Friday, April 25, 2003

Florida Is Senile

Boy, I've never heard of this horrible legislation until now. How did they pass it in the first place? Yet another reason Florida should be kicked out of the Union.
Scary PETA People

I've always thought there are some total lunatics in PETA. This article just scares me.

Last night on the train home, I saw a homeless old man who talked to himself loudly and incessantly for an hour. While living in the Bay Area I always felt sad and guilty whenever I walked past those who were homeless because I felt that I should be doing something to help them. Out of that sense of responsibility, I joined Night Outreach. Once a week in the fall quarter of my junior year, I would meet with a couple of other Stanford students and talk to homeless people on the streets of downtown Palo Alto. Our goal was to engage them in conversations and bring them various items such as soap, shampoo, fruit, vitamins. In other words, we wanted to let them know that there are people out there who are concerned about their welfare.

I dropped out of the program after a quarter. I quit because I was disillusioned with the whole experience. For the duration of my participation in Night Outreach, the homeless people I met could be divided into two groups. The first group was composed of people who were handicapped, be it mentally or physically. There was Vietnam Joey, who always wore a tethered leather jacket decorated with various military insignia. Through the few encounters between us, I don't ever remember him talking coherently. It seemed like he was always drunk or high. Then there was Rob -- I think that's his name -- who always sat with his body slouched and his head leaning sideways on the back of a bench. Like Vietname Joey, he also seemed to be in a constant state of stupor. Occasionally, he had violent outbursts during which he would hurl profanities at someone for no reason. I believe he had some kind of ailment or ailments that caused him a lot of pain, which could help to explain why he was always heavily medicated. To be honest, I don't think I have ever met anyone whose body, mind, and spirit were so disintegrated. (An interesting side note: once while we were talking to Rob, or rather, trying to talk to him, there was another guy our age that attempted to engage him in a conversation. We didn't realize until afterwards that this guy was probably trying to score some medicinal marijuana from Rob, judging by his cautious glances to his furtive demeanor.)

Besides Joey and Rob, I had also seen a few people in wheelchairs, but never got the chance to talk to them. The more I interacted with these afflicted people, the more it became apparent that we could not really help them in any significant way. I know the purpose of Night Outreach is not to give them money or make them dependent on us, but to befriend them and make them feel like part of society. Nonetheless it was extremely disheartening for me to see the amount of pain and suffering these people experienced on a daily basis. What good was a pack of dental floss to Rob if he had to battle immense physical pains constantly and was always drugged out of his mind? While our intentions were good, we could not begin to alleviate their tremendous suffering. Those people belonged in hospitals and mental institutions.

As much sympathy as I had and still have for those poor souls, I felt the same amount of contempt towards the people who belonged in the other category. These people were of sound health and mind but were too lazy to work to support themselves. They didn't seem to feel embarassed at all about panhandling. Victor is a case in point. An old man with a surpringly well-kept appearance, Victor was almost the antithesis of your stereotypical homeless person. His hair was always neatly combed and his face clean-shaven. His clothes were almost spotless. With his gold-rimmed glasses and polite manners, he could almost be mistaken for a Stanford professor, if it weren't for the fact that he's asking you for money. Based on the conversations I had with Victor, he seemed like a clear-headed, intelligent person who could have easily held a steady job. I mean, before the tech bubble bursted, a monkey could have been hired to design web pages for start-ups with names like "Woosh" and "Psoom" (two actual companies). Instead, Victor was content with taking out trash for Subway in exchange for sandwiches. And asking people for money.

Then there were people like Larry, who felt that the world owes them because of their homelessness. Although not as clean or polite as Victor, Larry was also very intelligent and opinionated. Of course, he didn't want to work either. I still remember him urging us to protest plans to built a new homeless shelter because the people behind the project apparently had the preposterous belief that spots in the shelter should go to people who had the best prospects of gaining self-independence. To Larry, such plans smacked of elitism. He argued that placements should be totally random so things would be fair, as if his lazy ass deserved to live in a shelter as much as someone who had hit upon bad luck and needed a place to sleep while he or she looked for a job. Larry also liked to feel indignant and to attend protest rallies for the homeless. He wanted to pen an article for a new publication launched by Night Outreach to give homeless people a voice. Looking back now, I wish I had asked him why he didn't just use all this pent-up energy to try to find a job so that he didn't have to demand us to go on a clothing drive to collect winter clothing for him.

After almost 3 months of guilt and frustration, I quit. Now that I'm in New York, I still encounter homeless people from time to time, although not nearly as many as in San Francisco for some odd reason, given the higher cost of living here. Sometimes I give money to the disabled panhandlers as well as the subway performers. I don't feel so guilty any more, but I am still just as sympathetic, at least to the ones who actually need help.
One More Hypocrite

Yet another member of the Bring Down Clinton Coalition has been caught with his pants down. From the Washington Post: "Republican activist Richard A. Delgaudio, a longtime Northern Virginia-based fundraiser for conservative causes and personalities, was sentenced to two years' probation yesterday after pleading guilty to a child pornography charge." This is the guy who led "The Clinton Investigative Commission." According to ABC News: "The group pays private detectives to dig up scandal on the White House while distributing impeachment petitions."

Let's see, New Gingrich cheated on his wife. Henry Hyde, who chaired the impeachment committee if I recall correctly, broke up someone else's marriage. Now this guy is caught taking sexually explicit pictures of a minor, a high school dropout with a kid!!

You know, sometimes I wish I can round up all these conservative family values crusaders/hypocrites and take a massive dump on their heads. I'm sure they wouldn't mind since shit is all that ever comes out of their mouths.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Next BLT??

I've always wondered what Duke students do when they are not camping out for bball games, I guess I know now: they make spoofs of rap videos. It's nice to see a few brothas getting their freak on, although the video quality could be a little better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Woo Hoo

Looks like The Daily Show is garnering more praises every week. Here's to hoping Jon and the Gang can keep up the good work!
Free Association

On the way to the bathroom I started thinking about how I need to get some stuff in Chinatown after work today. Then I started thinking about SARS. Then the Chinese officials' cover up of SARS. Then the Soviet government's cover up of Chernobyl. Then Vitaly Chernobyl, a character in Snow Crash. Then Neal Stephenson's other book, Cryptonomicon. Then did Sachin finally finish reading that book?
Get Your Drink On

Who Elected This Guy?

Ok, by now I'm sure everyone knows about the anti-gay comments from Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who reportedly compared homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery. It's a good thing that has published sections of his original interview, because before I thought he was just another conservative homophobe. After reading the transcript, it is apparent that this guy is much crazier than that. He believes that NO ONE should be entitled to privacy at home, that the government should be able to limit your "wants and passions" in the privacy of your own home!! He somehow blames the Catholic priest molestations on homosexuality. What a fucking crackpot!!

Quotes from the interview:

You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong, healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, where it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.
I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.
And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society.
Good Parenting

On the train home last night, there was a little boy who would not stop screaming and crying. I was pretty startled to see how someone that small could pump out that much acoustic energy. An old man sitting at the other end of the train yelled at the boy to stop crying. Although I didn't hear what he said, his scary demeanor did shut the little tyke up.

At that one instant, I recalled Dad's favorite scare tactic when I was a little boy. Basically, good old Dad would tell me the "Ge Niu Lao Han," which roughly translates into "old man that cuts off wee wee," would come and get me. According to Dad, this GNLH has a full bag of wee-wees from misbehaving little boys, Hell's version of Santa Claus, if you will. Now, I don't even remember why he used to say that because I was a quiet and docile little kid, or so I thought. Too bad I don't remember what my reactions were either. I must have been pretty scared if he used that threat a lot.

After I got off the train, I called Dad and we had a good laugh over it. When he asked me about my parking ticket appeal, I told him that I had to send the City Finance Dept. the payment along with my statement of appeal, that they have cashed my check already and I would only get a refund if they find my statement persuasive enough. He chuckled and said it's like "Yong Rou Bao Zi Da Gou," or trying to hit a dog by throwing meat buns at it, meaning that I shouldn't be holding my breath for a refund.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Rat Bastards

Looks like I will be cancelling my American Express card soon. I've always liked carrying my stylish Blue card and have never had a problem with Amex's customer service, but I never thought they would engage in this kind of shenanigans. Hopefully they will stop when they get enough cancellations.

This article makes me sick. Maybe I should hold off from investing in the stock market until such nonsense subsides, although I have absolutely no faith in that happening any time soon, if ever.

Monday, April 21, 2003


While watching Helen of Troy, I saw the following commercials:

Spam: yes, there was an actual commercial for SPAM. Initially, I thought it was one of the MSN commercials about their anti-spam technology since this commercial was so damn cheesey. Even when the commercial was over I still couldn't believe I had just seen a spam commercial. Speaking of Spam, I still remember eating it in China, except it's called Luncheon Meat there, something I never understood. Can you only eat it during lunch?

Mono-Stat 7: What the hell is yeast infections exactly? It seems like only attractive women -- you know, the ones in TV ads -- are cursed with such an unpleasant-sounding affliction. It reminds me of the time in ninth grade Biology when I told my teacher that I wanted to do my research project on Toxic Shock Syndrome because it sounded so cool. Of course I had to switch to Ebola once Ms. Laine explained what it actually is.

Kodak PLUS Digital: Ok, judging from the commercial it seems like this is just like any other regular one-time use cameras from Kodak, except that you also get back a picture CD. Big fucking deal. The way I see it, Kodak just wrapped the same old cameras in fancier packaging to let whoever develops the pictures to know that the user wants a picture CD along with the prints. I'm sure they charge much more for this camera than the combined cost of developing regular prints and getting a picture CD. I can't believe Kodak is marketing this camera as some kind of technological breakthrough. No offense Cindy, but what a bunch of crooks!!
Music Goody

Can a computer program other than Wimpus really figure out what kind of music you would like and know how to organize your music library automatically? I'll give this nifty little Synapse Media Player a try when I get home.
Stanford CS Is DA BOMB!!

I still remember taking CS classes with Dawson. He wasn't always the best lecturer but he is a really nice guy and pretty lenient when it comes to grading, which helped a lot when I was suffering through CS 140: Operating Systems. I invited him to faculty dinner once and he was a really cool guy. It's hard to imagine my CS prof going clubbing, but apparently that was one of his favorite things to do. The guy has a totally euro girlfriend too. Some people just have it all: the looks, the brains and the muscles. Sometimes the world just seems unfair.

Reading about geniuses like this guy just makes me feel dumb and depressed.
Men Are From Mars; Women Are From No-Pocketville

During a meeting with some people at work today, I saw that one of the managers had her badge buried in a pile of stuff on her desk. Then I noticed that my coworker's pants had no pockets, as did the manager. This all bring back memories of girls I knew at Stanford who carried their keys to the dinner hall and then either left those keys at the dining table or on their food trays. Ok, I know it's not always fashionable to have a bulge in my pants (that actually sounds dirtier than I intended) and that girls have handbags where they can dump all their junk, but I can't imagine wearing clothing that have no pockets. I mean, I've locked myself out of my apartment twice already when I HAVE "pocket-enabled" clothing. How do girls live without them? It's a crazy crazy world I tell you.
Why I Hope We Won't Get Into Another War

Good lord, I had no idea the current slump in the economy has such a huge impact on the state budgets.

The states are desperate, struggling with their worst financial crises since World War II. They have tapped rainy day funds, raided tobacco money that was supposed to have provided health care for children and taxed every possible vice.
In Pleasant Ridge, Mich., the police are considering a deal to allow companies to advertise on the sides of patrol cars in exchange for cheap vehicle leases.
In Ms. Monson's home state, Oklahoma, teachers have driven buses, mopped the floors and even cooked cafeteria food, as support staffs for major school districts have been sharply reduced or eliminated.
But for Jonathan Bradley, a disabled father of two, the cuts mean the end of medication that has kept him alive, said his wife, Mary. She works as a paralegal in Omaha, but the job offers no health insurance. The family had been eligible for Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled. But to balance its budget, Nebraska raised the eligibility threshold by more than 30 percent.

"We even considered getting a divorce just so one of us would qualify," Ms. Bradley said. "What are we supposed to do, live in a tent?"
Oregon has been hit particularly hard. In Portland, in a last-minute effort to keep schools open for the full school year, teachers agreed to work two weeks without pay the equivalent of a 5 percent pay cut.
Point Break?

On the morning news today, there was an aerial shot of a crowd of 30 or 40 masked men in tuxedoes walking around the Rockfeller Center to promote Fox's new reality series "Mr. Personality." I thought it would be amusing if some bank robbers decided to blend into this crowd and then knock off a couple of banks nearby when opportunity arises.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

American Dream

Today while I was chatting with Dad on the phone, I told him that I drove past the apartment in Flushing where we used to live in 10 years ago. We started talking about the neighborhood and the baseball fields and shops that were near our apartment. At one point, he asked me if I remember this Chinese restaurant. I said no. I asked, "Did we go eat there before?" He laughed and said, "Of course not, son, we couldn't afford to eat at any restaurant back then."

It's been quite a while since my sister, mom and I arrived in the States on November 2, 1990 (Dad got here in '89, just after the Tiananmen Square crackdown). Throughout the years, we have moved from place to place because Dad seemed to have a penchant for working as a postdoc for professors whose research grants dry up quickly. We experienced the same kind of trials and tribulations as countless other immigrants. I still remember being excited about jumping in the car with Dad to pick up my sister from the Greek restaurant where she worked so she would "tip" me. Sometimes I fell asleep in the car, but she still tipped me. When I used the bag of coins I had saved up to buy Super Contra, Dad was angry, which was extremely rare for him, and made me return it. Twenty dollars seemed like so much to us back then. At the time I almost hated him for it because I felt I had earned that money and should have been able to spend it anyway I please. I guess I wasn't mature enough to understand how hard it must have been for him to support a family of four on less than $20,000 a year. A few months ago, I bought Street Fighter EX3 even though I was pretty sure it's a shitty game, judging by the $20 price tag. I bought it because I remember watching other kids playing Street Fighter II at this donut shop near our apartment all the time but never having the money to play myself. I know this sounds stupid and irrational, but it just felt so gratifying to finally have a Street Fighter game for myself, even if it sucks and it's not the one I had always wanted to play as a kid.

Now I feel like my family is finally and truly living the American dream: my parents have stable (it's all relative of course) jobs and bought a big two-story house with a big backyard where Dad cultivates his little veggie garden during the few months in Minnesota that isn't cold and snowing (occasionally he finds it ravaged by birds, dogs, and even a deer or two). Too bad by the time they bought the house, my sister and I were both away attending fancy-pants schools and getting edumacated.

We are all US citizens and enjoy all the freedoms afforded us by the Constitution. I feel like I have gotten the most out of my citizenship by voting and by voicing my opposition to this particularly bellicose administration and the war it has just waged. I know that I wouldn't be nearly as free to criticize the government if I were still living in China and I am thankful for the rights to which I am entitled now in this country.

I don't know where we will be in 10 years, I just hope life will get better for all of us the way it has improved since we got here.
I Did NOT Need to Know That

Nothing ruins my enjoyment of Helen of Troy like learning it's brought to me by ex-Lax and finding out Philips users prefer ex-Lax because it tastes great and brings cramp-free relief.
Comments Gone

For now. It seems that Squawk Box, which is the component that I'm using for commenting, is currently having problems. Everyone I know that's using Squawk Box has the same problem. Hopefully it'll be fixed soon so you can make fun of my posts again, Srini!
Women: Can't Understand Them; Can't Live Without Them

[01:48:55] LemonED50: i dun know what she wants man
[01:48:56] gfunknation: sometimes i wish it all boils down to a yes or no
[01:49:02] gfunknation: or true or false
[01:49:06] LemonED50: i dun even know if she wants at all
[01:49:08] gfunknation: for us cs people
[01:49:26] gfunknation: as in, a big fucking arrow on top of someone's head that flashes green if she wants you
[01:49:36] LemonED50: hahaha
[01:49:38] gfunknation: and red if you should just beat it
[01:49:43] LemonED50: if(true)
[01:49:46] LemonED50: {
[01:49:58] LemonED50: proceed to make hapa kids;
[01:50:01] LemonED50: }
[01:50:04] LemonED50: else
[01:50:10] LemonED50: break;
[01:50:16] LemonED50: return (fail);
[01:50:26] LemonED50: hahahahahh
[01:50:33] LemonED50: we're such fucking nerds ;-p
[01:50:51] gfunknation: now, write a recursive version to go through the entire 18-22 female age group