Sunday, January 25, 2004

What Are You Thinking?

I can't imagine living without the Internet. There was one time about 3 years ago when I had to be offline for 40 some odd days, but I wasn't as connected then as I am now. I need to log into my MSN account every 30 days or else my account is deleted, I need to update my blog, and I don't read paper newspapers, but online news sources. When I want to be entertained I usually go on the Internet to find something interesting like videos or flash movies. If I'm not online, I feel isolated from the rest of the world and my friends.

However, only a small percentage of people are online in the world, 12%. The barrier between those online and offline is called the digital divide. Steve Cisler wants to find out how people live without the Internet.
"A lot of the people I know and work with see those offline as needing to be saved, that they are doomed if they are not online. But I don't believe that. I think the vast majority of people believe there is more to life than the internet."

Such talk is practically heresy in a part of the world that's earned its fame and fortune from computers and the world wide web. But Mr Cisler hasn't gone to the dark side without good reason. His decision to cut the umbilical cord with his internet service provider is being done in the name of research.
Personally, I'd never do this kind of research. Research without the Internet is a contradiction in itself. Sure it can be done, but why not make it easier and faster with a net connection?

Cisler isn't going completely offline though. He's going to maintain a blog about his travels through the wilderness of the unwired jungle.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Martha Stewart's Handbag and Privilege

Joi talks about "Carrying Privilege" on his January 24th, 2004 post (I won't link to the post, don't want to be listed under trackbacks), and how people who are privileged "carry" themselves. When I think of carrying privilege material items come to mind. Clothing, transportation, housing, and other creature comforts are all ways that people can show how much wealth they have.
There are people who seem to gloat in and flaunt their privilege, constantly bragging and doing the nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Others carry it naturally. Others seem to feel bad or strange having been chosen to be among the privileged. Some seem to guiltily enjoy the privilege.

Some seem to believe that the privilege they have comes with the responsibility to use it to help others, while others seem to think that privilege is something they deserve to use for their own personal gain.
I don't like it when people flaunt their wealth and possessions, but it's hard to determine whether they're doing it or not. For example, if a friend mentions that she went to the Seychelles, I wouldn't feel like she's flaunting her wealth, but other people would feel that she is. Where does one draw the line between flaunting wealth and just merely having it? I guess it depends on who your talking to. If you're talking to somebody who can't afford to travel more than 100 miles, you can say that you went on a vacation and relaxed. This may be more acceptable than "I went to a remote island half way around the world and splashed around in the ocean." Martha Stewart flaunted her wealth by carrying a designer handbag to her court appearance and it caused a big stir.

Joi also mentions that some privileged people feel they have a responsibility to others who have less. This sounds alright at first; people should be helpful and try to improve the lives of others. But I think there's another side to this. In the past industrialized European nations felt that it was their duty to civilize the rest of the world; the White Man's Burden. This seemed like a glorious and noble things to the western Europeans, but the people of the lands they conquered would probably disagree. It's similar to America's war on Iraq, and how it's supposed to liberate and free the Iraqis. The privileged view of how to help may be distorted in a similar fashion as the 19th century Europeans and the Bush administration. How does a privileged person "help" one of lesser fortune? Do these people even want help?

Dean Screams

Here is a mix of Howard Dean's screaming episode (link via IRC). At first I didn't believe that it was him, but it really is. Here is a database of the remixes of the screaming incident, including the original. Some think the "I have a scream" speech has ruined Dean's bid for the presidency, even more so than is pitiful defeat in Iowa.

State of the Union

In case you missed Bush's State of the Union speech, here is a 7 minute clip that summarizes what he said, or what most people believed he said. I think it only works with iTunes though, so you'll have to download that from Apple
Link via Joi Ito's IRC channel

Here's a link to the mp3 file of the speech.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Last Request

What would you request as a last meal if you were going to be executed? A morbid and creepy thought, but some people have to think about this. I would request a bacon cheeseburger, extra crispy french fries, apple crisp, creme brulee, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and banana flambee. In in California, favored last meals include
David Edwin Mason, Executed Aug. 4, 1993

Mason refused any last meal, requesting only ice water while in the death watch cell.

William George Bonin, Executed Feb. 23, 1996

For his last meal, Bonin requested two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of regular Coca Cola.

Keith Daniel Williams, Executed May 3, 1996

Williams' last meal included fried pork chops, a baked potato with real butter, asparagus, salad with bleu cheese dressing, apple pie, and whole milk.
I did not know that prisons released this information, but they don't publish it online in Texas anymore. This upset some people though.
Morbid though it may seem, people are so interested in convicts' last meals that, until last month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice listed its inmates' requests on its website — every item requested for every final dinner since Texas resumed capital punishment in 1982.

When the department redesigned its website in mid-December, officials decided to delete the last-meal listings.

"We had gotten some complaints from people who thought it was in poor taste," says Michelle Lyons, a department spokesman. "Of course, now people are complaining that the last meals are missing from our site."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


People don't forget things too easily. Especially the people in Iraq. They remember that the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein in the past. Now they want Saddam's old U.S. allies to face justice too.
The United States backed Saddam in his war with Iran in the 1980s. During that time, he also gassed an estimated 5,000 Kurds to death in the village of Halabja.

Why did we support a man that was killing so many people? Using gas chambers is a practice the Nazis used. It was regarded as inhumane and savage, something that the worst totalitarian regimes used. But why overlook these practices and support a tyrant?
"Saddam was a top graduate of the American school of politics," said Assad al-Saadi, standing with friends in the slum of Sadr city, formerly called Saddam City, a Shi'ite Muslim area oppressed by Saddam's security agents.

"My brother was an army officer who was executed. Saddam is a criminal and the Americans were his friends. We need justice so that we can forget the past."

I have a feeling that these American friends will not face justice.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Great Color Photos of Chicago in the 40's

At's forums, somebody posted some great color photos of Chicago in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. If you've ever been to Chicago, you can see how different the sky line was back then. The poster got the photos from a website called the Charles W. Cushman Photography Collection. There are so many photos of different cities around the world in about 18 countries. Definitely for broadband users only.
Link via> ex machina

Friday, January 16, 2004

The Secret Lord of the Rings Diaries

I know these secret diaries are old, but I wasn't interested in LOTR when it first came out. I just found about them from somebody (I can't remember who) in Joi's IRC Channel. They're pretty good and funny, and it's a shame that Cassandra has stopped writing them. Make sure you read from right to left, i.e. Aragorn, then Legolas, then Boromir, etc. There's also 3 diaries from ROTK; my favorite is Legolas' account. Others have tried to imitate Cassandra, but they aren't very good. Hopefully I can find some more funny LOTR fanfic.


A new study says that "geeks," or people who use the internet a lot, are not as antisocial and isolated as they seem.
Instead, the typical Internet user is an avid reader of books and spends more time engaged in social activities than the non-user, it says. And, television viewing is down among some Internet users by as much as five hours per week compared with Net abstainers, the study added.
I like to read a lot, preferably books (can't stand reading things online), but I rarely have time to do it. I'm always working, so I don't have time to go out with friends. When I do hang out with people we usually go to the movies, or play video games. That's kind of geeky, but it's social, so I'm alright. I've been dubbed a TV otaku, but I really spend most of my time on the internet. I'll turn on the TV when I feel like being entertained without manipulating the controls too much (my hands start to cramp up from typing after awhile). The internet has cut into my TV time because there's not always something I want to watch.

The study also talks about how much people trust the information on the web.

The credibility of information published on the Internet also received a surprising boost.

Despite the existence of countless spoof Web sites and message boards that carry oddball political rants, more than half of Internet users surveyed said "most or all" of the information they find online is reliable and credible.
I use the internet for a lot of information so I trust most of it. Many people who have information that they want to share make websites because it's easy to do. They may not have the most appealing design, but the websites are useful.

The Chinese are the biggest internet socializers. I'm not surprised by this fact after reading blogs in English by Chinese.
The Chinese, meanwhile, are among the most active Net socializers. According to the study, Chinese Internet users say they rely on the medium to interact with others who share their political interests, hobbies and faith.

"It's more than in any other country and a significant figure for citizens of a nation in which religion is officially banned," the study said of Chinese users' willingness to discuss religion online with others.

Saturday, January 10, 2004


This is our whirlpool tub. It's completely different than a Japanese bath, but similar in size. The water goes up to your shoulders and is big enough for two people. It's like a combination bath tub and hot tub. There are a few jets to massage you, but you enter the tub dirty to get clean, not clean to relax/soak. The Japanese may take baths daily, but Americans are not bath people. I rarely take baths; I'm a complete shower person. We don't use the whirlpool much either. Before I took this picture I had my dad take out all the items in it, because it's used for storage rather than bathing.

When I was really young I took baths everyday. I was afraid of the shower and always wound up with soap in my eyes. The shower was evil because it spat hot water in my face and got my hair wet (I washed my hair separately). The bath was fun because I could just soak in it and play with all my bath toys. I had a shark, a ninja turtle, and several other toys. How could I have fun in the shower without the toys? I loved the bath.

Now, I can't imagine taking a bath. I need to quickly get clean and dry, not stewing in dirty water. The shower still leaves me relaxed and clean afterwards, why go back to taking baths?

In case I confused anyone, I didn't say that the Japanese go in the bath tub dirty to get clean. I meant that we do that with our whirlpool. The link describes Japanese bathing, so I didn't have to.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Rich Doesn't Equal Happy?

That's nothing new, but what are the side effects of a richer society? According to a report from the Worldwatch Institute,
...more than 25% of the world's people now enjoy the style which used to belong to the rich.

But it says rising obesity and debt, and increasing pressures on time, are reducing many people's quality of life.

In its annual report, Worldwatch says consumers' demands are devouring the natural world unsustainably, leaving the poor less able to meet their needs.
So, more people are wealthier, but unhappier. Buying, buying, and more buying is not only making the consumers unhappy, but other's unhappy too. The rest of the world suffers along with the consumers. So is the whole world just a big unhappy heap?

I don't think this is true. I remember a police officer telling me about how he could take me to kids whose parents were on drugs and neglecting them, kids who had "bigger" problems that I had. He made it sound like they actually had a real reason to be upset and that I should just be thankful for everything I have and not worry. The officer didn't know that I had listened to kids, like the ones he knew, at Alateen. They didn't have a "woe is me" approach to life, and seemed generally happy. The people who have less in the world may be some of the happiest around.
The report says consumption is not in itself bad. But it says: "Higher levels of obesity and personal debt, chronic time shortages, and a degraded environment are all signs that excessive consumption is diminishing the quality of life for many people.

"The challenge now is to mobilise governments, businesses and citizens to shift their focus away from the unrestrained accumulation of goods, and toward finding ways to ensure a better life for all."

That's a nice solution, where do we start?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Thank You

Today I packaged a book that I sold on Half. As I was cutting apart a paper grocery bag, I noticed two messages on the very bottom: "Made With Pride By R. Hernandez" and "Made With Pride By A. Gonzalez." I never paid much attention to paper bags before, especially plain brown ones from the grocery store. Most of the time, they have something written on them like "Recycle Me and get 5 Cents," or an endorsement to join Girl Scouts.

I had always assumed that these bags were made by giant industrial machines, but this is not true. R. Hernandez and A. Gonzalez have made my paper bags with pride. I didn't realize that pride as well as paper went into the production of paper bags. The bags were made by Duro Bag, R. Hernandez and A. Gonzalez's employer. I want to thank R. Hernandez, A. Gonzalez, and Duro Bag for making my brown paper bags.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


Geisha, Kiharu Nakamura died in the US at the age of 90. I've read a few books on geisha, but I had never heard of her. She wrote a book called The Memoir of a Tokyo-born Geisha, but I don't think there's an English version. Hopefully it'll be translated soon.

The Children Who Won't Grow Up

Young people today do not want to grow up. Recent college graduates living at home, adult versions of Harry Potter, and Hello Kitty cigarette cases. My friends and I don't want to grow up either. We play computer games like The Sims, watch Lord of the Rings, and enjoy anime to various degrees. In Frank Furedi's article, he talk's about how so many young people want to be children forever.
In Japan, where this trend is most developed, the affluence of single stay-at-home 20- to 34-year-olds is frequently commented upon. It is widely recognised that the recent boom in the sales of luxury goods has been fuelled by the conspicuous consumption of the parasite singles, many of whom live at home. In 2000, the Washington Post reported on 26-year-old Miki Takasu, who drives a BMW and carries a $2,800 Chanel handbag, which she alternates with her Gucci. And of course she lives at home with her parents (9).
Personally, I don't find this kind of life to be so bad. Spending most of my income on clothes, electronics, and accessories sounds nice, right? Well it is, but I doubt my mom would be too happy about it. So if I move out of the house, I'll be more grown up, more mature. Wrong, I'll still be into kids stuff, I'll still be a kidult, but with less money. Here's to being a kid forever.

People With too Much Time on Their Hands

From the guy who made fire without matches, here's How Much is Inside? I read sharpie, paper towels, lipstick, and Christmas Tree, and I still can't figure out how he got any women to participate.
Link via Thomas

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Osama bin Laden Jr.?

In Jordan, you can still name your kids after Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, but don't expect them to be very popular.
The proposed amendment to the Civic Status Law reorganized the process of registering births, divorce and names. One clause gave the government the right to reject names of newborns if the name violated "religious and social codes" or was "harmful to public order."

Friday, January 02, 2004

Watch TV on the Internet

As if watching TV on a television is not enough, you can watch TV on your computer. This is not news, but what's the best way to do it? I always went to WWITV to watch TV from around the world. You have to hunt around for a good channel, but it's a pretty good source for the world's online broadcasts.

There's another way to watch TV online. It's called NPC TV, a program made by a Korean company called NPCsoft. John from Sinosplice blogged about this, and he enjoys the program a lot. It's only for the PC, and it's all in Korean, but the streams are pretty good with a broadband connection. Even the full screen quality's clear. I saw some interesting things on the Japanese, British, and Sports channels, including a guy with a self-aiming gun. I hope the Korean developers make an English version of their program (as long as it's free too.)

Bad Apples

So there may be a lawsuit against Apple over the ipod and the ibook. I own both these products (own, meaning use them solely) and have had similar problems with both.
"Most of the complaints pertain to a particular iBook model with dual USB ports, and many users say the problems started to show up just after the computer came out of warranty."
This is the model I have; the problem is the combo drive won't stay closed when there's no disc in. The only way I can keep it closed is by keeping a disc inside, or pulling the drive all the way out, then tipping the whole laptop on it's left side, and finally letting go of the drive so gravity pulls it down. It's kind of annoying, and there doesn't seem like much I can do about it.

Meanwhile, a video making the rounds of the Internet shows a man spray-painting the message "IPod's unreplaceable battery lasts only 18 months" on iPod posters.

The filmmaker, Casey Neistat, said in a note on his Web site,, that he decided to make the film after his unit essentially died in September and he was told the battery could not be replaced.

Apple offers a $99 battery replacement service.

I've had the ipod battery problem also. My ipod is the first generation model (5 gigs), and it had several issues with the battery. I would charge it fully, play it for a little while, and a week later the battery would be drained. An update fixed this problem, but the battery doesn't last as long as it should. Maybe the lawsuit will help ibook and ipod owners.