Thursday, April 28, 2005

"Disappointment to my parents" meme

I saw this as Upon Further Review, so I thought I'd go ahead and fill it out. Beats trying to think of something interesting to say about current events.

If I could be a scientist...

I am a scientist. Oh crap, I always wanted to be the evil scientist who would conquer the world, and look what I'm doing. I'm studying material properties that MAYBE one day could be used to detect or study certain disease. Of course, that'll be well after I am out of grad school. Ugh.

If I could be a musician...

I'd be Tommy Lee. Have you seen the video clip where he plays drums on a platform 30ft about the stage, while it is flipping over and over again. That is so cool. Oh yeah, and the hordes of women would be nice.

If I could be a doctor...

I like the idea of playing god. I think I'd be a genetics researcher. I'd try to create hybrid species. Could you imagine a half monkey/half feline? It would be the perfect pet.

If I could be a painter...

Nothing but nude portraits of women. No scratch that. Nothing but nude portraits of women models. No scratch that again. Nothing but nude portraits of women SUPER models. Yeah. Perfect.

If I could be an innkeeper...

I would do nothing. I'd relax. I'd sit on my ass all day. Read some books, maybe do a little blogging. But basically, I'd do nothing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thought of the day

I saw an interesting bumper sticker on my way back home from tutoring last night. I thought it would make a good thought of the day.

"It will be a great day when our schools have all the funding they need, and the Air Force has to do a bake sale to buy a bomber"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What would Jesus filibuster?

It's a bizarre question. One that is addressed quite well in this editorial by Jack Hitt in the L.A. Times. In the editorial, Hitt essentially blasts the media and the right for turning Christianity into a GOP political action committee. Hitt also makes the point that Jesus used an almost Socratic approach to teaching morals and often there was no exact answer to the questions he posed to his followers. The point of this was to force his followers to think for themselves. This is in direct contrast to the absolutist, black and white sermons of contemporary Christian leaders in the U.S.

I found this editorial to be quite good, mainly because it reminded me that Jesus was a good guy with a lot of good ideas. Even a hardened agnostic such as myself will concede that there is great value in alot of his teachings. I guess my own irritation at Christians in this country tends to skew me into blasting the religion entirely.

"How fitting that in the Age of Information our broadcasters have marketed a Jesus so narrowly defined that he resembles little more than a lobbyist loitering outside Tom DeLay's office hoping for a few minutes of the great man's time." -Jack Hitt

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Challenge

So, I got this little game sent to me in an email foward. Accept the challenge if you dare. You might want to drink your morning coffee before you take this bad boy on.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Rob may explode without warning



Thursday, April 21, 2005

Business as usual

When given such an influential role as Pope, most people's instinct would be to shake things up and try some new ideas out. Ole Rat-Man (do you go to straight to hell for making fun of the pope's name?) however decided to take a slight more conservative approach, i.e. he is changing absolutely nothing.

So, why didn't the Catholics just replace the old Pope with this?

Ok, so maybe if you prefer an organic leader, you could go with something more like this?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger

So according to Maureen Dowd over at the NY Times, the new Pope has the nickname "God's Rottweiler". Well, let's see how accurate that really is.

Separated at birth or what?!?!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Another sports post

Well, I had a great time last night at the California Angels game with the Chemist. (I'm boycotting the ridiculous Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim name for this post because it sucks) I ate some bbq ribs, nachos, a couple beers, and the California Angels put on an old school whoopin of the Seattle Mariners. I just love going out to the ballpark to watch some baseball.

On a different note, the Houston Rockets secured the 5th spot in the Western Conference and will be playing the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. This means that I will be engaging in some serious smack talk with all my undergrad friends who are mostly Dallas fans. And to all the Kings and Nuggets fans out there: Suck it, Rockets got the 5th seed.

Catholic church cements irrelevance till the next Pope

So, a new Pope has just been elected. The new Pope is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. If you've never heard of him, lets just say this guy is one hardcore old school Catholic. So just in case you thought the Catholic church might take a few steps foward, check this description of his work at the Vatican.

"In the Vatican, he has been the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination."

So once again, American Catholics have yet another Pope who they will politely listen too, and then just do whatever the hell they want to do.

Nothing political, unless you went a Big 12 School

The following is an article from the Austin American Statesman about possibly eliminating the two divisions in the Big 12 Conference. Admittedly, I'm just bitter about Texas (my alma mater) getting screwed out of the Big 12 Championship game every year by Oklahoma, but if this change goes through, that wouldn't be a problem anymore.

"Several Big 12 football coaches said Monday they would like to explore the possibility of eliminating the North and South divisions when they gather for the May 23-26 league meetings.

Only football among the 21 Big 12-sponsored sports is split into divisions, for the purpose of providing the teams for the conference championship game.

Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops put aside their intense rivalry to agree on the advantage of having one overall league, with the top two teams playing in the championship game. Coaches don't like the championship game, especially with Big 12-sponsored NCAA legislation for a 12th regular-season game likely to pass.

Supporters said eliminating divisions would rule out a scenario like the 2004 league title game in which North Division champ Colorado entered with a 4-4 conference record. Under a non-divisional format, OU and UT would have met for the league title last season because they had the two best records in the Big 12.

"I'd really like to see something like that," Brown said of eliminating divisions. "If we keep the championship game, I'd love to see a situation where the best two teams play at the end."

Added Stoops: "It might just improve the overall general welfare if there isn't a north and south and everybody is all together. I see a lot of good in it, I would think."

Coaches' recommendations at the meetings in Colorado Springs, Colo., are forwarded to the league's athletic directors for consideration. Should the ADs agree to a proposal, it then moves on to the Big 12's faculty representatives for deliberation, and then on to presidents of the league schools for a final vote at their June 5-7 meeting in Dallas."

Though I doubt it will happen, I would really like to see this change go into effect. I think the two best teams should play each other. It would probably not even be an issue if there wasn't such a disparity between the North and South divisions. Though AC Patriot(a Colorado Alum) will probably disagree, I just don't think that a team that would have finished 5th in the South division should play in the Big 12 Championship.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Book Meme

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I figure I fought and debated for the ideas of this book so much already in my lifetime, what the hell.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Not really. Not a character from a book anyways. To let my inner-junior high-nerd self out for a minute, I'd say I had a thing for every female X-Men character back in the day.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently jumping between two books at the moment.

The Working Poor by David Shipler - A book that essentially has stories about the poor working class in America, who he basically defines as people make just enough money to get by but cannot save or move up the social ladder. Shipler tries to show how people in this situation can often be destroyed by even small happenstance in their lives, or lifted out of poverty with a small helping hand from people in the middle and upper classes.

Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory by Edward Larson- A solid book on the history of Evolution. A bit dry but extremely thorough and informative.

The last book you bought is:
Problem Book in Relativity and Gravitation - haven't received it yet, but I'm sure it will be as exciting as it sounds.

The last book you read:
Coercion: Why we listen to what "they" say by Douglas Rushkoff - Probably one of the better books I've read in a while. This book describes techniques used by advertisers, police, CIA, internet advertisers, car salesmen, and others to manipulate people. When I got called to jury duty, I actually watched the defense attorney use some of the techniques in the book to convince people of his point of view. Very entertaining.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
1. Feymann Lectures on Physics - I could finally have time to read all of them.
2. Some sort of giant book on zoology and botany. That should be handy on a tropical island.
3. 1984 by George Orwell. Probably my all time favorite book.
4. How to book on Charcoal drawings. I'd finally have time to learn how to draw, and charcoal would be the only drawing material likely available.
5. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter - I got this book for christmas, and I have a feeling I'll spend years trying to really understand it.

Know thy enemy

NY Times did an article on Ralph Reed today. If you aren't familiar with this pretty boy evangelical, just think of the character that Macaulay Culkin played in the The Good Son. Ole Ralphy boy is one tough political operative. He used to be the head of the Christian Coalition, he was one of the main advisors of the Bush campaign and now he running for Lt. Governor in Georgia. His story is essentially the story of the rise evangelical conservatives in this country, and I personally dislike him more than any other conservative pundit, even ole Ann Coulter. Anyways, the article from the NY Times sums up his career and his ties to Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the same lobbyist who is getting Tom Delay in trouble. Apparently ole pious Ralph got some money from casino owners. Oops.

Quotes from Triumph the Comic Insult Dog in the SPIN ZONE after the 3rd Presidential Debate

"You are hearing the rantings of Ralph Reed. He used to pimp the Christian Coalition. Now, he reeks of Bush more than a Katie Lang mosh pit."

"Come on Ralph, Gay Rights. If you're going to be against gay rights, then you better take out that pole up your ass"

"Oh yeaaaah" (Think Quagmire voice)

Your Seduction Style: The Natural

You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.
Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.
You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!
People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.

I'm New School baby

You Are a New School Democrat

You like partying and politics - and are likely to be young and affluent.

You're less religious, traditional, and uptight than most Democrats.

Smoking pot, homosexuality, and gambling are all okay in your book.

You prefer that the government help people take care of themselves.

Hat Tip: Amicus

Friday, April 15, 2005

US disarms unilaterally...

Well, we are disarming in an economic sense. Check Thomas Friedman's (my favorite Op-Ed columnist by the way) column today in the NY Times. Friedman points out that the US has fallen well behind Asia in internet usage and broadband technology. Friedman has also done a number of columns on how the US needs to create a New "New Deal" to revamp our economy and education system to compete with India, China, and Japan in technology. However, while the Bush administration likes to give lip service to this idea, they cut 20% of the basic science and technology budget from the Pentagon and cut $100 million from the National Science Foundation.
"It's as if we have an industrial-age presidency, catering to a pre-industrial ideological base, in a post-industrial era." - Thomas Friedman

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The real story behind Aramark

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, Aramark and UCI are teaming up together to shut down all the independent food operators on the UCI campus. Apparently, Aramark has quite a reputation for monopolizing the food services at Universities. Here is a small list of schools who have student protests of Aramark because of anti-union practices, unnecessary price increases and monopolizing food services.

Wake Forest
University of North Carolina
Trent University
University of Michigan, Dearborn

There are actually many more Universities that have had problems with Aramark, far too many to list. Good to see that UCI putting on their thinking caps when they hired this company.

"Truth is generally the best vindication against slander." - Abe Lincoln

I like the being the best American President of all time, but I'm not so into the assassination part.

Something for the Anti-War masses to think about

Here's a quote from an LA Times editorial by Max Boot in which he makes a good point about the self-interested nature of good portion of the anti-war movement in the US.

"Remember how exercised everyone around the world was about the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib? Infinitely worse deeds are being done in Darfur every day. Where's the outrage? Where are the street rallies that might spur Western governments into action? Aside from a handful of journalists and human rights activists, the only Westerners who have shown any sustained interest in the Sudan are evangelical Christians, who've been exercised primarily about the fate of their coreligionists in the south. The silence of the "antiwar" masses speaks volumes about their priorities: They don't object to war crimes as long as they're not committed by Americans."

Update: LA Times has done another editorial on Darfur, second day in a row. It appears they are starting to give Darfur alot more ink than in the past.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sometimes, I really hate this school

So, as many of you know, UCI recently shut down the on-campus Pub here at UCI, though it will probably reopen in the fall at an alternative location. However, now UCI is conspiring with Aramark to shut down all the independent food operators at UCI, most notably the coffee stand outside my building. I just signed a petition to support the coffee stand and other independent food operators to get their leases renewed, but I doubt it'll do anything.

Once again, corporate america manages to crush the little guy. First, they shut down a student run Pub. Now, they are shutting down a small coffee stand run by a Korean immigrants. Way to go UCI and Aramark! Maybe next, you can drown some kittens in the infinity fountain.

Nananananana LEADER!

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Atom Bomb of Courteous Debate.

Get yours.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

America: FUCK YEAH!

What happens when you take the horrific music video America We Stand As One and replace the music for it with America: Fuck Yeah? See for yourself

When nerds get bored...

At MIT, there is a great tradition of performing clever, ethical pranks called Hacks. Some of these pranks became world famous, such as the prank in which a replica of an MIT campus police car was put on top of the MIT Great Dome. Check out the gallery of Hacks, and be amazed what nerds do when they get bored.

Monday, April 11, 2005

How is humiliating a desperate woman ethical?

I just read a BBC article on how some pharmacists in the US are refusing to fill presciptions for contraceptives, including the morning after pill, based on religious beliefs. I've heard of this happening before, but I am always disturbed by these stories. I think that if you can't fill such a common prescription based on your religious beliefs, then you have no business being a pharmacist. I'm sure these pharmacists feel really proud about themselves when they lecture and humiliate a woman who is trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

So what is the solution to this problem? Well, I think if a pharmacy allows its pharmacists to pick and choose what drug prescriptions they will fill, they better make sure they have at least one pharmacist on duty at all times who will fill any and all legal prescriptions. How can it be ethical to deny someone medication?

Update: Here is a post last month from The Disgruntled Chemist weighing in on this issue

Update II: Slate has an excellent article on this issue, including whether or not pharmacists have the right to usurp the judgement of a patient's doctor and links to several editorials and stories on this issue.

That Einstein, what a slacker!

LA Times had a humorous commentary today from Peter Mehlman, a television writer and producer who worked on "Seinfeld" entitled "Relativity Speaking, Einstein Was A Slacker". If you have an LA Times account, check it out. If not, here are a few excerpts.

"Perhaps you feel that dreaming up E=MC2, the unified field theory, quantum theory and the theory of relativity by the age of 30, then moving to America and focusing the rest of your days on dating our college girls, constitutes a full life, but that's not the way we do things. Not here. Not now. Not in the 21st century"

"Oh wait. Diet Coke is a mystery to you. But E=MC2? That you understand. Anyway, I can't completely dismiss your life. You did rather well considering that, as a child, everyone thought you were slow in the head. At what age did you start talking, 8?

Well, if you were a kid today, you would be plied with so many pharmaceuticals, your parents would be happy if you just masterminded the theory of not eating mud."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Conservative chicken or the egg?

I've recently been trying to figure out which of these two scenarios has happened in the last couple years: did the conservative christian movement take over the Republican party, or did the Republican party high-jack the conservative christian movement? I remember when I was growing up that being a Christian did not automatically mean that you were a Republican. It still doesn't, but that perception is now the dominant view in the US. The Republican party once stood for smaller government, smaller budgets, and keeping the government out of individual lives as much as possible. Now the Republican party creates who new departments of the government, increases our deficit, and legislates morality at every turn. Just five years ago, that would been unthinkable for the Republicans.

John Danforth, a former US senator from Missouri, a former US ambassador to the UN and an Episcopal minister wrote a scathing editorial in which he argues that the Republicans need to stop focusing on this religious agenda and get back to their core principles.
"The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement." - John Danforth

You know it's getting bad when a Minister tells you to that you are focusing too much on religion.

Do not eat the forbidden fruit

I have been reading this book Coercion, which describes the various devices of propaganda and coercion that are used by police, CIA, advertisers, etc. Last night, I read a section on cults that compares the methods of coercion used by actual cults with products that attain cult status. The primary example used as a cult product was Apple computers. So, after a little research on how Apple has attained cult status, I found the homepage of the Cult of the Sacrilegious Apple. I especially enjoyed the cult doctrine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

April Fools meets evolution

Scientific American did a really funny editorial titled "Ok, We give up. We feel so ashamed" for its April Fools joke, which focuses mainly on evolution, but also touches on Missle Defense and pollution. It's a must read, go check it out.

"Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence." - Referring to their endorsing the Theory of Evolution

Monday, April 04, 2005

Behold majesty of my new dart board!

Check out the new dart board.

I haven't played darts on a regular basis since my junior year of undergrad. However, with the closing of the Pub on campus, I feel the need to upgrade my in home entertainment. So, between this and some booze, life will still be good.

Friday, April 01, 2005

It's funny because it's true.

What might salad dressing and conservatives look like when you put them together...

Oh Buchanan, your insane rants usually are what make me laugh. But now you've managed to reach me on a whole new level. Seriously though, apparently Buchanan was an invited speaker to Western Michigan University when a protester threw salad dressing at him during his Q&A. Read more about it here.