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Friday, November 07, 2008

The Significance to Racial Equality of the Election of Barack Obama

This post is in response to a Slashdot post on the election of Barack Obama.

The fact is that there is still a very real discriminatory element in our society toward under-priveleged races. There are certainly many cases in which black people are demonstrably on equal footing with the more priveleged social groups, but it is also demonstrable that blacks continue to be underserved because of their skin color, in a significant number of cases to make it a problem.

I don't think the people saying they're finally on equal ground really believe there will be no longer a bias against them, nor did they not work toward the highest pursuits in our society before Obama was elected.

I think what they really mean, the right way to interpret their claim to be finally on 'equal ground', is that there is now proof that the consensus of the country is that it can accept blacks into any position in the country. This consensus existed for some time before Obama was elected, but we don't know how long. But we know that before a certain time, the consensus was that a black person could never be president of the USA.

In the end, it's a question of power. The black race began in the US at the bottom echelon of society, and were treated as such. Now, to have someone of that race at the very top echelon of our society, in the most powerful position in the entire world. One could see it as the final desegregation.

It means they have representatives working from the very top end of our society, advocating for them, even subconsciously, and the subconsciouses of people in our country will slowly change, seeing a black person as their leader. It will no longer be out of the question, and from now on, no position of power will be as biased against blacks because of the question as to whether or not blacks are capable or should be trusted with such power. Now people will become more comfortable with a black people having power over them.

To sum up, this election is both a proof of something that's been true for some time, and also an impetus for a shift in our society, though both have been and will be rather subtle.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Doctor Horrible

If you're a fan of Joss Whedon, you'll love Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Video Blog.

It's a story about a dorky evil mad scientist(Neil Patrick Harris, of Doogie Houser fame) who publishes a public video blog. The story spends little time with that, however. It mostly centers around his crush on a girl he sees at the laundromat that he's too shy to talk to. It's also about his neverending battle against his nemesis, Captain Hammer(Nathan Fillion, of Firefly fame). The lovely woman who completes this eventual love triangle is Felicia Day(of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

You can watch it online. But if you like it, please buy the episodes on iTunes to show your support. This is a very innovative piece of art with a high level of production quality.

Felicia Day is a prolific web content creator these days. She has another great series that she created and stars in called The Guild. It's about people who play World of Warcraft(well, not by name) all day everyday. I enjoyed the first season. The second should be released in October.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

HP tx2000z

So, do you see the computer that is being used in the video below?  It's this one:

This is one of the best tablet pc's in production at the moment: the HP tx2000z. I want to be able to take notes with this machine. And play Crayon Physics Deluxe.

Why do I want a tablet pc? I believe that interface is where the real benefit of computers comes from, and it's the future of the best innovation.  tablet pc's are a well-established yet front line technology toward making computers and humans coexist in greater harmony.

Crayon Physics Deluxe

This is such an inspiring game. Pure intuition.

What's in a note?

I don't write down notes too often, really.  I do it when I feel it's expected of me, and sometimes not even then.  There are some things that need to be noted, though.  My thoughts about my research, for instance. It's really really hard to hold all the good ideas you have in your head indefinitely.  Since I really really want to graduate with a PhD, I need to hold those good ideas in a more permanent form.  Notes occasionally help improve my grades, though not that often.  For daily and weekly activities, my brain is good enough.  I write down noticeably less than most people.  Since I tend to read and write slowly, I prefer to listen and be able to respond quickly, rather than being bogged down with writing what was said 30 seconds ago.

This is a problem, don't you know.  People often take down notes under time pressure. People also want notes that give them the most information in the quickest way possible.  Note-taking is an internal discourse that allows you to connect ideas over long periods of time, and very efficiently.  Since I began contributing a couple bug fixes to the open source note-taking program called Tomboy, I've become aware of what kinds of features are most useful for note-takers.  This experience has led me to researching note-taking in depth.

I really love Tomboy because it sits right where I spend most of my time: inside my computer.  It's simple and intuitive for me, and it's more flexible and compact than writing on paper. For instance, I can link to websites.  I can also link to other notes, which I've found is an amazing feature when I want to take notes on multiple academic papers within a particular my note-taking research!

What would make Tomboy better? Well, the main problem is that it lacks free-form control of note formatting and writing.  In other words, you use it like a flexible word processor.  Being able to "draw" your notes is huge for humans.  OK, let's take a step back from drawing.  This is clearly beyond the scope of Tomboy, which is supposed to be "simple". How about an implementation of an ad-hoc layout manipulator, in which movements of the mouse determine the shape and position of text on the screen either future, present or past.

Don't quite know what I'm talking about?  Well, take a look at the video demonstrating Crayon Physics Deluxe in the next post!