Monthly Archives: May 2005

Despite Blogger’s Valiant Attempt, Iraq War Not Vindicated

Read the valiant attempt in: “The 18½ Minute Gap“, by a guest blogger on Patterico.

Luckily, I’m not a Yellow Dog Democrat, so I can point out some holes. Like, the false dilemma he sets up. The war may not have been a failure, but we could’ve gone in for the wrong reasons. The Mexican-American War was not a failure by far, but was the US justified in its invasion? But I’ll forgive that. After all, he’s talking about crazy Democrats, right?

This, however, I cannot forgive: “Given how little intelligence we had about that secretive country, the choice was to trust in Saddam Hussein’s restraint and good judgment, or trust in the United States military.” Wait, the reason why we trusted our military is because we had little intelligence?

Without this little piece, the whole article falls apart. The entire article is based on a false dilemma: war or wait for Saddam to develop WMDs. Of course, he assumes that the intent to develop WMDs equals cause for the US to invade. People can intend a lot of things, but if they don’t have the capability to act, then it doesn’t justify using up our military resources, and a whole lot of money, to invade — and occupy! — a country.

My impression is that even with the right intelligence, even if intelligence at the time had said there were no WMDs, he would’ve been in favor of a war. I don’t know about everyone else, but I think war should be a last resort, not a first resort. The fact is, Saddam didn’t pose an imminent threat to the United States, as we had all been tricked into believing.

But wait! What about the Oil-For-Food program?! So, a corrupt UN program is justification for the wholescale invasion of a foreign country? No way, I ain’t buyin’ that.

Because of our failed intelligence, we invaded the one country in the Axis of Evil that wasn’t actually developing WMDs. That, in my books, is not a success.

That said, now that we’re already in there, we must do our best to bring democracy to the region. The ends don’t justify the means, though. If we manage to salvage this mess, it doesn’t justify going to war based on faulty intelligence.

replaced a post-it

You were probably expecting some long drawn out entry, but I just can’t think of anything right now. Instead, I’ll just inform you that I removed the “I think in Post-It notes” post-it from my monitor and replaced it with “my biggest enemy is complacency.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem happy staying there on the monitor. Maybe sitting there makes it feel too complacent, heh.

Senior Ball, Blow by Blow

By popular request…

Goodness, no, I’m not going to write a long detailed description, but maybe I’ll give a little list. It wasn’t knock your socks off fun, but it was a cool night.

  • I got home and spent the day working on my Bible as Lit project, which was supposed to have been finished last night. I can’t work late night anymore, so I had to e-mail it. I spent all my free time that day working on an essay, art project, and reflection.
  • This left me about 10-15 to take a shower, shave, get dressed, find my ID card, etc. Mission was accomplished. I’m good. Except finding my ID card, but I didn’t really need it to get in.

  • Sarah made a garter. I had no idea what a garter was. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only crazy one because it looked like a dog skirt, and she made it out of materials she bought at Wal-Mart the night before.
  • Despite traffic and leaving late, we arrived at Roozbeh’s on time, only to find that Roozbeh wasn’t even there. Practically no one else was on time. Damn Asians. It’s okay, I can say it… I’m half-Chinese.
  • I was really squished in the limo. I took my shoes off.
  • We went to Zingari’s for dinner. On my way to the bathroom, I heard my favorite song, “Angel Eyes,” and then I noticed it was live music — there was a piano player and singer. I really wanted to listen, but I really wanted to go pee. However, when that business was finished, I took Sarah back over to hear them. (She plays trombone just like me.)
  • They were disappointed to hear that Angel Eyes was my favorite song because I couldn’t think of anything else to request. After they played The Nearness of You, I asked for It’s All Right With Me, but the singer didn’t know it, so I asked for My Funny Valentine. After, I think they played Ain’t Misbehavin’.
  • That musical experience tainted the dance. Hip hop cannot compare, but I withstood the onslaught anyway, moving in ways that made me look like an idiot and made me feel so white. Except when “Hey Ya” come on. I refused to dance because that song is played out and I hate it.
  • Oh yeah, on the way in, even though we’d already eaten, I asked a certain administrator for a fry. (Yes, I got one and ate it.)
  • The house was lame and everyone was tired, so Sarah and I left when everyone else was leaving. I thought that would be the end of the night but when I turned on the car, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” was playing, and that kinda woke us up.
  • On the way back home, Sarah and I drove through Niles Canyon. I turned off the headlights at some point. Didn’t see any White Lady, though.
  • So, we’re driving down Mission, trying to find something to do in this lame-ass city, and I ask Sarah what’s open late at night. Sometime after saying Wal-Mart, she says bowling alleys are open late. Now, bowling was the thing I told Jason I least wanted to do after prom. That’s so hackneyed. Well, we had nothing better to do, so I said let’s just drive over there and decide (it was like 5 minutes away). I said, I’m sure that once we get over there, we’ll decide not to go and wonder what we were thinking. Which is exactly what happened. How incredibly ghetto. Fuck Hayward.
  • Only the drive-thru was open for Jack in the Box, and I didn’t actually want Jack in the Box, just didn’t want to go home right away. We ended up not having Jack in the Box.
  • Then, I got the brilliant idea to go to the park. So, that was a fun time. That park used to be super ghetto, but now it looks pretty nice. However, there was a weird noise and we couldn’t tell if it was bugs or the gargantuan power lines.

almost summer

almost there… I can’t wait until summer… I need to start making my gigantic list of things I need to do!

Here’s a start:

  • learn how to play bass
  • play trombone on street corners in berkeley and see how much money I can get
  • create merchandise for The Chalkboard Manifesto

A Cogent Attack on Me

In response to my critique of The Lance Krall Show, ropadope says:

“You’re not the audience. He’s aiming more for people with a sense of humor, not terminally constipated chronic maturbators like yourself. Go back to reporting on the fate of 60-Minutes II and band camp speeches. [line break removed] Riveting!”

Wow, your ad hominem attack was so convincing that I will have to change my opinion on this infantile television show!

And as for the fate of 60 Minutes II… that, my friend, is irony, which is something you won’t find on “The Lance Krall Show.” However, it is something you will find on a vastly superior sketch comedy show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Anyone remember the sketch with the son who’s a coal miner? Ah, comedic brilliance.

As for the intended audience, it is most definitely intended for the coveted 18-35 male demographic, not immature teenagers who think using the word “constipated” makes for hilarity.

I saw ideas in the show that may have been humorous, but Krall failed in the execution. Lance Krall’s friends are not actors (and neither is he). The show suffers because of it.

The Sad State of Webcomic Top Lists

Ah, once thriving communities reduced to what…

buzzComix: It’s been having problems due to coding issues that eat up bandwith. Today, and for a while, this has been the buzzComix website: “Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access / on this server. Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.” The toplist that replaced TWC seems to be no more.

Speaking of TWC, it was eventually owned by new people. I checked on it periodically a while back, and noticed it had assimilated some of buzzComix’s special features. Check out the state of it today: “Over a year ago, we lost the codebehind files for TWC. This was due to migrating between many offices, and it was a lack of proper backup procedures. We’ve known we were operating on borrowed time, as eventually we would need to restore the site and lack the ability. It finally happened on May 10th, 2005. During a regular update, a critical assembly file was lost. The site you are reading right now, was only 40% finished, and very little had been tested.” Hooray for responsibility!

It’s a small world. The next list I mention is by the guy who used to own TWC. This is the state of the semi-recently made Webcomics List: “Friday 13th, eh… I accidently erased some files of WCL and lost changes I’ve made since January (like the customizable voting). I’ll code it back in eventually but yea… that’s about it.”

I find it interesting that they’re all having problems at the same time. I wonder if buzzComix will survive.

Stumbling Block in Personal Consistent Philosophy

In developing my philosophy of self, I’m beginning to make broad connections, starting to build a framework. However, I’ve discovered that what I’ve begun exploring is dependent upon the existence of free will. It seems if free will doesn’t exist, all my conclusions are moot. (What conclusions? I can’t tell you yet, they’re raw and unrefined. When I’ve coalesced more information, then it’ll be suitable for public consumption.) I look back to a giant list of big questions I made one day, and one of them is: “Is there free will?” I wonder if I should just forge forward or address this seemingly unanswerable question. Moreover: Does it matter if we actually have free will or not, as long as we have the illusion of free will? And what of democracy, freedom, and capitalism? Is that dependent upon free will, as well? Hm.

I waited in line how long?

So, I stood in line for hours to see the 12:10 AM showing of “Kicking and Screaming” starring Will Ferrell.

Naw, just kidding. Instead, I saw a movie with marginally better acting. I saw the 12:10 AM showing of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith today. I showed up at the theater sometime between 8 and 9, meaning I waited in line for a helluva long time. And part of that time in line involved rain.

However, it was all worth it! I loved the movie! Way better than the first two! (Don’t worry, no spoilers here.)

[listlog later this weekend]

60 Minutes II Cancelled

Just heard this news: 60 Minutes II has been cancelled. CBS insists that it was a ratings issue and didn’t have anything to do with the fake memos about Bush. Indeed, ratings were down. Of course, one has to wonder: Why were the ratings down?

It’s such a shame when some people can’t connect the dots.

Anyway, my point is…

If at any point you must say, “anyway, my point is…”, you’ve made a mistake. What one says should be relevant to the point. If it’s not all too relevant, why did you say it in the first place? Meandering about without a purpose merely makes people bored, at least in terms of what people are hearing or reading. People ignore everything up to those magic words, wondering, “What’s the point?” If people won’t listen to it, it shouldn’t be said. If people will skip over that portion when reading, it shouldn’t be written. That’s a note to self to keep things focused and to the point.

First Speech

I think that today at the band banquet, I gave my first speech. I’ve given class presentations, done forensics in middle school, debated, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually given a speech.

I have to thank Ian for his advice: People don’t remember the middle of speeches, only the beginning and end. So, I made sure to start with a joke and end on a positive.

Obviously, it wasn’t the best of speeches, but considering all the time I didn’t put into it (ah, did you catch the negative?) because of a hectic schedule, I did okay.

Anyway, it’s the first step on a long road. For all of you who were there, you can one day say, pointing to me on the TV, “I saw this guy give his first speech.”

Saletan Inconsistent on Intelligent Design

Saletan on Intelligent Design, May 11, 2005: What Matters in Kansas – The evolution of Creationism.

Saletan on Intelligent Design, February 13, 2002: Unintelligible Redesign – This is the way creationism ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I don’t understand at all how Saletan can say that Intelligent Design has “evolved” in any way. The arguments they’re peddling in Kansas are exactly the same arguments they were peddling in Ohio. Pluralism, what he calls a more evolved monster (or “creationism’s more advanced Homo erectus phase”) in 2005, is exactly what the supporters of ID were promoting in Ohio, in 2002 — “According to ID proponents, the committee in charge of Ohio’s science curriculum is too ‘homogenous’ and lacks ‘diversity.’ It marginalizes alternative ‘points of view’ to which students should be ‘exposed.'” We even see the same actors: John Calvert was at Kansas and Ohio.

In 2002, Saletan informs us that ID is “non-living, non-breathing proof that religion has surrendered its war against science.” That is hardly the cry to arms he advises in 2005, for scientists to go on the offensive in disproving ID. But why should evolutionists take ID seriously now if there has been no change since 2002?

However, that’s not the real question. The real question is why have Saletan’s views changed on ID. How come “it’s too bad [scientists and liberals] go around sneering, as censors of science often have, that the new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously,” when in 2002, he criticized these same people for being “hysterical” in their response to ID, for taking it too seriously, in essence?

The two titles of his articles sum it up perfectly. How could Creationism be evolving now if it ended in a whimper in 2002?

Saletan Misunderstands Falsification

falsifiable adj: capable of being tested (verified or falsified) by experiment or observation.

In What Matters in Kansas, Saletan plays the anti-intellectual line to a tee, portraying scientists as “sneering” know-it-all’s. Really, Mr. Saletan, ain’t that a little cliche?

Saletan says creationism has evolved, implying that its current incarnation as Intelligent Design is scientific because it “abandons Biblical literalism, embraces open-minded inquiry, and accepts falsification, not authority, as the ultimate test.” [emphasis mine] Yet, then, he goes on to say, “All you’re left with is an assortment of gaps in evolutionary theory—how did DNA emerge, what happened between this and that fossil—and the vague default assumption that an ‘intelligence’ might fill in those gaps. Calvert and Harris call this assumption a big tent. But guess what happens to a tent without poles.”

This is precisely why evolutionists do not “facilitate this collapse.” Using his analogy against him, one cannot knock down a tent with no poles because there are no poles to knock down. ID cannot be taken seriously because it is not scientific, and it is not scientific because it is not falsifiable. It’s not that the “new theory is too radical, offensive, or embarrassing to be taken seriously.” ID is not even a theory in the first place; it’s an assumption, as Saletan himself asserts.

That’s not a sneer on their faces… that’s exasperation.

Corollary to Thinking and Existence

Anyone remember my axiom of self? That line of thinking didn’t go far. However, I’ve been working lately at separate pieces of thoughts, hoping to bring it together into what I like to call an “internal consistent philosophy.” Today, I had a breakthrough — my personal corollary to Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am.” It is as follows: “How I think determines who I am.”

Now, you may not think it particularly brilliant, but it’s actually a very important step in creating an all-encompassing “internal consistent philosophy.” This will be what allows me to connect my axiom of self to how I should live, when I start to think about what determines how I think. Of course, I have no answers to that question yet (How I should live, I mean), but I should be on my way.

Paradise Snooze?

Actually, call me a loser, but I really, really like Milton’s Paradise Lost. Despite the language, it’s fast-becoming one of my favorite books. Or rather, because of the language. Sure, it’s hard to get through, but some lines are just so beautiful that so much would be lost if it were written as prose. I’m especially fond of the chiasmi. The epic truly is a trascendent form of literature.

Milton has created so compelling a character in Satan. How can one not sympathize (to an extent, at least) with his jealousy and pride?Abdiel blunders in his argument to support God, while Satan is the epitome of eloquence. He’s so great that we know that humans will still eat from the Tree of Knowledge even after a warning from Raphael. I wonder how that happens; how can Satan be so convincing?

Observations on Time Dilation

I found this incomplete entry from 9/18/04. I started it, saved the draft, and never finished it. Take a look, maybe I’ll pick up where it left off in another entry:

At the end of the school year, practically everyone remarks, “Wow, I can’t believe the year went by so fast!”

Of course, I would scoff at this exclamation. The year did not go by very fast: The ridiculous amount of work made the year creep by.

I remember distinctly at the end of eighth grade that I felt time was moving just right. I didn’t need it to speed up, so I could get to drive and then grow up; I didn’t need it to slow down, because I was getting ready to at least start growing up. That summer, I attended the Advanced Internet Classroom at ATDP, and the pace of that class drifted at just the right velocity.

Ninth grade messed up my perception of time, and I can trace it to one specific date: 9/11, 2001. No matter how many months we progressed through, I still felt as if I could just peek over my shoulder, and 9/11 would be right behind me. Now, I live in California, about as far away as you can get from New York, in the continental US, and I didn’t know anyone who died in 9/11 — nonetheless, it affected me that greatly…

The Importance of Ignoring

I used a gerund instead of a noun for a reason: I’m talking about the act of ignoring, not the uninformed state of ignorance. I’m beginning to think that part of success hinges upon the ability to skillfully discard unnecessary information.

Ironically, the way I’m going to explain this is through roundabout reasoning. I’ll start with what I can think of, and we’ll see if I eventually get back to my argument.

There is something I like to call The Opposites Game. Ever chase someone in looping-type path (like around a house) and then pause at a corner? Begin to wonder which side they’ll come from next? Take that kind of feeling, and now pretend you’re playing poker. Your opponent is over-acting, as if he has bad cards. Now, he could be doing the obvious and actually have bad cards, but he’s got to be more crafty than that. He probably actually has bad cards and wants the overacting to trick you. Or, he’s planning on you thinking that, and he actually has good cards. Or… you’re too busy playing The Opposites Game to know what’s really going on anymore. Round and round the corner, which way will he come from next?

There’s a paralyzing effect when you get into that infinite spiral of reasoning. Too many choices, too much information prevents us from thinking efficiently. Just look at a menu with lots of choices. Often, I’ll spend a lot of time just looking at it, but never registering any of the information. There’s just too much there. I don’t know what I want. Thank goodness for headings. I gravitate towards the bold print and decide if I want pasta or beef, or something else. One should cultivate the ability to narrow choices down.

Don’t believe that too many choices are bad? Do you think too few choices are bad? Look at In-n-Out’s menu. The menu is so small, yet it’s still successful. Sure, one may chide the lack of choices before ordering, but rarely does one say so after eating. The truth is, who really needs an endless array of variation-burgers?

A glut of information is unnecessary. Let’s think about memorization. You have a test where there are multiple equations to memorize. First of all, the amount of information is paralyzing. Next, it’s hard to recall which equation to use when you have too many of them. Too many because let’s say, hypothetically, that you can easily derive some equations from other ones. Why memorize two equations and the combined equation? What use is that combined equation when you can just solve for things logically?

There’s an advantage in concept-based learning. You learn how to solve variations on problems, rather than problems specific to a certain method. Application v. memorization. Sure, there’s always need for some memorization, but one should learn how to minimize memorization. You can memorize lots of parts and figure out the whole, or you can memorize the whole and derive the parts. Think hard every time about which steps you’ve memorized in a progression, or think about the end product and work backwards using logic? Life becomes easier when you figure out which information is useless and which information is useful. Some people tend to overthink things and read too much into things, and that hurts them.

Let’s go back to the card game, where you’re playing The Opposites Game. Simplify things. You’re not trying to figure out what crazy logic the person is using. You don’t have to completely read his mind and his reasoning. The question is simple: Does he have good cards or bad cards? Overthinking it makes it impossible to answer. When you’re trying to read the person, just take the overall initial impression. Decide whether they have the cards or not, not what they’re thinking about doing. Extra things they do often throw you off. And believe it or not, if they’re playing The Opposites Game too, they probably don’t even know what they’re thinking themselves. How can you read the mind of a person who doesn’t know what he’s thinking? Concentrate on the issue at hand rather than trying playing The Opposites Game.

Could you have done without all my roundabout musings? Yes, of course. And is there more that I should have said? Yes. Could I have clarified things better? Yes. But I’ll leave it to you to do the proper sifting to receive the proper message. Good luck.

College update

I sent in all my stuff, and so, I’m officially going to Johns Hopkins University! It’s in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m really excited to be going to the East Coast.

today was already cool

It’s only 8:23 AM (Hey, I’m a teenager, that’s a very, very early time to get up on a weekend), but today has already been awesome. The coolest thing I did today was jam in the Denny’s parking lot at around 1:00 in the morning with Richard — me on trombone, him on flute. I thought they were gonna shut us down a few times, but they didn’t.

We played for a while. I think we did about 5 songs. We started with some Latin thing. I had figured out the piano riff in Spill the Wine… well, at least the basic notes. Anyway, I was playing that, but I didn’t know the exact melody; so, I played whatever. Then, we did the funk chart. (Yes, I said “the” because there’s a funk melody that we came up with before.) Next, we played… I don’t know how to describe it, other than it was in Bb major… I think. Then, came another song that I have a better grasp of conceptually, but it’s hard to explain in words. Basically, the bass line, you play C-G-(up octave)-C-(back down)-G, and the notes are on 1 and the and of 2. It’s something we were jamming on before one of the musical rehearsals, only I was on piano. Finally, I remember initially thinking about some kind of circus thing. Then, I started playing and it turned into some 6/8 G minor thing. (Yeah, I keep using the word “thing”, sorry.) Eventually, it morphed out of 6/8. I don’t know how that happened.

While we were playing that, Frannie and Sara and some other people came out of Denny’s. Richard and I played “Yeah” for about 10 seconds. Then, we went home.