27 Jun 2009

Is there a Santa?

(from an engineering standpoint)

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renown scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) - I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.

1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about. .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion -
If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

**Not an original piece...

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19 Jun 2009

First Steps

For close to an year now, I have been talking about doing this one project. Everybody with whom i have shared the idea with tells me to go for it. Now I have finally gotten off my behind and gone for it.

I want to teach film.

I know, we have too many film makers. But, how many of those are Ogiek? You don't know who / what Ogiek is? They are a tribe. Why dont you know them? Because they are not even counted as part of the 42 tribes of Kenya. They are about 20,000 of them, in a country that has a population of about 38,000,000. That is, 0.052% of the Kenyan population. This minute group of people, 10,000 of them live in the Mau Forest. Mau forest has been a bone of contention between the Kenyan Government and the 'protectors of the forest', the Ogiek. They are a hunting / gathering community. They have lived there for centuries... but the government wants them out. Why? They say they are degrading the forest. They are logging, cultivating, hearding, etc,the government says The cycle is fucked up, for luck of a better word. Yes, the Ogiek are farming. I went there, I saw it. So are many other people.

Now, long ago, before the people with power allocated the very beautiful, very fertile mau forest to their families and friends, the Ogiek lived there. They had no cows (in fact, the Maasai call them ildodobo, meaning ' a poor man with no cattle', neither did they farm. They hunted gathered, amongst other things, honey from the beehives they made. When logging and farming started, they were forced deeper into the forest. Deeper and deeper they moved as the clearing of the forest continued. Less that 12% of the forest now remains. The Ogiek can move no further, there are no enough trees to erect hives on, no enough animals for them to hunt. So they farm.

But even in their farming, it is easy to see they are not the cause. While other communities like the Kikuyu and Kalenjin farm with tractors and till land that is acres and acres , the Ogiek farm on less than an acre per family. The other communities have build nice and posh houses while the Ogiek live in dilapidated thatch roof huts.

But who cares? When the Mau forest is spoken about, all fingers point to the 10,000 people living in the area, an area of 46,278 hectares. Aint no way 10,000 people are the ones responsible for the destruction! A report in 2007 showed that most people had bought land in Mau forest, and its not secret that Timsales logs in the forest. Who owns Timsales? This might give you a little history lesson!

Sorry for rambling on and on. The point is, someone needs to aid the Ogiek in raising their voice against evictions, harassment, killings...they need to show the world that they are not savages, they are also Kenyans, and more importantly, human beings threatened with extinction!

How can you help? You can:

**follow the projects progress and share on this blog
**Join the Facebook Page and share with others
**Suggest ways that you can help to protect this indigenous community.

18 Jun 2009

The Coin

Today I watched a short film, whose name i cant quite recall. It was about this coin that made its current holder lucky then unlucky...and the cycle would continue if one kept the coin. If one made a call using the coin, regardless of the number would called, you would be connected to the previous owner of the coin. If you begun with bad luck, good luck would follow and if you kept the coin, more bad luck.

Aussie money coins

The hardest part is always letting go of the coin. The owners of the coin were so wrapped up in the idea that regardless of the fact that it brings them pain. They always looked at the wealth and fortune they would accumulate.

This film made me think about us Kenyans and politics. We cry for change, claim that we want it so bad, yet we still want to keep the unlucky coin, aka recycled politicians. We keep looking at the money they shower us with during campaign and election time, and forget that the first thing they do when they walk in to the August House is increase their non-taxable allowances. Why can't we get rid of that coin? Why are we so hang up on it? Are we really that short-sighted?

Why don't I want to know the answers to those questions?

10 Jun 2009


I have filmed in Kibera on and off in the past couple of years, but always managed to separate myself from the people I met and keep it 'strictly business'. That was my defense mechanism, such that I did not feel guilty for having what I had, what I took for granted that I deserved. Try as I may, I could not run away from it. The reality of how the people lived in Kibera was with me, in my mind, everyday. I did not want to get involved, because I knew once I got in, there was no turning back.

So to make sure that I was as far away from the reality as possible, I agreed to produce the film, Togetherness Supreme, set and filmed entirely in...Kibera! I had been not so secretly following up on the progress of the script development, again, all in effort to runaway from reality. I am beginning to think that I'm (not) very good in this 'running away' business.

For 4 months, everyday, I went to work in Kibera on the film. The first 2 months were preproduction. I had thrown myself in the front-line, with no exit strategy. I was forced to deal with the people, look at them, live in their reality everyday. I did not like it. I liked the part where it was fun to watch dramas unfold, playing with the kids, exercising my famous passenger-side road rage fighting with Matatus, eating the best fries I have ever had...for some reason Kibera fries are heavenly! Forget Java and Savanna, they got nothin' on Mama Akinyi's Delicious Cafe!

Then I got to talking with some residents of Africa's largest slum. (Dont even argue that Soweto is!). My spoilt mind thought that all the people would want to talk about is leaving the slum for greener pastures. Uh-uh. They liked it! They liked the simplicity of life in the slums, the liked the fact that there was something or the other that kept them entertained. Like the neighbour's wife who has been sleeping with the blacksmith next door who sneaks in to her house when her husband leaves, only that on this particular day, the husband forgot his wallet...or the woman who has buried 4 husbands and no one will buy roast beef from her...or the guy who is always so drunk, thugs don't mug him anymore...

They even made me tell them how much I pay in rent for my 'suburbia' apartment. They calculated, and told me proudly...

'What you pay in a month is enough to pay rent my rent for 58 months.'

If you like, 4.8 years. They figured that they had the best sense when it comes to investment and saving money, and I was just one lost soul. Of course they do not like it that they have to jump over sewers to get to their houses, or the fact that you are bound to step on a 'flying toilet' that will 'explode' on you...or the fact that when it rains, you are more likely to be electrocuted by the illegal wiring done underground by so called Kibera Electricity Suppliers. A story was told to me about a man who went to pee by the roadside, only to have his treasures explode in his face. Apparently he was peeing on a live wire, thus ending up functioning as the electricity conductor...

Nothing much goes on in my neighbourhood. Just lots of bi-racial kids playing and acting snotty when you need to drive into the compound as you are interrupting their rollerblading. The only is when one of our cats run away and the neighbourlady offers (read insists) that i give him to her. I did however see enough to make a couple of feature films during my short stint in Kibera. The people are happy. They are content to pull a chair and sit by the roadside and just watch. Which is what explains why when something (un) interesting happens, a crowd forms in seconds, most of whom are willing to help out, whether be in stoning a thief, chasing the Kenya Power and Lighting Co. workers who come to charge them for using the electricity, uproot the railway when Museveni decides to claim Migingo Island, the piece of rocky island in the middle of L.Victoria...and they love it!

Which makes me wonder, would they ever be happy if there were moved to a blocks of flats, where you can hardly sit in your bedroom and chat with your neighbour who is in her/her own bedroom too...where nothing happens??

The simplicity of life is defined by the fact that whatever commodity you can think of, it can be broken down to the tiniest amount so that people can afford it. You will find 1/4 litre of kerosene, 1/2 of 1/4 of beef, imagine it, it is there! If you moved to a more established neighbourhood, it would be hard to get these things.

So is there such a thing as slum-a-holics? I now do believe there is. And I know that it sounds condescending, but slumaholicism is too ideticall to laziness...

6 Jun 2009

Sex Kills!

Did David Carradine pull a Michael Hutchence?

Like the INXS singer, whose mysterious 1997 death in a Sydney hotel was believed to have been related to a sex act gone wrong, police in Thailand are focusing on the possibility that the star of Kung Fu and Kill Bill may have accidentally killed himself while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation.

Autoerotic asphyxiation is a practice whereby a person intentionally cuts off oxygen to the brain for the purpose of sexual arousal.

A representative for the Bangkok Swissotel's Nai Lert Park hotel told E! News that a maid found the 72-year-old actor's naked body hanging in a closet in his luxury suite. Now, investigators quoted in the Thai news site the Nation are revealing that there was also a rope tied around his genitals.

"The two ropes were tied together," Police Lt. Gen. Worapong Chewprecha told reporters. "It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not, or he died of suffocation or heart failure."

A coroner completed an autopsy earlier today, but authorities say the results will not be released for at least three weeks, per standard procedure given the "unusual circumstances" surrounding Carradine's death and pending toxicology results.

Thai officials initially announced the erstwhile Grasshopper apparently committed suicide, but that theory was categorically shot down by Carradine's reps and shocked members of his family yesterday.

"I know for a fact that he did not commit suicide," comanager Tiffany Smith told E! News.

Her partner, Chuck Binder, wondered whether foul play may have played a part.

"I heard from a producer in Bangkok that his hands were tied behind his back and that it's being covered up," Binder said. "How do you get a rope around your neck and around your genitals and do all this by yourself?"

He continued: "The more I talk to people the more I think there's no way he killed himself. My take is there was definitely foul-play. There’s a lot of weird stuff that happens in Bangkok. This isn't L.A. or New York."

Smith said that Carradine was "full of life" when he arrived in Thailand May 29 to shoot a movie called Stretch.

That description fit with statements from eyewitnesses who saw him the night he died. One of those was a hotel employee who said the martial-arts enthusiast seemed to be in a "good mood," often smiling while drinking at the lobby bar Wednesday night and chatting up various staff members before retiring to his room sometime around 9 p.m.

Carradine was a no-show at a crew dinner later that night and detectives say his room key card record shows he never left his suite. While there's also no indication anyone else entered the thespian's room, police have yet to officially rule out murder.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is expected to repatriate Carradine's body on Saturday. No word yet on funeral arrangements.

Meanwhile, perhaps lending credence to the new theory of his death, The Smoking Gun has unearthed a circa 2003 affidavit filed in court by Carradine's ex-wife Marina Anderson claiming the actor engaged in unspecified "deviant sexual behavior."

Fans of the prolific character actor should take comfort in knowing that Carradine had at least a half-dozen projects in the can at the time of his death. First up is a guest shot on Tuesday's episode of Mental.

From Eonline.

(Originally published June 5, 2009, at 6:45 a.m. PT)

5 Jun 2009

HTML angels

A couple of years ago, I was blogging on Myspace and not thinking much about my blog being indexed on the www or any of that SEO mumble-jumble. Now that I moved to Blogger, its has become second to nature to want to increase the number of readers and visitors, in hope that one day, I shall rule the world. Ok, maybe not...

I got tired of my blog's old look and decided to change it. This is not easy to do especially if you have maintained the same look for years. And being the stubborn one that i am, instead of changing the look bit by bit, i simply Ctrl A > Delete, and paste the new HTML Code. As most of you know (don't worry if you don't, I'll tell anyway), this completely erases any modifications you had done on your site and you literally have to start afresh. This pisses the hell out of me, but then again, I wanted a new site, right?

I believe in giving credit where its due. And this time my blogger angles have been Garry Conn (you might not know him, but he is the nemesis of John Cow. Now that one you DO know) and Bloggertricks. And trick does he /she do! I call myself an expert on Blogger but this blogger still manages to make me shake my head and get that admiration little smile...

Garry is the kind of tech-whiz that makes you think you are a total genius. I dont think it is possible for anyonme to simply things he way he does. I swear, if i my 6 month old spitz understood the English Alphabet, he would be maitaining my blog using Garry's guidance.

Guys, you might never read this blog, but your free consultation has not gone unappreciated. And I hope the many hours I spent on your website, and the many 'trips' i made to your sites did contribute to your traffic and earned you some adsense money :-)

Thank you!

Paris Hilton in Rwanda

Socialite Paris Hilton arrived at the Hôtel des Milles Collines late Tuesday night after an 18 hour flight from JFK to Kigali’s International Airport. She arrived without the speculated loads of luggage; all ten pieces had been mistakenly sent to the Seychelles. The heiress found replacement clothing in the hotel’s souvenir shop; she wore Rwandan beer Mutzig and Primus t-shirts for the remainder of her week.

Though not well known in Rwanda for whatever it is that she does, Hilton’s name caused some apprehension in the small country. Rwandans still hold France responsible for its troubles and are not fond of French expatriates. Many learned with some relief that Hilton is American, and with some surprise that she does not actually speak French.

First on her itinerary was to visit an orphanage where she and the ministers of education and health took pictures with selected orphans. She spent around 15 minutes passing out tootsie pops, Bratz® dolls and lip-gloss to eager young girls. But when the orphans began to eat the strawberry flavored lip-gloss and play football with the Bratz® heads, it was time to go. She moved on to an AIDS clinic in downtown Kigali where her experience as a medical assistant on The Simple Life came to no use. The socialite looked uncomfortable and pensive as she spoke with dying patients about how her difficult time in a California prison had inspired her to help Rwandans by having their picture taken with her.
The wives of many ministers told Hilton that she looked fat and happy. Her eyes brimmed with tears through many interviews with local journalists who also exclaimed how très grosse she was. She was overheard whispering to her entourage that Rwandans were the rudest people she had ever met.

An interpreter explained to her that fat was actually a compliment and that it was a good thing because it meant she didn’t have AIDS. The interpreter did not explain the truth, which was that many Rwandans strongly believed that she in fact had AIDS both because of her thin frame and her reoccurring film roles.

Before leaving for Africa, Ms. Hilton was quoted as saying she would help Rwandan children by “bringing attention” with her. She would bring the attention; others would do the philanthropy. But for once the paparazzi did not want to follow her. Her own camera crew was left with very little footage of the heiress doing anything but looking pretty. In order to get the attention such a journey deserves, Hilton has bought airtime on E! to turn her “safari” into another reality show. Rwandan orphans replace simple Arkansas country folk as extras on another season of The Simple Life.

Hilton wanted to go on safari before leaving Africa but was told that most of the big game in Rwanda had been eaten during the civil war. She concluded her trip to the motherland by making a stop in South Africa to shop for diamonds and go on a wine-tasting tour. There she experienced a terrible reaction with her mefloquine and alcohol and promtly fell over and died.