Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride"

Just glorious....better even than "The Nightmare Before Christmas!'

There was a song reminiscent of 'Sally's Song', called 'Tears To Shed'. Both songs express apprehensive yearning, rejection, worthlessness, forlorn loss - adolescent heartfelt pain - but this song is more interesting, featuring three singers (the Corpse Bride, plus two friends.

The ending is slightly perplexing, but it's hard to miss the clean flame of love, and the disintegration into butterflies....
Tears To Shed
Oh those girls are ten a plenty,
You’ve got so much more
You’ve got, you’ve got
You’ve got a wonderful personality!
What does that wispy little brat have that you don’t have double?
She can’t hold a candle to the beauty of your smile.
How about a pulse?
Overrated by a mile!
If he only knew the you that we know!
And that silly little creature isn’t wearing his ring!
And she doesn’t play piano,
Or dance
Or sing
No she doesn’t compare
But she still breathes air!
Who cares?
If only he could see how special you can be
If he only knew the you that we know!

If I touch a burning candle I can feel no pain
If you cut me with a knife it's still the same
And I know her heart is beating and I know that I am dead
Yet the pain here that I feel, try and tell me it's not real
And it seems that I still have a tear to shed

The sole redeeming feature from that little creature is that she’s alive
Everybody knows that that’s just a temporary state
Which is cured very quickly when we meet our fate
Who cares?
If only he could see how special you can be
If he only knew the you that we know!

If I touch a burning candle I can feel no pain
In the ice or in the sun its all the same
Yet I feel my heart is aching
Though it doesn’t beat it's breaking
And the pain here that I feel
Try and tell me it's not real
I know that I am dead
Yet it seems that I still have some tears to shed
Better even than 'Sally's Song'!
Sally's Song
I sense there's something in the wind
That feels like tragedy's at hand
And though I'd like to stand by him
Can't shake this feeling that I have
The worst is just around the bend

And does he notice my feelings for him?
And will he see how much he means to me?
I think it's not to be

What will become of my dear friend?
Where will his actions lead us then?
Although I'd like to join the crowd
In their enthusiastic cloud
Try as I may, it doesn't last

And will we ever end up together?
No, I think not, it's never to become
For I am not the one
KVIE Phone-Banking

DMTC volunteered to do phone-banking work this morning at KVIE TV-6, the local PBS affiliate. The arrangement was a bit hasty, at least for me. First, there was Ryan's original announcement:
I would like as many Board members to help out with this upcoming KVIE phone banking as possible.
I had to cancel phone banking due to lack of volunteers, but thanks to those who signed up....
KVIE finally got back to me, and without mincing words let me know that we must supply volunteers tomorrow morning....
I wonder if KVIE threatened to force the DMTC Board to watch commercial television unless we showed up......

In any event, we all showed up and 'brought in' $26,000.00 during our shift. I was surprised at how enthusiastic people were to buy Wayne Dyer's 'The Power of Intention.' (I had never heard of the fellow until today.) Also, there was a Mariachi show on the other PBS channel, and so the phone lines were hot with people ordering a variety of merchandise.

A few transactions didn't go through, though. One woman had to cancel her order because we couldn't accomodate monthly money orders (she had lost her checking account privileges and was facing eviction.)

(Sometimes it's better, I think, given the real burdens people are faced with on a daily basis, if certain transactions don't go through.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Storm Pictures, Attributed!

Aha! Those fabulous storm pictures are indeed from the Midwest!:
Storm chaser Mike Hollingshead hasn't been paid or given credit for the photos that have appeared in the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Brazil, among other places. Furthermore, the photos of tornadoes in Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa are being passed off as Hurricane Katrina pictures.

Many people received the photos in their inbox. They've been sent thousands of times. Hollingshead has link after link on his Web site to all of the other sites, chat rooms and e-mails where his pictures have appeared.

The pictures were mostly taken in 2004. All were snapped within a few hundred miles of Omaha.

Hollingshead takes the pictures for a living, and about nine months ago, he started getting e-mails from other storm chasers telling him his pictures were appearing around the world.

"People started selling them to magazines like Weatherwise, then a Dutch magazine about weather, then to newspapers and TV shows," Hollingshead said.

He said he tried to correct the Web sites, but it just kept spreading.
So Who Spread All The Lies?

What really was going on at the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina:
New Orleanians have been kind of cheated, because now everybody thinks that they just turned to animals, and that there was complete lawlessness and utter abandon, when that wasn't the case. Because if there was, we would have completely lost control of the Dome. And we never did. People just kind of hung on, through the heat and through everything, until they got on a bus and left.
Scientists Try Chicken Little Again

I get very tired of these clarion calls for the production of more scientists and engineers:
The proposed actions include creating scholarships to attract 10,000 top students a year to careers in teaching math and science, and 30,000 scholarships for college-level study of science, math and engineering; expanding the nation's investment in basic research by 10 percent a year for seven years; and making broadband access available nationwide at low cost.

"America must act now to preserve its strategic and economic security," the panel's chairman, Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman of Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. "The building blocks of our economic leadership are wearing away. The challenges that America faces are immense."

The underlying goal, the panel said, is to create high-quality jobs by developing new industries and new sources of energy based on the bright ideas of scientists and engineers.
History repeats itself again (and again and again and again). In the early 90's, Leon Lederman made exactly these same points, calling for the creation of more scientists and engineers, callously ignoring the inability of the economy to absorb these new highly-trained workers and the inevitable disillusionment that settles in when the new highly-trained workers end up selling shoes or driving taxis instead. Before Lederman, there was a host of others saying exactly the same thing, in the 80's, the 70's, the 60's, the 50's, etc.

Each university researcher requires a steady stream of new recruits, and when the stream seems to turn into a rivulet, that's when the call goes out. There are more students than ever, but if the pool of researchers is growing even faster, then each researcher gets proportionately fewer students. It looks like a drought of students, but it isn't so!

Our big problems don't have to do with too few scientists, they have to do instead because we are governed by idiots. Science education could surely help in the idiot department, of course, but reflexively increasing the number of students is the wrong approach.

Cruel as Lederman's call was in the early 90's, Lederman himself was no fool: he clearly realized the paradox the scientific community found itself in then - and now - and wrestled with it as best as he could. Are today's leaders as well-informed? (from an interview with Lederman, in 1996):
We are told that science and technology are important for the future of the nation's competitiveness. The real managers of the economy think otherwise, however, as the great corporations (including AT&T and IBM) have either scaled back or shut down entirely their central laboratories. The economy has gradually shifted from manufacturing to service industries such as insurance and banking, which do not support very much scientific research. ... Finally, the academic expansion that transformed us from a nation of elite higher education to a nation of mass higher education is clearly over forever, with more than half of our kids already going on past high school.

... In this country we have what I call the paradox of the scientific elites and scientific illiterates. The Golden Age of science produced genuine excellence in American science. As a result, we have without any question the very finest scientists and the very finest science in the world today. On the other hand, the U.S. has the most poorly educated and scientifically illiterate public in the Western World by any rational measure....

I think this paradox springs from the nature of science education in the U.S., which is not a pipeline as portrayed in the earlier metaphor, but really a kind of mining-and-sorting operation. We, the existing scientists, search through the humans that come our way, looking for "diamonds in the rough" that can be cut, polished and cleaned into glittering gems just like us. But we have no interest at all in all of the rest of them, who we throw on the "slag heap." The mining-and-sorting model of science education explains, for example, why there are so few women and minorities in science: we white male scientists who are doing the mining and sorting do not realize that they will look just like us once they are cut and polished and cleaned. It also accounts for the exponential growth, because exponential growth is what occurs when the number of scientists we turn out is proportional to the number of scientists there are for recognizing new ones. Above all, it accounts for the paradox of scientific illiterates and scientific elites, which occurs because the entire system of education is designed to produce exactly that result, i.e., we pick out the people who are going to be the scientists and ignore everybody else.

... Every professor in a research university turns out something on the order of 15 graduate PhDs in the course of a career. You really cannot get very far away from that number 15. If you have a career spanning 30 years and have an active research group, somebody is bound to graduate every couple of years, making about 15. Everyone of those 15 students, given their inherited aspirations, would like to become a research professor just like their professor and turn out 15 more PhDs. You must realize that in a "steady state" world of science the only reproductive responsibility of a research professor is to turn out one professor for the next generation. Therefore, so you can see the engine of exponential growth right there.

Whenever the leaders of American science seriously try to come to grips with this problem, which does not happen very often, they come up with some variant on what I call the "Harold Brown" solution. ... It was around 1970, when the "Crunch" started, and I had noticed that things had changed in some way. I began to do some research to figure out what had changed and why, when I read Price's book and realized what had really happened: We had saturated the exponential expansion, changing the world in an irreversible way. I wrote a memo which I passed around among my colleagues at Caltech explaining the situation and saying that we at Caltech ought to set a dramatic example for everybody else by reducing radically the number of graduate students we were training for PhDs....

Harold Brown's more creative solution was that everyone should be required to get a PhD in physics before starting any serious career, just as classical Latin and Greek had once been required for the British Civil Service. That would at least put the problem off until the middle of the next century, when we would have more PhDs in physics than we have people....

...Graduate students in science are a source of cheap labor. ... By their second year, graduate students are doing demanding and technically difficult work at salaries lower than those of entry-level clerical help. On the one hand, we really need them if we are to keep up the machinery of the research university. On the other hand, from the point of view of the students, it is a kind of genteel poverty: They are, after all, young enough to survive on beer and pizza. Nor is it an embarrassing kind of poverty, since they have not lapsed into poverty as a result of a failure, but are preparing for a better life in the future. Therefore, it is respectable poverty, for nobody holds it against them and it is not such a terrible time.

We have been told in the past that the increase in efficiency due to automation and so on would lead people to have more leisure time, that the work week would reduce from 40 hours to 30 hours, and so on. We all know that that has not happened. Instead there are permanently unemployed people, and others who work harder than ever. Perhaps, though, this is part of the solution to the problem. If everybody had to get a PhD and do a post-doc or two before starting any other career, while it would not reduce the work week from 40 hours to 30 hours, it might reduce the work life from 40 years to 30 years, which might have the same effect.

It is true that, during this period of being a graduate student and then a post-doc, one is unencumbered and free to do research without all of the responsibilities that come during later portions of one's career. As a matter of fact, it may be much more extreme than that. There are some people who think that scientists today are much like professional athletes: They get all of their real science done before the age of 35, after which they go into some other line of work. Or if they stay in science, they really become science managers, fund-raisers whose activity allows younger people to continue doing research. In this view, the difference between the scientists and the professional athletes is that the athletes understand that, once they get to be 35, they no longer belong on the playing field. The scientists have not figured that one out yet.

It is certainly true that having these young people come up through the ranks of PhDs and post-docs advances science; there is no question at all that this is a good thing. They also acquire "deep knowledge," which is to say that they come to know a particular subject better than anybody else in the world. Maybe the experience of having understood something so deeply is by itself a good thing, regardless of what it is that they have understood. The real question is whether all of this training in how to do research adds any value to these people that they would not have had were they not trained specifically in how to do research. We have all heard stories of physics PhDs who do wonderfully well on Wall Street. No doubt there are such people, but I wonder whether their success comes because they were trained to do research in physics, or because they were very smart in the first place.

The real "Crunch" comes when you have to advise students regarding their professional direction. Recently, I was on another visiting committee at a university that I thought should not be giving out PhDs in physics. I was, in fact, prepared to tell them that they should do away with their PhD program. I talked to their graduate students, asking them if they were aware of the job market, particularly for people from a university like theirs. They said, "Of course we are aware of it; we understand acutely well how difficult things are for people out there." I asked them if they were therefore resentful and wanted to get out of this business. They said, "No, we love our professors, and think we are getting a great education. We would rather get our PhDs and take our chances." Well, if that is their attitude, I am certainly not going to be the one to tell them that they should not be getting any more education.
The Iron Maiden Sings

'Attila the Hen', better known as Baroness Margaret Thatcher, finally comes out in opposition to Tony Blair's justifications to rush to war:
Baroness Thatcher has criticised Tony Blair for taking Britain to war in Iraq on the basis of flawed evidence about Saddam Hussein's weapons. The former prime minister's embarrassing criticism emerged as Mr Blair was among the 670 guests who attended a party to mark her 80th birthday.

Although Lady Thatcher remains a strong supporter of the decision to topple Saddam by invading Iraq, it is the first time she has questioned the basis for the war. Yesterday's Washington Post reported that when asked whether she would have invaded Iraq given the intelligence at the time, Lady Thatcher replied: "I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again."

She added: "The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."

The article was written by the journalist Tina Brown, who said she had been told Lady Thatcher's view by Lord Palumbo, the former chairman of the Arts Council, who asked the former prime minister about Iraq when he had lunch with her six months ago. Lord Palumbo was also among the guests at last night's party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Hyde Park, London. The guest list, which was headed by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, included many former members of Lady Thatcher's cabinets as well as prominent figures from industry, arts, showbusiness and the media.

The Tory leader Michael Howard and the two right-wing candidates for the leadership, David Davis and Liam Fox, were present but the two moderates - Ken Clarke and David Cameron - had not been invited.

Lady Thatcher's office did not dispute her reported remarks but said she had been - and remained - in full support of the decision to oust Saddam by military means, which she always believed would be the only way to remove him. Aides said she wished that had been achieved by the first Gulf War, prompted by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which took place shortly after she was forced to resign as Prime Minister after losing the confidence of her cabinet.

Her criticism of Mr Blair's methods comes as a surprise given her staunch backing for the conflict. In 2002, on a visit to America, she said she was "proud that Britain stands where we all must stand - as America's surest and staunchest ally". She told the Heritage Foundation in Washington: "Prime Minister Blair and I are, as is well known, political opponents but, in this vital matter, I salute his strong, bold leadership."

Although Mr Blair condemned Saddam's record in the build-up to the war, he did not advocate "regime change" because that would have been illegal. Instead, he sought to build a case on the ground that Saddam's arsenal put him in breach of United Nations resolutions. After no weapons of mass destruction were found after the conflict, Mr Blair sought to justify it by arguing that the world is a better place without Saddam in power.
Andrew Sullivan And The Liberal Straw Man

It's hard to credit blogger Andrew Sullivan for much, when he cluelessly gets things backwards (note: I'm not talking here about DMTC drummer Andy Sullivan - if Andy gets things backwards, everyone knows it instantly, including himself).

Andrew Sullivan makes lazy references to 'Kossers' - the people who read and support The Daily Kos, a leading liberal blog - and how it would drive them crazy to support Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers, because she is the probably the best nominee liberals can expect from George Bush. Sullivan teases the Democrats to support Miers, and states:
That, of course, would drive the Kossers up the wall. But the Kossers are a central reason for Republican dominance of the polity. The Miers nomination is therefore a golden opportunity for a potential Democratic presidential candidate to take on the far-left base. C'mon, Senator Bayh. He needs two core messages: he deeply values Miers' religious faith and personal integrity and believes there should be an up-or-down vote in the whole Senate. Out-Bush Bush, vote for Miers, and then sit back and enjoy watching Sam Brownback squirm. In general, I have always given presidents the benefit of the doubt on judicial nominees. I do again here - but want to see how Miers performs in the hearings. If she's really incompetent, we'll find out and she should be cashiered. But if she's just a meticulous nit-picker who believes that courts should intervene in politics as little as possible, why not vote for her? It's not as if she'd be the first mediocre crony in the court's history. For Dems, she'd be a lot better than most of the alternatives. And by her mere ascension to the court, as another reader points out, "these deep cleavages we are now seeing on the Right will be frozen in place, like a prehistoric fly trapped in amber." Wedge away, Dems.
So, what do they say over at The Daily Kos? Something rather similar!
We filibuster Miers, which might be successful with possible Republican defections, and then what? We got Janice Brown? Priscilla Owens? We filbuster them, then what? What's being accomplished? What's the end game? To drive home that Miers is the product of Bush cronyism? The Republicans are already doing that. That she's a tool of Big Business? Sure, let's make the point. But to try and filibuster a candidate who is not an extremist, as far as we know, does little to advance the Democratic agenda. And even if successful, we'd likely end up with something far worse.

It's early, and information may arise that makes Miers unacceptable, but that hasn't happened. Not yet. Crying "filibuster" at this point, merely because she was nominated by Bush, makes little practical sense.

Ask tough questions, definitely. Highlight the cronyism, corporatism that pervades everything Bush touches, sure. But knee-jerk opposition without regards to the facts on the ground is not healthy. Let's enjoy the Republicans eating their own for now. And if information arises that places her in the extremes of American jurisprudence, then we open up.
So, why is it that Andrew Sullivan can't be bothered to read what people write before he criticizes them? What is it with Sullivan's liberal straw man?
First Principles

Catching up with news from earlier this week, I was impressed at Cheryl Bly-Chester's skill at using a piece in the Sacramento Bee to expound upon first principles upon assuming her position on the State Reclamation Board: she was provided with a pulpit, and she seized upon it!
Cheryl Bly-Chester, a Roseville civil engineer who said her years of competitive kayaking make her sensitive to river environments, wants to find ways to take builders' needs into account.

Bly-Chester is wary of "things thrown up as obstructionist flak" to stop a project, and would rather look for innovative engineering solutions.

She's been researching ways that Gulf Coast states build for their floods, by designing first floors that can stand up to inundation, for example, and wants to stay open to anything that protects public safety while ensuring land is put to its optimum use.

She anticipates dropping about a third of her clients to avoid potential conflicts between their development interests and her decisions on the Reclamation Board. The post pays $100 per meeting, up to a maximum of $4,000 per year, plus expenses.
Davy Jones' Slots

All those one-armed bandits, drowned! Enough to get the crocodile tears flowing!
When Hurricane Katrina leveled the Gulfport and Biloxi area, it silenced about 18,000 slot machines at Mississippi's floating casinos. Some of the one-armed bandits were washed into the sea. Looters ran off with others. And the vast majority — about 75 percent — were destroyed.

... Inside the Copa, battered and broken slot machines littered the casino floor, forming row after row of metallic corpses. All the favorites were there: The Wheel of Fortune, Lobster Mania, Enchanted Unicorn and Cleopatra. A pair of Regis Philbins were still standing in one corner. "It's hard to write off Regis," said McClendon, casino services manager in IGT's Gulfport office.

...And in one area of the casino, a dozen or so buckets were filled with thousands of nickels. "Quite frankly, the priority was getting the paper money out," Quinn said.

Dan Lee, chairman and chief executive of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., said thieves sneaked into his casino and tried breaking into the machines and security carts that hold money. He said they almost got lucky — coming close to discovering roughly $400,000 that was inside a locked cash cart and left in the casino during the storm. Pinnacle recovered the money, Lee said. Armed guards now protect the casino.

... With people always devising ways to cheat the machines, IGT may have to rewrite the slots' software. The fear: People could have broken into some of the machines and stolen the software with hopes of coming back to a casino and rigging a jackpot.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Last MX Missile

So, they've finally decommissioned the last MX missile in Wyoming! (NY Times Select article link)

I remember the MX from working at the Kirtland AFB Weapons Lab in the late 70's. The Lab had been tasked with carrying out and analyzing explosive tests on mockups of portions of the underground racetrack network, and also carrying out a number of computer simulations to aid in the design of the network.

The Big Idea was that vast - and I do mean vast - areas of the rural, western U.S. would be riddled with underground tunnels, through which large MX missiles would move, night and day, in a cat-and-mouse game to prevent the Russians from ever locating the missiles closely enough to make a first strike practical. If we needed to nuke the U.S.S.R., hydraulic rams would break through the tunnels, punch through the overlying dirt and prop the missiles up. Then the missiles' solid fuel rockets would quickly take the nuclear warheads to where they could do the most damage.

The desire was to make the U.S. nuclear deterrent invulnerable to a Soviet first strike. Improvements in Soviet missile guidance, coupled with huge Soviet warhead sizes, were calling into question whether the U.S. land-based missiles could survive a Soviet first strike.

There was a fantasy element to the whole project. The first-strike potential was worrisome, of course, but since we already had missiles on virtually-undetectable submarines, the urgency of the project seemed overdrawn - doubly so given the small size of the individual American MX warheads (tens of kilotons, if I recall correctly) doing the attack.

Fantasy-like elements reared their heads up all the time. One day, I asked my boss what he was doing. He said he was trying to evaluate, if a hundred Soviet nuclear warheads detonated simultaneously in a typical western U.S. Basin-and-Range valley, whether one could simultaneously drive a tank through a mountain pass into the valley, or whether the tank would be blown off the winding road by the winds howling through the pass. "Oh," was all I could muster in reply.

The Reagan Administration eventually decided to place the MX in silos instead, and severely cut back on the number of missiles ordered. The NY Times article implies the decision to back off the underground-tunnel idea was forced by western governors, who did not relish turning a quarter of each of their states into military reservations for the MX tunnel network. And who could blame the governors? I have no doubt that there was some pressure there.

Nevertheless, my memory is of something quite different. I heard a story that the engineers had discovered a horrible fact: the interlocked tubular network exposed a new vulnerability. The tubes could be designed to withstand the tremendous overpressures of shock waves travelling through the tubes resulting from Soviet atomic detonations in the network, but the underpressures immediately following the shock waves were another problem altogether: the tubes would crumple instantly, like a Bill Murray anti-gopher 'Caddyshack' fantasy, trapping and damaging all the American missiles at once. One well-placed Soviet bomb could wipe out an entire network.

So, then, the hawkish fantasists of the Reagan Administration were forced by an inhospitable political environment and an uncomfortable technical reality to scratch the tubular network, and treat the MX program not as a technical revolution but as just a missile upgrade, and put the missiles into still-potentially-vulnerable silos.

Billions spent, and pretty much wasted!

I wonder if the even-more hawkish and even-greater fantasy-ridden Bush Administration could ever be forced by an uncomfortable reality to scratch a particular approach to a weapons program (missile interceptors, anyone?)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pointing Out The Obvious

Ever since the bottled water fad raised its expensive head (as I recall, in 1982), it's been little more than a massive scam, but one in which just about everyone was complicit. Doesn't bottled water make you feel special?

Heck, I buy massive amounts of bottled water and jeopardize my health by lugging the dense fluid up the back porch steps. When I drag myself and the bottled water into the kitchen, I can finally sit down, rest my wounded muscles, and swill the expensive drink in peace (all the while ignoring the city's own low-cost tap water pouring out of the faucet).

Now, this author is sounding the alarm, but forgive me for ignoring the worrywort: the woman clearly doesn't feel special enough to smile at the rip-off. She's worried about money, corporate ownership, toxins, and a whole lot of other non-special stuff:

Greater Boston spends 1,364 times the cost of perfectly good public water for Aquafina, despite indistinguishable differences, and Bostonians are not alone. Similar patterns repeat themselves across the United States.

Other scientific studies show that bottled water is no safer than public water, and often less safe, sometimes with high concentrations of toxins like arsenic and mercury. Food and Drug Administration rules for bottled water quality are quite poor compared to Environmental Protection Agency rules for tap water. But if bottled water is not necessarily cleaner or safer than public water, why have bottled water sales doubled in the United States over the past decade? And why do one of six people in the United States only drink bottled water?

The industry, led by Pepsi, NestlĂ©, and Coke is trying to dupe us. Misleading advertising is fueling the explosive growth of this industry. According to the most recent statistics available, in 2002 bottled water corporations spent $93.8 million to portray their products as “pure,” “safe,” “clean,” “healthy” and superior to tap water.

... Water bottling, is a fast-growing $55 billion a year business. Corporations take water from underground springs and municipal sources without regard to scarcity or human rights, and are setting out to replace our public water with a high-priced, aggressively marketed product.

... Corporations like Pepsi, Coke, and Nestlé are seeking to transform water into a commodity that can be sold for profit to the highest bidder. Instead of buying into this approach, people across the United States should be demanding that our public water systems are well maintained....

Warmer Than Usual Winter To Come?

So sayeth the National Weather Service. I wonder how accurate this forecast will prove to be?:
Government forecasters on Wednesday predicted a warmer than normal winter, offering hope to much of the Midwest and West as concern grows about the rising costs of heating during cold-weather.

The National Weather Service said there is a 60 percent chance of warmer than normal weather in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, north Texas, northern New Mexico and southern and eastern Colorado.

States adjoining that area, plus Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii also have a chance of being warmer than usual.

Other regions could be warmer or cooler than usual but no area was singled out to be especially cold.
The Miers Nomination

Christmas is early this year!
Reid planted this bug in Bush's ear, and whether he saw this disaster or whether we got lucky is irrelevant. It's been great fun watching it unfold.
Strange, Conservative Confessions

So, Jonah Goldberg has a thing against Jello, because it's gelatinous and wiggly? Well, I don't like scrambled eggs, because they are gelatinous and wiggly, but Jello and I get along fine.

"Victor/Victoria" Promo Pictures

The printed pictures were available over at RSP today (here are the Web versions). Just gorgeous! Handsome people plus good costumes (plus a dash of touch-up) equals great pictures!

(Thanks to Andrea for pointing out the SacBee Ticket promo picture).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Still Kicking!

Still some action left in the season...

Tropical Storm Vince is heading for Portugal.....

A tropical storm is being born east of Puerto Rico, and will head north and likely crash ashore in New England during the weekend...

Plus, a new Bahaman tropical storm may appear by the weekend.
Guatemalan Mudflow Damage

So all-encompassing from the recent heavy rains (aggravated by Hurricane Stan) that entire communities were lost:
Guatemala's death toll from torrential rains last week associated with Hurricane Stan stood at 652; 384 were missing.

The worst-hit communities will be abandoned and declared graveyards, officials said, after they stopped most efforts to dig out increasingly decomposed bodies.

"Panabaj will no longer exist," said Mayor Diego Esquina, referring to the Mayan hamlet on the shores of Lake Atitlan covered by a half-mile wide mudflow as much as 15 to 20 feet thick. "We are asking that it be declared a cemetery. We are tired, we no longer know where to dig."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pictures from the wings: the "Kit Kat Klub" backdrop, and Jessica Hammon (Sally Bowles) sings "Cabaret."

"Cabaret" Closes

Nice cast! Nice show! Everyone did a real good job! Nevertheless, there were a few problems. Rachael hurt her ankle on Friday, but the sprain didn't really become manifest until Sunday. And hopefully that is our last performance at the Varsity Theater! Whether it was having the City waiting until hundreds of people were in the theater before attempting to clean out the sewer line (and incidentally depriving the cast of running water), or the troublesome electrical plug that repeatedly sabotaged the video feed to the orchestra, or the chancy air conditioning, we had a number of reminders why a unified management of the facility and the theater company might be desirable.
Wells Fargo Donation

$10,000 donation to the Young Performer's Theater! Jusdging from the pictures Dannette took, the check presentation at the performances of "Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.) went very well (unfortunately, I wasn't there - the weekend was pretty packed).
"Victor, Victoria" Rehearsals

Continuing! It's a bit awkward this last week and weekend, with inevitable conflict with the "Cabaret" schedule and DMTC Board meetings. But it's fun!

On Thursday, when I left the rehearsal space, the door must have been left open: Lauren Miller was in full comic mode, and you could hear her clear across 24th Street!
Squirrels On Crack

First, it was alien American gray squirrels muscling out native English red squirrels. Now, it's an American urban phenomenon that's popping up in the UK:
The furry animals are thought to be behind a new drugs turf war in Brixton - stealing rocks of crack hidden in front gardens.

Tough police action to rid the town centre of dealers and addicts has seen crackheads abandon their usual drug stash hideouts.

... Drug addicts are known to be hiding small stashes of crack rocks in people's front lawns late at night.

Squirrels have been spotted in the same front gardens, seemingly hunting out the buried narcotics.

... "It was ill-looking and its eyes looked bloodshot but it kept on desperately digging.

"It was almost as if it was trying to find hidden crack rocks."