Saturday, February 22, 2003

Whiskey of the Week - Delayed

A couple of weeks back, Mrs. Earthling surprised me with an evening of single malt whiskey tasting for my birthday - and we're doing this thing tonight. I'll make some comments tomorrow and, hopefully, there'll be a new discovery to share with you good folks.

O Canada!

It's so much fun to read Mark Steyn's commentary on the United States and Europe, I often skip over his Canadian commentaries and, his being a Canadian, they should be read. I found this one to be both true...and profoundly sad.

But, since the war, our flabby Dominion's position has weakened further. Not to be alarmist but I'd say the US is coming to regard Canada the way Australia regards Indonesia. Yes, it's geographically close, an important trading partner, a cheap vacation destination and a nominal ally, but it has to be pushed and chivied into taking even the most perfunctory action against obvious enemies, and everyone knows that all kinds of dodgy characters have the run of the joint....Washington knows that now. The big story since September 11th is that they finally see us for what we are: foreigners."
Kim swings for the fences

One of my favorite websites out there is The Exile, a Moscow-based, English-language alternative newspaper. It's a little nihilistic at times --- and a huge time sponge, so if you like your job, read this at home --- with everything from nightclub reviews which include the "Flathead Factor" (your odds of getting the crap kicked out of you) to tips on negotiating the Moscow slush.

And there was this rather frightening analysis of the North Korean situation.
Governor Montag

Jeb Bush proposes to dismantle -- and atomize -- Florida's state historical archive. In as much as the state historical archive is funded by the state, to the tune of $5.4M, I'd certainly understand moving the state historical archives to a major university (much like the best California records are to be found at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley (Go Bears!)), but to cut the funding and see that the records are scattered around the state is unpardonable.
Bill Simon heads Barbara Boxer re-election committee!

Bill Simon wants to be my Senator. He couldn't beat Gray Davis, this state's singularly most unpopular politician, he sure as heck can't beat Barbara Boxer. Say what you will about Boxer (and I do say much about Barbara Boxer), there is genuine affection for Boxer on the left. Nobody liked Gray Davis. Nobody and with a lousy economy, and $30M, Simon didn't even get close.

Friday, February 21, 2003

A Citizen of the Blogosphere Just Became a Citizen of the United States of America

Stop by and give Anomaly well-deserved mad props!

Noted via the Belligerent Bunny Blog!
Safety Prediction

One of the tragedies in this Rhode Island fire is that only a handful of people used the three fire exits - everyone else tried to pile out the front door and got caught in the lurch. My prediction is that within 24 months, all night clubs, movie theaters and the like, in the United States, either through insurance requirements or government regulations, will have to point out the fire exits before the beginning of every act.

N.B.: I am not endorsing such a requirement. Folks should have the good sense (especially now) to locate the fire exits (which are conspicuously labelled) on their own. But the nanny state, being what it is, will force such a requirement upon us.
Famous Dead People

No disrespect at all to the families and friends of the 65 or more people killed at this terrible fire in Rhode Island, but no doubt Entertainment Tonight will shortly be eulogizing Ty Longley, one of Great White's guitarists who is apparently among the dead, like they actually knew who he was and, of course, distracting the world from the real tragedy of it all. I actually find that MTV does a hugely better job with this sort of disaster than do the "mainstream" media shows.

For all of the tragedy of 9/11, I'm glad that no one "famous" was killed (Barbara Olson, pundit and wife of Solicitor General Ted Olson, probably being the most famous). For the first time, Hollywood couldn't quite put it all in their box of self-absorbtion. I'm sure, had things turned out differently, much of the media would have ended up with the tag line, "The September 11th Attacks which Killed 3,000 Americans and.... Oscar-nominated Actor James Woods!" Or, God Forbid, imagine if one of Larry King's "friends" died.

"My great friend Al Pacino was on Flight 93 and we're here with Mrs. Beamer, widow of Todd Beamer - one of the heroes of Flight 93 - for the full hour"

"Mrs. Beamer, was your husband a fan of Al Pacino, because I tell you, he was terrific on the big screen. Dynamite."

"Gee, Larry, I guess so. We rented Scarface once.

"Great movie, don't you think?"

"I guess."

"When your husband called from the airplane, did he say that he knew Al Pacino was on the plane?"

"It didn't come up, Larry. He just wanted to tell me what was going on and to see what I knew."

"Al Pacino was a standup guy. Did your husband say he was going to help them in their plan?"

"Well... I'm sure Mr. Pacino helped liked everyone else. Can I just say that his wife has been very, very kind to me and my family and all of the people touched by Flight 93?"

"Because, you know... he's like that... he's tough. He's a fighter. Did you see him in Scent of a Woman? Wow! That was a straight up terrific movie. Laugh-out-loud funny. And the Devil's Advocate, you know. Al can sure stretch himself. One time, we were at a Friar's Club roast and believe me --- you know, we can't talk about that since it was at the Friar's Club -- he is one terrific guy....Do you miss him?"

"My husband? Oh, Larry, of course, every day---"

"No, I mean Al Pacino. He was a hell of an actor. He was supposed to star in...[long pause]...we're going to commercial, but we'll be back with your questions for Mrs. Beamer, whose husband was lost tragically on September 11, along with my good friend Al Pacino."


No, whatever else, I'm glad no one famous died.... or maybe not. Seems to me that if someone they actually cared about died, they just might get this whole War on Terrorism. "Avenge Wink Martindale!" wouldn't have been much of a rallying cry for the rest of America, but they sure would care more in Hollywood about all of this if it were.

Refinery Fire on Staten Island

For now, I'll just assume that this is a refinery fire, nothing else. But if you want to screw with the United States economically, blowing up refinery capacity is a good way to do it --- it's a far bigger choke point in the gasoline supply chain in the United States than is the actual supply of oil. The (Fall) 1999 Richmond Chevron and (Winter) 2000 Martinez - Valero fires gave a huge spike in gasoline prices in California (not least because of California's own gasoline formulation requirements so gas could not be trucked in from Nevada).

I'm sure I am way the hell ahead of myself, but there are about five big refineries less than ten miles from my house -- if anything blows up, I'll hear it right here at my desk. And we did have this little bomb incident at a Chevron station in Walnut Creek.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

What about al Qaeda? What about our allies?

Manila has been with us in this fight since the beginning and now we're off to finish up business in the southern end of the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf is about to get a precision-guided wake-up call.

Five is Right Out!

A good link on San Francisco crowd estimates from the San Francisco Chroncile. Two independent audits using the same film (made at 1:45pm, the time ANSWER said the crowd peaked) came up with a crowd estimate of 65,000; ANSWER insists it was 200,000.

I think this is the money quote:

When told of The Chronicle's survey, Alex S. Jones, the director of Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, said, "The number of people (in a crowd) is a mythical number, and now you're going to turn it into a fact, and that won't be welcomed."

Leftists for Action in North Korea!

I should have started this project months ago, but here goes: I'm just going to keep a list of the anti-war Left who support action in North Korea. I'd make it "Leftists for Intervention in North Korea" but then I'd be asking for Links for LINKs, and that's just stupid. We'll start with Joan Baez, who asks in the San Francisco Chronicle (2/20/03):

It's funny how we choose who we do something about -- how we pick one guy and demonize him. Hussein's a bastard who undoubtedly does all the things we say and think he does. But it makes no sense that we're singling him out....What happened to Afghanistan*? What about North Korea?"


I agree, we need to do something about them as well. So, yes, what about North Korea? It's never easy to prioritize, but I'm glad she supports action against the DPRK. I appreciate her concern for folks living under the jackboot of Pyongyang.

It's truly heartfelt.

* Vini. Vidi. Vici.
Fighting for Peace is like.... what again?.... for Virginity

This is all sort of Lysistrata in reverse....

Rod Dreher over at NRO's Corner notes that a 19 year-old German beauty queen wants to hook up with Saddam to put an end to the threat of war.

We should recall, however, that this is not the first time our European allies have offered to, shall we say... lie back and think of England. In 1990, and again last year, Italian porn-star turned legislator (an obvious career move), La Cicciolina (nee Ilona Staller), offered her services to end the threat of war with Iraq.

I'm sure Mrs. Earthling won't take offense when I note that Saddam is getting a better deal with this latest offer.
Despot or Sexpot?

Can you tell the difference?

The soundtrack on the site is frightening.

(Mad Props to Memepool)
Belize attacks Guatemala with farming equipment, Guatemala retailates with trebuchet!

This sounds like we're refighting the Vietnam War, circa 1964.

Today, a DPRK MiG-19 (first flight 1953) was chased back over the border by two South Korean F-5s (first flight 1959).

Of course, during the 1969 Soccer War between Honduras and El Salvador (the third biggest news story of July 1969), Honduran F4U Corsairs and Salvadorian P-51 Mustangs attacked targets in enemy territory -- although I don't think there was any air-to-air combat.
Duty Calls

I'm off to an interview this morning. I'll be back later today where we can talk about this bizarre statement by Molly Invins, who today said by way of accusing Americans of being ahistorical:

They were out-manned, out-gunned, out-generaled and, above all, out-tanked. They got slaughtered, but they stood and they fought.


To which I respond: No. No. Yes. Absolutely not. No. In the wrong damned place. Except where they were in the right place, and then, yes.

I'll fold in Tony Blankley's comments and a few others. In the mean time you can read my thoughts about the French performance in World War Two here.

N.B.: (Broken link is now fixed)
The Rocket's Red Glare

Via Instapundit. The Dep't o' Homeland Security is helping to destroy model rocketry.

I feel safe, I tell you. Now that no one's going to have a C6-5 powered ICBM, maybe we can reconsider this whole Ballisitic Missile Defense thing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

People of Earth!

I don't make a habit of commenting on my visitors log, but I do see quite a few familiar domain names / referring URLs of late. I'm always happy to get reader mail as I'm quite curious about who stops by my humble little corner of the Blogosphere.
The Revolution will not be Televised

The Revolution will probably be lithographed.

After some discrete inquiries, I've found a place in the UK which will, in just a few weeks, start selling genuine DPRK-printed propaganda posters. Now, the Chollima Group is associated with the Korean Friendship Association which is, itself, associated with the government in Pyongyang. So, buy as your conscience dictates.

I happen to be an enormous fan of the Soviet propaganda posters and own quite a few. I genuinely like the art of the Soviet stuff (the story of Gustav Klutsis, Stalin's greatest propaganda poster artist who died in the Gulag still making posters, is a story for another day). This stuff from Pyongyang is, shall we say, not pro-American - and I don't think it's quite as stylish as the Chinese Socialist-Realist school. But these posters are great historical artifacts.






N.B.: If any of my readers can read Korean, I would love to have get a proper translation of these.

UPDATE: A friend notes: ""For strength, we shall answer with power; for punishment, we shall extend
no courtesy!" Well, damn, that's not very neighbourly of them. Does Terry Jones have a beef with this sort of behaviour? I doubt it.
Is there something you'd rather be doing than marching up and down the square?

I noticed this over at the ever-excellent Blogs of War.

The long and the short of it is that we're giving Turkey 48 hours to get in or stay out. The full article from Debka can be found here.

The war starts, on schedule, March 2.
Getting Unavailable Whiskeys

Okay, I think you'd need to be smoking crack to willing pay $40 for a 10-year old bottle of Glenmorangie - but if you want to find something unusual, the Whiskey Shop in San Francisco does have a pretty good selection.
An Amusing Little Film

Interviews with some anti-war protestors in New York.

(Via NRO)
Let's Not Call Them Anything, Let's Just Ignore Them

A Dearborn, Michigan principal sent a kid home from school for wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt.

Schools spokesman Dave Mustonen said students have the right to freedom of expression, but educators are sensitive to tensions caused by the conflict with Iraq.


I don't see the "but" in this following paragraph, do you?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Does sensitivity trump the First Amendment? (Don't answer that! In too many places it does, but that doesn't mean it should).










No one enjoys a good successionist movement more than I do.

And I certainly can't get too angry with Hawaiian Royalists.
I was pleased to see that Peggy Noonan is in the spirit

This week's column by Peggy Noonan contains this gem:

I went to the local liquor store and asked the clerk, "Are people buying liquor for their safe rooms, and if so what are they buying?" He started to laugh and said actually no one had mentioned that, but business sure was good. We talked about what alcohol might help one through a siege. We looked at brandies in pretty bottles but I chose a 10-year-old single-malt scotch. I have never had an expensive single-malt scotch, and under siege might be a good time to start.


Peggy, it's always a good time to start drinking single malt, siege mentality or not. Given the relative dirth of single malts which are 10-years old, I assume she's gone with either the Aberlour, which I discuss here, the Talisker, which I will discuss on Friday, or the Glenmorangie 10-year, which is Scotland's single best selling brand. Any of these are excellent selections, and fiddling with my own earthquake kit lately as I have, I've been trying to decide what booze goes into it. Certainly at least one really peaty malt --- so my neighbors won't want it, and certainly some Port Wood finished Glenmorangie, for Mrs. Earthling.



Blogger's been giving me fits all day

I apologize for the light posting. More in a moment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

All Things Considered...

All things considered, I like New Europe better.
Iran: Nc3

Iran's made her first move, I think a largely defensive one, by moving Iranian-backed Iraqi opposition groups in the northeast of Iraq. I assume this designed to let them have more control over the inevitable refugee situation than much of a show of force.

Nevertheless, I don't think Iran would do this now - and commit to the endgame - unless they thought the war was on its way.

N.B.: I rarely play chess, when I do, I play badly. If Nc3 (knight to c3(?)) isn't a useful gambit when playing a much stronger opponent, my guess is that you'd probably kick my arse in chess.
Keyshawn Ten Bears Tanaka

My always excellent friend Adam Bonin at Throwing Things who, along with his wife (helpfully enough), is expecting a baby girl in a couple of months struggles with the ethics of baby naming.
Not-so-pathetic Earthlings!

Aliens support the United States in our campaign to liberate Iraq.

The aliens have committed troops and resources because they are fond of Earth, especially America and its ideals. "They love Americans. Everything about Saddam Hussein disgusts them. They want to fight alongside of our troops and drink beer with them when it's all over."


Cue Blue Oyster Cult: Agents of Fortune, Track 3

"CDC IN ATLANTA EVACUATED AFTER ALARM GOES OFF... DEVELOPING... " sayeth Drudge.

UPDATE: False Alarm. I didn't feel like walking to western Nebraska anyway.

Monday, February 17, 2003

East Bay News
War on Terrorism: Writ Small

Unless this is the first act from a radical group of Saranap Nationalists, seeking to end the oppression coming out of Martinez, I'm not really worried about this rather close-to-home little bomb scare.
Joe Trillionaire

Mrs. Earthling is at a class this evening until around 9, so I have to watch Joe Millionaire and be prepared to give her the commercial-break summary when she returns. But here's my prediction for the record:

Joe - and Joe's chosen - will each be offered a choice between (a) $250K and a relationship or (b) $1M and no relationship. Except that: each of them must chose separately and if both of them chose (b), each of them walk away with a parting gift (say, $100K), so each will have an incentive to screw the other one out of the money. I'll let Douglas Baird, wherever he is, work out the details of this one.

UPDATE: That was the twist? That they each got $500K? Lame.
What if War is the Answer?

A very thoughtful review of the London protests by David Akerman can be found over at Salon. It ends thusly:

I headed back to my bicycle. The uphill ride home was chilling. I reflected ruefully that in one respect, I had surely failed. There are several hundred thousand Iraqis living in Britain. I'd kept a sharp eye out, but didn't find a single one all day. Could they all be political dissidents? Later at home, on the 9 p.m. radio news, I learned that one BBC reporter had fared better. She had found an Iraqi citizen, a young woman living in London who had turned up to berate the marchers. "Everyone here is wrong," she said. "Everyone in Iraq wants to get rid of Saddam, but they are realistic enough to know they cannot do it themselves."

But on Saturday in London, it was a million and a half voices against one lone voice.


Yep. For most of them, it's not about Iraq. It's not even about war. What it is, more than anything else, it's opposition to the idea that war just might make things demonstrably better. The success of Afghanistan is easy to dismiss because it's still pretty unpleasant over there... that it is infinitely better is of no concern to the anti-war Left. There was a war, and that country is in bad shape, so war still safely "bad". Likewise, Serbia. The final push to get rid of Milosevic came from the street, not from a Boeing or a Colt, so the fiction of a people's revolt remains tidy.

But if, in two years, Baghdad is as free as, say, Turkey (which is not to say absolutely free, but freer than the rest of the Middle East, save Israel) and the country is being rebuilt well and revolution is spreading to Iran and Syria, then, where will that leave the anti-war Left?

The left will be sorry for the loss of innocent civilians - as will the right, the center and decent people everywhere. None of us will be as sorry as the people who lose loved ones.... or our men and women in uniform who will be too proximate to their deaths. Everyone will be sorry, except for the Baathist regime, who will think nothing of killing a thousand men, women and children for a few more days - even hours - of power.

But, however large the cost, the war will liberate the Iraqi people and give them a chance denied to the Arabs (by the United States, by the Soviets, by the Turks, by the English, by the French, by the Israelis and - not least - denied to the Arabs by the Arabs themselves) since the invention of modern, secular, western civilization. Democracy, given half a chance, will burn across the Middle East because the Arab men and women want what everyone else wants -- freedom and democracy even if they don't yet fully comprehend what those things can mean. And Iraq, with a real secular tradition, is the place where that seed can find purchase.

Unfortunately, that chance starts with this war. Not some UN inspection which promises Saddam a way out and betrays the Iraqi people like they've been betrayed by the United States (and by their own leadership) time and again. The cost of Saddam settling back into power is far more terrifying to the Iraqi people than the prospect of a war of liberation. The reprisals for any who cooperated with the UN inspectors are too terrible to contemplate. That can end with this war. This season. This year.

And it's going to work.

And this is what frightens the anti-war Left. More than the prospect of the inevitable accidents of war, more than certainty of orphaned children, more than the ongoing (and likely future) reprisals by Saddam, more than the risk Saddam flooding the streets of Baghdad to blame it on us, more than the chance of a stray bomb hitting a Mosque...

It is the very idea that an unquestionably, peculiarly American war launched by a windshield cowboy from Midland, Texas - not a people's uprising or UN blue helmets, whatever delusion is required to believe in such a thing - will be the instrument of the liberation of the Iraqi people. War can and, Allah willing, will break the grip of Saddam and let the Iraqi people do exactly what they are capable of doing - building a free, democratic, secular (but not a-religious) society. This is the passion behind their rallies, the desperation in their voices.

Like the two faced Janus - the anti-war Left is blessed with a bounty of facts (Who on the Right talks about Mauritanian slave-trading? Who but the Left talked about East Timor before, say, 1992? Not we on the right, sadly!) - but cursed with an utter lack of judgment. They aren't afraid of war. Wars -- and worse -- go on all around the world for the most ghastly of reasons, reasons not even cloaked in liberation, reasons far more dastardly than even their worst fears about President Bush - Mugabe's xenocide is of no concern to them, the Chechnya War too parochial. No one in the Clinton Administration lifted a finger to help Nigeria end the war in Sierra Leone when all Nigeria wanted was some equipment (and, no, I don't think Bush or Dole would have been any better on that front -- a pity) - a few dozen helicopters to send her own young men to die to help people they'd never met. The Blue Helmets at the UN denied Belgium the right to end the Rwanada genocide using 5,000 Belgian (and volunteer Sengalese) men using brute force - and another half-million Tutsis were sacrificed on the UN's altar of non-violence. No one on the Left cared that we didn't -- a diplomatic solution was more important than a solution.

The left knows these wars can be ended only with violence in return and so resign themselves to doing nothing. Process was more important that results, so process swallowed victory -- and nations. The Left is naive, not stupid. They know that one sure (not only, but sure) solution in the face of barbarity is the application of force, better Western force and best of all American force, swift and sure - a deep cut, yes, but precise and cauterized, not a festering machete wound that bleeds nations to death. Other means may indeed end barbarity - the Rwandan genocide burned itself out. It was not stopped. There was no one left to kill. State-backed force alone can end state-sanctioned barbarism in time to be of some help to the living.

The passion of the anti-war Left isn't anti-American (war protestors are patriotic Americans and damn the man who says otherwise) and to suggest that it's pro-Saddam suggests they've thought it through - and I don't see that they have. Their passion is wrapped up in the fear that their two worlds - an encyclopedia of abuses--which they catalog better than anyone, real or perceived--on the one hand might be forced to turn and face their very image of the abuser they clutch so tightly in their other. The end game they say they want can only be brought by undesirable means - a war for the liberation of Iraq. The idea that the United States - in anything resembling its current role as World Hegemon - might end even the first abuse in this world with raw firepower is a nightmare to the anti-war Left as it gives such power the slightest credence. American might just might make it better. And where would that leave them?

This is what scares the hell out of them. This is what keeps them up at night.

They aren't afraid of war. They're afraid that war will work.
At the risk of commenting too early on a real tragedy...

This stampede at a Chicago night club, which has killed at least 21 people, is terrible . These incidents can and do happen either due to a fire and stampede, like the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944 (gasoline and parrafin were used to waterproof the canvas), fire and badly designed exit doors, like the 1942 Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire (which killed 492 people but, at least, led to modern fire escape safety) or from bad planning, like the 1979 Who Concert in Cinncinati. But to have this stampede started by security guards who used mace to break up a "minor fight" and then for the club to (apparently) lock the doors after the problem had started:

...Witnesses told Vatis that security guards responded to a minor fight between two women on the dance floor by spraying Mace or pepper spray, and the spray triggered a mass exodus. Witnesses said Monday morning that the front and back doors of the club were both chained shut, and patrons rushed for the stairs, crushing people to death. Cardiac arrest due to crushing and suffocation was the primary cause of death. Vatis said club security personnel locked the doors because they were trying to "contain the situation," and nobody was available to open the doors when people tried to rush out.


Ugh, what stupidity. This has negligent homicide written all over it.

Here's a company that's in the business of crowd safety -- plenty of links for useful background.

UPDATE: Jesse Jackson has already ruled this "clearly accidental". What the hell? If he means that none of the folks in the crush meant to hurt anyone, I agree; if he means that the owners weren't at fault, Jackson is clearly nuts. (I suggest to the reader with a strong stomach to look at the slide show from my first link - nothing inherently gruesome, but if you know what's going on, it's frightening). If the NBC report bears out...chaining a riot into the building?.... this is practically murder.

UPDATE: The BBC report suggest that people might have been freaked out by the possibility of a chemical attack. Let's see how witness reports bear that out. (N.B.: the folks I saw interviewed on local news all seemed aware that the security guard maced these two women).

UPDATE: One management company that has had dealings with the Epitome Club suggests a crowd capacity of 1,000. News reports suggest 1,500 people were there.

UPDATE: The club was ordered shut down months ago.

UPDATE: The analysis of the accident seems to be this - there were a couple of other firedoors that lead to back staircases which lead down and outside into alleyways --- these were blocked. The only egress was down one staircase which lead directly to the main door (where you can see people piled up three or four deep). A crush is bad enough in a flat space, but once a couple of people tripped or were shoved down the stairs, the crush was unavoidable.

UPDATE: A couple of folks (local news interviews, no links, sorry) did claim someone yelled "chemical attack" or something to that effect. No way they can figure out who said that, if it was a reckless act, but I trust that will get played up in the inevitable trial.

A word to the wise: if you are in a crowded place and something bad happens - don't just do something, stand there!

(Welcome all those Tim Blair readers who've come over at his kind recommendation!)
East Bay News
Al Zampa Bridge

Just a stone's throw from Earthling Headquarters, over in Crockett, CA, the new Al Zampa Bridge is going up. The Al Zampa will take over all westbound traffic on I-80 across the Carquinez Straights - where the Sacramento River meets the San Pablo Bay (i.e., the northern bulb of the San Francisco Bay) and will the first suspension bridge to be completed in the United States since the Verrazano Narrows in 1964. You can see an artist's rendition of the new bridge here and get progress reports (and pretty good ones) from a Middle School here.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Their agriculture policy is screwed up, but at least they are making some great crack...

North Korea claims it can win a nuclear war against the United States.

"Our victory is certain and the future ever more radiant," it said, touting the dominance of the army in the world's most heavily militarized society.

Well, I'm not sure about the first part of that, but if they want to go rounds, the second is pretty much guaranteed.
14 Taikonauts!

A bit more follow up news on China's space program. They have 14 taikonauts in training. First launch is expected this fall --- the capsule, essentially a Soyuz, can hold up to three taikonauts.... but most information suggests the first fellow will fly solo.
Pathetic Googlers

I get a lot of hits off of Google --- but more than anything, I seem to get hits off people searching under the simple combination of "Pathetic" and "French." Ticklish.