Friday, April 30, 2004

What Do/Don't You Eat?

I have the worst diet of all my acquaintances. It's not filled with junk food, instead it's not filled with very much food. Starting from best to worse, breakfast is the one complete meal of the day that I eat. Sausage, eggs, hash browns, a banana, strawberries, and some pear are usually on the menu. It's plenty to get me going in the morning and holds me over until I get home from school. After that, there's no telling what or when my next meal will be. Rule for healthy eating: Eat meals at relatively the same time every day. Since I have a lighter schedule now I have some time to cook my own meals, but I hate shopping for food. I'm not used to buying food for myself (and my dad) to make meals with so I try to avoid going to the super market as much as possible. After living at home for a long time, it's hard for young people living on their own to learn how to feed themselves. Eventually most learn how to do this by the time they start feeding other people too. My dad doesn't shop for food to make meals because I don't think he's learned how to do this. I live at home with my dad now so I have a tendency not to even think about dinner (we never eat lunch). I've been looking for old forgotten stuff from the back of the pantry to eat.

My main snack is peanut butter and saltines. I eat that after school and for dinner and have not tired of it yet. I also eat grapefruit, bananas, ramen noodles, peanut butter sandwiches, and canned soups. We're starting to run out of a lot of food, foods that my mom knew bought but my dad doesn't understand what they are. There was one point in time when he bought me some South Pacific TV dinners but I got tired of them. All of the food I eat, except for the fruit, is unhealthy in large proportions; I've gained weight. The poor diet is also causing me sleeping problems. I never realized how good home cooked meals were until my mom left and my dad "took charge".

In reality I don't think I have the stamina to come up with recipes and buy ingredients, and neither does my dad. I made a Martha Stewart macaroni and cheese which took an hour and a half to prepare because I'm bad at timing things. After 30 minutes of baking in the oven I finally completed a main course and nothing else. I don't see how Martha or any other domestics can pull meals together day after day. Tomorrow I'm going to go to the grocery store, hopefully I'll pick up edible items that will last more than two days.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

They Called the Secret Service?

A student's drawings prompt an interview with the secret service.
Secret Service agents questioned a high school student about anti-war drawings he did for an art class, one of which depicted President Bush's head on a stick.

Another pencil-and-ink drawing portrayed Bush as a devil launching a missile, with a caption reading "End the war -- on terrorism."

The 15-year-old boy's art teacher at Prosser High School turned the drawings over to school administrators, who notified police, who called the Secret Service.

I understand calling the police, but the Secret Service ?? It seems like a waste of resources to investigate a 15-year-old's violent political artwork instead of people who have a greater chance of causing harm. I guess the kid'll be watched by the government for the rest of his life.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Citibank Identity Theft Commercials

Here are the Citibank identity theft commercials. They're among some of the few good commercials in the U.S.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Opening a Range of Ports (Updated)

I recently learned that the trick to speeding up bit torrent downloads is to open up a range of ports that are blocked by a router. It's so simple right? If you're behind a router and you're getting really slow download speeds (less than 10kbps) just open up ports 6881 to 6889, that are blocked by the router and you can get speeds up to 200kbps+ (if you have broadband). Well, I seem to have a special talent for discovering problems in doing the simplest of tasks. For one thing, I don't have a linksys router, I have an Airport (Snow). How do you open up a range of ports using an Airport base station? Nobody seems to know how to do it, so I improvised.

For Public and Private Port fields I entered the same number (6881, 6882, etc). For the Private Address field I just entered my computer's ip address. I did this for every single port number I wanted to open. I don't know if this was the right thing to do, but surfing the net seems to be faster. I didn't notice any changes with bit torrent downloads right away, so I connected directly to my cable modem. Still no change in download speed. I connected back up to internet via Airport and have waited a little while and noticed that my download speed went up to 30kbps. That's the highest it's ever gone for me, but it went back down to 10kbps. I still haven't figured out how to open a range of ports with the Airport, but maybe someone else with publish the solution.

I did followed all the steps up above, but I didn't realize one thing; the Airport changed my computer's ip address after I updated it. I looked at this forum and found some more directions, leading to a description of how to prevent the Airport from changing the computer's ip address, I think ;-). I don't expect anybody who doesn't have this set up to understand what I'm talking about, but I wanted to compile the information for those who do.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Culture Determines Educational Performance?

In the real world I heard someone say that in America Asians value education more than whites, blacks don't value education very much, and Latinos just don't understand the language (English). This was an explanation for why there are differences in educational performance among the various ethnicities in America. This person cited the book "No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning" which is about how bad young black students do in school, but it also talks about the reasons why all ethnic groups perform differently. The book has been disputed by several other scholars not because of the data in it, but the "cultural" differences among each group.

"Asian(all Asian people, east, south, etc.) culture" focuses primarily on education, so Asians do much better than whites in all educational levels. Blacks don't focus very much on education and instead spend too much time on sports and entertainment. Latinos (Spanish-speaking) do not understand English very well, so they can't do very well in American schools that teach in English. The man who told me this said nothing about whites or native Americans. I see numerous faults in this "theory" as to why different ethnic groups perform differently.

I made some comments and asked questions about the man's theory, but I couldn't change his mind. Why wouldn't blacks care about education when it was a Supreme Court ruling from a case involving a black family and a school board that ended segregation in America? "Asian" culture is an extremely vague term suggesting that everybody in Asia has the same or related culture and different groups of Asians perform vastly different in school. That's all I got to say to him because he kept going off on tangents, avoiding the questions, and changing the subject. I also wanted to let him know that many Asians in America have a native language other than English, so why don't they suffer in school as much as Latinos? Or vice versa, how come Latinos don't perform as well as Asians? He made a statement about how in every single Asian country the students work so hard, especially in Japan. I wish I had asked him if he was only counting the Asian families that send their children to school, and completely ignoring the kids that drop out because of commitments at home. Asia has the highest dropout rate in the world. That's pretty hard to believe if the "Asian culture" values education so much.

According to him and the Thernstroms (authors of No Excuses) blacks perform the worst in all educational levels. Highest drop out rate, lowest test scores, most expulsions. When I read "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto" I learned that it was native Americans (Indians) who performed the worse in all these fields and also had problems in education. Why didn't he say anything about this group? Do they not count? Why not compare blacks and native Americans for cultural similarities and differences if both groups perform poorly?

Guess who also got left out of this cultural comparison? He didn't tell us how well or bad whites did in school. He never mentioned anything about white culture. (I'm kicking myself now for not saying white culture, I was dying to hear how he would respond to that term at the risk of sounding like a member of the KKK). My guess is that he felt since America's mostly white, whites set the standard for education. Well jeez, shouldn't we be setting our standards a little higher? Why not have Asians be this "standard".

I think it's safe to just ignore this "theory" because the educational performances of different ethnic groups is more complex than what peoples' so-called cultures are. Asian culture, black culture (blacks everywhere), Latin culture, and all those other general terms are just as vague and useless as saying white culture.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Field Museum and the Mfuwe Man Eater

This is a picture of a Man Eater of Mfuwe, who now resides in the Field Museum in Chicago. This particular maneless lion had been terrorizing the people of Mfuwe in Africa during 1991. It was the largest lion ever recorded in the area at almost 10 feet long. From the picture it's hard to see how big this lion is, but I'd compare it to a pony only a little shorter. Normally lions will not kill and eat people because humans are not their natural prey, but the Man Eaters in Africa were different. Some say that they eat humans because their regular food supply was reduced, so they were forced to turn to other alternatives. Others say that the locals did not bury their dead properly and the lions started eating corpses, developing a taste for humans. Either way, the lions were a threat to the people, especially the 10 foot long one. The big lion was so cunning that people started to believe that it was possessed by a demon. It's last victim was a woman, and when the lion finished eating her he took a clothes bag from her house and dragged it through the main street roaring. Later on, people saw the lion playing with the bag like a sack of catnip. Why didn't the citizens just kill the lion? Well, hunting was restricted in the area and the people lacked the resources to kill it. Finally a Chicagoan came in and killed the lion after a week of hunting (safari hunting was allowed because of the financial resources it generated).

The Field Museum in Chicago is one fine museum. We went there last December for a day during winter break. When you walk in at first you see the main hall that houses the dinosaur skeleton Sue and a big elephant. All the exhibits are on the sides of the building. But that doesn't mean there isn't much room for the collections. The museum is huge. We spent a couple hours there walking around the three levels just browsing. What's at the museum? A little bit of everything. Artifacts, animals (stuffed), clothing, traditional houses, plants, and art. It's just too big to see everything during one visit.

One thing I noticed on the back of my map was a little message that surprised me at first. It said, "During your visit, you may encounter exhibits that portray people or ideas that are new to you. Thank you for viewing all displays with respect for the traditions they represent." Why do they put that message on there? Who would be so dense as to pay money to visit one of the country's top museums and look down upon the exhibits. Then my mom joked that the message was for one of my instructors, who had said some negative things about certain ethnic groups without backing up the claims with facts. There are people who would say that some of the cultures displayed in the museum are stupid, confused, or backwards. But then there are others who may be educated to some degree who would make more "scientific" claims like, "Oh, that's just faulty cause effect reasoning", "They haven't accepted progress from the western world", or "The museum's trying to make those cultures seem more important than they really are." Now I understand why the museum printed that message on the map, right next to the key information about the facility.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Ever wanted to put metal jewelry on your eyeballs? Me neither, but now you can get a procedure done in the Netherlands called JewelEye where you can.
"Dutch eye surgeons have implanted tiny pieces of jeweler called "JewelEye" in the mucous membrane of the eyes of six women and one man in cosmetic surgery pioneered by an ophthalmic surgery research and development institute in Rotterdam.

The procedure involves inserting a 3.5 mm (0.13 inch) wide piece of specially developed jewellery -- the range includes a glittering half-moon or heart -- into the eye's mucous membrane under local anaesthetic at a cost of 500 to 1,000 euros (270 to 540 pounds)."

Fun huh? Can't people just be satisfied with color contact lenses? I have enough trouble keeping my eyelashes out of my eyes, why would I want a titanium jewel stuck on them? Ewww, here's the official site.

Monday, April 12, 2004

White Trash Charms

I was looking at a site called Signs of Life, linked by Zannah, and I noticed a particular sign featuring a company that I thought was Japanese. As you can see from the picture, the company is called White Trash Charms. The photographer even mentions, "Aparently the Japanese don't understand the negative connotations attached to this phrase." That's not a wild hypothesis, so I decided to check it out. I found this site, White Trash Charms Japan, ignoring the first results in the search because maybe cybersquatters used the name. I couldn't find any information in English on the Japan site, so I tried my luck with the first site on the results list, White Trash Charms. After exploring the site a little I learned that White Trash Charms was an American company, run primarily by three white women.

The jewelry isn't extremely fancy, the designs aren't anything to write home about, but the name white trash just doesn't sit well with me. Nowhere on the website is an explanation for the name of the company, so I guess that's a signal to all the unhip people to pay no attention to the name, it's all about the jewelry, the art, the style. Well, I don't want to ignore the name and I don't think anybody else should. The photographer was willing to overlook the "gaffe" as a foreign culture not understanding a negative slur, but what would he say when he found out that it was a white American who created the company, a person surrounded by people who completely understand the phrase's meaning? Why are people over looking this? White trash is an offensive name for a poor/working class white person. I guess since people are willing to buy the products, it doesn't matter what the name is. And by looking at the prices of the products, white trash are not buying them, so they're not even for white trash. They probably have received letters, but the only print that counts for them is reviews in fashion magazines.

Part of me wants to do nothing more than think about it for a few days and then forget about it. But I could contact the N.A.A.C.P., an American civil rights group, just to see what they have to say about it. Maybe I'm just over reacting.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Tomb Raider

I watched Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life on Friday, a day off from school. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars because I didn't get bored and the plot was okay. The first movie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was a little on the tacky side because the special effects weren't as good. I also liked the sequel because of the technology, ancient history (inaccurate, but it's Hollywood, so I wasn't surprised), and different locations featured. Some of tech wasn't too impossible/James Bond-like, and could probably used in real life. Historic elements included mentions of the Santorini earthquake, Alexander the Great, and some Greek mythology among other things. Croft and her partner travel the world a bit more, stopping off in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The plots not too bad either. Lara's trying to stop a biological weapons producer from finding and using Pandora's Box to wipe out most of the world's population, or at least the "undesirable" people.

It got me thinking about Saddam Hussein's Iraq, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. I don't think Saddam had as sophisticated a biological weapons program as this guy Reiss did in the movie. Who makes biological weapons anyways and how lucrative is the market? I'm not interested in making them since I don't like biology (I can't stand looking at cells under a microscope, let alone diseases). All in all, it wasn't a waste of an evening.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Eating Dandelions

On Wednesday I went to my friend's house for dinner where her mom cooked dumplings/wantons filled with pork and dandelions. I don't think I had ever eaten dandelions before, I didn't even know they were edible. Dandelions, called huang-hua-tii-ting in Chinese, are one of the "six most important herbs in Chinese medicine." They tasted a little bitter, but after awhile I enjoyed them a lot. My friend didn't tell me what I was eating at first, and for good reason, because thinking about the lawn weed and eating them at the same time spoils the flavor. Other regions around the world eat dandelions, even the early American colonists ate dandelions, but I'm not sure if that had something to do with lack of other foods or not.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Don't Do It!! Let Them Go

Iraqi insurgents are threatening to burn civilian hostages alive unless Japan withdraws troops from Iraq.
"Armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the kidnappers shouted "Allahu akbar"-- God is great -- in the video and held knives to the throats of the Japanese, who screamed and whimpered in terror."
"The events suggested a new tactic by insurgents to pressure the governments of Washington's allies in Iraq, and posed dire implications for U.N. workers, journalists, religious groups, security personnel and other civilians doing business here."

After what happened last week to the 4 American contractors, and the events that followed it doesn't make sense why these insurgents are doing this. When a few Americans (or other coalition members) get killed, many many more Iraqis (both civilians and insurgents) are killed later. The U.S. has proven that it can and will meet these attacks with powerful assaults, so why do these people continue to do this? They must not care about their own citizens lives, just getting rid of occupational forces.

Save CPU Power in OS X

The Unofficial Apple Weblog posted this great tip on how to save CPU power in OS X.

"Have you ever noticed that if you are downloading many things in Safari and have the “Downloads” window open, your CPU usage jumps up? On my 800MHz G4 this can amount to 40%. If I close the downloads window or hide Safari this usage drops back down to 5%.

This got me thinking, and it turns out that its the repeated updates to the window that crunches the CPU, not the downloads. By hiding apps, you can reduce the number of CPU cycles they use as OSX no longer has to re-draw their windows when something changes. Programs which show progress bars or other such frequent window changes are most affected."

Monday, April 05, 2004

Blogger Permalinks: How to Make Them Work

Ever since I started my Blogger blog I have had trouble creating permanent links (permalinks) to specific posts. When I tried to link back to a certain post, my browser would take me to the very top of a page displaying all the entries posted during the month of that particular post. Normally a permalink is supposed to go directly to the specified post, automatically scrolling down if necessary. Why wouldn't mine do that? What was I doing wrong?

I looked on some other Blogger blogs and tried their permalinks. I got mixed results; some worked and others didn't. I looked on Blogger Forum and found that others were having the same problem. Dew's permalinks worked, so I decided to ask him. He gave me a simple overview of how permalinks work, but I was still missing something. After examining my template code I figured out what the problem was.

Titles. Blogger permalinks use titles as an anchor to link back to posts. That's why a link to an old post went directly to the title of the post. I was creating my own titles using the <h4> tag, others whose permalinks didn't work were using the <strong> tag. To make Blogger permalinks work I needed to create a title that would be recognized by Blogger. Following these simple instructions made my permalinks work.
"To enable titles, go to the Settings | Formatting tab. Scroll down to the settings field labeled 'Show title field', and set it to "Yes."

"When you finish selecting 'Yes' from the drop-down menu, click on the 'Save Changes' button at the bottom of the page. Once saved, you will see a prompt diplayed that reads "Your changes have been saved." in orange at the top of the page. Do not leave this page until you see the message displayed."

After about an hour and a half I had fixed every post I had ever made, and now my permalinks work.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Safari Tip and Problem

Here's a helpful tip for Safari to make it run a little faster. From MacMegasite
I found that Safari has been slowing down and I would see the spinning cursor for several seconds every time I open a page. Thankfully This tip from Mac OS X Hints solved it.

If you go to ~/Library/Safari you'll see a folder called Icons which caches all of the site favicons. After extensive use, the icon cache can get very large. Simply delete the contents of the Icons folder and the Safari slowdown will be gone.

To prevent it from happening again in the future, make the Icons folder read only. You'll no longer see any Favicons in the bookmark window or menu, but it's a small price to pay for the speedup.

I wouldn't go that far and make the folder read only because I like to see the Favicons, so I think I'm just going to delete the contents of the folder every so often.

My Safari problem is that when I click return (enter) after I type in the site address in the address bar I get a message saying that it can't connect to server. So after I press return again the web site shows up. It's not a huge problem but it's really annoying. I have Mac OS 10.3.2 and will not update to 10.3.3 because, "if it ain't broke don't fix it," and I've heard reports that the upgrade doesn't help. Now I have 10.3.3, but I don't think it's helped the problem, which has gone away on it's own. I'd like to continue to hope that the problem will go away on it's own. Hopefully it won't come back.

More Blockages in China

The Chinese government has decided to blog the technology news site Slashdot as reported by Glutter. Reporters without Borders has also covered the rise in internet repression by the Chinese government. Typepad has remained blocked and Blogspot is still partially blocked. It looks like things are going to stay this way for a long time unfortunately.

John from Sinosplice has proposed a solution to allow free speech to prevail. His project is called Adopt a Blog, which involves a site that pays for it's domain and space to host another blog that is blocked in China. It's a new idea and I'd like to see how it works out. Another solution could be to use mirrors, but I have no idea how that works and if it's a feasible solution for hundreds of thousands of blogs.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Applele Style

This site features a graphic artist's designs of future "apple" products. If these products were really on the market it would be difficult for me not to buy them. Apple products already look great, but these designs are 10 years ahead of schedule. If this guy showed his designs to Apple, they'd be crazy not to hire him.

via Jason Nolan

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Best Idea in Athletics

The San Francisco Giants are offeringfree wifi access during home games at SBC Park. I'm not a baseball fan, but this is definitely one stadium I'd visit. If all sporting events offered free internet during the games attendance would increase dramatically. However, there are many negatives to open wifi, so doing anything involving passwords or other confidential information would be out.