Voter Fraud

The election season here in Minnesota is over which can only means one thing, recount time. Recounts aren’t that exciting and everybody who lives here knows the drill so I won’t bother covering it. What I do want to write about is voter fraud.

There are a lot of screams in this state about apparently voter fraud. You can look around and find stories of vans loaded with people driving from polling place to polling place to vote. Groups of people are demanding that Minnesota implement a system of voter ID Unlike many states Minnesota doesn’t require you to present photo identification in order to vote. When I arrive at my polling place I’m asked my name and address, if I know both I sign a sheet and get my ticket which allows me to get my ballot.

Likewise when you register in this state if you don’t have a utility bill from the last month or a government issued ID you can have somebody vouch for you. Hearing this you can get where the vans loaded with people going from polling place to polling place come from. The idea is simple; you send a van of people to a voting place, have each person register at that voting place, and have a plant in that precinct that will vouch for each individual.

Two things need to be preserved when voting; ensure each person only gets to vote once and ensure each voter’s anonymity. The reason for the first one is obvious while the reason for the second one may not be so obvious. Anonymity must be preserved to prevent the use of force to coerce people into voting for a particular candidate. I like examples so I’ll use one here. Let’s say Jim is employed by Canadian Pacific as a train conductor. Train conductors are union employees and the union wants you to elect a Democrat. Now let’s say Jim is a Republican and doesn’t want to vote for a Democrat. It’s likely the union will use the threat of force to coerce Jim into voting for the Democrat. So long as anonymity is preserved Jim is able to vote for whomever he chooses without worry. The second anonymity is no longer preserved he has to fear for his safety if he wants to vote for his candidate.

Anonymity can only be preserved by eliminating as many data points as possible. For our example let’s say through some strange twist in faith everybody in Jim’s district voted Republican. Without having to present photo ID Jim can still claim he never went to the polls and somebody must have committed voter fraud. By having to present photo ID Jim can not really deny he was at the polling place because his identify was most certainly confirmed.

This is a convoluted example granted but it makes the point that anonymity is important for the voting process. The question becomes how can we preserved both anonymity and prevent voter fraud? As usual the simplest and cheapest answer lies in impoverished countries. Election ink is used in may countries such as India to ensure each person only votes once. The concept is very simple and only involves having to stain each voters’ finger with a stain that penetrates the skin and lasts for at least 24 hours. Doing this you effectively eliminate the threat of people voting multiple times.

Of course at first glance this doesn’t stop a person from voting in another district. When you look deeper into the problem you find out it does. Most people willing to commit election fraud are also politically inclined enough that they want to effect the outcome of their own district. In other words that person is most likely going to vote in their district and not a neighboring one. Sure it’s not fool proof but it most certainly is close enough for government work.

I have no crazy belief that such a system would be implemented here in Minnesota because we’re Americans damn it and we will use the most expensive system for doing something! Alas it’s a pretty good solution that would effectively eliminate some of the larger problems we have in Minnesota with our election process.

Your Daily Laugh

Want to see something funny? If you answered yes then I have a clip for you (if you answered no then you have no sense of humor and I hate you). A couple of people walked around the recent Rally to Restore Sanity carrying a sign saying “Obama = Keynesian.” Hilarity ensues as people have no idea about economic theories make assumptions:


Election Results

Well the elections are over (for the most part, Minnesota proved once again we can’t really make a firm decision and recounts are going for our governor race) and the results are in. First let me say I’m glad to see Rand Paul won in Kentucky. With another Paul in the office we now have two major weapons to field against the Federal Reserve!

I’m also glad to see balance has been somewhat restored on a federal level. I’m not a fan of any single party controlling the House, Senate, and White House. Now the Democrats have the White House and the Republicans have the house and senate. Hopefully this means complete gridlock on any new legislation on a federal level.

Here in Minnesota we had to once again prove we’re incapable of making a firm decision one way or another. The race looked very bleak for Emmer early one because Hennepin and Ramsey county votes were counted first (these are our major blue districts). After the rural areas started flowing in though things started looking up and the vote is so close there is an automatic recount going down. I’m still betting Dayton will win but hoping for Emmer (a man can dream right?). What would be really good is further Coleman/Franken litigation going down so we don’t have a governor for several months. I believe legislation can’t be passed with a governor’s signature and honestly when no new laws are being created we all win.

Beyond the governor’s seat the Republicans won out in Minnesota. This is what concerns me about Emmer possibly winning, the entire capital would be controlled by a single party. On the other hand Dayton is a crook and a statist bastard so having him in would be nothing but bad news bears for our state.

What I can say is this; watching MSNBC last night was hilarious. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the anchors on MSNBC pinned the possible destruction of the world’s economies on Rand Paul (if he doesn’t raise the debt ceiling according to MSNBC the entire world is doomed economically). It was also funny watching them try to spin the constant loses their preferred party was taking.

iOS and Android Compared

I’ve had some time with iOS on my iPad and Android on my Evo 4G. Obviously there are a lot of differences and I figure I might as well record some of them.

I know there is a lot of debate on whether Android is open or not. Personally I’ve complained several times about how locked down Android is on most phones. After working with iOS for a while I can say for a fact that iOS is a veritable prison compared to Android. Although Android can’t do a lot on a phone that hasn’t been rooted it isn’t tied to a desktop computer.

Generally I don’t have to connect my Evo to my computer unless I need to get some files off of my desktop. I can download most files onto my phone from my phone. The iPad is far different in that it requires all files be downloaded through iTunes. You can’t do a damned thing on an iOS device without a desktop running iTunes. That’s pretty restrictive if I do say so myself.

A big part of this problem comes from the lack of a universal file storage area on iOS devices. On Android devices any files stored on an external media (think SD card) are readable by any application. This means if you use the browser to download a file onto an SD card you can open said file with another program. This can’t be done on an iOS device. If you want to download a file and open it in another program you must download that file on your desktop and transfer the file to your iOS device via iTunes. This is probably the largest limitation in iOS devices.

Another thing that keeps the iOS platform locked down is the inability to install application from a source outside of iTunes. If apple doesn’t approve an application you simply can’t install it. On most Android devices you can side load applications. This means you’re not at Google’s mercy when it comes to applications you can install. Once against this is a pretty severe restriction to place on a device.

One thing that Android has that if find lacking in iOS are widgets. I never thought I’d like widgets so damned much but honestly they are very nice to have. My home screen on my Evo displays the time, weather, upcoming appointments, and my todo list. To see these I just have to turn my phone on. On my iPad I’d have to open a weather application, the calendar application, and a todo application one after another. Widgets make getting specific information quickly easy.

The final mistake made in iOS was the notification system. When an application sends a notification a dialog box pops up and must be dealt with before returning to whatever you were doing before being interrupted. Android has a much nicer system where an icon appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and you can read the notification but running your finger from the top of the screen down. Doing this brings down the notification area with a list of all current notifications that haven’t been dealt with. Neither is as intuitive as WebOS’s notification system though.

Now that I’ve bitched about iOS let me focus on the things it does well. The mos notable difference between iOS and Android is the interface. Apple has a long tradition of having consistent and easy to use interfaces. That tradition holds true on iOS. All the included applications have intuitive interfaces which are easy to navigate. Navigation is done consistently in the included applications as well. For instance if I open and application, flip to a new form, and want to flip back I can rest assured that the button to return me to my previous screen will be in the upper left-hand corner of the new form.

Android is the opposite of this. The user interface in Android is inconsistent at best although it has been improving over the various versions. Hell there isn’t even a unified e-mail application included in Android. If you use GMail then you can use Google’s GMail application otherwise you are stuck with the other stock Android e-mail application. These two applications don’t even work in similar manners. For example GMail has a threaded interface with the controls for replying at the top of the e-mail header. The other e-mail application has no conversation threading and replying is done via two buttons at the bottom of the screen. I haven’t a clue what Google was thinking with this but it’s not done properly.

Although it hasn’t been released for the iPad yet I’ve played with iOS’s multitasking via emulators and devices at the Apple store. I’ve mentioned that the back end mechanism for doing multitasking in iOS is poorly implemented but the interface for switching between running applications is better than the standard Android mechanism. In iOS tapping the home screen twice brings up a list of “running” applications (application still in memory but not using CPU time). Every application that’s still in memory will be listed and can be selected by tapping on the application’s icon. Android’s mechanism is… inconsistent. Holding down the home button will bring up a list of the last eight used applications which is tedious (it’s roughly a one second button hold which doesn’t sound long until you’re trying to quickly navigate between three applications). Some applications are good enough to place an icon in the notification bar which makes navigating back to that applications as easy as opening the notification area and tapping on said icon. One again neither are as intuitive and quick as WebOS but this post isn’t about how to do an interface correctly.

If there is one thing Apple is good at it’s polish. I can’t never say that enough because it’s honestly very true. Most things under iOS just scream polish job. The interface is consistent, animations always run smoothly, and shit happens when it’s supposed to (when I rotate my iPad the screen rotates instantly, sometimes my Evo requires a few violent shakes to get the screen to notice I changed the device’s orientation). Everything on iOS is kept simple and uncluttered which I really appreciated on a mobile device.

The bottom line is you have a choice; a very pretty and well run prison or a village to roam where little was planned in accordance with other parts. Frankly Android still wins in my book because I can actually have a device that doesn’t need to be tethered to my computer at any time. On the other hand using iOS is a very pleasant experience and I can know with some matter of certainly what will happen when I do something.

Election Problems

I have to admit this page is hugely entertaining. The website is called Our Vote Live and tracks (they claim in real time) reported problems at polling places. Some of this are hilarious. For instance:

Nov. 2, 9:11AM, Garland, TX, Registration inquiry, Polling place inquiry: After asking polling place and hours, wanted to know if child was registered to vote.

Of course most of the reported problems are actually kind of depressing (for instance several problems reported that there isn’t anywhere to park at the polling places). It should serve as a good read throughout the day.


I’m went early today to get my vote on and let me be very honest, there were far too many unopposed people running. Before you say anything I do realize the hypocrisy of making such a statement and not running to oppose any of these yahoos… but that’s not going to stop me from making the statement.

In case anybody is curious I voted for Emmer. Since getting the nomination Emmer has been kind of alienating me by pandering to the neocons but at the same time he’s pro-gun, anti-tax, and for the most part pro-liberty. What put me over though is the fact he’s not Mark Dayton (who will probably win because the majority of votes in this state seem to like pain).

I left quite a few spots blank. When I was first old enough to vote I believed that somebody who was running unopposed deserved my vote for just being willing to run. I no longer believe that and have decided if you’re running unopposed I won’t vote for you.

Because I’m an idiot I forgot to post the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance Political Action Committee (GOCRA) endorsement link. I really do like how GOCRA does their endorsements because they explain why they are behind the people they endorsed.

Why I Don’t Trust Cloud Computing

The center tile in buzzword bingo these days is “cloud computing.” It’s a fancy term for a return to centralized mainframes of yesteryear. It’s a simple concept, put all your files onto servers connected to the Internet so your files are available anywhere you go. Although this part of the idea is sound (so long as you’re encrypting your data before sending it out to a server you don’t control) some people use online storage as their only means of data retention. The latter part of this is the thing that will fuck you over hard.

Case in point Facebook just bought, a popular file storage and sharing site. The following notice is what is important to this post: is free up to 100 MB of storage, but some people pay to get more storage. Nov. 15 will be the last date when will charge users for extra storage, and those paid users will also lose all their data after Dec. 15.

Never have your data exclusively on a storage system that you do not fully control. I have friends who use Google Docs as their word processor and sole means of storage. If Google decides to shut down Google Docs that’s it, my friends’ files are gone.

I encrypt and backup my most important files to Amazon’s S3 service. The reason I utilize S3 is so I have an off site backup in case of my apartment complex burning to the ground or other unforeseen event that could destroy everything I own. Of course I also keep a local copy of every file I create (two copies actually, one of my computer and one on a backup drive) in case my Internet connection goes down, Amazon’s S3 servers hosting my data go down, or Amazon decides to terminate S3 out of the blue. The main thing I’m trying to get across here is the fact that you should never use online storage that you don’t completely control as your sole means of data retention. Always have a (preferably two) local copy of every file you create. Everybody who stored files on has a month and a half to get their data off before it’s gone forever.

Tomorrow’s Elections

Remember, remember, the second of November,
The politicians’ treason and plot,
I know of no reason,
Why the politicians’ treason,
Should ever be forgot.

Remember, tomorrow the polls open at 0600. Get there so you can vote out the statists bastards and get the pro-liberty candidates in. Personally I’ll be voting for Tom Emmer since he’s the best pro-liberty candidate for governor out there (especially when you compare him to that asshole Dayton).

Also remember when electing judges to vote out the incumbents. Those of us in Minnesota have the right to vote in our judges but the current batch of judges have been jockeying for that to change. Show them we don’t want that change. I’ll also throw out a mention of Greg Wersal. He’s running for a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court and frankly deserves it. It’s certainly pro-liberty.

Coliseum Gun Show

Well there was a gun show at the Coliseum at the State Fair Grounds in St. Paul this weekend. Due to events I got roped into I was only able to make it for the last couple hours on Sunday. Needless to say some people were already packing up so I didn’t get a chance to see a heck of a lot of things.

I did get to hold and mess with a FN SCAR though. After holding it, playing with the controls, and getting a general feel of the gun I question what makes it worth $2,700.00 (price tag the seller had on it). The gun just screams pointless retrofit of the AR-15 platform. My main complain is the height at which the optics are mounted. There is an entire assembly above the SCAR’s bolt that appears to be solely for the ambidextrous charging handle. The mounted iron sights also set high above the top rail which made it very difficult for me to get a good cheek weld and see through the sights (my head was sitting about a inch too low when properly welded to the stock). All this weight above the bolt also made the gun feel pretty top heavy to me.

Needless to say I wasn’t impressed. When I say I wasn’t impressed I don’t mean I wasn’t impressed for the value dollar-wise to what you get. I wasn’t impressed period. Even if the SCAR was only $800.00 I’d chose a traditional AR-15 over it just for the fact that I don’t like the feel of the SCAR at all. Yes it has hacked together ambidextrous controls but they feel exactly like that, hacked together.

I guess I’ll never manage to be an elite super cool mall ninja operator. Hell I still think the M-14 and AK-47 are pretty awesome guns.

There isn’t much I can comment on in regards to the rest of the gun show simply due to the fact I wasn’t able to make it there until a couple of hours before closing. I’m sure there was some cool stuff there that was all bought up before my arrival.