Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's!

2008 has finally come to an end, and with it comes a history making year. In addition to suffering through all of those political ads and attacks, 200u8 will best be remembered by an awe-inspiring Olympics and the volatile stock markets and recessing economy. And of course, the election of the nations first African-American President. Hoping for a better 2009 everybody!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone enjoys a nice day opening presents only to find gift cards! :) And if you don't celebrate it, then have a Happy Holiday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Time Machine

The folks at Chad,Matt& have created an interactive video series which requires you, the viewer, to choose what action they trio takes in the storyline. Although there is only one ending that they guide you towards (with wrong choices leading to horrible, horrible consequences), it makes for a fun-filled half-hour.

Start your adventure here!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Lesson in Economics

Recently, the proposals by the Ravitch Commission on how to save the MTA were attacked by numerous politicans in the area for being an "unfair tax" and as ridiculous ideas. Yet there is a reason why politicians always come up with even more ridiculous and nonsensical plans. As Second Avenue Sagas puts it, Assemblyman Micah Kellner and City Comptroller William Thompson suggested a new fee of $50 per year for a driver's license.

Therein lies two problems with their plan. The first would be that people who do not drive would be forced to pay eight times the amount for a form of ID. This may discourage people from getting or keeping their licenses, a threat not only to national security but also to themselves, should anything ever happen to them. And sure, in New York State, you could get a Non-Driver ID, but what if you needed to drive in an emergency or for a trip? Secondly, as Angus and Julia puts it, people would be more encouraged to drive to get back their $50.

Of course, there is still plenty of time for city and state legislators to make up their minds behind the Ravitch proposals before the public is outraged at having to pay more fares while getting much, much less service. The MTA board will vote on it in March 2009, with its enactment in June. Hopefully, by then, our elected officials will saddle up behind the plans that will truly save the MTA...and the riders and drivers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane, creator of hit TV comedies Family Guy and American Dad! won the award of the smartest person in television. His cartoon enterprise has raked in over $1 billion. Plus, his shows are Hilarious!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Warning: Made in China (2nd Post)

In October, I blogged about how all sorts of products made in China were increasingly susceptible to toxins, most recently-food. Just last week, Hong Kong authorities found trace of melamine again in imported Chinese eggs. This comes a day before the news from TIME Magazine that the avian (bird) flu was found in poultry in the city's markets. This caused a 3-week shutdown of the poultry market (some chickens are sold live in HK) and raised questions of whether the bird flu vaccine was still active. All this makes for an interesting (or deprived?) visit to Hong Kong.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New South Ferry Terminal

Ben from Second Avenue Sagas got invited to a press tour of the new South Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan and shares his pics...their awesome! I can't wait to go see it for myself.

Here's his preview:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arrest This Murderer NOW

Earlier this week, a passenger fatally stabbed a bus driver on the B46 route in Brooklyn illustrated the immorality some people have. The passenger did not pay the fare when boarding after his MetroCard failed to work and was not confronted by the driver, as per their protocol. However, when that passenger demanded that the driver give him a free transfer ticket, the driver refused since he had not paid for his ride. The passenger then got off the bus but got back on to stab the driver with a knife. The suspect then fled the scene. The driver leaves behind two children.

It has been 27 years since the last fatal bus driver attack in New York City. The problem are passengers who either refuse to pay or simply sneak aboard from the rear exit of the bus. This tactics are both barbaric and unethical, and most often characterize people who may perhaps have a criminal history or malicious intent. This is why there is a need for greater police on the most problematic bus routes in order to decrease this type of activity.

I Told You So!

Well, more like I told my parents, but the average gas price this year never exceeded $5 a gallon, despite what felt like ever-increasing prices earlier this year!

>>>ABCNews-Low Gas Prices Mean Holiday Savings

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hospital Security Lax

Recently, a friend of mine visited someone at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan. They walked through the revolving door of an auxiliary patient building, clearly passing by a sign which stated that all visitors must obtain a visitor's pass from the front desk which was several yards from the door. After going through the door, they turned towards the elevator bank. The person at the front desk was chatting with another worker and did not stop them at all. After the person arrived at the patient's floor, they proceeded into the patient wing. Another sign, posted at a sliding door before the rooms and next to a nurses' station, stated that all visitors must check-in with the nurses' station. The visitor passed through the doors and proceeded directly into their friend's room without being questioned by the nurses at the station. When they left the hospital through the same lobby, they witnessed other visitors coming in who were also not stopped by the front desk and/or security.

Clearly, this is an extremely dangerous situation. If we cannot even secure our hospitals, a place for the sick, how can we say that we are safer after spending billions of dollars shoring up our airports? We maybe preventing terrorists from hijacking another plane, but if our hospitals can even be compromised by regular criminals, there could be a tremendous loss of life and if terrorists get a hold of a health treatment facility, one less place for the ill to get treated.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ravitch: Lower Fare Hike with Tolls, Taxes

Richard Ravitch was announced earlier this year to be the chairman of a committee that would investigate and propose plans to help the New York City MTA get out of its debt and back to better financial standing in both the short and long terms. He was appointed by Governor David Patterson mainly due to his prior appointment in the 1970's to head a similar committee to do the same thing. Back then, the MTA suffered from a lack of investment, bringing unreliable service, deteriorating stations and trains, and along with these, crime. However, his recommendations then helped bring the MTA back to a "State of Good Repair."

This Thursday (today), he presented his findings which were supposed to "spread the burden" amongst the working, middle, and upper classes. In addition, it would affect every commuter in the region that worked or lived in New York City. His proposals included an 8% fare hike for next year, compared to the MTA Board's proposed 25% hike; tolls on all of the currently free East & Harlem River crossings (~$1 billion); a commuter tax (~$1.5 billion) while establishing a Capital Finance Authority and other recommendations. He stated that these proposals "came as a whole," and were not separate deals. The Governor, Mayor Bloomberg, and the MTA lauded the plan.

However, the politicians were at their usual game of whining and stupidity. Moments after the press conference ended, people such as Rep. Anthony Weiner blasted the plan by stating that it was "the same old answer" and that "Ravitch is basically an MTA insider." He also said that the plan was not available online but after a reporter pointed out that it was, he played the class card by saying that it was unfair that the general public could not get access to it. Yet when he was questioned on what proposals he had in mind to save the MTA, he declined to comment. Makes me wish I had not voted for him this past election.

This plan will surely face skepticism, as it already has, although my hope is that with the Straphangers Campaign and some politicians on board will ultimately force politicians to realize: an underfunded mass transit system is a dead one. After all, there is a reason why the city's subway and buses are called the "lifeblood of the city."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Minority Report: Now (Nearly) in Stores

I'm not talking about the awesome 2002 movie which starred Tom Cruise, although it does involve the technology featured in it. I'm referring to the display where Cruise used hand gestures in the air (after fitting on a specially-made glove) that would enable him to interact with the computer. Turning his fist right would fast-forward a video, making a rectangle with his two hands would select a certain video frame...etc. All along, we have been trapped by the mouse/keyboard and have never been truly able to be able to express what we want on the computer in a quick and intuitive way.

However, in the past two years, Perceptive Pixel, a company led by Jeff Han, has been developing technology that would enable users to forgo the mouse and typical keyboard and instead use your hands to interact with the super sized upright display. Of course, this still requires you to physically touch the display, but is definitely a step up from the current computing interface. The multi-touch technology that it relies is already on the market today, primarily by Microsoft's Surface, Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch/MacBook trackpads, and as of recently, T-Mobile/Google's G1 phone.

This past January, the first of his displays was showcased by CNN during the caucuses and primaries in the U.S. Presidential Election. Dubbed by CNN as "The Magic Wall," its usefulness and popularity has since spread to the other major news networks, including FOX and ABC. As materials get cheaper and demand increases, these multi-touch displays will no doubt be seen in more high-profile locations.

Speaking of CNN, this was not the first time they took the lead in demonstrating new technology. In January, CNN's Anderson Cooper held up a "Virtual Pie Chart" to display the results of the Iowa Caucuses. It was based on cameras that was aimed at the placard he held, and a a computer rendered a pie chart over it. On Election Day in November, CNN once again took the prize when they beamed a "hologram" of music artist and activist, who was in a studio in Chicago, to speak with Cooper, who was in New York City. This time, the set-up was much more elaborate: dozens of cameras surrounding in a circular fashion, which was also surrounded by a green screen. In CNN's NYC studios, computers added in a 2D image of him that was only viewable on a television screen, not visible in the actual studio.

Of course, all of these technologies are only a small peek into the future of the many applications that can be created to enhance our experience with computing that will make it as easy as interacting with real life. I await the day when I can view and organize my pictures or do research at home with the feeling that I truly have control over my actions.

A parody of the Magic Wall on Saturday Night Live:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Google Experimental Search

Yesterday, I talked about how Google had yet another ingenious idea. Today, I venture into an addition of what made Google famous in the first place: web search.

Google's search results have always been a popularity contest. The more people click a certain website or the more links that point towards it, the higher it ranks amongst the results. However, Google members can now customize the links that appear by using a new feature, called "Google Experimental Search." Next to each web link, two buttons appear, one with an up arrow and one with an X. The Up arrow will move that search result to the top of the page every time you use the search term. The X removes the result. Comments may also be left. In addition, websites can be added to the search results. Google states that the changes are permanent, but this might be a bit annoying, especially if you want to see a removed website again.

Try it out now!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Google's Got the Sight

Dr. Google is only a few keystrokes and clicks away. Someone who is sick can 'diagnose' their sickness by checking their symptoms online. Of course, this is not the recommended way to treat oneself, as a certified physician is the best way to go. However, the innovative company Google has taken the search data and found an interesting correlation with the actual spread of the flu in the United States. A spike in searches of flu symptoms and related health information occurs shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues data on the flu. Called "Google Flu Trends," the project aims to give an early warning to "accelerate the response of doctors, hospitals, and public health officials." (NYT) The project is managed by Google's philanthropic arm,

>>>The New York Times-Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Politicians at Fault for MTA Trouble

The MTA recently voted to raise fares to $2.50 and cut late-night service and eliminate two lines completely, among other items in so-called "Draconian" actions in a "Doomsday" scenario. However, although the MTA should get better accountability within their organization, politicians should bear the front of the blame for their irresponsible attitudes towards funding for the MTA. People such as Sheldon Silver or David Gantt or the countless other assemblymen and councilmembers who refuse to believe that in today's world, mass transit in metropolises like New York City mandate that reliable, efficient, and inexpensive mass transit is vital to the city's economy and standard of living.

Read about the MTA's 2009 horrible-to-look-at-but-even-more-horrible-when-it-is-implemented budget in Second Avenue Saga's extensive analysis.

(This post was scheduled to be published on Nov. 22, 2008 but was delayed. Apologies.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

"NYT": Iraq War Ends link

Finally published: my article dated 11/12/08 about the fake New York Times edition given out on November 12th.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

YouTube Live

On Saturday, November 22, 2008 (tonight) at 8 P.M. EST, YouTube will host its first-ever "YouTube Live" event. It will be broadcast as a live webcast from this link and will feature numerous music artists as well as prominent YouTubers.

>>>YouTube Live

:::>After watching segments of it live, I would have to say that it was alright and in need of some better material/transitions to help it flow better. And the live webcast itself needs to be streamed less choppy and at a better quality. The full screen mode sometimes freezes too.

(Edited 11/23/2008)

Friday, November 21, 2008

OBAMA: #44 (Final Post)

It has been more than two weeks since the historic 2008 Presidential election. Let us push hatred and partisanship aside and let this country come together so that we may better serve ourselves and the world. In order to continue the progress that we have made and to brighten our and our future generations' prospects for the future, we must work together and make smart compromises while preserving human morals. Our future is at stake.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Answer Lost

So I was on the train Monday morning and I was happily attempting to fall sleep on my coveted, rare seat when a lady walked in at Roosevelt Ave. She held a handful of small pamphlets with the word "Hell" in large print. She then started a seemingly never-ending talk about God and how we should be religious and how Jesus is our savior and how he helped us out and how were all formed from the earth. I just felt like I wanted to question her about religion vs evolution... It must have been ten minutes until she finally caught my eye and attempted to hand me a pamphlet. At that point, I summoned up the courage and asked her, "So who created God?" She looked at me, shut up, and walked towards the other end of the car. I felt gratified but regretted that I had not spoken up sooner (to save my and my fellow travelers' souls.)

Now, I do not mean to be bashing religion or the overly religious, and perhaps I was somewhat out of line with my question at that spur of the moment. But it was definitely a valid question: neither she nor myself can answer that definitively. However, what made me have a lesser respect for [them] was her refusal to answer or at least address my question. Was it because she was too embarrassed to answer it because she was a blind follower of religion/God? Or was it because she knew that someone like me would likely have a long debate about her beliefs? Maybe I should go to a public place in a conservative city and start preaching about science and evolution. Hehe.

BTW, the title of this post is a reference to Milton's Paradise Lost.

Excuse the Lateness, Please (11/19/08)

Inserting a blog on an overly-religious preachess from my Monday travels. (Posted Wed)
Finally, my post on post-election thoughts.

NYT prank with scan of front page.
Not MTA's fault for proposed service cuts.

Health care informatics.

(Edited: 11/19/08)

Friday, November 14, 2008

R160 Sighted on F! And the MTA's Tech at Use

On Thursday at around 12:13 PM, I was sitting inside a regular F train car and facing the Manhattan-bound station wall at Kew Gardens/Union Tpke, when I noticed a strange reflection off the opposite side's window. I saw what seemed to be electronic LED lettering seemingly glistening from a train's display. I instantly remembered what Lost City said about seeing a new R160 train being tested on the F line, and turned around to peer into the station. Sure enough, there was a R160 on the Jamaica-bound tracks departing from the station. Since it was undergoing non-revenue testing, there were no passengers on-board. But I was just so excited that I got to see a train undergoing testing that would soon be opened to the public. One of the car's numbers was 8708.

Of course, I cannot wait for it to be put into service, but at the same time, I prefer the current R46 since its interiors seem much more cozy with the softer lights and a vibrancy of the wallpaper and "disco-colored" seats as compared to the sterile blue/white of the 160s. Plus, those conductors on the 160s can just never get those station announcements/FIND displays working properly, probably because the rolling stock uses a revolution-based distance measurement tool to predict where it is. (BAD)

By the way, I have recently seen and heard the MTA finally putting those Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) to good use. At the Jamaica-bound 71Av/Forest Hills station, after a R, V, or G local train pulls in and opens its doors, an automated (not the manually-announced ones telling you that a train is at XX station) message announces that 'This is the last stop of this R train. Please leave the train." or something similar. In addition, one time my E train was being held at that same platform in order to wait for an incoming local train, and the announcement said, 'This train is being held momentarily in the station to help connecting passengers from another train.' In both instances, the PIDs displayed each message! Hurrah-finally we get to see some results! Hopefully those next-train arrival times can soon be initiated too.

>>>RELATED POST: R160s on the E!<<<

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Second Avenue Subway, Maybe Not All the Way

As the transport politic puts it, the Second Avenue Subway is definitely needed to relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue Lines (4,5,6) but should be amended to provide a crosstown connection as well as better serve those further away from Second Avenue. He believes that there should be two major changes to the plan:
  1. A crosstown route from 125th St. on the East Side of Manhattan to the West Side, connecting the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, and D lines in Upper Manhattan. It makes it a lot more convenient for riders, as this would eliminate the need for waiting for a bus as well as increase ridership overall. (Presently, none of the lines in Upper Manhattan truly enable East-West travel there.)
  2. A slight diversion from Second Avenue south of 14th St. and down Avenues B/C into the East Village, where it currently maybe just one of the few remaining parts of Manhattan that do not come within a short walking distance of a subway stop. The East Village is also home to many mixed small and medium density residential buildings. In addition, politic stresses that the planned SAS is only two avenue blocks away from the Lex. Ave. Line, making little difference anyways and would attract more riders if shifted East (plus one more station than currently planned). The SAS would then return to its namesake avenue at Chatham Square.
"But the most important point is this: since all three stations will be built where subway service already exists, no new areas of the city become more easily transit-accessible...The Second Avenue Subway’s downtown route should be significantly revised to provide two significant improvements: one, increasing subway access to currently transit-deprived areas of the city; and two, improving transfer opportunities for passengers who currently have trouble moving between lines."

Although the 125th St. Fault may present a problem for the Westward expansion of the SAS, and a deviation from the MTA's plan may cost more money that they do not have, the proposed scheme is of an interesting note and should be taken as an alternative by the MTA. Since the proposed changes do not affect the current Phase of construction, changes would not be met with cries of wastefulness.

A tip of the hat to the transport politic for this and many thought-worthy suggestions. Each day, he provides a lengthy and well-researched article (but a good read nonetheless) with independently made diagrams and maps. Bravo! You have earned my respect!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Excuse the Lateness, Please

I apologize if some of the posts here involve information a bit old; I've been pretty busy these past several days, and even busier these past few months. Don't worry: anticipate a post on transit tomorrow, a spoof of the Times Saturday, and a health care informatics initiative Saturday/Sunday!

Global Network Initiative

Often, when there is a greater and more beneficial cause to be fought for, enemies will band together for it. This is what happened on October 29th, when Yahoo!, Google, and Microsoft joined with other organizations and universities to stop persecution on the internet. They formed the Global Network Initiative to push for greater freedom of speech online (especially in China, where the "Internet Police" forces search providers to give up information on users they deem dangerous due to blogs, activity, etc.) The providers have also been targeted by various international governments on their agreement with certain countries to censor information and media. The organization is supported by the human rights declaration, as given by the United Nations. However, admission into this club requires some dough. Companies who join must pay $100,000 and be required to demonstrate that they are abiding by the Initiative's goals.

>>>Scientific American: Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! join human rights initiative

"NYT": Iraq War Ends

So boasted the main headline on The New York Times copy I received outside of a subway station. At first, I walked right by, not believing for a second that the NYT would send someone handing out free copies of their paper from a bicycle. However, after my friend showed me the headline, I dashed back to obtain my copy. I could not believe it - I had not even heard a peep from 1010Wins that morning! I then noticed the date: July 4, 2009. And instead of the traditional "All the News That's Fit to Print," it instead had, "All the News We Hope to Print" in the upper left hand corner.

It was a stunt pulled by a group called the "Yes Men," a group
"Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else."

1.2 million copies were claimed to be printed and distributed by thousands of volunteers. Reportedly, a few unnamed Times journalists had helped the publication. The paper was aimed at the next president to keep his promises regarding issues such as the closing of Guantanamo Bay or the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. However, most of the paper only mentioned "The president" instead of Barack Obama.

As I perused its stories, I found that it was extremely liberal, featuring headlines such as "Bush to Face Charges", "Ex-Secretary Apologizes for W.M.D. Scare", "Maximum Wage Law Succeeds" etc. I actually did wish that most of the laws and events described would happen, since it would definitely bring the United States in line with the policies of a majority of Western nations and to continue making progressive improvements. Yet I also winced at the news stories since I knew that in real life, compromises must be made in order to make progress.

>>>Read the online version of the paper
>>>New York Times description

(Published 11/28/2008)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

OBAMA: #44 (4th Post)

Some screenshots of Times Square after Obama was declared the projected winner; Look at those crowds! Nearly half of what it would be on New Year's Eve!:
High up:

At the new TKTS booth:
Most recent results:
Posted by Picasa


His speech:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OBAMA: #44 (3rd Post)

John McCain's concession speech with video
Barack Obama's acceptance speech with video

Random public reactions in NYC following the results:
  • Yelling on city streets for the better part of the night, honking
  • Egyptian woman, with her young daughter, talking with an acquaintance on the subway: "I have been living here for 33 years...McCain's too old...I'm glad Obama won."
  • African-American woman speaking to her husband on bus: "On [Linden?] Blvd. last night, the Bloods and Crips were dancing together!"

New York Times' Electoral & National, State Election Maps

Google's election gadget:

Or run for president yourself and see what states you want to win with Yahoo's customizable election map at their Political Dashboard.

And here's what my dream electoral map for U.S. elections would be like:
Yahoo! News Political Dashboard

OBAMA: #44 (2nd Post)

When Obama mentioned during his acceptance speech at around 12 AM EST in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois that he received a "gracious" call from McCain, his supporters applauded McCain. What a stunning difference from McCain's supporters during his concession speech. Obama also stated that there were still many obstacles to overcome that may not be resolved within the next year or in a term. He also reached out to Republicans by sympathizing with them that "he needs their help" and that every U.S. resident shares the same ideals. He also described the past 106 years of the U.S. (because there was a 106-year old Black woman voting in Atlanta, Georgia).

Some of his key phrases:
"This victory belongs to you."
"You did this because you understand the enormity of the task before us."
"That's the true genius of America. That it can change."

And some laughs:


(Soon to come: complete electoral map, votes, acceptance speech?)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OBAMA: #44

Congratulations BARACK OBAMA on becoming the 44th President of the United States! He will also be the first African-American President in the U.S. The projections were made first by ABC at around 11 PM EST. Right after the projections were made, throngs of supporters in Times Square, NYC, and in Grant Park, Chicago, cheered. Many were in tears. Times Square looked nearly as crowded and ecstatic as on New Year's Eve.

In an ABC poll, 80% of those polled said that race was not a major factor in their voting decision, instead, 63% believed that the economy was the reason.

When John McCain gave his concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona at around 11:20 PM, his supporters booed when McCain first mentioned the name "Obama." McCain took it professionally and signed that he wanted them to stop. I applaud him for finally taking responsibility about the actions of his supporters. However, I still fear that many right-wing Republican conservative extremists, who were clearly upset at his speech by continually booing Obama, may be even more deeply divided from the rest of the country and may now have an even bigger reason to cause hate in this country.

Plus: reactions
  • Aunt (before projection): Are you voting just because every other youth is voting? Did you hear in the news that if Obama wins, to watch out for terrorist attacks to "test" Obama? Or from white supremacists?
  • Mom in a seemingly disgruntled, "Yeah-he-won-so-what-I-just-don't-plain-like-him" tone.
  • Dad: Already? I just went up to take a shower and he won already?

Free Coffee!

Another great reason to vote:
Starbucks is giving away free coffee on Election Day!

Monday, November 3, 2008

VOTE! (for Obama)

This is one of the most important elections of our lifetime and after eight years of lies, deceit, and irresponsible governance by the Bush Administration, it is time for a New and Better strategy.

For the past eight years under George Bush and the Republicans, the United States has appeared as a greedy and carefree nation who only care about the rich and lets the nation's poor live a miserable life.

For the past eight years under George Bush and the Republicans, they have left the developing world to fend for itself and brushed away the actions of vicious military leaders who have committed genocide.

For the past eight years under George Bush and the Republicans, they have ballooned our national debt into the trillions and have caused our youth and future generations to not have an outlook where they will be able to retire and enjoy life.

For the past eight years under George Bush and the Republicans, they have put our children and students behind while students in the rest of the world have far exceeded us in education standards.

For the past eight years under George Bush and the Republicans, they have neglected the environment in order to put money into the oil and gas companies, and have quickened our death by rejecting international proposals to reduce our pollution and clean up our only home.

That is why
This Election Day, let us show ourselves and the world that we DO care about those who are homeless, those without health insurance, and those who have been trampled by the credit and mortgage crisis.

This Election Day, let us vote for the party that gets things done with the future in foresight while learning from our past mistakes.

This Election Day, let us vote for the candidate that will ensure that the United States' standing in the world is not blemished by ill-conceived and ill-planned wars, and that we will make sure our financial systems are amongst the best in the world.

This Election Day, let us choose the one person who will bring our nation together by regaining trust in American consumers and households by reforming our old laws and updating regulations to reflect that of today's society.

This Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, make your voice HEARD.

This Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, CHOOSE a new direction that will better our and our children's futures.

This Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, VOTE for BARACK OBAMA to be the next President of the United States of America! And vote for the Democrats in any other positions as well!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Biden-Taken Out of Context

John McCain and Sarah Palin's recent attacks on Barack Obama regarding his running mate's opinions were taken entirely out of context in order to misinform voters. Joe Biden's statement that there would be

"An international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy,"

referring to Obama, meant that there would be a situation that would put up resistance to the next President. The fact is, any President will have to be "tested," especially with the current international and generated economic crises (all of the world's markets are in turmoil right now, and were generated by banks, mortgage companies, and other businesses practicing in risky actions.) Many experts are agreeing with Biden's comments, that the current world's state is not in good standing and that even McCain would be tested if he were elected (God forbid). In addition, McCain's remarks on the comments that he would "test them" instead of the other way around simply puts him in a hostile position.

>>> Think Progress: National Security Experts Agree: Biden Was Right; Enemies Likely To ‘Test’ Next President»

Friday, October 31, 2008

Current: China Sex Workers

With the rise of wealth and plenty of time for down time in China, more and more men are flocking to prostitution in major cities. To meet that demand, an estimated 6-10 million sex workers have appeared in the past decade, many of them from rural areas and uneducated about the risks involved but have no choice in order to support themselves and their families. Lisa Ling documents her trip in a report for Current TV.

Bloomberg: Not Just a Mayor

Michael Bloomberg is not just New York City's widely-loved Mayor, he's a potential economic adviser to the next U.S. President as well. In an open letter published in the October 25th issue of Newsweek, he wrote to the president-elect on how he should tackle the current financial crisis. Some of his key points were:
-Reforming financial institutions and its governance,
-Energizing alternative and clean energy development and construction,
-Strengthening our immigration while allowing competitiveness,
-Investing in better education programs,
-Being tough in their stance and making sure a bipartisan agreement is in place.

The only way we can get out of this recession is by investing in our economy and future. With term limits in NYC extended to three terms recently by the City Council, Bloomberg definitely has what it takes not only to continue as the city's Mayor, but perhaps also as a counsel to the next president of the United States.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Warning: Made in China

You may see that label on products soon. A new "Red Scare," this time on products made from China, is emerging as China's lack of accountability and safety standards of its manufacturing industry causes health concerns and outrage.

It started in 2007 when large batches of cat and dog food made in China and sold into the United States were contaminated with the chemical melamine, which were found in wheat gluten. Outrage from the U.S. led to China's promise of 'better health standards.'

Shortly after, Mattel and other major U.S.-based toy companies issued recalls for numerous toys for kids after it was found to contain lead paint. Where were these toys made in? China. Again, government regulators here urged US companies and the Chinese government to take responsibility and improve safety standards.

Recently, it is of even more personal concern, as our own food supply is being contaminated. In November of 2006, it was reported that some manufacturers used a banned carcinogenic dye in duck feed in order to make their eggs more red. And this past September, Chinese officials acknowledged that some baby formula was tainted with the chemical melamine in order to dilute the milk. Over 40,000 infants in China have been hospitalized and 4 have died as a result of the tainted product vital to babies. Recently, Chinese-produced eggs and meats have been red-flagged in Hong Kong as tests of imported eggs resulted in melamine levels of nearly 2 times the limit. And since the chemical was used in creating milk-based derivatives such as milk powder, whey, etc., food products containing these ingredients are under heavy suspicions.

Forget the current financial crisis. The next "bubble collapse" may come from China's manufacturing industry; but this time it will spread not only to Main St., but right onto our very own dining tables.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Laughs for Will as Bush

"A vote for John McCain is a vote for George W. Bush."
So said Will Ferrell, portraying George Bush, on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update Thursday on 10/23. He played Bush attempting to endorse McCain/Palin in a primetime event. Watch the hilarious bit, and the entire episode, at Hulu-SNL:Weekend Update Thursday:10/23

Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama for President

In the final 1.5 weeks before Election Day, the more support there is for the next president of the U.S., the better. In case you may not have noticed by now, I just wanted to make it clear that
I am supporting Barack Obama for President.
His policies and ideals will be a breather from the disgraceful past eight years.

Funny how this comes after my publicized endorsement for Bloomberg...but NYC politics are pretty important too.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What McCain Really Is

With all the recent negative ads and incorrect allegations by the McCain/Palin campaign against Obama and Biden, it is time to point the finger back. McCain and Palin have recently claimed that we should be suspicious of Obama and that we do not really know him. ('Fear' of Obama Rampant in Ohio, Metro, Oct, 10, 2008, New York Edition)

Perhaps this image, taken right after the 3rd Presidential Debate ended, might hint that McCain is not who he really is...and that he is an old, breathless dog underneath.


2008 Presidential Debate #3 Notes

No, I unfortunately did not transcribe the 2nd presidential debate nor the vice-presidential debate. But here are the notes from the last debate.

2008 Third Presidential Debate Notes

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NYC Needs Bloomberg

A special thought for my 50th published post:

New York City as well as New York State requires the current Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to continue to lead the city, especially through these tough economic times. His decades of leading his seven billion dollar financial services firm and overseeing its international operations as an employer of over 10,000 overwhelmingly qualifies him to stay for a third term.

His leadership in reforming education in New York City in the past seven years as mayor has led to increased graduation rates, lower violence and crime in schools, and the opening of more charter schools for the rapidly increasing student population. Mayor Mike's years of managing his own company led him to make wise and efficient decisions that helped put New York City back on track, especially after the events of 9/11. His unparalleled expertise with people of all types of backgrounds helped him negotiate fair deals with teachers, police, and firefighters. His openness and free-thinking helped revive NYC's reputation as a city that welcomed the arts with the Gates in Central Park and the New York City Waterfalls. Bloomberg's brave thinking and actions which won critics led to the city's nomination as one of the five finalists in the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, the creation of PlaNYC/2030 which involved ambitious-but-obligatory plans to help the environment and to responsibily plan for the city's growth, and the proposal of congestion pricing, a controversial but proven transportation plan that would have helped the environment by having fewer cars on the road and would have increased funding for the city's mass transit, which is direly in need of funding. Although some of his plans, including congestion pricing, were defeated by out-of-touch state representatives as well as conservative city officials, the ability of a Mayor to continue fighting and championing for what is best for the city (while only taking $1 per year salary as Mayor, as per his request) even though it may jeopardize his political career and legacy, is one of his strengths.

Mayor Bloomberg's professionalism at handling numerous city issues and events concurrently, wealth of experience with daily operations in a rapidly changing environment, and steadfastness on issues that are vital to the city's economy, future growth, and livelihood is something that many leaders in the world lack but makes up the heart and soul of the Mayor. His unselfish character and determined demeanor has helped win the hearts of numerous New Yorkers and has consistently garnered a 70% approval rating. It is of utmost importance to have Bloomberg to continue to steer the city in the right direction and we, as the voters, are obliged to rally our city's constituents to get rid of the term limits law for the mayor and re-elect Mayor Mike.

I wholeheartedly endorse the Honorable Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to continue as the Mayor of New York City for the 2009 mayoral election.


>>>NY1: NY1 Poll Shows Bloomberg Has High City Approval Ratings (10/18/2008)
>>>Quinnipiac University: August 29, 2007 - Effective, Cold - That's What We Like, Dislike About Mayor, New Yorkers Tell Quinnipiac University Poll; Bloomberg's Approval Tops 70 Percent - Again
>>>The New York Times: Poll Finds Most Support 3rd Term for Bloomberg

Edited 10/20/2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some Transportation Math

Wonder how your transportation system is going to be affected with the next U.S. president? (Assuming that the economy is in better shape.) Take a look at this hilarious but true transportation math.

(From Daily Kos)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Project 10 to the 100th & Google's 10th

Google gives, even on its birthday! They're sponsoring a contest where anyone in the world who has an idea to help others less fortunate in the world. You can finally have a chance to change the world personally by submitting your idea for a $10 million seed grant to see it come to life. The idea can be in any of the following categories:
  • Community
  • Opportunity
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Education
  • Shelter
  • Or Everything else:

Simply submit your idea with their suggestion form by October 20th, 2008, to be considered by a panel for public voting!
>>>Project 10100

Plus, Google turns 10 this year! Google was registered in 1997 and incorporated in 1998, and is now the top search engine used in the world! See what they've been doing all these years in their own interactive timeline. You can also see what the World Wide Web looked like in 2001 as well as how bland and immature the web was then with the indexed websites with Google's 2001 Search!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Youtube Reads You Loud and Clear

Ever wondered how others might read your Youtube comments?
A feature first "suggested" by the folks over at, a web comic mainly for the technologically-interested (geek?, like Ctrl+Alt+Del), has now been introduced by Youtube. The comic, shown below, mentioned how if Youtubers were aware of their posts then they would be inclined to provide better responses. Turns out Google/Youtube was listening. Now, a computerized voice reads comments aloud when the "Audio Preview" button is pressed. Neat! Yet another reason to <3 Google.

Try it out now on Youtube!

>>>xkcd: Youtube Audio Preview

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Summaries: Bush Too Hard, Magnifier for Congress, Religulous

Bush Too Hard
Looks like President Bush is a little too desperate for friends.
I could go all sensationalistic on this, but how about you judge for yourself. The following is a picture of Bush with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi in 2006, from Wikipedia and featured in the article Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. Look at Bush's left hand-he may be hugging a little too hard...almost like he wants to choke Singh.

Magnifier for Congress
Oh, and I found this while surfing the web - Its purpose is to give details of what the US Congress is doing, who's behind it, and just how politically polarized this country is. (Not to mention religious too...

...but for religion why not check out Bill Maher's new documentary, Religulous, just released yesterday and directed by Larry Charles (Borat, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Dilbert). It promises to blow your mind on the world's numerous religions and how they're all connected...except for Tom Cruise's Scientology. I'll be sure to catch this movie.
>>>Religulous Movie Official Site
>>>IMDb: Religulous

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What's Black and White and Read All Over?

Apparently, Palin doesn't know the answer to that. In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS' Evening News, she could not name a newspaper she read before she was nominated for the vice-presidency. Watch the awkward video here.

>>>National Post: Video: Palin on newspapers she reads: 'Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me'

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 Presidential Debate #1 Notes

As promised, my notes of the first Presidential debate between Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain held in Mississippi last Friday, September 26th.

Alternate full transcript:

Monday, September 29, 2008

777 Ain't Lucky After All

I'm talking about the stock market of course. The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 777.68 points today , as the US House rejected a $700 billion bailout plan for the nation's crippling bank and investment system. It was the largest one day decline for the Dow Jones, resulting in a $1,000,000,000,000 loss for investors, and other markets both in New York and in the world quickly reacted and followed suit with their own losses. Looks like stuffing money under the mattress might be back...

(Screenshot from: CNN Money)
Edited 11:38

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain Flip-Flops on Debate

I was going to post about how McCain put Obama in a tight spot earlier this week by "suspending" his presidential campaign to "work" on the bank bailout plan. However, it turns out that McCain relented flip-flopped today, and is on his way to the first presidential debate of 2008 in Mississippi tonight. I will watch it and blog about it soon after.

Historically, tonight's debate is also 150 years after Abraham Lincoln's famous debate with Stephen Douglas.

>>>ABCNews: McCain-Obama debate to go ahead

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good and Bad News for Riders

(+) Yesterday, Google, the MTA, and New York Governor David Paterson unveiled Google transit for New York City. The Google Maps-based program helps travelers plan trips through an integration of the region's transit networks, including New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, PATH, and New Jersey Transit. The maps will feature directions as well as suggested alternatives and even incorporates schedules. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were also on hand at Grand Central to release the local version of Transit, which was already available in over 60 other U.S. cities and in areas of 9 other countries. The great part was, the MTA did not have to pay for this service, all they had to do was provide the data. Let's give them (MTA and Google) a round of applause!
>>>New York Times: Google Transit Expands to New York

(-) But we just have to end this post on a bad note since we all have to return to reality sometime. If the MTA had spent their own money doing that, I wouldn't have supported it, especially with their deficit growing everyday. Which may explain why the MTA is now delaying the completion of their $185 million, 152 station plan to install electronic displays on the IRT 1-6 lines. The displays which are supposed to provide info about train arrival times, were supposed to be installed by Siemens by 2006, but had their contract canceled due to glitches. The installation is now pushed back until 2011! The L line already has similar technology as part of a pilot. All platforms already have some sort of LED display, installed in the 90s, but all it does is display the current date and time and is useless today since most of us have watches/cellphones. Hopefully, the MTA can just incorporate the current date/time displays with the train arrival system, saving time and money.

>>>Daily News: Subway arrival info behind schedule

P.S.: The weird part is, the uptown Astor Place station has 2 displays, one just recently installed at an end of the platform far away from where most passengers wait for their train...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Long Lost Twins?

One is a comedian, the other is more into drama. But BOTH are actresses- Tara Summers and Nicole Parker. Can you guess which is which?

The one on the left is Nicole Parker, currently on MADtv. The one on the right is Tara Summers, currently on the hit show Boston Legal.
(I don't know, this resemblance struck me while I was watching the season premiere of Boston Legal last night.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Manhattan Living More Risky

Living in Manhattan now requires an adventurous side.

Last Thursday, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture unveiled a stunning new concept for an apartment in Lower Manhattan. Titled 23 East 22nd Street, the building extends out into the street!

And just this past Monday, Herzog & de Meuron (most recently of the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing) released 56 Leonard, with an upper half that resembles the result of play blocks stacked wildly by a child.

>>>After Reading, vote here for your favorite.
>>>If you're interested: New York Magazine: One’s Huge, the Other’s Crazy (but which is which?!...maybe both)

Great Day to Take Transit

For me, at least. I arrived at my bus stop and waited only a few minutes for the bus to come. Stepped on at 8:26, took the F in Jamaica then E and stepped off the 6 train in the Lower East Side at 9:36. Total travel time: 1:10. (Recently, it has been taking a lot longer due to "track improvements" for "Some Manhattan-bound trains run local from 71-Continental Avs to 21 St-Queensbridge" which oddly does not affect the E and does not have any construction lights to show for it.) [Service Changes PDF:35KB]

On my way home, a R train was arriving right when I stepped onto the concourse/platform and I got on at 4:04. At Union Square, I transferred to an arriving Q train for a quick trip to 34th St, then for the F, which arrived as soon as I walked down the irreparable escalator. Stepped off the train after only 40 minutes! As I finished climbing the stairs out of the station, a bus was already waiting...with another pulling in several seconds later! 22 minutes after I alighted from the train, I stepped off the quick driving bus (when I turned my head to say, "Thank you," to the driver, he said, "You're welcome. Have a nice day," before I could even start.) Total travel time: 1:02! Unbelievable! (It usually takes 1:20, and a lot more waits)

Guess I was lucky today! I just hope I haven't angered the "subway gods."

Also, Second Avenue Sagas has taken a much deeper look at what was and became of the "1939 IND Second System," a plan by the city of New York to expand the subway system by an additional 100 track miles, potentially relieving today's packed subway cars and improving mass transit for everyone. (And potentially discouraging Robert Moses.)
Read about it here: Second Avenue Sagas: Dreaming of the Second System: Where the subways should go

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Perk to Being a Lehman Brothers Employee

I found a group that was trying to make light of the recent bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. I boarded a subway car this morning and caught an A-Capella group singing the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann. As the train came to a stop at the next station and they finished the song, one of the members said to the onboard passengers, "You can purchase a copy of our CD for only $9.99, but if you have a Lehman Brothers' ID card, we'll give you 2 for $10." Many riders, including myself, smiled. (They were obviously not employees of LB.)

>>> Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy filing...all those billions and millions of unsecured funds, oh my! (PDF file - 445KB)
>>>ABC News: As Wall Street tumbles, the world quakes

Naming the Subway

Second Avenue Sagas presented a collection of research ranging from the New York Times to the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg on why the New York City Subway has so many stations with the same names and why some tell you that it's West 4th when there is only one station with that street number.

>>>Second Avenue Sagas: What’s in a name?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Next Stop: London

With the closing of the 29th Summer Olympiad in Beijing, some tidying up is in order.

Cost of the Olympics and the running up to it (new airport, infrastructure, venues, training): $43 Billion

Number of gold medals China won: leading with 51

Number of medals the top 2 countries won: U.S. with 110, China with 100 (short of their so-called "Project 119" to get 119 medals this year

London Mayor Boris Johnson's attempt at putting his hands into his pockets when on stage awaiting to receive the Olympic flag; his unbuttoned jacket; his lackluster whirl of the flag: Disrespectfully lazy?

The part of the Closing Ceremony involving London: so-so (Leona Lewis could have sang a little better, and some better symbolism at play)

Extinguishing of the torch: not as impressive, but probably meant this way

Olympics as a whole: Pretty good (I was going to say "priceless," but then Mastercard would have hounded me.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

MoveOn's Research on Palin

Yesterday, I talked about how McCain's choice was a strategic move to gain some of Hillary's bitter supporters. Now, has come up with some information as to how this very inexperienced conservative and likely to succeed McCain (the Obama camp called her a "heartbeat away" from the presidency) would be a bad choice for America.

>>> Who is Sarah Palin?

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP Pick to Hurt Obama

Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential choice in an attempt to go after Hillary Clinton supporters in her failed bid to become Barack Obama's VP pick. This move will surely confuse some female Democratic voters who wanted a Hillary on the ticket and do not yet fully endorse Obama. However, Governor Palin is a conservative who is markedly different from Obama, Clinton, or Biden: she is anti-choice (for abortion), part of the National Rifle Association, and is younger than the presidential nominee. However, she is not as qualified and has not had much experience.

>>>Yahoo! News/AP: McCain chooses Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for V.P.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life Just Isn't Fair

I haven't had the best childhood. Even a few of my friends admit it. 'Deprived' of video games and toys I've wanted, food that looked satiating, and places I've wanted to visit, I've always told my parents that my life was not fair. But now I'm trying to bring to both their and my relatives' attention about how someone else's life just is not fair. My grandma's. I went to visit her this past Monday the 18th at her government-subsidized apartment in Lower Manhattan.

She told me of how much she appreciated my visiting of her and said that I was like her own son. The reason was that she had helped bring me up ever since I was born. Here was her story, translated from a recording taken about a minute into this "confession" or sorts, with certain parts omitted:

She first lived in my oldest aunt's home when she first came to the US. Then, when my dad came to live with my mom when I was being born, she moved in with them. They all then moved into a house that my uncle was renting in Brooklyn. I was born shortly after. After my birth, my mom stopped working to take care of me. My parents later bought my current home in Queens and moved there. She then said that she had helped take care of me ever since I was born until I was a adolescent. [Omitted]

She then gave some words of advice. When I grow up and get married, I should take care of my parents with the same love and care they gave me. I should also love and care for my wife, and try and get along with her (something she has not exactly experienced with her husband.)

My grandma then talked, with intermittent sobs, about how her current life is not exactly her dream life when she "retired." She has to live all the way in Manhattan projects since any rent in Queens, closer to my mom's side of the family and myself, is too expensive. "Any government monies or subsidies she receives is not even enough to pay for rent there." The worst part is that she has no friends in Manhattan to chat with. This is exemplified by certain situations such as when she has a drug prescription and has questions about the english on it, but no one to help her get answers for. She has to wait for her weekly encounter with my uncle who stops by or travel all the way to Queens to visit my aunt to translate it into fluent Chinese.

She cannot even keep up with today's rapidly changing world since she cannot get any television reception in her apartment without a cable subscription, and the radio's is not that great either. She instead has to wait for the newspapers by intermittent delivery of read newspapers by my other uncle or her occasional trip to Chinatown.[Omitted] If it is a good day, then she can make that long trip; if it is raining or is too frigid or she has an occasional pain such as arthritis, then she cannot.

She would much rather live in Flushing, where she may see her descendants every now and then when we go grocery shopping there. [Inaudible] Not only would she see more friends there, but would have a better life as well. She complained of how the closest grocery store near her current home is very small, has very few items to sell, and is expensive. The next closest supermarket, a Pathmark, is big but is too far for her to carry groceries back. The same goes for Chinatown, with the exception that the stores are spread out.

[Long pause]

Some more words of advice: put effort into your education.

[Some Q&A about a chart of her blood pressure measurements]


I then told her that I could visit her anytime since she was close by to my college and that she had shown me how to get to her house. She said that it was fast by bus (although buses were not that frequent), but walking at a leisurely pace would take about half an hour.

She then talked about how she could not wash her clothing without her weekly encounter with my uncle since she did not know how to operate the washing machine. She would bring larger items, such as a bedspread, to the local laundromat. The problem was, as she later pointed out to me in a visit, was that she did not know how to operate the machines. (I later drew a diagram of the controls and explained its operation to her.)

In the final moments of this conversation, she brought it back to a happier note and with the same love and consideration she has always had:
   "Would you like to eat some oranges?"

A final thought: Ever since she moved out of our home several years ago, I have always asked her to come back and live with us so that she would not have to continue to endure her suffering. But she has always been reluctant; citing that my parents disapproved of having her around as I got older and was the reason for her moving out, my uncle not letting her live in his (less) crowded home, and no space elsewhere. I break down internally every time I hear her sorrows and feel useless in my attempts to convince her and my relatives to find a better place for her to live. To this day, I still hold a grudge against my parents and my relatives because of this.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rain Free Opening in Beijing

To prevent rain from disappointing the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing on August 8th, Beijing used cloud seeding to artificially precipitate in the outskirts before a rain band could move in. Officials from the Beijing Weather Modification Office fired over 1100 silver-iodide rockets, and are ready to fire more if smog envelops the Olympics venues during the 2 weeks of events.

>>> For Opening Ceremony, Beijing Told Rain to go Away
>>>The Independent: How Beijing used rockets to keep opening ceremony dry

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And the Olympics Begin!

Awe-Inspiring. One of numerous words that can describe the Opening Ceremony of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China. The numerous cultural, historical, and technological aspects of the show made it into a feast for the eyes and ears as performer after performer performed flawlessly and with great grace and elegance. The show, which involved 22,000 people, none of whom were repeated, cost millions of dollars. Right from the start, it was moving when 2008 drummers made a spectacular light show.

Then came the human painting on top of a gigantic LED screen.

Flowing printing press blocks that were later revealed to be operated by humans (although I think that was to create the illusion.)* Everything just seemed to be well orchestrated and well thought of. The torch lighting at the end was even more amazing: a former Chinese Olympian, Li Ning, suspended next to the walls "membrane" surrounding the top of the spectacular Birds Nest Stadium, running the length of it.

It was well worth my 4 hours and would definitely pay to get a copy of it (uninterrupted of course) and watch all the symbolism, parading, and fireworks again.

Photo Sources: Los Angeles Times,

* After reviewing a picture found in a Chinese magazine which showed the workers underneath the boxes during movement, I withdraw my doubt.