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Saturday, November 23, 2002

So tomorrow, Tool is playing in Long Beach. Chelle and I were supposed to go- we had been talking about it for weeks, and I got passes so we could come and go as we please all over.

Only last night did I find out we're not going. She commited herself to be in Fresno this weekend to help out around the house while her relatives filed in for thanksgiving. It turns out that she agreed to that on wednesday, and didn't tell me all week... and that was a major disappointment. It's the not knowing, the "I dunno"s that get to me.

And her continued inability to stick to plans we make, no matter how far in advance, really bothers me. There's not much I can do about it either, and I don't know if there is something else going on or what.

Chris called this morning, turns out he's down here in LA for a wedding, so I might hang out with him tonight or tomorrow. It's been at least a year since I last saw him in person, along with Megan, so that should be fun. I'll have to think of some place for us to go since, well, I sure don't feel like cleaning up the Shit Pile today.

I can't bring myself to call up and cancel for tomorrow night's concert. Bleh.

11/23/2002 03:02:33 PM ] [  ]


Thursday, November 21, 2002

Well, OK. Maybe besides a digital camera, for x-mas I could use a new pair of fins. Mine aren't in great shape, and I could use some more powerful ones that fit a bit better. I've been looking at [ForceFins] for a while, in the past couple of years they've come out with some really innovative stuff - everything from better hydrodynamics to a better fitting foot pocket and heel (the heal on my fins is crap- I get numbness, etc. no matter what booties I wear).
Force Fin's [latest model] is pretty darn cool. Not only does it have all of their recent innovations, but you can swap out the blades. So you can put on short blades for a different kicking style - like if you were going on a reef dive - or longer blades like free diving fins for more endurance.
I sure wouldn't mind the [OPS fin set], though the package runs $500 and I sure don't dive THAT much!

11/21/2002 03:20:31 PM ] [  ]


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I'm sorry, I just find [this] really friggin funny. some samples...
[topic@#perth(DALNET)]: Hey, blackmarket drugs aren't all bad. Hell, they've been teaching kids the metric system since 1954!

<erno> hm. I've lost a machine.. literally _lost_. it responds to ping, it works completely, I just can't figure out where in my apartment it is.

<superwoman> I had a boyfriend once that made me suck him off while I had a mouthful of beer.
<GrandCow> HAHAHAHA that was me bitch!
<superwoman> DANNY?!?!?!
<GrandCow> MOM?!?!?!?!

or perhaps...
<Hiroe> he was dressed as a big fuckin devil
<Hiroe> like, HUGE costume
<Hiroe> 8-foot lizard wings, giant horns on the head
<Hiroe> at some anime con in california
<Hiroe> they were double booked with a southern Baptist group in the same hotel
<Hiroe> he's riding the elevator down to the con space
<Hiroe> doors open, little old baptist woman standing there
<Hiroe> he just says "Going Down" in his best evil voice

and even....
<Charlesowns> Man i was surfin porn and like "normal" surfin at the same time, so my mom comes in and i quick as hell tab down the porn. So now im looking at a SWAT vest and an Mp5 submachinegun trying to hide the giant penis in my pants. Then all of a sudden this realy gay male voice speaks out realy loud goin "i want to suck your big dick ans swallow your hot sperm" then like 100 popups open up all consisting of hardcore fetish gayporn.
<Charlesowns> man my mom started crying and now she thinks im gay... it owns

11/20/2002 10:03:07 PM ] [  ]


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Yup, i'm thinking for x-mas I definitely want a digtial camera, like [this].


11/19/2002 07:01:52 PM ] [  ]


Sunset was just... wow.
As my tea was brewing I went outside for a walk. As soon as I made it off Speedway I was struck by the quicksilver blue ocean, barely moving before the break. The sky smoldered above it, painted from a burnt orange peel to the deep blue of twilight. I stood on the bikepath just staring for a while before I saw the splashes in the water. Around twilight, all of the light disappears from the sand, making it almost like walking on the dark side of the moon. I stood out near the high tide line, watching surfers and feeding birds. When I turned around to head back home, a full moon barely rising stared back at me.

I guess that's why I live in Venice.

Hopefully tonight I'll be able to convince Chelle to call me at 2am so we can not miss another meteor shower together. The Leonids are supposed to be pretty spectacular this year. I really wish she was here.

11/19/2002 05:51:18 PM ] [  ]


It's not brain surgery, it's an atomic bomb, silly!
[NTI's page] on Russian nuclear security is a good resource. Here is a [specific case] of the diversion of Russian naval reactor fuel from 1995 - note the the quantity and quality of the fuel stolen would have been a significant boost to the uranium enrichment program of a rogue nation such as Iraq.

Now this is a very different scenario than the use of that fuel for a terrorist "improvised nuclear explosive device". Low-enriched uranium (below 80% U235 content), such as that stolen in the case above, is essentially useless to a terrorist group. Unless they had covert access to extensive uranium enrichment infrastructure (such as that of Pakistan, which is possible but unlikely), the low enriched uraniun would not be of any use for a bomb. But other Russian reactor fuel is considered weapons grade, enriched to as much as 90% U235. While the fuel is often diluted with other metals such as aluminum, processing it into the components of a gun-assembly weapon such as the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945

Anyone with access to a personal computer and off-the-shelf machinery such as [simple CNC hardware] and commercially available software such as AutoCAD can design and fabricate a gun-assembly atomic bomb, once they have the uranium required. This type of weapon does not require anywhere near the level of sophistication in design and engineering of an implosion design such as Iraq is pursuing (though an implosion weapon requires much less fissile material). Some people seem to think that constructing an atomic bomb is an insurmountably difficult challenge, and that it isn't possible for "a country like Iraq" to have the level of expertise necessary to build one. Unfortunately, the physics are very straightforward and the engineering required is not that difficult. Even an implosion design only requires the level of precision that is regularly used by opticians to make prescription lenses.

It's simply not that difficult. Arguably, the anthrax used in last year's US mail attacks was more of an engineering challenge.

11/19/2002 01:39:26 PM ] [  ]


Spiking The Punch
Recent news stories, such as ["CIA: Iraq could have nuclear weapon in a year"], from CNN, are a bit misleading. Let's take a closer look.
The actual [CIA report] cited by CNN makes it clear that Iraq could have atomic weapons within a year if they obtained sufficient fissile material:
* The acquisition of sufficient fissile material is Iraq's principal hurdle in developing a nuclear weapon.
* Iraq is unlikely to produce indigenously enough weapons-grade material for a deliverable nuclear weapon until the last half of this decade. Baghdad could produce a nuclear weapon within a year if it were able to procure weapons-grade fissile material abroad.

Which is a tad more explict than CNN's version. But what does that mean?

Fissile material is the core of an atomic bomb- the nasty radioactive stuff that is compressed by explosives to create a nuclear chain reaction. Rogue states such as Iraq (or North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, etc) essentially have two choices of fissile material - plutonium (Pu239) or uranium (U235). The route to obtain each, in sufficient purity for use in a bomb, is different.

Plutonium is fairly easy for a nation-state to produce on it's own. Pu239 can be found in the waste generated by a nuclear reactor, and nuclear reactors are fairly easy for third world nations to come by. The waste is treated with nitric acid and the Pu239 is separated from other nasty byproducts. Plutonium does have serious shortcomings though. Not only is a nuclear reactor kind of hard to hide, but plutonium limits the choices you have when designing your bomb. You're forced to use a more complicated and error-prone design. You might recall the [Trinity test in New Mexico in 1945], the world's first atomic bomb blast. That was a test of a plutonium bomb design - but the U235 based bomb was never tested, instead it was already on it's way to the Marianas Islands. The designers were confident enough in the uranium design that they didn't feel the need to test it, since the physics and engineering were so straightforward. The same held true for [South Africa 40 years later when they developed their own nuclear program] (notably while under heavy sanctions) in complete secrecy - they never tested any of their U235 based weapons. It is also worthy of note that there is significantly more evidence right now of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program than there ever was of one in [South Africa] - until the South Africans [announced they had the weapons and were disarming].

Uranium, though, has it's own problems. Natural uranium ore, as it comes from the earth, is mostly U238, while a very very small percentage of the ore is U235 (the stuff that's useful). The process of purifying thousands of tons of ore to get only a few pounds of U235 is expensive and usually difficult to hide - it requires massive machinery and manpower to accomplish. If you can get enough U235, however, you do not need nearly as much expertise on the design side to come up with a workable weapon on your first try, and you don't need to waste your fissile material with a test.

Iraq, for whatever reason, decided to pursue the uranium route for it's nuclear weapons program a long, long time ago and they have stuck with uranium since. Since the 1980s they have pursued a number of different techniques for purifying (aka enriching) uranium for use in a bomb, rather than switching to plutonium. It's worth of note though that the design the Iraqis chose for the bomb itself could be built with Pu239 instead of U235 if they decided to switch at some time.

Now let's look at that CIA report again.

Baghdad could produce a nuclear weapon within a year if it were able to procure weapons-grade fissile material abroad.

Iraq's efforts to procure tens of thousands of proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs

seem to be conflicting statements, don't they? Why would Iraq be buying parts for a uranium enrichment program if they were looking abroad for fissile material?

It's likely that Iraqi buyers are looking for not 95% enriched U235, but are going to settle for what they can get. If, for instance, Iraq obtained 1000kg of 50% enriched U235, it would seem useless for a bomb program at first, but if Iraq has it's enrichment program operating, adding that 50% U235 to their enrichment process would get them to a bomb in less than half the time (and would yield more bombs than if they hadn't. The math is tricky, trust me on this). This is like spiking the punch- by adding a little bit of even partially enriched uranium to their enrichment cycle, they increase the efficiency of the process exponentially.

It's probably a surprise, but partially enriched uranium is literally sitting around waiting to be picked up. [Russian naval reactors], such as those used on their submarines and icebreakers, use 20-45% enriched uranium for most of their fuel, with some even using 85% U235 (which, in fact, is good enough for a bomb). Since the decline of the Russian submarine fleet in the 1990s, both [fully fuelled and decomissioned submarines] have been left rusting at their piers in Russian ports. These ports are hardly guarded at all, with only tiny caretaker staff if any at all, getting far less attention than the plight of Russia's stored nuclear weapons and their components. That could be one easy source of enriched U235 for an Iraqi bomb.

Another source could very well be someone else's nuclear program. In August the US miltiary and intelligence community, working with Russia, Serbia, and other EU nations, staged a ["snatch" operation at a nuclear facility near Belgrade]. Enough U235 had been stored there for a number of nuclear weapons to be produced, and it's surprising that during the more than a decade of heavy factional fighting in the area that the U235 had not been sold already. Surrounding the corpse of the Soviet Union and other regimes such as South Africa and Argentina are these hidden caches, leftovers of nuclear programs both open and covert. If Iraq were to get material from as place such as the reactor near Belgrade, he would be - as stated in the CIA report - about 6 months, at worst, from a deployable atomic bomb. So right now he's a single purchase and a few months of engineering away.

Food for thought.

11/19/2002 12:44:48 AM ] [  ]


Sunday, November 17, 2002

what a dork.
but hey, i love her.

11/17/2002 07:19:46 PM ] [  ]


for those of you who dont know Dan... he is the coolest. And yer missing out. He's smoking a cigarette and scratching his ear right now... and making some wierd noise. *Note: this is chelle*

11/17/2002 07:19:09 PM ] [  ]