Friday, April 24, 2009

Tampa Rays

I managed to get over to Tampa last weekend to see the Rays play the White Sox. It was part of Championship week for Tampa, a celebration of their American League Championship last year. They gave out replica American League Trophies.
Someone's car majorly caught fire on I-4.
The police and fire response hard at work.As you can see at the bottom, the Trop is in St. Petersburg, not Tampa.
After years of being the worst team in MLB, they claimed the ALCS trophy in 2008.The big screen in right center field, very good resolution.Tampa Rays taking batting practice.Chicago White Sox taking BP. They were jacking balls over the wall in LF.The hanging speakers and lights, where so many balls go wrong.The big screen and the sponsor of the Trop.Awki at the plate.The bullpen waiting for their turn.
The foul poul is normal. The 2 hanging foul "stakes" are pretty strange.

Scott Kazmir, one of Tampa's best pitchers, started the game with 10 straight balls and walked the first 3 batters. There was a huge cheer when he actually threw a strike. He was extremely lucky to get out of the inning giving up only 2 runs. He only made it through 4 innings after 6 walks and 6 earned runs.

Needless to say things were ugly for the Rays. Perhaps they are looking to return to the cellar again for 2009. Chicago cruised to a fairly easy win and showed a good bit of power with homeruns from Quentin and Konerko. Game Recap and Box Score here.

The Trop was pretty comfortable. It is great to have AC on a hot Tampa Bay day. My biggest complaint was the $15 parking for a game that was only $20 to get into. They had a stingray tank, but the line was pretty long. I didn't want to miss BP or the game to see more stingrays. Some of the food was good (rice and beans, empanadas) but the cheesesteak was horrible.

Overall a decent trip and a good ballpark considering where it is located. The Rays are really not starting strong this year though. Hopefully I can catch a RedSox game later on.

Happy Earth Day!

Take a look at this article that lists a number of surprising and terrifying predictions about climate change in 1970!

We still do not understand how the sun works. We still do not understand how the oceans work. We still have extremely limited data on most all natural events on this planet. It is like a young child trying to predict the future of NYC accurately 200 years in advance. The planet is billions of years old and we've been around less than ten thousand years.

We are learning at a rapid rate. With new knowledge there is always a deluge of people who want to twist it to press their agenda and prophesize the future of mankind. That is why things like Wikipedia, Discovery, History Channel, Itunes U, etc are so powerful. They keep a small portion of the population from monopolizing knowledge, something that has always caused problems for mankind. Of course it is still a problem for a portion of mankind (Cuba, North Korea, and others).

Hopefully everyone survived Earth Day without having a heart attack or break down caused by fear mongering speculators.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Locked Up Abroad: Cuzco

National Geographic has begun the new season of their show Locked Up Abroad. In the last few weeks they have aired two shows about people (US and UK) who have been thrown into Peruvian jails. A couple of weeks ago they aired the story of Simon Burke. It was titled "Locked Up Abroad: Cuzco".

In December of 2008, I was surprised to see this article on Living in Peru. I wasn't sure of the details at the time, but getting thrown in Peruvian jail because you were a boyfriend/girlfriend of someone who did something illegal without your knowledge seemed pretty scary to me. At the time, Living in Peru reported that "British citizen Simon Burke can now go home a free man and spend the holiday season with his family".

This statement was mistaken and published a bit too soon. Simon was released from the overcrowded prison in Callao. Before his passport was returned and he was allowed to go home, the prosecution appealed (I have no idea on what grounds). This appeal is expected to take until May 2009 to be heard and ruled on. During that time, Simon cannot leave Peru and the government of Peru continues to hold his passport. As far as I know, he does not have a work Visa for Peru. So he may be stuck in Peru; unable to legally work to support himself.

You can find some of the videos that cover the show here. But the basic idea is that his girlfriend of some number of months, invited him to Peru with her. Drug smuggling by single women is very common in Peru, so she brought him to reduce suspicion.

While in Cuzco, she had people line her bags with cocaine (not his) while she distracted him. She was caught while checking her bags onto her flight in Lima (they were not detected on the flight from Cuzco to Lima). They found her kilos of cocaine and a fake passport and arrested her. They also arrested and questioned Simon because he was seen entering the airport with her. His bags contained no cocaine and his passport was legal.

She was thrown into a minimum security woman's prison in Chorillos (the kind that has fashion shows). Simon was thrown into an overcrowded, extremely dangerous prison in Callao. Gangs run the prison and assaults are common and not punished. Mostly the guards just make sure that no one gets out... needless to say white meat is very rare inside those walls.

Simon's family and friends have a Facebook page here. I wouldn't encourage anyone to donate money, but certainly it is a frightening story. Anyone traveling abroad should take notice. It has been over 2 years since Simon left the UK for a short vacation to see Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

I have requested that Living in Peru post another news update to correct their previous mistake and update this story. But that has not happened yet.