Monthly Archives: August 2005

Last Day in Northern CA

Today’s my last day at home. Tomorrow, I’m going to Baltimore, Maryland. Soon thereafter, I will be attending Johns Hopkins University.

I pretty much only have two things to say:

1) I will miss everyone.

2) I’m ready.

Alright, and here’s the obligatory list of people I’ll especially miss, in no particular order (and since I’m lazy, I’ll include people who have already left): my sister, my parents, Ryan, Richard, Chris, JTL, my dog, Delora, Daryl, Anwell, Patrick, my car (oh my baby, I’ll miss you so much), Andy, Tony, Emerald, Stephanie, Sonja, Clement, Aaron, Wenschel, Josh, Mary (even though I haven’t seen you in person for hella long), Sarah, and, how could I forget: satellite television. Of course, I’m an idiot, so there’ll be people that I’ve forgotten to list. Which doesn’t mean you’re not special, it just means I’m a tired idiot. And even if I didn’t list you, I will still miss you.

Another Nail in the Coffin for ID

“Amino acids are molecules that come in mirror-image right- and left-handed forms. But all the naturally occurring proteins in organisms on Earth use the left-handed forms – a puzzle dubbed the ‘chirality problem’.

“‘A key question is when this chirality came into play,’ says Uwe Meierhenrich, a chemist at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis in France. One theory is that proteins made of both types of amino acids existed on the early Earth but ‘somehow only the proteins of left-handed amino acids survived’, says Meierhenrich.”

A proponent of Intelligent Design may claim that the chirality problem indicates that there must have been an intelligent designer at work. He looks at a problem, throws his hands up in bewilderment, and says, “Magic.” A scientist will look at the problem and try to figure it out. Lo and behold, Space radiation may select amino acids for life. [Note: Quote at the beginning of this entry is from this article.]

Also note: “In 2000, an experiment showed that when circularly polarised ultraviolet light of a particular handedness was shone on an equal mix of right- and left-handed amino acids, it produced an excess of 2.5% by preferentially disintegrating one type.

“But that experiment was done using amino acids in a liquid solution, which behave differently than those in the solid conditions of icy dust in space. To avoid absorption by water molecules, it was also necessary to use light at a wavelength of 210 nanometres – significantly longer than the peak of 120 nm radiation actually measured in space.”

Again the proponent of ID would say, “Ah-hah! Look, you scientists have no idea what you’re doing. Your experiment is significantly different from real world conditions. You are completely defeated. Therefore, there must have been a designer.”

A scientist looks at the data and designs a new experiment, instead of throwing his hands up in defeat. He may be right, he may be wrong, but at least he attempts to find the truth.

“Now, Meierhenrich’s team has performed a similar experiment. The group shone circularly polarised light at a wavelength of 180 nm on a solid film of both right- and left-handed forms of the amino acid leucine. It found that left-handed light produced an excess of 2.6% left-handed amino acids.”

This looks encouraging. Instead of throwing your hands up in defeat and embracing ID, try giving science a chance. Search for the truth. God gave you a brain for a reason.

[P.S. It looks like I’ve learned from newspaper headlines how to create weblog entry titles. I hope you understand that the title was created to garner attention, while the entry takes a much less aggressive tone. If you leave a comment, address the entry, not the title.]

What Should I Do With This Weblog?

It’s good to have goals in life. Otherwise, you don’t know where you’re going. I’ve already decided that I want to aggressively promote my new webcomic, The Chalkboard Manifesto. This weblog is a little bit different.

With my comic, I’ve found my groove, and I’m confident I have a good comic. I’m not so sure about this weblog. I’ve been updating a long time (longer than the comic), but I haven’t found my groove yet. Then again, it took me five years of webcomicking to finally design a comic that I’m really proud of.

So, no grand designs for this weblog quite yet. I want to work on finding something that works for me.

But what is that something? How can I search for that something if I don’t have any plans whatsoever.

I’ll try to focus on some questions: Do I want to be outrageous? Do I want to focus on politics? Do I want to focus on social issues? Do I want to focus on my life? Do I want to focus on bigger issues?

The answer to question #4 is no. I’ve figured that much out already. This isn’t biographical. It’s only about myself in the sense that I’m developing my ideas through this weblog. I want to develop a public persona.

I want to try to continue to blend talking about politics, social issues, and bigger issues. I’m not sure what I’ll do about other topics, though, like television. Should I just cut them out? Isn’t that part of the social fabric?

The biggest question I want to try to answer in the next month: Do I want to be outrageous? Being outrageous garners a lot of attention. But in the political world, there seems to be a glut of political extremism. I don’t think I want to be outrageous, but I don’t want to be a devout follower of the God of Reason as so many pundits are. They have this false God which makes them smug, which tricks them into thinking they know everything, which makes them non-human.

Most of all, I want people to know that there’s a human behind this. Can I achieve that? There seems to be no way to fight through these endless contradictions.

… unless I become a contradiction myself. Can I be a humble Agnoiologist? In a world where everyone can publish their not so humble opinions, can I refuse to make certain judgments?

I want to take a road less travelled. I want to combat the mythmakers, but I don’t want to be just another David fighting against this “MSM” monster. Because these “bloggers” are mythocrats too. How do I not become a part of that?

In a world where reason has become myth, how can the truth prevail? Am I over-complicating this? If so, then how else can I figure out what I want to do?

All I know for sure is: The answer is that there is no question.

How Bush Can Save His Presidency

Just kidding! I don’t know how he can save it, but I know how he can boost his approval ratings… I mean, something he can attempt in the future:

VETO! Please, show us that you care about domestic issues too. You gave up on Social Security.

Hopefully, Iraq will approve its constitution and have elections. I mean that not for the good of Bush’s approval ratings, but for the good of the world.

languishing in August

I haven’t posted poetry up here much because I want this my stuff to be eventually published. I figured this one was sufficiently mediocre to post on this weblog…

oh dreary summer

i could waste away

lounging in your river of apathy

although the better term for it would be:


dips so long in the nothing

that i forget to eat

forget to live

yes, i should

get up

They do not move.

Cynicism and the Status Quo

Is it just me, or is cynicism starting to become the status quo? Crap. Now what do I do with a name like “Agnoiologist” for my weblog?

Maybe I’ll go for humility. The study of human stupidity — including my own. That’s the ticket.

The World Just Got a Lot More Complicated

Two pieces of breaking news that are related:

Not only do we have to deal with Islamofascism, but Communism is coming back too.

This from the second news article: “Chavez has irritated U.S. officials with his leftist policies, his fiery rhetoric against American ‘imperialism’ and his increasingly close ties to anti-U.S. regimes in Cuba and Iran.”

Cuba = Communism. Iran = Islamofascism. What happens when Communism and Islamofascism joins forces? Who will fight for democracy? Only the US, it seems.

Also this from the second news article: “[Chavez] praised President Fidel Castro’s system as a ‘revolutionary democracy.'” Is this guy delusional or what?

This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for nuclear weapons. We wouldn’t have had to invade Iraq if we weren’t afraid of “weapons of mass destruction.” Let’s face it, WMD is a horrible way of putting it. We’re talking about nuclear weapons. That’s the problem we must solve. We wouldn’t have the problems we’re having in North Korea if it wasn’t for nukes. We wouldn’t have the problems in Iran if it weren’t for nukes.

The Green House

Portion of a dream from last night:

I wasn’t sure which way to go: left or right. I went left, rounded the corner, and ended up in an odd green room. It was a normal, albeit large, room, only the decorations had at least some type of greenish hue in them. The room had a very emerald or jade feel.

It was not, however, where I had intended to be. I apologized profusely to the people in the room, a few older people: I hadn’t meant to intrude, and I accidentally went the wrong way.

I was about to turn around when something compelled me to comment on the decorations. I said I liked the interior design of the room, especially the green feel, very much. I was sincerely complimenting them because the room truly did look beautiful. At that point, I noticed some people doing work in the back, and the room wasn’t quite completed. I quickly tacked a “even though it’s not quite finished” onto my compliment without missing a beat… rushing, in fact.

My stream of talk was interrupted by someone in the room, thanking me for the compliment, and waving his hand, saying, “Come, come, join us for dinner.”

There must have been some sort of trace of reluctance on my part, but I don’t remember any. I join them. The food’s delicious. Somehow or another, other people I know are there. After we leave, I say it’s a good thing I decided to compliment them on their room, otherwise we never would’ve had this delicious food. Hooray for seizing the moment.

I’m reminded of a comment I made a while ago to Ryan. There was this rather nice looking house/castle, but the color the house was painted was just horrible. I said that I wanted to ring the doorbell and tell the owners that their house was painted a horrible color.

“Everyday’s an adventure,” like I always say. (No, I don’t always say that, but I have it written down on a post-it.) However, upon waking, I am faced with this question: Is acting on random urges the same as seizing the day?

Verbing: What Your Company Needs!

“I’ll search for that term with a search engine.”

What’s wrong with the above statement? Technically, nothing. The problem is that no one talks that way. Try this one:

“I’ll search for it on Google.”

Hm… there’s still something wrong. No one says that, either. Last try:

“I’ll google it.”


These days, the measure of success is if your product/company is a verb. Verbing a company name makes it ubiquitous.

“I’ll record this show on my digital video recorder.”


“I’ll TiVo this show.”


Think about it. If this word did not have the ability to be verbed, the makers of TiVo simply would not be as famous. “I’ll record it on TiVo.” You might as well say, “I’ll record it on my VCR.” The word enters the language, but it doesn’t enter your consciousness.

When your company’s name is verbed, it means your company is one of action. It’s not something people use; it’s something people do! And that, my friend, makes all the difference. People like to think they’re doing something.

However, aren’t there other ways to make your company name ubiquitous? Well, no, not really. There’s the McPrefix route. McJob, McDiet…. Yet, we don’t have WalJob. If you can think of a prefix, by all means, go for it, but we don’t live in a prefix world anymore. We live in a world of acronyms and verbs. (Although acronyms may be becoming passe with the onslaught of GSAVE.) I can’t think of any other company with the ubiquitous prefix. It’ll be very, very hard to break McDonald’s stranglehold on the prefix.

That’s why I suggest the verb. Verbing words is what all the hip kids are doing now. Of course, verbing existed before, but the internet age made it cool. Verbing really works with electronic/digital products.

Another route is the ubiquitous noun. Kleenex is trademarked. Band-aid is trademarked. Yet you hear these words more often than tissue and bandage.

However, we now live in a service industry — in the digital age. You’re not making products that will replace what we normally use. It’s just not going to happen anymore. If you’re making a new company, you are most definitely making something people do, not use. That’s why you need to verb.

Don’t believe me? Does anyone remember the Segway? Do you know why the Segway failed? It’s because they didn’t attempt to market their product as a verb! It was the next big thing. It wasn’t something you do. It was just another disappointing toy.

Segway was perfectly verbable, but there was a tiny little culprit in the way: The. The Segway, it became. If they the your product, you are dead. It’s their own fault, though. It was the Segway Human Transporter. They tried to make it cool with the HT, but it didn’t work. Verbing is what’s in. Unfortunately, the visionaries weren’t visionaries in linguistics.

So, all you budding entrepreneurs: Remember, make sure your company name is verbable, and can’t be thed, if you want to really succeed in the 21st century.

I’m Thankful for Cindy Sheehan

I completely disagree with her, but I’m thankful we live in America, and she can do what she is doing.

Imagine a woman in Iraq whose son disappeared. Do you think she could have camped outside Saddam’s palace and demanded a meeting? Do you think the media would have covered it? She would’ve been killed, on the spot.

That’s why I’m thankful we live in America.

That’s what her son died for. I don’t know if Ms. Sheehan thinks it’s worth it, or not, but the dream for Iraq is to make it a place where other mothers can do what she is doing right now.

Even if you don’t think we should’ve been there in the first place, we can’t pull out now. Even if you don’t think democracy was one of the reasons we invaded, it must be now. We must have faith in our soldiers and especially the Iraqi people, even if you don’t have faith in Bush and his administration.

A Chapter’s End

Seeing my friends begin to leave for college is almost as painful as watching Adam Carolla try to be funny. No, but seriously, it’s the end of a chapter in our lives. When school ended, I was so happy, I never considered this. It was like the year 2000 in the 90’s… it’s always there, but it’s so far away. It’s only now when people start leaving that it hits me. Not only that, but shit… we’re already halfway through this decade. Joking about Y2K is joking about something that happened five years ago.

I know there’s always winter break, etcetera, but I get the feeling that when we come back, we’ll be completely different people. These idyllic days are over. For some reason, I feel like I’m never seeing these people again. Or worse, they’ll only merit a fake, “Nice to see you again.”

When I moved back to California from Colorado, I learned a valuable lesson: You can never go back. I don’t know if any of my friends have learned that lesson yet, or if I’m over-reacting to that lesson.

*    *    *    *

Last Saturday — Sunday really, it was 2:00 — the full weight of it began to be realized. That time I spent on the couch, watching 3 hours of television, was a ritual that was coming to an end. The shows will still be on, the same people will exist, the couch will still be there, night and day go on, but that little slice of time, turning off the TV after an all-out session, is gone forever. Waking up with a foggy mind and squinting eyes, stepping over the dog… that’s gone forever too.

Memories are meant to be fleeting. The good times I had with my friends, of course I’ll remember those. But those are in the past now, and they’ll remain in the past in the future. The little rituals are the things that will kill me.

Brushing my teeth in front of that piece of crap mirror… Seeing a light go out when I drive home after a day of fun that went well into the night… Having the opening of a door accompanied by the happy patter of my dog’s feet on the hardwood floor… Skipping that one step that creaks… Complaining every time my mom drives my car instead of hers… Wandering between the boredom-fighting trifecta of the computer, pool table, and piano… Sitting here, in this chair, typing in my weblog… These little rituals are what I will miss the most.

*    *    *    *

So, maybe it’s not the fact that you or I will change. Maybe it’s not the fact that we won’t see each other for a long time. It’s our little rituals that will change. The things we don’t even notice that we’ll miss the most.

Playing in the band, getting the heat from Newton, after he told us what he had for lunch… Receiving a phone call, not knowing if the person on the other end has something big and crazy planned, or wants you to think up something to do… Random missions to find things like Nintendo adaptors… Whining about an assignment on AIM in the wee hours of the night instead of actually doing it…

Maybe you’ll still do some of these things, but never in quite the same way. It’s not that it will all disappear. It’s that you can recover slices of it, but it will all never fit together the same way it did before. That’s what I meant about never going back.

Maybe I’ll be in the same position. Opening the door after a late night with my high school friends, I’m greeted by my dog. I plop down on the couch and watch an hour of Adult Swim, reruns from last summer. After it’s over, I go up the stairs, making sure to skip the step that creaks, to brush my teeth in front of that piece of crap mirror. There might even be the same colored cup I always used. But something’s not quite right. It doesn’t feel the same. My room is a stranger’s room. The sheets are nicely tucked in… perhaps a habit I pick up in college. Everything’s a little bit dustier.

Do you understand how I feel now? I’m nostalgic for now. Only now is quickly becoming the past. Look, it’s already 2005. And just yesterday, I was wondering if the year 2000 would ever come. The cruel numbers keep moving ahead as the world changes around you. Maybe the 00’s are a sequel of the 90’s, like I often joke, but the sequel’s never the same as the original. Just as I can never go back to 1999, back to the old millenium, I will never be able to return to this chapter in my life.

Able Danger Mythmaking

I’m almost halfway through Bruce Schneier’s Beyond Fear, a book about security, and it’s already changing the way I think about security. When I read about Able Danger, I instantly thought, “But what about the trade-offs?” The pundits talks about the claim that Able Danger identified one of the 9/11 terrorists. They say it strengthens the case for data mining.

Now I see why after Beyond Fear, it says, “Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World.” The Modern Mythocracy doesn’t know anything about Able Danger. The pundits have no idea how many non-terrorists Able Danger tagged. They have no idea what a rogue agent could do with this information. They have no idea what additional risks data mining could present. All they see is one bit of information. They don’t know if the trade-offs are worth it.

Instead of thinking sensibly about security, they spin a myth, telling us that data mining is the magical anti-terror panacaea that the government is hiding from us. Now, I don’t know anything about Able Danger myself. However, I’m not going to make up a myth about it. I’m not going to tell you that that particular venture in data mining is not worth it. I don’t know one way or the other.

You should read Beyond Fear, instead of the latest pundit’s myth on what they think will make the nation more secure.

Quote of the Day about Democrats

Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly makes a post listing possible answers to the question, “What is wrong with Democrats today?”

I believe commenter craigie has the right answer: “What’s wrong with Democrats is that you don’t see any conservative bloggers asking what’s wrong with Republicans.”

That is too funny.

Of course, there are people on the right who criticize the right. However, this is normal debate on certain issues and personalities. Republicans don’t assume there is an inherent flaw in their party ideology/branding. Or worse, in the American people.

The Democratic Party’s weak point is the War on Terror. Stress terror, not populism. Populism is dead.

John Roberts

I have to admit that despite all I’ve read in the newspapers and online, I don’t know anything about this guy John Roberts. So, I’m not going to give an opinion on him.

I am, however, still going to say a few things. First off, I’ve read a lot, and I think it’s ridiculous that I don’t know anything about him. I mean, he’s supposed to be a reliable conservative, but I don’t know where he stands on anything. All I know is that he was a lawyer just representing the views of his clients… interpret what has happened in the way that puts this nominee in the best light.

I want someone on the court who will limit the government’s powers. I want someone who doesn’t think the 10th amendment is worth diddlysquat. Before, I wanted Kerry to win because I was afraid who Bush’s nominees would be. I listen to Scalia and hear the wall between church and state being torn down. Our laws should be based on the Constitution, not one judge’s narrow views of Christianity. However, I’m willing to let the Ten Commandments stand in courtrooms if it means pushing back the trend of giving the federal government way too much power.

I want a judge who’s not a strict constructionist, but someone who will respect the governmental principles upon which this country was founded. Like federalism.

Principles that deal with government, I must emphasize. It’s not up to the court to impose morals or religion upon this country. The court’s only moral duty is to protect the rights of the every citizen, whether they are of the minority or majority.

Will John Roberts do any of that? I don’t know. I should trust my president and my senate to judge this for me. But I don’t.

Changing Your Mind (Post-It)

I put this on a Post-It note recently:

“We live in a world where changing your mind makes you a liar.”

I was inspired by a commercial on Fox News. I think it was Sean Hannity (I don’t like that guy) blabbing about some politician, it might’ve been Ted Kennedy. He had two video clips, which probably contradict each other. Of course, in one of the clips, the politican looks much younger. Hannity asks the viewer, “Has [so-and-so] changed his mind?”

I make no judgment on the politician or Hannity. However, Hannity asks the question as if changing your mind is a bad thing — as if changing your mind is equivalent to hypocrisy.

Perhaps he asks it sarcastically. Perhaps he asks it in earnest. Still, we live in the age of “gotcha’s.”

With the current information glut, people can glean politician’s responses to everything. They can cull quotes from video, audio, and text, looking for the tiniest incongruity.

Portraying Kerry as a flip-flopper worked so well that now we have to try it out on all our enemies. No longer can anyone change his or her mind due to evidence. Any change in position is seen as political expedience.

However, you can’t blame it on any one group. You can’t blame it just on the right-wingers. Politicians do change their mind because of political expedience. Yet, you can’t blame it on the politicans for their enemies taking this overboard. You can’t blame the people or the media for perpetuating it.

Moreover, there’s no easy fix. How can you tell when a change of heart is genuine? Should we not expect our leaders to have well thought out opinions?

The second question can be partially answered. The world changes too quickly for anyone, even our leaders, to be perfectly consistent on everything. Sometimes, world events force us to change our opinions. 9/11, for example. Sometimes, new information comes out that forces us to reevaluate our positions. Geocentrism was just as valid as heliocentrism until evidence piled up against the former. We shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations of our leaders, or potential leaders.

I think that’s what the information age has brought us to: We have unrealistic expectations. The information glut has become our new false idol. It gives us false confidence, making us think we know more than we really do just because we can use Google. “If I can find this out in a few seconds, why don’t you already know it?” we seem to wonder.

Information is not an immobile god. It changes itself; it evolves. If the information changes, then I think we should accept that people can change.

The next time someone tries to play “gotcha” with politicians, don’t buy into it. Don’t perpetuate a culture where changing your mind is equivalent to lying. It will not stay in politics and seep into every facet of our lives.

Haha, okay, not every facet, but be wary.

Intelligent Design is Bullshit

I heard that Bush talked about Intelligent Design. I figure now’s an appropriate time to give an opinion.

I’m not going to mince words here. I’m not going to be politically correct. Intelligent Design is bullshit. Intelligent Design is neither religion nor science. There is no “debate” about Intelligent Design. That is bullshit too.

Intelligent Design is demeaning to science and demeaning to religion. Intelligent Design pretends that religion isn’t good enough and dresses up itself in pseudo-scientific language in order to fool the public. Intelligent Design pretends that the people are too stupid to know that religion and science are two separate things and that each have their place in this modern world. Religion is about faith. Faith has its places, but the science classroom is not one of them.

Intelligent Design is blasphemous. Science is testable. If ID were science, which it isn’t, it would attempt to test God. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6.16). Science is not so bold. It only attempts to explain the universe in human terms. As to the question of God, science cannot say that there is no God, only that God is beyond its realm because God is incomprehensible and undefinable. That’s where faith comes in, not Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design purports to know God.

Of course, the proponents of Intelligent Design will say, “No, we do not attempt to know God. We’re saying that evolution can’t explain everything. So, there must be an Intelligent Designer, or even Designers.” And that, my friends, is bullshit. It’s bullshit in a science classroom. And it’s bullshit religion. Intelligent Design doesn’t say anything.

Can’t you see? Look at the langauge the proponents of ID use! Intelligent Design has no regard for the truth. Intelligent Design is therefore pure and utter bullshit. Intelligent Design doesn’t care about God and it doesn’t care about science. If taught, it will dilute both.

Do you want your children to be taught something that has not a care for the truth?

Sometimes you can have it both ways

I recently read Fred Kaplan’s We Can Leave Iraq by 2007 article in Slate. It discusses pulling our troops out of Iraq, not because it’s a quagmire we’re about to lose but “to force the Iraqi government to start taking their sovereignty seriously.” It reminds me of William Saletan’s article from June 28: Stand Aside: It’s time for welfare reform in Iraq, arguing that we need a withdrawal time table in order to let the Iraqis begin to take care of themselves. Only this time it’s really going to happen.

How is the left going to portray this? Of course, to them, it’s a plot to win the midterm elections. You know what? Maybe it is. Yet “it also has the virtue of being a good idea,” as said in the article. So, you will hear the Democrats vociferously complain in the media, but they’ll still go along with it. Once again, they’ve been outmaneuvered by the Republican Party. The Republicans get to have their cake and eat it too, while the Democrats are left cluelessly rationalizing why they have no cake at all.

This is the right move for Iraq. The so-called “insurgents” will cease to be battling an occupying force and will be seen as attacking the new, legitimate Iraqi government. The movement will fall apart once it lacks any sympathy from the common people, who want democracy, and the foreign terrorists will be seen as just that, not “insurgents.”

Fuck you, Union City

I take 7th street because you put up fucking cameras up all over Decoto. So now, you lowered the speed limit on 7th street. Not only did you lower the speed limit, the beginning of the road is now 25 mph. For less than 100 ft, I swear, it’s 25 mph. You know that’s just there so you can set up speed traps. Well, fuck your speed traps and your cameras. I’ll take fucking Whipple. Why doesn’t Caltrans take a break from that and spend some time finishing Mission?