Since my daylog of two days ago, the bushfires have worsened to the point that several small townships have literally vanished in the flames. In total, the current cost is 181 lives, 922 homes, and over 330,000 ha of land. This makes it the worst series of bushfires in Victoria's history - bigger than Ash Wednesday in 1983 and the Grampians fire in 2006. The smoke is so bad it is flying all the way over across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.

The extent of the fire is so bad that the Australian Defence Force has been called in to assist, and Federal Parliament has been suspended. The One-Day International match between Australia and New Zealand tomorrow is going to be used to raise money for the victims. Four major banks have each announced $1M donations, with a fifth pledging $100,000 more.

waverider37 needs to shut the fuck up and quit whining about his personal problems.

EDIT Feb 11 11:00p (UTC+11): The death toll still sits at 181. Fires are still burning freely in some areas of forest, such as Wilson's Promontary and at Kinglake and Yea, but the threat to townships has lessened. The fires that were scattered throughout the state's west are controlled or out, and the same with the far east. It appears that arson is the cause of Gippsland fires, cigarette butts in Bendigo, and lightning strikes in the Grampians; the arsonists, if found, could be charged with murder. See here for current fireground information and here for other news.

Lately, I’ve felt that I need to raise my nerd cred just a little bit and so have been skimming through the the Star Trek series…es. This is a little difficult because it turns out that I don’t really like Star Trek. Some of the episodes are good, but most are not. They rely on technobabble way-way-way too much and the acting in all of them is highly uneven. But anyway, Star Trek in a nutshell:

Original Series: Bad acting, bad writing. The Original Series is a line of mostly shitty moralistic tales of some kind and the even the ones that don’t have morals still make me feel like I’m supposed to be learning something.

The Next Generation: Fairly decent acting, bad writing. This series suffers from a lot of ridiculous situations solved by ridiculous solutions and often relying on technobabble as a cheap Deus Ex Machina. “Ah, shit! We can’t save the Calimondarians from the Endoplasmic AntiDecay Disease? Well, good thing we can cross polarize the anti-phrapiton beam in the patter matrix of the transponders so that we can beam the endoplasmic virus right out of them!”

Voyager: Uneven acting, good writing… with some problems. Suffers from most of the same problems as TNG except that the acting is a little worse. I like the characters more. I’m sometimes confused why they don’t use the Doctor to solve all their problems...

Some notes:

Why the hell do the senior officers of the ships always get sent down on away missions? Wouldn’t it make more sense to send down lower ranked crew members?

The transponders never work when they’re really needed.

For a state of the art battleship, Voyager has a bad tendency of getting crippled by less advanced ships all the time. It’s like watching a Panzer IV shoot the treads off of a XM1 Abrams episode after episode.

All of the shows have the “what does it mean to be human” identity character. OS: Spock. TNG: Data. Voyager: The Doctor and Seven-of-Nine.

That Star Trek is as popular as it is, isn’t really surprising, but for me the good aspects of the shows are overwhelmed by the bad aspects, which is too bad because I really want to like them.

I worked in a building today.

The loading dock bay doors were all shut, once whirring lifts silently parked. Water lay in shallow puddles on the floor, left over from cracks in the sprinkler pipes that froze after the heat had been turned off. But the place was clean, the spillways for merchandise boxes still shiny. A few coats even hung upon a rack, abandoned there because the day before this business had failed had been a warm one. This distribution center had not been long abandoned. Its parking lot remained in good shape, paint still good, mountains of material handling equipment in place. All of it. All it needed was someone to snap on the disconnects, to start the motors, turn on the computers. Even the forklifts sat ready, abandoned in place as another business closed its doors and sent its employees home to worry.

Up on the second level of the main conveyor was a landing, a place where a materials supervisor sat at his desk and checked orders. Behind it hung an American flag, right over where the materials would be placed on the conveyor. Lit only by a few night lights, it waved for no one but me as I was the only person here to look. And I thought today about IBM, who last week offered recently laid off opportunities the chance to outsource themselves to India, at Indian wages.

I began to wonder if what I saw up there in that lonely flag between the stanchions and conduit, a fable of America itself, once the Arsenal of Democracy, builder of so many new products that no one seems to want any more.

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