Things that happen.

Date Event
2008-08-25 So who won in the Olympic Games?  Let's classify by "block" instead of country, and divide by the population, so we get medals-per-inhabitant:
"block" population total number
of medals
medals per million
of population
European Union 494'070'000 280 0.566721315
Russia 143'201'600 72 0.502787678
United States 301'140'000 110 0.365278608
People's Republic of China 1'323'324'000 100 0.075567284

Why is the US so bad?  Too many obese people?  Why are we so good?  Internal competition?

2007-12-00 French government decides that tenants will no longer have to pay the guarantee for their appartment in one block.  They can do it in small monthly installments.  This, the government says, will increase buying power of the French.  In actual fact it is robbery:  first, many people will now spend that money, which was some kind of saving, and second, a new intermediate organism will guarantee the guarantee to the landlord which means some payment will have to go to yet another intermediary.  Once the guarantee money has been spent it will not come back and buying power will be as before.  The sum of all the existing guarantees, which was in the ownership of the tenants, will then be in the pockets of who?  And the owners will have to raise the rents by some fraction to pay for the services of the intermediary.  If the intermediary is "free" its cost will come from taxes, paid again mostly by the tenants.
2007-05-00 Nicolas Sarkozy elected president in France.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
2007-02-05 Hyundai boss gets jail sentence.  The BBC reported:  "'The court decided a strict execution of law is necessary to eradicate illegal and anti-market practices in the past and help South Korea build a more advanced economy,' Kim Dong-oh, presiding judge at the Seoul court, said."
Great:  I thought justice was about the law, not about economics.
2006-03-29 Total solar eclips over Africa.  Should I laugh or weep or just ignore it? The BBC website reported:  "As the spectacle passed overhead, witnesses prayed, cheered and clapped."  So much education to be done.
2006-03-20 Sharia law apparently condemns people who want to leave Islam as a confession (apostates).  The recent case of Abdul Rahman is instructive.  Note that this same death sentence exists for people who leave Judaism and Christianity:  suffice it to read Deuteronomy 13:9.  Sad to realise that we had to fight hard for 500 years to get rid of this grip of religion on private life, and it still gets political respect from some world leaders.
2006-03-04 Tony Blair declares that he was guided by his belief in God in his decision to go to war in Iraq.  I was glad to see that no-one found this a good way of making decisions.  A moral code needs to exist and be followed, true.  And I hope that logical reasoning plus some knowledge of science will guide the decisions.  God, I believe, should be kept out of it.  The reactions of the public showed to me that H.A.L. Fisher was right: European culture inherited from the Celts and is essentially opposed to monotheism.  It is fundamentally democratic and "socialist", just as opposed to a single deity as to a single strong leader.
,2005-12-22 "Japan sounds alarm on declining birthrate".  I should hope the birth rate declines.  We all know it can't go on, so any country should take measures NOW to cope with the change to fewer peopl..  They should not ignore the problem by instead calling for more children in the illusion that then they don't need to worry about this transition to downward trends.
2005-11-25 Strike in Italy: Mr Berlusconi was dismissive, saying "it's absolutely useless, a tired old ritual that will have no impact whatsoever".
Oh yeah? And what then is the alternative to show discontent?  Blowing up things? Voting you out of office then.
2005-11-13 I quote from MSN news:
"Pope Benedict XVI says " … These people, ‘fooled by atheism,’ believe and try to demonstrate that it’s scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order" … criticizing those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order."

Well, this once again shows how little people understand of how science works.  It's not scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order.  What is scientific is the collection of hard facts and making a theory to explain all the facts.  If that theory does not need to assume direction or order to explain what we witness around us, then that's how it is.  And nothing is ever done "in the name of science", though many wars have been fought and atrocities committed in the name of God and religion, and this still goes on today.

Science is not another religion.  There are no dogmas in science.  Science has no central set of ideas that are unmovable or cannot be allowed to be changed.

Science works by constructing theories that explain facts and that can be tested against reality.  If tomorrow we find evidence of direction and order, theories will have to be changed to cover that.  But history shows exactly the inverse:  as more and more facts are collected and then explained by ever wider theory, there seems to be less and less "direction".  The universe is beautifully symmetric and devoid of any testable "sense".  As we continue to understand more of it, the universe appears ever more as totally neutral.

Religious people are afraid of that.  Fear usually disappears with understanding, though understanding requires an inquisitive and open mind.

2005-11-11 Bush said it was "deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how the war began".  WOW! He must have studied George Orwell's 1984 more than the bible.  Someone else actually quoted Orwell: "we will prevail."
2005-11-07 I don't live in France!  I heard on the radio station "France Info" this morning:  "après 11 jours de violence en France, les emeutes se répandent dans la province" (after 11 days of rioting in France, the unrest now spreads to the province).  Classically in France the term "la province" signifies "not Paris".  The reporter therefore equated France with Paris, considering the "province" some alien country.  Since I don't live in Paris I must also not be living in France.
2005-11-06 The WHO warns that it is only a matter of time until the bird flu virus mutates to a human infectious strain.  But if creationists do not believe in evolution, should they then not steadfast believe that human bird flu virus is not possible, forsake bird flu protection and donate their ration of anti-virus to others?
2005-10-18 What are "the people" going to eat?  Beef needs more oil to produce than its weight, and there won't be any oil left;  cod used to be cheap fish, but it's overfished and there's none left of that either;  ah, but there is chicken, if you keep it indoors.  And the Japanese have started eating whale again.
2005-10-17 Chinese in space:  less than 2 parts per billion.
Hurricane Katrina:  Maybe Bush reacted late because he does not have a broadband connection to the Internet?
2005-07-06 London wins bid for 2012 Olympics:  French not happy.  But, hey, Europe put in FOUR cities:  Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow.  Obviously we got it!  Would we have seen San Francisco, St Louis and New York all bidding against each other?
2005-07-04 Bush refuses Kyoto:  use alternative technologies instead.  Perhaps, and who will squeeze every cent out of patents on those?  Europe, wake up!

G8: why does Bush not talk to Europe?  Divide et Impera.  Refuse to talk to the EU, ("our friends") but play the leaders of individual countries against each other instead.  Europe, learn from your history…

2004-05-05 "President Bush spoke on Arabic radio stations to give his views on the prisoner abuse cases".

Sorry: he spoke on two stations that broadcast in the Arabic language, one of which is an USA-sponsored station.

2004-01-27 The president of China is on a state visit to France.
Radio France-Info: president Chirac stresses that the respect of human rights is a necessity for the development of modern societies.
Radio BBC: president Chirac considers it a mistake by TaiPei to strengthen its defence.
2004-01-25 heard on BBC today in the space of less than 5 minutes:
1) Colin Powell declares the question of WMDs in Iraq now open (to the merit of CNN, it is on their web pages).
2) the British government will send assistants to Mecca for helping British muslims who go there for the annual pilgrimage.  (Does the State assist pilgrimages of other religions too?)
3) the archbishop of Canterbury urges companies to have members of the clergy on their boards to advise with ethical questions, saying this might avoid such incidents as the ENRON troubles.  (No, please, leave God in the church(es)…)
4) At the Davos Economic Forum Bill Gates says he might rid the Internet of spam mail within 2 years.  (I guess it means all ISPs will have to drop Unix and run Windows instead?)
2004-10-20 Brilliant "newspeak" from GW Bush in his State of the Union Address:
"There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people."
(From about 200 nations, 4 is not "many" especially since many more than 4 objected.  Worse is that this utterance equates "defence" with what really happened: "offence".  Until now this type of semantics was to be read in Orwell's "1984".  I am an interventionist: sometimes the world needs to intervene in the name of civilisation, but this MUST be done through a neutral body such as the UN!  No unilateralism.
2003-10-14 American G.I.s in Iraq have read Julius Caesar and have a sense of humour: in battle dress, one of them said on TV: "We came, we fought, and now we're ready to go home."
2003-07-28 Just heard this on BBC news: "The lesson from September 11 is that the US cannot wait for proof.", said by <who?> of the US department of Defense as a comment on criticism against the war in Iraq.  Isn't one supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
2003-07-21 Lord Hutton appointed chair of the independent investigation committee for the David Kelly affair..  Tony Blair, asked how he will interact with the judge: "I will do what the judge in charge of the inquiry asks me to do".  Somewhat later, asked whether the judge can widen the scope of the inquiry:.  "I think it's important that he does what we asked him to do, not more."

Mr. Blair, why don't you tell the truth? You claim to believe in God.

2003-07-20 Read in Scientific American: the population of Texas (21M) emits more CO2 than France (61M)
2003-07-18 Dr. David Kelly, expert in weapons of mass destruction, is found dead in a wood near his home in Great Britain.
2003-07-17 Colin Powell wants help from the UN for peacekeeping in Iraq.  Excuse me?
2003-07-17 MacDonald's to give vouchers to British schools for distribution of their food, with as argument it will attract children to stay in school.  Wow.
2003-07-16 Drought in Switzerland so severe that farmers are allowed to let cows graze on land that is normally ecologically protected.  Conclusion:  the environment will not survive, since we allow its destruction at the slightest threat to human economies, and they usually come when times are bad for everyone.
2003-07-14 Microsoft loses the court case with AOL over Netscape.  Microsoft pays 750MUSD to AOL in compensation, BUT AOL agrees to adopt Explorer and fires the Netscape developers…  Netscape is dead.
2003-05-13 US lets value of dollar slip (hah!), and is also said to lose Iraq in anarchy.  Some in the US finally begin to react against spam e-mail.  And headlines that may make you smile wryly: "Powell finds Arabs still critical of Israel".
2003-05-09 Microsoft attempts to hijack DVD formats by making films on DVDs that will only play on Windows XP using Windows Media Player 9.
2003-04-23 The World Health Organization states sugar should be at most 10% of energy intake, this is contested by the US based Sugar Association that advocates 25% and blames obesity on lack of exercise, not sugar.  But see my diet.
2003-04-20 The Bush administration wants to ship Bibles to Iraq? Did I hear that right?
2003-04-09 Sad day:  first time I received religious spam e-mail.
2003-03-02 France introduces a law against spam! (finally a government reacts).
2003-01-13 OPEC countries agree to compensate for the lack of Venezuelean oil ouput; total production is 24.5Mbarrels/day.  That is 24.5x159x106 liters or 3.9G liters/day, which is 0.65 liters per capita of the planet per day. It is also a cube with sides of 157m. Seemingly not that much… Would take only 256 days to fill a cubic kilometer. See picture.
EDF operates a record 78GW of electric power for France.

If we assume 8 hours of good sunshine per day (in the Saharan desert, say) and solar cells of 25% efficiency (never mind how you would store the energy for use at night or other locations) and assume that the sun gives 1kW per square meter at ground level, then we would need 78'000'000x1x(24/8)x(100/25) m2 of solar cells..  That's 936'000'000m2..  You would need an area of at least sqrt(936'000'000) = 30km x 30km to produce this amount of power.  Sounds like not much.  France has 60 million inhabitants.  If the whole 6'000 million of planet lived at French level of electric consumption we would need 300km x 300km just for electricity.  Doable.

2002-04-14 "Elle" magazine launches a magazine for Afghan women.  It contains a horoscope column.  Making money from quack counsel such as horoscopes, mediums, and crystal ball gazing is legally forbidden in France for good reasons.
2002-03-19 Radio announces an iceberg the size of the island of Cyprus broke away from Antarctica.
2002-03-16 TV announces that because of the mild weather many migrating birds stayed in France this winter rather than migrating south.
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next planned revision: 2009-11