and the first thing it wants to do is climb out of it. If you don't put a lid on top of the bowl a goldfish it will eventually jump out to enlarge the environment it is living in," he said.

"But a dolphin will never do that. In the marine parks the dividers to keep the dolphins apart are only a foot or two above the water between the different pools," he said.

Why not? Because, Manger says, the thought would simply not cross their unsophisticated minds.

They jump through hoops at marine parks only because they have been conditioned to for a food reward -- which may suggest the brain of a single-minded predator rather than a reasoned thinker.

"Dolphins can actually chain up to 16 stimulus response events, but this is indicative of good trainers and not intelligent animals. Stimulus-response conditioning is thought to be a low level of intelligent behavior," Manger said.

Manger also points to the tuna industry, which under consumer pressure has gone to great lengths to prevent dolphins from being caught and killed by accident in nets. "If they were really intelligent they would just jump over the net because it doesn't come out of the water," he said."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tale of the TV Tapes: Apollo 11 Mission Archive Mystery Unspools

"Back in July 1969, the first moonwalks by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are frozen forever moments in the history books. But it turns out that millions of riveted spectators back on Earth were on the receiving end of substantially degraded television showing the epic event.

The highest-quality television signal from Apollo 11’s touchdown zone in the moon's Sea of Tranquility—from an antenna mounted atop the Eagle lunar lander—was recorded on telemetry tapes at three tracking stations on Earth: Goldstone in California and Honeysuckle Creek and Parkes in Australia.

Scads of the tapes were produced—and now a search is on to locate them. And if recovered and given a 21st century digital makeover, they could yield a far sharper view of that momentous day, compared to what was broadcast around the globe.

But Apollo 11 is a memory rewind—now over 37 years old. Nobody is quite sure just how much longer the original slow-scan tapes will last … that is, if they haven’t already been erased.

Handled and archived

“I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such, which implies they were badly handled, misplaced and are now gone forever. That is not the case,” explained John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) Parkes Radio Observatory in Parkes, Australia.

Sarkissian said the tapes were appropriately handled and archived in the mid 1970’s after the hectic activity of the Apollo lunar landing era was over. “We are confident that they are stored at [NASA’s] Goddard Space Flight Center [in Greenbelt, Maryland] … we just don’t know where precisely,” he told It is important to note, Sarkissian added, that there is no inference of wrong-doing, incompetence or negligence on the part of NASA or its employees.

“The archiving of the tapes was simply a lower priority during the Apollo era. It should be remembered, that at the time, NASA was totally focused on meeting its goal of putting a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No sooner had they done that, than they had to repeat it again a few months later, and then do it again, repeating it for a total of seven lunar landing missions … including Apollo 13,” Sarkissian pointed out.

Making it tough to track down the whereabouts of the data, many of those involved in the archiving of the tapes have since moved on, retired or passed away, “taking their corporate memory of where the tapes are with them,” Sarkissian said.

It is important not to exaggerate the quality of the images being sought, Sarkissian added. “The SSTV was not like modern high definition TV and nor was it even equal in quality to the normal broadcast TV we are accustomed to viewing,” he said.

Still, the SSTV was better than the scan-converted images that were broadcast at the time—which is the only version currently available, Sarkissian concluded."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

IBM PC turns 25 - Aug 12, 2006

It's hard to believe that so much time has passed...but equally hard to remember when we didn't rely on our ubiquitous PCs (Apple's included, of course!). My first 'personal computer' was a Sinclair ZX-81, subsequently marketed by Timex which was also from 1981 as I recall. You hooked the keyboard/computer up to your TV as a monitor, and used a cassette tape recorder to input games and programs. I purchased the 32K RAM expansion module as well!

My first real job was as a computer programmer, on the IBM 360 and 370 mainframe machines, when we used punchcards for input and humongous printouts and 'core dumps' to see where we went wrong. Having *any* kind of a monitor -- even a TV set -- was a treat!

"The May-December marriage of a young company called Microsoft and business powerhouse IBM would change the landscape of offices and homes across the globe.

August 12 is the 25th anniversary of the IBM personal computer launch, a pairing of MS and DOS, Microsoft and the disk operating system.

'MS-DOS moved computer access from a community measured in thousands to one measured in millions,' said Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

'It was a key transition from the hobbyist and 'geek' environment to business applications,' he said.

Several popular home computers existed before the 1981 IBM PC launch. But the regimented business world considered Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack's Tandy products 'toys.'
The IBM stamp of approval on a personal computer changed that mentality for good.
'Almost overnight, with IBM introducing the PC, it became OK to use it for real business applications,' said Tycho Howle, CEO of nuBridges in Atlanta, a provider of business-to-business services.

Howle remembers with fondness his first desktop PC.

'In 1981 I had an IBM PC, two-floppy system,' Howle said.

'To give young people these days a comparison: It would take 10 of those floppy disks to be able to hold the music that is on one MP3 song,' he said.

A floppy disk is a thin, plastic disk that was coated with a magnetic substance used to store data. Earliest disks were 8 inches wide, more efficient disks shrunk to 5 1/4 inches, then 3 1/2 inches. Unlike a CDs or DVDs of today, the disks were floppy, or flexible.

IBM, the 800 pound gorilla of the business world at the time, flooded trade papers and television with promises that this new device would provide "smoother scheduling, better planning, and greater productivity."

Click the title to read more

Sunday, August 06, 2006

After 10 Years, Few Believe Life on Mars

"It was a science fiction fantasy come true: Ten years ago this summer, NASA announced the discovery of life on Mars.

At a Washington, D.C., news conference, scientists showed magnified pictures of a four-pound Martian meteorite riddled with wormy blobs that looked like bacterial colonies. The researchers explained how they had pried numerous clues from the rock, all strongly supporting their contention that microscopic creatures once occupied its nooks and crannies.
It was arguably the space agency's most imagination-gripping moment since Apollo. Space buffs and NASA officials said that it just might be the scientific discovery of the century.
'If the results are verified,' the late Carl Sagan pronounced, 'it is a turning point in human history.'

Ten years later, the results have not been verified. Skeptics have found non-biological explanations for every piece of evidence that was presented on Aug. 6, 1996. And though they still vigorously defend their claim, the NASA scientists who advanced it now stand alone in their belief.

"We certainly have not convinced the community, and that's been a little bit disappointing," said David McKay, a NASA biochemist and leader of the team that started the scientific episode.

But even though the majority of his colleagues don't buy his "life on Mars" theory - McKay's own brother, also a NASA scientist, is one of his most prominent critics - many say they respect him and greatly appreciate his efforts.

The announcement and the technical paper that followed it practically created exobiology, the scientific field that investigates the potential for life on other planets.

"Without that paper I wouldn't be working in this field," said Martin Fisk, a marine geologist who studies how bacteria survive under the sea floor, partly because their harsh environment may resemble that of extraterrestrial life.

Debating the claim has helped researchers develop standards that will eventually prove useful for evaluating the presence of life in other Martian meteorites or a sample from the red planet. It has given the scientific community ideas about exactly where on the planet they would most like to scoop up a sample, should they ever get to retrieve one.

And it is undeniable that McKay and his colleagues have drawn attention to what is - whether it contains evidence of life or not - a very interesting rock.

The rock in question was discovered in Antarctica, where rocks that fall from the heavens are easy to spot on the icy glacial plains. Its name, ALH84001, indicates that it was the first meteorite found during the 1984 research season in the Allan Hills, an especially meteorite-rich area in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains.

At first ALH84001 was misclassified, so it wasn't until 1993 that researchers even realized the rock came from Mars. That was interesting enough, because at the time fewer than a dozen Martian meteorites were known to science.

But ALH84001 also turned out to be much more ancient than the other known Martian meteorites. At 4.5 billion years old, it dates from a period of Martian history when liquid water - a requirement for the presence of life - probably existed at the now barren planet's surface.

It made sense to ask: Could there be fossils of ancient Martian microbes, or maybe traces of them, preserved in the cracks and pore spaces of ALH84001?

The NASA scientists proffered four reasons to support their view that the answer to that question is "Yes."

First, chemical analysis showed that the meteorite contained a variety of organic molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. PAHs can be produced by biological processes, and that's what McKay and his colleagues argued. But they are also commonly found in asteroids, comets and meteorites, not to mention the Antarctic ice where ALH84001 is estimated to have lain for 13,000 years. For that reason, skeptics immediately dismissed the importance of PAHs in the Martian meteorite.

A second line of evidence - that the elongated blobs in the electron microscope images could be fossils of ancient Martian bacteria - was also rejected pretty quickly by most scientists.

The problem was, those blobs were much smaller than any bacteria that have ever been observed on Earth. A National Research Council panel concluded in 1998 that the blobs were 100 to 1,000 times too small to be free-living organisms because they couldn't have held all the proteins, DNA and other molecules necessary for even the simplest metabolic processes.

You could argue that perhaps Martian life evolved a more compact biochemistry, or that the blobs shriveled as they fossilized. At one point McKay and the other NASA scientists suggested the blobs might be pieces of larger organisms.

"That was only mentioned once or twice and never brought up again," said Allan Treiman, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

The two other lines of evidence survived longer. Both revolved around minerals sprinkled through the meteorite that could have been produced by microbes.

The first mineral, carbonate, is typically formed on earth by the remains of living organisms that make shells and other skeletal parts out of minerals they extract from seawater. Some of those organisms can be quite tiny. So finding carbonate in ALH84001 could indicate the presence of ancient microbes in the rock.

The story is similar for magnetite, the other mineral of interest in ALH84001. Some bacteria produce extraordinarily small and pure magnetite crystals, then align the magnetic grains to make a microscopic compass needle that helps them navigate.

The bacteria don't use their internal compasses to find north; they use them to tell up from down. Earth's spherical shape means that a compass needle in either hemisphere points at least somewhat downward, so the magnetite grains help the microbes sense where they are with respect to the planet's surface.

Some of the most evolutionarily ancient bacteria on Earth produce magnetite, McKay and his colleagues pointed out. Perhaps ancient Martian microbes did as well; at least some of the magnetite grains in ALH84001 share the shape, small size and remarkable purity of those produced by bacteria on Earth.

Of all the lines of evidence presented by the NASA scientists, it was the magnetite grains that proved most provocative. They were embedded in the carbonate along with other iron-containing minerals in such an unusual arrangement that something out of the ordinary must have put them there - could it have been alive?

"The shape of the magnetite grains is still rather distinctive," McKay said. "If it were found on Earth it would be a very strong biosignature."

For years McKay and his detractors argued about how distinctive the magnetite grains in ALH84001 are, and whether a non-biological process could have produced them. Certainly nobody had ever produced similar magnetite grains in the laboratory.

Then somebody did. In 2001 a second team of NASA scientists, including McKay's brother Gordon and a consultant to the space agency named D.C. Golden, managed to cook up a batch of magnetite grains very similar to the ones in ALH84001. Golden and Gordon McKay were also able to incorporate the magnetite grains into balls of carbonate like the ones David McKay and his colleagues described in 1996.

"He got a little testy about the results we were getting," said Gordon McKay, whose office is down the hall from his brother's. "What we have shown is that it is possible to form these things inorganically."

What's more, their laboratory method simulated conditions ALH84001 is known to have experienced during its time on Mars.

Yet David McKay insists his brother's team has not accurately described the synthetic crystals' shape, and that they aren't sufficiently similar to the ones found in ALH84001. He also suggests that the purity of the magnetite crystals stems not from the lab process itself, but from using unrealistically pure raw materials as a starting point.

Most of the scientific community doesn't buy those arguments.

"Personally I don't understand why (Gordon McKay's and) Golden's work hasn't just been the final word on it," said Treiman, the Lunar and Planetary Institute geologist.

Now David McKay has added another meteorite to the mix. At a March scientific meeting he presented microscopic images of the Nakhla meteorite, another Martian specimen. The pictures resemble pits that terrestrial bacteria create as they literally eat the volcanic rock of the sea floor.

"When I first saw it I was really struck by the similarity," said marine geologist Fisk, who is a professor at Oregon State University.

So far the scientific community hasn't shown much interest in David McKay's analysis of the Nakhla meteorite, partly because it dates from a more recent period of Martian history when the planet was just as frigid and inhospitable to life as it is today. In fact all of the 30-some Martian meteorites now known to science, with the exception of ALH84001, are probably too young to have contained living organisms.

But new Martian meteorites turn up almost every year. Eventually, another 4.5 billion-year-old piece of the red planet is going to be discovered.

"Sooner or later we're going to get another old rock," said Massachusetts Institute of Technology geophysicist Benjamin Weiss.

And when that happens, the talk about life on Mars will begin anew."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

VANITY FAIR : 9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes

"How did the U.S. Air Force respond on 9/11? Could it have shot down United 93, as conspiracy theorists claim? Obtaining 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters, the author reconstructs the chaotic military history of that day—and the Pentagon's apparent attempt to cover it up."

Click on the title link to go to the article and hear some of the actual phone calls and transmissions.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fischer's dispute with Swiss bank

01.08.2006 Without giving a reason the Union Bank of Switzerland, one of the world's largest, has transferred the assets of the legendary chess world champion Bobby Fischer to a bank account in Iceland, where Fischer now resides. The sum of three million Swiss Francs (US $2.4 m or €1.9 m) was transferred without Fischer's permission and against his will.

Nobody knows why.

Bobby Fischer goes public on UBS
Criticises the bank for using discriminatory measures

In an lengthy interview with Morgunbladid, Reykjavik, last Saturday July 29th, chess legend and world champion Bobby Fischer revealed that he has been in a long and difficult dispute with the Union Bank of Switzerland, one of the world’s major banks, since he received in April 2005, soon after his arrival to Iceland from a detention in Japan, a notification that the UBS intended to terminate his account, which he had held with the bank for over 13 years since 1992.

The UBS asked Mr. Fischer for his banking details in Iceland in order to transfer all his assets and deposits with the bank, around three million dollars, notifying him at the same time about its unilateral decision to terminate all business relationship with him, without stating any reason or clarification for the action. Then, against Mr. Fischer's repeated protests, the UBS, after some extension of the deadline, went ahead in August 2005 and transferred all his funds to the Landsbanki in Reykjavik. The UBS even liquidated some of Fischer's gold coins, from his match with Boris Spassky in Sveti Stefan in 1992, and other investments, without his prior approval at a time when the rate for gold was very unfavorable.

According to Morgunbladid Mr. Fischer was not willing to receive his financial funds from the UBS in this way, he reserved his rights to take appropriate actions and asked Landsbanki to return the remittance immediately to the account of the UBS where the funds have been floating while this dispute continues."