March 2004 Archives

Gadget Introspection


The BBC had an article about one of my favorite subjects of discussion: obsolescence of gadgetry. In the article, BBC seems to define obsolete as being synonymous with "fashionably uncool".

Basically my rules regarding technology are as follows:

  • avoid buying things labeled as being "personal" or "portable" or "mobile", as it will be replaced by a newer, smaller, better model which costs less.
  • anything which advertises with numbers (i.e. 600mhz, 32MB, 4x, 2.1 megapixels, 60 hours) will become the low end model eventually.
  • with the newest tech, expect to pay a premium. It's usually easier on the pocketbook to wait.

I'm not a Luddite, but I'm not a technophile either. I'm something in between, although I'm definitely more skewed toward technology-friendly side of the spectrum.

Final Fantasy XI:


Whenever I go to something like GDC or E3, I'm always inspired by all the great things people are creating in the games industry. One of the games I had been looking forward to came out earlier this week: Final Fantasy XI, which is an online-only game.

buy-in: the amount it takes to secure a player

Traditionally, console games have very little buy-in -- the customer purchases the game, pops it into their PS2 or GameCube or Xbox, and they start playing. Once in a while the player may encounter a splash screen or a cinematic, but it's nothing world stopping.

The PS2 game Final Fantasy XI has a buy-in of epic proportions -- longer and more expensive than any other MMOG on the market.

a full day

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When you've only had a few hours of sleep the night before, your body begins to function in strange ways. I was late again to my morning class and my mind was really fuzzy throughout the period. I went to game dev conference today, which i'll write more about them i'm less tired. needless to say, about 3 pm, i started to feel dizzy and faint. i managed to survive, but i really could use sleep now.

Food for Thought


Dangerous Dye Levels found in chicken tikka masala

This is the UK, so just keep that in mind if you ever travel there. In the U.S., one of the dangerous dyes is banned, so we don't need to worry, and as in all things, I'm convinced too much of anything will end up causing cancer.

A while ago, I posted about The Lord of the Peeps. Here's some photos of a prank that's worth a peep... I mean peek =)

I think Peeps are amongst the most disgusting and foul synthetic food products ever manufactured, and I'm all too happy when Easter is over and they disappear until the following year.

I don't think the Peep Room is as cool as the office plastered with Post-Its.

20/20: 10 Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity


Normally, I don't watch 20/20, but I was watching my TiVo of Alias and they had a commercial of this week's 20/20 on ten popular myths. Most of them were phrased in true/false style, and definitely not as cool or fun as Mythbusters.

Most of them are pretty common sense. The number one myth was: Are you safer driving an SUV than a car? Of the people surveyed on the 20/20 website, 67% said yes, 33% said no. They set up a Chevy Trailblazer (SUV) vs. a Chevy Malibu (Sedan) on a test track (the Consumer Reports test track).

The three main reasons why it's not safer than a car:

1. False sense of security

2. Manueverability

They tested it on the race track to test avoidance, steering and body roll. They just kept doing the tests at higher speeds until it failed the test. The sedan failed at 53 mph, while the SUV failed at 40.

3. Rollovers

There are few rollovers, but more deaths per rollovers, and the 3 times as likely in an SUV to die than someone in a car.

I really dislike SUVs. Interestingly enough, I'm finding that some of my friends tend to be more pro-SUV they older they get. If I had a family, I would get a minivan, not an SUV.

Just yesterday a friend of mine cited that he wanted to buy an SUV for his family. His reasons:

  • it felt safer, because you can see further, and you sit higher.
  • it can carry more people
  • it has more powerful engine

Try as we might, we couldn't convince him to get a minivan or a station wagon.

I have another friend who wants to trade in his Acura TL for a SUV. He believes that as long as you buy one of the newer ones, they are safe. I couldn't get him to budge on it either, and this saddens me.

I'll go over the other nine in the extended entry.

Astronomy News


NASA supposedly has a huge announcement tomorrow -- even bigger than their previous announcement of the discovery of water. I have a feeling that it'll be confirmation of fossilized life.

On the moon, there is a
mountain of perpetual light. Scientists have said it'd be the perfect place to build a moonbase, since the temperature variations would not be as bad.

China has announced they will be launching rovers to the Moon, eventually landing a man on the moon in 2020.

How to admit failures and reject successes


Berkeley's track record of admittance sketchy

I don't really think about admittance to the university anymore. The days of SAT prep and AP classes seems like a lifetime ago. Right before I graduated from Cal, affirmative action was supposedly abolished from the admissions system.

The article is a criticism of the UC admission process from a member of the Board of Regents.

Rainy Days Ahead

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The rain will be returning. It's still really gray out, but it hasn't started to rain yet. I've felt tired all day, and I really could use another day to just sleep in and read (but then, I always do).

One of my co-workers just returned from the Cayman Islands and brought the office a Rum Cake from the Tortuga Rum Co..

Brain Power

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Everyone has heard the statement that humans only use 10 percent of their brains and that a large portion of the human brain is unused. It turns out that we do use more than 10 percent of our brains.

Politics and Ideals


Chen wins the election, but Lien demands a recount

I think that if Lien really had issue with the election being held so soon after Chen's shooting, he should have mentioned it before the election took place. Right now his actions just makes him look like a sore loser.

After reading about Chen's life, I got the sense that this is a man who is a survivor, determined to stand up for his beliefs, and take responsibility for the consequences of his actions. If anything, his actions in the past have shown that he does not act out of impulse or emotion, but takes care to examine the possible outcomes. Instead of just using his own party's political platform, he wanted to bring in opinions from the other parties to try and create brainstorm sessions on how to deal with the affairs of the state. I wish more American politicians took the kind of social responsibility that Chen exhibits, and interest in creating harmony amongst the political factions instead of just safely sticking to the party line.

Another Near Miss


100-foot asteroid narrowly misses Earth

I guess what I find amusing about this article is that it was posted to their site 28 minutes before the closest approach. Meaning, if someone had miscalculated, you would have had 28 minutes to say goodbye, if you happened to see the story as it went up...

Eternal Sunshine


I didn't hear about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind until yesterday while I was driving home on the radio. Before the Truman Show, I really really hated Jim Carrey's movies. The premise is interesting -- what if you could selectively erase your memories? I haven't seen the movie yet, but the screenplay is by Charlie Kaufman, which will mean that at the very least, one can count on it being intelligently written. Jim Carrey plays a man who chooses to have his memories of his tumultuous relationship with his ex-girlfriend erased.



Yesterday was my 29th birthday. A big hearty thanks to everyone who took the time yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. I'm really blessed and thankful to have such wonderful people in my life. I don't actually think of myself as 29. Maybe it's because of all the birthdays that I've sort of not celebrated ;) but I don't feel the age, not yet anyways.

My birthdays tend to be uneventful, which is actually what I prefer, to the chaotic we live in that is the present.

Last year, on the day after my birthday, was the day that Iraqi offensive began, and yesterday as my evening drew to a close, I learned that the Taiwanese President and Vice-President were shot. I think that politicians need to learn that they should never ride in a convertible, no matter what PR might say. So the last two birthdays have been rather memorable in the news of the world, reminding me of some the things that I dislike most in the world: violence. hate. war. This of course, is counterbalanced by the love, friendship and family that I encounter and experience in my daily life.

2.5 cents


Canadians get a new $100 dollar bill

I was surprised when I first encountered Canadian paper money. Growing up in the United States, you get used to feeling a certain texture for money, but the instant you touch foreign currency, you instantly sense it's different. I remember using some U.S. dollars to pay for something in Canada (The place took both US and Canadian currency, and although I don't recall what exactly I was purchasing, but I do remember the look the merchant gave me, which was one of doubt and confusion).

I'm impressed with some of the security features they've built into the Canadian $100 -- the holographic stripe, the UV printing, the light refracting watermarks. What further surprises me is how cheaply these added security features cost. The old Canadian $100 bill was 6.5 cents to produce, and the new one 9 cents. I'm also impressed by the fact that they made Canadian money more user friendly to the vision impaired and blind by adding raised dots.

Are TiVo's Days coming to an end?

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I, Disappointed


I just watched the trailer to I, Robot, and I am greatly disappointed. I'm surprised that the Asimov estate allowed this movie to be made, since it appears to be something that goes against all the principles that made him create "The Three Laws of Robotics" in the first place.

Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?


Since I'm in a quasi-political, thinking about the world kind of mood...

Here's a list of
Pinky and the Brain's plans to take over the world

While you're at it, and since this is St. Patrick's Day, here's one of the great mysteries of Guinness explained.

Of Bureaucrats and Politicians

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Pay to be snooped by the government

I guess this is America's express screening plan, which I think is dumb. There's no way to make things perfectly safe, and we're wasting our time and 5 billion dollars a year doing so. There's also the report of airport screeners still letting bombs through. Until we can get screeners to nab the bombs everytime, I don't think we should be trying to hurry people through. Want proof that the government can't handle background checks? How about the 18,000 airport screeners who weren't? If they can't be bothered to run background checks on the people who check your luggage, do you think they'll have the time to check your background, or that guy who just walked through the gate?

Since September of 2001, how many terrorists have we captured in our nation's airports?

Cheney calls U.S. support of Iraq "unshakeable"

A hotel in Baghdad in Iraq has just been bombed, and the quote the media gets is from the Vice-President, who basically makes the pledge of U.S. support in Iraq. Does anyone else find it curious that it is the V.P. (who isn't on the election ticket this year) making this statement, and not Dubya? Only two words I can think of for this rare public statement from Cheney: Election Year.

If Bush said the same statement, and then later pulls the troops out in June/July as some political analysts are predicting, then his earlier statement could be used against him. By having Cheney make the statement, he can deny that statement and make the claim this was the plan all along.

St. Patrick's Day


Growing up in America, I never knew the history of St. Patrick's Day, or why unlike other holidays we didn't have the day off from school for it, or why we had to wear green or we'd get pinched.

Of course I realized later that the reason was because the man was a saint, a religious figure, and in this country, with the clear separation between church and state (yes, that's sarcasm), we don't officially acknowledge religious days as a national holiday. Like so many other things that we celebrate in this country, I found myself amazed that I only knew the commercialized holiday, and not the real one.

By the way, that whole driving snakes away thing? Total blarney. Ireland was separated from the mainland during the last Ice Age (when it was too cold for snakes to survive on Ireland), and people didn't bring snakes to Ireland (via ships and planes) until modern times. New Zealand is also snakeless, and as far as I know, doesn't have a patron saint taking credit for a natural process.

Signs of Life


I don't really know how to describe Signs of Life.

The website calls itself "Photographs of signs that transcend their objectivity to reveal our humanity", which I guess is as good a description as could be.

More on Hybrids


Hybrids to become more common

I was actually going to post about this yesterday, when the Toyota Camry hybrid arriving in 2006 was still just a rumour. Because the Accord and Camry are the market leaders in the midsize sedan market (third place is I believe, the Ford Taurus), having hybrid versions of these midsize cars is a wonderful option. However, with hybrids costing 5 to 6 thousand dollars more than a similarly equipped model, will they be as popular?

Interesting EQ factoids


For the 5th Anniversary of EQ, Sony releases some horrifying statistics. Among them:

  • EverQuest averages about 250,000 new subscribers every year. Currently, there are more than 420,000 people playing the game.
  • At peak times, more than 100,000 people around the globe will be playing EverQuest simultaneously.
  • More than 1500 servers run the world of EverQuest, which is the equivalency of one of the world's top 100 supercomputers. More than 18 miles of wire and cable connect all these boxes together
  • Total play time for all current players in the game equals more than 184,000 years.

184,000 years. Over the last 5 years, 2.5 million people have spent 184,000 years submerged in this modern-day computer game entrapment. And there are still 420,000 people waiting to escape.


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I really enjoy driving my car, I do, but over the last two and half years that I have owned it, I have had some really bad luck. In an effort to excise some of my bad car karma, I'm changing the license plate number.

I never really thought about it much, but the last 3 digits on my car are quite inauspicious -- the number 624 in chinese sounds like it means 'road, easy death'. or, if you take the cantonese meaning, 6 or 'luhk' sounds like the word for 'deer', which is the symbol for longevity -- so the 624 in that case becomes "long easy death"... Of course, not only do i have a 4 at the end of my plate, but my plate starts with a 4 as well -- beginning and ending in 'si' or death.

This morning, I put in a request for a personalized plate, with some Chinese lucky numbers. Hopefully the plate will get here soon, and the karma wiill reverse itself.

I spent a good part of the day translating this week's dialogue in my Mandarin textbook and now I'm off to relax by reading more of Lirael.



One of the things I hate about my cellphone is that I forget to charge it, and it lasts nowhere near the 7 days or whatever it's advertised as lasting. I found out today they have watches that can be recharged by motion. I want a cellphone that can do that. Imagine the following situation: your cellphone is dead, you shake it up a few times and build up charge, enabling you to make your call.

Even though cell phones haven't gotten to that point yet, they are quickly becoming the all-in-one-solution for those who carry multiple gadgets. Cellphones are now available with the following items built in: Internet Access, Games, PDAs, MP3 players, memo recorders, digital cameras.



My company decided to take out to D&B in Milpitas for a little excursion yesterday. I've never been to this D&B before, and this one is set up more like a casino than an arcade. There are pool tables and a bar/restaurant. All the games have a little switch you can toggle if you want someone to service the machine or bring you cocktails. Work gave me a $20 card, so I used it to experiment with the kinds of games I don't normally play in arcades. Motion capturing technology is now utilized in a lot of these games to give you a more realistic feel -- for instance, the machine can detect if you're crouching down or if you're dodging to the left or right. One of the games used motion-capture with a sword to simulate a bad ninja horror movie.

Afterwards I drove up to the city to watch one of the films of the Asian Film Festival -- a movie called "Dolls". There's 3 vignettes in the movie, one about two wandering lovers bound by a red cord, another about an old yakuza boss who left his woman behind, and the woman still waits for his return every Saturday, and another about a disfigured pop star and a fan.

Japanese Language


Cat recently posted about
nushu, language for women by women.
As she was telling me about this, I recalled from my Japanese studies that hiragana (one of the 4 ways to write in Japanese) originated in a similar fashion.

Another Film Festival


I didn't realize it, but the San Francisco Asian Film Festival
is going on right now. Last Thursday they showed Hero, which I would have loved to see on the big screen (although now, I guess I just need to wait until April, when it hits theatres). I really love independent films, even though sometimes they can miss the mark totally, and I spend much of the time desperately waiting for the credits to roll. Other times they hit the mark right on in a way that could have never been done in Hollywood. One of the other differences in indies is that they feel more personal.

Quack Attack

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I'm sitting at my desk at work, and I hear something tapping on the window. Sometimes we get these guys who wipe our windows, and I heard the gardener with the lawn blower, so I figured it was just maintenance. But the tapping continued. I looked over, and it's a duck! Or to be more accurate -- two ducks. When I got closer to the window (our windows are reflective in the daytime, so the ducks can't see in) I could hear them quacking. One of them was just sitting there, while the other was vigorously attacking his reflection in the window (hence the tapping). As I was watching them, a big truck drove by and scared them away.


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Canada offers biodiesel at the pump

Biodiesel is basically vegetable oil-based fuel, which is usually made of canola or soy.

This weekend, I was asked why I'd prefer to live in Canada over the United States. Part of it, I said was because the ideals of Canada agreed more with me than the American views on the same subject. One of these things is the protection of the environment. Most Americans don't care about the protection of the environment. While I was visiting Edmonton, the hotel that I stayed in not only provided wastebaskets (pretty standard fare for any hotel), but they also provided a basket with which one could toss recycleables. How cool is that?

While my sister and I were driving home yesterday, we noticed a VW Passat TDI with the bumper sticker biodiesel on it. It turns out it's pretty easy to modify a diesel engine car to run on biodiesel instead of diesel gasoline.

Volvo apparently, has bifuel (can either run on compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas or gasoline) cars in Europe for a few years now. I wonder why they haven't brought them over to the U.S. yet.

Returned to S.J.


I am back in San Jose. It has turned to spring here. With temperature in excess of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25C) this weekend, it was pleasant and warm. After the day's long car drive, I feel exhausted, like all my energy has drained out of myself.

Afternoon Home


I finished Sabriel today, which was a rather good read. I think that I must read the other two books next.

My sister and I watched Clockstoppers and Two Weeks Notice this afternoon. I thought that Clockstoppers definitely had about 30 minutes worth of scenes that could be edited out, and that their biggest mistake in Clockstoppers was trying to explain the ability of the watch through scientific terms, instead of psuedo-science which would have been far more believable. Instead, everytime I heard a scientific explanation, I cringed...

The Road Home


The drive down was mostly clear until I entered into L.A. Basin. After that, it became 2 hours of bumper to bumper traffic as we limped through. A truck had flipped over earlier on the highway and was the cause of the backup.

I came back earlier this afternoon, the drive home took most of the day. Even so, I felt energetic, and being able to talk to my family was really relaxing.

I saw my old friend Mike and his fiancee Olivia for dinner tonight. It felt somewhat surreal. Because I've known Mike since we were in the 5th grade together, it's weird for me to think of him settling down, buying a house, and getting married. It's also weird for me to think that so much time has passed -- our friendship is 18 years old. We talked about our old friends and old times. What also made this meeting weird is that Mike is the first friend of mine where I've met the fiancee after the proposal.

Driving down took much more energy from me than I expected, and I took my leave of them at 10. I arrived home at a quarter to 11 and promptly fell asleep.

It does feel nice to be back home again.

Going Home


I am driving home this weekend. No worries about slept through alarms or missed or cancelled flights. (All of which I have done before)

Happy Friday everyone!

Reflections over a box of 100 Envelopes


The year was 1994, and I was entering my second year of university. I discovered with great annoyance that I had sent home with my belongings from first year a box of envelopes. So I walked down to the campus store and bought a box of envelopes -- the only ones they had, which was a box of small envelopes - quantity 100.

This past Monday, I used envelope #100. As far as I can tell, about 80 of them went to rent, and the remainder was used for personal correspondence, rebates and other miscellaneous uses. As I used it, I began to think about how the medium of communication has changed in my life in so short a span of time.

I have gone from sending personal letters to sending e-mails, text messages and IMs. I still will occassionally send out traditional paper cards once in a while. Even phone calls these days aren't what they used to be for me -- these days, they are often quick and to the point.

The pace of life definitely seems faster these days too -- rushed, hectic. There seems to be more hours than when I was younger, but the days somehow seem shorter.

A book and bubble tea


It was one of those perfect California days you hear about -- bright and sunny with a gentle breeze, one the warm side. It was a day where during lunch, I was able to sit down outside, sip a cup of bubble tea, and read a new book (Sabriel, by Garth Nix, for those of you curious to what my new lunchtime reading selection is). So far it seems like a quick read, but I've only finished the prologue and the first chapter so far.

New Nickels


CNN: New Nickels honor Louisiana Purchase

Here's a look at the 1892 U.S. Atlas page showing the 1803 Louisiana Purchase

Looking at the map, it sort of makes me wonder what life would have been like if the U.S. hadn't purchased the territory from France. Without it, would we ever have achieved the Manifest Destiny of stretching from 'sea to shining sea'? What if James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston had negotiated only for New Orleans and West Florida instead of purchasing without authorization the entire tract of land? Keep in mind the United States is only 27 years old at this point.

Where would Clark Kent have grown up instead of Smallville, Kansas? Would Polk have initiated the Mexican-American War, and taken the rest of the territories of the Southwestern United States? Would California still be part of Mexico? Would Alaska still belong to the Russians? Would Napoleon have been able to conquer so much of Europe without the 22 million brought by the Louisiana Purchase?

No More Supersize at Mickey D's


Supersizing will be phased out

I haven't eaten at McDonald's in a few years. Contrary to what the PR people may say, I believe that they are removing this to remove the association with the documentary titled "Supersize Me", a film about how the filmmaker overdid it by eating McDonald's for his 3 meals a day for a month, and how sick/unhealthy that was.

While I was in Japan, I was surprised at how perfect all the portions were for their dinners. Here in the U.S., I often find myself taking home about half the entree as a leftover for the next day, while in Japan, I never had to take anything back, or have leftovers thrown out.

I tell you, sometimes, society in America is way too wasteful. When asked to draw what they thought of America and Americans, some french children drew pictures of obese Americans devouring Coca-Cola and McDonald's hamburgers...

Airport Security Measures


Wired claims that 9/11 security measures are largely ineffective. I agree.

The quote about the weakest link is most certainly true -- although I have found the big airports to be the loosest, while the smaller ones are more stringent. While airports definitely can be used to transform airplanes into bombs, we should be more concerned with protecting food and water supply, as well as important areas of transit -- highways, bridges, anything than can be used to create a bottleneck and amass people... because honestly, terrorists only want one thing -- fear, and the more people they kill, the more fear and chaos they are able to generate.

Strange Weather


When I woke up this morning, it was bright and sunny -- clear blue skies, not a cloud in the sky. As soon as I get to work, the sky has somehow become cloudy and menacingly gray. As soon as I return from lunch, it starts drizzling. The clouds blanketed the sky all afternoon. Now it's evening and the skies are clear again.

Bay Area weather is strange and weird.

My next dream car


With the gas prices climbing with no end in sight, I've been doing a lot of thinking about alternative fuels.

Hybrids are a necessary stage in the evolutionary process, but I feel that the current hybrids available right now are targeting the small car market, which in my mind doesn't make a lot of sense, because those cars are aiming at the 10 to 15 thousand price point, and making a 20 thousand hybrid against smaller cars that are already fuel efficient isn't really going to save all that much gas. What needs to happen is hybridizing or going to alternative fuel on trucks and SUVs. Far and away as a class they have the worst fuel economy.

I've had my Celica for 2 years now, and I'm planning on keeping it for a very long time. That being said, I've been thinking about the environmental impact of my vehicle lately, and how I use about 25 gallons of petrol a week. In a year, I use about 1300 gallons averaging about 27 miles per gallon, travelling about 35,100 miles a year. I'm only one person, with a fairly fuel-efficient car. If you start thinking about the rest of the state or the country, we're talking billions of gallons of oil a day. So I started thinking about doing a conversion to Compressed Natural Gas. Unfortunately, the only place I can find are places that do it to larger vehicles (think big rigs and Caterpillar equipment), not smaller personal vehicles. Electric conversion would require far too much work. So, this will be my car until I purchase a hybrid or alternative.

Enter the Toyota Volta. 402 horsepower, 38 miles per gallon, a 3.3L V6 engine. Hybrid gasoline-electric. Italian-designed carbon fiber body. The automotive press is figuring about 90,000 for this one, although no pricing has been announced -- after all, this is simply a concept vehicle, possibly coming out in 2007.

No one ever said saving the world was cheap.

A Time Waster


National Foreign Language Week


Yesterday was the start of the National Foreign Language Week, which is supposed to celebrate foreign languages... so Prof. Yao gave us a a sheet of 20 Mi Yu, which are a form of Chinese riddle. Basically, it's a puzzle in which you guess the character based on the clue. One of the mi yu I got was: ta you, ni mei you. tian meiyou, di you. translated it means, he has, you don't. sky doesn't have, earth has. the answer is ye which is in both of their words. Anyways, got 20 more. wish me luck.

Forbidden City Exhibit


I think I went to Chicago a year too early. I found out today while I was sitting at the dentist's office that an exhibit from the Forbidden City will be shown at the Field Museum in Chicago. While I was waiting for my appointment, Discover Magazine had an article on how they packaged the items and then had to secretly ship the exhibit to the United States. (They did not want the items stolen while they were in transit).

A lot of the major museums on Chicago are placed conveniently next to each other -- the Aquarium, the Planetarium, the Field Museum are all in the same general vicinity. We did not have time to visit the Field Museum when I was visiting, so I should like to go back and see it, preferrably while the exhibit is there.

Dasani is water, pure and essential


Today, Coca-Cola corp admitted that Dasani is tap water injected with minerals.

I haven't bought bottled water in a very long time. What did I do? I bought a Nalgene bottle, and I fill it with Brita-filtered tap water. It saves money, it saves the environment, and it saves me gas from having to drive to the store to buy water all the time. In my world, that's 3 great reasons for spending $50 dollars on a filter and bottle. Is it the more cost efficient way to live? I think so. A filter replacement costs $20, and is good for 100 gallons of water. Typically, you pay about 5 dollars for about 2 gallons of individual bottled water. As my old profs would say: "the rest is an exercise left to the students". =)

Chinese is the new English


The new 'must learn language' is Mandarin Chinese

Graddol noted, though that employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond English. "In the next decade the new 'must learn' language is likely to be Mandarin."

I remember during the mid to late 80s, many people believed that the must learn language in business was Japanese. Japan was an emerging market then, taking over the world by storm with their products. Japan, while still a strong force in business, is in the middle of an economic recession.

China is the new emerging Asian market -- just as Japan wanted to imitate and adopt the Western ways, China wants to bring over a billion people in their society to live a western-like lifestyle. Right now, I see the industries of America salivating at the thought of having access to the Chinese markets -- over a billion people to sell their products and services to. But what people forget is that these billion people will also be competition. Competition in sales, in products, and in jobs. A door allows both entry and exit, after all.

Water on Mars


"We change it... slowly but with certainty... to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children nor our children's children nor the grandchildren of their children... but it will come... Open water and tall green plants and people walking freely without stillsuits."

-- Frank Herbert, Dune

Evidence of liquid water found on Mars

It's quite amazing, if you think about it, the renewed interest in Mars started only 7 years ago, with the discovery of a Martian meteorite in Antartica. With the new NASA directive to send humans to Mars, we'll see how long it takes before mankind actually sets foot on Mars.

Where there is water, there is life, or so it is on Earth. Will it be the same on Mars? Have we already contaminated the Red Planet with some hearty Terran lifeforms that hitched a ride on the Martian Rover? If there was life on Mars, how different is it from Terran lifeforms? Will we need a new way of classifying Martian Lifeforms? If there is Martian life, what differences will there be in biology?

The domestic weapon of mass destruction: SUVs


First, there's the story of the man in Hawaii who drove his SUV into the airport lobby in Maui and then set it on fire.

Then, there's the story of a man who ran over a guy fixing his flat tire, then dragged the body for 8 miles.

And of course, let's not forget that on average, one child is killed in the US per week due to accidents while backing up. In 2002, it was 58 children in the US, in 2003 it was 72, showing a trend that is increasing as the popularity of the SUV rises.