Category Archives: personal

Princess Leia is a Racist Bitch

So some guy found a bunch of old Starlogs and comes across this piece of information:

April 1979: As for why Chewbacca doesn’t receive a medal at the end of “Star Wars,” this is as good of an explanation as any other.

I think the reason the wook [sic] didn’t get a medal was because Princess Leia simply isn’t that tall. He could have received his after the ceremony.

Chewbacca doesn’t get a medal because Princess Leia isn’t tall enough?

Bull. Shit.

Chewbacca gets screwed over publicly because Princess Leia is a racist / speciesist bitch.

  1. She uses a slur describe Chewbacca.
  2. When trying to think of the most disgusting thing she can think of, she picks wookies. A woman that has been in a trash compactor with a tentacle monster, thinks a person that saved helped save her from execution is grosser.

Who gets medals? The two white guys. The brown guy that convinces Han to go back, the guy that’s shooting the guns on the Millennium Falcon to save that farm boy’s ass, is the one that gets bupkis.

Fuck her.

Endeavour

Friday, we went to see Endeavour’s fly-by of NASA Ames. Ming wasn’t too crazy to go at first, but she relented. It’s the last time anyone was going to see a shuttle in the air. Although Maximilian isn’t going to remember this, I still wanted him there. (Got to start them out early on science.)

When reading up about the shuttle retirement, I came across this image on wikicommons:

This flag first flew on the first shuttle mission, and then again on the last one. It was left behind on the ISS to be retrieved by next US launched manned mission. It’s kind of sad and nice at the same time. A “We will return,” promise. (Albeit not likely in a spaceplane.) I had no idea that this flag existed. NASA has also slated this flag to fly on the next manned mission to leave Earth orbit. The sentimental part of me likes that there’s this symbol that’s passed from crew to crew, even if its history only goes back to 1981 instead of 1961.

Previously. Previously.

Stroop Effects

Recently a group of us were laughing about how we could mess with children by teaching them the wrong names for colors. Just buy a Stroop Effect novelty poster, and pretend that nothing is wrong. Since the effect is because the language center of the brain is being stimulated in a way that is incongruent with the visual stimulus it takes longer correctly name the color shown.

I then started to think about what would happen if you carried out the test with a bilingual person. Specifically, with people that are literate in languages that have completely different characters. I would think that if for example a monolingual speaker of language that used the Latin alphabet saw a word that was written with a completely different writing system, say Chinese, then the language center wouldn’t trigger since the character has no meaning to monolingual person. If the words were written in language that was sufficiently similar to the native language of the subject then the I would suspect that the language center would trigger and cause the effect, albeit at perhaps a lower intensity. Similarly, I suspect that the effect would have different intensities for someone that was bilingual, with the secondary language being less intense than the native language.

Sufficiently curious, I set out test my hypothesis. I quickly coded up a bilingual Stroop Effect viewer and grabbed the most convenient monolingual person and the most convenient bilingual person I have access to and tried it out. While my test wasn’t very rigorous, it did satisfy my curiosity for the evening.

The test was constructed so that the the subject was presented with eight colors (black, white, red, orange, yellow, green, purple, blue) in a random order in two rows of four. The color displayed were written in one of three different texts: language neutral squares, English, and simplified Chinese. The text was pulled from the name of the colors displayed. The text displayed in a random order and was guaranteed to not correctly correspond to the color it was written in. (e.g. The word “black” would never appear in the color black.) The subject advanced through each of the languages and as quickly and correctly as possible while saying aloud the color of the text each word appears in. Vocalization was to match the language the text was displayed in, or any language for the language neural text. Evaluation was conducted by comparing time to complete the task in each language, and expressing how difficult the task was in each language.

While I do know some words in Mandarin, and can read some Characters including those for the colors red and white, I used myself for the monolingual-monoscript subject. The language-free shapes and the Chinese characters were by far the easiest and were about equal in difficulty. Since I was going quickly, I didn’t really have time to determine whether or not each character was one that I might know, and if so what its meaning was.

I drafted Ming to serve as the bilingual-biscript subject. We both agreed that that there was an ordering in her time to complete and she said there was a definite ordering to the difficulty of the task. Again language neutral was the easiest, but for her English was the second easiest, and Chinese was the hardest. This makes sense because while she is literate in English and is very proficient in spoken English, her English is not at an equal level to her native Mandarin.

Looking online, I found two references to bilingual Stroop effect tests, but neither were exactly like the one I tried. Reading only the abstracts, it appears that Ardila et al. 2002 looked at the effect in English/Spanish bilingual and monolingual persons. They found that bilingual persons were slower at identifying colors than monolingual users. Okuniewska 2007 seems to contradict in the previous study by saying that there was “a bilingual advantage”, but that bilingual persons didn’t perform equally well in both languages. Both of these studies were bilingual-monoscript subjects, what changing the writing between languages does is isolate the shape-to-language path in the brain.

Personally, I find this experiment interesting, and it doesn’t seem like that it would take much to make this a proper experiment, but I wonder if anyone has actually done this test in psycholinguistics. I guess I need to ask around.

UPDATE: Sat Jul 14 11:20:15 PDT 2012:
I found a paper that closely mimics what I was trying to test, but not exactly. In 1978, Biederman and Tsao compared monolingual English speakers to bilingual Chinese speakers. They found that Chinese characters were harder to process than than Latin characters. The did not look at difference in textual representation, but rather simply referred to previous bilingual tests that used the Latin alphabet for both languages. They speculate that Chinese is harder to process for even native literate speakers since the characters do not carry any pronunciation information in them. While that is true, it seems like repeating this two alphabets would be needed to confirm.

Al-Ghatani et al. in 2010 created an Arabic Stroop test and applied it to bilingual subjects. Ten bilingual participants were given both an English and an Arabic version in order to measure the how similar the Arabic test is to the English test.

Ingraham et al. in 1988 created a Hebrew version of the Stroop test, but appears to have tested Hebrew.

Other related work:

“Don’t Worry. Your Data is Safe.”

I took my laptop to the Apple Store to get it repaired. (The keyboard doesn’t work.) After explaining to the guy at the store, he starts taking down my contact info. When he’s done, he says. “And what’s your username and password? Don’t worry. Your data is safe.”

Aghast, I say “But my data is NOT safe if I give you my password!*

“Uhh….”

“Can’t you just boot off an external drive or something?”

“Well, umm… yeah, but this is how that prefer we do it.”

Sure enough, the Apple form has blanks for username and password.

In the end, I gave them Ming’s password, because really it didn’t matter. I was giving a perfect stranger an unencrypted drive. It does make me think though. After decades of telling users not to share they’re passwords. Not to give them to people saying they’re from IT. Not to trust anyone with your password, Apple is undoing this as part of standard operating procedure. Or maybe I’m just old, and I’m supposed to think of Apple as a parent.

* Yes, I recognized the naivete of believing a simple password provided adequate security in this situation.

My parents never read my stuff. I see no reason to read my child’s.

Cloud Mirror

Daniel Burnham, Anuj Patel, and Sam Bell created for their embedded systems class at Georgia Tech a bathroom mirror / information display. Dubbed Cloud Mirror, it is essentially a partially silvered mirror placed in front of an LCD television, hooked up to a WinCE box with some Phidget sensors.

The User controls the display by waving his/her hand across eight infrared sensors (four across the top, and four down the side). Swiping across the top. the display is toggled on and off, while various modes (weather, news, traffic, and calendar) are controlled through the sensors on the right side. (Video after the jump.) Obviously, it is prototype level technology, but is a bit interesting. Basically, they were thinking about how to integrate typical morning information gathering into daily grooming rituals.

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1% Want Landmark for Garage

Not content with having an exception to land their party plane at Moffett Field, Google’s triumvirate want a historic landmark for their eight private jets. That’s right. The triumvirate says they’ll pay for restoration, if they get to park their planes.

While I support keeping Hanger One, it just feels to essentially like an an attempt by the ultra rich to indulge their whims on public property. If it was a straight up philanthropic gesture that’s one thing, but this is reeks of a crass move. They (and numerous other Silicon Valley multi-millionares) have wanted to use the NASA field as their own private airfield, and now it looks like they’ve sensed the opportunity to get it. The most depressing part of this whole thing is that this could be the only way to keep the landmark.