Thoughts Gallery December 2002
December 1
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Attack of the killer hounds....
December 2
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 Students who have staged Iran's biggest pro-reform protests in three years claimed a victory for freedom of speech as Iran's supreme leader ordered a review of the death sentence against a dissident academic. The week-long student rallies and strikes in support of history lecturer Hashem Aghajari, condemned to hang for blasphemy, had raised political tension at a crucial stage in the power battle between Iran's reformists and hard-liners. This photo shows a university student holding a picture of Ahmad Batebi, a student imprisoned after the 1999 university riots, during a demonstration at Tehran's Amir Kabir University.
December 3
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I signed the refinance papers for my house yesterday, I'm in my 3 day cooling off period.  I'm exceited and nervous to finally get this process finished after 8 months of searching.
December 4
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I'm glad to see that some organizations are finally starting to stand up for the beliefs and standards that they profess to value and teach to their members.  A "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy is not an effective way to maintain the core values of a group and effectively teach those values to others. 
Darrell Lambert of Port Orchard, Washington holds the termination letter he received from the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America revoking Lambert's registration as an adult scout leader. Lambert's membership was rejected after he revealed that he was an atheist. He is planning to appeal the ejection to Boy Scout's higher headquarters and is prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court. 
December 5
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Study: Iraq War Could Cost $1.9 Trillion 
In the worst case, a war with Iraq could cost the United States almost as much as the government spent in the last budget year nearly $2 trillion, according to new projections.  Researchers concluded in a study released that war with Iraq could cost the United States from $99 billion to more than $1.9 trillion over a decade.  The lower figure assumes a successful military, diplomatic and nation-building campaign; the higher figure assumes a prolonged war with a disruption of oil markets and a U.S. recession, the authors say in a study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Both figures assume a U.S. involvement in the country for 10 years.  White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said it was premature to comment on cost estimates.  "War is the last resort," he said. "We're hoping for a peaceful solution." 
        The 1991 Persian Gulf War cost America an estimated $61 billion, but allies reimbursed all but about $7 billion. By some accounting methods, the United States may have even made a profit. Direct military spending could range from $50 billion in a short campaign to $140 billion in a prolonged war with Iraq, said the study titled, "War With Iraq: Costs, Consequences and Alternatives." The study was done by the academy's Committee on International Security Studies. The report cautioned that aside from the estimates of direct military costs, all the numbers should be "regarded as informed conjecture." Occupation and peacekeeping costs could be $75 billion in the best case to $500 billion in the worst, the study said. Reconstruction and nation- building costs are estimated at $30 billion to $105 billion, and humanitarian aid at $1 billion to $10 billion. 

      A prolonged disruption of world oil markets could cost the U.S. economy up to $778 billion, the researchers estimated. On the other hand, Iraq's huge oil resources could satisfy U.S. needs for imported oil at current levels for almost a century and otherwise benefit the economy by $40 billion.  A short war could actually benefit the United States in terms of its macroeconomic impact, which includes employment, by $17 billion. A long war, in contrast, could have a $391 billion negative effect. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1780 and based in Cambridge, Mass., is an international society of scientists, scholars, artists, business people and political leaders. 
December 6
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Norwegian Teen Denies DVD Cyber-Piracy Charges
OSLO (Reuters) - A Norwegian teen-ager pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of illegally making software that copies movies, in a landmark case seen as a battle between cyber Davids and corporate Goliaths. Jon Johansen, known in Norway as "DVD Jon," is charged with helping to crack a code and develop and distribute a program on the Internet enabling users to make unauthorised copies of DVD movies. Prosecutor Inger Marie Sunde told an Oslo court Johansen worked with people in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Russia and the United States on making and publishing the program in 1999 and 2000, when he was 15 and 16 years old. "It's been seen as a fight of David against Goliath. A 15 to 16-year-old who took on the U.S. movie industry," Sunde told the court. "But his acts are clearly illegal." Judge Irene Sogn, flanked by two experts, will hear the case against Johansen, now 19. The trial is due to last five days. Johansen could face up to two years in jail or be ordered to pay fines or compensation.
      Major Hollywood studios, which code DVDs to prevent unauthorised copying, have already taken legal action against several people in the United States who displayed the DeCSS program, allegedly developed by Johansen, on their Web Sites.
U.S. and Canadian DVD and video sales totaled an estimated $20 billion this year. Hollywood says unauthorised copying of DVDs is stealing copyright material. Some 5,000 copies of DeCSS are thought to have been downloaded from the web in the months after it was made available in 1999, prompting the U.S. Motion Picture Association (MBA), representing Hollywood, to file a complaint in Norway. DeCSS is one of many programs available on the Internet to break DVD protection codes. 
December 7
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 In a state where everything seems bigger, a Plano,Texas Bapist Church is staging a Texas supersized Christmas pageant. Members of the Prestonwood Baptist Church began participating in the church's annual Christmas pageant, in Plano, Texas. The stage for the production measures 15,000 square feet, triple the size of the one in New York's Radio City Music Hall.
December 8
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An upgraded model of Honda Motor Co. 's walking robot Asimo raises its hand to greet an unidentified Honda employee during a press unveiling at the Japanese automaker's headquarters in Tokyo. The 1.2 meter (four-foot) tall machine, that already knew how to walk, climb stairs and recognize voices, now also understands human gestures and movement by using the visual information taken by a camera in its head to recognize 10 different preprogrammed faces.
December 9
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 A wooden artificial toe, from the third intermediate period (about 3000-years-old), is displayed still attached to the foot of the mummy of an old woman, at a new gallery at the Cairo museum. Egypt has blown the dust from 250 ancient artifacts locked in the basement of the Egyptian museum in Cairo and store rooms across the country to show off some of its wealth of hidden treasures, in a display launched today on the centennial of the museum.
December 10
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Visitors stroll through the Atlantic aquarium section of Valencia's new Oceanografic Marine Park . Oceanografic, Europe's biggest oceanarium with 45,000 living creatures of 500 different species and covering an area of 110,000 square meters, the equivalent to 15 Olympic swimming  pools, was inaugurated December 12. The aquarium recreates the world's most important marine ecosystems so as to enable research and teaching involving the water environment, and to contribute to the protection of marine life.
December 11
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A one-week-old baby lion lets out its first roar at the zoo in San Salvador , El Salvador as its mother Patanga watches on.
December 12
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Its interesting to see how so many people think we are going to war with Iraq and other countries over just oil.
December 13
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 A three-year-old Shih Tzu named Ren, a regular Dead Sea mud pack customer, relaxes as he is massaged by Pet Salon Jannie's groomer Seiren Suzuki during an aesthetic skin treatment in Tokyo. The salon, exclusive for pets, offers human-quality mudpacks with imports from Israel, starting at a price of 10,000 yen (about $82) for small dogs. Owners are happy with the deep cleansing treatment which they say improves skin conditions and hair. 
December 14
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The company xmas party was at Demi-Epicurious tonight from 7-11.  After conversing and enjoying too much gourmet food Erin & I returned home to enjoy our 3rd story view and the comforts of home.
Smithfield the pig demonstrates his artistic talent for an audience at the LaPrade branch library in Richmond, Va. The program 'Pet Star' has invited Smithfield to Los Angeles. The Vietnamese potbelly and his 'mom,' Fran Martin, will appear on the program's premiere, Jan. 10 or the following week.
December 15
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Went to a christmas reunion play this evening for Dawn's church.  It was a interesting play, but one where christ was seamingly removed from most of the play.  It was more an overall moral lessions than the lessons and storyline of christmas.  It was definitely interesting though to have such a large group of people like that in a church, I'd estimate it could easily hold 5,000 people in the auditorium style seating.  I think I'll stick to the more traditional xmas plays in the future though, as watching mariachi dancers next to a choir of angels and the manger scene is just too od for me.
December 16
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Had a nice therapy session for the first time today in a while, smid the choas of work, and trying to close buildings or get them under contract.  Looking forward to the relaxing christmas break over to Houston.  After a weekend of shopping and fighting the crowds, it seems like I barely made a dent in my shopping list.
A passenger train carries Islamic pilgrims returning after a 3-day Islamic congregation in Tongi, Bangladesh, 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The three-day Islamic congregation which began Dec. 13, had participants from nearly 80 countries, and aimed to discuss Islam and the problems it faces today.
December 17
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Rubaba master Gulam Hussein, 40, sees off his disciples at end of a class with his son Ahmed in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan. Hussein, who returned from Pakistan five months ago, left Afghanistan because the Taliban outlawed music. Hussein, Kabul's renowned musician for the last 29 years, has trained 65 rubab students. He is teaching 13 new students, who want to revive the rubab, a short-necked lute which is Afghanistan's national instrument. 
December 18
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 A part of the Earth Simulator, the fastest supercomputer in the world, is seen in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. Running 35.6 trillion calculations per second, the Earth Simulator is the fastest supercomputer in the world, almost five times faster than the next best one and as fast as the top 20 U.S. supercomputers combined.
December 19
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Will gas ever become this valuable in the US that it will need protection from the public?
 A Venezuelan army soldier directs traffic at a gas station in Maracaibo in western Venezuela, on the 17th day of a general strike seeking the ouster of President Hugo Chavez. The strike has reduced Venezuela's oil output from nearly 3 million to 400,000 barrels per day, sending the world price of crude oil above $30 a barrel and depriving Venezuela of $50 million daily in export income.
December 20
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December 21
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Drove over to Houston to spend a few days with my parents and sisters.  The dining room was miraculously cleaned in a few hours to make room for a new queen mattress set I purchased at the foley's outlet store. There's no xmas gift like finding a $1700 matress for $550.
December 22
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Finished up some last minute xmas shopping for my family and enjoyed the frequent rain showers throughout the day.
Artist Ken Feingold represents the newest of media at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, at an exhibit entitled 'Fantasy Underfoot'. Feingold's multimedia installation, 'Sinking Feeling', 2001, consists of a bald bespeckled talking head, a self-portrait, planted in a flower pot.
December 23
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View a entire neighbirhood contest for the best xmas lights, with themes for each street. 
Visitors look at a building carved in ice, the highest of its kind exhibited at the 29th Harbin ice lantern art exhibition, in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Divided into 10 parts, the exposition shows 2003 fine ice carving works.
December 24
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Drove back from Houston today trying to get away from all the rain over in Houston, but to no avail. 
An Ukrainian teacher pours water on a boy's head while other children wait for their turn outside a gymnasium as temperatures reaches minus 10 degrees Celsius (14.00F) in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Many Ukrainians of different ages continue a centuries-old tradition of winter swimming or taking ice-cold showers, which is believed to make people healthier. 
December 25
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Spent the afternoon up in Georgetown at Erin's parnets house.  After exchanging gifts we watched a movie and ate a xmas meal of turkey & ham.
West Virginia Lottery winner Andrew 'Jack' Whittaker (R) and his wife Jewell, talk with members of the media about winning $314.9 million Powerball jackpot drawing Christmas night. 
December 26
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 Venezuelans sit on containers while lined up outside a gas station waiting to purchase gasoline in Caracas, Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez's government says gasoline supplies, which have virtually evaporated during a three- week general strike, will soon return to normal but mile long lines for gasoline and cooking gas say otherwise.
December 27
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Saw the new Lords of the Rings movie - Twin Towers, it was so much better than the first movie.  The graphics and special effects were excellent, and the team of main characters were all developed. I would give it a 9.5 out of 10.  One of the better movies I've seen for the year.
An eight-month old rooster weighing 3.3kg, stands on grass at the Hebrew University in Rehovot. Israeli scientists at the Agriculture department of the university have genetically engineered bare-skinned chickens as part of a research project to develop succulent, low fat poultry that is environmentally friendly. The naked chicken, as the bird has been dubbed, would also save poultry farmers large amounts of money on ventilation to prevent their chickens from overheating.
December 28
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The pregnant version of Midge, Barbie's oldest friend, which pops out a curled-up baby when her belly is opened.
December 29
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A seven-year-old disabled cat named Cici is helped to walk by a device as she participates in 'Cat Show 2002' in the western Turkish city of Izmir. Cici, named ' Pet of Day' in the show, was disabled in a traffic accident two months ago.
December 30
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Nothing like coming into work after a long weekend to spend your time deleting off all the junk emails.
Nepalese children residing in India make a snow woman near the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling in the eastern state of West Bengal. The area is witnessing snow for the first time since 1997 and temperatures fell to a low of one degree Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit) on the border.
December 31
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Spent the evening up in Georgetown with Erin's family, enjoying the sights and sounds of fireworks, and artillery shells.  We started a little grassfire with fireworks to get warm and burn off all the firework boxes and garabage.  The wet ground was a mud pit from all the rain we've received over the last week.