OKLO Aurora Nuclear Reactor

I saw this video on YouTube about a new kind of nuclear reactor called Oklo’s Aurora (wiki). To be fair, I have heard of companies pursuing the niche space of making “clean/safe mini-nuclear reactors” in order to generate eletricity for 1000-10000 households. I even read that Bill Gates is also working towards a small reactor (link 1, link 2)!!

Listening to her talk about the technology and reading (link 1, link 2, link 3) a little more about it… this is much smaller than what Bill Gates is working towards. What is awesome about the reactors is the intent to use “spent nuclear fuel” to power the reactor and generate even more energy from the spent fuel. You’re literally using waste no one wants to touch in order to generate power shaving off the half-life of the fuel from potentially millions of years to something at least manageable. What I find also interesting are the concerns related to theft of spent fuel. I do suppose consequences are severe if the radioactive fuel was stolen and/or misused for evil deeds.

The Debt Limit again!?

Seriously… can we as a nation start to hold both Democrats AND Republicans accountable? Back in 2017, the Republicans believed in raising the debt ceiling. When Republicans had the House, Senate and the White House to pass spending bills, of course the debt ceiling will be raised. But god forbid… when Republicans do not control the White House, they are absolutely against raising the debt ceiling.

This political bickering between Dems and Reps is hurting the country. The cyncism behind such flip-flops by both parties is why there’s such low voter turnout.

CAN WE STOP WITH THIS BULLSHIT? CAN WE VOTE OUT THIS BULLSHIT!?

Bite Toothpaste

Bite Toothpaste

You’ve seen the Instagram / Facebook ads. You’ve read their environmentally sustanability pitch to reduce plastic around dental hygiene (toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss). After considering how much plastic you’re using just around dental hygiene, you believe their environmenal goals are noble. You’ve also questioned how can such a small size be enough “toothpaste” to brush your teeth…

Well, I certainly had many of these thoughts. A friend of mine actually ordered some of these Bite toothpaste bits to try. I was gifted a few days supply of the toothpaste and mouthwash bits to try as well. I tried both these bits and I’m a surprised that they both work fairly well.

For the toothpaste bits, I had to use two bits in order to get enough the feeling of enough “foam” to bruch my teeth. I had to actually grind them with my teeth fairly fine in order to get it to foam when brushing. I enjoyed how strong the mint flavor was but the strength dies out much too quickly as I brush. I think these would actually be great to bring on trips instead of a normal toothpaste tube. They are solid and are not constrained by the TSA “liquids and gels” restrictions. The one downside might be the cost. Bite sells an approximte 2-4 month supply of toothpaste bits for $30 (depending on if you use 1 or 2 bits per toothbrushing activity). As comparison, Costco sells a 5-pack of toothpaste for about 12 dollars that lasts at about 8-12 months. For cost conscious and value seeking customers, the Costco alternative is much better.

For the mouthwash bits, one bit was enough to get a powerful minty breath. It actually worked really well much to my surprise. You just bite to break up the bit then sip a little bit of water. And then the bit dissolves into a mouthwash like any typical mouthwash. Since I prefer strength, I usually used two for a that minty power. Similar to the toothpaste bits, these are solid and would be great on trips too. Although, I think people don’t always use mouthwash on trips.

Overall, the experience of using this product was very interesting. There’s certainly an appeal around their sustainability values of reducing plastic. However, this does come with a cost increase. I think there is an opportunity as a niche market for as a travel toothpaste alternative. Like alot of direct to consumer business, I think we’ll probably start seeing these pop up in Target as they start reaching economies of scale.


Here’s a size comparison of how small the toothpaste bits are.

Nation Building Never Works

20 years… Trillions of dollars later… Countless military lives lost…

I never understood why countries do not learn from history. Nation building is only successful when you absolutely take control of EVERYTHING and rebuild it from the ground up. Like Japan after WW2, the US rebuilt a demoralized Japanese population into a functioning democracy. They did so by taking control of the government, minimizing any militaristic threat, and helped the people recover from the ravages of war. But… I don’t think the US did any of that to any degree of success in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s militaristic threat was still present. The new government still clung to the old religious views and clearly corruption still remained. After reading numerous articles and opinions in the past 20 years… I came to the conclusion that the US seemed to be “half-assing” this “nation building exercise.” They never pursued all means necessary to eliminate the Taliban threat completely including leveraging Pakistan to eliminate the Taliban from Pakistani borders. The US also never fully committed to building essential services for the the people. Sure some infrastructure projects were built… but is that truly enough to win over people? If you think about Maslow’s heirarchy… Safety/Security and Survivability/Food comes first. US never provided these two items to all the Afghani people. It’s no wonder there nation building failed.

To be honest and to my surprise, a search of “why did Afghanistan nation building fail” gave me two links (link 1, link 2) and a PDF to read. The two links all point to the need to take control of everything or commit the necessary resources for success. A quick read points to the facts that the US could never have won this war because 1) the scope of the war changed from War on Terror to Nation Building 2) the US political system could never agree on the type and level of support needed. These two major issues limited the resources needed for a complete US domination. Bush Jr never fully was able to commit to a US domination since it would have technically required Congressional support (in both troops and money). So… the war on terror / nation building was doomed for failure from the start. Here’s an interesting VOX article about Biden’s history discussing the Afghan War. Egads…

So what now….? 1) The US should accept any and all females who are seeking refuge/refugee status. 2) The US absolutely must help any and all Afghanis that aided the US troops in the war. 3) Rebuild all the lost reputation and good will from the past 20 years.

So the cable company called me…

So I just got a called by my cable company inquiring if I wanted to decrease my Internet bill. The fact that my cable company has continually increased it’s prices year over year should be regulated. If the pandemic has taught the world anything, the Internet is a critical part of a nation’s infrastructure. The call went something like this:

CC: Am I speaking to <my name>
Me: Yes
CC: OK. Great. I am from <cable company>, do you have a few minutes to chat and answer some questions.
Me: Yes
CC: Thank you. So, do you want to decrease your Internet bill?
Me: Yes
CC: OK. Now, if you could answer a few questions for me, I can help you decrease your bill.
Me: OK
CC: Do you watch any TV?
Me: Nope.
CC: Do you subscribe to any streaming services?
Me: Nope. (I lied)
CC: How do you watch TV shows and news?
Me: I don’t.
CC: *flustered* So you don’t subscribe to Netflix or Hulu?
Me: Nope. I cancelled them.
CC: *silence and then speaking very quickly* Well if you have any questions or support please call <phone number>. *And she hangs up on me.*

She hung up fast. I didn’t even say good bye!!

Vox on Taiwan’s early COVID-19 response

So… basically, a Taiwanese (TW) government agency empowered to utilize resources across multiple agencies and integrate information into a clear coherent public strategy. This government agency shifted from a risk-by-country assessment for travelers to a general mandatory quarantine of any entering individuals. In retrospect, any traveler entering Taiwan gave up their personal privacy and freedoms for 14 days. They were quarantined in a hotel room and monitored by phone daily. Furthermore, a nationalized and digitized healthcare system also helped these agencies monitor individuals including anyone who had to interact with the quarantined travelers.

This video also didn’t recognize the government’s power to implement such a tracking system. Not only that, the video glossed over the fact that citizens also knew the risks and outcomes of a deadly virus outbreak. These two details allowed the government to set strict policies that were generally followed by the population. Even now as TW is going controlling their most recent outbreak in May, most citizens that are able to stay at home have done so with relatively little opposition.

Contrast that to just asking citizens of a certain country to stay at home and wear a mask when going outside, the conversation immediately becomes an “individual rights” issue and violation of their rights despite the fact that:
1) people are getting sick and dying.
2) healthcare is being pushed to the limit.
3) it’s the single most effective means to limit transmission and infection.

When did this “me first” attitude creep into society? And where does the balance between public safety/public health concerns outweigh the individual rights?

Last Week Tonight: Asian Americans

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight talked about Asian Americans. This 30 minutes of discourse is not enough.

After watching this video….

  • Can we all agree… White America has a history of pitting various ethnic groups against each other. Even John Oliver calls it out.
  • Asian Americans are come from 20+? countries in Asia ranging from India, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. We probably speak well over 20+ dialects/languages. We have different cultures, eat different foods, practice different religions, and have different customs. AND YET… the only thing that ties us together is this term. We should use this to our advantage.
    • As Asian Americans, we have to pursue positive change.
    • As Asian Americans, we absolutely need to leave America better for our grand kids.
    • As Asian Americans, we must demand for a country that doesn’t discriminate people of different skin color, heritage, sexual orientation, religion and socio economic status.
    • As Asian Americans, we have to help other minorities as much as possible.
  • The only thing White America fears is when we minorities call out the racism that exists. You know you’ve hit a sensitive topic when attempts to deflect the conversation involves “what about-ism”.
  • And finally… As Americans, can we strive to follow the Golden Rule? Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Trump’s Facebook Ban

By now, the news of Trump’s 2 year ban from Facebook has been widely circulated. I actually disagree with Facebook’s decision of a 2 year ban. Trump should be allowed the opportunity to take back his Facebook (FB) profile. However, FB should strip his history of posts and interactions as if it were a new account. Then, Trump would be subjected to these “more stringent rules” in place for politicians and face the penalties of violating it.

One has to wonder what these new rules are and how many other rules are there. FB explicitly has said it will ban hate speech and abuse. What about lies and fake news? Does FB have an example of what FB considers as hate speech and abuse? What does FB consider as “newsworthy”? There’s so many questions that I think FB is just playing into the Republican’s hand of “censorship.” Let’s take the current Trump talking point about the “stolen” election. Where does it rank amongst FB’s new rules? FB… how about some transparency?

What about the other social media platforms like Twitter (another Trump favorite). Trump looks like it’s still banned from Twitter. But will Twitter also apply the same rules to other politicians as it did to Trump?

Let’s start understanding each other…

With all the recent issues going on in the US from BLM to the current Anti-Asian sentiment, I stumbled across this short (too short in my opinion) YouTube video that brought three Asian-Americans and three Black Americans to discuss some statements regarding both racial identities in America. I think this type of discussion is needed more amongst the American minorities. I believe that EVERY PERSON has a degree of RACIAL BIAS that might not be readily apparent but it exists as a product of culture, family, “group expectations” or personal experience. The video posed 6 different question for discussions that I think tell a pretty good story for anyone who answers them honestly. In the video, the participants are asked whether or not they agree/disagree with the statement. Those that agree would first sit and speak their mind followed by the ones who disagree.


Questions asked:

  • I care about being accepted by white America.
  • I have stereotyped the other side (Black Americans or Asian Americans).
  • COVID-19 has hit my community harder.
  • I face more racism from the opposite side (Black Americans or Asian Americans) than I do from white people.
  • Asian Americans are more advantaged than Black Americans.
  • Black and Asian Americans co-exist peacefully.

Here are my answers:

I care about being accepted by white America. I agree. I’ve come to recognize that not being in power is the worst position to be in. A person is unable to establish any basic self survival when constantly bullied by the ones “in power.” Animal nature has shown that the most basic instinctive behavior is to survive. When constantly under threat of being pulled over/killed by cops, under threat of being homeless for not having enough money to rent, under threat of starvation… being “under threat” is not the best place to be at. Unfortunately the ones currently “in power” happen to be white, old America accustomed to the prejudicial era of the 1940s to the modern age. If you think about it, people who are now in their 70s were born in 1950s. Many witnessed the Civil Rights movements and were probably influenced by the parties promoting equality and racism. If you think about even more, there are still people alive who may have marched with Martin Luther King and even participated in the racial upheaval of the 50s and 60s! US hasn’t even gone through a full cycle of where people living today can only read about historical events instead of hearing stories from their grand parents. So yes… being accepted by white America is very important.

I have stereotyped the other side (Black Americans or Asian Americans). I probably have. I remember my parents saying something negative about Black Americans in response to the rioters breaking and taking items during the 1992 LA riots. It stuck with me for awhile to always have to be careful around Black Americans (lock the door, make sure you’re in a well lit place, don’t talk balk, be polite, be prepared for anything bad, etc…). As a kid, I barely interacted with blacks. I knew a few only by name because they were superstar athletes in high school (1 got a scholarship to play football in college) which also kind of matched the stereotype of blacks being better athletes. It wasn’t until the workplace environment did I have a black coworker. However by then, I had adopted a mantra “to strive to follow the golden rule” which meant that I treated the coworker like any other coworker.

COVID-19 has hit my community harder. I don’t think COVID-19 discriminates. One thing about Asians though… they are used to wearing a mask. So the community spread was much slower overall once it was known that this is as easily transmissible like the 2002 SAR outbreak in Hong Kong. The usage of masks slowed the outbreak significantly.

I face more racism from the opposite side (Black Americans or Asian Americans) than I do from white people. I think at a population level or community level, Asians are as racists as Whites are. I suspect most of the racism though comes from the media manipulation portraying Blacks in a negative light (ie lazy, welfare, thieves, gansters, etc). How many of the early Hollywood shows/movies depicted Blacks as respectable upper income families? I can recall at The Cosby Show portraying Black Americans as normal as possible where almost all the other shows/movies show Blacks as thugs, gangsters and other negative stereotypes. This media portrayal definitely brain-washed the older generational Asians and probably new Asian immigrants too. The irony of this is that Asians probably experienced the same racist behavior as Blacks did. But being Asian, they put their head down, bore the pain/humiliation, and moved on. This act of submission contributed to the “model minority myth.”

Asian Americans are more advantaged than Black Americans. I have mixed feelings about this statement. I think for the most part this is true. Collectively, Asian Americans tend to be more advantaged. However, I’ve noticed that Black Americans might actually be more advantaged than immigrants that are fleeing their Asian country due to war, political unrest, religious persecution, etc.

Black and Asian Americans co-exist peacefully. I agree with this statement. However it’s not because of mutual respect but more that each community prefers to mingle amongst their own people. They are peaceful because both groups prefer to not get involved in each other’s “business.” When they need to interact, they act with caution to minimize antagonizing the other group.


So… What are your thoughts to these questions?

Yet another hate crime.

The recent racist killings of Asian Americans by “not a racist” white male suffering from a sex addiction and a “bad day” has been in the making it’s way around the interwebs and news media. Of course, the white male suspect has been captured without any further incident.

Can you imagine if he were black, latino, or asian? Wait… Did you think that too?

Wait… Why did you think that? Hmm… but I digress….

*****

Here’s a fun fact… Columbine HS shooting/massacre happened 21 years, 11 months ago. This guy is 21 years old. He probably wasn’t even born yet when Columbine happened.

Here’s another fun fact… Apparently, this guy bought his gun the SAME DAY he killed the Asian Americans. How the FUCK does that even happen?

Here’s another fun fact, since 1982, whites have dominated the mass shooter market (another data set) making up the majority of the incidents relative to other racial/ethnic groups. I think it’s actually white males but the data set doesn’t seem to make this distiniction.

Here’s a final fun fact. HE WAS KICKED OUT OF THE HOUSE BY HIS OWN PARENTS. As much as his parents and the church community attempted to help him with his “sex addiction,” the moment the parents kicked him out of the house, they should bear some of the responsibility of his actions. Do we know if his parents called for help when they kicked him out? Did they advise him to go to his church group for help? What we do know is that he ended up with a firm belief he had to “eliminate temptations.”

*****

On Friday, an employee resource group where I work held an impromptu session to listen and discuss the events of Atlanta specifically but also as a broader forum with other people and experiences. The discussions got me thinking too much and is now prompting this post that’ll probably be written over the course of a few days. There is one question that people always ask… how can I help? As much as I appreciate this question, I think as a society, we have to reframe this question two ways…

  1. How can society change?
  2. What can society change?

Apart from the typical “create an open dialog” mantra that you hear from everyone, that’s clearly not enough. Ever since the LA riots in 1992, the dialog has been open but it’s not enough. Fast forward 30 years from the LA riots, the Black Lives Matter marches from 2020 shows us that there has been progress but why is there still violence against minorities? We ask all sorts of questions yet change comes slowly. But society has shown it can adapt from the rotary phones to a hand held computer/phone/camera/video camera in just 40 years. What does that mean? IT SHOWS SOCIETY IS CAPABLE OF EMBRACING CHANGE.

So how can society change? Unfortunately in the past 20+ years, I’ve come to realize (as many people should) the government is ultimately the only place where societal change can be implemented. Slavery? Gone with the Emancipation Proclamation, a Presidential executive order followed quickly by the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Women can vote (again) via the 19th Amendment. But have you noticed that every time the change has always resulted in issues. Jim Crow Laws, poll taxes and literacy tests come to mind. This makes me wonder…. why does the government HAVE TO EXPLICITLY GRANT these freedoms? I don’t know but I think society fears the unknown and the unfamiliar and thus have a tendency to push back against this.

So back to my original question… how can society change? I believe there needs to be a concerted effort to CHANGE the dialog of the selfish “You’re infringing on MY rights” and to CHANGE the government at all levels. With the “infringing on my rights” dialog, I’ve always admired at how crazy and self-centered certain segments of the US population are when it comes to rights and freedoms. Let’s take healthcare… certain people were rabidly opposed to having to pay for health insurance and also opposed to paying the tax penalty for NOT having insurance. It was “my right” to not pay for health insurance. What about the all the rights of the others who paid insurance? If you went and used services like ER/urgent care, where do you think the majority of those expenses get passed to? Your lack of insurance passed the costs down to the insured. With more than 60% of bankruptcies caused by medical issues/bills/expenses, you’re “right to no insurance” now infringed on all the rights of the insured. Why should the insured have to pay for such stupidity? So what is the proposed change? I think a very simple change might be to start thinking about how our actions will affect other individuals and then adjust accordingly. As a society, we might not get it right all the time but if everyone is trying to think of others then at least we’ll get some great change out of it.

Now… how do we change government? Society holds power over politicians in at least two simple ways. The first is to vote. Society should vote against politicians that do not support the values that lead to a “positive society.” What is a “positive society?” A simple answer would be a society that embraces the mantra of the “golden rule” aka “treat others as you would like to be treated.” The second way is to control where the money flows to. Politicians require money for their campaigns and to stay in office. And since politicians require money, society should control where the money flows. We should only support politicians that values a positive society. In addition, corporations (since they are people too) also have the power to affect government. The workers should also encourage their companies to only support politicians that value a positive society. Simple yet very complicated. I think if society can embrace or even strive to follow the golden rule, only positive outcomes will be expected.

So what can society change? First, what are common themes everyone can agree on? I can actually think of a few items…

  1. Healthcare reform. In US, the amount of care relative the amount spent for the care is considered horrible. Studies have shown that medical inequality is a significant issue for low income families potentially even bankrupting them. Providing a basic level of healthcare that consist of yearly medical, dental and vision visits, routine bloodwork (metabolic panel, lipid panel, CBC), STD checks, and other basic female/male tests should be mandated. Additional services would be provided through insurance and the private market.
  2. Tax reform for individuals and corporations. Currently, there is a growing divide between the top richest and the poorest. The growing disparity should be a concern especially since the the bottom incomes are slowly being pushed into perpetual poverty with minimal paths to middle income. What’s even more concerning is that the poorest are forever saddled with unfavorable situations that continually keep them in the same poor economic situation. Would universal basic income for the poorest help? What percentage of taxpayers are actually living below the poverty line? I think there is some equitable way to allow people to keep getting rich from their businesses while at the same time provide help to the poorest to live with some sort of dignity.
  3. Education reform. The idea of “free 4 year tuition” is nice but I actually don’t think that is feasible. I think what’s most important is tuition and loan borrow reforms. The tuition has gradually increased over many years. One study implicates the free “unlimited” lending power of the government to provide loans for students to attend college (source data, second source). The government should offer a capped loan amount to the students. This would restrict the “supply” of money forcing students and colleges to reevaluate where to spend the capped amount.
  4. Political reform. Let’s get rid of lobbyists from even being able to interact with politicians. Else, there should be a system where lobbyists must register who they will talk to during the day. If found to have conversed, the politician should be immediately removed from office and the vote transferred to the politician’s party. Coupled with the ability to direct money, this reform has the most potential of creating political operatives who will work towards a positive society.
  5. Gun Reform. NO ONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO PURCHASE and KEEP A NEW GUN on the same day!!! This does not limit the 2nd amendment rights of “bearing arms”… it is a matter of accountability, background check which leads to a safer society.