Here, boy. Here boy!

The Beagle has more than likely been lost.

American casualties after the end of the war with Iraq have reached 475.

Forty thousand people died in Iran because of earthquakes.

Recent terror warnings are undermining Bush’s claims that he is winning the war on terrorism. Al Qaeda’s own political aim has been proclaimed by Osama bin Laden: to expel American military forces, bases and business corporations from Arab or Islamic soil, along with “corrupt” Western cultural influences. Furthermore, to adapt a second of Clausewitz’s dicta about conventional war, terrorism is an act of violence intended to impose the terrorists’ political will on their enemy.

The question for us today is this: which side is at present imposing its will on the enemy – the US or Al Qaeda? Which side enjoys the initiative? Objective strategic analysis can return only one answer: it is Al Qaeda.

Christmas 2003

Well, we survived Christmas. I got Suzanne a George Foreman grilling machine, because she has been bugging me for ages about it. Suzanne got me a cool watch, because I lost my last one. Suzanne also got me a Star Wars poster, the Episode 2 teaser one which is really cool. A Christmas without Star Wars is a Christmas without joy.

Ashton got the toy baby we bought her a few months ago. I don’t think she is really into it quite yet, though.

Why is Christmas a pain?

So, it’s almost Christmas. Soon it will be. Christmas can be complicated sometimes, especially since there is more than one family involved for me now. Finding ways to accomodate two families on Christmas day is a pain. I’d much rather just have Christmas in my own home with my own family, or just do our own thing. I don’t like being around people who’re drinking.

This will be Ashtons second Christmas, or at least the first Christmas where she might know what is going on: presents and new toys. Still a little while before she understands about Jesus Christ, but it will be fun teaching her.

New Star Wars focus

I’ve been refining my Star Wars collection for the last few months. I’ve been buying every edition of Anakin Sywalker, Darth Vader and Padme Amidala that I can get my hands on. The best one I found was a reproduction POTF Anakin Skywalker with collector coin which I picked up for 35 GBP. The real deal will set you back at least $2000US, but this is a really good reproduction and I am very happy. It will look good in a display. So far I have almost 40 figures of these three characters on card, with about 30 in Star Cases.

My other collection revolves around patches. I collect almost all patches to do with the International Space Station. The best ones I have are the Russian Soyuz crew launches including the Tito, Shuttleworth and Haignere flights. Since the Shuttles have been grounded, the patches have been fewer and further between but it has given me a good chance to catch up on the ones I don’t have.

I’ve been funding all this by selling all my vintage Star Wars toys and my trading card collection on ebay, from which I’ve made about $3000 so far.

NBL 25th Anniversary team

The NBL announced the 25th Anniversary team, the greatest players of the last 25 years of competition. They are Andrew Gaze (287), Leroy Loggins (255), Mark Bradtke (179), James Crawford (127), Phil Smyth (102), Ricky Grace (99), Scott Fisher (93), Mark Davis (69), Larry Sengstock (65) and Robert Rose (64). Brian Goorjian is the coach.

My own 25th Anniversary team would be:

Andrew Gaze, Leroy Loggins, Mark Bradtke, Scott Fisher, Mark Davis, Lanard Copeland, Derek Rucker, Robert Rose, Al Green, James Crawford, Michael Johnson. The coach would be Brian Kerle.

New Moonshots

So, according to this story the Yanks are heading back to the moon as a dress rehearsal for a manned Mars mission. This one, and this one also. But then this article seems to oppose these stories.

The Chinese have announced they want to land on the moon by 2020.

Meanwhile, the ESAs Mars Express is only a few weeks out from Mars and has returned this nice postcard.

Mars Express approaching Mars