30 October 2008

Just 5 Days Left

Wow, just five days left. Under a week to go. Count down the days on just one hand. Not long to go until...

... until we can all breathe again, clear our heads, have a good night's sleep, move on with our lives and look to the future.

This presidential election campaign has been grueling, not just for the candidates criss-crossing battleground states from rally to rally, fundraiser to debate. It's been tiring for all of us, the electorate, the viewing audience. Nearly two years of campaigning. Non-stop news stories, talking head pundits, political advisers turned news analysts, man-on-the-street sound bites, angry mob interjections, and carefully nuanced biased video biographies of the candidates. Daily polls, and polls of polls, electoral college maps, swing states and county by county splotches of red and blue from 2004.

Taken all together, digested all at once, it's stressful, sometimes gut-wrenching. The anxiety is reaching a high boil. It could boil over with the intensity promised by the 24 hour news channels.

And yet, it's fascinating.

It's gripping, thrilling, inspiring. Already declared historic, before we've even reached the finish line.

The prospect of a true pivotal point in the story of our nation. A moment of truth. A tipping point. An inflection point to reveal a new era. Hope and optimism for something different, a new tone, a new attitude.

Like listening to the overture before the opera's first act. We hear the themes, we can taste what is to come, before actually seeing, living, and experiencing the actual show.

There are very real, important things happening for both myself and my wife. Things that will need attention and understanding. Some study, some preparation, some planning.

I have decided to wait for the election to pass, or perhaps more accurately, to let the 100 year flood of news hype and media attention to drain away with the election, so I can once again breathe, clear my head, and finally focus on important matters at home.

28 October 2008

Speak Out Against Prop 8

One of the most succinct and effective ads from the No on Prop 8 folks.

Some additional thoughts: Discrimination is for dumbasses. Leave the California Constitution alone.

Sarah Palin: A Gift to Democrats, More Than Realized

Earlier this evening, I was reading in TIME magazine Joe Klein's interview and analysis of Barack Obama and his campaign: Why Barack Obama is Winning. Klein emphasized how Obama has run a "no-drama" campaign, reflecting both the candidate's personal temperament, as well as an underlying campaign strategy and ability to stay on message which the electorate seems to have found appealing throughout this lengthy campaign.

A day or two ago, Jack Cafferty on the CNN website posed a simple question to the audience: Was Palin as VP pick a mistake? An onslaught of online respondents basically said yes. Some went further to say that Palin was a "gift" to the Democrats. The moment McCain erratically* chose an inexperienced, unknowledgeable governor from a far flung rural state, he not only handed the election gift to the Democrats, he also gave himself a scapegoat for his likely loss to the surging Obama campaign.

26 October 2008

Biased Anchorwoman Confronts Biden

Anchorwoman Barbara West of ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando, Florida, posed some direct and confrontational questions to Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden during a brief satellite interview. West's questions expose her blatant bias for the smear tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign. She repeatedly scrapes at the bottom of the barrel with misleading questions about whether Obama is a Marxist and if Biden is embarrassed about the ACORN controversy. While Biden responded substantively, he also called her out for the slimy quality of her questions. 

Soon afterwards, the Obama-Biden campaign promptly canceled a subsequent WFTV interview with Biden's wife, Jill Biden, citing the unprofessionalism of Barbara West. 

The Drudge Report has posted a link to this YouTube video as its headline story for the moment.

And some people think all media has a liberal bias. Geesh.

25 October 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup Propaganda

The TV ads put out by the Corn Refiners Association in support of high fructose corn syrup continue to drive me and many others crazy over how blatant commercial propaganda is spewed to the public. I've read online that the mere mention of HFCS in an online article, or perhaps even a blog entry like this, will result in the receipt of a stern and lengthy email or letter from the corn refiners touting the so-called misperceptions of the highly processed sweetener. The propaganda campaign is clearly serious business for these guys.

24 October 2008

Apple and Google donate to No on Prop 8

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Apple is donating $100,000 to the No on Prop 8 campaign. This is great news and good for the Apple brand. Turns out Google also donated a significant amount. Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google and also sits on Apple's board of directors, so this is all probably not a coincidence.

Interrupted Sleep Cycle

It's almost 4 A.M. and I seem to have badly interrupted my sleep cycle.  I took a much needed nap yesterday from around 5 P.M. to around 7 P.M. and I've been up ever since.  I tackled a work related report and finished it close to 3 A.M.  I feel almost wide awake, although there are some sleep cycle physical sensations, probably related to the circadian cycle. Fortunately, it's now Friday, so the weekend is just around the corner to hopefully get myself back on a regular sleep cycle.

Unintended Ripple Effect From Bachmann's Comments

Bloomberg news is reporting how Michele Bachmann's recent comments are negatively affecting her re-election campaign, as well as the campaigns of other Republicans in the region. Her comments may even be affecting the presidential election outcome for her state.

She was an idiot to mouth off with McCarthyism on the brain.

23 October 2008

Disgusting Extortion Tactics By Prop 8 Supporters

The San Francisco Chronicle has just run an article about threatening letters sent to California businesses from the supporters of Proposition 8 to extort them for donations with the threat of publishing their company names in a list.  This is absolutely disgusting behavior by these hate-mongering, so called "Christian" leaders.  This is quite upsetting!

Really, this sort of bigoted power mongering tactic should result in the revocation of the tax-exempt status of the churches involved.  For literally millenia, the Catholic church and others have severely abused their institutional power, resulting in the slaughter of millions, the obscene oppression of women, the destruction of nations, an ongoing philosophical war against science and scientists, and the continuing discrimination against gays.  I do not understand and certainly do not support major churches having tax exemption in the U.S.

Church and religion is supposed to be about bringing people together, giving meaning to people's lives, and promoting peace.  Any goals behind that, no matter how cloaked in "morality", is a self-serving sham.

I am voting NO on Prop 8.  The abuse of church influence must be stopped here and now.  The hate must end.

21 October 2008

Embedded Instant Messenger

Recently, I've been trying to embed a live chat widget into my blog.  For the past week, I had a meebo widget called meebo me installed.  Earlier today, I swapped it out for the newly released Yahoo! Messenger Pingbox widget.

Meebo is a browser based thin-client IM tool that aggregates different platforms, including Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.  It worked fine but I didn't entirely get used to managing multiple IM dialog windows within a single browser window.

I do most of my IM with just a small handful of people on Yahoo!, including some of my co-workers.  Having found the new Pingbox widget from Yahoo!, I decided to chuck meebo and try out Pingbox.

It seems to work fine, except I'm noticing that when I view my own blog through Safari on Mac OS X Leopard, the browser sometimes crashes.  It complains that it is Flash related.  I'm unclear whether the problem is with Pingbox or it's something else.  Since Pingbox was released just a couple days ago, and it's the newest widget on my blog, I am assuming that's the source of the problem.

If anyone knows more about this, please let me know.

20 October 2008

Unfair. Unnecessary. Wrong.

The tradition of marriage is stronger for everyone when people have the right to marry who they choose.  A right currently protected and guaranteed by California's highest law, the state constitution.

Learn about the fact vs fiction spread by the out of state, hateful sponsors of Prop 8.

Stop the ugly, prejudiced effort to eliminate this right.

Unfair.  Unnecessary.  Wrong.

19 October 2008

McCarthyism Rears It's Ugly Head Again

Minnesota Republican Representative Michele Bachmann recently spoke with Chris Matthews on MSNBC Hardball to discuss Obama's associations with questionable individuals.  She ended up calling for the national media to produce an expose style investigation into liberal members of Congress to determine whether their activities are pro-America or anti-America. The spirit of this idea and the tone of Rep Bachmann smells very badly of McCarthyism.  It is also indicative of how desperate the McCain campaign has become.  Very sad.

We should remain vigilant to prevent such insidious ideas from becoming mainstream.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Colin Powell gives a well articulated, impassioned, and significant endorsement for Barack Obama, given Powell's extensive prior service in the military as an Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a Republican, as America's top international diplomat in the role of Secretary of State in the early Busy Administration, and even as a prior donor to the McCain campaign. The video is well worth watching.

17 October 2008

Having a Voice: Taking a Stand

One of the many reasons I like to blog is the importance I feel it is for me, and anyone, everyone, to have their voice heard, or at the very least, to have a voice. Perhaps I won't discuss politics at work. Perhaps I won't talk HR-shop with friends. Perhaps I won't dwell on food with family members. But I know I have at least one reliable venue where I can express myself on my own terms.

We are living in times which seem to be a pivotal moment in our lives and our society. The presidential elections, the financial markets volatility, the economic recession, the culture wars, the war on terror, and the frighteningly forgotten climate crisis. How we address and eventually resolve these and other heavy matters will have deep and long lasting effects on our lives and the lives of our descendants.

I can think of no better time than the present, and no better forum than my own blog, to take a stand on some matters. Things that most of us keep to ourselves.

2008 Election - Well, it's no secret I support Barack Obama for president. I deeply respect John McCain's decades of service to the country and I admire his courage and endurance for his lengthy POW experience, but he is 8 years too late. He would have been a better president than W., but unfortunately he lost to Karl Rove in South Carolina back in 2000. Now, he is too old and politically weakened by his on-again, off-again relationship with the Republican party. Obama may not bring as much experience as some people would like, but his style of inspired leadership, his cool temperament, his multi-cultural upbringing, and his ability to rally so many young and previously jaded voters, is what I believe the country needs to get back on track.

Public Schools - For all the parents, politicians, activists, educators, over the many years and decades, who have tried to fix our schools with so many tries and so many failures, I must say that it is clear to me, the underlying root cause of underperforming schools is simply the excessive power exercised by the teachers union to unfairly protect the employment of underperforming teachers. When competition and business driven performance is introduced to schools, improvements are made. Teachers, like all workers, deserve some degree of employment protection, but not at the expense of the schools' performance. The teachers unions should be limited in their influence. Charter schools and vouchers are good ideas and can work if intelligently implemented.

Abortion - I am pro-choice. There has to be a balance between valuing unborn life against valuing the right to privacy. I've grown up with Roe vs Wade as the law of the land. I remember the pro-life protests during the 80s and early 90s which culminated with the bombing of clinics and murder of doctors who performed abortions, thus disenfranchising most protesters who could not associate with such violence.

Capital punishment - I generally oppose the death penalty, as do nearly every industrialized country in the world except the U.S. The idealist in me says in order for our society to say murder is wrong, we have to also uphold the idea that we won't also murder convicted criminals. I am willing to be pragmatic for extreme cases, specifically mega-mass murderers. I did not shed a tear when Timothy McVeigh was executed. Nor Saddam Hussein, although he was not executed in the U.S.

Foie gras - the vegan extremists who want to ban this French delicacy have used fattened duck liver as a wedge issue to ultimately slip and slide the country down the path of banning all meat. They mistakenly attribute human sensitivities with how the ducks are fed and twist it into misled public support. The city of Chicago was desperately embarrassed by their foie gras ban, which was repealed last May. The worse episode was when a California purveyor of foie gras products had his store severely vandalized and his family video taped by eco-terrorists.

Same-sex marriage - as many of my friends know, I am an enthusiast of weddings, and I appreciate the significance of the marriage begun during those weddings. For the government and society to restrict the right for a person to choose who they can marry is simply a grave social injustice. When the state of Massachusetts began allowing same-sex marriage, the thread of society certainly did not unravel. When California began allowing same-sex marriage, there was absolutely no detriment to my marriage. I actually believe my marriage is stronger by the institution of marriage being more in line with the principle and constitutionally protected right of equality. Proposition 8 must be stopped. Over the centuries, the concept of marriage has always slowly evolved - it wasn't always about love and wasn't always about individuals choosing on their own who to marry, so it is misnomer to say there is a "traditional" marriage concept. Prop 8 is an insult to our sense of fairness and it represents a prejudice and repression that remains an ugly side of our society.

Globalization - we are so far beyond the opportunity to stop globalization, it is actually a bit ridiculous that it continues to be protested. International trade and the deep economic interdependencies between countries and continents have rapidly developed for so many decades, we are at the point where tiny countries that most Americans haven't even heard of are engaging in modern commerce and are raising the global competitive bar. All the fear and loathing of globalization should be redirected at fostering stronger international ties while also boosting our education system so American workers of the future have a decent shot at being competitive. I support free trade, I support jobs being moved in and out of the U.S. (there is such as a thing as in-sourcing, where foreign companies hire Americans into good local jobs), and I support smart regulation to protect Americans from dangerous products and unhealthy food.

Creationism - whether it's called intelligent design or creationism, it is junk science and has no place being taught in public schools. The rhetoric is so flimsy when it comes to intelligent design, I'm pleased most Americans don't buy into it. The tiny towns in rural America which fought to have textbooks in schools which tried to mistreat evolution as an unproven theory look backwards and ridiculous. As Carl Sagan so eloquently stated in his book and PBS TV series, Cosmos, "Evolution is a fact, not a theory. It really did happen." It is the rock-solid foundation of our understanding of the immensely diverse and beautiful world of biology, a repeatedly proven phenomena which is highly consistent with the science used to develop modern medicine that we all rely on, and it does not have to be inconsistent with widely accepted religious principles.

It feels good to express some of my views. Whether you agree or disagree, that's not my concern at this moment of writing. Feel free to comment here or discuss. You should have your voice heard.  I hope to express more of my views here.

15 October 2008

Last Debate Photo Emerges

The last presidential debate was more engaging than the previous two.  McCain stepped up his game and did much better than before.  But, it wasn't the game changing performance he needed.

As the debate ended, Obama, McCain, and moderator Bob Schieffer stood up to shake hands. Because of the table shape and size, after Obama and Schieffer first shook hands, McCain found himself too far from Schieffer to reach for a handshake, so he briefly made a face and gesture as he changed course to step around the table to reach Schieffer.

The television camera's perspective clearly showed what McCain was doing and his behavior was easy to see as light-hearted jest.  This photo's perspective captures the moment in a manner which conveys an entirely different connotation.  Some may think this is a Photoshop'd image, but the moment did happen.

12 October 2008

Collapsing Economy affects Global Warming

The San Francisco Chronicle has published an article detailing how the economic woes are expected to affect the next administration's global warming response programs.  Hopefully, popular demand for a large enough effort to address global warming will be there.

11 October 2008

Brokers with Hands on Their Face

This funny image blog captures photos that have been on the front pages of newspapers and news sites all last week. Every day, another broker with their hands on their face. Obviously, their anguish is a visual representation of our pain, as we watch our portfolio values nose dive, our 401(k) funds evaporate, our net worths trampled to crumbs.

Is Kim Jong-il still alive?

While reading the Wikipedia article on North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, I learned there is one Japanese researcher who has recently published his surprising analysis.  An English language article from Japan Today summarizes the Waseda University professor's contention that Kim Jong-il has been dead since August 2003 and all subsequent public appearances and summit negotiations have been with imposters.  The UK's TimesOnline also has an interesting summary article on the matter.

Even if the professor is incorrect, the Dear Leader has not made a public appearance for more than a month, and missed some important national events, raising speculation of his dire health status.  However, last week, as reported by the New York Times, the North Korea's state-run news agency claimed Mr. Kim watched a soccer game along with other party officials.  No photos or useful details were provided, although a propoganda quote was included.

Earlier today, CNN reports that North Korean TV has broadcast a series of photos showing Mr. Kim visiting a women's artillery, but no date is given of the photos.

Just a month ago, CNN called Kim Jong-Il "one of the most mysterious leaders in the world". CNN video on last month's 60th anniversary celebration depicts the massive parade and other government officials, but no current footage of the Dear Leader.

What is clear is the combination of such a reclusive government regime and the personality cult that inspires and controls the entire country's population through horrific living conditions, creates conditions in which an imposter leader is both feasible and perhaps even necessary.

10 October 2008

Terrifying Analysis and Outlook on Global Economy

A major venture capitalist firm has put together some hefty analysis and internally delivered a dire outlook to the global economy and how it will affect business conditions for their invested companies.

The scariest point they emphasized is how the recovery period to this downturn is expected to be very long, perhaps 15 years. Other pundits in the media have recently been saying one to five years for a recovery. This is scary. Terrifying.

But I'm not selling anything. Let it ride.

Did We Forget The Environment?

I totally understand how the economy is the number one issue for Americans in deciding who to vote for president.  Each of the other top issues in the latest poll, I sort of understand why they're so high on the list.  

What really astounds me is how the environment has seemingly melted away like the arctic glaciers from the list. Have we so easily forgotten about global warming? Has the Republican's intentionally introduced euphemism phrase of "climate change" really numbed away our concerns?  Did we already forget Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"?

I think what we all can agree on is that this is the longest, most dragged out presidential campaign in history.  Thanks to all those states who moved up their primary and caucus elections so early in the year, the exploratory committees and candidacy declarations came very early.  It seems like ages ago when there were 8 or more candidates debating at a time for each party.  Have we already forgotten the time when Hillary and Rudy were both considered the inevitable nominees?  Obama and McCain were long shot candidates then.

But it wasn't some dream that is fast fading from memory.  The deep concern, the outrage, the word of mouth enthusiasm was quite real.  We were finally listening to Al Gore. Environmental conservation was finally mainstream.  Perhaps expensive gas and a cratering stock market have permanently distracted us from carbon dioxide levels that are still rising, plastic waste formations the size of Texas swirling in the Pacific Ocean, and disgusting smog shrouding Beijing, Shanghai, and just about every major city around the globe.

Or, it is simply the public's attention must always move on to another topic, the next concern, the scandal around the corner, the expected unexpected outrage.

I must admit, the environment is not number one on my list, but it's probably third for me. After leadership and the economy.  Let's hope Al Gore is asked to serve a prominent and influential role in the next administration.

07 October 2008

Welcome Back, Blue Angels!

Hooray! The Blue Angels are back in San Francisco for this coming weekend's Fleet Week! I don't work within the city limits of San Francisco anymore so I won't get to hear the thundering sound of freedom as the jets rehearse and perform later this week. Boo hoo to Supervisor Chris Daly who previously tried to restrict the Blue Angels from performing here. Let the jets fly! Photo by Frederic Larson at The San Francisco Chronicle.

06 October 2008

MSNBC liberal bias

We've been watching a lot of CNN lately for coverage of the presidential and vice presidential campaign. Generally, CNN seems to be fairly balanced, although it's occasionally apparent CNN's mild bias for Obama. At least CNN tries to be balanced, including Ed Rollins, David Gergen, and other Republicans in their analyst panels.

Tonight, I flipped the channel to MSNBC for variety's sake. I've known about the liberal bias on MSNBC, especially given their on-air personalities like Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow. What surprised me tonight, though, was how blatant the bias is. There's very little balance. Including Pat Buchanan every once in a while doesn't offset the continual bias you can easily detect.

I find the sarcastic comments regarding Palin and McCain to be refreshing, but I have to remind myself that this is supposed to be a news channel.

I'm almost thinking Fox News, with its conservative bias, at least comes across as a quality news organization. The concept of balance is even in their slogan, "We Report. You Decide."

Well, we'll probably be back watching CNN again, with MSNBC an interesting side show on occasion.

Olbermann: Terrorists? It's Palin doing the pallin'

Olbermann responds with gusto to Sarah Palin's accusation of Obama's link to Ayers. Check it out. Here's the transcript.

More Money Troubles for LinkedIn

Apparently some employees of LinkedIn were hoping to sell some stock, but the tanking stock market is not going to let that happen, according to ValleyWag today. In the fast changing social networking market, I've felt LinkedIn is a bit slow to innovate, and now it looks like it's stumbling over its financial opportunities. Currently, there's no better rolodex application in the Web 2.0 market, but things could change in the next 2 years.

05 October 2008

Bak Kuh Teh at home

We cooked bak kuh teh, which is a Singaporean pork rib herbal soup. Literally translated, bak kuh teh means, "pork rib tea".  My wife did much of shopping, prep work, and plating.  I handled the boiling and simmering, the timing, and adding the flavor packets, courtesy of Prima Taste.  Without the box kit, I think we would have been working on a version from scratch for some 6 to 8 hours.  A lessor known aspect of Singaporean cuisine, at least to outsiders like me, is the laser-like emphasis on the quality of all dipping sauces which are always made homemade using fresh chopped chile peppers and other ingredients.  My wife prepared two different dips using two different viscosity grades of soy sauce, along with fresh thai chile peppers and garlic.  Combining the tender simmered pork, the peppery herbal broth, the fresh cilantro, the savory-spicy dips, and steamed white rice, into a single mouthful, was quite the gastronomic indulgence for this weekend.


04 October 2008

Mee Siam at Home

P1010257.JPGEarlier today, I was showing my wife some photos of Singaporean food on Facebook.

P1010263.JPGAs she was verbally identifying various pictured foods, she got the urge to cook mee siam, a noodles dish with shrimp, tofu, egg, and a tangy, spicy sauce. We went to 99 Ranch to pick up ingredients and then proceeded home to cook.

P1010278.JPGThe outcome was quite nice. My wife remarked it was better than the version of mee siam we had last weekend at Kopitiam in Lafayette.

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish"

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition... Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." -Steve Jobs, commencement speech at Stanford, June 12, 2005. This highly popular speech has been widely viewed and frequently quoted, especially the closing line. Like many people, I am a great admirer of Steve Jobs. If you haven't heard the speech, I encourage you to watch the video, or read the transcript text.

03 October 2008

I'm Impressed with Katty Kay

I am impressed with the post VP debate political commentary of Katty Kay from the BBC who was a guest pundit on Charlie Rose. Her comments were comprehensive, articulate, insightful, and accurate. I hadn't heard of her before. Some people on Twitter mentioned her a few weeks ago when she appeared on Chris Matthew's cable news channel show.

02 October 2008

Palin and Biden on separation of church and state

Katie Couric asks Sarah Palin and Joe Biden each about the separation of church and state, giving a glimpse of how each may perform in tomorrow night's vice presidential debate.  To me, it's quite clear, Biden delivers his answer in a more coherent manner than Palin.

01 October 2008

LinkedIn is struggling financially

ValleyWag is reporting a serious rumor that LinkedIn is having difficulties at multiple levels: financially, with feature development, with management culture, and potentially inaccurate public relations. As a former colleague of Dan Nye, their CEO, and as a current business customer of LinkedIn, I hope things improve.

McCain's Arizona ranch for sale

John and Cindy McCain's massive Arizona ranch is now for sale. Looks like a great place if you're worth over $100M and raising kids in the desert state. I like the outdoor amenities.

"I like all kinds of music!"

When asked by Katie Couric what newspapers and publications does she read, Sarah Palin refuses to specify, repeatedly stating, "all of them". She blatantly dodges the question. It reminds me of high school and college, when a guy would ask a girl, "what kind of music do you like?" and she would answer, "all kinds!" Oh, really?!?