They're slack bastards, but the Judges have finally got their scores in for the Traditional Dress opening round.

That's right, folks...

Merit Whore for the Ages™

in conjunction with the

Everything Noder Pageant 2003

...proudly presents, the latest scores from the Pageant. Don't forget that a summary of the round is available here. This is the first round where scores will count, and the competition is hotting up. Without further ado:

How they scored:
 __________________________________________________________________________________________

| Contestant   | Node                 |  A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  aggr   |  audience  |
 __________________________________________________________________________________________

| Spain        | Camino de Santiago   | 8.7 | 8.0 | 9.6 | 8.2 | 8.7 |  43.2   | +17/-1 1C! |

| D.R.Congo    | The Molimo           | 7.5 | 7.5 | 7.6 | 7.3 | 8.5 |  38.4   | +19/-0 1C! |

| Suriname     | Javanese Traditions  | 7.7 | 7.5 | 8.0 | 7.7 | 8.1 |  39.0   | +24/-0 1C! |

| Micronesia   | Yap Day              | 7.7 | 7.5 | 7.8 | 7.7 | 7.8 |  38.5   | +19/-0 1C! |

| Serbia       | Turbofolk            | 9.0 | 9.0 | 8.3 | 8.8 | 9.7 |  44.8   | +16/-0 2C! |

| Ethiopia     | Greeting Etiquette   | 8.7 | 8.0 | 8.7 | 8.4 | 8.9 |  42.7   | +33/-0 2C! |

| Portugal     | Fado                 | 9.1 | 8.5 | 8.9 | 8.7 | 8.9 |  44.1   | +22/-1 3C! |

| Norway       | Reindeer Husbandry   | 7.9 | 6.5 | 9.4 | 7.4 | 8.7 |  39.9   | +26/-0 2C! |

| Canada       | Inuit Carving        | 6.9 | 5.5 | 8.2 | 7.0 | 9.1 |  36.7   | +14/-1 0C! |

| Turkmenistan | *withdrawn*          |     |     |     |     |     |         |            |

| Australia    | Bach & Spin Ball     | 9.3 | 7.8 | 6.0 | 9.5 | 9.5 |  42.1   | +26/-1 3C! |

| Thailand     | Beauties in Thailand | 9.1 | 8.9 | 7.9 | 8.0 | 9.6 |  43.5   | +38/-1 2C! |

| Iraq         | Invading Kuwait      | 5.2 | 5.7 | 2.1 | 5.2 | 6.9 |  25.1   | +51/-1 6C! |
 __________________________________________________________________________________________

Now off you go, applaud these beautiful women!

ps - damn its early here in my secret location!

Oh, and please join me in wishing South Africans a happy Human Rights Day

A friend of mine invited me to go with him to a rodeo. Having never been to one and having nothing really important (or entertaining) to do in Demopolis, I accepted. His father has some connections to the Alabama Cattle Rancher’s Association and got us free tickets as well as passes to the hospitality suite. So, I drove to his apartment in Tuscaloosa the night before. We stayed up watching movies like Signs and Donnie Darko before finally retiring to bed.

The next morning we loaded up in his Neon and drove down to Montgomery. After a two hour drive, we arrived. The area outside the venue was filled with cowboy hats, pony rides, and manure. Many companies such as John Deere and Dodge were there peddling their farm-related equipment. Also, many smaller vendors were there selling trinkets and yet more cowboy hats. We meandered our way to the hospitality suite for some snack food and beverages.

It was then that my friend heard a Scottish accent. He looked around, tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Is that Ewan McGregor?’ and sure it enough, it was. It took a few seconds for that to register in my mind and for my brain to actually accept that he was at a rodeo in Montgomery, Alabama. Being overly perplexed we had to know why he was there, so we approached him and inquired ‘So, what brings you to a rodeo in Montgomery, Alabama?’ It turns out that he was in town shooting a new movie Big Fish with Steve Buscemi and Tim Burton. From the looks of it, we were the only two people there to recognize him as the actor in A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting, The Phantom Menace, and Attack of the Clones.

We then went to the stadium proper and found our seats. A few minutes before the activities were to start, my friend told me to look behind me. The McGregor family’s seats were directly behind us. He had brought his wife and son with him. His son was quite young and did drool on my shoulder once during the event.

The rodeo itself began with some Dodge trucks driving around on the dirt field and the announcer rattling on about how tough, dependable and American these trucks were. Followed was a bit of forced patriotism as women in teal, lycra cowgirl outfits rode around the arena wielding a history of the flags that have flown over this country. (The McGregor’s gave out a cheer when the Union Jack went by). The announcer went on to talk about how great ‘Merica was and they had the veterans in the audience stand up for a round of applause. Maybe it was actually being patriotic, but I had the feeling it was all forced in order to get the crowd in a good mood.

Over the next several hours, we witnessed an array of calf roping, steer wrestling, bronco riding, tacky outfits, rodeo clowns, the afore mentioned drool of McGregor spawn and bull riding. Near the end, my allergies got the best of me and I had to step outside for some fresh air.

The various small shops and activities going around before and after the event gave me the feeling that it was a twisted, redneck version of a science fiction convention. Overall, I was happy I went and had that experience.

Holidays are great aren't they?

The freedom, release of tension - fun/excitement/new experiences etc etc. Yes I'm sure we all agree that holidays are fantastic. I am packing today. Usually I don't really like packing but in this case I will make an exception. Six days in the tasmanian wilderness should be worth an hour or so of my time. The thing is, most of this luggage is stuff that I won't ever wear (living in a sub-tropical zone as I do) again. As I pick items to take I get to imagine what I'll be doing when I'm wearing them - standing on a mountain top overlooking epic vistas blah blah blah...you get the picture.

The part that I'm really not looking foward to is the unpacking. This is usually the worst part of any trip anyway as all you want to do is sit down and relax. Compounding my problem is the fact that I don't have to unpack them at all. Their just not going to be worn in my daily life. I think the best case scenario is me fishing out my socks and throwing the rest in the cupboard. More likely though I will just kick the whole lot under the bed where it will probably gather dust until the end of time...Jeez i"m rambling...

Well That'll do - if anyone wants a postcard from this lost paradise drop me a /msg (i know there are collecters out there).

I know it looks like all I do anymore is write daylogs and whine. Not completly true. I do have some nodes in the work but haven't actually got anything I'm satisfied enough to actually let anyone see them just yet. Soon I'll write something besides just daylog crap.

I went to the Psychiatrist today. I didn’t tell him much. They didn’t want to hear anything. No matter what I start to say he says that more Prozac will make me feel better. He asked me about a couple of anti-psychotics but I’d been on them before but was taken off of them because the negative side effects outweighed any help they gave me. If he would actually look past the page he is supposed to write on in my chart he’d see what medicines and such have been prescribed to me and most likely the reason for their discontinuation. I know all the information is in my chart. If they’d just let me get my fingers on it! I’d show them the records of all the medications I’ve tried, and when they were discontinued and most likely why they were changed, and all the times I was hospitalized, and how long I went from nine am to two thirty pm five days a week to group therapy all day, and individual therapy each week, and I know even some of the letters I’d written trying to explain what I need are in that chart. It’s all in there, but they just won’t look! It’s so frustrating. I get so shy and anxious I just can’t talk to him, or my case manager. My case manager seems nice but I just can’t talk to her. There are few people I can verbally explain how I am to. She’s not one of them. She makes me feel like I’m supposed to keep the mask on for her. I’m thinking of trying to find a different place to go to, a different doctor, a different case manager, and a therapist. I don’t know if it’s worth it though. Most of the people at the clinic are nice and seemed to want to help, just not in the program I’m stuck in. I wrote a letter last night to give to them at the clinic asking for help but I could not work up the courage to give it to anyone. I don’t want to go back in the mental hospital again. It always makes things worse when they lock me up in there for a weekend or a couple weeks or however long. When I went to this clinic for the first time I had a friend there with me, helping me explain things, what I needed from them. Eventually my friend dropped out of the picture and went back to living her life. This has left me alone and afraid. I can’t face the things that need to be faced without someone close to me, someone I truly trust to help me face the hard things. I’ve only got one friend now. A wonderful girl who is so much like me it’s scary, right down to psychiatric symptoms and even early childhood experiences, things that happened long before we ever met, and things that only in the last couple years we’ve realized that both of us know, both of us understand, when no one else does. She’s like my soul mate or something. She’s the best friend a person could ever have. She’s not a noder yet, but give her time and someday she may just show up on e2. She’s showed up other places on the net where I haunt.

Next Wednesday I’m going with my little sister’s choir as a chaperone. Where are we going? DISNEYLAND!!! I’m totally looking forward to it. Going for free with junior high girls is almost as good as going at regular price with my friends. My sister and I get along good so it’s cool that we get to hang out all day together at Disneyland.

Speaking of my sister, I’m worried about her. My mom is just angry. “I’m not going through this shit again” was her comment. My sister is depressed. She mentioned to a friend that she wants to kill herself. This isn’t the first time my sister has showed signs of severe depression. The friend went to a school councilor. Now my family is required it show proof they have put her into some sort of counseling or therapy. Instead of worrying about her, and wanting to help her, they are angry with her. They’re always angry with her. Why can't they believe that perhaps there’s something wrong with us? Maybe, just maybe, we are not intentally doing things to make them angry. I can’t be what they want and I don’t think my sister can either. She tries to get good grades, but she struggles. Her mouth is a bit dirty, and she doesn’t enjoy her catechism class much, and like most fourteen year olds her room is always a mess, but she’s not a bad young lady. She’s not interested in drugs or sex. Well, she’s not doing drugs and she is a virgin. She’s kissed a boy. At 14 that’s not unusual. She’s been pretty open with me, fortunately. I just wish I could help her somehow. I know how she feels. I grew up with the same family she is.

So in summary, today wasn't great. More stupid prozac. More anger from my family. Well at least I can look forward to wednesday, but with my luck this stupid war will scare the school into cancelling this trip.

Does anything ever happen that feels good?

I have been busy lately. Very busy. Today is my first day of spring break, and so perhaps it is time to get my affairs sorted out.

Today I will go to see my girlfriend for the very first time ever. We met in a chatroom nearly 3 years ago, and started "dating" 2 years ago after I returned from studying abroad in Japan. I do not entirely understand how our relationship endures such distance, yet it does, and I am pleased. She, too, is a noder, and I have been promised the hospitality of NOLA noders during my visit.

Unfortunately, I worry that much of this break may have to be spent programming. Perhaps not "much," but at least, "some," lest I return to find myself drowning in a sea of responsibilities. While not programming or being a boyfriend, I must also design a new card game--I'm thinking something with elements of Girl Genius: The Works by Cheapass Games, and Illuminati by Steve Jackson Games. Hopefully, this will not be too much of a hassle for Geemu no Tetsujin!

It is also official enough that I may as well say it: this summer I will be interning at Maxis, the game development studio owned by Electronic Arts responsible for The Sims, SimCity, and SimPrettyMuchEverythingExceptSimGolf. This will be a great opportunity for me. I'll be doing mostly Python scripting on projects which I may not be at liberty to speak of at this time.

Also, it sounds as though I may be sub-contracted to assist in the development of a collectable card game for kids for a certain large media company.

Why do I keep hinting at cool entertainment that I can't go into detail about here? Perhaps I am evil?

I should feel something.

Breaking up with someone, even if it is fairly mutual, even if I've been working up to it for days-- that should matter to me, right? But it doesn't.

Funny how so many things happened today... took and probably failed a midterm, got back a perfect paper that almost everyone else failed, conned and begged and manuevered my way on to the plane for Nationals, broke up with my boyfriend, finally got to spend time with my best friend for the first time in weeks... and in the end the only thing that really had the slightest effect on me was the mock trial ticket...heh.

Of course, I don't think I've ever been in a relationship that worked.

Most guys only last a few weeks with me. Most girls... well, they may last a few more. But in the end, I am always alone. Maybe that's just how I was meant to be.

And now, I'm sitting alone in my dorm room watching the only news show I can stomach tonight: The Daily Show. Jon Stewart has just reduced the entire war to tournament brackets, and frankly the analogy works. I was never for the war. But I hope in the end we're the champions. Though I wish that no one else had to die.

So as the world spins into chaos, I slink back to my home for Spring Break, to hide from reality amidst all the distractions I can find.

Because that's the American way.

The rest of my life: Day 4

Remember when you were younger and you would always look forward to all the magical things that were supposed to happen when you got older? Yet somehow as you got older those magical things either lost their magic, or never came about at all. Well, one of those things finally came true for me. The other day I had sent my auto insurance renewal in the rate had dropped by like a few dollars, like they always do. But then today I got a letter from my insurance agent telling me he had a cheaper rate for me. I called them up and found out they had a rate for me that was $430 a year less than what I was currently paying (I had turned 25 since the last time I renewed). That is the best news I have gotten in a long time.

I spent most of the day sorting through my books, with a long break where my mother and I argued about why I didn't have a good job or a girlfriend. I managed to get all my paperbacks in order and up on the shelves. I ended up donating a few duplicate paperbacks, and a few hundred comic books to the boy's home down the street, mostly to save space.

My date with Heather never happened. She never called. I didn't even get upset about it, which I thought was kind of funny, since I get upset about everything girl-related. I do kind of wonder why she asked me out, only to stand me up? Oh well, I guess that keeps my 13 month with no dates streak going!

So I got done modeling my first 3D starship, the USS Athena, last month. Looked good, but lacked textures. No big deal.

A few days before I released the mesh to the public I get an email on my Hotmail account from this guy "Don" who runs a Trek-oriented RPG. He has this ship, you see, that someone else had modeled for him, but the ship is incomplete. Can I finish her, he asked me.

I needed some experience, so I asked him to send me a copy of the MAX file so that I could look at it, to gauge how much work was needed. He sent it to me the next day in email and I looked at it. Oh, boy, what a mess that thing was. "I'm going to have to come up with something entirely new," I told him in my next message. "It's a nightmare to work with. How do you feel about a new design?"

He sounded delighted.

So, through the course of the next three weeks, I set myself to the task of coming up with a completely new and original ship. Bit of the old, bit of the new, hard angles, sleek lines. By the time it was done, Don was practically tripping over himself with excitement. He was in love with the new ship and design, singing my praises at every turn.

As an artist, it's nice to get praise, but I felt a little... well... perhaps I'm just humble, but for criminey's sake, it's just a wireframe mesh! I mean, it's not like I went out with some iron and an arc welder to build the thing in my back yard. It's a bunch of 1's and 0's. That's all. Looks nice, though, but hardly worth all the fuss.

The rest of the RPG crew was just as happy with the new design as their "captain". And they asked if I'd be interested in watching their RPG thread as they assume command of their new ship. "Sure," I said. "Sounds like a bit o' fun." The voyeur in me was more than pleased to watch this curious spectacle.

And fun, it was, to watch them leave their old ship and claim this new one that I had created for them. There are no limits to the imaginations of true, hardened Trek fans. These guys were showing me the guts of a ship that I had made for them, a ship that I'd only seen from the outside and had come to think of as "just a wireframe mesh." But to them it was a new home, a new place to play and live.

My take on the whole thing began to shift, if only just a little. I suppose an architect views a house he builds as just a structure of wood, steel and glass. But what happens, years later, when he meets the family that has been living in that house and turned it into a home? Does his perception of the fruits of his labor change in some undefinable way? I dunno. But mine did.

I was no longer just proud of myself for creating a kickass looking 3D mesh. I was also proud of the people who claimed her. I was proud of her.

Tonight I got another email from Don. He has this friend, you see, who works for a company that makes prototypes for major corporations. All kinds of stuff. Cars, phones, computers, gadgets. Stuff. New stuff.

Don's friend is making two physical models of this creation of mine. One for Don (as is befitting for a ship's captain). One for me.

How many 3D designers actually get to hold one of their creations in their hands?

When I see the USS Audacious, a ship whose dedication plaque reads "To Boldly Go Where Angels Fear To Tread", resting in the palm of my hand, I think I shall be a proud and humbled man indeed.


The USS Audacious Official Website:
http://www.scifivisions.com/audacious

A full-sized (1024x768) background wallpaper of the Audacious (created by yours truly):
http://www.nightshade-ink.com/audi.jpg

Yesterday I took a chance with a one word node to fit along with the other nodes. I have received some interesting feedback on the node and I would like to share some more thoughts.

The biggest question is what am I proud of? I am proud to live in a country were we can disagree with each other. Were we can have a spirited debate amongst people without the fear of reprisals. I am also proud of the men and women that are in the armed forces of this country. Getting paid nothing more then food stamps and still putting time in to protect our country. I am proud that people die for this country

I am also proud for the decision President George W. Bush made. While everyone here might or might agree with his decision to go to war, it takes a ton of courage to stick to your view in opposition to what others are saying.

I am also proud of everyone that has posted their views on here. I am proud of the editors for not nuking the various nodes they don't agree with. I proud this place has allowed me to post my own thoughts without attack from anyone.


Proud

I don't usually write day logs, this is my first one (and probably last). I'm not interested in politics and I don't like sticking my nose in other people's business but the war in Iraq is something I cannot just bypass. Bush doesn't seem to care shit about rest of the world, he throws international laws and treaties to trash and makes UN look like a powerless, outdated alliance.

This is just my opinion, and I don't know if it can even be done, but I think that USA should be declared responsible for violating the international laws of UN and Bush should be put to justify his actions in the international court of justice. If he doesn't have enough evidence to show that it was necessary to go to war, which he hasn't had so far, he should be declared as a war criminal. Of course, this applies to some of the other countries in the so called coalition as well, but most of them are there just for political support and the prime responsibility is with the US and UK.

I think I hate my office

I have been sitting in this stuffy little office all day. Every time I look out of the window and think thoughts about eating for the first time today, (it's 3pm already and I'm starved), some "important" client phones up and wants to speak to the one guy who's not here.

IT always seems that about thirty odd people with nothing to do with what we actually do have a club for strange phone users who call offices and ask for people who are out.

But the effect on me is devastating. I end the call and say thank you for calling look at my monitor and think "oh yes, I'll just..." and sadly I get no nearer to breakfast, lunch or any other food brake.

So on and on I find myself creating endless data entry screens for the big project and hoping like hell that no ones going to figure out just how little I did this week.

Fridays suck man. Everyone else has gone home. Even the geriatric security dudes gone. It's just me this PC and more work than I care to think about.  It's times like this when all you want is to go home and drink a beer or something that you begin to ask you self:  "what can I get away with NOT doing?"

Today's Headlines

US News

Polls Indicate Growing Bush Support
About two-thirds of Americans approve of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq and think he did enough diplomatically before invading, according to a new poll released yesterday. An ABC-Washington Post poll found the president's job approval rating at 67 percent, up from pre-war polls that showed his approval level ranging from the mid 50s to about 60 percent. The public rallying around the president is typical in wartime. But the public is viewing the administration's actions in Iraq less enthusiastically than the actions in the Persian Gulf war by President George H.W. Bush a dozen years ago, in which the senior Bush's approval rating reached as high as 90%.

Charges Dismissed In Friendly Fire Case
Air Force hearing officer Colonel Patrick M. Rosenow has recommended the dismissal of all criminal charges against two American fighter pilots who killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in a mistaken bombing last year that investigators said showed "reckless disregard" for orders and a breakdown in the most basic rules of combat flying. This was the first case in which Air Force pilots faced criminal charges in what the military refers to as a friendly fire situation. The F-16 pilots, Major Harry Schmidt and Major William Umbach of the Illinois Air National Guard, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty.

Senate Unanimously Supports Bush
The Senate voted 99 to 0 yesterday for a resolution that "commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq" and praised the troops "who are participating in the military operations in the Persian Gulf region, for their professional excellence, dedicated patriotism and exemplary bravery." The House of Representatives also passed a similar act with an even stronger pro-Bush wording 392-11, in which it was stated that Iraq was in "material breach" of United Nations resolutions. The debate in the House, however, was quite intense, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arguing strongly for a toned-down endorsement of the military action.

International News

US Missiles Pound Iraqi Capital In Second Wave Of War
US cruise missiles pounded Baghdad as US and British troops crossed into southern Iraq to start the ground war with the goal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime. For the second time in sixteen hours, explosions rocked the Iraqi capital late on Thursday, sending pillars smoke into skies filled with seemingly ineffectual Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. In southern Iraq, a stronger battle than expected has taken place over the southern port city of Umm Qasr, in which the United States and British forces have been unable to take the city by ground force and a helicopter was shot down, killing 16 US and British troops.

Ricin Found In Paris Subway
France's interior minister has said that traces of the poison ricin discovered in a Paris railway station could be linked to a terrorist network with Chechen connections. Nicolas Sarkozy said there was no proof that a ricin attack was being planned against France, but he said there was a possible connection with several men arrested last December for allegedly planning to attack the Russian embassy in Paris. Two vials of ricin were found in a locker at the Gare de Lyon, but the quantities of the substance were said to be non-lethal. The poison was found with ethanol and acetone, however, and a mixture of the three makes an extremely deadly poison.

Nigerian Oil Operations Suspended
Texaco has suspended operations in the western Niger Delta in Nigeria due to a major civil conflict in the past week in which at least a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in a fight between two local communities. In the fighting, oil operations have been a target, thus causing Texaco to make the decision to suspend operations. Shell, which also has oil rigs in the area, is in the process of withdrawing staff from the region to ensure their personal safety. The national government of Nigeria has sent 1,000 troops to the region to quell the fighting, as the president Olusegun Obasanjo warned that the fighting could pose a threat to the safety of national elections next month.

Business

US Budgets Pressed In Shadow Of War
Under the shadow of an unfolding war with Iraq, congressional Republicans moved this morning to press through revised budget plans that will provide $726 billion in tax cuts which George W. Bush says will revive the stagnating economy. "We just happen to believe on our side that getting a growth package to create jobs is vitally important," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, an Iowa Republican. In the Senate, the Republicans cut debate on the budget plan, which will force a vote sometime today. In response, Democrats openly protested the move, stating that the Republicans were trying to ram the tax cuts through the legislature before the total cost of the war could be analyzed.

US Consumer Prices Jump In February
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% last month, marking the biggest gain since January 2001, the Labor Department reported yesterday. The increase was mostly due to higher energy prices, mainly gasoline. The core index, which excludes food and energy items, rose just 0.1%. The numbers as a whole reflect the economic situation of the United States in February, as the economy itself remained relatively unchanged outside of the energy sector, where the proposed war on Iraq caused oil and gas prices to skyrocket. Other numbers indicated a slight tilt toward inflation, as the Producer Price Index climbed for a second month in a row in February, up 1%, and prices of imported goods rose for a third consecutive month, climbing 1.3%.

Stocks Rise, Oil Falls On News Of War
European shares raced higher and oil prices reversed course and slumped on Friday as military forces swept across the Iraqi desert, building hope that the invasion will reach Baghdad within three or four days. At the same time, demand for bonds fell, pushing up yields, and the dollar was slightly firmer against major currencies. These all add up to a rosy economic forecast for the West as the military and terror-related tensions that have governed the region for the last year and a half seem to be headed toward a degree of resolution. "Sentiment is bolstered by views that... troops are making smooth progress in Iraq, encountering little opposition. Things may change if we get into bloody street combat in Baghdad," said one equity trader.

Science & Technology

Internet Makes War, Not Love
Freeserve, the top ISP in Britain, reports that searches for war-related topics have overtaken the traditional top internet topic -- sex. "War was our top search term today, taking over from perennial favourites -- sex, Britney and travel," said Nadia Schofield, a spokeswoman for Freeserve, the UK's largest Internet service provider. Freeserve, a unit of France Telecom's Wanadoo Internet unit, boasts 2.6 million subscribers, putting it ahead of rival Internet service providers such as BT Openworld and AOL. Sex-related terms have long dominated the most searched-for subjects on the Web. Yesterday, Iraq became the top search term, replacing the previous day's top topic, The Dixie Chicks.

Wi-Fi Remains Top Technology At CTIA
Hype and whiz-bang technology ideas haven't been much in evidence at the CTIA Wireless 2003 show in New Orleans this week. Instead the show has been dominated by real products and partnerships designed to integrate existing technologies to make a more seamless whole. "Last year it was people talking about what they were going to do," said Brian Flanagan, manager of Content and Browser Applications Products and Services for Canadian carrier Telus Mobility. "This year it's been people talking about what they've done." The top topic at the show was Wi-Fi, with the entire show being covered with Wi-Fi service provided by T-Mobile.

Microsoft Denies Reports Of Demise Of Longhorn Server
Speaking to ComputerWorld, Microsoft spokesman Brian Valentine indicated that plans are still in the works to release a server version of Microsoft's next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. This comes after a number of reports from various news agencies that Microsoft had abandoned Longhorn as a server solution and planned to focus on delivering Longhorn only for clients. Longhorn is expected to see a beta release late next year. Valentine also discusssed Longhorn's successor, Blackcomb, which is expected to ship in 2007 or 2008, which will include a new kernel with database capabilities for information storage built in at the lowest levels.

Health

Six Cases Of Mystery Disease Spotted In California
A mysterious, flulike illness spreading from Southeast Asia has apparently stricken six Californians, including three Bay Area residents who recently returned from trips to China. State health investigators are evaluating whether to add to the list of suspected cases two other patients who lived in the same household as the returning travelers. Thus far, the disease called SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome has killed 10 people among the 306 cases listed by the World Health Organization. In the United States, the CDC has listed 13 suspected cases of SARS in 10 states, but the actual number could be larger because the CDC list runs about a day behind reports from state health departments.

Antibiotic May Cut Late Miscarriages And Preterm Risk
Treating a mild vaginal infection with a common antibiotic early in the second trimester can reduce women's risk of late miscarriage and premature birth, British researchers said on Thursday. Clindamycin, a common antibiotic, is often used to fight bacterial infections of the vagina. These bacterial infections often produce no symptoms, but they are known to increase a woman's likelihood of having a miscarriage or preterm delivery. According to Dr. Austin Ugwumadu from St George's Hospital in London, ingestion of 600 mg tablets of clindamycin greatly reduces the risk of a late miscarriage or early delivery.

Sports

Leeds Hires Peter Reid As Interim Coach
Peter Reid was announced as the interim coach of Leeds yesterday replacing Terry Venables, and says that he relishes the "great challenge" of steering Leeds out of potential relegation. Reid said, "I got a call early this morning (Friday). The Leeds chairman asked me to do a job. It's a great honour and a great challenge for me to take over. I snapped his (Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale) hand off. We didn't even talk about money. I'm just looking forward to the challenge of being the manager for eight games and doing the best I can." The team is in danger of being dropped from membership in the Premier League after a run of just one win in eight matches.

Tulsa Among Surprises During First Day of NCAA Tournament
As usual, the first day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament was loaded with upsets, with none bigger than 13 seed Tulsa defeating the 4 seed Dayton 84-71 in the Midwest Region. Both #1 seeds advanced, but among the upsets were 10 seed Arizona State defeating 7 seed Memphis 84-71, and 11 seed Central Michigan defeating 6 seed Creighton 79-73. The strangest moment of the day was when Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins was ejected from their game against Gonzaga (the 'Zags won), but shortly after the ejection, Cincinnati's radio announcer was also ejected from the arena for yelling at an official.

Entertainment

Politics Influence Country Music Charts
The country music singles chart this week was greatly influenced by politics revolving around the war with Iraq. As the United States geared up for its full attack on Iraq, Darryl Worley's patriotic single Have You Forgotten? jumped from No. 9 to No. 2 on Billboard's country singles chart; Worley wrote the song after he visited Afghanistan last December to salute the U.S. military and immortalize the events of September 11, 2001. Meanwhile, the Dixie Chicks' Travelin' Soldier fell from the top spot to No. 3, largely because of reduced airplay sparked by Natalie Maines' remark about President Bush. This left the non-political Brokenheartsville by Joe Nichols to claim the top slot.

War Clouds Gather Over Academy Awards
Although the Academy Awards are still scheduled to go on as planned this Sunday night, the show has cancelled the pre-show festivities, including the traditional walk down the red carpet. Several guests and presenters have already cancelled, including Will Smith and The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and there is a deep concern that others attending the show may use the program as a soapbox for their own political views. The awards are scheduled to air at 8:00 PM ET this Sunday on ABC, but may be pre-empted for war coverage. The Academy is expected to make a final announcement today about the state of the awards show.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

And so I sit down to watch the news coverage...

CBS: Hello, I'm Dan Rather. The opening shots were fired in Iraq today with an unexpected targeted bombing outside of Baghdad. You know, Bob, I couldn't have been more surprised if I had seen Fidel Castro riding through New York City on the back of a hippopotamus.

Flip

CNN: This just in from the Pentagon... a Defense Department spokesperson tells our CNN sources that victory is inevitable and that George W. Bush is in fact the greatest American leader since FDR. In other news, Brits worldwide are putting photos of Tony Blair in their homes, comparing him to Sir Winston Churchill and God.

Flip

Fox News: Let's go to the White House for the latest... Thank you, Shep. Here, the White House confirms that there is a war. Back to you, Shep ... five minutes of snazzy graphics ... In Washington today, there was a war protest ... video of cops beating protestors ... five minutes of commercials ... Let's go to the White House for the latest... Thank you, Shep. Here, the White House confirms that there is a war. Back to you, Shep ... five minutes of snazzy graphics ... In Washington today, there was a war protest ... five minutes of commercials

Flip

NBC: For further commentary, let's hear from former General Tom Musselman and former Lieutenant Colonel James Abercrombie. Gentlemen, what was your reaction to the sudden targeted strike on Baghdad? Both men look at Tom Brokaw with a complete look of confusion.

Flip

MSNBC: Well, Chris, the attack was obviously carried out by a number of B-52s, B-2s, F-116s, Tomahawks, and Apaches, all using laser-guided detection systems and GPS locating devices. The Abrams tank you see here operates via digital controls, utilizing radar and sonar-based equipment enabling targeting to within one meter....

Flip

ABC: Hello, I'm Peter Jennings. For both of you who are tuning in this evening, here's the latest...

Click


Lent Diary, Day 17

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

Several people have asked me recently whether or not I've observed any physical change due to this fasting, so I thought I would address that issue. I have observed several changes, in fact.

I have lost 14 pounds. Unquestionably, this is triggering weight loss, even to the point where it is getting noticeable on my physique. I stepped on a scale before writing this and noticed a 14 pound reduction, which is a bit more than I would have guessed, actually.

Drinking cold liquids, especially milk, causes my chest to burn. That doesn't prevent me from drinking milk. I mostly blame it on a heartburn-like situation because of the major changes in my digestive patterns.

Lighter meals now seem more appealing than heavy ones. A meal involving a tuna sandwich and a salad actually sounds much better than a steak at the end of a day. Why is this, especially since I traditionally eat a great deal of beef? I'm not sure.

I urinate much less, and when I do it is very dark in color. This is largely due to water issues. I try to consume a great deal of water, both in the morning and in the evening, but the two long patches in the day (daytime and sleeping) without water is causing the change, I believe.

I feel more energetic. Interestingly, most of the time I feel more energetic than before I started the fast. I really am not sure why this is, it is sort of baffling.

I think this experience may bring about some long-term changes in my diet and my behaviors, which is a good thing. I perceive it as something new that God has shown me.

Today is a day of ironies.

Today, I woke up to a song about sleeping. Today, I heard that peace protesters have been arrested for violence. Today I misspelled "spelling." Today in San Francisco, anti-war protesters voiced their displeasure with the United States government two blocks from people lining up to become United States citizens. Today, I saw a of a Progressive claims insurance vehicle that had been completely totaled. Today, I wrote about that claims vehicle thing, that really happened yesterday. Tomorrow, I will get on a plane bound for California. Simultaneously, a package I ordered from California will be shipped to my home air freight. We will cross in the air.

Irony abounds.

And you know what? If it didn't, I would just get up and leave. In todays world of uncertainties and bleak news, I need a little humor.


All Wal-Marts, K-Marts and ShopKos in Iraq have been closed.

Effective immediately, they have all become Targets.

This morning, like most mornings, I awoke to turn on the radio. At times like this, I'm glad that I don't have a television; I don't want to see a Hollywood version of the war, complete with snazzy musical scores and edited-down clips of battle scenes and explosions.

On the California report, several democratic Congress members were quoted this morning. One of them (I didn't catch his name) said, "We don't want another Vietnam, we need to support our troops. It's the administration that we disagreed with."

This seems to be a common trend: people saying that they used to disagree, but now that the bombs have started dropping, we need to band together and present a united front. I don't understand why this disagreement has to be in the past tense; I still disagree with this administration, and just because they're dropping bombs, this hasn't changed my mind. I still think we should have done something different in the past. I disagree with W's doctrine that it's okay to attack and invade a country just because it might be a future threat. I disagree that the United States has the moral authority to start a war on its own.

And I can't believe that every Democrat in Congress has suddenly had a change of heart and decided to agree with W's policies. I guess political expediency is a much stronger force than I'd like it to be.

You may recall the alien invasion I mentioned.

They blew up our robot! We were WELL annoyed.

After we heard the invasion had started, Ed got the keyboard/mouse interface rigged up and launched the mech as soon as he could. The USAF was already at the scene of the conflict, of course, fighting a losing battle, so when we arrived we got a lot of enthusiastic greetings. The pilots started rallying behind Ed, defending him while he cut swathes through the hundreds of enemy fighters. Rockets, chain guns, explosions, dogfights, it was a heck of a firework show. And we all thought Ed was doing a great job, flying it, as he was, from his bedroom computer.

But there were just too many of them. News networks estimated at least 2,000 drone fighters in the immediate airspace, and the mech was taking hundreds of hits by the minute. It added up. Even the toughest armour was worn away eventually. Vital systems started to go. Ed fought bravely, firing all of his homing rockets before the last communications module was destroyed. Then the machine froze, collapsed, and exploded. I mean, nuts. That was like our last hope.

Five minutes later Ed answers the phone. "It's some guy from America," he says. He gives me the name and I check up on the internet. It's the world's #1 ranked Mechwarrior player. Suddenly I'm interested. I listen in on the phone call.

He says he thinks Ed didn't do too badly, but next time, he wants to have a go. Is that okay?

Bleep. Call waiting. I drift away to check my email while Ed answers more calls. I've got mails from a dozen professional gamers asking for a turn. A hundred instant messaging windows have popped up. They all saw the news broadcasts. They all want to help fight the aliens.

"It's the DOD again," says Ed, bringing the phone over. "They really want the design for the mech, because they know it's their only shot. They saw the battle today. They reckon that the principle will work; all we need is more mechs. And they're offering to make a production line. Only problem is, none of their pilots have any experience with giant robots. We'll have to find our own."

And I'm thinking: Holy cow, it's actually happening. Thousands of gamers united, pooling their mutual skills to fight for humanity's survival in a real-life war against marauding extra-terrestrials. Only You Can Save Mankind. It's every gamer's life-long dream. A vindication of their so-called "wasted youth".

"Will they give us a T3?" I ask.

"OC-192," says Ed.

I grin like a idiot.


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I'm American-Hungarian and respect the country that gave my family freedom, I can't believe that protestors will sit there and shout when this song is being sang: "Do you want freedom fries with that?"

I've never actually expressed anger towards other human beings until today (including my brother) - I stood on campus today with the pack of people who don't believe in the war but say you still need to support your troops.

I posed the question, "how can you who gets government money to go to school, housing for your family and possibly even welfare checks say how shitty the government is and how we need to rebel against it. It's aggrevating watching the same people outside protesting even walking into the welfare office to get there checks with there protest signs!" (this is a true account I saw this happen).

No matter, christians, wiccans, etc. were singing this song...


If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American where as least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,

From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there’s pride in every American heart,
and it’s time to stand and say:

I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.


God Bless The U.S.A.
Words and Music by Lee Greenwood
© Copyright 1984 by MUSIC CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC. & SONGS OF POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL, INC.
All Rights Controlled and Administered by MUSIC CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC.
International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved

Silence

The television rains flashes of static into the room. I've switched it onto an empty channel, unable to tolerate the tunnel vision and endless repetition of the news channels. They aren't SCUDs, they're crappier short-range missiles. The patriots aren't necessarily working better than in '91 - these slow, short-range missiles are easier to hit. If I hear these anchors say "Shock and Awe" one more time...

But I digress. The television is on mute. There can only be silence here. There are no words for the horror. The networks avoid it entirely, but I know what's happening. A 2,000 lb JDAM bomb has a radius of total lethality of a hundred and twenty metres. Beyond that, shrapnel can still kill and cause serious damage out to more than three hundred and fifty metres. To be completely safe from the fragmentation, one must be over a kilometer away.

There are apartment buildings next door to many of these targets.

Only 50% of JDAMs will hit within thirteen metres of their target point. These are not precision-weapons.

And I know that the first people dying were probably the janitors.

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