Sunday, April 28, 2002

Joke from the mails

10. White House is not big enough for in-laws and the relatives.

9. Not enough parking spaces at White House for 2 Honda Civics, Toyota
Celica, 1985 Mercedes Benz Diesel, BMW (big mean wife) and MPV (My Pinoy
Van) and the jeepney owner..

8. Dignitaries generally intimidated by eating with fingers at state

7. Too many dining rooms in the White House (Where will they put the last
supper picture?

6. White House walls not big enough to hold giant wooden spoon and fork.

5. Secret Service staff won't respond to "psssst, psssst."

4. Secret service staff uncomfortable driving presidential car with rosary
hanging on the rear view mirror or the statuette of Santo Nino on the

3. No budget allocation to purchase karaoke machines on every White House

2. State dinners do not allow "Take Home".


1. AIR FORCE ONE does not allow overweight balikbayan boxes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Robot cameras 'will predict crimes before they happen'

The Independent News of the UK reports that scientists at Kingston University in London have developed software able to anticipate if someone is about to commit a crime. The software, called Cromatica, works by examining images coming in from close circuit television cameras (CCTV) and comparing them to behaviour patterns that have already programmed into its memory. It can then mathematically work out what is likely to happen next. And if it is likely to be a crime it can send a warning signal to a security guard or police officer. Full text of the news here.

These scientists are still at their inductive logic. "If you look like a criminal, act like a criminal, then you are a criminal."
The thought sends me the shivers. Many times I love play acting on the street.Sometimes I imagine myself as a communist cadre about to drop off some important document from the politburo to an innocent looking trash can in the middle of Cubao. Can't do that anymore, I guess.

But really, how many folks out there seem to act like a criminal when they actually are not? It's probably a small percentage of this 60 Million ++ people which still translates to a couple of thousands. Indeed, this way of thinking "you are mathematically what you appear to be" is a real menace. The margin of error is not at all marginal if these scientists will only realize that they are talking about human beings who might as well be their own wives and children. Well, that's the UK. That's their worry. This is the Philippines where the most advanced computers cannot mathematically tell the police from the robbers.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Sick man kills self after long hours on the web

According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a twenty-one year old man killed himself last year after spending long hours playing in Sony's Everquest gaming site. The report said that the 21-year-old Shawn Woolley was addicted to EverQuest. He sacrificed everything so he could play for hours, ignoring his family, quitting his job and losing himself in a 3-D virtual world where more than 400,000 people worldwide adventure in a never-ending fantasy. His mother blames the game for her son's suicide and has hired an attorney to sue the company in an effort to get warning labels put on the games. "It's like any other addiction," Elizabeth Woolley said last week. "Either you die, go insane or you quit. My son died." The full text of the news is here.

If this action were to be filed by somebody from the Philippines, it is very likely that it will not prosper. Philippine law considers the man old enough to know what he was doing and to understand that playing on the web to the point of addiction is harmful to himself. To even insinuate that there is a cause and effect between his suicide and his addiction to the online game may even be considered absurd.Was Sony negligent in not posting warnings on its site that playing can cause harm? That is another way of looking at it. Is it possible that Sony's Everquest drove the man to suicide? While in the US people can get rich making this sort of connection, it is not the same in the Philippines where murderers are even paraded as heroes. Yet, it would be interesting to know how the US courts will tackle this first ever action on web addiction against a big company.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

I'm moving to a new server. Please update your bookmarks. Henceforth, we can be read at

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Sixth Grader Might be Expelled for Bringing a Knife to School

News 3 reported that a Madison, Wisconsin sixth grader faces expulsion from his school for bringing a knife.The kid claims he needed it for his science project -- i.e., to cut onions. But the school believes that it should enforce the "Zero Tolerance Rule " for weapons in school.

Chris Schimdt

The report states that Chris Schmidt is a straight-A sixth-grader. He loves school, music and sports, and went to the nation's Capitol as a member of the School Safety Patrol. However, the report said his background is irrelevant for the offense that he has committed. Ms. Valencia Douglas, assistant school superintendent says "We can't say, 'You're a good kid, so your mistake doesn't have as much force, or importance behind it as a kid with other issues,'"

The slant in the news report (full text here) seems to make it appear that the school is being unreasonable. Yet, it is quite possible that the kid intended to threaten somebody with the knife or just brought it for show. With kids these days, you'll never know.

Analyzing the issue further, however, it seems that the problem really is with the rule and not with its application -- assuming there is no other fact but for act of bringing the knife to school. The rule infers criminal intent just by the act of bringing any weapon or weapon-like utensil and punishes the act with a severe penalty. If the school insists on the strict application of its rule, this may be a potential case for violation of the constitutional right to "due process" on account of unreasonableness of the law.