The Silicon Mind

Find everything here. And maybe some stuff in between.

SM's Popular:
Antonio on Religion and Exclusivity.
Michael on Small Arms.
Antonio, Michael Belinsky, Mike Maio

Friday, December 31, 2004

A Humanitarian State?

The NYT released an editorial bashing the United States' commitment to aiding the tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts. While the NYT Editorial Board was very critical of US's commitment to humanitarian relief, it neglected to mention the corporate contributions, listed below (source):

Pfizer Inc. - $10m and $25 worth of drugs
Coca-Cola Co. - $10m
ExxonMobil Corp. - $5m
Citigroup Inc. - $3m
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - $3m
Merck and Co. Inc. - $3m
Johnson & Johnson - $2m
Abbott Laboratories Inc. - $2m
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. - $1m and $4m in antibiotics
Nike, Intel, American Express Co., General Electric Co. and First Data Corp. - $1m each
Wal-Mart Foundation Inc. - $2m

I doubt the New York Times contributed much to the relief effort, for all their Bush bashing.

Feel the Winds of Change

Okay, so now that I've started using Xanga again, it's time to switch the use of this blog. Michael Belinsky and I will be using this for serious stuff from now on, the occasional essay or article or whatever, as opposed to emotional comments or whatever it is that I've been posting now. For that, my Xanga site ( will be providing me with a journal-like place.

Time will tell whether this is going to work and whether it's going to be interesting. But keep an eye out. I'm hopeful :).

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

How Friends (Don't) Change

It's funny, lately I've been reading all about how people's friends have changed in ways they never expected in college, or how college has changed them so much that they see old friends in a completely different light, or other similar statements.

I'm happy to say that no one has changed unexpectedly in my life. Friends and acquaintances are still as they were before, even if some superficial changes have happened. Maybe this is because I tend to only make friends with people I intend to be friends with for a while to come. Maybe it's because I try to see right through to the heart of a person when I'm getting to know them, rather that scraping at the top. But no one has changed in a way that I can say is fundamentally unexpected.

And that's a comforting thought, I think. At least I can feel that I somewhat know these people, if I can say with certainty now that I knew them well enough before to see the lack of internal change now.

[EDIT]It's also nice to see that I still rarely make sense...[/EDIT]

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

On Ideology and Implementation

Okay, so I should probably expand on a comment I posted to another xanga (comment which was already rather lengthy, I daresay) in response to this essay (which is rather lengthy, as well, but very interesting):

The essay essentially parallels the current Democratic aversion to the war on terror and the war in Iraq and (to a much lesser extent) Afghanistan with a reluctance to be anti-Communist in the late 40s, again on the part of the Democrats.

I have one very very big complaint about the essay, and that is that it uses 'totalitarianism' and 'communism' interchangeably, and states that the US was anti-totalitarian during the Cold War, which is an utterly false statement. The US was anti-communist.

The problem in the wording comes about because communism and totalitarianism are NOT, in fact, the same thing. Totalitarianism has, in the past fifty or so years, indeed become almost synonymous with communism and, to a lesser extent, fascism, even though fascism is much closer to being defined as totalitarianism than communism is.

The problem lies in a confusion of ideology and implementation. This is especially visible in the United States due to the fact that the US seems to be characterized by an almost pathological aversion to the communist ideology. Because, through Stalin, communism was implemented as a totalitarian state (and, of course, the same result came about in many other countries which received help from the USSR in their governmental changes), it was relatively easy to equate totalitarianism with communism, fueling USian* fears of communism.

The communist ideology, in fact, in its most ideal form, would have no state at all. The idea being that the people would work at what they did best and receive what they needed, without the need for state intervention. It's a sort of fusion between anarchism and socialism, I suppose you could say, to a certain extent. The point is, communist ideology does not, under any circumstances, require a totalitarian state.

Chile is an excellent example, both of the separation between ideology and implementation and of the United States's lack of anti-totalitarianism. In 1970, the first Socialist1 government was elected democratically to head Chile. Granted, this isn't communism, but it's certainly close enough to freak out USians, since socialism is already seriously left-leaning, and the US has a tradition of having even their leftmost party (Democrats) still right-of-center.

In 1973, Augusto Pinochet, along with several others and a good portion of the military, overthrew the (democratically-elected) government. The US, I should point out, was dead set against the Socialist government, and there is evidence from recently released CIA documents that they may have been planning to overthrew the government in 1970, when it was brought to power. The coup itself may or may not have had the direct support of the US - there are still classified documents that could be relevant - though current information indicates neither that it did nor that it didn't.

However, in the end, the US supported the resulting military government. Anti-totalitarian? Not exactly. But adamantly anti-communist? Absolutely. The US feared the Socialist government because it leaned so far to the left, and was willing to orchestrate a coup (again, whether they actually did or not remains up for debate) to depose this democratically-elected government. Their fear of the left was so rampant as to cause them to be pro-totalitarian if it meant getting rid of the socialist influence.

The effect in Chile was that the left wing was crushed during seventeen years, from 1973 to 1990, until Pinochet stepped down. Thousands were killed, thousands more tortured, and still more thousands exiled (including certain musical groups like Illapu and Inti-Illimani).

So that's my primary gripe with the essay. The other problem I have is that the essay argues that the democrats should take the Cold War stance to strengthen America or whatever. But the conditions now are hugely different from those in the post-WW2 United States.

Take, for example, the global stance on communism. In general, western nations were, indeed, anti-communist. The Cold War was a chance for the US to unite much of western Europe to its own agenda and form protection agreements with them. The war in Iraq, on the other hand, is quite the opposite opening (because remember, we're not ten years into a Cold War here, we're still in the opening years of a War on Terror), with virtually no international backing.

And while I'm on the topic of Cold War vs War on Terror - who was our enemy in the Cold War? The Soviet Union, obviously. The Cold War itself was defined by the competition between the US and the USSR and their respective influences. When the USSR collapsed (essentially symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall), the Cold War ended. China was still around, and still communist, but that's not what the Cold War was about.

The War on Terror, on the other hand, would have been essentially the same as declaring a War on Communism. It is impossible to fight, because of the intangible nature of the enemy. Terrorism is a very nebulous term, and it spans races, religions, and just about every other characteristic you could think of.

The current war is not on terrorism. If anything, it's a war on the Muslim governments of the Middle East. But if the democrats get themselves behind a War on Terror, they're going to have a hell of a time getting out of it. And if they get behind a war on the Muslim governments in the Middle East, they're shooting themselves in the foot in an international sense, just as the Republicans have done (with great skill, I might add).

At first, when I finished reading the essay, I though I essentially agreed with the conclusion. But now that I've had a bit more time to think about it, I really don't. Terrorism is not a nuclear threat. It isn't even an economic threat. Yes, it is a threat. But not one great enough to justify dropping all of the Democratic Parties ideals and principles. Rarely are there threats great enough for that.

* - I refer to what is commonly 'Americans' as USian because, especially in this context, it is critical to differentiate people from the United States and people from the American continent. I also personally find that equating America to the US is foolish, since America, in every other country, is a continent, not a country, but alas, the only ones who have a separate word for someone from the US are those who speak Spanish (estadounidense or gringo (slang) ).

1 - I use Socialist (capitalized) when referring to the party of that name, and socialist (lowercase) when referring to the ideology.

Further reading:
Communism -
Fascism -
Totalitarianism -
Augusto Pinochet -
Chilean coup (1973) -

And a warning - wikipedia can suck time out of your life. Either avoid following links to interesting things, or be prepared to spend a long time looking through stunningly well-written wikipedia entries :).

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Ironic Ending to Christmas Eve

So I think watching The Mission to wrap up Christmas Eve is sort of ironic. Another one of those 'yes, the church really really really sucks' movies. Those that talk about way back two and three hundred years ago (and more) when whites thought they were superior to everyone because they had guns. And the Church, for political expediency, went along with murdering who knows how many (Christian!) Indians (or Native Americans, whatever is pc right now). Oy. Why people who subscribe to organized religion still have the gall to think they do good to the world, I dunno. Although you always have the brave souls who actually do manage to do good, even though while doing it they go against their own establishment. Way to get yourselves into a hell of a moral discombobulation...

Friday, December 24, 2004

Chronicle of a Wonderful Night

When you're a kid, you yearn for Christmas to get your presents. Presents light up your life because they're more of something. And more of anything is good. Preferably toys. Books are sometimes nice, but other times scorned, depending on the person. Boys especially tend to dislike clothes as Christmas presents due to the illusion that they replace something that had the potential to be a GI Joe or something.

But part of the process of maturing, it seems, is gaining an appreciation for life as opposed to things. An appreciation for those around you, and not the things they give you. The whole 'it's the thought that counts' philosophy really is true. At least in my family.

So tonight wasn't really about the gifts. It was about the time we spent together. And we've been enforcing that for my entire life in a very simple way. When it's time to open the gifts, it isn't a mad rush to see if you can find yours and rip the wrapping off it. We always come up with something interesting to do to get to the gifts.

For the last sixteen or so years, it has been a fairly simple game. Each person gets a turn. The person gets blindfolded, spun around a few times for good measure, and then goes for the gifts (or not, depending on whether they're disoriented enough). The first gift they touch, they give to the person it's for, and that person opens it. Then it's the next person's turn.

Although that was a fun game, this year we decided to change it a little. The original idea was to play a simple card game. The winner would go and toss a coin from a few meters back at the presents. If the coin ended up on a present, that would be the one that would get opened. If it didn't, then the first present it touched would get opened. Unfortunately, the simple card game was rather long...

Fortunately, the first present opened was my younger brother's, and it was a game of charades. With such a resource, what could we say? We decided that we would play charades. The winner of the round would go toss the coin, and then would be the one doing the charade next. It took us over an hour and a half to get through all the presents. It might have been better had it taken a bit longer, but that's okay.

In the end, I got some wonderful presents. That's not the important thing, of course, but what the hell, I'll mention them anyway :).

  • Leather gloves (brown, and not shiny, so I won't look like the Phantom of the Opera) from my parents.
  • A very nice belt (black) from my parents.
  • The Jay-Z <-> Linkin Park collaboration from my brothers (very cool).
  • A book (Megawatts and Megatons) from my parents.
  • The three LotR Extended Edition DVDs (from my brother and myself - they were under the Christmas tree to see if we could add a nice big present).
Great Christmas :) Merry one to all others!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I've read about IE's shitty lack of support for Alpha transparency in PNGs on Windows, but you know what, I haven't needed alpha transparency in PNGs on Windows. Until now. Someone should line up the people who made this development decision and shoot them, one after another. They could sell seats for it, I'm sure plenty of people would be willing to pay money to see them dead. Jesus FLIPPING Christ. And then people wonder how you can not like Microsoft. Because they're ASSHOLES. Jeesus... Alright, on to implementing one of the ridiculous workarounds that is necessary to make this work in IE...

Kill M$. Kill M$. Kill M$. Kill M$. Kil.....

Cool Stories

This is a neat story. It's about how the Graphing Calculator software for Mac OS was written. Namely, after the project was cancelled, the programmer started sneaking into Apple to get it done. See, *that* is cool. That is dedication. And that's loving what you do. He wasn't getting paid or anything, he was living off of savings and doing this full-time. How cool is that? Not to mention the fact that the resulting application is really really cool.

I particularly like this bit:
"We wanted to release a Windows version as part of Windows 98, but sadly, Microsoft has effective building security."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bring On the Next HP!!

Harry Potter 5 comes out the 16th of July... Yay!! The summer is now guaranteed to have at least one bright day in it, even if the rest of it sucks (which it probably won't). And yes, it will only take me a day to rip through it. I haven't taken more for any of the others, and I don't plan on taking longer for this one. Now, on to the anxious wait.

To the Creators of CSS - < Bow >

Okay, so I just sat down to *finally* try and figure out what the whole hubbub about floats and relative positioning and stuff with CSS is about. Oh my flippin' god CSS rocks soo much more in my book now. I mean, it was already awesome, but this... *dance*. I can still think of a few instances where tables might still be necessary, but seriously... this rocks beyond belief. So, to the creators of CSS - < bow >. May you continue to rock this much. And to the W3C - ditto. And to the creators of Mozilla/Netscape/Firefox - < greater bow >. May you continue to make such exemplary products that can take such dreams as CSS and turn them into real, usable, stunning examples of what human ingenuity can achieve. Rock on.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Yep, My Prediction Was Confirmed

Definitely going to be a boring break. This must mark the first night I'm going to go to bed before midnight because of how utterly, unbelievably bored I am. Disgusting...

This I Can Deal With

I like Kanye West's "Jesus Walks". First of all, it's got a good beat and all, but this chunk I really liked:

I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers

The way Kathy Lee needed Regis
That's the way I need Jesus

Nice. See, that, I can handle. I may not agree with it, but that's never a requirement of accepting someone's beliefs.

Oh Ya Gotta Love This...

Diebold to Pay $2.6M Due to Insecure Voting Machines

Wow. How wonderful. The election may have been compromised and they pay a whole 2.6 MILLION dollars!! How fucked up is that? What's next? Auctions for who the election goes to?

On Trust and Similarity Around Others

So trust comes first. Interesting thing about trust, it's a decision you make yourself. Do you trust someone? You have to decide. But really, the most important thing is to trust yourself. Trust yourself to make decisions. Sure, sometimes you make mistakes. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't trust yourself. If you don't trust your own decisions, how can you really trust someone else's? After all, trusting their decision is one of your decisions.

Trust is a very fragile thing with others, but with yourself, it has to be solid, unwavering. If you stop trusting yourself, you need someone to show you you're wrong in that mistrust. Someone who knows you will usually do the trick - they can show you the decisions you made that are right, and how much those outweigh the one or two seemingly large mistakes you've made. Bottom line is, no mistake is large enough to warrant a loss of confidence. Ever.

Now, on to the next point. Those who think they act the same with everyone should think again. They're wrong. No one acts the same around strangers as they do around friends. And so it should be. Me, I have a different face for nobody, people I don't know, people I do know, and people I know well. Usually it involves various phases of indifference :).

When I say a face for 'nobody', I mean when I'm walking and not talking to anyone - the face everyone sees, whether they've ever seen me before or not. Generally that face is rather hostile. A few years ago, that was very much on purpose. In California and at Norcross, I didn't have much interest in talking to people I didn't know. Namely because it was more likely that I wouldn't like them than anything else. A couple of years ago, that changed. But that particular mannerism is one I haven't changed.

The other three are variations on friendliness and how talkative I am. If you hit on a subject I like, however, I'm going to talk way too much whether I know you or not.

Regardless, the point I'm trying to get to is that acting differently around everyone is a point one has to get through. Part of maturing? Who knows. Regardless, it's a very good way to be friendly - you speak to everyone in a way that is appropriate for them. After all, you're closer to some people than others, you know certain things about some people that you don't know about others, each person is unique - why shouldn't the way you address them also be unique?

When this leads to being different around everyone but never being yourself, however, there is a problem. It isn't a personality problem or anything of the sort. More likely it involves not having found someone you feel you can be yourself around, with all your positive and negative traits. But not having found someone you *feel* you can be yourself around and not having someone you *can* be yourself around are two different things. Someone is probably there, willing to accept you for who you are. It's just a question of looking a little bit harder. Rarely is there no one there who has enough quirks of their own to be able to accept and appreciate yours.

There are plenty of other reasons one isn't oneself around others, of course. I probably couldn't think of them all even if I tried. But most of them will be solved by an understanding person. And I'm optimistic enough to think that most people have at least one of those around them. It's just a matter of finding them.


Okay, so the above might be slightly disjointed, I'm not sure, I'm not really going to reread it right now. I might revise and add stuff a little bit later, but for now, that's how it stands. I probably shouldn't have been listening to "Mosh" while writing, but hey, whatever :).

I would also like to point out that whoever invented the rake is my savior. For today, anyway.

** Corrected a bit of skillful English up there (read: one hell of a dumb mistake)

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Okay, there was something here that shouldn't have been. My older brother is right. It wasn't really something I should have put in a public forum such as this one. But I do refuse to pretend that it didn't happen, because there was something here. I just thought better of showing it to everyone.

Life of the Party

It's interesting, really, how one is expected to have fun at a party. People think its all about drinking and talking. No one sits down to watch and listen. Maybe because I'm such a quiet person, that's what I do at a party. Watch and listen and think. Yeah, sure, it's loud. Okay, fine, it's weird. But it's plenty of fun. You find out so many things you didn't know.

Today I was at a party. The first real party that I've been to, I suppose, where I knew several people and could talk with just about anyone without feeling embarrassed. But did I? No, not that much. People see you being quiet in a corner and watching and laughing at the occasional funny thing and they think you're not having fun. Even when you tell them 'yeah, I'm enjoying myself', they still assume you aren't. Kinda funny, really. But I definitely enjoyed myself. Of course, it helped that she was there, but that was only part of it. Really, I'm just an oddball.

If I hadn't been at the party, I would have been right here, doing nothing productive, and alone. Very very alone. At a party, you aren't alone. You're surrounded by life. That's what appeals to me. Surrounded by life. By people. People you probably like, and some people that you perhaps do not. And when you have something to say, you say it. Sure. But in the meantime, I can watch and listen.

< sigh > Someday I'll learn to talk to people with ease about anything, just to talk, perhaps. But I'm quite happy without that. Seeing happiness (of which there is plenty at a party) is good. That's what I can live with. Seeing happiness. Causing happiness. Making people happy. If only for the gratitude.

And now I strayed from the topic at hand. Whatever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

On Youth

Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind; it is a temper of
the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a predominance
of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease.
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow
old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up
enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear, and despair
-- these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit
back to dust.
Whether seventy or sixteen, there is in every being's heart the love
of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and the starlike things and
thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite
for what next, and the joy and the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your
self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your
So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage,
grandeur and power from the earth, from man, and from the Infinite, so long
you are young.
-- Samuel Ullman

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Random Thought

Some people are simply worth meeting, no matter what may happen afterward. I'm just glad I've met so many of them, and become good friends with even some.

Friday, December 10, 2004


I'm done! So done! Which is good. Except I have no idea how I did on my calc exam. As in, I simply cannot gauge how I did. Which is generally a bad thing. < sigh >. Oh well. I've decided not to worry about it anymore. What happens will happen. I have until Monday before my grades show up and my parents let me know that I'm living at home next semester... But regardless, I've learned my lesson. No matter where I'm living next semester, it's time for me to start working. Good thing I caught the lesson now, as opposed to my older brother, who got it in his first semester of *grad school* instead...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004



Monday, December 06, 2004

< chuckle >

That computing for engineers exam was a joke. SO easy. Hehehehe. I just hope I did as well as I think I probably did on it. Otherwise I'll be disappointed. Bah. still, so easy. So so easy.

Now, time to study ad infinitum for the chemistry and calculus exams, which I will do poorly on anyway. Ah well. I'll survive. I... think...

Time to Reflect

I was running through some Xangas today. Just random ones, crazy link-follower that I am. Xanga-to-xanga until I decided to stop. All people I knew, though none of which I knew any better than could be described as compañeros - people I spoke to on occasion but didn't really know. Regardless, I saw some connections, some friendships... The kinds of things I rarely had, I suppose. I wonder if I'm doomed to continue with so few connections, so few friendships? Perhaps. If so, then I suppose there are bright sides. Less birthdays to remember ;) I hope not, though. I really hope not.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

And So Ends a Day of Complete Ughness...

Yep, the day is over. I'm about to go for a shower and then νανάκια. Whew. About time, too. Emptied the living room, covered everything but the areas to be painted, but together the thing to paint the ceiling a couple of floors up, painted and painted and painted, ate lunch, and then went through allll of our Chem homework for this semester to determine what I needed to focus on. So now I've got the list of things I need to focus on. Tomorrow, I'll probably go through as much calc homework as I can to get the list of things I need to focus on in there. Then, Monday morning is computing for engineers quick study, then afternoon is computing for engineers exam, and then the rest of the weeks is probably going to be in half-days of chem and calc.

Oh, and, of course, Babylon 5 every night :)

I'm going to die. Yay. Ugh. Mimble-wimble.

Painting on the Weekend Before Finals

What a dumb idea. I've just spent the last couple of hours doing various things, including moving shit out of the living room, putting up and cutting plastic to cover the wooden parts of the wall, and now using one of the painting rollers covered in a cloth to 'dust' the wall. Why me..? Oh, and did I mention that I fear for two of my finals? So obviously I should be wasting my time doing this instead of... oh... I dunno... STUDYING!! Ugh. But hey, on the bright side, we're eating Μουσακά tonight, so it may all be worth it after all :-P

Perfect Score, Indeed

I just saw the movie The Perfect Score... The movie wasn't bad at all - I certainly enjoyed it. But jesus... Scarlett Johansson is just...Wow. That's all, then :). Just wow. Not to mention the fact that the character she played was great in this movie. Of course, there is the whole she-doesn't-see-herself-dating-anyone-under-thirty thing, but hey. All stars have their quirks. Doesn't mean you can't admire 'em :)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Repeat After Me...

CHEM1310 *IS NOT ORGANIC CHEMISTRY*. I cannot BELIEVE that we're having the shit he taught us about organic chem on our final. It's not even in the curriculum. Sure, it was mildly interesting, but if I want to learn organic chem, I WILL TAKE THE ORGANIC CHEM COURSE. Jesus... Now I have to study that on top of everything else, as if there wasn't enough I didn't understand.

Not to mention the fact that organic chem seems to manage to bring together the parts I most hate about Biology and Chemistry. And the key thing I hate about Biology is pointless memorization. Plus you can't even see anything where organic chem is concerned, whereas in Bio you can at least point out certain things and certain processes... The stuff we learned is just dumb naming... AARGHH!!

Citizenship Ceremonies Are... Good?

It's funny, I went to see my mother's citizenship ceremony thingie today. These things are supposed to make you feel good about becoming a US citizen and stuff. Instead it just made me more apprehensive and uneasy about it. I need to see if I can just hang on to my green card and hold off on the US passport for now... If I ever become a US Citizen, I'd like it to be of my own volition and after serious thought on my part. I hope I can hang on to that green card... Otherwise, I may very well just renounce the citizenship when I turn eighteen.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Awesome Sinfest