Thursday, August 30, 2007

LSU Kicks Off the 2007 Season!

2007 LSU Tiger Football!

LSU Tiger Stadium

2007 LSU Tiger Football!

LSU's new tiger Roscoe - soon to be Mike VI

Screw PETA, we've got us a tiger!

BATON ROUGE -- Another much anticipated LSU football season get underway on Thursday night when the second-ranked Tigers jump right into the fire with a Southeastern Conference contest against Mississippi State.

The game will serve as the major college football opener for the 2007 and will be televised to a national audience on ESPN. Kickoff for the contest is slated for 7:01 p.m. from a sold out Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.

It’s the first time that LSU will make an appearance on the popular ESPN Thursday Night telecast, while the Bulldogs will be making their 13th appearance. The Mississippi State game marks the first time in school history that the Tigers will play a non-holiday, regular season game on a Thursday night.

LSU, considered by many to be the favorite to win the SEC this year, is coming off an 11-2 overall mark a year ago. The Tigers bring a seven-game winning streak into the State contest, which includes a 41-14 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to cap last year. Mississippi State is coming off a 3-9 mark from a year ago, which included a 48-17 loss to LSU in Tiger Stadium.

LSU has won seven straight and 14 of its last 15 against the Bulldogs, which includes a 37-7 victory in its last trip to Starkville in 2005. However, LSU coach Les Miles is quick to warn that this isn’t the same Mississippi State team from a year ago.

“Mississippi State is a quality football team that is very well coached,” Miles said of the Bulldogs. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Croom and the job he’s done there. He will have his team prepared and ready to play. We expect their best shot and as a result, we are going to have to go out and play with focus and execute on every play for four quarters.”

Thursday’s game also marks the second time in three years that the Tigers will open a season away from home. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina postponed LSU’s scheduled season-opener against North Texas and then shifted the Arizona State contest from Baton Rouge to Tempe. LSU used a fourth-quarter rally to win that game, 35-31.

It also marks the first time since 1991 that an LSU team will open the season with a conference opponent. That year, the Tigers dropped a 31-10 decision to Georgia in Athens.

“We understand that the environment we walk in to Thursday night will be loud and noisy,” Miles said of playing in front of a sellout crowd on the road in Starkville. “The good news is we bring a veteran team with us. We have guys on this team that understand what it’s like to play on the road in a loud stadium.”

Among those players expected to lead the Tigers on offense are a trio of seniors in quarterback Matt Flynn, running back Jacob Hester and wide receiver Early Doucet. Flynn will be making only the second start of his career and the first during the regular season after backing up JaMarcus Russell for the past two years.

“We have tremendous confidence in Matt and his ability to lead our offense,” Miles said. “He had a great spring and has done a terrific job this fall during camp. We ask a lot of our quarterback and he has responded extremely well. He has done what we need him to do, whether it is to put us in the right play, to make the right throw and make the reads on the run.

Flynn’s appearance against State will be his first significant action since earning Peach Bowl MVP honors in 2005 after leading the Tigers to a 40-3 win over Miami.

Defensively, the Tigers return eight starters on that side of the ball, including three members of a defensive front that is considered the best in the nation. Headlining the list of starters on defense are All-America defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, pre-season All-America defensive end Tyson Jackson, linebacker Ali Highsmith and cornerback Chevis Jackson.

Last year, the Tigers ranked among the top five in the nation in several defensive categories, including scoring (12.6 points per game), total defense (242.8 yards per game), and pass defense (145.7 yards per game).

Junior Colt David will handle the kicking duties for the Tigers, while senior Patrick Fisher will serve as LSU’s punter. Other special teams duties have Doucet and speedster Trindon Holliday handling kickoff return duties, while Doucet will also double as LSU’s punt returner.

“We’ve worked hard this summer and during camp and you can just look at the players and tell that they are ready to play a game,” Miles said. “When you work so hard, practices are only enjoyed because you can celebrate that hard work with a game. Our guys are looking forward to Thursday night. It will be the first nationally televised game of the year and our guys always look forward to playing on television. There is a little bit extra enthusiasm because of that.”

Check out the article at LSU Sports.

I'm so pumped - I can't wait until tonight!!! Evidently I'm not the only person excited about LSU Football this year... all tickets for all LSU home games are officially sold out already!

I'm also very excited about the arrival of our new live mascot on campus this week. On Saturday, 2-year-old Roscoe made the trip to LSU, where he is expected to become Mike VI and represent the university. The Bengal-Siberian mix tiger should become LSU’s largest tiger and approach 700 pounds in three years, said David Baker, Mike’s veterinarian. Roscoe weighs nearly 300 pounds now. (see Roscoe's photo)

Roscoe is tentatively scheduled for release into his new tiger habitat at LSU on Sept. 8 – the day of the home football opener against Virginia Tech... when he will officially replace the late Mike V and become Mike VI.

Check out the Roscoe article at The Advocate.

LSU's live mascot Mike the Tiger V passed away on 5-18-07

Geaux Tigers!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hurricane Katrina - 2 Years Later

Hurricane Katrina 2nd Anniversary - August 29, 2007 - Satellite

Hurricane Katrina 2nd Anniversary - August 29, 2007 - Satellite

Hurricane Katrina 2nd Anniversary - August 29, 2007 - Satellite

Hurricane Katrina 2nd Anniversary - August 29, 2007 - Satellite

NEW ORLEANS — On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, anger over the stalled rebuilding was palpable throughout a city where the mourning for the dead and feeling of loss for flooded homes, schools, snow cone stands, old-time hairstylists and hardware stores doesn't seem to subside.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans at 6:10 a.m. Aug. 29, 2005, as a strong Category 3 hurricane that flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

On Wednesday, protesters planned to march from the obliterated Lower 9th Ward to Congo Square, a venerable spot where slaves were able to celebrate their culture. Accompanied by brass bands and wielding megaphones, they will again try to spread their message that the government has failed to help people return.

"People are angry and they want to send a message to politicians that they want them to do more and do it faster," said the Rev. Marshall Truehill, a Baptist pastor and community activist. "Nobody's going to be partying."

"It's an emotional time. You re-live what happened and you remember how scattered everyone is now. There are relationships now that are completely over," said Robert Smallwood, a New Orleans writer. "The city has been dying this slow death. In New Orleans, you can't escape it. It's bad news everyday."

Churches will hold memorial services, including one at the historic St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square, and ring bells in honor of the victims. People throughout the city will hold their own private ceremonies to remember where they were when Katrina hit, and what they lost.

"Everyone who gives it any thought, and I can't imagine who hasn't, has to reflect on his or her own personal experience during that time, and also look at how far we've come," said Larry Lorenz, a journalism professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled in Jackson Square at dusk, right around the time the French Quarter may start getting tipsy with street parties and anniversary revelers, as happened last year.

The anniversary is an opportunity for the city to recapture media attention to tell the nation what's happened to New Orleans since Katrina. Reporters, television crews and photographers have, once again, flocked to the city.

The day has also attracted a passel of politicians — President Bush chief among them. He and Laura Bush arrived Tuesday night and dined with Leah Chase, the Queen of Creole cooking, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and musician Irvin Mayfield.

As on other visits, the president and his team arrived here armed with facts and figures to show how much the Bush administration has done to fulfill the promises the president made two-and-a-half weeks after the hurricane.

"We will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives," Bush said then from historic Jackson Square in New Orleans' French Quarter. "This great city will rise again."

In fact, there is some good news here. The city's population is rebounding, and a few neighborhoods thrive. New Orleans has recovered much of its economic base and sales tax revenues are approaching normal. The French Quarter survived Katrina, and the music and restaurant scenes are recovering.

But much of New Orleans still looks like a wasteland, with businesses shuttered and houses abandoned. Basic services like schools, libraries, public transportation and childcare are at half their original levels and only two-thirds of the region's licensed hospitals are open. Rental properties are in severely short supply, driving rents for those that are available way up. Crime is rampant and police operate out of trailers.

Many projects are hamstrung by the soaring costs of construction and insurance, while federal funding has been slow to flow to cities. Other economic indicators are down — such as population, employment and housing supplies.

Bush's Gulf Coast rebuilding chief, Don Powell, noted the federal government has committed a total of $114 billion to the region, $96 billion of which is already disbursed or available to local governments. Most of it has been for disaster relief, not long-term recovery. He implied it is local officials' fault, particularly in Louisiana where the pace has been slower, if money has not reached citizens.

Powell also said the president intends to ask for the approximately $5 billion federal share of the $7.6 billion more needed to strengthen New Orleans' levee system to withstand a 100-year storm and improve the area's drainage system. Though the levees are not yet ready for the next massive storm, they are slated to be strengthened by 2015.

But Powell said other areas — such as infrastructure repair and home rebuilding — are shared responsibilities with local officials or entirely the purview of state and local governments, suggesting that the federal government is absolved when those things don't happen.

Check out the article at Fox News.

I'm tired of these people protesting about the lack of progress... what's stopping them from rebuilding their own homes with their own money or insurance money? Oh, that's right... they don't have any money and they didn't BUY insurance, so now they have their hands out to the government. Well, beggars can't be choosers.

Maybe the real underlying reason behind delays in certain aspects of rebuilding is the realization that some portions of the New Orleans area just aren't worth rebuilding. Our politicians are dragging their feet, because the truth would be politically incorrect... especially right before the elections.

So much infrastructure has to be replaced and most of the structures have to be torn down in those low-lying areas, such as the Lower 9th Ward... areas that were originally swampland. The high ground close to the river - which includes downtown, the French Quarter, and the Garden District - never really got that much water during Katrina and is worth the investment. Of course, the highest priority is to develop a better storm protections system - it's worth it.

We should be spending the money on things that will provide an economic return for the city and state. This does not include brand-new low-income housing for the leeches. We build that for them and the area will become a run-down crap-hole again in no time... it's just not worth it!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

All The Right Reasons

Nickelback - All The Right Reasons

Nickelback Concert - New Orleans, LA - August 17, 2007

Nickelback Concert - New Orleans, LA - August 17, 2007

Nickelback Concert - New Orleans, LA - August 17, 2007

Nickelback Concert - New Orleans, LA - August 17, 2007

On the heels of the release of their big hit single "Photograph," Canadian band Nickelback deliver a strong, commercial album that sticks close to straightforward rock. The relative absence of plodding post-grunge tendencies leaves the band noticeably lighter on their feet. It's a pleasant, if not challenging, listening experience.

Top Tracks

  • Photograph
  • Animals
  • Fight For All the Wrong Reasons
  • If Everyone Cared
  • Rockstar

Nickelback's latest album All the Right Reasons comes charging fast out of the blocks with the solid rock of "Follow You Home" and "Fight For All the Wrong Reasons." The intensity only lets up with the appearance of their massive current hit song "Photograph." The lyrics may be fairly simple, but it's impossible to avoid getting caught up in the atmosphere of nostalgic reverie. Like a kid bullied on the playground one too many times, Nickelback come charging back at their numerous critics, and it sounds good.

Despite the wishes of a legion of critics All the Right Reasons makes a strong argument for lending another ear to Nickelback. The band has clearly grown. They show confidence in their ability to rock, hint at a sense of humor, and again demonstrate their skill at cranking out catchy melodies. Once the deserved success of "Photograph" dies down, look for more hits to come from this album.

Check out the article at

These guys put out one great album! So great, that I decided to check them out on their tour stop in New Orleans. I was not disappointed!

Puddle of Mudd and Finger Eleven opened and rocked the house, then Nickelback came on and put on one helluva awesome show! There are a lot of bands out there that suck in concert, but Nickelback isn't one of them!

I shot the above photos and videos, though the sound quality isn't that great on the vids.

I'll definitely check these guys out again the next time they come around!

Be sure to check out the Official Nickelback website and Nickelback's Myspace page.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cyber Security?

Cyber Security Threat

Richard Clarke remembers standing in the Oval Office and handing President George W. Bush a letter regarding what the nation should do to secure cyberspace.

"I think he signed it. I don't think he read it. I don't think he knows what it was," Clarke said during his keynote here in Las Vegas at the Black Hat security conference on Aug. 1.

Clarke is somebody whose advice Bush should have heeded.

Until his retirement in 2003, Clarke was a member of the Senior Executive Service, having served as an advisor to four presidents between 1973 and 2003.

He was the chief counter-terrorism advisor on the U.S. National Security Council for both the latter part of the Clinton administration through the early part of Bush's administration and the 9/11 attacks.

Serving with the Clinton administration, he toured the country for two years, collecting industry and academic intelligence on one crushingly important question: How do we secure cyberspace?

This is important. Within the coming 20 years, Clarke said, our soldiers will enter the battlefield with multiple IP addresses.

The Pentagon is already working toward what Clarke called net-centric warfare, part of which will be exoskeleton armor covered with interior and exterior sensors.

These exoskeletons will allow soldiers to literally have eyes in the back of their heads, to see around corners as robots fly ahead and beam back images to their visors, to lift weights at 5 to 10 times their normal capability due to exoskeletal servo-motors, and have their health monitored and their illness or fatigue medicated — again, automatically through the exoskeletal suit.

The Pentagon's vision of net-centric warfare relies on IP addresses, lots of them.

It's why the Pentagon is the only part of government now pushing for the next-generation Internet, IPv6, with its vast capacity for IP addresses, Clarke said.

But this all assumes that cyberspace is secure.

"It's not," Clarke said. "The chaos that goes on in cyberspace very day, I don't have to tell you about," he said to the audience of black, white and gray hackers.

"We are building more and more of our economy, our global economy, on the foundation of cyberspace 1.0," Clarke said. "The fundamental architecture hasn't changed since creation. And we still have secured very little" of that architecture, he said, including the very foundations of today's Internet's, DNS and PHP — themselves still not very secure.

We're also still running code from major vendors across the world that's "replete with errors, replete with errors people can use to hack into systems," Clarke said.

We still have no industry or academically generated standards to secure code, he added.

We still don't write secure code, either, he said, with high rates of errors commonplace.

We still don't authenticate much of cyberspace, either, he said.

We could also be using encryption far more than we do today, Clarke said — an omission evidenced by the loss of a laptop bearing the Social Security numbers of U.S. veterans.

"When some government laptop with the Social Security numbers of every veteran in the United States is stolen in Washington, we shouldn't have to worry about it; it should be encrypted. Databases should be encrypted," he said.

And, yet, they're not.

VoIP (Voice over IP) can be encrypted. With headlines about national security letters being abused by the FBI and other uses of surveillance, perhaps we should encrypt phone calls, Clarke suggested.

The United States also needs to adopt IPv6 "much more rapidly," Clarke said — not only because the Defense Department's plans rest on having IP address-loaded soldiers, but "because it also offers opportunity for security and for prioritization, which we don't have today. Think of how prioritization could improve disaster response in situations like 9/11 or Katrina, where communications channels get swamped immediately, barring emergency first responders from the prioritization they should have.

"And yet we're now planning disaster relief and other response based on cyberspace. On the Internet," Clarke said. "There's no way today to differentiate e-mail from someone to their grandmother or a packet with their vacation photos with that of [communications from a first responder in a disaster situation]."

The work needed to create an Internet infrastructure that could support a more secure, more rationalized cyberspace has unfortunately been starved of funding by a Congress, an administration and a society that just "doesn't get it," Clarke said.

"The Bush administration has systematically reduced the work necessary to secure cyberspace," he said.

"It's not because the answers aren't there," he said. "Or because it's a really hard problem. Sure it's a hard problem, but a lot can be done quickly. Two years we went around holding meetings, asking experts, asking industry, What should we do to secure cyberspace?"

Perhaps, instead of debating stem cell research, instead of debating whether evolution should be taught in schools, instead of surveilling citizens rather than terrorists, we should be having this crucial debate, Clarke said.

"The enemy is terrorists. The enemy is not citizens," he said.

The takeway from his talk: The enemy is an insecure cyberspace.

Check out the article at Fox News.

Scary stuff! One can only hope that the government and society recognize the threat and begin to act before it's too late!

For more information, check out the Cyber Security Wiki page.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phoenix Mars Lander

Phoenix Mars Lander Launch - August 4, 2007

Phoenix Mars Lander - 2007

Phoenix Mars Lander in the Lab


The North Polar Ice Cap of Mars

Mars Map Showing Locations of Mars Landers

Phoenix Mars Lander Seal

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A robotic dirt and ice digger blasted off Saturday, August 4th, 2007 on a 422 million-mile journey to Mars that NASA hopes will culminate next spring in the first ever landing within the red planet's Arctic Circle.

The unmanned Delta rocket carrying the Phoenix Mars Lander rose from its seaside pad at 5:26 a.m., exactly on time, and hurtled through the clear moonlit sky. It was easily visible for nearly five minutes, a bright orange speck in a spray of stars.

If all goes as planned — a big if considering only five of the world's 15 attempts to land on Mars have succeeded — the spacecraft will set down on the Martian Arctic plains on May 25, 2008, and spend three months scooping up soil and ice, and analyzing the samples in minuscule ovens and mixing bowls.

The Phoenix Mars Lander won't be looking for evidence of life on Mars but rather traces of organic compounds in the baked and moistened samples, which would be a possible indicator of conditions favorable for life, either now or once upon a time.

If organic compounds are present on Mars, they're more likely to have been preserved in ice. That's why NASA is aiming for the planet's high northern latitudes, where ice is almost certainly lurking just beneath the surface.

Only about six inches of soft red soil should cover the ice, and so the digger shouldn't have to probe too deeply. The ice is expected to be as hard as concrete, and a drill on the scoop will help gather enough frozen samples. Some dirt and ice samples will be baked and their vapors analyzed. Other soil samples will be mixed with onboard water and the muddy soup examined by onboard microscopes.

"We're really going there just to understand whether the conditions might have been hospitable for microbial life at some point," said the University of Arizona's William Boynton, lead scientist for the oven experiment.

Even if organic molecules pop up, they could be from incoming meteorites, Boynton noted. "It is important, I think, to keep in mind that we are just looking for organic molecules to see if the conditions are right that they could survive," he said, "and that we aren't really going to be making any inference about whether these molecules are indicative of life."

Mars landings are especially risky. Only five of the 15 U.S., Russian and European attempts have worked, all of them American successes beginning with the 1976 Viking touchdowns. Given those odds, the Phoenix team said it did everything possible to test for failures and will continue to do so as the spacecraft flies to Mars. The entire mission costs $420 million.

NASA has never attempted to land a spacecraft on Mars at such a high northern latitude. A lander intended for the red planet's South Pole went silent immediately upon arrival in 1999. That failure, combined with the loss of the companion Mars orbiter, prompted NASA to cancel a 2001 lander mission. The parts from that scrapped mission were used for Phoenix, thus its name, which alludes to the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes.

Phoenix should help pave the way for human visitors, especially if it confirms the presence of water ice in large amounts near the pole, said Michael Meyer, NASA's lead Mars scientist. That would be a tremendous resource, he noted. But if organic matter is indeed found, it could pose a dichotomy: "As Mars gets more interesting, you may not want to send humans right away until you learn out a little bit more about the red planet and find out whether or not life ever got started there."

Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, whose novel "Green Mars" is one of dozens of writings going up on a disk aboard Phoenix, is thrilled to see another robot headed to Mars.

The photos beamed back by recent Mars spacecraft "are just astonishingly precise compared to what I got to deal with when I was working on my books," he said. "It's like putting on glasses after you've been semi-blind all your life."

"I'm quite confident that humans will go to Mars and I do think it's important," Robinson said Friday. "When people get there, they'll be able to do on the ground what maybe 100 robotic missions would have been able to do."

Check out the article at Fox News.

This is so interesting! What's more, it brings us one step closer to understanding Mars and sending manned missions there in the future!

Be sure to check out the Mars Exploration Timeline at the official Phoenix Mars Lander website.

Check out my previous Mars posts: Martian Terraforming and Water on Mars!

If you have never checked out Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, you don't know what you're missing!!!

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Endeavor Takes First Teacher into Space!

Space Shuttle Endeavor - STS-118 Launch

Space Shuttle Endeavor on the pad - STS-118

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - January 28, 1986

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour roared into orbit Wednesday carrying teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who was finally fulfilling the dream of Christa McAuliffe and the rest of the fallen Challenger crew.

Endeavour and its crew of seven rose from the seaside pad at 6:36 p.m. (2236 GMT), right on time, and pierced a solidly blue sky. They were expected to reach the international space station on Friday.

Once Endeavour was safely past the 73-second mark of the flight, the moment when Challenger exploded shortly after the call "Go at throttle up," Mission Control exclaimed, "Morgan racing toward space on the wings of a legacy."

Immediately after the shuttle reached orbit, Mission Control announced, "For Barbara Morgan and her crewmates, class is in session."

Morgan was McAuliffe's backup for Challenger's doomed launch in 1986 and, even after two space shuttle disasters, never swayed in her dedication to NASA and the agency's on-and-off quest to send a schoolteacher into space. She rocketed away in the center seat of the cabin's lower compartment, the same seat that had been occupied by McAuliffe.

McAuliffe's mother, Grace Corrigan, watched the launch on TV from her home in Massachusetts. "I'm very happy that it went up safely," she said. "We all send her our love," she added, her voice breaking.

More than half of NASA's 114 Teacher-in-Space nominees in 1985 gathered at the launch site, along with hundreds of other educators, all of them thrilled to see Morgan continue what McAuliffe began.

Also on hand was the widow of Challenger's commander, who said earlier in the day that she would be praying and pacing at liftoff and would not relax until Morgan was safely back on Earth in two weeks.

"The Challenger crew — my husband, Dick Scobee, the teacher Christa McAuliffe — they would be so happy with Barbara Morgan," said June Scobee Rodgers. "It's important that the lessons will be taught because there's a nation of people waiting, still, who remember where they were when we lost the Challenger and they remember a teacher was aboard."

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin met Tuesday night with several members of the Challenger astronaut families in town for the launch — although not the McAuliffe family — and said they did not seem worried.

"They didn't act like they came to see another tragedy," he said. "They're here to celebrate her having a chance to fly."

Check out the article at Fox News.

Congratulations Barbara Morgan and the Space Shuttle Endeavor STS-118 Crew! I'm sure that Christa McAuliffe would be happy that her mission is finally underway.

I remember witnessing the Challenger Disaster on the television in my 3rd Grade classroom. What a terrible day that was... I will never forget it. Words cannot express how happy I am to see this mission proceed!

Be sure to check out the STS-118 Mission feature at

Saturday, August 04, 2007

LSU Tigers Ranked #2 in USA Today Poll

2007 LSU Tigers Football Schedule

2007 LSU Tigers Football Lineup

LSU Tiger Stadium - Baton Rouge, Louisiana

TigerToons 2007 Schedule

LSU Tiger Stadium - Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Geaux LSU Tigers!

At No. 1, the University of Southern California Trojans. At No. 2, the LSU Fighting Tigers.

That’s how the final AP poll for the 2003 college football season appeared. That’s how the 2007 preseason USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll appears.

LSU and USC haven’t played each other since 1984, but they are forever linked by the controversy of 2003, when the Tigers won the BCS national championship and the Trojans won the AP national championship.

Now they’re as close as can be atop the preseason coaches’ poll.

Forty-five of the 60 coaches on the USA Today panel voted USC at No. 1 in the preseason poll released Friday. Four voted LSU at No. 1.

LSU coach Les Miles more than downplayed the response at the football operations facility, where the Tigers reported Friday for preseason camp.

“I don’t think there was any response,” Miles said Friday afternoon, 10 hours after USA Today posted the Top 25 on its Web site.

“I just had somebody tell me about it not 30 minutes ago. I don’t know that there’s a response necessary.”

The No. 2 ranking is LSU’s highest in the preseason coaches’ poll in the 10-year history of the BCS. The coaches ranked LSU at No. 3 to start the 2004 season after the Tigers won the BCS in 2003.

LSU opened the 1959 season as reigning national champion and the No. 1 team in the AP poll. LSU finished No. 3 in 1959, the same ranking the Tigers finished with last year after their second consecutive 11-2 season.

Miles, 22-4 in two seasons at LSU, sounded a familiar refrain about outside expectations of his Tigers.

“It’s nice to be close enough (to No. 1) so that if you’re successful in your season and you take care of the work that’s in front of you, you can play in the game,” Miles said. “That’s the good news about the position that we’re in.

“That makes no difference to anybody in our program other than we understand what’s before us and what we have to accomplish.”

Miles, one of the coaches who votes on the poll, said he was not one of the four who listed LSU at No. 1.

“It’s hard for me to vote for us No. 1 based on the fact that we haven’t won a game yet,” he said before declining to say where he ranked the Tigers.

The coaches’ poll and the Harris Interactive Poll each represents a one-third component of the BCS formula, which determined the two teams that will play for the national championship Jan. 7 in the Louisiana Superdome.

The other component is a composite of computer rankings.

The Harris rankings are not released until after the season starts. The first BCS rankings will be released Oct. 14, according to the BCS Web site.

Two Southeastern Conference teams are in the top three of the USA Today Top 25. Florida is right behind LSU, ranked No. 3 after receiving nine first-place votes.

Texas is No. 4, followed by Michigan, which received the other two first-place votes.

West Virginia is sixth, followed by Wisconsin and Oklahoma. Virginia Tech, LSU’s opponent for the Sept. 8 home opener at Tiger Stadium, is ninth. Ohio State completes the top 10.

In addition to LSU and Florida, four other SEC schools are in the coaches’ top 25: No. 13 Georgia, No. 14 Auburn, No. 15 Tennessee and No. 20 Arkansas.

The Associated Press, which withdrew from the BCS formula before the 2005 season, will release its Top 25 media poll Aug. 18, the day LSU completes fall camp with a scrimmage in Tiger Stadium.

Miles said he expects the players to handle LSU’s high ranking responsibly.

“Great expectations puts everyone on the same page,” Miles said. “I think everybody in our program understands that there’s an opportunity in front of this team, that if they do their role, if they work hard, if they perform, that in fact this team could accomplish some special things.

“I want to coach at a place where there’s great expectations.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

This is going to be another exciting year for LSU Football!!!

Be sure to check out LSU

Geaux Tigers!!!

Update - August 18:
The AP has released its Top 25 poll and the LSU Tigers are #2 behind USC on their list, as well!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Transformers: The New Benchmark for Movie F/X!





More than 750 parts stretching a half-mile long. Some 350 engineers working round-the-clock. Thousands of rusty, old mechanic photos — clutch plates, transmissions, brake discs — spilling across the table. All for one beat-up Camaro? Sure doesn't sound like your average auto manufacturer.

"The idea is they're not fresh off the showroom floor," says Jeff White, the man charged with creating the yellow sports car and 13 others for a big new garage. He's right: They're supposed to look realer than that. And be from outer space. And turn into 30-ft. robots. And save the universe.

That's all in a day's work for the motor magicians at George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), who for the last two years have been juggling the limits of the possible (turning a real car into a fake robot and figuring out what the heck to put inside) and the demands of reality (studio budgets, GM sponsorship, the wrath of fanboys worldwide) to build the most painstaking — and maybe most believable — effects achievement in movie history: Transformers.

When it revs up at the box office this Fourth of July, Michael Bay's $150 million adaptation of the legendary 1980s cartoon and toy series will include nearly 50 so-called transformations. Hand-rendered metallic uncorkings of real-life cars, trucks and helicopters represented uncharted territory for the gooey-alien experts at ILM, each transformation taking six months to imagine and each re-engineering the way digital Hollywood does computer graphics imagery (CGI).

"How are we gonna get this thing from a car into the robot and back in a believable way?" White, the film's digital production supervisor, asked the Transformers crew in 2005, when, after their back-and-forth with toymaker Hasbro, the F/X plan consisted of little more than robot sketches and shiny new Hummers — and not much in between. "Of course, Michael Bay wants a lot of energy, he wants ninja-fighting warriors that can punch and put their arms over their heads and do all this crazy stuff," White says. "So we had to design these really complicated systems — how do all these systems match together and fly over each other to keep it looking real? And that was a huge challenge."

From Jar Jar Binks in the new Star Wars films to villains of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, the modern CGI pipeline has tended to work from the ground up: Pre-build a creature, film it with a stand-in on set, then animate it to react, to actors such as Samuel L. Jackson or Johnny Depp, in postproduction. But after realizing that the simple route, with one transformation per Autobot or Decepticon, might not look robotic enough, Bay and Co. pulled a 280-terabyte U-turn.

ILM designed a backwards interface, moving the beginning of CGI production out of the hands of creature development and onto the desktops of the animators. By allowing animators to get the first crack at rigging control — the way a computer-generated character is built, the way it walks and rotates — ILM's IT team could develop software for custom transformations designed on the fly that might satisfy Bay's notorious flying camera angles. Click a button here, and a flatbed's brake light can pivot into an Optimus Prime punch. Set a control function there, and an alien jetfighter wing can cock into a Megatron claw for any of a half-dozen different scenes.

Optimus Prime has lips. Moving metal lips. The Autobot leader went to the grave in the original 1986 movie without ever having opened his voice box, but Bay hated the idea of action heroes wearing a mask. So he had ILM juice up each robot's jaws, eyes and metallic visage, from cartoony strobe light to winking, blinking, crackling Norelco blades.

But the most important finishing touch? Grease. Lots of it. Sure, stagehands dusted off the real Pontiac Solstice GXP before the cameras rolled, but digital painters at ILM were shading the doors and really mucking up each car's gearbox guts before they rolled up into robots. "Here we've got a car but we don't have any robots, so that's what made this project way harder than Pearl Harbor, where we had real planes to look at," says Ron Woodall, admitting that he painted some cars to look twice as dirty as their exteriors. "We don't have a target, and it's up to everyone's imagination."

Ultimately, that's the point of spending $150 million on car chases, explosions and millions of little CGI polygons: Drummed-up digital trickery is now at the level of turning the unreal into the real — as long as it doesn't seem too cheesy, and doesn't piss off too many fans. "Our goal is to please Michael Bay. He's got to answer to all the other folks," Benza says. "So top of the priority list? If it looks cool, that's where we start. That's the ultimate goal, then we can figure out ways to get the Chevy logo visible and the kind of signature things that the GM folks wanted in there. But I think ultimately even GM wanted Michael to have creative control over the coolness of the transformations."

What ends up on the silver screen this week is something that for once actually looks silver, justifiably chrome. Bay even had to send back one of the few non-CGI scale models made for the film — a painted fiberglass Bumblebee made for a scene when the Autobot savior is tied to train tracks — because it didn't look real enough. "It's been a struggle for all of us in this business to get the computer graphics looking as good as they are now, and I really do believe Transformers is a new high-water mark for making materials look good," says Farrar, the visual-effects supervisor and Bay's right-hand computer geek. "It's surprisingly complicated in the world of computer graphics to make objects look like what everybody in the world sees every day."

Check out the article at Popular Mechanics.

This was a totally awesome movie! Being a big fan of the Original Transformers in the 80's, I was worried that they would screw this one up... but it was great! The special effects were so realistic, I found myself immersed in the movie and actually believing that the people were talking to the robots. Way to go, Michael Bay and ILM!!!