How Much Does It Cost to Fight the Yosemite Fire?

English: Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Pa...

English: Yosemite valley, Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Français : Vallée de Yosemite. Parc national de Yosemite, Californie (États-Unis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The summer of 2013 has proven to be a destructive one. Brush fires have engulfed much of the Western United States, consuming large forests and chasing citizens out of their homes. The fire known as the Rim Fire is closing in one the Yosemite National Forest, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Managing forest fires in the Western United States has been a consistent struggle over the decades with budgets proving to be hard to navigate around for local, state, and federal firefighting forces. Around 32,000 individual brush fires across California and other western states has resulted in the destruction of 3 million acres of land. To battle these blazes, the U.S. Forest Service, a federal office, contracts with private, state, and local firefighting agencies by providing funding, equipment, resources, and the chemicals needed to stop the blazes. On August 19th, 2013, the U.S. Forest Service has used $967 million to fund the management of these fires. At that time, the U.S. Forest Service only had $50 million left in its budget.

Why is the budget so affected this year compared to other years? For example, in 2012, the total amount of forest fires the U.S. Forest Service answered to totaled to around 67,700 fires and the destruction of 9.3 million acres of land. However, budgetary choices made by the Congress over the decade have made available funds for the U.S. Forest Service hard to find. In addition, the budget sequester, which went into effect this budget year, subtracted $115 million from federal wildfire management programs.

In addition, individual states are seeing their state budgets affected. California had to declare a state of emergency on August 23rd, 2013. One example of a damaging effect to California included the Rim Fire destroying much of the infrastructure near the Hetch Hetchy Resovoir, which supplies water and hydroelectric power to much of San Francisco. As a result of the damage, the city of San Francisco and neighboring municipalities that use the same energy source, spent over $600,000 in replacement water and energy. Private costs are also immense; thousands of homes and private property have been destroyed across the west, including from the Rim Fire. The Rim Fire near Yosemite threatens the national park, the metropolitan San Francisco area’s water and energy supply, and the major municipalities near. By August 25th, 2013, 143,980 acres near Yosemite National Park have been engulfed by the Rim Fire with only 7% of the fire contained. The Rim Fire is approximately 20 miles away from Yosemite National Park and although Route 120 heading into the park is closed, park officials are hopeful that the park will not be affected by the fire thanks to its current distance. If the Rim Fire expands to the Yosemite National Park, the costs for the U.S. Forest Service from the fire damage and trying to contain the fire could catapult higher.

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Peter Capaldi: The New Dr. Who’s Filmography

If you’re new to Dr. Who, one of the odder concepts in the program is that The Doctor periodically regenerates. This is a lampshade on the reality that the actors playing the lead character don’t want to be saddled with the role

Doctor Who?

Doctor Who? (Photo credit: skuds)

for the entirety of their careers, and it allows an “in-universe” canonical way for the writers and show-runners to allow this change to happen. In fan circles, Matt Smith, the outgoing doctor, was “The Eleventh Doctor” (because he’s the eleventh actor to take on the role) and is going to be replaced, when the series comes on again, with Peter Capaldi, a Scots veteran of several BBC productions.

Capaldi returns to one of the traditions of the program – in casting an actor who’s a bit older — 55 as of 2013 – to play a 900-year-old time traveling alien. His acting career stretches back to 1983, with a role as Danny Oldsen in Local Hero. His early acting career included bit parts in the British underworld-themed dramaedy Minder, and the horror film The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant and Amanda Donohoe.His ambitions with film include work behind the camera – he won an Oscar for Live Action Short Film Subjects with Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life in 1995, becoming the only actor to play The Doctor to have an Oscar on his mantel. He has also written films, including Soft Top, Hard Shoulder.Back in front of the camera, his first starring role was as Luke Wakefield, in Mr. Wakefield’s Crusade, where a closeted gay man thinks he’s witnessed a crime. When that series ran its course, he did rolls as a mad mathematician (Psychos), and an angel in the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

2005 saw Capaldi’s most famous role, before assuming the mantle of a Time Lord: That of spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC series “The Thick of It,” a role he inhabited through 2012. In that role, he plays a profoundly profane director of communications for the British Government, charged with public relations, cleaning up political gaffes, and ensuring that any dirt about an opposition party member is aired at the most politically advantageous moment. His role was noted for bringing nuance and complexity to a character described as a rabid political hatchetman who didn’t carry grudges – he had them stuffed and mounted on the wall.

Capaldi has previously appeared in Dr. Who as Caecilius in the episode “The Fires of Pompeii,’ which marked the first appearance of Karen Gillan, who went on to play the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond. Later, he returned to Dr. Who spinoff Torchwood: Children of Earth as John Frobisher, who had a particularly dark turn, killing his own family rather than letting the 456 aliens use them as a human sacrifice.

In the press event where he was announced has having landed the role, Capaldi admitted to having been a fan of the series ever since he was a small boy. For fans of the long running franchise, this promises to be a very enthusiastic incarnation of the Doctor.

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Can EverQuest Next Compete with World of Warcraft?

Legions of MMORPGs have graced the internet to do battle against Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, yet no challenger has bested


everquestnext_human (Photo credit: NewGameNetwork)

Blizzard’s massively multiplayer online juggernaut. Huge marketing campaigns and years of development by the makers of games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift have left players less than satisfied, with an initial big burst of player excitement and eventual failure.

Every software developer that creates an MMO that tries to take a slice of Blizzard’s pie invariably ends up as a “free to play” model. The latest MMORPG slated to try and take a shot at fighting Blizzard’s dominance is EverQuest Next. The developers are looking to lure players to EverQuest from a variety of other games such as EVE Online and Warcraft, but the design of the game seems to straddle a few different genres.

As with other game releases, the developers at Sony Online Entertainment have tried to suggest that their game will be “new” and “different.” It’s not difficult to understand why skepticism is high. Every game that has seen release in the past few years has had developers boast the same and has crashed and burned just a month or so after the release.

Players of EverQuest Next will find a game focus that includes some familiar fantasy elements of an MMO game (like elves), but developers have sought to step away from the traditional, linear questing experience and offer some world-building opportunities for players (much like EVE Online). One of the interesting features expected of the game is the ability for players to impact permanent change upon the landscape.

For example, during wartime a player might decide to build a wall somewhere, and he or she can accomplish this and actually have that wall erected as a permanent feature in the game world. Similarly, when players fight one another or monsters, a spell or explosion that creates a hole in the world will remain permanently. One of the developers likened this feature to the idea of putting Minecraft into an MMORPG.

Although absolutely everything in the world can’t be destroyed (certain structures will be permanent), this opportunity to build, create, and destroy represents a jump forward from the same opportunities players have had in games like EVE Online. World of Warcraft has occasionally offered players the opportunity to change the landscape, but not on a regular basis. Such changes have generally been implemented after a reset with all the realms taken offline, after which players would log in and see the changes.

However, the lack of appreciable impact on the environment hasn’t stopped players from flocking to World of Warcraft for nearly a decade, and EverQuest Next will need to bring an amazing player experience to lure away current players as well as retain them. The ebb and flow of Warcraft’s player base often coincides with the new release of another MMORPG, but after a month or so the new game’s servers are ghost towns. It won’t take long to see whether EverQuest Next can compete with World of Warcraft.

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Chromecast: Saving Money on Cable

Google has decided to jump into the competition of content streaming by introducing its very own streaming device, the Chromecast. Following in the footsteps of other dominant content streaming devices and services such


Chromecast (Photo credit:

as Apple TV or the Roku, Google hopes to allow casual video watchers the ability to watch streaming content on their TV instead of on a tablet or smartphone. With penny pinching being on everyone’s minds as prices increase for everything ranging from food to gas, cutting costs on entertainment expenses by eliminating cable is a wise decision.

Chromecast costs significantly less than other devices available on the market at a mere $35. Three months of NetFlix are included with the purchase, which essentially puts the price of Chromecast at only $11. It is a bit larger than a thumb drive and plugs into an open HDMI port on your high-definition television. It can be powered directly through the HDMI port on newer televisions as long as you have HDMI 1.4, but if you have older HDMI technology, Chromecast can also get power from a USB port if your television has one. As a last resort, you can also get an optional power cord to power the device from a regular outlet. You’ll also need to have Wi-Fi access to send the signal from your chosen device.

Chromecast is designed to allow you to stream your content at a low cost without requiring you to buy a smart TV. Once it is connected, you can stream video or audio content from your phone, tablet or computer directly to your television. One of the key benefits of Chromecast is that it can be controlled with multiple devices, not just Google’s. It can be controlled with an iPhone, iPad or Android-powered tablet or phone. You can also project content that you have open in Google’s Chrome browser on your computer to your TV screen. Unfortunately, you’re completely out of luck for the moment if you use a BlackBerry or Windows device since they trail behind Android and iOS in popularity.

Since Chromecast is relatively new, only a few apps currently support the “cast” ability that projects your content to the screen. The device runs a barebones version of Google’s own Chrome operating system. When you press “cast” through an application the content is sent directly to your television. It doesn’t merely mirror your device’s screen, so you can still play games, surf the web or check your email while watching your TV.

Control of the Chromecast is also simple since you can select what you want to watch, adjust the volume and control playback directly from your device without having to adjust to a new interface or have another remote floating around the house. Another selling point is that family and friends can utilize your Chromecast without needing to jump through any set up hoops along the way.

Ditch the costly cable service and get with the times by utilizing streaming devices and services.

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