Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"I Will Skate Through You."

This time we noticed more interplay. Blockers reached back to haul forward their own jammers, human batons making their own way in the relay. Jammers grabbed the hips of their blockers and pulled them into opponents’ paths, boosting themselves in the process. It’s all relative motion, rotating reference frames, celestial mechanics -- Saturn slinging the Cassini; or asteroids in their orbital belt, curving to the left always, colliding and tumbling. It’s our solar system against theirs, and only the heartiest can prevail in these ravages of Space.

Holly Wanna Crack-Ya always heads straight for the densest cluster. As with last time, I couldn’t see what she was doing. She’d go in the back, come out the front, and go back around for more, practically running on the straightaways, pausing with feet spread in fighting stance to round the corners, then running again.

This bout was rougher, with Roxy Rockett in particular (in the green helmet), spreading her arms wide in indignation over uncalled fouls. It seems to be part of the game, though, that the multiple refs monitoring that short track don’t see everything. The lab-coated scorers look like they’re out of B-grade sci-fi, conducting a taste test, noting reactions, tallying results.

Right in front of us, one of the opposing Naptown Tornado Sirens, on her way to the penalty box, crouched like a speed skater and stuck her arm between a ref’s legs as she went by. The ref went down. Surely, in a more mainstream sport, this would have lead to a major penalty. But not here. The ref got up, shrugged it off, and said something I could not make out to the spectators behind her. Maybe she and that player go way back, with a long history of such take-outs.

There was an interesting situation, if I understood it correctly, where a Carolina jammer was sent to the penalty box. The jam was completed without her, meaning Carolina lost points. Then the next jam started with that one jammer still in the penalty box -- Carolina could not field another. This could have lead to a bunch of free points for the Sirens, but the Carolina blockers held the Siren’s jammer back for several laps, and once Carolina’s jammer could leave the penalty box she tore through the pack to the front and became the lead jammer. I wish I knew who exactly this Carolina jammer was that did this.

After the bout, Svetx and I had to go and meet Holly, who jams the most and earns the team the bulk of its 100-point leads. She was out on the floor greeting fans. I told her I was that blogger who wrote about her back in December, and commented that she seems to always go straight into the storm, never around it.

“I will skate through you,” she said, and it sounded like her mantra, maybe even a rallying statement for the whole team. She stepped back and did a little lunge, leading with a shoulder and twisting, to show how she digs her way past opposing blockers. “A jammer really is a blocker,” she said.

But when she’s out there doing it, it hardly seems to disturb the general flow. Yes, in the course of play, skaters go down routinely, tucking in their arms to shield themselves and keep their fingers from being skated-over. But I don’t think I see this happening as a result of Holly’s work. She’s gets her points, and that’s all she needs.

She signed my program. Svetx said she had noticed the teamwork this time, the blockers’ positioning, the reaching out to pull a teammate along.

“We know each other really well,” Holly said.

Saturn photo from NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The First Actual Sales of Algae for Fuel

. . . that I know of. This is big, y'all. I need to do a bigger post rounding up recent algae insights and developments, but I just wanted to get this up in a hurry 'cause it's so exciting!

Cyanotech and Mera Pharmaceuticals are two companies in Hawaii that make nutritional supplements from algae. I have read that the cosmetic and food supplement markets are a lot more lucrative than the fuel market, and there is nothing new about growing algae for these non-fuel purposes. But these companies are now generating as much revenue by sales of raw algae to biodiesel refineries as they are from their own products. Part of these sales were the 600 gallons of algae oil grown by Cyanotech and sold to Sapphire Energy of Seattle which made the first algae-derived jet fuel used in a commercial airplane, in a test flight by Continental Airlines recently.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

"There have been no attacks on our nation since 9/11"

Lots of folks are using this statement as basis for saying that history will judge Bush more favorably than we may think.

For the sake of argument, let's suppose this is sound logic -- that since there were no further attacks on American soil after 9/11, history will judge Bush favorably.

But the thing is, there was 9/11 itself. That happened on the Bush watch. It ranks with Pearl Harbor as one of the most devastating attacks by a foreign enemy on American soil. So if it is so great for the Bush legacy that there were no attacks since 9/11, then isn't it a terrible blight on the Bush presidency that there was 9/11 itself? After all, most American presidencies saw no foreign attacks on American soil. By the logic of the original quoted statement, all these other presidents will be judged more favorably than Bush. So, once again, Bush comes in at or near the bottom.

Saying that no further attacks after 9/11 on American soil is a sign of quality in Bush is like saying that God is with you if a tornado strikes your town but leaves a few buildings unscathed. It's just rhetoric.

Here's a secret message from one Republican to all others: stop treating me like I'm stupid. I can tell a lousy argument when I see one. Get your act together and lay some policy groundwork that makes sense. Then I might bring my vote back to you. Maybe. But I'm pretty pissed off right now.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

What if Israel Had Used Petraeus’ Strategy in Gaza?

This might be impossible now. But as long as I’m just another anonymous blogger to whom nobody pays attention, I’ll go ahead and wonder.

Suppose we could roll back time to when some ceasefire was implemented, like maybe the 2008 ceasefire. At such a time, both sides may have felt more inclined to talk and work out disagreements than now.

Israel would have had to insure that no more rockets would be launched at them by militant elements of Palestinian society. What if they had addressed this threat as Petraeus did in Iraq?

In this plan, Israel would have sent in troops with an aim toward rebuilding Palestinian society. They would have had to fund building projects, but surely that would not have been as expensive as war, and probably many portions of the world would have been glad to help. They would have had to reach out to the Palestinian leaders more inclined to talk, and build their trust. Through them, perhaps they could have built more communication channels to other leaders who had initially been less willing to talk. And through these connections, perhaps they could have worked to ferret out the “rogue elements” intent on firing missiles. Surely there would be fights as well, but with the right combination of “hard and soft power,” as is said of Petraeus’ strategy, over many years a better state of being might have been achieved.

My problem with Petraeus strategy in Iraq is that who knows what will happen when the U.S. army leaves. A stable democracy will only be left behind if the mindset of the Iraqi people supports it, and we have yet to see if this will be the case.

But Israelis and Palestinians live right next to each other, so this strategy would have been worth Israel’s investment. They would not be deploying their soldiers halfway around the world where, ultimately, they would have little sway.

You might say the hard-liners would not like handling Palestine this way. But hard-liners in the U.S. applaud Petraeus’ strategy in Iraq and blame Rumsfeld and company, their own hard-line representatives in government, for screwing things up initially.

Aww, never mind. In any case, such constructive relationships will be harder than ever to build now. I do seriously wonder if this attack on Gaza is meant to foul any plans Obama may have for reconciliations. For example, if things in Iraq deteriorate as a backlash from this Gaza war, it might be harder to remove our troops. So far though, I'm not aware of this happening and that is good.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review of No Country for Old Men

Huh? There are tons of movies about that subject that are way better. Good style though -- like Brian Eno producing U2.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gosh Darn those Anonymous Bloggers!

Note to videographers: watch out for “crossing the line.” It is disconcerting that the over-the-shoulder shot from behind the interviewer is from one side of the line between him and Palin, and the closeup is from the other side of this line.

Note to editors: it doesn’t help to keep showing essentially the same soundbyte over and over — whether within in the same video clip, or from the same person who’s been rambling on like this for months.

If you’re not careful, this documentary will be as successful as a future Palin bid for office; or as successful as FahrenHype 9/11, that conservative response to Michael Moore.

But good luck with the project, and I do hope Palin runs for president in 2012.

Thanks to The Mudflats for keeping us updated on this and all other Palin developments.

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