Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chevy Volt redux.

I've said why the Chevy Volt will fail. However, my personal opinion assumes that people are rational actors who maximize benefit at minimal cost, and therefore it is possible for the Volt to succeed if General Motors gets its marketing machine together.

But after watching this GM event and enduring this song? This is actually on the Volt's official Youtube channel.

I don't think GM is going to be able to market the Volt out of its hole.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Main Entry: 1cre·a·tive
Pronunciation: \krē-ˈā-tiv, ˈkrē-ˌ\
Function: adjective
Date: 1678

1 : marked by the ability or power to create : given to creating
2 : having the quality of something created rather than imitated : imaginative

Link kindly provided by "Mike Tango."

Monday, December 7, 2009

BMW pre-owned commercial.

I think the commercial is officially titled "Joyride," although I think "Dumb trophy wife" may be more appropriate.

Sadly... it also seems like the kid isn't making it to the NBA anytime soon.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I make Sarah Palin uncomfortable.

According to the New Yorker, Sarah Palin's father said that Palin transferred away from college in Hawaii because the presence of too many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable.

Don't worry Sarah - you're not alone! Japanese people disguised as West Virginians make me uncomfortable too!

In addition, Google does not lie!
According to Google's suggest search terms, most people who are "scared" are afraid of Chinese people, then Barack Obama!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving '09 - Visiting Cleveland

I haven't really been back in the Midwest for several years, but I have almost somewhat reminisced about the flat cities, ride roads, and generally better road manners. During this past weekend, we took a day trip to visit Cleveland.

Here is my photo essay of Cleveland (images taken with the Canon SX20).

Cleveland's Finest at work (Pardon the poor image, as the vehicle was moving at ~30mph and there was vegetation in the lane divider).

The Chevy Cruze is coming to America! (Although it remains to be seen whether or not they'll be built in Ohio).

Cleveland has nice flat wide roads.

Cleveland's West Side Market - pretty cool place!

Fresh pasta at the West Side Market.

MASSIVE jar of Nutella!

Cheap Ducks at a Chinese supermarket!

And... last but not least... LIVE frogs at only $4.29 per pound!


More fotos to come!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why do Presidents pardon turkeys?

Every year during Thanksgiving, the President of the United States "pardons" turkeys presented to him by farmers. How did this tradition begin? And what do they do with the "pardoned" turkeys?

Thanks to Google, I was able to research and write this "exposé" from the comfort of my home while I'm defrosting chickens. Apparently, most Presidents ate the turkeys they were presented with, and those that did not like turkey meat donated them to the local homeless shelter.

The turkey pardoning sort of started off as a joke by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Reagan, who I guess was doing some sort of press conference, was asked before Thanksgiving whether or not he would pardon Oliver North for his role in the Iran-Contra deals. Reagan, in typical Reaganesque manner, deflected the question with a joke, saying he would pardon the turkey.

President George H.W. Bush later turned the turkey presentation, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, into a turkey pardoning day. After the turkeys are pardoned, they're sent to some farm to live out the remainder of their lives. Although this begs the question, how long do the turkeys live afterward?

Domesticated commercial turkeys are bred to maximize weight gain in the shortest amount of time, which shortens their natural life expectancy to as short as two years for male and three years for female birds.

These "pardoned" turkeys don't live very long at all... maybe the Presidents should just donate them to the local food bank or something...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unintended Acceleration?

Toyota/Lexus has been recently under fire for "unintended acceleration." Apparently in August of this year, a Californian off duty highway patrol officer and the occupants of the Lexus ES-350 were killed in high speed accident because the accelerator pedal had become jammed. A passenger called 911 while the car was speeding out of control, and apparently the 911 recording has been released to the public (I didn't bother to look for it).

CBS did an "investigation," citing "experts" and "victims" who claim that Toyotas may be prone to unintended acceleration.

In the 1980s, CBS' 60 Minutes did a similar hack job, accusing Audi 5000 vehicles of being prone to unintended acceleration. They interviewed "experts," "victims," and even fabricated a "test" by modifying a vehicle so it appeared to suffer from unintended acceleration. The hack job harmed Audi's image in the United States, and Audi's sales did not recover for almost fifteen years.

The complaints from "victims" are usually the same and goes as follows:

"I was just sitting there in my car, the ignition was on, the transmission was in gear, and then all of the sudden the engine revved and the car began to move and the car crashed."

The problem with these claims? The accidents usually occur in a parking lot or a drive way, or when the driver is in the act of parking/coming to a stop - which not so coincidentally is when drivers usually mistake the accelerator for the brakes.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) always investigates such claims, and basically never find evidence that the vehicle was at fault.

But the August Lexus accident was different. The driver and the occupants of the vehicles were all killed, and had no reporting bias/desire to transfer blame. The vehicle was on a major road, and was not in the act of parking/coming to a stop. The NHTSA investigated the August Lexus matter, and issued a report [Warning: PDF!].

The crashed vehicle, which was a car dealership loaner, had the wrong kind of floor mats installed. Because the floor mats were not properly secured, the accelerator pedal became jammed/caught by the bundled up floor mat when depressed.

The driver tried what most of us would do first - he tried to brake the car to a halt. Unfortunately, in most American and Japanese vehicles, the electronic control unit (ECU) in the car will not intervene when the both pedals are depressed. In many European vehicles, when both pedals are depressed, the ECU will give priority to the brake pedal input, and will shut off the accelerator pedal input and the car will stop.

To makes matters worse, the driver was not familiar with the vehicle (as it was a loaner) and the car featured a push start keyless system. Therefore the driver didn't know how to shut off the engine, and the Lexus accelerated to over 100mph, crashed, became airborne, and burned.

This tragedy could have been averted in so many ways. The dealer could have been competent and installed the correct floor mats and secured them, the driver could have inspected the vehicle and discovered the pushed up floor mats, the driver could have the presence of mind to shift the vehicle to neutral, or the driver could have learned how to shut the ignition before driving it off the dealer lot.

I'm sure the deceased victim's estate/survivors are probably suing the dealer for negligence, and will probably also go after Toyota for some product liability claim (i.e. negligent design of pedal). The plaintiffs will probably win a big judgment, or the parties will probably settle out of court, but nothing will bring the deceased back.

So here's a Legally Irreverent Public Service Announcement.

What to do when the gas pedal gets stuck?
1. Shift to Neutral.
2. Apply the Brakes.
3. Stop & Turn off the Ignition.

If by some strange mechanical defect you're unable to shift to neutral, you'll have to turn off the ignition - but only do this as a last resort, because you'll lose power steering, and brake performance will decline (ABS, brake force boost/distribution will be off).

What not to do when the gas pedal gets stuck?
1. Call 911.
2. Pump the brakes repeatedly (if the brakes aren't slowing the car, they're not slowing the car; do not do the same thing repeatably and expect a different result).
3. Leap out of the car.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX20 Introduction.

We selected this particular camera after a long and agonizing decision process, involving hours of online research, hands on research, and finally decided to stick with one of the earlier suggested models, the Canon PowerShot SX20!

So here are some shots as an introduction.

A panoramic view of Oakland (click photos to enlarge).

Then a few shots of Kimchi!

And last but not least, Tigger!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Downtown Wheeling reeks...

Literally. There is something near work that is releasing some sort of sulfur based emission, probably hydrogen sulfide gas.

Just saying.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Workweek Summary.

I drove into a wild and "wonderful" place.

The awesome mobile crossed 10,000 miles.

I redacted so many files, I invented a rolling tickler tape to keep track of the files. The highlighter cap, which is taped to the table surface, acts as a pivot point for the highlighter body, which rolls and keeps my paper neat.

And in my absence...

The cats posed for a Presidential campaign poster.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fringe Benefits.

Twenty-eight varieties of caffeinated and decaffeinated teas, coffees, and chocolate. Essential ingredients to keep the monkey operating in front of the computer for ten hours a day.

My creative amusement for the day? Convincing the machine to dispense "espresso shot" amounts of water to a packet of hot chocolate, then inserting another hot chocolate packet, and getting another "espresso shot" to get uber strong/thick hot chocolate.

As the temperatures plummeted, I discovered that the awesome mobile drives like a quiet Lexus when I'm wearing a winter hat and listening to NPR and Feist on the radio (I've been keeping the air conditioning/heater off and getting 35-40mpg averages per tank).

Why aren't rear windshields polarized? There are too many modded cars, pickups, and suvs with overly bright HID lights aimed too high above the ground.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

West Virginia Adventures.

I've been fortunate enough to find a temporary job in West Virginia.

Before I devolve into a semi-serious tone, let me emphasize that I recognize that West Virginia, being an inanimate political/geographic division, does not in anyway impart a particular mode of behavior on its people, so please recognize that I have no intention of dissuading anyone from visiting this land they call "almost heaven," which inspired that Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (even if he was possibly high as a kite when he wrote the lyrics).

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's learn a little about West Virginia.

West Virginia, with 24,230 square miles of of surface area, is larger than roughly 110 countries in the world, and similar in size as Latvia (somewhere in Europe, I think it is next to Egypt).

West Virginia, with an estimated population of 1.8 million people, has approximately one-twelfth of the population of Taiwan.

West Virginia also has a GDP of approximately $55 billion USD, which is roughly 7.8% of Taiwan's GDP.

Now... I will be the first to admit that before I began commuting to work in Wheeling, West Virginia, I had reservations about the hospitality of the West Virginian people.

I had heard jokes about how the toothbrush was invented in West Virginia (because anywhere else it would be called a teethbrush), and read about how the Ohio River was basically the natural border of the Mason-Dixon line (and Wheeling was south of the river).

Basically, I was prepared for the meeting the simultaneously most comical, offensive, and possibly the most blatantly bigoted North Americans someone can encounter without turning in to Rush Limbaugh or Lou Dobbs.

Unfairly wary of West Virginians, I initially avoided contact with locals outside of the office while I worked there. But eventually my cat like curiosity overcame my own bigotry, and I decided that I would attempt to make contact with West Virginians. After all, it is part of my American assimilation to make contact with all Americans, particularly ones that remained loyal to the union during the American Civil War (author's note: I have no kind words for rebels! Unless they're from New England and were fighting against tyranny from London, because then they're PATRIOTS!).

Feeling bold and empowered by my acquired American optimism, I would smile and say hello to the custodians and staff, and remembered to say "how are you?" and reply "good" when asked (even if I didn't really have the time to listen to how someone was doing or if I was not feeling good). Armed with these maxims, I believed I could safely introduce myself to West Virginians without drama and incident.

Initially, the custodian and some members of the staff appeared to be taken aback at my presence. I hypothesized that it may be because of my dashing good looks (but it also could been my wonderfully All-American appearance). But! After several days of gradually increasing the level of exposure the locals had to endure, people no longer double-taked, and the local employees became accustomed to my presence.

Confident that I had desensitized the locals, and eager to do more work, I decided to stick around until the office was closed at 8:30pm, before getting in the car and driving back to Pittsburgh.

Not quite sure whether the G-20 had turned Pittsburgh into a war zone, I decided to stock up on petrol by refueling the awesome car before driving my merry way back to Pittsburgh.

That was when I was exposed to the full friendliness and multiculturalism of West Virginia. There I was, in my business causal attire, with my fancy Pennsylvanian license plate, pumping some petrol into the fuel tank, when a white pickup pulls up along side.

The white pickup had two adults (whom I presumed to be Mom and Dad?) and three kids (theirs?). Mom and Dad got out and went inside (to pay for gas? use the bathroom? perhaps to buy some caviar and fish tacos?).

The pump clicked off (after only 9 gallons), and I was getting back to the driver's side to drive home when I heard a voice utter "konichiwa". Being somewhat exhausted from the long day, I was taken aback, as I hadn't expected to have to deal with Japanese people in West Virginia. Was it the second Pearl Harbor? Some sort of secret Japanese invasion of epic Red Dawn proportions?

Uncertain of whether I was dealing with a ghostly creepy Japanese little girl (ala The Ring), or some modern airborne Isoroku Yamamoto, I pretended as if I did not hear "konichiwa".

"konichiwa!" The "thing" shouted again, this time with more effort.

I dared a sideways glance. OH THE HORROR! It was the West Virginian family! THEY SPOKE JAPANESE!!



Not wanting to be mistaken as a ghost or some sort of Japanese spy, I ignored what appeared to be an obvious Japanese plot to assimilate AMERICANS!

But the voices did not stop.




The voices became louder, more irritating, and somehow... mocking? It is as if these Japanese disguised as West Virginians were rubbing their Japanese superiority in my face. HOW DARE THEY?! Is it not enough that they have Honda and Toyota? Now they must bring Japanese to Wheeling, West Virginia?!


In my silent moral outrage at the Japanization of America, I thought of and was tempted to say "I'm sorry? What are you saying? This is AMERRRRICA!" in my best Alabaman accent.

But just fractions of a second before I uttered my AMERICAN comeback, I realized... that these West Virginian Japanese spies may be armed with katanas and shooting stars. DAMMIT! I hadn't gone to Cabela's to pick up my G-20 spec personal defense weapon. 5 Japanese disguised as West Virginians vs. 1 unarmed assimilated American. Damn.

I bit my lip, and drove away from the station.

Japanese 1 - American 0. I am sorry America, I failed to defend this blessed West Virginian country from foreign evil doers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am too chicken to play F.E.A.R.

There is this game that has been recommended to me by multiple people, called F.E.A.R., an abbreviation of First Encounter Assault Recon. What does First Encounter Assault Recon mean? I have no idea. But - I suspect the game creators just wanted to call the game FEAR, but wanted to put in a pseudo-"military" spin to it.

Basically the game starts off as any other first-person shooter. You're this bad ass "military" dude - have a bunch of guns, and you have some buddies who are practically useless and will inevitably need you to save them from annihilation (this is a common theme for first-person shooters).

Under the false impression that I am a self-assured confident young male, enjoying the time of my life where my emotional, intellectual, and physical maturity is at the peak of my prime, I embraced the challenge of F.E.A.R.

I was.... W. R. O. N. G.

A little background... (SPOILER ALERT)

Every good story needs antagonists that also make good cannon fodder. Traditionally, video game makers use Nazis or aliens (i.e. Wolfenstein & Doom). More recently? In games like Grand Theft Auto, the fodder can be anything from stupid mobsters to the random civilian on the street.

This time - the bad ass soldiers meet "something" that cannot be killed. No, I'm not talking about zombies - zombies, while scary, can be killed.

I'm talking about scary little girls.

Like the ones that scare the hell out of everyone in Japanese horror movies, like the Ring (1998), or the Orphan (2009).

It would appear that in F.E.A.R? The cannon fodder is you.

Being a fiscal conservative, I did not buy F.E.A.R. Instead? I found a free demo for F.E.A.R 2, the sequel, which I hear is a pretty good sequel to the original game (critics say F.E.A.R. 2 is apparently less suspenseful). I figured if I enjoyed the demo, I'll buy the game.

Demos usually are designed so the player gets about 45 minutes of enjoyment. F.E.A.R 2's demo? It took me about 2 hours to complete. The gameplay wasn't tedious, or hard - I just couldn't play through it without hitting the pause button, and leaving the couch to find something to drink and maybe wash my face.

Don't get me wrong - I generally enjoy horror films, but playing a game where you go from fighting for your life against super-clone soldiers to fighting against an immortal little girl called Alma is not my idea of relaxing fun.

You're exploring what appears to be a medical research facility/office - the next moment you're fighting for your life against the super-clone soldiers.

Ok. I can take the testosterone filled moment - that's the time when you go AHHHH! and blow the soulless clones away with your shotgun.

Then out of your peripheral vision, you see some strange movement. You turn around, hear some creepy sounds, and then Alma strikes.

For example? You're riding in the elevator. Minding your own business. Then suddenly...

WTF? OK! Maybe the little girl in red is just being friendly - I shouldn't prejudge her based on her creepy appearance... after all - wasn't there that woman in red in the Matrix? Or the little girl in red in Schindler's List?

But then...

... it is like... do do do *whistle* - then AHHHHH! AHHHHH! AHHHH! DIE!!! *BANG BANG* I can't kill you YOU SCARY MONSTER GIRL!




So at the end of the game... you managed to survive. Congratulations you've reached the extraction point, and a helicopter picks you up. Your superiors decide to nuke the damn place, and you're watching the mushroom cloud... when...

... sorry - I'm just not cut out for this.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Curried Corn Chowder.

This recipe comes from Once Upon a Tart... by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau w/ Carolynn Carreno. I changed some elements to suit my palate, but it is simply awesome.

        • large onion
        • garlic
        • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
        • 4 tablespoon of unsalted butter
        • corn (lots of it - like 4 ears worth or more)
        • 4 cups of stock
        • 1 teaspoon sugar
        • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
        • 1/4 cup of coconut milk

1. Dice the onion, mince the garlic.
2. Saute onion, garlic, thyme in a large pot with half the prescribed butter. Saute until onions are soft and translucent.
3. Pour in the stock, sugar, corn - salt & pepper to taste. I also took the liberty of throwing in some leftover chicken bits at this point (but you don't have to).
4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer for half an hour.
5. In another pan, melt the remaining butter and pour in the curry powder, cook it until the butter and powder is well combined. Then pour this into the soup.
6. Add the coconut milk.
7. Salt and pepper to taste - add cilantro to serve.

The Result?


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Audi of America President on the Chevy Volt.

MSN Autos had a interview with Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen, who said the following regarding the Chevy Volt:

"a car for idiots,"... that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 -- the Volt’s estimated base price -- for a car that competes against $25,000 sedans and conventional hybrids. Nor, he noted, is the Volt a luxury car whose green-technology costs will be excused because it also delivers prestige or performance.

No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” he said. “So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

He did add that plug-in hybrids are good in concept and hold advantages over diesels in stop-and-go driving. But for the moment, de Nysschen noted, electric vehicles (EVs) are more about making a statement.

“They’re for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are,” he said.

De Nysschen expressed frustration with regulators and policymakers, saying the public has been hoodwinked into believing that EVs are the only answer to global warming. The U.S. government, he said, is pouring billions of dollars into EV technology, yet diesel technology could deliver a more immediate and dramatic decrease in global-warming emissions. And the man knows of what he speaks: Modern diesels already power half of Audi’s cars in Europe and have helped Audi dominate recent runnings of the 24 Hours of LeMans. Diesels have been shown to emit 25 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines, while using 25 to 35 percent less fuel.

Mass electrification of cars, he argued, would result in a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, because so much of America’s electrical grid relies on dirty coal for its energy. Cleaning up the nation’s power grid is the real priority, he said, and only then can EVs make environmental sense.

The Audi of America president ended with a bold prediction: The Volt will fall flat. And the federal government, having publicly forced GM to develop electric cars, will subsidize the Volt to save face and boost sales.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Google Voice is smart.

I've been trying Google Voice, which I previously mentioned here. The sign up process was really easy, and I was able to select my own telephone number and area code. Phone calls can be screened by #, filtered by group, or just ignored and sent to voicemail, where Google Voice transcribes the message so you can read your voicemail instead of listening to it. The feature I've found most helpful is the voicemail system's ability to transcribe phone numbers left by the caller. I don't know about you, but I've always had to press "replay" when listening to voice mails. Maybe I have a hearing problem, but most people speak too fast and I don't have the short term working memory for memorizing phone numbers and writing them down.

Another feature Google Voice provides is... a "call widget." Which will allow me to put a application that'll allow readers to click a button, and call me (while keeping my telephone # secret).

Naturally, I will not enable this feature... but in any case, Google Voice is smart.

Oh... in other news, I will be heading to Wheeling, WV in the near future. I shall take pictures, and see if John Denver's recollection of West Virginia is factually correct.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Save the Tiger.

I'm still bored. So between job searching, doing chores, and playing games on the PlayStation, I made another video.

Save the Tiger.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vladimir Putin drinks Dos Equis.

I was bored today, and after browsing for jobs, I decided to put together this little Dos Equis commercial spoof. After all, who can resist the Russian nationalist uber-masculine Prime Minister Vladimir Putin?

Stay thirsty my friends :p

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Birther in Chief - Orly Taitz.

The birther movement is a strange one. Basically... it is a group of conspiracy theorists who believe that President Obama is not eligible to be POTUS because he does not satisfy the Article II, Section 5 requirements, which requires the President to be a natural born citizen.

One of the folks that has been getting a lot press time is Orly Taitz... who is sort of crazy. Basically she's a realtor, dental hygienist, and "lawyer" who has been filing silly lawsuits all over the place trying to challenge Obama's qualification to be POTUS. Each and every time she files a complaint about the issue, it is dismissed because she doesn't have standing.

She's also been filing lawsuits outside of jurisdictions where she is admitted to practice. Apparently, Orly didn't go to an ABA accredited law school, so... despite being admitted to the bar in California, can't really practice law anywhere but California.

For a glimpse of how crazy she is...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The new Honda Insight is Dumb.

In 1999, Honda introduced the first-generation Honda Insight. It was a two-seat subcompact hatchback that featured aerodynamic rear fender skirts and was also the first hybrid passenger vehicle sold in North America. Honda engineers, in their pursuit for maximum fuel economy, built paneling of the Insight out of aluminium and plastic, and even installed low-rolling resistance tires (sacrificing comfort and handling) on low-drag rims.

Although the Insight didn't look very cool, it was cool because it was an ambitious technological achievement by Honda. It was fuel efficient (53mpg combined - EPA '09 estimate), quirky, and introduced the hybrid to America.

Two years later, Toyota introduced its first Prius in North America. As you can see on the right, it didn't look at unusual. The first North America Prius was a four-door sedan. I had the opportunity to ride in one while I was at the University of Illinois... and it was nothing to write home about. The Prius was sluggish, cramped, and worst of all... it was neither particularly fuel efficient nor economical (because of the premium price).

But Toyota wasn't complacent, and three years later in 2004, it introduced the 2nd generation Prius that everyone recognizes (in case you don't... it is the red car to the right).

Not to be outdone... Honda went back to the drawing board... and uh... five years later... introduced the... uh... the 2010 Toyota Prius Honda Insight. Ignore the physical similarities, because the Insight only looks the Prius, but doesn't perform like one.

Starting at $19,800, the new Insight is $2,200 less than the new 2010 Toyota Prius (which was also received a major update this year).

Unfortunately... the new Honda Insight is Dumb. To spare you the details... basically the 2010 Prius is more fuel efficient, more spacious, has better handling, quieter ride, better power to weight ratio, more torque, better brakes, and less carbon-dioxide emissions.

So basically... the 2010 Prius not only has better fuel economy (which I suppose is the variable by which all hybrids are measured), but is really... a better car. In addition, the Insight's rear headroom is pathetic. Anyone who is probably over 6 feet will not be able to comfortable sit in the backseats of an Insight, because their head will be touching the ceiling.

The $2,200 dollar price difference shouldn't really be a deciding factor between these two vehicles. If you can't afford the $2,200, you probably can't afford the premium of buying a hybrid vehicle... financially, you'll be better off driving a high-efficiency sub-compact like a Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent/Electra, Kia Forte, Toyota Yaris, Scion xB/xD, Nissan Versa, etc...

Now... I read quite a bit of automotive journalism. Some automotive journalists (particularly the dumb ones), praise the Insight as an "alternative" to the Prius. These idiot automotive journalists use code words, which I will translate for the non-idiotic audience.

Statement #1: "The Honda Insight is more fun to drive"
Translation: It is not as well insulated from road noise, has a more unforgiving suspension, so it feels more "sporty" even though it really isn't. So if you're an idiot who likes to play pretend, the Insight is for you!

Statement #2: "The Honda Insight is not boring, unlike Toyotas."
Translation: I have a low self-esteem and I continuously strive to be "different" and "unique."

In re: Statement #1. Some people are idiots. They'll take the uncomfortable "sporty" ride even if the car's performance doesn't match the comfortable "un-sporty" vehicle. I suspect it is what motivates teenagers to buy a Honda Civic, install a fart-cannon exhaust, rice it up with a massive wing (because you know... a Civic needs the downforce huh?)... because you know... if it looks fast or feels fast... it is huh? I suspect these folks never quite developed past the stage of "pretend play"... and are basically overgrown toddlers.

As for Statement #2... these folks will do anything to be "unique." These people, failing to recognize the paradox of trying to be "unique" as a reactionto what other people are doing, will not act rationally because... you know... everyone else is doing it yo?

So if a friend has rave reviews and great experience with a particular car, they'll refuse to purchase it (even if they were previous amiable to it), because... you know... gota be "unique" right? It makes one wonder... what will these folks not do in their pursuit to be "unique"? If someone starts a viral campaign that says... "you should not eat poo," will these "unique" individuals begin to eat fecal matter?

Honda's marketing campaign for the Insight emphasizes its availability to the common person, "designed and priced for us all." If that statement is true... I'm going to be depressed about the future of humanity, because we're going to be all under 6 feet tall, and incredibly stupid in our pursuit of being "unique."

But in any case... let's enjoy Honda's tribute to the idiotic masses, which I think is a pretty cute commercial? But that may be my inner idiot.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Chashao" pork buns.

I made Chaoshao ("Chinese BBQ") pork buns. They're very tasty, and relatively easy. The instructions are written in a no nonsense manner, because cooking really should be no nonsense and easy.

Chaoshao Pork Recipe
        • 5 lbs of pork loin
        • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
        • 2/3 cup sugar
        • 4 tablespoon of gin
        • 4 tablespoon of oyster sauce
        • 2 teaspoon five-spice powder

Take the pork, and strip off excess fat and connective tissue. Since the pork loin runs along the top of the pig's rib cage, it is rather long and slender. Take a knife, and butcher the loin along the long and slender cut of meat. You'll then want to cut up the pork loin into long chunks, thereby increasing its surface area to mass ratio, which will facilitate better marination and cooking.

You'll want to cut it along the grain, because after cooking, you'll slice the pork up against the grain, which will result in more tender bites.

Then mix all the ingredients together, and marinate the pork for at least 5 hours.

Then put the pork in an oven safe vessel, brush it with the marinate, and bake it at 375°F, for approximately 50 minutes. You'll want to flip the pork every 15 minutes or so, and brush more of the marinate over it. Near the end, just pour the entire marinate onto the pork, and let it cook with the drippings.

After you remove the pork from the oven, it should be dark brown/red, let it cool, then begin to cut the strips against the grain, which will give you something that looks like this.

Place the slices of meat back in the dripping, it'll the meat will soak up the rich condensed goodness, the thin slices will be good to eat. I eat it on rice, noodles, and of course, in buns!

Bun Dough Recipe
        • 1/2 tablespoon of yeast
        • 2 tablespoons of sugar
        • 2 teaspoon of vegetable oil
        • 1/3 cup of milk
        • 1/2 cup of water
        • 2 cups of flour

Combine water and milk, heat it until it is warm, then throw in the oil, sugar and yeast. Stir. Mix in the flour, knead & add more flour until the dough is elastic, but no longer sticky.

Let it rise for about an hour.

Then roll it out into a log, cut the log into 10 pieces. Each piece will be one bun.

To make the buns, just roll the piece of dough until it is roundish & flat (roughly 3m, which I think is about 1/10 of an inch). Then put your pork filling inside in the center, and proceed to wrap it up.

To wrap, simply bring two opposite ends of the dough together at the top, meeting at the center, and press them together. Repeat until the bun is closed (you'll probably need to repeat this only 3 times per bun). Then pick the bun up, and place the top (which you just closed) on your kneading platform (so that it is upside down), put your palm on top of the flat bottom, and roll the bun in your hands for a few times, until the top (now on the bottom) is fairly flat).

Bake the buns at 400°F for about 20 minutes. You can brush the top with eggwash after baking them for about 5 minutes, but I skipped the eggwash... because really? Who cares if it is shiny. You can also steam the buns until the dough is cooked.

The Result? Yummy goodness.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why is the Department of Interior reading this blog?

On July 9, 2009, someone from the US Department of Interior paid Legally Irreverent a visit. Below is the screenshot - I've highlighted the pertinent part in yellow.

This federal government employee spent approximately 4 minutes and 27 seconds of tax payer time, surfing this blog - spanning seven pages. In the heat of my civic and moral outrage at this wasteful use of taxpayer resources, I decided to track down the cyber path of this frolicking federal employee.

This is what I found.

Apparently, if you googled "reflecting pool water" or "reflecting pool dirty water," Legally Irreverent comes up as amongst the top returns.

The reason?

My post about The Obelisk of Washington and the Reflecting Pool of Death is amongst the most frequented links for individuals researching the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool.

I suppose it is possible that my exclusive and "insightful" look at the failures of the National Park Service has caught the attention of its parent agency, the US Department of Interior... or alternatively, it could have been just a bored and frolicking employee was wasting tax payer's time.

If anyone happens to visit the National Mall, please let me know if the federal government has remedied the disgusting water problem, or properly paved the sidewalks. In the absence of any evidence that the National Mall has been revamped, I guess I'll just have to assume that the employee was frolicking, and wasting taxpayer's money.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bar Exam (Day Two) - Veni, Vidi, Vici?

Today was the second day of the Pennsylvania bar examination. It was less stressful than yesterday, as I had ample time (6 hours) to complete the 200 question multiple choice exam.

Law school folks! It has been a long road - and an occasionally tough road, but our formal education is now complete (hopefully?), and the real education begins! But before I do anything else, I think I'm going to get a drink, chill out for a bit, and uh... remedy the damage left by the legal Dementors.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bar Exam (Day One) - The Beginning of the End.

After a long hiatus, I'm back! I can't express how much studying for the bar exam takes out of a person. It is like having a Dementor hovering over your head constantly sucking out your soul.

Today was the first day of the Pennsylvania bar examination. Day one consisted of six essay questions, and an additional performance test.

I thought I did ok? We'll see in October when they publish the results. As for now? I'm going to have a drink, relax, and maybe somewhat review for tomorrow's 200 multiple choice component.

For your entertainment? Free speech for morons!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grand Theft Auto Diary.

Niko Bellic ("NB") has been busy lately. As I mentioned previously, NB dispatched of a gay-bashing bigot with great vengeance and furious anger. What I didn't mention was... NB was riding a Vespa in "Middle Park" and shooting left handed with a H&K MP5 :|

So below is an incomplete list of what NB did today:
1. Do some odd jobs for the mob (stealing coke and heroin from the Russian mob),
2. Did some cleaning (assassinated a mob boss and dispatched his bodyguards with some drive-by grenade dropping action),
3. Took a bunch of cab rides around the city & drove around in the Lambo (the reward for dispatching the gay-bashing bigot).

Anyway... I've always started playing Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. It is essentially this mix of Indiana Jones + Tomb Raider. I say this because the main character is a dude, but has no real respect for archeological goods (like Laura Croft). Although the endless shooting of Filipinos, Indonesians, and evil Anglo-Saxon expedition bounty-hunters gets a little tedious at times, it is a pretty fun game.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Introducing the Playstation 3.

It has been a while since I've updated. Studying for the bar exam is boring, and after a full day of studying, I have very little motivation to read/write and update this blog.

Instead I have been spending my late afternoons getting acquainted with my PlayStation 3. I've been spending most of my gaming time playing Battlefield: Bad Company and Grand Theft Auto IV.

For those unacquainted with the GTA franchise... it is essentially a nonlinear/sandbox game where the player controls a Serbian immigrant called Niko Bellic, who has joined his idiot cousin in "Liberty City" (NYC). There is a whole series of missions that the player can decide to complete, or you can always just roam around the city and wreck havoc.

Below is a sample of what "Niko" did today:
1. Shot up a homophobic idiot (who was beating up gay people jogging in "Middle Park").
2. Take possession of a truckload of cocaine from a Chinese Triad.
3. Drove around NYC streets at something like 100mph.

Good times in Liberty City.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've purchased a Playstation 3.

After intense deliberation, I have purchased a PlayStation 3.

As previously stated, I've been studying for the bar exam, and I've been finding myself incredibly and increasingly bored during my study sessions. The decision to purchase the PS3 was largely motivated by my desire to recharge after the daily rather tedious studying.

I've always enjoyed video games. I've just never committed financial resources to seriously pursue them. PC games increasingly require consumers to purchase expensive graphics cards to run them, particularly if the consumer wishes to enjoy the quality graphics. PC games are also not particularly well suited for playing on the couch in the company of friends and family.

So I decided to invest in a console.

I could not seriously consider the Wii because it didn't really have any games that I was particularly interested in. In addition, the console's hardware was hampering future software developments, and I don't see how it will continue to keep pace with Xbox 360 and PS3 content once Microsoft and Sony produce hardware attachments that actually makes motion-controllers interesting.

Some people have also tried to steer me towards the Xbox 360, but I just couldn't bring myself to buying it. As an initial matter, I do not like the idea of having to annually pay a fee to be able to play games online.

The Xbox 360 is a Microsoft product. In order to get WiFi on the 360, one has to purchase a $99.99 wireless adapter from Microsoft, even though a solid third-party USB adapter can be purchased for less than half the price.

A comparable PS3 retails at a price point $100 dollars more than the 360, however, it comes with a wireless adapter built in (rendering the 360s lower price moot if you want WiFi), a Blu-ray drive, Bluetooth compatibility, free multiplayer support, and better USB support for non-proprietary accessories. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I prefer the exclusives for the PS3.

In any case, stay tuned for updates after I start playing with the console when it arrives.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Perspective on North Korea

It has been over a week since the last post because I've been caught up studying for the bar exam, and it pretty much consumes all of my energy and doesn't leave a lot of free time. So apologies to anyone who previously relied on Legally Irreverent for daily amusement.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been in the news a lot. On May 25, they conducted their second nuclear test. The DPRK also conducted a surface to air missile test.

The international community, including United Nations Security Council, the EU, the United States, and even the People's Republic of China have issued varying levels of opposition/condemnation/rebuke.

I honestly do not understand why the international community bothers with these sorts of condemnations.

The DPRK has a history of defying UN Security Council Resolutions, and responding to public pressure with the North Korean equivalent of the middle finger (missile test, skirmishes, etc).

The North Korean public displays of capability, abbreviated as PDC, usually serve two purposes. Domestically, the North Korean leadership is constantly in a state of flux. Apart from the leadership at the very top (Kim Jong-Il), the members of the military and the ruling elite are constantly struggling for control. Successful PDCs often correspond to a member of the ruling elite/military asserting their position and relative strength, and the PDCs are used as "merit" to indicate the successful management/development of a particular capability by the leadership.

The international community's public rebuke essentially serves to strengthen the position of the hardliners in the military and the party, and also position of the individuals responsible for the PDC.

So maybe it is the international community's intention to strengthen the DPRK ruling elites?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Studying for the Bar examination.

A person wishing to enter the legal profession as a lawyer must be admitted to the bar. There are several ways to gain admission to the bar, the most common being passing the bar exam.

Where did the term of art "bar" originate? Apparently the term originated from the fact that many courts in England used to have an actual physical barrier dividing the public (observing the court) and the litigants in a case. So quite naturally... a lawyer would have to "pass" or be admitted to the bar in order to represent a client.

Anyway - so I have formally started studying for the bar examination. The learning never ends! Woo hoo!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It is done.

Graduation has passed. I am no longer a law student - although I shall remain a student of the law. I have accordingly updated the site banner.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Google Analytics Data!

Legally Irreverent is a happy user of Google Analytics, which allows webmasters to gain insights into their website traffic, readership following, etc...

One of the more interesting tools is the Map Overlay feature, which diagrams the number of visits from each region, country, state, city and paints the map green.

Here is another Map Overlay, this time at the international level.

It is sort of a personal goal to get every state in the United States green. Time will tell if that will happen!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Recipe on Demand: Pork Katsu.

I wish I had a great pork katsu recipe, but all I essentially do is... mix some panko breadcrumbs with sea salt, fresh-ground pepper... hammer the piece of pork until it is nice and thin, toss it with some flour, dip it in the eggwash, and then toss it with the breadcrumb mixture.

Spray it with some cooking spray and bake at 450°F.

I've been reminded by DPLK that a dressing that goes well with this? Yay for fancy sauce.

But I'm eliminating anything that is really unnecessary.

        • onion
        • cup of chicken broth
        • julienne carrot
        • 2 tbsp of white sugar
        • 4 tbsp of soy sauce
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • beaten eggs (3-5)

So saute the onions until they're golden brown, toss in the carrots and saute that until it is soft. Pour in the broth, sugar, soy sauce, and salt. After that has come up to a boil, you can toss in the beaten eggs and watch it cook. After that, throw the cooked pork into the sauce for minute to soak up some of the sauce and eggs and serve.

H1N1 flu virus Redux.

I'm sure everyone is probably already annoyed at the overwhelming coverage mainstream media has been giving the recent swine flu outbreak. What hasn't received as much press coverage is the senseless slaughter of pigs and import bans issued by some countries.

In case we are unclear, there is no evidence that humans can acquire swine flu from the consumption of pork.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian government began slaughtering some 300,000 pigs, as a "precautionary" measure against swine flu. One might then naturally wonder... isn't Egypt a predominately Muslim country? Isn't pork haraam? Why are there even pigs being farmed in Egypt? Well there are about 10% Coptic Christians in Egypt. Because most Christians, by tradition, do not observe dietary restrictions, pork is naturally one of the most economical source of animal protein.

Basically, in the name of "public health," a disparate minority group is going to bear the blunt of the economic impact. The Egyptian government is doing this because of idiotic and stupid leaders and bureaucrats, and/or out of malicious intent. Which is it? Too early to tell.

Other countries, including China and Russia, have began banning pork products from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I suspect whether this is an instance of where some states are using the health scare as a pretext to impose some anti-competitive barriers. Particularly in the case of Russia, which hasn't yet been admitted into the WTO (largely due to the Bush administration), and may be using this as an opportunity to increase multinational incentives for Russia's admission to the WTO.

But even if we took these countries' supposed "health concerns" at face value, who are the health experts making these policies up? If anything, we should be increasing pork consumption and reduce the number of live animals.

The plummeting pork prices is tempting me to make pork katsu and eat it everyday from now until the bar exam in July.

Disclaimer - this is tongue in cheek, it appears at the most current medical updates say that the virus has been spreading between living human beings, and not from live pigs to humans; I am not seriously suggesting that live pigs are constantly transmitting the disease to humans.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

1976 Swine Influenza Outbreak.

The following public service announcement was propagated in 1976 to encourage the US civilian population to get vaccinated for the swine influenza virus.

According to Wikipedia, in 1976, an army recruit at Fort Dix (New Jersey) died from swine flu. Trigger happy public health officials convinced President Ford that every person in the United States must be vaccinated for the disease.

A little less than 33% of the US population voluntarily received the vaccination. Pulmonary complications killed about 25 people, so the vaccine killed more people than the disease did.

I don't want to downplay the potential threat of global pandemics, but seriously? Take a chill pill people.

A little common sense can help mitigate the chances of diseases like the common cold from spreading.

If you feel ill - quarantine yourself, and stay away from other people.
Wash your hands before/after you go to the bathroom, eat, touch your mouth, rub your eyes, etc. Use a paper towel to open the doors because you can't trust other people to wash their hands. Or buy a N-95 mask and wear it.

The picture you see to the right was taken moments before my Constitutional law final exam during my 1L year. I pixelated the poor victim to my left to protect her identity, because after her picture was taken next to an East Asian with a mask, she was suspected to be infected with the SARS.

In reality? I was afflicted with the common cold, and didn't want to cough on the poor soul in front of me and infect other stressed out law students.

Now I realize I could have quarantined myself, but the idea of having to retake Constitutional law was too terrifying and horrific. I also realize that the mask was not approved as a N-95 respirator, but I had the right intentions (and I did reduce the chances of aerosol droplet contamination).

Or you can listen to Vice President Joe Biden, and protect yourself from swine flu by avoiding all centrally air conditioned closed spaces.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Car Ad with Andy Richter & James Adomian.

Unfortunately the final exams are approaching so I have not been able to drum up the necessary creativity to write anything new or amusing.

In the meantime - this will have to suffice.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I am a Fire Starter!

Not literally, OK? So on Tuesday I was dying from boredom (figuratively), and at the urging of a friend, I decided to write a Facebook application titled "Which Pitt Law Professor Are You?".

I published it later in the afternoon, sent it to maybe four friends for beta testing, and by the time I got home later that evening approximately 100 people had already accessed it.

In approximately 46 hours, approximately 414 independent users have used the quiz. I think that it could mean that our law students/graduates really really love their professors, maybe a large proportion number of our law students want to procrastinate from their impending finals, and a lot of law graduates have idle time in this economy... :|

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Funniest/Most Tragic Supreme Court Oral Argument in Recent Memory

Today the Supreme Court heard Safford Unified School District #1, et al., v. April Redding. I usually follow SCOTUS cases quietly and make few if any remarks concerning them. However, the transcript was too good to pass up.

In this case, a thirteen year old student was subjected to being strip-searched after another student accused her of distributing prescription-strength Ibuprofin. One of the legal issues is... does the Fourth Amendment prohibit school officials from strip searching students suspected of possessing drugs in violation of school policy?

In essence - the justices will have to decide whether strip-searching under those circumstances constitute an unreasonable search.

For some justices, what constitutes "reasonable" will possibly be informed by normal human experience. This quickly degraded into hypothetical involving drugs being possibly hidden in underwear, and then whether it was reasonable human experience to have to remove one's clothing in school.

During one particular line of questioning during oral arguments, Justice Stephen Breyer remarked:
"So what am I supposed to do? In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, okay? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear--"

(Laughter erupts in the courtroom), but Justice Breyer resumes:
"Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's beyond human experience, not beyond human experience."

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I think Justice Breyer was bullied as a child when he grew up in San Francisco (or maybe the kids just played a lot of kinky games in the locker room). So folks... tell your kids not to bully kids in school, their victims could one day become an esteemed Justice in the Supreme Court of the United States!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Awareness Months are Dumb.

The proliferation of awareness months have largely rendered them pointless.

For example, apparently April is Alcohol Awareness Month. April is also STD Awareness Month, as well as the National Poetry Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Stress Awareness Month, Community Service Month, Pets Are Wonderful Month, American Cancer Society Month, National Garden Month, Mathematics Month, National Soyfoods Month, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Fresh Florida Tomato Month, National Food Month, National Pecan Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and finally the National Financial Literacy Month.

If you made it to the end of that rambling long meaningless list, congratulations, you are one of the few people who can be properly influenced by these "heightened awareness" programs that are supposed to positively affect your behavior or educate you on a particular topic.

If you do a little digging - you'll find many Congressional awareness months are basically pieces of legislation inserted by members of Congress trying to appeal to a certain demographic/interest group. The interest group then turns around and tells its sponsors that it successfully increased issue awareness by getting the awareness month (and asks for more money). The cycle continues and will continue until we have so many awareness months that no one will take them seriously anymore (if anyone ever did).

Do a Google search on any awareness month you can imagine, and it probably exists.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Drug Induced Indifference.

Aside from the fact that it binds to opioid receptors, I don't exactly know the pharmacology of vicodin. But after having taking it (with a legitimate prescription), I can't say I care.

It is potent stuff. I would describe its effect as... indifference. For the last two days, when the pain of the empty tooth socket was inconvenient or unbearable, I took the prescribed dosage. After approximately 15-30 minutes, I stopped caring.

Now... don't get me wrong, the drug induced indifference was not of the type that will cause me to refrain from dodging a wrench, but it was the type where there was a lack of motivation to do anything my rational brain did not not find... essential.

What is essential? Well it depends on the moment.

I had a seminar paper presentation yesterday, which I had thoroughly prepared for months earlier by researching/writing the paper, and specifically preparing for the presentation several days ahead of time.

The topic? The interpretation of price-delivery terms under the UN CISG.

Under normal circumstances, I would have been slightly to moderately nervous about the presentation. I was giving it before a class of people, including one of the most respected authority on the UN CISG.

I went to the classroom about 30 minutes before class was to begin, plugged in my computer and got the projector setup. I was not indifferent to the presentation - I wanted to do well, but for some reason, I was just completely indifferent the possibility that I could fail miserably and get laughed out of the classroom. I thought... well I've prepared for this, I am as ready as can be - why should I worry about it? What good will my worries do?

Once I regained my ability for reflection and introspection - I had an awakening!

The indifference allowed a level of unsurpassed rational focus on the present.

I suspect vicodin limits my ability to anticipate the future. This is obviously not good when person is operating a motor vehicle, but is quite helpful when the individual is in a controlled environment, where they are expected to execute a well-rehearsed plan/act.

What is the significance of this? Well... it is now my hypothesis that North Koreans are all high on vicodin.

Watch this video - nuff said.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PLA Liberation Propaganda.

It has been a relatively slow day - and being unable to think of anything particularly amusing to write about, I've shamelessly recycled some PRC propaganda for everybody's collective enjoyment.

This is a PRC propaganda poster dating back to probably the 1950-1960s. The mainland girl is holding up a poster (presumably of starving Taiwanese kids) and urging the People's Liberation Army to "liberate" the poor kids living in Taiwan.

Oh the irony... almost as ironic and tragic as the "Great Leap Forward"...

Monday, April 13, 2009

My dental surgeon rocks!

So I've had two teeth that needed removal for the longest time, and finally got around to getting it done.

I walk into the dentist's office - this jovial older lady begins talking to me and we strike up a good rapport (unbeknown to me, she was the surgeon's wife/assistant).

When the surgeon calls me - she follows me in (this was the point when I realized she was probably a staff/employee and not a friendly patient in the waiting room).

After many needle jabs and several minutes of nice banter, the local anesthesia kicked in and my jaw/lip/tongue was gone. After that they started doing what they do - and before I knew it, the teeth was out, I was discharged - and filling a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers at RiteAid.

In any case - I am publishing this short blurb before I take a hydrocodone induced nap in class (I promise it isn't Secured Transactions putting me under).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Privacy Policy Update.

Although readers/editorial board members of Legally Irreverent overwhelmingly voted (click to see results) to allow Google AdSense advertising on the sidebar - I still want to be upfront and transparent about how Google AdSense works.

Above you should see a "Privacy Policy." Basically AdSense figures out the "interest" of this blog - and displays ads in the approved boxed area to the right. Life most websites, there are cookies involved, and unfortunately they are not edible.

This allows me to blog, generate revenues to support my coffee habit, without doing you wrong. Thanks!

PETA's Sea Kittens.

A friend recently told me about PETA's Sea Kitten campaign. PETA's idea is... kittens are cute, so people do not want to kill them. So let's rename fish as "sea kittens" - so that people will not want to kill fish.

There are several problems with the campaign. PETA says...
"Given the drastic situation for this country's sea kittens—who are often the victims of many major threats to their welfare and ways of life—it's high time that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stop allowing our little sea kitten friends to be tortured and killed. Who'd want to hurt a sea kitten anyway?!

Sea kittens are just as intelligent (not to mention adorable) as dogs and cats, and they feel pain just as all animals do. "

Do we really want to make decisions regarding whether or not a creature is killed/harvested/conserved based on cuteness? Really? So is PETA essentially endorsing the view that "physical attractiveness" = "value of life"?

Alternatively, PETA says that sea kittens are just as intelligent as dogs and cats - which also endorses the view that "intelligence" = "value of life".

Under that world view - a human being who has been diagnosed with profound mental retardation (IQ < 20), arguably has less intrinsic value than someone at the statistical mean (IQ = 100). It also implies that a highly intelligent functioning dolphin is more valuable than a human diagnosed with mental retardation.

I once watched a PETA documentary, which was intended to promote the organization. However, instead of promoting the organization, the co-founder, Ingrid Newkirk just came across as a loony.

In one particular moment, Ingrid and her colleagues "found" an animal that they claimed was being sent to slaughter. They brought it back to their office, placed it in a confined office, then turned on the radio to play it some music, and closed the door.

I had an awakening. I think that particular moment captured Ingrid's problem. She suffers from a lack of empathy. You might be surprised at this conclusion, but hear me out.

Empathy is the ability to share and understand another individual's emotion and feelings. Empathy is not compassion or sympathy (which Ingrid has plenty of). An individual may have a high capacity for empathy for another, but still not have compassion or sympathy (for other reasons).

Crudely put - empathy is one's ability to understand another's thought process/emotion. Great communicators have a high degree of empathy. They implicitly understand another individual's through process/emotions, and can tailor their method of communication accordingly.

Ingrid assumes that the animal would appreciate classical music blasting loudly from the radio. She had no way of knowing whether or not the animal in fact appreciated her intervention, but if Ingrid thought it is better for the animal (absent of any facts), it was better for the animal.

It is this incapacity for empathy, that leads PETA to kill more domesticated dogs and cats annually than they save. PETA does not dispute the fact that they kill these animals (just search their website). PETA insists that the animals are un-adoptable, and that their killings constitute an act of mercy.

In 2003, Ingrid wrote a letter to Yasser Arafat to protest the use a donkey in a bomb attack against Israeli nationals. Ingrid did not really care about the potential innocents in either the Israeli or Palestinian sides of the conflict - she took a stance against the bombing because of the donkey. I wonder what Arafat thought when he read the faxed letter.

In 2005, several PETA employees were arrested and charged with animal cruelty in North Carolina, after being caught dumpling dead bodies of dogs and cats at a supermarket dumpster. PETA had apparently been soliciting local animal shelters for the animals, telling the shelters that they would find homes for the animals. Instead? They were "put out of their misery" and dumped at a dumpster.

PETA members have also been known to "rescue" animals from labs. In addition to committing criminal trespass, burglary, ruining years of research and potentially voiding the sacrifice of other animals, and creating potential public health threats, when PETA "rescues" animals from research facilities, if the organization does not have the funds to keep the animals alive, it "puts them out of their misery."

So will I hurt a sea-kitten? Yes. I will hurt a sea-kitten incidental to control their overpopulation (usually occurs when humans erroneously introduce them to new ecosystems). I will also hurt a sea-kitten, incidental to me wanting some yummy protein.

I will consume sea-kittens not because I'm particularly evil (I may be - but I promise I'm not doing it out of evilness in this instance), but because I refuse to differentiate between the intrinsic value of different animals and plants. I am homosapien, I have eight incisors and four canines. Regardless of whether an intelligent almighty created my kind out of dirt, or whether I evolved from other mammals, humans are part of the environment and developed as a part of the ecosystem (for example, cockroaches and rodents have developed around homosapien ecosystems).

I need protein to survive - it can come from fields of crop that displace other animals, or from animals. Either way - my human existence is going to harm the interests of another animal.

Thus, I will eat anything that is sustainable, tastes good and/or beneficial to my health.

Papa Bear vs. The Mustache.

Why can't Fox News always be this amusing?

Geraldo Rivera broke the Willowbrook State School scandal back in 1970s. Since then he has had some bad bad moments - but overall I'll say he owned Bill O'Reilly during this confrontation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The National Organization for Marriage is dumb.

The National Organization for "Marriage" (NOM) [disclaimer: website extremely moronic] is a organization with non-profit status under the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(4). This gives the organization the opportunity to raise funds free of most income tax liabilities for the purpose of political policy advocacy.

NOM claims to "provide political intelligence and donor infrastructure on the state level, with a focus on developing new strategies for increasing influence in the Northeast and West Coast, where marriage is most under threat." In reality? It is really moronic.

The Human Rights Campaign has a "End the Lies" campaign in response to NOM.

NOM has this stupid "There's a storm gathering..." commercial that makes some strange claims... click here to watch it. [disclaimer: commercial extremely moronic]

Oh no my child is being exposed to alternative viewpoints at school! (Uh... you can always talk to them at home? Aren't parents supposed to be the primary socializing for kids anyway?)

Help! my marriage with my wife is falling apart because gay people can get married too! (See a shrink?)

One of the lamest claims made is...

"I'm a California doctor who must chose between my faith and my job."

The statement is a reference to a decision issued by the California Supreme Court last August. In Benitez v. North Coast Women's Care Medical Group, some unprofessional doctors withheld medical treatment to a patient (who happens to be lesbian), claiming that their religious beliefs gives them a right to refuse medical treatment to lesbians. The California Supreme Court, applying Californian anti-discrimination law, found that doctors cannot withhold medical treatment based on sexual orientation.

What does same-sex marriage have in connection with doctors denying treatment based on sexual orientation? With the exception of insidious discrimination, I don't see the connection.

I'm not going to address the legal nuisances because the commercial debates policy, not law.

I don't know about you, but if my profession required me to conform to a group of value sets that I am uncomfortable with, and fundamentally conflicts with my faith, I'll quit.

What sort of person engages or continues to work in a profession where the customs of practice contradicts their fundamental values? If a doctor has a fundamental objection to the medical treatment and well being of patients, should they really be a doctor?

I think we can all appreciate that different people have different values. Consistent with those values, some doctors refuse to perform certain medical procedures that they find objectionable (i.e. abortion, fertility treatment, contraception). OK - I can respect that. These individuals opt out of an entire category of potentially profitable endeavors out of a moral conviction, refer patients to other doctors, and move on. When their profession conflicts with their faith, they choose their faith, and aren't whining about it.

But in Benitez, the doctors are willing to provide the same medical treatment to patients who appear to be heterosexual (I doubt the doctors are actually capable of differentiating their patient's sexuality). Really? Do we really want to give doctors the "religious right" to discriminate against each individual patient based on the doctor's particular sensitivities? And ignore patient's well being?

What sort of lame public policy is that?

What if a fundamentalist LDS Mormon doctor, who has actually read Brigham Young (the second "prophet" of the LDS Mormon church), denies medical treatment to an person of African descent suffering from leprosy? Let's pretend that the doctor believes that persons afflicted with dark skin and flat noses are decedents of Cain (murderer of Able), and that the person's ethnicity and leprosy is punishment from God? Should we really say - oh religious freedom - yah go ahead and deny round of antibiotics?


Do we really want a society where professionals in any trade or practice can arbitrary discriminate against consumers based on race, sex, gender, nationality, sexual orientation?

Do we really want an environment where every individual on the planet who has a personal idiosyncratic viewpoint can redefine their job description?

A white supremacist working in the Peace Corp? Aw damn I'm not helping no brown person.

A volunteer combat infantry who is a pacifist? I'll take government pay but when it comes to deployment I'm declaring conscientious objection?

A firefighter who worships fire and has a fundamental objection to putting it out? Burn baby burn!