Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WNYC Soundbite: Why A Cultural Darwin Is Needed

I found this to be pretty engaging. Basically talks about the need for someone to come along and do for the study of culture what Darwin did for the study of genetics. It then starts to go off into population growth and the like, but its still worth a listen. The person being interviewed is Paul Ehrlich, a professor at Stanford University.

There are some points brought up here that I feel would be great for discussion. One of them would be the premise of cultural evolution to begin with. As Ehrlish said, culture in many ways is always being re-written, yet there are certain patterns in culture that have a tendency to remain unwavering. And you can't analyze one culture on its own - sooner or later you'll have to observe its interaction with other cultures around it. All of which may lead a person down an endless line of research.

Which is why I just love social sciences.

Another part I found to be really good is that it brings up culture and the environment's relationship with one another. I personally feel that they're highly interconnected. Especially ancient cultures that have long since ran their course. For example, I'm right now re-reading The Odyssey by Homer and in it you can see how much the location of where their world is centered around plays a role in their culture. You have deities for local bodies of water, the material their weaponry was crafted from, etc.

The audio clip can serve as a nice stepping stone for going deeper into the the topics it (sadly) touched upon very quickly. With that said, what do you guys think about what Ehrlish brought up?

Knol - Google's giant "We can do it better than you" to Wikipedia

Knol is cute.

Seriously, it is. And while it may not necessary be an attack on Wikipedia, it sure does seem that way. At least to most people.

For those not in the know, Knol is Google's lastest project, aimed at having users write articles on whatever they choose to for the benefit of others. So long as you have an account, you can join in and write (hopefully) about what you know. One thing I've noticed is the use of people's actual names for those who publish articles. I don't recall ever really noticing that on wikipedia.

Another thing is the lack of pictures. I don't see much pictures and diagrams on Knol. Look at these two pages on entrepreneurship - one from Wikipedia and the other from Knol. Wikipedia has two related diagrams on their page while Knol doesn't. Finally, Wikipedia has a lot of links to related articles within the wikisphere. Knol doesn't point inward of itself to refer people to new ideas within the text of any given article.

I must say that for now, I'm going to stick with Wikipedia, mainly because it has a larger base of knowledge (it appears that Knol has about seven pages worth of "featured" articles). But, I'm sure that as time goes on, Knol will grow to be a much more realistic alternative to the Wiki-King.

Critical Mass Bicyclist vs. the NYPD

This happened just a few days ago, bringing more light to the tension between Critical Mass and the City. While the cop was wrong - the bicyclist didn't seem to do anything even remotely questionable in the video - I'm hearing that many of the other cyclists involved in those events are quite obnoxious. From reading people's comments about this I'm gathering that they're a big obstruction to traffic. Purposely.

Now, I've yet to actually encounter a Critical Mass event in progress and I think that the idea of a whole bunch of people getting together to ride is a great idea. However, if you purposely get in the way of the masses in an unorderly manner, it makes me sort of wonder if I should even listen to your group. No matter how important your message is.

So what do you guys think of what happened? Ever got caught up in one of their get-togethers and/or find them as annoying as other people do or do you agree with their methods?

After looking around youtube some more I found this video from an arrest during Critical Mass in 2004. The video is fairly intense, so watch at your own discretion. But believe that it will help to fuel the conversation in the comments.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Niche Or Not To Niche

I've been wondering lately if I should make this blog of mine fall into a "niche". As you can tell, I've allowed this place to become a pool where all my thoughts continuously spill out into - as was the original plan. Even the name of this blog captures its nature quite perfectly, if I do say so myself. But, I do think that there are some valid reasons why I should consider following a niche instead of being all over the place. And at the same time there are reasons why I should stay the way I am. Here are 3 arguments from both sides of the fence.

To Niche:
1. A set focus in terms of content.

2. Force me to put thought into what I write so that my posts fit the mold of the blog(s) I'd be running.

3. Hopefully provide my readers a more "pure" experience. If people come here to read about one thing, they don't get bombarded by other matters that don't interest them, say my experiences at the near by Apple Store or something.

To Not Niche:
1. If I were to take this blog and then alter it, it would then become many blogs. Each with their own area of thought. That would mean I'd then have to divide myself between each blog and I don't have that much willpower for that. One blog is going to get more attention than the other - I can tell you that much now. So if I already know that, why bother attempting it?

2. I personally like to think that most of what I write about have a way of being interconnected, should you hang around long enough for them to. In my head, this is certainly the case and then for me purposely separate them into boxes, I might be shooting myself in the foot. I just don't think within such lines.

3. Tags were invented for a reason. Really. I don't have them there because I think they are a nice little distraction. I do try to use tags to help organize my posts into actual themes. You guys should use them as well.

For the time being, I'm going to stick with this blog. Its treated me well up until now and I don't see a need to change it around unless I'm moving to my own servers. I'm highly content with this place and I want to see it mature naturally - breaking it up into branches would only hinder that.

And besides, if this blog is too disordered, just have fun with it. I know I am :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Last Friday many members of MOUSE got a chance to visit the Marketsite to participate in the Closing Ceremony. Just going there was simply great, but I was also given the chance to act as their student representative on stage. This meant I got to say a few words, get my mug on that giant monitor they have outside overlooking Times Square, and last but not least, push the button that signified the end of the trading day.

(Can you guess which one I am? Hi Carole!)

It was amazing how much of a "T" people there have gotten the process down to. The four of us each got a few seconds to introduce ourselves, talk more about the program, and finally what we've each down through our involvement with MOUSE - many of mine, you can read about here.

After that, everyone in our little (correction: enormous) group had joined us on stage for the button pressing. Reaching over to touch something gets a lot harder when you're being squished, hence the odd looking expression on my face in the picture below - its a look of concentration.

My one biggest peeve was that the button did not glow red. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for some reason any button like that should glow red, not orange. No one ever has ever spoken about a "big orange button" being important before - it was always a big red button. Get my drift? Some how I felt a bit let down because of that...

All in all it was a great experience. How many people my age can say that they had a hand in such an event? I'm very proud to have had yet an other opportunity to support MOUSE and I look forward to what other events lie ahead.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blog Carnival '08

And so it starts today.

Since this is the first time I've ever gotten people to do such a thing, I'm not expecting much action until later on in the week. But hopefully, all of us participating can get together and share some really cool writings of ours.

Anyways, here to a fun and interesting carnival!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Premise of Modern Narcissism

Here is a New York Times article about how narcissism, in word and in meaning, is being thrown around a lot more nowadays. From pop-culture icons to everyone having a Facebook, or the equivalent time-wasting web apps out there, the article deems that all of these are fair game for being labeled as narcissistic. It then goes on to talk about how the idea of one being narcissistic has changed in recent years.

It made me wonder just how narcissistic I and everyone else that have blogs can be considered to be. We are, in all actuality, writing in the hopes that people out in the internet care about what we have to say regarding anything at all. We wish for our voices to be heard and take great joy - and in some cases pleasure - when we see others react our thoughts, for ill or for good.

So this begs the question, How do I make this so-called narcissism a positive thing? How can taking a deep rooted interest in my self not only appeal to others, but maybe help someone in some form - be it aiding in developing thoughts and disscussions, teaching others, etc? While this may be a futile attempt at justifying whatever egoistical reasons I have for keeping this blog running for the past 9 or 10 months, I like to think that some of my posts at least responds to those questions. While I can't say the same for the other online social mediums I partake in, I pride myself on the difference I try to estabish the line between the two.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Obama is my Slave" T-Shirt

What the holy hell is this???

A friend of mine just brought this to my attention. He was reading the Metro this morning and came across an article on the front page about some girl who got attacked in Union Square some time ago for wearing a T-Shirt that read "Obama Is My Slave" and is now suing the shirt's creator.

Now there are a few wrongs I've noticed here.
1) Should not have been wearing that shirt in the first place.
2) Who the hell made that crap in the first place? Whoever did should be shot. For that matter, anyone who buys it should be hung by their toenails.
3) Attacking people is still bad, even when they deserve it. I know its annoying but its true.
4) That girl paid 69 dollars for an ass-whooping. That just makes me depressed.

Is the girl who got attacked white, out of curiosity? I take it she is since in the article it was specified that her attackers were black females. I'm sure shes aware of racial tension so what did she think was going to happen to her, walking around with that thing on? It would be like me walking around with a shirt that said, for example, that the Israeli state should not exist - I would logically expect some sort of public backlash, violent and otherwise. Maybe if she would have gotten away with it somewhere with no black people around, but I digress.

And as for the designer - he just looks like an fool with a mullet. I'm perfectly alright with people wanting to vote for and criticize whomever they like, but only when they go about it in a logic and socio-conscious manner. Towards the end of the article they talk about his other shirts against Obama such as "Jews Against Obama" and "Obama = Hitler". They end with the guy saying that he did not like Obama because Obama is a Muslim.


Doesn't that remind you of anything that has happened lately? At least the other thing was meant as satire....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Connected: The Movie (Conception of iPhone Edu.)

Here's a little something for everyone who is just getting / already had / thinking about gettting an iPhone.

This video was made by the students and facility at ACU - Abilene Christian University. The goal was to showcase the potential that the iPhone holds in classrooms across America. While it is fictional, a lot of the content seen is actually in development so it won't be before long when we'll finally see it in real life.

The video is a perfect example of one of my reasons for wanting to get into iPhone programming and just programming in general. I want to be able to be apart of the advancement of technology - I want the ability to make my dreams and ideals reach a level of manifestation in which they benefit as much people as possible, and as a result, the users treat my creations with as much love and respect as I will. I really do think that the iPhone is and will be a great tool for reaching all of that with.

And imagine what else the phone is being used for right now, for just technology in general. The conceptions and theories that are being explored. Doesn't it just make you sit beside yourself in awe?

WNYC Soundbite: "On the Media"

Go here to hear the whole broadcast.

Last Friday I was listening to WNYC (93.9FM here in the city) and got to hear this interesting piece. Its about the recent edits to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that our beloved President just signed. The basic addition to the act follows, taken from the linked piece:

"[It]still requires the government to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on US citizens. But permits -- to listen in on the phone calls of foreign nationals outside the country without warrants even if they are speaking to people in the US... It also expands the government's power to invoke emergency wiretapping."

The broadcast eventually turns to Google's ability to withstand governmental subpoenas, possibliy ordering them to hand over detailed records of who searches what (very detailed records, mind you). It seems that in the past, Google was able to avoid such advances, but the question of will it be able to do so again still looms, growing ever larger as days past.

What does this mean for the internet? Just where how far will all of this go? I don't think it will get as bad as the situation in China regarding massive internet filters, but at times it definitely looks as if its going to attempt to.

What do you guys think about all of this? Sound off in the comments, if you please.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Carnival '08 - Starts On Monday!

Like the title said - the carnival begins on Monday. I hope to have it run for two weeks, during which everyone who has already signed up and would like to sign up (pretty please?) can just go to each other's blog, read the content there, and then contact its owner with what you would like to post.

Also, in keeping with something I learned from PDF last month let's try this out. I would like for every post that is made in relation to the carnival (guest posts and the likes) to have a label or tag that says so. Just a simple "Blog carnival" tag will do.

Final thing is this, if you have not done so before, go back to the registration post from a while ago and look in the comments. There mostly everyone had posted a link to their blog so check them out. Leave comments for them or something - just do something that establishes some sort of contact.

Any questions or comments or suggestions leave a comment here and I'll get back to you guys asap.

The New Yorker's Obama Cover

All political hell has just broken loose.

I'm sure by now you all have heard about The New Yorker's most recent cover. In case you haven't for some incredible reason their cover depicts a cartoon president hopeful Barack Obama along with his wife Michelle as terrorists in the White House.

The cover was meant to be satire - what was drawn was in no way a reflection of what the magazine believes, instead it was poking fun at what many have said about Obama during these past months. Everything from the weapons, the terrorist fist jab, to the burning American flag in the fireplace off in the background.

But many are crying bloody murder for the artwork, saying that it is offensive and should not have been printed. Even our old friend Al Sharpton (I'm not touching that just yet.... darn spokesperson for all black people...) had something to say about its "spirit of insult".

Now, I personally find the cover to be quite clever and gets the point driven home in a great way. There are still a lot of people who still thinks that all of those things and more that are said about Obama are true. I think that with all the firestorm going on about it, people are now more aware of these attitudes swimming around in the recesses of our nation's consciousness. Hopefully everyone can now hear the truth and wise up before time runs out.

Interesting how all of this happens right after Jesse Jackson opened his big mouth. Come on, I would have thought he of all people knew better.

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone 3G's Release Today

Today's the day. The new iPhone is now out and people are tripping among themselves to get it. I just got into work and I've already heard five people talk about the insane lines wrapping around Apple Stores everywhere in the city. While I am glad its finally out, I flat-out refuse to stand on ANY line to buy something I can easily just wait a few days for.

Its important to note that the new app store has been up since yesterday or so. The new iTunes update grants access to it and there are already a fair amount of applications ready to be purchased. It goes without saying that those numbers are going to shoot up within the months - I'll be surprised if it doesn't.

So to everyone who got their brand new shiny iPhones today - You all are bloody crazy. Have fun with them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'm still alive... Sort of....

Its been a while, eh?

I really dislike going cold-turkey on blogging and all, but I notice that every once in a while its necessary to take a break, simply to regain your focus.

Now that my fairly random hiatus has ended, we can get back to my odd ramblings. The Doctor Who season finale I got to watch last Sunday was just great so you can expect a post about it. I also started my summer intern at Tekserve which is going along well, and my little friends have gotten me roped up in going to the movies with them soon. I really don't know how they were able to do that, but I'm going and I wish to see if my little theory (which I got some crap for) will work. Finally, purhaps biggest of all, the blog carnival shall soon commence. Hope you lot did not forget about that one...

All this and more very, very soon. Depends on my mood really.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

iPhone SDK 8

I've been playing around with the eighth beta of the iPhone's SDK for a while. I like it and all, but I have one problem - whenever I start up the iPhone simulator, it crashes and my program doesn't load. I sent in an error report to Apple a week or so ago in hopes that they fix it in time for their final release, which I hope will be soon - or at the very least, another update in the next few days.

(Relatively) New on Twitter

In case you have not noticed the latest little widget to the left, its a Twitter update reel.

I have no idea why I went and signed up for an account. Maybe I thought it was a nice way to waste time or to keep up with friends who may just happen to have it already - either way, its there for everyone to see. Now, my life is not all that interesting, but sign up and "follow" me on Twitter. Might as well, right?