Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pointless Factoid XIV

The speed of light, which now features for the second time in a Pointless Factoid, is in fact not constant but varies depending on the medium it traverses.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I hate waiting

Serenity tomorrow!

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Six more days! If you haven't seen the Firefly series yet, go beg, borrow, or steal the DVD's and start cramming!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Peers of the land

Today we finished selecting a jury in the matter of the People v. Roger Ramirez. It took several days; longer, in fact, than expected thanks to an incident that rendered the jail into lock down for most of Wednesday afternoon. What this incident was I never knew, but with the jail under lockdown the defendant couldn't be transported to the courthouse (which, as it happens, is right next door and actually connected via a series of tunnels). But eventually Mr. Ramirez was able to come, much to everyone's relief. Well, except his I suppose.

Selecting a jury is an interesting procedure. You start with an unknown mob of people and, through questions and observation try to ascertain which people would be most receptive to your particular assertions. Sometimes it's easy; you don't want people who hate dogs to be on a jury involving a dog attack. But more often, it's a bizarre amalgamation of stereotypes and amature psychology.

For my own part, I mainly sat at the defense table and scribbled notes. My supervisor wanted me to keep my own list of jurors that I thought we should keep, and those I thought we should keep. Happily, our lists ended up being fairly similar, and he even kicked the people who'd met my reject list but weren't on his. Of course, part of his receptiveness to my suggestion was the fact that we had twenty pre-emptory challenges.

Pre-emptory challenges are bascially vetos on prospective jurors. Twenty is a lot, and there was almost no way that we'd have used them all, so my boss lost nothing by sending a few challenges my way. Still, I'd like to think my decisions were based on cause, at least insofar as cause exists in this esoteric proces.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mondays and Murderers

On Monday I start my first trial, the People of the state of California v. Roger Ramirez. To be sure, I'm not an attorney, simply just an intern. Still, it will be my first experience with the judicial system, aside form an errant ticket or two, and though I won't be making an appearence on behalf of Mr. Ramirez, I will be at the defense table and I'll be helping with just about every aspect of the trial, including jury selection. All in all, it should be pretty interesting. At least, insofar as work goes.

The only downside is that I have to buy a suit. I have an old one, from when I was a kid, but it not only doesn't fit, but I haven't exactly exhibit particularly dilligent efforts in its care. I actually like suits quite a bit, though I expect their allure will diminish in proportion to how often I wear (and spill stuff on) them.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pointless Factoid XIII

The phrase "under God" was added to the pledge in 1954, which, as some of you may know, was during the height of the cold war. The troubling assertion that a particular religious belief is higher than the republic aside, it was originally added as little more than a sally towards those "godless communists".

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm not dead yet

Well, my previous pronouncement of recovery proved to be premature. Nevertheless, all signs now reliably point to my ultimate victory over whatever microscopic host has chosen to invade my body.

Unfortunately, when God stops punching you in the face, he usually begins kicking you in the crotch. In this case, my inevitable return to health unfortunately heralds a the resumption of my scholastic responsibilities.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Less sick than before


(Okay, these two posts don't exactly set high marks for elegance or insight, but for someone with no health insurance, they're not bad)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The future is now

I would like to take this opportunity to recommend the current sci-fi TV program The 4400. If you haven't been watching, it's not too late to *ahem* obtain the episodes and catch up. Although, in my opinion, the first season was better than the second, the later season remains an excellent way to waste life an hour at a time.

Aside from Battlestar Galactica, I haven't seen a sci-fi show I've liked this much since Brimstone. Which, by the way, if you haven't seen you should.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


So my fantastic run for a million dollars comes to an abrupt end. After outlasting 1500 other players, I was myself sent packing. All in all, not a bad experience for free.

Good luck to the 2500 players that remain. Except the guy that busted me. I hope he goes down in flames.

Friday, August 26, 2005

All In: Update

Well, I've won a seat into the big million dollar tournament. Most likely, I'll be eliminated early and this entire endeavor will have just cost me a few hours of my life. If I'm substantially more lucky, I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

New Features! Aren't they shiny?

As you can see, there is now a little letter icon down at the bottom of every post. This useless feature allows you to send my mindless prattling to anyone you feel is in need of help falling asleep. The other neat addition is a comment-spam prevention tool.

Much as I'll regret cutting off this free source of stock advice, it had to be done.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

All In

Please note that I'm not, in any way, employed by or otherwise related to Paradise However, that being said, I am going to give them a shameless plug.

In two days, Paradise will be hosting the world's first free million dollar tournament. There is no entry free. All you need to do to get into the million tournament is end in the top ten in one of the free satellite tournaments on their website. Sounds easy enough, right? And it is. But of course, always with the catch these things are.

This time, the catch is rather innocuous. The only entry requirement for the satellite is that you sign up for a real money account. I don't think you even need to put any money into it, just sign up for it. However, even if you do need to put money in, you could always just put in a little and then cash it all out again. So it really is free to play in the satellite.

But what if you don't win your first satellite? Can you play another one? See, that's where they get you. Subsequent satellites are free too, but you have to qualify for them. How do you qualify for them, you might ask. Well, for that, you have to play at the real money tables. The calculations differ depending on the limit, but essentially, you earn "million points" as you play. If you get enough, you can play in another satellite. There's no limit to the number of satellites you can participate in, so long as you keep earning those points. Of course, as you play, the site earns money (called the rake, a small fraction of every pot), and so that's the nature of the gimmick.

At any rate, I highly encourage anyone with even a passing interest in poker to at least give the free satellite a try. Who knows, you might even get a seat into the million.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another new IM system! Now if only I had some one to talk to...

Well, I never was very big on any of the old IM systems. I had ICQ a really long time ago (I've heard the early numbers are actually valuable now!), but I can't remember anything about it for the life of me. But as I'm a total google geek, I've signed on with Google Talk. It's neat. Check it out.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Totem Poles, Slave Labor, and Murder

Well, I now have a job. A non-paying job. When you add that to school - a school I have to pay to attend - the combination is an unholy amalgamation of my most horrid nightmares. Never since the spiny ridges of an overgrown lizard appeared in the waves of Tokyo Bay has an Asian man beheld his fate with such unabashed terror. Somehow, in a conspiracy of cruel dimensions, my two greatest enemies - work and school - are now united against my remaining free time.

Earlier today I met with Ed Nino, an attorney with the Santa Clara Public Defender's office. After a brief, almost prefunctory conversation, I was awarded an internship. He works in the homicide division, so that means I do too now. I'm not really sure what my duties will entail, but hopefully it should be interesting. If not, the least it could do would be to stay simple.

But I'm not holding out much hope of that either.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine:

I feel as though I see the world as it is, not as I want it to be. Although I retain a certain degree of resilient idealism, always is it colored with, if not subsumed by, an almost fatal cynicsm that is nonetheless the natural and probable side-effect of real life. Reason is a virtue, for me, and even more so on account of its relative scarcity.

What does this really mean though? Do I actually manage to keep a level head? Am I really governed by reason? Or do I simply choose to recast an unwillingness to commit myself enthusiastically to X (whatever it is at the moment) into a virtue?

In the end, it's probably a little of both. But then again, that's the way I bet it is for everyone.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pointless Factoid XII

Babies have more bones than adults. During maturation, some bones fuse with their neighbors, thus making up for the disparity. How bizarre.

On another note, the Pointless Factoid is now one year old. It's neat how I'll now be able to chart my age based on the number of trivialities I've posted. Well, the intentional trivialities, at any rate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Well, I indulged myself and picked up a few electronic toys. My old headphones were getting uncomfortable, so I got a new wireless pair. They have a 150' range and this neat charger stand. I also bought a 160 GB hard drive and a GeForce 6200 video card. I wanted a 6800, but I just didn't have the scratch. Before leaving I gave the mp3 players a hard look, but I can't decide on what features I want. I'll have to do some reseach, and I'm more than open to suggestions.

Unfortunately, I wasn't really able to enjoy my new purchases very much. Installation and all took a little while, the hard drive wouldn't automatically hook up, and I spent the balance of the day wrestling with my video card. Although it worked well enough on games, the thing would go into epileptic seizures if ordered to play video files. An exhaustive search of the internet was of only minor assistance, and ultimately I simply played trial and error with old nVidia drivers.

However, in the end, I managed to triumph over my own personal incompetence. A feat not entirely inconsiderable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Those tomboys and their damned cute names

I don't know exactly what it is about them, but I really like the names you find on tomboys (and the bodies too, but that's another story). Forget Stephanie or Charlotte, give me a Devon or a Jordan.

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's back to school time

Again. Damnit. Tomorrow I start my third year of law school. Unforunately, because I was part-time my first year, I might have to have a fourth year too. We'll see. For now, it's enough to know that I have to go through all this crap again starting in 23 hours and 22 minutes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Pointless Factoid XI

Magma is molten rock located underneath the Earth. When it emerges, due to volcanic activity or plate movements, it becomes lava.

Believe it or not, this was the most interesting thing about geology I could find.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

So long Sandy, and other stuff too!

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has left the high court. As a law student, I feel like I should have some sort of analysis, at least above and beyond that likely to be peddled about the blogiverse, but I don't. At least, I don't care enough to think of one and type it up. Maybe later when we find out who'll be replacing her.

In other news, had a good time at AnimeExpo. Thanks for everyone who came out to the JDrama panel. The big news of the show: There's going to be a new Robotech movie! That's right, after twenty years, Robotech is back! Check it out at the Robotech website. I don't have any pictures of the convention, mainly because I don't have a digital camera. But I want one. Maybe I'll get one.

Okay, I guess maybe this post didn't warrant a title with an exclamation point. But damnit, I'm excited about new Robotech!

Monday, July 04, 2005

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws

The Patriot act is set to expire soon, the provisions of which are a troubling marriage of practicality and arbitrary power. Taken as itself, I am unable to unequivocally state a firm and all-encompassing opposition to the law. Certainly, as past events have adequately displayed, there is (and likely remains) a powerful case to be made for the utility of expanded police powers. The old adage of prevention and cure remains not merely relevant but, when measured within the context of human life, very nearly unquestionable. There are unmistakably aspects of the law whose impact on our privacy is both bearable and substantially less threatening than the harms they aim to prevent.

Unfortunately, the analysis does not end there, for the entirety of the act manifests nothing so clearly as a means by which the entire republic could be unwound from within. I am unwilling to ascribe to its supporters the labels, which range across the entire spectrum and encompass the complete range of governmental tyranny, so popular among the act's detractors. I think, so long as we leave aside the reactionary rush prevelant in the public and especially the Republican public, that most of the Patriot act's supporters are as dedicated to freedom as anyone else. Nonetheless, they believe that terrorism represents a greater danger to our society, and this is where we differ.

Let us be very clear. Al-Qaeda will never destroy the United States. Not in their most delusional of dreams can they even hope to accomplish anything so grand. What's more, not withstanding the individual tragedy of each death, neither are they really all that dangerous to any given American. Suitcase nukes, bioterror weapons, another 9-11; if these things were easy, they would be done. That they are not, while providing no reason to halt in our efforts to prevent them, is a testament to the fundamental truth of our terrorist opponents. They just aren't a danger to our republic. They never will be.

However, we ourselves are very much capable of ruining our society. In the end, even the most grievous lost of people, places, or products can be overcome. It is instead when we yield our principles that our way of life becomes endangered. Al-Qaeda cannot destroy the constitution. But secret warrants, citizens captured on American soil and held without trial or advice of counsel, military tribunals, and the other trappings of arbitrary, unchecked power have within their draconian applications abuses of unimaginable and irredeemable severity. In the end, it is from ourselves that the greatest danger to our society faces.

If this struggle with terror is truly a war, then it should be recalled from among the lessons of conflict that ideas can be more powerful than even the most fearsome weapons. The surest way to bring the full force of our true power, a legacy of liberty and democracy tarnished, perhaps, at times and yet each time revealed even stronger, is to show an unwaivering faith in ourselves. It is for that reason, an inability within myself to yield conviction to circumstance, that I urge everyone to beware the passage and application of that foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


On my way to AnimeExpo, the largest anime convention in America. I'm not really quite sure exactly how many people are expected, but I'm sure it'll be pretty big. For my part, aside from yet another opportunity to revel in those interests of mine as may lie on this side of the geek line, I'll actually be giving a talk on Japanese dramas. It's going to be a simple and rather informal panel discussion, so if anyone is planning on being in Anaheim this weekend, I'd love to see you there.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Using up RAM

That's right. This post serves no other purpose than to have used up an infinitesimally puny amount of your RAM and bandwidth.

Ha ha!

Jeff 1, Internet Using World 0!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pointless Factoid X

Horton Overland Flow is a term used in Hydrology to describe the flow of water over paved and smooth surfaces. As a result of paving, water flows much faster and without the obstructions of broken ground, causing more damage to top soil and increasing the rate of erosion.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ah, Summer

June. The beginning of summer for students all across this great land. Everywhere young people throw off the shackles of scholastic endeavors for more worldly concerns. Like getting drunk and sleeping in until 3pm. Unfortunately, I will not be one of them. For me, there is no relief. School is as inescapable as mortality itself, and the summer session, to which I have been forsworn, is soon to begin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Four Days in May

Just back from Kublacon, the largest gaming convention on the West Coast. Too tired to really say much. There were lots of games, plenty of attendees, and over priced hotel food to boot. All in all, a good time had by all. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've been up for almost three days, and it's time for sleep.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Well, just got back from seeing Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I actually only bought tickets to the midnight show because I was already at the theatre earlier this week to try and see Kingdom of Heaven (which I never got to do because of scheduling issues). When I saw there were still tickets available for Star Wars, I just couldn't resist. I know, it's like reserving spots on a train bound to roll right off the unfinished bridge and into the ravine, but ultimately I cannot deny my inner-geek.

I shall endeavor to describe the movie in only general terms; even though we all know more or less how it ends, I don't want to give anything away. It would probably be best to start with the "pros". Not only does this seem only fair, but it also isn't going to take very long.

Special Affects. As usual, Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic have produced a visually impressive display. I for one am disappointed by the dependence on CG, clone troopers would have been better depicted through real actors where possible, but the images they do end up using are simply incredible.

Action. There was a lot of fighting. Much of it was repetitive or pointless, but at least there was a lot of it. Quite frankly, I think lightsabers are unspeakably awesome, and so I know that, speaking for myself, I am willing to just sit there and watch the glowsticks flash across the screen. For a while, anyway.

That's pretty much it for the things Lucas got right. Now, onto the "cons".

Dialogue: The English language, in all its infinite forms, incomparable versitility, and remarkable beauty, does not possess condemnation strong enough to denounce the incompetence displayed by the Episode III screenplay. The dialogue was pained, trite, and otherwise unable to inspire any emotion save annoyance. I've hear rumors that the script was even "ghostwritten" to try and clean it up a little. If that's true, then I dread to see what it replaced.

Acting: Terrible acting is becoming the standard in Star Wars films, and this one is no exception. Ewan McGregor does Obi-Wan justice, but in almost no other sense can even the semblance of thespisatic integrity be found.

Directing: Rarely has a movie been more clumsy and heavy handed in its presentation. Lucas relies on but a single directing technique, telling parrallel stories throughout the movie in rather the same manner as the previous prequels. What's more, the jumps from one story to another seem to have occurred largely at random, and you never get the feeling that you are being introduced to a story so much as a collection of disparate images that happen to have been cut into the same roll of film.

Cameos: The use of the Wookies was pointless in the extreme, designed solely it seemed to include a thirty second Chewbacca cameo. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm as big a Chewy fan as the next Star Wars geek, but I don't like contrivances.

Fighting: I know I said action was a pro. But by the end, one does become a little tired of pointless conflict. None of the fights manage to invoke the pathos that characterizes memorable confrontation. Even the final, "climactic" battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin is little more than another opportunity for ILM to show off.

Midichlorians: Quite frankly, I can't believe Lucas had the gall to throw that back in our faces. This is the sign of a man fatally detached from reality.

Nooooooo: You'll understand this one when you see it. While I'm on the subject, if Vader looks a little scrawnier than you remember, you aren't the only one. Obviously, Vader must spend a lot of his time in between Episodes III and IV in the gym.

The best thing that can be said of this film is that it is the finest Star Wars movie in twenty-something years. It is unquestionably the finest of the prequel films, and were it "Space Battle" or something, without the high expectations and heavy burdens of the Star Wars name, it would be merely a bad sci-fi film. But because it is Star Wars, and the last of Star Wars at that, the disappointment makes every shortcoming just that much worse. In the end, you aren't left with any feeling other than, well, the need to take revenge on someone for robbing you of a few hours, eight bucks, and years of hope.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pointless Factiod IX

The speed of light (in a vacuum) is 186,282 miles per second.

The speed of sound is (at sea level and room temperature) 344 meters per second. Or, put another way, 768 miles per hour.

That means if one were watching TV at a distance in which it took light one second to reach you (186,282 miles for those of you with bad memories), the sound be behind by 242.5 hours. That's roughly ten days.

Sadly, the quality of most television series would not be diminished by the discrepancy.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thou art lego, and on this brick I will build my church

The Brick Testament is an amusing way to catch up on your favorite bible verses. Illustrated to legos, the stories of murder, slaughter, and shameful discrimination really come alive!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Light at the Roadstop in the middle of the Tunnel

Finals time, year two, Santa Clara University School of Law. No more fun than all those other finals, but at least I can start to see the end.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Expressions I don't get to use as much as I'd like

1. You're not the boss of me.
2. I told you so.
3. Apology accepted.
4. My fellow Americans...
5. I'd like to thank the academy...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Pointless Factoid IIX

A doxology is a short hymn or praise following a biblical verse. The single most familiar doxology to Americans is probably the refrain to the Lord's Prayer "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen." It is not found in the original hebrew, but was instead developed by Greek translators.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oh no! It's Mecha-Intelligent-Educated-Godzilla!

For those of you how are not as familiar with American cultural subcurrents as you should be, "scientific" creationism is a nasty appendege of the evangelical fundamentalism practiced across the country. It seeks to supplant the teaching of rational , tested, verified, and scientifically supported evolution in favor of a particular theological interpretation not even accepted by the majority of Christians.

Unable to make their case scientifically, it has become popular for local fundies to concentrate their efforts on electorally vulnerable school districts. One of the more recent battlegrounds has emerged in Pennsylvania, which just goes to show that simply because you live in a Blue State, that doesn't mean there aren't whackjobs next door. The Dover school board has ordered staff to teach "Intelligent Design", the "theory" that life is so organized that it could have arisen only through the actions of a creator. The complete story can be read here.

A complete refutation of this rubbish is really beyond the scope of this post, but for those of you more interested, please see Talk.Origins. They'll have all the information you could ever want on why ID and creationism is scientifically incorrect, and what's more, they'll have plenty of links to ID and creationist sites so you can compare yourself. Suffice it to say, ID has no basis in reality.

Sadly, another article on how the fundies are intent to run our ship aground would likely not have illicited a post from me. Rather, there was a particular quote I (and others) found amusing. Pastor and local school parent Ray Mummert, the face of the ID push in Dover, had this to say:

"We`ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

Oh no! Here comes Mecha-Godzilla! And it's smarter than ever!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mikey likes it!

Top ten breakfast cereals:

1. Lucky Charms
2. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
3. Peanut Butter Captain Crunch
4. Honey Nut Bunches of Oats
5. Kix
6. Fruity Pebbles
7. Cookie Crisps
8. Honey Nut Cheerios
9. Shredded Mini-Wheats
10. Count Chochula

Somehow, part of a complete balanced breakfast.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Acta est fabula, plaudite!

John Paul II is dead. There's not really much more to say. I have little affection for Roman Catholicism or indeed Christianity in general, it must be said, yet it is unfortunate to see the pontiff go. John Paul II showed a willingness to compromise that was as extraordinary yet still somehow all the more disappointing.

He moved to heal breaches within the Christian community that had stood a thousand years or more. He reached out to the leaders of other religions and spoke openly about the plights of the weak and forgotten. This kind of enlightened action left many progressive observers hoping that he would turn his accepting gaze to birth control, homosexuals, and female aspirants to the cloth.

Still, I suppose even the Vicar of Christ can hardly be expected to be perfect. John Paul II did far more good than bad, and that is more than can be said for many.

Ave atque vale!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Everyone needs an Uncle Joe

Spent today playing board games with some associates at the Los Altos Public Library. It's actually a fairly well stocked facility, with an impressive array of books, video, and even music available free and to anyone with a library card.

We played Barbarossa to Berlin, a WWII simulation board game. I was Uncle Joe twice, and I'm proud to say I saved communisum and won the Great Patriotic War.

One for the good guys. Or something.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Turns out we were wrong all the time

In the April edition of Scientific American, science will finally dispose of its most cherished conspiracy. Yes, that's right, according to this story the days of requiriing little things like "evidence" or "testable models" are passing along with the dinosaurs.

Evolution was a fun little evil, but I can see it's time has passed. Always one to see the value in new modes of thinking, I have re-evaluated some of my own positions, basing my new prospectives under logic that previously we rational people regarded as somewhat suspect.

It turns out that 300x50x30 cubits really is enough space to hold 3,858,920 animals.

It turns out that the earth really is around six to ten thousand years old.

It turns out that all those arguments we thought were "debunked" were actually dismissed a little too early by people who insisted on "evidence".

Well, I say so long to the monolithic tyranny of rational scientific models! It's about time our scientific discourses were guided by the principles of democracy and Christianity for which our nation has ever stood.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fightin' Words

An associate recently claimed that there was a better Transformer than Soundwave.

It took about four guys to break us apart.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Choices, Consequences, and Injunctions

So a federal district court has refused to grant an injunction ordering the restoration of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. The right of the federal court system to review the case followed a bill passed by Congress granting jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the various legal issues that surround Congress' ability to pass such legislation, I find myself alternatively at odds with the situation.

To begin with, despite the bald assertions of Senator Frisk, many "life affirming" Americans believe that is it nonetheless consistent to insist upon an individual right to a comfortable and dignified end. I know, because I am one of them. I regard life as unspeakably sacred; certainly I hold it in higher regard than those who advocate the unchecked execution of the criminally suspect or the jingoistic use of force of arms. Even so, principle demands that people be allowed to dispose of their final affairs and their final days in a manner befitting the life they have lead.

I find the presumptive arrogance of the Republican response repulsive. I think certainly at least some of their public outrage is little more than disengenious manipulation of the body politic, and much of the rest is pandering to that disturbing bloc of ascendent fundamentalists. The legal action of the federal government represents the imposition of one set of principles for another, in contravention of all theories of self-determination. So it is with some trouble that I must admit that their action, if not their motives, may in the end be correct. Despite the fact that I believe everyone has what may be described somewhat crassly as a "right to die", I find myself unable to find complete accord with the position of Mr. Schiavo. Certainly, were there any clear and undisputed indication of Mrs. Schiavo's intentions then I should have little difficulty in asserting a personal position. However, I feel that in the absence of a manifestly declarative statement, we ought to error on the side of caution.

Caution, however, does not necessarily dictate action. Mr. Schiavo, as I understand the situation, is the proper guardian of his wife, and accordingly holds both the authority over and the responsibility for her affairs. On his shoulders rests the momentous decision, and I would think this legal battle is doing little to alleviate what must be a most harrowing experience.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Do your part to save a kitten

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Gencon, otherwise known as gaming mecca, is coming again. I'm not really sure where it is this year, as it has moved about a bit of late, but it's somewhere in the midwest to be sure. Unfortunately, poor as I am, I can't go.

Scratch one kitten.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Too bad I don't need VOIP

I really like the song they use in the Vonage IP commercials. If I needed VOIP, I'd get it from them. I like to support products that have good commercials. Conversely, I stay away from products whose commercials irritate me. So just a warning to any company that plans to use Carrot Top or David Arquette again, you can kiss my business goodbye.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

One sober Irishman

Well, it's St. Patrick's day again, another excuse for everyone to get totally and completely blasted. As if they needed one. St. Patrick's day is the total aggregation of everything that is crass, crude, and base in American society, thinly covered with a green shamrock.

Speaking as an Irishman, which I am somewhat though it is a title I rarely lay claim to, I find little to recommend in the holiday. I'm not Catholic, and even among the papists little is known about him outside of Ireland. Irish nationalism, too, seems a dubious cause. Ireland has no doubt suffered many indignities and even brutalities at the hands of the English, and they would have many legitimate grievences had they not turned to a kind of terrorism as reprehensible as any employed by al-Qaeda.

There are many ways in which St. Patrick's day could be meaningful. It could be an affirmation of Irish contributions to society. It could be a day of rememberence, of learning what it is to be Irish. Instead, it's just another excuse for people to drink and fight. However Irish these things may be, and I'm sure they are not completely unknown on the Shamrock Isle, they are hardly worthy of celebration or veneration.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Now everyone can have a bent Wookie

SOE has released information for the new SWG expansion. It's called Episode III: Rage of the Wookies. It includes a new planet, Kashyyk, the home world of the Wookies, a hundred new missions, and some new items among them the Jedi starfighter (As seen in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith!). All this and the assembled host of bugs, glitches, disappointments, and outright lies that accompany all of SOE's products can be yours for the bargain price of $24.99.

This will be the second expansion for SWG, the single most disappointing game in MMORPG history, the first being Jump to Lightspeed, which brought us the ability to play in space. RoTW will actually come with JtL for free, which if it follows the economic model of MMORPG expansions, has not made the portion of the user base who bought JtL when it came out very happy.

Besides the obvious marketing tie with a movie whose events take place some 25 years before the setting of the SWG game, there are plenty of other reasons to believe that the expansion will suck. At present there is no evidence to indicate that the "100 new missions" will be any better than the thousands of cookie-cutter UPS or destruction chores already available. Furthermore, Kashyyk will in all events end up as nothing more than another high level adventure planet, which in itself isn't all that bad, but I hardly think another Endor or Dathomir is worth $24.99.

Most of the SWG population awaits RoTW because the much anticipated Combat Balance will be released simultaneously. SWG users await the combat upgrade as fervently as the Jews await the messiah, and SOE has only fuelled this urgency by promising, for more than a year, that the combat rebalance will be that answer to all the game's ills.

I personally anticipate disappointment both from RoTW and from the combat rebalance, because SOE has never given us a reason to expect otherwise. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure I'll be shelling out that $24.99, and I hate them for it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nobody named Miranda here

Well, The Shield is finally back on the air with new episodes. It's been a long wait, for those of us on the hook, but if the rest of the season is anything like the first episode then I think it'll all have been worth it.

I am particularly pleased by Glenn Close, an actress who is not exactly anyone's first choice for a gritty police drama, she offered a convincing performance as a hardnosed, practical, but still (at least apparently) on the right side of law. The former members of the now defunct strike team have all advanced in accordance with their particular personalities. Shane appears to be sliding even deeper into corruption, Lem has transfered somewhere that'll soothe his conscious, and Ronny remains as faceless as ever.

It remains to be seen how far they'll take Dutch on his trip down sociopath lane, but strangling cats can't hardly lead to anything good. CCH remains prickly and disatisfied, but it remains to be seen how she'll work for a captain who's occupying what was supposed to be her chair. Julian and Danny put in appearences, but they didn't really do anything. Still, it's only the first episode.

All in all, it was a good hour of television. I anticipate a Vic-Shane standoff as Shane slides deeper and deeper into the abyss, and that'll be a great episode. Until then, all I can do is steer clear of the fuzz and wait.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Well, by now probably everyone has seen the new Star Wars trailer for Episode III. It is quite cool, I have to say, and I'm anticipating the movie with a sense of optimism I hadn't dare feel previously in light of how badly the other two movies completely blew. I especially like the part where Samuel L. Jackson and a bunch of other Jedi go to arrest the Chancellor, though the "Are you threatening me, Master Jedi" response was a bit weak. That part called for something better than a Beavis and Butthead flashback.

I actually rank prettly far down on the ladder of Star Wars fandom. I've seen all the movies, of course, but I didn't really bother with the books, comics, and other stuff that compromise the EU (Extended Universe in geekspeek). I did wait with a bunch of friends for 22 hours in line to see Episode I, but that wasn't really for the movie itself so much as to have a quixotic adventure and skip class. I play SWG, the Star Wars MMORPG, but that is pretty much a triumph of enthusiasm over experience rather than an endorsment of Star Wars or the game itself.

I hope that Lucas pulled out all the stops for this last film. The other two movies have done a hackjob on his reputation, not to mention permanently marring his masterpiece. If he can go out with a bang, people may be somewhat disposed to overlook his recent mistakes. Of course, in this movie he gets to work with Darth Vader, possibly the coolest villian in the history of the cinema. It'd take a real moron to screw that up, but when you think that he also came up with Jar-Jar and Ewoks, I guess all you can do is buy your ticket and cross your fingers.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ten things I wish weren't true about me

1. I wish I wasn't allergic to so many stupid plants and animals
2. I wish I didn't have a hard time with dairy products
3. I wish I weren't such a lousy quarterback
4. I wish I weren't so judgmental
5. I wish I weren't still in school
6. I wish I weren't so fickle
7. I wish I didn't use the word "exceedingly" so often when I speak
8. I wish I were just a little less lazy
9. I wish I weren't as scared of taking risks
10. I wish I weren't so lax regarding automotive maintenance

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ten things I wish were true about me

1. I wish I had a photographic memory
2. I wish I liked vegetables more than I do
3. I wish I could play the piano
4. I wish I had a spaceship of some kind; a time machine would be acceptable too
5. I wish I had a little more paitence
6. I wish I'd have thought up a better series of posts
7. I wish I could speak another language
8. I wish I had a car that made fewer disturbing noises
9. I wish I were involved in the theatre
10. I wish I was a little bit taller; I wish I were a baller*

*= Well, the song may not be great, but the video was funny as hell.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ten things that are true about me

1. I'm a Gemini, and a monkey too
2. I know all the words to the "Major-General" song
3. I don't like the taste of alcohol
4. I like the smell of cigarettes, but I don't smoke
5. I'm half-chinese, like the food at Mr. Chau's
6. I can describe, in disturbing detail, the causes of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
7. My elbows bend weird
8. My middle name is Stewart
9. I like glasses on women
10. I don't believe in Nostradamus (or, rather, in his ability to predict the future)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Pointless Factoid VII

Babylon 5 actor Peter Jurasik was once on an episode of Night Court.

Okay, I don't care either.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Inequity of Chromosomes

I'd like to conclude my discussion on toys with a short exposition on how much it'd suck to be a girl. Now, I do not mean to imply with that statement those improper assertions of female inferiority, the maintenance of which is a disservice to both women and men, that have long plagued society. Rather, I conclude my entire premise solely on the available forms of "gender appropriate" child entertainment.

As a boy, it was my sole duty to engage in mock struggles the outcome of which would decide the fate of universes. Day in and day out it was I and my compatriots who kept Earth safe from Megatron, Mum-Ra, Dr. Doom, and Captain Planet. Especially Captain planet. That guy was up to no good. We had at our disposal guns, swords, monster-slave things, and other implements of ingenious malice. Even our buildings were cool. We had the sewer lair, Castle Greyskull, and Metroplex.

Girls, by comparison, were expected to remain within the dazzlingly insipid worlds of My Little Pony, Barbie, and Strawberry Shortcake. There the momentous issues are what color hat to wear, which flavor frosting to use, and the ever popular "what will my husband's job be?" guessing game. I suppose this monotony would be useful if we were looking to train house slaves, which was probably the intention, but as a form of entertainment these toys fall pathetically short.

Of course, I am just one man so I cannot really do anything to address this unfortunate inequity. Still, I feel it would be improper for me to mention toys and how much I enjoyed them as a child without noting how royally hosed the girls got.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The March of Progress

Since I'm off from school this week, I figured I'd use it to write a few words about some of my favorite childhood toys. When I see the things kids play with now, there's just no comparison. In any measurable sense their toys are just way cooler. I mean, to use just one example, I remember having an original gameboy. It was big and clunky, and the screen was this tiny black and yellow thing capable of rendering, on a good day, two or three pixels at a time. Now the damn things are in color, and you can play their games on the bigger machines. Still, it does seem to me that the toys of today have lost a little something, and I blame this on the wussification of child-directed entertainment.

When I was a kid, boys were supposed to play with guns and knives and other impliments of destruction. My toys had missiles, multi-barrel laser cannons, and backpack mounted nukes. They fought eternal (and pointless) wars against villians equipped with all manner of devistating weaponry. Today's kid's stuff, while certainly far from violence free, have taken a decidedly wimpy turn. Now, this may objectively be a good thing. After all, there is little to recommend in the pointless application of force. But even so, I can't help but feel that little boys (and girls, if they're into that stuff) ought to spend their time pretending to blow stuff up.

Friday, March 04, 2005

More than meets the eye

Of course, no discussion of late eighties childhood toys would be complete without the Transformers. Damn these things were so cool. Especially in the beginning, when they were made out of diecast metal. Later, when they got cheap, they were made out of plastic. But even that wasn't so bad, because they started to come with neat options like seperate little head robots.

As a child I had few ambitions greater than the pursuit of Transformers. I snatched them up by the accumulation of my meager allowance, forsaking other diversions such as baseball cards (which I always regarded as boring - I mean, they don't *do* anything! They're just stupid cardstock with some dumb jock plastered over the front!) or candy. Now I wish I'd just kept my collection in good shape. I don't have any of them anymore, I don't think, unless there's some put away in storage somewhere. However, even if any had remained, I'm afraid the tender mercies of an imaginative child would ensure they were in no better than abysmal condition.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Animal Farm

Today's toy spotlight falls on Barnyard Commandos. I'm not sure if anyone else ever had any, but they were these funny plastic animal things that you mounted with all manner of guns. There were two sides, pigs and rams. Every toy came with a copy of that side's secret battle language. The pigs spoke pig latin, and the rams had a language too but I don't remember the name. They were actually incredibly stupid toys, so it is to my credit that I never had more than one or two. Even so, I wish I'd kept one to have around.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Eternal Struggle

Did anyone else ever have any Battle Beasts? They were little rubber monster-things, approximately the same size as muscle men, but they weren't that weird pink and they had a holographic sticker you had to rub like old Transformers. The sticker would tell you what element the monster belonged to. Of course, with the earlier ones you could tell anyway, since they were all color coded. But they changed that later, so then you had to rub the sticker. I still remember the commercial.

"Fire beats Wood. Wood beats Water. Water beats Fire."

Monday, February 28, 2005

A brief repose

Well, as SCU's break comes somewhat earlier than that of most other schools, I am now free for the rest of the week, but I have nothing to do. Of course, most of my friends have already entered the "real world" that I'm always hearing so much about, so they don't have a break at all.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ex Parte Milligan

"Time has proven the discernment of our ancestors; for even these provisions [ <-- The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution], expressed in such plain English words, that it would seem the ingenuity of man could not evade them, are now, after the lapse of more than seventy years, sought to be avoided. Those great and good men foresaw that troublous times would arise, when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper; and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril, unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority."

71 U.S. 2

Friday, February 25, 2005

The one that got away

Quite by accident, I started thinking about the first girl I ever liked. I've never said anything about it before, but as I haven't so much as heard her name in twelve years, I think I can talk secure in the fact that nobody cares.

The first crush I ever had was on a girl named Veena Narayan. She went to the same elementary school as I did, and she was in my class pretty much every year. What's more, if she wasn't actually in my class, being the same age we had pretty much the same friends. I'm not really sure what it was about her that I liked. She was tall, I think, but as I was (and remain) dismally short, everyone was tall to me. I seem to remember her as nice and a little quiet, though I think she held one of those meaningless student body offices at one point.

I never saw her again after elementary school. I went to a different high school than my elementary buddies, and I've got no clue where she is now. But wherever she is and whatever she's doing, for old times sake if nothing else, I hope things are going her way.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A More Perfect Union

We bloggers are, in a sense, all in this together. We make up this nebulous thing called the blogsphere, where we all try to muddle our message across as best we can. With this in mind, I humbly submit a small list of suggestions that, if followed, I believe would greatly improve our little union.

Now, in offering these suggestions, I in no way mean to stifle anyone's creativity or otherwise offend their blog. Anyone willing to put themselves out in blog form has my respect, if for no other reason than that they've put something out into the world. Nor is it my intention to dictate to people the proper way to blog. I am unwilling and unqualified to undertake such an endeavor. Nevertheless, I do offer these suggestions, and I do it from the standpoint of someone who enjoys our new medium.

1. No more of this: It Is ReAlLy AnNoyInG aNd PrOlOnGeD ExPoSuRe MaKeS yOuR eYeS bLeEd!

2. Please, do not include crappy midi files of your favorite songs. Not only, in all probability, will your musical tastes completely and totally blow, but even were you broadcasting a masterpiece it would be of such poor quality and subject to the vagaries of the internet as to add nothing save frustration. If a particular piece of music is that crucial to understanding your blog, note the title on the side. I promise I'll play it if I have it.

3. Skool. 1337. Cuz. @. b4. These are not words!

4. Can you read this? Not very well. Neither can anyone else in the freaking universe! Please keep in mind that if you are using a design with tables that the text will often be smaller than usual.

5. Paragraphs are your friends.

This is just a modest list of suggestions. But if we all took them to heart, we'd be five steps closer to a more perfect blogsphere.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Peak of Human Performance

So it turns out that a bunch of baseball players are doped up on steroids. Big deal. In my opinion, every drug ought to be legal in professional sports. It's time to get our money's worth from these grotesquely overpaid genetic misfits. Baseball is boring enough; without steroids there wouldn't be as many home runs which, Jumbotron antics aside, are pretty much the sole source of excitement in that dismal "sport".

What's more, just think about how much better the other sports would be. Football players loaded on PCP would be far more entertaining. Junior leaguers jacked up with speed would make for a better hockey season than the striking whiners could ever provide, and golfers on crank might actually find an amusing use for their clubs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ten songs that really should be more popular

In no particular order.

1. Novio by Moby
2. 700 Mile Situation by Res
3. Gymnopedie by Erik Satie
4. Arabesque #1 by Claude Debussy
5. Let it Rain by 4 Strings
6. Maybe by Ink Stains
7. Into Dust by Hope Samson and the Warm Intentions
8. Witness by Sarah McLaughlin
9. Ready or Not by the Fugees
10. Very Little Wishes by Yoko Kanno

Monday, February 21, 2005

Once again, I'm temporarily exiled to the real world

Spent the weekend at the DunDraCon gaming convention. For those of you who aren't familiar with them, they're essentially a four day gathering of gamer geeks, left alone to revel in the company of their like-minded associates. We play all sorts of games, ranging from RPG's (like D&D) to board games (both serious and not so serious) and even including computer and video games. It's four days of non-stop playing and socializing with the most eclectic bunch of people you'll ever find outside of a sanatorium.

So yeah, if it wasn't already apparent to anyone reading this, I am in fact a geek. Or, at the least, I have geeky interests and plenty of nerdy friends. Lately though, conventions have really been the only places where I can game, and they are few and are far between. From time to time some friends can scrape a gaming group together, but because we are subject to the peculiarities of scheduling, and none of us are the most organized to begin with, many such plans simply fall through. Accordingly, I look forward to these lengthier diversions with great interest.

Ironically though, even when I get there, I rarely actually play anymore. Most of my time is spent socializing with "con buddies", people I had met in previous years and who I see only at such events. Still, I did manage to get in a few interesting games.

On Friday I played in a Stargate role-playing game. I was a blind scientist guy who got possessed by some alien thingy called a Tok'Ra (at least I think that's the spelling. I don't watch the show). The bad guys killed my seeing-eye dog Oppenheimer, but aside from that I managed to emerge relatively unscathed and return to Earth.

On Saturday I played the Babylon 5 miniatures game and the Game of Thrones board game. I lost both games. B5Wars went particularly badly, as my Hyperion crusier was completely annihilated by the enemy spacestation. Still, fun was had all around.

On Sunday I GM'd a game of Twilight Imperium, and I got to try the Game of Thrones board game again, finally securing a win. I also jumped into the closing stages of a Man O'War game, but our side was pretty much out of contention by the time I joined.

Finally, earlier today I ran a Star Wars role-playing game to close out the convention. It actually went longer than I expected and still wasn't technically finished, but we had to call it on account of the time situation. The convention was set to end in a few minutes, and we were all exhausted from the last three days of gaming. Still, it was good fun.

That was this year's DunDraCon. Looking forward to next year. Until then, I guess I have to live out my exile in the real world. Until Kublacon, that is.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


On a whim, I decided to do a vanity search on google for LeperColony and interestingly enough, the first result is my blogger profile. I have been seen, and I like it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Idle Ides

Well, I skipped class today. And, just in case I haven't done it enough here, I'm going to take this opportunity to complain about just how boring law school really is. People are often somewhat impressed to hear I am currently engaged in such studies, though I make the admission only with a little embarrassment. For my part, and I'm sure this could be repeated with near universal agreement by any other such student, I find the entire regimen exceptionally dull. This is not commentary on the law itself, which is a subject replete with marvelous complexities, but rather a reflection on the manner the powers that be have dictated we must take to complete a legal education.

On a more profound level though, I will admit to a certain amount of dissatisfaction with law school simply because it is, at current, my professional responsibility. People ask me if I'm excited to start as a lawyer, as though they didn't understand that I will likely be obliged to continue the work for the next forty years. The irony as I see it is that my position at current, somewhat less than affluent as it may be, is infinitely preferrable to demanding professional obligations almost regardless of whatever compensation they may bring. I will have to struggle over the course of the next four decades simply to get back to where I am now; idle and poor.

Something about that doesn't seem fair, but I guess that's life.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Here's five dollars Hallmark isn't going to get!

Well, the day has come when anyone in a romantic engagement must now line up at the Hallmark store and wait to get milked.

Cards: $5

Roses: $60

Dinner, Jazz show: $200

Days until you have to do this again: 365 - (closest of Anniversary/Birthday/CPA certification...)

Unlicensed and hardly original parody of national advertisment campaign: Fine not in excess of $100,000 and no more than three to five years in pris... I mean, priceless.

If money doesn't buy it, then that means you're single. For everyone else, there's Mastercard.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Revisionist History

Sometimes comments will appear, seemingly out of nowhere, despite the fact that it was the case that no entry was posted for a particular date on the day in question. There's actually two explanations for that phenomenon. First of all, my blogging habits are extremly fickle, and I require a certain level of motivation before I can overcome my lazier inclinations. Thus, I typically jot down just some notes and save the draft. Then, later, I come back and type up a title and entry. That way I can record ideas as I get them, but wait to post until I've written something approaching readability.

The second answer is somewhat less inoculous, but understandable in its own way. When I began blogging I knew that it would be a project worthy of pursuit only if I treated it like a more traditional journal. That is, I would benefit the most if I discussed those things that are particular to me. However, the nature of blogs being as they are, it is the case that some things I would rather consider in private are available for anyone bored enough to read. Therefore, in a kind of compromise between ego and principle, I occasionally bury entries by backdating them. This is not the most intellectually honest practice, I know, but it is currently the extent of my comfort level.

I realize writing this post could perhaps direct attention to the entries I have tried to obfuscate, thus defeating the purpose. However, not only do I assume that nobody actually cares enough to bother going through old entries, but also I know that ultimately I wouldn't post anything I couldn't live with someone knowing, so it all just sort of evens out.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Pro Forma

Japanese dramas, like all formuliac television, relies on certain time honored precepts. Although when first encountered they appear somewhat unusual, eventually you become accustomed to them to the point where you expect them in domestic shows. Anyway, a short list is included below:

1. No Japanese woman is capable of running more than 100 feet in any direction before falling down. Why this is I'm not really sure. Of course, in many of these shows the female leads have fatal but visually undetectable diseases.

2. If you're a highschool student then either
A - Your parents live overseas
B - Your parents are dead
C - One of your parents died. The other has remarried and you now have a devistatingly attractive stepsibbling.

3. The female lead must be slapped at least once, and possibly many more times. It seems to still be en vogue to resort to a little light abuse in order to keep your woman in line. It really is somewhat curious how common slapping is in dramas. Watch for it, you'll see it every time.

4. Despite the fact that Japan is an exceedingly homogenious society based, in large part, on communal precepts, the surest way to achieve ultimate success is to buck the system. Yeah, things will be rough at first, but then you'll find the one teacher/boss/client/boyfried/girlfriend who understands you and then it's just a few short episodes to becoming Prime Minister.

5. Ryoko Hirosue is gorgeous, especially with red hair*.

*= Of course, it's almost a given that Asian women with red hair are going to be irressitable.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Pointless Factoid VI

Dictator was a Roman office used during the Republic in times of great crisis. The title was held for six months, during which the appointee's authority exceeded even that of the annually elected consuls. The office of dictator today is primarily related to Julius Ceasar, who was appointed dictator for life.

This entry brought to you by someone with too much time on his hands.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Red Envelopes: The real reason for the chicken's road crossing

Today is the Lunar New Year, better known as Chinese New Year. As is customary among Asians, my father's family distributes red envelopes to mark the occasion. All in all, not a bad way to celebrate a holiday. Of course, as a single man, I *get* them rather than give them, which may have something to do with my view on the practice.

We actually never celebrate the New Year as a family on the real date, delaying instead until such a time as we can all assemble at one place, typically on a day of the ensuing weekend. This year it looks to be a lunch on Saturday. Lunches are good because, holiday obligations aside, my father's family is rife with all the kinds of division common to affluent Asian families. Many of us can barely stand the others, for reasons both petty and significant. Thus the more time efficient lunch setting is typically to be preferred over the more demanding formalities of dinner.

I'll talk more about my dad's family another time. For now, in honor of the holiday, it's enough simply to wish you all a happy New Year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Eat your heart out, Alan Smithee

For my part with Japan-TV I've managed to work on the following titles:

Japanese: Beautiful Life; Great Teacher Onizuka; Yanpapa; Koukou Kyoushi; Kimi wa Petto; Gokusen (done with SARS fansubs); Stand Up

Chinese: Monkey King; A Step into the Past; Take My Word for It

Of those, I can recommend BL, GTO, KwP, Gokusen, and Stand Up. They're all available for free download here, so check them out. If you find an error on something I've edited, let me know. Chances are I already know about it, but getting razzed for them is excellent motivation to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I'm back, and it's like I never left

Well, I'm back. It was a good trip, even though I lost money. I had actually written off all the money I was going to gamble with anyway, attributing the loss as an entertainment cost. That's really the way to plan for Vegas; bring what you can afford to lose and assume you'll lose it all. If you end up, then it's just a bonus.

We stayed at the Luxor, and while I was there I also visited Binion's, the Four Queens, Sahara, Fremont, Excaliber, and Mandaly Bay. There were lots of games, and I played eight of them; craps, roulette, hold'em, blackjack, carribean stud, the spinny wheel thing, some slots, and pai gao (the one with tiles). All in all, a good trip.

Unfortunately, the way we'd planned our time, I had to jump right back into the business of school work almost the minute I got home. Not exactly the best way to adjust from having been on vacation, but them's the breaks.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

Off to Vegas. Leaving in a few hours, getting back on Sunday. If they let me leave at all, that is. I've heard that things that go to Vegas stay there. Hopefully they'll be satisfied with a few hundred of my hard borrowed dollars and let the rest of me return to the real world.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Columbia Resplendent

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Lottery of Babylon

Elections are being held today in Iraq, the first in what is supposed to be a series of national plebiscites. This one selects a national assembly that is going to draft a permanent constitution, upon which a popular referendum will be held for ratification. There are high hopes for the election, but fears too, given what the situation is like over there.

Everyone knows how high the stakes are, and to make matters worse, they are decidedly stacked against us. Very little can happen at the elections themselves to improve the situation, but a lot can go wrong. This is the worst of situations, because if we win it isn't clear that it will matter. On the other hand, there are a multitude of results that would hurt our cause, and Iraq's as well, at least insofar as the two are the same. Fear and intimidation could ruin turnout. Religious or ethnic minorities could boycott the election. And, in the worst case scenario, the people could legitimately install a backward, insular, fundamentalist regime in the Iranian style. Anything could happen, and while that makes for great TV, it is a curious way to run a country.

Even so, this is something that must take place. We gave our word, as a people, that we would rebuild their country and usher it back into the family of nations. My views on the war are complicated, and I will explain them at some future point, but take it on faith that I am no hawk. Nevertheless, having gone there, we are left with only one choice and that's to see the thing through. Sixty years ago we rebuilt a broken Europe, a continent torn apart by war and inhuman cruelty. We did it for a lot of reasons, some quite selfless, and so not so selfless. But we did it, and we left (kinda). Now we have given Iraq the same promise, and there is nothing to do but live up to it.

Important as the election is to us, it means far more for Iraq. This election is the Iraqi people's first opportunity to pass judgment on our own conduct, and even if the result is not pretty, it is something that must be done. More too, this may prove to be, if it manages to spread the seeds of democracy. You don't expect voting to matter much. The first time you go you have to stand in line for a while, then you have to find your name on a list (they never seem to have me), and when you finally get a ballot, most of the names and issues are probably completely alien to you.

But after it's all over, you've done something important whether you know it or not. Sure, your one vote will never decide any issue aside, perhaps, from who will be dog catcher of Nowheresville, but that is only in the narrowest sense the purpose of the ritual. Voting is an affirmation of our civil religion, the belief that we wield the power ourselves, our chance to muscle ourselves into the throne, if only for a few minutes.

That is the sentiment we need to create. We have come to a broken and impoverished country. We came with missiles, guns, tanks, and fourteen hundred years of cultural division, and yet we say we have come as friends. Liberating the people from a cruel dictator was the first step. Now we have to make sure nobody worse takes over, or at the least if someone does, that the people wanted it that way.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Coming Attractions

Below is a list of movies I've been meaning to add to my collection for a while now. They're not really in any particular order, and it is not meant to be an exhaustive assembly.

Eight Men Out
2001: A Space Odyssey
Seven Days in May
The Matrix
The Seven Samurai
The Hidden Fortress
The Princess Bride

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A sound legal argument

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

- "Honorable" Leon M. Bazile, Commonwealth of Virginia v. Loving, January 6, 1959

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Our Leader

I really hate being in pictures. This aversion does not stem from any particular physical disformity, as while I may be somewhat pedestrian, I am at least not hideous. Nor is it from a misguided sense of vanity. I have my pride same as anyone else, but so long as I stay within the bounds of social acceptability, I have never much cared for the particulars of visual niceties. Even so, posing for pictures has been something I have never become comfortable doing.

As a result, I tend to avoid photographs whenever I can. This is so despite an interest I have in photography itself, both as a medium of expression and a curious application of science that stands, or so it seems, in apparent contrast to the way the world works. It is well that other people figure out how to make photographs and send pictures to my TV, because the process is just short of magical to me.

The photo I've included in this post is from my senior year of high school, about seven years ago. Aside from a few shots at the college graduation, it's the most recent picture I have, and as I changed little over the years, it remains an accurate depiction. I have included it not only to settle any lingering curiosity on the part of any readers, but now that I've posted a shot or two of people I know, it would be somewhat cowardly to refrain from inflicting upon myself the same discomfort. Put up or shut up I believe the expression goes.

This particular picture has always amused me, mainly because of the pose it captures. It always seemed to me reminiscent of the statues in Red Square, godlike figures staring off into the distance, sentinels of the new order. So in posting this picture I want to reaffirm my allegiance to capitalism. It's not perfect, but it's the best economic model we have. For now.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Now there's a website that allows me to play out my dictatorial fantasies. Check out Nation States, a publicity site for the sci-fi novel Jennifer Government, which I've been meaning to read for a while now.

The site allows you to create your own country. You get to decide the government type and economic model, then you solve a number of issues that come up at configurable intervals. Your answers to the issues steers your country one way or the other.

My country, Wear Corp, can be seen here. Because of the nature of the issue system, where you choose between a limited number of options located, typically, at the poles, you will find your nation drifting between extremes. My own country is not, perhaps, a perfect representation of my political views, but as it is now highly rated in all three categories (civil rights, political freedoms, and economic power), I must be doing something right.

See? Things would be much better if I were in charge.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I speak the King's English

Hella - (adj) A contraction of "hell of" heard commonly in northern California. Unknown in the barbarous southern regions of the state.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Titular Distinction

I know it sounds kinda weird, but I put a lot of thought into the titles of my posts. Until I can get down a title I like, I can't really proceed with the rest of the entry. This is even more unusual, given that I don't put any thought at all into most of the ensuing text. By that I mean I don't need to think about what to write; rather, the words just seem to flow on their own, and I just type until they run out. That would account, too, for some of the abrupt endings one may occasionally find here and there.

Personally, I think the art of the title is somewhat rather neglected. A good title, in my opinion, should draw a direct connection to the body of the post, but it should also draw a reference to something else the reader might know, a point of reckoning to which he or she may use to examine the entry. This isn't really a very high standard, what with the wealth of phrases our culture generates (or copies), but even so it can be a difficult to practice to follow.

I've tried my best to come up with neat titles, some of them I think are a little clever, but that is my own personal conceit. The degree to which I have actually succeeded may be debatable. Fortunately, the irrelevance of the whole subject would make any debate an unlikely occurrence.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Cave Troll of Casa Ocho

Well, this won't really make much sense to just about anyone else outside of six unfortunate UCSC alumnus, but that is the nature of inside jokes.

Hope things are going well for my favorite monitor monkey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Pointless Factoid V

An individual piece of bacon is called a rasher. I'm not really sure where they came up with that particular appellation, but there it is.

Monday, January 10, 2005


School starts back today.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I've heard that Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt split.

Who cares?

I mean, honestly, there exists a multi-million dollar industry that serves no other purpose than to catalogue the irrelevant minutiae of thespiatic life. How many times Brittany's been banged, the disintegration of Bennifer, Richard Downey Jr.'s continuing drug abuse, all these and the other assembled trivialities ceaseless relayed to us seem to me so evidently meaningless that I worry for those who think otherwise.

I take this position even as one who enjoys movies and television as a principle form of entertainment. I'll pay the $8.50 to see Harrison Ford in the theatres; I'd almost pay $8.50 to not hear about his relationship with Collista Flockhart. Reality Television has exposed the inherently voyeuristic trend in the American public, and so perhaps it is from this unworthy influence that celebrity affairs are pursued with such ardor. Whatever the reason, it is a practice beneath inebriated gorillas, let alone the populace of a great nation.

This sentiment, I know, is by no means unique to myself. Nevertheless, I today add my voice to the cry. There is only one response to the telling of celebrity episodics:

Who cares?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Everyone is stupid except for me

The National Science Board's new study on Science and Technology in America is out, and the results are not encouraging. Apparently, forty-six percent of Americans (and forty-four percent of Europeans) didn't know that it takes one year for the Earth to go around the sun.

In other news, steps have been taken to sterilize forty-six percent of the American population.

Read the whole report here.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Worthy Cause

Now, come on. Have you ever seen a more worthwhile cause in your life?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The face of addiction

Yesterday night the USC Trojans pummeled the Sooners of Oklahoma and secured the national championship they had been robbed of last year. This marks an end to the 2004 college football season, and the beginning of what, for many across the country, is an eight month drought. These poor souls, deprived of their precious sport, will have to subsist on a thin ration of scouting reports, practice appraisals, and recruiting commitments, awaiting the return of football as feverently as the Jews watch for the Messiah. I know just how brutal the effects of football withdrawal can be, because my own brother is one of the addicts. For my own part I like the sport, but I care little for individual results.

Although my brother has no greater connection to the school than having lived within an hour's drive of it, he has become an obsessive California Golden Bears fan. This condition really only took root nine or ten years ago, though he likes to fancy himself a more established participant, and often predates his alliegance by several years. This is an understandable response to the "old blues" he encounters on message boards and the like, who measure fan loyalty by no other meter than the length of your devotion. Nevertheless, it is somewhat amusing.

The mentality of a fanatic is really something quite unique. Although it goes without saying that he is always rooting for Cal to win a game, the obsession has transformed my brother's obligations, expanding his concerns into a vast lattice of interconnected irrelevancies. First he must support Cal. Then he must support the Pac-10, the athletic conference to which Cal belongs.

The strength of teams is often measured by the strength of their opponents. Hence, if the Pac-10 is strong, that makes Cal stronger (in theory). But it doesn't stop there. Next he roots for Cal's non-conference opponents in games against non-Pac-10 teams, because the better they do, the better Cal's schedule looks. From there, he goes on to support teams that played against teams that Cal played, so long as they don't violate any of the other Asimovic laws of football fandom.

The exponential nature of this process should be fairly apparent; it is with amazement that I find he is able to follow all of these preceedings, and with an attention to detail I doubt his actual responsibilities are blessed to enjoy. I honestly believe that, at some point, a situation will arise where, in Cal's interests it should be more favorable for them to lose than win. At that point, unable to cope with the contradiction, I expect my brother's head to explode.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I woke up at 4:30 pm. I love breaks.

Monday, January 03, 2005

How I could have spent the night with a beautiful Rhodes scholar

Apparently, for some reason, my spam filter is under the impression that I don't want to receive messages from MILF's For Me. This particular oversight has apparently cost me the opportunity to experience various depravities, no credit card required, that could really've gone a long way to making this new year start off on the right foot. I'd write Microsoft about this absurd injustice, but it'd probably end up blocked as spam.

I know she must have been a Rhodes scholar because enclosed with playwithme2004's invitation was a spattering of poetry, an excerpt or two I'll provide:

"Joys are our wings, sorrows our spurs.
It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god.
A short absence is the safest.

The best answer to answer to anger is silence.
Beauty is not caused. It is.

Energy is an eternal delight, and he who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.
Courage is getting away from death by continually coming within an inch of it."

Wow. She's into toys and anal, she's married but lonely, and she can requote cliches. I can't believe my computer thought this was spam.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

It's January again?

So once again we prove that sequential numbering works. It is now 2005. I actually missed my New Year's event, as my disorganized friends didn't get around to making the calls in time. I hope they had fun. Bastards. Still, I passed the arbitrary boundary between one year and another well enough, surrounded by dozens of other embittered loners on plains of Azeroth.

To be perfectly honest, most of the New Year's events I've ever been to I'd rather of skipped anyway. I don't actually understand the big deal; it's not like this was a surprise. Five follows four, and as I don't expect this year to offer any more lottery winnings than the last, the difference seems academic. It seems to me just another example of how flimsy an excuse people will use to indulge in their burgeoning alcoholism.

Anyway, so now it's January again. Great. Freaking great.

Happy New Year.