June 22, 2004

Complex Origami as art

The New York Times > Science > Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life

A really wonderful article on computational origami and Dr. David Huffman. Computational origami involves high topographical mathematics, which is cool; but some of the structures made by Dr. Huffman are just flabbergasting. Well worth a read. Reminds me of Dr. Tom Kuhn and yo-yos.
Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2004

Phone Lobbyist Calls Employee/Representative On Florida House Floor To Pressure Him

Call by phone official draws ire in House via News Of The Weird

Really, this article should be in "News of How Slimy Lobbyists Are". Florida, like a lot of states, has a part-time legislature. One of Florida's Representatives is employed by BellSouth, and recieved a call on the House floor pressuring him to vote opposite of what he was going to do, from BellSouth. Reportedly, he was near tears, and his fellow Representatives were outraged at the BellSouth VP/lobbyist's tactics.

How utterly slimy can you get.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gambling Systems More Secure Than Voting Systems

The New York Times > Opinion > Making Votes Count: Gambling on Voting via Blogdex

Why are gambling systems more secure than voting systems? The article has some good points, not the least of which is the one we've seen in Georgia:

Manufacturers are intensively scrutinized before they are licensed to sell gambling software or hardware... When it comes to voting machine manufacturers, all a company needs to do to enter the field is persuade an election official to buy its equipment.

Georgia's Secretary Of State seems to have gotten a burr under her saddle about electronic voting, especially since she "updated" the whole state to this new system. I've read about various attempts from people in the state to convince the Secretary that her position was untenable -- most of which were met with silence.

Me, I'm voting by absentee ballot.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 08:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Something That's Bugged Me...

CNN.com - 'Shrek 2' now top-grossing animated film - Jun 14, 2004

Every time I see a "largest-grossing" banner like this, I think, "Well, so what. Movie ticket prices have increased as the value of the dollar has decreased over time. The gross, therefore, will have to be larger, so it's another Meaningless Statistic(TM)."

But it's not like you can't measure the number of tickets sold. I mean, each box office will count the number of sold tickets, just for it's own sake. So why not measure the "best film" by number of tickets sold?

Granted, there's more theaters now than there were 10, 20, or 50 years ago -- but there's also more people in the US. If you're really a fanatic, get number of tickets divided by population at the time. That's at least more objective than comparing a movie that made $1 million in 1950, and a movie that made $100 million in 2000.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 07:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2004

Andy Ihnatko's Not-A-Republican-National-Convention-Drinking-Game

AI's CWoB: YellowText

Any Ihnatko has *not* published a Republican National Convention Drinking Game. He just happens to have put up... let's say, a set of advisory conditions under which you would be advised to imbibe alcohol, most of which would occur during a large gathering of people particularly enthused with Ronald Reagan.

Although if it *were* such a drinking game, it would be an excellent beginning.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

When Is A Year Not A Year?

The New York Times > Washington > U.S. Wrongly Reported Drop in World Terrorism in 2003

This is just stupid now... how in the hell do you take in only *part* of a year, when doing a yearly assessment of something?

Among the mistakes, Mr. Boucher said, was that only part of 2003 was taken into account.
Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Reagan-esque Moment For Certian.

CNN.com - Bush says he never authorized illegal interrogations - Jun 10, 2004

Well, it seems our president does admire Reagan; Bush is taking a cue from his predecessor's playbook:

Asked whether he has seen the memos, Bush replied, "I can't remember if I've seen the memo or not." But he reiterated that he had instructed that the treatment of terror suspects stay within U.S. and international laws.

So, if you can't remember it, you're safe.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2004

Today's Lesson In Democracy...

I, Visa - Why is U.S. immigration terrorizing British reporters? By Dahlia Lithwick

If you can change the rules any time you like them, you've got all the power you want.

Case in point:

Last week a British reporter was detained by immigration officials ... she didn't know that a decades-old unenforced rule was suddenly being enforced ... There has been a rule on the books since 1952 requiring foreign journalists to obtain special "I visas," but foreign journalists say it was invariably ignored by [INS] officials who required only that citizens of friendly countries apply for a visa waiver...

What's wrong with requiring foreign journalists to have a special press visa, you ask? Why shouldn't they have to show that they are here for good and benign reasons? Well, for one thing, we don't require most tourists from these friendly nations to obtain visas.

OK, now let's examine this really, really carefully. First, if I'm trying to stop bad people from entering the country, and I stop only journalists, the bad people are going to..? That's right, not call themselves journalists. So then the bad guys call themselves tourists, and get in for free, while real journalists get harrassed.

So what's the point of this? Only one thing: to harrass real journalists. And that, my dear friends, is how to control a population: make sure that no one knows the rules, and no one knows what's happening.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Quick Note on ITunes Lossless Compression

After the release of iTunes 4.5, I delayed installing it a bit. Mostly because I was not interested in having to deal with more bugs, as improvements to software usually have.

A week or two ago, I installed 4.5, and still no problems -- which is nice. It's one of the nicer things about Apple; relatively speaking, their software is not too buggy.

But I have to put out a warning to anyone who's thinking "Apple Lossless Encoder" means "a little bigger than AAC, but better quality". Let me assure you: it's much bigger. Average album size for my MP3s (VBR +128 size, on average), around 40-60 megs. Average for the Apple Lossless: 300 megs.

I'm guessing there's no compression on these files, so no matter how they slice it, it's probably equivelant in size to AIFF files, which makes your 20 GB iPod hold... about 60 albums.

That means one of two things: First, assume that Apple built the ALE encoding scheme on purpose, and wants to get away from so-so MP3 quality to a better quality. With the file size ALE is creating, Apple's either coming out with some MASSIVE iPods (note the rumors floating around about a 60 GB iPod, which is.. well, better, but still only 180 albums.

Or second, Apple's putting this out there just 'cause. At which point, I've got to ask: why bother? AIFF is pretty massive, but if you're such an audiofile that even high-quality MP3/AAC files bug you, you can already use AIFF. Why create a new format?

Lots of fun questions...

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2004

Interesting Article...

Capitol Hill Blue: Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides and Bush Knew About Leak Of CIA Operative's Name

I'm posting these because they're interesting. Not necessarily true, just interesting. It's hard to tell exactly who Doug Thompson is, what kind of experience he has, or what kind of website he's running. He states he's been on a number of papers, but a quick Google search brings up little aside from his own sites.

But let's assume that he's on the level; let's assume that his sources are on the level. The first one states that Bush is being erratic, and quoting God one minute and then throwing "obscene tantrums".

Um... this guy has the power to launch nuclear bombs. That's not good. I'll leave you to ponder the implications.

The second one, as well, is a little disturbing. Basically, this would mean Bush would have committed a felony which carries up to 10 years in prison. And if he and Karl Rove knew about it and covered it up, I know from my copious years of watching "Law and Order" that this probably would also include conspiracy charges. Among other things.

It's fascinating to note that all of these are coming out during the election year. I suspect that it's not a coincidence; but let's face it, Clinton had similar problems during his candidacy. I don't think the media's biased: I think they're just willing to post any story that they can find, which will make headlines.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2004

iPod into Honda

Ben’s Weblog… » iPod Install in 2001 Honda Civic

A way to install your iPod directly into your Honda's stereo. Definitely check it out.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack