December 2006 Archives

December 29, 2006

Rainbow Sprinkler


Rainbow Sprinkler, originally uploaded by MS4JAH.

TV vs. Video Games

If you know anything about the way Leftsider does holidays, you will invariably expect to see a gaming console of some sort being heavily used during the festivities. It started in childhood, when my sister and I would eagerly anticipate visiting my cousins and their Nintendo. Our parents wouldn't allow us to own one, so we hoarded all the time we could with the precious machine while we were there. Conversely, our cousins would bring their games with them when they visited us....since there is nothing to do in the country for someone who grew up in the Bronx.

Now that we're all considerably older, I play video games only on occasion. For a while there Joey and I got pretty serious into some PS2 titles, but after his death my playstation and OUR 25-30 games mysteriously vanished from the inventory. Returning back to the US, I had lost a lot of my gaming spirit.

Still, playing with my cousins is something that was a tradition. And, as it seems that I've given up Christmas to the in-laws to hold on to the sanctity of my beloved Thanksgiving, I decided to see if I could put a little bit of home in the mix. This time, I brought an Xbox along for the trip, with a few games.

Nobody in the house would touch the thing. Not a soul. Except for one visiting friend's boyfriend--who try very valiantly not to run down the stairs when I mentioned an xbox--I spent my entire gaming time in isolation.

Why? It seemed there was a stigma attached to playing video games. This surprised me as one guy was apparently a pretty active computer gamer and all of the guys had no problem sitting and channel surfing for hours on end. For me, I have a negative inclination to watching television.

I was born in front of a television. Growing up in rural America, it was my friend, my advisor, my babysitter, and, of course, my entertainment. I longed to leave the country to find more things to do. And once I did leave for more urban areas, my attachment to the television has consistently diminished. Today, I have not seen more than one episode of any show on television this season. I don't even know the names of half the shows. Sitting in my den watching TV makes me feel like a lower species; a slack-jawed, dull-eyed, cretin.

Which I am, but only in regards to the internet. Remember that.

Imagine the awkwardness of the olive branch offers: They decline when I offer them a controller, I have no idea when they ask me what I want to watch on television. There was no middle ground; I realized that the two activities were so close--the same screen--but oh so far.

I still contend that when I watch TV I feel like I'm doing nothing. I sit; the screen shoves crap down my senses and my only option is to change the channel. I don't create, filter, or edit what any particular channel gives me. I can change the channel but I cannot change the content. I sit; not using any muscles and very little intellect. The show always explains an ending and gives my clues when to laugh or feel some other emotion. While I sit and stare at a screen online, I do choose exactly what I see; video games have an ultimate ending but I must think and interact to get there.

Perhaps my perception of gaming has changed. Indeed, my ideas about television have. With new, more family-friendly consoles like the Wii, will gaming gain a greater foothold on the traditional picture of the family gathered around the television (remember when that was the radio? or even just the fireplace?)? Which do you think is more sociable?

Is this what vacation feels like?

Taking some time off has been really interesting. In a sense, I feel relief from the pressures of work and school (and web, honestly). On the other hand, I've felt as if I've not been making any gains--personal progress--as well. As such, my vacation has felt a lot like the break you get when you take the elevator instead of the stairs (you do take the stairs, don't you?).

I've managed to whittle down my RSS feeds to a point where I'm two weeks behind now. I intended to tackle this while on holiday in Chicago, but internet access....well, you can ask your brother-in-law for the password for his wireless network, but I dare say you're overstepping your boundaries when you ask permission to reset his router since the password is obviously incorrect. I'd suggest doing something else like...reading my next post. :)

The New Inequality

The New Inequality - New York Times

Still, nobody has yet come up with a wholly persuasive explanation for what has caused the new inequality. Education is still a big part of the overall picture. Beyond education, it’s possible that social mores have changed to make huge salaries for chief executives and other top earners more acceptable. It’s also possible that the new inequality is a natural outgrowth of what Robert Frank, a Cornell professor, has called the “winner-take-all society,” in which globalization and technology have raised the relative value of the very highest paid jobs. Or it’s possible that the rightward drift of government policy over the last generation — deregulation and falling tax rates, for example — has somehow enabled the rich to gain at everyone else’s expense.

December 22, 2006

God king pays tax for first time

BBC NEWS | South Asia | God king pays tax for first time

King Gyanendra of Nepal and his son, Crown Prince Paras, have been forced to pay tax - for the first time in the history of the monarchy.

Korean Growth to Trail Most of East Asia Next Year

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Korea is expected to be near the bottom among major East Asian countries in terms of growth rate next year. According to the Asian Development Bank’s semi-annual Asia Economic Monitor report released on Thursday, Korea will record economic growth of 4.6 percent next year, ranking 10th out of 14 East Asia countries.

EMI Tests Selling Unprotected MP3s

EMI Tests Selling Unprotected MP3s - Lifestyle News - Digital Trends

Also here. I really hope that this is something that will produce favorable results. I really would make a man like me hang up much of his pirating days if this were to happen.

There are others who say it much more poignantly than I can. But the fact remains: I'd consider even paying $100 a month for access to an unlimited database of unrestricted music from the major labels. Think audio-on-demand on your DAP, your mobile device, your home stereo, or your satellite-enabled car radio. It'd be well worth it.

Any reason why that wouldn't work? And isn't the plural for mp3 still mp3?

200 firefox extensions, one window

CyberNotes: 200 Firefox Extensions Installed At One Time! - CyberNet News

I know a few machines at my office who aren't far from this atrocity. :)

Roving Bugs Useless for you and I

KTRE-TV - Lufkin/Nacogdoches, TX - Court Says FBI Can Use Your Cell Phone To Spy... On You

"The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them," James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News. "Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone's location to within just a few feet," he added.
I know that there have been some regulations to standardize GPS or some other tracking requirements for mobile phones...they've been talking about that for years.

But if it is useful to this degree of reconnaissance, why were we unsuccessful with the Kim family and the hikers recently? To what extent do we effectively use technology, and who decides in which direction a technology is applied?

December 21, 2006

Shared Phone Practices

Jan Chipchase - Future Perfect: Shared Phone Practices

What happens when people share an object that is inherently designed for personal use?

A Nokia Research team set out explore this topic during a July 2006 field study in Uganda with a brief to understand how people share mobile phones. The research builds on prior research from India, China, Nepal and Mongolia and Indonesia.

December 20, 2006

Expensive housing in SF (spotted on King St)

And I thought DC was bad.....

Regifting

Mr. Sun!: Re-gifting.

It's great to have good parents, and it's even more applaudable when you can do something similar for those whom you will help to grow. What does it mean for a society when parents no longer look for ways to help their children through their problems? Are we not seeing the effects of this now?

This was written so well, so succinctly, I was tempted to get all emotional about it. I should call my folks and thank them for taking an interest in me.

Seoul Most Expensive City for Expats in Asia

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Seoul has been judged the most expensive city for expatriates living in Asia by ECA International, a human resource firm in Singapore. It ranked the capital eighth in the world. Seoul leads the field in Asia due to a strong won coupled with overall price increases of local products and services.

Well. If I go back to Korea, I hope I won't be living in Seoul, But then, if someone else is footing the bill I won't have anything to worry about, will I?

Vegetarians have higher childhood IQ

Mind Hacks: Vegetarians have higher childhood IQ

A paper published this week by the British Medical Journal report that children with higher IQs tend to go on to become vegetarian.

December 19, 2006

Wordie?

Wordie

For those of you who know me well, you may note that this site may be infringing upon my intellectual property. heh. But anyone who would bother quibbling over words with a person who made a site specifically for connecting people through the love of words is like a grinch to christmas. Aha!

For the record, I haven't joined yet.

Korea May Never Catch Up With Japan

December 9, 2006

DC Metro maps for iPod

Metro - iPod Rail Maps

For those of you promoting mass consumerism and groupthink by purchasing DRM enslavement from Steve Jobs (while still sniffing at much more saintly Bill Gates), you can now get your DC Metro maps straight on your iPod. Enjoy!

big meals, overpopulation and independent thought

Today Fru prepared a very light meal. It was delicious and fairly healthy; I was completely satisfied. Most people I know would not have been satisfied by its size, and that got me thinking: Why do people in America eat so much?

The first thing I thought of is the stereotypical overpriced restaurant where you get a big plate with an exquisitely arranged, tiny bit of food. I've had this before; it's good because that dish is just a course and you'll probably be satisfied once all courses have been served. Rich people have it right; eat small portions of good things to satisfaction rather than large portions of anything to fill.

Why do we, being non-affluent, stuff ourselves? Naturally(?), this made me think of overpopulation in Asia. Actually I just had my Asian Studies final, where overpopulation is discussed. You see, the main reason why people have so many children is 1)personal security and 2)lack of education. In less-developed countries, more children mean more workers--which is equivalent to greater profit. Additionally, you can rely upon your children to provide for you when you are no longer physically able to continue in your hard labor. In countries where the emphasis has transferred from agriculture to technology, there is a marked decrease in offspring; It's perfectly normal for a professional couple in the US to opt for no children at all, relying upon their investments and other things for security.

Perhaps, I theorized while Fru listened, our food intake is similarly aligned. People who are materially poor visualize material excess as more food than you can eat. Conversely, I think that most rich people would not even have food on the list of things that symbolize wealth. So those of us from more modest backgrounds look at eating in a way that is indicative of the mentality from which we are raised. It therefore becomes a conscious decision for us to live like we want, rather than like the sum of our upbringing.

How many things in life to we really do out of our own inclination and not as a reaction of who we are? Should we be living our lives any differently?

.flickr-photo { border: solid


, originally uploaded by puja.

December 8, 2006

Statement of intent

The other day I was harranguing a friend about a number of irrelevant issues and happened to mention that all these things would make much more sense if he simply read this blog. He replied that he had visited occasionally but that "there was nothing there." More precisely, he had no idea what I was talking about here.

Good point. I've been maintaining Leftsider with varying consistency for over five years now. The site has had numerous faces, and locations, so I'm sure that it's not an exaggeration to say that the topics have changed as well. Even a year ago my topics were mainly about Korea, which has a much smaller part of the picture today.

So what is Leftsider about right now? Well, my best explanation would be that this blog looks at the history of culture and the future of technology to create a practical philosophy for the present. More than ever, I find that looking at things that have happened around the world give me insight as to what is happening here. And if I follow technology to the future world, I want to have that same human, native, personal practicality to go with it. It covers a lot, but then, how much of a perspective would it be if it wasn't?

So now we've labeled it. Hope you'll find the ride less confusing from here on out.

Teddy Roosevelt's ghost

3quarksdaily

Two years ago, I dressed up as Theodore Roosevelt for Halloween, and my friend Emily dressed as Cuba. Together, we were "the Spanish-American War". We weren't trying to honor the man, the country, or U.S. interventionism. Rather, we were trying to let a bruised and hard-to-defend moment of American history have a rare moment as a costume.

With an opening paragraph like this, you either turn off immediately or turn the ol' intellect up a notch and get ready for a good one. I mean honestly, who dresses up for halloween as a war?

If I may (I mean, it's my blog, for pete's sake) I'd recommend the latter. Definitely a good read.

December 7, 2006

Karma, tied with a bow

indexed: Karma, tied with a bow.

Just in time for the holiday season! Classic.

December 6, 2006

State of emergency

Blood Diamond

Foreign Policy: Seven Questions: A Chat with Blood Diamond Director Ed Zwick


Wow. A movie with Leonardo DiCaprio that I actually want to see?

December 5, 2006

Richest 2% own 'half the wealth'

BBC NEWS | Business | Richest 2% own 'half the wealth'

The report, from the World Institute of Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth.

Department stores on the upswing:

This Blog Sits at the: Department stores on the upswing: two approaches to change management and brand architecture

Newly introduced to this blog. It's very well written, but I'm not really supportive of the department store philosophy--however it manifests itself.

I started shopping the more boutique-styled stores because you could follow a brand or style that you love (essentially filtering your clothing options), paying, arguably, more for what you value. When Banana Republic got over their Safari outfit style (basically when they were bought out by Gap) I was a walking advertisement. Later I added even trendier lines like French Connection and Club Monaco.

I stopped being a BR posterboy when everyone else looked like a BR posterperson. What was the point? Increasingly I realized that the entire setup was to give style to those who inherently didn't have it (like me) instead of encouraging people to make their own style. This is why it is so simple to run into a BR/JCrew/Gap and come out with an outfit--they make everything as compatible as possible so that you can have a good look without actually trying.

Vintage was the next logical step. I'm horrible at shopping for vintage and for good reason. Cheaper, less focused stores like H&M allow me to cover my vintage faux pas with a retro uncoordinated coordination. This is essentially spending money to look like a cross between a hobo and a graphic design student (see here for a stereotypical association!).

I love this new style because it allows a conglomeration of new, old, mainstream and eclectic into a statement that defines you at the precise moment that you chose it! Just when fashion was about to truly become a networking vehicle (for fabric?)....here come the big guys again, scooping up whats hot from any brand and telling you how to achieve the disheveled look du jour. While I agree that it is the path that they needed to take to survive, did they really need to survive? I find it akin to a major television network scouring youtube, metacafe, etc., to offer you programming. While it might allow them to give more of what you want, isn't there an unnecessary step there?

Where does convenience begin to beget conformity? Can this conformity vehicle be beneficial (changing the stagnation of boutique stores, etc)? How many times can one person say "meaning management" in one post?

All very intriguing questions.

061121-0002


061121-0002, originally uploaded by Leftsider.

Yours Truly

December 3, 2006

DRM, vinyl, and the future

DRM, vinyl, and the future :: Adam Kalsey

Quite possibly the simplest and best-written explanation of the restriction of DRM that I have read. Excellent.

December 1, 2006

Snap!

I think that most of the people (do I really have more than one visitor?) that read this site do so from RSS. If so, they may not have noticed that I recently added a neat little tool to the site called Snap.

From snap.com, it allows you to preview a link's destination by simply rolling over it. Snap.com used to be a search engine, apparently, but have repurposed their tools for this free applet. I think it's a neat little tool...one that I could really get used to if it became ubiquitous.

del.icio.us will eat itself

del.icio.us will eat itself (kottke.org)

Now that this was on Kottke's site, you know it's only going to get worse. Ah, geekery.