Sunday, April 30, 2006
anybody fortunate enough to watch the moto gp of turkey was treated to a cracking race. marco melandri's last lap victory over casey stoner (this 20 yr-old will be a star) was edge-of-your-seat stuff.
rossi (4th), had a great race considering the problems yamaha had all weekend.
what's all the fuss about?
dramatic change is painful. each of us likes to maintain his or her status quo. we human beings like things being the same, whatever the same means to each individual. at the same time, we cannot fail to also recognise a need for change. some become vocal, publicly adopting a stance that positions them in one camp or the other, of the issue at hand. take the price of gas, for instance.
since the cable-news media seems presently unable to air a broadcast without adding its own drama to the current price of gas, the viewing public cannot escape the inevitable discussion on the situation, who's at fault, how did we get to this sorry state of affairs, and just what do we do.
one factor seems strangely missing from all the coverage. nobody's talking about weight. this is as much about perception as it is relevence. ask an average male on how to make a car go faster, more likely than not, he will respond by saying to add more power. ask anyone, who has ever been on a race track, in any type of vehicle, and universally, they will all tell you the same thing: first, make it lighter. then, add more power.
making a vehicle faster by making it lighter automatically makes that vehicle more fuel efficient. whilst technology has transformed today's automobile, it has done nothing to make it a winner at 'weight-watchers'. today's vehicles, instead of being more fuel-efficient are actually more fuel-inefficient, thanks to our cravings for power, automation, comfort, and safety. when was the last time you had to wind a window up or down by hand?
until recently, this hasn't really been a problem for the current generation of new car buyers, as gasoline prices have not generally dominated the news. a few blips here and there, but for the most part, consumers enabled by a desire by auto manufacturers to get you into a new vehicle, no matter what, have been able to pretty much have their cake and eat it. historically low interest rates, easy credit, and cheap gasoline, together with bigger, more appointed, luxurious, more capable vehicles, culminating in the rise of the SUV, has produced a popular mindset that is not only unrealistic, but also unsustainable.
auto manufacturers have, in recent years, displayed a pathological disregard to fuel efficient vehicles - that was, of course, until toyota started to change the playing field with their new upstart 'prius', that suddenly didn't look quite so stupid anymore as gas prices started to climb, forcing the 'big three' to rush to the autocad with their own hybrid offerings (some ten years after toyota debuted the then concept prius). instead, they offered the american public, not lighter, faster cars, but tanks.
to the rest of the world, we could only shake our heads, knowing what was to come. inevitability might be a strong term, but what else can you say about a system destined to change. the very unhealthy powerfull, politically motivated, profitable alliance between the government, auto manufacturers and the big oil companies, has resulted in an absurdly distorted set of conditions, the effects of which are now being witnessed and realised. that big, heavy, guzzling SUV, sitting on a surbubian drive near you suddenly doesn't look so inviting anymore, even with $cashback...
as painful as rising gasoline prices are, they are the obvious barometer and catalyst for change. for the government to subsidise the oil industry, claiming investment is needed to stimulate production is nonsense. oil companies will invest in their future with or without subsidies. any industry wishing to survive, has to do the same. look where all these subsidies have gotten us, here in america. oil companies recording record profits, are not investing in alternative sources of energy at anywhere near the level common sense might suggest they should. they simply have no incentive to do so until the market changes, or legislation is passed, forcing a change in behaviour. if you're a making an absolute king's ransom, and no one is making you, why change? that, would be crazy.
people don't want to give up their lifestyles. we are resistant to change, even if we know it's for the better good. this isn't all about cars, it applies to money, wealth, diet, exercise, comfort and status. it's not as if we don't know that there are better solutions available, we just don't want to hear them, that is, until it becomes personal. how come there are so many overweight people in this country? how come there are so many gas guzzlers on the roads? did the united states not know of any alternatives? when is less ever more?
the environmentalists, sadly, blah, blah, save the planet, blah, continue to miss the point. they almost universally fail to recognise that people want choice and options in their lives when it comes to transportation. it's an inevitable consequence of a capital economy. where they do score an unquestionable home-run, is in attacking the lack of investment in public transportation. america hasn't had a lord beeching, but they just might as well have.
getting on bicycles, or climbing aboard solar-powered egg cartons just isn't realistic or practical. society has long been shoe-horned into the present-day car culture. any sensible discussion must include reality, not some extreme ideology that automatically sits diametrically opposed to the current factors that contribute to the problem at hand. the car is here to stay, like it or not. that it's present in-car-nation (pun intended), will change, is without doubt. alternative sources of energy are not only desirable, they are inevitable and necessary.
america has grown fat on priviledge. it's time to pay. sadly, the ones who are at the bottom of the food chain will be the first to pay. it's always been that way, and always will be.
the best thing that can possibly happen to gas prices is that they will continue to climb. that this is controversial and will bring real hardship to many is undoubted. that, sadly, is also a consequence of a capital economy that does little to ease the burden of poverty of those the wrong side of the financial fence., and has turned it's back on public transportation and invested instead in the car culture.
rising gas prices will do what no other factor can. it will force change. only when enough of the middle class has suffered the same plight as those without wealth might this country vote for a real vision of the future instead of voting for more tax cuts. just have a look where that's left them.
time to vote for a real robin hood (er, he can lose the green tights..)
Experts make flatulence-free beans
A Venezuelan team says fermenting beans with certain friendly bacteria can cut the amount of wind-causing compounds, and boost beans' nutritional value.
i wonder if biesch has gotten 'wind' of this; he is in venezuala...(probably too busy supporting the country's cheese industry.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
when does inaction become callous disregard? - when you do nothing to make things better.
when does responsibilty become a soundbite, but nothing more? - when you talk a good show, but fail to deliver.
just when does the most powerful being actually show courage and compassion to the world's neediest? - your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is that nothing's going to change for those that need the most help (the 2 million refugees in darfur about to have their food rations halved because of a lack of money, would be a good place to start, if anyone in the photograph is interested)
why doesn't one of you actually do something?
it's going to take a miracle to make a conservative christian out of me.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
remember the oil crisis of 1973?. how about 1979? doesn't matter, because you're definitely going to remember the next one. bush and the republican party refuse to learn from history. it's as if they have no knowledge of what's transpired before. the
did this country learn nothing from the previous oil shocks? it certainly doesn't seem so. for such a self-confessed addict,
sadly, for the world, the initial moves toward more efficient automobiles and alternative sources of energy stalled as oil prices fell and memories of gasoline shortages of 1973 faded.
2006. so americans are fed up and angry about paying $3 for a gallon of gasoline. this absurd air of entitlement is the result of a 50 year love affair with big oil, a government that refused to implement legislation aimed at auto manufacturers in ensuring more fuel-efficient vehicles, and a public accustomed to not paying what every other citizen in developed countries pays for its gas. today's sorry sad state of affairs is the responsibility of those lawmakers who consciously made bad decisions, even when faced with the lessons of history past, and a future certain of one thing: the age of oil will come to an end.
successive american governments have sold this country out, both with regard to its future energy needs and a population protected from the harsh realities of simple economics. ronald reagan's removal of solar panels from the white house looks real clever now...
i first came to
the cost of petrol in the
last time I checked, a hummer h2 is taxed as a commercial vehicle, just so it can get around weight legislation. just when was the last time you saw a hummer with a company's logo painted on it's doors?
welcome to the future. either pay a lot now, or pay a great deal more later. one thing is certain, however; you will pay.
just don't hold your breath waiting for this administration, the oil companies, or the auto industry (who still want to sell you a pick up truck, despite whatever their hybrid adverts say) to take a bold step forward. they're all too busy keeping the status quo.
a nest of thieves has no interest in honesty outside its own members.
all those that elected bush into office the first time around can pat themselves on the back for picking a real winner for humanity.
all those that re-elected him (an ex oil man) are getting exactly what they voted for. you must be a very proud bunch.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
yes. this former oilman's brilliant plan to wean america from its dependence on oil is as follows:
he's going to increase the supply of oil to americans this summer - that should help the long term energy problem no end. proof that votes count more than anything else. anything else.
price gouging - those naughty oil execs. better have a very good answer, or they'll be absolute hell to pay... you know there's something not quite right when oil companies take out full-page newspaper ads telling you how all those super, enormous profits they're all making, are really, really necessary for the american people...never mind that 'jabba the oil hut' in the photograph above, was paid $400 million in compensation in his final year!
here's the brilliance of a man faced with some tough choices - he's going to relax environmental rules, so the oil companies can get more oil out of the ground.
there's more: he urged oil companies to reinvest their profits in expanding refining capacity and in developing alternative energy sources. that's like urging a fox to start eating carrots, while heaping huge sums of taxpayers' money on subsidies that serve to exploit hens for all they're worth. did you know that the united states spent $60 billion dollars of taxpayers' money in the 1990's protecting the delivery of oil from the middle east worth $10 billion.
er, why are oil companies being subsidised in the first place?
those subsidies give to those that are already making enormous profits, thereby taking away from alternative energy sources. just what economic model does bush and the republican party have in mind that supports this policy as being proactive in stimulating demand for alternative energies? - i can't think of one, and i studied economics at university.
and just what has this massive investment of taxpayers' money got america? a doubling of the price of gas at the pump since bush reached office.
the only thing he could possibly have done to make it worse would have been to put the oil companies in charge of this country's energy policies - oh, sorry, i forgot. he's done that.
george w. bush - a tour de force of a visionary leader, that no matter how great or difficult the challenge, he always manages to do the right thing...
senator christopher bond and his missouri pals at briggs & stratton can all pat themselves on the back for doing absolutely nothing to make the lawn mower business better for all concerned. every time it seems that a new technology that can come along and make the enviromnment better, cleaner for eveyone, these two old friends rattle their sabres, claiming the end of the world for them is nigh. perhaps it should be. if the fitting of catalytic converters is causing so much grief, what's in store for the future of home lawn care? maybe gardeners can buy and trade emissions credits just so senator bond can continue to protect an industry status quo.
of course, the best way to deal with these nobrainasauruses, would be to just let them go and watch and wait for the first new breed of emissions friendly ride-ons, etc. to take their cherished place. briggs and stratton - pay now, or pay a lot more later. or, you can just shake your head and hope all the scientists have got it all wrong, and instead, keep stuffing checks into senator bonds' grubby paws.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
in response to a recent request, i have no alternative but to issue a 30-day 'cheese challenge' to none other but the 'minister' himself. yes; biesch!
i challenge biesch, wherever he may be, to resist completely, the powerful, pungent aroma, and sinfully gratifying pleasure of consuming cheese(s) for 30 consecutive days.
those subjected to biesch's jaw-dropping display of cheese consumption at tanc's party are free to post their comments to this challenge.
Friday, April 21, 2006
The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.
With financing from the State of California, Dr. Abrams undertook what he said was a rigorous, placebo-controlled trial of marijuana smoking in H.I.V. patients who suffered from nerve pain. Smoking marijuana proved effective in ameliorating pain, Dr. Abrams said, but he said he was having trouble getting the study published.
"One wonders how anyone" could fulfill the Food and Drug Administration request for well-controlled trials to prove marijuana's benefits, he said.
one wonders on just how a naturally occurring plant in nature can be banned by law in the first place. it seems that the F.D.A. has no problem inflating the coffers of the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to pain-relief, it allows cosmetics without proof of product performance, it allows dieting supplements that claim the impossible, or the much more serious erectile dysfunction problems, that currently head the list of what the world most needs now from laboratories.
one also wonders how the manufacturers of tobacco products can still legally sell their packets, given that cigarette smoke contains 43 known cancer causing compunds and toxins that are heavily restricted by federal law; i'm thinking of cyanide, arsenic, DDT, that sort of thing.
when the Food and Drug Administration rejected Barr Laboratories Inc.'s proposal to sell the emergency contraceptive Plan B over the counter, it became fairly obvious the they weren't acting in the best interests of consumers, but had moreover demonstrated its function as a puppet of government ideology. perhaps that's why Susan. F. Wood, the top US regulator for women's health resigned.
hypocrisy and propoganda are very unattractive qualities, of any government.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
astronomers' worst fears about president bush's "vision for space exploration" are coming true. NASA is cancelling missions for which most of the money has already been spent and most of the hardware has already been built. it's like building a house and not moving in.
pity the heavy-handed axe is spared for the skyrocketing costs of returning the shuttle to flight and the white elephant of a space station, of little scientific value, that continues to bleed nasa just so it can fulfill its obligations to its international partners.
the white house claims that missions like SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) are now suddenly no longer worthwhile, despite the fact that the german space agency spent about $100 million building the telescope in exchange for 20% of SOFIA's observing time. what about that committment?
astronomers can hardly complain too loudly about delays or cancellations of future space-astronomy missions, given all the other demands on the US budget, but when a project like SOFIA - a project designed not only to excel at scientific research, but also at education and public outreach, that has already been built is cut, they are entitled to ask questions about just what is NASA's intent.
on feb. 6th, this year, the SOFIA project issued a statement celebrating the completion of all major aircraft modifications - which included cutting a giant hole in the 747's fuselage. they also anticipated the start of test flightsthis fall. later the same day, president bush unvieled next year's federal budget. for SOPHIA it showed $0. that's right, $500 million of taxpayers money is no longer worthwhile...
if you're a US taxpayer and care about space astronomy, now would be a good time to let your representatives and senators know.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Lee Raymond, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was paid $686 million over 13 years.
A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, in which Exxon (which hadn't yet merged with Mobil) was a participant, describes a strategy of providing "logistical and moral support" to climate change dissenters, "thereby raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom.' " And that's just what Exxon Mobil has done: lavish grants have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of global warming skeptics.
The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.
lee raymond: i'm sure that both future books on climate change and your children's children will thank you for your efforts.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Friday, April 14, 2006
"The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history," the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters on Thursday.
so i guess that means all these generals are wrong...and more worringly, bushy believes that his evil moron is doing "a very fine job" - is that the same as in 'great job', michael brown?...
- so the president of the united states (and leader of the free world), believes the mess in iraq is the result of someone doing a very fine job?!#%^@!
i hear he also believes that:
smoking is good for you,
condoleeza rice is an attractive woman,
dick cheney should be appointed head of the humane society,
pat robertson has a point,
taxation of the rich and a woman's right to choose cannot be allowed to exist,
a harley davidson can go around corners,
he will meet all the other christian conservatives in the kingdom of heaven - as if i needed another reason not to be religious,
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
you know why this guy is special?
on this day, april 12th, 1961, yuri gagarin became the first human sent into space and orbit the earth.
how sad that the 'new york times' in america had absolutely nothing regarding this very significant event in mankind's history. nothing.
america. where everything else revolves around it.
if america isn't involved, or doesn't do well in the subject matter, you're not gonna hear about it.
i'm quite sure that the average american male thinks that nascar is the pinnacle of motorsport...that american football is the ultimate expression of physical ability, and that the term 'world champion' in sports applies only to american teams competing in nationally-limited competitions.
america. land of no humility.
this country has so much going for it. it is a country of extremes. people, weather, wealth, land, and opportunity, due to a very (i think) healthy disregard of barriers to the individual. however, a little humility or recognition of the achievements of other nations goes a long, long way. just ask anyone who isn't american.
neil armstrong may have been the first man to walk on the moon, but it was russia and yuri gagarin that made kennedy push this country in order to accomplish the extraordinary. and extraordinary it was. i remember my dad buying a new tv, just for the occassion, and me begging that i could stay up to watch the moon landing. i was seven years old, and i thought that it was the most important thing i had ever seen.
here's to all those that were involved in accomplishing the impossible. wherever they were from. and to all those that came second, or third, etc. for that matter.
i think it reasonable to assume, along with most people that have access to programming via cable, that a channel that is called the "science channel", or the much better "nova" series on pbs, ought to be factually correct in its presentation and narrative content.
this is not so. they include narratives that suggests what is said is true. i will give you a couple of recent examples that suggest otherwise.
in a program about stars and our sun, the science channel asserts that the same nuclear process that provides nuclear power and the atomic bomb is the same as that occurring in the interiors of stars. they also state that the sun is converting four million tons of hydrogen into helium each second. not true.
they might have said instead that the sun is taking 600 million tons of hydrogen and converting it into 596 million tons of helium each second. the four million tons is released as energy, not helium.
all nuclear power stations employ nuclear fission in the energy releasing process, as do small nuclear weapons. the larger, most destructive weapons employ both nuclear fission and fusion processes, whereas the sun, along with all other stars on the main sequence of their evolutionary lives are converting hydrogen to helium solely through nuclear fusion. simply put, fission is where a nucleus is forced to split and fusion is where, as the name suggests, a nucleus is made heavier by the addition of others. it is the energy released in both processes that we see as the end result.
in a nova program about albert einstein (einstein's big idea), john lithgow, the narrator does a very decent job in his story telling, but the production team manage to leave out any discussion of gravity, the work of ernest rutherford, and the team that actually did 'split' the atom - crockcroft and walton. they make no mention at all of neils bohr , or quantum mechanics - probably the most successful scientific theory in the history of man. instead they choose to focus on lise meitner and otto hahn, who together were the first to explain and interpret what had happened in experiments, coining the term nuclear fission. to say that lise meitner split the atom is just plain wrong, though.
while i'm all for highlighting the tremendous advances brought about by scientists that are not famous in the eyes of the media, i am dead against factual errors. john lithgow, who impressively talked us through the meaning of e=mc^2, then immediately contradicts himself and the equation by saying that today, we are bombarding particles at the speed of light in particle accelerators. we are not, nor can we ever. the best we can do is to approach the speed of light, (relativistic speeds) but as einstein himself stated, nothing with a mass can ever reach the speed of light. his equation means that as we add more energy into a particle in order to raise it to higher and higher relativistic speeds, that energy is converted to mass, adding weight (because of gravity) thereby slowing it down, thus requiring more energy, and so on. a particle travelling at 99.8% of the speed of light would still see a photon travelling at 670 million miles an hour away from it. just the same as if it were standing still.
one other thing: einstein never actually wrote the famous equation e=mc^2 in that form, contrary to what they showed him doing in the program. what he actually wrote was dm=L/c^2 (the L represents energy).
which brings us to perhaps the most starling prediction of the theory of special relativity. and it wasn't even mentioned in the program. that if it were possible for us to hitch a ride on a photon travelling at the speed of light, we would be quite unable to tell anyone what the event was like. physical events happen in a time frame. any event can only be described because of a passage of time, from one state to the next. for a photon, however, travelling at the speed of light, there is no such thing as time. the universe and the photon do exist, but it is for a moment of no duration...
that means that for the light of the sun that took 8 minutes for the photons to travel the 93 million miles across space to reach your eyes, there was no passage of time. it is an instant. amazingly, this is true of the light of all the stars you can see in the night sky, even the ones whose light it has taken millions and millions of years to cross space to reach your eyes.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
daisy came back from yoga yesterday and said that she had done a crow for the first time...
she's on a 30 day yoga challenge - if she takes her yoga class 30 days straight, she gets a good class discount and a t-shirt that says "i'm bendy!"
(o.k. so i made the "i'm bendy!" bit up)
Monday, April 10, 2006
agostini may have more victories, but i think most would agree that valentino rossi is the best gp racer ever. the quality of the top riders and staggering differences in the power these bikes are able to put down make comparisons all but impossible.
i hope rossi stays one more year, before going on to four wheels.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Friday, April 07, 2006
it's incredible that the united states of america was formerly a land of an indigenous native american population.
it's incredible that before 1800, more people in america came from africa than anywhere else...
it's incredible that tobacco, the plantations of which had an abundance of land and a shortage of labour, can not only be legally bought, but is subject to tax that the government readily collects. it's the only product i know of that carries a fatalist health warning.
slavery was the backbone of the prosperity of the colonies, and yet, in 2006, house conservatives of the republican party in this country, want to kill the proposed immigration bill. they say it amounts to an amnesty for lawbreakers.
not one of these senators can trace their lineage solely to north american soil. this country was made rich on the exploitation of free labour. the inhumanity that countless slaves suffered was all in the name of profit. they were worked to death, and then they were replaced. the more money the white few made, the greater the incentives to maintain its supply of free labour.
common punishment for a male slave running away:
1st running away - whipping
2nd time - R branded on a cheek
3rd time - an ear was cut off
4th time - an R was branded on the other cheek, followed by....castration
it's also incredible that if you compare the states that relected bush to power for a second term, you can readily identify a similarity with the ones that were strong slave states.
new york city wasn't built by floods of americans...senator john cornyn, republican of texas! or do you and your fellow conservatives conveniently forget your own history?
immigration is a real issue that demands a real working answer. whatever solution is proposed cannot possibly please everyone, but you have to confront the reality that affects 11 million people in your country one day. it seems that you and your sort prefer to look away and instead of finding answers, point your finger and label immigrant workers as lawbreakers, not deserving of american freedoms and values.
for 200 years, america was full of people just like you.
when the country's iraq.
can't see many iraqis waving american flags...
it may be the bombs that get all the media attention, but for the average iraqi, it is the threat of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, like when US military vehicles are passing.
anybody in america know that these vehicles have signs on them that say "Stay 100 meters back, deadly force authorised"
So if you see the Americans coming, the rule is simple. Get to the side of the road, as far away as you can. But everyone has stories of people who did not move in time and were shot dead.
well at least they don't have to worry about illegal immigrants flooding across the borders, breaking the law and taking all their jobs....good ol' house conservatives; always doing what's best for the people from other countries. enjoy your two-week congressional break, guys.
just watch out for dick cheney on your 'hunting' trips.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
from the new york times:
"Other scientists said that in addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils were a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwin's theory."
from the creationists:
"Both God’s Word and His creation are saying the same thing. And over the past 50 years, true science has been increasingly confirming Scripture (italics mine). With more research by both evolutionists and creationists in the years ahead, we can fully expect that many questions that young-earth creationists cannot presently answer will later be answered and will be shown to confirm that God created the whole universe a few thousand years ago (i don't think so!), then cursed His whole creation a few days later because of Adam’s sin and then destroyed it with a global, catastrophic, year-long flood at the time of Noah, just as the Bible clearly teaches.
I hope that you will consider these resources and study Genesis 1–11 more carefully, and then submit to the authority of God’s Word in all things."
well; there's nothing like an open mind. is there....
i submit only to the inevitability of increasing entropy (the second law of thermodynamics). and there's absolutely nothing i, or anybody else can do about it-including the creationists.
Monday, April 03, 2006
George. you're the president of
where are the christian conservatives? why aren't they screaming for you to do something?
they seem to be very vocal when it comes to the issue of an unborn fetus, but amazingly silent on the issues of quality of life thereafter....you know; things like poverty, education, that sort of thing.
why does the world's most powerful nation do nothing to end the incredible suffering in darfur? if there's a place on the planet that actually could benefit from
and since 'w' can't seem to be capable of giving a speech without mentioning terrorism, i suggest he takes a good, long, hard look at northern
george. w. bush: the worst president in american history.
and we thought nixon was bad.......
p.s: hey condi! you fit in so well with northern england...
find any nice shoes in blackburn?
find any nice shoes in blackburn?
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Saturday, April 01, 2006
A boat which capsized off Bahrain with the loss of at least 57 lives was not licensed to sail as a pleasure cruiser, officials have said.