I keep saying that neither of the dominant powers in the government are doing enough to get our spending under control. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I'm right. So is Rand Paul. Although as I've noted before, I'm a sucker for education and research, so I flatly disagree with many of the cuts he's proposing, I think this is the first legitimate proposal for spending cuts that comes close to the order of magnitude that we need to get our budget under control.
I spent several hours today on Python Challenge. It's kinda like notpron, except meant to be solved with the assistance of Python programming. I learned more about the httplib module, the regex module, the zipfile module, and the pickle module, so I'd say it was a decent investment of my time.
Patent reform: you're doing it wrong (pdf). Giving patents to the first inventor to file (rather than first to invent) means that large multinational companies with lots of resources can take patented ideas from other countries and patent them in the USA. Smaller damages means it won't cost as much for the big companies when they're found to infringe on each other's patents, but also means that it won't cost them as much when they're found to infringe on small companies' patents. And what happened to prior art? The whole thing seems to make patents worse at their original intent - to promote innovation by those who fear others would copy their ideas before they can monetize them. This proposal weakens patents as the leveler between the small innovator and the large corporation.
This also sucks for academia, where you're supposed to publish as soon as possible, once you have good results. Now, if you want ownership of your idea, you have to get your patent filing in first, too, in addition to getting your system working and reduced to practice. This could have the unwanted side effect of forcing innovators to pick between publishing and patenting.
If you've been following the George Hotz vs. SCEA lawsuit (summary: Hotz succesfully reverse-engineered and published an unrevokable key used in the PS3 security system, SCEA got mad and filed a lawsuit against him in California (he lives in NJ) to make an example of him), **** just got real. I think I'm pretty well-informed on the facts in the case, and while I don't know all the relevant US court cases, it seems pretty clear that Hotz hasn't broken any law.
This evening, Luke and Jake invited me over for some Settlers of Catan. At 10:15 pm. 'Twas awesome. After much distraction, we played a fine game in which I won by a single turn at the very end, thanks to a Year of Plenty that I used to build a road and a settlement on a desert space, which I followed up with a Victory point. It was a thrilling game. After the round, we sat around and chatted for a while, and Jake played songs on guitar, and then we played a few matches of N64 Super Smash Brothers. Jake is ridiculously good as Link. Eventually, it was quite late, so I grabbed my tools (I'd left the set with Luke from when we built our multitouch table early last semester) and headed home.