Monday, November 2, 2009

Then the Lord said to the Accuser:

"Have you considered my servant Job? Blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."

"Does Job fear God for nothing?" the Accuser replied. "You have blessed the work of his hands, his flocks and herds are spread across the land. But strike everything he has, he will surely curse you to your face."

Then the Accuser went out from the presence of the Lord.




...for your listening pleasure. Feed it through your good speakers.

01. The Accuser
02. The Fall
03. The Saviour
04. The Joy

Download zipped album.

You can also write a review. Or better, share this post in your Google Reader. :)


Saturday, August 15, 2009

500 Days of Summer

Went to see this last Friday with RM.

This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he'd never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie 'The Graduate'. The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent's marriage she'd only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.



summer move forward and paint me the fabric of fall...

No, without the death and darkness of Vienna Teng's Drought -- it is the remedy for that sort of thing -- a source of perspective, an enlightened* film about dismantling the myth of 'the one' (and basically taking a vivisecting approach to all the well-established clices of the romantic comedy genre) in the context of modern love. All set to an awesome soundtrack. (Officially on my wishlist, that is, after a backlog of other acquisitions.) If you dislike romantic comedies for any of the usual reasons, this is for you. If you like romantic comedies, you've probably seen too many of them, and you need a good dose of this.

* enlightened := broad in scope, applying picasa's 'i feel lucky' to a zoomed out photograph. meaning it rings true.

Current music: Trifonic - Good Enough

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wanted: dogsitter for a week-ish

Must love dogs. This dog here doesn't know he's a dog. He thinks he's a midget human.

see more Coco pix

Compensation: $100 (negotiable) for one week-ish (8/29 - 9/6) of puppy love.
Actual tasks: 3 walks a day, refill (dry) food and water as needed. Multiple hugs and snuggles required. He might want to play fetch sometimes or stalk squirrels. More often than not, though, the squirrels get the upper hand. But he's pretty happy napping in a sunny window too.

Current music: Aimee Allen - Calling the Maker

Thursday, August 6, 2009

oh my deer

"See, there you go with that head-tilt thing. You know, you think you're all badass but whenever you need something it's all, 'hey'."

"Just be glad I don't flip my hair. I'd own you."


From oh my deer

Current music: Immortal Technique - The Illest

Saturday, August 1, 2009

how to choose secure passwords

"I need to change the password on my email account. Someone managed to figure out the old one."
"That's why your password should always include numbers as well as letters. Everyone thinks its fun to use the name of your dog or boyfriend, but that actually makes it easy to crack."
"My old password was Gj7B!X."
Greetings from a former RCC. This post exists because a friend fell for phishing, and it worked due to universal password usage. Universal passwords are bad, bad, bad. *finger wagging*

Guidelines for password selection:
  • use at least one number and one letter.
  • use both upper and lower case letters if possible.
  • also use at least one special character or punctuation mark (if permitted).
  • be at least seven characters long.
  • do NOT use dictionary words (especially in English), names of people/pets, addresses, birthdays, SSN's, driver's license #'s, passport #'s, variations of your usernames/aliases, or phone numbers. or for that matter, fundamental constants (e, pi, the speed of light, square root of 2, sequences of perfect numbers, fibonacci sequence, or if you do choose one of the irrationals, don't start in the first five digits or so)
  • do NOT use patterns on the keyboard (i.e., qwerty, ;lkjh, or 2468)
  • And change your passwords every three months.

You might ask: how the hell am I supposed to memorize a unique something like Q34jp$s! for every account I have? and change it every three months?! Who do you think I am?  River Tam?  Veronica Mars?

Actually, it's easy. Pick a novel, movie, or a book of poems. Pick a page/passage/quote at pseudo-random. Pick a sentence with a number in it. use the first character of each letter, preserve punctuation, use actual numbers to represent the numbers or constructions like "some1" If you're really desperate for numbers.  (Okay, fine, you can take every prime-th decimal digit of pi.  I'll allow you that.)

Now you have secure passwords. Remember, passwords are like underwear. Change often, don't share.

Current music: Slow Runner - Make you love me

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

total insanity

is the reason I have not been vocal lately. And none of those sources of insanity are up for public consumption. (too bad?) except I'll tell you that all current sources of complete occupation of my waking hours (aside from the inability to fall asleep properly), are all good things.

Current music: X-structure - The Saviour (draft?)

Friday, July 3, 2009

(seen on t-shirt) forget the dog, beware of me

Actual conversation. Over ice cream. After Quartino's and Blagojevich Superstar for J's bday.

RM: Honestly, I'm actually scared of Veronica Mars. (long pause)
Me: (slowly, while looking at RK) I am *not* scary.
RK: (equally slowly) Yes. You. Are. You're intimidating.
Me: Not on purpose.
JZ: (quoting t-shirt seen earlier in the evening) Forget the dog, beware of me! hehe...
Me: (shocked expression) Oh, is that why MK was hiding behind you like you were a tree?

Current music: Sneaker Pimps - Spin spin sugar

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Garden Salad 2.0

Materials:

romaine lettuce (3/4 bowl, chopped)
fresh basil leaves (1/4 bowl, also chopped)
vine-ripe tomatoes (chopped into half-bite-sized pieces)
fresh mozerella cheese (also chopped into half-bite-sized pieces)
jalapeno peppers (1 or 2)
garlic cloves (about 1 head of garlic)
shredded parmesan
fresh lemon balm (finely chopped, optional)

juice from 1 lime
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Methods:

1. Peel all garlic cloves (partial-smashing is an acceptable method for peeling).
2. Decapitate and disembowel jalapeno peppers, and chop into cm^2 pieces.
3. Pan-sear garlic and jalapeno pepper pieces in a small frying pan with olive oil until soft and cooked.
4. Combine all remaining ingredients in one large salad bowl.
5. Toss in the contents of the frying pan. Add the juice from one lime.
6. Mix well. Consume.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

behold, the mustard squeeze bottle centrifuge

Do you ever wish your kitchen had a centrifuge so that the mustard squeeze bottle would actually dispense mustard?

Yes, I ran into this problem when making a sandwich. The solution: a piece of string.

The basic construction involves 2 tight loops (one around the neck of the bottle, another around the 'waist' or skinnier portion in the middle), and a handle (attached to both loops so it stays centered when you spin it).

You can use whatever topology suits you best, but my method used one continuous piece of string, somewhat similar to tying a ribbon around a gift box. By similar, I mean ribbon^2(giftbox) where giftbox = mustard bottle.

Also discovered that the two red wires in my thermostat were switched, but that it didn't matter for heating, only for cooling. I'm on a roll.

Current music: Don't worry be happy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

live, from the frequency domain

F*** you Neuroscan. For being clunky and ugly. (Why can't you be cute like a Mac?) For your idiotic power-of-two requirement of number of points and not zero-padding for me which any sane and forward-looking developer would have put in. The only reason I'm not doing this in MATLAB is because MATLAB runs out of memory when dealing with files this large. =

Current music: Nomoredolls - Electric Sheep

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Google Reader Feed Streams

Yes, indeed, it's possible to create google reader pages for different tags. It's like me editing a personalized magazine of what's out there.

So, here we are.

Jade's science feed (journal articles, news/blog clippings)
Jade's music feed (an assortment of free music downloads)
Jade's eco feed (green-ness)

Current music: Boxing Fox - Do you live?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

partly cloudy? partly sunny?

The chickpea sprouts in the garden have all been consumed by small furry creatures. My mother left for China. My eyes hurt from reading ~60 pages of technical stuff.

So, yes, it looks like it's seriously raining. And so, Coco can't be walked.

But Z just told me Eclipse has a plugin for Matlab and it will make me more efficient with coding. And subversion for version control. Less headache. More awesomeness.

Current music: Thievery Corporation - Amerimacka

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sigh

Wow, my mother is very whiny when she doesn't get to level up in Wii Tanks...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Math, Muses, and Poets

When RM sent me this highly entertaining NYTimes column (by Strogatz) on using diff equ's to model love, I had to share it. Of course, in the process of said sharing, came another little gem from the Journal on Applied Math (from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics).

An excerpt from the abstract:
Three ordinary differential equations are proposed to model the dynamics of love between Petrarch, a celebrated Italian poet of the 14th century, and Laura, a beautiful but married lady. The equations are nonlinear but can be studied through the singular perturbation approach if the inspiration of the poet is assumed to have very slow dynamics. In such a case, explicit conditions are found in the appeals of Laura and Petrarch and in their behavioral parameters that guarantee the existence of a globally stable slow-fast limit cycle. ... The result is that the calibrated model shows that the poet's emotions followed for about 20 years a quite regular cyclical pattern ranging from the extremems of ecstasy to despair. All of these findings agree with the recent results of Frederic Jones, who, through a detailed stylistic and linguistic analysis of the poems inspired by Laura, has discovered Petrarch's emotional cycle in a fully independent way.
In summarizing the work of Jones, the authors state that Jones made the assumption of the cyclical nature of Petrarch's emotions, and "on the basis of this conjecture, Jones... put all undated poems in chronological order." But in this case, the authors set up some basic behavioral parameters:


And found the solution to be a limit cycle.



Oh, and more pretty graphs:


The paper is highly entertaining, very readable, and not as verbose as you might otherwise expect. Really, papers in the humanities should read like this. Characterized by precision, humorous, and defended up to the limits of falsifiability. Well worth the effort to read it, for poets and scientists alike, not just the slender intersection of the two.

References

Rinaldi, Sergio. Laura and Petrarch: An Intriguing Case of Cyclical Love Dynamics. SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Aug., 1998), pp. 1205-1221

Current music: The Dandy Warhols - Bohemian Like You

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So what type of combat training do you have? ... Fencing.

Verbatim review of Star Trek from D's parentals...

Father: "Fascinating from a cultural perspective. I don't empathize much wit our macho delinquent protagonist. Though obviously this appeals to a lot of people. At least his skill at hanging off cliffs by his fingertips saved his life many times."

[Pause]

Father: "I may have some Vulcan sympathies."

[Pause]

Father: "Although giving a success probability estimate of 4.3% for anything involving the decisions of a small number of people has too many significant digits. Really, it's a caricature of reasonableness in risk evaluation procedures."

Mother: "Yes... I didn't much like Spock's mother. She was a bit of a sop. Especially for that sort of environment."

[Pause]

D: "Didn't she only have about one minute of screen time?"

Mother: "Yes, but that minute was just filled with wide-eyed, soulful stares."

Current music: Paper Tiger - Jolien

Monday, May 25, 2009

teatime between bits of MATLAB coding...

Mother: I worry for those birds. That's not a stable branch and their workmanship on that nest is rather shoddy.

Me: I don't think there's much you can do to help. (Pause.) Oh, you meant you're going to super-glue the structure so it doesn't fall...

Mother: But they're likely to detach in the breeze if I don't! Or I could build them another nest...

Current music: Modern Music - Sixteen Going On Seventeen

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

thoughts about H1N1

If the low death rate from H1N1 in the U.S. is due to superior medical facilities and early detection, then the Third World is in for some serious decimation. Can you imagine what might happen if H1N1 exploded in Sub-Saharan Africa? There would be few accurate numbers on the rate of spread, and there would be little or no access to the effective anti-virals.

Sure, you hear lots of people talk about how hundreds of people die from seasonal epidemics every year, and in this case, look how low the death rate is if patients are found early and given adequate treatment. That's because these people are assuming the entire planet looks exactly like the U.S., when they are much more likely to just die off in such large numbers, no monument can hold their names. The only way to stop from decimating the Third World is to slow the spread of H1N1 enough such that we get a vaccine in production before it's out there.

Current music: The Magnetic Fields - Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

H1N1: pandemics in perspective

My dear critical readers, I know you're a smart bunch. I recognize the need to not freak people out, but seriously: what is wrong with presentation of the following data set?
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The swine flu virus that has sparked fear and precautions worldwide appears to be no more dangerous than the regular flu virus that makes its rounds each year, U.S. officials said Monday. [That's last week, Monday a week ago, mind you.]

"What the epidemiologists are seeing now with this particular strain of U.N. is that the severity of the disease, the severity of the flu -- how sick you get -- is not stronger than regular seasonal flu," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday as the worldwide number of confirmed cases of swine flu -- technically known as 2009 H1N1 virus -- topped 1,080.

The flu has been blamed for 26 deaths: 25 in Mexico and one in the United States, according to the World Health Organization.
First, reporting the raw numbers of deaths in the upswing of an epidemic tells you nothing about the dynamics of the situation. Moreover, "how sick you get" or the severity of the illness is NOT the same thing as how "dangerous" an illness is. I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks this, but I would evaluate the "dangerousness" of an illness as its fatality rate, that is, if you get sick, this is the probability that you will actually die. For instance, the probability you will die in a given skydiving jump is 1 in 100,000 (0.001% fatality). [1] Similarly, "you would have to jump 17 times per year for your risk of dying in a skydiving accident to equal your risk of dying in a car accident if you drive 10,000 miles per year." [1]

The fatality rate for the 1918 H1N1 flu was > 2.5%, as compared to < 0.1% [2]. In comparison, fatality rate is about 0.1% for the Asian and Hong Kong flus,[3]. Let's take a quick, back-of-the-envelope look at the numbers for the 2009 H1N1 virus. It has been in Mexico the longest, so we have the best sample size in terms of latency. 58 deaths divided by 2,282 cases gives us 2.54% (5/12/2009), which looks pretty similar to the 1918 H1N1 virus.

There are a couple ways of looking at this. The fatality rate of swine flu is approximately 1 - fatality of anthrax (in 2-3 days). And given the population of the planet, even anthrax has no chance of ending civilization. And the Black Death, depending on your geographical region, killed 20-80% of the population. (The fatality rate of the bubonic plague is supposed to be in the neighborhood of ~50% in 3-7 days without treatment.) In comparison, the fatality rate of SARS was ~9.6% (globally, with medical attention), even though it varied widely by region. [4]

So... no, it's not the end of the world. 2.54% risk of death is not large in the grand scheme of things (looking at the planet as a whole), but it's pretty high for normal life. And remember, this is risk without potential reward, thrill, or even entertainment. On a personal level, my fatality risk acceptance is ~1% for, say, the magical granting a superpower of some kind (the alternative being 'life continues as normal'). Higher if I get to choose the superpower in question. Maybe about ~0.1-0.01% if I only level up. (Those who know me know that I am generally not at all risk-averse. For instance, when playing video games, when you don't die in real life.)

Seriously, wouldn't you rather go skydiving instead? Yes, go skydiving about 50 times a year for the rest of your natural life (assuming you're 25 now...)? Or go skating on thin ice? If there's a medical team within reach, your risk of death from hypothermia is relatively low.

Don't. Panic. But go wash your hands.

Current music: t.A.T.u. - Белый Плащик

hanging by threads of palest silver

From spring 2009

From spring 2009

Current music: Garbage - Stroke of Luck

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chirp-stream Digest

Swine Flu Tweets:
Berkshire Tweets:
  • It dawns on me that this is investment as a tool for intelligently planned production on the planet. #brk
  • Try drinking every time charlie says "I've got nothing to add." #brk
  • "that was slick, striking up a conversation with the guys we were cutting in front of..." -ar #brk
  • Best seats possible. Sprinting ability is useful. Yeehaw!
  • somalian cab driver named den. what's he doing in omaha?
  • http://twitpic.com/4ctvs - meta-image
  • http://twitpic.com/4crsf - Omaha old marketplace
  • http://twitpic.com/4cqkt - seen in omaha -- friends don't let friends...
  • http://twitpic.com/4c5gd - is this how you imagine Omaha?

Amusement, Cbae and TTL:
Current music: Vienna Teng - Stray Italian Greyhound

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

atonement among bears



Such beautiful clever, peaceful creatures. Why hasn't hunting already been abolished?

Current music: Tracing Arcs - Through A Glass Darkly

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

non-random linkdump: on memory

Every damn morning, swamp gas from a weather balloon ... reflects the light from Venus. Does what is actually possible/feasible change that what we perceive to be beautiful? Does it change how we choose to live?
This kind of thinking completely misses the point of having experiences, "good" or "bad". Have a bad day? Don't analyze, search one's soul or talk about it; just push ERASE. Why bother doing the harder task of learning from painful experiences when this option is available?
And suppose there were a way to find your way once you're already lost? You're lost in the woods -- we all are, even the captain. The difference is he likes it that way.



Current music: BT - Memories In A Sea Of Forgetfulness

Friday, April 10, 2009

sometimes

1 20 1 1 20 7 7 1 1 7 20 1 7 1 7 1 1 3 3 3 3 7 1 1 3 7 20 20 3 20 1 1 20 1 20 20 20 7 3 1 1 1 7 1 7 1 3 20 1 20 1 7 1 7 3 7 7 20 1 7

... No, the book is wrong. This whole conclusion is fallacious.

Current music: Gattaca Soundtrack

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Would you light my candle...?

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret--or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today
...

Dear readers, I would have posted this sooner, but such craziness. That said, if you've never seen RENT, be it in film or live format, you need to (yes, I mean you!). For those who aren't aware, several characters are portrayed by the same actors on stage and on the big screen.



(RM: wait, you'd never seen it live?! seriously?) Yes, seriously. And now, remedied. Thank D for that, and for informing that it is, indeed, the last tour, and for poking in, just now, and telling me she just listened to several albums by the guy who plays Roger. Woohoo!




Current music: Faye Wong - April Snow

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

correction/update. ahem.

So an observant reader pointed out something about the earlier post on compensation for musicians and the RIAA. Apparently there is much variation in how much artists are compensated, and when you're signed on with a major label, sales on iTunes compensate you the same in terms of royalties as with the sale of a CD.

Current music: Recoil - Red River Cargo

Friday, March 27, 2009

bunnies! armed bunnies on a mission!



Based on the manga.

Current music: Bassnectar - Underground Communication

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Speaking of business models with large revenue streams while making absolutely no real contributions to society...

When the RIAA strikes, the settlement funds do not get paid to artists, but instead fuels the system, accelerating the cycle of litigation.
Settlement payments can be made on a website, where the funds are used to sue more defendants. None of the money is paid to artists.

The quick settlements have left largely unexamined some basic legal questions, such as the legality of the RIAA's investigative tactics, and the question of what proof should be required to hold a defendant liable for peer-to-peer copyright infringement.
(Source: Wired)
Ummm... wait, why is this still an issue? Oh, right, this is why.

Here's a not-so-radical idea. Consider the model of the initial release of Radiohead's In Rainbows, where customers could pay whatever price they deemed appropriate for the music. Let there be a site where fans can pay artists directly an amount they deem appropriate, that is, knowing that the musician's cut is around 60 cents per song download (do correct me if other sources differ). That way, fans can retro-actively contribute to the lives and livelihoods of musicians whose work they like after being affected by their music.

And even if you're one of those people who only listen to music on Pandora (or primarily/exclusively to artists who release under creative commons), you could contribute to your favorite artists, a bit like giving them a proportional thumbs up in the scaled, quantitative democracy of capitalism.

Scarcity of replicable goods/services/media is simply not a property of the Information Age. Scarcity of eyeballs is. The wise have already realized the emergent characteristics of this paradigm shift.

Current music: Peter Gabriel - Down to Earth

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

around the house



wine glasses and doily on piano. (camera rebooted funny, but I liked the effect so kept it.)



soliloquy (above). balcony scene (below).





still life with tea, roses, and fondue (above). conversational (below).



Current music: Olive - Trickle

Monday, March 23, 2009

space litter



ISS dodges space junk again. And I quote:
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday were forced to change the orbit of the station -- and the Space Shuttle Discovery that is currently docked to it -- to avoid an estimated 4-inch piece of space junk that may have been on a collision course.

It's the third time in three weeks that astronauts on the space station have had to worry about space debris , but it's the first time they have deemed the threat serious enough to change the orbit.
Current music: Wall-E Soundtrack

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

yes, reading everything in the same place

Google Reader is like a meta-blog. With total seriousness. Optimal speed of downloading content to brain: firehose.

Current music: Guster - Fa Fa

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wishlist of Imaginary Apps

Apps I would totally use and grow dependent upon if they existed. So, if you're out there, and you've the inclination to develop any (or all) of these, consider this a pretty, pretty please. :P

+ sync gTalk away message and Twitter (I know you're on it, R. But right now, it's still imaginary.)

+ integrate gCalendar with eVite, facebook events, and other event-planning mechanisms by extracting not only date/time/place information, but contact info for the organizer

+ seamlessly sync the GPS system in my car with gMaps. (may require 3G-enabling the car. either that or you could extract it the calendar of a docked and gCal-synced iPod.) That way, I can get traffic conditions in real time, and have the option of integrating it with expected future traffic conditions (on the way to my destination) to have an accurate ETA.
- And if this becomes widely adopted enough, when a large enough proportion of cars are using this, we'll have optimized traffic patterns everywhere!
+ well, hey, if that works, we might as well have destination information directly funneled into my car from my gCal

+ voice control. yes, I know there are voice activated GPS, but I want it to seamlessly control onboard GPS as well as phone function (dude, we have to 3G-enable the car).
- by which I mean I press something on the steering wheel and say "change destination" or "show map" or "call Julie"

- and the voice control should be adaptive, like Dragon Naturally Speaking. reading a paragraph to train it on my peculiarities is actually kinda fun, especially if it improves performance.
+ if my ETA deviates from expected > threshold, prompt me for a voice command to call or text the humans I'm supposed to be in contact with (or update Twitter) with my new ETA.

+ on second thought, there is a certain cumbersomeness to voice control that's less optimal than, say, in combination with twitch control -- something like mouse gestures, but for the a body appendage (like a finger-less glove).

+ oh! and ... never mind, the Kindle already does gReader. ha.

Current music: Camouflage - Perfect

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Truly Minimalist Pepper Oil Sauce

Materials:

- 2 handfuls red chili peppers (dried, whole)
- 1 clove
- hot oil (corn or canola, not olive oil -- high flashpoint preferred); approx. equal vol. to the peppers before they are ground.
- coffee grinder
- glass jar (enough to store oil + spices)

Methods:

1. Grind spices in coffee grinder. (Play around with proportions to find your favorite combination.)
2. Heat hot oil in a saucepan until almost at its flashpoint.
3. Turn off heat.
4. Put in spices. Stir and immediately close lid.
5. Allow to cool to room temperature. Store in jar. Or serve mixed into rice/noodles with a touch of soy sauce.

Notes: Crushed pepper seeds will take on a sesame-like aroma after being fried--that's the best part about this insanely easy sauce.

Current music: Bonobo - Scuba

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Objects in Space

There needs to be a non-governmental international entity for monitoring our friendly skies, tracking objects in space. This is why. All nations with space programs or who have satellites up there should subscribe to this service, provided by a responsible provider with lots of computing power.

Like Google. :P

Current music: Billy Cobham - Stratus

Sunday, February 15, 2009

believe it, river.


Now available in North America. $3.49 at Jerry's. Unfortunately, the dark chocolate variety has not been observed.

Current music: Garbage - Vow

Saturday, February 14, 2009

littered with white gloves

b 8 1 13 19 10 13 1a 7 11 7 17 7 12 6 11 7 17 13 11 7 5 a 13 5 13 10 3 18 7

first one to solve this gets a prize. i'm waiting. <3

Current music: Shivaree - John 2:14

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Immodest Proposal: how to pay for the bailout and help people at the same time

The bailout is going to cost taxpayers, both present and future, a huge amount of money, something for which we'll be scrambling to turn out our pockets for generations. So, here's an immodest proposal.

Issue a special-issue low-yield bailout savings bond, available in 500K or 1 million USD denominations, marketed at potential immigrants to the U.S. If you are a permanent resident (green card holder), and you purchase a 500K bond, you get expedited U.S. citizenship, and if you are a non-permanent resident, the purchase of a 500K bond will get you expedited permanent residence status. Or you could buy 1 million and go straight to citizenship. The usual residency requirements will still apply (which would have a large positive impact on the housing market).

The population of the United States is a little over 300 million. The increase in population would be a drop in the bucket. Moreover, this would be a self-selected population, evidenced not only by the willingness to pick up and leave their country of origin (thus entrepreneurial in spirit), but also in shelling out half or one million US dollars. The individual who can afford to shell out/lock in 500K or 1 million USD, given a residency requirement, will very likely be spending significantly in the U.S. economy, thereby speeding up the economic recovery even more.

Of course, you might ask, who is the target market here? There are wealthy parents in China who easily spend a couple million dollars for their child to go to school in the U.S. (housing costs, navigation of bureaucracy, etc.), some to escape the grueling examination system which still suffers from a low number of slots for the number of students, others because they wish to seek a long-term existence in the U.S. anyway. So, grant them citizenship. Make life easier for everyone. It'll be worth a couple million to them, and the economy needs it.

Current music: Bon Iver - The Wolves (Act I And II)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!



Look at it as a humorous insightful commentary on China in modernity. Jay Chou rapping with a little break-dancing kid (who's probably kick-ass at wushu) about medicinal herbs in front of a giant dancing ginseng, and then traditional drums, trimmed with LED's, beaten on by nun-chucks.

As a child, I was given a necklace with 卿 (prime minister) inscribed on one side of a gold pendant and Zhuge Liang on the other side, and told that Zhuge Liang, the master of statecraft, would watch over me and protect me.

Red Cliff is highly aesthetic, both in the Inara dimension (palace scenes feel like Hero) and the action-dripping-with-style dimension (visualize Infernal Affairs). Musically, well-composed. In the Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu musical duet scene, you really can decipher their communications by listening to them play. ("But, sir, you haven't even talked about the war.") But the pacing of the film is more reminiscent of Baraka. A lot of time is spent carefully setting up the scene, building up the action, methodically hanging Chekhov's guns on the wall, an air of 'just-bear-with-me-a-moment-longer' anticipation. And when you think that which you are looking forward to is about to happen, you see in bright red calligraphy: "to be continued."

If I searched my memory carefully, I might have recalled seeing two posters for Red Cliff one for each installation of the two-part film, but in the intervening time, it had truly slipped my mind. But seriously, what is it about an aesthetic cliff-hanger that jerks us forward by the wrists until it's difficult even to return a proper glare to the source of the motion? And to quote someone else's review of Red Cliff II: Those who had lamented the lack of big battle sequences in the first film, well, you can continue to lament as this one only had ONE which takes up almost the last hour.

Current music: Faye Wong - Ban Tu Er Fei

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the art of statecraft

As J once said, statecraft is foremost a matter of defining one's goals/objectives and then setting out to achieve them. There are important life lessons in the seminar I just went to (about women negotiating for positions in academia or industry). The 'I'm ridiculously stellar so I don't need statecraft' outlook is just as harmful as 'If I'm good, I'll be rewarded without having to ask for a raise/promotion/benefit.' You have to know what your objectives are, and remember them when you're lost in the woods.

Current music: Elysian Fields - Set the Grass on Fire

Monday, January 19, 2009

non-random linkdump

Just to see if I can.

Plan A

Plan B

Current music: PJ Harvey - Sheela Na Gig

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

actual conversation

Mom: Coco! Did you shower yet?
Me: (long pause) You were asking him or me?
Mom: No, I was asking you. Why would I ask him?
(exchange glance. pause.)
Mom: I know... It's because I'm Dual Core.