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  • 12:26 am on April 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    The southern Indian Ocean is huge. When I learned that there was a small set of islands smack right in the middle of it called the Kerguelen Islands, with the apt alternate name of Desolation Islands, I was strangely hooked. I kept thinking of how cold and helpless the place was, and how lost it would feel to experience a shipwreck and wash ashore this island. It felt extremely scary and helpless, and for some reason I was fascinated. I combed through a bunch of Wikipedia entries and photos of the island.

    The island is more than 2,000 miles away from a continent, in any direction – Africa, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent. Unlike islands sprinkled throughout the Pacific Ocean, which everyone knows is huge, this one has a strange appeal. I just imagine the huge swatch of ocean extending from South Africa to Antarctica to be unexpectedly huge, with cold, merciless giant waves. South Africa under the Apartheid government is said to have experimented nuclear weapons in this ocean in the 80’s. Also, islands in the Pacific are at least in general not too far from another island. Kerguelen Islands is 800 miles away from the nearest island with people in it.

    And that’s how the Thalassophobia subreddit became a favorite, and I spent multiple days hooked to a space simulator called SpaceEngine. The universe is so huge, and there are so many strange stars and formations. One of the most intense staring experiences in the simulator is Sagitarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. (Does it mean it’s holding the galaxy together, in a way, with its gravity?) It’s 25,000 light years from the earth.

    As an extension of the lost far away in the ocean scale, Sgr A* is an excellent candidate – it’s a very well known black hole, so there is plenty of material to read about on the internet; it’s hopelessly far from Earth (but not senselessly far, like some other galaxy – it’s still in the Milky Way) so if you get to see it with your bare eyes, there is no hope of returning to Earth or making it out alive; and its huge accretion disk, with its incredible amounts of matter that is spinning near light speed and therefore extremely hot and violent, casts a sense of doom. If you get close enough to this thing, you will not only suffer spaghettification near the event horizon due to tidal forces, but just become a microscopic part of a cosmic scale storm.

    Today, an international group of astronomers released a photo that depicts the event horizon, black hole shadow, accretion disk, and accretion disk doppler effect(I think?) of Sgr A*. Looking at it in SpaceEngine felt scary, but now with such a close up shot, it feels especially deadly.

    First Images of Black Holes!

    Watch this video on YouTube.

    Veritasium did a video one day before the release predicting its shape (which was generally known information) and using very simple techniques to explain some characteristics of the expected photo.

    How to Understand the Image of a Black Hole

    Watch this video on YouTube.
     
  • 9:43 am on April 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    What, we mispelled our former Executive Director’s name?

    Oh lol. Carry on then. I looks like your automated spam script failed to account for diversity within the English speaking world. Systemic mistakes like these can ruin your spam product’s non-existing credibility.

     

     
  • 7:35 am on April 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    WCKNC Elections Witness Statement 

    I submitted a witness statement to the city regarding what I saw happen at the April 4 WCKNC election for multiple people filing election challenges.

    The following information contained herein is within my own personal knowledge and relates only to facts and circumstances surrounding the Election Challenge submitted by _____________ on ____________ regarding Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council.

    My name is Yongho Kim, and I live in the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council (WCKNC) District 4. My mailing address, 900 Crenshaw Blvd #B, Los Angeles CA 90019, is my workplace where I can receive mail reliably. On April 4, 2019, at 5:40pm I voted at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council elections at the at the polls at Seoul International Park.

    (More …)

     
  • 6:57 pm on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Unidentified partisan canvassing at the WCKNC Elections 

    Yesterday I voted at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council elections at the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council (WCKNC). I went to the polls at Seoul International Park around 5:40pm.

    As I headed to the park gym, I could see two booths – one with personnel who seemed Korean, and another with personnel who seemed.. South Asian? As I walked by them, someone at the Korean booth looked at me. I looked at her.

    • Uh.. is this the election booth?
    • Well… just come over here; we’ll help you.

    She handed me a form that read something along the lines of “Neighborhood Council Voter Registration”.

    • Please fill this out.
    • I already voted in a Neighborhood Council elections before. Do I need to register again?
    • Yeah, you have to.

    She asked me a few questions  to help me fill the form correctly. I also overheard another person telling another voter next to me “they will ask you to point on a map where your house is”.

    I gave her the completed form. Then she said that I could turn that in at the polling site, and gave me a paper with a list of candidates. It was not a paper with all the candidates on it – just a few that apparently they were campaigning for.

    She said “I’m giving you these names for your consideration.. just as a reference” (In Korean: “이 후보들을 고려해주세요.. 참고만 하시라구요”) So then I asked her, “are you with the official elections administration?”. She fumbled the answer, and then said “Just go in and please vote”, and again adding “consider those candidates”.

    (More …)

     
  • 8:32 am on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Live Korean viewer comments during the Hanoi summit 

    I watched a bit the US-DPRK Summit of yesterday, towards the end, after people had left for the expanded meeting and reporters were wondering why they were getting delayed beyond their original schedule, until the no deal debacle that followed soon thereafter.

    I watched it on JTBC, one of Korea’s post-media reform (2009) TV channel on their YouTube livestream. Unlike last year, they enabled viewer comments (I don’t remember exactly but last year in Singapore I think they didn’t enable it?) 19,000 viewers were watching at that point. I thought the lively live comments were pretty interesting.

    First, there was the continuous political spam of people both in support and opposition of Korea’s Democratic Party and the current president Moon. These looked almost like copypastas given how long they were, with a healthy dose of seemingly typed ones as well. Things like “Moon is a commie, just give the country to Jong Un ee” (against Moon), “Abe equals Park geunhye equals the Liberty Democratic Party equals Hong Joon pyo equals Choi Soon Sil equals extreme right equals Abe Shinjo equals sellouts” (for…?), “Just send the army and conquer North Korea” (against), some rants on current political developments in South Korea, etc.

    The political spam was not enough to overwhelm non-spammy comments, who were typing what they felt or their critique. A lot of people sounded pretty angry on both sides.

    When the broadcast consisted of four panel members from JTBC, who had flown to Hanoi and set up a mini outdoor “studio” atop the roof of some tall building, overlooking Hanoi’s city skylines, in a manner similar to how Son Suk Hee had flown to Singapore and set up a similar outdoor studio last year. So instead of having the panelists comment from the indoor studio, they would be quasi “reporting”, “from the front lines”. Maybe it would also help with the 1-2 second awkward netwotk comms delays that happen when the studio panel is trying to talk to the reporter from the field? Some of the viewers were a bit perplexed by this unusual choice of venue.

    People sounded pretty hopeful in the beginning, saying things like “well I have a hunch that things will be spectacularly good”, “you know what? the peace declaration is already a done deal. SK and NK declared it last year in April, China declared it too, now all that is left today is the US and North Korea”, or asking other viewers “hey, i just came in, what’s going on? And what’s with the view of the empty room?”. The panelists didn’t seem to be monitoring the YouTube comment (almost no TV channel does that yet) but the viewers would talk to each other. Praising Moon, insluting Moon, etc.

    Viewers were also upset with the panelists, as some of the panelists apparently had a cynical tone towards the whole event. “Hey who is that guy panelist, he keeps talking about the summnit as if wishing ill to it”, “these panelists, man, they talk about this as if it wasw sone random country unreklated to us”, “god i hate this panelist”, “well, this can’t be helkped because JTBC felt they needed to represent “all political spectrums”, “Panelist X is so talkative now that he’s not with Son Suk HEe (the CEO of JTBC and renowned liberal/progressive commentator – Son Suk Hee led the panel in the Singapore summit’s broadcast)

    As the delays started coming in, people started wondering “hey what is this delay about”, “isn’t a delay a good thing? it means that people got inmmnerse in the negotiation talks, there is serious talk going on”, “I’m not sure this is a good thing”. Or even “This is the usual Trump surprise show thing – they want to put some tension first, then surprise their audience with an unexpected good outcome”. Panelists were also worried and were starting to take guesses on the reason and asking reporters on the field “do you see ANY sign of anything, cars moving, white house staff said anything, any of the non-korean reporters there saying anything, what is the mood in the press pool”

    Then the news broke that a CNN reporter had tweeted “the expanded conference lunch may get cancelled and there may be no signing ceremony, just heard from the white house”, which drove panelists and viewers even more nervous. One panelist remarked “hey, isn’t it disrespectful to diplomatic customs to give any word about the negotiations when the negotiators are still in the room talking to each other?”. Viewers were worried. Some were typing frantically “Guys, don’t believe the media. Only trust the primary sources. All of this media blabla is bullshit”. There was a lot of chat throughout and peoples’ chats were only visibile for 0.5 second before it would slide up wioth the new chat. So sometimes people would copy their chat and paste it multiple times (like every 2 seconds or something) to try to be read by more viewers. The above “don’t trust the media” was one of them. The pro Moon and anti Moon spam was still mixed in with the chat. Some of the political spam was evolving “Omg, President Roh please come back from the dead and save us!” (I assume mocking tone), “Moon is screwed now. Impeach Moon!”

    Throughout the next 20 minutesthe panelists frantically tried to get any information they could get from all their sources – checking pasts statements from KJU and DJT, asking repoirters they had places around the hotel for any movement, any mood from other reporters, anything unusual, was security moving in any direction, etc.

    Then it was finally announced that the signing ceremony was cancelled, that both presidents had left the hotel, and it was unclear whether the press conference was happenning. News also broke that there had been no deal. Vieweres could see in the screen that some reporters were pakcing up ready to leave the press conferenhce location.

    Then Trump showed up for his press conference. And as he talked through the talking point and answered reporters questions, the viewers just exploded. Korean viewers are used to watching highly nuanced press conferences when it’s a delicate topic, where everything is the topic of analysis, by viewers and pundits alike: what is the color of the tie, is the speaker agitated or calm, do they look relaxed or upset, what word was chosen as the opening sentence, what types of key words are emerging, etc. I guess some of the viewers were watching Trump speak live, unedited, for the first time. “Holy shit he’s talking US domestic politics”, “here he goes bragging again”, “just get to the point”, “What does Venezuela have anythinhg to do with this”. Viewers were very upset that Trump kept mentioning Abe Shinjo, since that would seem to indicate Abe had orchestrtated this outcome. “Wow, Abe had this much power? damn”.

    Viewers were also surprised at how fast the Korean translation was. There was both a word-by-word typed interpretation going on in the screen, whiel also a spoken interpreter was talking at bullet speed.

    More later..

     
  • 7:01 pm on February 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    one disadvantage to watching stuff with captions is that they spoil the song that starts playing real low volume a full 10 seconds before you can identify the main melodic line

     
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