Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Voting Machines That Can't Count

Apparently, the Sequoia voting machines used in the New Jersey primary can't count quite right. I don't understand how we entrust our elections to companies that don't have to disclose their software source code to be audited. Who knows what kind of mistakes the machine is making when it makes such a basic error? Plus, nobody will ever know but them?

Sequoia's explanation of the problem reveals a kind of idiocy to their software design. Why, when creating software that's sole job is to count, would you make the machine "best fit" any choice, whether by the poll worker or the voter. I mean what if a voted pressed a non-sensical button and the machine just arbitrarily picked a candidate on the person's behalf that it judged to be the "best fit?"

Additionally, apparently, they are blaming further discrepancies on people misreading 9s and 8s for each other. When your machine's sole job is to count votes and print out a verifiable record of those votes, shouldn't you make sure the printed out record is legible? You should choose higher quality output printing mechanisms than the extremely low resolution dot matrix printer that they seem to have chosen. On top of that, you should choose a font with unambiguous characters so that partially printed characters are still distinguishable in almost every case. When an 8 and a 9 are only visually distinct by one dot that the printer has a 10% chance of not drawing, then we have a problem.

While I'm not sure hand counting ballots is any better, having such blatant mistakes certainly doesn't make these election results any more trustworthy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Korean Baby Singing "Hey Jude"

My friend sent me this video of a Korean baby singing "Hey Jude." It's just kind of cute, really. It's also quite funny that a baby can be so into The Beatles without even knowing English.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

State Secrets

While there are certain circumstances under which I can accept that the government can refuse to submit certain evidence to court because it constitutes some sort of "state secret," it's fairly clear that this doctrine has been abused under the Bush administration.

This is a great write up about what's been happening in Oregon to the American branch of an Islamic charity called Al Haramain. The government accidentally disclosed proof that it was wire tapping the organization and then rendered this proof inadmissible by citing "state secrets." It's pretty much known that the government was indeed wire tapping the organization, however, this cannot be a factor in the court case.

Isn't this a great country where the government can do whatever they want and not be held accountable in court anymore?

Bush's Crusade

The war in Iraq has always seemed to be a bit of a "crusade" as Bush inappropriately called it early on. Apparently even among our soldiers, there is some religious discrimination against non Christians. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Under Bush's reign, the line has gotten more and more blurred.

Religious freedom should be one of our nation's basic tenets. The virulent and intolerant nature of most religions must be held in check by our government or we risk becoming a theocracy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dirty Harry Video Game Was Highly Anticipated?

This list of the most anticipated games that you will never get to play caught my eye because number 7 on the list was "Dirty Harry." I worked on that game! I had to check out what they had to say on it.

"So is there any chance it'll come out?
Sadly, the game was never as far along as that trailer makes it look (Warner Bros. just had an animation team cook up the trailer for marketing purposes, none of that was gameplay) and the project never really got off the ground."

Sadly, that's pretty close to the truth. I mean we did have more gameplay than they said but the terrible game engine that they have at The Collective Studios was really a huge obstacle to making the game fun.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Scientology Sounds So Far-Fetched....

I honestly have a hard time understanding why anybody would follow Scientology. People have leaked internal documents that make it sound so absurd:


Seriously, just do some basic research on L. Ron Hubbard. Here we have a science fiction writer who "made comments about starting a religion to make money rather than writing fiction." In the leaked documents, we get this story about some extraterrestrial dude named Xenu who dumped a bunch of folks inside volcanoes on earth 75 million years ago or something. That's not even good science fiction. I can see how he came to the conclusion that he should make a religion to make money instead of continuing to write fiction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Torturing Animals As Art?

This dude named Guillermo Habacuc Vargas apparently starved a dog he got off the street to death in front of people at a gallery as "art."

Snopes has the story as undetermined... However, this blog claims the artist himself admitted on his myspace page that the dog died. On top of that, apparently one of the artist's student has tried to surpass his teacher by biting a live chicken and cat and drinking their blood.

Wow, how the hell is this art? It's kind of lame to define art as things that provoke a response from the audience. At some point a line must be drawn, or isn't human torture some sort of art too?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Net Neutrality

One of the things we take for granted these days is "Net Neutrality." This is the principle that internet users are provided equal access to anything on the internet. However, some ISPs are working toward the ability to regulate content. Imagine the potential future where you can't access your favorite sites because those sites refused to pay your ISP. Imagine if websites critical of a certain politician were somehow blacklisted by ISPs by a simple bidding process.

There's a growing movement to try to protect Net Neutrality. Increasing awareness is always a good step to preventing this sort of potential problem.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wasting Food

It annoys me to no end to see restaurants (and customers) waste food. The demand for food worldwide has been increasing faster than our ability to produce food has increased. Why are people so wasteful?

On several occasions, I've been in Chipotle, when the person ahead of me changed their mind about their order. The Chipotle employee was left with a mostly made burrito (or whatever) that he couldn't really do anything with so they just throw it in the trash. This rubs me the wrong way because I'm someone who has voluntarily given up eating meat for the sake of the world whereas the person right next to me not only is consuming meat, but is throwing meat straight into the garbage.

I understand that the restaurant would rather please the customer so the customer comes back again at the cost of wasting some food. However, it seems kind of silly that a customer could theoretically change his mind multiple times and waste many times the actual ingredient cost of what he purchases with no penalty. I'm not exactly sure what could be done except that the customers need to change their attitude toward food.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lama, Llama, Lllama

I was chatting with a friend today and I accidentally misspelled "llama" as "lllama" and this classic Ogden Nash poem came to mind.

'The Lama'

The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.*

-- Ogden Nash