Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nerdtastic Reference Page

Sorry for this book-keeping post. Just a reference page for myself.

Demonic Circle
Arcane Barrage
Hunger for Blood
Chimaera Shot








Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Think you know toilets? You don't know SQUAT!

Have you ever seen a squat toilet? If you haven't, it's basically a rectangular piece of porcelain, like an extraordinarily tall tile or something, with a ovoid hole in the middle. The ones I've seen have "convenient" textured areas on either side of the hole to provide better traction for your shoes. I'd never seen one prior to my visit to China in 2001. In some of the touristy areas, the public restrooms would be equipped with them. To say I was "relieved" (haha! me so funny) to be staying in hotels with sit-down toilets instead of the squatting toilets would be an understatement.

Well, China's potty training has come home to roost. Apparently after doing test-runs (zomg "runs"! I kill me) in Olympic venues, the Chinese organizers have decided to add some sit-down toilets after receiving numerous complaints that the only facilities available were the squatting toilets. Apparently they won't all be replaced, but every venue should have some seated toilets. "The percentage will depend on the situation of each venue. We are doing our best to improve on the current circumstances." Sounds pretty lame to me.

I guess I shouldn't impose my expectations on bathroom facilities on other cultures, but having traveled extensively throughout the world, I can say that aside from a surprising Italian highway rest stop, I can't remember ever seeing those squat toilets outside of China. To be fair, I have used ditch latrines in less developed countries, but none of those are hosting the Olympics!

P.S. I also considered calling this blog entry, "Did Mao Have a Wide Stance?" but it didn't seem as descriptive of the real controversy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

L2Read Ks n00b

I was watching a consumer-oriented news report on the local CBS news tonight and it concerned car title loans. Apparently you put up the title to your vehicle as collateral on a loan. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Well the catch is that the lenders tend to charge huge interest rates on the loan, which is completely understandable considering that a the collateral loses value at a huge rate. If you don't have decent credit, the annual percentage interest can be something like 90%. The example shown was an $8500 dollar loan that over three years would incur $15,000 in interest.

The problem is, if someone needs money from strangers that urgently and doesn't have the credit rating to cover a more conventional loan, that person tends to be, shall we say, under-skilled at financial management. In fact, I would go as far as to say they could foreseeably "forget" to read contracts with 90% APRs in black and white and large letters.

I don't know what "predatory lending" is, technically; I would think it's some statutory term. But in a dictionary sense, it seems these kinds of loans are definitely predatory on people who most likely don't understand loans. That said, the upside is that the number of these kinds of loans can't possibly be very high considering that most people won't hold valuable cars free and clear if they don't understand money. In any case, I found myself with little sympathy for the lady who screwed herself over by agreeing to the loan based on her Cadillac Escalade she received as a gift from a relative who paid CASH for it. Come to think of it, has she paid her gift tax on that Caddy?! Someone call the Board of Equalization.

And yes, I'm being uncharacteristically vindictive in this post, but I was uncharacteristically annoyed by the stupidity being fostered by the story.