Saturday, July 31, 2004

Batman Begins

Hopefully Batman Begins won't turn out to be as bad as Catwoman is supposed to be.

Link via Listology.

Friday, July 30, 2004

One Year

Last year on July 30, this blog was opened to the public. Lots of things have changed since then, the template, links, and Blogger interface. I'm still going on strong and I hope things continue to change for the better. :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Virtuously Evil

History Channel interviewee on "Punishment" documentary:
You can't kill very large numbers of people, except in the name of virtue.
We're brought up to believe it's a good quality from which only good things can come from, but the worst events in human history are the result of virtue.

Buy American

It's hard to tell what companies are American owned and which are foreign. Many companies don't make it easy to find out either. How Americans Can Buy American* does some of the work for us, but the site doesn't tell the whole story. For example, CompUSA is Mexican, but that's only half the story. In reality, CompUSA is being held buy a Mexican company (U.S. Commercial) probably so it can avoid paying some taxes. I wonder if this is making things cheaper for consumers. Whatever the consequences, it offers some insight into who owns what.

*Since American products are everywhere in the world, the site/book could be renamed How Everybody Can Buy American.

Fighting Terrorism and Fat?

From Yahoo! News:
WASHINGTON - A government scientist finishing a candy bar on her way into a subway station where eating is prohibited was arrested, handcuffed and detained for three hours by transit police.

Stephanie Willett said she was eating a PayDay bar on an escalator descending into a station July 16 when an officer warned her to finish it before entering the station. Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can...
Way to go! The heightened security in Washington D.C. is not only warding off terrorism, but helping people lose weight. I wonder if this policy would work in any other city in the country?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Work of the Holy Spirit

Got this email from my dad a few days ago:

The Lord has a way of revealing those of us who really know him, and those that don't!!! Think about it!

Bush gave a big speech last week about how his faith is so "important" to him. In this attempt to convince the American people that we should consider him for president, he announced that his favorite Bible verse is John 16:3.

Of course the speech writer meant John 3:16, but nobody in the Bush camp was familiar enough with scripture to catch the error.

And do you know what John 16:3 says? John 16:3 says; "And they will do this because they have not known the Father nor Me".

The Holy Spirit works in strange ways.
This is a hoax.


There's Google for searching for web sites, images, and news, but for bit torrents now there is Bitoogle, the bit torrent file search engine. Search in English, German, Dutch, and Japanese. It's fast, efficient, and useful for finding torrent files.

Link via The Unofficial Google Weblog.

How Do They Stay So Slim?

According to this BBC article, the French stay slim because they eat smaller portions, sit down with family for at least 2 meals per day, and eat less junk food unlike the British and Americans. As a result, they are among the skinniest Europeans. This sounds plausible to me, but it doesn't explain why other groups keep the pounds away.

Scandinavians happen to be very svelte, but eat some of the richest food in large portions. When I was Sweden, it seemed like every meal was a huge smorgasbord with creams, butters, yogurts, and cheeses. There were no small portions, everybody filled their plates and returned to the buffet tables for seconds and thirds. How did they keep their weight down when they ate all this fatty food?

Now, Italy may have just held a Miss Chubby (Miss Cicciona) contest, but if you go to any mall, theater, or game in the U.S. you'd think you were at an American version. Besides Britain, no other European country can really come close to the size of many Americans. This leads me to proof (somewhat) of a theory I heard on public radio: Speaking English can make you gain weight.

Continents like Africa, South America, and Asia do not have an abundance of fat people, but other factors determine size including political and economic. When I was in China everybody was not only shorter but much slimmer. My friend said it was due to malnutrition and I also noticed how the only dairy really in existence was eggs (chicken and robin) and extremely bland ice cream.

But are the Australians (and others in Oceania) fat? I wouldn't be surprised if they were. Judging only from the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings films, who somehow managed to stay nice and chubby all the way to Mordor, it seems like there is a considerable chubby population.

Why English can make people heavier is a whole different issue. Learning the phrases deep fried, fast food, and take out in addition to seeing and understanding McDonald's and Pizza Hut commercials may contribute to the chubby complex in the mind, but who can be sure?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Book Vending Machine

Replace the candy and cappuccino machines with this. It's better for your health and good for your mind.


Joi introduced me to a new program that I've fallen in love with. RadioLover allows you to record your MP3 radio streams into individual MP3 files. You can put these songs on your MP3 player or burn them onto a CD. Sounds too good to be true right? The first question I asked Joi after he told me about the program was is it legal in the U.S.? He already blogged on that subject, but I think the RIAA is already trying to find a way to ban this program.

If you have iChat AV, you can download this script that shows your buddies what you're listening to and if you're using RadioLover.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Monday, July 19, 2004

Blogger Mozilla Problems Again

Blogger has updated it's posting interface now, adding more features including text colors, lists, justification, and fonts and sizes. However, it doesn't seem to play too nice with Mozilla. Sometimes it'll lose CSS(?) support and only the text will show up, and I have yet to publish a post and get confirmation that it was uploaded afterwards. Yes, I downloaded the latest Mozilla and no, I'm not going to download Firefox.

No clue what the problem is, but hopefully it'll blow over soon. Mozilla was the only browser that worked with Blogger on the Mac, so I'm depending on it to work.

I think it's working again now!

Fundrace 2004

Fundrace 2004 allows you to search for who is contributing to this years political campaigns. The Neighbor search lets you put in your address and see what campaigns your neighbors are contributing to and how much they have given. You can also search for specific people. I did a few searches for some well known people and came up with this:
Mr. William H. Gates, III - $2,000 to George W. Bush

Honorable John Kerry - $25,000 to the Democratic National committee (DNC)

Mr. George HW Bush - $2,000 to George W. Bush

Barbara Streisand - $25,000 to DNC; $2,000 to Kerry; $1,000 to Edwards, Sharpton, Dean, Gephardt, Graham, and Clark

Albert A. Gore - $2,000 to Kerry; $1,000 to Dean

Mr. BooneC. Pickens - $25,000 to the Republican National Committee; $2,000 to Bush
After putting in a few zip codes you can see that many businesses (especially large ones) contribute to the Bush campaign or the RNC. They know who to support to get their tax cuts.

Another feature of the site is a national map of what regions contribute to the Democrats and to the Republicans.

You can also see what Kerry and Bush spend on hotels and airlines. Truly U.S. campaigning requires some serious funds. Most of our presidents are rich white men from the East coast.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Chinese Triad Dot Org

Dan over at Chinese Triad has an amazing photo blog of his visit to China. I recognize many of the places he went to and highly recommend looking at all the photos for a good idea of what to expect if you're planning on visiting. He traveled during the cooler months, which I wouldn't mind trying since it was boiling when I went.

Brazilians Taking Over Orkut

If you have an Orkut account and still bother to read community messages you've probably noticed that there are quite a few messages written in Portuguese. If you've bothered to look at the profiles of the people sending the messages you would've seen that all their friends are Brazilian also. Orkut, Google's social networking system, is now over 40% Brazilian compared to being 20% American. Iran is in third with 5%. Now I've never taken any of these messages too seriously, but this has bothered some members.

I don't see why people are so mad since Orkut hasn't made many improvements since its launch. Few seem to pay much attention to in anymore except the Brazilians and Iranians. Rebecca Blood does offer some tips on how Orkut could be "saved", but it's not going anywhere currently and has lost much of its flare to those who joined it early.

I predict that people from other countries who have just discovered the service will continue to dominate it until it finally gets out of beta and becomes more useful.

Property in China

The BBC gives some details on buying property in China.
"I'm quite satisfied with it because I didn't have to accept what I was given by other people. I could make my own choice," says Mr Yang.

His words express how many Chinese feel about going up the property ladder, leaving behind dingy apartments allocated by work-units under China's defunct Communist welfare system.

His old home in the southern city of Kunming was doled out when he was a junior civil servant, low down the perks list.

Mr Yang is still no Donald Trump, despite his high-roller decorating habits. But like millions of middle-class Chinese, he and his wife are pouring their savings into a newly built flat and have taken on a hefty mortgage for the first time.
Buying a house for the first time. Sounds familiar, despite what I was told about Chinese culture. It looks like Chinese want to own their own homes and live by themselves just like Americans do, even if that means getting involved in a system barely a decade old.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


While I was searching for books on I noticed a new feature called Plog. I clicked on the "What is a Plog" link for the description and got this:
The Plog™ Service is a personalized blog. A blog is a straightforward and now widely adopted method of posting a reverse chronological diary on the Internet... Your Plog is a diary of events that will enhance your shopping experience, helping you discover products that have just been released, track changes to your orders, and many other things. Just like a blog, your Plog is sorted in reverse chronological order. When we think we have something interesting or important to tell you, we'll post it to your Plog.
At first I thought how could a personalized blog be any different from what I have right here? But this Amazon Plog is just a creative way to lighten your wallet, based on what you have purchased in the past. It's just a blog of reviews, written by Amazon staff, of products that they think you will like. It's not that I'm against product reviews or something/someone suggesting what I might like, it's the so-called blogging aspect of this. Instead of having someone from the company write blog entries (which are actually just directly copied from the products' review sections) why not have customers write the Plog entries? The staff can just pick a couple of the least offensive posts for each product. But I guess letting customers write product reviews is plenty for the company.

Blogging is supposed to give anybody a chance to post content to the internet, but Plogging is the opposite. The service is still in beta though, so there's still some hope for it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Monday, July 12, 2004

Novel for the Cellphone

Chinese author moves into texts
A Chinese author is writing a novel aimed to be transmitted in text message-size chunks.

Qian Fuchang has reduced his novel Outside the Fortress Besieged into 60 chapters of 70 characters each, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

Described as a "steamy tale of illicit love among already married people", the novel will be available exclusively to mobile phone users.

China's expanding mobile phone market already has 300 million.

Xie Wangxin, vice chairman of the Guangdong Literary Academy in southern China, told Xinhua that the mobile phone novel was no gimmick and would be "a real literary work".

Last year, Chinese people sent more than 220bn text messages, more than half of all messages sent in the world, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Now that's the kind of book I want to read. It's short, it's simple, and to the point. I suggest putting a Jane Austen novel in text message form. Sure, the books are enjoyable to read, but if you don't have time to curl up with them for hours then the cell phone version may work out.

How to Hotwire a BMW

My mom just got a new BMW 5 series on Friday. I wasn't too excited about this because she didn't get a navigation system or DVD player for the backseats, but mainly because I wanted her to buy me a new car. It's fancy enough for her and she hopes it will last 20 years. When I saw it I changed my mind about the car. The drive was so smooth and the interior had that addictive new car smell. However, my mom couldn't enjoy that for very long because she went on vacation the next day. I told her we'd drive her car and have fun while she had to eat nasty health food. She said that she'd take the key with her so we couldn't. Then I suggested that we wouldn't need the key, we'd just hotwire the car. She laughed at that idea because we couldn't even cook ourselves a full dinner.

Unfortunately, even if we knew how to hotwire cars we couldn't hotwire her's. The dealer said that her car couldn't be hotwired. I didn't believe this so I looked up some information with Google on hotwiring cars and more specifically, hotwiring a BMW. Couldn't find anything, except that "how to hotwire an[sic] bmw[sic]" is a dumb question.

House of Sand and Fog

For summer school I had to read Andre Dubus III's House of Sand of Fog. Overall I thought the book was well written, and I didn't mind the change of narrators, but the characters weren't likeable. Kathy Nicolo is evicted from her house by the county because she neglected to pay a business tax. Her husband left her several months ago, she has a meager income as a house cleaner, and she's struggling with an addiction.

The next day her house is sold to Colonel Massoud Behrani and his family for 45 grand at an auction. Behrani is an Iranian immigrant who was part of the overthrown Shah's army. After squandering money on furniture, clothing, and a "pooldar" apartment, he realized that without a good source of income he couldn't afford to live his lavish lifestyle. After spending the last of his savings on Kathy's house, he learns that he can sell the property for four times its worth.

The problem is that Kathy was evicted from her house by accident and she has no where to live. Infuriated by this news she bothers the Behranis about her situation and starts to drink. Behrani conceals this information from his family and further upsets Kathy. Also, the deputy sheriff that evicts Kathy becomes obsessed with her despite having a family and stable job.

It's a pretty interesting read and hard to put down, but by the end of the book you don't like any of the characters. They all make a series of poor decisions and in the end pay for their actions. You wouldn't want to be friends with these people because it could be a dire mistake. It's a modern Greek tragedy and I'd recommend it if you don't like people and don't want to.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

China Photos

Now that summer school is over I've run out of excuses for not posting and I'd better step it up. It's been some time since I came home from China, so I've finally uploaded my photographs from the trip. Most of them were pretty bad and just of me, so there's only 2 pages of photos. Here's China photo page 1 and China photo page 2. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

It's Okay to Download!

Michael Moore gave everybody the okay to download his new movie Fahrenheit 9/11 as long as they're not using it commercially. Imajes pointed out that Some people took this farther than Moore expected by putting the movie on the distributor's website, Lions Gate Films, for a brief period of time. It wasn't advertised directly on the site, but it was easy to find out where it was posted. I was on dial-up unfortunately, so I only got 10mbs of it.

When my cable internet was fixed I took advantage of it immediately and found a torrent file of F 9/11 and spent roughly 2 days downloading it. Last night I watched the film on the computer to see for myself what all the hype was about. I thought it would just be a film aimed at people already against Bush and the war in Iraq, positions I stood by so why watch this film? After watching the first 20 minutes I was hooked though. Not because it reinforced my positions, but because it asked questions that went unanswered from the last four years. I agree with Jimmy Dee, everybody needs to see this film.