Life

While browsing around the Internet, I came upon a rather startling series of videos. These videos were the first, in quite a long time, where I had to stop part way through and take a break. They show the absolutely staggering poverty and conditions that exist within the country of Liberia.

BE WARNED that these videos are not for the faint of heart in any stretch of the imagination. However, if you are willing to experience what exists in our world, then these videos will challenge you. I bring you, The Vice Guide to Liberia.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Part VI:

Part VII:

Part VIII:

I don’t know if the other parts haven’t been published, or what, but right now, I could not find the links to part 7 and 8… but damn, this is some captivating reporting. The remaining episodes have been posted as they have been released.

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Geekery

Working with the random() function in PostgreSQL can be a bit tricky if you’re trying to populate a table.

The random() function in PostgreSQL will return a number between 0 and 1 like so:

SELECT RANDOM();
      random       
-------------------
 0.115072432027698
(1 ROW)

If you’re trying to get a whole number from random(), you can use some multiplication and the round() function to let random() work for you. Say you wanted to get a random number from 0-100:

SELECT ROUND(RANDOM() * 100);
 round 
-------
    22
(1 ROW)

For the project I’m working on, we wanted to pre-populate some birthdays with random dates. I tried using a combination of the datetime functions with an interval and random() and couldn’t quite get there. Searching around on Google didn’t provide too many useful results so I turned to the wonderful folks in the #postgresql chat at irc.freednode.net. Using a combination of the above and the suggestions from the chat room, I was able to come up with a query that did what I wanted:

SELECT NOW() - '1 year'::INTERVAL * ROUND(RANDOM() * 100);
           ?COLUMN?           
------------------------------
 1987-01-20 11:10:34.26494-07
(1 ROW)

That means we could easily update our tables for people with random birthdays with a single update query:

UPDATE TABLE_NAME SET birthday = NOW() - '1 year'::INTERVAL * ROUND(RANDOM() * 100);

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Life

The Law Enforcement Against Prohibition blog just announced that the Senate will be removing the ban that they have had in place against their voters since 1998.

In 1998, the voters of Washington D.C. voted for Initiative 59 to allow medical marijuana. This was challenged by using something known as The Barr Amendment which effectively prohibited D.C. from lowering any penalties on schedule I controlled substances. Not only did it stop the initiative from passing, it disallowed the release of the vote tally information.

Now, 11 years later, voters are finally getting what they asked for. In the FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Conference Report: Financial Services Summary, dated December 8th, 2009, under the “Important Policy Items” section, you can find the following:

“Removing Special Restrictions on the District of Columbia: Eliminates a prohibition on the use of local tax funds for abortion, thereby putting the District in the same position as the 50 states. Also allows the District to implement a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in other states, allows use of Federal funds for needle exchange programs except in locations considered inappropriate by District authorities, and discontinues a ban on the use of funds in the bill for domestic partnership registration and benefits.”

Sounds like things are going to change in D.C. for the better.

Looks like the federal government can’t ignore medical marijuana anymore. This is a huge step in the medical cannabis and cannabis legalization movement as it forces our federal government to be faced with this issue right outside their front doors. Hopefully this will not only help the people of Washington, D.C., but also spark good conversation and reformation for draconian, damaging, and irresponsible laws that currently govern cannabis.

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