February 15th, 2008

calvinhobbes bomb

School shootings for fun and profit

The media never misses an oppertunity to report on school shootings nowadays and there's been a real rash of them lately. I imagine most people are only aware of the latest one at NIU, but I've seen snippets about at least 3 others just in the past week. There was one at another college down in Louisiana were some woman blew away two classmates and two at various high schools.

Overall, it dosen't really surprise me that this sort of thing is marching on. God knows that I've spent more than a few moments pondering the potential benefits of spraying bullets across a college campus. Well, okay, that's not entirely true. I sort of like the idea of mowing down people, but I figure they have to at least have personally pissed me off first. I just can't see the point with indiscrminate killings. I mean, ya, you're pissed, we get it. If you're going to strike out at the world, then you should at least take aim at those people who are currently cheesing you off rather than someone just walking around minding their own buisness.

I guess the only highlight of this latest shooting is that the gunman chose to air out a geology class. At least we can be pretty sure that most of the people there were just taking Rocks for Jocks. Much better than spraying an organic chemistry lab or something. Most of those people are probably pre-med after all.

Aha! Turns out the shooter was a former graduate student. Man, I can relate to that. I'm surprised that more grad students don't go completely postal. You want to find a population of people who are stressed, oppressed, and generally pushed to the limit? Find a batch of graduate students stuck in the morass of a PhD. It does seem sort of odd he would target a lecture hall though. Most of the graduate students I knew would have simply killed their advisors and half their committees.
discworld vetinari

Genetics, Environment, and Politics

You know, I find it sort of interesting that my sisters and I ended up as we did. I dunno how it goes in many other families but our household was pretty politically neutral growing up. Maybe it's just something to do with Chinese immigrants in general, but most don't seem to pay all that much attention to the politics of their adopted country. Even nowadays, while my parents might ponder who they should vote for around election time, it's not like they're really invested in the choice. Flip on the satelite to Taiwanese or Chinese election reporting though and they're glued to the screen like it's a marathon showing of American Idol.

I'm sure part of this is just do to the language gap. Even if you're fluent in a foreign language, it's one thing to be able to converse and another to go out of you way to try to consume their media. Just because I took spanish classes didn't mean I was watching telemundo to find out the political machinations of Spain or Mexico. At most, I might simply watch some of their gameshows for the bouncing boobies and chaos. I know it's not exactly a good analogy. After all, it's not like I'm living in a Spanish-speaking country. Still, there's always been this barrier to them really following the news or choosing to do recreational reading in English.

So my sisters and I basically grew up in an apolitical family (as far as the politics involved related to the US anyway). Politics were never discussed, or at least never instigated by our parents. We almost never have political discussions amongst ourselves. It was only relatively recently that I found out for sure that my sisters are actually Republicans too. Hell, I didn't even know what they were registered as. Connie was visiting yesterday with Madelaine and I had been watching one of the cable news networks. I made an offhanded comment about how it's going to be interesting to see how the democratic race turns out with the big primaries in OH, TX, and PA, still to come. She immediately added that hopefully Hillary would win all three to hopefully inject chaos and a brokered convention. That immediately brought on a bonding moment of sorts. Not exactly something Hallmark is likely to make a greeting card for, but we're not exactly a touchy-feely or sentimental bunch of people.

I just find it interesting that despite never discussing politics or being 'indoctinated' into a political worldview, we all ended up at more or less the same place. I find that pretty amazing really. I mean, we grew up in New Jersey, and in some of the bluest parts of the state to boot yet we all bucked the trend. Not to mention that I think chinky's in general tend to skew democratic. So, is it genetics? Environemnt? Or do we just all have uncommonly good sense? :).
chinese cherry

Chinese is all I sees

Mao offered U.S. 10 million women

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amid a discussion of trade in 1973, Chinese leader Mao Zedong made what U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a novel proposition: sending tens of thousands, even 10 million, Chinese women to the United States.

"You know, China is a very poor country," Mao said, according to a document released by the State Department's historian office.

"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."

A few minutes later, Mao circled back to the offer. "Do you want our Chinese women?" he asked. "We can give you 10 million."

After Kissinger noted Mao was "improving his offer," the chairman said, "We have too many women. ... They give birth to children and our children are too many."

"It is such a novel proposition," Kissinger replied in his discussion with Mao in Beijing. "We will have to study it."

Man, talk about a missed oppertunity. Kissinger should have jumped on the deal. There were around 200 million Americans in the US in 1970 according to the census data. They could have held a lottery and give each household a chance to get a free indentured servant. It'd be sorta like my idea to invade Canada and make it the 51st state. Not to mention I'm sure it would have boosted the birth date in this country, something which ends up helping out the economy lots compared to the declining population in Europe.
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grumpy pillsbury dough boy

Your childhood is full of lies

I popped out to a Walgreens earlier today to scope out the discounted Valentine's day candy. I was really hoping to find a box or two of conversation hearts. I have no clue why but I was feeling sort of nostalgic for them. God knows they were never very good as far as taste went unless you were a fan of chalky as an adjective, but something compelled me to go buy some. Unfortunately, there weren't any in the store when I got there. In fact, there wasn't much of a selection at all other than big heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. The Valentine's day asile had already been disassembled and replaced with Easter, and I can only assume that scavengers had picked the corpse clean of anything really good. I did manage to find a couple bags of all green M&M's with peanuts which I picked up.

I had been reading back2me's entry about the whole green M&M myth and figured I'd give it a try. All I can say is that her childhood lied to me. Even after popping a quarter of the bag or so, I still had no more inclination to go plow a cheerleading squad than usual. I'm pretty sure that the makers of Viagra have nothing to worry about.

While on the topic of scarfing M&M's, I ran across an interesting study a few days ago.

To answer these questions, the new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined 5,000 pairs of British twins aged 8 to 11. By comparing similarities of outcome between identical twins (who share all their genes) and fraternal twins (who share half), the authors calculate that BMI in the sample was 77 percent heritable. That is, 77 percent of the variation between thinner and fatter kids could be attributed to genetic differences. Of the remainder, "shared environment" (growing up in the same household) accounted for 10 percent, and "non-shared environment" (for example, being the eldest kid instead of the youngest) accounted for 13 percent.

So there you go for anyone who needs to explain away some of that Valentine's day candy. We're all fat because of our porky genes.