Saturday, February 25, 2006


This is an actual emergency room photo of a fisherman who lost control of his high-speed bass boat in West Virginia. The Fishing Wardens believe that he was traveling at a speed of approximately 75 mph at the time of the accident (in case you don't know, that's DAMN fast in a small boat!).

The man was unable to negotiate a curve in the narrow waterway. Unfortunately for him, upon striking the shoreline and being ejected from the boat, he landed back end first on an old fence post. You can probably picture what happened next but the attached picture really says it all. The good news is that after about 6 months, this man made a full recovery after suffering a shattered hip, broken leg, several broken ribs, internal injuries and soft tissue damage. Doctors credited his recovery to the fact that the post lodged itself so tightly that there was little or no blood loss.

It had to have hurt... (maybe it's just a hoax but it sure looks painful!)

What's a Probiotic?

Well, I've recently gotten off a week of strong antibiotics for an infected tooth and it's done wonders for my system. Antibiotics tend to be really indiscriminate in that they just go in there and kill just about everything -- good and bad. Kind of like going after a mosquito with a shotgun. But sometimes it's also the only thing that works in a hurry. What they don't tell you to do after taking antibiotics is that you should try to re-build all the good bacteria back in your digestive system once they're done. I generally take acidopholus and eat yogurt to try and get things back to normal. Recently, Dannon has introduced their new Activia line of yogurts that contain probiotics: good bacteria. You can read more about Dannon's Activia products here. And learn more about Probiotics on their special section here.

In many Asian cultures (no pun intended), they've been serving and selling foods specifically for what ails you for many centuries. Some soup shops I've been taken into actually specialize in just one kind of soup just for one kind of ailment. I think we're about to see a new trend in the West to introduce foods that are good for you. I'm not getting paid for this plug but I feel it's something well worth sharing.

World's Shortest Fairy Tale

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jeopardy Champ

Just got this one and I love it! From long-running Jeopardy champ, Ken. (Sure caught Alex by surprise!) I thought it was rather witty and original myself... (Windows Media wmv file -- approx. 700K)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Poland Orders Airbus

Not to be outdone by their European neighbors, Poland announced that they were placing a special order for custom-built Polish Airlines planes. Boeing politely declined to build them but Airbus gladly accepted their 6-plane order.

Online Lost and Found... and a Rant

Cool! Someone found a digital camera containing two memory chips with a whole lot of personal pictures on them. In an effort to find the camera's owners, the person who found it has posted a FOUND page online, along with some of the pics on the camera. Looks like the camera was taken on a European trip as some of the pics were from Italy but the camera was found in the UK. I suspect this may become a new trend online as things can get out there pretty quickly if you want it to. How about this? An online Lost & Found modeled after the very successful CraigsList? It could be global in reach with no fee for posting but advertising-based? Lose something? Post it. Found something? Post it. There ya go -- another business model!

Anyway, I have to tell you how amazingly surprised Donna and I were right after the Christmas holidays. After a crazy move back from Connecticut to Seattle, we realized quickly that one of her boxes was missing from the shipment that the movers delivered in mid-December. We were smart enough to check the numbered items off the list as they were unloaded and had the moving guys note it -- reluctantly -- on their sheet before departing to their next stop. They put out a half-hearted attempt to look through their truck before leaving and calls to our moving company were met with instructions to file a claim for it along with our claim for the damages to Donna's brand-new $2000+ mattress. Unfortunately, she wasn't allowed to insure the shipment for full value as the move was set less than 48 hours before pick-up (never mind that the movers didn't show up for another 24 hours anyway but that's another story); so all boxes were only allowed to be insured for no more than 60c a pound! Well, after unpacking frantically for days after the shipment arrived, Donna realized that her entire CD and DVD collection was missing, representing hundreds of items collected over many years. The apathy from the original moving company was appalling and we basically resigned ourselves to never recovering that box.

Over one weekend in January, we were contacted by one of Donna's friends from Minnesota who had received a strange message on her answering machine. It was from a young man who had moved to Spokane, Washington from New York at the end of November. His furniture and possessions were picked up by a moving company that also assured him that they would be delivered by the company and not a broker/freight forwarder. He finally received a cell phone call from the same contractor who also delivered our shipment later. He was going on vacation in mid-December so he kept calling them to see where his shipment was.

When the movers finally arrived at his house in the afternoon on the 14th of December, they unloaded everything quickly, made him sign the documents immediately and then left promptly. Oh -- by the way -- his shipment was also billed out at almost double what his estimate had been. So he immediately began unpacking to see if everything was there. He found many near-empty boxes filled with packing materials: bubble wrap, blankets, etc. for which it appears he was charged for the volume. When he called his moving company, they acted surprised and said they would like those items back as they cost a lot of money (no offer of a refund on his charges). What caught his interest however was a cube box that did not match any of the other cartons that his movers had provided when they did all the packing and loading. He called both his moving company as well as the delivery guys not more than an hour after they had left that Wednesday afternoon from Spokane. His movers told him they would follow up on it and the guys in the truck said to give them the number on the box and they would report it, rather than turning back because of their error. A few days later, he left for the holidays in California and didn't come back to Spokane until a couple of weeks later into the New Year.

No one had ever bothered to call him back about the extra box after many calls both before and after his vacation trip. He had opened the box when he first found just to see if it was actually his and didn't look much more when he realized it wasn't his stuff. But when he didn't hear from anyone, he decided to look though the box to find some clue as to the owner. Fortunately, he found an old address book inside so he started going through phone numbers even as he continued to try calling his movers and the freight carriers with no results. I eventually got this young man's phone number and returned his call. We spent some time comparing notes and timelines only to realize that no one had taken an interest at all in getting Donna's package back to her. (Incidentally, aside from her entire collection of CD's, she had irreplaceable family photos and other personal items packed in there.) The contracted carriers were completely negligent and neither reported it back to their originating company, our moving company or to us (despite having EVERYONE'S phone numbers). In fact, it now appears that they knew that this customer had our box before they arrived at our house the next morning on Thursday, Dec. 15th. Had we not discovered the missing box from the inventory list (yes, we checked off every single item on the list as it came in the house), he would never have even acknowledged it. Worse, he tried to fold the carbon paper up on the Inventory Sheets so that my notations regarding the mattress damage and the missing box would not imprint through to the other copies underneath (an old trick some of my own mover friends showed me). I caught him unfolding the carbons when he wanted me to sign the top copy so I promptly added the notation to our copies and notified our moving company immediately. The delivery guys made a half-hearted attempt to "look" for the carton before they left for Renton that afternoon, mumbling something about the box still having a chance of showing up at another destination, knowing full well as it now appears that they had dropped it off at the last stop.

Well, we finally did have a happy ending to this chapter. Derek sent the package insured back to us and we guilt-tripped our movers into sending him $100 as a reward for his honesty and persistence. So... wouldn't it be a great idea to have a global online lost-and-found site?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Want to Buy Some Girl Scout Cookies?

A funny clip from Comedy Central on selling Girl Scout cookies. My daughter never sold them THIS way! (Windows Media wmv file -- approx. 1.8 Mb)

The Therapist

A husband and wife go to a therapist after 15 years of marriage.

therapist asks them what the problem is and the wife goes into a tirade listing every problem they have ever had in the 15 years they've been married. She goes on and on and on.

Finally, the therapist gets up, goes around the desk, embraces the woman and kisses her passionately rips off her clothes and makes mad passionate love to her. Needless to say, the woman shuts up and sits quietly with a very satisfied daze.

therapist turns to the husband and says "that is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do that?"

The husband thinks for a moment and replies, "Well, I can get her here Monday and Wednesday, but Friday I play golf."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Gotta Start Some Time

Cussing' -- everybody has to start sometime!

A 6-year old and a 4-year old are upstairs in their bedroom. "You know what?" says the 6-year old. "I think it's about time we started cussing."

The 4-year old nods his head in approval. The 6-year old continues, "When we go downstairs for breakfast, I'm gonna say something with 'hell' and you say something with 'ass.'" The 4-year old agrees with enthusiasm.

When the mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 6-year old what he wants for breakfast, he replies, "Aw, hell, Mom, I guess I'll have some Cheerios."

WHACK! He flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor, gets up, and runs upstairs crying his eyes out, with his mother in hot pursuit, slapping his rear with every step. His Mom locks him in his room and shouts, "You can stay there until I let you out!"

She then comes back downstairs, looks at the 4-year old and asks with a stern voice, "And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?"

"I don't know," he blubbers, "but you can bet your fat ass it won't be Cheerios!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hunting with Dick

Photo Booth Prank

I always loved the old Candid Camera shows from the 60s and 70s. Good clean fun and always original in the pranks they played. Some of the stuff they have today often goes over the top in making fun of people rather than just helping us laugh at ourselves. Here's one that brings back the old days. Looks like it was done in Universal Studios theme park in Florida. (Windows Media WMV file approx. 4.0 Mb)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Latest Damn Windows Updates

I got another one of those Windows XP Update notices today and went ahead with the automatic update. Not long after my notebook re-booted following the update, my Norton AntiVirus program popped up and informed me that it had expired. After eventually finding and buying a 5-user CD-only version online, I looked more closely at my annoying Norton reminder popup once again and realized that it was telling me that my Trial Period was over and that I needed to ACTIVATE it (or else). After going through a short online activation process with Symantec's server, my AntiVirus was back up and running once again. At that point, I was then able to check Norton's settings to discover that my AntiVirus was NOT expiring until Dec. 2006! So who's going to pay me back for my purchase?

Just so you understand why I'm posting this on my blog, some of you may recall something that appeared minor on the Newswires over the past couple of days (I know I sure didn't pay a lot of attention to it). Something to the effect that the new XP updates were "Disabling Norton Antivirus" or something like that. Well, it did more than just "Disable it." Where's my money, Bill? I hope Symantec sues your collective asses off.

What Good Technology Can Do

10 years ago, we were only beginning to discover how digital animation techniques and photography would change what we saw. Now not a day goes by when we see something that make us go, "Wow! I can't believe you can do that!" Harri Kallio is an Finnish artist/photographer who became fascinated with the dodo after reading Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He tried to imagine what the bird might have looked like in its natural habitat had it survived extinction over 150 years ago. So Kallio went about designing and re-creating models of this strange bird (I THINK it was a bird...) so that he could eventually re-create sets of the birds in what appeared to be their natural habitat.

What Kallio has done in itself is a remarkable piece of work. But I believe the more significant accomplishment is in the process itself. Researching the dodo and then taking that information to build his models and place them in what appears to be their natural habitat so that he could shoot realistic-looking photographs would be a remarkable achievement alone. However, I think that Kallio may have single-handedly taken digital photography to a new high and I hope that it sparks other photographers/artists to explore it further in this direction. In this day-and-age of digital animation and special effects, the true art of still images seemed destined to have been relegated to the Twentieth Century.

Kallio will be showing his Dodo series at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York City through April 1. You can read a more extensive overview of his research and approach to developing this incredible breakthrough in photographic work on Slate here. They've also posted a slideshow of his photos here. (It should pop up in its own window.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

10 Worst Patents from EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has pulled together their own list of the 10 worst patents that should never have been issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office. No. 2 on the list is Clear Channel's claim that they own the patent on the ability to produce live recordings on digital media at concerts! This patent has finally made its way to a review by the USPTO a couple of years after it was issued. This has been why you can't buy live recordings immediately after a concert; Clear Channel wants their cut for using their "patent!" Here's their Top 10 List here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Headlines from the year 2029

Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia, formally known as California. White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Mexifornia's third language.

Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and livestock.

Baby conceived naturally -- scientists stumped.

Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

Last remaining Fundamentalist Muslim dies in the American Territory of the Middle East (formerly known as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon).

Iran still closed off; physicists estimate it will take at least 10 more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.

France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica.

Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2036.

Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

85-year, $75.8 billion study: Diet and Exercise is the key to weight loss.

Average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.

Japanese scientists have created a camera with such a fast shutter speed, they now can photograph a woman with her mouth shut.

Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.

Average height of NBA players now nine feet, seven inches.

New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2036.

Congress authorizes direct deposit of formerly illegal political contributions to campaign accounts.

Capitol Hill intern indicted for refusing to have sex with congressman.

IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

Florida voters still having trouble with voting machines.

Lego PC

Wow! PC Magazine hired LEGO brick-artist Nathan Sawaya to build them a custom PC which they paln on giving away in a contest. Go to PC Magazine Online where you can see more pictures of theLego PC and the process of building one, along with instructions for building your own (if you're ambitious enough). There's also an interview with Sawaya on his approach to building all things Lego. Looks like Lego is getting a lot of buzz these days from the tech community.

The latest issue of WIRED magazine also has a cover article on how Lego is re-positioning the company and its Mindstorms robotic line to appeal to a broader adult audience (particularly geeks).

Pictorial History of Hard Drives from c/net

When I first got into programming in the late 60's, the IBM 360/30 ruled the computer industry. They were huge monsters that required huge rooms to house them; the floors were elevated to accommodate all the wiring and the temperature and humidity were constantly regulated to maintain optimal conditions (for the computers, NOT the people running them!). On some nights, you could freeze your ass off in there even with a suit and tie on! At the point I left programming for the first time, hard drives were beginning to make a splash, replacing all manner of storage quickly. And I still remember the old punch cards and key tapes -- nasty!

Anyway, c/net has put together a brief history of the hard drive, complete with pictures. The cost is pretty hard to believe considering our cost per gigabyte today (gigabyte!!!). And some of them didn't even look too bad either.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Charlie Hebdo from France

Charlie Hebdo has been around since the 60's in Paris; they started off as an underground weekly and still continue to publish anything that they think people need to read. I still remember my own misadventures with them when I lived in Paris in the early 70's. This is the cover from the current issue -- Mohammed Overcome by the Fundamentalists -- in which they took a stand and published 12 of the "offensive" Mohammed cartoons. The caption reads, "It's hard being loved by idiots..."

Super Mafia Bros.

I've been hyping up GoogleMaps mashups for some time now. But here's an online game mashup that you might never have dreamed of: How about Super Mario Bros. and Marlon Brando/Godfather in Super Mafia Bros.? Plays and sounds a lot like the original!

What's on MY Wish List?

For the person who loves gadgets, I think this one's the bomb! At least for guys anyway. At least older guys with vinyl record collections. ELP has been selling an amazing new turntable that uses a laser beam instead of the traditional needle to play old records. Imagine no more wear-and-tear on your LPs and no more static coming out of your speakers. But at these prices, I sure won't be buying one any time soon... However, they DO give you a generous 10-day audition period.

Winter Olympics Medal Count

Want a simple way to keep track of the medals being won at the Winter Olympics? The BBC has a constantly updated web page that posts the number of medals won by the Top 15 countries.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands When You're Done!

This is actually an older pictorial from the China Daily that features pics from a real restaurant in Taiwan. They feature bathroom fixtures and appliances as decor and utensils (check out the Sundae dish complete with the poop ice cream -- kinda crappy, eh?). You get to sit on a commode to eat. Wonder what their bathrooms look like? Kitchens, maybe?

Saturday, February 11, 2006


These guys have found an alternate use for urban parking spots. Check out PARK(ing).

Like to Draw?

I remember those ads on the back covers of comic books that were supposed to be tests for artistic talent. You drew the picture of a pirate (or a clown or a dog...) and mailed it in to see if you had the talent to win a free course in commercial art. Of course, what did I know about generating sales leads and cold calls? I was just a 9-year old kid back then who had to steal a postage stamp from the Old Man in order to get my drawing in. Never mind the incredible steps I had to take to swipe an envelope, address it AND manage to get it into a mailbox while out on a walk with our sister. Anyway, one day weeks later when I had finally forgotten about my dreams of learning to be a great artist by correspondence, this dude shows up at our front door looking for the artiste who had submitted this masterpiece. Of course, Dad answered the door and -- after a few incredulous minutes of listening to this peddler -- sent him on his way. I, of course, didn't hear the end of that one for at least a week...

Well, what's this got to do with my current post? I found a new site where you can doodle your own drawing to send to someone so you can get one back. Nice simple concept and a lot of fun. Here's the link to SketchSwap. Have fun!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another "Oh SH*T!" Moment Brought to You by the Internet

Here's another GoogleMaps mashup that should turn a lot of people on their heads in a hurry: They can provide you with house valuations on over 60 million+ homes across the country. Ouch! If that doesn't hurt a few realtors a little, I'd be surprised. (Still in Beta.)

Google Music Search Now Online

Check THIS out. Google now has Music Search in Beta. Click here.

Muslims Everywhere in Canada Now

If you don't believe me, check out this recent picture from Newfoundland. Muslim Moose! (Lighten up -- we're kidding! It's NOT a Mohammed cartoon today!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Commercial of the Week: The Importance of Knowing Another Language

A cute commercial that stresses why you should at least be bilingual. (MPG file approx. 2.8 Mb)

Making Fun of Yourself is a Lesson in Humility...

If Christians can laugh at themselves with stuff like this, Muslims can lighten up a bit. Just sent to me from a friend down in California. (Windows wmv Media File approx. 2.5 Mb)

Things Always Look Different from Above

So there was this helicopter pilot in Mexico City who used to fly over the city a lot. And he took a lot of really great pictures whenever he could. His stunning collection is now posted for all to see here.

It HAD to Happen!

And here it is: is posting all entrants and some are pretty damn good!

Just for good measure -- in case you've been hiding in a cave somewhere -- this is a link to a really good flash presentation of the entire comedy so far.

Choose Your Own Tartan, Laddie!

I always knew that Lee was also a Scottish name and used to have fun with people on the phone who almost certainly never suspected my Asian roots when they heard my lack of an accent (why would I have one? I was born and brought up on the Queen's English in Canada!). Still, growing up in Nova Scotia with all those kilts and bagpipes on those rolling hills can make one long for the homeland, laddie!

I recently came across this site -- Interactive Weaver on the House of Tartan site -- where you can pick your own colors, the order to weave them in, as well as your thread count, so they can actually weave you your very own family tartan.

Ah, the Internet -- what a concept! Eventually, I see anyone anywhere being able to look up a craftsperson directly online in some remote village and placing an order directly for his/her handiwork. In the meantime, enjoy that kilt!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rock, Paper, Saddam...

What more to say? The title of this site truly says it all.. RockPaperSaddam. Fun to watch all the way through.

Mohammed Through History

So I guess it's alright if THEY do it... This post clearly depicts numerous images of Mohammed as immortalized over the centuries by artists. I wonder how many of them were beheaded or punished for eternity? Maybe the newspapers should start publishing these as well. (Not a terrific server so please be patient as it loads up on your screen -- I don't think they expected the level of traffic they got.)

In all fairness, note that some of the paintings have his face under a veil. (Gee, maybe that's where bin Laden and al Zarqahi got their idea to disguise themselves as women to elude capture, huh?)

Fight Club Re-mix

Well, it looks as though more and more people are making re-mixes for movie trailers. Romantic comedies turn into horror flicks and horror movies become romantic comedies now. As expected, some are fantastic and most are mediocre. I like this recent one: Fight Club as a romantic comedy (What the F...?)

Thought I saw something strange during Superbowl...

A friend just sent me this funny montage from

And if you want to read something that addresses some of the strange stuff on SuperBowl XL more seriously, read Robert Weintraub's piece, Stealers on Slate.

I'd Really Like to Drive Today

After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, (and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices that the Pope is still standing on the curb. "Excuse me, Your Holiness," says the driver, "Would you please take your seat so we can leave?"

"Well, to tell you the truth," says the Pope, "they never let me drive at the Vatican when I was a Cardinal, and I'd really like to drive today."

"I'm sorry, Your Holiness, but I can't let you do that. I'd lose my job! And what if something should happen?" protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.

"Who's going to tell? Besides, there might be something extra in it for you," says the Pope with a smile.

Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph. (Remember, he's a German Pope.)

"Please slow down, Your Holiness!" pleads the worried driver. But the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens.

"Oh, dear God, I'm gonna lose my license -- and my job!" moans the driver. The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle and gets on the radio. "I need to talk to the Chief," he says to the dispatcher.

Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five miles an hour. "So bust him already," says the Chief.

"I don't think we want to do that, he's really important," said the cop.

The Chief exclaimed," All the more reason!"

"No, I mean really important," said the cop with a bit of persistence.

The Chief then asked, "Who ya got there, the Mayor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

Chief:" Governor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

"Well," said the Chief, "Who is it?"

Cop: "I think it's God!"

The Chief is even more puzzled and curious: "What makes you think it's God?"

Cop: "He's got the Pope as a chauffeur."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Your Very Own Southpark Character!

I found a site (German, I think) that lets you pick and choose all the pieces you need to generate your very own Southpark character. Don't know if they're in violation of copyright or how long it'll stay up (maybe they'll be allowed to continue as it's nothing more than great promo for the show) but here's the link.

Seniors Road Trip


While on a road trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant and resumed their trip. When leaving, the elderly woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table and, she didn't miss them until after they had been driving about twenty minutes.

By then, to add to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses. All the way back, the elderly husband became the classic grouchy old man. He fussed and complained and scolded his wife relentlessly during the entire return drive. The more he chided her the more agitated he became. He just wouldn't let up one minute.

To her relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. And, as the woman got out of the car and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses, the old geezer yelled to her, "Oh -- While you're in there, you might as well get my hat and the credit card!"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

New Romance Movie for 2006

Brokeback to the Future...

Four Idiots

What more is there to say? The title says it all: Four Idiots. (Windows wmv media file approx. 1.8 Mb)

Sex Offenders Among Us

I've looked at a couple of different Sex Offender maps online over the past couple of months and it's generally pretty disheartening and scary when you realize who might be living next door to you.

Over the past couple of years, people like John Walsh have pushed legislators hard to make state lists publicly available. With modern technology, these lists have now been combined with mapping software so you can see where a lot of these pervs live in your area. One of the more recents ones is a mashup combining GoogleMaps with state registries: Another more recent startup is The Family Watchdog; I found that one to be even more alarmingly detailed. Here in Washington, you can see the address where they're living and a recent picture and description of the perp. Do check them out yourself and tell your kids to check it out. Yikes!

How Old are You Again?

A friend sent me this link to an age gauge. Just type in your birth date and it'll quickly come up with the rest. Sort of nostalgic but also a little scary for some of us...

Michelle Malkin's Short Movie on the Muslim Cartoons

Check out her 2-minute experiment with Windows movies. She decided to try her hand with a short piece on the Muhammed cartoon deal from the Dutch.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Google's Statement to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus

I've had a dialog with many of my friends regarding Google's recent drubbing for taking its position on limited censoring of its searches in China so they can conduct business there. My own feeling is that the Internet should indeed be free and open to all. However, it's a lot like opening Pandora's Box. Once you open it and the contents come flying out, then you can't put it all back in again, try as you may. Being Chinese, I tend to look at China a little differently. I have traveled there and I have done business there and I still have distant relatives there. It has come a long way from where it was 50 years ago; it has made even more phenomenal leaps in the past decade, much to the surprise of everyone in the West. I believe that the Chinese are a fiercely independent and competitive culture but in a much, much different way than we are over here. As a matter of fact, if he were alive today, my Father may well have made that journey back there and he would have marveled at the country that he swore he would never set foot in again.

One example I use a lot in debates with my Western colleagues regarding change is to cite the handovers of Macau and Hong Kong from their colonialist governments. Very few people would argue that those transitions could be deemed as incredibly successful. And with little meddling on the part of Beijing. I also use the example of Tiananmen Square and compare it to our very own Kent State. Each was a frightening staredown between protesters and the government; each resulted in the deaths of a lot of civilians. China has never criticized us for Kent State but Tiananmen Square continues to be a big rallying cry when it comes to American human rights groups as their best example of Chinese repression.

Personally -- and of course this is strictly my own humble opinion -- I've tried to imagine myself as one of those old dudes sitting in Beijing when it all came down. You have to remember that Russia had just had their own Red Square facedown with Mikhail Gorbachev going out and Boris Yeltsin coming in. While it was a remarkable piece of history and drama, what with the Berlin Wall coming down and President Reagan declaring that the Cold War had finally ended, it marked the beginning of a new era of poverty and pandemonium for the Russian people. Something that may well take them another 50 years to dig themselves out of. Services were in complete disarray, the Russian mob stepped in and took over a lot of businesses and the entire Russian republic fell apart (and is still a mess today). Looking at that aftermath, I don't think I would blame the old politburos in Beijing for wanting to slow down or stop a big rebellion like the one in Red Square. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out -- not in the least. In fact, I openly laud them for their decision at that point in history. I can't even begin to imagine what might have happened if the same turmoil had happened in a country with a population over 5 times larger than Russia. In hindsight, those decisions have borne themselves out well; China continues to grow exponentially, capitalism appears to be encouraged and thriving now and China is quickly becoming a real superpower in this decade. All with little potential of major war like we'd had with the Russians during the Cold War. If the past 10 years are any indication, we may well see more dramatic changes in the next ten to come. And would I be surprised if China surpasses us in many of the social principles that we so proudly flaunt to the rest of the world? Just as it takes a lot to turn a cruise ship around in mid-ocean, so it is with the world's most populous country.

I think that over time (and we're not talking about a lot here either), the futility of trying to control something like the Internet will overwhelm the Chinese government's current efforts. They'll eventually realize it and move on to bigger and better things. But we Americans have to have stuff to thump our chest about. I only hope that when the open Pandora's Box eventually comes back and bites us in the ass one day that we're ready for it ourselves.

Moreover, since when did it become the job of businesses trying to do business in foreign countries to do the will of the government? I always was under the impression that it was the other way around (stupid me) and that our government should be doing everything in its power to talk to other governments about opening up their trade borders on all fronts (including electronic). Businesses per se have little control -- and shouldn't -- over governments in other countries. When in Rome...

And here's another thought to ponder: Our human rights advocates are screaming about what Google should do in China as a corporation. So let me get this straight: You want Big Business to affect government in a foreign country? How about we have big business affect government here at home? Omigod -- you CAN'T do that! We hate lobbyists, we don't want large corporations influencing government, wah, wah, wah. Just remember 'What goes around comes around.' If we're so willing to dictate how this is all going to come down in someone else's backyard, we'd better be prepared to suck it up and swallow it over here.

I applaud Google for their decision to launch in China after negotiating some terms that they could live with and allow them to bring their technology to the general population. Simply put, you can't play if you don't have a seat at the table. And I think I'd rather have Google at the table. Moreover, as I understand it, Google struck a somewhat more creative and liberal approach than Yahoo or Microsoft. Yahoo in fact recently had to hand over the name of a dissident blogger and that dude is in jail right now as I post this blog.

It was interesting that Congress called a hearing on this issue and no one showed up. However, Google did officially send a statement and you can read it in its entirety here.

The Big Mohammed Cartoon Flap in Europe

If you haven't heard anything about the growing protests across the Muslim world that started when a Dutch newspaper published a cartoon depicting a terrorist Mohammed, here's a link to that cartoon and more. And another one here. In case you didn't know, it's taboo to depict Mohammed or Allah according to the Koran. Geez, they're only cartoons...

Another Oldie: Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?
October 2002

A couple of friends of mine sent me this piece again recently and apparently it's made its way online over the past couple of years. Can't really attest to its authenticity (I admit it would probably be reasonably easy to do but who likes Dr. Laura anyway?). I do still remember the controversy she sparked in citing the Bible on gays. Here's the intro:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Editing and Context

A while back, some folks did a very creative re-mix of the trailer for the movie, The Shining with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. It made the movie appear to be more of a romantic family movie instead of the Steven King thriller that it really was. Well, the folks at did a re-mix for Tom Hanks' Sleepless in Seattle and made it look like a sinister movie instead of the romantic comedy it really is. Fun trailers.

An Oldie but Goodie: Baby Planes

A mother and her son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago. The son, who had been looking out the window, turned to his mother and asked, "If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?"

The mother (who couldn't think of an answer) told her son to ask the stewardess. So the boy asked the stewardess, "If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?"

The stewardess responded, "Did your mother tell you to ask me?"

The boy said, "Yes she did."

"Well then, tell your mother that there are no baby planes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Have your mother explain that to you."

Phone Prank Gone Bad

A lot of radio stations seem to be jumping on the bandwagon of making live prank calls to people during their shows. Unfortunately, they sometimes run the risk of going the wrong way... Candid Camera never seemed to ever get this mean. (Windows wma file -- 920k)

Old Lovers

The old man leans over and asks his old lover, "Do you remember the first time we had sex together over fifty years ago? We went behind this very tavern where you leaned against the back fence and I made love to you."

"Yes," she says, "I remember it well"

"OK," he says, "How about taking a stroll around there again and we can do it for old time's sake?"

"Oh Charlie, you old devil, that sounds like a crazy, but very good idea!"

There's a police officer sitting in the next booth listening to all this, and having a chuckle to himself.

He thinks, "I've got to see these two old-timers having sex against a fence. I'll just keep an eye on them so there's no trouble."

So he follows them. They walk haltingly along, leaning on each other for support, aided by walking sticks. Finally they get to the back of the tavern and make their way to the fence. The old lady lifts her skirt and the old man drops his trousers. As she leans against the fence, the old man moves in.

Suddenly they erupt into the most furious sex that the watching policeman has ever seen. This goes on for about forty minutes. Finally, they both collapse panting on the ground.

The policeman is amazed. He thinks he has learned something about life that he didn't know.

After about half an hour of lying on the ground recovering, the old couple struggle to their feet and put their clothes back on. The Policeman, still watching thinks, this was truly amazing I've got to ask them what their secret is.

As the couple passes, he says to them, "Excuse me, but that was something else. You must've had a fantastic sex life together. Is there some sort of secret to this?"

The old man says, "Fifty years ago that wasn't an electric fence."