Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Posted 15 June, 2008 at 3:14pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events) 2 comments

Every few days, when I need a break from my audio books, I'll listen to the news and talk radio while driving. Over the years, I've just gotten used to listening to KGO Newstalk 810. With the Democratic primaries finally over (now that Clinton has endorsed Obama), there have been a few shows letting listeners chime in and express their thoughts on Obama as a candidate. What irks me is that there are quite a few listeners that still say Barack Obama may give a good speech, but in the end he doesn't really have any plans (for health care, withdrawal from Iraq, the economy, whatever issue that listener cares about). I think the last time this happened, a Clinton supporter called in on Gil Gross's program and stated that she was afraid the American people were adopting a "wait and see" attitude concerning Obama. She felt that people were just voting for Obama because the alternatives reminded them too much of our current administration and that this was very dangerous since Obama is all talk and doesn't have a plan for health care or Iraq. The host of the show (don't know if it was Gil since I tuned in late, but it sounded like Gil) agreed with her! I have a BIG problem with this.

I don't know who started it (was it Hillary Clinton's campaign or McCain's or someone else) but there's this "rumor" going around that Barack Obama gives great speeches, but in the end he doesn't have a firm plan to make any real changes. People I talk to seem confused about his stance on taxes, how his plan for health care differs from Clinton's plan, and seem to believe he wants to pull all the troops out of Iraq on Day One. Unfortunately, people believe what they want to believe and don't bother investigating for themselves.

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Is Barack Obama All Talk?

Violent computer games for kids? Or not?

Posted 8 August, 2007 at 8:08am by Michael Chu

According to this article, the Governor of California (action-superstar Arnold Schwartzenegger) is going to continue to fight for the banning of the sale of violent computer games to children. This comes right after a U.S. District Judge ruled that the 2005 law prohibiting the sale of violent computer games to kids violates the video game maker's First Amendment right since video games are considered a protected form of expression. I wasn't aware that the First Amendment covered the right to sell your form of expression to anyone - just your right to make your statement. Seems a little bit of a stretch to me.

When this law passed in California a couple years back, I thought it was a bit stupid. I don't know if it's unconstitutional, but I do know that it's another partial indication that parents are trying to replace time spent parenting their children with government intervention. (Instead of watching what your kids are watching, let the Federal Government dictate what can be broadcast; instead of paying attention to what games your kid is playing, just have the local shop keepers police them — I know, I know, parents are busier than ever, but are they really busier than the previous generation? And if so, should they be?) If a teenager can go to a store and pick up a DVD of The Terminator, then why shouldn't he be able to pick up an M-rated video game?

Collapsing Freeways

Posted 29 April, 2007 at 10:50pm by Michael Chu

Collapsed 580This morning (at 3:42am), a tanker truck carrying 8,600 gallons of gasoline hit a guard rail, rolled-over, and exploded. Somehow the driver crawled out and walked off the freeway and found a taxi fueling up at a nearby Arco gas station at around 4:30am. The driver was taken to a hospital where he was treated for second degree burns. Meanwhile, the big news was unfolding - the gas tank that had exploded was still burning and temperatures had risen beyond 1,000°F, and at points going beyond 2,700°F. The truck happened to be positioned on what is called "The Maze" - a series of overpasses that interconnect the Bay Bridge into San Francisco (I-80), with I-880 and I-580 - and was burning on southbound 880 directly underneath the westbound 80 to 580 overpass. The heat was high enough to soften the giant steel screws holding the 580 in place above the 880 causing them to buckle and releasing a large section of the freeway to fall down onto the lower layer. The burning inferno continued and was able to melt some of the steel. The amazing thing is, no one was killed in this amazing disaster - which is incredible since this interchange is the busiest section of freeway in the San Francisco Bay Area. So far, the only injury related to the accident was the driver. (He has second degree burns on his hands, face, and neck, but is expected to live.)
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Collapsing Freeways

Stephen Hawking in Space?

Posted 27 April, 2007 at 11:02am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events) 2 comments

Honestly, I think this is super-cool. Yesterday Stephen Hawking, the most famous (and probably most brilliant) astro-physicist and cosmologist in the world, survived (actually, enjoyed immensely) two zero-gravity dives in the "Vomit Comet" (a modified 727 designed to fly up into the atmosphere and then dive while accelerating to mimic free-fall). Stephen Hawking is just about completely paralyzed (able to control his blinks and right cheek, with the help of a computer system he can control his wheelchair, write, give speeches, and even effectively tell jokes complete with comedic timing (I had the pleasure of watching a speech he gave to Intel in 2005). Apparently, one of Stephen's life-long dreams has been to go to outer space and Richard Branson (the eccentric entreprenuer who founded Virgin-fill-in-the-blank) is working with him to assess if his health will allow him to ride on Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital space flights which should begin sometime around or after 2009. Richard Branson is known for his amazing and sometimes outrageous business stunts to get media attention, but helping a paralyzed comological genius attain space flight is just plain cool.

See a video of Stephen in zero gravity.

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Stephen Hawking in Space?

Richard Gere is a wanted man - and not in the good way

Posted 26 April, 2007 at 10:00am by Michael Chu

Apparently, Richard Gere participated in an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi and, while showing off some moves from his movie Shall We Dance, kissed his co-host Shilpa Shetty (Bollywood actress) more than once. This pissed off some Hindu groups and, now, there's a court order for his arrest having found him guilty of violating public obscenity laws in Indian. Potentially three months in jail, fined, or both if he's arrested. Imagine what the penalty would have been if Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" occurred in India! (I guess it would be Justin Timberlake fleeing for his life…)

Richard Gere Kisses Shilpa Shetty

Prozac for Rover

Posted 25 April, 2007 at 10:34pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events) 2 comments

At first I thought the idea of Reconcile, a beef flavored prescription medication for dogs that is being referred to as "puppy Prozac", was ludicrous. Reconcile treats "pet separation anxiety" (for the pet, not the owner). I couldn't help thinking that in our world of looking to drugs to fix all our problems (I'm not saying drugs are not useful, I'm just saying that there's a tendency for people to seek a quick solution to a problem and often that's going to be a drug.), now we've got drugs for our pets too. After thinking about it for a moment, I realized that "pet separation anxiety" is a real issue. Growing up, I remember going on vacation for a couple days with my parents and coming home to find out from the neighbors that my dog had whined and cried every night. Would Reconcile be a good option? Maybe. This ABC News article suggests that medication could be the best course of action when accompanied with behavioral training. My hope is that it's not abused and used as a substitute for loving, playing with, and training your dog.

Kryptonite Found! I doubt it…

Posted 23 April, 2007 at 11:56pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Current Events) 4 comments

Okay, this post is going to reveal just how geeky I can be. I'll try to keep it short though. So, Reuters reported today that geologists in Serbia discovered a mineral with the chemical composition of LiNaSiB3O7(OH) (see Mindat.org for details). When Dr. Chris Stanley of London's Natural History Museum searched for "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide", he discovered that this was the scientific name printed under the display of the rock which Lex Luthor stole from the Metropolis Museum in 2006's Superman Returns. So, now a bunch of news sources are reporting that the white, powdery substance (which doesn't contain fluorine) is kryptonite. Now, here's the geek stuff - my first thought was, huh, that's silly. Then I thought, well, what if the introduction of fluorine allows the compound to form large green crystals. Then I thought, what if it's not the fluorine or the "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide" that's kryptonite, but what if kryptonite is a chemical element or compound that is as yet undiscovered and undetectable by current technology and the mineral in the movie contained not just sodium, lithium, boron, silicon, hydrogen, oxygen, and fluorine but also kryptonite (which turns the powdery white substance into a large crystalled green mineral). That means, they didn't actually find kryptonite, they just found a mineral that could be doped with "unknown chemical substance" to form green kryptonite.

Okay, go ahead and poke holes in it…

Online presidential debate…

Posted 23 April, 2007 at 11:43am by Michael Chu

For a while now, the political arena has been trying to figure out how to deal with the internet, e-mail communication, and most recently blogging. Everytime, they seem to screw up and miss the point (or drop the ball). Just a few years ago, political candidates had really nasty looking webpages and couldn't even get their mailing lists working properly. These days, their webpages are a lot cleaner (realizing that the web is an important source of research/information they decided to spend some of their hard earned money on decent web designers) but their forays into blogging often come across as disingenuous and sound more like a speech-writer than a blogger. Now, according to this article, Arianna Huffington's Huffington Post, Yahoo!, and Slate will be hosting two online debates (one for Democratic candidates and one for Republican). It sounds like Yahoo! will be doing most of the heavy lifting (getting the video technology set up). The people involved in this say the web-only debates "will be substantively different than televised debates that appear online" and Yahoo's director of news and information services "compared the debates to the first televised forums between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960". To me, the only difference is that the debaters won't actually be in the same room as each other, but will basically be performing a video debate (like participants on Larry King Live from different coasts). I don't see how this will be as significant as the JFK vs. Nixon radio/television debate.

What's wrong with Chris Matthews?

Posted 19 April, 2007 at 12:45am by Michael Chu

Chris Matthews and Karan GrewalThis week we were all shocked by the tragedy at Virginia Tech where Cho Seung-Hui gunned down and killed at least 33 people. I don't really want to blog about the events or the manifesto or how crazy Cho Seung-Hui must have been - but I do want to talk about getting upset over an interview with Karan Grewal (Cho's "roommate") and Chris Matthews.
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What's wrong with Chris Matthews?