Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two things I learned today

  1. Salt lake City has not had a republican mayor in 3 decades. How crazy is that?
  2. To have a great day, all you have to do is get a great hair cut. Unfortunately there is just so many times you can do that before you stop getting any compliments. Incidentally, compliment is how half of my students spell complement no matter how many times I correct them.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Couple of things

This blogging thing is not working well for me. Got too many other things to do.

After being way too hot for way too long, "I" finally installed the swamp cooler in the house. It feels great.

There is a new gadget out there that I want. I just have to figure out where to get it. It measures your electricity consumption constantly. In dollars. People freak out when they realize how much they spend, so they start shutting things off :)

Speaking of energy. This morning on NPR they were talking to some random people who want to get on government case to develop alternative energy sources. So, that's great. One thing that slightly bugs me is their reason for that. It is "We're too dependent on foreign oils". I guess whatever works.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


So, we moved. There are lots of things that happened, it'll take me a while to write about it. An exciting one is that I finally, finally finished My name is red. That took forever. The title of the post? It is so, so hot in Salt Lake City. Let's look at some data:

June 13 -- we arrived to SLC:
13: 88 | 55
14: 90 | 61
15: 93 | 60
16: 100 | 62
17: 83 | 65
18: 80 | 50
19: 93 | 57
20: 98 | 67
21: 95 | 64
22: 98 | 62
23: 94 | 69
24: 93 | 71
25: 86 | 60
26: 89 | 57
27: 97 | 63
28: 99 | 68
29: 100 | 69
30: 95 | 60

1: 98 | 61
2: 99 | 61
3: 94 | 64
4: 97 | 64

5 Forecast: 101 | 68
6 Forecast: 102 | 70
7 Forecast: 101 | 67

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Christian Science Monitor?

I was walking downtown Ann Arbor the other day, and saw a sign for Christian Science Monitor. I realized I was confused about this name. Do they monitor christian science? If so, then I can't imagine what that might be. Or do they monitor science done only by christians? If so, it seems as an amazingly scientific way to choose which science to talk about. I suppose one might say that christians are monitoring all science, but I'm not sure that is what the title suggests. Maybe I don't get it, being a foreigner and all.

Monday, May 21, 2007


sucks! That's pretty much all I have to say.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Mormons, Part II

In the second part of the series, people talked more about how they feel about religion, way of life, and their beliefs. They are pretty nuts. However, they did pick a wonderful place to settle. In fact, I don't think I mentioned this, but we are moving back! Yay.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Mormons

Few days ago I found an ad in the New Yorker for a PBS show The Mormons. At the time I wondered how connected this show might be to Mitt Romney's presidential bid and whether any of the funding resources were connected to him. I watched the show tonight (there is another episode tomorrow which will talk more about contemporary mormons) and I have not learned whether Mitt paid for the show. But one thing was rather clear: almost all the interviewed were mormons. I guess that makes sense, mormons do know most about mormonism :) I don't really understand why America is worried about mormons. They aren't any more dangerous/different than/from any other average religion subscriber.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


From WP:

Investigators said Cho procured one of the guns he used in the rampage, a Walther .22-caliber pistol, Feb. 9 from a pawnshop on Main Street in Blacksburg near the Virginia Tech campus.

On March 16, he bought the second gun, a 9mm Glock 19, from Roanoke Firearms, a gun shop on Cove Road in Roanoke.

He used his driver's license as identification and had no problem buying the guns because he was complying with Virginia law, which permits the purchase of one gun a month, investigators said.

Then we have Q&A session from the White House:
Q Dana, going back to Virginia Tech, what more does this White House think needs to be done as it relates to gun issues? The President says current laws need to be strengthened, anything beyond that -- you had a conference on school violence with guns -- what more needs to be done?

MS. PERINO: I would point you back to the fact that President, along with Secretary Spellings, hosted last October -- October 10, 2006 -- a conference on school gun violence after the Amish school shooting and the other shootings that had happened, because the tragedies are the ones that just collectively break America's heart and are ones that we deeply feel, because all of us can imagine what it would be like to have been at your own school, your own college, and to have something happen. And those of us who are parents, or brothers or sisters of people at the schools have to take that into consideration.

As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting -- I don't want to say numbers because I know that they're still trying to figure out many people were wounded and possibly killed, but obviously that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for.

Q Columbine, Amish school shooting, now this, and a whole host of other gun issues brought into schools -- that's not including guns on the streets and in many urban areas and rural areas. Does there need to be some more restrictions? Does there need to be gun control in this country?

MS. PERINO: The President -- as I said, April, if there are changes to the President's policy we will let you know. But we've had a consistent policy of ensuring that the Justice Department is enforcing all of the gun laws that we have on the books and making sure that they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Q Lastly, in Texas, if I'm correct, he passed legislation, no age restriction on possession of weapons, if I'm correct. Should there be some kind of federal age limit, as far as the President is concerned, raising the age for gun possession in this country?

MS. PERINO: Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go back and look at what the record was in Texas. Maybe Ken Herman could tell us. We'll go to Ken next.

And so it goes...

One more thing: interesting how nobody wondered if this was a terrorist connected shooting and nobody had to reassure us that there were no links to various terrorist organizations. If I recall correctly that was the first thing everybody wanted to know when the Salt Lake shooting happened couple of months ago.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut died last night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Harsh language

I am trying not to use too harsh language. Hate is a word I am trying to avoid as much as I can. That said, I genuinely, sincerely, truly, from the bottom of my heart dislike rain. Coming home from the office I thought I would be really clever and put a plastic bag on my bike seat so I wouldn't have to ride on a wet bicycle. By the time I got home, my ass was dry, but everything else was soaked. Rain is many different things to many people. To me, it is nuisance only. I do not recall ever being happy because it rained. Midwest sucks.

Another thing that's been bothering me lately. This blog stuff is very unsatisfying. Who do you talk to about people that bug you?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chaney not welcome in Utah?!

This means they really are down!
Some students and faculty on one of the nation's most conservative campuses want Brigham Young University to withdraw an invitation for Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at commencement later this month.

Critics at the school question whether Cheney sets a good example for graduates, citing his promotion of faulty intelligence before the Iraq war and his role in the CIA leak scandal.

The private university, which is owned by the Mormon church, has "a heavy emphasis on personal honesty and integrity in all we do," said Warner Woodworth, a professor at BYU's business school.

Read more here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I love to cook. It is incredibly frustrating to cook in my current kitchen. It is tiny, but even worse than that is the fact that fire alarm is a meter away from my stove. I swear even boiling water sets that thing off! Argh.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Define ironic, would you?

This morning on NPR we cought a piece that basically said that the president of a fence company that had government contract to build border fence between Mexico and US was sentenced for hiring illegal immigrants. That was precious. Turns out I either missed this when they got busted, or I had forgotten. NPR's old story is here, and I found this as well.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dawkins & Collins

I haven't had the time to write. That is not to say that there aren't any outrages things happening. Today I listened Fresh Air. What a lucky person I was, because they ran an interview with Fancis Collins. You can hear it online, of course. I did find out that I had missed Richard Dawkins' interview, which aired yesterday. Luckily, I can still hear it (I still haven't finished the book).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Voting by bumpersticker?

This one should win for sure:

I like Kucinich and I agree with lots of his positions. I also admire him for trying.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I don't ever get anything for free. Except for today. Well, I guess technically it wasn't for free, because we paid to enter into lottery, but still. We received in the mail today announcement that we can, in fact, raft down the Salmon's Middle Fork this August. If you think I'm nuts and you've never heard of this kind of lottery you may want to see their webpage, but important bit is that WE'RE DOING IT.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I enjoyed reading Mark's response to his friend's question:

"What’s your purpose of getting solar panels? If it’s to save money, then there are better ways of doing that. Get better insulation, new windows, new furnace, turn off lights… I don’t think it’ll increase the resale value that much either. If you want to help the environment, some cities have a green power program where you pay extra and have some of your energy from renewable sources. Or do you want to be the Unabomber and live ‘off-the-grid’?".

He wouldn't want me to share it, but since he doesn't read this it's ok ;)

... My thoughts were a little unibomber, a little save the environment, and a little hybrid car. Along the lines of what could be done to a house to improve it for resale. Now $25k solar-electric is probably not a good answer but here's where the hybrid car come in. (put on your boots, Kelvin it's about to get deep!) It seems to me that the kind of people who buy/drive a hybrid are interested in saving the environment, making a statement, and doing little else. The hybrid is perfect for that. It still uses gas which is available everywhere, everyone recognizes it gets better gas mileage and therefore saves the environment. So it's hands off, low maintenance. But what about running biodiesel in a super efficient diesel like a diesel golf. One could argue that it takes a lot less energy to build the golf than a hybrid, gets great gas mileage and therefore saves the environment. So the problem is, where the hell do you get the biodiesel? So the biodiesel golf I'm going to attribute to living off the grid, unibomber style. It's high maintenance like an off the grid solar system. Whereas a grid-tied solar-electric system would be like the gas-electric hybrid, super low maintenance. It seems to me that the same kind of person who buys a hybrid car would also be interested in a solar-electric, grid-tied house. It saves the environment, makes a statement, and nothing else needs to be done. It's perfect for the apathetic environmentalist...

Monday, February 26, 2007


Coincidences are funny. Surprising. Just two days ago Pi asked me to write about the most recent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then she apologized for potentially ruining my weekend. I told her that the thought of that war doesn't depress me anymore, and that I'll try to write some over the weekend. Obviously, I did not get around to it. Then I listened to the BBC World Service this morning. And I cried. The UN court has cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide in BIH. You can read a story over at BBC . Or, you can read what Washington Post has to say.
I like this quote:

But the 15-judge panel rejected Bosnia's claim that the Serbian state was responsible for the killing, saying it did not have effective control over the Bosnian Serb forces it had helped arm and finance.

Hmm. Not responsible. Sure. Gave a helping hand, and arm and more. Why not. We don't hold anybody responsible for that. They then continue on:

Instead, the judges ruled that Serbia stood by and allowed the massacre to happen.

Pardon my bosnian, but no shit.

The fact that the country is not responsible is not what bothers me. That the government is not responsible is what is not acceptable. And the worst part is that people who have committed the crimes will now think that they have been exonerated. They will say "See, we didn't do anything wrong. The court said so."

And, if that were not enough, let's hear more from the "Honorable" Judge Higgins:
They "were fully aware of the climate of deep-seated hatred which reigned between the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslims in the Srebrenica region."

I think few of us remember this in a slightly different light.

Update The Economist has put in its two cents.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Disaster expert?

This morning's NPR program aired the first of three part interview with Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander, who wrote The Edge of Disaster. Quote that made me cringe:

...this is the place that if it were disrupted whether it's an act of god which would be potentially an earthquake or whether it's a terrorist attack....

Why did he feel compelled to declare an earthquake an act of god?!? This piece also reminded me that I should really go back and finish reading the book I started few years ago, but for some reason never finished: The Culture of Fear , especially since I find myself wrapped up in a blanket of it more often than I care to.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Random acts of senseless violence

No, this is not about the book, although I recommend it.

I was out of town for a few days, on a little vacation over on the west coast. After a lovely journey back home yesterday that lasted slightly longer than expected, with an overnight stay in Omaha, NE, we finally got home with about 18 hour delay. My dad's been trying to get in touch with me, so being a good daughter that I am, I im-ed him as soon as I got back home. After a perfunctory chat, he asks me about news. Well, I haven't heard any in about 5 days, and I was little at a loss as to why he'd be asking. Turns out a Bosnian kid went on a shooting spree in a mall in Salt Lake City. Why am I writing about this, apart from all the obvious reasons? There are two that may not be known: I am a Bosnian and I lived in Salt Lake City for five years. My first reaction is as everybody else's (I assume that it is) of disbelief and sorrow for all the lives that are lost. My second reaction is anger: what on earth could have made this kid do what he did? And I am even more mad because this kid lived through a war! He should know better than to take other people's lives. I read everything I could find in various papers, and then ran into comments that some people are leaving on various blog and news sites (I am sorry, but I'm not putting these links here, you can google kid's name and find them if you are so inclined). And then I got mad at these people, too. And then I got sad for those people.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I made this

This past year has been all about learning for me. Today I made this:

I know, it's not much. But it's cute. The other reason I'm here is that I am trying this WriteToMyBlog thingy I tried earlier today. Well earlier it ate my meaningful blog, but I can't be bothered to reproduce it. Besides, it's late.

PS It worked this time.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My kind of camp!

Finally a decent summer camp!

Camp Quest is the first residential summer camp in the history of the United States for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, or whatever other terms might be applied to those who hold to a naturalistic, not supernatural world view.

Check it out!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who killed the electric car?

Extremely interesting movie. The logic of the whole electric car story escapes me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Longer days, consumerism, books, time, state of the union.....

First things first. Nice ones, for a change. The days are getting longer, yay. I am going to California. Which isn't necessarily yay, but it'll be in the 60 and 70, which beats the teens in MI.

Lately I've been reading about people writing books about their "year off shopping". I try not to buy unnecessary things, but going to a bookstore is always a danger. I went yesterday to get one book, and came back home with 11. Now I just need to stop spending time at the computer, and go back to reading. Not too long ago, I decided that I've watched one too many episodes of Law and Order, so I canceled our cable and went back to reading. It felt great. Should I cancel my high speed internet? Hmmm..... I need even longer days.

My breathing hasn't been too great lately. The doctors say it's stress induced. I expect to discover how long exactly I can go without breathing later this evening. Why? The State of the Union has become stress inducing lately. If you count 5 years as lately :)

There was something else I was going to mention, but it escapes me. Oh, I got it. The Jesus Camp. Again. Well, this is the reason. I have to see the dvd now, really curious about extra scenes. But more importantly, half way down I saw a link for Friends of God: A roadtrip with Alexandra Pelosi . Yes, that Pelosi. Well, not that one, but her daughter. Anyway, the movie is on Thursday, and luckily I'll be in a hotel that has HBO and will be able to see it! Yay.

A friend is making pasta with truffles, so I better go help, since he was kind enough to come in and cook at our house :)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Precision and war

Mark is on the documentaries binge. The latest one is Why we fight. My favorite snippet is the United States of Amnesia. An interesting statistic is: In the Gulf war about 7% of the bombs were precision guided. That number rose to 63% in the latest Iraq war. The estimated number of civilians killed during the Gulf war is 3 500, while the estimated number of civilians dead in the FIRST MONTH of the Iraq war is 6 000. How's that for precision?

On an unrelated note: is one's subscription to a membership of an organized religion connected to their altruistic motives? You may read a BBC's blurb or if you prefer check out Nature Neuroscience's article.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Newest insanity

How is this for having high opinion of one's genes? I wish people would consider not sending their children to war instead of trying to "bring them back form dead" once they die.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


After I wrote the post below last night I finally figured out what was wrong. My code had .jpg files while the files on my server were .JPG. That still does not explain why the whole thing worked on my laptop. Anyway, I was thinking that so far I've mostly complained. I do lots of that. Good thing I don't live in Helsinki, they'd make me sing, and I can't sing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I decided that my website wasn't cool enough anymore, and since I've got some time, I was going to change it. It looks pretty good except for one little detail. I was stealing some pretty snazzy looking gallery code(can't really be called stealing, the guy said anybody could have his code), and I made it work on my laptop. Looks really neat. So, then I transfer all the files involved to the server and half of the page works the same, but two tabs don't display the photos they are supposed to. Now this is totally mysterious, as I had transfered all the images. I tried changing the code, then I erased all the jpegs, and put the new ones in (if I open them one at the time, they are there and fine). It does not work. But it does if I open local files. Argh!!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wisdom of history

It is amazing how little we learn from events of the past. I highly recommend watching Sir! No Sir!, and listening what people had to say during and after Vietnam war. It probably should not have come as a surprise that lot of what was said sounded rather familiar and current.

On an unrelated note, during dinner hosted by a friend of mine not too long ago, his colleague, whom I hadn't met before, argued that global warming did not exist. His argument was that he had read all the scientific papers written on the subject and found their statistical analysis to be crap, which led him to the conclusion that the global warming did not exist (now that I think about this I am hoping I do not remember this event properly, because, as a mathematician, he should know better than to claim that the existence of global warming was disproved in this way). Anyhow, since I had not read scientific papers in question, I could really not argue with him. Anyway, it is middle of January in Michigan and I picked up huge clumps of hair off my

dog (the white one) last night. Global warming or not, she is not supposed to start sheding in mid January!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Where is humanity in humans?

Last night we watched War Photographer. Humans are truly despicable. It remains a mystery to me as to how the word "humane" came to mean: marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals.

This evening we were going to do what humans do best: not think. In the process we were going to watch something funny. Meet Little Miss Sunshine . Funny it was, but in a scary kind of way. Kind of way where you're laughing and thinking "I can't believe people do this. What are they thinking?". They aren't. So sad.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The end of faith

My dear friend Renzo tells me that I am not particularly tolerant of religious people. He basis that opinion on the fact that, if asked, I tend to tell members of any organized (or unorganized, but those are rare) religion that I do not see how any intelligent, educated person who uses their brain for any purpose other than regulating necessary bodily functions in this day and age could possibly believe in the existence of god. Hopefully you were able to navigate your way through that sentence. So, a while back I started reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris . Work and the fact that he was laying little too hard on the muslim world (I simphatize with the underdog, but also don't really see much difference between average muslim and average christian. If you have any doubts you might want to check out Jesus Camp that's coming out on dvd's in about a week) stood between me and the book for a few months. I've picked it up again after reading his Letter to a Christian Nation . Anyway, I am just barely into it, but I constantly wish I had his way with words. I'm sure I'll be adding things as I go through this book, but here is to Renzo:

Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed.

Oh, and Happy New Year!