Ten Tribes Tribal Report no.31
Iceland, Judah, British Eccentricity
20 October 2009 2 Cheshvan 5769
1. Iceland looks to serve the world
2. What are Sephardic Jews? What are
3. British Eccentricity


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1. Iceland looks to serve the world

 The natural climate of Iceland could be used to reduce carbon emissions
By Simon Hancock
Since the financial crisis, Iceland has been forced to retreat back from high octane bubble living to nature.
Fortunately, there is a lot of that nature to retreat to.
It is a breathtaking world of volcanoes, endless prairies and ethereal winter landscapes.
Not, you might think, the most obvious place to stick millions of the world's computer servers which are, for all their uses, rather less attractive.

But the country now wants exactly that - to become home to the world's computing power.
Behind all the large internet companies lurk massive and ever growing data centres chock full of servers churning away.
Google for instance is thought to have around a million of the things, but even less IT intensive operations, banks for example, need hundreds of thousands of servers to store all their data.
Up to 60% extra energy is required to cool computer servers in the UK

The problem is that while these computers look innocuous, they use a lot of energy.
There is of course the power you need for the servers themselves, but almost as significant is the energy used to keep them cool.
"For every watt that is spent running servers," says Dr Brad Karp, of University College London, "the best enterprises most careful about minimising the energy of cooling and maximising efficiency typically find they are spending 40-60% extra energy on just cooling them."

In Iceland, with its year round cool climate and chilly fresh water, just a fraction of this energy for cooling is needed. It means big savings.
Just outside Reykjavik, work is well advanced on the first site which its owners hope will spark a server cold rush.
In around a year - if all goes according to plan - the first companies will start leasing space in this data centre.
And if this proves successful more sites are planned.

The company expects demand to be huge because as the number of servers around the world grows, a big environmental cloud is looming - all that energy use means an increase in CO2 production.
Iceland has far more power than it can domestically use.
"The data centre industry now is on par with the airline industry as far as the carbon footprint," says Jeff Monroe, head of Verne Global - a data centre company working in Iceland.

The volcanic forces which shaped the landscape have also gifted the country masses of geothermal power - 100% of the country's electricity is renewable and basically carbon free, much generated from water heated far below the ground.

Mr Monroe explains what would happen if a company moved its data centre to Iceland.

"The carbon savings would be enormous.
All of Iceland's electricity is renewable and basically carbon free

"For example, if a large internet media company operating thousands and thousands of servers relocated its servers to Iceland, that company would save greater than half a million metric tons of carbon annually."

So you have the cooler climate and an abundance of green energy.

But you would not want to move your previous data centre to what is effectively the middle of nowhere unless it had some good connections.

Iceland has been busying itself laying fibre optic cables to connect the country with North America and Europe.

The cables coming in provide a capacity of more than five terabits/sec - all with server farms in mind.

Travelling down this pipe, data sited in Iceland is just 17 milliseconds from London. Sitting at home on YouTube you would never know, but even that is too slow for some.
Gudmundur Gunnarsson, head of communications company Farice, explains some of the problems.
"There are very sensitive financial services that cannot even go outside the M25 in London", he says.
"So everything has to be within that circle, but for approximately at least 70% of other traffic, this delay is more than satisfactory."

2. What are Sephardic Jews? What are Ashkenazis?

It is my understanding that Sephardic Jews are Jews whose families formerly lived in Spain for a considerable number of generations, probably several hundred years back during the Middle Ages.  Is that correct? Henry.

Brit-Am Reply:
Sephardic Jews in everyday parlance are in effect all non-Ashkenazic Eastern or North African Jews.
Some Jews in Holland are also Sephardic.
In Hebrew Spain is Sepharad.
Jewish Exiles from Sepharad went to Holland and to the East etc. Because of their more advanced background and learning they were often accepted as leaders in the Jewish Communities amongst whom they settled. Even in areas where they probably did not settle in large numbers (such as Yemen) their customs and practices were accepted. Consequently the term Sephardim was applied to all Jewish Communities who were so influenced.

Similarly, Ashkenaz is the name given to Germany. Jewish Exiles from Germany were scattered over all Europe spreading Yiddish (a mixed Hebrew-German dialect), and their customs. Since then all European Jews have become referred to as Ashkenazim.

3. British Eccentricity
Bog snorkellers and beard growers - a celebration of British eccentricity

photo-gallery of 15 pictures. Entertaining and informative.

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