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Showing posts from April, 2010

Post on Derive Politics: African Development

Another post on Derive Politics, this one about African development. An excerpt:

"For a while now, American aid to the continent of Africa has generally been focused on poverty alleviation. Foreign aid from the United States and the Western world, a lot of it private, has been funneled into projects designed to address the pressing needs of the poor, from famine relief to clean sanitation and education. And yet, despite the vast amounts of money that has been poured into the region, progress is frustratingly hard. African countries have had the slowest rate of growth in the world. Despite a range of external factors like sectional conflict, there seems to be little to no tangible benefit from Western aid."

Full post here.

An experiment with vegetarianism, part 2

Today's lunch was a little more satisfying than yesterday's. At the very least there was some meat substitute tacos, which didn't leave me filling not full. I think I'm adjusting to the taste, but I'm not eating any less, which is also part of the goal of this exercise.

Nonetheless, I don't think it'd be particularly difficult to do this on a relatively daily basis. I think that in the end I might stick to a vegetarian diet for the most part.

An experiment with vegetarianism, part 1

So for the next workweek I'll be eating like a vegetarian. Some might wonder why. I figured that since it's easiest to be a vegetarian in college, I might as well give it a try. Aside from the ethical issues of eating other (relatively) sentient beings, there's also the environmental arguments. After all, pure biology dictates that we cannot sustain the massive amounts of meat the world would require if we weren't vegetarians. I'm merely trying to preview the future.

So far it's been alright, without much taste. More details to follow.

Proactivity? Nah.

I will refuse to be proactive this week. However, on the plus side I'll reduce my facebook habits and get paid. Some concrete goals would be nice but I'm not really that concrete.

Last Derive Politics post

This one's about the Catholic Church. Excerpt:

"For years, now, the Catholic Church has been hit by scandal after scandal. It has suffered a loss in reputation and in followers. As a result, the very moral core of the Catholic Church is likely to be destroyed. The process has accelerated this year, with new revelations that Pope Benedict might have been complicit in covering up the scandal. There is very little the Church can do, but what it can do could possibly save this organization that dates back thousands of years."

Full text.

Another older Derive Politics article

All of these are somewhat still relevant. Excerpt:

"The decision by the various different Sudanese opposition parties to withdraw from the Sudanese general elections strikes another blow against freedom in the region. It is the latest in a long line of disappointments, not all of them unexpected, that has afflicted the region. With this latest development, however, peace in the region might have been set back for decades yet again."

Full text.

An old article about the Tea Party on Derive Politics

This was a post I made a while ago about the Tea Party. An excerpt:

"If you are paying attention to the news at all, it is not hard to hear about the efforts of the Tea Party movement. Individuals across the nation, upset with President Obama and Congress, are expressing their anger through demonstrations and rallies, some of which have become openly hostile. They are, in short, the Republican mirror of the Democrats who opposed George W. Bush."

Full text.

Thoughts on Bill Gates

Bill Gates' speech at the University yesterday was generally good. The actual presentation that he gave, while at points interesting, was a kind of general, vague speech that wasn't too insightful but still was informative. Still, the best part of Gates' appearance wasn't his prepared remarks. Rather, it was his responses to student questions that was truly the highlight.
Gates answered all of the questions well. Some of them took him longer than others and some of them were not necessarily important, but he handled them well. The best question asked was about whether Gates' foundation was actually crowding out other foundations (with a joke about Gates' foundation being monopolistic). However, Gates' best answer was to the question of why he didn't make his foundation perpetual. His overall ability to successfully inform us of his efforts was great.
Plus the fact that we gave him a B.A. undergraduate thesis at the end was pretty cool.

Two talks tonight

Amartya Sen and Bill Gates are both speaking today at UChicago. Check back here, I might be live blogging it. If not, there will be a recap tomorrow.

There will be a live blog of Sen. My comments on Gates will follow tomorrow.

Live blog:

There are not enough chairs for all of these people. 4:22PM

So now we get an introductory speaker. 4:35PM

Ha ha, Sen makes a joke about his eye surgery. 4:43PM.

The talk overall was interesting, although I did zone out for a bit. In short: A lot of people had misconceptions about Adam Smith. He didn't believe in the free market as ardently as some of the people who now support him think he did. He was much more nuanced, aware of the effects of one's surroundings, and also well aware that other things aside from self interest motivated people. In short short, Adam Smith was not dumb.

New Derive Politics Post: Wikileaks

A new post on Derive Politics, courtesy of Roger Yang, entitled Wikileaks:

"If you haven't seen the video, I will summarize it up for you. Basically, a bunch chopper pilots spot a few guys, mistakenly identify them as soldiers, and fire down on them. Afterward, while one of them is being rescued by a truck, the pilot decides to waste them too. After completely finishing up their task, US Military soldiers rush the area to clear the area, and carry out two severely wounded children. "

Full link.

Bad cases

Five bad opp choice cases:

1. You are a bomb, do you explode?
2. You are an irrational actor, do you act rationally?
3. George W. Bush: great President, or greatest President?
4. Captain Planet or Captain America?
5. Rock and roll all night, or party every day?

Ten thoughts on Amherst

1. Running only 1 round on Friday is unacceptable.
2. Running 2 rounds is bad.
3. Running 3 rounds is average.
4. Running 4 rounds is above average.
5. Running all 5 inrounds is unheard of. Amherst did this.
6. Props to Amherst for running well on time on Friday.
7. Saturday's banquet could have been a little better.
8. Amherst dining hall food sucks.
9. Hybrids winning? Unheard of.
10. Overall, good tournament. Bad personal performance.

Ran out of steam

Here's a shark from 4chan:

A problem of economics

Last week was a perfect example of an economic problem. My friend, David, wanted to get out of vacuuming my room, a task he had to perform as part of a contract because I had won his services in an auction. He wanted to get out of the services, and instead wanted to compensate me $6 in order to not vacuum at all.

I countered with an offer of $3 paid to me, as well as one of the two vacuuming tasks he was obligated to perform. He did not want this offer, but I preferred it to receiving $6, and he preferred it to the $20 I set as the threshold for not receiving any vacuuming services.

In essence, I valued his one vacuuming at $3 and his second one at $0. I wanted the room vacuumed, and that was worth $17 to me. That is, I wanted to be compensated for the loss of the service and for the price of actually having to vacuum the room.

Of course, despite another offer for a third friend, Jusvin, to vacuum the room for $17 and for David to pay me $3, David ended up accepting my first offer. Th…

How to have fun with Babelfish

It's gotten better, but still. Here's a way to have fun and create instant Engrish.

1. Pick a phrase in English. "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."
2. Translate phrase into Japanese. "速い茶色のキツネは、怠け者の犬を飛び越えた。"
3. Translate the phrase back into English. "The fox of fast brown jumped over the dog of the idle fellow."

This doesn't work as well with Google Translate, which is better. When we approach the day when this can't be fun, I think we'll have passed the Turing test collectively as a society.

April is the busiest month

I have every weekend from now until the end of April basically booked. A look at my current weekend schedule:

1. UChicago debate tournament. Judging and whatnot. Most of Friday and all day Saturday.
2. Amherst debate tournament. Actually competing. All of Friday and Saturday.
3. Dance Marathon volunteer. Uncertain yet as to what to do. Uncertain of the time.
4. Paintball. I mean I shoot people. Uncertain as to exact time.

I don't remember having such full weekends last year. Was that a result of pledging? Who knows. You've just read filler.

Review: Stargate Universe

So with this show finally returning to the air after a long hiatus, a review is warranted. Overall, if you are a science fiction fan, you should watch this series. That is the gist of this review.

The basic plot of Stargate Universe follows from that of Stargate Atlantis and more generally Stargate SG-1.  Central to the plot are ring shaped devices called Stargates, which allow instantaneous travel across planets and even galaxies. The plot focuses on the efforts of the United States Air Force to explore these gates. However, unlike the previous two series which take place at a base set on a planet, SGU takes place on a ship. Oh and the ship is traveling across galaxies hundreds of light years away from Earth, with no way for them to go back home. Yes, the SyFy channel basically made BattleStargate Galactica. It is, needless to say, an odd combination.

The buildup for the first few episodes obviously could contain a lot of excitement, but I personally felt like the show overplayed the…

The prediction for the NCAA Men's National Basketball Championship

Thanks to last night I've been pushed up to be 60% accuracy. Obviously this means I'll be right for this next game.

In the match between Butler v. Duke, the winner will be Duke. Unfortunately, defense can't really stop Duke, and that's the one advantage that Butler has on them. This might be a close match for a while, but eventually Duke will prevail.

Things I've done and not done

Things I'm proud of doing:

1. I quit Farmville and Mafia Wars.
2. I started homework early.
3. I applied for and got one position involving technology and got an interview for another.
4. I sent in my resume to a research opportunity.
5. I bought tape and saw an apartment.
6. I finished Stargate SG-1 season 5.

Things I still need to do:

1. I need to start Stargate SG-1 season 6.
2. I need to decide whether to live on or off campus.
3. I need to talk to the director of that research opportunity.
4. I need to apply to more internships.
5. I need to start on more homework immediately.

Predictions for tonight's NCAA games, part 3

I'm still exactly 50% in my predictions.

In the game of West Virginia v. Duke, the winner will be Duke. Coach K's team is just stronger overall. There's very little else to say.

In the game between Butler and Michigan State, the winner will be Butler. Butler has a huge home field advantage, and more importantly are a strong enough team that's not injured. Butler has the advantage both physically and in terms of the intangibles.

Review: Caprica

I think this show has been long enough on the air to give it a fair judgement. That judgement, of course, is generally a positive one, as the show has managed to make the interpersonal drama of the many characters, and it has done so without trying too much to play to the audience with an idea of "foreshadowing" that is common to many prequel series.

The basic premise is simple. Following predecessors of key characters in the Battlestar Galactica series 50 years before the events of that show, Caprica focuses mostly on the Graystones and the Adamas, two families living on the planet of Caprica whose paths intersect. Though much of the plot seems to move at a slow pace, and some of it seems outright ridiculous, the overall atmosphere has a feeling of drama and emotional realism that  makes the show plausible.

The show started quickly and has been losing steam. Though the most recent episode introduced excitement, the series as a whole is still trying to find its direction. Ne…

Fantasy baseball commences

This is my current team. Any thoughts?

Joe Mauer
Pablo Sandoval
Aaron Hill
Ryan Zimmerman
Asdrubal Cabrera
Adam Dunn
Michael Cuddyer
Alfonso Soriano
Alexei Ramirez
Yadier Molina
Nyjer Morgan
Vernon Wells

Tim Lincecum
Adam Wainwright
Joakim Soria
Carlos Marmol
Tommy Hanson
Jake Peavy
Carlos Zambrano
Kevin Slowey
Jeff Niemann