Monday, October 19, 2009

RIP, my sweetheart

Kitty, my well-traveled and sweet cat, died this morning.  I woke up and she wasn't at the foot of the bed, but sometimes she's sleeping on a pillow on the living room floor.  She wasn't there either.  I saw her sitting on the floor in the living room and thought all was okay.  It wasn't.  She walked to my bedroom door and fell on her side.  I guess she'd gone to the living room to eat, sleep or visit one of her litter boxes: one close to the bedroom door and the other closer in the corner of the living room. She had two because 19 years for a cat is equal to 92 human years, I was making her senior years easy.

I scooped her up right away and then I started freaking out.  However, Kitty could tell when I was upset.  I pulled it together, put her on her pillow and started looking up emergency vet centers. (Remember, I just moved here in August.)  I chose the Animal Medical Center on 62nd St and York Ave.

She got a bit spirited this morning. She realized she was unable to get from point A to point B and that made her really upset. When she started getting really upset, I put her in her travel bag. She's used to it. It is soft, and she knows I'm not far away when she's in it. It's a long story but I realized when I moved to Korea in 2000 that, for her, home was where I was (by 2000 we'd be together for 10 years). I'd left her in San Francisco because I thought she'd be more comfortable there. Then got reports she was terrorizing the girl subleasing my room (ooops).  I made arrangements to get her immediately and never left her anywhere after that.

Somewhere between leaving my apartment and getting to the vet this morning she died. I checked on her a few times en route and it didn't look like she was breathing. I was just hoping that maybe her breathing was shallow and a magic shot would make her okay again. 

19 years is a long and full life for a cat.

People are telling me she was lucky to have me. However, I was incredibly lucky to have her too.

She was with me through a lot. She was there when:
  • I lost my parents 5-weeks apart from each other (she was a mere tot - around 4 years old then)
  • I moved to San Francisco for law school (just a few months later)
  • I moved to Korea and living there for 8 years with me (I moved in August 2000; I came back to get her in December 2000.)
She was:
  • a trooper of a traveler when we moved back (March 2009)
  • a trooper of a traveler from San Francisco to Philadelphia (May 2009) - sat on my lap in the airport and let me pet and feed her (what cat does that?)
  • a trooper of a traveler from Philadelphia to Manhattan (August 2009)
Between the two of us, I was the lucky one.

Hanging out with me after I fell face first on Memorial Day weekend due to low blood sugar (common for diabetics - the low blood sugar, not the head impact) and went to the ER for stitches.

RIP my sweetheart.  Thanks for putting up with me.

She ALWAYS walked on or sat on my laptop (I think I paid it way too much attention for her liking.)

More Kitty laptop hate ;-)

To my feline baby:
Barbra Streisand - Evergreen Love Theme Froma S Mp3

(of course, the code isn't fixed and there is no way I'm doing it today - the "read more" link doesn't work.)


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I think this covers it

I don't even need to get on a soapbox about the stupid Balloon Boy hoax. Plus, technically we should be calling him Attic Boy or something.

This cartoon brings it home. Our priorities are just backwards. (And yes, I intentionally post-dated this to 2:30 so that my post about my cat is still first...that's probably indicative of my priorities being backwards.)

(code needs to be fixed, not doing it...don't click on the "read more" link - oh to people reading this on FB or on a direct link, you won't see the "read more" link.)


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Counterfeit Whiskey Detectors in Korean Cell Phones

A wee bit of a mistake happened over at The Next Web Asia blog. My editor posted this piece but somehow linked to the source and is unable to fix it.

Just so that this is forever exhiled to the back page never to be found again, I'm posting it here.

The Next Web Asia is a new blog in The Next Wave family of blogs.  It just went live this week.  You can check out my contributions here (well, for the article below, as I explained, you can't due to a mistake.)  

Counterfeit Whiskey Detectors in Korean Cell Phones

If you keep up with mobile phone technology, it’s pretty well-known that South Korea is high on the list of the most advanced nations.  There is massive competition between the three carriers: SK Telecom, KTF, and LG Telecom.  That keeps the industry innovating to leech customers away from the competition. That benefits the consumer. You can get a signal just about anywhere including when you’re up on the ski slopes or underground in the subway. The phones are sturdy, functional and, in many cases, multilingual.  Plus, your average Korean citizen is very used to using the extended features from text messages to banking.
If you’ve been to or lived in Korea for any amount of time, you know that it’s a drinking culture.  It’s expected that when your boss says “let’s go have dinner and drinks” to the staff that they go and that they drink, to excess (if the boss drinks to excess).  Like many vibrant economies, there is also a love of status objects, including expensive brand name liquors.
That means you’ve got a group of people more than willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money for their expensive booze.  In response, there is an industry of fake brand name liquor that has developed to rip these people off.
The problem for the South Korean government is that people taken in by this fraud aren’t paying the taxes levied on genuine brand name bottles of booze. To solve this problem, the South Korean National Tax Service is adding another level of functionality to the Korean cell phone.  They’re going to have detectors that can verify whether a bottle of expensive whiskey is legit or not. The detectors are scheduled to be put into use this month. I think it’s pretty clever to craft the solution around a piece of technology that everyone in Korea uses.
This is how the detectors will solve this problem:
The plan is to attach RFID chips that contain production history data to whiskey bottles, so that anyone with a cellphone can use a plug-in scanner (which is to be stored in major bars and pubs) to see if the costly bottle of liquor he is about to order is real or bogus. National Tax Services is rolling this out to make sure they are collecting liquor taxes to the fullest. They are starting with 2 million bottles of whiskey.
Now I’m not sure who exactly gets busted here.  I’m assuming it’s got to be the establishment or the liquor distributor.  If someone knows what’s supposed to happen when a fake bottle is detected, let me know.
News release from the Hankyoreh (한겨레) website (in Korean): “너 가짜양주지?” 휴대전화로 판별
Source: Web 2.0 Asia

(yes, the code is still buggy...skip the "read more" link)


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Car Ownership, Climate Change and Personal Responsibility - #BAD09

I'm not a scientist, but I feel strongly that you shouldn't own a car unless you need one. That's a view that has gradually dawned with me. I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. In L.A., owning a car is a way of life. My parents bought me a car at 16 or 17. This is because the transit system in L.A. isn't good. It was really bad when I was a teenager. You had buses and that was it going over the sprawl that is L.A.

What's funny is that the rail system was good in the past. In fact, it was one of the most extensive in the country. However, as cars became more affordable, the car industry actually bought the rail system infrastructure. You can imagine what happened then:
At first automobiles were too expensive for the average paycheck until the late 20s when car prices came down, sales went up and rail ridership started to decline. This was made even worse in the late 40s with the opening of Los Angeles's first freeways (called parkways then) which made traveling by car more convenient and enjoyable. However, these were not the only reasons for the demise of the Los Angeles rail system and rail systems around the world. A consortium of oil, rubber, General Motors and other companies bought up rail lines worldwide then replaced interurbans and streetcars with buses. By 1961 the last remaining interurban rail line in Los Angeles went out of service and in 1963 the last streetcar line shut down.

from Los Angeles Public Transportation
As a result, I grew up in a city that was all about cars and freeways.  Now, I'm seeing other cities follow in L.A.'s footsteps.  Seoul is clogged with big fancy cars going from one nice part of the city to another. Beijing is started to go in the same way.  It's scary.

Traffic runs slowly as heavy haze hangs over Beijing, China. Photograph: Diego Azubel/EPA

When I moved to San Francisco for law school, I moved with my car loaded with three cats (my cat and my friend's two cats I'd agreed to look after while she was in NYC), boxes and all my possessions.  I wouldn't let the car go. However, during exams I was studying all week. I went out to move my car and it had been totaled! Someone hit it, destroyed it and drove off...lovely. My car was insured, so I got a check for the car and that's where it ought to have ended. However, silly me. I bought another car. It was a waste or resources and money. I was paying to park it in a private lot. I never really drove it. I learned a good but expensive lesson. For the rest of my time in San Francisco, I relied on mass transit. It was great. I could walk short distances between my apartment and places I needed to go. I could take the bus, train or streetcar everywhere else. If I needed to drive to L.A., I'd rent a car.

That's how I think now. That's what I do now.

When I lived abroad, I didn't have a car initially. However, I got one because I was out in a remote area. That's the situation where I think it's okay. However, even then, I owned a small economy car. When I moved to Seoul, I decided I didn't need a car. Again, I was in a vibrant city with great mass transit!

Now I'm back in the USA in New York, NY. I definitely don't own a car here. I use mass transit. When I need a car I use I don't know if my actions help thwart climate change. I hope they do.

I'm just telling my story in the hopes that others in big urban areas start to agree with me. You don't need a car if you're lucky enough to be in a city with great mass transit. If you're well off enough to be able to afford a car in a big city, good for you, but don't buy a car.  Hire a car service when you need one. If you're in a city with crap mass transit like L.A. get on the local and state government to develop a great mass transit system that people will use. For those who don't live in urban areas and need cars, think economically. Get a hybrid.

I just feel very strongly that we've got to take responsibility and stop making excuses. I can't say I like what Tony Blair had to say on the subject of China and cars.  I do like that he, at least, wants to focus on technology.  However, China and other countries with fast developing economies has newly rich citizens who MUST buy a car there is going to be smoke cloud over Asia that will be no joke because that smoke cloud is going to impact the whole world.

Owning a car when you don't need one is wasteful. I learned. I hope more do because we've got to reverse climate change.

(I need to fix the code, so the "read more" leads you nowhere...sorry).


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

I've not written my 2009 Blog Action Day post yet. It will go up tomorrow. However, I want to remind folks that it's tomorrow.

This is the concept:

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.
You can check out the link in the sidebar or just click on the link above. However, if you blog, seriously think about joining and helping to focus the conversation on climate change tomorrow!

(I need to fix the code, so the "read more" leads you nowhere...sorry). 


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Saturday, October 10, 2009

BTW, Congratulations Mr. President

You see I've been spending time arguing that the 2009 Nobel Peace Price recipient, President Barack Obama, is a good one. The gist of the counter argument seems to be that the award is simply premature. I'd say to a certain degree, yes, it is. However, President Obama has already fostered an amazing environment on the international political scene because he says that the USA is ready to work with the world again. (The only problem with that is the next president of the USA could be another idiot on the international politics front and mess it all up again.) Also, amongst Americans I saw some pretty amazing things that I thought I'd never see including a fair number of people crossing party lines to vote for him. Also, just having the energy of positivity and hope back to the USA was nice to see.

There are also practical things like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the gradual drawing down of US troops in Iraq. We've still got plenty of challenges like how to handle the war in Afghanistan. However, all three of these things: Guantanamo Bay, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are things he didn't start. He inherited them. It takes time to make errors on a massive scale like this but it also takes time to fix.

My critique of the other side is that it's the same negative and cynical vision that the USA has had for the last 7 or so years. When you take a negative view of human nature and expect that worst, usually, that's what you get. The people on the other side of the debate, of course, are heartily offended that I've said that. I say it because that's how I see it.

When you don't look at the history of the Nobel Peace Prize in the context of previous winners, you can miss that other people in the midst of their incredible work got the prize. My belief is it's done in those context to give the people momentum and to encourage them to keep up the good fight. Sometimes they fail and, unfortunately, there is a big hateful group of people who want to see Obama fail.

Even if you aren't against Obama, you can still think that the award is premature. However, I'm noticing that there are people who really don't know the history of the award and don't know this has been done before. In fact, it's been done by the Nobel Prize committee many times before. For all of those saying that now the award has no value, then the award hasn't had value for a long time.

Rachel Maddow, whose got a great show but whose podcast I've stopped watching, summed it up nicely. I guess I resubscribe now too ;) (the link takes you to the iTunes page, so don't click it if it's not installed on your computer.)

Thanks Rachel.

More links:

Newsweek: Obama Not First Surprising Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Seven Controversial Recipients

(yes, the code, still buggy and me, still busy...the "Read More" link is just there for show and confusion)


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Harry Connick Jr Speaks Up About Jackson Blackface Skit in Australia

THIS is what you're supposed to do when you experience stupid racist crap. You're supposed to speak up.

This is a clip from the Associated Press: Australian TV show apologizes for blackface skit

Connick said he would not have appeared on the show if he'd known about the skit.

"I just want to say, on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart," he told Somers after his apology.

I'm glad Harry spoke up. That performance was 100% buffoonery. I don't think it was hateful racism. I think it was a true lack of empathy and understanding. We've got to get more of both for everyone!

It reminded me of this incident from a few years back in Korea: Okay, the Bad Side of Korea: "It's not racist; it's a joke!". As far as I know, excuses were made and an apology? Never.

It's got to come from all sides: an awareness of and sensitivity to how others feel.

I say this because I've been in situations when I was abroad where it was mostly foreigners who where going to town with racist generalizations about Koreans. Look, living anywhere that's different and where it's not your country is HARD at times. However, when I saw that stuff, I called them out as going a bit too far down Racist Lane.

Good job Harry and thanks.

More links:
Analysis: 'Blackface Jacksons' embarrassing to Australia
Harry Connick, Jr. denounces blackface skit in Australia
Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia's blackface Jackson 5

(code not fixed yet, the "Read More" doesn't lead you anywhere...sorry)


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Will you take the stairs if it's fun?

Simply because I'm fat, I make an effort to take the stairs. I usually wear flats and that makes it easier. There are tons of stairs in NYC if you're taking the subway to get around. Sure enough, the sedentary fat is melting away little by little.

Here is the concept:

We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory.

Piano Steps. “Take the stairs instead of escalators or elevator and feel better” is something you often hear or maybe read in Sunday attachments. Few if any people have followed this advice. Can we get more people to take the stairs over the escalator on a normal day in Stockholm, by making it more fun to take the stairs? The result you see here.
Anyway, this is an experiment they did. I think it's clever. What do you think?

I read about this here: Subway Stairs Turn Into Piano Fun
(too busy to deal with the code, the "read more" link is just an evil tease...skip it.)


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