• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Saturday, January 29, 2005

    Monkey Porn

    Alright, so the summaries at Volokh.com and Instapundit.com are a pretty funny. However, this has nothing to do with porn. Monkeys are showing social behaviors that can be linked to brain actions that may go wrong in autism patients.

    In the March issue of Current Biology, researchers from Duke University report that monkeys will pay to see pictures of high ranking monkeys they do not have previous experience with. They focus on female bottoms because, like dogs, that is how social connection is made.

    I am excited. For those of us in the biology realm, this is big news. And for anyone who knows someone with autism personally, we are one step closer to understanding.

    Friday, January 28, 2005


    I think there is something wrong with a test that requires takers to study two hours a day for three months before they take it...doesn't that show how much they can memorize??

    I hear all this hooplah that the MCAT tests critical reasoning skills, supposedly the skills you need to be a doctor. Although I am also jumping through all the hoops to get into medical school (and do good on the MCAT), hearing that opinion leaves a sour taste in my throat.

    Here's what I recommend: Definitely keep the interviews. In order to be a doctor, you need to be able to relate to people, and patient-doctor interaction can only be observed through interviews.

    Make a second interview. This is a life skills interview. Pay people to fly out to each university and spend half a day with every medical applicant. Randomize it. Whatever the student is doing, the interviewer does also. During this time, the student is observed in life, and answers questions.

    Third, take a biology test. Put some organic chemistry on it. That way med students aren't idiots.

    Fourth, give a skills test. Give the students a car engine, tell them to take it apart and put it back together. Give them a problem with the engine, let them have all the resources they need, and tell them to fix it. That's what docs do on us anyways.

    Suggestions? Comments? I'll streamline this thought later.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Super Bowl Picks

    Well, I was right...sort of.

    I picked both the Eagles and Patriots to win the NFC and AFC championships respectively. I did think the games would be closer than how they ended up.

    So now I am sad because the Steelers lost. I want the Eagles--not because of T.O. I think he's a disgrace, even though he can play ball. I want the Eagles because I want Andy Reid, Chad Lewis (who unfortunately cannot play because of an ankle injury), and Donovan McNabb to win.

    But I said it last post: Don't bet against the Patriots. Without Bill Belichek, I could feel safe picking the Eagles. However, as long as he is at the helm, the Patriots are the team to beat.

    This one will be hard fought. Patriots lead the whole way. In the end, Patriots win, 30-26.


    I was recently referred to a great site for those aspiring doctors, dentists and pharmacists. It's called the Student Doctor Network (SDN). This site has forums for talking about medical school, blogs by medical students, tips on applying, and the ultra-popular interview feedback pages. These pages allow prospective students to answer questions and describe their interviewing experience by school.

    The feedback questionaires are anonymous by design. My coworker (who is applying to dental school) stumbled upon a report of an interview at
    UCLA that seriously disturbed me. I wish someone who reads this site to help me dig deeper into this. I assume her (also assuming that) post is legit, because the site is not too large to warrant a farce, and there aren't many posts like it (suggesting the type of person posting would not be inclined to do something like this).

    Either way, I would ask that everyone applying use caution. I bet this happens far more than is admitted. Again, if anyone finds similar stories or can link them back to this post, I would be interested to know more.

    Black Bush

    I'm sorry, but I am crying...with laughter. You have to watch this. Dave Chappelle gives probably the best realistic criticism (and it's funny) about President Bush and the war in Iraq. click here: Black Bush and laugh with me.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Copyright Law

    Some people just plain annoy me. I try to be nice…

    In order to be polite, I won’t name names. However, I will give a hypothetical situation:

    Once upon a time I was married, and my wife happened to still be in college. Not only that, but she had to take a class on literature to fulfill a general education requirement. The teacher of the class required each student to write a response paper—basically analyzing with personal opinions anything read in class or seen (i.e. artwork).

    Now, hypothetically, my wife and I do not have internet at home. The teacher refuses to give the students the artwork to critique, instead forcing them to look it up online.

    Here’s the rub: She says the artwork is copyrighted, so she can’t just give it to the students.

    So, now, my hypothetical situation just got really annoying, because I have to go find a place with the internet to surf and find the pictures and then critique them. Since when did classical and baroque paintings become copyrighted? Does Michaelangelo still hold the copyright to the Sistine Chapel? Is he making royalties off of every copy, print, and reference?

    Obviously this is just hypothetical and all, but boy, some people really tick me off.


    Iron Chef America

    Last night I blew off what I should have been doing and watched Iron Chef America: The Series, the new show on the food channel. For years the Japanese show, Iron Chef, has been a hit in America. It’s been so popular, I’ve been amazed that the food channel hasn’t tried this sooner. Well, now that they have, I must tell one and all—It’s amazing!

    The show has many improvements catering to the American audience. First, the Iron Chefs (there are three) each have great personalities and a competitive spirit. All are big American chefs, so that might come with the territory, but all also have experience on television. They know how to cater to the crowd.

    Secondly, the announcers interact with the chefs in a more fluid manner (and vice versa). Commentary is provided real time (during taping) so that the iron chef or challenger can comment, joke, etc. Last episode, the commentator mispronounced the names of some chilies and challenger chef Blayless quickly corrected him.

    caveat--the original iron chef did some interaction, but it was never as fluid. Part of that undoubtably has to stem from my first point.

    Thirdly, at the beginning of the show, they give the viewer a graphic showing the chefs head to head. It comprises their specialties, win-loss record, etc. Perfect for our superbly competitive culture. Plus, since there are three iron chefs (southwest, Chinese, and comfort foods), it’s nice to see the specialties. French vs. Chinese cuisine is always interesting.

    Finally, and probably most important to me (because this always bugged me about the Japanese version), they finally give a scorecard to the judges. This allows me to see how each chef was rated. I though chef Bayless should have won, but seeing the scorecards, I realized he lost 50-49 because Iron Chef Flay received an extra point for plating.

    So, here’s my shameless plug: Watch Iron Chef America: The Series every Sunday night at 9:00pm MST rebroadcast Wednesday nights at 9.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Torture 2

    Verbum sapienti satis est.

    A quick caveat about the "torture" post since I have received so many personal comments.

    I argued it under the assumption that the choice for an American was torture of somebody they have never seen, heard of, or met vs. the peace and lives of family members. Although I like to play devil's advocate, I was not and am not arguing that torture is moral. I was playing devil's advocate, or conscience, or whatever, to admit that when forced between those two options only, many if not most Americans will take torture of somebody they don't know or will ever meet over the jeopardization of family members and loved ones.

    Obviously, non-torture means of extracting information, such as the use of chemicals which release inhibitions and cause the captive to tell the truth, are not only more humane, but yield better results.

    This does not change my argument that yes, I think the Geneva Convention a contrived set of rules for a very messy, often immoral, thing called war. The Geneva Conventions state that combattants dressed as non-combattants need not be treated as POWs. I agree with the opinion that the US should not be required to follow the Geneva Conventions against an opponent who does not follow the same guidelines. However, this does not mean that the US cannot and should not follow them anyway. That would bring up the moral conundrum of the American way to wage war that I have blogged about earlier.

    The playground fight 2

    Looks like the insurgents in Iraq realized what a dumb PR move it was to capture a Catholic Archbishop. Still not sure about the efficacy of holding 8 Chinese workers hostage. My experience with China causes me to think the move quite incapable of achieving anything.

    Zhao Ziyang

    Sunday, 16 January 2005, marked the passing of a man whose true impact on the world may not be recognized for years to come. Zhao Ziyang, once Prime Minister of China, passed away at the age of 85 after a fight with pneumonia and strokes.

    We need to take this time and remember what almost happened in 1989--a people longing for democracy, a Prime minister who supported them to late, and a party who crushed everyone. Fifteen years later Zhao died under house arrest, his name purged from the official party history books, and the ghosts of the Tiananmen massacre still haunt. Recently Chinese have risen up to demand better work conditions, compensation for on-the-job debilitating injuries, more freedom of the press, etc.

    When will the party realize that governing in constant fear of insurrection is not leading? The tiger is not as vaunted as they wish to think. In fact, it may bite the party riding it. Does America, which entered Iraq on the premise of WMD, stopping human rights violations, and setting up a democracy, owe the same to Chinese citizens, or Tibetans, under the thumb of such a corrupt government? Many writers think the party will qwell any demonstrations in China prompted by the death of this revolutionary. I hope we, in free countries around the world, who are able, demonstrate and effect changes to benefit not only the 1 billion people under China's rule, but everyone around the world.

    I sincerely hope everyone will learn more about Zhao Ziyang and the Tiananmen massacre, as well as what needs to be done today. A good novel about the massacre is Diane Wei Liang's The Lake With No Name. For news coverage on the passing of Zhao Ziyang, please see:

    A Tragic Figure Spurned by His Party . . .(WSJ)
    Chinese reformer Zhao Ziyang dies (BBC)
    China confirms death of Zhao Ziyang (ABS-CBN)
    The Prisoner of Conscience: Zhao Ziyang, 1919-2005 (TIMEasia)
    Purged Chinese Leader Zhao Ziyang Dies at 85 (Wash. Post)
    Purged Chinese leader dies (CNN)
    The Future Is Zhao (WSJ)

    Washington’s Darfur Dilemma

    Yesterday the Wall Street Journal commented on the dilemma now facing the Bush administration: support the UN’s ICC in prosecuting war criminals from Sudan or undermine the “genocide” tag that Sec. of State Colin Powell gave it in September of 2004.

    Instead of highlighting Washington’s dilemma, which the article does a fine job of doing, I want to highlight why it is a dilemma. Washington’s problem—not wanting Americans tried in the ICC because it could open the USA up for political trials—really stems from the impotence of the United Nations to do anything its charter contains.

    The United States gives more troops and money to the UN than any other country, but as long as it refuses political support—like other countries—the UN will have no authority with which to use its might. Right now, it is a forum for leaders of smaller, third-world, and non-democratic countries to put pressure on dominant first world industrial countries. It also allows those first world countries an avenue of checks and balances against competitors and stronger rivals (America being the chief).

    The ICC would be perfectly suited for the Darfur Crisis, if America would give its support to the international court, and thereby give credibility. However, America or any other country giving credibility to the UN would necessitate subjugating national authority under a governmental body made up of other nations, some competitors. Expect the Bush administration to do the convoluted and make up an ad hoc court funded solely by the USA to try any criminals. There will be much political rancor in the international press over the pride of America, but in the end the world will chalk it up to typical American behavior and the Bush administration will have successfully delayed the inevitable one more time.

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    The playground fight

    The kids on the playground want the bully to leave them alone, so they proceed to kick him when he's looking the other way. Now they've taken the toy his mother gave him for Christmas... sounds a little illogical to me. Do they want to give the bully an excuse to beat them??

    Woman, 66, Gives Birth in Romania

    I work in a microbiology laboratory, directing research on Mycobacterium ulcerans, the etiological agent of Buruli ulcer. This disease is similar to leprosy and highly prevalent in West Africa.

    In Bucharest, Romania a 66 year old woman gave birth to two children (one stillborn) after doctors artificially inseminated her with donated sperm and ovum.

    I am saddened by man's attempt to thwart the natural plan of mother nature. Biology dictates that women hit menopause and cease menstruating. I feel this is nature's way of dictating the promulgation of the species. In order for humanity to evolve in the most efficient way possible, a few things must happen.
    1. the male-female family structure allows for specialized roles as protector and nurturer--ensuring proper infant care and decreased infant mortality.
    2. male maturation is slower than females to facilitate older men mating with younger woman. This helps ensure that physically capable protectors are the fathers of offspring.
    3. Males may reproduce throughout their life. This allows for the increased probability that the most fit organism will succeed through the extended sexual life of the most virile males.
    4. Women hit menopause to force males to mate with females that have more childbearing years available and will be healthier. This increases the chance of having a successful pregnancy (where mother and baby survive) as well as allowing larger families (one mother with many children throughout life)--the efficient social organization favoring females who are better mothers.

    This procedure may hallmark increased medical advances, but it also disadvantages the offspring. If statistics are correct, this baby will lose her mother by the age of 10, giving her a lower than average chance to live, succeed in school, and contribute to society. The child was born more than six weeks early, and only 3.19 pounds. Sometimes we must use common sense and logic when dealing with these issues. Although I sympathize with the woman who wanted badly to have a child, I worry more for the child.


    Well, well ... we had a good game and some busts. For the record, I picked Steelers 24-14, Patriots 21-17, Falcons 34-20, and Eagles 28-10. My 4-0 record does not mean I'm actually good at picking the winners, so don't base your bets on it. However, I do relish in the fact that I did go 4-0.

    Preliminary picks for this week (a lot can happen in a weeks time):

    I'm not sure how anybody could not pick the Patriots. After wasting the Colts again, I agree with ESPN's Sean Salisbury that Belicheck is probably the best defensive coach ever. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks calls the game "Belichick's masterpiece of all masterpieces." I love the Steelers. I love their running game. I love Ben Roethlisberger. This ones gonna be ugly, but the team I love is gonna lose. Patriots win, 21-17

    In the NFC, I want Philly. No team deserves to be 0-4 in 4 straight championship appearances. I love coach Andy Reid. The way they dismantled the Vikings was what I expected of the Terrel Owens-less Eagles. Atlanta has all the intangibles. They are the underdogs. They have an amazing defense and running game that tends to be forgotten because they are 12-5 instead of 15-2. That combination is the combo that could kill the Eagles. However, this time Vicks proclivity to fumble catches up to them. They control the Eagles for three quarters, but fall in the fourth. Eagles win, 28-24

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    Geneva Conventions and American Mindset

    In a similar vein to "A Way to Wage War," the early colonial mindset argued by John Shy still resonates today. Unfortunately Americans are caught between their ideology and morality. Winning wars easily spun for ideological purposes (Revolutionary War=inalienable rights of man, Civil War=freedom for all, WW2=stop atrocities and genocide) has since given an ideological tint to our warmaking efforts. Any leader who wants to wage war (from America) must deal with the fact that we believe victory should be total (and I think secretly accept whatever means necessary to achieve this) while balancing our belief that we must have a supreme moral purpose.

    In reality, the Geneva conventions are anti-American military theory. They bar us from achieving total victory. Precedent was set throughout war to do whatever necessary (including nuclear weapons--we are still the only country to detonate one against another country) to win unconditional surrender. Shy also argues that rules for warfare came about due to Europe's large standing armies. Those governments wanted to
    "create a hard military shell, composed of specialists, that could protect the soft center of society, composed of the great mass of people."
    America had no such luxury due to constant Indian pressure.

    While Europe continued to standardize warfare,
    "Americans themselves flagrantly broke the rules of civilized warfare--the Illinois militia in the Black Hawk War, Texans at San Jacinto, and the U.S. Army during the Phillipine insurrection."
    Since most of these wars began after an atrocity commited against America, it became easy for Americans to justify their actions in the name of retribution or defense.

    Finally, today is no different. America was attacked by terrorists, who by definition operate outside the bounds of civilized warfare. Yet again we follow this pattern, and I think Americans are willing to commit "atrocities" in retribution and defense of our country. The moral issue poses a great connundrum for our leaders, and makes America pretty hypocritical, but both ideologies exist. Not only do I agree that we should not follow the Geneva Convention against enemies who have not followed it either, but history shows America does not need that excuse.

    A Way to Wage War.

    Earlier I had a post about Weigley's theory on the American Way to Wage War. Interestingly, he and other American Military Historians confine the definition to the USA. It seems that the definition is applied today, and the debate begins as to whether it evolved into this theory or just became. Weigley argues that it developed gradually. Grant's success at forcing unconditional surrender caused Americans to fight for that goal ever afterwards (annihilation). The moral black and whites (versus grays) in the three major battles that defined the US--Revolutionary War, Civil War, WW2--allowed citizens to think of American democracy as the moral high ground.

    My point was that the commonalities are just that--too common to make it the American way to wage war. However, in support of Weigley, the Romans fought for conquest and expansion. They didn't care if the indigenous people became slaves or were extinct. Their moral high ground differed from American morality because man did not have inalienable rights, and therefore they didn't fight to protect them. Also, citizenship was guaranteed to non-Romans only after cooperation with mercenary units made that a necessary payment. Before that, it was very rare indeed.

    One last point, in relation, John Shy argues in "The American Military Experience:History and Learning," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1. no. 2 (Winter 1971):205, 210-218 that the colonist mindset (which Weigley uses to base his argument) actually started in the 1600s. A series of wars with the Indians, then the French-Indian war, and finally the Revolutionary war caused a general feeling of survival only by exterminating the opposition (otherwise they would exterminate you).

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    A Class Act II

    The Viking's Randy Moss was fined $10,000 today for his fake-mooning episode at the end of the Minnesota-Green Bay game. Thank you, NFL.

    Since I can't say it much better than this, here are the words of Peter Hadhazy, the league's director of operations to Randy Moss:
    "Your actions were based on poor judgment, did not reflect well on you or the Vikings, and were insulting to many," Hadhazy wrote. "They have resulted in widespread criticism and needlessly detracted from Minnesota's dramatic playoff victory. Fans should look to you and your teammates to see how to compete and win in football. But when you lose your focus on playing and engage in sideshows as you did on Sunday, you forfeit much of this."


    I have a feeling that people reading this blog so far might label me anti-war and a libertarian.

    Today I heard from my friend Matt that Marty Lederman was quoted in the New York Times commenting on the recent court decision that the CIA was not bound by torture laws when acting outside the boundaries of the United States.

    Good. I have two concerns. First, why should US laws be inacted in the jurisdiction of other countries. If I steal in Vietnam, deport me, or try me according to Vietnamese laws. This may not be the most lenient option for me, but I chose to steal and I should pay the consequences. I guess a country should protect it's citizens, so deportation is more likely, and then the US could help Vietnam and prosecute me in US courts for stealing. But I disagree with going abroad and being bound by a multiplicity of laws which may possibly overlap and/or contradict each other.

    This has two implications. It simplifies the life of an expat, and it contradicts court decisions earlier which allow US citizens who engage in pedophilia abroad to be tried according to US laws. Although I believe pedophilia should be vigorously prosecuted, it seems logical to be, for example, "Socialist Republic of Vietnam vs. John Doe" argued in an American court or America gives up its right of protection and allows its citizen to be prosecuted under Vietnamese law.

    Second, yea for torture. I'm sick of America always trying to play good buddy/parent. Every parenting book tells you to be an authority figure and not your child's friend. Why should it be different with a country? If the CIA captures someone in another country implicated in malicious actions against the US, get his info. A robber gives up his right to life outside of jail when he steals, his right to remain silent when he speaks, and an enemy to our country gives up his rights when he engages in terrorist attacks.

    Supreme Court Rules on Federal Sentencing Guidelines

    Today the Wall Street Journal reported that the Supreme court struck down federal sentencing guidelines in a pair of 5-4 decisions. The rules, in place for more than 20 years, outlined mandatory sentences for federal offenders, and came under scrutiny when efforts were made in the state of Washington to increase time for felons deemed in leadership roles, etc.

    I am not well-versed in law (see Eugene Volokh or Matt for that) however it strikes me as a good play. Why not put some faith in our justice system to meet out punishments fit for the crime? Why do we need to micromanage everything? I don't know what policy implications or checks and balances implications this might have, but I do know from leading various organizations that if you teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves (or put another way, teach subordinates the broad scope and powers of their respective jobs, and let them get it done) organizations run efficiently. Can't America be the same?

    Maybe I'm playing devil's advocate (which I do alot), but isn't it ironic that a people who consider themselves the most enlightened people, living in the most enlightened age in the history of the world, still don't trust others to also act in an enlightened manner? Food for thought.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    The American Way to Wage War

    The late Russell F. Weigley wrote a treatise, "How Americans Wage War: The Evolution of National Strategy" found in John Chambers and Kurt Piehler's Major Problems in American Military History(Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1999). In this work, he argues that America developed a specific theory and way of waging war based on the American Civil War and World War II. Based on Grant's success and that of the invasion of Normandy, America and Americans believe in a strategy of annihilation backed by a moral purpose.

    Weigley's purpose in setting up this argument is to propose that warfare in the 21st century will move towards smaller, faster, lighter armies and America can and must find examples in history that will make this new warfare "American" and guide strategists. He references generals in the Indian Wars, Revolutionary War, and Civil War who exhibited "unconventional, guerrilla-style" warfare.

    Weigley's right, yet he doesn't go far enough. This style of warfare is American just as much as you can make a "xerox" and everyone knows you're copying a paper. The action is synonymous with the name of the most well-known employer/maker.

    I propose this: "American Warfare" is the method of waging war in which a country with numerical or technological superiority attempts to annihilate the enemy. The country does so for unspoken self-interested reasons under a noticeable cloak of superior ideology.

    In this context, "Annihilate" means decimate and destroy a population or civilization until it becomes maleable enough to be reshaped by the victor to whatever is seen fit. This may be total destruction, or it may be like World War II--molding Germany into a democracy with pro-western ties.

    Although the war in Iraq currently is being reshaped to fit the more mobile, guerrilla-style warfare Weigley invisioned, it is still American Warfare. From the American perspective, we have a large, technologically advanced country seeking to destroy Iraqi civilization until we can mold a new, pro-western democracy. We do this under the ideology that we are the light that is set on a hill, everyone wants to be like us, and democracy is the best government. We don't speak about the interests we have in the region--Iraqi oil, a foothold for pressure on Iran, etc.

    America isn't the only country following this method. China has done it in the past. I argue now that Islamic extremists are doing it right now. They are buoyed by an ideological/religious moral superiority which allows them to justify killing soldiers and civilians. They have "technological" superiority in the ability to know the terrain, culture of the inhabitants, use guerrilla warfare. Their goal is the annihilation of America from the region so it can be molded into an Islamist state. And of course, their unspoken intentions are an Islamic fundamentalist bastion for terrorist protection, withdrawl of American presence from the Middle East, and an arab Palestinian state.

    Maybe the Iraqis are thankful Saddham Hussein is gone, but maybe they don't want to be a democracy or pro-western. Maybe they don't want to be a Islamic fundamentalist state either. As much as I agree democracy and capitalism are the way to go, and I think Iraq would benefit from westernization, do we have the moral superiority to make them become like us? Perhaps America should do what my parents always told me, "live so that everyone who knows you will want to change and be like you, and those who don't know you will want to."

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005


    Congratulations to the students of Brigham Young University. I was on campus today at 5:30pm MST and the national anthem started playing as the ROTC retired the flag. Everyone on campus stopped, put their hands over their hearts, and waited for the ceremony to end before moving on. Out of 30 people (or so) in eyesight I only saw one person continue to walk.

    I have often wondered how people could be disrespectful and walk during a ceremony like that. I personally dislike many things about America, but it is still the country that I call home, give my citizenship, and try to build--through positive support and criticism. If I was in another country, I would do whatever possible to respect their country, flag, anthem, and ceremonies. It bothers me that people from other countries might not do the same, and it REALLY bothers me when Americans won't do it for their own country.

    Congrats to the students of BYU who showed me, for a brief moment, that there still are some people in America with decency and respect.

    America's Most Wanted

    Today I walk into work and run straight into my coworkers talking about America's Most Wanted. Seems like a friend of my coworker's older brother was just on the show last week for killing and robbing an armored car.

    What drives a person to such lengths that they shoot somebody five times in the head and take $56,000?? I'm sure that's a question for the psychologists to answer, but I also wonder how common is it? How many people have killed for less? Last year I sat in a class on World War II and we discussed--all too briefly--how desensitized German SS troops became. One classmate related the story of his grandfather--a SS trooper, and how he and his buddies threw up after their first killing. Slowly, the killings were justified by each killer until the horrors of the holocaust happened.

    If murders in America rise during the decade after a major war, how does war contribute to this mentality? Are we really doing the Middle East a favor by contributing to a climate of violence? Would this not leave the country--esp. the next generation--more able to commit violent acts against Iraqis and non-Iraqis alike? Perhaps we should take a more propagandist approach. What if we sent money or supported those who improve Iraq peacefully, and saturate the airwaves, posters, etc. with pro-peace ideas? Obviously this is the beginnig of such a thought. Feel free to poke holes.

    Immoral media

    Alright, so I get in my car to go buy soccer cleats (which GARTS sports did not have--more on that later) and I hear someone on the radio rant about the Republican payoff to reporters. If anyone knows more on the subject, please comment. Basically, the allegations are that good ole' GW is paying reporters to create fake stories that cast the republicans in good light, or at least slant their commentaries towards the republican party. The radio guy was incensed. I bet it happens with both parties, and has happened for a long time. Maybe that's just the cynic in me talking.

    On a related note, the all-powerful Republicans have drawn blood again in the media scandals that plagued the election. Today the Wall Street Journal reported that four execs from CBS have been asked to resign over the letter-gate scandal (you need a membership to view the link). Although the Democrats are calling it Republican head-hunting, the fact is that Americans--like I--don't want this happening for either party. Scandals like this for either party seriously undermine Americans' faith in their political process, and probably contribute to the low voter turnout this year (even after everyone predicted otherwise).

    How can we fight for democracy abroad, if we don't like it at home?

    Colt Coach not so Classy

    Just a quick update...

    Last night I watched Sportcenter for about 30 minutes and 15 of that was taken up by sports announcers and players on both teams debating whether or not Randy Moss deserved to be fined. Colts coach Tony Dungy excused the incident by recounting the age-old tradition of Green Bay fans mooning the visiting players' bus as it leaves the stadium if GB won.

    Why does everyone in today's world have to excuse actions deemed wrong by the majority? If all the time and effort people spent in making up excuses was put into rectifying grievances after apologizing, this world would be a lot better off. We have already seen that being doused with beer is not enough to provoke fighting (Pacers-Pistons).

    Ultimately it is a sad commentary on the state of our culture. It mirrors the kid who says "Sorry, your honor, but I bashed in his windshield because he mooned me on the bus the day before." The excuse doesn't exonerate--your actions make you guilty.

    p.s. all the pontificating of sports reporters has me wondering why our football national champion is decided by 65 sports reporters across the nation? That's akin to letting 65 political analysts from various news agencies pick our president.

    Monday, January 10, 2005


    Today marks a new day in world history. After many moons of ruminating, I have a blog. It will only stop when I cease to hear about the actions of such a crazy and sad world. Until then, my ears bleed.

    A Class Act

    This weekend was a blessing. The long awaited NFL playoffs arrived. I love sports, because on a playingfield man can exhibit the pinnacles of greatness--health and fitness, daring and courage, strategem, and a thirst to compete and succeed. Unfortunately, watching the Vikings-Packers game left me less than pleased.

    Yesterday Viking receiver Randy Moss mooned Green Bay Packer fans after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown. Comments about the rude character of Green Bay fans were served as justification, but they fall on deaf ears.

    I am hopeful that the NFL will take appropriate action, and thankful for the real "heroes of the gridiron," like the late Reggie White, who understood that choosing a life of playing professional sports also meant choosing a life as a role model for others and using your position and money in society to help those less fortunate.

    Books I've Read

    last update: 07 November 2008

    I've decided to keep a running post about all the books I've read, and hopefully provide links to them, or to my book reviews.

    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
    by Ann Fadiman

    The Prince
    by Niccollo Machiavelli

    EZ-101 Management

    Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire
    by Niall Ferguson

    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    by Jared Diamond

    About The Bleeding Ear

    last update: 19 June 2006

    The Bleeding Ear (or TBE as we affectionately call it) is a blog that deals with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (thanks, John Locke). It is the ramblings, ruminations, ponderances, and pontifications by Triet on just about anything. Mainly, TBE covers politics and current events, both at home and abroad, with special attention paid to Vietnam and Southeast Asia. It also throws in a little sports, rye looks at society and its foibles, and personal stuff. Enjoy!

    Who is Triet?

    The always enigmatic author has this as his blogger profile:

    I am a Texas boy with big aspirations (fitting?). I have a B.S. in Microbiology and History, with about 6 years of experience working in university research labs. Politically I consider myself an independent. I'm libertarian economically, with a conservative moral streak, but not enough to join the "religious right." I'm interested in morally sticky issues, tropical diseases, sports, and international affairs -- especially Southeast Asia. I speak English and Vietnamese.

    Other pertinent posts about him can be found:



    Why "The Bleeding Ear"?

    The history of the name, The Bleeding Ear, is a long and sordid tale. Actually, it's pretty short and boring. One day, two college students at Brigham Young University were blowing off steam before big exams in the library. Somehow, they both convinced their wives to let them put off studies and rant. So, being two highly intelligent young men, they decided to rebel against the conservative, myopic student body that roamed the campus like zombies and its representative, the school newspaper, The Daily Universe, by creating a competing newspaper. This newspaper was to be called "The Bleeding Ear," because all the stupid things that they had heard come out of BYU students mouths were so dumb, so stultifying, so "superlative" (thanks Steve) that it hurt.

    The front page held a disclaimer and manifesto under the title which read this:
    The Bleeding Ear
    A military style journal for Zoobies

    • if you are Abercrombie, or his gay buddy Fitch, this is not for you.
    • If you own a clean flix membership, this is not for you.
    • If you styled your hair, like you just took off a motorcycle helmet, this is not for you.
    • Not very many animals have been hurt in the making of this journal (and they weren’t cute furry ones anyways).
    • All persons, places, and events mentioned hereafter DO have direct reference to actual persons, places and events, and are intended as such.

    The Bleeding Ear Manifesto:

    We’re mad as HBLL and we’re not going to take it any more. When in the course of human history, we hold these truths to be self evident, that some mormons are freaking retarded and “Oh my Heck!” they deserve to be made fun of. We hereby proclaim ourselves judges, jury, biased liberal media moguls and verbal executioners of such social criminals. "Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last.” –Joseph Smith, (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408).

    Although this bastion of liberal thought, social activism and sharp wit never made it to print, the beginning of this blog brought another, cheaper, easier avenue to vent, and there was only one logical choice for a name: The Bleeding Ear.

    Why do you blog?

    One day a friend of mine, MGO, (found at this blog) related something interesting he read on a blog.

    "A blog?? What's a blog?" I asked.

    "Actually, I spend about one or two hours a day reading blogs and keeping up with the news," he replied.

    From there ensued a long conversation about the "blogosphere," Volokh Conspiracy, Instapundit, and monkeys. Well, maybe not the monkeys ... my memory is a bit fuzzy. However, the seed was planted. Slowly, my curiosity won me over, and I started to read them too. Since time immemorial I had stayed up late at night, had multi-hour conversations, debates, and general discussions with my friends about life, current events, politics, and all things interesting. It's just what my group of friends did for fun.

    Eventually, the conversations started to be interjected with comments like "hey, you should start a blog" or "hey, i think this would be interesting as a blog." Pretty soon we were all entertaining ideas of blogging, and in January 2005, MGO and I entered the blogosphere, forever changing the course of human history.

    Since then, it has become a convenient forum for learning from others, sharing thoughts and feelings, and generally relieving stress by ranting about the idiocies of the world. It has greatly improved my marriage, says my wife, because she doesn't have to hear it anymore! And, ultimately, I find it fun.