Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why is the UC Irvine mascot an anteater?

You've been dying to know! 8-)

Here is the story of how UCI got the anteater as a mascot.

In brief:
The Anteater was nominated based on Johnny Hart's comic strip B.C. and won by a landslide, partly due to a one-man political campaign by a student named Schuyler Hadley Basset III, and partly due to two of Irvine's first Water Polo players, Pat Glasgow, & Bob Nealy whose idea it was to use the Anteater.
A water polo game against San Luis Obispo took place just before the mascot election and shortly thereafter, on Monday, November 29, 1965, the student body voted 56 percent to adopt the anteater as the official mascot.

No joy in Middle Earth Tonight: CSU Stanislaus 91 UC Irvine 90


My Anteaters lost to a Division II basketball team!!

My guess though is that hardly a ripple went through Middle Earth as UC Irvine is home to a lot of studious pre-meds and it is getting close to finals. That was the reputation of the undergraduate community when I was there as a graduate student eons ago.

I wonder if that is still true?

But then again, when I was at UC Irvine, there wasn't the CIA: Completely Insane Anteaters.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Remembering Flight 93

Tonight, Discovery Channel aired The Flight that Fought Back, a documentary that pieces together what happened on United Flight 93.

On September 11, 2001, Flight 93 took off from Newark bound for San Francisco. Terrorists seized the plane. From various phone calls, the passengers came to know what happened to the other flights on 9/11 and decided to try to regain control of the plane. In the end, the terrorists crashed the plane just outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania as the passengers broke into the cockpit.

A National Memorial is being planned to honor the courage of those on Flight 93.

To read about the passengers and crew go to this page.

UPDATE: Design concept for the memorial.

A little ESPN love for the Big West

The Big West is a small fish in the multi-million (billion?) dollar enterprise that is Division I NCAA men's basketball.

So it was a nice surprise to see a little east-coast media love for Cal State Fullerton, the team expected to win the Big West this year.

Fran Fraschilla said this of CSUF:
What I love about mid-major basketball is that Bobby Brown, the Titans' outstanding junior guard, is a legitimate NBA prospect ... but didn't start on his high school team, the juggernaut Westchester Comets in Los Angeles. Brown took a backseat to the likes of Arizona's Hassan Adams, Georgetown's Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook, and San Diego State's Brandon Heath. Bob Burton, a California junior college legend, has Fullerton in the picture for an NCAA bid for the first time in 29 years. This should be a fun team to watch.
Doug Gottlieb also raves about Bobby Brown and the Titans:
Bobby Brown might have the name of a has-been music star, but in the Big West, he is the player to watch. This team won 13 of its 17 games, including going 2-1 on the road in the postseason NIT. If Brown can get Jermaine Harper and Jamaal Brown involved (Brown is a scorer who needs a bit better pure point guard skill), there is no telling whom they might surprise in the big tourney this year.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Lip synch and parody of Backstreet Boys and Ebay

Just gotta laugh out loud at "On Ebay" and the internationally famous Yao Ming jersey wearing lip-synchers the "Asian Backstreet Boys".

Check it out!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Zot! ZoT!! ZOT!!! -- UC Irvine 79 Stanford 63

Shocking, just shocking!

The Anteaters slay 13th-ranked Stanford 79-63!

The Anteaters, picked to finish in the middle of the conference in both pre-season media and coaches polls, usually has a California located Pac-10 school in its pre-conference schedule. A couple of years back I remember the Anteaters just barely lost to the Bruins though that year the Bruins were in decline.

Cal State Fullerton is the current favorite in the coaches and media poll to win the Big West. The conference has taken a bit of a reputation hit in losing Utah State and Idaho to the Western Athletic Conference. Nonetheless, the Big West, a lower mid-major conference, did have one victory in the NCAA last year when University of Pacific won its first round game.

The Big West doesn't get much media love but this year it will get a little bit more as all eight teams have been invited to participate in ESPN's Bracket Buster to be held on February 18, 2006.

Stay tuned and Rip'em eaters, Zot, Zot, Zot!

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques or Torture?

Came across this item in Drudge Report.

CIA sources that asked not to be revealed told ABC News' Brian Ross and Richard Esposito the following:
The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
Where is the line between aggressive interrogation and torture?

In the article, the CIA sources acknowledged that these methods needed approval but are not considered torture.

I suspect many people would disagree. Some would say all of the items are torture and others might say some are torture.

I read Andrew Sullivan occasionally and he has been a critic of the US usage of torture. In this item he would consider water boarding (#6) on the list as torture. In this essay by Sullivan, he recounts various reports which would place many of the other items in the ABC News report's list as torture. The reports also show techniques that have been applied that appear to go beyond this list of approved methods.

There are three problems with torture. (1) As a legal matter, which techniques constitute aggressive interrogation and which crosses the line to torture is a problem. (2) As a moral matter, the temptation in combating evil is becoming evil in the process. Torture is definitely one of those slippery slopes that leads to disaster. (3) As a practical matter, victims of torture will say anything to make it stop. They may simply not have any useful information and will make up things to make it stop.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The just barely enough defense Bruins

UCLA 45 ASU 35.

The Bruins advance to 9-1 for a showdown with U$C on December 3!

As a Bruin alum, I have to acknowledge that the chances for victory on December 3 are somewhere between slim and none.

USC's defense has been criticized but today they gave up only 10 points to the Cal Bears of which 7 points were in the final moments of long decided game. This Cal team scored 40 against UCLA!

UCLA's only chance is to play enough defense (a USC turnover or two would help!) so they don't get blown out from the gate and hope the offense can outscore USC.

I can imagine (dream of wishfully!) a long shot UCLA winning a 35-31 game. But any other scoring scenario has USC winning going away and sending the 2nd team out to finish up the game.

Without any surprises, it looks to be Texas vs. USC for the BCS championship. At this moment, I don't think anyone can dispute that that would be the "right" game.

A 9-2 UCLA will wind up in the Holiday Bowl or the Sun Bowl. Hmmm... wonder if I'd be willing to travel to see a game at either locale?

And what if ... a 10-1 UCLA?

Which Middle Earth Race Are You?


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt.

Friday, November 04, 2005

CCD on your digital camera fuzzing Out?

One of my friends is quite in the know about technology. I happen onto this post describing problems with digital cameras manufactured from 2002 to 2004. He reported the following: Over time, the plastic encased CCD (the image sensor) started to be affected by heat changes and humidity, so a number of camera lines that were manufactured between 2002 and 2004 are now failing.

Intrigued by this, I went to the article on CCD failures he linked to read more about it.

Yup, it described exactly the kinds of problems I've been having with my Canon A70.

I went to the service notice section for my camera and found this item:
It has recently come to our attention that the vendor-supplied CCD image sensor used in this Canon digital camera may cause the following malfunction: When the product is used in recording or playback mode, the LCD screen and/or electronic viewfinder may exhibit either a distorted image or no image at all. While reports of this malfunction have been rare in the United States, we have determined that it may occur if the product is exposed to hot and humid environments.

Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, products exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair.

U.S. residents are kindly directed to contact the Canon Customer Support Center for further assistance at 1-800-828-4040. Support hours are Monday thru Friday - 8:00 AM to 12:00 midnight; and Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM (all times EST).
I've called and they will send me a shipping box and form to fill out. Will report back how this all turns out.

Anyway, if you have a digital camera and your CCD is fuzzing out. Check the article on CCD failures to see if it seems to match what you are experiencing and track down your camera model at the manufacturer's home page. Maybe they have a repair program in place.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How do people react to religion?

I sometimes stop by and read what Sherry is experiencing and thinking/writing about.

Recently, she heard Sam Harris speak which leads her to ponder the value of religion as a person who holds reason as a high virtue (she is a self-described recovering lawyer).

I've heard Harris on radio interviews and found him sounding very much like Michael Shermer.

Harris has written a book with the title, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.

The generally positive Amazon.com review said this of his book:
Sam Harris cranks out blunt, hard-hitting chapters to make his case for why faith itself is the most dangerous element of modern life.... Interestingly, Harris is not just focused on debunking religious faith, though he makes his compelling arguments with verve and intellectual clarity. The End of Faith is also a bit of a philosophical Swiss Army knife.
A second review quoted from publisher's weekly is less favorable:
In this sometimes simplistic and misguided book, Harris calls for the end of religious faith in the modern world.... Very simply, religion is a form of terrorism for Harris. Predictably, he argues that a rational and scientific view—one that relies on the power of empirical evidence to support knowledge and understanding—should replace religious faith.

As I see it, people have one of four reactions to religion.

I. Religion is not true

A. Religion is not only not true but it is BAD. This would be Harris' view. I've heard Shermer on the radio as well and sometimes he takes this position but sometimes his position is less strident.

B. Religion is not true BUT it helps people. Religion is the ultimate placebo effect. Marx called it the opium of the people. So religion even though it contains no truth, it comforts people and makes them try to do good things. Thus, religion though false has benefits.

II. Religion is true

A. All roads lead to god. Every religion has some grains of truth so they are valuable in some way. People like this will say religion is like a bunch of blind people touching an elephant; thus, each person describes some aspect of the elephant.

B. There is a path that is correct leading to god. In this position, the believer in religion X will say X has the most truth and it is the only way to god. Defenders of this line of thinking will make the analogy to ice cream and insulin. We can all differ on which ice cream is good and it is no big deal. But in the setting of treating diabetes, insulin is the only way. Thus, religion is like spiritual medicine; there might be only one correct treatment.

Any other ways people react to religion?