Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween!

a big thanks to tanc, tiernan, mark, and everyone else at jimmy valentine's for a great halloween party on saturday night!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Victims in Wildfire’s Path Say, ‘Why Me?’

from the new york times:

Mr. Tohsakul, a television news program manager, rested assured on Monday that the fire was miles from his house after viewing scenes of the area shot by one of the station’s cameramen. But on Tuesday afternoon, he sat in his driveway taking deep breaths at the sight of the roof caved in and his possessions charred.

“What did I do to deserve this?” he said, looking at several unscathed homes next to his. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Mr. Becker returned from out of town and talked his way past police barricades to arrive at his house, with only a touch of damage to a fence. “I have no idea why we got saved and others didn’t,” he said.

Local television overnight had fixed on the image of a large house, a 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style hilltop jewel, burning to the ground in Rancho Santa Fe, a wealthy area. It belonged to Bob Jaffe, a venture capitalist, who visited the wreck on Tuesday. His Porsche somehow survived.


Some residents fumed at what they considered a slow response by firefighters, who have struggled to rush from fire to fire across Southern California.

why me? - perhaps some background reading...

the united states is witnessing a population surge into the open country - into a place where fire ecology has always been very much part of the natural order, much like it is in the mediterranean. this means that the fastest growing areas of the US are in places that are most prone to wildfire - the canyons, mesas and alpine retreats of the west.

warming trends for nearly 30 years along with heat records that nobody wants, has created conditions for new fires that not only burn hotter, but larger.

recently in greece, nearly 450,000 acres of olive groves, forests and parkland were consumed by raging fires. by contrast, the west has lost nearly 20 times that amount this year.

still thousands are moving into the open country at the far suburban edge of fast-growing western cities. since 1990 more than eight million homes have been built in western areas on the surface, the land still looks good. but the trees in most western forests are sick. they are losing their fire-resistant resin or bark. all these people are now living in places where fire is part of the natural cycle…

in addition, we are witnessing the rise of a new type of home in these new communities at the edge of a national forest. people are not building little cabins or humble mountain shacks. we want big, sometimes trophy homes of 5,000 square feet or more, three stories, half a dozen bedrooms, often with huge timbers.

in the wilderness, away from the urban clusters, they expect that the wild will not touch them. but fire, is a much a part of this ecology as perennial grass. fire renews the forest. many trees such as sequoia’s and some pines and other plants require fire in order to release the seed from the husk. a whole class of plant life require fire in order to reproduce.

these new houses, look perfect in their wilderness backdrop setting, but to a fire, they are just fuel. the people who live in these homes - also expect someone outside their community to protect them when a fire does break out.

the forest service, originally set up to nurture and patrol the great publicly-owned reserves of the west, has become the fire service. they spend nearly half their budget on helicopters, tractors, buckets and paying to feed and move these big camps of seasonal firefighters.

Why me? perhaps because we shouldn’t be living in these areas in such great numbers in the first place...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bush Asks Congress For $46 Billion More In War Funding

the trillion dollar president...

If approved by Congress in its entirety, it would bring the total appropriated since then to more than $800 billion. At their current rate, war appropriations could reach $1 trillion by the time Bush leaves office, a total that by some measures would exceed the cost of the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.

think what could have been done had george spent a trillion dollars on health care.

it's not like the united states leads the developed world...

click on the table for a clearer view of the figures.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the brazilian grand prix

for the first time in 21 years, three drivers compete for the drivers championship title.

britain's lewis hamilton can do what no other driver has done before and become the champion in his debut season...

live on speed channel. now.

congratulations to south africa!

what a great game of rugby we witnessed yesterday. hard, physical & clean. antics, no names on players' backs, and no commercial breaks during the game except at the half. no mention of money either during the entire broadcast.

imagine that, america.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

France 10-34 Argentina

Argentina powered to a convincing victory over France to claim third place in the Rugby World Cup on Friday.

The Pumas, the revelation of the tournament, ran in five tries to snuff out French hopes of revenge for their opening-match defeat last month.

...surely, the tri-nations will now be opened up to allow argentina to join. as for the six nations, the only thing that has proved is that it is time to take a good, long hard look and for europe to come up with another tournament as preparation for the world cup.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Putin wants US date to quit Iraq

the Whitehouse issued the following response:

"only if he steps into the octagon with the president to fight in UFC 78..."

"live from the oval room!..."

the struggle to find that perfect piece of furniture...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

as the united states grapples with:

falling standards in education,

no free health care for its citizens,

poverty and homelessness among the most disadvantaged members of its society,

the disastrous war in iraq that has cost taxpayers $100 million dollars or so A DAY!!! the long-term cost of this 'war' could well top out at at $2 trillion dollars (and for what?)

what news do we hear about regarding the all-smiling presidential hopefuls?

The United States will hold its first billion dollar presidential election next year, heightening concerns about the influence of money in American politics.

if ever a country that had so much and squandered it was headed for a fall, this is surely it.

isn't there a single presidential candidate that can stop smiling long enough to take their gloves off, stop being afraid of the polls, tell the truth, and be a leader?

it's pretty obvious this country needs another martin luther king, but all we're seeing is a bunch of manicured suits that daren't say the wrong thing because they don't want to alienate potential voters..

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

climate change - for a change...

US urges climate change consensus

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said climate change is a real problem, and world leaders should forge a new global consensus on tackling it.

At a meeting of the top 16 polluting countries, Ms Rice said the US was "a major emitter" and was not "above the international community on the issue".

She said that the "growing problem" should be resolved under UN auspices.

...nutty says: tell your BIG boss to put his BIG money where his BIG mouth is, and actually DO a BIG SOMETHING.

meanwhile, i'm going to urge for a consensus that we have a banger of a party on halloween. it may not save the planet, and we may talk a lot of bollocks, but we won't be responsible for any misery either, unlike (i'm so hot) condi & (if i only had a brain) bushy.

i honestly believe that i may witness the extinction of polar bears in my lifetime. how sad if i'm right.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

south africa v argentina

kickoff: 3:00pm

i think it would be an understatement to say that almost everyone in england is rooting for argentina.

can't see it happening, with south africa having never lost against argentina, but there again, nobody expected england to be in the final either, but ultimately, the springboks just have too many weapons to strike quickly against the pumas.

england are in the world cup final


Saturday, October 13, 2007

3pm tomorrow - rugby world cup semi final

from the bbc:

England v France (Sat)
Jonny Wilkinson (left) and Raphael Ibanez
Wilkinson will be key for England, while Ibanez will lead France
England v France
Saturday, 13 October
Stade de France, Paris

England will be hoping to maintain the momentum of a shock win over Australia when they meet France in Saturday's World Cup semi-final in Paris.

Brian Ashton's side played their best rugby for four years but they face a French team inspired by an equally surprise win against the All Blacks.

Both teams go into "Le Crunch" unchanged, with a final against either South Africa or Argentina beckoning.

"It will take another monster effort by England," said RFU supremo Rob Andrew.

"As they did last week, there has to be enormous togetherness, huge commitment but also a smartness in how they play."

England have slumped in the four years since beating Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, and they were given no hope last month after scraping a win against USA and losing 36-0 to South Africa in their first two poool games.

If you haven't got that will to sacrifice your body and soul for the cause, then things won't happen
England captain Phil Vickery

But their performances were more encouraging in victories over Samoa and Tonga and they overpowered the Australian scrum to win 12-10 in Marseille last Saturday.

"The most pleasing thing about England last week was that they attacked areas of Australia's game which were perceived as weaknesses and in certain areas destroyed Australia," former England fly-half Andrew told BBC Radio 5live.

"This week it's about finding those holes in the France game, if you can, and then putting them into practice on the field backed up with another performance of enormous courage and determination."

Up to 40,000 England fans are expected to descend on Paris for the match and England captain Phil Vickery said: "The circumstances have changed. Suddenly there is anticipation from outside the camp of what is going to happen.

"France are favourites, but I have got confidence in my team. It won't be easy, but if we didn't think we could win the game, we wouldn't be here.

"People are going to have to find performances within themselves they never thought they had. If you haven't got that will to sacrifice your body and soul for the cause, then things won't happen."


England field five survivors from their 2003 World Cup final team - Jonny Wilkinson, Vickery, Jason Robinson, Josh Lewsey and Ben Kay.

Ashton said: "Having players who have been there and won a World Cup final will help to set the right tone when the day comes.

"It will be a momentous occasion, but it won't be a massive surprise to half the team.

"We've been told 40,000 people are crossing the Channel this weekend. They will be buzzing around Paris - it is unbelievable.

The English have what we don't have - the World Cup trophy
France flanker Serge Betsen

"The support has been phenomenal, and it makes a massive difference. I hope as many as possible of them get tickets."

France, who lost the opening match of the tournament to Argentina en route to finishing second in their pool, came back from 13-0 down to win 20-18 against tournament favourites the All Blacks in Cardiff.

"Beating the best side in the world [NZ] was fantastic but we have to concentrate on the task ahead," said France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

"We'll celebrate later. We will still able to watch that match on ESPN in 30 years.

"This match will be our toughest in the entire campaign. We must believe in ourselves. At stake is a ticket to the most beautiful thing on earth."

France, the Six Nations champions, beat experimental England sides twice in the summer warm-up games, though Ashton's men recorded a 26-18 victory at Twickenham in March.

The hosts have never won the World Cup and lost the 2003 semi-final 24-7 to England in Sydney.

Flanker Serge Betsen, who was sin-binned in France's defeat four years ago, said: "I felt guilty because the team was penalised as a result of my yellow card, but I think that will spur me on.

"The English have what we don't have - the World Cup trophy."

England: Robinson; Sackey, Tait, Catt, Lewsey; Wilkinson, Gomarsall; Sheridan, Regan, Vickery (capt), Shaw, Kay, Corry, Moody, Easter.
Replacements: Chuter, Stevens, Dallaglio, Worsley, Richards, Flood, Hipkiss.

France: Traille; Clerc, Marty, Jauzion, Heymans; Beauxis, Elissalde; Milloud, Ibanez (capt), De Villiers, Pelous, Thion, Betsen, Dusautoir, Bonnaire.
Replacements: Poux, Szarzewski, Chabal, Harinordoquy, Michalak, Dominici, Poitrenaud.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ice withdrawal 'shatters record'

Arctic sea ice shrank to the smallest area on record this year, US scientists have confirmed.

it's amazing but there are still people ( non-scientists) that refuse to believe that man is responsible for some of the dramatic changes we are seeing in our present climate.

i typed in "global warming is a myth" into google and found this site as the 3rd entry:

...."I am not saying that it isn’t a good idea to take action to help the environment, but I ask you to consider this: if the majority of scientific data points to the fact that global warming is caused by the Sun, then how will a tax on carbon emissions help to stop it? How does us driving cars cause climate change on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Neptune and Triton?"...

It seems worrisome that politicians are all too eager to grab onto this man-made myth of global warming in order to make us afraid and guilty. Guilty enough to want to change it, and afraid enough to give up our freedoms and undergo massive financial expenses in order to do so. So this lie, being pushed by big money and big governments, is a convenient lie for those who want to exert control and collect money. However, it’s inconvenient for the mass amount of people who are already experiencing the problems of a widening wage-gap and fading middle class.

...If the problems we are being presented are based on lies, then how do we expect to find any true solution to helping the environment?...

right at the very end of the piece, we find out that the author is a 19-year old political other words, he's not even studying a science degree! he's not even qualified to offer an opinion about a science issue!

i'm an amateur astronomer and familiar with the astronomical community and also the sun, how it works and how it will die. nobody is talking about the sun being responsible for global warming! are you reading about it anywhere in the science literature? i subscribe to a respected astronomy magazine and they sure aren't.

climate change on pluto? we know hardly anything about pluto! where are these so-called scientists getting their data from, the clangers?

better if they had mentioned nasa's new horizons pluto project, don't you think?

in science, they have a saying, outrageous claims requires outrageous evidence.

looking at the ice withdrawal image, i'd say the polar bears don't need convincing...

i leave the best nonsense i came across 'till last:

i found this gem on:

"What's more, 100 million years ago, there was six times as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as there is now, yet the temperature then was marginally cooler than it is today. Many scientists have concluded that carbon dioxide doesn't even affect climate."

i wonder why they don't tell us who they are...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

sir roger penrose at george mason university

daisy and i just got back from hearing a great (and controversial) talk on the beginning of the universe at GMU.
some very acclaimed names in the large audience, including paul davies, author of "the last three minutes" (highly recommended).


cleveland beat the yankees to face boston for division title

it's difficult for me to feel happier about seeing any sports team lose than seeing the new york yankees lose, especially in post-season play, and even more so when they lose and their owner's dreams of chasing yet another title come to and end.

george steinbrenner's completely mad obsession with 'winning is everything - nothing else matters' mentality, is so obnoxious that it defies all moral and ethical standards about normal sporting behavior and competition. year after year after year, major league baseball allows team owners to bankroll efforts that place them at a distinct advantage in order to win themselves a so-called 'world championship', a title surely long overdue a name change, since no other countries are allowed to compete in north america...

luckily, just throwing obscene amounts of cash at A-rod and the like hasn't gotten this nasty megalomaniac the title he so perversely craves, and so on the very eve of his team facing elimination because of cleveland's outstandingly better play, he tells the media that his manager, joe torre is paid a lot of money, and will most likely lose his job if they lose.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

argentina vs scotland

this will be a tough remaining quarter final match-up, especially for scotland, as the pumas are ranked the fourth best side in the world but have never reached the final four, and scotland look shaky and have lost their last four out of five meetings against argentina.

as we have seen though in yesterdays and today's quarter final thrillers, anything can happen.

i'm picking argentina for the win. they have played some great rugby, look a very complete and confident side, and started off by beating both france and ireland in the tournament.

south africa vs fiji

if fiji win this world cup quarter final match-up, i'll walk through the streets of dc naked...


south africa win, but a heroic effort by the fijian islanders nearly saw nutty appearing in the streets of dc sans clothing...

final score: south africa 35- 20 fiji

can he do it? - live on speed 2:00am

the chinese formula 1 grand prix.

can lewis hamilton do what no other driver has done before, win the formula 1 grand prix in his rookie season.

today i've seen:

england beat australia (how)
france beat new zealand (!@#%)
an iridium flare (rare sighting)
the international space station (fairly rare)

...come on lewis!


Lewis Hamilton's world championship lead was slashed to just four points after the McLaren star retired from a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix.

The Englishman slid off the track on his way into the pit lane to change his tyres in a tricky wet-dry race.

He had already ceded the lead to Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and was being pressured by team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Raikkonen won from the Spaniard - and they will stage a title showdown with Hamilton at the final race in Brazil.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

international space station goes over dc

daisy and i went up to the roofdeck of our apartment building and saw the international space make a pass at 8:42pm.

i also managed to see an iridium flare at around 8:05pm.

for more on iridium flares, see:

new zealand vs france

kickoff 3:00pm

tournament favourites new zealand, will be hoping that france won't be able to manage what england did against australia earlier on today.

all of england will be hoping that france can pull off the biggest upset of this tournament...


france pull off the miracle! somehow they meet england in the semi finals.

who would have thought of that at the beginning of the day...

Friday, October 05, 2007

rugby world cup quarter final - australia vs england

kickoff 9:00am

england are huge underdogs in this rematch of the 2003 rugby world cup final.

it will take more than an injury-time winning kick from jonny wilkinson for england to proceed to a semi-final.

expect australia to dominate, with their decisive pack and explosive running game. i don't see england weathering the last 20 minutes too well.


england do the unthinkable, and produce a heroic performance to beat australia and reach the semi-finals of the 2007 rugby world cup!

australia 10-12 england

the US republican presidential race heats up

giuliani tries to imitate stephen hawking...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Russia marks 50 years of Sputnik

50 years ago today, marked the beginning of the space age, with the launch of the first satellite, sputnik. it was only twice the size of a football ( a round one), and it emitted a signal that could be heard on a household radio as it circled the earth for 22 days.

this might not sound much now, with our iphones and internet connectivity, but back then a tv, and especially a colour tv was a luxury, and most people didn't have one, so the radio and the newspaper served as the medium by which the masses received their news. an aluminium object, twice the size of a football, sputnik changed the world forever.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bush Vetoes Children’s Health Insurance Bill

US President George W Bush has vetoed a bill to expand a children's healthcare insurance scheme, after it was passed with a large majority in the Senate.

for someone president of the richest nation on earth, has waged a war that has cost thousands of lives (and for what?), a supposed christian, and someone that has done everything in his power to dismantle civil rights and a woman's right to choose, let alone his appalling record on environmental issues, i'd say he's an:

evil cunt

At Starbucks, Songs of Instant Gratification

Like that song you hear playing at Starbucks, but just cannot wait until you get to a computer to download the song?

Starting tomorrow at certain Starbucks stores, a person with an iPhone or iTunes software loaded onto a laptop can download the songs they hear over the speakers directly onto those devices. The price will be 99 cents a song, a small price, Starbucks says, to satisfy an immediate urge.

“For the customer it’s an instant gratification,” said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. “You’ll hear the song, be able to identify what it is and download to the device.”, when was the last time you walked into starbucks and they were playing something interesting, blokey, or that hasn't been played ten thousand times before?

"make mine a double mocha decaf vanilla latte with 2 diazepam..."