Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Robots that Flirt

RobotWith a post on robots a few days ago, I felt it appropriate to post about robots that flirt now (and I thought hugging robots were bad). They have a new-fangled thing that frequents singles chat sites to gather information from suitors. They pretend to be a person looking for love and derive as much info from them as possible. The robots come in different profiles, from "romantic lover" to "sexual predator." They can respond to questions much like a real person can.
The artificial intelligence of CyberLover's automated chats is good enough that victims have a tough time distinguishing the "bot" from a real potential suitor, PC Tools said. The software can work quickly too, establishing up to 10 relationships in 30 minutes, PC Tools said. It compiles a report on every person it meets complete with name, contact information, and photos.
This is a new level of robot creepiness.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Last Hurrah

Honors BanquetLast week, we had our final Honors Banquet. You can read about over at Aemelia's blog if you'd like. It really gets you thinking. I have to say good-bye to a lot of people soon, and it is very sad. One chapter of life is going to be over and a whole new one is going to start. That Vitamin C song is playing in my head right now.

And on a general note, although saying goodbye to people is really sad right now, I suppose that it is important to remember that moving on is bittersweet.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 3 Best Things

In times of hardship, in times of pain, in times struggle, I find there to be three things that mean the most to me.

1. God
2. Friends
3. Art

They are life.

For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:
The grasshopper is silent in the grass:
The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
Rests like a shadow, and the winds are dead.
The purple flower droops: the golden bee
Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.
My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
And I am all aweary of my life.

-Lord Alfred Tennyson, Oenone

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Last Goodbye

Some days are just bad.

OneRepublic: The Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley

Friday, April 25, 2008


Lee Gutkind came to campus last night to give a talk. He is a well-known creative non-fiction author. He read a bit from his book, "Almost Human: Making Robots Think." He said quote, "The book is about one triumph and 55,000 disappointments." Well, if that doesn't make you want to read it...

RobotBut really, his stories were pretty interesting. I think robots are taking over the world. Or at least Lee thinks so. Nerds are now making robots to be autonomous thinkers. They can play soccer. They can take care of you in old age. They can give you hugs.

No really. You can buy yourself a hug robot with velour arms. It will take care of your "spirit."

Excerpt from Lee Gutkind's book:
Dozens of cavorting mechanical creatures, along with tangles of wire, tools, and computer innards are scattered haphazardly. All of these zipping and zooming gizmos are controlled by disheveled young men sitting on the floor, folding chairs, or tool cases, or huddled over laptops squinting into displays with manic intensity.
I can definitely picture that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My What a Pretty Tree

Did you have a happy Earth Day yesterday?

The Weeping Cherry Tree in my front yard is gorgeous. Warmer weather, flowering plants (especially pink trees), and rainy afternoons are perhaps my favorite part of spring.

My least favorite parts of spring are the new emergence of spiders, bugs, and thousand leggers. They start to "spring" up and I despise them. They must die. I have a closet arsenal of Raid. Bah ha ha, little buggies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Primaries in PA today

Hillary and ObamaToday is the long anticipated Pennsylvania primaries. As ours are closed, Republicans can only vote in Republican primaries and Democrats can only vote in Democrat primaries. That stinks. I am Hillary supporter. Yes, there I said it. I am a self-professed conservative-minded individual and I like a Clinton. Slug me if you will.

I'm routing for Hillary today and I hope she takes my home state.
“It’s not enough to say, ‘Yes we can,’ ” Mrs. Clinton said, seizing on the motto of her rival’s campaign. “We have to say how we can.”
Thank you. Enough said.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Grad School

So for those of you who have been wondering... I've finally made my final decision on which grad school to go to. I will be attending the University of Maryland in the fall. I will be studying Rhetoric and Political Culture within the Department of Communication. Rather than studying presidential election type political culture, I will study more of media influences in a public forum on culture with an emphasis on globalization. I'm so excited! And, I'll want lovely visitors once I find a place in near College Park...

This photo was taken during model OAS, one night when we exploring the city and got caught in a torrential downpour. The rain was falling sideways and the wind about knocked us off our feet. We had to run to the side of the Washington Monument as the shelter within running distance from the flash storm. It made for a good story later, but stringy hair and really gross wet denim jeans that night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Belize Map After representing Belize at the Model Organization of American States, I really really want to go there. It's beaches are beautiful, population culturally diverse, and economy dependent on tourism. They need us, ecotourists!! Belize has made its way onto my must-travel to list.

At MOAS, I created a resolution about encouraging corporate social responsibility and tourism in the hemisphere. The nations were divided; there was controversy; and after debate, the votes were split. I am pleased to say, however, that the resolution passed, 17 votes in favor, 12 opposed, and 1 abstention.

OAS BuildingWe even had the opportunity to visit the embassy of Belize and meet Ambassador Mendez. He was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. I am confident that my resolution would be initiative that the government of Belize would support in real life. Two of the sessions and a formal gala were held in the real OAS building too.

I would say the Third Committee dedicated to
1. Encouraging Corporate Responsibility in the Hemisphere,
2. Strategies for the Sustainable Development of New Energy Resources,
3. Strategies for Strengthening the Role of Civil Society to Achieve Grassroots Democracy, and
4. Hemispheric Strategies for Promoting the Integral Development of Opportunity, Equality, and Social Cohesion in Member States
(also the best committee), was quite productive. My favorite debate though, had to be when the US and Venezuela squared off. It was quite amusing.

Ship Students at WMOASAnd most people at the model did an excellent good job staying in character with their respective nations. Did I mention that I want to travel in South American, Central America, and the Caribbean now?

This delegation yields the rest of its time to the chair.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Washington MOAS

OAS flags This past week I participated in the Washington Model Organization of American States. The experience was quite unlike any other that I have ever had. In case you don't know what the OAS is, it is basically the United Nations (UN) of the Western Hemisphere. They define themselves as such:
The Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the nations of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation on democratic values, defend common interests and debate the major issues facing the region and the world. The OAS is the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and confronting shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs and corruption. It plays a leading role in carrying out mandates established by the hemisphere’s leaders through the Summits of the Americas.

With four official languages — English, Spanish, Portuguese and French — the OAS reflects the rich diversity of the hemisphere’s peoples and cultures. It is made up of 35 member states: the independent nations of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The government of Cuba, a member state, has been suspended from participation since 1962; thus only 34 countries participate actively. Nations from other parts of the world participate as permanent observers, which allows them to closely follow the issues that are critical to the Americas.
me at OASStudents from Shippensburg represented the delegations of Belize and Haiti. We were required to act and speak as if we really were a representative of our respective nations. We sought to simulate real OAS sessions and approve or oppose resolutions as our assigned countries really would.

Our class had been preparing for this model all semester, and now I'm kind of sad it is over. I actually had a really nice time in DC thinking and living like a diplomat (I even bought a business suit).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Urgent: help me decide my future now

Ok. So I've been away this week if you didn't figure that out already. I'll tell you about that later.

Right now, I have a big decision to make. Do I go to NYU in my favorite city in the world with an awesome program? Or do I go to the University of Maryland near Washington, DC also with a very good program? I pretty much decided that I wanted to go to New York University, but with UMD I would be guaranteed a teaching assistantship that pays just about everything. Oh my goodness. I don't know what to do. Both options are equally good. I am hyperventilating right now, and the clock is ticking down. I must know by tomorrow. Help!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Want to sneak a peek at just who is editing our well-loved friend, Wikipedia (the bane of every professor who has ever assigned a research project)?

WikiScanner reports specifically when somebody messes with wikipedia who probably shouldn't mess with wikipedia.

The crimes it tracks include:

  • "Wholesale removal of entire paragraphs of critical information. (common for both political figures and corporations)

  • White-washing -- replacing negative/neutral adjectives with positive adjectives that mean something similar. (common for political figures)

  • Adding negative information to a competitor's page. (common for corporations)"

  • A NY Times Article speaks about the issue too.
    Internet users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the Central Intelligence Agency. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits have come from corporate networks.

    Last year, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs of the Pepsi entry that focused on its detrimental health effects. In 2005, someone using a computer at Diebold deleted paragraphs that criticized the company’s electronic voting machines. That same year, someone inside Wal-Mart Stores changed an entry about employee compensation.
    This dilemma seems to appear in every wiki environment. What's stopping hotel owners from posting rave reviews of their own rooms on travel sites? When anyone is allowed to contribute, well, just about everyone with an invested interest will.

    And, the most important question we arrive at then is, is it even unethical for certain people/corporations to change information floating around on the Internet when it is about them after all. I know if someone used ugly adjectives to describe me, I'd want to get in there and make them sound a whole lot more positive. Where is the line between subjective opinion and cold hard truth?

    I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about the issue, but I am sure that I don't want to be an Internet information dupe. Thanks Wikiscanner for attempting to keep wiki's more honest.

    Sunday, April 6, 2008

    Ideas for Service Projects

    Do KindessOver the years, I have been involved in numerous groups and organizations. At some point in time, every established group wants to give back--to do something good for the community, to feel like they are making a difference in the world. BUT, the question always is, what to do? What can we do that is possible, that really matters, and that will be successful?

    I KNOW how hard it is to plan and execute meaningful projects, especially when the ideas and creativity have run dry. That's why I was so happy to discover this site, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. There are so many ideas, and really we could all Random Acts of Kindess Foundationuse a little help and a little reminder of all the things we could be doing for others. There are service project ideas for individuals, groups, clubs, and families to name a few.

    Be Inspired. I challenge you to do at least one RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS today. If it doesn't seek you out, seek it out yourself.

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    Relay for Life

    Relay for LifeTonight/Tomorrow is Relay for Life as part of a service project for the Honors Program. We walk for 12 hours, from 6PM to 6AM. Well, at least someone from our team is always walking during that time. Each of us realistically expects to walk for an hour or so. I'm pretty excited. Should be a good time. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society too, so it's for a really good cause. I'm off to walk!

    Thursday, April 3, 2008

    The Onion

    Have you read The Onion lately? It is an satirical online news site. While their politcs tend to swing to the left, I have to admit, their jokes are funny.

    The caption to the photo on the right is "KFC Releases New Family-Size Nugget" Ewwwwww.

    If you visit, make sure to click on "Statshot" and "Infograph" in addition to articles that you find interesting. But if you only have time to look at one thing, look at "From the Print Edition." They are always the best.

    Here's a taste of some good Onion headlines and a Statshot I like:

    Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index
    MySpace Outage Leaves Millions Friendless
    Revlon Forced To Test Cosmetics On Plants
    Toilet That Uses 50 Percent Less Water Must Be Flushed Six Times
    Oprah's Contraceptive Club Prevents 450,000 Pregnancies In First Month
    Report: Scientists Still Seeking Cure For Obesity
    Opinion: Stop Making Movies About My Books
    Wii Video Games Blamed For Rise In Effeminate Violence
    Mom-And-Pop Loan Sharks Being Driven Out By Big Credit-Card Companies
    Al Gore Caught Warming Globe To Increase Box Office Profits
    Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement

    Onion Statshot
    The Onion. America's Finest New Source.

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008


    Volleyball Today is the first day of intramural volleyball for Ship. I'm excited. I feel like it's been so long since I last played--forever since real competitive v-ball. Truly, I'd have to say some of my fondest memories include volleyball.

    Sand. Nets. Rain. Bruises. Indoor. Outdoor. Physics Video. Sweating. Competition. Parks. Spring. Little courts. Friends. Crashing into friends.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Don't Be a Sucker Today

    Yeah, today is April Fool's Day.
    Don't let anyone play any nasty tricks on you!

    I remember circling April first on my calendar when I was younger so that I could beware. I grew up with two older sisters.

    Tabasco SauceOne year I put Tabasco sauce in my mother's Burger King cup that was in the fridge. Then, about an hour later the guilt caught up with me so I dumped out the soda in the sink. I popped open a new Coke can and dumped the thing into my mother's cup and replaced it in the fridge.

    The next day my mother told me that when she took a drink of her soda she about died. Her mouth was on fire. Apparently, a few drops of hot sauce is really potent, and rinsing the cup does not help. I don't think she believed that I had tried to not trick her. I still kind of feel bad for that. I don't play April Fool's jokes anymore.