Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.


by asdf Sat Jun 18th, 2022 at 05:35:17 PM EST

Will Lithuanian sanctions of freight rail transport between Russia and Kaliningrad trigger WW3?

Comments >> (4 comments)

Book Report: Minitel, Welcome to the Internet

by asdf Sat Dec 28th, 2019 at 10:28:45 PM EST

I have been reading this book by Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll about France's Minitel system, which is universally unknown to Americans. Europeans will know that it was a system with basic terminals installed in homes and kiosks and businesses that allowed digital communication and services comparable to what we now know as the Internet. It was operational from 1983 to 2007, peaking in 1993.

The book gives a high level overview of the technical architecture, but not much in the way of details. The focus is on the social aspects of the system: how it was used and the impact on society as a result.

Also there is quite a bit of discussion about the implications of having a centrally managed and government regulated communication platform as compared to the Internet's decentralized and lightly regulated setup. One wonders whether the Internet's freedom will be its downfall: a serious breach of a national banking system or voting system or infrastructure system may induce a government clampdown on the current free-for-all.

The book is one of a series of "platform studies" from The MIT Press. I would rate it as a 7/10 because of the missing technical detail.


Comments >> (5 comments)

Holiday Books for Children: With German Orientation

by asdf Sun Dec 4th, 2011 at 10:41:43 AM EST

This is a call for help. I need to provide some holiday (namely, Christmas) presents for two young ladies, ages 13 and 11, who come from an American family with a strong German heritage. They're good readers, and need some age-appropriate books with a German orientation. The older likes to ski, the younger likes art, both are "world citizens."

My pathetic ideas so far:

  • Heidi, an adult translation.
  • Biography of <famous german girl ski racer>
  • Adventure book along the lines of The Moonstone or The Riddle of the Sands, but with a German (not British anti-German) focus.
  • Bauhaus, an overview of German art scene in the 1920s.
  • History of the Wandervogel movement. Or is there a current handbook?
  • Something similar to the Swallows and Amazons series, again, from Germany. What did German kids read in the 1930s? (Obviously avoiding propaganda...)
  • Something with German on one page and equivalent English translation on the opposite page. They don't read any German, but will be pressed to starting right about now.

Suggestions? Ideally this would be supplied via Amazon or similar.

Comments >> (18 comments)

ET Reconstitution Plan

by asdf Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 09:28:46 AM EST

Is there one? What happens if EuroTrib becomes a target for a DDOS attack?

Comments >> (14 comments)

Futurists taking into account sudden changes?

by asdf Sun May 2nd, 2010 at 04:18:29 PM EST

It troubles me that predictions for future financing of alternative energy, or future deployment of electric cars, or future demand for coal, or future sea levels tend to be based on assumptions of smooth changes. At least, those widely discussed.

Where are the projections that take into account likely disasters?

For example, South Asia gets a lot of its water from groundwater supplies, which are drying up. Also, the Himalayan supply is likely to change because of global warming, probably in the direction of less water. Living conditions are crowded and unsanitary. Meanwhile, the population is growing, and presumably wanting to have western-style amenities: cars, air conditioning, steak.

Is there a place to look that takes these into account and says, essentially, ok, look. India is not going to keep growing. It's a lot more likely to suffer a simultaneous famine and plague wiping out half the population, so don't worry about providing them electricity because they're not going to be there to enjoy it. Or something.

It just seems like futurist discussions tend to go along the line of "Well, everybody in China wants a car--a big American-style car--so therefore the oil supply is doomed. Or "Everybody in the U.S. wants to drive an SUV, so the supply of oil must be maintained at such-and-such a rate." But we know those things aren't true; people would park their SUVs if gas was $5 (or, more likely, $20) per gallon. They would want to drive little Hondas and scooters and, one shudders to think it, even bicycles.

Surely there is such a source, perhaps in "Proceedings of the Doom and Gloom Society" or something like that...

Comments >> (9 comments)

Devil's Advocate: Federal Europe

by asdf Fri Apr 3rd, 2009 at 09:50:16 AM EST

Seriously, when are you Europeans going to wake up and smell the coffee? Until Europe joins together in a federal system, handing over state power to a central government with the power to extract taxes, run a single foreign policy, fund a military system, define Europe-wide laws, institute a single language, and allow completely free labor migration (not to mention a bunch of other things), you guys are toast.

[editor's note, by Migeru] [Europe's Toast Watch!™ Technology]

Russia (oil & gas) and Africa (nuclear fuel) supply your energy because you can't agree between conservation, renewables, nukes, or fossil supplies as a source. Your divergent economic policies prevent the Euro from becoming a reserve currency. You cower under the protection of the U.S. military establishment because each of your states has a different idea of what sort of defense is needed. You suffer from an economic crisis that is, you say, not your fault, but you didn't have continent-wide regulations in place on your side to prevent it.

You will be left in the dust, as Khrushchev put it.

Read more... (32 comments, 224 words in story)

Train Blogging: Freight Car Storage and Brakes

by asdf Thu Mar 5th, 2009 at 09:59:52 AM EST

Remember last year when there was an outcry because U.S. farmers had to temporarily store their grain on the ground because of a lack of railroad cars? Well, now with the economy in the tank, the railroads have the opposite problem: Nowhere to store the excess cars.

Also, in a sort of unrelated note, some interesting info about the reality of how hard it is to manage long heavy freight trains with their 19th century brake technology.

Read more... (6 comments, 844 words in story)

LQD: Europeans to engage foolishly in shale oil?

by asdf Sun Feb 22nd, 2009 at 06:23:04 PM EST

Interesting article in the newspaper today:

With one eye cast toward home, giant European energy companies are investing billions in U.S. natural-gas and oil fields where huge, hard-to-get reserves have been unlocked with new drilling technology.

At least three European oil and gas giants are developing or have bought interests in oil and gas shale projects in the U.S. -- Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro, the U.S. unit of British oil company BP Plc and the French company Total.

StatoilHydro and BP have agreed in recent months to pay billions of dollars for stakes in shale gas projects from the top U.S. producer of gas, Chesapeake Energy. Total has bought a 50 percent stake in a U.S. company exploring for oil shale in the Rocky Mountains.


Read more... (6 comments, 384 words in story)

Train Blogging: Funding Urban Light Rail

by asdf Wed May 21st, 2008 at 02:28:06 PM EST

What does it take to fund the construction of a new light rail system? I ask this because Las Vegas, Nevada, seems to be the perfect place to build a streetcar system--and yet they can't even keep a little "horizontal elevator" system running. Do such systems have to be built by the city administration? Or can private enterprise get the funding, permits, and traffic needed to make a new streetcar system work?

Read more... (23 comments, 419 words in story)

Train Blogging: Movies

by asdf Wed Mar 5th, 2008 at 09:12:59 AM EST

Ok, I went on a binge this weekend and watched a couple of classic train movies. First, "The General" with Buster Keaton, and then "The Train."

In the 1927 silent epic, Keaton is an engineer on the Reb side during the Civil War who is rejected by the army because engineers are valuable to the Cause. He loses the girl, but then gets her back. Or something. Who cares? There's tons of old steam train footage! Stunts, crashes, all sorts of train-related excitement. And it's available online.

The plot of "The Train" has something to do with saving French art from the nasty Nazis at the end of the war, but the important stuff is the train action. Lots and lots of pictures of the French railway system, with locomotive interior shots, details of lots of the operating practices, yard management, blown up engines... It's great!

Great action for steam train addicts! Some questions arise, however:

Read more... (39 comments, 442 words in story)

French steam engines in Panama

by asdf Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 12:12:23 AM EST

This is not a political topic! I'm trying to figure out the answer to what should be a pretty simple question: Did the French locomotives used in Panama in the 1880s during the initial canal construction burn coal or did they burn wood?

Read more... (8 comments, 256 words in story)

Climate change: The "other" side of the argument

by asdf Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:50:01 AM EST

Lost in the argumentation about the extent of climate change, or the rate, or whose fault it is, is the point that there are THREE sides to the argument. The first side is the "accepting" side, made up of the community of people who take the IPCC conclusions as a scientific concensus and want to take actions based on that view. The second side is the "denial" side, made up of people who confuse science with politics and want to base actions on wishful thinking.

The third side takes the "things are a lot worse than is widely acknowledged" view. Doomsayers and pessimists, mostly, who are gradually pulling the IPCC conclusions in the dismal direction.

One of them is James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory (perhaps a bit on the questionable side?) and also inventor of the instrument used to detect the Ozone hole over the Antarctic. In the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, his very, very pessimistic views get a good airing. Now I'm not sure whether the Rolling Stone counts as a part of the Mainstream Media (it does for a significant fraction of the American baby boom generation), but it is interesting to see that the "we're frigging doomed" conclusion is getting some press.

By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.

Rolling Stone Magazine

Comments >> (16 comments)

Home Heating Survey

by asdf Tue Oct 16th, 2007 at 10:06:36 PM EST

With the onset of cold weather, I'm interested in finding out how other ETers manage their home heating systems. Americans obviously have a reputation for overheating their houses, and I'd like to hear some real-life stories about this from the European viewpoint. (Or anybody, really.)

This is roughly what our furnace looks like:

Here in Colorado Springs we have now had a few nights where it's gotten below freezing outside, but so far our house has not dropped below 63F (17C). Our furnace uses natural gas and forced hot air circulation. So far we have left it off, and the goal is to make it to November 1st before giving in to temptation. Then we try to keep the house as cool as possible. Our thermostat is an "automatic setback" model with an electronic clock and calendar in it, and we set it so that the house is at 63F at night, 68F (20C) during the morning and evening when we're home, and 55F (13C) during the day.

How warm is it in your house?

Comments >> (36 comments)

Poll call escalates Gaza violence

by asdf Sun Dec 17th, 2006 at 11:19:57 AM EST

The Gaza Strip has seen more clashes a day after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called for early elections to end an economic and security crisis.

Mortars were fired at Mr Abbas's office in Gaza City, and a 19-year-old woman was killed as rival Fatah and Hamas supporters clashed in the streets. A Hamas minister's convoy was attacked, as was a presidential guard base.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who heads a Hamas-led government, has said new elections could incite further unrest. "The Palestinian government rejects the call for holding early parliamentary elections because it is not constitutional and may lead to a large disturbance in the Palestinian territory," said Mr Haniya.


Could someone explain this to me? I thought that one of the advantages of parliamentary style government was that you could call early elections. How does the Palestinian system work? I'm asking about the mechanics of the political system.

Comments >> (2 comments)

Prince Charles the Green: Question

by asdf Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:14:05 AM EST

Britain's Prince Charles has decided to turn over a new leaf and become the Green Prince. Good for him!

Prince Charles has told some of his staff to use bicycles in the fight against global warming. He is even prepared to travel to London by commuter train from a station near Highgrove. Charles wants to be remembered as the "Green Prince" and is making a personal statement by planning a radical shake-up of his travel plans.

He intends to make more use of the royal train and has ordered his chauffeurs to leave their cars behind and travel by bicycle when they check arrangements ahead of his appointments in London. Charles has also told aides to find a more environmentally friendly fuel for his fleet of cars.


What should his carbon footprint look like?

For that matter, what should our own carbon footprints look like?

Read more... (19 comments, 320 words in story)

Proposed CO2 sequestration plant

by asdf Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 11:09:01 PM EST

The "clean coal" approach to electricity generation is moving ahead.

Xcel Energy is proposing to build the nation's first clean-coal power plant in Colorado that will capture carbon emissions--a move hailed as a breakthrough with major national implications.

The plant would use a system known as integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, in which coal is baked under high pressure and temperature to produce a gas that burns more cleanly and efficiently than raw coal.

Read more... (18 comments, 242 words in story)

European-American Blog Competition?

by asdf Thu Apr 6th, 2006 at 10:10:14 PM EST

Here's somebody who needs to be introduced to Eurotrib.

"One of the most popular weblogs in France is called Vingt Sur Vingt, meaning 20 out of 20. The author, Cyrille De Lasteyrie, writes about movies, restaurants or jokes, and then rates them on a scale of 0 to 20.

The blog struck a chord with French readers and was named French blog of the year in 2005. But now, Mr De Lasteyrie has started a new blog aimed at a new audience, Americans."

Comments >> (6 comments)

Audi diesel wins Sebring 12 hour race

by asdf Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 08:51:09 AM EST

Audi made racing history on Saturday as its diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, becoming the first diesel car in the world to win a major sports car race. Audi used Sebring as a test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, set for June 17-18.

Audi wants to use its diesel work in motorsport to increase its technology advantages in the commercial diesel engines. Every second Audi sold today is delivered with a TDI diesel engine.


In America, almost the only diesels on the road are in big pickup trucks (used mostly for grocery store and daycare "pickup" runs) and in large commercial vehicles. In Europe, about half of new cars are diesels. An interesting contrast, and one that seems likely to narrow in coming years...

American Left Goes Nuts over Port Deal

by asdf Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 08:56:15 AM EST

As has been reported in both the American and European press, Bush has proposed that the operation several East Coast shipping ports should be allowed to be controlled by a company that is based in the United Arab Emirates. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4737940.stm

This has set off a political firestorm--but the players are all confused about which side of the argument they should be on.

Read more... (49 comments, 355 words in story)

U.S. embarks on energy independence?

by asdf Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 07:39:40 PM EST

George W. Bush gave his state of the union address yesterday, and suggested that the U.S. should wean itself from foreign oil, setting a goal of substantial reduction in imports of the Middle East over the next decade. This has triggered an uproar from American Democrats, who say he's not proposing enough, from OPEC, who say he's proposing too much, and, surprizingly, from the E.U. President who says that it's unrealistic.

Is it possible that Bush's oilman friends have clued him in on the energy consumption issue? Is it possible that the U.S. may actually embark on an energy independence program?

Read more... (16 comments, 453 words in story)
Next 20 >>

News and Views

 July 2024

by Oui - Jun 30, 171 comments

Your take on today's news media

 June 2024

by Oui - Jun 1, 192 comments

Your take on today's news media

Occasional Series
Click for full list