Friday, May 30, 2003

going to war to free up our troops(?!)

sound paradoxical? check this out

IN AN INTERVIEW in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is quoted as saying a “huge” reason for the war was to enable Washington to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia.

“For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” Wolfowitz was quoted as saying.(full text)

The implications of this, if proven true, are huge. US credibility and European ties which are currently healing, will shatter. Even our greatest ally, Tony Blair, is facing immense pressure from Parlaiment to prove that there really was evidence of Iraqi WMDs prior to attacking Iraq.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, meanwhile, was fighting his own battle against allegations that he fabricated evidence against Saddam after the BBC reported that an intelligence dossier had been altered at the request of his office to make it “sexier” by claiming that Saddam’s weapons could be readied for use within 45 minutes.


More than 70 disgruntled members of Parliament have signed a motion urging the government to give evidence to Parliament on Saddam’s weapons and Britain’s motives for going to war.

This uncertainty about the true reason for attacking Iraq comes at a time when after more than a month of control in Iraq, the US is still struggling to find any conclusive evidence of the existence of Iraqi WMDs.

If the US-led coalition had evidence of Iraqi WMDs and followed up on that intelligence but found no WMDs, why can't the US declassify that evidence now? The Baath Party has been abolished. There is no significant resistence to coalition occupation. What's going on here?

Oh, I forgot. Bush is too busy trying to garner Middle East Peace to release intelligence reports.
Philly council passes anti-Patriot Act resolution

PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia on Thursday became the largest city in the nation to pass a resolution condemning the USA Patriot Act, saying it "weakens, contradicts and undermines" constitutionally protected rights.

The nonbinding resolution, sponsored by outgoing Councilman Angel Ortiz and passed 13-3, urges the region's three congressmen and two senators to push for a repeal of the act entirely - or its provisions that "violate fundamental rights and liberties."

The vote made Philadelphia the 117th community to condemn the law, according to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a Massachusetts-based organization that provides a template for anti-Patriot Act resolutions on its Web site and tracks their passage.

(full text)
Newsweek: top public high schools in the nation

The Top High Schools

Public schools are ranked according to a ratio called the Challenge Index devised by Jay Mathews: the number of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests taken by all students at a school in 2002 divided by the number of graduating seniors. Schools that chose more than half of their students by grades or test scores were not considered because the index is designed to identify schools that challenge average students and does not work well with schools that have few or no average students. The schools ranked below have the strongest AP or IB programs in the country. Each of them is in the top four percent of all American high schools measured this way. If you know of a public school that belongs on the list, with at least as many AP or IB tests as graduates in 2002, contact Jay Mathews at

Surprisingly, Signature is not on that list (all schools with a ratio of 1:1 or higher get on the list). Either there's some qualification Sig does not meet (charter does not quallify as 'public' maybe), or Matthews simply missed Sig in his research because we're a new school. I mean, many seniors took AP English Literature, AP Calculus, AP Govt, and AP Art History. And then the juniors took AP English Language. And the sophomores took AP World History. And an amalgamation of students took AP Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), AP Art (various types), and AP Foreign Language (various types).And some people took 9 AP tests *cough*amy*cough*.

The only question remaining is: where would Sig rank on that list? I estimate a challenge ratio of around 3.5, placing Sig at 22nd in the nation.

It'd be pretty cool if the list is corrected to have Signature in the top 25.

[appended 11:23: I received an email from Ms. Gregg, in which she states that Ms. Snyder figures we're around #57. Cool]

[appended 11:52: Ok, Amy straightened this out for me. The list is based on the stats from the year 2002, when Sig wasn't even its own school. So we'll make the list next year, if they produce it again]

Thursday, May 29, 2003

My mom never believed me when I claimed this:

Playing Video Games Not So Mindless After All

In four experiments Bavelier and her colleague C. Shawn Green discovered that people who played video games several times a week for six months could monitor complex visual information more easily than non-game players.

But when the researchers gave novices 10 hours of training on the game Medal of Honor, they improved their visual processing skills.

"By forcing players to simultaneously juggle a number of varied tasks (detect new enemies, track existing enemies and avoid getting hurt, among others) action-video-game playing pushes the limits of three rather different aspects of visual attention," Bavelier said.

Nothing beats a rousing game of minesweeper. 53 secs on intermediate baby!

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

American Idol: Election 2000 edition?

'Idol' voting strained nerves, nation's telephone systems:

Many people received busy signals during the final three hours of voting on Tuesday, causing some to suspect that, in shades of the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential contest, the lost votes might have produced a different result.

But like a radio call-in contest, phone networks can handle only so many calls at one time. The Idol finale was like a local radio contest magnified many times, featuring two popular contestants, millions of fans and two phone numbers with equal capacity. All this adds up to a virtual deadlock.

"My daughter dialed more than a hundred times and couldn't get through," says Cynthia McGinnes of Chestertown, Md. "This is a show we all watch as a family, and I guarantee you we will never watch again. My daughter was in tears."

I know I cried.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

deja vu

U.S. to consider destabilizing Iran: "A senior defense official told CNN on Sunday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believes Iran's Islamic regime shows "great potential for the government to crumble from within" and that others in the administration might advocate undertaking an effort to encourage internal upheaval."

Why? "The United States has been increasing pressure on Iran with a series of public comments and steps that might be designed to force better cooperation from the Islamic state on matters of terrorism and the development of nuclear weapons."

Wait a second....I thought we said that about Iraq...

what now?!

Teenage girl conquers Everest:

Fifty years ago this week, Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay found themselves at the top of the world's highest mountain.

They got there almost by accident - cutting around a hump before, as Hillary put it later, several 'whacks of the ice axe' and a few 'cautious steps' led them inexorably to Everest's snowy summit.

They must have realised that other climbers would follow, but could have been forgiven for thinking they would not include a small 15-year-old girl. But last night it emerged that Ming Kipa Sherpa, 15, had become the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest, after slogging up the last stage of the 8,848-metre peak on Thursday night.
those north poseians

What a cool class project!

Trebuchets can be used for things other than breaking down the walls of a medieval castle or hurling burning barrels of oil onto the enemy. Just ask North Posey High School technology students and their teacher, David Koewler. On Thursday, Koewler and his technology class finished building their own trebuchet - a medieval siege weapon and successor to the catapult - near the school's football stadium.

For those of you who don't know, a trebuchet (tre-bu-shay) is basically catapult, only it utilizes counterweights and torque to throw a projectile, instead of tensile strength of the catapult arm. A trebuchet looks like this:

That's such a great class project. Hm...AP Physics next year could do this....

Friday, May 23, 2003

homeless sting

if I got a ticket from this operation, I would be steaming...'Homeless' police give traffic tickets.

"KISSIMMEE, Florida (AP) -- Police went undercover as homeless people in tattered clothes to catch drivers running red lights. The undercover officers watched for lawbreakers, then radioed ahead to other officers, who pulled the motorists over and gave them tickets."

Wednesday, May 21, 2003


Tonight, Signature School's first class of seniors graduated. With speeches by Matt Schulteis, Amy Reitz, Nirav "phat" Shah, Stephen Feistel, Erin Kappell, and Andrew Bernard, the graduation ceremony in the Victory was fantastic. The future of the Class of 2003 is guaranteed to be bright. In 10 years when the class has its reunion, I would not be surprised to see at least one prominent politician, a few acclaimed artists or writers, and several leading scientists in the room.

Well, I guess I'm a "senior" now. Signature is in for a whole new brand of seniors next year.

Monday, May 19, 2003

dress code? what's that?

Glad this is far away from lil' ol' Eville.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

psat revision

question 10 on the writing for the 2002 Tuesday PSAT was dropped.

Unless, it hurt your score. Whichever score, your original or your question-10-dropped score is higher, the College Board accepted.

The question was

10. Toni Morrison's genius enables [her to create](A) novels [that arise from](B) [and express](C) the injustice
African Americans [have endured](D). [No error](E)

The answer was intended to be E. But choice A, while correct, is advised against.

I bubbled C for some reason...but dropping question 10 helped out my score by two points, so I'm not complaining!
America, land of the free

And home to the most stable democracy in the world...right?

Monday, May 12, 2003

Sunday, May 11, 2003

prom at the Pagoda

Last night prom was held at the Pagoda. It was a night to remember for everyone involved, I'm sure. One of the highlights of the evening was when the DJ called out the Siganture staff to dance in the middle of the floor to the "You make me wanna Shout!" song. The last song was "Your Song." Although some rain forced everyone into the lobby at one point, at least it was not thunderstorming, as many forecasts had predicted. The night was just meant to be.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Opinion article from USA Today

Americans open wallets for schools

The poll tells lawmakers that it is time for a new discussion about the role tax policy plays in supporting quality public education. Federal and state governments, acting as if the good economic times would last forever, cut taxes at the expense of quality education and young people. Some elected officials supported tax cuts as a backdoor way to reduce public education funding without having to assume responsibility for the consequences. America's most disadvantaged young people pay the price, especially because state and federal lawmakers are demanding higher achievement from these students without giving them the extra help they need.

Except, not in Evansville, Indiana.

Friday, May 02, 2003

read 'em and weep