Monday, May 25, 2009

Corporations Having Individual Rights

excerpt from Paul Hawken's "Ecology of Commerce."

The Civil War had transferred great amounts of wealth to corporations, and with this concentration of power they began to clamor for "equal rights" and new simplified chartering laws that would treat every corporation equally. (This is the means of incorporation we have today: anyone can do it, and for a nominal fee.)

There quickly followed a wholesale reinterpretation of the Constitution by the judiciary, granting new powers and rights to corporations. The primary thrust behind these precedents was the "due process" clause of the Fourteenth Ammendment. This amendment protected the rights of freed slaves, but it was subsequently interpreted to give corporations the same status before the law as that of a natural person. On that basis, judges reversed hundreds if not thousands of state laws controlling wages, working conditions, ownership and corporate tenure.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Contributions to Politicians and PACs and Special Interest Groups

I was thinking about how corporations make these contributions to promote their interests, and it is fundamentally on a different scale from contributions from civic groups. When an individual makes a contribution to a PAC, the money comes out of his or her salary, but a corporation makes contributions on behalf of its employees, and it comes out of all their salaries. However, the employees themselves have no say in this. My friend was telling me about fiduciary duties, which may present a legal framework for corporate actions. Perhaps I'd be interested in reading more about corporate law.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Green Fees and Government Programs

While it seems to make sense that increasing the costs of polluting would optimize the market for sustainable business, it contradicts the message of the Breakthrough Institute which is that making dirty energy more expensive is politically impossible. Instead, they champion government investment in clean energy research and in general, they believe that increasing people's living standards will cause them to have fewer children and also care more about the environment. This does not explain how the economy and industrial processes will become more sustainable, though.

I should also write up a summary of the Administrative Law class I took and try to describe the Ashford school of thought.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Global Frequency Told Me

Whooo 8 bit reggae music.

Review of Ecology of Commerce

I just finished The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, 1993.

It was really interesting and had a lot of good stuff. It is also popular within the sustainability and environmentalism community so in that context, it is important background reading to better understand where the movement is today.

Stylistically, Hawken seems like he wants to talk about the facts and make rigorous policy arguments, but he frequently slips into flowery righteous and tender prose. This sort of makes it difficult to read since there is a lot to wade through and since his points are not as salient or structured as it could be.

I'm going to do a basic overview of his main points, and then list some of his case studies and projects that I want to investigate more.

1. Main point of the book - we need a "restorative economy." In other words, for our processes to produce no waste. Every by-product of industry should be the inputs for another process just as all natural processes are cyclical.

2. As a corollary, the economy does not NEED to grow. Hawken hates the argument that economic growth is needed in order to have enough profit to protect the environment, asserting that it is a contradiction. I was glad that he said "'Environmental' companies that limit the damage done to the environmnet and to human beings by other companies, stricktly speaking, do not add value. Reducing the harm caused by 'growth' is a self-cancelling contribution at best, no more a factor in real economic growth than the rescue of a man who has been thrown overboard is an act of mercy."

3. He makes a good case for why "cleaning up" our dumps and chemical byproducts is a losing strategy since it usually just involves putting chemicals such as organochlorines in barrels and then burying them. Incinerating our trash is especially bad since it creates even more "dioxins." We have no way of detoxifying them.

4. Describes and promotes "industrial ecology" (Robert Frosch and Nicholas Gallopoulos in "Strategies for Manufacturing."), "dematerialization" (Buckminster Fuller), and "intelligent product design" (Dr. Michael Braungart and Justus Englefried of the EPEA in Hamburg, Germany). Braungart and Englefried had a idea that Hawken likes a lot, which is to have the state rent space in "parking lots" to companies to temporarily store their waste. This way, the waste remains tied to the original polluter instead of being left to local communities. It would also make sense to have a severence tax for virgin resources since currently multinational companies get resources from developing nations in a sort of perpetuation of colonialism and exploitation.

5. Hawken is adamant that the costs of pollution are internalized by companies in order to drive innovation and the creation of a truly sustainable marketplace. He refers to this as Pigou's solution, and it basically amounts to imposing hefty taxes on carbon and pollution. The idea is that a market can only function if all the costs to humanity and the environment is reflected in its price.

6. Globalization has been bad for developing peoples and the environment. Hawken talks about the various treaties and how they make it difficult for local communities to protect themselves. He also summarizes the history of the rise of the corporation and how they have become much more powerful than individuals to the detriment of people and the environment. They have taken over the political system and it is up to grass roots efforts to take it back from the ground up.

7. Small businesses have an opportunity to explore new restorative business models and practice industrial ecology to one day replace the current corporations which are resisting change.

8. Hawken describes his view of government's role. "Society can be viewed as encompassing two moral syndroms, the 'guardian' (government) and the 'commercial.' (trading) " (Jane Jacobs in Systems of Survival). Governments should impose green taxes that must be revenue neutral.

9. Utlities should be created as a good system for meeting the needs of the people while stewarding the environment.

- industrical ecology - Kalundborg, Denmark started by the Asnaes Power Plant in the 1980s.
- utilities - "negawatts" - Amory Lovins
- green fees - have the UN tax military sales


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MIT Radio

Heard a good station yesterday on WMBR, Global Frequency. I started getting my groove on in the car. Kind of embarrassing, kind of unsatisfying since I am sitting in a car and can't use the rest of my body, but also makes me feel kind of like a puppet since I suddenly don't have control over my body.

Update: Oh wow, I just found out that this station is run by Beth Coleman, and MIT professor in Comparative Media Studies, her husband and her students. No wonder it's so good. She also runs Soundlabs, where they all make music.

Rediscovering the Joy of Grocery Shopping

Thank you Whole Foods, for making me excited about grocery shopping again, even though I always end up overspending. (Turns out, I spend about $600/mo on food). Of course, I'll always really like shopping at Asian grocery stores like Kamman, but Whole Foods is definitely the best for white people food.

I definitely have a style of shopping, which is to browse and get whatever looks good and can fullfill my food needs. By food needs, I'm talking about planning out my meals for upcoming days while I'm shopping. Like, oo, weird mushrooms, maybe I can use it for dinner today and tomorrow if I also get some beef. I need something for lunch, ooo deli meat. I should get some bread, then. Shopping with a list totally gets me down. I sort of wonder if this is a genetic thing because I am pretty sure this is how my mom shops. In fact, I think my dad does it, too. They are better at it than me, though. The problem for me is that I tend to forget what my ten day forcast was by the time I get home. The planning while shopping part is such a thrill, but then I often end up throwing a lot of stuff away since I forget about them and they go bad. On the other hand, this happens less if I have plans for the things that are exciting, not like, oh I will probably need a veggie later in the week, I should get broccoli.

Plus, at Whole Foods, everything looks so delicious with their fancy yuppie packaging. But also, I think their produce and meats do look and taste better, but maybe I'm just fooling myself. I also like the variety, especially the availability of higher-end stuff like Applegate deli meats.

Weekend Circuits?

something to play around with. using an LED to sense and emit light.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Monday, May 18, 2009

Support Art Support My Friends

this weekend was the opening of Sowa Open Market, a kind of yuppie art market. Handmade crafts are cool. My roommates had a booth. They call themselves Modati and they make artsy nerdy shirts with specialized inks such as glow-in-the-dark, invisible ink, chalkboard ink, heat sensitive ink, and light sensitive ink. I bought a shirt from them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Steven Chu on the Internet

Video of his talk at MIT

At first, the talk is kinda boring, and I kept losing track of his points. But when he starts talking about Bell Labs, it gets really exciting. He is an engineer's engineer! He talks about recreating the kind of environment that produced great research at Bell Labs and how it's important to invest in r&d. The tasks can be specific and targeted towards an application, but given the right kind of environment the lab should also be able to generate a lot of fundamental science and tools for engineering, not just the product itself.

He also nerds it out about certain projects that he likes. Even if I don't agree with all his endorsements for technologies to pursue, I really appreciate that he actually has a grasp on the science of how they work. I also believe that as long as funding is in r&d, the best ideas will have opportunities to prove themselves.

The only thing I am concerned about is if there is too much focus on technology and not enough on the way we live and do business. Even if we make buildings 90% more efficient, for example, if it simply allows people to live in bigger buildings, we'll still be using the same amount of energy. However, I have to acknowledge that Chu is the Energy Secretary not the Sustainability Secretary. But then, really now, who is the Sustainability Secretary? The EPA?


I have Strengths too! My Top 5


It’s very likely that you surround yourself with lovely things. These have the power to soothe, calm, energize, and inspire you. The arts or nature itself enhances your sense of well-being. You probably pay attention to your environment because you choose to live each moment to its fullest. Driven by your talents, you sometimes let events unfold on their own terms without attempting to shape every outcome. This partially explains why you can play games without paying very much attention to the score. By nature, you avoid individuals who work non-stop, never taking a break. You refuse to rush headlong from one activity to the next. You are quite comfortable dealing with change, surprises, and unexpected problems. Why? While you appreciate schedules and plans, you recognize when it is wise to deviate — that is, turn away — from them. Because of your strengths, you are quite comfortable letting the
day’s events and people’s demands determine what really deserves your attention.
Instinctively, you perform quite well in situations where shifting priorities and changing plans are the norm. You have a gift for reacting in the moment rather than delaying action.

Chances are good that you may be guided by the notion that no one can live life without some help from others. Perhaps this idea compels you to consider how what you do and say affect people you know and individuals you will never meet. It’s very likely that you often are the one who helps people understand how they are linked across time, distance, race, ethnicity, religion, economic levels, languages, or cultures. You make it possible for individuals to work together. You aim to break down barriers that separate them. Because of your strengths, you routinely isolate facts that link ideas, events, or people. You are especially sensitive to how one person’s optimistic or negative thoughts can affect the entire human family. This
prompts you to pay close attention to what individuals and groups think and do. By nature, you may trust you can deal with whatever happens. Perhaps you rely on your core values to sustain you in the face of uncertainty. The principles by which you live might permit you to accept life’s unexpected and unpredictable occurrences. Driven by your talents, you may get to know people individually in your quest to gain wisdom. Discovering the qualities that distinguish someone from everyone else might be an essential aspect of your search for truth.


Because of your strengths, you occasionally collect bits and pieces of information. At the time, the value of this material may not be apparent. In specific cases, you have found it useful to turn to some specialists for help. Perhaps these individuals can provide you with enough direction so you can ask some questions, render a few decisions, or try to map courses of action without upsetting anyone in the process. You avoid angering certain people by consulting with them before doing anything. Instinctively, you welcome opportunities to acquire additional knowledge and new skills. From a practical perspective, ongoing education allows you to take advantage of experiences or engage in activities for the first time. You are comfortable knowing that others are informed about these training sessions. Not making this
news available to everyone probably strikes you as unjust or elitist — that is, snobbish. Chances are good that you exhibit a wholesome sense of doubt. Typically you ask lots of questions before you take a position, form an opinion, agree with an action, or embrace an idea. Your thinking process is practical and matter-of-fact. You usually avoid conflict by taking things under consideration before siding with a person or a group. Undoubtedly, you give equal attention to various points of view before endorsing one course of action. It’s very likely that you accept the ongoing challenge of equalizing the amount of time you spend on key parts of your life. For practical reasons, you do not want any one thing to consume every minute of your day. Thus, you choose to handle personal and professional problems logically. You deal with facts unemotionally. You intentionally minimize conflict between people by
not taking sides. Instead, you make them aware of things as they actually are. You emphasize what they have in common. Patiently, you move adversaries toward peaceable solutions and general agreement. By nature, you occasionally desire to amass knowledge. Being somewhat practical, you might turn to particular specialists for their insights, information, or guidance. It is not your style to make certain people think you know everything. Instead, you may want to arrive at correct conclusions and make proper decisions. By seeking the counsel of a few wise and experienced individuals, maybe you discover common ground and avoid disagreements.


By nature, you might be acutely aware of how certain teammates perceive your abilities. Perhaps you know what they think of you as a person. Maybe these insights allow you to earn their confidence so you can contribute to the group’s success. Instinctively, you are sometimes aware of the opinions people have of you. Maybe you know when individuals approve or disapprove of your contributions, accomplishments, talents, shortcomings, words, or deeds. It’s very likely that you may select unusual words to describe your ideas or feelings. Perhaps your extensive vocabulary allows you to capture people’s interest. Because of your strengths, you sometimes are sensitive to what certain individuals think of you. This sensitivity might motivate you to do certain things better than you have in the past. Chances are good that you regard yourself as logical and reasonable. You spontaneously reduce mechanisms, processes, proposals, ideas, or formulas to their basic parts. You figure out how
the pieces interrelate. Your discoveries tell you why something does or does not function the way it should.


Driven by your talents, you are intentional and purposeful about what you do. “Rash” and “impulsive” are not adjectives most people would use to describe you. Typically you think through things thoroughly before speaking or acting. By nature, you tend to be businesslike in your approach to personal and professional issues. Because of your strengths, you sometimes take time to reflect on what people say, reaching conclusions only after thoughtfully weighing the information, rather than reacting to the moment. Your practicality might have a sobering effect on certain types of discussions. Now and then, you intensify your own or other people’s capacity to consider “the bigger picture.” Chances are good that you might present yourself as a no-nonsense person to certain people. Sometimes this perception is amplified
when you acquire additional knowledge or skills in your area of specialization. Perhaps this proficiency enhances your ability to perform your job, progress in your studies, pursue your hobbies, or plan your travel. By nature, you have a strong, no-nonsense, sober side to your personality. It explains why you often engage in conversations that delve into weighty or philosophical matters. You like to think deeply and carefully about various issues. Then you want to talk with serious-minded people who can help you explore, expand upon, question, or modify your thinking. It’s very likely that you periodically choose to keep certain facts about your life to yourself. You might avoid some jobs, projects, or titles, especially when they
cause you to be regarded as a public figure.

Finding My Strengths

I bought this book Strengths Finder. This is what they found.

Your Signature Themes

Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.

A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.
Your Signature Themes report presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder. Of the 34 themes measured, these are your "top five."

Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes. By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.


The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.


“When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.


You want to be very significant in the eyes of other people. In the truest sense of the word you want to be recognized. You want to be heard. You want to stand out. You want to be known. In particular, you want to be known and appreciated for the unique strengths you bring. You feel a need to be admired as credible, professional, and successful. Likewise, you want to associate with others who are credible, professional, and successful. And if they aren’t, you will push them to achieve until they are. Or you will move on. An independent spirit, you want your work to be a way of life rather than a job, and in that work you want to be given free rein, the leeway to do things your way. Your yearnings feel intense to you, and you honor those yearnings. And so your life is filled with goals, achievements, or qualifications that you crave. Whatever your focus—and each person is distinct—your Significance theme will keep pulling you upward, away from the mediocre toward the exceptional. It is the theme that keeps you reaching.
Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others. Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you. You are not frightened by confrontation; rather, you know that confrontation is the first step toward resolution. Whereas others may avoid facing up to life’s unpleasantness, you feel compelled to present the facts or the truth, no matter how unpleasant it may be. You need things to be clear between people and challenge them to be clear-eyed and honest. You push them to take risks. You may even intimidate them. And while some may resent this, labeling you opinionated, they often willingly hand you the reins. People are drawn toward those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction. Therefore, people will be drawn to you. You have presence. You have Command.


You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information—whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson—to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.

Turn Garbage into Energy

Popular Science has an article on the technology of plasma converters, which uses supercharged plasma (lots of ions generated from air) to reduce trash to its molecular compounds, such as hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and converts these to fuel. It is self-sustaining and can generate net excess of energy. The investment is supposed to be returned in 10 years. Anyway, it is really interesting, and would help reduce our landfills, which would be awesome!

Triple Bottom Line

Environmental, economic, and social concerns are now sometimes referred to as the "triple bottom line." This idea has been gaining popularity, but many people, even those who work on environmental or social issues still believe that you can only work on one or the other and that it's a trade-off. While I think that this sentiment means that I need to be able to describe my own interests in a more precise way, I completely disagree that these three concerns are at opposition with each other, and that way of thinking disturbs me.

Sustainability in Education

President's Climate Commitment

I really like this wording.
We currently view health,
social, economic, political, security, population, environmental, and other major societal issues as
separate, competing, and hierarchical when they are really systemic and interdependent. The current
educational system is largely reinforcing the current unhealthy, inequitable and unsustainable path that
society is pursuing. This is not intentional – it is because of disciplinary predominance and an implicit
assumption that the earth will be the gift that keeps on giving, providing the resources, assimilating our
wastes and mitigating negative impacts, ad infinitum. Twenty‐first century challenges must be
addressed in a systemic, integrated, and holistic fashion.

Implementing an integrated education is really difficult, though, and some classes that have attempted to do that have been cheesy. I am even skeptical of having a sustainability major since I do not want it to erode the rigor of a normal technical class.

Main ideas from the guide are to
1. have partnerships with the local community.
2. lateral vigor acress disciplines in addition to vertical rigor within them

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek Updated

Really, Star Trek never looked very good when it was on TV back in the day. or perhaps I was too young and immature to understand it, or perhaps my english wasn't even good enough. At any rate, the 2009 movie is really good! And while Spock is still portrayed as a nerd, he is an athletic nerd with a hot girlfriend. I think the times are changing.

Stephen Chu @ MIT

whoa! Also, turns out Stephen Chu's parents were MIT alum, go figure.

Agree to Healthcare Reform

In an ironic political twist, healthcare providers, pharma, and medical devices have agreed that the cost of healthcare need to go down and that they want to be part of the solution. Now to lock them in and see that they follow through with it. Very exciting all in all, though.

Subprime Deal with Godman Sachs

Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley pursued Goldman Sachs and reached a deal with them for creating the subprime market even though they knew the loans they were making were doomed to begin with.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lucky Vitamin

I ordered a bunch of all-natural stuff (or mostly all-natural) at Lucky Vitamin, we'll see how they work out. I did get a shampoo that has methylparaben in it, but it's the 2nd to last ingredient listed (so I assume there is very little of it). Mostly, it seemed like the best product for the price. And since my Dove shampoo is all chemicals, any sort of improvement is good.

The other thing I wanted to do was look up anything on the natural ingredients, to see if any of that stuff is bad for you at all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


this is what i need


The toxicity of SLS is unconfirmed. The most that research papers say is that it is a skin irritant. Then again, there are very few studies on clinical effects of longterm topical exposure to SLS. In the lab, we know that SDS causes respiratory problems if it's breathed in and someone wrote on a recipe card (for making the SDS solution) that SDS is carcinogenic. Then again, we use ethidium bromide (EtBr) in the lab and it is carcinogenic. And I've touched that buffer plenty of times (on accident)...

So I looked into parabens. Wiki talks about low estrogenic activity of parabens and how it is found in breast tumor tissue, but that doesn't lead to any legitimate conclusions. I looked at, where all biological research papers (including public health, toxicology, and psychology) are databased. There are numerous studies on parabens, and I'm reading one of the articles right now. This review basically says that the parabens do enter your skin and bloodstream, and parabens and their metabolic byproducts have been found in human blood and urine samples. There are esterases in your skin that can break down the parabens, but they are easily saturated, so most of the parabens that are absorbed through your skin are not metabolized (or broken down).

There are many compounds with estrogen-like activity, and these are known as oestrogens. Parabens have weak oestrogenic activity, meaning they cause some of the same effects as estrogen and bind to the same receptor.

Epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies over more than a century cofirm that oestrogen plays a central role in the development, progression and treatment of breast cancer (Miller, 1996; Lonning, 2004), which brings into question potential interactions from environmental chemicals which can enter the human breast and which can mimic oestrogen action. All the widely used paraben esters have now been shown to possess oestrogenic activity in assay systems in vitro [cellular assays] and in vivo [animal studies] and a list of the many studies from different laboratories was published in 2004 (Harvey and Darbre, 2004), updated in 2006 (Harvey and Everett, 2006) and has been further updated here.

...In addition, studies have shown that the common metabolite of paraben esters phydroxybenzoic acid (see Fig. 1) also possesses oestrogenic activity in both in vitro and in vivo assays (Table 2). Thus, whilst shortening of the alkyl [CH2 chain] group in the paraben ester was already known by 2004 to reduce oestrogenic activity, more recent work has shown that complete removal of the alkyl grouping reduces activity still further but does not eradicate all oestrogenicity.

The article goes on to talk about how, even though parabens have weak oestrogenic activity that could have little clinical implications, there has to be more work done to look into whether or not parabens could reach full agonist response with lower concentration over longer period of time. They then went on to look at anti-androgenic activity of parabens in male reproductive systems. Lastly, the article talks about a potential role of parabens in skin cancer:

...methylparaben and ethylparaben can induce oxidative stress in skin after reaction with singlet oxygen (O2) in visible light... However, the report that methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes ... poses more serious questions concerning potentially genotoxic effects of methylparaben applied in cosmetics to human skin when exposed to sunlight. This is important in the context of the use of methylparaben in sunscreen products and the continued uncertainty as to whether there is a positive or negative association between sunscreen use and development of human skin cancers.

So yeah, that's enough for me to avoid parabens. And I don't need any further skin troubles, so no SLS either. I think I should also look into plant oils and the stuff they use in paraben-free, SLS-free products to see if they have any toxicity issues similar to these compounds.

Personal WiFi on the Go

This is what I need!

Shiny Happy People

MIT Clean Energy Prize

The winners will be announced today. These projects look promising perhaps.

DC Weekend

perfect timing

nothing to see here


kinetic sculpture race

ford the river?

dashing young man

dashing young man taking a sip

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Chemical Free

My coworker told me that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and parabens are found in almost all personal cleaning products, like body wash, soap, and shampoos. But they are really bad for you. Anything that you apply to your skin will get absorbed into your bloodstream. SLS is the same thing as sodium dodecyl sulfate, a reagent we use in bio research. The function of SDS is to denature proteins so that you can run them on a gel and see if your protein of interest is there. So proteins are usually folded up in a certain configuration, and SDS is negatively charged, so it interacts with all positively charged amino acids and binds, unfolding the protein. And protein structure = function. I'm not sure of the clinical implications of SLS, but companies use it because it is very foamy and sudsy and we all love suds so we pay for it.

I was reading that all of the chemicals in most commercial shampoos are really bad for your hair, and can create chemical buildup and you can start losing your hair. And I think this might be happening to me... I was using Dove for the longest time b/c it kept my hair shiny and smooth and smelling fresh. But lately my hair has been brittle and thin and easily sheds and Dove isn't really working anymore. I'm not sure if it's the oxidative Los Angeles sun and air, or if it's the Dove. But I'm definitely switching to chemical-free.

Parabens are some type of cancer-causing chemical, I'm not really sure what they do. But anyway, the less industrial chemicals... the better for me. I tried this all-natural, organic soap:

And it is really awesome! It leaves my skin feeling super smooth. So I'm looking into replacing my shampoos and conditioners too. I found this site that has a pretty good collection of chemical-free stuff.

Oh yeah, I think I am going to get the shampoo on that link, since it's the cheapest and seems promising.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4 Youth Day

Today is May 4, the anniversary of the 1919 May 4 Movement. It was a really interesting anti-imperialism, anti-feudalistic, new culture, patriotic movement spearheaded by educated youth. It is important to the understanding of modern China and the roots of the Communist Party. It's now National Youth Day.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I'm interested in branding for nonprofits and progressive causes. Who's your target audience? What's your message? Whats the best way to convey this message? It'd be interesting to look at successful brands, such as Obama's and the current Democratic party vs. the failing GOP brand. But I don't know if I have the skills for being a good brander. I've just started looking into it. And also, I have this other belief that people will be able to understand which is the good policy without branding, but with substance. But hey, the Obama brand just made me like him even more. So maybe it has more value than I'd think. I just don't like the thought of paying $50 for the brand, when the real value is only like $1. But that's for retail. But it's similar for other things. Branding has that degree of psychological manipulation... But then again everything you say to people, every argument you present, is a form of psychological manipulation. And I want to be manipulative anyway, or at least have those skills to convince people of things when I need to.


For some reason, I thought of Pinocchio today and started reading about the original storyon Wikipedia. I've never read it before. It is strange.