Thursday, September 22, 2005

"In Neptune's Court" or "Who Owns Davy Jones's Locker?"

Wow, has it been so long since my last post? Syndicated columnists must face this problem, but it messes around with their whole money flow if they fail to complete a writing assignment on time. Luckily bloggers face no such interruption, only the conscience-tweaking recognition of failure.

As such, to rectify this deficiency, I post. As the title of this entry suggests, there's a watery theme to this post. Do you remember Ursula the Sea Hag in The Little Mermaid? Her two pets were named Flotsam and Jetsam. I always thought that these words just referred to different types of sea garbage, natural or man-made, and that the distinction lay in whether one was "floating" on the surface, or carried suspended in the water. Yeah. Pretty dorky.

What's even dorkier is actually looking up the meanings. Apparently flotsam and jetsam are not distinguished by any physical differences; rather, they are distinguished by their origin. Flotsam is equipment or goods left over from a shipwreck or sinking. Jetsam is equipment or goods that have been thrown overboard by a vessel in distress (i.e., jettisoned), whether or not the ship subsequently wrecks. Thus, the distinction lies in the intent that resulted in the particular piece of garbaggio di mare.

The reason the distinction exists is apparently from Admiralty Law where I assume the possession of a certain piece of salvage might depend on whether it was intentionally thrown overboard or if it was overboard only as a result of a wreck. I can imagine the salty crew of some fine vessel mutinying and hanging a "sea lawyer" because of an adverse decision that affected their share of the booty. Yarrr. (Monday was "Talk Like a Pirate Day"!!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Google extends its reach

I already got all excited about Google Earth, but frankly that was just a fun toy. Imagine that satellite technology now crossed with a fully functional direction-providing service. Too good to be true? Begin weeping for joy now. Google Maps has arrived (in beta format).

See my former morning commute when I was living in DC (although it's not 100% the route I would have chosen...). Try dragging the map around (no more click-re-centering!) and checking the zoom functions. Click map, satellite or hybrid. Unless other map websites incorporate this information, I don't think they will be able to compete.

Bush "takes" responsibility

Hey Bush, you can't "take responsibility." It was already given to you 5 years ago when you were sworn into office. What an ass.

Instead of "Bush takes responsibility," the news articles' headlines should be "Second Term President Receives Political Consultant OK to Take Hit on Failures of His Party."

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Cheese is a good word. It makes you smile, literally, to say cheese. Plus, cheese is tasty. If you can't tell, my week has been pretty boring. Nothing really spurred me to write anything in my 'blog this week, so I will expound on the minor fixation I had earlier today.

People brought in snacks for the project I'm working on right now (kind of as reward for coming in on the weekend - I'd rather they just give me the money), and someone was inventive enough to buy individually wrapped string cheese!

I don't eat cheese by itself very often, but string cheese really is a very enticing snack. As I was eating it, however, I began to puzzle how string cheese was actually made. Cheese isn't exactly like a plant or a tree or a muscle, which often grow with fibers aligned one way. And yet, that is precisely the analogy that first popped to mind (perhaps because another snack which I was "enjoying" was beef jerky). I began to wonder whether string cheese was cultivated with some weird bacteria, or whether the milk was placed in a strange matrix that would encourage the proteins to form into strands.

Boy, I was way off base. Apparently string cheese forms strings because the curds are pulled during processing (think pulled noodles) and then pressed together while aligned together. See, if one is curious, one learns something new every day! I learn new information about things as familiar as the string cheese I ate as a child (and apparently still eat as an adult).


Sunday, September 04, 2005

More fun with creationism

Foxtrot's punchline today involves creationism. IMO, it's not particularly funny, but as the subject keeps popping up, I feel compelled to post.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Righteous Indignation - I am SOOO pissed

I've been fuming for the last couple days about the slow federal response to Katrina. I've been keeping quiet, as my knowledge about this disaster and the efforts undertaken are relatively shallow.

No longer. I read a transcript of New Orlean's Mayor Nagin being interviewed by CNN, and the efforts and pleas he has been engaged in trying to get some help to his flooded city. In that interview, CNN relays that Bush's people say they have been slow because they haven't been asked to help by the proper people (what about the Governor of Louisiana or the Mayor of New Orleans?!): "Because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be."

I call bull$hit on that. Absolute poppycock. You show me a law that says that the federal government can't intervene in emergency situations and I'll show you the Haymaker riots in Chicago in 1886, the National Guard mobilizations during the Civil Rights era to integrate segregated States. In each of those cases, the federal government moved in spite of State protests to stay out. Lives are being lost and Bush makes excuses and hides behind some "law" his lawyers have dug up.

Yet again Bush is hiding behind partial truths to mask his incompetence.

I used to think that Bush's failure to get the FEC breathing down the colluding (as good as admitted because of the billions in settlement money, and conveniently avoided by impeccably-timed bankruptcy filings) energy companies' necks during the California energy crisis was due to some political motivation to get a Republican in the governator's office, or due to his being essentially bribed by the energy companies. It was the only way I could see a president failing to act while a State which represents 1/8 of the GDP of the entire country was being violated during a nationwide recession. I see now that it was merely an extension of his general policy of enforced incompetence in all affairs, foreign and domestic.

New Orleans residents are feeling the storm front between the reality of our federal system and the Republicans' illusions of Jeffersonian confederacy. State sovereignty is not inviolable, and especially not when FEMA has been very specific about the danger to New Orleans for years. Paul Krugman's NY Times Op-Ed piece "A Can't Do Government": "Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans."

The response necessary was completely foreseeable, and completely feasible. A hurricane is a predictable event (within a week or so) - the federal government knew about the potential scope of the disaster and should have been ready.

Now two of the three major disasters listed by FEMA have happened. I can only hope that Americans put a non-moronic administration in before the third happens.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Falling, Rethought.

As a follow-up to my "Elevation of Creationism" entry on August 15, please find for your edification, enlightenment, and enjoyment the following article from The Onion:

"Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity with New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory"

It's like butter.

Google hegemony

Google offers a dazzling array of products - some of which are rather useful and some of which are free! Picasa (a photo organizer and modifier) is really kinda nifty for those with little patience for traditional photo-finishing programs. But the program I've been playing around with, to my vast glee, is Google Earth.

If you have a supported 3D capable video card (and who doesn't these days?), you can install this nifty little program that downloads a satellite image of the earth and allows you to zoom in to startling precision. For instance, the picture attached to this blog is a screen capture from the program of my high school (upper left) and junior high school (lower right)! I think it's © 2005 Digital Globe, by the way. Anyway, the point is, you can zoom into any part of the world, slant the view, see the topology, you name it! And, in certain areas, usually well-populated industrialized countries, you can get images so detailed you can make out individual people!

You haven't lived until you've flown through the Grand Canyon with Google Earth. Well, ok, maybe it's not that great... But it's wicked cool.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wine country living

I went to the Sonoma and Russian River valleys this past weekend. It was really quite picturesque, and the weather was awesome, especially for those who prefer it a little warmer. I was expecting a huge amount of traffic on the way in, so when I turned onto 37 to cut over to 121 and Sonoma, I wasn't surprised by the monstrous back-up. I assumed that the traffic was for wine country and a ferocious number of tourists on that fine August Sunday, but I was wrong.

Apparently, the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix was scheduled for this weekend, and we had hit the colossal traffic jam right as people were arriving for the show. It took us an hour to cover the seven miles from 101 and 37 to just past the racetrack on 121! It was completely infuriating. From what I can see on the web, this track isn't a traditional oval track, but as we were bitching at the traffic after we realized what was going on, we imagined those thousands of people watching cars turn left for three hours and were perplexed.

Anyway, Sonoma was pretty deserted, strangely. I usually hate crowds, but in wine tasting and tourist spots, you'd be surprised at how the unexpected lack of people is really disconcerting. I mean, who wants to be the only sucker eating in an empty restaurant, right? After talking to the cashiers, I think even the wineries were a little disappointed by the tourist turnout.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

LOLZ L0S3R U just got pwned!!one!1! Gman 4tw!

Now, I don't personally know all that much about Interfax China or the internal Chinese government bureaucracy, but if this story is true, then my mind is boggled: "The Chinese Government unveiled a new system Tuesday to prevent individuals from playing online games for more than three consecutive hours, which must be installed for every online game in the country."

According to the article, some Chinese agency called the Audiovisual and Internet Publication Department of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) is developing a system that would keep track of time played v. time offline, and would severely cut game progression after three straight hours of gaming. The article goes on to say that the system will begin "compulsory deployment" later this year or next year in "all massive multiplayer" online games.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In My Own Backyard

I don't normally read the newspaper in the morning, to avoid destroying trees and creating unnecessary clutter, but I always look at the headlines of one of my favorite newspapers and pick it up if there's something particularly interesting. My favorite 'paper by far, is the San Jose Mercury News, but as I am content getting my news through the internet, I'm too cheap to pay for a subscription. On the other hand, my other favorite paper, the Palo Alto Daily News is one of those free ad-driven local papers that carries stories that one wouldn't normally see elsewhere. Kudos to them, huzzah!

A bit to my shame, I usually end up not reading the important news, like the City Council's recent decision to patch up potholes or ban beagle-baiting or whatever. But this morning, I read some sensational news about a teacher, Bill Giordano, who was just arrested yesterday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student in the 1990s.

So I picked up the newspaper and started reading. Now, I don't have middle school-aged kids, but if I did, they would most likely be attending Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto. Mr. Alleged-child-molester was the athletic director there! Like, OMG, gag me with a spoon!

The shocks don't end there! Apparently, revelations about area teachers have been popping up like zits on a prom-goer all year:
  1. On February 28, a teacher in Campbell pleaded no contest to possession of child porn.
  2. On June 8, a Homestead High School teacher (in my home town of Cupertino!) was sentenced to four years in prison for having sex with three of his students.
  3. On July 6, a Redwood City private school teacher was arrested and later pleaded no contest to having sex with a student.
  4. On August 19, a Palo Alto Fire Explorer's leader was charged for alleged "relations" with three teenage girls in the program.
  5. The instant story: Bill Giordano - accused of a two-year, 28-count, affair with a then-14-year-old girl on his basketball team (and baby-sat his kids for corn's sake).

Madness! Sheer madness.

P.S. In composing this 'blog, I ran into an irksome issue re: hyphenation of ages. So sue me, my job involves a lot of word-crafting. From some grammar website (read: accuracy not verified, but it seems plausible):

Hyphenate ages when they are adjective phrases involving a unit of measurement: 'Her ten-year-old car is beginning to give her trouble.' A girl can be a 'ten-year-old' ('child' is implied). But there are no hyphens when outside of such an adjectival phrase: 'Her car is ten years old.'

Thursday, August 18, 2005

State endorsed violence

I'm not talking about war or contact sports. I read this CNN article about a bill recently passed by the North Carolina legislature (overwhelmingly evidently) that would (1) require the courts to provide abused spouses with information on how to obtain a permit for a concealed firearm and (2) add protective orders to the list of things a Sheriff should consider in granting a waiver of the 90-day waiting period.

Basically, the North Carolina government is saying to abused spouses, our system is inadequate to protect you, so you are entitled to carry lethal force with you at all times. The gun rights advocates that pushed the bill say they're interested only in giving the message that abused spouses are able to protect themselves "when police can't protect [them.]" I don't care what nuance gun rights advocates slather on this bill, the average person that hears the court say, "We're required to tell you how to apply for a concealed firearm," will draw very different conclusions. They will hear a figure of authority saying, in essence, a gun is the preferred method of dispute resolution because the legal system doesn't work.

Besides the adverse psychological impact of the state endorsing gun ownership as a dispute resolution instrument, advocating gun-toting among people who (a) are in highly-charged and emotionally-stressful situations, (b) have already been subject to violence, and (c) have a specific human target already in mind is colossally stupid.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Elevation of Creationism

As usual, this entry is prompted by something I read that piqued my interest. BBC Editorial on Creationism in America. I'm not going to write a personal diatribe about the zealously right wing strand of American politics that has risen to power, almost unopposed, in the past decade. Instead, I just want to point out two things about Creationism.

First: Generally, should Creationism be considered on the same footing with Evolution? The article points out that el presidente Bush considers the Theory of Evolution and Creationism as two separate "schools of thought." I guess that's technically true under a certain definition. Mr. Bush has a disconcerting and irritating tendency of saying technically-true things that completely miss the point of why the issues are important.

OK, back up. What are we supposed to be teaching in school? I like to think we're supposed to teach our children facts, as best we can possibly ascertain, that allow them to understand and function in our society. "Facts" are sometimes the product of opinion (e.g., historically based sciences like history and evolutionary biology), but should always be backed up by firm evidence. Under that rationale, the only "schools of thought" that should be taught at our schools are those that are backed up by firm evidence.

Now the question becomes whether either Evolution or Creationism are backed up by "firm evidence." I think any reasonable person would agree that Evolution is backed up by firm evidence. As to the specific criticism of the formation of the cell, that's point two and I'll get to it. The question is whether Creationism is backed up by "firm evidence." I could be wrong, but my experience suggests that the Creationism that people want to teach is backed up only by the written tradition of Eurasian monotheism. I don't hear about people saying, "Hey, let's teach Native American creation myths where people were brought into existence by a large raven" (no offense to Native Americans intended). It is this favoritism towards a single creator that immediately discredits the Creationist movement and belies its religious motive.

Even if Creationists wish to teach each competing creationist myth in existence, which would probably better be dedicated to a whole separate course and taught by anthropologists rather than biology teachers, they haven't crossed the threshold question: does an oral and written tradition constitute "firm evidence"? In my opinion, it clearly does not. Some people point to archaeological finds in the Holy Land as evidence that parts of the Bible are supported by scientific evidence. I do not dispute that certain historical aspects of the Bible are most likely true. I do dispute the incredibly inductive reasoning that because some parts are true, ergo the whole must be true. What is missing is a logical, systematic theory that binds the separate parts together in a seamless way (i.e. can fill in logical gaps) that does not rely on pure conviction or faith divorced of reason to support its arguments.

Because Evolution, as a complete theory of creation, has systematically complete support through fossil and chemical evidence, it deserves to be taught as fact until proven wrong. Conversely, because none of the creationist myths in existence, by their nature, are backed up by firm evidence, they do not deserve equal footing with Evolution in our science curriculum. If people want to teach Creationism, cancel yet another music class and put in a new social science class called Creationist Myths of the World (and fight the ACLU and atheists while they're at it).

Second: The BBC article points out that prominent Creationist intelligentsia attack the theory of Evolution with pure skepticism about the formation of the cell. They say that such a complex structure as a cell could not have formed without divine intervention. A similar line of critique arises with the formation of the eye's lenses and focusing muscles. These are strong arguments for those with strong faith in God but little faith in nature.

However, for a biological spin on creation, I would suggest for the receptive The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. I'll probably update this section later, as I'm running out of time, but I will say this - in the primordial soup that existed in the dawn of Earth, organic chemicals such as proteins and nucleic acids would have formed from their monomers, and through the trillions of possible combinations that would have formed, self-replicating forms would have quickly dominated. As resources became more scarce, those self-replicating forms that were capable of breaking down other forms to use their components would have become more dominant. Any forms which could code for protection against those cannibalistic forms would then proliferate. One form of protection might be the utilization of a chemical barrier, or membrane to protect the self-replicating sequence within. An arms race would ensue over the subsequent BILLIONS of years, leading to, quite probably, the complexity of cellular life as we know it. Hence we come directly to a key point of Dawkins' book: we are merely souped up vehicles for the self-replicating sequences within our bodies. It's somewhat startling to the uninitiated, but quite logical. Yes, according to this theory, even you are only the latest "Pimp My Ride" episode of the great television-in-the-sky.

Boy, this blog entry went a little long. The point is, Bush has a nasty habit of speaking wayward truths and Creationists pick at Evolution in an attempt to veneer their beliefs with the stamp of scientific legitimacy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

50 hours of gaming!

I saw this Reuters article on Yahoo! news: "S. Korean man dies after 50 hours of computer games" and after reading it intently, I came away with one burning question: What game was he playing when he died!? What game could possibly hold one's attention so well that the body's signs of exhaustion are ignored?

I've got to get me some of that.

I read the article and saw that he took "brief naps" on a "makeshift bed"! That's cheating, in my book. I remember staying up for 42 hours straight without even napping during finals (bad idea, btw) when I was in Houston and feeling well enough to go out for Mexican food! Sanity reigned and sleep ensued, but I seriously doubt that 8 more hours would have led me to heart failure. Then again, I was a spry 19 years old at the time of that fiasco and this Korean guy was 28... Hmm.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Crucifying Pandora

Tomorrow, August 6, is the 60th anniversary of the tragic nuclear attack on the city of Hiroshima. That act made my nation the first and only one to have deliberately used a nuclear weapon as an act of war. With the benefit of hindsight, I believe that it was a tragic mistake. The use of the second weapon on Nagasaki compounded that mistake.

However, by calling those attacks mistakes, I do not mean to condemn or necessarily even criticize the multitude of people involved in those attacks. Bounded by circumstances and emotions and with limited knowledge of the full effect of their decisions, I am convinced that those involved for the most part made responsible and reasonable decisions. With hindsight, many lived to express their regret for their involvement in the program - Oppenheimer and Einstein foremost among them.

What really cheeses me off are those who insist on ascribing upon the entire endeavor in general an intentionally evil agenda.

True, designing and creating a weapon of unparalleled destructive power sounds rather sinister, but the increased power of weaponry is not inherently evil when it is done to protect the lives and livelihoods of those one loves. From the first caveman who attached a rock to the end of a stick to those scientists that designed the neutron bomb to kill people without destroying materiel, man has always been compelled towards more destructive power in order to wield the bigger stick. I personally think the whole self perpetuating cycle is dangerously unbalanced, but it is flat out wrong to call those involved evil or inhuman - indeed, it is a very human impulse.

And yet, just today I read one accusation ("It was just against humanity") that the only reason America dropped two different types of bombs (the gun arranged uranium "Little Boy" and the plutonium implosion "Fat Man") was to test them on humans and catalog the aftereffects. I find this sentiment to be narrowminded and reactionary.

Conveniently, the writer neglects to mention that those two bombs were the only two that America had available. The writer neglects to mention that with each passing day hundreds of Japanese and American soldiers were dying in the endgame of a war for no purpose other than Japanese pride and bargaining position. The writer neglects to mention that Harry Truman was weighing an invasion with an estimated one million allied casualties and multiple million Japanese casualties. The writer neglects to mention that these weapons had never been used before, and as a result those in charge had no possible conception of their full effects. The writer neglects to mention that much of the knowledge of why dropping the bombs was a mistake was gained through the study of the effects of the bombs on their victims. Would she rather the US occupation authorities ignored those effects?

Pandora bitterly regretted opening that Box; many scientists in the Manhattan Project regretted their involvement as well. The moral of the Pandora myth is that woe and sorrow are often unleashed by those who have committed no greater crime than to be human. Those who shrilly persecute the Pandoras of this world are lazy, arrogant and ignorant.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Apostrophe usage in possessives

Mrs. Jones and her husband, Mr. Jones, and their three children are together called the Joneses.
Mrs. Jones's cat, Fluffy, has a bad habit of scratching the Joneses' couch.
The Joneses have another cat, Mr. Tibbles, who is better behaved.
The cats' litterbox is located in the bathroom near the children's playroom.

This exercise has been brought to you by the noble apostrophe.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Apple HQ obliterated by The Man

Sometimes news stories can be a whole lotta fun. Just this morning, I saw that the astronaut, Steve Robinson, who conducted minor repairs on the Discovery shuttle this morning most likely went to the same high school as a very good friend of mine! What a small world.

But what got me writing was this CNN article. Apparently, Microsoft has had a bad photo of the plot of land at De Anza Blvd. and I-280 in my hometown of Cupertino, CA on its Virtual World website. The newsworthy aspect of the story is that particular parcel of land is now the Apple Computer campus (with the very geeky new road: Infinite Loop).

I would merely have laughed off the story and continued on my merry way, but a closer examination of the picture shows a landscape that I don't remember. Microsoft claims the picture is "outdated," but I can personally attest that prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, that site was a Motorola site with a couple of very large buildings on it. After the earthquake damaged those buildings, they remained on that site for several years, empty and condemned. I know personally because my dad taught me how to drive in the abandoned parking lot.

As the picture shown has no hint of condemned Motorola buildings, nor does it show the sprawling Apple campus, I can only conclude that the picture shown either (1) was taken during the very brief window in time when those condemned buildings were taken down to build the Apple campus, or (2) was taken before the Motorola buildings were even constructed (which must have been a very long time ago), or (3) is a complete fabrication as the CNN article coyly suggests. As 1 would take incredible timing and 2 would seem to undermine the utility of having a "Virtual World" project because of the obsolescence of such old data, I am left with a tantalizing possibility of number 3.

A charitable person would go with possibilities 1 or 2, but 3 is so much fun...

I'd better write something...

I usually don't have much trouble thinking of some weird thing which captures my attention, but I often don't really know what to write! I was thinking I could write about my conviction that a certain character in the Harry Potter books will turn out to be truly evil rather than the hoped-for good, or about the Bad News Bears movie and the continued plunder of my youth...

But as I thought about what I'd say on either of those topics, I realized that I tend to get a verbose about the most trivial little things. If you've read my previous blog posts, I'm sure you agree. I realized that even I, myself, wouldn't want to read what I was thinking of writing about those subjects. On the other hand, perhaps it is the destiny of this blog to explore the little things, the bumps in the road, that catch my fancy, even if only fleetingly.

When I find something I'm interested in writing about, I'll let you know. Toodles.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tinkering with the machinery...

The most recent book I've read is Becoming Justice Blackmun by Linda Greenhouse. As a preliminary matter, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to get a closer look at the workings of the Supreme Court (the branch of our government with the most gravitas). Becoming Justice Blackmun is an absolutely terrific book that peruses the voluminous notes of one of the most influential (and controversial) Justices in history. Thanks to his democratic and populist convictions, he has released detailed notes on essentially his entire life. Although there’s nothing terribly earth-shattering about the notes (he was quite eloquent in expressing his views even before his death), they’re extremely interesting as a reflection of some of the splits in the court, and as a roadmap to his own evolving jurisprudence.

Some would accuse a judge whose opinions had developed and changed over time of being an “activist judge” or other mean-spirited euphemisms, but I think those who do so are (maybe only subconsciously) merely striking out at their own fears - of change, of the real world (which is nothing like what they wished for themselves). I digress.

As I was saying, one aspect of his jurisprudence which I found to be highly agreeable to me is that of capital punishment. The Justice was personally against the death penalty, but did not find any inconsistency with the Constitution to authorize the states to impose it within the other constraints of the Constitution. However, after years of dealing with death penalty cases, he became convinced that the process of imposing capital punishment on criminal defendants was too imprecise and arbitrary to pass Constitutional muster. In a famous dissent of his, Justice Blackmun encapsulated this view and proclaimed that he "no longer [would] tinker with the machinery of death."

This brings me to what triggered this extensive rant -- in the Virginia courts, a man fights for his life by trying to prove that he's so intellectually stunted that he can't be put to death. CNN article; Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). I do not argue with the essential rationale behind the Supreme Court decision, I suppose. However, a group of Virginians must decide whether or not a tragically stupid person will live or die based upon nothing more than vague instructions from the court system of the meaning of "retarded." The stark facts of the case show exactly how tortured our capital punishment system has become under three decades of "tinkering."

I do not believe that deterrence is increased in States with capital punishment - just look at the statistics - nor is community protection increased where life imprisonment is imposed. And the fact is that it's less expensive to keep someone locked away for life than it is to pay teams of lawyers to deal with the mandatory and elective appeals that come with our capital punishment system. The sole reason to impose capital punishment in America is simple: vengeance. Vengeance can serve a valuable purpose for the victims, but how many borderline cases must we arbitrarily decide before we ask ourselves what price we pay for our vengeance?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Current events

In short breaks I sometimes take to refocus on my work, I like to keep up with current events by browsing online news outlets. A couple of stories which caught my attention this morning were news of the discovery of a stone age "multi-use" tool, and of the discovery that cats may totally lack the ability to sense sweetness in their food.

I guess it should come as no surprise either that early humans from 28,000 years ago may have used sex aids or that the early example found was in what is now Germany. I mean, those Germans are pretty notorious. Another interesting thing is that the tool was also used to shape flints -- truly a multi-dimensional household item. One could imagine it being sold in a Stone Age Sharper Image or Home Depot next to the Swiss Army knives and home improvement items.

I don't have much to say about those poor cats except sucks for them.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Let's get this started

Here comes my hat into the ring of the whole blogger fad. It's as well that it's a metaphorical hat and a metaphorical ring as I look terrible in hats and don't particularly like circuses. I have been meaning to start blogging for some time now but, as usual, my entry into this latest fad is sorely belated.

I suppose it's just normal for me to be late to the party: Lazer Tag, Banana Republic animal-printed T-shirts, off-the-shoulder suspenders, Transformers . . . I'm sure there are more.

Anyway, I suppose what finally kicked off this "burst" of motivation to start blogging was a series of emails sent by my friends in which I realized that sheer laziness was a stupid reason not to begin given the mainstream status of blogging in general.

Here's my portion of that email:

I'm always tempted to start a blog of my own, but my life is so prosaic that i'm always concerned there's nothing to talk about. On those rare occasions i make an interesting observation, however, i always wish i could write about it. But then, i don't have a blog set up and i'm too lazy to do so.
For instance, today, on my way to my contract assignment, i walked under the third st. / i-80 bridge on the way from the train station. This underpass is not unusual to me, as i walk through it every day - twice every day even. But strangely, this morning it literally smelled like a hamster cage. I suppose some combination of prolific and unwashed vagrants and the nearby construction created that strange brew of wood chips, dirty hair, dander, dust and a dab of feces in the air. For some reason, when the hair, feces and dander belong to a small rodent, it's less nauseous. I suppose it has something to do with the old Carpenter's song, "Bless the beasts and the children / For in this world ... they have no choice ..."
As for custard, isn't the reason they call it custard because they put a whole bunch of egg yolks in it? I saw a program a while back about custard places in New Jersey and New York - but I suppose it might be a whole east coast thing. In any case, the Willow Glen ice cream place was really good - but considering it was technically San Jose, I had a major case of (ask [my friend]) "I see white people..." In my recollection, [my friend] and I were the only asian people, and of the large crowd (50+) there, there were maybe two or three other non-white patrons. Combined with the relatively high humidity, i was reminded of many places i've been, none of which were "home."

The custard reference was in response to my friend's blog' ("Miscellaneous and Useless Information") July 14th entry. There's nothing like a cool custard ice cream on a warm summer San Jose night.

Anyway, we'll see how long this goes on.