Sunday, February 29, 2004

Although I think it falters on some of the finer theological points, I found that this review of The Passion echoed much more eloquently my main concern in this way:

There are many other problems, of course, but the cumulative effect of Gibson's "artistic license" [with violence] is that it grotesquely distorts not just the crucifixion of Christ but its meaning. His sacrifice becomes not a gift of love but a loss in war, an act of brutality to feel guilt for, a death to be avenged.

I will also add that the rest of the review is worth reading.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The State Should Get Out of the Marriage Business :

Cheney stopped a little short. How about government simply getting out of the marriage-license-granting business? (Ditto for government licenses necessary to cut hair, drive a taxi, open a business or enter a profession.) Leave marriage to non-governmental institutions, like churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship or private institutions. Adultery, although legal, remains a sin subject to societal condemnation. It's tough to legislate away condemnation or legislate in approval. Those who view same-sex marriage as sinful will continue to do so, no matter what the government, the courts or their neighbors say.

The article by Larry Elder is nothing to write home about: there is no substantial argument made for this thesis, and no exploration of its consequences. But it is one of the few proposed resolutions that drives at the heart of the problem, the question of whether government should officiate over marriage in any form at all (the other question that needs to be answered is whether the government should legislate morality—we'll leave that for another time). As it stands, I assume there is a substantial body of law and codes that rest on the accepted definition of marriage, law and codes that will have to be reviewed and amended if the government is to withdraw from the governance of marriage. How will private institutions change their policies to cope with a more liberal and possibly arbitrary definition of marriage? Perhaps an international standards organization will offer to draw up "marriage contracts" that can hold up in court. If marriage loses its home in the framework of federal and state law, it will have to find it elsewhere.

How Strong a Supporter of International Capital Mobility Can I Still Be?

The fact that the flow of capital seemed more to go from poor to rich than from rich to poor, that capital flowed by and large to capital-abundant regions like the United States, was disturbing. International capital mobility was supposed to add to, not drain, the pool of funds financing development in peripheral countries.

Brad DeLong's weblog is recommended for those interested in macroeconomics with a focus on the US.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The problem with over-playing violence in The Passion (which I haven't seen yet, keep that in mind) is that it runs the risk of sending the wrong message to the audience. The gravity of the crucifixion was not in the physical pain. Rather, it is imperative to realize that the torture before Christ's death was symbolic of a more weighty transaction: while hundreds (thousands?) of prisoners died on a Roman cross, only one was truly blameless when he died; and the death of that innocent man broke the cosmic law of karmic reciprocity, making redemption freely available to anybody who chooses it.

What little attention I paid to pop culture in the 1980's resulted in my remembering these songs tonight:

  • Charles and Eddie's Would I Lie To You
  • Milli Vanilli's Blame It On The Rain
  • Shanice's I Like Your Smile

Now available for a limited time in the media folder. And as a bonus to mark Utada Hikaru's upcoming invasion of the US, a song in English from her childhood in New York as budding songstress Cubic U. Welcome back, Hikki.

In today's Financial Times, a new opportunity suggests itself:

While on parole in 1959 Mr Minder began a crime spree including a bank heist and eight shop robberies while he was a journalism student at the University of Michigan. He was apprehended in December that year after a three-mile car chase through Detroit.

I scoff at Orkut. The truly 7331 have accounts at Flox. Can anybody spare an invite? (via and by Simon Cozens)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Jenny took some photos at the potluck dinner.

I probably shouldn't admit to having watched several video clips starring the Swedish Chef, of Muppet fame. But it's vacation. And he's hilarious. Bjork bjork!

I think I need some motivation back on my desktop. (mouse over the link for a translation)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I'm living a geeks dream this vacation, not getting much reading done so far but decking out my computer to be a full-on Chinese wrecking machine. Yesterday I installed, debugged and tried out a half dozen different Chinese input methods, finally settiling on SCIM. Today, I spent most (all?) of the day trying to set up a terminal emulator with decent UTF-8 support so I can view Chinese characters as I work in the terminal. This is exciting because the terminal is the main way in which I interact with the computer, so replacing aterm with mlterm ("multilingual terminal") is a big deal. I finally got it looking right, I'll post a screenshot in a few minutes.

Along the way, I learned that:

  • "m17n" is an abbreviation for "multilingualization."
  • "i18n" is an abbreviation for "internationalization."

Can you figure out why?

(Later that day...) The promised screenshot shows several of the things I put together today. In the upper left, you can see the corner of Stardict peeking out. Stardict is a Chinese/English dictionary (which, like all 95% of dictionaries designed by Chinese, lacks pinyin). A cool feature of Stardict is shown in the Mozilla window at the bottom left, where the mouse is hovering over a selected word and a box has popped up with its English definition. In fact, Stardict will do this for pretty much any text you can select anywhere on the desktop. The black window in the far back is a mlterm terminal running a GB2312 environment (the most popular simplified Chinese character encoding), with the multilingualized version of the w3m text browser called w3m-m17n open to the Xinhuanet web page.

The closer black window is another mlterm terminal running a UTF-8 envinronment, editing a document in mined. Mined is a console-based text-editor that support many different encodings, including UTF-8 (as much as I love emacs, its awfully complicated to configure for authoring and editing Chinese documents). The text is being inputted with SCIM, the Smart Common Input Method, in smart pinyin mode. In the bottom right corner, you can see the gedit text editor launched in a simplified Chinese locale, rendering all of its menus in Chinese.

What did I learn from all of this? Besides a few new abbreviations (see above), I learned that it's a pain to install this stuff on linux and it should probably be left to the pros to develop a while longer before the average person can install and use multiple languages on linux with ease. Not that I didn't know that before: I would say that this further cements me into the "OS X is Unix done well" camp. Support for dozens of languages out of the box! But in the end, Linux wins out again by being a perpetual learning experience, a toy that never gets old.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

我成功了! I got Chinese input working on petisuis.

The background of this page is grey in support of Grey Tuesday.

I found this photoshopped image of a PDA with the screen removed and turned into an abacus.  Hilarious!
(via Erning's Weblog)

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Back in high school I made a couple mix tapes. I can only remember two of the songs I chose:

  1. Poor Old Lu's Ring True
  2. The Vestibules' Bulbous Bouffant

I've stuck them both in the media folder.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I'm trying to come up with a new look for the amateurish, and I'm not inspired. Nevertheless, I did come up with two designs: One and Two. Note the same markup, only a different stylesheet each time. And a disclaimer, these have only been tested in Mozilla and may look funky in other browsers.

While I'm on the topic of web design, I'll mention that the Rackham Graduate School web team is holding usability testing sessions next week, to which I've applied as a test subject. Personally, I think it'd be more interesting to be on the other end but I'll take what I can get.

Harper's Index facts about Michigan.

I've become addicted to the exhaustion-induced headache.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Through an e-mail from my dad, I found an article in Christianity Today magazine that addresses the question of whether it is possible to construct a purely secular government that champions democracy and individual rights. Turns out, it's probably not possible. Yale political science professor Jim Sleeper gave the following assesment:

The dilemma is that an all-consuming 'logic' of individual rights, free markets and corporate contracts … can't sustain freedom in a liberal republic. It becomes such a cold tangle of contracts and rights that its freedoms rely ultimately on beliefs and virtues—religious, philosophical, ethno-cultural—that the liberal state itself cannot nurture, much less enforce.

Which speaks to the question of whether Christians should lobby/use the government to legislate Christian values, leading me to conclude that it's OK to do so. This happens to run against my intuition, so I'll do some more thinking about this. It's especially important in this election year in which two major issues are the Marriage Amendment ("a man and a woman") and the war on terrorism, issues which directly invoke ethical/religious principles. It's too bad that many of the articles in CT are based on what people "feel" about an issue, not on the moral principles behind them. Take for example, the article about pastors who reexamine[d] their beliefs about pacifism after 9/11. If you're a pacifist, it means staring death in the face and being unafraid. It's hard to believe that anybody who "reexamines their pacifism" was never there in the first place. Thankfully, for the most part the article focuses on examples of committed pacifists who are actively involved in non-participation. There used to be a magazine my dad subscribed to called Regeneration Magazine that grappled with tough theological issues in innovative ways of thinking. I don't know where to find that kind of intelligent discussion in a Christian context nowadays. Maybe it's an opportune time to start something at Church. After all, this year's freshman are the most politically informed in a decade. But I digress. Again. Please, read on.

ACCESS bible study this Friday night is continuing the "school of ministry" series. I dropped the Bible study class for the Current Events class, which dealt with the Christian response to homosexuality last week. This week, I'm looking forward to hearing pastor Dave talking about terrorism. Basically, I'm a pacifist right now, but I'm still making up my mind. Force, or at least the threat of force, seems necessary sometimes. Then again, in the movie tonight (The Fog of War) Robert MacNamara talked about morality, and it made me really angry. I felt like he has no right to talk about morality: can you kill if you are in a morally superior position? Absolutely not. Dying with moral impunity is better than any sort of killing in 100% of all cases, absolutely no exceptions. So, does it sound like I haven't made up my mind yet? I guess not.

In conclusion, my position amounts to: a Christian government that refuses to use force to defend itself. A practical impossibility? Yes. In fact, a seminal book in political economy, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance by Douglass North, talks about the problem of finding a third party to enforce contracts that is not working for its own interests, and yet not necessarily governed by some moral imperative either (I'm still in the process of reading this).

But then again, nobody ever promised Christianity would be practical. After all, our God was around long before logic and reason were invented. And He invented forgiveness, the zenith of irrational acts.

In the works, a list of plans for over vacation.

Went to see The Fog of War tonight with friends. Robert McNamara was a duplicitous tool, and don't let him tell you otherwise. I make no claims about my own duplicity.

On the way home I stopped by Eastern Accents, the Asian coffeeshop (and member of Ann Arbor's monkey mafia), to pick up a BBQ Pork bun for the bus ride home. I met Katie Beth's jiejie and talked to the cute girl from Chinese class. Utada Hikaru started playing over the speaker system as I walked out of the shop—I would have stayed but the bus was due in just a few minutes.

And finally, the person I marry must agree not to have a TV in the master bedroom.

forcing media to swim in the market: I like that expression. It's like the market is a swimming pool, and the state-controlled media is a cute little baby, and "plop!" we just toss it in and watch it paddle around.

The Qing drug traffic did not simply involve distribution and consumption of opium, but also production, in the form of poppy cultivation, all of which occurred inside imperial territory. A more balanced examination of the three major categories of both the opium market system and state anti-drug policy afforded by a shift in perspective to prohibition reveals the importance of the role played by the empire's landlocked western frontier regions, which were the empire's domestic production centers, in what has heretofore been considered an essentially coastal problem.

Wasn't the production of opium in Afghanistan under the Taliban one of the reasons for overthrowing the regime?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Help out gomi no sensei by identifying this beast.

It turns out to be a long-nose chimaera, from a page of freaky Australian fish.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I suffer from this curse where I do my best work when I'm half-asleep. If only it didn't feel so awful, like the flu.

CCS 502

Dorothy Ko

Thesis: "The dual principles of constituting women-as-same (gender) and women-as-different (class) worked to contain through empowerment." (pg 293) That is to say, as women in seventeenth century Jiangnan became empowered through literacy and the production of their own literary discourse, they used this power to prosper within their gender-defined spheres, always within the bounds of the existing Confucian hierarchy and respecting the bounds of inner/outer, nei/wai.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Laurel's roommate points to the White Ninja's valentine comic. Hilarious.

Commenting system is up, see the little "comment" link at the bottom of each entry date.

Ever since I packed away my computer monitor, I've been online a lot less. Especially when I'm at home. I can still power up my computer and blindly peck away at the keyboard, so I'm able to play CDs and mp3s. Basically, it's a glorified jukebox and fileserver. Nothing wrong with that.

For the fam, who occasionally read the weblog to catch up on me, here's a sample of this weekend's happenings. Friday was a busy day: Chinese test in the morning; afternoon Contemporary China seminar by Kathy Johnson, from the Department of Defense, on the trends in the Chinese military; late afternoon job talk on the history of vegetarianism in China by an applicant to the department of Asian Languages and Culture; great Access bible study in the evening, Pastor Dave speaking on the church's response to homosexuality; and a trip to Krogers with bible study folks till late.

Saturday, get up early and study. In the afternoon, slide over to Sandy's apartment for an enchilada-making party, for a dinner with the int'l students bible study group, which I have to duck out of... for more hitting the books and also for attending the CCS Film Series film for this week, Crows and Sparrows. Afterwards, Dan, Dwight, Xiaomu, Helena, Wilson, Lenore and I have dessert at Grizzly Peak and stay out late talking about Chinese movies, restroom graffiti, and basketball. We make plans to see The Fog of War, which is playing at the Michigan Theatre, and also Blind Shaft, when it comes to Detroit.

Ann Arbor resident Raygun Gothic has a good review of The Fog of War.

Today Sunday, I've been dinking around, putting off studying. It will happen, though.

Friday, February 13, 2004

A new age of domestication. Benign Viruses Shine on the Silicon Assembly Line:

"We have forced organisms to grow some of the technologically interesting materials that nature hasn't had the opportunity yet to work with," said Dr. Belcher, an associate professor of materials science.

Now she and her team report in the journal Science that they have selectively altered the DNA in their viruses to generate a variety of tiny wires made of magnetic and semiconducting materials.

Today we harvest milk from cows. Tomorrow, circuit components from virii.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I would put this on the other weblog, but it's not serious enough. Bush Readies for War With China... By Buying the World's Entire Supply of Chopsticks!:

"China may have the world's largest standing army, but without food their troops wouldn't have the strength to march or fight," explains a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The next time I'm sick, I'm going to report that I suffer from roving flux, in which Wind qi pursues Blood moving about the body, causing roving pains. Yes.

(This post was brought to you by Charlotte Furth's A Flourishing Yin.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Via No Sword, the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn:

Open Source Magick:

The revelation of the once-secret Hermetic symbols and philosophies that are the foundation of the Golden Dawn's system has long since occurred, yet we still see Lodges swearing their Aspirants to absolute secrecy with mighty oaths of death and destruction, if they dare to reveal to the uninitiated the "secret knowledge" which the uninitiated could buy cheaply at a used book store. We see no reason to follow this defunct and even harmful approach.

Instead, following the demonstrably advantageous practice of the Open Source Software movement, we build our Order on the sources of knowledge that are accessible to anyone. Our sources are already open; we simply affirm this obvious fact. We have no "secrets" to conceal, in particular those that have already been revealed. And in any case, the era of artificial secrecy is at an end. Ours is the Information Age, and we embrace it fully. Therefore we ordain and establish our order as the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Apologies to all the folks that came here expecting to find something recent; I've been trying to be more diligent in my school-related work, so this naturally gets neglected.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Via Brainysmurf in a round-a-bout way, The Mao of Pooh.

The Turtle has long been concerned with the education of our junior comrades. Disappointed with the bourgeois drivel that passes for children's fiction these days, a Turtle Collective has formed to combat the indoctrination of our youth with a series of heartwarming tales involving a bear, his best friend Christopher Robin, and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

w00t! SDF style.

"Watch TV on the Web" round-up:

Phoenix TV
Channel V

CCTV-9 is in English. The rest are in Chinese. All require a high-speed internet connection; also, Windows Media player, or MPlayer with the requisite codecs

(Cross-posted from China, Michigan, Books)

New photos.

It turned a little warmer today, and the snow turned to rain. The ground should be slushy tomorrow.

Monday, February 02, 2004

From the RFC 1196 - Finger User Information Protocol:

2.5.5. Vending machines Vending machines SHOULD respond to a {C} request with a list of all items currently available for purchase and possible consumption. Vending machines SHOULD respond to a {U}{C} request with a detailed count or list of the particular product or product slot. Vending machines should NEVER NEVER EVER eat requests. Or money.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The CCS Film Series film tonight was Street Angel, a black and white movie filmed in 1937 Shanghai, months before the Japanese invasion of World War 2. At times humorous, at times musical, and at times tragic, it was also supposed to be a critique of the social conditions of Shanghai at the time. But honestly, the best thread of the movie was the love story. Xiao Chen (Zhao Dan) and Xiao Hong (Zhou Xuan) are the two "cute" lovers, where she runs away from her adoptive parents to live with Xiao Chen the trumpet player to avoid being sold into a marriage of convenience; Xiao Chen's best friend Lao Wang and Xiao Hong's jie jie also pair up. I wish I could have gotten a screen capture of them together; whereas the first couple seemed much more idealistic and typical of the period, I could actually see Lao Wang and jie jie in a modern day movie—their relationship was not so straight-forward, not so black-and-white. There was actually one scene where they met in the rain... it reminded Helena of a In the Mood For Love, a movie with fantastic settings.

After the movie, Dan, Helena and I met up with Wilson and had dinner at Miki's. Definitely not a FiveDollarMeal, but the sashimi melted in my mouth, and we got to hear a little about the survey work Helena will be working on over the summer. Good company!

I'm embarassed because I told Dan that a certain song from the movie was on the soundtrack for In the Mood For Love but now I see that although there is a song by Zhou Xuan, it's not the one from the movie. However, I did find a web page with clips of classic Mandarin songs, including a sample of the song titled Tian Ya Ge Nü, from the movie we saw tonight.

A script of the movie, with pictures and audio.

Stodgy scientists end their proofs with QED (Quod Erat Demonstrandum). Hip scientists (from the 1830's) end their proofs with NS (nuff said).