Tarry for the Nonce

December 31, 2004

Open Hands. Open Hearts.

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:12 pm

And speaking of generosity, is anyone else impressed by the British?

Britons moved by the plight of a million children left orphaned or homeless by the Asian tsunami have donated £23 million in 24 hours.


A Little Perspective, Please.

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:05 pm

I have been studiously ignorning the Bush-bashing associated with the tsunami tragedy. However, I found John Podhoretz impossible to resist:

It is fine and proper to have a debate and discussion about the degree of generosity the United States could, should and must show in the wake of this literally earth-shaking event.

But at this moment, the United States is not the issue.

The foreign-aid budget of the United States is not the issue.

Our government should not be the focal point of the discussion right now . . .

Secretary of State Colin Powell found himself in the position of having to remind the world that over the past four years the United States has provided more such aid than all other nations on the planet combined.

It is appalling that he had to mention this, and that President Bush was compelled to cite the same information on Wednesday, because you’re not supposed to brag about how charitable you are. But once a United Nations official decried the American aid pledge as “stingy,” the administration had little choice.

Any rational person would have understood without having to be told what the president told the world on Wednesday morning, which is that the $35 million pledge “is only the beginning of our help.”

But maybe people are looking for a sideshow to distract them from the sickening pictures and the keening cries of the untold numbers of mothers whose babies were swept away.

December 30, 2004

Tourism Continues

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 12:43 pm

Are the eager tourists stoic? Or just plain sick?

Just days after the tidal wave disaster, one of the devastated beaches was returning to normal yesterday.

On Sunday, Patong Beach was hit by a wall of water that swept into Phuket, claiming at least 120 lives . . .

For some tourists yesterday, however, the tragedy was becoming a memory, albeit a vivid one, as they made the most of the weather and topped up their tans . . .

Engineer Paul Cunliffe, from Manchester, arrived on an almost empty flight from Malaysia. Gin and tonic in hand, Mr Cunliffe said he and two friends were booked into a beach-front hotel that had escaped serious damage, and had been assured of a “wonderful holiday”.

Want To Help?

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 10:39 am

Tsunami Relief Services

Trillian Effects

Filed under: Anecdotes — lmwalker @ 10:33 am

Did you know the Internet sucks away your life?

The average Internet user in the United States spends three hours a day online, with much of that time devoted to work and more than half of it to communications, according to a survey conducted by a group of political scientists.

The survey found that use of the Internet has displaced television watching and a range of other activities. Internet users watch television for one hour and 42 minutes a day, compared with the national average of two hours, said Norman H. Nie, director of the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, a research group that has been exploring the social consequences of the Internet.

“People don’t understand that time is hydraulic,” he said, meaning that time spent on the Internet is time taken away from other activities . . .

According to the study, an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes.

Well, duh! Nonetheless, I admit to a gnawing inclination to read a good book.

The Bee’s Knees

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 10:26 am

Bee stings may help MS patients:

Ms Cooke (40), of Alma Avenue, Terrington St Clement, has been using ‘bee-sting therapy’ for her condition for the last three-and-a-half months.

As a result, Ms Cooke has found the sight in her left eye has improved and she is able to move some of the toes on both feet.

The stings have helped so much that they relax her hamstrings and allow her to stretch her legs out . . .

Bee’s venom is said to slow down the disease in a similar way to one of the drugs used to treat the condition, beta-interferon.

In America, there are alternative methods of using bee-sting venom – but these are yet to be licensed here.

Whatever tickles your fancy, I guess. Sounds painful, but I guess Bee Venom Therapy is not uncommon and there are apparently some exciting successes. There must be a less vicious method, though.

Awash With Tragedy

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 10:20 am

A tragic fact now being exposed: the tsunami was predicted with adequate lead time to evacuate people.

A tsunami warning that could have saved thousands of lives was issued, but not acted upon, more than an hour before giant waves hit Sri Lanka and southern India, according to reports . . .

In Sri Lanka, which suffered the biggest loss of life in the tsunami, crowds had come to the beaches to watch the sea after word spread that it was producing larger-than-normal waves.

Thousands of children joined their elders to see the spectacle. People collected fish brought in by the waves, just before being hit by the six-metre tidal waves.

None of the countries most severely affected had a tsunami warning mechanism or tidal gauges to alert people to the wall of water that followed a massive earthquake, said Waverly Person of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre . . .

Mr Person said because large tsunamis, or seismic sea waves, are extremely rare in the Indian Ocean, people were never taught to flee inland after they felt the tremors of an earthquake.

Since a tsunami is generated at the source of an underwater earthquake, there is usually time, from 20 minutes to two hours, to get people away as it builds in the ocean.

In Thailand, however, officials were just too timid:

Thailand’s meteorological department knew by 8.10am (local time) on Sunday about an hour before the first waves hit that a powerful earthquake had struck near Sumatra, and they discussed the possibility that the quake could cause large sea disturbances. The department had already distributed information pamphlets several years ago explaining the risks of tsunamis around southern Thai beach resorts.

But without definitive proof of an imminent tsunami, the meteorological department dared not issue a national warning lest it be accused of spreading panic and hurting the tourism industry if the disturbances did not materialise . . .

“Phuket is for the tourists, and [if we warn] they will cancel everything,” [seismologist Sumalee Prachuab] said. “Then if the tsunami did not occur, the meteorological department will have many telephone calls, complaining ‘why did you make that prediction?’.

“Five years ago, we did distribute some papers about the tsunami, telling people ‘Protect yourself’,’ she said. “We said, if you feel the earthquake when you are swimming in the sea, please go quickly to land. But the Thai people maybe forgot.”

It would so appear.

WLS Shake-Up

Filed under: Entertainment — lmwalker @ 9:35 am

Jay Marvin has been ousted from WLS.

Eileen Byrne, who had been Marvin’s co-host from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays, will continue solo when she returns from vacation.

John Gallagher, president and general manager of WLS, said the decision to cut Marvin was made because the show “hasn’t produced what it was designed to achieve.” It was unclear whether the issue was a lack of ratings or a lack of chemistry between the two hosts.

Jay seems none-too-broken about it, but I am saddened. I wasn’t a huge fan of the DJ himself, per se, but I enjoyed his show with Eileen Byrne and even occasionally agreed with him. I don’t think the show will be as good without him. Ah, well. At least now he can focus on his art career.

And as long as I am getting involved in the world of Disney-sponsored radio: if anyone from WLS is listening, could you please cancel the moronic Dr. Dean Edell. The man’s pretentious attitude offends in every possible way. I was able to deal with his ridiculous condescension towards anyone who would ever dare to think that the use of birth control is wrong, but when he went off on his deliberately misleading snit about the pope condoning masturbation, I clicked the radio dial to an FM channel, never to return to WLS again on Sunday mornings.

December 29, 2004

Why Apple Lives

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 5:55 pm

Have you heard the story of the graphing calculator? It was featured on Slashdot with the following excerpt:

“It’s midnight. I’ve been working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. I’m not being paid. In fact, my project was canceled six months ago, so I’m evading security, sneaking into Apple Computer’s main offices in the heart of Silicon Valley, doing clandestine volunteer work for an eight-billion-dollar corporation.”

Very cool. Thanks for the tip, Ed.

A Sad Summary of Statistics

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:20 pm

I guess the tsunami death toll is now 100,000:

The UN said there were now strong grounds to believe that the toll in the Sumatran province of Aceh, the worst affected area, would be as high as 80,000. The number dead has now climbed in every country affected, including:

Thailand: 1,700 confirmed dead, including 43 British tourists.

Indonesia: more than 42,000 confirmed dead.

India: nearly 7,000 dead, and many coastal areas including parts of Kerala still to be searched.

Sri Lanka: 22,500 are confirmed dead and there are fears for hundreds of independent British travellers on the east coast.

Aid agencies today warned disease will also cause massive casualties among the survivors as the biggest relief effort in history began . . .

The vast majority of the 3,500 foreigners still unaccounted for in the disaster region are from Scandinavia. The missing include at least 1,500 Swedes, 800 Norwegians, 214 Danes and 200 Finns.

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