• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    The Bleeding Ear 2.0

    Introducing The Bleeding Ear v2.0!!

    Thank you in advance to all my readers for patience. Although I feel the design is stable enough to be rolled out on the blog, it is nowhere near bug free. First and most obvious, the javascript on the page work fine in IE 6 and Opera 9, but not in the Mozilla based browsers, Firefox 1.5 and Flock Beta. In the latter two, the lists will show up or open but the white box will not expand around them like in the html only boxes on the sidebar. Talking with my friend Dennis, he explained the basics of identifying browsers, but we were interrupted before he could look into a fix.

    Therefore, if any reader understands what I should code into my javascript to fix the glitch in Firefox 1.5/Flock, let me know please.

    Otherwise, I think you will like the new, uncluttered design. I wanted to move to a different color scheme, tried a million things, and finally landed on blue and orange as accents rather than the base color. I also owe alot of the look to Cultured Code. I stumbled across their website and realized that was where I was trying to head haphazardly. My code is table based, but the look is similar. Over the next few weeks and months I hope to little by little fitch glitches and modify styles to make it more my own.

    Suggestions are always welcome. TBE promises to continue to pontificate about and elucidate for you the foibles and important events the world over. I hope you enjoy.

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Why Americans Hate Soccer

    As the world cup plays out many themes appear before our eyes: horrible American play, underdogs, brilliant Argentines, red and yellow cards, and referees in general.

    People ask, every four years, why don't Americans love soccer as much as the rest of the world?? Various reasons are given, and most Americans themselves would say one of two: it's slow or there's not enough scoring.

    (Which, I admit, is very similar to "it's slow")

    We Americans hate the brouhaha stirred up by the imbroglio of referee scandals

    However, I would like to submit that the real reason Americans don't like soccer, despite the scores of youth leagues, YMCA, etc that every young boy and girl play in throughout elementary school, is the referee system. No other game is so racked by controversial calls and allegations of bribery/tampering/corruption as soccer.

    Today the Italians escaped Australia with a 1-0 victory on a last secong penalty kick that was NOT a penalty. Is it a coincidence that half Italy's players and its coach are implicated in the current referee tampering scandal in Serie A?? I'm not so sure...

    Deep down inside, we Americans hate the brouhaha stirred up by the imbroglio of referee scandals. Any scandals. Cheating. Baseball, arguably the most subjective of American sports--and maybe also the slowest (closest in speed and scoring to soccer)--hears complaints by fans but never tampering. Why? First, there are ample referees on the field to cover most plays, and second, the referees are hired and evaluated by MLB in a way that ensures fair play so they can get a paycheck.

    This is what mutes the Seahawks' complaints after the Superbowl, or Mark Cuban's complaints during the NBA finals: No matter how bad the missed call, the system of referees in American sports helps ensure that corruption is minimized via instant replay, where the paycheck comes from, and the number of refs on the field/court.

    Contrast this with Europe. Cycling, a sport predominantly european suffers from huge amounts of substance abuse. BAseball goes into fits over an alleged use by one player. Soccer teams, like mini-kingdoms, make backroom deals to get what refs they want, and what happens if caught? They move down a league. People would be banned in America.

    So it comes as no surprise that FIFA can't, or won't, keep a handle on the referees during this world cup. First, there should be more referees on the field--instead of one and the side judges, give two or three plus judges to accurately call fouls. Second, flops should be penalized harshly. It's not that hard for the ref to have hand-held instant replay piped from the tv coverage and it wouldn't slow the game down that much. Third, referee org structures should mimic the NFL, to minimize corruption.

    Until then, Americans won't tune into soccer that much. They just don't like watching a game and wondering which team paid the ref the most.

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    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    A Late Father's Day Story

    I caught this Father's Day story the other day as I was surfing newspapers online. I think this is a must-read.
    My only regret? That I couldn't do it more or start sooner.
    Louis DeLuca, a staff photographer for the Dallas Morning News, shares his story of adopting Fu Yang, an orphan from China who was born with sever facial deformities.

    I love the mental progression he and his wife went through when they first met Fu Yang and decided to adopt him. I think it's very typical of many people that deal with disabled people.

    "It was October, the middle of the football season and I was busy," Mr. DeLuca recalls. He complained to his wife, Dinah.

    "He's an orphan," she said. "You can take the time."
    We're all so busy in our lives, that we all think this, proably daily. Work, family, school -- legitimate time-consuming enterprises. And we all probably miss some great blessings in life by just going through our routines.

    Then, after meeting and falling in love with Fu Yang, Louis and his wife think this:
    "I thought of every reason why I couldn't do it," he says, "language barriers, economic barriers. It costs lots of money to adopt a child." Adoption was the furthest thing from his mind. Especially a child with special needs.

    "I have no special skills for that," he says.

    "It was a very volatile time for me emotionally. My heart was saying, 'Go for it! Do it!' And my head was saying, 'No way!' "
    How often have we come to a trial in our lives and told ourselves "I have no special skills for that." We, like they, think up all the excuses we can not to power through and overcome the situation before us. But I feel strongly in God, and I feel he gives trials in life to make us stronger. When we see a trial or challenge and decide to endure, he will increase our skills--be it patience, knowledge, strength, kindness, etc.--to have success.

    Especially with people that have disabilities. It is very easy to think "they are different from me" and not associate with them. I mean, how much does one have in common with someone who has Down syndrome, or is in a wheelchair, or has cerebral palsey? As a teenager in Houston, I had the opportunity every year to work with special olympics. However, I fell into that group--the doubting group--and spent most of my time doing jobs that took me away from interaction with the participants.

    "In retrospect, it would have been a huge mistake not to have done this," he says. "When he's around, he has a way of brightening your life."
    That is how I felt in Vietnam the last five months. I had the opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage for disabled children. When I first volunteered, I did so half-heartedly. I didn't know if I could do it. The first day was so taxing mentally and physically. Most of the children have cerebral palsy. I volunteered there two days a week for four months and established such great relationships with the children and workers. My only regret? That I couldn't do it more or start sooner.

    I'll talk more about my experience at a later date, but for now, read the article and make sure you look at DeLuca's photo and audio essay. Wonderful.

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    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Turmoil in Oaxaca

    Please, please read this excellent post by Mark in Mexico. He has updates here, here, and here. This really irks me. Not what he talks about, but that I haven't heard about it before now.
    I'm reminded of a quote by Dave Chappelle in Black Bush ... It starts with "shut" and ends with "up"

    My wife and I were just remarking the other day about how dumb we feel listening to CNN or Fox. This last weekend, Fox spent 80% of it's coverage on the failed terror attack on New York City that was planned for three years ago and was never tried. Who cares??!!?? Ok, telling me about it once, I can understand, but for 80% of your coverage all day?? Give me a freaking headache.

    So what do they do with the rest of their time? FOX tells me about the Duke lacross rape trial. Like I care. It's a rape trial. It hasn't even gone to trial. It's just a case. Granted, it may have caused a stir in Durham, where most people are black and most Duke students are white or asian, but I don't live their and never will. I never want to heard about the trial again, let alone hours of idiots pontificating about whether the DA has a case or not. I'm reminded of a quote by Dave Chappelle in Black Bush when he's at the podium talking about the UN. It starts with "shut" and ends with "up."

    Mexico has issues. Serious issues. Besides this teacher strike, its own southern border is proving a little too porous for its own good. That is news worth telling us about, FOX, CNN. Until then, I look to the blogosphere.

    P.S. I was led to Mark in Mexico by The Glittering Eye (not related to me, The Bleeding Ear). Check it out too.

    Javascript vs. Browser: My blog

    Why oh why can't web browsers do things the same AND WELL?? You may have read about my new blog layout....well it's taken another iteration, and is in Beta form. The Bleeding Ear v.2 Beta. you can catch it on my test blog: here.

    The problem is, I am not a good programmer. It takes me forever to do what I'm sure some others, like ecmanaut, Aditya, and those at Freshblog could do in minutes. Because of that, it's taken me quite a long time to put this together and I have two issues to resolve.

    First, i need to think up a good header. Oh...I dunno. Any ideas would be appreciated. Something that really encapsulates this blog.

    Second, my new layout doesn't look the same in all browsers!!! AAAGGGHHHH!!!! It's getting annoying, because I spent a long time yesterday trying to fix my blogroll only to see that it looks fine in Opera 9.0 Beta 2, and pretty good in IE 6. Why does it look funny in Firefox and Flock?

    (Yes, I have four browsers, but I don't think that's abnormal anymore, do you??)

    I know it must be the javascript. Whenever I import the javascript and write as a list (see my blogroll from blogrolling and my topics from Freshtags and my recent comments by BloggerHacks) the css formatting doesn't look right in Firefox. This is odd, because firefox is the more modern browser compared to IE 6, so I thought IE would be the one giving me problems. And Opera shows the javascript correctly, but doesn't center the icons in the sidebar like I get in Firefox. O tempora O mores!!

    Father's Day

    My wife made an astute comment yesterday.

    "You better celebrate Father's day because men only get one day a year, and women get two."

    I haven't looked at a list of holidays, but it seems to ring true. Men get father's day and women get both mother's day and international women's day. Always the short end of the stick... just kidding.

    Actually, I'm not a father but I love Father's Day. Two reasons:

    First, I have a great father role model. My father is a great man, and although as a little kid I hated his disciplinarian style (and loved his coaching of my little league teams) I find myself turning into him more and more, and wanting to be like him. My father grew up in a small town, and brings a farm work ethic to life. He changed religions when he was 17, and that moral/religious conviction drives his life. He has always been a good role model as a father and husband, hard worker, always volunteering to help people, a genuine love for others, for God, and family. I hope that today, for father's day, everyone can celebrate the father's in your lives, and hopefully you have one as good as mine.

    Second, what a better tradition than watching the US Open on Father's Day. I love the fight. I love golf and it's family legacy. So often the golfer got his start because of his dad. His dad caddies for him. His dad cheers him on. I don't golf much, but I love being out on the course, especially with my father and brothers, just able to enjoy the scene, relax, and enjoy the company. It's a great game.

    Happy Father's Day.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Mystic River

    Last night my wife and I finally saw the movie Mystic River. Rent it edited. Generally, I am against editing, but this is a movie where CleanFlicks does a service. Cinematically, the movie is solid. The plot is interesting, acting well done, scenes filmed and edited well.

    Mystic River uses language almost as colorful as a Quentin Tarantino film

    Language ... profuse. I grew up in Houston, and have heard enough colorful language in my day to not flinch to much when someone drops the "f-bomb" or something, but I choose personally to associate with people who language is clean. My wife even more so. She grew up around clean language and so any foul language really irks her.

    Anyway, Mystic River uses language almost as colorful as a Quentin Tarantino film. Do yourself a favor, get a copy with the language edited (it's the only thing that needs editing) and watch the movie. Great movie. Really leaves you thinking about life, choices, and luck.

    Secondly, pedophiles are sick. Dave's abuse and escape as a child is a central theme to the movie and Tim Robbins does an amazing job portraying the psychological scars an incident can leave. So, all morning I've thought about "girl-lovers" and "boy-lovers" and how my stomach turns. I won't give you any hyperlinks, but I'm sure you could google the terms if you want. Those terms are becoming the two terms of choice for advocates of legalizing pedophilia.

    Here's the situation. In western society, specifically America, homosexuality was considered deviant behavior and a psychological disorder for years, centuries. However, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided to remove homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders. There were reasons for this. Some thought it was a disorder. Others thought it was, but labeling it as such brought discrimination against homosexuals. Whatever the personal reason, psychologists at the APA removed it in 1973 and since then homosexuality has gone from hidden, to marginalized, to tolerated, to accepted, and finally to the point of turning into a civil rights movement (marriage).

    Pedophiles have seen this and want to do the same thing. They understand that if they can get the APA to remove pedophilia as a disorder,

    homosexuality has gone from hidden, to marginalized, to tolerated, to accepted

    they can start on the same path towards acceptance. I am sort of open to bending the legal age of consent...it's always difficult to say "hey, at this age you can accept and act on your feelings but not before," but children are just unacceptable. Children are pure. They are innocent. They are definitely not sexually developed, and anyone who argues feelings or actions with them are normal is NOT.

    I had a friend named Amanda who was sexually assaulted in college by someone close to her. I remember the nights my friend Rob and I spent talking with her, helping her deal with her feelings. I remember poignantly how she related her feeling of causing it, and being so dirty afterwards--always wanting to shower but never feeling clean. And Amanda was an adult. I can only imagine how a child would or would not deal with these issues.

    So, watch Mystic River (edited) and oppose mainstreaming pedophilia. It's a stronger movement than most people think. Nip it in the bud before it grows more. Contact the APA (here).

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    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Med School Computers

    Oh the headache!!

    I have spent many hours yesterday and today looking at laptops. It's a racket, I tell ya. I have to get a new laptop for medical school ... and because this one is dying.

    Currently I have a Gateway S something. It has:
    Intel Celeron 2.0ghz
    512 MB DDR RAM
    40 GB HD
    integrated graphics/video card
    integrated 10/100 ethernet
    external Netgear WG511T 802.11b/g 108Mbs wireless
    24x/8x CD-RW/DVD-ROM

    Why am I getting rid of it? Well, one of the two hinges for my screen is broken, meaning the screen stays up most of the time, but slips now and again.

    and how come nobody says how hot or loud their notebooks run

    Secondly, my cdrw/dvd-rom is dying. As in not reading things.

    Otherwise, it's been a good comp. I've had it for three years. It's a little hot, and runs a little slow, but it's survived viruses, tons of programs, videos, being dropped, etc.

    What do I need? UT-Houston says:
    Intel Pentium IV 1.5 ghz
    512 MB RAM
    30 GB HD
    10/100 network interface card
    802.11b/g wireless
    windows XP Professional

    Yes, I must have win XP professional. Luckily, it doesn't rule out a mac anymore because boot camp lets me have both OS on a macbook pro. Unfortunately, macs are still expensive, and do I really want to mess with two OS?

    Now I'm seeing AMD vs. Intel all over again. AMD is cheaper, it's faster, but it's 90nm. Intel Core Duo is more efficient than the Turion as a chip, because its 65nm, but not as a system. It's also usually $300 more expensive. Things are making HP and Compaq look more and more enticing with the AMD systems. Does anybody have experience with them?

    AND HOW COME NOBODY SAYS HOW HOT OR LOUD THEIR NOTEBOOKS RUN!!???!! That is freaking annoying. My biggest pet peeve with my current laptop is that when I used to study in the library I felt it was really noisy, and it gets hot fast. I want to know how laptops compare to each other in that dept.

    Ugh...*sigh* I guess I will just have to keep searching.

    (By the way, name means a lot. A Dell latitude cost me $1750, and the EXACT same components in a Dell XPS cost $2400. Crazy, huh?)

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    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Today's Non Sequitur Cartoon

    I think today's Non Sequitur cartoon embodies America's definition of marriage debate.

    Cultural liberals argue that the constitution protects privacy and individual rights, not marriage as man and woman. Conservatives say marriage has been between man and woman for thousands of years, my religion and moral ethos preach that, and we must keep it that way.

    To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, "A house divided cannot stand."

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is Dead

    I, like everyone else woke up this morning to the news that American soldiers killed Al-Zarqawi via two 500lb. bombs.

    If you decapitate one head of a hydra, does the body die?

    We will find out.

    Fox News
    has been very positive about this development all morning, reporting that,

    "Loud applause broke out as al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, made the announcement at a news conference in Baghdad Thursday that Zarqawi was "terminated."

    CNN's very first paragraph is:

    "Al-Zarqawi's death gives Iraq a chance to "turn the tide" in the fight against the nation's insurgency, President Bush said at the White House."

    The only really lukewarm reaction is from the BBC, saying,

    However, the death of one man does not necessarily bring a breakthrough ... he was not a one-man band.

    Lately most of my posts have been about Vietnam, but those of you who know me personally should know that I supported the war in Iraq when we started. Since that time, I personally disagree with much of how the Bush Administration has conducted it, but I still support the general issue.

    If you decapitate one head of a hydra, does the body die?

    I think we need to be in Iraq, and I am ok with the realization that troops will need to be in Iraq for probably 50 years.

    You may call me a warmonger, but that's not it at all, and the reasons behind my simplified position stated above warrant a separate post or three, but I think this is pretty good evidence that although people die, things are moving forward over there.

    And moving to Vietnam...where's the reporting of Al-zarqawi in Vietnam? Actually, the Tuoi Tre has an article on his death, but it is not on the front page like CNN, BBC, and FOX. You have to dig through the "the gioi" (world) section to find it. NOTE: Before finishing this article, the front page of the Tuoi Tre was updated and this article was put on the front page, though not the number one article.

    Although down towards the bottom of the first page, the Nhan Dan gets it on the first page, still under the "the gioi" section.

    Let's hope that this is a significant step towards stabilization in Iraq and pressure on Iran, not just a fleshwound to a hydra.

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    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Bicycles in Vietnam

    The Vietnamese are great at many things. They are hardworking, family oriented, optimistic about the future, and great bicycle riders. Yes, bicycle riders. If that's a word. Does it need to be hyphenated? Bicycle-rider?

    I digress.

    Talk about giving your kids a ride to school

    Since I returned to Vietnam, I have endeavored to take pictures of people living--candid, real, rough, and fresh. I want to see the true feelings people have. Bicycle riding is a very integral part of many people's days. So the pics I will post will hopefully give you a small feeling of what it is like.

    Because the Vietnamese have perfected the art of bicycle riding. Yes, an art. They pump two, sometimes three people on a bike. The pump them behind, on the handlebars, on the frame...I've even see a kid riding on the shoulders of the rider (unfortunately no pic...that was two years ago in HCMC in District 6...). One of their improvements, mainly due to their great dexterity and small foot size, is that two riders will sit on a bike and both will pedal--their feet are small enough to fit two feet on each pedal.

    Here's some bicycle riding pics from Vietnam. Enjoy.
    This is a good general picture. Notice the steel-framed bike with basket, typical of Vietnam. Also, I love the girls faces as they laugh about something.

    A little farther away, but you can see a mom and two daughters on this bike. Talk about giving your kids a ride to school! The older daughter is sitting on a book rack over the back tire, and the little girl is sharing the saddle with her mother.

    These women (mostly) are becoming a thing of the past as the omniscient Communists crack down on all social evils...including poor Hanoian women who come south to sell fruit at markets...obviously a social ill. Besides their outfits, which I will never forget, look at the wire boxes on both sides of the bike, full of produce in the morning, and empty about noon as they return home. For the Vietnamese, the bike is more than recreation, it is a work vehicle.

    This is one of my favorite pictures. With the advent of motorbikes, bicycles are fading from the scene, and are now seen mostly with teenagers. The boys here were on their way to the swimming pool for an afternoon of fun and sun. Notice how there are three boys on one bike. Swimmingsuits and towels are in the backpack in the basket up front. Behind them are two girls, coming home from school. If you look closely you will notice what I talked about earlier--both girls are pedaling the bike.

    Although the motorbike is increasingly used in place of the bicycle, and now the car is making inroads on the motorbike, there is still a special place in Vietnam for the bicycle. Perhaps, as Vietnam's economy grows, more Vietnamese will take up cycling. With their body size, and expertise at utilizing a bike, I think it's only a matter of time before we see one in the Tour de France.


    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Vietnamese Blogs

    I'm sure I'm not alone in my frustration at the lack of Vietnamese-themed blogs and blogs by Vietnamese people in the blogosphere.

    When I can get political blogs and law blogs and econ blogs just like in America...that will be a great day.

    Vietnam is such an amazing place and the people are so .... real that blogging would be perfect for them. By "real," I mean everyone I know in Vietnam has so many facets, good and bad, foibles and talents, that I just love talking to them, listening to them, learning about their lives, their wants, their likes and dislikes ... what makes them tick.

    Growing up in America, I'm used to the open-ness of the culture. Well, and I grew up in Texas, where "bigger is better," and big mouths seem to follow in that vein. So even though Vietnamese culture says almost as much through not speaking as through speaking, and the general xung ho questions--"hello, how are you?" "what's your name?" "how old are you?" "how many children do you have?" etc.--are ok, the average person on the street won't just sit down and tell you how they persevered through the loss of their mother when they were 11. That being said, once you do know someone, the strength of Vietnamese relationships allows those stories to really blossom.

    "Enough ranting!" you say. Ok, Ok. The reason I bring it all up is because blogs act as that window to the soul. Blogs in Vietnam would do many things:

    1. they would shed light on what the desires of Vietnam's older and, especially, the younger generations have
    2. the vietnamese press is opening up, especially with the latitude give the Tuoi Tre to cover bribery scandals, and oh... I'd love to hear what press bloggers say about their jobs.
    3. along with the press, the economy is burgeoning, and I know many educated men and women working in banks and companies that could blog in english or viet and shed light on life "on the inside" as Vietnam opens.
    4. of course, I'd love to see some political pundritry, law blogging, doctor's blogging
    5. but mostly, what I have the least chance of seeing is what I'd want to see most--blogs by street vendors, xich lo drivers, and women who sell fruit at the cho

    I want them in english if they want, but Vietnamese for sure, so they can express themselves in their native tongue.

    When I can get political blogs and law blogs and econ blogs just like in America...that will be a great day.

    Which makes it interesting, that of all the blogs I do stumble across by native Viets (not Viet kieu--overseas Vietnamese--) most seem to come from Hanoi and are in English. This surprises me, because Ho Chi Minh City is more open internet-wise (blogspot is blocked in most of Hanoi) and thinking-wise (hence the Tuoi Tre is leading the bribery charge), yet it's in Hanoi that the blogs are popping up--blogspot blogs, no less.

    I wonder how this is happening? And why are most bloggers I find blogging in English? Is there something vital that I am just missing?

    Here are some new blogs steered my way by Noodlepie. Gotta give him props. They're new blogs, a couple months old max, but they look to be good, real, and well...tuoi("fresh") if I can use that word.

    Check them out:
    I am Moony
    Rose's Blog (although I have a sneaking suspicion that she's Viet kieu, and therefore disqualified for the narrow category I'm taking about, she does do humanitarian work and live in the north, which gives her high props from my wife and me if you know what we do)

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