September 30, 2003

Late Night Reading

Body and Soul has a nice set of references on electronic voting. If you are not already up in arms about the issues surrounding the current generation of electonic voting machines you should be.

Felix Salmon writes long and well on how often and when should a blogger post to maximize readership.

Is there an academic bias against conservatives? The Invisible Adjunct tosses a post in the ring of discussion and has links to many other responses to this David Brooks op-ed piece (registration required and may go to pay archives soon).

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2003

What Have You Learned Today?

Jeff, Gamer's Nook, talks about MIT's Open Courseware site and says:

Personally I think this is a brilliant idea and provides a first step in an attempt to eliminate world-wide illiteracy. But the despots of the world may think otherwise because an educated populace undermines their power base. I wonder which country will be the first to start blocking MIT's site.
This, in its first iteration, is a great site. Open Courseware does not appear to provide an interactive class experience but for the life long, self motivated learner it provides more then enough for you work through any of the classes.

It's unlikely that in its current form it will be subject to much blocking and, for the resourceful learner, similar, but much less organized, material is available on many University web sites.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2003

Parentage: Carolina Wolf Spider and Kramer

If you like spiders you will love this picture of a Carolina Wolf Spider and babies. Bigwig's accompanying story is a fun read as well.

Over at Israeli Guy there is a picture of Shimon Peres posing as Kramer's father. The resemblance is astounding. Also via Bigwig.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2003

Arianna Campaigns

This Arianna Huffington California campaign piece (requires Flashplayer) is a hoot if a bit on the tasteless side.

I wonder how much of this kind of stuff we are going to see (have to put up with?) as the national campaign heats up?

Via Plucky Punk's Fair and Balanced Land and Seeing the Forest.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2003

September 29, 2003

Comment Spam

Are you having problems with spammers dirtying your comment threads? Head over to Rhetorica and read here and here.

Let's all join Andrew in the effort to snuff comment spam!

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2003

Taxing our Children

Ok, I admit to stealing the title from this Craig Cheslog post which discusses the burden we are placing on our children and likely their children by allowing unnecessary deficits and spending large sums on misplaced policy agendas.

I wonder too about taxing our children today. You all know the principle of no taxation without representation. Why then do we allow federal, state and local governments to tax people who have not yet reached voting age?

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2003

mcClellan interruptus

Ted Barlow dissects mcClellan's answers regarding Rove and the Plame affair. It is good entertainment whether you think there is an issue here or not.

Update: For more background see this Mark Kleiman article.

Update 2: This post at Eschaton argues that Tenet knows exactly who leaked the Plame info. Via MaxSpeak. .

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2003

September 27, 2003


Uhh, just what is going on here?

Florida's state pension fund is investing $174-million in a controversial for-profit school management company.

Through one of its money managers, Liberty Partners, the pension fund has agreed to buy out the shareholders of Edison Schools Inc., taking the New York company private.

In effect, the fund that provides for the retirement pensions of Florida teachers and other public employees will own a company that has played a leading role in privatizing school management.

Oh, and one of Atrios' commenters notes that Liberty Patners has exactly one client. Can you guess who?

Posted by Steve on September 27, 2003

September 26, 2003

Total Information Awareness Snuffed

Talkleft reports that the Total Information Awareness Program has been snuffed out by overwhelming votes in the house and senate.

But, does this also stop the activities proposed in the Memorandum of Understanding ashcroft, et al, signed last week?

Also see here, here and here.

Posted by Steve on September 26, 2003

September 25, 2003

Nemo Found!

See for yourself.

Update(4/24/04): comments have been closed due to the poor manners of some recent commenters.

Posted by Steve on September 25, 2003 | Comments (18)

WKRP in Cincinnatti Bastardized

If you did not see the original versions of WKRP new or in the early years of syndication you may never see them:

Originally, nearly all the music played on the show was real rock music by real artists, both in "WKRP"'s CBS run and in the subsequent syndicated reruns. But in the last few years, a new package of "WKRP" episodes has been distributed, and much of the music has been replaced by generic instrumental music from a music library, or by sound-alike "fake" songs. Also, some of the dialogue has been redubbed by voice impersonators, usually when the actors were speaking over the music, but sometimes to remove references to songs that have been replaced.
No point trying to improve on Julia's evaluation:
You people suck.

Like unto the singularity in the heart of the cosmic Hoover do you suck.

A lot, is what I'm getting at.

Posted by Steve on September 25, 2003

Short Stories

Check out the

First Ever Spherewide Short Story Symposium
18 stories from the blogging community.

Via The Noble Pundit.

Posted by Steve on September 25, 2003 | Comments (1)

New Computers

They are fun. However it is a tedious pain to get them set up:

Tuesday Night

1) Getting the preloaded XP OS kickstarted was a breeze

2) Connect to home network. It took a while to remember that the port it was connected to had been used to connect a switch. Finally reconfigured it to connect to a workstation.

3) Loading the near 40 patches M$ had waiting for me was not all that hard it just took time (and that is where things stopped for the evening)

Wednesday Night

4) Load office....went smoothly

5) Transfer files from family computer...sharing folders across home network worked just fine (hidden from outside users by firewall)

6) Install latest nightlies of Firebird and Thunderbird. Show daughter a few new things compared to the Mozilla 1.4 she had been using.

7) Transfer bookmarks, address books, cookies, and mail folders

8) Oh yea, load latest versions of Acrobat Reader, Flashplayer and Shockwave

9) thats all for tonight

Still a few things left to do: Current free real player, Winamp, SHNamp, Canon photo tools, Feurio, and Nero. And it should be ready to head off to college on Friday. Oh, we still need to get a printer.

So, no late night reading, no posting, etc., for the last couple nights. It might improve again by Sunday as I have a lot of stuff going on the next 4 evenings.

Posted by Steve on September 25, 2003 | Comments (1)

September 24, 2003

Coder or Cutter?

Test your visual stereotypes with this test: Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer.

I scored 7/10. How'd you do?

Via zombyboy.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003 | Comments (1)

What the future will bring

Are you a techie in need of a horoscope tailored for you? Then go check out the September IT Horoscopes. Aries begins:

Work harder than ever -- and whenever possible, try to troubleshoot your own problems. This is not a good time to ask others for favors.
Your mileage may vary.

Via The Gamer's Nook.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003

Powell says UN Sanctions Worked

Well, he said this 2 1/2 years ago:

And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.
As The Slactivist points out:
A year later, when the administration's goal was no longer merely maintaining sanctions, but a full-scale invasion of Iraq, they argued precisely the opposite. Saddam has WMDs. He poses a threat.
Go read the Slactivist's report and analysis.

Update: This is getting a bit old in blogosphere time. Walter noted early this morning that others like Kevin Drum, Atrios and Lean Left were hitting on this yesterday. Go over to idols of the marketplace to get those links.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003

Do Not Call is Blocked

The RIAA at least has some moral justification for their position vis-a-vis unauthorized downloading and sharing.

The Direct Marketing Assocation has none vis-a-vis their clients harrassing us in our homes. This federal court should be overruled and this attitude:

"The Direct Marketing Association and its fellow plaintiffs are grateful that the federal District Court in Oklahoma City understood and upheld the industry's belief that the Federal Trade Commission does not have authority to implement and enforce a national do-not-call list,"
is not echoed by the 50,000,000 households eagerly awaiting October 1.

Via Dohiyi Mir.

Update 9/24: BHW explains many of our thoughts on this explicitly.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003

RIAA Violation?

I've said it before and will say it again: all those folks downloading/exhanging unauthorized copies af an artist's work are stealing. Their parent's should have taught them better.

The RIAA, though, represents an obsolete industry and much of their current battle is last gasp stuff.

Which is probably why the RIAA appears to have violated the same ethical/legal standard they are trying to enforce:

Makers of the most popular online file-sharing network are suing entertainment companies for copyright infringement, alleging the companies used unauthorized versions of its software to snoop on users in their efforts to battle piracy.
Hoist with their own petard?!

Via Legal Memo-random.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003


You'll probably see discussion of Neal Stephenson's new novel Quicksilver all over the blogosphere for a while. It's thick, it's supposed to be complex. I'm looking forward to my copy arriving real soon and expect a serious downturn in blogging for however many days it will take me to finish.

To help out folks who want to dig deeper or want to clarify a confusing point Stephenson has created a web site full of annotations. It is based on Wiki and Stephenson has a bunch of annotations already up and is planning more:

In our first phase, we are annotating the ideas and historical period explored in Neal Stephenson's novel Quicksilver, seeding the Metaweb with an initial base of information. We are currently working on 106 articles, and hope you will expand and relate these and many other entries.
Read and annotate!

Via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2003

September 23, 2003

Microsoft to Cut off Millions

MSN is shutting down its chat rooms beginning in the UK:

The software giant Microsoft declared war on internet paedophiles last night by announcing the closure of its thousands of UK-based chatrooms used by millions of people.

It will also restrict access to chatroom systems around the world, allowing only identifiable, adults living in the same country to use them.

It is their business and they can do what they want with it as it is not quite the same thing as a government shutting down a newspaper. Nevertheless this appears to be a case of thowing out the baby with the bathwater.

Yes, some folks used chatrooms to do bad things. They should be punished just like the folks that do bad things with knives, guns, cars, baseball bats, fists, etc. Lots of people are stabbed yet I still get to have a Swiss Army knife. Pedophiles attempt to lure youngsters into their automobiles, sometime successfully. So should everyone be kicked out of their automobiles? I don't think so.

One of the supporters of this action says:

"Here we have the world's leading internet service acknowledging open, free, unmoderated chat cannot be made completely safe for consumers and children
Wow, that is a very high bar indeed. "Completely safe!" Let's just all curl up and die.

As Katherine says in the first comment at Samizdata, just what is the deal with the 'living in the same country to use them' thing? To me, if I were an MSN user, his would be a perfectly good reason to ditch the service. One of the great things about the internet is connecting with people around the world. I wonder with Katherine just which governement(s) is up to what here.

Via Samizdata.

Posted by Steve on September 23, 2003 | Comments (1)

bush's WMDs

Some folks had expectations that David Kay would present his report on IRAQI WMDs in September. If he did deliver a report it apparently was not adequate and he is back working in Iraq. The current timetable? Whenever he gets the truth:

HUME: What do you say to the notion -- you're beginning to hear it more and more now -- that actually he got rid of them but he didn't want his neighbors to know that, you see, because he wanted to be able to continue to intimidate them? What do you say to that?

BUSH: I think, like I said, be patient. The truth will be out. I told David Kay to go find the truth and to bring back reports based upon his own timetable that are solid reports about what he has found. We're analyzing miles and miles of documentation, we're interviewing all kinds of people in Iraq. Some of the famous cards in the deck of cards, and just average citizens who are bringing information.

We've been there for about four months. And David is spending a great deal of time learning the truth. And the truth -- we'll find out the truth.

For some value of truth. What does w believe the truth is:

HUME: What is your theory about what Saddam Hussein did with his weapons of mass destruction?

BUSH: I think he hid them, I think he dispersed them. I think he is so adapted at deceiving the civilized world for a long period of time that it's going to take a while for the troops to unravel. But I firmly believe he had weapons of mass destruction. I know he used them at one time, and I'm confident he had programs that would enable him to have a weapon of mass destruction at his disposal.

Others politely disagreewith the first part of w's assesment:
Former UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus said late Monday Iraq sought the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction, but had none in storage after it destroyed them following the 1991 Gulf War.
Did saddam have them once upon a time? Sure, and his suppliers would know best.

Posted by Steve on September 23, 2003

September 22, 2003

Placing the Class of 2007

Beloit College presents its annual (since 1998) Mindset List for the Class of 2007. It

helps to slow the rapid onset of �hardening of the references,� in the classroom.
A few examples:
3. Iraq has always been a problem.
5. Paul Newman has always made salad dressing.
6. Pete Rose has always been a gambler.
8. An automatic is a weapon, not a transmission.
11. There has always been a screening test for AIDS.
12. Gas has always been unleaded
And, much of what applied to the classes of 2002-2006 applies as well.

Send them suggestions for the Class of 2008.

Via Mark Morford.

Posted by Steve on September 22, 2003

Late Last Night

Goin home, goin home
by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

Goin to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul

Brokedown Palace
Robert Hunter
Jerry Garcia

Posted by Steve on September 22, 2003

September 21, 2003

Critics are good for?

Jaquandor writes a nice piece on what we can learn from critics:

I read a lot of critics and reviews, because I think their writings are often informative. Critics are almost always very well-steeped in their chosen fields, so one can learn a great deal from them, about the history and development of the field, which works shaped the field and which might have, but didn't (and thus went on to become "unjustly neglected masterworks"). But I've always been deeply suspicious of critics as judges of what is good and what is bad, because - - and there is simply no other way to say this - - they so very, very often get it wrong.
And what we likely will not learn:

Critics can tell us what they like, and they can do a better job than most of telling us why they like it. But when it comes to telling us what future audiences will like, they're as lost-at-sea as the rest of us.
So, when Harold Bloom says something like:
"He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfulsThat they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy."
don't expect it to stand the test of time.

On the other hand, Bloom is writing about Stephen King who has just been awarded the National Book Award for Lifetime Achievement:

Established in 1988, the honorary award cites not only literary merit, but "a lifetime of service."
I stopped reading King (except for one book which I expect to reread several more times) years ago. The same ol' thing just started getting boring.

I'm also not so sure that future audiences, if by that one means the same folks whose reading/listening selections populate the bestseller lists, are any better judge then today's critics. Perhaps, though, if the works do show up on various classic lists a 100 years down the road that is a beginning indication on the timelessness that we equate with at least one aspect of good literature and music.

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2003 | Comments (1)

Censored Media Stories

One good list deserves another. Here's Project Censored's Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003.

Via thousand yard glare.

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2003

September 20, 2003

50 Greatest Album Covers?

VH1's list of the 50 greatest album covers. You look, you decide.

Via A List A Day.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2003 | Comments (1)

US GPS v Galileo

It looks like there may be a new satellite system to provide an alternative to the US military based GPS system. The prospect is apparently not going down well with the US:

The US wants to maintain a superiority in space. It has seen, even in the recent conflicts, how central that is to its ability to conduct campaigns overseas, and therefore anything that either erodes that superiority, or worse still, jeopardises it, will be taken very seriously indeed by the American military, and so it's entirely understandable that they would much rather Galileo didn't exist.
But Europe and possibly Russia and China appear to be moving ahead with the system.

Via PRC News.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2003

Soil of the Earth

While there is a bit of question as to the source of this preacher's quote The Curmudgeonly Clerk questions his credentials:

"The acceptance of evolution is responsible for the degeneration of morals in society," said gospel preacher Mac Deaver. "People are shooting at each other on the highway. Kids are being taught that they came from dirt. There is no accountability; they say, 'I'm just a product of evolutionary theory. Evolution made me what I am, can't help it.'"
As an earnest Christian, I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I saw Mac Deaver's statement. Do you suppose Deaver has ever read the Bible that he is thumping?
And the Lord God formed Adam out of the soil of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2003 | Comments (6)

Is Your Vote Being Counted?

The 9th Circuit Court is concerned about punch card voting machines. Perhaps, though, they should be more concerned about the electonic voting machines which in their current incarnation have an even greater risk of disenfranchising voters.

EFF has a lot to say on this issue and is particularly harsh on the normally staid IEEE which has been charged with developing voting machine standards. However, the work they have done to day appears to be design oriented rather then performance oriented. The EFF reports that:

Members of the security community report that the current standard is flawed. P1583 is largely a design standard, describing how to configure current electronic voting machines, instead of a performance standard setting benchmarks and processes for testing the security, reliability, accessibility, and accuracy of these machines.
Of course, if you don't vote or don't care about the results matching what the voters wanted then go back to sleep.

Charles Stross lists three minimal requirements for an electronic voting system:

1) It must print a paper record of the vote cast, which the voter must be able to see, and which must be retained, and which can be reconciled with the electronic record of the vote.

2) The software used must be open to third-party auditors, to the extent that it can be verified and if necessarily formally proven to be above suspicion. (Translation: only open source need apply.)

3) The hardware used must be open to third-party auditors, preferably conform verifiably to off-the-shelf standards, and may be challenged and replaced by the election commission with equivalent off-the-shelf equipment (to ensure that no sneaky hardware back doors are installed).

Number 2 needs a little tuning up to say something like 3rd party auditors must verify that the software accurately tallies the vote as entered by the voter. Make sure your local systems adhere to these.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2003

September 19, 2003

Let's stay awake all night long...

Sure to be a campus hit:

Modafinil�better known as Provigil�is fast becoming America's newest "go pill." Made by Cephalon, a small publicly traded biotech firm in West Chester, Pa., Provigil is a central-nervous-system drug that promotes hyper-focus and alertness. Patients using Provigil in clinical tests functioned normally�for example, completing tedious computer tasks�after up to 54 hours without sleep.
Hmmmm, will this put a big dent in coffee and Mountain Dew sales?

Via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on September 19, 2003

campaign fundraising racket

bush is busy gathering funds into his campaign treasury. This WaPO article talks about it and Skimble summarizes one aspect of it like this::

So if you are a supplier or subcontractor of Merrill Lynch's, you would undoubtedly be "receptive" to Merrill Lynch's suggestion that you donate to Bush-Cheney 2004 in the same way that any supplier of Tony Soprano's would be to a request for contributions to his pet political cause. They call it "bundling" - we call it "extortion."

It's only 2003, and already Merrill Lynch has loosened $265,000 from its network. Imagine what they'll come up with next year.

This process is not unique to bush and his cronies. The whole election process seems to have devolved to an issue of who can be bought buy the most votes rather then who is most qualified to serve the citizens. Skimble also wonders why a firm that aided and abetted Enron has not met a fate closer to that of Arthur Anderson:
Merrill Lynch has cut a deal that ensures it will not meet the same fate as the scapegoat firm of Arthur Andersen, which acted not only as Enron's auditor, but also Halliburton's while Dick Cheney was CEO. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were. Under the politico-plutocratic logic of the Bush administration, Andersen the auditor was dispensable; Merrill Lynch the wealth manager is not
This is a good question and I wonder just how many other similar cooked deals are waiting to see the light of day.

Posted by Steve on September 19, 2003


I sense I'm slow getting connected to Riverbend. She's a 2 month blogger with 4-12,000 uniques a day. But that is not a reason to read her. Words like this are:

No running water all day today. Horrible. Usually there are at least a few hours of running water, today there�s none. E. went out and asked if there was perhaps a pipe broken? The neighbors have no idea. Everyone is annoyed beyond reason.

A word of advice: never take water for granted. Every time you wash your hands in cold, clean, clear water- say a prayer of thanks to whatever deity you revere. Every time you drink fresh, odorless water- say the same prayer. Never throw out the clean water remaining in your glass- water a plant, give it to the cat, throw it out into the garden� whatever. Never take it for granted.

Riverbend tells stories you may not want to hear yet should listen to closely. I recommend starting at the beginning and reading forward. It will be worth your time.

I have not made much of an effort to read the first hand accounts coming out of Iraq but it is clear that we should all spend some of our time doing so be it an Iraqi citizen or a US soldier.

Via Rob Schaap and Cast-Iron Balcony.

Posted by Steve on September 19, 2003

It's ok, we didn't use it...

At Talkleft Jeralyn Merritt asks:

As to the library records, if none have been requested in the aftermath of 9/11, why does the Government need the power to get them?
A few points:
1) Sure, lack of use is a reason to strike this from the books. But why exempt just library records?

2) ashcroft's statement speaks only to library records which are the most visible issue but not the only things that Section 215 subject to star chamber searches:

may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities
3) The no use argument obscures the more basic issue: this power should never have been enacted into law. Something is broken in a system that even allows such a proposal to see the light of day.
And Jacob Sullum gets Zero Reassurance from ashcroft's 'no use' assertion. Sullum notes:
the government is making liberal use of another PATRIOT Act provision with even looser requirements. Under Section 505, the Justice Department, including FBI field offices, can issue "national security letters" demanding telephone, Internet, credit, and bank records. This power has been used enough times in the last two years to fill a five-page, blacked-out list obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act.
There is a lot more objectionable stuff in the patriot act. Let's just scrap the whole thing except for maybe Section 600 which deals with 'providing for victems' which should have been handled separately anyway.

Posted by Steve on September 19, 2003

September 18, 2003

Late Night Reading - 2

Barton Aronson, Findlaw, argues that the Washington State Supreme Court was wrong in saying that the police needed a warrant to utilize a GPS system to track a suspect.

Gosh, Spiderman has used a tracker for years so it must be ok.

On the other hand I can see ashcroft insisting that everyone must be trackable, tracked and all the data linked to his database. If the current law is uncertain or leans in the direction of not requiring a warrant then, perhaps, it should be tightened up and made clear that a warrant should be required.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003

Late Night Reading - 1

First Draft's Tim Porter is:

endorsing a greater self-awareness among journalists about our role in a democratic society. I am endorsing acceptance of and adherence to the professional standards that will enable us to fufill that purpose and eliminate the Bimbo Factor.
Read the whole piece. Via The Rhetorica Network.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003

Keep'm Out

Here is a view of the Texas redistricting hoax, from Alex Knapp, that I hadn't thought about:

If there's one thing that Republicans and Democrats can and do agree on, it's outrageous election rules that make any viable third party practically impossible.
Alex was inspired by this Chris Muir day by day cartoon.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003

bush and clinton humor

Robert Musil has been using these pictures to test posting pics. There's a little fun with both clinton and bush.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003

Moderately Right-Wing?

Or why to read the comments.

At first I thought I had misunderstood bilmon, proprietor of the Whisky Bar, as Ampersand said:

Whisky Bar (which I've just added to the moderately right-wing section of my blogroll) links to
and started to write a different post then this.

Then I read the comments where bilmon sets the record straight:

Guess again. I'm a flaming pinko leftist -- i.e. I despise Clinton because I think he's too frickin' conservative.
And Ampersand apologizes:
Whoops! Sorry, I had taken you for a liberal democrat. Okay-dokey, I've reclassified you.
Please proceed to recalibrate your left-right scales: liberal democrat=moderately right-wing.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003 | Comments (2)

Benefit of Isabel

Federal Government, closed today.

Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003 | Comments (3)

What does the truth mean?

Skippy suggests that this is the reason bush has told the truth about saddam and 9/11.

Really, I'm not holding my breath for any more truth. He needs to establish a consistent new pattern for this to mean much. And, with rummie, rice and mcclellan working hard to revise history I don't think we will see the pattern:

White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated to reporters yesterday that the administration never directly linked Saddam to the Sept. 11 strikes.

"If you're talking specifically about the September 11th attacks, we never made that claim," McClellan said.

As you will see below this is not quite true.

Rantavision posits that bush may be getting ready to cut out cheney:

The other interesting thing is that in distancing himself from Cheney, Bush might be paving the way for cutting him loose from the '04 ticket, letting him take the blame, and picking up a Powell (or someone else equally outside of the Chaney/Rumsfeld/Wolfwitz camp) for VP?
And points us to The Left Coaster who believes that bush in admitting this has provided grounds for his own impeachment:
The failure to find any imminent WMD threat has now negated Article 1 of the rationale Bush used above. Today he says he has no evidence that Saddam was involved in September 11(when on March 18 he says he did have such evidence), which then negates Article 2 of his legislatively-required justification for war as outlined under PL 107-243.
The Left Coaster is referring to the letter bush sent to the Speaker of the House justifying his authorization of the invasion. Best to go read the entire post but I have copied the justification letter into the extended entry section if you just want a quick look:

March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.



Posted by Steve on September 18, 2003 | Comments (2)

September 17, 2003

Late Night Reads

The one year (52nd) edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is up at Silfray Hraka the founding site.

Plenty of reading here.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

It May Make Your Day

Kevin at Wizbang provides a nice tutorial for those who want to be instalanched.

You can pretty much apply the whole thing to your relationship with anyone you want to link or blogroll you.

Via Outside the Beltway.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003 | Comments (1)

Damage Limits

The Texas voters elected bush governor, twice, so it should not surprise anyone that they are willing to vote away their rights:

Other states have passed similar limits on medical malpractice awards, but Texas has now taken the process one giant step further. The initiative

extends the limits on malpractice awards across the board for lawsuits that could cover polluters, toxic dumpers, unsafe apartment buildings, hazardous workplaces or dangerous products.

Well, at least some of the Texas voters did this:
...Prop 12 passed with (last time I checked) 1% of the vote. The talking heads on the local news was very impressed with a 19% turn out (they had expected only 16%) for the vote. All I can say is if 19% voter turn out is a cause for excitement then our democracy is more threatened than I thought.
There is a lot of material and links in the Confined Space post and there is more over at A Skeptical Blog including here.

Via Nathan Newman.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

Arnold Scores

Arnold Scharzenegger received a major endorsement today. He seems to be working hard to offer something to everyone....

Via Donald Sensing.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

bush as saddam

Seems the pres wants to get his picture out (yea, I know the article says that some admin dude requested the pictures) but:

State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled.
Then they were gone. And what was put up in their place? What else? A George W. Bush family album montage of 21 large photos of the president as diplomat. ... There's one of Bush meeting in happier days with his very good friend Jacques Chirac, president of France, and another with his even better friend, Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of Germany.
You go read the article and decide whether the replacements are an improvement.

I understand that folks at all levels of the political ladder have a driving need to know their picture is everywhere. Marketing you know.

I wonder how soon the statues will start going up.

Via digby.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

Saudi Flight: Yes or No

A couple weeks ago I complained about the reported post 9/11 Saudi escape plane that might have been flying while US airports were locked down.

The final story is not yet in on this but Brendan Nyhan at Spinsanity suggests that the best available evidence indicates that the flight(s) actually did not leave the US until after the airports were open again. However, there still appear to be a few things to clear up:

1) What was the actual departure timeline? There appears to be no solid evidence of dates/times.

2) There may have been an incoming flight and/or a taxi flight (picking up folks) that occurred during the lockdown. What are the details?

3) Why were these folks allowed to leave the country in the first place? Seems like they would have been perfectly good candidates to spend some time in ashcroft's gulag.

The administration needs to take the classified stamp off of information related to this event and tell the full story (with documentation). As I said two weeks ago, hopefully there is no truth to any of this.

Via Hit and Run.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

Checking up on You

This has the potential to put to make Hoover's files and the FBI's '60s files look like childs play.

(12) The TTIC identities database, and the FBI's database containing Purely Domestic Terrorism Information, will incorporate, to the extent permitted by law, available biometric dta, including data on persons who even if otherwise unidentified are known or appropriately suspected to be or have been involved in activities constituting, inpreparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism.
It was just a week ago that we were talking about rummie describing the opposition as "encouraging Washington's enemies." That certainly reads similar to 'in aid of' in the above paragraph.

The administration seems intent on getting its database on everyone up and running no matter the oppostion. And if you think it will not impact you because you haven't done anything wrong, well, you are wrong.

1) To help them identify potential bad people they need an inclusive database. They need to have your data before you turn bad if they are going to quickly spot you before you do a bad thing.

2) Using the rummie rule I'm probably a candidate on the basis of this post alone let alone others. Think about how you fit into the bushies scheme of things.

Wake up and just say no! Now!

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2003

September 16, 2003

Late Night Reading

More D-Squared. This time on the microprobabily of micropayments. Which leads to:

Micropayments: First Clay Shirky and then Scott McCloud.

Reading Update (9/18): Kip, Longstory; shortpier, thinks micropayments for the right stuff will fly and suggests we also read Dirk Keppey's supportive discussion at The Comics Journal.

Brian at Samizdata writes at leeennnnggth to suggest we all check out the new blog from the Adam Smith Institute. It may seem too free market for some but if they adhere to free market principles they will be an anathema to bush, et al.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2003

WMDs Long Gone

Blix believes Iraq destroyed its WMDs 12 years ago:

"I'm certainly more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they maintained, destroyed almost all of what they had in the summer of 1991," Blix said.
If this is true just what will it take to reestablish the credibility of any intelligence agency that told a different story to the British, US or Australian administrations over the last decade?

Via the Daily Kos.

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2003

Recall the Recall

The fun may not be over in California. Commenting on this post at Hit and Run Gene Berkman notes the following:

The same Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a lawsuit by the Desert Area Libertarians (east Riverside County,CA) which challenges the touch screen voting machines because of security issues, and because with no paper trail, recounts are impossible to verify.Perhaps the Ninth Circuit will declare that all voting methods fail to meet Constitutional standards.

I was getting bored with politics anyway.

Until there is a good audit trail that will allow a proper recount I prefer them old fashioned paper ballots.

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2003

ashcroft on NPR

NPR did a segment today on ashcroft's Patriot Act tour. He sounds just like Lis describes him:

Ashcroft came across so smug and smarmy that I had a fingernails across the blackboard reaction and may have yelled back at the radio.
You can find the audio links at NPR (down toward the bottom....and you might want to listen to the preceding music button after the ashcroft segment to relax a bit) or go directly to the recording: WM......RA.

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2003

staffing, bush style

David Niewart questions L' Jean Lewis's appointment as Chief of Staff of the Defense Department's inspectors general office as follows:

It should be clear that any normative candidates for top staffing positions at any Inspector General's office should be persons with spotless records and unquestionable reputations for professionalism, ethical behavior and personal integrity. That someone like L. Jean Lewis even made it past the door raises serious questions about just what standards were used. This goes well beyond mere cronyism.

Second: At no point in her career as a low-level RTC investigator did Lewis exhibit any level of managerial capability. Nowhere in her resume is there even an inkling that she possesses any personnel-management skills. What in God's name could have qualified her to, out of the blue, rise through the ranks to suddenly oversee a staff of 1,240 people?

The only real quality that L. Jean Lewis exhibited at the RTC was her naked, almost psychotic eagerness to participate in partisan skulduggery.

David, in his usual thorough style, has multiple posts and lots of detail. See more at Atrios, Seeing the Forest, and many others.

If you aren't already up on this story it will not make your day.

Via The Sideshow.

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2003 | Comments (2)

September 15, 2003

Late Night Reading

Tim Dunlop analyzes the post-war situation in Iraq.

Kos likes the latest NY Times Bestseller standings.

D-squared reviews the fall out from Cancun:

When push came to shove, the rich nations were not prepared to give an inch to the poor ones on agriculture unless they got their quid pro quo in the form of progress toward an agenda which has nothing to do with trade and everything to do with massively undermining the ability of democratically elected governments to set the terms on which the ownership of the means of production is decided.
Apparently it is getting more difficult for the public to access academic journals. This is not a good thing: check out Scientific American, The Invisible Adjunct and Relevant History who notes:
But just what is it that publishers think they're protecting? Do they think that members of the general public could constitute a potential new revenue stream that can be tapped if only free public access to journals is eliminated? Were they thinking, "Gee, I would spend $9,000 a year for a subscription to Letters in Neuroscience, but since I can read it for free, I won't"? And now they will?
Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2003

ashcroft rests

Tonight ashcroft is doing something he is marginally qualified for:

John Ashcroft's nationwide tour to defend the government's new surveillance powers in terrorism probes has stopped for the night. The U.S. attorney general is settling in at Comerica Park to watch some baseball
Remember that this is the guy who was so down and out that he could not even beat a dead man:
Two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the conservative Republican from Missouri has become the most powerful attorney general in decades.

Since losing his seat in the U.S. Senate to a dead man in the 2000 elections and barely surviving Senate confirmation hearings for his current job, Ashcroft emerged after 9/11 as one of the most formidable members of the Bush administration. At the heart of Ashcroft's influence, and his awakening from what senior Justice Department officials describe as an unfocused first few months in office in 2001, is the increased surveillance authority granted to federal agents by the Patriot Act.

Overall this USA Today article is pretty decent.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2003

No Sequel Please

Bilmon hopes that they don't make a sequel to jackass the movie. Go right on over to see why. Be sure to note the vp's outfit.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2003

Welcoming ashcroft

Scott at the Gamer's Nook reports that herr ashcroft is now being well received as he enters his closed door events on his tyranny tour. Bostonians greeted ashcroft with middle fingers, boos, hisses and:

Ashcroft was bombarded by cries of "Shame!" and the sound of the "Imperial Death March" from the movie "Star Wars" as he entered a meeting with law enforcement officials in Faneuil Hall.
As ashcroft morphs into his natural persona he might want to strive for the full Darth ashcroft look.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2003

Watch Orcas and Others

During daylight hours you might enjoy the view from the live cams at Orca Live, part of the Nature Network:

stations set up in Nature that transmit live images and sound to people around the world.
They have a 300 Kbps feed and a 56 Kpbs feed, archives and you can subscribe to be notified of when Orcas are near the cameras. A maximum of 200 simultaneous viewers supported.


Via The Internet Scout Report.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2003

September 14, 2003

Late Night Reading

Terry at Nitpicker thinks that Tucker Carlson might be a "pretty good guy to have a beer with."

Stephen Kinsella on Intellectual Property Rights. Via Econlog. (I admit to not finishing the Kinsella piece yet)

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2003

The Exile

Does this description lead you to want to read the publication:

It's the sort of stuff that makes you wonder why you bother writing science fiction, when there's a vast dystopian anarcho-Stalinist bad-acid flashback fast-forward experiment going on on a few thousand kilometres away, and I don't mean America.

If so, then check out The Exile.

Description provided by Ken Macleod.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2003

Anal bush

A picture tells the story.

Via Medpundit and The Misanthropes Club.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2003

Where is America Headed?

As a follow up to last night's Late Night Reading take a look at Doug Giebel's article Ending America as We Know It which opens:

The neo-conservative Bush Administration "plan" to remake our American nation intends to alter forever the relationship between government, business and the people.
In the summation to his arguments Giebel asserts:
Americans are being played for suckers by a carnival of macho scam artists, the likes of which this nation has never before experienced.
You read it, you judge.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2003

Paying for Iraq

There's a lot of material in Cheney's Meet the Press appearance today. I imagine most of it will be chewed on by one or another member of the blogosphere show I will show restraint and share just this one snippet regarding how the cost of the Iraq debacle will be paid:

But this is not a situation where, you know, it�s only a matter of us writing a check to solve the problem. Iraq sits on top of 10 percent of the world�s oil reserves, very significant reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia.

The fact is there are significant resources here to work with, and the notion that we�re going to bear the burden all by ourselves from a financial standpoint I don�t think is valid. We�ve got a donor�s conference scheduled coming up next month, where the international community will come together and pledge funds to cooperate and supported with the Iraqi operation.

Of course it was never about the oil and I look forward to hearing how much the coalition of the willing will pony up.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2003

September 13, 2003

Late Night Reading

I'm tired and not doing much reading tonight but I did read through some 9/11 material. Mostly the stuff that conspiracy theory fans would like. Check them appears that there are a few open questions:

Part 3 of Keith Quinnels Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented.

Tom Gevaert's A Comedy of Errors -- Airspace Security on 9/11.

Skippy and Spadehammer ask questions about 9/11.

September 11: Minute by Minute.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2003 | Comments (2)

Can you hear me now?

Everybody got caught up in Fox's rediculous 'fair and balanced' suit angainst Franken. But how many of you are aware of the effort Verizon is making to play the same game with 'Can you hear me now?"

Brett Marston has written a number of posts on this trademark issue. Start with his most recent one here and follow his links to his other writings and other materials.

Here is Verizon's statement of their position:

We are sorry that you feel this way about the lawsuit. However, "The company has spent millions of dollars in advertising and public relations to establish the phrase 'Can you hear me now' as a symbol of our network's quality and our relentless efforts to continue to test and expand our coverage. We will take action against any company or other organization that infringes upon our trademark and damages the valuable brand we have created."
Apparently Verizon doesn't like others, especially their union members, using the phrase. As Brett argues it is our language. If Verizon want's something trademarkable then they should make up some new words.

I think I'll make an effort to use the phrase regularly, say at least once a week.

Oh, and I wonder what Verizon thinks about this?

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2003

Death and Life

The Talking Dog has found another gem and it is a powerful piece:

Its been too long since I linked to Israeli blogger Imshin, one of the brightest lights of the blog world. But with this piece, she has transcended blogging, frankly, she has transcended everything, with this observation of the universe that is in the traditions of the greatest sages and mystics ever to exist. (I'm blown away by it.)
Near the end of her essay Imshin writes:
Death comes quickly and, more often than not, doesn't bother to call ahead to say it is on its way and give us a chance to prepare. And even if it does, how does one prepare?
Read Imshin, read The Talking Dog's response and then as she says:
Take a minute. Look up from your computer screen and look around you.
Please do this regularly.

And realize that, though most ignore it, death does call ahead. The message is there before our eyes throughout our lives. For most the message does not include a date and time but that should not matter as it is widely known that we humans are mortal. Read the message, make sure your affairs are in order, and act out your life to its fullest potential.

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2003

w Rebuilds Iraq

Some of you will be interested in this Department of Commerce site that deals with the rebuilding of Iraq and includes this chart of contracts awarded in Iraq (currently updated through 9/4) and a wealth of additional information on doing business in Iraq.

Via The Internet Scout Report.

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2003

September 12, 2003

Read Your Contract

I'll bet this is in really small print in the contract they sign:

Murwin, like thousands of other military personnel hospitalized every year, is expected to reimburse the government $8.10 per day for food. That's standard procedure because of a law Congress passed in 1981. But it has angered many military families over the years.
This should really help recruiting once it reaches the status of full disclosure.

On the other hand, it's a bargain compared to what a civilian would pay in a public hospital.

Via Steve Verdon.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2003

Really, It is Stealing

Modulator has briefly commented on this in June but the Bitch has Words takes apart all the arguments supporting illegal file sharing that I've come across.

First, though, she admits to being a thief:

I committed the first four transgressions many moons ago, when I was a wee pup. I committed the final one, music downloading, last December, as I compiled a set of songs for a friend.
Now, her telling us this doesn't give her arguments any greater moral weight and it doesn't need to as they are good enough on their own. A sample:

The RIAA is stuck in an old business model where they can sell a bunch of crappy songs on a CD with two or three good songs. File sharing allows users to get only the songs they want, rather than paying for a bunch of songs they dont want just to get one or two that they do want.

Horsepucky. File sharing may allow you to pick and choose among songs, but youre still NOT PAYING FOR THEM. Go sign up for one of the new e-music services, would you? Besides, this argument directly contradicts the one saying that file sharers actually buy *more CDs* after listening to a few tracks they downloaded. So which is it? Do you just want the individual tracks that you like? Or do you want to try out a few tracks so you can buy the whole CD? You cant have it both ways.

It is a long post and worth the read.

Via Blogcritics.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2003

Don't Tread on Us

I don't usually borrow whole posts but this from Doug Allen at Catallarchy aptly describes one aspect of the bizarre and misguided priorities that citizens of the US have built up around themselves over the last 200+ years:

Somewhere, violent criminals are still at large. Somewhere, a shady character is plotting terrorist activities. Somewhere, a drunken teen is getting behind the wheel of a car. Somewhere, a man is beating his wife.

But law enforcement resources are being used to charge Tommy Chong, fine him, and send him to a prison filled with dangerous whackos for nine months for selling bongs over the Internet.

When people exchange goods on mutually agreeable terms leave them alone.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2003


Just in case North Korea gets carried away this Seattle home has a few extras. Via Fresh Hot Wastes of Time.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2003

RIP Johnny Cash

Man in Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

By: John R. Cash, 1971 House of Cash, Inc.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2003

September 11, 2003

Late Night Reading

Bilmon presents Rumsfeld speaking on WMDs.

A short course in Roman history and it relevance to the US. Via Rob Schaap.

There are 2 September 11ths to think about. Chris Bertram.

Pictues of the day: here (same at Bilmon's), here and here.

The sounds of 9/11 via zombyboy.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003

Another Political Quiz

Now here is a real quiz! Sure it is multiple choice but as Froz Gobo says:

The multiple-choice answers are very detailed and differ very subtly, so much so that for only 2 out of 10 was the selection easy. I suggest taking it primarily because of the exercise of debating those last 2 possible answers to each question. I wish the test could be conducted rating the 4 possibilties from "most like your opinion" to "least like your opinion."
Plan on spending 5-10 minutes to find out whether you are a neocon, liberal, realist or isolationist.

It rated me liberal which is not how I describe myself.

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003

A Lump of Cheese

Thanks for Helena Montana at Demogogue for the pointer to this Nature article that explains that it is the sun not the moon that is cheesy:

"If strings of magnetic field get tangled around each other, the Sun becomes like a spinning lump of molten mozzarella," explains Tom McLeish of the University of Leeds, UK.

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003

w's Dollars

This looks like something w might use to pay his bills. See details here.

Via Hit and Run.

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003


Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Program on Technology and Liberty, summed up CAPPs II thusly:

CAPPS II would for the first time put the government in the business of conducting regular background checks on everyday citizens. Not only would the government conduct searches and evaluations of individuals' past history and records, but it would generate a "risk score" for each person. The social and political consequences of this new role for government are far-reaching and truly frightening.
Read the transcript of the Washington Post online forum he participated in here.

Via beSpacific.

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003

Where is the Foreign Aid

Gwynn Dyer suggests the real reason many countries are responding slowly to bush's 'plea' for help with Iraq:

Nobody talks openly about this, but many governments are also privately debating whether they want to help save the Bush administration from the consequences of its own folly.
Without a lot of military and financial help that can only come via the UN, Bush may be dragged down to defeat by the Iraq war in the November 2004 election. With the extra troops and money, he might contain the problem enough to survive. But, they ask themselves, do we really want that?
xymphora enumerates five additional reasons.

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2003

September 10, 2003

Late Night Reading

Jesse at Pandagon would like to hear something other then the usual pablum from bush on 9/11. Something that will truly "dignify the deaths of 3000 people."

The 51st Carnival of the Vanities is up at Solport. Plenty of good reading.

Greg Easterbrook and Jacob Levy discuss the revised Oath of Allegiance that new citizens must recite. Luckily natural born citizens do not have to commit to this kind of stuff. Really, I'd like to hear more about the government's commitments.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2003

Patriot Act II or?

Whatever it is going to be called bush is stumping for it. At Quanitco today, he made a pitch for increased use of administrative supoenas, elimination of bail for terrorist suspects and additional death penalty provisions. Part of his rationale being something like if we can have these things for certain other crimes why not terrorism. For instance, with regard to administrative supoenas:

They're used in a wide range of criminal and civil matters, including health care fraud and child abuse cases.
Perhaps they shouldn't be used in any situation. It strikes me that probably cause approved by a judge ought to be the minimum standard.

I don't think anyone outside bush's cabal has seen what they plan to send to congress. Expect things to go less well for whatever it is then the roll over and play dead act that congress did for Patriot Act 1.

Talkleft (and I'm sure others) has been working this heavily. See here (the most recent as of this writing) and previous posts.

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2003

Prepare for Amnesty

Those of you who either personally or have family expecting a visit from the RIAA's legal crew might want to get a head start by filling out this Amnesty Application Form.

Via Sugarfused.

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2003

al Qaeda or Islam?

al Quaeda, in the newly published The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad by bin Laden associate Yussuf al-Ayyeri, says that their battle really is againt the American system:

'IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy."
Amir Taheri reviews the book and its arguments in the Washington Post. Since I haven't read the book I will posit that Taheri's analysis and extracted quotes are representative of al Qaeda's position. It certainly seems to match what has filtered through the bushie's smokescreens.

So straight from the horses mouth they acknowledge that the US did a good thing getting rid of the Ba'aths in Iraq:

"The end of Ba'ath rule in Iraq is good for Islam and Muslims," he writes. "Where the banner of Ba'ath has fallen, shall rise the banner of Islam."

The author notes as "a paradox" the fact that all the various forms of unbelief that threatened Islam were defeated with the help of the Western powers, and more specifically the United States.

and then, seemingly straight from the neocon's workbook, al-Ayyeri argues for ongoing disruption in Iraq:
He says that it is vital to prevent any normalization and stabilization in Iraq. Muslim militants should make sure that the United States does not succeed in holding elections in Iraq and creating a democratic government. "If democracy comes to Iraq, the next target [for democratization] would be the whole of the Muslim world," Al-Ayyeri writes.....

"Do we want what happened in Turkey to happen to all Muslim countries?" he asks. "Do we want Muslims to refuse taking part in jihad and submit to secularism, which is a Zionist-Crusader concoction?"

This is just what the bushies want. Will it succeed in eliminating al Qaeda and similar organizations. Perhaps, but what the neocons have not made clear to us is the decades that this full conversion would take and the cost in lives and lost opportunities.

It's clear to me that we need to be focused on taking out al Qaeda. That organization has earned its end.

We do not, though, need to be taking on all of Islam any more then we would need to take on the entire Catholic church if one splinter group of nuns took out the pentagon.

Does an indeterminate length occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and whichever are the next in line accomplish the elimination of al qaeda? Not likely in yours or my lifetime but it certainly will feed the al Qaeda recruiting pipeline for years to come.

It will be extremely difficult to undo the damage done by the bushies but there is no honor in repeating the crusades.

The US can, though, reclaim the high road and become the world leader in setting an example of freedom, prosperity and cooperation on a global basis. bush and company probably can not accomplish this but this will do more then all the billions we might pour into the sinkhole Iraq has become to achieve global peace, properity and liberty.

Via Sean LaFreniere.

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2003

Tired of the Recall Election

Mark Morford has some recall suggestions. Things that you can do without a million bucks. For example, a mild one from the middle of the list:

Recall the idea that if your ass isn't making a permanent indentation in your $149 Ikea couch every Sunday for six hours straight during NFL season, you are somehow betraying the very notion of manliness and testosterone. This is your choice. You are the only voter that matters. Do you sense your power now?
If this is you get started. If it isn't you go read the rest. You'll find at least one or two that apply to you. Take back your life now.

NB: Some of Morford's suggestions will surely offend some of you. You know, all the taboos: language, sex, politics, religion,....

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2003

September 9, 2003

Late Night Reads

Mark Kleiman asks whether political motives were involved with Ricuarte's retracted MDMA paper and suggests a full investigation of MDMA research.

Well, Cancun is where the action is and Arnold Kling has the links for you including this one at the Cato Institute that has a wealth of pro and con discussion.

Late Niight Reading should lengthen again soon. Other project are impinging for the rest of this week.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2003

Understanding bush's speech

Take Back the Media has a post bush speech edition here. Read the speech and then listen to the September 8 edition of TBTM Radio.

Do you agree with their rating of 2 thumbs down?

Via blah3.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2003

Should YouTrust Big Brother

Jeralyn Merrit wonders:

We don't know why people aren't screaming bloody murder about this.
The this is CAPPS II, the new airline passenger screening system currently under development.

Yes, why aren't we up in arms about this? Go read Jeralyn's post and the related links. CAPPS II looks like Total Information Awareness is alive and well not something 5 years away as Fox News argues:

Any real development of TIA technology is more than five years away, so concerns that the technology will be abused are speculative, at best.
Well, since Fox's 5 year forecast is clearly speculative why would we expect it not to be abused.

Gosh, just imagine, you are headed to New York next summer to provide peaceful input to the GOP convention but, oops, your color is red and you don't get to go. What set of data in the fed files might cause this to happen?

Even though the absence of information may be as problematic as the information the feds have you just might want to start making yourself a little less visible by learning how to use cash again.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2003

Looking for Aliens

Many papers have been carrying this article about the search for extraterrestrial life. As more planets are discovered interest in this effort increases:

But after four decades of frequent ridicule, the astronomers seeking signs of life in the heavens are gaining some respect. Since 1960, when Tarter's colleague Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at a pair of nearby stars in hopes of dialing in an alien broadcast, there have been about 100 searches for ET signals.

No aliens have been found. But new planets have, more than 100 outside our solar system since the first was discovered in 1995.

Whether those distant worlds teem with life, let alone intelligent life, remains unknown. But each new discovery further energizes the search for ET.

Many of the current efforts have as their target extraterrestrial intelligence, e.g., the SETI Project.

Things would move much more quickly if just a little bit of effort were spent looking for ETUI, or extraterrestrial unintelligence. For instance this speciman* was photographed two days ago and the astute observor should easily find more examples of infestation.

*Photo from Yahoo/Reuters.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2003 | Comments (1)

September 8, 2003

Late Night Reading

Will blogging become a key tool for academia? Micha Ghertner, Catalarchy, explores this and related issues.

For an overview of privacy and human rights on a world wide basis check out Privacy and Human Rights 2003.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003

5000 Visitors

Modulator had its 5000th Sitemeter visitor today. I probably feel a lot more excited about this then this guy does as he tallies something on the order of his 6 millionth visitor in the same time period.*

I would feel even more excited if the visitor was really interested in reading my stuff. But no, Modulator was the 40th listing found for this Yahoo search.

Anyway, thanks to everyone and please come visit again.

*I'm also curious as to why such a low percentage of his visits show a known referral. Looking just a minute ago there were 11 known referrals for 100 visits. Sitemeter listed the rest as unknown. Any thoughts on this?

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003 | Comments (2)

Libertarian on Bush

Lew Rockwell is a libertarian but I wouldn't call him a conservative as does Ken Macleod. Ken is right, though, in saying that this is a pretty radical essay:

There is something grossly immoral about a regime that saunters into town, bankrupts its host country and destroys a few others in the process, making mess after mess and still not being held accountable for it. Making matters worse is the reality that it and its friends in industry will take off with all the loot. After all, all this money is going somewhere, and it isn't to average Iraqis!
Rockwell chews the bushite actions and policies and spits them out in little pieces.

Some of you may not like everything he says but you should, nevertheless, read the entire piece!

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003

Pets Reflect their Keepers

The keepers:

The 2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that nearly two-thirds of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight, and more than 30 percent are obese.
The pets:
The report, from the National Research Council, finds that one-quarter of the dogs and cats in the western world are obese.
Come on folks, lets take those pets with you on those long walks.

And you cat owners should pay particular attention to this:

The report notes that in the wild, cats will catch and eat eight to 12 small animals or birds every day.

Feeding of cats should reflect this -- with 12 to 20 very small meals being offered through the day, the report says.

So much for filling the bowl and leaving kitty home alone all day.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003

Aiding and Abetting?

rumsfeld tells the world:

... opposition to the U.S. President was encouraging Washington's enemies and hindering his 'war against terrorism'.
Is he accusing the opposition of aiding and abetting the enemy? And will this prompt another round of talk show blathering about critics of bush policy being treasonous?

According to that great upholder of civil liberties ashcroft:

Peaceful political discourse and dissent is one of America�s most cherished freedoms, and is not subject to investigation as domestic terrorism. Under the Patriot Act, the definition of �domestic terrorism� is limited to conduct that (1) violates federal or state criminal law and (2) is dangerous to human life. Therefore, peaceful political organizations engaging in political advocacy will obviously not come under this definition. (Patriot Act, Section 802)
Just how big a step is it from rummies words to the FBI knocking on your door.

It must be time to step up the dissent even more.

Via a Scott at The Gamer's Nook.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003

Profiteers Card Deck

In the ongoing deck of cards theme there is now the War Profiteers card deck. Part of their intro:

The War Profiteers Card Deck exposes some of the real war criminals in the US�s endless War of Terror. This is no Sunday bridge club. These are individuals and institutions that stack the deck against democracy in the rigged game of global power.
David Novak, the two of diamonds, is the subject of this post by Major Barbara at Open Source Politics.

Read'm and weep.

Via The Gamer's Nook.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2003 | Comments (6)

September 7, 2003

Late Night Reading

The Ten Commandments by David Horsey. Via Avedon Carol.

Will the folks of Alabama be rational at the polls on September 9? Steven at Poliblogger reviews their options. Via Outside the Beltway.

A number of folks have commented on bush's speach: Left I on the News, Answer, Bilmon, Idols of the Marketplaceand RonK at the Daily Kos. I'm sure there are many more. Read the speach, read the commentary, you decide.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2003

More Do Not Call

Thudfactor is just thrilled with MCI's telemarketers.

This is a good example why it should be made easy for us to take these folks to court and collect damages. And it is a good example why you should be able to call your local police, complain about harassment and trespassing, and have them actually do something about it.

A Do Not Call List should not be required.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2003 | Comments (3)

Do Not Call and the RIAA

Radley Balko questions why Julian Sanchez supports the federal Do Not Call list but opposes congress acting on behalf of the RIAA to clamp down on Peer-to-Peer applications. Balko argues that the feds should not get involved in stopping either telemarketing calls or music downloading.

I certainly agree that stuff like the Protecting Children from Peer-to-Peer Pornography Act of 2003 should not even see the light of day. This bill is as good an argument as any that the commerce clause was and still is a mistake as written and interpreted.

Seems like "...regulate commerce...among the several states..." would better serve the people if it were written something like adjudicate disputes relating to commerce among the several states. The principle being that we should be able to contract with others, in or out of state, for goods on terms we and the others mutually agree on. With the appropriate federal role being to resolve contractual disputes relating to interstate commerce.

Both unsolicited telemarketing calls and the RIAA's problem with theft should be easily dealt with in either criminal or civil courts. That they are not is a failing of our police, legislatures and judicial system.

The calls are at best trespassing and potentially a form of assault. On the criminal side a misdemeanor charge with a small fine plus court costs and on the civil side $50 (indexed to inflation) plus court costs should make the number of calls approach zero.

On the RIAA side dealing with theft as theft and taking folks to court regularly (make'm pay a small fine plus court costs) should reduce the downloading of protected material to close to zero.

NB: Bigwig considers this the "stupidest.bill.ever.Until Tomorrow."

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2003

September 6, 2003

Late Night Reading

Beldar gives kudos to left-of-center blogger's writings on the Texas redistricting ruckus.

Lisa ruminates on Big Lies.

Walter begins exploring the idea of the black republican.

Laurence Lessig finds the values of our time wanting:

So defraud Californians of $9 billion, pay $1 million. But develop a new technology to make it easier for people to get access to music that they have presumptively purchased: pay more than $54 million.

Such are the values of our time.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2003

bush Slipping in Polls

Bilmon has a bunch of poll results lined up at the Whiskey Bar. They paint a pretty picture for those who think bush is a Crawford cedar that needs to be weeded.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2003 | Comments (1)

w Funds Effective Reading

In today's weekly radio address w tells us about his admin's record in supporting the No Child Left Behind Act. Next year's budget proposes a cool $1.1 billion for effective reading programs. That seem like a pretty large sum at first glance but then reality sets in.

In 2001 there were 46,906,607 students in public schools. So that $1.1 billion works out to a little over $23/student. Perhaps enough to buy 1/3 of a textbook each. I'll bet, though, that the money comes with the usual federal hooks: do it this way or you will not get the money.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2003

To Read This Weekend

Open Source Politics recommends theie list of the best posts of the last 10 days.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2003 | Comments (1)

September 5, 2003

Late Night Reading

The Invisible Adjunct reviews Kipnis, Against Love, and finds her "firmly on the side of the labor and managerial practices of corporate America".

Fox's fair and balanced coverage of the California gubernatorial debate presented by Body and Soul.

Digby has a lot of good stuff over the last couple days, but doesn't he always. Since the EPA whitewash and the Saudi-bin Laden evacuation flight should not be swept under the table go read this post first.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

What's Your Ranking?

We are used to hearing about the richest person in the world or the 50 richest in the US. We are not used to seeing where we fit in on a worldwide basis.

You can now get a pretty interesting perspective on this at the Global Rich List. You should probably use your household income divided by the number of folks in your household since they use total world population to calculate where you fit in.

Let's say you are a relatively new school teacher, married, single income, no children making about $32,000/year you will find out that your per capita income of $16,000 puts you in the top 10% on a world wide basis.

Yea, I know that the standard of living can dramatically affect the utility of your income but it is still pretty sobering.

Via The Fifty Minute Hour.

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

The Next Revision

Well, I just needed to read for a bit more and one answer to the last post's question pops right up. Per US Arms Control Chief John Bolton:

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was justified in part because Saddam Hussein retained scientists capable of building nuclear weapons, Washington's top arms control official said Thursday.
Atrios interprets it this way:
Now, it appears that the real danger wasn't that Iraq had WMDs or that they had WMD programs it's that the sought to have WMD programs.
Bolton presented this revision yesterday. I presume the administration wants to see how this flies before determining how much emphasis to put on this in the Sunday speach.

This may also mean that the expected Kay report looks weak even to the bushies.

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

bush to soothe us

Just out:

President Bush will address the nation Sunday night about Iraq amid growing U.S. casualties and criticism about his handling of the war against terrorism.
Any thoughts what his next revision will be?

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

Someone Will Pay the Price

Pessimist does not think bush has been doing too well and believes that the US will pay dearly:

George W. Bush has been suckered in the most complete way one can be suckered, and we the American People are going to pay for his stupidity - and pay dearly.
Read the whole article. There is a lot of very interesting stuff about what other countries are doing about oil while bush screws around in Iraq and Afghanistan all the while waving a finger at the rest of the world. You should be worried.

Oh, and be happy with the $2/gallon gas prices. They might look real good not far down the timeline.

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

From Usenet to Blog

I still read and post to some Usenet groups. For many specialized areas of interest Usenet and some of the other list serve environments still seems a better medium then blogging for staying on top of a specific subject matter.

The other day Phil Wolff wrote a piece that makes an interesting case for Usenet leading the way for blogging. He describes a number of similarities which Jen acknowledges and then adds two more from her experience:

Two other similarities that crossed my mind were the varying signal-to-noise ratio of each "channel", as well as the increasing sense of information overload that I got from Usenet, and am getting from the blogosphere.
The signal-to-noise issue reminds me of yesterday's post on civility. It is often clear that many Usenet users as well as bloggers seem to have extra time to troll, write thought free insulting posts, or engage in long 'humor' threads that lose their humor about 7 posts in.

As for information overload, the large and growing number of interesting blogs potentially fills all available time plus some more.

Oh, and Wolff also links to a nice short style post that while originally target at the Usenet crowd is relevant to the blogging community.

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

Punishment and Release

I chuckled when I read Moira Breen discussing appropriate penance for telemarketers and Natalie Solent's proposed ditching dialogue:

"Hi, my name is Shelley and I'm calling to ask if you'd be interested in a new service offered by British Orangecom."
[Very enthusiastically] "Yes!"
"Wo-? Um. It's about 'Friends & Family 2003', a new call tariff that--"
"Yes. Oh yes."
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh, oh, oh yes!"

See, it is quite possible to dispose of these creatures while maintaining an entirely positive attitude.>

'nuff said.

Posted by Steve on September 5, 2003

September 4, 2003

Late Night Reading

Kevin Drum wonders why, since the bushies are executing a Democratic foreign policy, we didn't elect a Democrat in the first place.

Is democracy possible in Egypt? Tarek Heggy discusses this in a guest appearance at Winds of Change.

Alex, A List a Day, continues to provide links to odd and not so odd lists...always good for some diversion. Try out Fametracker's (who are they??) list of the 10 least essential fall movies of 2003.

And, over at Open Source Politics, Mark Kleiman has a proposal for Controlling Teen Drinking in an Age of Terror.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2003

presidential Prevarication

Josh Marshall in his article The Post-Modern President, Washington Monthly September 2003, discusses presidential deception and has this to say about the bush administration:

Bush and his administration, however, specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion.
They may be slipping though. Rice and Rumsfeld have been arguing that our occupation experience in Iraq is similar to post war Germany. Their problem, though, is that the post war Germany experience is verifiable and as this Slate article asks:
So, how did this fanciful version of the American experience in postwar Germany get into the remarks of a Princeton graduate and former trustee of Stanford's Hoover Institute (Rumsfeld) and the former provost of Stanford and co-author of an acclaimed book on German unification (Rice)? Perhaps the British have some intelligence on the matter that still has not been made public. Of course, as the president himself has noted, there is a lot of revisionist history going around.
I think the pressure getting to be too much for them and we are starting to see major cracks in the administration facade. If this is indeed the case we are likely to see increasingly drastic and dangerous maneuvers on the part of the bushies as they struggle to maintain power.

Via Walter at idols of the marketplace.

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2003

Civility in Discourse

Civility in the Blog World

Complete and continual civility in the kind of open forum that a blog with comments presents is wishful thinking as the trolls will always pop up.

This isn't an issue here...Modulator's comment threads currently are lucky exceed 0 in length. But we all read other blogs and from time to time add our comment to the discussion.

So, as Kevin Drum and Jane Galt point out civility is certainly a goal to reach for and will not only raise the level of discussion but increase the chances of your comment being thoughtfully read.

More discussion of this here and here.

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2003

Legal Humor and More

Head over to Power Phillips, P.C., home of the Bitches from Hell Reporter, for your dose of humor. Every page I've looked at so far has generated a chuckle. I'm going to keep the link handy for those times I need to quickly defuse a sour mood.

Via Stephan Kinsella at

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2003

Secret post 9/11 Flight?

On 9/12/2001 many of my family members were getting into cars to drive many miles to a funeral service. The airports were closed. But were they? According to this article:

Members of Osama bin Laden's family were allowed to fly out of the US shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, a senior official has said.

Even though American airspace had been shut down, the Bush administration allowed a jet to fly around the US picking up family members from 10 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Houston.

Some 140 high ranking Saudi officials were also on the plane.

The apparent source for this is Richard Clark the former White House counter-terrorism chief.

I hope this turns out to be false.

Via Skippy.

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2003

September 3, 2003

August Top Referrers

New on the right side bar is the roll of Modulator's top referrers. Currently based on blogs that provided 10 or more referrals in the month of August (someday I hope to base it on a minimum of 150 referrals like Mr. Joyner). Thank you one and all!

Also, I'd like to acknowledge significant referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati,,, MovableType, Blogdex,, NZ Bear's Ecosystem and Daypop. If there are others I'll pick you up next month.

All of the blog rolls except the Base Roll are ordered by most recently updated so be sure to ping or to push to the top of the rolls. These are certainly the sites I tend to look at first and visitors will see you at the top of the roll as well.

For a brief discussion of Modulator's blog rolls look here.

Posted by Steve on September 3, 2003

Lessons Learned

I will remember to take my laptop power cord with me. I will remember to take my laptop power cord with me. I will remember to take my laptop power cord with me.

Repeat 1000 times.

This would be less of a problem if I replaced the current batteries (about a 10 minute life). But even then a couple hours isn't much when you are thinking 4-5 hours of online work.

Of course, a benefit of having no meaningful network access last night (our other machine is in use most of the evening by others) was that I got a whole bunch of other stuff done.

Posted by Steve on September 3, 2003

September 2, 2003

Open Source Politics

Modulator will be slow starting up after the long weekend.

In the meantime head over to a new group blog called Open Source Politics. You'll find a lot of great progressive content from many of your favorite bloggers and special guests. Thank you to Kevin Hayden and the rest of the OSP team for a job well done!

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2003