Posts tagged ‘election’

Telnet and AOP and News, Oh My!

Today’s nerdtacular tip is brought to you by the letter π and the number e: if you telnet into port 80 of a webserver, you can write your HTTP requests by hand. I haven’t quite figured out how to use this to my advantage yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s there somewhere… I can now fill in my own custom values when submitting forms, without bothering to download and edit the source for the page with the form on it, if nothing else (though I’d still need to look at the source to see what parameters the form contains).
A quick example →

Correction: election date

Whoops! When I wrote about voting last week, I mistakenly said the election was on November 9. It’s actually on November 7. Sorry for the confusion, and please remember to vote!

Potpourri (and remember to vote!)

There is a fantastic tech talk about how to teach computer science to kids. Too often, they see the name and think it’s about programming, and are consequently turned off to the subject. This kiwi teaches CS without using a computer, but has all sorts of fun, hands-on activities for kids to do as they learn about sorting and compression algorithms, error-correcting codes, DFAs, and other parts of CS. If you ever need to inspire kids, this video is definitely worth a watch!

Speaking of videos to watch, check out this Dove commercial. I’ve gotta give them props for that.

On a newsier topic, Bush has begun to admit that the war in Iraq is going poorly and is starting to accept the parallels between this war and Vietnam. Might this be the beginning of someone in the Republican party taking a look at reality and then accepting responsibility for what they’ve screwed up? Not likely, but a man can dream, can’t he?

By the way, please, please register to vote (and then actually vote) in the elections on November 7. In California, you need to register (which can be done at your local DMV) by October 23 (this coming Monday). As John Stewart once quipped, “this country is run by extremists because moderates have shit to do.” However, voting doesn’t take up much of your time, and can help shape which direction the country will go, even if it’s still being run by extremists. No matter which parties/candidates you support, please vote. and please take 10 minutes and read up on the parties/candidates you plan to vote for, and make sure that they really do represent your interests; too often people are elected by an ignorant population that doesn’t realize what it’s doing. You want to vote for the communist party? That’s fine, so long as you know what they stand for and agree with it. You wanna vote for someone because the politicians tell you to? that’s not so good.

So learn about your favourite party, and then vote for them!

Greatest Bridge Club Ever…

Woah. Yesterday was bridge club again, and it was the highest turnout that we’ve had since I joined. We had 2 tables going pretty much the entire time. It’s not enough to play a “real” game of duplicate yet, but we at least had to start keeping score (with one table where the partnerships switch every hand, there’s not much point in keeping score). So… yeah. We had about 13 people show up over the course of the evening, and even kept playing past 1:00. Sherri and I were partners for much of the night, which was a bit weird. Over the summer, she played regularly with someone she met at home, and got the hang of his style. However, this was a bit different than the way I played, so we kept getting some of our signals crossed. Oh, well. When I have the opportunity to start getting competitive (which won’t be until next semester, due to Systems lab conflicting with the start of the Unit551 games), I’ll get a regular partner and we’ll work out all of our quirks. There were some pretty good hands, though, and I had a great time. Hopefully, we can get our Monday games going like this too.

Well, I watched the presidential debate tonight. To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with either candidate. Kerry pretty much just said “I have a plan” a lot (but not actually saying what sort of plan this was, or how it would work), while Bush dodged most of the questions (he didn’t answer the question about who he would put on the Supreme Court, he didn’t answer what mistakes he’s made or how he corrected them, he didn’t answer how he will protect people’s rights from the PATRIOT Act, etc).

In related news, my absentee ballot arrived today. I’ve found the notary on campus, so I’m pretty much set to vote. I had a bit of a scare last week when I opened my absentee ballot that I’d been saving for a while to realize that it was for the primary election, rather than the upcoming one. After panicking and firing some frantic emails to my dad, he got me straightened out, and explained how I should be getting another ballot soon.

Lets see… Stephen alerted me to the Stop-Loss provisions that have gone into legislature recently. They pretty much say that you can’t leave the armed forces for 3 months before or after your company is deployed. Since companies are pretty much deployed every 6 months, many people who were supposed to finish up their service have been forced to stay in the armed forces. A pretty good blog about it is here (the October 2 update Edit: this one). There’s a lot of shit going on in this country these days. I wish there was something I could do about it, but this kind of crap just seems so widespread. If anyone has an idea about how to actually get something done (note: this does not involve writing to my senator’s intern’s garbage can), I’d love to hear about it.

News n’ such

So… it just occurred to me that I should put some national news up here again. At the moment, I’m reading through an article about the job crunch in America. Despite what our current administration is saying, the economy is still in a recession. People are still losing their jobs, and the few new jobs that have been created pay significantly less than the old ones. This makes me worried, because in 2 short years, I will be out of here, and looking for employment (or grad school, if things continue like this). This appears to be particularly grim, as it appears as though Bush will win again.

I wish I could find it again, but I can’t, so I will describe an article I read in the Star Tribune over the summer. This guy took data about every election since the Republican party last reinvented itself (as I recall, this was in the 1940’s), and correlated the party in power with every conceivable economic factor – GDP, unemployment, average income, tariff rates, stock markets, jobs created, inflation rates, national debt increases, governmental spending, you name it. With perfect correlation, every indicator he looked at was better for the democrats than the republicans. He even tried letting the first year an administration was in power count for the previous administration (because the first year, you’re still feeling the effects of the previous group). However, this did not change the correlation at all. Either way, Democrats were better for the economy across the board. If you want a job in the next few years, vote democrat! For that matter, if you don’t want more of your civil liberties and “unalienable” rights violated, vote democrat. Granted, Kerry is a pretty bad candidate. However, Bush is quite possibly the worst president this country has ever had. This must not be allowed to continue!

So here’s an odd problem – the power button on my monitor is broken. At the moment, this is ok because it’s on and it displays things just fine; but I can’t turn it off. This will be a problem at the end of the year, however, because once I unplug it, I doubt it will turn back on without some tinkering. Well, it can’t be that hard to replace a switch. I guess the hard part will be making sure that the whole thing is grounded before I start (to a first approximation, CRTs are 45,000-volt power supplies that can store these huge charges for months at a time – learn about lifters). So… yeah. not a problem yet, but it will be eventually, and in the meantime, it’s weird. The monitor is about 10 years old, and it’s lasted pretty well (we got it with our Windows 3.1 machine), so I can’t really complain. and it will be fun to fix, once I get around to it.

In national news, electronic voting seems to have been thrust upon us. I think the article gives a fairly good treatment of the topic – electronic voting machines are going to be used all over the US in this election, and it is too late to change them for this election, despite numerous security problems and outcry from what seems like most of the educated populace. I fear this is only going to muddy up what I consider the most important election of the past 50 years. Well, we’ll see how bad things get.

On a happier note, California is going to vote on giving $3 billion to stem cell research. Unfortunately, I am not a registered voter in California (I am in Minnesota instead), so I can’t cast a ballot here. However, I really hope this goes through. I really don’t see how anyone who is informed on the issue could possibly be against stem cell research. Even assuming that pro-life people have a leg to stand on in the abortion issue (which I contest), that barely applies at all to stem cells. Blastocysts, which are where embryonic stem cells come from, are blobs of goo small enough that you can’t see them with the naked eye. They resemble algae much more closely than they resemble people. Cutting them up does cause them to lose the ability to become a person (though they need to be implanted in a surrogate mother before that could happen anyway, so it’s not like they are going to be people if left to their own devices). However, they have huge potential to help actual people. They are potential cures to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, amputations, blindness, psoriasis, and a slew of other diseases and disabilities.

As an anecdote about the potential of stem cells, there is a man in Germany who lost his lower jaw to cancer 9 years ago. Over the summer, doctors made a scaffold for a new jaw, and covered it with stem cells, bone marrow, and various chemicals to facilitate growing. This was surgically placed on the man’s shoulder, where it grew for two months. Then, it was taken off of his shoulder and attached to his head. He now has a new, working jaw, and can speak better and even chew soft things. Admittedly, they used adult stem cells (which, unlike embryonic stem cells, do not come from embryos). However, embryonic stem cells show even more promise than this, because the same line of cells can make any kind of tissue (adult stem cells, in contrast, can only make a few kinds of tissue, and are not nearly as resilient). The story about the German guy can be found on New Scientist.

Well, that’s about it for now. Much is going on in the world right now, and we should all try to stay informed. I’m tired, so I’m now going to bed. Good night!