Monthly Archives: January 2004

I Like the Fog

Sometimes, when I’m in the fog, I like to pretend that I’m all alone. In fact, I like to imagine that there’s no universe out there. I can keep going and going, but I’ll never reach anywhere, because I am nowhere, in the middle of nothing. But once I hit the oncoming car, I have to stop.

Iraq: Sideshow Saddam (cont)

In a comment to yesterday’s entry, Lloyd said:

“The infinitely huge difference is that Sitting Bull didn’t deserve an ounce of that ignominy, while Saddam certainly would.”

That is a correct and important distinction. I just meant that I got the idea from that event. I did not mention that yesterday, so I wanted to make it clear that I’m not implying that Sitting Bull was on a level of high villainy like Saddam. If you know me, you’ll know I wasn’t trying to say that, but if you don’t… Well, that’s why I’m glad Lloyd brought it up.

Iraq: Sideshow Saddam

From Enduring Vision, my history book: “For a time after his surrender, Sitting Bull suffered the ignominy of appearing as an attraction in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show” (480).

Imagine if, for punishment, Saddam Hussein was subjected to American reality TV show appearances and sitcom cameos. I’m not necessarily advocating it; I’m just imagining it.

[01/28/04 – EDIT: I agree with Lloyd’s comment and clarify my intentions in the following day’s entry.]

Simulacra of Social Experiments

I’ve mentioned before the problem of a lack of testing when dealing with philosophical concepts. History was one way to almost bypass that.

Yet, I failed to realize that we have social experiments going on right now. How do you manage to circumvent the ethical implications? Why, by putting it on television, of course. Reality TV shows are really the closest things we have to current social experiments. Even though they are poorly done, in terms of television, some things can still be learned if they are watched with a certain cynical detachment… maybe… okay, I guess not.

Hey, I have a better idea: Come up with true social experiments, but disguise them as reality TV shows!


Why does Opus get half a page on Sunday?! Is it really that much funnier than other comics (or even funny at all) to deserve more space? No. Actually, I like half-page Sunday comics, I’m just objecting to the fact that only Opus gets half a page (at least in the San Jose Mercury News). I’d love it if other comics got that much space, especially Monty.

Picture: My Heartthrob

Full size

There’s no analysis for the title, this time. I said that I took a blurry picture of my hard drive. Ian misheard, and thought I said, “heartthrob.” So, I named the title after that misunderstanding.

Alright, alright, you can make up an analysis for the title if you want to, anyway.

Animals and Diversity of Emotions

[going to jazz festival today… will post later today, I hope]


Hello, it is later today, and I have returned from CMEA. Our band received a unanimous superior. Scores: 94, 94, 92, and sight reading: 93. I’m happy, even though I completely (and by completely, I mean about 3 notes) f—ed up the trombone soli. In case you’re interested, our set included Red Clay, Skylark (Bob Brookmeyer arrangement), and Count Bubba.

[still more to come…]


I’ve brought up the question of animals and self before, but I came to no conclusions. I think that one measure of self in animals involves the diversity, or range, of emotions capable of being expressed.

I arrived at this by first thinking of why we treat certain animals different than others. We feel more sympathetic to mammals than insects (most of us). Is it because mammals are more similar to us genetically? No, that really wouldn’t make any sense since they’re different species and their genetic propagation doesn’t help one at all. When some mammals are harmed, dogs for instance, one can see that the animal is in pain. There is sight and sound involved. One can hear the whining of the dog. One can see the scared behavior.

Yet, even insects will scatter, confused, when confronted with sadistic behavior from humans. The problem with these creatures is that they don’t convey the sights and sounds. You can’t hear an ant screaming. The ants scatter, but they lack a face. The language of the face is more important than that of the body. It is the primary exhibitor of emotion.

There’s something else about the face. It is not only primary in conveying emotion, but it also can convey a wide range of emotions. What is the ants reaction to everything? To our minds, it simply appears as if they scatter or travel in a line. There is no diversity in their conveyance of any semblance of emotion.

Let’s go back to the dog. We can identify with it better because it conveys more emotions that we can identify with. More specifically, we relate better with the diversity of emotions. The diversity of emotions leads to a diversity of reactions. More complex emotions also lead to more complex personalities (I’ll need to delve more in depth on this specific sentence at a later time.) In turn, each of these personalities react differently to different situations. This is key. The more we see that each individual animal of a species can react different, the more “self” we can judge it to have. It shows more choice being employed, rather than instinct. Less diversity of reactions shows that it’s more likely that instinct is taking over. Instinct shows less reasoning, less thinking. From my thoughts on the first axiom, I can then deduce that because the animal shows less signs of thinking on its own, it therefore has less sense of self.

Individual Converts

For the past couple of months, my hits have been decreasing. It’s easy to tell why when I look at my search logs. Earlier in the school year, I was receiving hits from people searching for the TI-83+ calculator. Pepperidge Farm has quit its pervasive use of the new goldfish jingles. Searches are down, and so are hits that used to come from it.

Yet, what good were these hits? People visited and left. I need to garner repeat visits. This is where my new strategy comes in.

I’ll call this new strategy IC, for Individual Conversions. It’s really just a new method of shameless self promotion. Yet, shameless self promotion was more mass-oriented. People recognized it, but it did not get them to visit. Now, I will concentrate on individuals. I will find a target, and get him or her to visit

The purpose is to establish a relationship with the target of IC. I’m essentially a salesman for my website. A good relationship with the target will gain more repeat visits, just as good customer service at a store will gain more repeat business. Eventually, I can get that person to a stage where they will visit automatically with practically no urging on my part.

Furthermore, by associating with me, as a person, not as a website, it’ll be more likely they’ll spread the word. A satisfied customer will refer others to your service. I want to sell the website along with myself. So, if I’m mentioned, my website will be mentioned, and people will visit.

So, there’s my next experiment, and I’ll keep you updated on how it works out. Eh, don’t be offended if you’re the next target of IC. Remember, the “purpose is to establish a relationship”. And if the website shtick fails, that doesn’t mean I’ll cut off relations with that person (notice how I’ve shifted my language from “target” to “person”). Not everyone will like my website (sniffle).

Iraq: Casualties

I read an article on Bush’s State of the Union address at Yahoo! News. (Why is this the UK Yahoo! site? Because I use the Opera browser, and the default home page is giving me UK news.) I missed it this year. Oh well. When I listened in 2002, they clapped after just about every sentence. I noticed the same thing in Schwarzenegger’s State of the State address (not much to comment on that except it was good in ideals but skimpy in concrete ideas). I never followed politics much earlier than that, so I don’t know if that was a new thing, or what.

Anyway, this stuck out: “‘American taxpayers are bearing almost all the cost — a colossal $120 billion and rising. More importantly, American troops are enduring almost all the casualties,’ [House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California] said.”

Are we really enduring almost all the casualties? I notice in the news reports that it’s not only US troops being hurt, it’s also Iraqi citizens. If the American troops were taking almost all the casualties, why do the Iraqi citizens feel unsafe? Something to ponder, I’m sure.

Propaganda to the rescue, once again! There needs to be more spin on how the terrorists target “collaborators,” also known as an average Iraqi citizen. Try to take out some of their support base.

However, that’s not the whole problem: I’ve read that many simultaneously view the US as good, but as an occupying force. One part of the solution is holding direct elections that allow the people to vote. But let me hold off any talk about elections until any are actually held, or when some interesting news pops up.

On a side note, there were two more earthquakes last night, but none as large as the second earthquake. After the fourth one, I noticed how close my tall lamp was to my bed and wondered how it could hurt me during an earthquake. I moved it.

Because of an “Internal Server Error” there was a double-post. I have to “Rebuild” to get rid of it, but then I get another error. I’ve been having some problems with MT, lately. The error message is pretty generic, so I have no idea how to fix it, as of now. [EDIT: Few minutes later — double-post is gone, but I’m still having problems with MT.]

American Idol and Agnoiology (Part 1)

American Idol is fascinating. What, me, watch American Idol? Yeah. I think you can all guess that I can identify with Simon.

Anyway, it’s funny to watch the people who suck. The fascinating thing is: How can these people believe that they are good singers? This is where agnoiology comes in. Are these people unpleasantly ignorant, or just plain stupid? How can they not hear themselves?

Maybe it should be mandatory for everyone to listen to themselves sing on a tape recorder. Can these bad people watch the episodes they’re on and still think they’re good? I just don’t understand it. Anyone else have any clue?

Oh, and I felt two earthquakes tonight. Around 10:30ish. Second one was bigger than the first. The first was just a jolt. Maybe there’ll be a third one, and school will be shut down. Yeah, I doubt it. But one can dream, can’t he?

Visiting Preacher at MLK Mass

I go to a Catholic school, as some of you readers might have heard before. Last Friday, we had mass. Technically it wasn’t a mass, just a MLK “celebration of peace,” but whatever, it’s the same thing me as an atheist. Anyway, we had a preacher from, I think, Oakland visit us. He was a rather powerful and articulate speaker, I have to admit, even though he pronounced affluent as affluent (just nitpicking). As other people were getting into it, giving “amens” as requested, I still maintained a cynical detachment. Thus, I caught this one point of hypocrisy. I’m willing to bet $10 that I’m the only one in the building who caught it. This reaffirms my earlier entry that hypocrisy arises from ignorance.

Anyway, here it goes. He says that us kids don’t have to live up to the standard that the media and corporate America gives. We should be who we are and be happy with that. Not too long afterwards, he mentions how we should live up to God’s standards. Granted, one set of standards, the one he condoned, was better than the other. Yet, it’s still hypocritical when to say be who you are, then say you should strive to reach a different standard instead. Perhaps this can be reconciled with a technicality, by saying that those standards allow you to live to your true potential, becoming your true self. Whatever, still seems hypocritical to me.

I also noticed a bit of anti-intellectualism, despite the fact that he did go to a good school (can’t remember which one). It reminded me of our studies in AP US history on the Second Great Awakening. One could argue that we are going through a third.

On a lighter note, his hairstyle made it seem like he could sell an ’84 Ford. I mean, he looked like a used car salesman. But, as you can see from my analysis, I didn’t judge him by his appearances (part of the message of that one guy I mentioned in the beginning). Besides, I couldn’t get a good view from my seat. Yet overall, despite my nitpicking on that one point of hypocrisy, he did give a good talk with a good message.

[01/24/03 – EDIT: Added that link to my earlier entry on hypocrisy, so I also took out “(will add link later)”]

One-Way Ticket to Mars

This New York Times article makes a case for a one-way mission to Mars (registration required). It’s a brilliant way to cut the costs of an initial Mars mission. Despite that they’d never see Earth again, there would still be no shortage of volunteers for such a mission. The article also makes the point that they wouldn’t die right away. So, you drop them off. Eventually, you’ll drop off more, and you’ll have a colony built piece by piece. Making one-way trips is the most practical option for human Mars exploration and colonization.

No More Hubble Space Telescope

From Yahoo! News, here’s a report on how the Hubble Space Telescope will meet an early death.

This is the part I consider the worst: “A Hubble mission would have required launching one shuttle and having a second on standby, ready to launch if a rescue was needed, said NASA spokesman Al Feinberg. ‘Tying up two shuttles that way wouldn’t work with the construction schedule for the international space station,’ he said.” So, I ask: What has the International Space Station done so far, compared to the Hubble Space Telescope? Let’s compare the ratios of money to actual scientific output. I’m not saying the ISS is a money-sucking waste, but I just don’t know what it has done for us, so far.

… I need to find more details about the next telescope.

Implications of Nonlethal Weapons

Nonlethal weapons have a lower “use threshold,” meaning that they are more likely to be used more often. Could a war be waged with weapons that don’t kill? The logistics of taking that many prisoners would be horribly unfeasible. It’d be hard to secure any places.

Weapons of mass nonlethal destruction would have different problems. I’m envisioning a weapon that could perhaps put an entire city to sleep, or temporarily paralyze them. This would be especially effective in towns where weapons are produced. Imagine infrastructure temporarily completely shut down. Scary. Though, to be most effective, the weapon would be used simultaneously in multiple cities. Then, one could conceivably just waltz in and capture the leaders.

It’d be just like having nuclear weapons go off, only no one gets killed.

Yet, what happens when these weapons proliferate? Entire economies devastated because people in all the big cities in many countries are temporarily incapacitated. Couldn’t a whole small country be held at bay?

After the success in wars, smaller ones will be developed for civil unrest. Dictators will hold their populations hostage. First, they can be incapacitated, and the later killing is optional. Then, these same populations will be incapacitated again when they are quickly “liberated” by new forces.

Nonlethal weapons are still violent and still carry some of the same consequences as lethal violence.

First Time Driving In Traffic

I got me a little taste of traffic jam, while I was in the driver’s seat. I got to see a flaming car (yes, actually on fire, pretty high too), and then the fire truck block the only route of escape. Hooray for putting the fire out! But once it was out, it still took forever to get the lanes moving again, or at least one of them. If only that third lane was done… alas, it made me late for the oral surgeon. Now, I’ve got little time for homework, thus no entry regarding non-lethal weapons.

Declare Osama Tapes Fake

If cigarette companies successfully combatted the information that smoking causes cancer for years, why can’t we do the same with Osama bin Laden’s purported tapes? Produce propaganda that outright lies, denying that bin Laden ever made any tapes after the war in Afghanistan. There only needs to be a few “scientists” to claim this, in order to produce controversy. As long as there is a perceived debate, people will be apt to believe that bin Laden is dead. It takes some of the “oomph” out of the War on Terror, but, oh well. Actually, if your goal is what’s in the previous sentence, there’s your ticket.

Advantages? Helps calm the American public. Sending out the propaganda now would go along nicely with Saddam’s recent capture. It could also put doubt in the minds of the international community, taking away from his message.

Wisdom Teeth Update

Just to chronicle my experience: I was awake during the procedure. Not fun. Twelve shots, three in each corner, to numb the mouth and the lower jaw. I decided to close my eyes when I saw those long sharp needles that were going to poke me. However, I did get a good glimpse of the blood covered thread they were using to stitch up the holes in my mouth. When they first started with the tooth, I felt like something was going to go down my throat, but the doctor told me that was my numbed tongue. So, it got a little better. The first tooth was the worst — not just because it was the first one, but it was the one with the most pushing. Afterwards, that side was more swollen. I felt lopsided. It got easier to stand as it progressed. I tried to focus on the music (I brought a walkman), but the drill occasionally drowned it out. Having the eyes closed did help with the music. Easier to relax that way, too. My mouth was chomping down pretty hard on that piece propping it open.

So, I get home. I drip blood on the floor without realizing it because my mouth is numb. The gauze is a real bother. The bleeding stops right about the time my mouth starts to regain feeling. Once my mouth started regaining feeling, the pain started. Of course, I didn’t have my pain killer yet. So, my parents went out to get it for me. I think about screaming. Screaming doesn’t actually make the pain go away. It doesn’t make sense. So, why do I want to scream? I think it’s a response to pain to alert others in the vicinity. That way, they can help you. However, humans aren’t hardwired for expected, prolonged pain, where screaming is annoying to others. Anyway, I’m alone, so I decide what the heck. It didn’t make me feel any better, but I couldn’t get my mouth open wide enough for a proper scream.

All I can drink is soup, at that point, which I do, because I must before taking the vicoden. Vicoden is mostly the stuff in Tylenol. Supposedly can make you drowsy and whatnot, but I never get drowsy from medicine. The pain does subside after a while, but it’s still a bother to try to sleep.

The next day is when it got swollen, one side more than the other, as I mentioned before. Then, there I am in my disgusting state, at New Year’s Eve with the extended family, and they want to take pictures. I wasn’t smiling in any of them.

Now, I just want to recover more quickly. I’m getting impatient because when you avoid using your very back teeth, it takes longer to chew. Much longer. And, I want to play trombone. I think I’m just going to tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens.


Happy first day of the year 2004. Loved ya, 2003.

I actually manage to keep a majority of my New Year’s resolutions. It is because my New Year’s resolutions are more like to-do lists, than lists of improvements for general character foibles. I’m going to list mine here, so I can find them next year and comment upon them.

  • Get my driver’s license
  • Learn C++
  • Learn how to solo on trombone
  • Get 200,000 hits in one month at
  • Finish one of my long stories
  • Get both French videos finished (subtitles and commentary, too)
  • Write and film Majestic, the Movie
  • Write songs and lyrics for that fake musical (don’t absolutely need story done yet)
  • Finish the stuff currently on my Coming Soon list at
  • Learn and memorize all of Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2
  • Update more often (the only one that’s more general)
  • Do at least 40 TPVs this year
  • Do at least 12 Majestic comics this year