Thoughts Gallery February 2002
February 1
Image of the Day
At what point does a human's desire for an adventure and excitment become animal torture and not just a fun annual activity.

A horse is ridden through a fire during fiesta celebrations in the central Spanish village of San Bartolome de Pinares, 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Madrid. Mounted horses are led over burning fires in the age old custom to ward off sickness in the village. 

February 2
Image of the Day
Brazil will become this week the second country in the world to attach anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packages reminding smokers of the damage they do to their health every time they light up. The image above reads: 'The Ministry of Health warns: smoking causes sexual impotence.'
February 3
Images of the Day
Does Canada, tied to US, need its own currency?
      TORONTO - Every month or so Canadian newspapers, saddened at the relentless decline of the domestic currency, ponder the possibility that Canada might one day adopt the U.S. dollar.  Government and central bank officials shoot the idea down each time, stressing the need for monetary independence, the differences between Canada and the United States and a firm belief that the currency, dubbed the loonie for the diving waterfowl on the one-dollar coin, will revive one day.
      But the Canadian dollar's fall last week to one new low after another means the debate on dollarization won't go away. A common currency would remove exchange risks, and could boost trade between two economies that already move a billion dollars of goods across the
border every day, the lobbyists say.  ``It's blue sky stuff right now, but it would be easier to do with Canada than with any other country,'' said Ted Truman, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., and a former top official with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Treasury.  ``But it's an issue that in some sense is not going to come from the United States because that would look like American imperialism...You can imagine it happening, but it's a stretch.'' The Canadian economy is already dollarized to a small degree -- the central bank often matches U.S. monetary policy decisions and international executives and major league sports stars are paid in U.S. dollars, even as clubs rake in ticket fees in loonies.
SOVEREIGNTY ISSUES
      Other countries take the concept a lot further. In Argentina, under its failed dollar-for-peso peg, many domestic loans were denominated in U.S. dollars, while Ecuador, El Salvador and Panama use U.S. dollars as their currency.  But for the Canadian government, abandoning the loonie would mean abandoning sovereignty.  ``I will not do that because we don't need it,'' Prime Minister Jean Chretien said last month. ``The fact we control our currency is a great advantage to us. It is an element of flexibility in our economic policies which is very much needed.''
      Adopting the U.S. dollar has so far been an option for countries too small or too troubled to manage an independent currency and an
independent monetary policy -- a stark contrast to the system in Europe where countries voluntarily gave up their own currencies to switch to the euro.  Ecuador began using the U.S. dollar when its economy sank into deep distress in early 2000, and some experts advised Argentina to dollarize, at a deeply depreciated currency rate, as its economy cracked under the strain of the rigid dollar-peso peg.
      Canada is in a different situation. Its economy probably grew faster than that of the United States last year, inflation is low and the central bank, which favors the flexibility provided by floating exchange rates, is well-respected.  And even Canadians favoring a common currency are looking for a different system to that adopted by Ecuador, which has no say in U.S. monetary policy.

      Jeffrey Rubin, chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, has said he sees the Canadian dollar disappearing within years, with Canadian interests represented in a 13th district of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is responsible for interest rate policies in the United States.  That would need far-reaching changes to U.S. laws that set up the much-admired Federal Reserve system, including approval from a Congress that is traditionally wary of international issues. It could even mean new international treaties.

     ``I think, realistically, dollarization would have to be a one-sided arrangement, where Canada effectively chose the dollar in the way that
Argentina had been thinking about,'' said Graham Voss, professor of economics at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, noting there has been little debate about the appropriate rate for a currency switch. ``So, in that sense, you would lose your freedom of monetary policy... For the next two to five years I certainly do not think it's going to happen, I do not think there is the political will.''




February 4
Image of the Day
Here is a picture of the Buchanan Clan Castle in Scotland taken in 1991.  I am now the official owner of another domain name Buchananclan.org.  Maybe one day I can use it to put some Buchanan geneology lineage on it.
February 5
Image of the Day
Here's a map of one of the areas the Buchanan Clan lived in the UK region. File-swapping network locks out users 
File-swapping network locks out users 
StreamCast Networks' Morpheus--a file-swapping service that many have said would be impossible for courts to shut down--shut out most of its users Tuesday, citing "technical problems."   Computer users trying to log on to the service were greeted with a message telling them to upgrade their software to connect, although no newer version of the software was available. The outage immediately sparked a huge increase in traffic on alternative file-swapping services, such as Gnutella.   In a statement, StreamCast blamed Kazaa, another file-swapping company that had provided the basic software that served as the foundation of the Morpheus program. Kazaa and fellow software licensee Grokster have recently upgraded their software, while StreamCast has not.  "Unfortunately, Kazaa's recent upgrade has made Kazaa's and Grokster's new versions incompatible with Morpheus," the company said in its statement. "As a result, we are accelerating the release of our new Morpheus software and within days expect Morpheus users to enjoy the Morpheus Preview Edition."  That new software, the company said, would operate using an "open protocol" network. That typically means that different software companies can write pieces of software that talk to each other. The network used by Kazaa, Grokster and until now by Morpheus, is a closed protocol network in which each company has to license the software from the owners
February 6
Image of the Day
Here's a example of a Buchanan crest.  I think the design element rules need to be updated to incorporate modern technoloy and printing practives used in the last century.  If they hope to keep the geneological practice alive and it's notions understood by the public this needs to be done in the next generation or two.  Otherwise this lost art and history will only be alive in history books, and local units will only be as knowledgable as girl scouts selling cookies.
February 7
Image of the Day
This is the old Sharrjah souk in Dubai.  Spents many weekends here shopping and bartering for various trinkets.  Notice the wind towers along the top of the building, for year-round cheap cooling.
February 8
Image of the Day
Cockroaches in Coke Is Secret Potion 
Crushed cockroaches in diet coke -- that's what Australian aerial freestylist Jacqui Cooper says she drank to recover from a serious back injury.  "It wrecks your stomach inside but it fixed my back," she was quoted as saying.  Cooper, one of the favorites for the women's Olympic gold, said the potion helped draw out "bad" blood from her injury. She was doing push-ups within three weeks of fracturing her vertebra.  Cooper, a triple World Cup champion, is expected to try a rare triple jump in the competition on February 18.
February 9
Image of the Day
Enjoyed the festivities of Mardis Gras on 6th street this evening. Althought the police to civilian ratio was high.  Groups of 4-10 cops every few feet, along with the horse police, and motorcycle police.  It's good to see that the police can't just cancel any event they don't want to provide security for.  Although I think being clad in full riot gear and shotguns is a bit excessive for a crowd of local austinites.  Look at all those mardis gras beads to give out.
February 10
Image of the Day
I cleaned around my living areas today, and finished 6 loads of laundry, nothing like doing laundry all day long.  Hopefully my kitchen will start to be sheetrocked in over the next week or so, enabling me to order my kitchen cabinets.  I think electric police cars are an excellent idea, as they will diminish their capacity to enguage in long chases and law-breaking abilities. 
February 11
Image of the Day
Helaman said of that voice of revelation: "It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul" (Helaman 5:30).
Five newly-married couples show off their marriage certificates after getting married underwater, in the province of Trang, 800 kilometers  (500 miles) south of Bangkok. Thirteen couples from India, Korea, Japan and Thailand were honored in a Thai marriage ceremony on land before donning scuba gear to dive 12 meters (40 feet) into the sea where they signed waterproof marriage registers and received marriage certificates. The undersea weddings have been held around Valentine's Day for the past five years as a tourism promotion. 
February 12
Image of the Day
It's interesting to see other cultures trying to keep their cultures pure of the western influences.  I think only the Chinese have managed to do this so far.  Even in the Middle East many non-muslim desires and goods are desired by the locals.  Even the Russians failed in their fight to keep outside religions from covering their countryside when the USSR collasped.
Hardline Hindus to Fight 'Obscene' Valentine's Day
NEW DELHI - Hindu nationalists threatened Tuesday to disrupt Valentine's Day celebrations in India, saying the lovers' day was obscene and violated mainly Hindu India's cultural ethos.  Last year, right-wing Hindu groups invaded gift shops and burned cards in many cities to obstruct the celebrations on February 14.  ``We will go to colleges, card and gift shops and every corner of Delhi to protest it in any form. We will burn Valentine's Day cards depicting obscenity,'' Jai Bhagwan Goyal, head of the Delhi unit of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, told a news conference.  He warned that any resistance to Shiv Sena's campaign ``may lead to a scuffle.''

        In Bombay, Bal Thackeray, firebrand leader of Shiv Sena said: ``Valentine's Day is a cultural corruption imported from Western countries. Today we are very firm as far as Valentine's Day is concerned.''  He said the party would seek to stop young people celebrating. ``Our protest starts tomorrow, we will burn Valentine's Day cards.''  Thackeray said his aim was to prevent an onslaught of Western culture.  ``We are going to stick to our guns. It's not a fight about Valentine's Day, it concerns Indian culture. We don't want that culture to spread in our country like a virus.''

      However, Bombay-based card manufacturers and dealers plan to celebrate the occasion in disguise -- bringing out special cards and gifts for ``Prem Din Utsav'' or the Festival of Love.  Despite calls for a ban, in cosmopolitan Bombay shops windows are decorated with heart-shaped red balloons, Valentine's Day cards, gifts and paper roses. 
February 13
Image of the Day
I think that President Bush is making a huge mistake, and is widing this war on terrorism to far.  This will probably bring Rusisa into the conflict as well, since Iraq and Russia are close allies.  It would be interesting to see if Iran would mend ties with Iraq to support them if the United States gets into a ground war again in the Persian Gulf.  It also seems that the U.A.E. is already lax in supporting the current U.S. embargo., if they are building dhows to transport Iraqi oil to market.
Bush Decides to Oust Saddam Hussein
PHILADELPHIA - President Bush has decided to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and has ordered the CIA, the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies to devise plans to remove him, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.  The newspaper said no military strike was imminent. But it quoted unamed U.S. officials as saying Bush had decided that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs pose too great a threat to U.S. national security for Saddam to remain.  ``This is not an argument about whether to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  That debate is over. This is how you do it,'' the Inquirer quoted a senior Bush administration official as saying.
February 14
Image of the Day
Happy Valentine's Day to the western world!!!
Valentine's a 'Worthless' Day? 
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has officially banned Valentine's Day, prohibiting shops from selling red roses and couples from displaying tokens of affection during the international day of love.  The Arab News daily said the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Evil, which upholds Islamic values in the ultra- conservative kingdom, would conduct round-the-clock patrols to ensure nobody celebrated this "un-Islamic" occasion.  "The commission has been geared up to enlighten youth on the dangers of blindly following worthless foreign customs," Jabir al-Hakami, head of the commission in the holy city of Mecca, told the English-language newspaper. 
      Shops, hotels, restaurants and public parks were warned two weeks ago against staging special activities on February 14. Teachers were also ordered to caution their students against wearing red or other
Valentine-related items, the daily said.  About seven million foreigners live in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Many are from the Asian subcontinent where Valentine's Day is celebrated with much fanfare.  The ban was based on a fatwa, or religious edict, issued by a high-ranking Islamic commission that says Muslims cannot celebrate festivals other than the Muslim ones of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. 
      Laws in Saudi Arabia tend to be based on the kingdom's strict and sometimes radical interpretation of Islam.  Men and women who are not related cannot mix in the kingdom, which also prohibits public worship by non-Muslims.   Most Gulf Arab states, and even conservative Iran, celebrate Valentine's Day, which is named after a Christian saint. 
In the United Arab Emirates, which borders Saudi Arabia, hotels offer special overnight packages for lovers and stores fill with cards and red roses, jewelry and other gifts. 
February 15
Image of the Day
Its interesting how western culture can try to take valentine's day and halloween around the world to be  celebrated, yet we opposed traditions of other cultures heavily.  We eat chickens and think that's acceptable, yet another culture eats dogs and are labeled animal cruelty.
Aren't chickens and cows animals??
Malaysia - A man uses a blow torch in order to tenderize the meat of a dead dog at a dog slaughterhouse in Inchon, west of Seoul. Last month, a South Korean nutritionist who boasts scores of dog recipes hit back, saying that animal lovers should concentrate on fighting to save species nearing extinction rather than attacking his country's dogmeat-eating tradition.
February 16
Image of the Day
Had a nice relaxing evening of Bingo
Phone Firm Adds Insult to Bill, Apologizes
WELLINGTON - New Zealand's largest phone company Telecom Corp. of NZ on Wednesday apologized and offered compensation to a customer after charging him a "penalty for being an arrogant bastard".   Telecom has ordered an investigation into how Auckland businessman James Storrie received the $140 charge shown on his monthly mobile phone bill.  "How can they speak to their clients like this? It's downright rude," Storrie told the New Zealand Herald newspaper, which carried his photograph holding the objectionable bill.  Telecom spokesman Martin Freeth said the company was appalled and embarrassed by the rude statement and had made an offer of compensation.  "We've apologized and taking steps to stop anything like this...it's an aberration," Freeth told Reuters. 
February 17
Image of the Day
It's interesting to see how Big Brother is gaining more and more power under the notions of protecting security, while at the same tame they are erroding many securities.  Now all we need is a national ID card for retailers to completely track all your financial transactions.  Erin and I planted some flowers in my front garden section, and covered the dirt in my front yard with wildflowers seeds.  Now we have to wait 6 weeks to see if anything comes from that expensive bag of seeds.
Washington Plans Unprecedented Camera Network 
NEW YORK  - Washington police are building what will be the nation's biggest network of surveillance cameras to monitor shopping areas, streets, monuments and other public places in the U.S. capital, a move that worries civil liberties groups, The Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday.  The system would eventually include hundreds of cameras, linking existing devices in Metro mass transit stations, public schools and traffic intersections to new digital cameras mounted to watch over neighborhoods and shopping districts, the Journal said.   "In the context of Sept. 11, we have no choice but to accept greater use of this technology," Stephen Gaffigan, the head of the police department project, told the Journal.  He said city officials had studied the British surveillance system, which has more than 2 million cameras
throughout the country, and were "intrigued by that model." 
      One of the first uses of police surveillance cameras in Washington was April 2000, when authorities set up a network to monitor protests during a meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the newspaper said.  On Tuesday morning, in response to the latest terror alert issued by the Justice Department , police activated a $7 million command center that was first used on Sept. 11. The command center, which has dozens of video stations for monitoring cameras, will remain in use until federal officials end the alert, the Journal reported. 

Cameras installed by the police have been programmed to scan public areas automatically, and officers can take over manual control if they want to examine something more closely.  The system currently does not permit an automated match between a face in the crowd and a computerized photo of a suspect, the Journal said. Gaffigan said officials were looking at the technology but had not decided whether to use it. 

      Eventually, images will be viewable on computers already installed in most of the city's 1,000 squad cars, the Journal said. The Journal said the plans for Washington went far beyond what was in use in other U.S. cities, a development that worries civil liberties advocates.  Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, noted there were few legal restrictions of video surveillance of public streets. But he said that by setting up a "central point of surveillance," it becomes likely that "the cameras will be more frequently used and more frequently abused."  "You are building in a surveillance infrastructure, and how it's used now is not likely how it's going to be used two years from now or five years from now," he told the Journal. 
February 18
Image of the Day
Texas Scientists Clone Domestic Cat
      A domestic cat was cloned late last year in a Texas A&M University
research program called CopyCat, which marked the first time a pet has been cloned, the Wall Street  Journal reported.  Texas A&M does not plan to make an official announcement until the cat is found to be healthy and confirmed to be genetically identical to the original, the Journal reported, citing researchers.   Scientists around the world have already cloned mice and various livestock, but the Texas cat would be
the first cloned companion animal. 
      Cloning research at the university has been funded with more than $3.5 million in investments from John Sperling, an 81-year-old financier who formed Genetic Savings & Clone Inc., based in College Station, Texas, to support the effort, the Journal said.  In exchange for financing the Texas A&M project, the company has an option to exclusively license any pet-cloning technology developed by the school, Sperling told the Journal. 

      Sperling plans to offer the technology first to wealthy individuals seeking to replace beloved pets, but he also envisions using it to replicate socially valuable animals, such as search-and-rescue dogs, he told the Journal.   Pet owners are already paying at least one firm to store cells from their pet cats, dogs and llamas, should cloning in these species become a reality, the Journal reported.  The Humane Society of the United States opposes pet cloning, the Journal said, because of the danger of overpopulation. 
February 19
Image of the Day
R2-D2, the lovable droid from the Star Wars movies, is featured in the Hasbro showroom, at the US International Toy Fair in New York. The 18-inch version is an interactive robot that responds to voice commands, with innovative speech and infrared scanning technology. The robotic fellow even has a cup holder arm (holding a TV remote in the photo). Price is expected to be $99.99 and it is due to be released this fall.
February 20
Image of the Day
A coyote rests on a seat after jumping onto a MAX light-rail train, at Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore. The coyote was lassoed by a wildlife official before the train left the station. The animal was released far away on port property and "ran away and bounded after some field mice," Port of Portland spokeswoman Elisa Dozono said. 
February 21
Image of the Day
Saudi Arabia Man to Get 4,750 Lashes 
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi court has sentenced a man to six years in prison and 4,750 lashes for having sex with his wife's sister, a newspaper reported Sunday.  The woman involved in the case was sentenced to six months in jail and 65 lashes, the paper Al-Eqtisadiah reported, though the court found she had not consented to the relationship. She had also reported the affair to the police.  Having a relationship with one's in-law is considered a serious offense under the strict Islamic judicial code that Saudi Arabia follows.  The court, in the port city of Jiddah, ordered that the lashes be administered to the man at a rate of 95 at a time.  Lashes are often handed out by Saudi courts, although rarely in such large numbers.  The court also ruled he was not eligible for a pardon "because of the ugliness and seriousness of his crime."
February 22
Image of the Day
News commentator Victor Trujillo, in character as Brozo the clown, exclaims as he gives the morning news. Brozo has become one of Mexico´s most popular and influential newscasters with his three-hour morning show which includes merciless political commentary, and plenty of bathroom and sex jokes. In January Brozo moved to Televisa, Mexico´s biggest broadcaster, where his news show includes political guests, analysis of current scandals, a bogus traffic reporter and a news summary delivered in rap, and where he is getting high audience ratings.
February 23
Image of the Day
Today I started the process of having the new renovation area of my house cauched and sealed.
Gumbo Forces N.O. Airport Evacuation 
NEW ORLEANS - Two concourses at the New Orleans international airport were evacuated Because of a suspicious package found in a men's restroom. A bomb squad found containers of gumbo in the box.  About 1,000 travelers flying Continental and Southwest airlines were moved to other concourses and went through security checks a second time, airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said.  the package was found about 4:30 p.m. and the concourses were reopened about five hours later.  Officials said the box was suspicious because it was wrapped with newspaper clippings showing long lines of passengers at the airport.  also, bomb-sniffing dogs "smelled something they were trained to smell," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee. He did not elaborate.  The package's owner had not been determined.
February 24
Image of the Day
Today the cauching of the renovation continued.  10 tubes of cauch later it looks like everything is almost finished.
Thousands of Muslims gather around the holy K'abah during evening prayer in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. About 2 million Muslim pilgrims from all over the world will gather in Mecca to perform the hajj ceremony that started on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and lasts for 5 days. 
February 25
Image of the Day
The cauching of the house was finished today 18 tubes and 21 hours of labor later.  Now I need to look into getting the outside painting process started.  Watched the movie "Return to Oz" tonight, after falling asleep watching it over the weekend.  It's interesting to see how creative some of the writers and set designers were in creating scenes before the use of computer animation.
TERRORIST LEGO SET
This depiction of a concentration camp made from a Lego set, by artist Zbigniew Libera, is among the works in the upcoming exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York, "Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art." The display, is intended by curator Norman Kleeblatt to show new ways that contemporary artists are challenging viewers to think about the Holocaust. The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, which consists of about 70 representatives from Holocaust survivor groups around the country, unanimously passed a resolution calling for The Jewish Museum to cancel the exhibit.
February 26
Image of the Day
My tenant is moving out.  I'm discovering the joys of having to rent out the other side of my duplex.
Zoo Practices Polar Bear Breakout 
TOKYO - Keepers at a Japanese zoo packed with children scrambled Friday to catch an escaped polar bear -- except it was a fellow employee in a bear suit.  The exercise, a semi-annual drill at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, was based on the premise that an earthquake had tumbled the walls of the polar bear enclosure, allowing the giant animals to run wild. Zoo employees dressed in hard hats stretched nets across paths as the bear -- a cartoonish figure with an oversized head and feet -- ambled around, occasionally pretending to savage people as others poked at it with long poles.  It was finally "tranquilized," wrapped in a net and trundled away. Zoo employee Naoki Tabata said real breakouts have occurred, although not recently, and the drills were useful. But Toru Hirose, who played the bear, saw limits to the usefulness of the exercise.   "You don't really have an idea of how animals will behave until it happens," he said as he donned the suit.  Harumi Tokiwa, a kindergarten teacher visiting the zoo with her pupils, said an escaped polar bear would be scary.  "I guess if that happened, we'd probably just be eaten."  Six-year-old Miyo Fujioka was undaunted. "I'd get my brother who's learning karate to go and beat it up," she said.
February 27
Image of the Day
It looks like the brain-washing of youth is still going on in some Islamic Fundamental circles.

Four-year-old Palestinian boy Hussein Jarboo holds an AK-47 assault rifle during an anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rally organized by the Palestinian Public Resistance in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.  The headband says "Friends of Martyrs."

February 28
Image of the Day
A customer riding a snowmobile is served at the McDrive restaurant in Pitea, 130 kilometeres south of the Artic Circle in northern Sweden. The first McDonalds drive through for snowmobiles opened on Saturday with a specially-marked track for drivers.