Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Senators Call For ACTA Transparency

"Two US senators have asked President Barack Obama's administration to allow the public to review and comment on a controversial international copyright treaty being negotiated largely in secret. The public has a right to know what's being negotiated in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Senators Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent, argue in the letter."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kim Jong-Il, The World's Funniest Guy

3. In 2004, a former chef for Kim revealed that the North Korean leader employs staff to make sure that the grains of his rice served to him are absolutely uniform in size and colour.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Please design a logo for me. With pie charts

In case you don't know what a yaght is.

This is the guy's site.
Everything he writes is quite funny.  Read it and be amused.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Tenth Amendment

I'm a strong supporter of the Constitution and State's rights.  The Constitution is a framework for the Federal government.   The People created the Federal government to handle issues they felt we better handled uniformly throughout the Union.  As always I highly recommend you read the Constitution as it's rather brief and easy to read, at least for a legal document.  You will see that it quite clearly lists the powers of the Federal government, and then states that any power not given to the Federal government is retained by the States and the People.  The exact quote is from the 10th amendment:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Pretty simple.  If the Constitution doesn't say the Federal government can do something then it can't.  Around this time you may be bringing up the point that the Federal government does in fact do whatever it wants, with little regard for the limited list of powers it legally has.  The reason is simply because it can.  Without question the Federal government is the most powerful and wealthy entity that has every existed.  Every year it spends a few trillion dollars (this is what $1 trillion in hundred dollar bills looks like).

I won't go into more detail as to why the States should have more power than the Federal government.  I've already written about it in great detail.  It's a moot point though, because regardless of what you think, the fact remains that legally the States do retain all powers not given to the Federal government.

If you think the Federal government should have a power which it currently does not then the correct procedure would be proposing a Constitutional amendment to grant it that power.  The easy way though would be for the Federal government to just do it since no one can stop them.

One classic example of the Federal government regulating something it has no authority to do so is the regulation of drugs.  In 1919 the 18th amendment banned alcohol in the US.  The Federal government knew it had no power to outlaw alcohol so an amendment was passed giving it that power (actually the amendment just outlawed it outright).  The 18th amendment was latter repealed with the 21st amendment.  When an amendment is passed it becomes part of the Constitution, and the only thing that can overrule the Constitution is a new amendment.

So what does this have to do with drug laws?  Well there is no amendment giving the Federal government the power to regulate drugs.  The reason is that by the time the US got around to seriously regulating drugs the Federal government had usurped enough power to pass the unconstitutional laws.  Still the Federal government doesn't openly admit it disregards the Constitution, so it claimed that drug laws were justified by the infamous commerce clause.

The commerce clause is a power granted to Congress in Article I, Section 8, which states:
"The Congress shall have Power To... regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

The key here is that Congress can regulate commerce among the several States.  How in the world does that grant it the power to regulate anything which is produced, sold, and used entirly within one state?  Well I'm glad you asked.

"Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), was a U.S. Supreme Court decision that dramatically increased the power of the federal government to regulate economic activity. A farmer, Roscoe Filburn, was growing wheat to feed his chickens. The U.S. government had imposed limits on wheat production based on acreage owned by a farmer, in order to drive up wheat prices during the Great Depression, and Filburn was growing more than the government's scheme permitted. Filburn was ordered to destroy his crops and pay a fine to the government for being too productive.

The Supreme Court, interpreting the United States Constitution's Commerce Clause (which permits the United States Congress to "regulate Commerce . . . among the several States") decided that, because Filburn's wheat growing activities reduced the amount of wheat he would buy for chicken feed on the open market, and because wheat was traded nationally, Filburn's production of more wheat than he was allotted was affecting interstate commerce, and so could be regulated by the federal government.

This was a dramatic reversal of over 150 years of prior decisions ("precedent") restricting the federal government's power to regulate commerce, which previously had been limited to such areas as transportation across state boundaries on roads and rivers, actual movement of goods between states, and prohibition of punitive taxes imposed by a state on goods from another."

To summarize the Federal governments said it could regulate something that you produce for personal use because by producing it yourself and not buying it via interstate commerce you are affecting interstate commerce.

If this is the first time you have ever heard this I feel you really need to let it sink in.  I recommend rereading the quote from Wikipedia.

A good question to ask now is, if this is a valid argument, what can't the Federal government regulate?  If the answer is nothing, then why is there even a list of powers given to the Federal government at all?  As this is the argument used to justify drug laws another good question is, how you can affect interstate drug commerce when there is no such thing as legal interstate drug commerce?

There has been a recent trend by States to reclaim some of their power from the Federal government.  Which is surprising given the general apathy of everyone to this.  The recent Real ID act is a good example of this.

Another recent trend has been Firearms Freedom Acts which have passed in a couple states.

These state laws say that any firearm manufactured and sold in state is exempt from Federal regulations.  They are carefully worded as they are intended to go to a long legal battle.  When Tennassee passed one of these laws the assistant director of the ATF wrote an open letter in which he wrote:
"The Act purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured in the State, and which remain in the State, from most Federal firearms laws and regulations. However, because the Act conflicts with Federal firearms laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act, and all provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, and their corresponding regulations, continue to apply."

It's fun that he brings up laws superseding other laws.  Someone should make him aware of the fact that the Constitution supersedes Federal laws, thus the Federal law is null and void.

I'd like to point out that I purposely choose two topics that many people feel differently about (drug laws and gun laws).  The point is that regardless if you like drugs or guns the Federal government has no right regulating them.  One of the reasons the Federal government has been able to get away with so much is that the people who support the laws are willing to ignore the fact that they are illegal if it gets them what they want.

The fact is that in the short term allowing the Federal government to regulate something it has no right to, but that the population as a whole wants it to, may seem like a harmless way to by pass the difficult process of an amendment or getting 50 separate state laws passed.  The problem is that this slowly gives the Federal government more and more power.  Even if you believe the current Federal government has the People's best interest at heart, history shows that no government remains good forever.  The threat of a government gone bad that has too much power is a greater threat than any of the things that the Federal government gets away with regulating.

Insane Rant On State's Right

I'm working on reposting the massive archive of old emails I have to this blog so that everyone (read me) can read them.  Usually I've been back dating them to whenever they were originally posted, but when I see one I think is particularity important I'll post it on the front page with a note.

This is the first such email.  It's an attempt to argue for strong States vs a strong Federal government.  I wrote it on Tuesday, May 29, 2007.

I've now shifted focus to further trying to convince you in favor of State's rights.

Your main objection seems to be that arbitrary districts have different (arbitrary) differences in the laws that govern them.  This creates confusion.

My counter to this is what I've already said, you will always have these arbitrary differences at some level.  Whether it be country, state, county, city, or individual.  The US is a bigger country than most, most countries are comparable to our states.  Most people don't leave their state often.  Even with a relatively small state like NJ we rarely go outside (please ignore your daily commute outside NJ [actually this ties in to my other idea that NJ should be split and given to PA and NY, the whole state thing works much better if the states are true representations of the culture in it.]).  I don't see a whole lot of confusion about the differences in laws between state borders now.  Most people understand that stuff is different between states, but the major stuff is the same.  You know that if you kill some one in Philly that's probably not going to fly.  The "well I'm from NJ, I don't know your laws" defense isn't going to work.  The only real laws that differ from state to state are stuff that's obvious (speed limits), or stuff that only really effects residents, not visitors.

There is always going to be confusion over laws, at least as long as they are written by lawyers (our other topic).  No one knows the laws, and the laws they do know are just the urban legend version of them.  If you want to find out the law you are going to have to do research, and that research will simply be in your state law.  If there was one federal law you'd still need to look it up/consult a lawyer.  You could argue that it would be easier to look up, but that's just not true.  The states are perfectly capable of making a website with digital version of every law, as is the federal government.  Try to find any law today, federal or state, you probably won't be able to.  It has nothing to do with federal vs. state, and everything to do with the people in government being old cooks with no concept of the modern world.

It seems to me that your desire for one set of laws to rule them all, is more of a subconscious organization thing.  Despite the fact that in practice it would yield little benefit, and certainly less benefit than the protection offered by the state system.

You also argued that 1 main debate over something is better than 50 small ones.  I think this is also false.  1 debate across the whole country, over anything of any importance will likely result in stalemate.  The only way to get around the stalemate is massive compromises by both sides.  This results in neither side being happy, and for no reason.  If things had been settled at the more local state level there would be much less compromise needed, since there'd be much more agreement within the state.

As an example look at abortion.  At the federal level there will always be a debate, and 50% of the country will always be unhappy.  If it were left to the states to decide there'd be a large number of states where the side was pretty much unquestionable (on both sides of the issue).  There would be no need for the debate there, and most the people in the state would be happy.  A few states would be mixed, but the debates would be a much smaller scale, and you'd have less people who were diehard on either side, there'd be more chance of coming to an honest resolution.

So now as summary of the benefits of state rights.  I've come to the conclusion that the best realistic government to have in power is the ineffective one.  The less laws they pass the better.  Whatever party controls congress I want the other to have the presidency (like now).  When things are like this they are able to pass less stuff that we don't want.  When one group controls them both they will all vote the same, no matter how terrible the law is in their personal eyes.  However, before you claim that my argument is silly since I'm basically arguing for an anarchist government by default, but with lot's of waste spending canceling itself out.  The two opposing party setup works because they still are there to handle crisis, or pass legit laws.  Realistically any modern civ can't function without government.

A government is an entity, just like a business or any other group.  Any entity will have money, and control over certain things, and will form a chain of command (who's in charge).  Any entity will try to use its resources to further aid its self preservation.  Since it's also made up by individuals the people in it will also exploit it for their own good.  This all leads to corruption (along with distance from capital and number of cities, but we can at least counter that with the Forbidden Palace).  Summed up well with the old "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".  The more power any entity has the more corrupt it will be, and the more able it will be to further grab power.  It's a self fueling problem (aka positive feedback loop).  I think this paragraph has been really key.  It may be obvious, but really it's an important fact.

The beauty of the original constitution was the protection against this.  The "checks and balances" (TM) we all learned about in civics class are a great way of slowing the process.  The problem is that unforeseen events will happen, and these allow the government to grab a bit more power.  One classic example of this was the Civil war.  You may or may not know that I'm pretty anti Lincoln.  He took one of the largest and earliest (although certainly not the first, no point in going into things like the Whiskey Rebellion), steps from our states which use a federal government for their common good, to a federal government which has administrative state districts.  Now how he should of handled a pretty crazy situation I won't pretend to know, and if he purposely (and evilly) made the federal government stronger I won't guess.  The point is he did it.  I guess a question is whether there are things that are so obviously morally wrong (slavery) that they justify a loss of protection from corruption of government.  I'd personally have to say no.  Slavery is pretty shitty, but it's been happening for thousands of years, and around that time it was pretty much doomed.  Slavery could probably have been peacefully abolished by 1900.  Maybe not, but the Civil war was about a lot more than slavery, and if that really had been Lincoln's sole concern (it wasn't, many examples including the fact that he only "freed" the slaves in any state which had succeeded from the Union, and obviously any state that had seceded wasn't listening to him, so he freed no one.), he could have probably settled it without any of the south seceding.

Anyway I went to lunch and came back, so excuse me if this seems a bit disjointed here.  The fact that the federal government will try to gain power and then abuse it for more power is a fact.  It doesn't require any "evil" people, or really any sort of conscious effort to happen.  It's just a result of how things work.  The solution is to slow this down as much as possible (to believe it could be stopped from happening forever would be na├»ve), by putting as many road blocks in the way as possible.  It takes 75% to amend the constitution, which is nuts, and frankly I'm surprised it's ever been done.  There are 3 branches of government, and they are (should be) all equally powerful, any 2 has the power to override the other.  Those are the 2 main road blocks to an over grown federal government.

Since this is a federation of states all federal power derives from willing states.  The federal government is a voluntary government allowed by the states for the betterment of them all.  There are some things which can be done better by it, than by the states independently.  You argued that laws in general are one of these things, but I hope my above rebutted that (I know it didn't).

You may now be saying, ok so the federal government will tend to become corrupt if left unchecked, well what about the states, won't they just become corrupt as well?  Well yes, however they will also tend to become less corrupt simply because there is less money and power.  The main difference however is that there are 50 states, all with approximately equal power.  If one state started to become too powerful, the others would be there to stop it.  It'd be much too difficult for any state (even a super state like CA which is more powerful than most countries) to pose a legit threat to the others.

The benefit of states with different versions of laws all being member of a common nation is that if your state starts go in a direction you don't like you can vote with your wallet and move.  It's funny because despite the fact that you can actually vote to elect people I think that people would actually be more inclined to move out of the state than try to vote in people to change it.  The less people you have in your state the less taxes you collect.

Some laws make more sense in different areas of the country.  Our country has vast differences both in the geography and the demographics.  NY, CA, Montana, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa are all in the same country, yet think about how different they are.  What works in one may not be best for the other.  Some states border water, some have rivers, some are plains, some mountains, some warm, some cold, some border other countries, some have tiny mostly rural populations, some large urban populations, different types of industry.  As an example a national speed limit of 55 makes sense in NJ (well not really, but more sense than other places) where it's super high population density, and traffic density, but makes no sense in New Mexico, where it's just flat open land.  Let whatever towns or cities in NM make a lower max speed, but NM as a whole should decide its own max speed (which presumably would be much higher than 55).

Thus if you don't like NJ's stance on whatever you can move to PA.  PA gets more tax money, NJ less, and if enough people feel the way you do NJ will start to notice the trend.  If there are plenty of people with the opposite view to you who will stay in NJ, so what, you still get to live in PA where things are the way you think they should be.  After a while the different ways of doing things will start show as the better ways of doing things.  After PA gets rid of any laws on possessing less than x amount of drugs they will either fall into a drug crazed anarchy or they will have tons less people in their prisons, and more money for other stuff, with no noticeable effect on the population due to the increased drugs.  Other reasonable states will see the light and change as well.  Sure crazy diehard states will hang on to whatever they believe in, but the people there will want to, and they will be happy.  After a while it will be obvious that one way is superior and all the states will have to come around to it.

In summary, giving the states the ability to make their own laws gives the people living in the US a choice as to which state feels closest to the way they feel on the things that matter to them.  The added complication of 50 different version in practice will be slight.  Major things will be uniform, and the things that aren't won't matter to people just traveling through the state or visiting.  People will move to where the laws reflect how they feel, and those states will see the benefit of having sensible laws.  Crazy states that base their laws on fiction written 2000 years ago will see that perhaps fairy tales aren't the best base for a system of laws.  Taking power from the federal government and giving it to the states will prevent the federal government from getting too strong, while the other states check each other.

Here are some Slashdot posts which I feel are relevant:

After all, it defeats the point if one can't move away from states with bad policies and into states with good policies.

It also removes a useful remedial effect: States with bad policies would see a population (and revenue) drop, while states with good policies would see gains. This would tend to send a wake up call to the worse states, which would act, based on economic pressure, to adjust the bad policies to be more in line with what people actually want. The more homogenous the states are, the less leverage the citizens have. Voting with your wallet (and your feet) is a great way to say "no thanks, buddy" to politicians that are out of control. With the feds running everything (and they pretty much are trying to), the differences erode and the citizen's power to force change with their feet/wallet erodes at the same time.


Most people aren't going to change states because of their state's policies. Also, environmental issues of one state effect the environment in other states.

Taking this idea even further, would you be pissed if you were a landowner and your next door neighbor decided to build a power plant and a toxic waste dump on his property? Clearly anyone who doesn't like it should leave his property. But you are on a different property.

(I've included this one to be fair, and as devils advocate, and you.  To this I say, perhaps environmental issues would be a federal issue, it does effect all states, so it makes sense.  That said whenever a power is given to the federal government you must be careful to limit it, and restrict it.  You must try to prevent them from using it to force their will on the states.  As for the claim that people wouldn't move, I think they would.  It's just a matter of how strongly they feel about the issue.  If NJ makes a law that you don't like, but you don't really care about you won't move.  But if NJ mandates that everyone wear ID badges at all times you'd probably move [or at least it'd be one more factor {note I know your stance on mandatory wearing of ID badges}])


"Don't you think the duplication of bureaucracy among the states is a waste of taxpayer money?"

No. For instance, what works for New York State, a verdant, wet and well populated region, will not work for Montana; we have other environmental issues. Socially, we're also different: Actions taken legally in Connecticut (for instance, that the state can steal your property under eminent domain for the basically evil purpose of getting more tax revenue out of it), are 100% illegal in Montana for the specific reason that we have our own bureaucracy and they aren't quite as batshit insane as those legislators abusing the citizens of Connecticut. Texans can't sell sex toys (poor bastards), but we can. In some states, atheists can't hold public office. Unbelievable, but 100% true. Please keep both the feds and your own state's ideas far, far, away - really, if you want these laws, by all means, but keep them to yourselves. I'm sure you don't want our idea of what is good law forced on you, either. People significantly differ in outlook by region for both social and practical geographical reasons.

State's rights are critically important, likewise it is important that we stop the feds from illegitimately taking over everything they put their nasty little fingers on. Take a look at what they've done with the commerce clause if you want to see just how out of their tiny little minds they are.


Those laws are on the books, but I doubt they'd pass constitutional muster. Of course, that provision won't be tested anytime soon because of this poll:

Gallup. 2/9-11. Adults. MoE 3% (no trend lines)
If your party nominated a well-qualified Candidate For WH '08 who was _, would you vote for that person?

Yes No
Catholic 95% 4%
Black 94 5
Jewish 92 7
A woman 88 11
Hispanic 87 12
Mormon 72 24
Married for third time 67 30
72 years old 57 42
A homosexual 55 43
An atheist 45 53

Remember, even if you're well qualified, if you don't believe in the man in the sky, you aren't going to win an election.

(Off topic, and I think I've sent this poll to you before, but it is nuts.  Over half the country wouldn't vote for someone who didn't believe in god, more than a gay guy or a 72 year old, insane.)


Actually, there's both view on both sides of the political spectrum. Some conservatives want big government (as the current administration does), while other conservatives want small government (libertarians). Effectively, big government = federal rule, and small government = states rights.

Liberals are the same way - there are those who want the federal government to stay out of their lives and primarily be involved in regulating businesses, dealing with other countries, etc. Then there are the liberals who want the "mommy society", as a previous poster put it - i.e. the federal government regulating everything that could conceivably be considered harmful in any way.


Sure, every democrat has to sell his sole during primaries.

They sell the bottom of their feet? I thought most Democrat candidates were a bit off, but that's just weird.


Ron Paul is different. Check his congressional voting record. Go on. I dare you. It doesn't even slightly resemble any Demopublican or Republicrat you could possibly name. Then check his web site for his stated positions, and compare them to his voting record. You're in for a heck of a surprise. The man isn't evil at all. I don't agree with every position he holds, but the vast majority, I do. Furthermore, they actually are his positions and he actually votes his positions. It'd be a total mindf*ck to have a politician in the white house who made every effort to be reasonable, honest, and true to the constitutional basis of their job. Go on, check him out. I know you haven't, because even if you completely disagreed with the man, you'd never compare him to the run of the mill candidate. You'd have to disagree with him for entirely new reasons. :)


I agree completely, even though I'm supporting Ron Paul.

I'm not a libertarian at the state level. I'm a pretty radical socialist. If Ron Paul was running for my state rep or governor, I wouldn't give him the time of day. I'd be looking for someone to the left of Kucinich (if there is such a thing).

I'm a libertarian at the federal level because forcing my ideas on to the people of all 50 states is a bad way to get things done. You and I could be happy in our liberal paradise with our socialized medicine, $10/hr minimum wage, decent public schools, etc. The fine people in Utah wouldn't.

From a purely pragmatic perspective, the "red states" are a net negative on the treasury (they take in more federal money than they dole out in taxes). They're always trying to shove religion down our throat as well. Cut them loose and let them turn their population into a bunch of idiot hicks that can't get a job. We'll do just fine without them TYVM.

Let the politicians in the shitty states screw up their own states AND NOTHING MORE


A thing to note on Ron Paul, too, is that he is one of the few who voted against the Patriot Act and against Internet regulation. A few other nice things about him:

Paul unites opposition to the war and the police state at home across the entire political spectrum...

Brief Overview of Congressman Paul's Record
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.

He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.


If Elected I promise:
1) Decriminalize most crimes except for the really bad ones (Murder, rape, robbery, etc) and institute a policy of impaling for the rest of them. Worked for Vlad. I'd be Greyfox the impaler.

2) Mandatory reversible sterilization for all children at puberty.
3) Breeding license. It's harder to buy a gun or a car than it is to have a child. We'll have a test to insure that the Wrong Sorts don't breed.

4) Forced breeding but
5) Child rearing is a very difficult task and parents are far too busy these days. Therefore all children will be confiscated at birth and raised in sanitary state run facilities.

6) Not only will gay marriage be legal, it will be mandatory for all people who don't hold breeding licenses.
7) All organized religion will be abolished and a mandatory state run one involving Smurfs will be put into place.
8) Mandatory Samurai honor code for corporate executives and public officials. Bring shame to your office, commit sepuku.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shockwave traffic jams recreated for first time

A pretty clear example of why traffic jams happen where there is no reason.


OkTrends is a blog where they analyze the data from dating site OkCupid.  It's pretty interesting.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Georgia Tech PD Adds SWAT Team

Should non government entities have police forces?  Probably not.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Mouse Song

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Glenn Beck Loses Dispute Over Parody Domain

"Glenn Beck fought the law and the law won. Parody website attacked Beck using the same straw man arguments Beck himself is famous for: 'We're not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 — in fact, we think he didn't! But we can't help but wonder ... Why won't he deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990?' Beck didn't see the humour and tried to have the site shut down. He sued the creator on the grounds the site 'violated his name as a trademark.' But in a sudden outbreak of common sense, WIPO rejected Beck's complaint finding the site 'can be said to be making a political statement,' which is a 'legitimate non-commercial use' of Beck's name. But after winning, the owner voluntarily handed Beck the domain anyway. Still, it's comforting to know that satire — the only weapon politicians and talking heads fear — is still safely in the hands of the public where it belongs."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Overpopulation Isn't That Bad

3 Inches of Blood - Goatriders Horde

This is probably the most metal thing to ever exist on the Earth.

Feeling the march of the fury unleashed
Impaling the soldiers of God
Smell of sulphur hot on the wind
Left by the Goatrider's Horde
The thundering roar
Of the cloven hoof
The Goatrider's Horde
Descends with the storm
I am eternal
I walk the night
I am the reaper of souls
Cold iron blades
They cannot stop me
Where I am from no one knows
I am in command
Impervious to fire
Impervious to steel
Merciless vengeance
Dealt by their strike
Treachery stalking
Evil command
Cloven hoofed steed I ride
Armies of horns descend on the gates
Hatred burns their eyes
Impervious to fire
Impervious to steel
Merciless vengeance
Dealt by their strike
Impervious to fire
Impervious to steel
Walls of stone cannot stop them
Too weak are the spells of old
At the sound of their banshee cry
The hearts of all grow cold
Impervious to fire
Impervious to steel
Merciless vengeance
Dealt by their strike
Impervious to fire
Impervious to steel
Merciless vengeance
Dealt by their strike
Fueled by the fears of man
To slake the unquenchable thirst
I'm in command
I'm in command
The Goatrider's Horde

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pandora Internet Radio

So a few months ago I heard about Pandora internet radio for the first time.  I mostly ignored it because I have a pretty good music collection and didn't really have much interest in it.  However, recently I decided to try it out for no real reason.  I like it quite a bit.  It is pretty easy to set up and then does a good job of playing music you'll like.

In case you haven't heard of it, Pandora is a pretty simple website where you can enter bands or songs you like and it'll play those bands and other music it thinks you'll like.  You don't even have to sign up, just go there and enter a band name and it starts.  I registered because it was painless and I wanted to be able to save my preferences.  It did want to know my birth year and zip code, but luckily it had no way of knowing if I was telling the truth.  After that I just had to start entering bands.  You only have to enter a single band, but I wanted variety.  I entered about 50 bands that have the highest play counts in my media player.  It's a pretty wide spectrum of music, from prog rock to hardcore, but I generally like a variety in genres of music while I'm listening to it.  If you want to hear my station you can at this link:

However, I recommend you just make your own station with bands you like.  Once you create a station there's a link to add variety... If you click that it lets you type in a band name and within a few letters usually knows who you want.  It's pretty easy, although there didn't seem to be any way to mass import a list of bands.  I just put them in a spreadsheet and copy and pasted the names.

As for how the playback works, it very good.  It has played some pretty obscure stuff like Math The Band and Defiance, Ohio.  Most of what it plays though is not the bands you enter, but similar bands.  Even with 50 bands entered only about 1 out of 5 will be a band I've ever heard of.  That's good though as finding new bands is the main reason I'm using it.  Already I've heard quite a few bands that were really good.  It apparently analyzes songs based on a few hundred criteria and then finds songs that are similar to ones you like to play.  When you hear a song you like you can click a thumbs up, and if you don't like it you can click thumbs down.  If you click on a song that played there is an option called 'why was this song selected?'  If you click that it tells you the criteria that match your preferences.  For example here are some songs it's played and why:
Hot Water Music - The Bitter End
punk roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, mixed minor & major key tonaility and a vocal-centric aesthetic

Apocalyptica - Path
hard rock roots, minor key tonality, melodic string accompaniment, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and mallet percussion

Metallica - Jump In The Fire
hard rock roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, repetive melodic phrasing and minor key tonality

As far as genres goes it clearly tends to play similar songs in a row, but still plays very different stuff.  Generally it has played 4 or 5 songs that fit into one category then jumps to a new one.  Again this is exactly what I would want it to do.  If you only wanted to listen to one type of music at a time you could make different radio stations for the different types.

It does have some negatives though.  First despite what I was told it does have audio ads.  They are quite reasonable though.  There is only ever one ad played at a time, and they are about 10-30 seconds long.  It seems to go about 6 songs between ads.  I'm sure this will increase as it become more popular, but even one 30 second ad per song would be fine with me.  My biggest problem with the ads now is that I've only heard about 5 different ads, and they are just repeated.  I don't see any visual ads on the page itself, although I'm using Adblock+.

The next two limitations I've not experienced first hand yet, but read them on Wikipedia.  First off you only get 12 skips per 24 hours.  So you can't be super picky about what it plays.  If you want to hear one specific band or song you should just be listening to your media play anyway.  The next limit though is a big downfall.  Wikipedia claims you only get 40 hours per month for free.  40 hours is ridiculous short for a month.  I'll listen to 40 hours of music in 3 days easily.  I suppose for someone with less free time than me (read: everyone) this would last longer, still I'm sure most people will reach this limit before the end of the month.  I'll have to see if I actually reach this limit.  If so I guess I'll still use it just to find some new bands every month.

Secret Copyright Treaty Leaks. It's Bad. Very Bad.

Jamie found a Boing Boing story that will probably get your blood to at least a simmer. It says "The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to 'national security' concerns, has leaked. It's bad." You can read the original leaked document or the summary. If passed, the internet will never be the same. Thank goodness it's hidden from public scrutiny for National Security

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Someone Else Is Using My Oracal Program

Clearly someone else is using my oracal program.

In case you were wondering here is what Oracal has to say about this:
Should an 8 year old be playing Halo 3?

actually ive played both, they r both actually really good games. ;)Even then the gameplay looks so-so I like other 3rd persons better. When I don't feel like I have hard deadlines, I try to participate. But goodness, can people be pricks. Remember when they used to make a Halo game with a single player campaign that lasted at least 20 hours, and everybody that owned an X-Box had a copy? Now it appears the single player is a pee-on now. halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo halo. if you like to play online its worth it but if u just want the sigleplayer campaign its not worth it, jus give it a rent. CP: I generally play to have fun and attempt to do stupid action hero style moves that generally result in spectacular deaths. Always look for help and resources. you can take the gore and strong language of of gears 2. I'm just saying...I don't play games on Xbox Live because I hate most of the random players I get put into games with, I rarely have a problem with random people on the Playstation Network.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The only true indicator of success in life is a briefcase full of tacos and a frisbee.