Race: Yellow

During my latest perusing of the Angry Asian Man blog, I discovered this incredibly ridiculous picture.

Scott Johnson, a second-generation Taiwanese American born in Cleburne, Texas was issued this certificate at birth. Note carefully the "race" section.


1. WTF?!

2. This was in 1985 though I'm pretty sure I would believe it if someone told me it happened in the Texas of 2010. 

3. WTF?!

4. I don't even think this is racism. It looks like it's just pure ignorance but perhaps that's just because I refuse to believe someone would purposefully be racist on another person's birth certificate. You never know, though.

5. How come poor Scott doesn't get a middle name? His mom and dad got one.

6. I like how they have a separate place for ethnicity (not shown) and "IS FATHER OF SPANISH ORIGIN?" I applaud the first guy who decides to be a smart ass and writes "SEE 8B, STUPID"

7. I find it funny that it's called the "Bureau of Vital Statistics." True, it means statistics concerning life but I just can't help but think that they're emphasizing "These statistics are incredibly vital and crucial, unlike most of the other stupid statistics the rest of the Bureaus deal with"

Top 10 Tips For Making a Meal Without Leaving Lab

1. Salt is your friend. 5 molar, 3 molar, 1 molar, there's plenty of options. And if you get bored of the good old NaCl, you could always try calcium or potassium chloride.

2. Bunsen burners are incredibly useful. When using the burner for warming of meals, make sure your plate is touching the blue part of the flame. This is the hottest part and will allow for optimal heating time. If cooking or oven time is needed, use the autoclave.

3. Petri dishes are great places for sides like corn or dressing. However, please make sure to wash once or twice if the dish was previously used for bacterial research.

4. Label all food items using lab tape with your name, type of food, date of creation, date of consumption, and your PI's name.

5. Know which items go in which freezer. Keep the 4 degree, -20 degree, and -86 degree straight. Food stored at -80 degrees or below is good for several years.

6. Keep meticulous notes in your lab notebook about the food you ate, what time you ate it, who you ate it with, method of eating, and calorie content.

7. Make use of electrophoresis. If you find some random food in one of the freezers yet you can't quite remember what it is, no problem! Just run a sample of it on a gel! Every food's got a characteristic band so you should have no problem identifying it. Simply melt the agar afterward and you've got safe, friendly food consumption.

8. Always wear gloves. Always.

9. Lab ice is totally fit for consumption. The people who put the labels on the ice machine have no idea what they're talking about. If you're looking for an especially cold drink, the dry ice adds a nice foggy touch to make things a little classier.

10. Lunch is the best time for making small talk. You know that recent immigrant in the next lab bench over? This is the best time for you to find out if he really can speak English. Plus, you can find out about all the latest lab gossip. Whose mice died last week? Which researchers have been "collaborating" lately? SHE got a paper published in Science?

Sex Sells...But at What Price?

As it finally begins to feel like summer, I've caught myself watching a little more TV than I use to. Since dancing is one of my recent hobbies, one of the shows I've gotten into is So You Think You Can Dance. Prior to this season (Season 7), I would watch videos of the best routines from the various seasons on YouTube but I never actually got into watching the show. I decided now was as good a time as any to give it a shot. And so I delved into the competitive, emotional, sexy world that is SYTYCD (Apparently, you're not a true So You Think You Can Dance fan unless you use the abbreviation regularly and without hesitation).

The newest season of SYTYCD introduced some major changes. For instance, this year the show started with 11 dancers instead of the customary 20. In addition, with each routine, dancers perform with an "all star" from a previous season instead of with a partner on the show. After there is 7 dancers left, the contestants do two routines each: one with an all star and one with another contestant. The new style has certainly added a little bit more excitement to the show.

Yet with all these changes, there's one that stands out as the most prominent: SYTYCD's gradual change from selling innovative routines and incredibly talented artists to selling evolution's best friend. In the newest routines, dancers come on stage with virtually no clothes and somehow still manage to take another article of clothing or two off while on stage. Take a look.

Fortunately for those behind SYTYCD, it seems to be working. Fans are loving every minute of it. To me, though, it seems that this move towards a sexier scene has taken away from the show. The choreography is less innovative than in previous seasons and the judges are less focused on precision more so on presentation skills. When all you have to do is take some clothes off to get viewers, then what's the point of kicking the choreo up a notch? Without this sexier clothing, poor choreography would result in less viewers, forcing SYTYCD to up the choreography level and improving the show. With the new progression, however, this selection pressure is no longer as relevant.

"Sex sells" seems to be a fast and steady rule. Yet what people fail to notice is the drawbacks that giving in to hotter media can have. If sexier media requires diminished quality, then a balance is needed so true quality can be maintained. As we grow older, we move past the shallow face value and start to look deeper into the effect that things have and how impressive they are in all their qualities, not just those that are visible. This process, though, doesn't have to be passive. You can push yourself to look deeper into media, experiences, even people. So, give it a try, see how inhibiting shallowness can be.

It is true, then, that sex sells. The question, then, is whether it's always worth buying.

And to tell you the truth, I just plain can't stand Mia Michaels as a judge.

Humans: The Ultimate Innovators?

For many years, we humans have prided ourselves on our accomplishments as innovators. Why shouldn't we? With inventions like the telescope, electricity, the telephone, and antibiotics, among others, we've surely done well for ourselves. And this innovation continues to happen today. Every two years, the memory capacity of the average computer doubles. From 1980 to 2004, the average horsepower for a car increased from 100 to 181. These trends are mirrored in many other industries as well.

Yet there's one aspect of society that I notice a lack of such innovation: sports. True, the technology increases every year as we get lighter and faster swimsuits and more precise tennis rackets, but when's the last time you heard of a new sport being invented, even in the minor leagues? The great tradition behind today's popular sports and the difficulty in spreading and marketing a new sport prevent humans from trying to do so. When humans started building the first roadways, however, did they quit because of the tremendous work required to connect every major city in the United States? Not at all. As humans, we are incapable of quitting and we should show that in our innovation of new sports games.

If this is to happen, it must first happen at the high school and college levels. Major leagues will never create a new sport unless there is readily available talent to keep large audiences entertained. Thus, if high schools and colleges market new sports to train young men and women, these same individuals can refine their techniques and the best and most experienced can play the new sport as a profession. For instance, if colleges create competitions within their school with rewards for the students that submit the best sports ideas, dozens of new college sports across the nation can be created. These sports can grow from intramural to club and all the way up to intercollegiate, but only if high schools and colleges choose to take the first step.

I leave you with a video I found of a sport called bossaball. It looks incredibly awesome and I'd love to try and play it.

Qwerty vs. T9: Making the Switch

Remember when T9 was all the hype in cell phone technology? I remember how cool I felt in middle school: moving my thumbs as quickly as if I was playing GoldenEye and knowing exactly which three letters belonged to which number without even looking. Most pre-teens and teens my age felt pretty much the same way. Isn't it weird to think that the newest generation of cell phone users won't get the same experience? As cell phones made the gradual switch to qwerty keyboards and touch screens, I remember wondering if my thumbs would be able to transition as well. I felt that there was no way a tiny qwerty keyboard could beat my T9 techniques and that I'd never want to switch. Yet now that I've finally made this transition, I can't help but admit that I don't ever want to go back. The full keyboard has been tremendously helpful, doing away with some of T9's flaws, like multiple words that had the same key pattern or inaccurate predictive texting. One of my friends, S, constantly has trouble with her predictive texting. Whether it's texts like "I'm saving tomorrow for din [fun] things" or "You're a genupus! [genius]," the prediction tool just doesn't seem to be her friend. Qwerty, in my opinion, has simply taken over.

This, though, extends to many aspects of life. The grass, my friend, does not always look greener on the other side if getting to the other side involves climbing a hill. People can often be extremely hesitant towards new things, especially when they involve a change from what they are accustomed to. The changed product often seems worse. Sometimes, the change can involve the slightest push or shove, like trying out a Qwerty keyboard, and within days, you have a new product you are accustomed to. This new product, in some cases, can be even better than the original.

Yet it's not just new products or texting techniques. As I move on to my next year of college, I started out the summer incredibly worried. With some of my best friends going abroad and some of the most awesome people I've ever met graduating, I found myself with two options: 1) Wallow through my next year of college with little care and no hope of fun or 2) Embrace the change of lifestyle, open myself to new friends, and remain connected to my other friends online. Yes, the change will take some effort and it's certainly going to be a different year. But, hey, who knows? With that little bit of effort and by welcoming the change, I could make my next year of college a qwerty keyboard, moving forward from an already incredibly amazing two T9 years.

Bottom line: Put in the extra work to embrace the change. You'll often find it's more than worth it =)

The Benefits of Driving a Crappy Car

I found yet another random scratch on my car today and, as usual, I freaked out. As lame and materialistic as it sounds, there's few things I care more about than my car so you can imagine my (not-so-slight) anger when a blemish appears. This got me thinking. What if I drove a crappy car? The endless possibilities flooded into my mind. Just imagine.

1. Less Stress - I spend endless time and money making sure my car is clean and that scratches aren't visible. When you've got three or four dents and three or four hundred scratches on your car, though, one scratch is just adding to the collection. Heck, it makes the car look more like a classic. You lose all worry and the stress is virtually gone. Car wash? Psh. What difference will that make? Say goodbye to glossy finish and anti-scratch overcoats. You just gained yourself $25/month. Go out and buy your friends a round of beers (or grab a case for yourself. FUN NIGHTS)

2. No need for spare keys - Ever forget your keys in your car? Say goodbye to spending hours looking for a spare key or sketchily breaking into your car. Just leave your car there for the tow truck and go grab yourself a new dumpster dreamboat. It's a win-win situation. You get a new car and the guy working the tow truck gets something to do for the day. Now that's what I call effective.

3. Good way to gain money - And accidents? Heck you should go around looking for those. With each one, you'll probably get more money than what the car cost. The driver of the other car will have no clue which scratches and dents were there before the accident so you'd be making money. Even the "trauma" relief money will be more than what your car cost. Since insurance will be obsolete with your new and improved crappy car, the net gain is enormous because all you're paying for is licensing.

4. No one will break in! - Who wants to break into a '88 Camry when there's BMW's all around the city? You can use your crappy car as a safe - nobody is going to think that someone will be storing valuables in a car that old. You'll feel completely safe parking your car in even the worst of areas.

5. Get into every parking space - Even the tightest of parking spaces are now simple to get into. Parallel parking is now a breeze with your newly purchased crappy car. Simply back up into the spot until you hit the car behind you, then move forward until you hit the car in front of you, and then inch back again and you're all set. Parallel parking in under a minute. What more could you want?

Bottom line: I don't know about you, but I can't wait for my next car purchase. '85 Civic, here I come. 60 HP BABY!

Earning Green by Going Green

One of my favorite websites is The Onion. The videos are almost--but not quite--as funny as I am. Here's one of my favs:

While funny, the video does indeed bring up a point. It seems that companies everywhere are finding better and newer ways to go cheap--I mean "green." While I'm all for being environmentally friendly, I'm also all for quality service.

This article argues that the steps corporations are taking to ensure they are being more environmentally friendly is actually helping:

If so, then I suppose it's a win-win situation for the companies: they save money plus they're satisfying environmental enthusiasts. The question, then, is which article is more indicative of the effect of going green on product quality: the satirical video or the ABC article. I argue that it is indeed the former. Going green can, in fact, be expensive, resulting in companies' money going towards this initiative rather than product quality. Also, as hotels and hospitals become more hesitant to wash and change sheets and gowns in order to prevent washer usage and water wastage, quality reduces.

The bottom line: Don't using "going green" simply as a method of cutting costs. Show that you truly care about the environment by promoting initiatives that increase both quality and eco-friendliness.