Friday, October 30, 2009

This is it!

No, not Michael Jackson, but this is truly it: BFI IMAX 3D-presentation of James Cameron's AVATAR, tickets now on sale:

"Tickets for James Cameron's highly anticipated blockbuster are now on sale. See the most talked about movie of the year in stunning IMAX 3D at BFI IMAX from Wed 16 Dec.

An ex-Marine finds himself thrust into hostilities on the alien planet Pandora, filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar - a human mind in an alien body - he is torn between two worlds in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of its indigenous people, the Na'vi. More than 14 years since the story's inception and four years in the making, Avatar marks James Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars® including Best Picture.

Featuring brand new CGI technologies that will transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that transports you to a world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters. Avatar will break new ground in delivering a fully immersive, emotional story which promises to reinvent the moviegoing experience."

Picture and information from BFI IMAX site here.

Book online at or call 0870 787 2525.

AVATAR Trailer

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When will 'slave-trade' mentality, treating Africans as less than human, desist?

The Guardian newspaper has been gagged:

"The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights."

However, the Spectator's Alex Massie reports:

"This appears to be the question in, er, question:

From, “Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday 13 October 2009″

N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura."

In May 2009, BBC 2 Newsnight's item, "Dirty tricks and toxic waste in Ivory Coast" detailed "the biggest toxic dumping scandal of the 21st century":

"When Newsnight first investigated the toxic dumping scandal in 2007 one of Trafigura's founders Eric de Turckheim told Jeremy Paxman "these materials were not dangerous for human beings. It was smelly, but not dangerous."

Newsnight's new investigation shows this was far from the case. Trafigura continues to deny any wrongdoing."

From here

The Guardian reported in September, "How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster", revealing internal Trafigura correspondence:

"One trader wrote, on 10 March 2006: "I don't know how we dispose of the slops [lethal toxic waste] and I don't imply we would dump them, but for sure, there must be some way to pay someone to take them."

The resulting black, stinking, slurry was eventually dumped around landfills in Abidjan [Ivory Coast], after Trafigura paid an unqualified local man to take it away in tanker trucks at a cheap rate.

Trafigura's libel lawyers, Carter-Ruck, recently demanded the Guardian deleted published articles, saying it was "gravely defamatory" and "untrue" to say Trafigura's waste had been dumped cheaply and could have caused deaths and serious injuries. Both the Dutch paper Volkskrant and Norwegian TV said they were yesterday also threatened with gagging actions."

From here.

WikiLeaks presents Minton report, "Trafigura toxic dumping along the Ivory Coast broke EU regulations"

Disgusting. No qualms at their profit-focused, waste-disposal strategy, allegedly, disastrously affecting many Abidjanians, Trafigura's attempt to conceal their actions, and gagg the Guardian, is nothing short of heinous. When will Africans be considered as human as non-Africans? Al-JazeeraEnglish Youtube report:

UK residents can sign-up to support freedom of the press, Number 10 "petition the Prime Minister to enshrine in law the absolute right of the media to report the proceedings of The House in full at all times", here:

38 Degrees campaigns - write to your MP, takes 2 mins to sign up for "PROTECT OUR FREE PRESS: STOP THE GAG"

Update, 13.29:

"The existence of a previously secret injunction against the media by oil traders Trafigura can now be revealed.

Within the past hour Trafigura's legal firm, Carter-Ruck, has abandoned an attempt to prevent the Guardian from reporting proceedings in parliament that revealed its existence.

Labour MP Paul Farrelly put down a question yesterday to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw. It asked about the injunction obtained by "Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton Report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura".

The Guardian was due to appear at the High Court at 2pm to challenge Carter-Ruck's behaviour, but the firm has dropped its claim that to report parliament would be in contempt of court."

From here.

Discussion can be followed via #Trafigura on Twitter.

Very good blog posts on the Trafigura scandal:

The Lay Scientist: Trafigura: A Carter-Ruck Fuck-Up

Jack of Kent: The Most Significant Constitutional Case Of Our Generation?

Iain Dale's Diary: Carter-Ruck Folds Over Guardian Gagging The journalist and NGO collaboration to expose Trafigura toxic waste dump

OJB: Mugging the rich bastard lawyers

For other blogs on Trafigura, see this page.

And from Liberal Democrat Voice: "Which neatly proves the point: toxic material is very difficult to hide…"

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama is remembered by The Nobel Foundation

Astonishingly, the 44th US President, Barack Obama, is awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize!

Considering how long ago, around February 2009, nomination(s) was/were made, you're left with the feeling that there's no area in which politics does not feature, be it in science, sports, arts or even in politics.

The announcement:

"for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"

I'm trying to recall what "extraordinary effort" towards world peace could have been made by the few-days-new US President by February 2009. He is, right now in a press interview, saying he is undeserved, and that challenges (for world peace) can't be met by any one leader, or any one nation. And, as if bombing Afghanistani and Pakistani women and children to oblivion is not enough, US/NASA bombs the moon in search of water on the same day Obama wins the Peace Nobel Prize!

Will UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown receive the 2009 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences? We'll know on Monday 12 October 2009.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Obama remembers Turing

US President Barack Obama speaks of his appreciation for the work of Alan Turing:

"There's no better illustration than what took place at the close of World War II, when the United States transported dozens of captured V-2 rockets from Germany to New Mexico. These were among the most sophisticated weapons in the world, a reminder that much of World War II was fought far from the battlefield -- by Alan Turing in Bletchley Park, and Oppenheimer in Los Alamos, and by countless others who developed radar and aircraft and antibiotics".

Read more here.

Alan Turing Scrapbook maintained by Turing biographer Dr. Andrew Hodges.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2009 Nobel Prizes

2009 Physics Nobel Prize announced earlier today - shared between Charles K. Kao (1/2), Willard S. Boyle (1/4) and George E. Smith. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine was announced yesterday, shared between Elizabeth H. Blackburn (1/3), Carol W. Greider (1/3) and Jack W. Szostak (1/3).

Remaining 2009 Nobel Prize announcements:

"Chemistry - Wednesday, October 7, 11:45 a.m. CET at the earliest
Literature - Thursday, October 8, 1:00 p.m. CET at the earliest
Peace - Friday, October 9, 11:00 a.m. CET

Announcement of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be held on Monday, October 12, 1:00 p.m. CET at the earliest."

More information here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

2009 Singularity Summit

"Artificial Intelligence is probably the most important technology in humanity's future. Now is the time to be looking closely at its benefits and risks", Peter Thiel, one of the founders of the Singularity Institute.

"In the coming decades, humanity will likely create a powerful artificial intelligence. SIAI exists to handle this urgent challenge, both the opportunity and the risk."

The singularity will occur when we create "smarter-than-human intelligence" (from here).

I don't doubt we'll create something awesome, not artificial human intelligence but an alternative, powerful cognition.

Singularity Summit 2009 videos:

Click here for summit overview.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Moctezuma II of Mé-shee-ka

Visited British Museum's Moctezuma exhibition yesterday. Enjoyed it as much as their First Emperor Terracotta Army exhibition last year, and Shah 'Abbas exhibition earlier in the year.

Born in 1467, Moctezuma II, great-grandson of Moctezuma I, was the 9th and last ruler of the Aztecs, Mé-shee-ka. Around the time Henry VIII ruled England (1509-1547), Moctezuma presided over a large empire (central Mexico today), from 1502 till his death, 30 June 1520.

Worshipping the sun, the heart organ was central to Mé-shee-ka religious beliefs. Human hearts were sacrificed to feed the sun.

Sadly, not much remains of their recorded history; most is known through post-Hispanic conquest retrospective codices, including the Codex Mendoza.

Amazing model of Moctezuma II's capital city Tenochtitlan, with its sacred precinct, ceremonial centre which housed the ruler's palace, and the Great Temple scene of blood-letting, human heart sacrificing, is on display in the British Museum Moctezuma II exhibition.

Modern Mexico City is located on the site of Tenochtitlan.

Poem displayed during the last, haunting film scene:

"Proud of itself is Tenochtitlan,
The city in the lake.

Here no one fears to die in war.

With our arrows
With our shields
The city exists
Tenochtitlan endures

Where the eagles are resting,
Where the jaguars are exalted, The sun god is invoked.

This is our glory.

This is your command,
O giver of life.
Have this in mind,
O lords,
Do not forget."

Evenutally defeated by the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés , remembered as an indecisive, weak incumbent by his people, Moctezuma II is seen as an enigmatic, fascinating man in Europe.

Moctezuma II's family lineage lives on in Mexico and Spain.

More on Moctezuma, the man who lost an empire, "a proven military commander yet in just two years his rule and the supremacy of his Mexica people collapsed, conquered by a few hundred Spanish adventurers", can be found in a Telegraph article.

Visit British Museum's Moctezuma Aztec Ruler Exhibition, 24 September 2009 - 24 January 2010, click here for ticket booking and enjoy!