American Idol’s voting is flawed

Fortunately for me, the only channel that I get for television is a local over-air FOX channel.  Their daily programming consists of about 18 hours.  Of those 18 hours, about 10 hours of it is paid programming.

As a result of FOX being the only channel I get, I’m stuck watching American Idol.  Well, that and my wife’s addiction too it.  And of course, I get sucked in fairly quickly by trying to guess who America will kick off next.

I would even vote if their voting system wasn’t horribly broken.  Lets forget  that Sanjaya should have never even made it into the final 12 let alone the 11.  And I would bet he’ll make it into the top 10 as well.  Why?  Let’s just say there are a lot of star-struck 16 year old girls with cell phones in this country.  But I said “lets forget” about that.

Where their voting is truly flawed is in the available voting methods.  I can call in or send a text message with my vote.  Each of those costs me money.  No doubt, they have a rather lucrative contract with the cell phone companies.  My problem with it is that I think that I should be able to vote online.  No, there is no good way for them to make sure that I don’t duplicate votes.  Well besides IP filtering.  And even that causes problems with some networks that only use one IP when hitting the net.

It could be done though.  Make people register on the site to vote.  Make them enter their phone number and a few other markers like address, zip code, e-mail address, etc… that you can use to pattern match and eliminate duplicate votes.  Sure, you won’t filter all of them out, but you should be able to get most of them with a good algorithm.

A better question is to ask how many more votes they would get if they opened up voting to the online fans.  Hundreds?  More.  Thousands? More.  Hundreds of thousands? More.  Try a number closer to millions.  Now ask yourself how that could skew the results each week if you added an extra million votes to the mix.  Drastic.

Maybe you could even avoid perversions like Sanjaya who really isn’t all that great of a singer, but obviously has a pretty large fan base based on his looks rather than his talent.  Or maybe he’d win it all if the online votes were more of the same.  We’ll probably never know.

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Cow Flatulence it’s not.

National Geographic is reporting that Global Warming may have a different cause than Cow Flatulence and all the hot air Al Gore is releasing. Appearantly, the polar ice caps on Mars (yes, that Mars) have been melting significantly over the last three summers.

NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide “ice caps” near Mars’s south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.

Wow. Scientists actually suggesting that it isn’t caused by what Al would like us to believe? Bet that doesn’t get embraced in the same way as they seem to have embraced Darwin. Of course, that would be because it doesn’t fit their political agenda. Sun Cycles don’t make very good social platforms.

Welcome to the lemming parade…


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Virgin-ize America

Richard Branson is known as the wildcat of billionaires. He owns many different companies under the Virgin banner. One such is Virgin Airlines in Europe. Now he wants to come to America under the name Virgin Airlines. The business model is much more sound than that of most of our domestic airlines.

Only one problem. The U.S. Department of Transportation says no way. Not to be outdone, Branson is doing his normal wildcat thing and has an entire website dedicated to a PR push for a petition and email campaign to representatives asking to allow VA. You can read all the details at letvafly.com.

Pretty interesting to me that the government will help out the domestic airlines even when they are in bankruptcy every 5 or so years, but a well run airline that has been successful gets nothing simply because it would compete and win against the other airlines.

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“Social” Health Care?

Nicholas Carr talked a bit on Friday about the Google health URL.  And what it really comes down to is a URL much like gmail wherein a person could go to upload their health care history.  The idea is to make a persons health care history portable.  So if I’m traveling in California and end up in the hospital, I can give them my health URL and they can see my medical history and know if I have allergies or any medical conditions.

In concept it’s a great idea.  But do you want Google to have control over your personal health history?  I’m not so sure that I do.  We really should have a system like this, but I think it would be more accepted if it were administered by an entity that we trust like the government rather than some Corporation.

But the use that I see that I haven’t seen mentioned so far is a “social” health care system coming from it.  We currently have many different services that will take our favorite music, books, websites, etc and give us recommendations based on what we’ve already liked.  So, if a system like the proposed Google health were to be implemented, why couldn’t we take  the information, make it anonymous, and compile it all and use it in a similar way?

Next time I get diagnosed with something, say high blood pressure, I can go to health.google.com and look at all the different remedies that have been used for that ailment.  Sorted by order of popularity and effectiveness.  I could take that information and discuss it with my doctor.  Maybe there’s a remedy that my doctor hasn’t heard of or used before.

If it were to be taken a bit further, you could install small kiosks in each doctor’s office and give them the ability to search for the same information live.

Perhaps the most important use would be for so called “home remedies.”  Get a bee sting?  Here are the remedies that have worked most effectively for the millions that use google health.  Got an ankle sprain?  Should you heat it or ice it?  Ask google health.  You don’t have to take a doctor you don’t know’s word for it.  You can see what the huddled medical masses have to say as well.

Would it eliminate misdiagnoses?  Not likely. In fact, for some of the more serious ailments, it could actually increase them.  But for the less serious ailments like a bee sting or ankle sprain it could eliminate a lot of unnecessary burden on the medical system.

Will it ever happen?  Maybe, Maybe not.  It’s biggest hurdle would be in gaining the trust of it’s users and potential users.  After all, you’re divulging some rather private information. With proper security and anonymous use, it could work quite well.

Time will tell.

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