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Infinitesimals

Voicemail has its uses, for example, when one won't be able to pick up the phone for awhile, but needs to relay a message immediately, or when other forms of communication are not possible, i.e. e-mail or texting is inconvenient or irrelevant.

However, I still usually end up ignoring it, thus rendering most of the pros as moot.

(1) Oct 10, 08 - 11:18 AM

On the subject of high school friends, just because you're different, doesn't mean you can't be friends.

(0) Jun 17, 07 - 11:41 PM

Pi is wrong.

Well, actually, maybe it would just be better to use what is currently known as 2*pi. I've always thought it would be easier if sine and cosine had periods that were just pi, not 2pi.

So should pi be 6.283185...? Should pi be the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius, instead of diameter? If so, it would take about 50 years for this to gain any momentum in the mathematical community.

(0) Apr 20, 07 - 1:07 AM

REAL ID

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 | 8:00:42 PM
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The American people may have to carry a national identification with a radio microchip within two years.

The REAL ID Act mandates a national ID to replace drivers licenses (or rather, bring them up to a new defined standard) to be issued to all citizens, residents, etc. Right now, the states issue their own identifications with not much interstate linking. This act forces states to link databases with the new ID.

There's quite a bit of controversy going on, lots of sensationalism surrounding this act. So let's look over that video and try to pick apart this sensationalism. Starting with the over-the-top movie excerpt...

There seems to be heavy emphasis on the potential of ubiquitousness. "Every this every that." This is quite an endeavor. To place a microchip on every single product manufactured on earth? That's a lot of products. That's thus a lot of chips.

And the anonymity of cash? Why doesn't someone just trade bills with others to conserve that anonymity, or at least lower trackability. If a microchip is on every bill, and the bills someone holds are "disabled", what's to stop this informal transaction? How about asking a friend for change for a five? I highly doubt that every person would have a "treasury note transfer system" for such trades. This would require more work than the microchip and more costly still.

Yes. Soviet flag. More sensationalism. Same goes for the Bible quote, but for the opposite connotation.

The pizza order is also laughable. Would a small company have this much access to government records? Even a large company? The extra charges are again more sensationalism. Delivery surcharge for an "orange zone"?

Then patriotic images. He knows for certain what people 200 years ago would think. The last step before implanting? It might be a slippery slope to it, but is it really that close?

Now, do I think that a national ID is a good idea? Hey, if it will get rid of the need for a driver's license, social security number, passport, birth certificate, and whatnot, sure. I don't really see how it's horribly bad. The positive seems to outweigh the negative. It's merely consolidation of everything I just mentioned.

And the radio microchip? It certainly makes these things harder to forge (assuming they'll be checked by the database). RFID (used in the chip) is already used by WalMart, in US Passports, and basically around the world. So it's not really that new of a concept.

Anyway, it's not as if you need your social security number to order pizza, or a driver's license to make a phone call. But it is necessary to have some sort of identifying information to go on an airline, for example. REAL ID is not a big step up to an Orwellian society.

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Freedom of Flag

Monday, November 20, 2006 | 9:24:09 PM
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A town in Nevada bans the flying of foreign flags unless an American flag is shown above it.

And yet we can legally burn American flags?

I'm all for patriotism, but I think this is a little far. I mean, how is it destructive that some foreign flag is displayed as opposed to our banner? It's just helping the people connect with their culture. And anyway, the first amendment protects this sort of symbolic speech. It's not harming anyone.

Why did this law even get passed? If anyone takes it to the Supreme Court, it's going to get completely trampled. I mean, the flag burning amendment still has yet to make it past both houses (and I doubt it would get the required number of states if it did pass the Senate). Some sort of law like this would either be passed just so it could set a precedent in the Supreme Court or because the legislators aren't that up-to-date on our Constitution.

This law was made to fight the Mexican flags that have been popping up around town. Well, there's a difference between Mexico and immigration. Sure, a lot of illegal immigrants come from Mexico, but not all Mexican immigrants are illegal. I'm against illegal immigration, but not immigrants.

You're a grand old flag, but you're not the only one in the world.

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President Bush and (Dis)approval Ratings

Sunday, October 22, 2006 | 11:39:48 PM
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So there's all this about Bush being incompetent, evil, greedy... basically (insert word here). There's all this talk about his approval ratings constantly plummeting.

Is he really a bad president? That is up for debate. He's certainly not the best speaker, with books circulating around filled with spoonerisms and other faux pas.

But not the horse race politics continue, 51% of Americans want Bush impeached (The stats are buried a bit on the second page. Some math involved). But once I read that, I was thinking... do people really know what it means to be impeached? Do people know that impeachements are actually rare? I think that was skewed a bit with Clinton.

Basically, to be impeached means to be put to trial. If the president is impeached, he's still the president. The House impeaches and the Senate handles the trial. It's not easy to actually convict, either. If the Senate is shy of a 2/3 vote, the president will be acquitted and he's still the president.

Impeached != bye bye. Only two presidents have been impeached, neither were convicted. Even Nixon wasn't impeached (granted, he resigned before the House could vote).

But that's politics... sensationalism and mudslinging.

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