Archive for March 2003


I spent an afternoon and dinner at the home of my old G&T teacher , Cassie Lewis and John Jordan on Saturday night. The company and food was soul-freshening. An image of Cassie’s fantastic lemon meringue pie being held out to me still lingers on my mind like a gentle dream. I think that the entire evening revolved around that piece of pie. The bread and cheese, the intelligent conversation, seeing John’s orchid photos, cutting red, yellow and orange peppers, laughing about Sally’s taxes, the wine, listening in on two interesting conversations at once, admiration. A fantastic evening!

I just got a callback from Assemblywoman Connie Myers about my letter concerning the YES Network (see Journal entry for 3-10-03). :-) She tells me that she was already opposing the bill and values my opinion. :-) Thanks for the callback, that’s very stand-upish! In the (boring) continuing struggle between the YES Network and Cablevision, talks broke down on March 28th, so it looks like we won’t be getting -any- YES network. Actually, the dispute won’t have a direct impact on my family. We’ve been planning to switch to Direct TV for a few months. It’s cheaper and the picture quality is better. Dish Network is less expensive still, but they don’t offer YES Network at all. [insert confused head gyration here].

I just read this article on ESPN where YES stopped simulcasting a WFAN radio sports program for 45 minutes because, mostly due to a minor scheduling issue, the president of Cablevision was going on the show before the YES Chairman even though YES asked to go on first. What friggin babies! “If I can’t go first, then I don’t wanna play!” Remember “Everything I Needed to know I Learned in Kindergarten”? The article was originally reported in Sports News Daily concerning the “Mike and the Mad Dog” radio show.

I’ve been using CoolEdit Pro to convert a bunch of my aunt’s older records to CD. The digital filters on this thing are sweet. After just a few minutes of configuring (and figuring out what all the pretty buttons do) I was able to run one filter to eliminate clicks & pops. Then I configured my own custom filter to get rid of some hums (likely from the turntable motor and/or a power supply). Filtering takes about 2 hrs per 30 minute album side; overnight batch processing to the rescue! The restored tracks sound just about great! I’m a little unhappy that the sound right off the record is a little muddy. That might be due to an old needle, or maybe that the records are like 20 years old and have been well enjoyed many times over that period. I know that chasing that beast could take forever so, you know what? They sound pretty darn good!

Ha! I got the .mp3 settings adjusted just so. The .mp3s are indistinguishable from the originals but only take 0.5 meg per minute… 15 meg per album side… 25 albums per CD! The entire collection will fit on one CD! Wow, you’ve come a long way, baby! I’m encoding at 64kbps mono. The albums are in mono, I considered sticking with stereo to keep the “fullness” of the sound but after carefully listening to some, the only thing I could hear in full stereo on the vinyl were the skips! I also thought about doing simulated stereo but that doesn’t do too much for opera.

I just wrote a review of some software from Eric Berntson’s company, Clonesoft. It is very practically named, “Customize Folder Shell Extension”. If you run Windows and use File Explorer, you really want this software. It’s the bees knees! Get it!

Today’s fun statistic: According to American Greetings, Women ages 35 to 55 purchase 92% of all greeting cards. So you know how your mom is always better at sending cards than you are and she always rails you about it? Well it turns out that she has a decided advantage, she’s genetically predisposed to purchase cards! Source: Baseline Magazine, March 2003, p. 44.

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itty bitty Javascript CSS randomizer

Although I don’t know Maruah, I have to thank him/her for the itty bitty Javascript CSS randomizer in my Journal. There’s nothing to it! Reload this page to understand what I’m talking about.

<script language="javascript">
var WhatCSS=Math.round(Math.random()*1);
var TheCSS=new Array(2);
document.write('<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="' + TheCSS[WhatCSS] + '">') ;

And thank you to BrownPau for the CSS toggler… who got it from A List Apart.

I finished reading In Code but I’ll likely be re-reading it for a while to get all the number-theory goodness I can out of it. I’ve started playing piano… well, sort of. It’ll be a while before I’m a virtuoso.

Hackettstown is listed as Helm’s Mills

Today’s weirdness: The air freshener was recently patented. U.S. Patent : #6,254,836


Here’s a good one… I borrowed Microsoft Streets & Trips from Dave B. Today I wrote him this letter.

Hey, is there an update available for Microsoft Streets and Trips? This copy is a bit out of date. Hackettstown is listed as “Helm’s Mills”. It hasn’t been called that since at least 1780… maybe earlier. !!!!

It’s weird, If you search for “Hackettstown, NJ” in MS Streets & Trips, it works fine. But when I downloaded a map into Pocket Streets on my Pocket PC, the name “Helm’s Mills” was in the place of where I know Hackettstown to be, and it claimed to not know where “Hackettstown” was! So I looked online and found some historical info mentioning that Hackettstown was, in fact called Helm’s Mills at some time in it’s distant past!

You can verify this by searching for Helm’s Mills NJ in MS Streets and Maps. Up will pop downtown Hackettstown!


I’ll find out more about the history of Helm’s Mills and then write to Mr. Gates about his error…

Henry Rollins in a spoken word concert

I saw Henry Rollins in a spoken word concert at ESU last night. He rocks. I’ll tell ya more about the evening soon.

Haven’t I become the joiner?

On Monday I joined the US Chess Federation and the Hackettstown Chess Club. I had a very nice tournament game against Jeff from the HCC… of course losing, but it was a blast! I was thinking so hard, it hurt!

I big_los_angeles_in_hangar_1.jpg (64551 bytes) joined the East Coast Indoor Modelers in February. They… we… fly ultralight slowflyer model airplanes inside the huge hangar at the Lakehurst Naval Base. The hangar was built for dirigibles in the 1920’s. I’ll be taking my dad there this summer. I’m sure he’s going to get a huge thrill because the last time he was there was with his father, sometime in the ’50’s or ’60’s. The hanger is big. The photo at the right is of the American Los Angeles/German LZ-126, an airship 650 feet long! Click on it to get an idea of the scale.

After thinking about it for a couple years, I’ve decided to actually try my hand at making music. Liner notes on my first multi-platinum record might read in part, “Lee’s wide ranging influences include Crystal Method, Chemical Brothers, African mbira music, number theory, the natural world, his own insights into the boundary between the real and imagined worlds of the mind.” Yea, whatever.

I’ll shortly be joining RAMAC, the Roxbury Area Model Airplane Club so I have a place to fly my just finished Zagi 400X model airplane! I’d show you a picture but I can’t find the battery charger to my digital camera! It’s been missing now for weeks… I’m going to have to really go rummaging for that charger!! I’m pretty happy with the plane. It took a lot longer to finish than I thought. The devil is in the details. (or, as Daniel Dennett might say, god is in the details… but that’s a story for another time). I’m still waiting for the charger for the plane. It’ll be here in a few days.

TJIC had recommended I see Dark Star. Oh my! It’s hilarious! It’s astounding! It’s better than cats, I’ll see it again and again! My sides hurt for hours after seeing this movie. See this movie. This was John Carpenter’s first film, done originally as a student project in 1970 and finished up as a professional film in 1974. 1 Part Rocky Horror, 2 Parts 2001: A Space Odyssey, a dash of Snow Crash, gently blend in 2 cups Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, bake at 350 until tender.

Currently reading:

  • Total Keyboard by Terry Burrows
  • Future Music Magazine, February 2003
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (audiobook in the car)
  • In Code

Recently Finished

  • Wired Magazine, April 2003
  • Baseline Magazine, March 2003

Megan’s Law Wouldn’t Have Saved Megan

[Written 3-23-03]

It’s true.

Megan’s murderer, Jesse Timmendequas’ prior criminal history would not have put him on the Megan’s Law sexual predator list.

Megan’s Law created a sex offender registry. The idea is that if a community knows about a sex-offender in their midst, they can protect themselves against the person. To protect people like Megan, they probably should have created a pedophile registry. But they didn’t.

[Unfinished Rant]

O’Brien, Tim. 1996. Would Megan’s Law Have Saved Megan. New Jersey Law Journal 8 July, 1, 24-25.

The Brady Gun Law wouldn’t have saved Brady
The Brady Law forces waiting periods for handguns and background checks for potential purchasers. Although he has serious psychological problems, that wasn’t medically recorded until after the incident. John Hinckley wouldn’t have been stopped or even slowed down by these restrictions.

Jenna’s Law probably wouldn’t have saved Jenna
Jenna’s Law (1998) in New York State reduces the amount of “time off for good behavior” that a violent criminal can receive. It increases the actual time served from 66% of the sentence to 85% of the sentence. Her murderer, Nicholas Pryor had served 2/3 of his 14 year sentence (9.3 years) and was released on parole. During that parole, he killed Jenna Grieshaber. Jenna’s Law reasons that if he had served that extra 2.6 years, Jenna would be alive today.

Eh, I don’t buy it.

Sean’s Law would have saved Sean
Sean’s Law (enacted in NY in 2003) revokes the driver’s license or permit of a junior driver upon their first appearance in court… not at the arraignment 3 weeks later. It seems reasonable that a young driver might not have a handle on the whole “don’t drink and drive” thing. Phew, at least some of the laws are reasonable.

Kendra’s Law wouldn’t have saved Kendra (or Edgar)
This NY state law enacted in 2000 requires that people with a history of not taking their mental illness medication be forced into treatment. Unfortunately, her killer, Andrew Goldstein wasn’t resisting treatment. (reference: USA Today article) A few months after Kendra was killed, Edgar Rivera was killed by Julio Perez. Julio hadn’t resisted treatment either. Actually, he was begging for treatment. Read this snippet from Mcmanweb.

Two weeks before the subway incident, Julio called a friend, panic-stricken because he needed medicine and his Medicaid card had been canceled. Two days before the attack, he again called his friend, saying he wanted to go into a hospital, but he failed to make a planned rendezvous. On the day of the attack, he actually presented himself in the emergency room of a VA hospital, and later that day appeared at a police station and a courthouse to file a complaint against his “enemies”.

The Jeanne Clery Act probably wouldn’t have saved Jeanne Clery
(though I think disclosure is a very good thing)

The website says

Jeanne’s parents, Connie and Howard, discovered that students hadn’t been told about 38 violent crimes on the Lehigh campus in the three years before her murder.

By using the Jeanne Clery Disclosure website, I can see that in 2001 through 2003, there were 41 violent crimes involving students (including “non-campus” incidents).

By snagging some numbers , it looks like the national average of violent crimes in college in 1999 was (roughly) around 50 per 100,000 students per year. Lehigh’s crime rate was about 38/3 / 6,800 students = roughly 100 per 100,000 students per year. I haven’t researched this fully but it looks like Lehigh was “a bit more” dangerous than the average school. Would she have still gone to the school if she had known? I’d argue “probably”.

What Jeanne didn’t Know

Her killer was a drug and alcohol abuser, a Lehigh student whom Jeanne had never met. He gained access to her room by proceeding, unopposed, through three propped-open doors, each of which should have been locked. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

After learning that Lehigh had unilaterally absolved itself of blame in Jeanne’s death, we had no choice but to turn to the courts, suing the college for negligent failure of security and failure to warn of foreseeable dangers on campus. In 1988 Lehigh settled with us and agreed to materially enhance security on its campus….

Through my limited crime statistics info on the Lehigh campus, it unfortunately don’t seem like the security enhancements have done any good. I only know what’s been said on their website but it would seem tremendously difficult to prevent a smart, murderous Lehigh University student from entering a small suburban dorm (The Centenial II Complex) like the one Jeanne lived in.

The following is a very startling statement:
A recent survey, cited by the U.S. House of representatives, reported that thirty-eight percent of college women questioned had either been raped or were victims of felony sexual assaults.

But that doesn’t make sense… From 1998 to 2000, there were 5,500 “Forcible Sex Offenses” and “Nonforcible Sex Offenses”. Divide that by 3 for 1,833 per year. There are approximately 9 million college students in America. That means you have a 1,800 in 9 million chance of being a sex offense victim per year. 1,800 * 5 years in college / 9 million = 0.1% chance of being a victim in college. Lets take a wild guess and say that fully 3/4 of those 9 million aren’t undergraduates. that changes it to a 0.4% chance of being a victim… these numbers aren’t adding up.

I fear and loathe random crimes like this one as much as her parents did. The steps her parents took were, I believe very positive ones and will likely reduce college crime. But sadly, it probably would not have saved Jeanne Clery.

The Protect Act would not have saved Amber. Though AMBER Alert very well might have saved Amber

AMBER Alert is a good idea. It has saved lives. One should note that no laws needed to be created to enact the AMBER system. The “Protect Act” which President Bush signed in 2003 supposedly in support of the AMBER Alert is by and large a pile of horse shit. It enacts a pile of worthless, expensive, rights violating laws supposedly in the name of Amber Hagerman.

I will show you what the Protect Act does (according to Wikipedia). Take a moment and ask if any of these laws would have prevented or protected Amber Hagerman from being kidnapped and killed. (note that her murder is still unsolved)

* Provides for mandatory life imprisonment of sex offenses against a minor if the offender has had a prior conviction of abuse against a minor, with some exceptions.
* Establishes a program to obtain criminal history background checks for volunteer organizations.
* Authorizes wiretapping and monitoring of other communications in all cases related to child abuse or kidnapping.
* Eliminates statutes of limitations for child abduction or child abuse.
* Bars pretrial release of persons charged with specified offenses against or involving children.
* Assigns a national AMBER Alert Coordinator.
* Implemented Suzanne’s Law. Named after Suzanne Lyall, a missing college student of the University of New York at Albany, the law eliminates waiting periods before law enforcement agencies will investigate reports of missing persons ages 18-21. These reports are also filed with the NCIC.
* Prohibits computer-generated child pornography.
* Prohibits drawings, sculptures, and pictures of such drawings and sculptures depicting minors in (Miller test) obscene OR engaged in sex acts.
* Maximum sentence of 5 years for possession, 10 years for distribution.
* Authorizes fines and/or imprisonment for up to 30 years for U.S. citizens or residents who engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad.
* Does not include drawings, anime, cartoons, and/or comic satire.