31 March 2011

People power.

Fadi Quran is the face of the new Middle East. He is 23, a graduate of Stanford University, with a double major in physics and international relations. He is a Palestinian who has returned home to start an alternative-energy company and see what he can do to help create a Palestinian state. He identifies with neither of the two preeminent Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah. His allegiance is to the Facebook multitudes who orchestrated the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and who are organizing nonviolent protests throughout the region. In the Palestinian territories, the social-networking rebels call themselves the March 15 movement—and I would call Quran one of the leaders of the group except that it doesn't really have leaders yet...

What happens if they begin to organize marches to protest the near daily outrages perpetrated by Jewish settlers? What if they stage sit-down strikes to open roads that are used by settlers but closed to Palestinians? What if they march 10,000 strong against a settlement that is refusing Palestinians access to a traditional water supply? "If it is nonviolent, then that means, by definition, it is civilized," an Israeli official said. "We have no problem with that." But what if the Palestinians are nonviolent and the Jewish settlers are not? "I think about the dogs unleashed on Martin Luther King in Birmingham," Quran says. "I think about the beatings. That's what it took for Americans to see the justice of his cause. We will be risking our lives, but that is what it takes. I only hope that we're not too well educated to be courageous." -- TIME

We are all journalists.

"The critical thing... and this is what informs my work, is the idea of truth telling... The essence of the journalistic process is to find and tell the truth." -- Martin Bashir

30 March 2011

Progress is only made by good old fashion wishful thinking.

Jk! :)

Hard work, and lots of it...

Muttering man.

I met a muttering man whispering prayers
echoing name, shadowing hymn
I saw his passion laid bare gasping for air
reaching for him, grabbing the fringe

I met a muttering man whispering prayers
echoing name, shadowing hymn
I saw his world fall to pieces screaming for jesus
splitting into, glancing the truth

I met a muttering man whispering prayers
echoing name, shadowing hymn
I saw a stone turn to flesh coming to life
living in him, beating again

29 March 2011

Oops, Spaghetti O's.

His erasers dust
His pencils nubs
His ideas thrown out
and crumpled up
In elementary school I used to erase a lot. I couldn't stand mistakes. I'd have piles and piles of used-up eraser (is there a word for that?) on my desk and didn't really know what to do with them. I don't know if this is common practice - I think it is - but our teachers taught us to simply wipe it off our desks and onto the floor.

In elementary school I used to erase a lot. I couldn't stand mistakes. I'd have piles and piles of used-up eraser (is there a word for that?) on the floor and didn't really know what to do with them. I don't know if this is common practice - it might be - but I'd just learn to not look at the ground around me. It was unsightly. The great, big, gray and pink mound-wall I had built around myself which I had no name for.

In elementary school they taught us to use computers - but I was special, I already knew - and they asked us to type up a story. I wrote one about a penguin (or was it religion?) and misspelled a word. The teacher came up to me and pointed out my error. I flushed red in shame and embarrassment. Rather than moving the cursor to the missing letter, I erased the entire word and started from scratch. I tend to do that. Start from scratch.

I think in many ways that habit has helped me. But it others, it has killed me. It strengthened, I later realized, the associations in my brain of thinking in comprehensive, abstract ways. I see words like a path in a maze. Each letter is a turn and a number of steps. I see sentences like a walk in the park. Sometimes you have to retrace your steps to get a firm sense of where you are. But this holistic, overarching way of thinking has also made work a burden, because my work had to be perfect. It has left little room for error. That is, little room for elusive creativity, spontaneity, and art.

We all make mistakes. But the question is, can we use them? And how?

28 March 2011

I was a fat kid.

Once, when running with my cousin, she came up next to me and said, "Oh, speed walking? Good idea!"

22 March 2011

A conversation.

A: Corporations aren't evil. They're amoral. There's a subtle difference.
B: The company is amoral. The management are evil.
C: They are amoral, but allow evil deeds to flourish because the people doing the deeds know they will never be held accountable. Lack of personal accountability is the real evil of the corporations.

Rescue Libya.

The work of the French is clearly evident in the debris. Once hulking camouflaged tanks have been torn to pieces by direct hits, their powerful turrets ripped off like toy parts; shards of blackened metal are strewn across wide stretches of roadway. In other places, tanks are intact, seemingly abandoned after government forces fled on foot and in civilian cars. And in the wake of the early-morning retreat, rebels and civilian tourists alike flocked in, searching for scraps and survivors, and using camera phones to snap pictures of a landscape still in flames. As they climbed onto tanks and picked through empty missile boxes, the tone of voice, so recently grim and paranoid, had become victorious. "Hey, photographer, take pictures of us," some cried to foreign journalists, who days before they had accused of exposing their military positions to Gaddafi. They crowed about plans to fight until death. And they talked once more of pushing onward to Sert, Misratah and, finally, Tripoli. But it's the same kind of boasting that the world heard two weeks ago, before the rebels suffered rout after rout and had to fall back on Benghazi. The allies have now bought them more time. But the rebels still need a real army. -- TIME

It's not over yet.

For the opposition, headquartered in Benghazi, the strikes were a last-minute answer to increasingly desperate prayers, as regime forces had pushed into the city on Friday and Saturday, and it looked like the month-old revolution for Free Libya might collapse once and for all. "Thank you Sarkozy, thank you Obama," shouts Mustafa Abdallah, a 42-year-old taxi driver, picking his way through the wreckage and praising the French and U.S. Presidents. "And thank you David Cameron," someone else pipes in to include the British Prime Minister. "Thank you Qatar!" -- TIME

16 March 2011

Two conversations.

From the TV show Fringe,
Walter (the good guy): He cut out parts of my brain, Nina. I don't think I'm capable.
Nina: Walter, it was never your intellect that made you exceptional. You're brilliant, of course. But it was your imagination, your boundless creativity. Well yes, you're not quite whole, but the best parts of you remain. So focus on that.
Walter: What if I fail?
Nina: No, you won't fail, Walter.
Walter: How can you be so sure?
Nina: Because you can't.

Dr. Crick (the villain): I'm close to something big, Michael. A breakthrough that will change everything. Change lives. But the answer is just out of my reach.
Michael: You'll get there, dad. I know you will. You've never failed before. You won't fail this time.
Do you see the differences?

Crick is supposed to succeed because of certainties, but Walter because of possibilities. Crick's confidence is his past, Walter's doubts are his future. Crick has never failed. Walter is failing - he is only trying to clean up his own mess.

Michael expects Crick to overcome any obstacle that stands in his way. Nina hopes, because it is the only thing she can do, that Walter rises to the occasion.

Michael's beliefs require no faith; Nina's all the faith in the world.

14 March 2011

Nerd fun fact of the day.

A commentator on CNN was reported as saying that the earthquake in Japan has heightened fears that a similar catastrophe could cause a meltdown in the nuclear reactors in California. He said that the safety agencies would probably 'double' the worst possible event they could imagine and see how well they manage.

Unfortunately, the Richter scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale. That means that a 9.0 earthquake is 10 times more powerful than an 8.0 earthquake.

The earthquake in Japan was an 8.9, and the Japanese nuclear facilities were built to withstand an 8.5 earthquake. Since Log10 (2) is approximately .3, an 8.8 earthquake is approximately double the strength of an 8.5 earthquake. Therefore, even if they had doubled their worst case scenario, it wouldn't have been enough. They had anticipated 20-25 foot waves, but got 30 foot waves--just enough to cause multiple failures of several failsafes and a nuclear meltdown.

On a more serious note, pray for Japan. God is our only constant and firm foundation. Pray that the people of Japan would come to know Him and His love - that He is sovereign and that He saves.

12 March 2011

Silversteinian.

Suzy Sweet misplaced her keys
Along with her glasses
She searched and searched along the street
But only gathered glances

Suzy Sweet had no feet
Chopped up in the war
She rolled and rolled down the street
But no one knew what for

Till one day, dare I say
She had lost all hope
So she hung around her neck
A long, brown, noose-tied rope

Suzy Sweet hung all week
But now she is no more
She spun and spun near the creek
Until she hit the floor

Suzy Sweet sprung a leak
Where the wild things grew
She rolled and rolled down the peak
Until she split in two

Because one day, dare I say
She misplaced her hope
She found it in the things she saw
But all she was was broke

08 March 2011

Vent.

Building a user interface in iOS programmatically is quite challenging...

07 March 2011

Tongue in cheek.

If ever someday it should become fashionable to abstain from caffeine, let it be known that I was a progressive.

Comfortable.

I've met a few friends recently who I haven't known for very long, yet it feels like we've known each other for years. Why does this happen? Is it ok to feel this way about a person?

05 March 2011

Friends.

Amos and I live with our friends Jimmy and Helen on the weekends in New York. Jimmy is an INTJ and Helen an ENFP. Jimmy goes to NYU Law and is an avid card game player, while Helen was a Lit major and loves to write. It's funny watching their interaction. For example, today on a late Friday evening in Greenwich Village, which is one of the most lively places in New York City, they sat at home and played Magic the Gathering together. While drafting, which is the process of choosing the cards to build your deck and play with, the following conversation transpired:
H: "I want it. Can I have it?"
J: "No."
On another occasion, when Amos and I went out to buy falafel hummus sandwiches at Mamoun's, Jimmy responded in a similar way:
H: "Want to go to the store to buy cookies with me?"
J: "No."
Despite his obvious unwillingness to go, he went anyhow. I think it's a funny interaction--what he's really saying is, "I don't want to go, but because you want to go, I will go."

Before meeting Jimmy, Helen didn't play Magic. She didn't know any card games or do nerdy things. But because of her relationship with him, they both play together. She takes an interest in what he likes, and he does the same for her in different ways.

I wonder if my future girlfriend will want to play nerdy card games with me? An INTJ can dream, can't he? :)

03 March 2011

U.S. Decline

It's not that our democracy doesn't work; it's that it works only too well. American politics is now hyperresponsive to constituents' interests. And all those interests are dedicated to preserving the past rather than investing for the future. There are no lobbying groups for the next generation of industries, only for those companies that are here now with cash to spend. There are no special-interest groups for our children's economic well-being, only for people who get government benefits right now. The whole system is geared to preserve current subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes. That is why the federal government spends $4 on elderly people for every $1 it spends on those under 18. And when the time comes to make cuts, guess whose programs are first on the chopping board. That is a terrible sign of a society's priorities and outlook. -- TIME