a few reasons why I enjoyed growing up Reform Jewish

Monday, 25 February 2008
  1. The traditions
  2. A different language
  3. Being a minority
  4. Our Rabbi
  5. The holidays
  6. The emphasis on humanity
  7. All the simple stories about reinterpretations
  8. Being different

the skeptics are not asking the right questions

Wednesday, 20 February 2008
  1. Why wouldn’t there be Earthlike worlds around other stars?
  2. Why wouldn’t there be life in our own Solar System wherever there are water and energy sources?
  3. What could we not gain in understanding about the cosmos, ourselves, and our place in the Universe by direct investigation?
  4. Why shouldn’t we be exploring these places with every resource we can muster?


Friday, 15 February 2008
  1. Dell
  2. American health care
  3. Valentine’s Day
  4. Dell Customer Care
  5. Dentists
  6. Money
  7. Dell
  8. Social conservatives
  9. Ice
  10. Dell Customer Care

Lists of Things Official 2008 Campaign Coverage: Clinton vs Obama

Wednesday, 13 February 2008
  • Taxes
    • Clinton: Repeal the Bush tax cuts.
    • Me: Repeal the Bush tax cuts, close corporate loopholes, and reform the AMT. Heck, maybe even rewrite the whole damn thing from scratch.
    • Obama: Repeal the Bush tax cuts, cut taxes on the poor.


    • Clinton: Sign Kyoto, cap-and-trade system to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050, boost fleet auto fuel standards to 35 mpg in 10 years, increase nuclear power production.
    • Me: Ramp up auto fuel standards rapidly–50 mpg+, institute some kind of cap-and-trade system, ratify Kyoto and have another conference with even more ambitious goals, focus on solar and nuclear and R&D on more efficient technologies much more than biofuels.
    • Obama: Push plug-in hybrids etc, push domestic biofuel production, get fleet fuel standards to 50 mpg, use cap-and-trade to reduce CO2 80% by 2050.


    • Clinton: Allow citizens to choose an expanded version of Medicare; paid for by their employers with tax credits and subsidies from the money we save by taxing the richest 1% again.
    • Me: My right to life shouldn’t have a rent charge associated with it. Healthcare costs in this country are stupidly high and stupidly bureaucratic, particularly for someone like me with a treatable chronic illness. I like the solution proposed on the last season of ‘The West Wing:’ extend Medicare to all who want it. Force HMOs to compete with Medicare; just like backbreaking-tuition private colleges compete with low-tuition state schools.
    • Obama: Universal health care for all citizens, maybe single-payer?


    • Clinton: Direct engagement with Tehran, but maintain tough sanctions. Military strikes are OK.
    • Me: Stop being stupid; diplomacy works and sanctions work (proof: lack of WMDs in Iraq). Military action is the last thing we need in the Middle East right now; but it really shouldn’t be completely ruled out.
    • Obama: Sustained diplomacy; military action is OK if warranted.


    • Clinton: Bush made a mistake (and also duped her and the rest of the Senate); she would end the war. Our involvement shouldn’t be a “commitment without end;” nor should we pull out immediately. Leave a small number of troops in support/training roles.
    • Me: Announce a timetable for withdrawal that brings troop levels down slowly over the next three years and begins immediately. However, (1) be prepared to restore some level of involvement at the behest of the Iraqi government and (2) leave a fast-response force to respond to genuine terrorist threats and safeguard Iraqi politicians.
    • Obama: Wants to draw down troop levels in accordance with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.


    • Clinton: Boost the number of Border Patrol, help boost the level of education in Muslim nations.
    • Me: Fight terrorism not as a war, but as an intelligence/precision-strike operation. Be prepared to go after cells anywhere, and build up a strong political network to support this. Perhaps a treaty is in order? Also, policy decisions that mitigate the appeal of terrorism would help, too (i.e., bettering the lot of unemployed 20-year-old Muslim men).
    • Obama: Focus on al-Qaeda rather than the states in which terrorists reside, use the military in response to “actionable intelligence.”

    Gun control

    • Clinton: Supports bans on semiautomatic weapons, supports “sensible gun control laws.”
    • Me: If you’re not in the military or police, you don’t need a gun. I say, they should all be registered, any gun owner should have to have a license, there should be stringent waiting periods and background checks, and there should be zero tolerance for weapons in schools, universities, and malls.
    • Obama: Reauthorize Federal Assault Weapons Ban, enact restrictions on when/where/how often people can purchase guns. Came out for gun control every time the issue arose in Illinois.


    • Clinton: Personally opposed, but it should not be illegal. Strong education programs and availability of contraceptives should be used to reduce the number of abortions rather than bans.
    • Me: Should be “safe, legal, and rare” (quote: Bill Clinton)
    • Obama: Abortion should remain legal under Roe v. Wade.


    • Clinton: No Child Left Behind is too focused on testing and does not provide adequate funding for schools. Opposes vouchers.
    • Me: Schools should get money from closing tax loopholes. Their curricula should be (at least in part) federally mandated to avoid Kansas substituting religion for science, and should not be taught to a test (though some sensible testing may be used as a metric).
    • Obama: Merit pay for teachers (funded by cutting NASA’s budget). Opposes vouchers.

    Gay marriage

    • Clinton: Opposes Constitutional amendments, etc defining marriage as between a man and a woman; but prefers allowing civil unions.
    • Me: The issue is one of gay civil rights. Absolutely they should be allowed to marry, with precisely the same legal rights as a heterosexual couple.
    • Obama: Opposes Constitutional amendments, etc defining marriage as between a man and a woman; supports civil unions that are marriage in all but name.

    Stem cell research

    • Clinton: Supports embryonic stem cell research.
    • Me: DO IT.
    • Obama: Supports embryonic stem cell research.

    Net Neutrality

    • Clinton: Supports net neutrality.
    • Me: I like my tubes.
    • Obama: Supports net neutrality.


Tough call. I like Clinton’s take of health care (though Obama used to have a pretty great call to action on single-payer systems there). Obama is a little stronger on the environment. Clinton has some great specific ideas on foreign policy (her Iraq drawndown strategy, funding Muslim schools, engaging Tehran) but has generally been too hawkish for my taste. I like turning away from No Child Left Behind, Obama, but please don’t cut NASA–it’s great for inspiring those yoots to get edumacated! I think I’d be happy with either, but I lean slightly Obama, and I’m reinforced there in hoping that the Reactionary Right doesn’t rally against Clinton and elect someone silly (thankfully, though, it looks like McCain has prevented that). I guess my ideal general election matchups would be either:

Barack Obama (D) vs John McCain (R), or

Hillary Clinton (D) vs John McCain (R) vs Mike Huckabee (I)

…and either way, I happily vote Democrat.

open challenge to nanfluidics/biometrics/adaptive controls engineers out there

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Design a chip that…

  1. Can be implanted in a subcutaneous blood vessel.
  2. Can accurately measure blood glucose with a sampling frequency of once per minute or better.
  3. Gets the power it needs to perform measurements from motion (e.g., of the arm in which it is implanted) .
  4. Has a 5+ year lifetime.
  5. Transmits its readings to a watch-sized device near the implant site.
  6. Interfaces, via the watch and an adaptive control law, with an insulin infusion pump to maintain blood glucose at 100 mg/dL, given an estimate of carbohydrate intake supplied via the watch or pump UI.

And then sign me up for a human trial.  Thanks.

the sequence

Sunday, 3 February 2008
  1. 96.6
  2. 106.6
  3. 110+
  4. 106.7
  5. 100.2
  6. 100.2
  7. 100.1
  8. 100.2