Thoughts Gallery November 2001
November 1
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      Cranes lift white cloth to unveil The Leonardo da Vinci bridge is seen at Aas, 20 kilometers southwest of Oslo. The pedestrian bridge, based on a 500 year old design by Leonardo da Vinci that intended to cross the Golden Horn inlet in Istanbul harbor, is being officially opened. 
       Almost 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci sketched a bridge so ambitious, it would have been the world's longest expanse. Critics said it couldn't be built and a skeptical sultan scrapped the project. 
      Leonardo designed the bridge in 1502 to cross the Golden Horn inlet in Istanbul. With a length of 1,155 feet, it would have been the world's longest bridge at the time, and Sultan Bajazet II didn't believe it could be completed.  Sand convinced the Norwegian Highway Department that it could, which led to their building a modest 220-foot-long, 26-foot-high wooden version of the bridge in Aas Township. 
November 2
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Woman Lay Dead in Apartment for 10 Months
      MARBURG, Germany (Reuters) - A German woman lay dead in her apartment for more than 10 months before her decomposed corpse was found by police, authorities said Wednesday.  ``The apartment was opened only because her rent was in arrears. It was going to be cleared and then the body was noticed,'' a police spokesman in the central German town of Marburg said.
      The corpse of the 40-year-old woman was badly decomposed, police said. They estimated she had died last December.  She had long ago lost touch with her relatives and lived in a large apartment block where her neighbors had not noticed anything was wrong, the spokesman said.  Her death was not being treated as suspicious. She died of natural causes or suicide, police said.
``We have ruled out a homicide,'' a spokesman said.
      Germany regularly has cases where a body is not discovered until weeks, months or even years after the person has died, a phenomenon sociologists say is symptomatic of an industrial and increasingly cold and anonymous society.  In a particularly striking case, a Hamburg man sat dead on his sofa in front of his television for five years before he was found. The country's efficient banking system, with automatic monthly transfers of rents and pensions, makes it possible for financial transactions to continue in a person's name for years after his or her death
November 3
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WASHINGTON - With its use of the 15,000-pound ``daisy cutter'' bomb in Afghanistan, the United States has unleashed one of its most powerful weapons - billed as the world's largest conventional bomb. The BLU-82 combines a watery mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum with air, then ignites the mist for a huge explosion that incinerates everything within up to 600 yards. The shock wave can be felt miles away. The bombs cost about $27,000 each. They are dropped from a C-130 cargo plane flying at least 6,000 feet off the ground, to avoid the bomb's massive shock wave. Each is more than 17 feet long and 5 feet in diameter - about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle but far heavier.
November 4
Image of the Day
How many people do you know willing to spend over $1,500 on a computer with limited functionality?

Sony Corp. is rolling out its latest incarnation of AIBO, a more macho and sci-fi type of creature, in time for the holiday season. Priced at $1,500, this robot is intended to appeal to teen boys and men. When loaded with certain software, it will have a bigger vocabulary and a wider wireless roaming capability than previous AIBOs. It will arrive in Sony stores and other select retailers around  Thanksgiving.

November 5
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I like this Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar.  An excellent example of incorporating non-box designs into mainstream society.  Enough of the square boxes!!  We need to use more steel in our construction of residential and commercial building to allow greater design flexibility.
November 6
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Nothing like the monthly mortgage payment to make you feel poor...
November 7
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I must have missed something in American history. These words, from the military order the commander in chief signed last Tuesday, read like the manifesto of a police state, here comes Big Brother!!

"With respect to any individual subject to this order -- (1) military tribunals shall have exclusive jurisdiction with respect to offenses by the individual; and (2) the individual shall not be privileged to seek any remedy or maintain any proceeding, directly or indirectly, or to have any such remedy or proceeding sought on the individual's behalf, in (i) any court of the United States, or any state thereof, (ii) any court of any foreign nation, or (iii) any international tribunal."

Looks to me like we just lost a sliver of the constitution of the United States and the right to open trial.

November 8
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November 9
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My 3.5 hour drive into Houston was no fun today.  Once again I am reminded as to why I am not living in Houston.   Moving the office computers went over smoothly and I started the unpacking process of some of the office files.  I saw Monsters, Inc. tonight, nothing like a good animation movie to relax to.  I finally got to the cheesecake factory, and ended the evening with some excellent coconut passion fruit cheesecake.
November 10
Image of the Day
My shocks fell off my car on my return trip to Austin.  I filled my car with about 20 boxes of stuff leftover at my parents house from my high school days.  My mom and sisters are claiming my closet as they apparently can't organize themselves enough to fit all their things into their large 5 bedroom 3,824 SF house.  This woman is showing her face in public for the first time in 5 years.  I coudln't imagine having to live completely covered 24X7.
November 11
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I switched out the shocks on my car today.  It took 15 minutes to find the right shocks and another 4 hours to find the right bolt pin to hold the shocks onto the vehicle. Everything worked out in the end and my car is running smoothly again.
November 12
Image of the Day
Well I made a round-trip from Austin to Houston to Austin today.  Finished installing the computers at our new office location and got them all configured correctly.  Now if only southwestern bell was so organized.  We transferred our phone lines last week and are still waiting for a dial tone at the new offices. Here's my sexy latin lover.... Just kidding this is my girlfriend Erin.  We managed to get away with no bee stings, as they were swarming around the bar area outside.
November 13
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I saw the movie Shallow Hal this evening.  It's overall a good movie with a well developed plot with a moral.  It's rare to see Hollywood put so much effort into a decent moral story line and actually distribute it to the theaters.  I am still waiting on the windows for my house.  It seems that the windows I ordered were damaged in shipping on their way from Tennessee.  So I will have to wait another 2 weeks until I get windows.  Maybe the war in Afghanistan will end before the beginning of the new year....
November 14
Image of the Day
       Honda Motor's human robot 'Asimo' descends a stairway during a demonstration at Honda headquarters in Tokyo. Honda has refined its human robot ``Asimo'' to gracefully walk down stairs, respond to human commands and even work like a receptionist -- but without the smile.  The two-legged, four-foot white and silver Asimo, whose Japanese name roughly translates as ``legs, even,'' was on display on Monday, showing off its new skills.  Unlike Sony Corp's virtual pet dog Aibo, and Omron Corp's robo-cat Necor, Asimo does more than please the gadget loving nation by wagging a tail or purring.  Asked to turn around at a press briefing, Asimo responded in a neutral, if somewhat monotone, voice: ``What do you want?'' while raising a hand and moving some fingers.
      The 114.6-pound product of 15 years of development by Japan's third largest carmaker, first unveiled a year ago, can now be initialized, or booted, within four minutes -- a big leap from a previous 40-minute start-up.  It has also found some new work.  Honda Motor Corp, which has been renting out the robot for use at theme park events nationwide since April this year, on Monday said it chosen three clients out of 40 offers for long-term contracts.  Among them is IBM Japan, which hired Asimo as a receptionist for an annual contract of 20 million yen ($166,200).
        Although Asimo is not yet available for purchase, many amusement companies have lined up to pay the two million yen per day rental fee to use the humanoid for on-stage chats and tour guides, Honda said.  ``In terms of costs and attraction, Asimo would rank among the celebrities called on to host events,'' said Toshiji Asai, manager of Asimo's business office.  But unlike many TV talents who are at the mercy of fickle audiences, Honda hopes to keep modifying Asimo so it remains a novelty. We hope to have Asimo on sale once it is more user-friendly, when it will be able to fetch things you ask for.
November 15
Image of the Day
A restored erotic fresco is seen in the newly restored public bath in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Starting in December, visitors to Pompei will get an
eyeful as a series of erotic frescos that were buried there 2,000 years are opened to the public. The display of titillating paintings and the restored public bath dubbed the Pleasure Spa where they are found were officially inaugurated on Wednesday at Pompeii, one of the world's most-visited tourist sites.
November 16-19
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U.S. Policy Towards Taliban Influenced by Oil
By Julio Godoy, Inter Press Service
PARIS - Under the influence of U.S. oil companies, the government of George W. Bush initially blocked U.S. secret service investigations on terrorism, while it bargained with the Taliban the
delivery of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid, two French intelligence analysts claim.
      In the book ''Bin Laden, la verite interdite'' (''Bin Laden, the forbidden truth''), that appeared in Paris on Wednesday, the authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, reveal that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's deputy director John O'Neill resigned in July in protest over the obstruction.  Brisard claim O'Neill told them that ''the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it''.
      The two claim the U.S. government's main objective in Afghanistan was to consolidate the position of the Taliban regime to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia.  They affirm that until August, the U.S. government saw the Taliban regime ''as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia'', from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean.
      Until now, says the book, ''the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that''.  But, confronted with Taliban's refusal to accept U.S. conditions, ''this rationale of energy security changed into a military one'', the authors claim.  ''At one moment during the negotiations, the U.S. representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs','' Brisard said in an interview in Paris.
      According to the book, the government of Bush began to negotiate with the Taliban immediately after coming into power in February. U.S. and Taliban diplomatic representatives met several times in Washington, Berlin and Islamabad.  To polish their image in the United States, the Taliban even employed a U.S. expert on public relations, Laila Helms. The authors claim that Helms is also an expert in the works of U.S. secret services, for her uncle, Richard Helms, is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The last meeting between U.S. and Taliban representatives took place in August, five weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington, the analysts maintain.
      On that occasion, Christina Rocca, in charge of Central Asian affairs for the U.S. government, met the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan in Islamabad.  Brisard and Dasquie have long experience in intelligence analysis. Brisard was until the late 1990s director of economic analysis and strategy for Vivendi, a French company. He also worked for French secret services, and wrote for them in 1997 a report on the now famous Al Qaeda network, headed by bin Laden.
      Dasquie is an investigative journalist and publisher of Intelligence Online, a respected newsletter on diplomacy, economic analysis and strategy, available through the Internet.  Brisard and Dasquie draw a portrait of closest aides to President Bush, linking them to
oil business.
        Bush's family has a strong oil background. So are some of his top aides. From the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, through the director of the National Security Council Condoleeza Rice, to the Ministers of Commerce and Energy, Donald Evans and Stanley Abraham, all have for long worked for U.S. oil companies.
Cheney was until the end of last year president of Halliburton, a company that provides services for oil industry; Rice was between 1991 and 2000 manager for Chevron; Evans and Abraham worked for Tom Brown, another oil giant.
      Besides the secret negotiations held between Washington and Kabul and the importance of the oil industry, the book takes issue with the role played by Saudi Arabia in fostering Islamic fundamentalism, in the personality of bin Laden, and with the networks that the Saudi dissident built to finance his activities.
Brisard and Dasquie contend the U.S. government's claim that it had been prosecuting bin Laden since 1998. ''Actually,'' Dasquie says, ''the first state to officially prosecute bin Laden was Libya, on the charges of terrorism.''
      ''Bin Laden wanted settle in Libya in the early 1990s, but was hindered by the government of Muammar Qaddafi,'' Dasquie claims. ''Enraged by Libya's refusal, bin Laden organised attacks inside Libya, including assassination attempts against Qaddafi.''
Dasquie singles out one group, the Islamic Fighting Group (IFG), reputedly the most powerful Libyan dissident organisation, based in London, and directly linked with bin Laden.  ''Qaddafi even demanded Western police institutions, such as Interpol, to pursue the IFG and bin Laden, but never obtained co- operation,'' Dasquie says. ''Until today, members of IFG openly live in London.''
      The book confirms earlier reports that the U.S. government worked closely with the United Nations during the negotiations with the Taliban.  ''Several meetings took place this year, under the arbitration of Francesc Vendrell, personal representative of UN secretary general Kofi Annan (news - web sites), to discuss the situation in Afghanistan,'' says the book.  ''Representatives of the U.S. government and Russia, and the six countries that border with Afghanistan were present at these meetings,'' it says. ''Sometimes, representatives of the Taliban also sat around the table.''  These meetings, also called ''6+2'' because of the number of states (six neighbours plus U.S. and Russia) involved, have been confirmed by Naif Naik, former Pakistani Minister for Foreign Affairs.
      In a French television news programme two weeks ago, Naik said during a ''6+2'' meeting in Berlin in July, the discussions turned around ''the formation of a government of national unity. If the Taliban had accepted this coalition, they would have immediately received international economic aid.''  ''And the pipe lines from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would have come,'' he added.  Naik also claimed that Tom Simons, the U.S. representative at these meetings, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan.  ''Simons said, 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option'. The words Simons used were 'a military operation','' Naik claimed.


November 20
Image of the Day
Here's a interesting new barbie with a tattoo...
In a recent experiment by dollmaker Mattel to test local creativity, 20 design students in Hong Kong were given two days to dress up the venerable doll. 
November 21
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Man Dies When Duck Knocks Him Off Watercraft
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - A Florida man died after a duck hit him in the head, knocking him off a personal watercraft and into a lake, sheriff's officials said on Monday.
       Leon Resnick, 31, was driving the watercraft at a lake in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Deerfield Beach on Thursday, while a friend watched from shore, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.  The friend turned to get a radar gun to check the vessel's speed, then noticed Resnick was missing from the craft. He found him several minutes later in the water, pulled him ashore and attempted to revive him, the sheriff's office said.
       `Investigators from the BSO Marine Unit believe the victim was knocked from the personal watercraft by a duck, which struck Resnick in the face as he sped the watercraft along the lake,'' the news release said.  Resnick was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head and drowning.  The duck's carcass was recovered and turned over to investigators.  Both men worked at a company that sold personalized watercraft. Resnick was traveling about 55 mph when the accident occurred, the sheriff's office said. 
November 22
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A female dog called Linda nurses four piglets after she adopted following the loss of her recently born puppies in Fonfria de Alba, northwestern Spain, 
November 23
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It's good to know that the lower class are still alive, well, breading, and piercing themselves.

Joe Smith, inserts the last five rings into Matt Brown  in Omaha, Neb. Brown, a 21-year-old college student, offered up his body Friday to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for getting the most body piercings in one day breaking the previous record of 102 with 171 new piercings, 10 along his collarbone and the rest in his red and swollen arms.

November 24
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Looks like the fashion and modeling industry are being honest about their desires in some places.  Who cares if someone has an inch of fat on them...  We need to get models with more than just looks, a little personality would go a long way.  We need more Madonna's and less Brittany Spears.

A man measures the skin on the waist of an aspiring
model in Sao Paulo. More than 3,000 women showed up at a modeling agency to be measured in a pre-selection of candidates for a nationwide model contest in Brazil to choose the woman who will be the next face for a department store chain's campaign.

November 25
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I started pulling electrical cables with the help of my tenant Raymond.  It's tiring pulling 100 feet of cable through the walls to connect everything up.  I just hope everything will fit into 4 new circuits.  If only the turkeys were so lucky as the pigs in the story below...
Two Die in Pig Shock Horror
BUDAPEST - The annual pre-Christmas swine slaughter in a southwestern Hungarian village came to a shocking end on Saturday after one man died of electrocution while trying to stun a pig,  whose owner then died of heart attack.
Celebrations at the pig-killing party in Darvaspuszta took a turn for the worse when an unnamed visiting Croatian man shocked himself to death while trying to knock out a pig with a homemade electric pig stunner, national news agency MTI said.  A local man ended up in hospital with an irregular heart rhythm after attempting a rescue by trying to
unplug the device.  The accident so upset the pig's owner, he suffered a heart attack and died.  There was no word on the fate of the pig.
November 26
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It's good to see that we can finally clone ourselves from embryo's.  Now why can't we do something to get rid of the gene for hair loss.  Here's my grandparents and family on their brief stop in Austin on their way back to San Diego.
November 27
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Do you see the heart in the flames? Is this the last few seconds of a suicide bomber in flames. Or is it a peta protest again fur? You decided what you think is burning in the picture...
November 28
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I'm glad I live in a warm state where winters are mild and we don't get snow for 3 months of the year.  We had a first light freeze in austin for this winter season.  I woke up at 2am to discover lightning and snow flurries hitting my house... I'm grateful that I spent the time to renail up the board covering my window openings in the wall.
November 29
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Well the plumbers are working away during the night running my plumbing for the new addition.  The framer installed the one window I received from Lowe's tonight and finished mounting the french doors to their frame so that they latch closed now.  I started my Xmas shopping for the year.  I'm about halfway done after a few hours of shopiping. Now if only shopping for my house was so easy. 
November 30
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``Quiet Beatle'' George Harrison, a contemplative musician who brought a spiritual touch to the world's most famous pop group, has died of cancer at the age of 58.