Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tennis with a view

The Tennis Court at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Burj al-Arab is a luxury hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At 321 metres (1,053 feet), it is the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel. It stands in the sea on an artificial island 280 metres (919 feet) away from the beach in the Persian Gulf, connected to the mainland only by a private curving bridge.

The Burj al-Arab does not have ordinary rooms; rather it is divided into 202 duplex suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 square metres (1,819 square feet), and the largest one covers 780 square metres (8,396 square feet). It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world to stay in. The prices for the least expensive suites are in the range of $1,000 to over $6,000 a night. The most expensive suites can cost over $15,000 a night.

Dodgers and fans, a record 115,300 strong, revisit their history

In more of a civic festival than a sporting event, the Dodgers attracted what they announced as a world record for a baseball game -- 115,300 -- to an exhibition game against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Fans cheer at the conclusion of the national anthem before the start of Saturday night's exhibition game between the Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. The Coliseum was the home for the Dodgers during the 1958-61 seasons before they moved into Dodger Stadium.

Truly a sight to behold

March 31st is right at the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but it is questionable at this point if the blossoms will achieve their full glory this year, but they are truly a sight to behold.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stradivarius when you want to play the very best

A Stradivarius violin known as "The Penny," is seen on display at Christie's Auction House in New York March 27, 2008. The 300-year-old Antonio Stradivari violin named after its previous owner, the pianist and violinist Barbara Penny, will be auctioned on April 4. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)

A Missionary with Dark Visions

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has plans to release an anti-Islamic film, "Fitna," is a hunted man. Sleeping in a different location each night, he sees his wife only every week or two. Yet this has not stopped the gadfly's fight against what he calls the "fascist Koran."

Originally, he wanted to tell the Danes how much he admires them. "You are a strong people with a strong government," he told them in an appearance last week on Denmark's second-largest television channel, TV2. "Unlike my government, you haven't given in to militant Muslims!"

NO SALE !! U. S. Bank Tower taken off the market

Maguire Properties Inc. owns the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast, as well as seven other downtown high-rises.

Earliest recordings preceded Edison's

Researchers said Friday that they have played back the oldest audio recording ever made, a 10-second snippet of singing made 17 years before Thomas Alva Edison patented the phonograph.

Using technology originally designed to play records without touching them, a team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was able to convert a series of squiggly lines etched onto smoked paper into an ethereal voice singing "Au Clair de la Lune, Pierrot répondit," a refrain from a French folk song.

The piece was played publicly for the first time Friday morning at a meeting of the Assn. for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University by historian David Giovannoni, who unearthed it this month in the archives of the French Academy of Sciences.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Almost forgotten but remembered

Joe Palooka was an American comic strip about a heavyweight boxing champion, created by cartoonist Ham Fisher. With various assistants and successors, the strip lasted for over half of a century with spin-offs to radio, movies, television and merchandising.

In his home town of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Fisher devised the character in 1921 when he met a boxer outside a poolroom, as Fisher explained in an article in Collier's magazine.

A ‘Lost’ Morality Play

“Morality plays are a type of theatrical allegory in which the protagonist is met by personifications of various moral attributes who try to prompt him to choose a Godly life over one of evil.” [Wikipedia]

"TV's 'Barney' is far from extinct"

The purple dinosaur is marking his 20th year of delighting kids (while irritating many adults with his sugary-sweet show) with a tour that will bring him to L.A.

Barney the Purple Dinosaur is routinely held up as the epitome of sappy children's entertainment. Thousands of anti-Barney websites haunt the Internet.

But the children's TV and music icon must be doing something right.

This year, the giggly T. rex is celebrating 20 years in the biz with a “Big Purple Bus Tour” rolling into multiple cities for meet-and-greet (and hug) events. (Stops include appearances at Toys R Us stores Saturday in Torrance and Sunday in Los Angeles.)

"Olaf Otto Becker: Disappearing beauty"

Impending global disaster is a beautiful thing in Olaf Otto Becker'snew solo show at L.A.'s Stephen Cohen Gallery. The German photographer, known for his Romantic renderings of northern European landscapes, sailed around Greenland snapping shots of the awesomely deteriorating environment. "There are two ways to photograph things. One way is to show all the ugliness," Becker says. "I want to show the positive, and you can think if you want to do something to keep it." Ends April 19,

Dr. Seuss: As colorful as his characters

The opening of “Horton Hears a Who!” gives us the opportunity to talk about one of our nation’s most fascinating writers: Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

Not only do his more than 40 books have crazy rhyme structures, occasionally incorporate only 250 words, and those specifically sway-ey drawings (many of the plants were inspired by the succulents at the San Diego Zoo, we once learned), the author also had a political agenda that worked itself into some of his silliest-sounding books. And so despite writing for kids, he got to voice his opinion on dictatorships, nuclear proliferation and participatory democracy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Richard Widmark, 1914 - 2008

Richard Widmark, who made an indelible screen debut in 1947 as a giggling sadistic killer and later brought a sense of urban cynicism and unpredictability to his roles as a leading man, has died. He was 93.

Sleek, Boxy and Eyecatching

The New York International Auto Show held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan marks the fourth and final U.S. automotive press debut of the year. Although New York is the city that never sleeps, and few of its residents drive, around 25 cars were featured.

Scion Hako Coupe Concept

Scion revealed the Hako Coupe Concept, described in the company’s presentation as “the sporty version of a box.”

The profile is a blend of contrasting shapes and edges. Flared fenders and slim race-car-inspired side mirrors are combined with a high belt line, lowered roof and black windows that wrap around to the rear. The front fascia showcases trapezoidal LED headlights and round fog lights with integrated turn signals, placed high on the front bumper. At the rear, the LED taillights repeat the shape of the headlights, and the rear bumper features a combination fog and backup light on the left, balanced by the exhaust pipe on the right.

Inside, a video-game and multimedia-entertainment theme predominates. The shifter, mounted on the center console, resembles a joystick. The steering wheel contains a trackball-like controller for the car’s entertainment system, which includes two dash-mounted video monitors for navigating through the car’s audio and video ranges. Additional video monitors are located on the doors and in the rear seating area, to project video captured by cameras mounted below the windshield pillars. And an editing function for this video is enabled while the car is parked, aiming the Hako squarely at the YouTube generation.

BMW Concept CS

BMW introduced the Concept CS, a sleek four-door sedan that seems fast even when it’s parked.

Low-slung with an elongated hood up front and an intentionally short rear end, it is 200.8 inches long and only 53.5 inches high. Giant wheel arches accommodate 21-inch tires, and two recesses on the front side panels are there to help cool the brakes. Unusual headlights use backward-facing LEDs that illuminate a reflection area, which then redirects their light in a focused beam onto the road ahead.

The interior design is a composition of contrasting colors and light and shade effects created by layered surfaces.

Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept

Living up to its “Born From Jets” advertising theme, Saab debuted the 9-X BioHybrid concept, an environment-friendly compact two-door hatchback car with aerodynamic features that seem to have been lifted directly from an aircraft. At speeds above 43 mph, both a rooftop spoiler and an underbody diffuser below the rear bumper are automatically extended. The wheels resemble turbines within a jet engine, and the body – which Saab calls the “fuselage” – is smooth, without any protruding mirrors or door handles.

Inside, the 9-X BioHybrid has an instrument panel that emerges from the top of the door and arches in front of the driver, displaying 3-D graphics that look as if they’ve been frozen in ice.

Suzuki Concept Kizashi 3

Suzuki staged the world debut of its Concept Kizashi 3, the model for a large five-passenger sport sedan the company expects to begin selling in the U.S. by 2010.

The four-wheel-drive Concept Kizashi 3 features a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 engine. It rolls on 21-inch wheels, and its design is intended to evoke the look of a “dynamic athlete in motion,” Suzuki says.

This third vehicle in a trilogy of concept cars follows the Concept Kizashi launched in September at the 2007 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Concept Kizashi 2 presented in October at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.

For $100,000 a ride, passengers will get to be weightless for 90 seconds.

Xcor Aerospace Inc. announced Wednesday that it would enter the space tourism market with a rocket plane that would carry passengers for about $100,000 a ride.

The Lynx will take off under its own power, carrying just a pilot and a single passenger, the Mojave, Calif., company said at a news conference in Beverly Hills.

Each flight will reach an altitude of 200,000 feet, close enough to space that passengers will experience about 90 seconds of weightlessness. Flight testing of the Lynx is expected to begin in 2010.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO: "You're the Top"

This spectacular shot of San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid at Night was taken on December 21, 2007 by G Dan Mitchell. Click on the link below for more of his work:

"Blue Night"

Here's an example of the wonderful photography of Laura Ballesteros -- it's the Houston skyline. For more of her work, click on the link below:

Chunk of Antarctic ice collapses

The Mystery of D. B. Cooper

SEATTLE -- Hoping to solve at least part of a 36-year-old mystery, the FBI is analyzing a torn, tangled parachute found in southwest Washington to determine if it belonged to famed plane hijacker D.B. Cooper.

Children playing outside their home near Amboy found the chute's fabric sticking up from the ground in an area where their father had been grading a road, agent Larry Carr said Tuesday. They pulled it out as far as they could, then cut the parachute's ropes with scissors.

The children had seen recent media coverage of the case -- the FBI launched a publicity campaign last fall, hoping to generate tips on the unsolved highjacking -- and they urged their dad to call the agency.

"When we went to the public, the whole idea was that the public is going to bring the answers to us," Carr said. "This is exactly what we were hoping for."

In November 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper -- later mistakenly but enduringly identified as D.B. Cooper -- hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle, claiming he had a bomb.

When the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he released the passengers in exchange for $200,000 and asked to be flown to Mexico. On the flight to Mexico City, he apparently took the cash and parachuted from the plane's back stairs somewhere near the Oregon border.

Agents doubt he survived because conditions were poor and the terrain was rough, but few signs of his fate have been found.

Carr spoke with the children's father, whom he declined to identify, early this month and learned the chute was white, the same color as Cooper's.

And when Carr overlaid the family's address onto a map investigators made in the early days of the investigation, he learned another encouraging fact: They lived right in Cooper's most probable landing zone, between Green and Bald mountains.

Carr hopped in his car and drove down. He dug around the property for about 45 minutes, unsuccessfully looking for a harness or other remains from the parachute, but the children weren't home, and the father wasn't sure exactly where they found it.

There are no obvious markings on the parachute to indicate whether it's the type Cooper used, a Navy Backpack 6 with a 26-foot canopy, Carr said. He's hoping a member of the public who has expertise in the parachutes will come forward and confirm whether it's the right kind before the FBI bothers to excavate the property. Barring that, the agency could turn to scientific analysis of the fabric.

"We've got to be pretty darn sure we're not wasting time and money here," he said.

If it is Cooper's parachute, that will solve one mystery -- where he apparently landed -- but it will raise another, Carr said.

In 1980, a family on a picnic found $5,880 of Cooper's money in a bag on a Columbia River beach, near Vancouver. Some investigators believed it might have been washed down to the beach by the Washougal River. But if Cooper landed near Amboy and stashed the money bag there, there's no way it could have naturally reached the Washougal.

"If this is D.B. Cooper's parachute, the money could not have arrived at its discovery location by natural means," Carr said. "That whole theory is out the window."

"The Golden Boy"

Art Aragon, the charismatic "Golden Boy" boxer who steadily drew standing-room-only crowds at Los Angeles and Hollywood venues in the 1940s and '50s, died Tuesday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center after his family removed him from life support. He was 80

In the '40s and '50s, Aragon was known as the 'Golden Boy.' He entered the ring wearing gold robes and trunks, flattened opponents with his sharp left hook -- and dated starlets.

Aragon never won a world title, but he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 with a 90-20-6 record that included several major bouts at the Olympic Auditorium, the old Wrigley Field and Hollywood's Legion Stadium.

Longtime boxing publicist Bill Caplan said Aragon, who memorably entered the ring wearing a gold robe and gold trunks, will be remembered as "the top drawing card in L.A. boxing history.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Play Ball"

A general view of Tokyo Dome is pictured in the fourth inning of the season opening MLB American League baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics in Tokyo March 25, 2008. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota (JAPAN)

"Oldest Car Competition"

A Dodge 1926 model car, owned by Nawabzada Nusrat Khan, is parked in a lane in Pakistan's northern town of Dera Ismael Khan March 25, 2008. Nusrat's father, Nawabzada Qutub-ud-Din Khan, the Nawab of Tank bought the U.S. made Dodge Brothers car in 1926. The ownership of the car was transferred to his son after Qutub-ud-Din's death in 1970. The car won in the Oldest Car Competition and Rally, which was from Lahore to Islamabad on March 13, 2002, organised by the Punjab Tourism Department.
REUTERS/Mustansar Baloch (PAKISTAN)

Missing for 160 years

An undated handout photograph shows the painting "La Surprise" by French master Jean-Antoine Watteau. The painting, missing for 160 years, has been found in a private house in England and will go on sale in London by auction house Christie's on July 8, 2008, priced at three to five million pounds ($6,017,866 - $10,028,012) -- a record for the artist's work.
REUTERS/Christies/Handout (BRITAIN).

"The Top of the World"

Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world with an altitude of 8,848 metres (29,028 ft), is seen in this aerial view March 25, 2008. Mount Everest was supposed to be the scene of the crowning glory of the Beijing Olympic torch relay, but unrest in Tibet, where the ascent of the world's highest mountain will begin, now threatens to dominate the event.
REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (NEPAL)

"A Trip to God's Country"

A "Google search" oftentimes results in not only tracking down whatever you were searching for but also produces some unexpected treasures that can lead us off in another direction. Thus I happened to discover this wonderful gallery of photos by Victor B. Soto -- Sierra scenes from Yosemite (above), Sequoia and other areas. Soto has captured the wondrous beauty of the Sierras in his photos. To see more of the work of this outstanding photographer click on the link below.

As sometimes happens one good thing leads to another. At the end of the gallery there is a place where visitors can leave a comment. The comments are quite interesting and especially the one from Mike Harper (April 02, 1999), where he goes into detail about the unique "High Sierra Loop" trip in Yosemite. His suggestion to "try the lottery" reflects on how difficult it is to get a reservation for this one-week summer adventure. I know what he's talking about because years ago I tried each year for several years and never was able to book the trip. But I did make the trip to all the camps -- as a backpacker. I slept in my sleeping bag in the little campground close by to each of the High Sierra Camps and joined the paying guests for the evening meal that was served family style. I paid a modest fee for a feast that was a fitting end to a day of scenic hiking. Here are the comments by Mike Harper:

"For persistant people, very persistant - try the lottery for the High Sierra Loop Trip in Yosemite. It is 53 miles in a loop from Tuolumne (TwoWallOmee) Meadows High Sierra Camp to a series of 5 camps and back again. You will hike down the Tuolumne River to Glen Aulen Camp on the 1st day. Next day the hike is up out of the Tuolumne canyon and up to May Lake - past the famous mammilary rocks. May lake is usually a two day stay so you can make the trek up to the top of Mt Hoffman on the second day of just go fishing. Sunrise Camp is next in line and has a beautiful view of the Cathedral Range. From Sunrise the trail leads to Merced Lake Camp. The unoffical trail leads down Jayne Mansfield Pass. Merced is also a two day stay and the adventurous can climb Mt Clark. The 1st trick is first find a very large tree that has fallen across the Merced, otherwise you have to swim. The next trick is to find the trail to Mt Clark as the Park does not maintain this trail anymore. The last trick is be foolish enough to do some free climbing. Voglesang Camp is the highest of the camps just below Voglesang pass which is 11,000 ft plus. The Voglesang site is fantastic. A huge granite slab rises up behind the camp and on a clear night with a fullmoon the reflected light knocks you on your butt. All good things come to an end with the hike back to Tuolumne Camp. As I remember the longest hike is about 10 miles and as you have all day and don't have to make camp you can go at your leasure. You are at high elevation and the elevation change can be 2,000 to 4,000ft so a word to the wise is to get into condition before you go and also spend a night at Tuolumne Camp before setting out on the 1st hike so your body becomes acclimeted to the high altitude. If you can't get reservations at Tuolumne try for White Wolf. Do the same for the end of the trip and spend another night at Tuolumne or White Wolf. Young kids do just fine. Can't remember the age limit but you will know when they are old enough - you don't have to carry them anymore. Each camp is set up to provide beds (with clean sheets) in tent cabins, breakfast, lunch and dinner. All you carry is your clothes. The other item of interest is *Hot Showers*. Singles bunk domatory style but they try to put families together. We always had a cabin to ourselves. If you have less time try the hike down Yosemite Creek starting from Yosemite Creek Campground to the top of Yosemite Falls and then on to the valley floor. It is about 10 miles almost all down hill. The first half is alongside the Yosemite Creek and the last is down the steep trail up from the valley floor. There are pools at the top of the falls that you can swim in if you go late in the season when the flow is down. Great viewing platform on the rock face right next to the falls giving views of the falls and of the valley. If you use the bus from the valley that goes to Tuolumne Meadows you can do the trip without a car shuttle. Enjoy."

Monday, March 24, 2008


A protester carries a flag as he takes part in the "Ostermarsch" (Easter march) demonstration to protest against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Berlin March 24, 2008. The sign on the flag reads "peace".
REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY)

"The Sword in the Stone"

Tennis ace Roger Federer, who has been the number one ranked men's tennis player in the world for four consecutive years, portrays King Arthur and pulls a sword from the anvil that holds a magical grip upon it in a new image created by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The gallant scene is reminiscent of Disney's animated film "The Sword in the Stone", in which a young King Arthur follows the wizardly teachings of Merlin. The regal image is one of three unveiled by Leibovitz to celebrate Disney Parks' "Year of a Million Dreams". Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida commissioned Leibovitz to create images featuring international celebrities in fairy tale settings.
REUTERS/Annie Leibovitz image/Walt Disney/Handout (UNITED STATES).

"Dr. Death" or "Hope" for the hopeless ??

Jack Kevorkian announces he is running in the November election as an Independent for a seat in the US Congress during a news conference in Southfield, Michigan March 24, 2008. Assisted suicide advocate Kevorkian, known as "Doctor Death" for helping more than 100 people end their lives, said on Monday he will run for the U.S. Congress.


An actor of Cirque Eloize and Theater Sunil performs in a play titled "Nebbia" during the XI Ibero-American Theater Festival in Bogota March 19, 2008.

The British know how to "make a spectacle" of themselves

Yeomen of the Guard march as Britain's Queen Elizabeth leaves the Royal Maundy Service held at the St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh March 20, 2008.

Tribute to Serge Gainsbourg

French singers Alizee (R) and Adrienne Pauly perform during a show in tribute to late French singer Serge Gainsbourg in Monte Carlo March 20, 2008. Monies from the concert will go to Monaco's Princess Stepahnie's charity association, Monaco Fight Aids.
REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO)

"Olympic Torchbearer"

Singer Wang Lee Hom holds the Beijing Olympic Games torch while posing for photos during a news conference in Beijing March 21, 2008. Wang is selected as an Olympic torchbearer for the Games. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA). CHINA OUT

It's a challenge: Finding the dancer's upper bodies in the mass of bodies in the rear

Bhutanese people watch traditional dance during the annual Tsechu festival in Paro March 21, 2008. The tiny and deeply traditional Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan takes a slightly nervous step into the modern world on Monday when it holds the first parliamentary elections in its history.
REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (BHUTAN)

Tokyo Greed

A model is silhouetted during a presentation of Greed made by Blondy at the Tokyo Runway 2008 Spring and Summer collection March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN)

"Un poco mas de luz"

An acrobat from Group F of France performs in the play titled "Un poco mas de luz" which means "a little more light" at the closing of the XI Iberoamerican Theater Festival in Bogota March 23, 2008. Over 100 theatre companies are presenting their shows.

"The Floating Pearl . . . or a duck egg"

BEIJING — Compared variously to a floating pearl and a duck egg, the titanium-and-glass half-dome of the National Center for the Performing Arts formally opened its underwater entryway to Chinese officials and dignitaries here in December.

The $400 million complex, a concert hall, opera house and theater under one space age span, is designed to be the center of Chinese culture, just as Tiananmen Square next door was designated this country’s political center.

The complex’s lush, dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and mechanical wizardry rival any hall in Europe or the United States, its promoters say.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One of a Kind

The four-in-one organ at Metropolitan Art Space in Tokyo is the only one of its kind. Here's a story who's details may be fascinating -- I'd like to know more.

March 24, 2008: Bingo!! I learned some more.

The Only Reversible Organ in the World: The job description for building the organ for the Metropolitan Art Space Concert Hall in Tokyo, Japan was to build an organ on which organ music could be played authentically no matter which period it came from. As this is simply impossible in one single organ, just think of the different ways of tuning, Marc Garnier from France in 1987-1991 built three organs in one with a total of 184 ranks / 123 voices (+ 2 ext. + 1 transm.) and more than 9,000 pipes with a three-part case. Now, depending on which organ you need you can turn the right one to the front. Of course you need to disconnect and reconnect all pipes, the air system and the action, a job that obviously is extremely complicated. Maybe that is the reason why this technical masterpiece is still singular in the whole World.

"Hollywood Dave"

Dave Stann doesn't deny that he's a card counter. He's a Mensa member who has used his brains to determine when the odds are in his favor, not the casino's. Stann says his rare skills have earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars at blackjack tables. But Stann wants to make one thing perfectly clear: He is not a crook.

"The bottom line is, I'm just a smart kid who remembers things," he says over lunch at a sidewalk cafe on Franklin Avenue, not far from his Hollywood home.

Card counting, the subject of the new movie "21," is not illegal. But that hasn't stopped many Las Vegas casino bosses from telling Stann, known professionally as "Hollywood Dave," that he's no longer welcome. If he returns, he faces arrest -- for trespassing on private property.

Meanwhile, the new movie, about several math whizzes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who team up to take Vegas casinos for millions by counting cards, is sure to shine a bright light on the topic. The movie opens Friday.

New War on Slavery

Rambho Kumar was born into wilting poverty in a village in Bihar, the poorest state in India, the country with more slaves than any other, according to U.N. estimates. In 2001, desperate to keep him and his five brothers from starving, his mother accepted 700 rupees ($15) as an advance from a local trafficker, who promised more money once 9-year-old Rambho started working many miles away in India's carpet belt.

After he received Rambho from the trafficker, the loom owner treated his new acquisition like any other low-value industrial tool. He never allowed Rambho and the other slaves to leave the loom, forcing them to work for 19 hours a day, starting at 4 in the morning.

On July 12, 2005, local police, in coordination with activists supported by Free the Slaves, an organization based in Washington, liberated Rambho and nine other emaciated boys.

Many people are surprised to learn that there are still slaves. Many imagined that slavery died along with the 360,000 Union soldiers whose blood fertilized the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. Many thought that slavery was brought to an end around the world when most countries outlawed it in the 19th century.

But, in fact, there are more slaves today than at any point in history. Although a precise census is impossible, as most masters keep their slaves hidden, baseline estimates from United Nations and other international researchers range from 12 million to 27 million slaves worldwide. The U.S. State Department estimates that from 600,000 to 800,000 people -- primarily women and children -- are trafficked across national borders each year, and that doesn't count the millions of slaves who are held in bondage within their own countries.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Last Light On Half Dome, Yosemite"

Voted one of the best photos of 2007.

Job opening

The CIA had an opening for an assassin.

After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists — two men and one woman. For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

“We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. You have to kill her.” The first man said.“You can’t be serious. I could never shoot my wife,”

The agent replies, “Then you’re not the right man for this job."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the agent came out with tears in his eyes. “I tried, but I can’t kill my wife.” The agent replies, “You don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”

Finally, it was the woman’s turn. Only she was told to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “You guys didn’t tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. So I had to beat him to death with the chair.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

Patagonia in peril

The Chilean government has given the green light to a huge dam that will lay waste to parts of one of the most pristine wildernesses on the planet

"An Eye in the Sky"

It's History . . . but it was exciting

Drake's Don Draper, right, tries a reverse layuup to get past the reach of UCLA's Lew Alcindor in an NCAA national semifinal game at Louisvillethe NCAA semi-final at Louisville 38 years ago on Friday. The Bulldogs gave UCLA one of its toughest games of the year, falling, 85-82.
(Associated Press)