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in Southern California!”



From New
Scientist magazine
, vol 173 issue 2334, 16/03/2002, page 26:

Cycles of creation

Our Universe may be stuck
in an endless loop of death and rebirth. It’s an old idea, says Marcus
, but the strange power of nothingness has given it a new lease
of life

WHAT happened before the
big bang? If some physicists are to be believed, the question is about
as meaningless as asking what is north of the North Pole. But others don’t
give up so easily.

to two cosmologists, before the big bang there was another big bang. And,
before that, another. “If we’re right,” says Neil Turok of the University
of Cambridge, “the big bang is but one in an infinite series of big bangs
stretching back into the eternal past.” And into the eternal future.

Turok and his colleague Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University are advocating
is a new version of an idea that dates back to the 1920s. Back then the
Russian physicist Aleksandr Friedmann, the father of the big bang idea,
realised that if the gravity of all the matter in the Universe is powerful
enough, it could stop the expansion of the cosmos and turn it around. The
Universe would then carry on contracting down to a “big crunch”. If both
expanding and re-collapsing universes are permitted, it’s a simple step
to imagine the one changing seamlessly into the other. From the big crunch
the Universe would bounce or rebound in a new big bang and the whole cycle
would begin again.

    It was
a popular idea until the 1960s, when Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking
scuppered it. Using Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which explains
gravity as a warp in space-time, they showed that the big bang must have
started in a singularity. A singularity is a point of infinite density
and temperature, and it’s a big problem for anyone taking a hard look at
the physics of the big bang. That’s because when everything in your equations
goes to infinity, the equations are meaningless. Physics breaks down.

doesn’t rule out a cyclic Universe. But the singularity is like an opaque
curtain, preventing a view through the big bang to earlier times. With
the singularity in the way, it makes no sense to talk about any continuous
existence. If the Universe passes through a singularity, everything gets
scrambled in the breakdown of physics. Nothing in the new universe can
be affected by what happened before, so the previous cycle might as well
not have existed. This was very discouraging, and people abandoned the
idea of a cyclic Universe.

    Its rebirth
has come about because physicists are now convinced that Einstein’s theory
of gravity breaks down at the big bang. It’s all because of quantum mechanics,
which seems to impose a fundamental fuzziness on things. Quantum theory
is usually applied to particles of matter, but many physicists think it
must affect space-time too. The implication, they say, is that nothing
can collapse to a point. Instead there is a minimum size for anything.
The Universe may once have been pretty amazingly small, but it wasn’t infinitesimal,
so its temperature and density weren’t infinite. “The Universe may not,
after all, have begun in a singularity,” says Turok.

the past decade or so, this idea of space-time fuzziness has encouraged
some physicists to think about what happened before the big bang. But on
its own, it doesn’t prove there was anything, or give any hints about what
that was.

last year, Turok and Steinhardt came up with the first part of their new
theory. It builds on what are called brane-world scenarios, an outgrowth
of the idea that extra dimensions in space are needed to explain the fundamental
forces of nature. To explain why we experience only four of these dimensions,
physicists have come up with the peculiar idea that the matter and non-gravitational
forces of our Universe are stuck firmly to a four-dimensional island, or
“brane”, floating within a higher-dimensional space. Whereas most of the
extra space dimensions are supposed to be rolled up much smaller than an
atom, it may be that one of them is relatively large, and we simply don’t
see it because it is the exclusive realm of gravity ( New Scientist, 29
September 2001, p 26) .

brane-world scenario suggests a possible explanation for the big bang,”
says Turok. Branes have their own mass, so a moving brane has an enormous
amount of kinetic energy. And if our brane collided with another brane,
this kinetic energy would be liberated, he thinks. “This could have created
the fireball of the big bang and ultimately all the matter we see in today’s
galaxies and stars”.

and Steinhardt, who developed this idea with Justin Khoury of Princeton
University and Burt Ovrut of the University of Pennsylvania, call it the
“ekpyrotic” universe, from the Greek for “born out of fire”.
They have
thought through several colliding-brane scenarios, some involving three
branes. But what they’ve ended up with is a relatively simple scenario,
in which two four-dimensional branes approach each other along a fifth
dimension. Turok and his colleagues call them “boundary branes” because
they form the ultimate boundaries of the Universe.

we have done is explore what would happen if one brane passes through the
other,” he says. They found that the kinetic energy of the colliding branes
is converted into heat energy within the branes when they collide with
each other, effectively conjuring real particles out of the vacuum. What’s
more, it naturally produces a Universe that is smooth on the largest scales,
but has small lumps and bumps in it to turn into galaxies and galaxy clusters.

    In this
basic model, there’s still no cycle. Just a phase of approaching, empty
branes before the big bang. Then Steinhardt and Turok asked themselves,
what could pull the branes together before their collision? That something
can only be the vacuum in between them, says Turok-because there’s nothing
else there.

    The vacuum,
as it turns out, changes everything. “The vacuum is like a spring between
the plates, or branes,” says Turok. Within our Universe it appears to be
generating a repulsive force-the so-called cosmological constant-which
is driving apart the galaxies. An attractive force would seem to be incompatible
with that. But it turns out that even while there is a repulsion along
the space dimensions inside each brane, there can also be an attraction
between the branes along the fifth dimension.

team is considering a number of possible mechanisms that might be behind
this force. One suggestion is that there is a charge imbalance between
the two branes that creates an attractive force between them. “We don’t
have a complete theory in which this could be calculated,” Turok says.
“Our scenario is more of a guide as to how things could work.”

    He believes
that today, the spring is still being stretched, but in the far future
it will reach its maximum extension. Once that happens, the branes will
begin to accelerate towards each other until they collide again.

    So in
the new picture, the oscillation occurs only along the fifth dimension.
It happens like this: two branes are pulled together by the vacuum, and
collide. Inside both branes a huge amount of energy is released, and the
branes expand (if you can imagine an infinite rubber sheet being stretched
out, it’s a little like that). We brane-bound creatures call this event
the big bang.

    As the
branes expand and cool, matter and galaxies form. The galaxies drift apart
and age. After a while, the gently repulsive vacuum inside the branes makes
this expansion accelerate, so the galaxies fly apart faster still. The
end looks bleak.

    But meanwhile
the two branes have moved apart and then been pulled back together by the
attractive vacuum in between them. They rush towards a collision once more,
and a new big bang overwhelms both universes.

    So from
the perspective of someone stuck on the brane, space-time just keeps on
expanding, though the expansion is given repeated pushes by successive
bangs-that is, brane collisions. In other words, from the off-brane perspective,
we have something more like the traditional cyclic universe, yo-yoing back
and forth. Meanwhile, from the brane perspective, we have an altogether
different kind of cycle in an eternally expanding Universe.

overcomes another big problem with the old-style cyclic universe. In each
cycle, stars radiate heat into space, but these cyclic models involve closed
universes, so each bang is hotter than its predecessor. Looking backwards
in time, then, the cycles get progressively cooler. The inescapable conclusion
is that the cycles must have begun at some time in the past. “But simply
pushing the origin of the Universe back before the big bang is not very
aesthetically pleasing,” says Turok. “This is another reason why the cyclic
universe was seen as unsatisfactory.”

    The new
cyclic universe avoids this problem. After the branes have passed through
each other, the spring of the vacuum is in compression and causes the space
of the branes to expand for a long time. That dilutes the heat from stars
so that the patch of space that experiences each new bang has essentially
the same temperature as the previous cycle. Consequently, all cycles are
the same and the universe can have oscillated for ever. “Such a universe
is more aesthetically pleasing than a big bang universe since the question
of what happened before is no longer a nagging problem,” says Turok. “The
Universe has been around for ever. There was no beginning.”

galaxies and life may therefore have existed in previous cycles of the
Universe. But, if the cycles are all identical, wouldn’t such endless repetition
be mind-numbingly dull? Turok and Steinhardt think not, because random
events will change the details each time. You won’t get the same galaxies,
planets and people each cycle. “Just because the cycles repeat does not
mean the events in each cycle are identical,” says Turok.

speculatively, he points out that the extra rolled-up dimensions might
vary their sizes between cycles. The significance of this is that the fundamental
forces are suspected to be manifestations of the sizes of these extra dimensions.
“The laws of physics could change from cycle to cycle,” says Turok.

    If the
physical laws can change, they might be driven ever closer to some particular
set, what physicists call an attractor. “If we are lucky, we might find
that the sizes of the extra dimensions home in on particular values,” he
says. “We might then finally have an explanation for, say, the mass of
the electron.”

both Turok and Steinhardt are excited by all these possibilities. Reactions
from their colleagues are more mixed. “At the moment I have an open mind
on the ekpyrotic universe and its latest oscillating version,” says Tom
Kibble of Imperial College in London. “There is no doubt an element of
hype here, but I think they are right to be excited.”

most outspoken opponent is Andrei Linde of Stanford University. “This is
mostly hype,” he says. He thinks the whole model is unnecessarily complicated,
like the epicycles that medieval astronomers used to describe the orbits
of the planets in our Solar System.

    But if
Steinhardt and Turok are right after all, the future is less bleak and
more dangerous than we have been told. Some cosmologists suggest that,
because the galaxies are now accelerating apart, the future holds nothing
but an ever emptier, cooler Universe. Now we have an alternative to look
forward to: an almighty surprise, one day, when we and our fellow universe
come together and collide once more in a spectacular finale. And who knows
what will emerge from the fire?

Further reading:

 “The ekpyrotic universe:
colliding branes and the origin of the hot big bang” by Justin Khoury,
Burt Ovrut, Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, (

“From big crunch to big
bang” by Justin Khoury, Burt Ovrut, Nathan Seiberg, Paul Steinhardt and
Neil Turok (

Paul Steinhardt’s website
is at Neil Turok’s website is at



from the NYTimes–

March 28, 2002


Returning After 28 Years,
Leading an Army of Brass


Bigger means better to Roy
Wood, the English rocker whose four shows at the

Village Underground were
his first New York City performances since 1974. His

music has always equated
blare with rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

guitars rang out when he led the Move in the late 1960’s; cellos took

over when he founded the
Electric Light Orchestra with Jeff Lynne in 1971; and

saxophones and voices buttressed
Wizzard, his next band. Roy Wood’s Army, the

band he brought to the Village
Underground, backed him with 12 musicians,

including an eight-member
horn section. Most of the band members were women. Mr.

Wood looked much as he did
in the 1970’s, bearded with brightly dyed long hair.

set was a brass-pumped retrospective of Mr. Wood’s catalog from the

Move to the present. Sung
in his high, nervous tenor while female backup singers

gestured in sync, the songs
were the work of a songwriter proclaiming his love

for an imagined 1950’s paradise,
full of pretty girls jiving to jukebox rock, or

a man in thrall to the fearful
power of women’s charms. The Move’s “Fire

Brigade” calls for firemen
to cool him down; a newer song, “Kiss Me Goodnight,

Boadicea,” begs the ancient
warrior queen to “take a break from your pillage and


    The songs
often harked back to grand Phil Spector marches or a swinging

rockabilly two-beat, but
they weren’t pure revivals; they threw in odd key

changes or skipped beats,
while Mr. Wood took guitar solos that swiveled their

way toward brash dissonances.
Other songs took Beatles-style pop and added extra

crimps. The Army also played
the Move’s psychedelic artifacts “I Can Hear the

Grass Grow” and “Flowers
in the Rain,” which showed Mr. Wood’s ear for plant


the horns hooting away, the Army came across like a mixture of a soul revue

and a Las Vegas show band,
conveying a skewed nostalgia. For “Are You Ready to

Rock?” Mr. Wood piled on
one more element: he marched onstage playing bagpipes.

Proud of his eccentricities
old and new, he had clearly decided that nothing

succeeds like excess.






by David Berman

MY FRIEND KYLE always had
a lot of money and could get me into the expensive kind of trouble without
the trouble sticking. He didn’t mind paying for me if it meant raising
hell with loyal company. We were seventeen. You only needed one reason
to be friends at that age. I figured we had at least three. So we broke
the law every day in every way and laughed our asses off at the fucking
stupid world.

    In late
April we began to hear rumors about a new drug in the Metroplex. It was
in the gay bars. Kids at the Arts Magnet were getting it. Certain people
at certain parties had it and it was magical.

called it X. It was supposed to make you unaccountably happy and tolerant
of everyone from headbangers to rich fucks. Even “douchebags.”

had been using it in therapy for years, we were told. It was legal and
local product (it was still special to Texas at that time). It would make
you love and accept anyone. Even yourself.

was a complicated promise for the teenager roiling with hate and confusion.
I hardly believed it. But one night Kyle pulled out some foil holding four
tablets, we each swallowed two, and went to a party where a lot of people
were going to be doing it.

around the corner of that house, I’ll never forget the scene. Every high-school
rule was being broken before me. The lions were chatting up the lambs.
I saw sworn enemies talking like longtime companions; a prickly society
bitch on her knees sifting white garden pebbles through her hands with
happy eyes; a brutal wrestler from my school with his arms wrapped around
the trunk of a pecan tree, saying his first words to me ever, “Hi David,”
sweetly, as I walked by.

    I rolled
my jeans up to my knees and sat at the edge of the pool. Maybe for the
first time I felt like no one was going to try to push me in. The stereo
was playing “Blues for Allah” instead of the customary “Eliminator.” Nearby,
two linebackers were confessing how much they depended on each other “on
and off the field.” I felt myself giving in to all the kindness, not caring
if it was a lie or not. By the time a hot Fort Worth Jewess sprang into
in my lap and began running her fingers through my hair, I was sold.

    At sunrise,
I came in through the sliding glass. I woke my father and his new bride,
apologized for staying out all night, and pulled a chair up beside the
bed. I continued to sit there and smile down on them. I said, “I just want
you to know how much I love you, Dad.” Incredibly, he did not kick my ass.
That morning was never mentioned again.

was still legal and as such carried virtually no stigma. Kyle’s uncle kept
a jar of tablets on his desk at his car dealership. Law-abiding adults
were taking them at North Dallas cocktail parties. They were even sold
behind the bars like cigarettes and openly hawked on street corners downtown.

summer, I crushed two sports cars with my homely Buick, received six speeding
tickets (three in one day), two tickets for public urination, impregnated
a Collin County judge’s daughter, and had a bottle of MD 20/20 broken over
my head. Approximately none of it registered with me. A very real fault
of the drug.

    I’m going
to skip the scenes of me chasing daisies and singing to stray dogs from
still bulldozer cabs. I was exercising horses that summer for cash, and
X hangovers were A-OK for barreling over the dull scrubland.

in August, the lawmakers in Austin finally got around to outlawing ecstasy.
What a gift for the dealers! The price of ecstasy immediately quadrupled
and the production costs plummeted as the manufacturers began cutting the
pills with all manner of horrible stuff.

    The night
the law went through, I went to a concert at the Bronco Bowl and snagged
two of the newly illegal pills for a dear price. I had never seen them
in capsules and had no idea it was a sign they were crushing the old “legal”
pills and mixing them with laxative, mannitol, low-grade speed, whatever.

inside, I spent a half hour wiggling my way to the front of the floor.
Unfortunately, when I got there I had a big problem. Not only were the
drugs not kicking in, they were causing me to have to shit real bad. Michael
Stipe was singing “Moon River” (hey!) a cappella and I knew I was going
to blow if I didn’t part this shoulder-to-shoulder crowd and make it to
the restroom. The audience was frozen in place and dead silent as I plowed
through, “Excuse me, excuse me, emergency here, please, please” ( I think
I even yelled “gangway,” such was my ambition to get through), completely
stepping on the vocalist’s Ethel Merman star turn and nearly getting shhhhhed
to death.

    I passed
the rest of the concert in a nasty stall gritting my teeth, sweating and
coming to terms with what was clearly the symbolic end of a spaced-out

years on, I can honestly say I’m glad it was outlawed. After three months
of its use I had lost all discretion and was prepared to trust just about
anyone. Worse yet, it was turning me into a joiner. That’s not who I am.
Anyway, ecstasy was not to find its true customer base until years later,
when the strangely passive kids who grew up in the child protectorate of
the U.S. eighties and nineties came of age, craving depersonalization.
Apparently it helps them dance. They’re a very attractive lot. Have you
seen them dance?

David Berman lives in Nashville.
His first book, Actual Air, came out last year via Open City Press.



“The next title to be published
by the Tartarus
will be Nightmares of an

Ether-Drinker by
Jean Lorrain, translated by Brian Stableford. Lorrain was an

archetypal doomed decadent
of the 1890s whose chosen drug, ether, killed him

horribly, though not before
it had inspired him to write a series of morbid

tales which are translated
and collected by Brian Stableford for the first time.

It will be published in
the slightly different format which we have just used

for John Gale’s collection
of prose poems, A Damask of the Dead. It will also

have 1890’s style boards
printed in two colours, and a dustjacket.”



This giant squid (measuring
8 meters or about 26 feet) was hauled up from the same area in 1996.


Giant octopus caught off New Zealand

March 28, 2002 Posted: 11:07
AM EST (1607 GMT)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters)
— Scientists have identified what they

believe is the largest octopus
ever seen, a four-meter (13-foot) long giant

hauled from the depths near
New Zealand’s remote Chatham Islands.

    The dead
specimen, caught in a trawler’s net, was badly damaged but it was

clearly a massive animal,
said National Institute of Water and Atmospheric

Research (NIWA) marine biologist
Steve O’Shea.

    “It would
easily have been four-plus meters (about 13 feet) in total length and

a weight of 70-75 kilograms
(154-165 pounds), if not more — it’s a very big

octopus, the size of a fully
mature male giant squid.”

had provisionally identified the specimen, caught at a depth of more than

3,000 feet (900 meters),
as Haliphron Atlanticus, a bright red, jelly-like

species of octopus not previously
found in the South Pacific.

of the species had been found in shallow northern waters, with adults

believed to live at a depth
of around 250 meters so the discovery was unusual,

he said.

extremely deep, it’s extremely large, it’s the first recorded in the South

Pacific, it may not even
be the species we’ve attributed to it at this point in

time — I’ve got a lot more
work to do on it.”

had been amazed when he relayed the details of the creature, O’Shea said.

down here in New Zealand, this is an area which is so poorly explored that

its not surprising that
we’re getting all these weird and wonderful animals.

frightening thing is that we are getting an animal like this newly reported

in New Zealand waters today
… so new and large, you’ve got to sit down and ask

yourself ‘What is it we
know about the deep sea environment?’,” O’Shea said.

are one of the most diverse creatures on earth, with several hundred

species worldwide and more
than 40 species found in New Zealand waters alone.

    The Chathams
are a windswept group of islands around 530 miles (850 kilometers)

east of Christchurch, home
to around 800 people engaged in sheep farming and





“I am Alexandra Kosteniuk,
a International Woman Grandmaster (WGM) (1998) and an International Master
among men (IM)(2000) and a Women’s Vice World Champion (2001). I was born
in the Russian city of Perm on April 23, 1984. I have been living in Moscow
since 1985. Currently I study at the Russian State Academy of Physical
Education. When I graduate from the Academy I will become a certified professional
chess trainer. I really enjoy teaching chess, perhaps it was inherited
from my dad. My dad – Konstantin Vladimirovich – was my original trainer,
it was he who taught me to play chess and worked with me for several hours
a day. I am very grateful to him for everything I have achieved in chess
is his merit. My dad sacrificed much for me. He abandoned a very promising
and brilliant career of an army officer in order to help me and to accompany
me to tournaments. Strange it may seem but he doesn’t have any international
degrees, but he plays chess very good. And I think he is the best trainer
I’ve ever known. That’s why, if you can’t play chess or if you want to
improve your skills in chess, I recommend you to apply just to my father,
by the way, he gives online lessons. I also gave online lessons on ICC,
but now unfortunately I don’t have time for it, because of the preparation
for the regular World Chess Championship, which will take place in London(
December 2003).

    I improved
in chess rapidly. My first great achievements came in Junior tournaments.
In 1994 I became a European Champion among girls under the age of 10, and
a month later shared first and second places at the World Championship
under the age of 10. Later, I had the same major achievements in other
age categories. There were many of such victories and I’ll show them in
a table there.

    In 1997,
I became a Woman International Master (WIM) at the age of 13, they say
that I reached this mark slightly quicker than Maya Chiburdanidze, but
I don’t give much significance to that. I scored all necessary WGM norms
in February of 1998 that is at the age of 13 years and 10 months but the
title was officially given to me in November 1998 at the 33rd World Olympiad
in Kalmykiya. There is a table of my other major achievements at International
tournaments. My current ELO rating as of January 1, 2002 is 2469.

    I also
have many other interests but
chess, I write poems (some of them are published
in my book), and I like sport in all its forms. When I graduate from the
Physical Education Academy, I will be only 20, that is why I hope to enter
one of the best universities of the world (of course if I earn enough money
for such education). I adore studying.

    On the
26th of December (in Russian) and on the 15th of January (in English) my
first book How I became Grandmaster at age 14 will come out. My dad and
I have been working on it for almost two years, and I feel that its genre
is very original. It is a manual in which I teach to play chess and at
the same time I tell how I learnt to play chess starting from the age of
5. The book contains many annotated games and pictures, including colored
ones. I hope that it won’t disappoint you. I think that many parents will
purchase it as a present for their children. Perhaps not everyone who reads
it will become a Grandmaster at the age of 14, but many readers will learn
to play this most intelligent and most beautiful game in the world. Good

    I am
eager to hear your feedback and suggestions concerning my site, which will
surely be answered by me or by my assistants who administrate the site.
At my site you can put questions online to an administrator on duty or
discuss news at the forum of the site. You are also welcome to my fan club!

Yours truly,


“Want to know in details
what other people think about the book by Alexandra Kosteniuk?

Attention, you chess fans!
Alexandra Kosteniuk‚s new book „How I became grandmaster at the age 14‰
is out! On the 26th of December Alexandra’s book was published in Russian,
and on the 15th of January the book was published in English. Spanish version
will be published very soon.

The book features:

* How I became a Grandmaster
at the age of 14

* Secrets of the Russian
chess school

* My best games

* Instructive positions”