Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The Monty Hall Problem

In Computer Science class, we are finally programming. Our latest assignment poses a deep math problem, called the Monty Hall Problem:

"For this game imagine that there are three doors. Behind one of the doors is a....1968 Dodge Dart. Behind the other two doors is...a goat. To play you choose a door which you hope has the car. Before the door is opened, the game host opens one of the remaining two doors and shows you a goat. Remember that since he is the host he knows where the car is and alwasy opens a door that has a goat. The host gives you a choice. You can stick to your original guess or you can switch.

The burning question here is "Should you switch?"

Full Text.

This problem is infinitely easier to solve when you program it. An online simulation of the Monty Hall problem can be found at Monty Hall Dilemma.

If you can solve this problem without using the online simulation or having the solution explained to you by someone else, you rule.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

SOL: Saddam Online

Pat sent me the following link from Wired News: Dear Saddam, How Can I Help?

In the article, Saddam Hussein's inbox was apparently hacked into, and various emails to Saddam were noted.

"I will try to give you (An Sha Allah) a good way to protect your Muslims," said the message. (The phrase In sha' Allah, from the Quran, means "God willing.")

Meanwhile, an Internet user from Washington state, who conceded that he would "probably end up on some FBI watch list for writing this," told Saddam in an e-mail dated Aug. 1 that he opposed military action against Iraq.

The author of the message advised Saddam to be diligent "with regards to your own personal security. The CIA is notoriously crafty and extremely adept at overthrowing governments and their respective leaders."

In another message, a resident of Vienna, Austria, told Saddam in a July 27 message that Americans are "arrogant," and that should the United States attack Iraq, "you need only send a ticket and I will come to Iraq to fight the Americans. I am a good shot, and I am serious about my offer."

The e-mails sent to were obtained earlier this month by first clicking on a link labeled "Check your e-mail in Uruk" on the homepage of Iraq's state-controlled ISP,, then guessing the login name and password -- both of which were the same five-letter word.

Interesting. Of course our society has those few hypocritical idiots who don't realize how great our world is and how horrible Saddam's is. But this article is still surprising.

A greater idiot is the guy who made the email account have the same password and username. Five letters? Probably "jihad."

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The Week at Signature in Review

And now for an update for the events at Signature this week:

This Wednesday Signature School's AP Chem class attended the 2nd Annual Mole Day (6.602*10^23) competition at USI. Will Eimer, Pat Blandford, and I took part in the actual competition and received 2nd place next to Castle High School. Castle did amazingly well. After the opening questions, we never closed within 5 pts of Castle. Mr. Thead has threatened to nitpick my lab reports in retribution for missing the "How many electrons are in an orbital?" question. But after having him harass me nonstop about that question I now know that the answer is a resounding I mean 2.

Last period Wednesday Ms. Snyder informed the students that Signature School's teachers are filing a lawsuit against the EVSC to postpone a deadline for teachers to decide if they want to rejoin the EVSC, because they may lose all their retirement benefits if they sever themselves from the EVSC.

The rights in question include such items as retirement benefits, accrued sick days and personal leave days, 403-B (the equivalent of the 401(k) plans in private business) and transfer rights.

This lawsuit won't affect how Signature operates, but it plays a large role in establishing future EVSC-Signature relationships. Read this Evansville CAP article for more info.

Thursday most of the school remained uninformed that two sniper suspects had been apprehended. But the news spread quickly. Check out the latest sniper news.

Friday Sig held its first dance as a charter school at the CK Newsome Center. Some notable costumes for the Halloween Dance: two Quailmen (from the cartoon "Doug"), the Seven Deadly Sins, two M&M's (both whose names are Emily), and a druid/monk/padawan/something, and someone who dressed up as me (no, I wasn't a lazy bum and not dress up. Elliot made a Sibo mask and brought a tennis racquet). The live band was OK; some of their reditions of Weezer and The Hives were pretty good, but some of their songs just didn't do much for me. Overall the dance was slow to start because everyone showed up late; and after some good songs a long string of bad rap songs chased most of the students into either the atrium or the lobby. I personally left with a group to go to IHOP. I got a speeding ticket, but that's another story.

If you liked the Halloween Dance, please buy a Winter Formal ticket this coming week. If not enough tickets are sold by Friday then the dance will have to be cancelled due to lack of funds!

Signing out.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Freedom of the Press

Pat Blandford contributed the following news story, from the Reporters sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders)- Reporters Without Borders is publishing the first worldwide press freedom index:

The first worldwide index of press freedom has some surprises for Western democracies. The United States ranks below Costa Rica and Italy scores lower than Benin. The five countries with least press freedom are North Korea, China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Bhutan.


The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings.

I'm sure that the RSF didn't factor in that the United States comprises a large portion of the Internet population, which is the ultimate form of free media.

Note that the RSF has a website with a .fr (France) domain.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Finally, Bush earns some of my respect

Yahoo reports that Iraq Could Be Disarmed Peacefully, Bush Say:

"The stated policy of our government, the previous administration and this administration, is regime change, because we don't believe he is going to change," Bush said after talks with NATO Secretary General George Robertson.

"However, if he were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, the conditions that I've described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed."

Will this move succeed? Probably not. But this was a long overdue move. Finally Bush has opened up the possibility of a peaceful solution to this standoff. Kudos to Bush for one of the most savvy moves he's ever made.

Could this move have anything to do with the news that North Korea is openly pursuing nuclear arms?

Monday, October 21, 2002

School Choice

My favorite college newsource has published Scott Tibb's new article on School Choice. Althought his article covers mostly vouchers, it is an interesting read.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Signature Speech

Signature's long-awaited first forensics competition was attended at North's debate meet today. In first place, Signature School won sweepstakes by a sizable margin--in large part due to Signature's huge controversy squad and to the fact that North can't place at their own meet. Anyhow, in Controversy, Phuc Nguyen got 5th, 3rd was Rob Russel, 2nd was Amanda Niehaus, and 1st was Saiga, all from Sig. In novice LD, Rollin Reisinger tied for 2nd (side note: Melody's novice at Reitz won 1st). In novice Policy, Elliot Thornton and Emilie Wasserman got 5th. Paradoxically, they received 3rd and 2nd speaker awards, respectively. In varsity Policy, Alex Reising and Sibo Lin won 3rd and Sibo received 5th speaker award. Amy Reitz and Nirav Shah won 1st. Amy won 2nd speaker and Nirav won 6th. In Congress Chrissi Gentry won 1st.

Overheard at the tourney: "got kentucky?" "funding: a 2% increase on peanut taxes" "unfortunately you received an econ major for your judge" "if I were to go crazy and kill Nirav, that would NOT be significant" "I have 1,2,3...5 off-case attacks" "I have responses. 9 responses"

Friday, October 18, 2002

Grades at Sig School

Today in last period we received our report cards for the 1st nine-week grading period. For me, the only problem was a computer glitch that said my GPA was a 3.5. I've heard complaints about grading in Computer Science, Multimedia, and Health class though.

Despite all that, grades at Signature School are phenomenal. 76% of all freshmen have either an A or B average. 73% of sophomores and 73% of juniors have an A or B average. 76% of all seniors have avoided senioritis and earned an A or B average. Compare this to the figures at the EVSC schools...Sig School has an average GPA roughly 30 times higher.

But before breaking out the champagne, let's examine this figure closer. Is the 75% of the school that is on the A or B honor roll receiving good grades, or earning them? Critics of Sig School will no doubt ask this question. My honest answer, as a student, is that I've personally "received" some undeserved A's--but in general I've had to work hard to earn my grades.

In Comparative Government, I've been drowsy frequently lately. I don't participate much in class, except when no one else does and there is an awkward silence; that's when I step up and take one for the team. Otherwise I remain inanimate throughout class.

Spanish, while fun, hasn't really taught me much yet. Sure, I've done well on all of the tests in there, but we haven't covered that much new material; I haven't learned anything new. That's like giving me an A in AP Chemistry for me passing Chemistry I level tests.

And AP Computer Science...that class has been horribly instructed. I passed both of our tests effortlessly, but WE HAVE LEARNED ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in there. So far APCS has been a free period. We get to mess around on computers and do our Calculus homework in there.

So in Comparative Gov, I haven't worked that hard to receive an A. In Spanish and APCS, I've done as much as one can do, but the courses haven't required an "A effort" out of me yet.

That said, Calculus, AP Chemistry, Physics, and English have actually taught me a few things this year, and I've had to work quite a bit in those classes. I'm very proud to have retained my 4.0 despite taking Mr. Thread's AP Chem class. I've never had to work so hard JUST FOR HOMEWORK. Thank you Mr. Thread. And in Calculus, this year is the first that I've had to seriously concentrate in class. English has been thought provoking and just reviewing how to diagram sentences helped my PSAT writing immensely (or so I think. I'll find out for sure in December).

So, overall Signature School has made me earn my A's. Keep in mind that those classes that I've lazed through and still gotten an A may be challenging for other students in the class. Other students are definitely being challenged. Signature School is no fluke, learning is going on, and grades are NOT inflated. Want proof? Just wait 'til December...

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Breaking News: Witness Account Falsified

Yahoo reports Account of Sniper May Not Be True

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - A witness who described the Washington sniper, his assault rifle and his cream-colored van gave police a phony story, investigators said Thursday in a setback that casts doubt on much of what the public thought it knew about the roving killer.

Prosecutors said the witness could face charges. His name was not immediately released.

Fairfax County police Lt. Amy Lubas said the inaccurate account was exposed by checking it against that of other witnesses to Monday night's killing of an FBI cyberterrorism analyst in a crowded Virginia parking lot outside a Home Depot. It was the only shooting so far that people actually saw.

Asked if the witness may have intentionally misled investigators, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who is heading the investigation, said simply, "Yes."

Just another example where the police and media should stay silent. Now false prejudices against AK-47s and cream colored vans have been spread. SunSpot has the following interesting story which provides the polices' view of this whole media fiasco:

"Good morning. I have absolutely nothing to report. We're trying to catch a real bad guy here. And if I tell you what we know about the bad guy, the bad guy may find out and change his method of operation, which will just make him harder to catch.

"So I'm wasting my time with you people. Goodbye."

But, of course, Moose will say no such thing.

If he did, the media would descend on police headquarters like a mob of torch-wielding Balkan villagers looking for the Wolfman, and nothing would get done.

They would follow Moose home at night and park their satellite trucks at his curb and set up their TV cameras on his lawn and throw their take- out pizza boxes in his shrubbery, and the poor man would get no peace at all.

So he steps to the podium day after day and listens uneasily as one self- important blowhard after another fires questions, some of them questions that would actually make you wince.

"What would you say to the sniper if he's watching?" was one of the beauties Moose took recently.

According to eyewitnesses, the chief seemed stunned that someone had actually dusted off this horrible cliche. For several seconds he was silent. Perhaps he was reassessing his decision years earlier to go into law enforcement, for surely he could never have envisioned a day when he'd have to deal with such fools.

"Turn yourself in," the chief managed at last.

If the sniper were sitting at home in front of the TV, he must have had a good long laugh over that one.

Full Text
Media Coverage of the Sniper Shootings

Hoosier Review showed me this cartoon, which, ironically, was the topic of discussion in Internation Relations today:

Mrs. Gogel claims it is the media's right to broadcast whatever they want. I agree. But I also think the media should follow common ethics and use good judgement in what to publish. If the New York Times received, through an anonymous source, a secret US plan to attack Iraq, hopefully it would use good judgement and determine that it would be best for America to keep the battle plans secret.

The media fails to use this restraint in covering the sniper shootings in Washington. The most widely publicized "tip" of the shootings was the reported "white Chevy Astrovan." While proponents of media freedom may claim that reporting this tip to the public may make them cautious of white Astrovans and a few lives might be saved, it is much more likely that the sniper simply switches cars. Further, the sniper can now play off of the public's fear of white Astrovans. If he picks a target in an area with multiple Astrovans, and then makes a getaway in a green Pinto, there are going to be a lot more sightings of "a white Chevy Astrovan at the scene" and the investigation will be stalled on the now-false tip of a white Astrovan.

Please, media, stop revealing information on the sniper investigation to the public at the expense of their lives.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002


The Courier Press reports Mad Mower!

Sunday, October 13, 2002


The sniper in Washington may be scary. But today in Indonesia a much more blatent act of terrorism has shocked the world.

Yahoo reports that Indonesia was the target of a terrorist bombing.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) - Terrified tourists tried Sunday to flee this island paradise that turned into an inferno, with the death toll from a pair of bombings climbing to 187 and fears growing that al-Qaida has taken its terror campaign to the world's largest Muslim country.

Many of those killed by the two bombs that tore through a nightclub district on Bali island Saturday were Australians as well as other foreigners from Canada, Britain, Germany and Sweden. Three Americans were among the more than 300 people injured.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombings — the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia's history — but suspicion turned to al-Qaida and an affiliated group, Jemaah Islamiyah, which wants to establish a pan-Islamic state across Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. It is accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. and other embassies in Singapore.

Why would al-Qaida, which wishes to unify the Muslim world, bomb a predominantly Muslim country? Well, Bali happens to be a major tourist resort for nearby Australians. Australia also happens to be one of a handful of countries that have already pledged support to Bush in an attack on Iraq.

Bali is a popular tourist destination, and 20,000 Australians were estimated to be on the island. Seven of the 24 dead identified by Sunday evening were Australian.

Upon further inspection, however, al-Qaida's motives are less clear. Bombing Australian tourists is likely to strengthen, not lessen, Australian support of the US-led push on Iraq. Did al-Qaida bomb Bali just to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with, not be be outdone by some solo maniac in Washington? Perhaps. Many terrorist attacks, but specifically this one, seem to have no rhyme or reason.

Dave Barry

OOooh wow, he is a genius. Read Dave Barry's lastest column.

*comment* The column mentions Jimmy Eat World, Rob Zombie, and MxPx. It must be good ;-)

Friday, October 11, 2002

EVSC sued for Activity Fee

Reminds me of the poll tax.
Musings over Iraq in Indiana

I remember a month or so ago, I was copying evidence for my debate case at Staples. Amy and I were discussing the news from last night: Blair pledged almost unconditional support for the war on Iraq. Amy was in total disbelief, her faith in Tony "The Mack" Blair shaken to its foundations. A customer at Staples overheard us and asked what news we were talking about. When she was informed that Blair had bent to Bush's will, her response was one of contempt toward Amy's dovish tendencies: "Well, he should support us. They are our allies!"

Those who support the war on Iraq do not bother me. It's interesting to discuss the merits and costs of attacking Iraq. Those who think the rest of the world has a moral obligation follow our lead in a preemptive strike on Iraq DO bother me.

Unfortunately the majority of Evansville seems to be hawkish, as evidenced by all the major radio stations' obvious biases. However, one prominent figure has spoken against attacking Iraq: Representative Hostettler. Sure, he has had some trouble with the local media, but his recent speech in the House vote on giving Bush authorization to use force in Iraq was superb.

But if the United States is moving ahead with the President’s proposed policy of preemption, then what deterrent value is left of our nuclear triad?

Do we just throw out our long-held reliance on deterrence in exchange for a policy of preemption? I would hope not.

But if the President prefers preemption, and if he’s going to use the parameters for action against Iraq as the guide to future preemptive engagements, then we have to realize that the other members of the Axis of Evil are America’s next targets.

If that’s the case, then this vote sets an ominous precedent to which the United States and the rest of the world will be held in the future.

Full Text.

Vote for Hostettler!

Update: The House has overwhelmingly passed the bill authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq. Nice effort by Hostettler at least.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Soda Wars

The Courier and Press reports: Soft drink pacts split area school districts:

When Tim Daugherty gets thirsty at Boonville High School, he has two options: go to the water fountain or buy a Coke product.

Because the Warrick County School Corp. has an exclusive contract with the Coca-Cola Co. - one that will net about $1.4 million over 10 years - Daugherty's choices are limited. Whether he chooses bottled water, juice drinks or a soda, he has to buy something manufactured from Coca- Cola Co.

"I think (it's) disgraceful - they have no business in the school," said Dr. Douglas Morrell of Rushville, Ind., a vocal opponent to selling soda in schools. "We have an obesity problem in this country, and between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., these kids are under our control. We should not be part of the problem - we need to be part of the solution."

"Why can't a girl come to school on a hot day wearing a thong and a stripped-down bra? There's not a law against it," Morrell said. "It's because it's improper. You can sum it up this way: Pornography is hard to define, but it's not hard to recognize. Same thing with what is right to feed the kids - it may be hard to define, but it's not hard to recognize."

The reason an exception is made for soft drinks, he said, is the money involved. "The only reason this stuff is being served in the schools is because of money," Morrell said. "This stuff is not healthy for kids - it is for monetary reasons. Should we be making money at the sacrifice of our kids' health? It's pure, unequivocal greed."

As of right now, 48.1% of the people who voted on the Courier's poll say that sodas should not be sold in schools. Things are looking bad for us caffeine addicted students...maybe I'll try coffee.

Unrest in Lil' Eville

Today, on the way to the Fall Festival, I saw a sick, perverted sight after the Pigeon Creek Bridge; at the stop lights, people were parading around the stopped cars with signs, advertising for a parking lot for the Fall Festival, no doubt.

Or so I thought.

As I got closer, I realized that those people weren't unscrupolous solicitors, but political activists! A TOTALLY NEW sight, protesters of the war on Iraq protesting in EVANSVILLE. Who even knew that Evansvillese kept up with current events? That we're politically aware? But it was a nice surprise. Signs wielded by the protestors read "Protest the Iraq War" and "Honk for Peace!"

Yay Evansville! Stay up to date on the war on terror!
The Fall Festival

This week is the West Side Nut ClubFall Festival!!! Non-Evansvillese may be wondering, what is this "Fall Festival"? Word 'round here is that it is the second largest street festival in the nation behind New Orlean's Mardi Gras. It is perhaps the SINGLE good special event that Evansville hosts. The food is great! I recommend the portabella mushroom sandwiches at booth 67. Although I'm not a "rides" person, some people really like the Ring of Fire and Gravitron (sounds like titles of bad sci-fi movies).

If you live in Evansville, YOU MUST GO! Just today Adam was opened to the light/smell of the FF, har.

If you don't live in Evansville, try going to Mardi Gras.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

The New Scientist reports New P2P network funded by US government.

A team of government-funded US scientists is building a Peer-2- Peer (P2P) network that they say will solve technical problems with existing P2P networks, such as Gnutella and Kazaa, and might even one day supercede the web.

The first application will be a distributed version of the web. This raises the prospect of it being very easy to published information anonymously, for example, pirated music and video.

But he does not believe this should curtail his research. "How do you prevent people from doing bad things? I don't think this is a technical problem," says Balakrishnan.

In fact his team is developing algorithms precisely to thwart the censorship or control of information on IRIS. "People are working in our team to prevent removal of information," he says. "I am not interested in censoring the publishing of information."

Ok, so what is the government doing exactly? One moment the government is sabotaging the p2p networks, the next, it is funding a more advanced, anarchic p2p network? Our tax dollars at work.

Personally, I download music (if any copyright agents are reading this, "I'm only kidding!") and I don't think much of it because the record companies aren't losing any sales, because I wouldn't buy cd's even if mp3s were illegal. I'd rather tune into the FREE radio. But I do see the harm of widespread illegal music trading, at least on principal of copyright and capitalism.

The government needs to take a consistent stance against illegal trading of copyrighted mp3s. I know that sounds insane, but there are plenty of people like me who would listen to any free music. Some artists will distribute free mp3s, and their popularity will rocket. Maybe then more and more musicians will bypass the bloated record companies and make music directly for their audience.

Ironically, protecting copyrights may revolutionize music and kill the record companies when all is done. Let's do that.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Be a Mentor

Signature has just implemented the mentorship program, which pairs veteran seniors/juniors with freshman to help them get used to Sig. In seminar on Friday, all the mentors met their freshmen, and chatted for a bit. As one of the three juniors in the mentor program, I have to say it's nice to chat with some of the freshmen. Just chat. It doesn't seem like they really need much "mentoring", though I suppose I could do that too if my padawan (waddup Wesley?!) asked. Seriously though, I think it's fun to talk to freshmen (they aren't as bad as we make them out to be, honest). Since most people at Sig are friendly, and I don't have any classes with freshmen, it's a fun opportunity to make new buddies. I already recruited some freshmen for the girls tennis team, hehe.

So what implications will the mentorship program have this year? I predict it will be a great step toward upper/lower classmen integration, mirroring the golden age of interclass relations two years ago when the freshmen (my class) and the sophomores (now seniors) were buddy-buddy.

As an offshoot of the mentorship program, what if we had integrated seminar groups?

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Congrats to Maggie!

Maggie Trible, who contributed her article on "The True Story of Signature School" on SM a month or so ago, has been published in the Evansville Courier and Press!

A student's view: What Signature School is like.
Ha. Ha.

Yahoo reported The World's Funniest Joke.

"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services.

He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."

There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, "Ok, now what?"

But apparently different nationalities enjoyed different types of jokes.

Researchers found significant differences between nations in the types of jokes they found funny.

People from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand preferred gags involving word play, such as:

PATIENT: "Doctor, I've got a strawberry stuck up my bum."

DOCTOR: "I've got some cream for that."

Americans and Canadians favored jokes where people were made to look stupid.

TEXAN: "Where are you from?"

HARVARD GRAD: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions."

TEXAN: "OK -- where are you from, jackass?"


Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Inconclusive Proof: Is Osama Alive?

The New York Times posted a new report, 10-Month bin Laden Mystery: Dead or Alive?

TORA BORA, Afghanistan, Sept. 23 This is where the trail ran cold.

With the uncertainties surrounding Osama bin Laden since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States whether he is alive or dead, in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or perhaps in some hide- out much farther afield this much is known: The last sightings of the leader of Al Qaeda of which pursuers can be reasonably certain were here in the White Mountains of southeastern Afghanistan.

More interestingly, that article also recalls the failed capture of most of al-Qaeda. Remember how the possible escape of bin Laden was blamed on the Northern Alliance's unwillingness to surround al-Qaeda? They left al-Qaeda an escape route through the mountains into Pakistan? Well apparently the US predicted that escape route but refused to block it due to the high risk of casualties.

Within weeks, high-ranking British officers were saying privately that American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung clouds, were too high. Similar accounts abound among Afghan commanders who provided the troops stationed on the Tora Bora foothills on the north side of the mountains, facing the Afghan city of Jalalabad. Those troops played a blocking role that left the Qaeda fugitives only one escape route, to the south, over the mountains to Pakistan.

Another commander, Hajji Zaher, said in an interview in Jalalabad that he had pleaded with Special Forces officers to block the trails to Pakistan. "The Americans would not listen, even when I told them that one word with me was worth more than $1 million of their high technology," said Mr. Zaher, 38. "Their attitude was, `We must kill the enemy, but we must remain absolutely safe.' This is crazy. If they had been willing to take casualties to capture Osama then, perhaps they'd have to take fewer casualties now."

How far are we really willing to go in the war on terror?