Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Thats it for now. I'm off to Europe for a week. Probably no posts from there, but you never know.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
NYC TERROR ALERT
The FBI has warned the NYPD about non-specific non-corroberated (I think we are going to hear these words a lot) threats against NYC landmarks, chiefly the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn bridge. They are stopping cars and trucks going over the bridge. I wouldnt worry too much about cars, that bridge was so overengineered, it would probably take a large truckful of explosives to do significant damage. If they are really worried, they should be looking out for boats. The Manhattan tower of the bridge was never sunk all the way to bedrock - its resting on sand. It is, however, very deep and easily able to do its job in a seismic-free zone.
As far as the statue goes, it would take a plane. The only way for the public to get out there is by ferry, and the lines are very long. Long enough to get a good look at each and every person boarding. A 6 or 8 passenger plane packed with explosives would probably be sufficient.
Also, remember that these warnings have been generated after interrogating the prisoners at Gitmo: well, lets see, we have a bunch of uneducated people with very little access to outside media while growing up:
Terrorist #1: um, we are trying to destroy the Statue of Liberty
Terrorist #2: yes! and the bridge... uhhh brooklyn bridge! yeah, thats the one
Terrorist #1: (whispered to #2) What else is in New York?
Terrorist #2: (whispered to #1) I don't know - I never had a TV. I thought you could read!?
Terrorist #1: ...landmarks! Yes! All those landmarks full of tourists
Do we take them seriously? Yes, but I would take these guys with a little grain of salt. They probably think they are causing incredible havoc with just these claims.
Thats not to say that these places are not targets. I just think they are too obvious. I would be more worried about the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, and Times Square. Also, if they are worried about suicide bombers, Id keep an extra close eye on the WTC viewing platforms. Always crowded, and people who are mourning are generally not going to be as on guard.
THE GREAT RAT RACE
Well, not that rat race, but the 15th annual Wall St Rat Race. 2.5 miles through the financial district. My goal was to break 20 min. Ended up 18:36
Monday, May 20, 2002
THIS DIDN'T TAKE LONG
Some people in Detroit are calling the new Star Wars film racist.
Maybe Lucas would avoid this controversy in episode 3 if every actor cast is white.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
TRIP TO FRANCE
This comming Wednesday, I'm off to *ulp* France. I lived there in high school for the 1989-1990 school year and played baseball with the local city club. One of my teammates is getting married and I promised him last summer I would attend. I am looking forward to it, and I have decided that I will not get into any political discussions, no matter how many times Im trolled (which Im sure will be more than a few). My language skills have diminished quite a bit, and by the end of my week there, I will probably only be able to listen fluently again - speaking would take another week or two. There is no way I would be able to hold my own.
That doesn't mean, though, that my observation hat will be off as well.
By the way, the program I was on is called School Year Abroad. They currently have programs in France, Spain, Italy, and China. Students live individually with local families and go to their own school. The teachers are from local universities and highschools, but English and Math teachers are from America as well, and those 2 classes are taught in English. To date, the best year of my life. If you or your child is a freshman or sophomore in HS, I can't recommend enough at least looking into it. I will write more about it later. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS IN AFGHANISTAN
There is a mysterious illness affecting British troops in Bagram. Before I found that article just now, all the stories I had seen had not mentioned whether or not any of the sick soldiers were involved in the operations last week where British troops were cleaning out and destroying caves full of hidden caches of equipment and ammunition. I thought that maybe they had unknowingly stumbled across some biological or chemical agent which was just now beginning to manifest symptoms. I emailed Andrew Sullivan to ask if anyone has confirmed/denied just that fact as Im sure he follows the British press much closer to I, and they are likely to cover this illness better as it is their soldiers affected. It now appears that these men were not involved, however, the press has been wrong before in this war, so I'll wait to see if he responds.
SAUDIS BUYING POPUP ADS
Got this gem from Instapundit. Saudis are buying pop-up ads through doubleclick (screenshot here) to tout their "strong and courageous vision for peace", ya know, the one where Israel wouldn't exist after being implemented. Pop-up ads? Egad, now they're going to get the worldwide geek community against them! Probably a big mistake mentioning a website in that ad. I wonder where the Vega$ before/after date for that site being cracked currently stand?
Insta-Prof wonders when the telemarketing calls start. I can see it now...
May I speak with the infidel of the house, please?
Hello, sir, I would like to speak with you about an exciting opportunity to earn up to 70 virgins, at ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU OR YOUR FAMILY!
I wish I could take credit for that, but it came from a friend.
Also at the gym, another TV was tuned to MTV2 and was showing the video for System of a Down's song Sugar. They bleeped out the word "Russian" when it was used in the phrase "Russian roulette", and they also bleeped out "bullet". Last I knew, those were not among the court-ordered 7 Things you Can't Say on TV.
I had a blub a while back about closed-captioning censoring the word "balls" when the audio version of a VH1 program did not bleep it. Well, at the gym today, I got another. I was following the Condoleeza Rice press conference today and she was talking about the terror threat assessment in July and August of last year. According to the voice recognition software (I assume there is not someone actively typing), she said they they were concerned with attacks on European landmarks such as the "Evil Tower" in Paris.
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
UGLIEST FLAG EVER
The EU is replacing their current circle of stars on blue background with this:
Im assuming its to distance themselves from the US, which has 1 star per state - not that anyone has ever confused them with the United States of Europe anyway.
A friend of mine's first impression: "that can cause epileptic fits". Probably so, especially in a stiff wind.
UPDATE: Apparently its just a proposed new design. That doesn't change the fact that it's ugly as sin.
PHONE LINE PROBLEMS
For the 3rd time in about 8 months, I had to get Verizon out here for static on the line. It causes absolute havoc on my online connection, so I just give up and wait for them. Anyway, they replaced some cables so maybe they finally fixed it right.
Monday, May 06, 2002
LOTR PETITION A TROLL?
Many bloggers, including a mention in today's Stupidity Watch of Best of the Web, are mentioning this petition which wants New Line Cinema to change the name of the 2nd installment of the Lord of the Rings triliogy because:
Peter Jackson has decided to tastelessly name the sequel "The Two Towers". The title is clearly meant to refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center. In this post-September 11 world, it is unforgiveable that this should be allowed to happen. The idea is both offensive and morally repugnant. Hopefully, when Peter Jackson and, more importantly, New Line Cinema see the number of signatures on this petition, the title will be changed to something a little more sensitive.
Well, even petitiononline.com has put a disclaimer at the top of the petition noting that the book was written and titled in 1954, so has absolutely nothing to do with trying to profit from the attacks on the WTC.
Another piece of evidence that the petitions' signers arent so bright: of the first 1000 signatures, all but 32 are "false entry voided".
My guess is the petition is a troll - a hoax created to get a reaction. Someone created it and then jacked up the number of signatures to get more notice. Judging from the number of blogs on which this has appeared so far, I would say a pretty successful one.
Saturday, May 04, 2002
2 THUMBS UP
Spiderman kicks ASS.
It's been a while since I've seen a movie where I can truely say it was worth paying the NYC inflated rate of $10 (plus his time I also had to pay the Fandango $1.50 fee service charge per ticket.) Toby Maguire is perfect in the roll of Peter Parker, and Willem Dafoe is great as the villian.