Traveling The World

I’ve been traveling all over the world for the past month. No I didn’t suddenly win the lotto, I’m still a poor college student. But, through flickr, I have been traveling around the world through the photos of others. I really love doing this because it will be quite a few years before I can actually afford to travel all around the world, so the cheapest way is to enjoy the pictures of people who live in these areas. It has been amazing seeing the world through the lenses of these photographers, some of them have amazing quality work. This last week alone I have been to Malaysia, Iraq, and Japan. Over the next few days I will be blogging about some of my favorite pictures from around the world. This may be in addition to other posts if other exciting things happen around the world this week.

Mandraksoft is now Mandriva!

One of the most well-known Linux distributions has recently changed names! After their recent merger with Connectiva, Mandrakesoft is changing its name to Mandriva. No more Mandrake Linux! It’s Mandriva Linux now. Their URL will soon be changing to reflect this, so make sure to update your bookmarks.

Only in the Linux world can a brand name change without much repercussion. Information travels fast so everyone knows it’s the same thing. Imaging frosted flakes changing the name and mascot of its cereal. Without an expensive ad campaign everyone would assume it was a new cereal and they would lose their brand recognition. Not so with purely internet entities.

Spiderman, Spiderman….does whatever a spider can

Technology continues to be an amazing force and I’m always amazed at even the little things that technology can achieve. Until I was in High School I used to read Marvel comics every month when a new issue would come out. There were only three Marvel comics I cared about: (which happen to be some of the most famous ones) Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men.

I liked Spiderman because he was really witty. Even when he was getting beaten up by his enemies, he would still make fun of them with all sorts of wise guy remarks. I also liked the fact that he always had a lot of real-world problems. Unlike a lot of other super heroes he always had problems. His best friend’s dad goes crazy and he is constantly battling with him. Jameson, at the newpaper, is always writing bad articles about Spiderman. No matter how good of a job he does, Jameson is always dragging his name through the mud. He has issues with MJ about why he is always dissapearing. Unlike Lois Lane, she doesn’t naively accept this, she gets ticked and goes out with other guys. Also, for most of the time, his Aunt May, who he so dearly loves, hates Spiderman.

I liked Fantastic Four because of the different characters, although Thing was my favorite. He, like Spiderman, was always cracking on people. He was also a huge guy made of rocks, but he was afraid of the Yancy Street Gang. Mr. Fantastic was really cool because he was always working on all sorts of neat gizmos. Also, FF was one of the groups whose main enemy was a communistic dictator, Dr. Doom, who ran a country in Eastern Europe.

What drew me to X-Men was the fact that I understood, from an early age, that it was a metaphor for racism. In the X-Men comics, the people of the US hate mutants. No matter how many times they save the American people, they hate the X-Men simply because they are different. This is a fact that, I am sure, played a subtle part in getting the youth of 40 years to understand that hating someone for being different was wrong, especially if they were good people. Up to now, the story has been timeless. The Romans hated the Christians for being monotheistic. Almost all of Europe hated the Jews because they were not Christian. Anglos hated blacks because they were darker in skin colour. People hated the mutants because they were different. Additionally, because they had power that the people feared, just as many feared (rationally or irationally) that 19th century blacks should not be educated, lest they rise up against the whites. Of course, as a kid I was also attracted to Cyclops’ laser eyes and Wolverine’s awesome claws. These characters all had a story too and Wolverine’s always intrigued me the most since he knew nothing of his past and the more he found out, the more complicated it got. The movies really don’t do 40 years of comic books justice.

The reason for this post, however, is a recent purchase I made at Best Buy a couple of days ago. On 11 CD-ROMS I bought the ENTIRE collection of The Amazing Spiderman comics from issue 1 to the last issue in December 2003. This would have been an insane thing to do in real world for two reaons. First of all, it would have cost a fortune to get all of those first issues in good enough a condition to read. Second of all, it would have taken up many, many more shelves than I have to devote to comics. With technology, however, I can have all of the 40 years worth of comics in about 2 inches of CDs. Trust me, it’s not the same reading it on the screen. I like feeling the newspaper-like paper of the older comics. There was a very nice grit to it which I liked. I also liked when they switched to the higher quality paper that allowed for more vibrant colours. However, when it comes to being able to carry with me, and read the entire collection of comics, this is unparalled. If I wanted to, I could take this with me on a long plane trip and remain amused for quite some time.

I read issue #1 and I must say it was very funny. The art style is VERY different from the art style used when I used to read it. Peter Parker looks more like an adult than a teenager. He also isn’t quite as witty yet, but I think that Stan Lee, the script writer, was getting a feel for the character. One also has to take into consideration the time period in which it was written. I’ll have to keep a close eye on the credits and see if it’s actually another script writer who introduces the vitriolic wit of Spiderman. Also, so far he has helped stop a bad guy from getting some secret plans to some commies, standard fare for the Cold War super hero, I’m sure.

Overall, I really like the experience. They have a cupon here for $10 off of something so I may check it out. I saw something on Tv wondering how Marvel would make money in the new era of comics, I think this is definitely a good strategy – making the original comics available. They are redoing a lot of the stories, and that’s fine for a new audience – they don’t identify with a superhero defeating the commies. But, there’s something about the old ones that I pine for. I’d definitely buy similar collections of the X-Men and Fantastic Four.

Google’s watching….not big brother!

According to CNN Google will begin offering a new map service to rival and surpass Mapquest. They bought this service from Keyhole, a company with a large repository of satellite pictures of people’s houses. Some people are protesting this from a privacy point of view. I don’t see why they are protesting. It’s not as though I can pull up a live picture from your house. All I can do is see a picture that was taken at some point in the past (Google claims 6 months). I don’t see how that’s a privacy issue? Right now I could pay someone to go take pictures of your house and you probably wouldn’t know. As long as they aren’t tracking people or anything (something nearly impossible with civilian satellites), it’s not a big deal. If you look at the CNN articles you will see from the pictures that the resolution isn’t all that. It’s more of a cool geek thing than anything else. Actually, the article did mention the only good use I can see for this service, checking to see just how far that hotel is from the beach when they claim they are just “minutes away from the water”. Actually, I can think of one other thing. If you are trying to figure out which houses to visit with your realtor, you can look it up on Google and see just how big the yard is, front property, etc.

If the world was a series of gas station….

I am coming to the end of the Lexus and The Olive Tree. In part three of his book, he had a very interesting analogy for the world’s economic systems. If they were a gas station….

Japan – the gas costs $5/gal, but there are five guys who service your car. They pump your gas, fill your tires, and clean your windshield. They are all guaranteed to have their jobs for life.

Europe – the gas also costs $5, but there is only one guy who is always telling you that his union contract says he only has to pump your gas, nothing else. He works 35 hours a week, gets 90 minutes for lunch and six weeks of vacation every summer. His uncle and cousin are across the street playing because they make more money on welfare than their last job.

Third world country – the gas costs $0.35, because it is subsidized by the government. Fifteen people work there and they are all cousins. Only one of the ten gas pumps work. The station is owned by a guy in Zurich who takes all the profit back to his own country. He never goes to the station and doesn’t know that many of the workers sleep in the garage and use the car wash to bathe in the morning.

Communism – the gas costs $0.15 cents, but there isn’t any in the pumps because two of the three workers are selling it on the black market. They still come in on Fridays to collect their paycheck.

US – the gas costs $1 and you have to do everything by yourself. But you are in charge. You can pump gas or wipe your windshield or do as you wish.

Fedora Core 4 Test 1 Released!

I am a little late in mentioning this due to events in my life at the time at which it occurred, but the Fedora Core 4 Test Release 1 is now available! This is only for use on a test machine because, as the test 1 release, it is very full of bugs. However, if you have an extra machine you can throw it on, you can help them in the debugging process. They have all new goodies that you can’t get anywhere else like Gnome desktop 2.10 and KDE desktop 3.4. Most distros are still on 2.8 and 3.2!

Download it here
or Bit Torrent it off here

Perhaps the last Numa Numa Post

I was looking at the stats for my server and I saw that four people had come here by searching: “a mexican and asian guy singing the numa numa remix”. I googled it myself and saw that you guys had been tricked by Google. I had written about Asia in one post and Numa Numa in the other. None of the other search results had anything to do with it, and mine was one top. I was very happy to be the top item in the search, but felt bad that people coming here weren’t getting what they wanted. I looked around on the Internet to see just what this Mexican and Asian Numa Numa dance was all about. Turned out to be quite hilarious! So, I decided to copy the video and put it on this server for you to be able to see! (Because it was on some weird site that was full of weird ads.) So you can access it here!. Save it to your computer and then enjoy the Numa Numa happiness!

Daylight Savings and Lack-of-Savings

The funny thing about the changing of the time that we do twice a year here in the US is that no one ever seems to know when the day is for changing the clocks. We all know approximately when the time is: in the early spring and early fall. But, even the week before, if you go around asking people, no one seems to know that it will be the next Sunday. Yet, without fail, the night before there is a slew of emails as one person finally figures out that this night is the night to move the clocks. They email their friends and acquaintances who email their friends until about 90% of the people know. Everyone else, like one of my homework group members who isn’t here right now, finds out when they turn on their computers the next day or any other electronic device that automatically adjusts itself.

The most amazing thing to me is the way that this works. First no one knows, then people exponentially find out as more and more people tell each other. It’s a marvel of modern technology. What in the world did people do before email? I know what I did – I used to check the Tv guide channel every morning on the weekends and when I saw that it was later than I thought it was, I knew it was time to change the clocks.

The McDonald’s Theory of War

I’m still listening to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which I mentioned back back on 12 March, since it’s a massive 21 hour book. Today I heard what I consider to be one of the most interesting theories involving wars. The author of the book noticed that no two countries containing a McDonald’s in their borders had ever fought. In other words, if Country A and Country B both have a McDonald’s they won’t fight each other. If Country C didn’t have a McDonald’s, then it may be attacked by either Country A or Country B, or it may attack either of these countries. His main exclusion to this theory is that a Civil war doesn’t count, so the problems in Yugoslavia don’t disprove the theory. The author then took his theory to McDonald’s who then independently verified that no two countries containing a McDonald’s had ever attacked each other.

What does this mean? Is it just a coincidence that no two McDonald’s countries had ever fought? The author explains himself this way: McDonald’s is just a representation of a country achieving a critical mass of middle class citizens. Poor people can’t afford to eat McDonald’s often enough and rich people would probably eat higher quality food. Therefore, a McDonald’s franchise would only open up in a country with an entrenched middle class. As a generalization, countries with a large middle class are averse to war. They know that wars are increasingly devasting to even the victor.

A country’s economy cannot support an indefinite war (present Iraq conflic aside) and sooner or later the middle class will begin to complain to its officials to end the war. Additionally, when countries go to war, the uncertainty drives away investors and they take away their money with them. Therefore, it is in a country’s best financial interest to stay away from wars.

Although I would like to wholly believe the author of the book, his theory sounds eerily like two men he mentions in the book. These were both people who said in 1910 that war was over and there would never be another war again. Countries were too tied up in economics to wage wars and it would be devastating for both sides. Within just four years of that statement would be the first World War and more would die in that conflict than in all the wars before it. In fact, the men were right, the war decimated the European continent and its countries. Coupled with World War 2, Europe was left behind until very recently, allowing the US to become a world leader. I agree with the author of the book I’m listening to that it would be very chaotic if there were to be another world war. However, I am not so sure that the implication could be made that there would never be another world war.

Let the flow of encrypted bits henceforth flow!

I have finally uploaded my public encryption key to the main pgp server that is the default on KGPG, the encryption program I use on my Linux computer. I also set up my Thunderbird email program to digitially sign all of the messages I send with my public key so that anyone who gets an email from my Gmail account will now have the assurance that I sent them the email and not someone spoofing me. In fact, if they have the ability to check GPG keys on their computer, they will be able to check the key against the server and make sure that the email has not been changed since I wrote it.

Additionally, by using my public key, anyone who wishes to send me an encrypted file can now do so. Once they encrypt the file, I will be the only one able to open it since I’m the only one who posesses my private key.

You may say that I have no need whatsoever for either encryption or digital signing of my emails. Afterall, who the heck am I sending emails to that it is so important to validate my identity? Who is sending me stuff that is so top secret that no one must be allowed to intercept the attachment or file transfer? If you are saying this, you are obviously not a computer geek. We do things because they are l337 and just all around something neat to do. At this point in my life, I’m not doing anything that requires me to use encryption, but it’s fun to be able to.

There IS one important reason for the encryption, though. Spam is getting crazier and crazier with spammers now spoofing other people’s identities. By having a public key that others can check, if my dad gets an email purported to be from me that looks like spam, he can automatically know whether or not I sent it. There’s no need for him to email me back or call me to see if I truly sent the message. The same applies to anyone who might get an email from me.

Additionally, since I have set up Thunderbird to automatically sign all messages I send, it requires my encryption password to be typed when I send an email. Although I’m currently using it only on my Linux machine and there aren’t really viruses for Linux, assuming there was a virus or worm that replicated by sending emails, it probably wouldn’t be able to do so because they wouldn’t know my password. I don’t know this for a fact, since I don’t know how worms function, but if I’m right, it’s just one more reason for everyone to start using GPG digital signing of their messages.

Finally, in the case that you don’t have access to the server I uploaded my public key to, you can access it here! You may want to right-click on the link and pick “Save As” to save it to your computer and add it to your list of public keys on your “key chain”.

As a completely unrelated sidenote that I didn’t think warranted its own post: I received my first comment from someone I don’t personally know. (It’s on my Milestones post) I had this happen a few times before on my Tripod blog, but this is the first time on this one. Hopefully there will be more of those.


I have reached a few server milestones this month. My previous post on this blog was my fiftieth post. Not bad for only two month’s worth of posting. Also, not only did I break 1 thousand visits, I surpassed it, and the month isn’t even over yet. I have come very close in the past few months, but I couldn’t get past the thousand mark.

A couple of things have helped to boost my visits. First of all, this blog is the most accessed page on my server. Out of the visitors to my server 1400 of the pages they visited were this blog! A lot of people have come over from the posts I made to the WordPress website. Many, Many others have come from search engines looking for Numa Numa information. I guess it pays to be talking about popular current events. In fact, about 70% of the visiors who came to my site from a search engine were searching for that phenomenon.

Good Friday and contemporary news

Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians celebrate the betrayal and death of Jesus the Christ. Jesus was murdered in order to fullfill the prophecies dating back to the days of the Old Testament books of the Bible. According to the doctrine of Original Sin, when Adam and Eve committed the first act of disobedience against God, they caused all of their descendents to also be born into sin. In order to symbolize a washing away of this sin, God commanded the ancient humans (proto-Hebrews) to sacrifice a purely white lamb, sprinkling the blood symbolically onto the sinners, to take away their sins. The lamb, being without defect, was supposed to stand in for the humans who had the “defect” of sin.

As time passed on, visions came to those who we call prophets in which God promised that one day there would be a “final lamb” to take away humanity’s sins. After this final lamb, there would no longer be a need for sacrificing real lambs. Christians, though not Jews, hold that Jesus was this final lamb. This is why it was a moot point when “The Passion of the Christ” came out that the Jewish leadership or Roman leadership killed Jesus. It was his purpose to die and those who helped that come into fruition were merely players in the game.

It is the doctrine of all major factions of Christianity that there is only one requirements to be absolved from this original sin – simply believing that Jesus was the son of God and agreeing to followin his commands. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast.” From here, different factions interpret the Bible differently. I believe this means that you don’t have to ask God to save you every day. While it is healthy (from a psychological and theological point of view) to admit one’s sins daily, in order to humble oneself and not think that he or she is so pious. There are quite a few people who walk around as if they were perfect, they would do well to reflect on their actions daily. However, I digress.

Therefore, I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do right before you die if you are already a Christian. For example, what if someone was driving a car and happened to utter profanity before being killed in a car crash? I think it would be quite dumb if the person couldn’t go to Heaven because they happened to slip up at the last minute. I think most people would agree with me (unless the opposite doctrine had been drilled into them) that a rational God wouldn’t act that way. Therefore, unlike Catholics, I don’t think that suicide can prevent someone from going to Heaven. Basically, it would be the same thing: a sin before death. One may argue that suicide is worse than profanity, but as other scripture claims, all sin is equal before the eyes of the Lord. Any sin is an act of disobedience and that is the real problem, not the actual act.

Thus, I believe that Terry Shiavo should be allowed to die. Having a living will that contains a “do not recescutate” clause may be considered to be suicide, but I say that no one had feeding tubes back in the days of the Bible to keep them alive. Thus, removing the feeding tube is not playing God, but leaving it in is. If someone wished to die naturally, they should be allowed to do so. If I were in a vegetative state, I would want to be allowed to die. As a Christian, I believe that death would allow me to finally get to Heaven instead of having my spirit stuck in a defunct body.

My grandmother, who died on Palm Sunday, wanted to be allowed to die at the moment her body was no longer able to support itself. She didn’t want to be kept alive in a minimal state. Of course, if she could be cured, she wanted to be cured, but she didn’t want to just sit there while her body decayed away. After she died, the doctors called my parents and told them what had occurred. As her white blood cell count went lower and lower, the body was unable to repair the holes that form in the circulatory system of all humans as a part of entropy. Thus, her circulatory system became porous and the blood slowly leaked out into her body. This caused her blood pressure to drop dangerously low and she died when she could no longer breathe on her own or circulate blood. Had the doctors attempted to get her lungs working, they would have only kept her alive two more days with a hole in her throat. Is that worth it? I don’t think so!