Friday, January 31, 2003

Fusion Reactor to be built A joint venture by the US, Canada, China, Russia, Japan and the EU is underway to construct the world's first fusion reactor. The site will chosen either in Japan, Spain, France or Canada. The annoucement was made by the US DOE Secretary at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, which researches fusion.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Privitization of the US War Machine Here's another interesting article from the latest Wired magazine. It covers the Privatization of the US military, and the apparent lost of public control over the checks and balances that are in place to prevent the armed forces from doing things that are unlawful. If the stuff you see in the X-Files isn't scary enough, get a dose of this reality. DynCorp (check out their site to see what they do) is the focus of the article. It was recently acquired by Computer Sciences Corporation, looking to get an in on some lucrative government contracts. DynCorp does everything from fly crop spraying missions over Columbia, to running the government departments computer networks. They were recently hired to provide security for the new Afghan president; during the Gulf War, they serviced and rearmed US choppers; and in the recent forward deployment of equipment to the middle east, it's DynCorp employees who are running the show. Scary? Think about this - when will the time come when making war will become big business; when it will be the interest of profits that drive the US to gallivant across the globe with guns blazing ... then again, that was what the Gulf War was all about, wasn't it?
New Sketches! OK, old sketches. I've just scanned a few of my sketches from 2002 and they're now posted on the web. Here's the Vol. 3 of my online sketchbook, and here's Vol. 4.
The Year Music Died - from Wired Here's a great series of articles from the latest wired magazine - it's all around the demise of the recording industry as we know it due to the digitization of the making of music. See what the dinosaurs are doing to fight back and hold on to what's left of the industry, and see how Kaaza is making life just a little too difficult for them.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers Saw the latest LOTR movie again last night with the guys. It was quite entertaining again. And again, I was totally impressed by the Gollum character. I need this movie on DVD when it's released! ;-)
Life Rented this at the same time we rented Blue Streak. This was actually my wife's choice. Starring Eddie Murphey and Martin Lawrence, it was a buddy flick, where the buddies just have a endless string of bad luck. This all makes for good laughs for us, but there are some seriousness thrown in there that puntuates the comedy, and will make the slightly intelligent viewer think a little.
Blue Streak - the movie Rented this on video last week, and saw it with the family. I had seen it with the guys in the theatre. It's a typical Martin Lawrence movie. Fish out of water fare, but hilarious. I like Martin Lawrence's comedy. Good rental. Oh ... and they're also developing Blue Streak 2 - Martin Lawrence is back.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

NASA Human Spaceflight NASA has a wealth of information packed away on numerous websites. This one specifically chronicles the adventures & tragedies, the joys & pains, of humans in space. Check it out. Really makes you want to be out there too!
Elephant Information Repository Here's a site chock full of all things elephants. You want to know something about elephants, then it's probably here. From information about the animal's evolution, to children's books.
Wired Magazine, January 2003 issue The January issue of Wire Magazine sports a cover article about video games, and the video game industry. Nothing new there really, just the usual of how big it really is compared to Hollywood and how it has been emerging (over the last several years) as a dominant player in the entertainment industry - don't believe me? Then think about this - what's a major Hollywood movie today without the videogame tie-in? There you go. They're cheaper to produce than movies, and once they're made, you just have to sell them to the masses. What was really intriguing in this issue of the magazine however, was the related articles about the merging of the online games economies, with that of the real world. Things that seem bizarre are taking place - like players turn entrepreneur are selling everything from their virtual belongings in online games, to their online personas; or a start-up firm that hired cheap Mexican labour to earn game points (etc..) in order to sell to the highest bidder on eBay. Where will it end? Who has ownership (really) of the merchandise? The game companies or the people who put hours into bettering their characters? There is also a really good article about China, and it's play to become the cloning superpower. As usual, it makes for a very interesting read. Click the link and enjoy!
Discover Magazine - January 2003 Issue Check out Discover magazine's January 2003 issue - it's a look back at the top 100 science stories of 2002; serving as a quick summary of what important science was done last year. Some of the highlights are: (66) Why space suits don't fit women - they were actually designed to fit men, that's why; (10) Gigahertz waves detected confirms Big Bang; (74) Babies are a lot smarter than we thought - and researchers still have to confirm that the majority of parents are given too much credit for having smarts; (75) The average colour of the universe turns out to be a pinkish beige - this after the colours of the stars from 200,000 galaxies were averaged; (3) The world's population growth is slowing down - the biggest reason? Women don't go for having kids as they did before. For example: roughly 40% of Brazilian women of reproductive age are now sterilized; (47) Last year, the US Congress voted to suspend animal rights for rats, mice and birds - this year, they're working on the researchers; (55) Stephen Wolfram and his book: A New Kind of Science; (34) Ice Ages may be brought on by the solar system passing through regions of the galaxy rife with supernovas; (2) Physicists found out that neutrinos are not massless after all; (7) Two mathematicians have provided a 13-line test for prime numbers - there goes cryptography and every secure transmission on the internet; (38) Quaoar discovered - located beyond Pluto, this 800-miles diameter minor planet is the largest found in our solar system; (42) Two physicists have figured out how to communicate beyong the speed of light - huh? (6) NASA discovers water at Mars south pole; (20) The US' EPA agrees that global warming is actually happening - Bush dismisses it as work of "the bureaucracy;" (65) Did Heisenberg try to build the A-bomb for Hitler? (16) Astrophyscists have proposed that Black Holes have no surface; (4) Researchers at CERN managed to "bottle" some antimatter. Check out the site for more!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Kids these days ... A friend sent this me. Thought it was great!     Kids today...     When I was a kid adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning uphill both ways through year 'round blizzards carrying their younger siblings on their backs to their one-room schoolhouse where they maintained a straight-A average despite their full-time after-school job at the local textile mill where they worked for 35 cents an hour just to help keep their family from starving to death! And I remember promising myself that when I grew up there was no way I was going to lay a story like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!    But....    Now that I've reached the ripe old age of twenty-five, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it! I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet- If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves! And there was no email! We had to actually write somebody a letter -- with a pen! and then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there! And there were no MP3s or Napster! You wanted to steal music, you had to go to the record store and shoplift it yourself! Or we had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it all up! You want to hear about hardship? We didn't have fancy stuff like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal! And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was it could be your boss, your mom, a collections agent, your personal bully; you didn't know!!! You just had to pick it up and take your chances! And we didn't have any fancy Sony Play station videogames with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like "Space Invaders" and "Asteroids" and the graphics sucked! Your guy was a little square! You had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever! And you could never win! The game just kept getting harder and faster until you died! Just like LIFE! When you went to the movie theatre there was no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy sat in front of you, you couldn't see! And sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 20 channels and there was no on-screen menu! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! And there was no Cartoon Network! You could only get cartoons on Saturday morning ... ... D'ya hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK, you spoiled little brats!    That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled, I swear to God! You kids wouldn't last five minutes back in 1984!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Dodge's Tomahawk The boys from DaimlerChrysler are allowed to play sometimes. And yes, it is the boys, because girls wouldn't build such a killing machine. So let's drop reality. It's a motorcycle. It has four wheels. Yes 4. It has a Viper V10 engine. Hell, it's four skinny tires sitting on top of a Viper V10 engine. It can push 500HP. It can top 500kph. And it will probably never be made. It debuted at the 2003 Auto Show in Detroit.
Rules for Life My wife introduced me to this. It has been attributed to Bill Gates - apparently, he was supposed to have delivered this to some high school kids in a speech. Not true though. It's an excerpt from the book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven things you did not learn in school and directed at high school and college grads. I like it, so here it is. (If you have kids, have them study it.)    RULE 1 - Life is not fair, get used to it.    RULE 2 - The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.    RULE 3 - You will NOT make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.    RULE 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.    RULE 5 - Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping; they called it opportunity.    RULE 6 - If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.    RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you    talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try "delousing" the closet in your own room.    RULE 8 - Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.    RULE 9 - Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.    RULE 10 - Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.    RULE 11 - Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
Monty Python's Life of Brian I saw this one last week with my wife. We rented it on DVD. It was hilarious, but my wife didn't really get it. At the end of the movie, she asked that I don't include her in any future Monty Python viewings. Oh well. You either love Monty Python, or you think they're a load of horse manure.
The Way Home movie Saw this movie yesterday with my wife, and a Korean couple who are friends of ours. The movie has won acolcades from the Korean film industry, and has made a smash at the International Film Festival. It's a fairly simple movie, with a failry simple story, but the visuals are quite nice - comforting. I'd recommend this for video.
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere Just completed Neverwhere. It was given to me for my birthday last year, by my wife. This novel was darker than Stardust - the first novel of Gaiman I read, but it nevertheless bore some resembalance to it. This time, it's not some sleepy village that's serving as a portal to another world - this time it's London. And the world is bellow London. It's a dark, and terrible place, where horrors and death is the norm. It's also inhabited by some really fantastic creatures, and stories. It's a place where time operates differently. It's a place where myths come to life. It's a place where a quest will be started. It's a place where a mad angel has been imprisoned, and it seeks to escape to bring heaven's downfall. There - I've probably given away too much, but it's a great book that you'll get hooked on anyway!

Friday, January 10, 2003

Consumer Electronics Show Here's some place I would like to be. The annual CES in Las Vegas this year. Not that I want to hear about Bill Gates taking credit for inventing everything, but there are some cool toys being worked on. Gadgets are coming that make our wireless world even smaller and more connected.
North Korea's weenie It's quite obvious that Kim Jong Il is very far removed from reality. It's also quite obvious that he's pressing really hard for a good butt kicking. Quite amazing that Bush hasn't really taken the bait yet, as he's quite the man to go kick some butt - especially if you're part of his "axis of evil." Kim Jong Il ... is this guy nuts or what? Is he jealous of Sadaam? For a really evil man, Sadaam has really been quiet for the last number of years. Kim Jong Il on the other hand ... and ye Bush doesn't seem all hot and bothered about him?

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

ESL Resources - ESL Lounge - containing lesson plans, ESL teaching materials, and ESL student materials - English Language Resources on the Web - containing lots of links to online resources; not all are geared towards ESL however - Teaching Fish - containing free ESL resources - John and Sarah's TEFL Pitstop - lots of printable ESL resources that's geared towards teachers - About.com's ESL resources - lots of links and resources

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Terrifica, Superheroine for Single Girls A real life superheroine. She's clad in a red costume, complete with mask, and goes around NY getting single girls in bars to go home, and not pickup men. I don't know what to make of this. Really don't.
Howard Shore - Music from the Movies: This site has quite a bit of information on Howard Shore, as well as a number of audio clips and related links. A good place to start. - Music Score Monthly: an online site dedicated to movie scores.

Monday, January 06, 2003

AlterNet.org AlterNet.org is a project of the Independent Media Institute. It supports alternative journalism. They have some really pointed, funny, witty articles. Quite refreshing. Check them out!
The Power of One The Power of One, by Clarice L. Chambers, first published in the Dec. 5, 2000 of the School Board News. Here's an excerpt, but follow the link the get it in its entirety.
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It does not carry over a balance from day to day. Every evening, the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every dollar, of course! Each of us has such a bank. It's name is time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes them off. This bank carries over no balance; it allows no overdrafts. Each day, it opens a new account for you. If you fail to invest the day's deposits in worthwhile purposes, the loss is yours. There is no going back. The clock is running. Make the most of today. To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed a grade. To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of one week, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper. To realize the value of one hour, ask lovers who are waiting to reunite. To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who has missed a train. To realize the value of one second, ask someone who just avoided an accident. We all know the saying: Time waits for no one. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.
More Winter Pictures My wife and I visited the Serena Gundy Park, and took some pictures. We walked for a couple of hours yesterday - it wasn't cold, just nice and cool. Check out the pics in the following galleries:    - Linda's Album Vol. 3    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 13    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 14    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 15    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 16    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 17    - Andy's Nature Pictures Vol. 18
Neil Gaiman's Stardust I finished reading Neil Gaiman's Stardust last night. It took me less than four days to complete it. It was an excellent fairy tale. Check out the link about for the short back cover blurb, and an excerpt from the novel. Gaiman has been a favourite of mine since the Miracleman comics - my love for his writing really took off with the Sandman comics however. I actually met him at a signing at the Beguiling many years ago. Now I need his other novels.
Some wild car photos Check out this site for some really wicked car pictures. ... OK, OK ... but you really have to wonder about some of their drivers (and hope you're not sharing the road with them).
Are SUV drivers assholes? Chances are, yes. Automakers know this, as documented design studies show. Check out this article with heapings of statistics being lashed out with a sharp tongue. It's both funny and scary at the same time. If you're an SUV driver, when you reach the end of the article, go look in the mirror ... assess yourself and decide if you're an asshole or not.
Iraq's missing nukes OK. They must have had some. The CIA said so. George W. said so. George W.'s lap dog Blair said so. It must be so. So where is it? Maybe Saddam ordered them to be diluted in water, then used to wash his clothes (all he has to do is wash his clothes again, and instant nukes! Just like cocaine.). Or maybe Saddam ordered them disassembled and the smaller parts hidden in camels behinds. Who knows? Could be that Saddam couldn't actually build nukes. He definitely wanted to. But maybe he just got his ass kicked too many times and decided to fund terrorists instead. Who knows? Who knows as well why George W. is so hot and bothered about bombing him and not that North Korean twit. We know why Clinton wanted to bomb Saddam - his intentions were clear. Are George W.'s? Maybe every American president just needs an adversary to beat up on to make himself feel big, and Saddam just makes too good of a bad guy to pass up. Who knows? I just wish the media would stop using the word terror. It's not scary anymore.
Baby Clone a Hoax? Is Clonaid full of it? Well, chances are yes. Let's see, a Doctor claiming to belong to an organization that can clone humans - however, their lab is a mystery, and so are their scientists. The Doctor is a Bishop in the Raelian movement (in case you've been living in a hole, that's a group of fruit cakes led by head cheese fruit that now goes by the name Rael and lives in Montreal - need I say more?) - they believe humans were made by aliens, and cloning will make us live forever. They won't let independent groups test the baby and parents. That alien thing ... I just can't get over the alien thing. I don't understand the head cheese's motivation for starting this nutty cult - what's in for him? Check out related news from BBC as well.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Winter Pictures from E.T. Seton Park I dropped by the E.T. Seton park today (bottom of Leslie, at Eglinton) to take a few quick snapshots of the huge dump of snow we just received. It wasn't that cold, and there was lots of snow. The park connects to the Sunnybrook Park and Edwards Gardens. I have to go back there, more prepared and take better pics that these. The pics can be found on Webshots, in three albums: first, second, & third.
Snow on Christmas Day Leading up to Christmas in Toronto, we were not expecting to get any snow. Then, like magic, it started to snow on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we had a nice layer of snow coating everything outdoors, and more was still coming down. So, I took the camera out and snapped these shots off quickly.
Angel Pictures I just uploaded some new pictures of my cat. Taken on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Star Trek Nemesis I saw the movie this evening with the family. What a load of @#$!. The movie had good points, but it left me cringing too many times. Starting off with Picard's speech at Riker and Tory's wedding - what the hell? Picard does not speak like that! And him taking a joyride the shuttle and offroad vehicle ... not in character! The whole story arc with B4 ... what's with that? How many other copies of Data are there out there? And must the crew of the ship change uniforms that often? I read the hype before the movie was released - Shinzon was going to be the next Khan ... yeah, whatever. He did not have the menace! The Remans - there was a lot more that could have been done with them, nothing was done! They could have been really frightening ... but no. They left them in the shadows and brought them out whenever cannon-fodder was needed. Oh, I can continue, but why bother?
The Science of Discworld II - The Globe It's not Terry Pratchett's latest, and while it's technically a Discworld novel, the alternating chapeters are by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen - they write the science bit. I skipped the science bit. I wanted to be entertained. I didn't really want to ponder - I wanted Ponder. ;-) Here's what the inside flap says: "The planet Earth has picked up a parasite life form - elves. They get everywhere. And they like humans to be superstitious, fearful and frightened of thunder. They're after our future and must be stopped ... but by who? Enter the wizards of the Unseen University who, in the best-selling The Science of Discworld unwittingly created Earth and our own universe. At the time they quite failed to notice humanity. (Well, we've only been around for a million years, so we're easily overlooked ...) But now, at last they've found us." The Discworld novel within this novel is as usual, hilarious! The science and philosophy will make you ponder (sorry!). Excellent novel!

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Team Encounter Here's the idea. A solar sail spaceship. Lots of recordings of people from all over the world. Stuff it all onto the space ship, launch it, and send it beyond the solar system. Hopefully someone will find it. Think message in a bottle with an infinite ocean of space. Yeah, good luck. But check it out for fun anyway. Oh, and if you want to board, get out the credit card.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Tagish Lake Meteorite In January 2000, a 200 ton meteorite exploded into a fireball and rained fragments into the frozen Tagish Lake in the Yukon Territory. The quick recovery and preservation by a nearby resident has lead to a really neat discovery. The recovered fragments contains organic blobs that predates the creation of the solar system, and very closely resembles material that have been created in labs to simulate the conditions when life first appeared on Earth. So where does this leave us with the origin of life question? More questions, and less answers for sure.
Offbeat News - CNN CNN Online has an interesting, funny and just plain crazy collection of offbeat news on their site. It's great for some lite reading; for some head shaking in disbelief. Check out articles titled: "Jack Ass sues over 'Jackass' show"; "Family turns grandma into diamond"; "Wife wanted: one man's quest"; etc. And it just goes on, and on. Enjoy!
Volunteering (Canada) There are more and more needy everyday, but that's not all what volunteering is about. Volunteering is about having a social conscience; it's a moral obligation we all have to society. It's a way of contributing to our society's well being. And I'm probably like most of you. I don't do it. Well, I actually do a smiggin. (That's less than a little for those who don't know.) I don't think I can handle what my daughters do - which is volunteer to help the elderly, or the disabled. I don't think I can handle the emotional investment. So if you're like me, and you can't handle it either, never fear - this site is for you. There are many ways to contribute, check the site out.
Sacred Vessel in orbit China has successfully launched another space capsule into space. The capsule, with all the equipment onboard for a manned flight, was laucnhed from the Gobi desert aboard a Shenzhou IV rocket. The capsule is expected to orbit for 7 days before returning to Earth. In the last few years, the Chinese have been increasing their spending on their space program. Hand picked fighter pilots have been training for the manned missions that are in the works. China also aims to go to the Moon after doing the manned orbital flights. There is a whole bunch of things tied into China's recent push to get to space - prestige, at being one of the few nations to have sent people into space; an exercise to demonstrate China's tecnological capabilities; a warning to the US who's dominant presence in the Asia-Pacific region China wishes to challenge; and just plain home grown pride. Regardless of the reasons, let's hope they succed, and let's hope this pushes the US to increase spending in the space program.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring I got the first LOTR movie as a Christmas present - the Extended Edition. The movie comes on two DVDs, which we saw last night and this morning. There were some additional footage went further in exploring some of the characters, but there were also snippets taken out of the film as well. Like Boromir's funeral as he was put on the boat and allowed to float down the river to the falls. I did't get the removal of that. They added the scenes where the fellowship were given gifts from the elves - which was cool, but they didn't show Sam receiving the seeds that he uses in the end of the third book. Which implies a few things: they haven't shot that part of the story, and it's therefore not going to make it into the third movie. Or, they've shot it, and may include it in some super-extended version of the trilogy, which means they want people to buy the entire trilogy later again. I know this is going to happen anyway. I will feel ripped off if they did that though.
Another test. OK ... this time I've downloaded a tool to help me do the dirty deed. w.bloggar, an open source project from some Brazillian developers. Really cool if this works!w.bloggar It's not as friendly as web editor of choice (MS FP), but it's a hell of a lot friendlier than Blogger's web interface.
Young Frankenstein the movie
Last night, to start off the end of 2002, we watched Young Frankenstein. My wife got it for Christmas this year, on a recently released DVD. There were some outtakes which we watched before the movie - but they were not that good. Too long, and not funny. The movie itself was hilarious. I've seen it a few times before - my wife actually introduced me to it. I had seen snippets of it on TV before, but I think it was the black and white thing that caused me to change the channel quickly. Anyway, if you've seen the movie, I don't need to explain - if you haven't seen the movie, but have seen Mel Brooks' other movies, you know what you're in for. This one ranks up there with Blazing Saddles.
Another test. This is just to make sure that multiple entries make it through with the formatting still intact.
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