I am pleased.

The guy that bought four of these authentic Banksy canvases for $240 is insanely lucky.

Banksy stall

breakingbadamc:

Warning: Objects in these animated Breaking Bad posters can be extremely hazardous. All bad things must come to an end. 

Can it just be Sunday already?

Did the media just collectively wake up from hibernation?

I’m more than a little puzzled about why the media is just now picking up on the NSA’s despicable spying programs. Wired covered most of this information more than a year ago.

When I hear reporters and pundits talk about the recent seizure of Associated Press phone records, or "telephony metadata" from Verizon customers, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve fallen back in time to the quaint (pre-9/11) period before massive breaches of everyone’s privacy became routine.

While ignoring all of the NSA/FBI/CIA/DoD/DHS whistleblowers that were exposing truly outrageous violations of the constitution, the press acted outraged that the Department of Justice was snooping around AP phone records. I’m not defending the DoJ for getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar, but I’m more concerned about the thousands of cookie monsters in the other three-letter agencies that are devouring cookies by the truckload.

I am glad that many previously silent media organizations decided to finally report on the more egregious programs like PRISM, but I’m disappointed that so many pundits have feigned surprise at these excesses. This is not a mere momentary lapse in ethical and constitutional boundaries, or a flawed implementation of FISA or the Patriot Act. The indiscriminate spying and collection of private data is exactly what was intended. 

This massive datacenter in Bluffdale, Utah would be quite unnecessary for the seizure of data about terror suspects alone.image
Even without the testimonies of numerous NSA whistleblowers, it would be remarkably obvious that a datacenter of this scale is excessive for the collection and storage of any and all information that the US Constitution allows. If we don’t reverse course, some of George Orwell’s works may find themselves in the non-fiction section.

In short, the media’s newfound awareness of the government’s massive invasion of privacy is quite welcome, and I hope it continues. That being said, they are embarrassingly late to the party.

I don’t know what everyone is on about, of course that is what Satan looks like.

I don’t know what everyone is on about, of course that is what Satan looks like.

oldfilmsflicker:

the decline in hotness of George Lucas is one of the greatest tragedies in all of cinematic history

And yet, that’s not nearly as tragic as the decline of his filmmaking abilities.

oldfilmsflicker:

the decline in hotness of George Lucas is one of the greatest tragedies in all of cinematic history

And yet, that’s not nearly as tragic as the decline of his filmmaking abilities.

(Source: oldfilmsflicker, via the-new-flesh)

Is Mitt Romney “the only sane choice” for Libertarians? No.

Mitt Romney

I was thoroughly surprised and disappointed when I read the title of (2008 Libertarian vice presidential nominee) Wayne Allyn Root’s op-ed: “Mitt Romney is the only sane choice for Libertarians.” Frankly, Mitt Romney is not a sane choice for any true libertarian [1], thus the assertion that he is the only valid choice is baffling. The best choice for libertarians is clearly Gary Johnson.

My reasoning is simple. No sane libertarian would vote for any candidate who supports dramatic increases in military spending, indefinite detention without trial, increased military interventionism, the Patriot Act, and expanding the war on drugs. Each is incompatible with freedom, yet they are all supported by both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Mr. Root asserts that Romney believes in balancing the budget. But Mitt Romney refuses to propose any serious cuts in Federal Spending, and jumps at the opportunity to say what he will keep or expand. There is currently no good reason to believe that he will not increase the deficit, especially if he cuts taxes. [2]

Do I think Mitt Romney is better than Barack Obama? Marginally, yes. But it is not a choice between big government and small government. It’s a choice between Democrat-brand big government and Republican-brand big government. We’ve already dealt with both of these for the past twelve years. Neither were even remotely appealing to libertarians.

Gary Johnson is obviously the only sane choice for libertarians in any party. People claim that a vote for any third party candidate is “wasting your vote”, but this is ignorant for a number of reasons.

Unless you’re among the 3% that live in Ohio, the chances of your state casting the deciding electoral votes are miniscule. More importantly, both Romney and Obama are terrible candidates. Surely there is no way to waste your vote more than to vote for someone with a complete disregard for your constitutional rights. Adding to their vote totals will simply increase their complacency and hubris.

On the other hand, a vote for Gary Johnson shows true opposition to the status quo. Furthermore, if Mr. Johnson receives just 5% of the popular vote: the Libertarian Party will gain major party status. This means that they will receive federal funding and equal ballot access in future elections. This could essentially end the two-party system as we know it.

Most of this country is already fiscally conservative and socially liberal. The only way we can expect our government to move in that direction is to end the vicious cycle of electing statist Republicans and statist Democrats. Don’t vote for Barack Obama, don’t vote for Mitt Romney, don’t even write-in Ron Paul. Vote for Gary Johnson.

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This comparison demonstrates my least favorite thing about Pinterest: previews of wide photos are miniscule. Meanwhile, portrait photos and infographics are given a ton of space.This really doesn’t make any sense. The majority of photographs are wide, and a vast majority of monitors are wide. So why must Pinterest turn a beautiful 3200x2000 resolution photograph into a diminutive 192x120 preview? Most users will not click to see the full version of all these images.A more logical approach would be to have varying widths like Pulse and most physical newspapers:  Another possible improvement would be to switch to side-by-side scrolling, like the (upcoming) new Myspace: 
Pinterest is often praised for its simple/clean interface, but this seems like a major oversight. I don’t see any good reason to favor extremely tall infographics over landscape photos like this.

This comparison demonstrates my least favorite thing about Pinterest: previews of wide photos are miniscule. Meanwhile, portrait photos and infographics are given a ton of space.

This really doesn’t make any sense. The majority of photographs are wide, and a vast majority of monitors are wide. So why must Pinterest turn a beautiful 3200x2000 resolution photograph into a diminutive 192x120 preview? Most users will not click to see the full version of all these images.

A more logical approach would be to have varying widths like Pulse and most physical newspapers:

Pulse 

Another possible improvement would be to switch to side-by-side scrolling, like the (upcoming) new Myspace:

Pinterest is often praised for its simple/clean interface, but this seems like a major oversight. I don’t see any good reason to favor extremely tall infographics over landscape photos like this.

Early this week, the US national debt surpassed $16 trillion. I was curious about how much money that really is, and since my bank account doesn’t have quite that much I had to use some (to use Bill Clinton’s favorite word) arithmetic. 
As it turns out… it’s an astounding amount of money. To demonstrate that, I calculated how large $16,000,000,000,000 would be in cash.

Here’s what I found, 16 trillion $1 bills strung together end-to-end would:
» Wrap around the entire Earth 62,265 times at the Equator.» Reach the Moon from the surface of the Earth 6,681 times. » If you laid these strings of bills side-by-side, the bridge to the moon would be 1,453 feet wide.» Reach the center of the Sun from the center of the Earth 16 times.» From the Sun, the string of bills would stretch well past Saturn and almost reach Uranus (which it will pass next year). 

» Weigh 35,274,000,000 pounds, or 17,637,000 tons. » Extend for 1,550,510,000 miles.
If we instead use the largest denomination currently in circulation in the US, the $100 bill: the string would still stretch around the earth 622 times.
What about the deficits from the last 4 years? Using the official figures from 2009 (when Obama took office) through 2011, and the Congressional Budget Office estimate for 2012: we get $6,668,178,000 in debt. In $1 bills, that debt would stretch around the Earth 25,950 times. The interest payments from the last year alone would also make it around the Earth well over a thousand times.

To calculate these figures, I multiplied the length of the dollar bill (6.1 inches) by 16 trillion and then divided that by various distances like the length of the Earth, distance to the moon, and the distance to various planets. Here is the spreadsheet with my calculations, feel free to check my figures and let me know if you find any inaccuracies.
As the national debt approaches the last two planets in our solar system, I hope that our politicians will consider more (ahem) down to Earth budgets.

Early this week, the US national debt surpassed $16 trillion. I was curious about how much money that really is, and since my bank account doesn’t have quite that much I had to use some (to use Bill Clinton’s favorite word) arithmetic. 

As it turns out… it’s an astounding amount of money. To demonstrate that, I calculated how large $16,000,000,000,000 would be in cash.

Here’s what I found, 16 trillion $1 bills strung together end-to-end would:

» Wrap around the entire Earth 62,265 times at the Equator.
» Reach the Moon from the surface of the Earth 6,681 times. 
» If you laid these strings of bills side-by-side, the bridge to the moon would be 1,453 feet wide.
» Reach the center of the Sun from the center of the Earth 16 times.
» From the Sun, the string of bills would stretch well past Saturn and almost reach Uranus (which it will pass next year). 

Dollar Bills Solar System

» Weigh 35,274,000,000 pounds, or 17,637,000 tons. 
» Extend for 1,550,510,000 miles.

If we instead use the largest denomination currently in circulation in the US, the $100 bill: the string would still stretch around the earth 622 times.

What about the deficits from the last 4 years? Using the official figures from 2009 (when Obama took office) through 2011, and the Congressional Budget Office estimate for 2012: we get $6,668,178,000 in debt. In $1 bills, that debt would stretch around the Earth 25,950 times. The interest payments from the last year alone would also make it around the Earth well over a thousand times.

Dollar Bills 2

To calculate these figures, I multiplied the length of the dollar bill (6.1 inches) by 16 trillion and then divided that by various distances like the length of the Earth, distance to the moon, and the distance to various planets. Here is the spreadsheet with my calculations, feel free to check my figures and let me know if you find any inaccuracies.

As the national debt approaches the last two planets in our solar system, I hope that our politicians will consider more (ahem) down to Earth budgets.

Happy Birthday to Alan Turing

This Saturday marked what would have been Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. But although he died in 1954, he accomplished far more than what most people could ever dream of. If you haven’t read about him before, I highly recommend researching his accomplishments in greater detail than I will provide here.

Alan Turing

In the midst of The Great Depression, he developed the Universal Turing Machine (which was recreated as a Google Doodle today) and the idea of machines computing independently. He passionately pursued the possibilities of what this kind of machine could accomplish, and accurately predicted the future:

I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.

That statement might not seem particularly groundbreaking to us today, but we must remember that at the time: computers were people. The idea of machines doing any significant amount of computing for us was pretty radical. And yet, he was already pondering the possibilities of concepts well beyond what anyone had thought was possible, like recursive algorithms and artificial intelligence. This wild imagination led him to develop the foundation of modern computing, something that would not be fully utilized until decades after his death.

What is really incredible about his accomplishments, is that they could actually be considered a side project to his code-breaking for the Allied forces during World War II. He repeatedly cracked the various incarnations of Enigma, which was used by the the Germans to encrypt their communications. The interception of these messages allowed the British to avoid starvation by getting their food ships past German U-boats, and gave them a significant tactical advantage in key battles.  Because of this, Winston Churchill stated that Turing made the single biggest contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. One of his colleagues has even stated that “without him we would have lost the war.”

It is astounding to me that he developed the framework of the modern computer in the 1930’s, yet that is still arguably not his greatest achievement.

One would think that the father of modern computing and the biggest contributor to Allied victory in WWII would both be internationally renowned historical figures (and perhaps the subject of Dos Equis commercials). Yet, the same man achieved both of titles- and many do not even know his name.

In closing, Alan Turing is a hero. It’s crazy to me to think about how different the world could be today had he not pushed the envelope so far, so long ago. Conversely, I can only imagine what he would have been able to accomplish if he had survived to see his 100th birthday. One thing is for sure: I am grateful for computers, algorithms, and the brilliant minds that have developed them.

Where Apple’s icons are going, they don’t need roads.

Where Apple’s icons are going, they don’t need roads.

Album Art
  • Parov Stelar's Chambermaid Swing
  • This is my theme song for today.