Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm Back!

Yes, I know it's been over a week since my last blog entry, but life, as usual, has been going strong. To start off with: I had a wonderful time at Otakon. I spent tons of money, and took home a huge bunch of anime swag, from manga (Japanese comics) to actual anime (animated movies). Best of all, I scored a whole lot of stuff it's simply impossible to get in this country.

Like what, you ask? Stickers, cellphone straps, pencil boards and action figures that are made in Japan. Now, not everything I found is actually impossible to get here, but at best, you'd have to go on E-bay and spend tons of money (if you can even find what I got) to get the same things I found. And you'd probably pay a huge premium on top of it.

Best of all, I got to spend time with people who like the same stuff I do. People who go out of their way to make costumes of their favorite anime characters and dress up like them. I hope to have the pictures I took at Otakon developed soon, and I was extremely impressed by the costumes this year. How often do you see people dressed like the entire cast of Hellsing, for example, or the entire cast of Saiyuki?

Costumes and Animes I saw a lot of this year: Naruto (another big year for Ninja), One Piece (Luffy and his crew), Dragonball Z (a continuing favorite), Fullmetal Alchemist (one of the companies represented at the con had a larger than life statue of Al, Edward Elric's brother), and, of course, Sailor Moon.

Want to find out more? Check out these links:
Fullmetal Alchemist
One Piece
Dragonball Z
Sailor Moon

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


This weekend, I will be travelling to the Otaku mecca of the east coast: Otakon. What is Otakon? I hear you ask. And more importantly, what's an Otaku?

Well, the answer to the second question is: the word comes from Japan, and the japanese. It literally means: King Home (or can mean, colloquially "your" depending on how it is written). It refers to someone with an obsessive interest in something. In Japan, there are fashion otaku and baseball otaku, and most of all, anime otaku. The actual implications aren't very nice. It means someone who is always at home, with the connotations of living in mom and dad's basement because they can't afford to live anywhere else, and who spend all their available time and money on their obsession of choice. It's actually an insult. In fact, the name recieved an even worse rap when a man named Miyazaki Tsutomu went on a killing spree of young women after becoming obsessed with lolikon (Lolita-like pornography) images.

In America, however, Otaku means someone who likes and watches (and probably owns) lots of japanese animation (called Anime and pronounced anny-may) and/or japanese comics, also known as manga (pronounced mahn-gah). In America, there is no real stigma to being called or known as an Otaku. In fact, many American fans take pride in their Otaku-ness. In America, the connotation is closer to "fanboy" or "fangirl/fangal".

Otakon is the premier Japanese animation, or anime convention, on the east coast.

Otakon Website
Buy Anime DVDs
Find Out About Other Anime Conventions

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Summer Fun!

It's Hot here today (almost 110 degrees hot on the heat index, anyway), and I thought I'd pass on a few links to take your mind (and mine) away from the Summer's scorching heat.

The first is not a new one on the web. It's more of an oldie but goodie. Longmire Does Romance Novels

The second requires your computer be able to run flash animation: Olympics by Bruno Bozzetto

A silly (but real) song with an absolutely insane video: I'm A Cow (Also requires flash Animation).

Another flash video (But so absolutely true... you will *know* this if you have a cat): Lap Dance

For those who think public officials should dance to our tune, we have: Dancing Bush

Thursday, August 11, 2005

AOL Messageboard mess (Rant Warning)

I have been an AOL user for 12 years now. I started on their service back in 1993, when it was pay by the hour, and my disk said AOL version 1.3. Back then, it was primarily for Macintosh users, because, unlike Windows at the time (which was still in basic and whose latest innovation seemed to be the C prompt), it used a graphical interface.

Well, time has passed, and time hasn't been kind to AOL, or the people who use it. Specifically, java ads have taken over the message boards, slowing loading time to a crawl, Terms of Service is a joke (especially if the offender is a fundamentalist Christian), and now, the worst of all, AOL has "upgraded" their messageboards to a new and "Improved" format.

Well, it may be new, but isn't "improved" supposed to mean "Better"? "Better for whom" would be a good question to ask, because there are *Many* AOL messageboard users complaining that the new boards are *not* an improvement. In fact, for Macintosh users who *aren't* using OS X, (and thus, can't run AOL 6.0), you can't use the message boards from AOL at all!

In fact, to use the boards, I have to sign onto AOL, open my web browser (because AOL's web browser is a joke which doesn't work half of the time), and sign on to AOL on the internet just to *see* the boards. And because of the Java ads, it takes forever to move between one page and the next.

So, essentially, AOL is now, for me, a $30 a month e-mail address. And I could get that much more cheaply elsewhere.

Don't like it either? Complain! Go to Keyword: Tell Us! on AOL and tell them, like that actor in the film "Network News", "I'm Mad as Hell And I'm Not Gonna Take it Anymore!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Blood types

I had reason to give blood recently. Specifically, my state is having a shortage of blood, and they needed me to donate. It's true that I am a past blood donor, but I feel a greater compulsion to give blood than most: I am the true universal donor.

Never heard that term? Heard it but not sure what it means? Okay, here's the scientific explanation:

There are four main blood types:A, B, AB and O. There are two blood antigens: A and B. If you have one, A, for instance, you are blood type A. If you have both, you are blood type AB. If you have neither, you are Blood type O. A antigens and B antigens are incompatible with each other, so if you have only one, and you try to transfuse another, your blood clumps, or agglutinates, in your veins. Not a pleasant experience and actually quite deadly. The same if you try transfusing A or B antigens into a person who has neither.

But that's not the only factor in blood typing. The second is the Rh, or Rhesus factor. These are another type of antigens. People who have them are Rh positive. People who don't are Rh negative. Therefore, there are actually 8 blood types, A pos, A neg, B pos, B neg, AB pos, AB neg, O pos, and O neg.

Before you receive blood, Doctors must blood type you to ensure that you receive a compatible type. However, O Rh negative, (Colloquially known as O- or O neg) can be given to anyone. Therefore, if you are losing blood and may die before they can find out which blood type you are, you will be transfused with O-. And that's the blood type I have.

My blood type is most in demand for hospitals. It's literally a lifesaver. Oh, and it's not as easy as you think. I am really uncomfortable with needles being poked in my skin (I actually bite myself to take my mind off the sensation), but because of how necessary my blood is, I do it anyway.

Giving blood is important. Your type may not be the universal donor, but you should think about giving, too. By giving blood, you can save lives. And if your blood type is as rare as mine, that life might be yours. Think about it.

Here's some links that will fill you in one blood types, blood antigens and more.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fair Warning

I am going to be opening up my board to comments again. Fair warning to spammers and bots, though, and anyone else that makes a comment that has nothing to do with what you're commenting on: Your comments will be deleted.

ERVs (Minor Rant Warning Ahead!)

Today, it seems like a day can't go by that you hear about people getting all het up about evolution. Specifically, they're against it. They think it goes against the Bible, or eliminates God entirely. It doesn't do either, but that's beside the point.

Furthermore, the people who do get all het up about these things will tell people who don't understand science all sorts of lies (which they may not realize are lies) about evolution. Lies such as "Darwin recanted on his deathbed". Lies such as "The geologic column is made up and is false because it doesn't exist all in one place." Lies such as "There are no beneficial mutations."

But the biggest lie of all that they tell is: "There is no evidence to support the theory of evolution". That's just a lie. The evidence is all around us: Fossils, DNA and our very own genome are full of evidence for evolution. In fact, one has been discovered recently that provides the best evidence for evolution: ERV's.

What are they? I hear you ask. The name is Endogenous RetroViruses. Ah, I can see I have not enlightened you with those mere two words.

To make a long story short, when a virus invades your body, it goes right to one of your cells, injects itself inside (by boring through the cell membrane) and goes right to the nucleus of your cell, kicks out your own DNA and substitutes its own. The cell then goes into overdrive, pumping out copies of the virus until it is so filled with this virus that the cell explodes. Then, all those copies of the original virus seek out more of your cells, all with the same mission.

The cell can be any kind of cell: skin, heart, lung, even your sex cells. Now, sometimes, when the virus invades, something goes wrong. Instead of kicking out your own DNA, the virus merely inserts itself into the DNA. In most cells, this means very little. However, when it happens in one of your sex cells (eggs if you're a woman like me, or sperm if you are a man), and that cell gets used to make offspring... that scarred part of the genome is passed on to your offspring.

Of course this is really, really rare. Most human females don't even ever use all their eggs, and 99.999% of sperm die on their way to the prize, that is, fertilizing an egg. But in that one in vanishingly small chance, we will see the virus preserved for eternity, immortalized in the DNA of our descendants and their descendants.

In fact, we already see this. ERVs already scar our genome like the memory of past ills. Not only are these ERVs passed down from parent to child, they are also passed from species to species when species evolve.

But it is more complicated than that. You see, the number of sites where the virus can enter our genome is endless. So much so that when you combine the chance of any virus not fulfilling its mission, the chance of it happening in the sex cells and the chance of that egg or sperm getting passed on... well, the chance of it happening in the same place to different organisms is very near zero.

Now, I will say that there are sites in the genome that can be 280 times as likely to host one of these ERV's, but when you combine even that with the chances listed above, it's still as near to zero as makes no difference.

Now, what makes it the perfect evidence for evolution is this: you might think it quite unlikely for us to share even 1 or 2 of these ERV's with our nearest genetic relatives, the chimpanzees. But we don't. We share 7.

7 ERV sites are exactly the same in us and chimpanzees. And that's been found even before we do the genetic sequencing of our genome and that of the chimpanzees. More may be found... as if 7 wasn't, shall I say, miraculous enough.

Even more, we share other ERVs with other primates, showing very clearly that we are also related to them, but not as closely.

Interested? Here are some sites you might want to check out for yourself. (especially the sidebar, where the writer of the article responds to responses to his article)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Play By Web

If you like roleplaying games, as I do, you're always looking for people to play with. If that's your thing, you'll want to check out Play By Web. Playbyweb offers games 24/7/365, from D&D to Warhammer to White Wolf Games. There's even a monitored Adult section (18 and over only, sorry!) for games that are beyond the norm in violence, sex or profanity.

Welcome to Deep Thoughts

Welcome to Deep Thoughts, my personal weblog! I can't promise that my thoughts will always be deep, but I do hope that they will at least be amusing and informative. And I give warning, I may rant a bit on the bee that's currently in my bonnet, but I will always be one thing... honest.

So, onward!