Saturday, October 31, 2009

State Budgets By Capita

State budget data was harder to find than I expected.  As in I expected there to be a Wikipedia article for it.  After some searching I found it on the census web page (this link claims to not work, but the URL is right).  It is for the 2006-2007 year.  The population data is the 2008 estimates from Wikipedia.  The GDP per capita I've included just for fun is also from Wikipedia.

I have no idea how the census people qualify revenue and expenditures, but I'd guess they are the most comprehensive definitions possible.  Note that not a single state has greater expenditures than revenue (which isn't true).  Because of this I decided to go with expenditures, as I think they are probably more realistic.  Revenue probably includes things like federal aid.  I guess in theory they have to spend less than they take in, it would be impossible to spend money they didn't have.  It is just that they borrow the money to spend, and that would increase their revenue.

I sorted the chart by expenditures per capita.  Number one is Alaska at $13,393.32 per person. Last is Texas at $3,725.24 per person.

StatePopulationGDP/CapitaTotal RevenueTotal ExpenditureRev/CapitaExp/Capita
New York19,490,297$48,076.00$178,908,359,000.00$151,338,991,000.00$9,179.36$7,764.84
New Mexico1,984,356$32,091.00$16,781,588,000.00$14,907,060,000.00$8,456.94$7,512.29
Rhode Island1,050,788$41,008.00$8,417,797,000.00$7,071,396,000.00$8,010.94$6,729.61
New Jersey8,682,661$50,919.00$65,495,222,000.00$56,076,165,000.00$7,543.22$6,458.41
North Dakota641,481$39,321.00$4,786,348,000.00$3,777,523,000.00$7,461.40$5,888.75
South Carolina4,479,800$31,884.00$27,530,567,000.00$24,824,628,000.00$6,145.49$5,541.46
West Virginia1,814,468$30,831.00$11,945,313,000.00$9,766,972,000.00$6,583.37$5,382.83
United States304,059,724$39,751.00$1,992,826,296,000.00$1,634,801,176,000.00$6,554.06$5,376.58
North Carolina9,222,414$34,439.00$51,841,493,000.00$44,009,293,000.00$5,621.25$4,771.99
New Hampshire1,315,809$42,830.00$7,171,927,000.00$6,226,121,000.00$5,450.58$4,731.78
South Dakota804,194$37,375.00$4,920,193,000.00$3,571,741,000.00$6,118.17$4,441.39

Here's what the census people had to say about all this:
No ranking table was produced for 2005 and onward. Ranking tables for previous years should be interpreted with caution. An analysis based on rankings or per capita statistics can be misleading and misinterpreted because of subtle yet important differences in state government organization and economic structure. For example, using total taxes or per capita taxes as a measure of tax burden on the citizens of that state can be misleading because different states use different approaches to taxation, comparing only the total taxes collected by each state is not enough to understand the economic impact of those states’ taxes – one must also understand how those taxes are collected. Comparing taxes across states can be difficult. The Census Bureau’s statistics on tax revenue reflect taxes a state collects from activity within the state, not necessarily from its people within a state. Alaska, for instance, does not have general sale taxes or individual income taxes, but it does collect severance taxes from companies that extract oil and natural gas. Like Alaska, Florida also does not collect individual income taxes, but unlike Alaska, Florida instead relies heavily on a general sales tax, which, because of its tourist industry, is partially supported by visitors from outside Florida. In that sense, both Alaska and Florida use “exported taxes” – taxes collected from people or organizations that may reside outside their state.

Similarly, ranking expenditures totals or comparing per capita expenditures are equally challenging since some states directly administer activities that, in other states, are undertaken by local governments, with or without state fiscal aid. The share of government sector financial totals contributed by a state government, therefore, differs materially from one state to another. For example, comparing a state’s direct expenditures on Cash Assistance Payments to Individuals in New York to Oregon may lead to an inaccurate conclusions since all cash assistance payments to individuals in New York State are made by local governments while in Oregon they are made by the state government only. Thus a strict ranking or per capita analysis that does not take into account these structural relationships between the state government and the local governments within each state can lead to an invalid analysis and incorrect conclusion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

They Don't Know What Good Music Is

This whole site is great.

"Three Strikes" To Go Ahead In Britain

"Lord Peter Mandelson has carefully ignored the Gowers Report and the Carter Report, instead taking the advice of his good friend David Geffen and announcing that 'three strikes and you're out' will become law in Britain. The Open Rights Group has, of course, hit the roof. Oh, and never mind MI5 and the police pointing out that widespread encryption will become normal, hampering their efforts to keep up with little things like impending terrorist atrocities. Still, worth it to stop a few Lily Allen tracks being shared, right?"

EFF Launches "Takedown Hall of Shame"

"Recognizing that public shame is a potent weapon, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today launched a new Web site — its Takedown Hall of Shame — that will shine an unflattering spotlight on those corporations and individuals who abuse copyright claims to stifle free speech. Among the early inductees are NPR, NBC, CBS, and Diebold."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Over 100%

The curtains produce their own light, and then block that too.

Save the Planet, Eat Your Dog

"New Zealand's Dominion Post reports on a new book just released, Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. In this book, they compare the environmental footprint of our housepets to other things that we own. Like that German Shepherd? It consumes more resources than two Toyota SUVs. Cats are a little less than a Volkswagen Golf. Two hamsters are about the same as a plasma TV. Their suggestions? Chickens, rabbits, and pigs. But only if you eat them."

Fake Birds

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Is Why We Have The Internet

In case you don't realize you can add whatever text you want in the boxes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Track Three Is The Best Song On The Album

On Math The Band's well known Imaginary Everything album they have a song called "The Very Best Song On The Whole Entire Album", which is track 3. The song is about how track 3 is often the best song on any album. In it he says, "Have you ever really actually taken a look at the songs you like on certain CDs? Look at the track numbers that they are, and usually, almost always, track number 3 is the best song on the album. Closely followed by 2, 7, and sometimes 12.".

The first time I heard this I wondered if this was true or not. I somewhat doubted it, as I thought of some of my favorite songs and what track they were. But I could never really be sure. I decided to take my playback statistics and find out. My statistics only cover about 6 months since the last time I reformatted. Out of 8268 songs there are 26,516 plays, an average of 3.2. There are 2350 songs which haven't been played, and 776 I don't have track numbers for, which are being discarded for this, raising the average to 4.83. 

The cutoff point was a problem.  In the chart I decided to cut off at track 26, since I have less than 10 songs with any track number above that.  There is a clear favoring for tracks above 12.  I think there are a number of reason for this.  First high track numbers are often from best of CDs.  Next they are indicative of short songs, which are more likely to be able to play enough to get counted.

There is another problem with using play counts as indicator of goodness.   In my media player (Foobar2000) when one album is done playing the next album starts playing.  The next album is usually the next album released by that band, but if it was their last album it'll be the first album by the next band in alphabetical order.  Thus if an album has a strong lead in album it'll get unrealistically high track counts, particularly the first couple tracks.  On the other hand, if an album is equally good throughout, the later track will be favored.  This is because I often hit random track to find good music, when a good song comes on I let it play in normal order until I want to hear something different.  This means that if an early track comes on in a CD that is good I'll likely listen to the whole thing, thus the later tracks will also get a play.  On the other hand, if a late track comes on the early tracks won't get played.

Let's look at what the data tells us.  There is more to be learned though from the lower track numbers.  First off track 3 is not in fact the best song on the album.  Even if we ignore the higher tracks, track 2 is solidly better.  Then there is a clear drop off for the middle of the album, and it picks up somewhat towards the end.

I've already explained the late tracks being high.  Track 1 being low is likely due to intros which tend to get skipped.  The question is whether there is an actual tendency for better songs at the start of the album, or if it's due to what I wrote above about how songs get played?  In summary we didn't really learn much, except that statistics are fun.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Analysis Of Against Me! Lyrics With Respect To Their "Selling Out"

Let me preface this by saying I'm not really sure where I'm going to go with this. I have no real clear goal here. I've just been listening to a lot of Against Me! and want to rant about my thoughts on them. This won't be about whether or not Against Me! sold out, or what selling out really means. I may do a post later about that. "Selling out" here though represents the clear change in their music between The Disco Before the Breakdown, and Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy. This will simply be about what the lyrics of The Disco Before the Breakdown say about this "selling out".

I've been listening to a lot of Against Me! lately, more than usual. I looked up the lyrics to all the songs and actually read them for the first time ever. They are quite interesting. I was most surprised by the 3 song EP The Disco Before the Breakdown. I've listened to this EP countless times, and despite the somewhat understandable lyrics never really payed much attention to them. If you haven't heard the EP then you don't know me and thus aren't reading this. If you've never really read the lyrics read them now.

Before we dive into what The Disco Before the Breakdown has to say about Against Me!'s change in direction we must first go over what their ideals were to begin with. I'll try to keep this brief.

Against Me! self identified as "anarchists". I'll be putting any references to "anarchy" in quotes because it was anarchy in name only. Anarchy is actually pretty simple. It is the absence of government, or in other words total freedom. However, people rarely use it in this way. To many it has come to be a synonym for chaos. To others it has, oddly enough, come to mean an idealized lifestyle in which everyone cooperates. I find it particularly odd that "anarchy" has come to be associated with communism, when the two are polar opposites. Communism is a very strong government which controls everything, and a lack of businesses. Anarchy is the lack of government, which would inevitably lead to very strong businesses.

"Anarchists" seem to be under the impression that if we got rid of governments and businesses that people would just live together in little communities and work together for a common good. There are numerous problems with this, not the least of which is simply human nature. Also the concept of small communities is unlikely, at least not while there are 6 billion people to go around.

Don't get me wrong, it is certainly possible for a small group of people to live together in a tight knit community and produce everything they need internally. However, expecting that it would work on a large scale for an indefinite amount of time is just foolish.

A fact that "anarchists" always seem to overlook is that you can live like that now, concurrently with government and corporations. Get a group of like minded people together, sell all your possessions, pool your money, buy some acres of cheap land, and produce all you need there. The fact that this lifestyle is available now to all yet is lived by almost no one, including those who advocate it, is indicative that people may actually enjoy having things. Not everyone likes to live the same life that you do. You can think those people are fools and ignorant, or you can just accept that different things make different people happy.

Now back to the lyrics of The Disco Before the Breakdown.

The lyrics of the title track is rather unrelated here (it's pretty much about a gay couple). However, the title itself is important. It is the only really upbeat song on the 3 song EP, making it the disco, before the breakdown. Likewise the EP as a whole is the disco, before the breakdown of the current era. Also I can't help but think the word disco is a metaphor for something deeper, due to its previous use in the opening line of Impact, "I'm the disco fucker of the new generation".

The next song is Tonight We're Going to Give it 35%. At first glance this song is just about being tired of touring, and not giving your all at every performance. But upon further inspection a deeper meaning reveals itself.
We drank bottled water together and talked business
I think I played the right moves
You were lookin' over my shoulder
As I went through the motions of another night
And it was alright
'Cause I thought I knew who everybody was just by lookin' at them
Right off the bat he starts with an interesting reference to bottle water. Interesting because of this line from the song Burn. "There are already businessmen who'll market bottled water, and purified aerosol solution, guess who's their target". Bottled water is a symbol for all that he viewed as wrong with the world, but now here he is drinking it, while discussing a business deal. The 'business' being discussed is a record deal, and the 'you' addressed is an executive. The right moves meaning the he hopes he signed a record deal without selling out. The executive is now there behind the scenes, but it's alright in his mind because he thinks he's judged him right. Knowing who everyone is just by looking at them could also be a reference to grouping people as "consumers or revolutionaries" in the past.
My heart is anywhere but here
And how tired I was from the past couple of weeks
From the past couple of years
Well, it hit me all at once
On a balcony overlooking nothing
With snow falling all around
This section is about the moment he decided there was going to be a change.
Well I, I called just to say "Goodnight"
And you hadn't done anything wrong
And know, really, really, it's me not you
I can't believe how naive I was to think things could ever be so simple
I don't think the 'you' here is an actual person. The 'you' is the ideals he used to live by, that he called "anarchism". He has decided to move away from them, but isn't faulting them as wrong. Rather it's him that is at fault for giving up the ideals.
And can you live with what you know about yourself
When you're all alone, behind closed doors?
The things we never said, but we always knew were right there
It's got me on my knees in a bathroom
Praying to a God that I don't even believe in
"Well, dear Jesus, are you listening?
If this is the one chance that really matters
Well, don't let me fuck this up"
If you'd told me about all this when I was fifteen
I never would have believed it
Thinking if he's making the right choice. The last two lines are about how he wouldn't accept this choice he's making when he was younger. Unrelated to the lyrics this is the best part of this EP.

The last song is Beginning in an Ending.
Every day has a beginning and ending
Just like every life has a start and finish
July is gone like the gasoline it took to make the circle again.
Florida to Florida by the way of America.
This song is about summing up the ending of an era. Here he is saying everything must come to an end. The circle is tours, starting and ending in Florida, where they're from.
Cocaine and soda, playing Tetris in our underwear
We take turns reading letters, I read the haiku
and you move your nails across my legs.
Not quite sure what this means, but I think it's just a reference to good times he's had in the past.
In your arms, I don't know who I am, taking all I know about nihilism
and trying to build it into a life.
With your thought in mind, I walk the streets down to the shore and I sink into the Pacific
This is everything up to now ending
It was nice to believe for a while
As before I think 'you' is the old ideals. I think nihilism here is what he's calling what he previously called "anarchism". He tried to build a life out of it, but is moving on. The Pacific could be an interesting reference. They are from FL so the Pacific would represent something foreign, or a change. However, I think the last two lines here say so much more than my entire post. "This is everything up to now ending. It was nice to believe for a while." I don't think you could be any more clear about the change in ideals.

These songs were recorded and released before they signed to Fat Wreck Chords. They aren't about regretting anything.  Rather they are about coming to terms with the fact that their politics weren't realistic, and now they are going to be changing. With this change of ideals comes a change in musical style starting with the next release. Thus The Disco Before the Breakdown marks the end of classic Against Me! much the same as ...And Justice For All marks the end of classic Metallica.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Legal War For WA State Sunshine Law

"In a major battle in Washington State, anti-gay rights groups created and got R-71 on the 2009 election ballot. This is a public initiative to put same-sex civil unions up for public vote. The real legal war then erupted: activists created to take advantage of WA state's Public Records Act, and put the names of all people who publicly endorsed R-71 on a public, SEO-optimized website. Lawsuits quickly followed, and today it reached the United States Supreme Court, in a matter of months. The records appear to have always been public, but have only been available in digital form since 2006. An assault on civil rights, an assault on marriage, or an assault on sunshine laws and freedom of information?"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Helpful Hint for Fugitives: Don't Update Your Location on Facebook

Investigators scoured social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace but initially could find no trace of him and were unable to pin down his location in Mexico.

Several months later, a secret service agent, Seth Reeg, checked Facebook again and up popped MaxiSopo. His photo showed him partying in front of a backdrop featuring logos of BMW and Courvoisier cognac, sporting a black jacket adorned with a not-so-subtle white lion.

Although Sopo's profile was set to private, his list of friends was not. Scoville started combing through it and was surprised to see that one friend listed an affiliation with the justice department. He sent a message requesting a phone call.

"We figured this was a person we could probably trust to keep our inquiry discreet," Scoville said.

Proving the 2.0 adage that a friend on Facebook is rarely a friend indeed, the former official said he had met Sopo in Cancun's nightclubs a few times, but did not really know him and had no idea he was a fugitive. The official learned where Sopo was living and passed that information back to Scoville, who provided it to Mexican authorities. They arrested Sopo last month.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Commercial Speech Arms Race

I was reminded of this recently when a group of Israeli scientists demonstrated that it's possible to fabricate DNA evidence. So now, instead of leaving your own DNA at a crime scene, you can leave fabricated DNA. And it isn't even necessary to fabricate. In Charlie Stross's novel Halting State, the bad guys foul a crime scene by blowing around the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag, containing the DNA of dozens, if not hundreds, of people.

Secret ACTA Treaty May Sport "Internet Enforcement" Procedures After All

"Ars Technica writes about the recent work on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and reveals that while the public does not have access to the text of the agreement, a handful of lawyers representing Big Content and numerous companies and organizations do. 'Turns out that... ACTA will include a section on Internet "enforcement procedures" after all. And how many people have had input on these procedures? Forty-two. ... Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) found out in September that the US Trade Representative's office had actually been secretly canvassing opinions on the Internet section of the agreement from 42 people, all of whom had signed a nondisclosure agreement before being shown the ACTA draft text.'"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

9 Examples Why Google Search Is Better Than Yahoo!

Search suggestions are always great.

Computer-Assisted Witness Identification

A major cause of miscarriages of justice could be avoided if computers, rather than detectives, guided witnesses through the identification of suspects. That's according to Brent Daugherty at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and colleagues, who say that too often officers influence witnesses' choices.

The problem was highlighted in 2003 when the Innocence Project in New York analysed the case histories of 130 wrongly imprisoned people later freed by DNA evidence. Mistaken eyewitness identification was a factor in 77 per cent of the cases examined.

The Futility of Defending the Targets

Defending individual targets only makes sense if the number of potential targets is few. If there are seven terrorist targets and you defend five of them, you seriously reduce the terrorists' ability to do damage. But if there are a million terrorist targets and you defend five of them, the terrorists won't even notice. I tend to dislike security measures that merely cause the bad guys to make a minor change in their plans.

And the expense would be enormous. Add up these secondary terrorist targets -- stadiums, theaters, churches, schools, malls, office buildings, anyplace where a lot of people are packed together -- and the number is probably around 200,000, including Beaver Stadium. Full-time police protection requires people, so that's 1,000,000 policemen. At an encumbered cost of $100,000 per policeman per year, probably a low estimate, that's a total annual cost of $100B. (That's about what we're spending each year in Iraq.) On the other hand, hiring one out of every 300 Americans to guard our nation's infrastructure would solve our unemployment problem. And since policemen get health care, our health care problem as well. Just make sure you don't accidentally hire a terrorist to guard against terrorists -- that would be embarrassing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Photoshop Disaster Draws DMCA Notice For Boing Boing

"Cory Doctorow writes that Ralph Lauren issued a DMCA takedown notice after Boing Boing republished the Photoshop disaster contained in a Ralph Lauren advertisement in which a model's proportions appear to have been altered to give her an impossibly skinny body with the model's head larger than her pelvis. Doctorow says that one of the things that makes their ISP Priority Colo so awesome is that they don't automatically act on DMCA takedowns and proceeded to dare Lauren to sue. 'This is classic fair use: a reproduction "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting," etc,' writes Doctorow. 'Copyright law doesn't give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings.' Doctorow adds that every time Lauren threatens to sue he will 'reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it,' 'publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery,' and 'offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models.'"

100 Years of Copyright Hysteria

Nate Anderson pens a fine historical retrospective for Ars Technica: a look at 100 years of Big Content's fearmongering, in their own words. There was John Philip Sousa in 1906 warning that recording technology would destroy the US pastime of gathering around the piano to sing music ("What of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?"). There was the photocopier after World War II. There was the VCR in the 1970s, which a movie lobbyist predicted would result in tidal waves, avalanches, and bleeding and hemorrhaging by the music business. He compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler — in this scenario the US public was a woman home alone. Then home taping of music, digital audio tape, MP3 players, and Napster, each of which was predicted to lay waste to entire industries; and so on up to date with DVRs, HD radio, and HDTV. Anderson concludes with a quote from copyright expert William Patry in his book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: "I cannot think of a single significant innovation in either the creation or distribution of works of authorship that owes its origins to the copyright industries."

Dont Talk to Police

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Review of the Pirated Copy of Windows 7 I Bought On eBay

Very difficult. The install for Windows 7 comes on four floppy disks, and as my laptop doesn’t have a floppy drive, I was worried I’d have to travel 10 years into the past to find a computer that did. Fortunately, my local Best Buy was offering a USB floppy drive for $80, which, not withstanding certain recent software purchases, struck me as the greatest ripoff the world has ever seen. I’d advise anyone wanting to install Windows 7 on their own machine should make sure their hardware can support it.

Ministry of Defense's "How To Stop Leaks" Document Is Leaked

"A restricted 2,400 page-document put out by the MoD designed to help intelligence personnel with information security has been leaked onto the internet. Wikileaks notes that Joint Services Protocol 440 (JSP 440), was published in 2001 and lays out protocols to defend against hackers, journalists, and foreign spies. it says, 'Leaks usually take the form of reports in the public media which appear to involve the unauthorized disclosure of official information (whether protectively marked or not) that causes political harm or embarrassment to either the UK Government or the Department concerned... The threat [of leakage] is less likely to arise from positive acts of counter-espionage, than from leakage of information through disaffected members of staff, or as a result of the attentions of an investigative journalist, or simply by accident or carelessness.' "

Sweet, sweet irony.

Monday, October 5, 2009

FF Copy - Windows Queue File Transfer Manager

FF Copy is a file queue transfer manager for windows networks. It allows you to add files to a copy/move transfer queue which will be downloaded one after another. This increases speed in comparison to transferring multiple files / folders at the same time.

In comparison to copying with the windows explorer you can start/stop/pause/resume transfers. If the source becomes unavailable, FF Copy tries to continue the transfer for a while, then goes to the next file in the queue. Once it tried all files it will again resume with the first incomplete file. So you will not loose the whole transfer if the network connection breaks down after 99%!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Bill Proposes Open Source Requirement for Publicly Funded Books

"On September 30th, the 'Open College Textbook Act of 2009' was introduced to the Senate and referred to committee. The bill proposes that all educational materials published or produced using federal funds need to be published under open licenses. The reasoning behind it takes into account the changing way information is distributed because of the Internet, the high price of college and textbooks, and the dangerously low college graduation rates in the US. Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"

I think this is a valid concern. It is the same reason I oppose vaccines, as they endanger the iron lung industry.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nice Use of Diversion During a Robbery

During a daring bank robbery in Sweden that involved a helicopter, the criminals disabled a police helicopter by placing a package with the word "bomb" near the helicopter hangar, thus engaging the full caution/evacuation procedure while they escaped.

I wrote about this exact sort of thing in Beyond Fear.