Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Crossing America

Patrick Nielsen Hayden comments in his blog about a recent road trip across, at least, the northern and eastern part of the US (moving further to the west than I would consider "Eastern" since he mentions Wisconsin). Reading that post and the comments that follow it reminded me of something I saw on the internet a while ago. A quick Google revealed this movie of a trip across America, from New York to San Francisco. The photographer took one analog picture every mile and assembled them into a movie that I still find quite impressive. It expresses the scope and size of the US in a way that I haven't seen many other places.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The FIA Does Good

Having admitted that the results of last week's race was screwed up, the FIA are going to do right by Giancarlo Fisichella and have a small ceremony for him on the track at Imola tomorrow, where he and Kimi Raikonnen will apparently swap trophies, and Fernando Alonzo will get a chance (as far as I can tell) to have a moment in the sun, since he was unable to reach the podium at the end of the Brazillian Grand Prix. I still find it amazing (and admirable) that a sport's governning body will not only admit to an error, but will take steps to correct the problem. Far too often it seems that even fixable errors in sport are left alone on the grounds that correcting them will undermine th authority of the ruling organization. Of course it is more often the case that a decision made in the heat of the moment is not one that can be undone, but still it wouldn't kill some of these sports organizations to admit an error was made and look into possible corrections, rather than sweep it under the rug.

On a related note, I will be traveling this Sunday and will miss a race for the first time in several years. Thank goodness for TiVo, which has promised to save it for me so that I can watch it "plausibly live" when I get home. I don't have to rely anybody else to tape it for me or anything, which is seriously cool.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Happy Birthday

Today is also my younger son's first birthday. Looking back, it has been quite an eventful year. In fact if anyone had told me a year ago where I'd be today I wouldn't ahve believed them. (I mean "Pittsburgh?, yeah, right!").

Anyway, Happy Birthday Vincent!

A Few Followups

Just a couple of quick followups to some items below.

( 1 ) The latest smoking gun in the search for Iraqi WMD's has again turned out to be illusory. It turns out that the major nuclear facility located by the Marines near Baghdad yesterday, and breathlessly reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and on Fox News was already known to the IAEA. In fact, it turns out that the Marines broke IAEA seals on the shipping containers they found in order to locate the low-grade radioactive materials inside. So the world continues to wait for evidence that any of the justifications for the attack were there.

( 2 ) The FIA has overruled the race stewards in Brazil after examining the timing and scoring data. They determined that Fisichella had started lap 56 prior to the red flag coming out, so the correct finishing order should have been the order at the end of lap 54 instead of lap 53. That puts Fisi in front and Raikonnen second. It also moves Mark Webber (who had the initial accident that started everything) back to ninth and out of the points.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

FIA Relents
In an astonishing development, the FIA has admitted that its (wait, I've been here before)

Let me try again. The FIA is apparently reviewing the actions of the stewards at the Brazilian Grand Prix, with an eye toward overturning the posted results. Foul weather conditions combined with the new regulations to lead to a race with an astonishing number of competitive passes (47 by one count that I saw). A late red flag stopped the race after a couple of cars spread themselves down the front straight, and led to an ambiguity as to who won the race. Three drivers were in contention after the race was finished -- Fisichella who had crossed the line first on the last competitive lap, Raikonnen who had (perhaps) crossed the line first on the penultimate competitive lap, and Coulthard who had also (perhaps) crossed the line first on the penultimate competitive lap -- depending on which end of the pit straight his pit was.

The stewards awarded the race to Raikonnen, with Fisichella second, and Alonso third (although he was in an ambulance so his spot on the podium was empty). Coulthard was fourth, since he had pitted and the others hadn't, so he lost time there.

Now the FIA is apparently going to look at the process of the end of the race, particularly whether or not Fisichella had started a new lap when the red flag flew, meaning that he would have been leading both the ultimate and the penultimate lap and would get the win, demoting Raikonnen to second. Coulthard would probably still be out of luck having picked a bad time to pit.

Still if the autocratic (so to speak) bodies that govern racing are showing this new willingness to reexamine their decisions, can the NFL be far behind? Of course, this week NASCAR isn't backing down on a questionable call at Talladega that put a favorite driver in the winner's circle, so perhaps all is back to normal. (I didn't see the race since this weekend was one of the rare occasions when F1 was in a similar time zone, and that race was actually on at a decent time on Sunday afternoon. I'll miss next week's NASCAR race too since it will be up against the CART GP of Long Beach.)

The Fog of War
So Baghdad has fallen. This isn't surprising, although the rate of collapse certainly seemed to increase rapidly during the last few days. Still, I haven't yet figured out whether or not any WMD's have been found. I have heard perhaps 5 or 6 reports, ranging from warehouses of chemical suits, to 55 gallon drums of nerve gas, to twenty chemical tipped intermediate range rockets. I don't think any of these reports have survived 24 hours, let alone the 48 that I would need to see before I really trust them. Additionally, I have heard no reports of biological or nuclear agents.
Now it's all very well to go out and beat up a lesser force. But without the WMD's (of which we were reputed to have strong, but secret, evidence) any justification that Iraq posed a threat to the US seems to go out the window. In fact the speed of collapse of the Iraqi army suggests that they probably weren't a threat beyond their borders, or even to the Kurdish regions within their borders.
I recall a Doonesbury from the 80's describing the need to give president's a little war that they can win just to get it out of their system. On the other hand, I don't know if the economy can survive two years of Bush not ignoring it in favor of foreign adventurism.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

NASCAR Relents
In an astonishing development, NASCAR has admitted that its mid-race reinterpretation of the rules in Texas last week may have been wrong. Mike Helton, NASCAR's president had this to say:
"The biggest reason I'm here today is to tell you that after the fact, if we had to do that call over again, we would do it different," Helton said. "In other words, we made a mistake Sunday making a call in a scenario of something we had never seen before when someone took the lead of the race and then gave it back."
That crackling sound you hear under your feet is hell freezing over.
Actually, this is an amazing step forward. The call itself was very odd, and even the cheerleaders in the Fox broadcast booth couldn't adequately defend it. So congratulations to Helton for having the courage to stand up and admit mistakes were made.

The Price of Freedom
I was rocking the baby to sleep last night, all the while chatting to the dog, when the truth was suddenly revealed to me. Dirac is, of course, an anglicization of D'Iraq, French for "of Iraq", or Iraqi. The dog is saddled with a name both French and Iraqi, a weight that must be too much to bear. Unfortunately he's not very bright, so I don't think that he'll be able to adjust to a name change. He also shows a certain fondness for strongly dictatorial organizations. So in the name of patriotism, I think I'll have to have him put down. Or maybe that would be overreacting?