I like your Christ...

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.
- Gandhi

Stupid Friendster Bug

Last week I received a notice from Friendster asking me to confirm an account I recently created. This surprised me, since I never created the account. I do have a Friendster account, but I use a separated email for it, an email I use for "junk" stuff since I don't want SPAM on my real email. Anyways, I figured some idiot probably just typed in the wrong email, and that's the end of that.

Well, since then I've received Friendster messages on a regular basis telling about a message in my inbox, and people who wants to be added as my friends. So I decided to go to friendster and figure out what's going on. I just told friendster I forgot my password, and sure enough a second later I received the password used to open the account. The guy is a 18 year old guy from the Philippines. It seems like he's not very bright. He even used his own birthday as his password. I changed that right away so that he can't login to this account. I then read the messages on the account's inbox. Most of it are typical teenager stuff with messages typed in mixed upper and lower cases. The guy's girldfriend left a note written in Tagalog (which I understand).

Anyways, for a second I was tempted on messing with the guy. Maybe respond to his girlfriend's note and tell her she's ugly and far, or that I turned gay after watching that gay cowboy movie Bareback Mountain. Countless thoughts went to my mind, but in the end I decided to just delete the account. If the guy is dumb enough to use the wrong email twice to create an account, then I'll take more drastic moves.

I, of course, tried creating an account using one of my other email addresses to see what would happen if I never click on the link included in the verification email. Sure enough, I don't need to check that email. At least not to create and update the profile. I can even logout and log back in with no problems. What you cannot do is add friends to your account.

Anyways, this bug probably shows up rarely since:
1) Not a lot of people are dumb enough to type the wrong email address
2) Who the hell uses Friendster these days? Everybody had moved on to MySpace or Orkut.

But this bug can be used to SPAM people. Just create a dummy account using an email of someone you don't like, make the account a name of a celebrity that people would want to be added as friends, and there you go. Whomever owns that account will be bombarded with requests from Friendster users who wants to be added as his/her friends.

I can't believe a simple scenario like this escaped the people at Friendster.


Random Christmas Eve Moments

So on Satuday, Christmas Eve, I wasn't feeling too well, so I stayed home instead of going to my parent's place. That's probably a good thing, since they'd probably just make me feel guilty for not going with them to church at 11PM at night.

Anyways, so it was 8:30 PM Christmas eve and my friend (he's a non-practicing Zoroastrian) and I were wondering what places to eat would be open around that time. We figured Chinese should be open, but since it was still early we thought we could always count on In-n-Out burger. They do have biblical messages on their soda cup and elsewhere, but we tried them anyways.

They were open and right before we went inside I say a huge pile of puke right outside their door. We figured somebody must have started Christmas celebration early.

Anyways, here's how my conversation with the gal taking my order went:

Me: Hi, I'll have a grilled cheese sandw...
Me: Oh by the way somebody puked outside, it's really disgusting, but I figured
I let you know since someone might step on it and slip.
Her: Outside???
Me: (smiling, and controlling myself from laughing) Yeah. Just outside the door.
(At this point my friend behind me was also laughing)
(She then turned to the guy next to her and told him)
Guy: Where is it?
Me: Just outside the door, you can't miss it.
(I then turned to the gal taking my order)
Me: So I'll have a grilled cheese sandwich, with grilled onions, extra lettuce tomatoes and pickels
Me: Oh, can you make sure the guy that cleans up the puke outside doesn't make my sandwich. Thanks.

While dining there, we were surprised to see white people in In-n-Out that late on Christmas Eve. We figured they'd be with their family celebrating the birth of their savior. I mean, I'm a non-practicing Catholic, my friend's an infidel just like the Indian people sitting close to us. So we have our excuse. What's there's?

Anyways, my friend then called his old co-worker, an Indian guy and he later joined us in In-n-Out. We then talked about everything from geek stuff, religion and politics.

One thing we talked about is that Punjabis in and from India are usually vegetarian after a certain phase of their life. These Indians are the once with the head gear that make them the favorites of airport security. Anyways they're actually a race of warriors in the old days... and they're vegetarians. I, or course, brought up the fact that Americans believe that you can't be "strong" and powerfull unless you eat red meat. This reminds me of a line from "That's 70's Show", when the mom was feeding the dad vegetarian dish because of his high cholesterol. He told his wife: "This is not food... this is what food eats!"

Another thing we talked about is how is it that less modern countries like India and even Pakistan have had female head of state, and the US has not. Pakistan! The same country where a man recently killed his daughters because one of them married for love, and he's afraid his other daughters would follow her lead. This same country has elected a woman as Prime Minister before the US has elected a woman for President. In addition, two of The Philippines' last four Presidents are women.

Recently Bush has tried to appoint a woman friend of his to the Supreme Court. Of course, she's unqualified and the only reason she was nominated was because she's Bush's friend. He then withdrew her nomination after the right wingers complained. That's a major blow to women's progress in this country. It sucks when there are lots of qualified women who can replace Sandra Day O'Connor that he can choose from, he went with an unqualified crony of his. My guess is he did that to give Affirmative Action a bad name.

Another Bush crony was former FEMA head Mike Brown. We all know how he did when Katrina hit!

Conservative Ice Creams

I must admit one thing Conservatives are really good at is entrepreneurship. Just look at Rush Limbaugh. For only $50, he lets you and I can buy a US soldier in Iraq a subscription to his website! Of course, he could just give US soldiers access to his website for free, but that charity handout bullshit are for Liberals and he'll have none of that.

But I found these so-called Conservative Ice Creams really funny. It's for Conservatives who would have none of those left wing Ben and Jerry ice creams. Here are some of the flavors they have

Gun Nut
I Hate The French Vanilla
Iraqi Road
Nutty Environmentalist (Too bad they didn't made this with Green Tea with Nuts)
Smaller GovernMINT
Ara-Fat Free
Candy McCain
Cherry Falwell (blatantly ripped from Cherry Garcia)


The da Vinci Code Movie

I went to see King Kong on Christmas Day. Its a family tradition that we watch a movie on Christmas Day. It brings our family together. Physically at least, since when we get there we ignore each other to watch a move. So... yeah, King Kong brought our family together, so we can ignore each other, for three hours.

The movie's really good. It has better dinosaur sequence that Jurrasic Park, and it's really entertaining.

But I must admit that the highlight of the day was finally seeing the full length trailer to The da Vinci Code. I actually got goose bumps just watching the trailer. The movie comes out on May, but I'm sure the media will cover the controversy surrounding the movie way before that. The book sold more than 25 million copies in 40+ languages, thanks in part to the media creating a controversy around it. A similar book by the same author, called Angels & Demons, was released two years before da Vinci Code and it didn't sell as much because the media didn't start a controversy about its topic.

I guarantee the Vatican will tell Catholics to boycott the movie, and you will see mega churches in the Red States rally against this movie as if "Hillary 2008" is upon us. Evangelicals are already telling director Ron Howard to place a disclamer in the beginning of the movie saying the movie is "Pure Fiction" or they will unleash the same fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (and McCain 2000 and Kerry 2004, for that matter). I think Ron Howard SHOULD put a disclaimer in the beginning of the movie, and it should say: "This is a movie. Get a life, assholes."


Peace on Earth

I love the Holiday season. It's the season of giving, and it's the only time you can wish others Peace without being called un-American. I know we are at war today, so spreading peace is un-American, but honestly, I don't know how far we have to go back to find a time when America is NOT at war against something or someone. War on drugs started in the 80's and will never end. The war on Communism started before WW2 and hasn't end. Which is kinda odd since we have normalized relationship with Vietnam and the Korean War is now the Forgotten War.

Before Saddam was kicked-out, we embargoed Iraqi oil since buying Iraqi oil means financing Saddam's military. The same thing applies with Castro. We let Cubans starve rather than give them food and medicine because we want they to rise up and kick him out. We started that when JFK was president. Let me see...(JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr) that's nine presidents in a span of more than 40 years that Castro has outlived in office. No one would say it, but the only reason we do that is because of the Cuban-American votes in the swing state of Florida. I don't really know any Cubans, but I've always wondered why they are still bitter toward Castro. I mean, most Vietnamese-Americans like the fact that the US have normalized relationship with Vietnam. This allows them to see their relatives in Vietnam. It also allows Vietnamese in Vietnam to experience American culture. In fact, even former US soldiers, including Sen John McCain, have gone to Vietnam to talk to their former Vietcong counterparts. If I could talk to people in in Little Havana, I'd tell them to talk to people in Little Saigon. It just might open their minds.

Anyways, if buying Iraqi oil during Saddam era finances his military, and buying Cuban cigars finances Castro's military, then can't we make the argument that buying Dell computers, which are made in China, finances its Red Army? I'd like to see a chart that shows what percentage of Dell's, other American companies' revenue, goes to the Red Army. In fact, although we don't say it, we are comfortable with China, and other 3rd World countries, oppressing its people since it provides American companies with cheap labor. Of course we don't want to hear that, so we call it Globalization.

Anyways, going back to the subject of peace, back in the days, the Department of Defense was actually called Department of War. Maybe we should go back to the original name since America never really plays defense, we're more of an offensive country, and we're always at war. There are actually people who are pushing for a Department of Peace. And yes, its those liberals again.

Anyways, this rambling is getting too long.



Year in Pictures 2005

MSNBC.com has a "Year in Pictures 2005" collection that I find very interesting. Some pictures are visually stunning, while others show human tragedies. Hands down, the best picture has to be the one that shows Buddhist Monks by cascading waterfalls (taken in Vietnam). Below are some of the pics I found interesting (as always, click the pics to enlarge).


SF Pics

I finally found some time today to do some photo editing. I'm very new to photo editing, as I usually accept whatever the camera gives me. These pictures usually turnout flat and hazy. But I've always been fascinated with sunset pics I see on photo sites like photo.net and others. Today, I finally found some time to play around with Photoshop's color features. Here are some initial results. The pictures were take during a hiking trip in SF a few weeks ago. The couple of the pictures has a Before and After comparison.

This is the Before and After shots of the Great Highway. The dark area behind the condos on the left is actually Golden Gate Park. The "Before" shot looks greenish and hazy, while the adjusted image is more vivid.



These ones are the Before and After shots of the Cliff House right after sunset. Again, the original is greenish and hazy, while the adjusted image jumps out at you.



A Festivus for the rest of us!

Happy Festivus to the rest of us!


More Movies

I picked up a couple of DVDs from the library this weekend. I was going to see King Kong, but I figured I save that for next weekend. Our family has a tradition of watching a movie on Christmas Day. I figured, what better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than watching a semi-bestiality movie.

The first movie is the movie adaptation of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice". One of my regrets in life is not finding time to read Shakespeare's work. The story deals with anti-semitism in Europe at the time. Al Pacino was at his best playing Shylock, the Jew. Overall it's a great movie except I'm not good at understanding Old English, so I had to rewind some parts of it.

The second movie is the epic "Kingdom of Heaven" with Orlando Bloom. I had low expectation about this movie. I figured it's another movie trying to cash-in on Lord of the Rings popularity. I mean, how many "defending the castle's wall" movie can they make? Also, rottentomatoes gave it a 40% rotten rating. But after seeing it, I don't think the movie was that bad. It's no LOTR, but it's much better than the Troy. I think Orlando Bloom has too much of a boyish look to play the lead role though. Viggo Mortensen would have fit the role perfectly. Overall, the movie was worth watching, especially when it's for free from your local library.

The third movie is "Iron Jawed Angels" from HBO. It's about Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and the suffragist movement who fought for women's rights to vote. I thought it would be a slow moving, but it's really entertaining and upbeat. The movie followed the women's movement and protests against Woodrow Wilson until they forced him to support the Suffrage Amendment. They used civil disobedience similar to those used by Suffragette movement in England. They were attacked and beaten by mobs of men who did not want women to vote. They were arrested for bogus charges, and, while in jail, were forced fed when they went on a hunger strike.

One thing that stood out in the movie was when they were labeled as traitors to their country when they protested for voting rights after the country entered World War I. Those who were against them claimed that they should support wartime presidents. This has an uncanny resemblance to those who question Americans who disagree with Bush. They claim that everybody should support Bush because we are at war.

The suffragist's counter argument of course is that we cannot defend democracy abroad by abandoning it at home. Wilson was preaching about how Germans need for self-govern at the time, yet he was against granting voting rights to half of Americans.

Funny how history repeats itself. During McCarthyism, Edward Murrow gave his famous comment of "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." And that same arguement is true today. We cannot claim to fight for freedom for Iraqis and security for Americans while our own President erode civil liberties and his advisers reveal identities of CIA agents for political reasons.



My interest in photography has increased the last couple of years. I think, partly, it's in my blood, as three of my uncles had photo studios when I was growing up. They used to do weddings, and parties. But its not a cheap hobby, as "decent" lenses starts around $500 and good once starts around $700. But with digital SLRs now starts below $1000, now is the best time to get one.

Mainstream camera users think small camera's are great, and focuses on "Megapixels" without really knowing what it mean. I'm always facinated to hear people say their camera has 6+ Megapixel cameras, but when you ask them if they ever print anything larger than 5x7 they'll say "No". That's usually how you can tell if someone got ripped off by marketing terms.

I recently saw a photo journalism documentary while house sitting for a friend. The documentary was in one of those In-Demand films by some indie studio (Sundance, I think). The documentary followed photojournalists that document wars and ther human sufferings around the world. The pictures they produced are too graphic to be shown in CNN and other mainstream cable news network. But they often appear in Time Magazine and Newsweek.

It was really interesting to hear their stories. How they are condemned for different reasons. One of the most common criticism they get is people would ask them why they didn't put their cameras down and help a guy about to be executed by a mob of people. Or that why do they profit from other people's suffering. The fact is, it's not a profitable profession. Most of them make barely enough to pay for their next plane ticket to another part of the world. The documentary focused on photojournalists that are NOT on the payroll of major news networks like CNN, MSNBC, NY Times and others. Mainstream photographers always stay in hotels protected by US or UN troops. But in return, their pictures are subject to US approvals.

Real photojournalists usually stay in condemned buildings, or with locals, and would hide their pictures from US soldiers on checkpoints. This reminds me of mainstream footage of Saddam's statue falling down. CNN, FoxNews and others showed Iraqi people pulling the statue down and celebrating. While photo journalist pictures that were not confiscated by US troops showed how it took the troops hours to set things up and then gather Iraqis to make it look like they're the one pulling the statue down.

But of course, war is all about propaganda. No one can forget the Jessica Lynch story as well as the Pat Tillman story. Both people and their family were used by the Pentagon to help their publicity.

Speaking of pictures, I saw a Before and After photos of Katrina and found it really touching. I don't think one has to be a bleeding heart liberal to understand what people down there lost. Also its easy for people who weren't there to complain about survivors staying in hotels paid for by taxpayers, but I think these side-by-side pictures show what people have lost in that tragic event.


Two Movies and a Funeral

I recently saw George Clooney's political thriller, Syriana, and the kid movie, Narnia. I'm not really familiar with the Narnia series so I was surprised that it has some Christian angle to it. I thought it would be like Lord of the Rings, but it's not. I then did a search online, and found out that Disney heavily targeted the Narnia movie to Christian audience. They spent millions to hire the PR company that launched Passion of the Christ, and they previewed Narnia to 40+ Evangelical churches. I've always hated it when politicians use religion to advance their agenda, and I feel the same way with movie companies doing the same thing to make money.

Luckily, I didn't pay to see Narnia. I paid to see Syriana and watched Narnia after seeing Syriana. Syriana is a great movie. The Middle East scenes reminded me of when I used to go to Saudi Arabia when I was younger. For better or worse, the movie is not politically bias. Usually oil-related movie tends to be left leaning, but not this one.

Today is a sad day for West Wing fans like me. John Spencer, who plays Leo McGarry in The West Wing passed away last night. He's a great actor and was nominated for Emmy's five times, winning once. He's currently Jimmy Smith's running mate in the show, so I don't know how the show would continue without him.

Rest in Peace, John Spencer.



Its been awhile since I've read a non-techie book. I can't make it a habit to pick up the 7-Habits (and 8th) books by Covey, and I keep forgetting to read that book that helps improve one's memory. So when I was in the library today, I actually avoided looking into the DVD section and instead browsed the new book section. I ended up leaving with three books. Definately more than I can read in three weeks.

The first book caught my eye because on the lower right-hand corner of it was the word "Costco". I'm an admitted Costcoholic, and I'm not ashame of it. Anyways, the book is called "Built for Growth" and I think its about expanding business. Being a lefty, with reservations about globalization, a book like this would normally not interest me. But on the other hand, I have worked for franchise companies, and have always wanted to own a franchise. Besides, I do believe that it is possible for America to return to "Responsible Capitalism". Even in this era of Nike sweatshops, Wal-Mart, Enron, Haliburton and Bush Inc. I guess that's why I'm a Costco-guy and not a Wal-Mart guy.

Speaking of which, I saw a full-page PR ad in Vallejo newspaper about Wal-Mart. On it, Wal-Mart claims to be they are the largest employer of African-Americans. They forgot to add the part about they pay less than living wage and provide no health coverage, so their employees suck-out medical coverage from taxpayers.

Wal-Mart is currently building a Super Wal-Mart in Vallejo, just two miles from a regular Wal-Mart, the old K-Mart site. The shocker is that they are planning on keeping both stores until American Canyon's city council, approves the Super Wal-Mart there. American Canyon is the city adjacent to Vallejo. They would then close down the regular Wal-Mart in Vallejo. So in the end they will have two Super Wal-Marts within three miles apart on Highway 29!

This technique had worked around the country in shutting down mom and pop stores as well as grocery stores. What Wal-Mart does is it keeps two Super Wal-Marts near each other, while running one on the red, until mom and pop stores, grocery stores and other competition in the area shuts down. They then shut down one of the Super Wal-Mart, leaving one Super Wal-Mart with no competition. Also the employees who used to work for Safeway and Albertson's for higher wages and with health coverage, must settle for working for much less in Wal-Mart and to rely on taxpayers for their health coverage. Wal-Mart talks about how many stores they open yearly, you should checkout how many they shutdown yearly using this tactic, and you'd be surprised.

With that in mind, the second book I picked up is titled "The Great American Jobs Scam". I'm sure it'll have plenty to say about Wal-Mart and others like it.

The third is "Radicals in Robes" about right-wing judges. A perfect book since we just added one radical to the highest court, and another one is on the way.


Random Thoughts

I haven't posted a real blog entry in a while so I figured I break that streak.

Last week I had to say goodbye to my Digital Rebel XT. It was fun while it lasted, but I had to spend major bucks on car maintenance. Canon has a rebate all the way until mid-Jan, so I might purchase it again before that. I don't really have any road trips, hiking or camping trips planned this coming weeks.

I can't help but comment on politics. I read that the Governator, fresh from an ass-whopping by the teachers and nurse unions, had dumped his old chief of staff (also, ex-GOP Gov Pete Wilson's chief of staff) and decided to hire ex-Democrat Gov Gray Davis' chief of staff. I guess he's waving the white flag. The new person is also a lesbian, so the Christian Right is complaining big time. Also, today Rob Reiner, of the "When Harry Met Sally..." and "A Few Good Men" fame declared he's not running against Arnold as a Democrat. Honestly, as bad as Arnold has done since taking office, I don't think there is anyone out there right now with enough name recognition to beat him. So unless Boxer or Feinstein decides to run for governor, Arnold is a shoe-in for another term.

A few days ago, a friend of mine woke me up at 6:30AM to tell me (by text msg) that I should watch the movie "Rent". I then texted her back and asked her if it's good enough to wake me up at 6:30AM and she happily said "Yes!". Of course, right now, she lives in Incestville, Arkansas (j/k) so the time zone difference is to blame. She's also a big musical movie fan. Rottentomatoes.com gave Rent a rotten rating, so I wasn't so sure about shelling out money for it. One movie I've always wanted to see though is George Clooney's directorial debut in "Good Night, And Good Luck". In these times of neo-McCarthyism, where you're expected to salute "Zieg heil" to the President Gasman, I thought it was appropriate.

Anyways, "Good Night, And Good Luck" was really good and deserves the 94% Fresh rating in rottentomatoes.com. I really like how McCarthy was played by Joe McCarthy himself, and I won't be surprised if David Strathairn wins best actor. IMDB says David Strathairn has done a ton of movie, but I only know him as Tom Cruise's brother in The Firm. Another good McCarthy era movie is James Woods' "Citizen Cohn". I found the DVD for that TV movie in the library a few months ago. Anyways, after I saw "Good Night..." I hopped over to see Rent. My car was in maintenance, so I had no where to go. I didn't see all of Rent, as I got a call from the dealer saying my car is done while I was watching it. Also, a friend of mine called and asked if I can babysit her kids. So I left Rent less than half-way through. From what I've seen in Rent, I think it has potential. I like how it's set in the present time. The last three musical movies I've seen are Moulin Rouge, Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera. All of which are set in the past, but it's hard to match those three.

Maybe I'll see Rent in its entirety next week. I plan on watching Syriana and King Kong together, so maybe I'll watch three movies while paying for only one. I used to work in a movie theater, so I know that the $10 you spend on soda and popcorn only costs the theater fifty cents at most. And if I do watch three movies, you can guarantee I'll need a large Diet Coke to keep me awake.