Wednesday, February 23, 2005

pod world

After getting my new ipod about 3 weeks ago, I decided to check out podcasting (of recent mention in the NYTimes). While I still think there's a pretty high signal/noise ratio out there amongst podcasters, there are a few goodies like Coverville, The Laporte Report, and (my favorite) On the Media. "On the Media" is actually an NPR show, i.e. a real bona-fide radio program; it's just waaay more convenient to listen to it on my iPod than trying to catch on the radio.

Anyways, you don't need an iPod to listen to these things, just a computer and a podcast aggregator. I used to listen to the radio 24/7 when I was in high school but now only listen for the 30 seconds it takes to get me out of bed in the morning. While I love the music I have, it's nice to have some new music(or intelligent/interesting fodder for thought) to freshen things up.

Partly due to listening to Adam Curry's The Daily Source Code, I've started listening to a lot of mashups recently. Some of them are quite good and I'm especially fond of Beatles mashups because they add flavor to quality music that's almost gone bland after static repitition. Anyway, a few favs are: "No One Takes Your Freedom" by DJ Earworm, "Numb/Encore" by Linkin Park + Jay-Z, and "Boulevard of Broken Songs" by Party Ben. Check 'em out and see if you get addicted too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The New York Times > National > Jailing of Reporters in C.I.A. Leak Case Is Upheld by Judges

The New York Times > National > Jailing of Reporters in C.I.A. Leak Case Is Upheld by Judges: "Two reporters who have refused to name their sources to a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. officer should be jailed for contempt, a unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington ruled yesterday.

The panel held that the reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, may have witnessed a federal crime - the disclosure by government officials of the officer's identity. The First Amendment, the panel ruled, does not give reporters the right to refuse to cooperate with grand juries investigating such crimes."

It's a good question, should reporter's be able to receive information that is illegal for anyone to disclose? What pisses me off is that Robert Novak, the guy who published the identity of a secret agent, is not the one being jailed. That makes no sense to me.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

baby eaters

as posted on the recently killed

Good god, when was the last time you saw a company consciously launching a campaign of terror? I don't use bittorrent to download illegal music but tactics like these inspire me to commit egregious acts of violence against the heads of the MPAA (and RIAA).

Perhaps they should use this as inspiration for future campaigns?

Friday, February 11, 2005

the way we speak

I've always been very sensitive about the way people speak. I often identify voices not by their tone or pitch, but the way they pronounce words and their inflection. If only I could consciously reproduce these subtleties, I would be great at doing impersonations.

Anyways, over the last few months, I've noticed that I speak like a theoretical computer scientist, or, at the very least, an MIT theory of CS person. In everyday conversation I talk normally, but when I start explaining something, or stating an opinion, I start introducing pauses, emphasis, and sentence inflections in a way that people in my lab do. I've always been slightly conscious of this, but as I sit here in the Theory of Cryptography Conference, I'm acutely aware of how distinct a way the people here have of explaining things. There are some variations of this "Theory accent" and I'm quite sure that the MIT version of the accent has been heavily influenced by the Italian accent of Silvio Micali.

This, I think, is due to the facts that Silvio a) has the strongest accent in the department and b) is easily the most interesting person to listen to for any period of time. Regardless of the cause, however, it's rather surreeal to be talking to someone about something utterly non-geek-related and realize I'm speaking with a mild Italian inflection (not pronunciation, mind you, inflection).

For example: In normal English, when you pose a rhetorical question, you do it much in the same way you would pose a normal question: your voice rolls up and down as you ask the question, with natural peaks at both the key word in the question (i.e. who/what/etc.) and the sentence end. With an MIT TOC accent, however, your voice naturally ramps up during the entire question, raising in urgency until you reach the end of your rhetoric question. Then you have a pause, where it is clear that no one should interject an answer, then you give your answer with strong emphasis.

I guess it's natural for people who spend a lot of time talking each other to speak in a similar way (e.g. siblings), but it's just so strange to think of that happening to you in someplace like the crypto group at MIT....

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

the end is nigh

Just a few minutes ago, I saw a girl running on a treadmill and talking on her cellphone at the same time. And I'm not talking "earbud crazy person wire"-talking on the phone -- she was full on holding the phone to her right ear as she ran at an awkward angle to compensate for the fact that she was only swinging around her left arm.

Crazy. Maybe she was talking to her personal trainer? I don't know.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

do the evolution

Now that I've stopped updating my news-related blog, i feel the need to post striking facts in this blog. Apparently not only are youth ignorant about the 1st amendment, but only recently did half of this sountry start believing in evolution. I remember my Biology AP teacher, a devout Christian, started the evolution unit with the disclaimer "I don't believe this, but it's covered on the AP so I'm going to teach you this." But it's still amazing...

The New York Times > Science > Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes: "In a 2001 survey, the National Science Foundation found that only 53 percent of Americans agreed with the statement 'human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.'

And this was good news to the foundation. It was the first time one of its regular surveys showed a majority of Americans had accepted the idea. According to the foundation report, polls consistently show that a plurality of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago, and about two-thirds believe that this belief should be taught along with evolution in public schools."