October 31, 2003

Navel Gazing

Modulator's 10,000th visitor arrived today (per Sitemeter). Regular readers will remember that number 5000 arrived on September 8. yea, right!

The first 5000 took 126 days and the 2nd 5000 only 53 days. I like that doubling rate but would be pleasantly shocked to see the next doubling (to 20,000 visitors) occur in 53 days.

Oh, and visitor 10,000 was Eric Siegmund, proprietor of The Fire Ant Gazette, who linked from his Sitemeter referral log. Thanks for stopping by.

And, thank you to everyone else who has taken the time to visit.

Happy Halloween!

Posted by Steve on October 31, 2003

Taking Tests

Kevin White at Catallarchy is learning the basics of test taking:

Today we had an exam. This was very easy, once I accepted that the professor thinks a "certain way" and expects the highly subjective questions to be answered from that perspective.

This one caught my eye:

True or False: Business leaders have an obligation to see that everyone, particularly those in need, benefit from their firms' actions.
The answer, in the real world, is so obviously False that it hardly bears discussion. However, within the class, the answer is so obviously True that one scarcely has to stop to consider it.
The basic lesson here applies both inside and outside the classroom. To be successful, and sometimes to survive, you need to understand the perspective of the professor or perhaps the inquisitor. Of course, that does not mean you have to agree with their perspective.

Posted by Steve on October 31, 2003

October 30, 2003

Terrorist Government Developing Super Viruses

From the New Scientist:

A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.

The work has not stopped there. The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.

The new virus, which is about to be tested on animals, should be lethal only to mice, Mark Buller of the University of St Louis told New Scientist. He says his work is necessary to explore what bioterrorists might do.

But the research brings closer the prospect of pox viruses that cause only mild infections in humans being turned into diseases lethal even to people who have been vaccinated.

As The Speculist says: A legitimate government has no use for this. It is a tool for terrorists.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003 | Comments (3)

If daddy says no, then do it

Gregory Harris quotes guidance from the senior bush on the wisdom of invading Iraq, chasing down saddam, etc.

Of course, w, deep thinker that he is, adheres to the teenage rebels mantra if daddy said it than it must be wrong.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003

Buying Work

According to the Center for Public Intgegrity:

Executives, employees and political action committees of the 70 companies that received government contracts for work in either Iraq or Afghanistan contributed slightly more than $500,000 to President Bush's 2000 election campaign, according to a comprehensive study of the contracts released on Tuesday.
Frankly, I am surprised that the number is so small and would be very interested to see what these same companies have already contributed to bush's 2004 campaign fund.

Bribing public officials is also a variant of what economists call rent seeking which is defined by Gordon Tullock:

... the outlay of resources by individuals and organizations in the pursuit of rents created by government
Center For Public Integrity reference via the New York Times.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003

Who are the Terrorists?

Leah Roffman, a freshman at Tufts University closes an essay on the Patriot Act with this:

Americans fear a terrorist takeover because terrorists would repeal our rights, threaten our safety, and disregard accountability to citizens. But our current government is doing all of those things right now. I might even become a victim of the USA governmental spying team just for saying so.
'nuff said.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003

Potter Headache

I thought the headache I had while reading Order of the Phoenix was simple transference from Harry as the pain from his scar waxed and wained.

But a Northwest Washington physician thinks otherwise:

three patients, ages 8 to 10, complained in June that they had been suffering from headaches for two or three days.

"In each case, the headache was dull and the pain fluctuated throughout the day," Bennett wrote in a letter published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"On further questioning, it was determined that each child had spent many hours reading J.K. Rowling's latest book in the Harry Potter series," Bennett wrote in the letter, which journal editors titled "Hogwarts Headaches -- Misery for Muggles."
"The presumed diagnosis for each child was a tension headache brought on by the effort required to plow through an 870-page book. The obvious cure for this malady -- that is, taking a break from reading -- was rejected by two of the patients, who preferred acetaminophen instead," ....

Hmmmm, I still think I'm right and when the next volume comes out I suggest parent's of 8-10 year olds give them something to prop up the book.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003

Dying to be Rich


Forbes recently published their:

...third annual list of top-earning deceased celebrities tracks the posthumous business dealings of the biggest stars of yesteryear. This year we expanded our list of top earners from 13 to 19, in part to reflect a broader range of professions. But that doesn't mean the bar has been lowered. To qualify for our list, the person in question still must earn a minimum of $5 million annually.
Number 19 on the list at $5 million: Jerry Garcia late of the Grateful Dead. His estate thanks you.

Via Alex at A List a Day.

Posted by Steve on October 30, 2003

October 29, 2003

Blogger Beware

This post lost Michael Hanscom his job. See details here.

This seems to reflect some pretty deep paranoia over at MS. To think, they have smurfs who spend all their time looking for stuff like this to snuff out. Probably a training camp for the ashcroft justice department.

In the meantime, all of you who are not tenured academics or retired MS mizillionaires take note: MS may not be the only employer who might frown on something you say in your blog.

Via Brad DeLong.

Update (10/30): The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on this today.

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2003

Stalking with Lawyers

You all have likely already run across this but if not head over to Eschaton and read about it in this post and subsequent posts.

It seems Donald Luskin, self proclaimed Krugman stalker, has taken offense with one of Atrios' posts and some of the comments therein:

You chose the unfortunate caption �Diary of a Stalker� for your link. More importantly, your readers, in responding to your invitation to comment, have posted numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin. Picking up on the theme you introduced, several have made false assertions that Mr. Luskin has committed the crime of stalking. Such a statement constitutes libel per se, an actionable tort subjecting both the author and the publisher to liability for both actual and punitive damages.
I haven't been able to scrounge up the offending comment thread to read but I have no doubt some of the folks might have been a bit rude toward Luskin. Tsk. Tsk.

I suspect this is more a publicity stunt on Luskin's part then anything else. And he will get his publicity but at what cost? I think Winds of Change nails it here:

And pundits who use slings ought to be able to take a stone or two, and the fact that Mr Luskin can't - the fact assuming that the letter Atrios posted was genuine (and the lawyer's name does check out on the firm website) - certainly drops him a few kilometers below credible in my view.

Will the luskin stalker meme top fair and balanced? Watch and enjoy.

Atrios provides a lengthy list of links to commentary on this here.

Via Skippy.

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2003

The Work of the Nation

Spade says:

Apparently we have some US Senators whose plates are not quite full
Perhaps, though, we would all be better off we restarted with a blank slate and only allowed congress to deal with important things like football's BCS selection system.

Really, read Spade's post:

Jeez, I don't think The Onion could've even dreamed up this pile of B.S.

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2003

Weapons, Combat and the Movies

zombyboy reports on an article about some new and improved military technology, in particular some advanced missile defense stuff which is pretty cool.

I've been a big fan of this kind of stuff since reading space opera stuff as a 5/6th grader.

I also know that this type of technology gives you an advantage for a time. Then some other technique is used to counter. Oh, and then your opponents have it so your cruise missiles aren't effective any longer.

But it is fun to think about and I suppose we ought to be somewhat prepared if the SETI team runs across some real bad folk.

Also, very interesting is the right angle gun right angle gun a little further down the article. This could dramatically change the dynamics of individual combat especially in urban settings but also for the poor dude who used to have to be the one to stick his head over the rock to see if anyone was there. Also, apply to urban police ineractions.

Think of all the future tv/movie scenes that will change with the introduction of this weapon.

My question is....now that I see it ...what took so long?

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2003

Preparing our Children

I wonder if there might be a relationship between these two articles. First, is this study that investigated what electronic stuff parents have been putting in their kid's bedrooms:

The study showed significant percentages of children with TVs in their bedrooms in even the youngest age ranges: 30 percent for kids 3 and under, and 26 percent for kids under 2, compared with 36 percent for all kids 6 and under.
The second story, lost in the headlines about Bank of America taking over FleetBoston Financial is this story about BofA exporting some of their technical jobs:
But virtually no attention was paid just days earlier when BofA said it will move more operations abroad by setting up a subsidiary in India next year to handle key tech functions, many involving sensitive customer information.
Maybe these parents kind of intuitively know that there may not be any challenging work available in the US by the time these 2 year olds reach adulthood and are preparing them for the good life of a skilless job and evenings watching sitcoms or whatever other brain deadening fare is being served up.

Posted by Steve on October 29, 2003

October 28, 2003

Things are Going Well in Iraq

Last April Josh Marshall wrote about a time, then 6 months in the future, when things would be going well for the bushies. That future is now and we have all heard or read w's words about how well things are going.

Marshall's article does not provide an exact match to today's circumstances but it certainly does provide a clear alternate take on what the administration might mean by going well.

Go give it a read or re-read as the case may be.

Via Bilmon's comment thread.

Posted by Steve on October 28, 2003

w's Focus

w, at a press conference today, speaks on the presidential campaign and his focus:

�We're arming, raising money to wage a campaign. And there will be an appropriate time for me to engage politically; that is, in the public forum.�

�To me, there's a difference between that and actually engaging potential opponents in a public discourse in a debate. And there will be ample time for that. There will be ample time to differentiate views and to defend records in the face of political criticism. And I know that the campaign has started for some, in terms of the public debate from a political perspective. It just hadn't for me yet.�

�I'm focused on the security of the American people, working with Congress to get a Medicare bill and an energy bill.�

Which is why it must not have been him out doing this:
If you had the time and money to trot around the country to attend all of President Bush's recent fundraising speeches, you'd find him both scaring and reassuring his listeners about terrorists.
Yes, I know this isn't unique to w. clinton, bush sr, etc., all abused their position as president to engage in fundraising efforts. I just wish they wouldn't lie about what they are focused on and wouldn't rip off the tax payers to fund these jaunts.

Posted by Steve on October 28, 2003

Workplace Blues

Sugerfused has been stressed the for the last day or two. Things will get better.

Posted by Steve on October 28, 2003 | Comments (1)

A thought for today

The size of this country never ceases to amaze me. I know that many on the West coast were not as deeply affected by 9/11 as those of us here in East coast by virtue simply of proximity. It now amazes me how little it seems to weigh in here on the East coast that Southern California is going up in flames.
From The Kitchen Cabinet.

Update: Hanah's answer:

The western United States has burned down once a year since I started paying attention to the news. They've used up their sympathy on forest wildfires, and now that it's threatening large numbers of people, we're innured to it.

Posted by Steve on October 28, 2003

Smooth Cruising

Tired of having that traffic light turn red as you are approaching. You might want to buy one of these.

Via The Blog of the Century.

Posted by Steve on October 28, 2003

October 27, 2003

Late Night Reading

I'm a couple days late catching up with the latest edition of the Carnival of Capitalism.

James Lileks starts of with Chernobog and then rolls right into a discussion of the music of Fantasia. I find the Rite of Spring much more human then Lileks does.

The Curmudgeonly Clerk has a run in with a Tarantula.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on October 27, 2003

White House Hoist on the Patriot Act?


Samual Dash argues that the perps who leaked Plame's identity appear to have violated at least 2 sections of the Patriot Act and should, under the act, be considered domestic terrorists.

Furthermore, Dash then suggests the additional set of tools that the Justice Department could be bringing to bear:

Can they treat this investigation differently from any other terrorist investigation? Under the Patriot Act, they have acquired expanded powers to wiretap and search. Will they place sweeping and roving wiretaps on White House aides? Will they engage in sneak, secret searches of their offices, computers and homes? Will they arrest and detain incommunicado, without access to counsel, some White House aides as material witnesses?

Certainly, nobody expects they will and I hope they would not employ such police-state tactics.

While no law enforcement officials should have police-state tools at their disposal the current administration is certainly a deserving target if said tools are going to be used against anyone.

The entire article is worth a read.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on October 27, 2003

Why IraQ?

w asked, in a speach to the Australian parliament:

Who can possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power?
Charles Kuffner has the best answer to this that I have seen so far:
That's not the point
The problem here is that this is the wrong question to be asked. It's a meaningless question meant to distract us from looking at the implications of how we went about removing Saddam from power and what it has cost us in money, lives, missed opportunities, and international reputation.
Read it all. There is some good stuff in the comments as well.

Via Not Geniuses.

Posted by Steve on October 27, 2003

October 26, 2003

Action Hero?

The National Review is getting an early start on xmas presents. The scary thing is...they might actually sell some of these.

Via Diotima.

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2003

Cleaning Time

Jen has a dust bunny.

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2003

Blogrolling Down?

Blogrolling's service seems to be down at the moment (11:16 AM PT).

This appears to be causing Modulator's sidebars to not load properly. But then you came here for the content not the sidebars, right?

Click your browsers stop button to stop the attempt to load the sidebars...

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2003 | Comments (2)

October 25, 2003

The Long Campaign

Apparently there are a few folks who are happy (NYT requires free reg) with the demise of the Concorde:

Many of those sufferers, from neighborhoods surrounding Kennedy International Airport, showed up to toast a jet that had provided them not with trans-Atlantic luxury and speed, but with a first-class earache that throbbed for a quarter-century.
A few of them even think that their efforts ended the Concorde's career which brings this response from Perry at Samizdata:
It is widespread delusional mindsets like, these with an inability to grasp anything beyond the most rudimentary causal links that sometimes get me muttering things like "the more people I meet, the more I like my cat".
Perry's right about the delusional part. I suppose, though, that these folks feel better and will now look to fight something else that will disappear on its own in 20-30 years. Tilting at windmills can be addicting.

Posted by Steve on October 25, 2003

Food Fight?

After reading this Financial Times article Tim Dunlop concludes :

If this is true, then my conslusion from that earlier post stands: if this is the case, this is a much more serious issue than the case of simply trying to smear and intimidate a dissenter (ie Joseph Wilson). This indicates a complete breakdown in trust between various government agencies.
Are the bushies really playing these kind of silly and dangerous to us games?

Posted by Steve on October 25, 2003

Are You Looking to Live Just a Bit Longer then Normal

These guys might have just the thing for you:

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said mutations that inhibit insulin/IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) signalling can double the life span of C. elegans.

Removing precursor reproductive cells also extended lifespan by 60%. This was not due to sterility, but appeared to be the result of altered hormonal signalling.

Further genetic interference of mutation-carrying worms, plus the removal of their reproductive systems, produced lifespans six times longer than normal.

This last step might be a bit much fore most folks. Then again, if you aren't planning any more children,....

Posted by Steve on October 25, 2003

October 24, 2003

What do you do?

Here is an interesting list of occupations:

many are archaic. These are useful to genealogists since surnames usually originated from someone's occupation. They also are useful to historians in general. The list is by no means complete.
Many are interesting and still in use to day.

One that does not seem to be in use today that perhaps should be is this one:

STATIST - politician
Via Languagehat.

NB: The author of the list, John J. Lacombe, II passed away in 2001. Here is a memorial statement from his family.

Posted by Steve on October 24, 2003

Talkin' About Religion

Well, staying with wierd there is General Boykin and here is a bit of Boykin satire from Emma Goldman.

Posted by Steve on October 24, 2003


Regular readers know that I like a bit of oddity and humor now and again. I was feeling a bit of withdrawal as it has been a few days since anything has cropped up.

But thanks to Jaquandor who I hope will keep up Friday's Burst of Weirdness there is this.

And also thanks for the link to Particles where the proprietess of Making Light has many one line links to the sacred, the profane and, yes, the wierd.

Posted by Steve on October 24, 2003

Senate Supports Spammers 97-0

Well, it sure looks this way to me.

For instance,

the bill now includes a provision, supported by some opponents of spam, that directs the Federal Trade Commission to come up with a plan for a no-spam registry.
I think the off shore spammers will love this one: a list comprised of mostly good email addresses! Yea, I know that the spammers are supposed to send in their lists for scrubbing but I suspect joes p*rn shop won't be sending in their list.

Or, how about:

And it would prohibit private lawsuits against spammers, allowing suits only by providers of e-mail accounts, such as Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., EarthLink Inc. and America Online Inc., all of which also market to their own members.
What is the deal here? None of these companies have my or your interest at heart. Perhaps the legislation instructs them to create a 'sue the spammers' department that will act everytime one of us complains.

No, I read the the senate's version and it doesn't create a 'sue the spammers' department. In fact, it does not appear to provide any enforcement funding at all.

Enacting the bill could affect direct spending and revenues, but CBO estimates that any such effects would not be significant. S. 1293 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
What agency will divert resources track down perps? I may be missing something...maybe manna from heaven...but don't expect your local federal prosecutors to jump right on your complaint.

Or, how about:

Many in the business community are particularly anxious for a federal law because they want it to supersede existing state laws that they consider draconian.
Much of this one has to do with many of the state laws taking an opt in approach while the federal version is an opt out approach which is just backwards.

How about enforcement

Is any kind of anti spam law really needed at any level? Fraud is a criminal offense and should take care of all the fake adds and phony return addresses. And, my email program dumps 99% of the spam i get right into the junk mail folder. Doesn't yours?

Via Electrolite and Nathan Newman.

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

AOL Violates User's Computers

I couldn't disagree more with this guy:

Russ Cooper, a security expert with TruSecure Corp., said anyone who needs the Windows messaging function that AOL disabled ought to be smart enough to know how to reactivate it.

"I hope more and more providers do this type of proactive security," he said, "and that we don't condemn them for things we wish everybody would do for themselves."

He is talking about AOL which has made changes to the system settings of more then 15,000,000 of their user's Microsoft Window based systems without those users prior consent.

Even more annoying than junk e-mail are all the spam messages that "pop up" through a little-used feature in Windows. As part of its spam-fighting efforts, America Online has been turning off that feature for its customers without telling them.
Cooper is right in his first sentence but that is not the issue.

Sure, this sounds like a good thing on the surface. But think about it. Aol has made a change to the PC's system environment without the owner's permission. This apparently requires that the user has administrator privileges on the computer, typical for most home users, so this means that via their client software, AOL version whatever it is today, they can probably do anything they want with your computer without your permission.

Even though I consider AOL the king of snail mail spam I've rooted for them from time to time in their battles against Microsoft. This, though, strikes me as a pretty good reason for folks to find another service provider.

Can you trust AOL with your computer?

Posted by Steve on October 24, 2003

October 23, 2003

Some Modern Dinosaurs may be a bit Closer to Extinction

I expect to see a lot more headphones on folks while they are at their computers (or just a wireless signal away) and not just to listen to the latest music downloads.

Check out this article about Skype, the latest hot peer-to-peer application that will be making a lot of encumbent telephone companies (both land and cellular) nervous and will have government officials at all levels wondering why their utility tax revenue stream is shrinking.

This has the potential to be a classic case of creative destruction and I, for one, think it is a good thing!

Via Assymetrical Information.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003

Spanking? Let's Get Tough!

As a followup yesterday's post on Spanking you should read Charles' post on Tough Love.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003

Stormy Weather Brewing

Get out your umbrellas,.. well, they might not help for this storm:

A strong dose of space weather is forecast to hit Earth Friday, potentially disrupting satellite communications and posing a threat to power grids on Earth.

The storm of charged particles was unleashed by a dark region on the solar surface called Sunspot 484. The huge spot, about the size of Jupiter's surface, has been growing for several days and rotating into a position that now points squarely at Earth.
The sunspot let lose a storm of energetic particles, known as a coronal mass ejection at 3 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The expanding cloud is expected to arrive midday Friday. It could produce a geomagnetic storm rated G3 on a scale that goes up to G5.

it will probably cause a little chaos with your cell phones as well.

Update: The Apostropher has some more links including this sweet up close and personal look at a sunspot.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003 | Comments (2)

Wal-Mart Illegals

Surely no one is really surprised by this:

Federal officials are sweeping Wal-Mart stores across the United States as part of an effort to arrest some 300 illegal workers by Thursday evening.....
Officials say investigators are concerned about a pattern of Wal-Mart using contractors who employ illegal aliens and that Wal-Mart has, in fact, continued to use contractors who have been convicted of hiring aliens in the past.
Or that Wal-Mart would try to hide behind the 'contractor's employees' argument:
"They arrested a number of members of the floor cleaning crews." Williams emphasized the workers are employed by contractors, saying, "they're not Wal-Mart associates."
If Wal-Mart really did not know then there are some management types who need to be fired for failure to do due diligence in hiring the contractors.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003

Bumps in the Road and Quick Releases

For an interesting and entertaining look at the phrase "thank-you-ma'am" and its evolution head over to The Discouraging Word.

TDW lacks permalinks so look for the October 20th entry which should be on the front page for another week or so and will then slip to the archives (link in red bar near top of front page).

Via languagehat.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003

Link Spam Alert

Both Jaquandor at Byzantium's Shores and Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light report a new p*rn scam targeted at blogs.

This is what the scammers have done as described by Teresa:

The other thing this supposed weblog has is a titanic blogroll some 3,500 entries long. It�s an utterly indiscriminate list. It links to conservative religious websites, and to weblogs in languages that don�t use the Roman alphabet and haven�t been transliterated, and to random pages on About.com, and to the official website of the California Sociological Association, to name but a few.

It looks like the proprietors harvested the addresses of everything that looked like a weblog and tossed them into their list, not even pausing to weed out the false positives. The links go out, the webloggers learn via Technorati or some comparable site that they�ve been linked to, and they go to have a look.

I won't give the scammers a link or name their site. Just be aware that if you have a new linking site that you don't recognize and that has a title that suggests you might get to read about someone's carnal adventures then you will get some apparently poorly done versions of that and a whole bunch of p*rn advertising.

Posted by Steve on October 23, 2003

October 22, 2003

Late Night Reading

A Rawlsian response to home schooling and...read the comments (even if Will Baude doesn't like comments). If you are not already doing so you should read Crooked Timber every day...whether you are left, right or orthogonal.

Barbara Karkabi interviews Molly Ivins for the Houston Chronicle. Via Mad Kane.

This review of Mystic River presents a different picture than the one linked in last night's Late Night Reading.

George Lakoff will help you understand the framing of ideas in political discourse. Useful to all persuasions. Via David Isenberg who was talking about the telecom industry.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003


Say hello to Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis a species of frog from the first new family of frogs discovered since 1926. You can find more details at Pharyngula.

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003

WMDs Found

Right here.....sound 5.

Via The Gamer's Nook.

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003

Disregarding Bad Laws

Glenn Reynolds argues that there are too many laws on the books:

There are too many laws � many of them contradictory or obscure � for any person to actually avoid breaking the law completely.
and that breaking some of them may not be a bad thing:
And given that many laws are dumb, actually following all of them would probably bring society to a standstill,
Sometimes � not often, but sometimes � the best way to get a law changed is for people to ignore it. As, I suspect, they ignored the one about oral sex in Georgia.. . .
Which leads me to wonder 1) why there are not madatory sunset laws at all legislative and regulatory levels and 2) when we are going to start electing folks based on the laws they will eliminate instead of the special interests that they will bolster.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003 | Comments (1)

Clay Figures

Fun with clay figures.

These are all home made but some of them are clearly channeled from some different place(s).

Via Sugarfused.

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003

Information Rights Management

The supporters of the Patriot Act who argue that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear will love this new bug feature that is part of Microsoft's Office 2003, Information Rights Management or IRM:

Information Rights Management (IRM) in Microsoft Office 2003 gives organizations and information workers another mechanism to help control their own information. IRM is a persistent file-level protection technology from Microsoft that allows information workers to specify who can access and use documents or e-mail messages, and helps protect that digital intellectual property from unauthorized printing, forwarding or copying.
Mac users may not be so happy:
Because the technology is exclusive to Office 2003, it does mean that not only can protected files not be read in Mac versions of Office, they will also be inaccessile to users of older Windows versions, including Office XP. To solve this Microsoft has released a plug-in for Internet Explorer 6 that utilises a built-in HTML version of the rights managed file, which the authoring application automatically creates.
This will likely be a problem for other folks who have not submitted to microsoft. For instance, do you use open source products like Linux, Firebird, Mozilla or other non MS browsers or email programs. You may soon find yourself unable to read certain emails, web pages or documents that have been created in the Office 2003 environment.

I expect you will be reading a lot more about IRM and its implications.

Posted by Steve on October 22, 2003

October 21, 2003

Late Night Reading

I now want to see Mystic River and read Dennis Lehane's original book. Thanks to Henry Farrell's review!

The current Carnival of the Vanities is here.

Good Night!

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

Points of View

Both Hesiod, Counterspin, and Joe Katzman, Winds of Change, stated that the denial of service attack that brought Hosting Matters to its knees today was something directed against warbloggers in general. Both were wrong in their initial posts.

Hesiod, gloats:

AT BLOGGERHEADS: It appears that most of the top pro-war blogs were subjected to a massive denial of service attack today.

Heh. Indeed.

Joe Katzman initially sounds like he's found another piece of the liberal media conspiracy:
there appears to be another round of DoS cyber-attacks in progress against a number of prominent warblogs.
Yea, this impacted some warbloggers but in fact the attack has been directed against one specific site (Internet Haganah) which lives at Hosting Matters. All the rest were simply drowned in the fallout.

Joe K updated his original post noting some of the left sites that were also down and, overall, wins the exchange with Hesiod based on a detailed followup and the posting of a bunch of useful information on denial of service attacks.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003


Julia, Sisyphus Shrugged, has been reading some of Lisa Whelchel's book Creative Corrections and has some thoughts on spanking:

(FWIW, my persistent thought about spanking is that it's the last refuge of the incompetent, but mileage varies on that one. At the very least, a parent who can't think of a compelling reason to restrict their communication with someone a fifth their size with imperfect impulse control to the non-violent might want to consider carefully their decision to homeschool that child in light of the questionable nature of their own impulse control.)
I would extend this to suggest that they should have considered carefully their decision to have children in the first place.

NB: The permalink for Julia's post on this seem to be missing tonight so this is the one at 10:04 PM on October 21st, 2003.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003

awol's Awols

Read it.

Via Atrios.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003

Did the West Wing influence NBC?

Barry Briggs thinks that it might not have been the baseball playoffs that led NBC to not show last week's scheduled episode of West Wing.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003

Hosting Matters DOS Attack Continues

As many of you are aware sites hosted at Hosting Matters have been victimized by a massive denial of service attack targeted at one specific site: Internet Haganah.

Even though HM has been deligently working with their network providers to resolve this there have been several outages including one this morning which begain shortly after 9:00 AM and has extended to 3:08 PM this afternoon.

Note: this is not something I blame HM for in any way. I work at an institution that has had specific users targeted by denial of service attacks and they can be brutal and massive.

On the other hand, I am somewhat surprised that HM's upstream networks have failed to successfully block this traffic before it hit's HM's circuits. In cases where a single IP is targeted (which we are told is the case here) dropping traffic to this IP by the upstream provider(s) should always work so something is broken here.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003


Some of you may have thought I was being a bit paranoid in my earlier post Canadian Big Brother. Especially since congress cut off funding for Total Information Awareness.

But ashcroft's Justice Department figures to hell with congress. If we can't get TIA we'll go for MATRIX or in normal speak: Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. Justice and Homeland Security are providing funding for what started out as a state based system in Florida:

The U.S. Justice Department recently provided $4 million and the Department of Homeland Security has pledged another $8 million to expand the MATRIX program nationally. Homeland Security will also provide the computer network for information-sharing among the states.
Still not bothered? Try this:
Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of Florida�s statewide intelligence told a Washington Post reporter in early August that the system could be intrusive and pledged to use it with restraint. "It's scary. It could be abused. I mean, I can call up everything about you, your pictures and pictures of your neighbors."
Whew, I feel quite comforted by Phil's promise to use the system with restraint. But what about Ralph or Mary tomorrow?

Why not link in the Canadian's Bar Watch info, or, you take your pick of the information source. If Matrix, TIA or other similar systems stay in place their operators will figure out a way to include that information.

Yep, use cash. Start becoming as invisible as you can.

Posted by Steve on October 21, 2003

October 20, 2003

Late Night Reading

The 2nd edition of Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Jay Solo's place.

Posted by Steve on October 20, 2003

George Bounces Caterpillar

Last week Modulator commented on Caterpillar's attempt to block Disney from releasing George of the Jungle 2. Today a federal judge ruled against Caterpillar:

The judge said there is no sign Disney sought to "somehow poach or free ride" on Caterpillar's trademarks to drive up sales of the movie, one of the standards for trademark infringement.

McDade also disputed Caterpillar's argument that use of its name and logo will make viewers think the company is somehow supporting the movie. He called use of well-known trademarks a "common phenomenon" in films and television.
Along with infringement, Caterpillar alleged that its trademark is diluted by the movie, which describes the equipment as "deleterious dozers" and "maniacal machinery" during a climactic final battle.

McDade countered that "it is clear to even the most credulous viewer" that the bulldozers are operated by humans and are merely inanimate implements of the villains' "environmentally unfriendly schemes."

It would have been much less expensive for Caterpillar to have just asked Modulator.

Posted by Steve on October 20, 2003

Canadian Big Brother

My response to this plan by a bunch of Vancouver, BC., nightclubs would be to vote with my money and go elsewhere:

Bar patrons in Vancouver will soon have to swipe their drivers' licences and have their photographs taken every time they enter a club or bar that is a Barwatch member.
A lot of these places probably have security cameras already so a good part of the privacy issue may be moot.

And, I'm not arguing that these establishments should not be able to do this. As private businesses they can set the terms under which they will operate.

I am not interested in having my personal information residing in the hands of a bunch of bar owners that I have no reason to trust, whose internal security is suspect and who might share this information with 3rd parties without my approval.

Oh yea, remember to use cash instead of debit/credit cards as often as possible. No point filling anyone's database with information about yourself or in giving the banking industry a cut of your transaction.

Via Arguing with signposts...

Posted by Steve on October 20, 2003

October 19, 2003

Epistaxis Treatment

Apparently, in 1881, only men got nosebleeds:

Keep the patient erect or sitting, with his head thrown a little backwards, take off his cravat, unbutton his shirt collar, and expose him freely to the cold air; apply ice or cold vinegar and water to the back of his neck.
Hey, and if there is too much blood just reduce the pressure:
If the pulse be full, bleed him from the arm.
But more entertaining is this part of the treatment:
If these are not sufficient, moisten a plug of linen or cotton with brandy, roll it in powdered alum. and screw it up the nostril. A piece of catgut may also be passed through the nostril into the throat, drawn out at the mouth, and a bit of sponge be fastened to it and drawn back again, so as to make the sponge block up the posterior nostril. In doing this it is necessary to leave a piece of the catgut so as to be got hold of, in order to withdraw the sponge.
Actually, there is a lot of interesting material in this 1881 Household Cyclopedia and lest we laugh too much just remember what folks 120 years from now will be thinking about material from early 21st century encyclopedias.

Via Circadian Shift.

Posted by Steve on October 19, 2003

October 18, 2003

Buying the News

Bad Culture found this at the Washington Post:

But no, Mr. Land's station is pioneering the latest descent into pay-for-play journalism: It's selling segments on its "Today"-style morning program. For $2,500 you can buy four to six minutes of what is in fact an infomercial -- though only the most eagle-eyed viewers would be able to figure that out. No mention of payment is made during the segment; the only reference is a small-type, four-second display during the closing credits.
This would be no big deal if these segments were obviously commercials but they aren't and hopefully their ratings will soon reflect lie.

Posted by Steve on October 18, 2003

w saves a buck

Apparently revervists called to active duty should not expect to get the same level of medical treatment as active duty personnel. They may not even get treated at all.

But, they will get all expenses paid living quarters:

Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block barracks without bathrooms or air conditioning. They are dark and sweltering in the southern Georgia heat and humidity. Around 60 soldiers cram in the bunk beds in each barrack.

Soldiers make their way by walking or using crutches through the sandy dirt to a communal bathroom, where they have propped office partitions between otherwise open toilets for privacy. A row of leaky sinks sits on an opposite wall. The latrine smells of urine and is full of bugs, because many windows have no screens. Showering is in a communal, cinder block room. Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet paper.

I do hope this story is proven wrong.

Via The Agonist.

Posted by Steve on October 18, 2003

October 17, 2003

Sleep Time

This question from Scientific American's "Today's Trivia":

Q. How much sleep, on average, does an elephant get each day?

A. An elephant sleeps about three hours a day. Opossums, in contrast, snooze for 18 hours.

I could get quite a bit more done if I could reduce might daily sleep time to 3 hours.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2003

The boykin Affair

Terry at Nitpicker and DhinMi at the Daily Kos provide chapter and verse on how boykin has been breaking US military law and, yes, when you are in the US military you are subject to military law.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2003

Weed and Sperm

If you're trying to be a daddy you might want to lay off the weed:

A study of 22 college students who were heavy marijuana users suggested their sperm moved too fast too soon and lost oomph before they could reach their destination � the egg.

"Sperm in semen are supposed to sit quietly and wait for their chance to get out of the semen," said Dr. Lani Burkman, a researcher at the University of Buffalo. "The sperm of marijuana smokers when sitting in the semen were very, very active."

The men studied smoked marijuana about twice a day.

Burkman said the effect on the sperm came from pot's ingredients. She said earlier laboratory work indicates sperm generally can't keep up an accelerated pace for more than six hours or so, while it may take 24 hours or longer to get to the uterus.

If the sperm swim vigorously early on, "they will not have this vigorous motility by the time they are getting somewhere close to the egg and will not be able to penetrate the egg," Burkman said.

The research also found that the marijuana smokers had only about half as many sperm per volume of semen as the control group of men who did not smoke marijuana.

Burkman said it can take four to six months of marijuana abstinence for the sperm characteristics to return to normal.

There are probably a bunch of other ramifications that aren't discussed in the short blurbs popping up in the press.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2003 | Comments (3)

Electonic Voting

Ken MacLeod doesn't have a high opinion of unverifiable touchscreen voting:

Touchscreen voting with no verifiable paper trail is to real voting what McJobs are to real jobs. You don't have votes, you have McVotes.

This is something that you wouldn't put in a science fiction novel, unless it was a blatant knock-about satire - you know, some squib about a world where Mickey Mouse runs for Governor of Florida, or Arnold Schwartznegger for Governor of California. It's too unbelievable. A good editor would call it a plot hole.

You shouldn't either.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2003

Children's views of Operation Iraqi Freedom

These drawings by children were collected over a 2-month period in May and June 2003 at the request of Carl Rosenstein and the Puffin Foundation.
A description of the project is here.

Via Sugarfused.

Posted by Steve on October 17, 2003

October 16, 2003

California Signing

Where Worlds Collide points us to this sign that is being posted in goverment offices throughout california.

Annie from the London Underground says that the sign originated in India.

Posted by Steve on October 16, 2003

Leaks and ashcroft

I'm not sure exactly how many thumbs it takes to plug a dike the size of the White House but I am pretty sure that bush has only two:

Meanwhile, President Bush has ordered an end to all leaks from administration officials, Knight-Ridder is reporting. But even that order was leaked by a senior administration official to Knight-Ridder.
And, even though,
officials indicate Ashcroft has told his investigators to find the leaker. "He's angry about this," one official said.
These same
Officials who spoke with the Times say they worry Ashcroft could be damaged by the impression he is not impartial.
Come on, who would ever doubt ashcroft's impartiality??

Via Talkleft who has more.

Posted by Steve on October 16, 2003

Monkeys v Caterpillars

Its not as if Caterpillar bulldozers have never been seen taking out a few acres of forest or jungle:

Bulldozer maker Caterpillar Inc. wants to bury Walt Disney Co.'s "George of the Jungle 2" movie, which it alleges in a lawsuit filed late Tuesday in Federal Court in Peoria, Illinois, infringes on its trademarks.

In the sequel George, played by Chris Showerman, fights "bulldozing bullies" who drive Caterpillar equipment. That could have a "negative impact on children that view the movie" for the bulldozer maker and its line of toys, the newspaper quoted Caterpillar as charging.

Perhaps replacing the animation with real world scenes will take the wind out of Caterpillar's sails.

I do find it a bit ironic taking Disney's side in this given their position on extending copyright protection.

Posted by Steve on October 16, 2003 | Comments (1)

Microsoft Patent

This may not be a glorious event for the internet and the world wide web.

On Tuesday, nearly 7 years after the original filing date, the US Patent Office awarded Patent 6,632,248 to Microsoft:

User-selected customization information for a network (e.g., HTML) document is stored at a server with reference to user identifying information that uniquely identifies the user. Whenever the user navigates back to the network address of the HTML document, the user is identified automatically and receives a customized HTML document formed in accordance with the customization information.
MS might just toss this in the back drawer and forget it or the courts might toss it out as Stephen S Hong, the primary patent examiner, should have done.

With their deep pockets, though, MS might just try to ram this down peoples throats.

This is another software process patent that does not offer anything particularly unique to the world. And certainly nothing that hasn't been around for years in one form or another.

But, it could impact much of how we interact with folks (individuals or business).

In it's shortest form it says: we, MS, own the process by which a server presents web pages based on individual user preferences. Or, tell me what you want to see, I'll remember it and based on info stored in a cookie on your computer make sure that is what you see the next time you come back.

Do you use AOL or any other portal system? Log on and you are likely served a page prepared for your unique viewing pleasure. Any of these portal based services, in fact any system that utilize cookies (or anything similar) to identify you when you connect may end up owing a dime to MS everytime you use their service.

Stop for a minute....yep, examples are everywhere: waiters do it for their regular customers, Amazon does it for returning account holders and I know a programmer who wrote a budgeting program that returned a unique set of information based on who the accessing user was....in 1969...27 years before this patent was filed. ('persisitant client state' in this case was based not on cookies but physical connection point).

Heck, it even appears to say that MS owns the process by which I provide a unique response to, say, a comment spammer who's IP address is in my block list.

Via beSpacific.

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

October 15, 2003

The Supremes

They've announced the cases they are going to hear this session. For those of you tired of reading the many so, so serious posts on many of the cases head over to the Happy Furry Puppy place to read some serious but laced with humor commentary:

The Goddamned Pledge of Allegiance vs. Some Godless Atheist Commie Freak. You don't really want to know what I think about this, other than you know that it's going to be used as a political clubbing tool... as evidenced by subtle-as-a-flying-mallet Press Secretary Scott McClellan yesterday:
Well, head over to read what mcClellan said and what the Furry Puppy person does think about it.

Posted by Steve on October 15, 2003

Lite Blogging

You've probably noticed things have been quiet here since yesterday and it will continue as such probably until tomorrow as a number of real world activities take precedence.

Posted by Steve on October 15, 2003

October 14, 2003

The Next 'battle'?

The Village Voice uses george the bold* to lead into a series of short pieces on the expanding crusade, powellspeak on sanctions and questions about just how the the new $87 billion will be used.

I'm glad to see the Powell sanctions revisionism slowly working its way up the journalistic food chain. Perhaps the major media will pick it up soon.

*Illustration by Tim Jessell.

Posted by Steve on October 14, 2003

A Problematic Outlook

Well, this does not give me much reason to take a look at Outlook 2003:

When you have the Outlook 2003 program window open for a long time, Microsoft Outlook may stop responding. Also, if you view the Processes tab in the Windows Task Manager dialog box while Outlook 2003 is running, you may see that Outlook is using an unexpectedly large amount of memory.
I think I'll just continue on as a happy Thunderbird user.

Via Faraway, So Close.

Posted by Steve on October 14, 2003

What are we fighting for?

If this is it:

US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.
then the rebuilding effort is truly broken and misnamed.

This terrorism is not something that any legitimate government supports.

For more detail and links see Electrolite and Whiskey Bar. Be sure to read the comment threads.

Via Mark Kleiman.

Posted by Steve on October 14, 2003

Feds lose battle in War on American People

It was a small but important battle that extended back to the Clinton administraton.

In this case:

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Tuesday a ruling that the government cannot revoke the federal prescription licenses of doctors who recommend medical marijuana to sick patients.

Without any comment, the justices rejected a Bush administration appeal of the ruling that bars the government from punishing and from even investigating a doctor's conduct because of a recommendation that a patient use marijuana.

Every little bit helps in this long war touted by administration after administration as the war on drugs but which is really a war on the people.

This particular battle extends back to the clinton administration and demonstrates that republicans and democratics have joined together in this war which has led to 1000s of deaths in our inner cities, that has led to the highest incarceration rate in the world (in the land of the free?), and which at its core attacks the liberty of each and every one of us.

Posted by Steve on October 14, 2003

October 13, 2003

Your Tax Dollars at Work

In the wasted money department this is today's leading foolishness:

the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is spending $30 million to advertise that it is making a redesigned $20 bill.
It's not as if people are going to toss these twenties in the trash when the ATM spits them out.

Via Poliblog.

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2003

A Drug Prohibition Failure

For a slightly different take on the Limbaugh mess read Postrel and Sollum.

Their key point being that Limbaugh's current public problem is caused by the drug war, an artifact of prohibition, and not specifically his pill popping.

If he and a long series of government administrations at many levels had eliminated rather then maintained the drug prohibition Rush could still be out there supporting the bushies and their ilk.

And the taxpayers would not have to be supporting the largest prison industry in the world.

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2003

You don't understand no? try this

This might help some folks understand exactly what no means.

Grinder Girl is also a good reason to watch Letterman instead of arnold on Leno.

Via Byzantium's Shores.

Update(10/14): See the Curmudgeonly Clerks review of the meaning of no in a legal context while pointing out that Easterbrook while silly beyond words is right and Lithwick is wrong.

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2003 | Comments (1)

Campaign Tactics

I'm not sure this is any worse then sending that fax via the ACLU or other group trying to make it easy for people to express their support for some issue:

A series of letters to hometown newspapers, purportedly written by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, contain identical language, according to the Gannett News Service. The letters praise the U.S. effort to rebuild the war-torn Mideast nation.
Except that, though some soldiers agreed with the letters, they did not know they were being sent on their behalf and in other cases letters appear to be completely made up.

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2003

October 12, 2003

Late Night Reading

The first edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists is here:

this weekly roundup is intended to be a "Best Of the Blogosphere" for posts covering business, economics, stocks, accounting, taxes, business law, and related topics
From the introductory post:
We have several goals with the Carnival of the Capitalists. First off, to provide a good summary of the best posts to those who don't read business blogs every day. Secondly, to allow readers to try out a new blog by reading that blog's best post of the week, instead of on some random day when maybe the material isn't as interesting. Lastly, to encourage more and better business writing by those who participate.

Despite the name, you don't have to be a capitalist to submit. Posts criticizing capitalism are welcome, but will be posted at the bottom of the page (just kidding - they will get fair placement). Also, you don't have to be a regular business blogger to contribute a post. Any relevant post is welcome.

Via Robert Prather.

Posted by Steve on October 12, 2003

Jury Nullification

Orcinus teaches us about the concept of jury nullification:

jury nullification -- by sitting in judgment not just of the facts of the case but of the laws themselves -- arrogates to itself not only the role of the judge but of the legislature, essentially overturning at whim those laws that have been passed through democratic processes. In this sense, jury nullification is a threat not only to the courts, but to the very systems of laws on which the nation rests.
Well, there are quite a few laws on the books that should not be there.

The wise prosecution/defense attorney will not leave me on the jury for certain types of cases. I won't lie so as to be able to sandbag a jury but they should ask me the right question(s) to assure that I'm ok with the laws relevant to the trial. If they do leave me on a jury the 'facts' better be iron clad or I just might be biased by my opinion of the law itself.

Update(10/13): WalterinDenver dissects a Denver Post editorial on jury nullification and provides some counterpoint to Orcinus.

Posted by Steve on October 12, 2003 | Comments (3)

October 11, 2003

Memories of the Information Age

Are you in a hurry to get back to your blog; your email, your latest music download and is it time to upgrade your PC again? Do you feel pangs of withdrawal when you are away too long?

Richard Formo suggests we have become as hooked as a back alley heroin addict:

In some cases, particularly in mainstream operating systems, software, and Internet-based services, it's one step short of blackmail. We all certainly can't go cold turkey very easily, although some modern Luddites may succeed.

To make things worse, government practically has outsourced the oversight and definition of technology-based expression and community interaction to for-profit corporations and secretive industry-specific cartels

We feel like we are flying free but that is not the goal of Microsoft, the RIAA, the MPAA or, for that matter, any level of our government.

Join the fight or slack.

You decide if you want your memories of the information age to include, according to Formo:

The profit goals of high-tech vendors determine how client businesses and people are organized and interact.

Everyone is presumed a potential criminal until proven otherwise, according to oppressive industry-defined criteria.

A once-awesome revolution in global communications became converted into a cesspool of unsolicited and offensive marketing messages.

Knowing how to do something that's illegal is just as illegal as actually doing something that's illegal.

The legal protections over freedom of speech are trumped to preserve corporate secrets or market share while hiding vulnerabilities that endanger the public.

Our lives are monitored and dissected by marketing firms looking for the best way to sell us things we don't need or want.

Technology's promise and alluring capabilities are used to surreptitiously entrap and willingly imprison members of the information-age society instead of truly empowering them.

Posted by Steve on October 11, 2003 | Comments (2)

More Texas Redistricting

This time from Jeanne in California:

I remember learning way back in high school civics about how hard the founding fathers worked to ensure that one party would always be in control, even if those moody voters wanted something else.

Once again, Republicans are standing up for our traditional values.

You will enjoy the rest of her post.

Posted by Steve on October 11, 2003

Work Out for a Better Life

The Speculist posts about a significant method of improving your health. I can't improve on Phil's presentation so go read it all at his place.

Have a great workout!

Posted by Steve on October 11, 2003

October 10, 2003

Texas Redistricting

How does one Austin Citizen feel about the new plan:

I can now look for new and exciting ways that the needs of somebody in East Austin perfectly fits together in Madisonian enlightened self-interest with those of a guy 300 miles away in Rio Grande City, on the Texas-Mexico border. Ditto to my North Austin neighbors, who must have so much in common with the suburbs in the west of Houston, nearly 150 miles away.

You have done the citizens of Texas proud in ways that I cannot count. May the weight of a thousand appellate briefs be placed on pressure points around your genitalia for the rest of eternity.

Plenty more detail at the Burnt Orange Report here and in preceding posts.

Posted by Steve on October 10, 2003

Blogging Demographics

Thought you all would like to know this:

According to the survey, the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life. It is written very informally with slang spellings, yet not as informal as instant messaging conversations (which are riddled with typos and abbreviations).
Actually, there is quite a bit of interesting stuff in this report by Perseus Development Corp which was presented at the recent Bloggercon 2003.

For example, 66% or 2.72 million blogs had been temporarly or permanently abandoned. But, the survey just looked at hosting sites like Blogspot, Xanga, Livejournal, TypePad, etc., and does not appear to have discovered all the folks that have abanded Blogspot to open shop elsewhere.

Via beSpacific.

Posted by Steve on October 10, 2003

October 9, 2003

Late Night Reading

Eve Tushnet has a lengthy series on same sex marriage. The intro is here (then work towards the top). Via Jim Henley.

Posted by Steve on October 9, 2003

Zero Tolerance

When it is applied to bad things like murder it is ok. We should not tolerate murder.

When it is used to eliminate applying intelligence to the evaluation of a situation it is bad and here is a an example of the bad.

For more examples Balloon Juice points to Losing my Tolerance for Zero Tolerance.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on October 9, 2003

Sticks and stones may break your bones....

And those words will hurt as well:

Writing in the journal Science, Lieberman and Eisenberger said the brains of the volunteers lit up when they were rejected in virtually the same way as a person experiencing physical pain.

"It would be odd if social pain looked like the exact same thing as someone-breaking-your-arm pain," Lieberman said in a telephone interview. "What it does look like is visceral pain."

In other words -- like being punched in the stomach.

Go check it out.

Posted by Steve on October 9, 2003

Does Arnold need practice?

Brett Marston found this picture of some of Arnold's fans.

While looking through other Arnold pics at Kurier, an Austrian newspaper, I saw this one and wondered if, perhaps, Arnia and Maria should take some lessons from this pair.

Posted by Steve on October 9, 2003

October 8, 2003

Late Night Reading

Dancing with Dogs presents the 55th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.

Details, details, they'll get you coming and they'll get you going. Medpundit.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

Press Secretaries

Spade Hammer wants Ari back:

I never thought I'd utter these words, but can we have Ari back? Please?

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

Toronto Skyline

Jen says:

Meanwhile, you simply must check out this time lapse video of the Toronto skyline. (Thank you, MetaFilter.)
And I agree...preferrably with the big file...stick with it to the end!

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

What's a libertarian to do...?

From The American Prospect:

Libertarians across the country are slowly beginning to question their Republican loyalties. And if they break with the GOP -- or even decide to sit out the 2004 election -- it could be as bad for George W. Bush as the alienation of the religious right was for his dad in 1992.
This would be a good thing even though they may not find a viable democratic candidate...of course, it must be hard for many libertarians to lend legitimacy by voting.

Via The Agitator.

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

Office Relationships

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is taking the rather typical easy out approach to solving problems: when one or a few folks do something that turns out 'bad' make a rule/law that prohibits anyone else from the same action without regard to how it turns out. In the DSHS case:

A new policy in the works at the state's largest agency requires employees who have intimate relationships with a supervisor or direct subordinate to report the consensual sexual relationship or risk being punished.

"Basically, it just says that if there is a relationship between a manager and one of their employees who reports to them, that needs to be reported to their management," said Liz Dunbar, deputy secretary for the 18,000-person agency. "Then we will figure out how to separate the two, because we're not going to allow those kinds of relationships when they are supervisor and subordinate."

Amitai Etzioni looks at this same issue in academia in an excellent piece entitled Keep the relationship in the classroom. He provides many examples that suggest that one rule does not fit all and closes with:
These kinds of rules are too fungible, and undermine any notion of due process and fairness that should be extended even to old, white males.

Maybe it is impossible to have a close personal relationship with one�s staff or students--without fearing that it might be misunderstood, mischaracterized, or exploited. It is a crying shame.

Etzioni's examples look primarily at professor-student relationships. Daniel Davies, though, asks this interesting question that applies directly to the opening DSHS example:
It�s all very easy to get all moralistic and say that this, that or the other kind of relationship is �off limits�, but to be frank, with working culture going the way it�s going, where the hell else are we going to meet people our own age?
If current trends continue folks of any combination may not even be able to talk to each other without a fair witness standing by or on their lapels (neither would help with Etzioni's goggles in the swimming pool example).

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

Recall Postives

Nitpicker has found some positive messages in the California results. For instance:

People want a hero. Even if he only plays one in the movies. I think this bodes well for Wesley Clark and badly for "Off to Offut" Bush.
Go read the rest.

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

Bonfire of the Vanities

Kevin at Wizbang offers a special recall edition in week 14 of the Bonfire of the Vanities:

This week is a special Recall Election edition of the Bonfire. In addition to providing the morbidly curious posts for you to slow down and gawk over, this week we will be picking the one post that stands as a testament to the banal and vote for it's recall.
And I appreciate Kevin's link to this post.

Posted by Steve on October 8, 2003

October 7, 2003

Late Night Reading

Micha debates the gay marriage issue at Georgia Tech.

Ampersand has an 8 part series on the Wage Gap between men and women. Part one is here.

Mark Kleiman has more on the Plame affair.

Enron 101 from MSNBC. Via Ruminate This.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on October 7, 2003

From Each According to His 'Ability'...

From ChronWatch:

The UC Board of Regents is considering a proposal that would make Marx proud � an arbitrary fee increase for many middle and upper income students, regardless of equity or ability to pay, in a misguided attempt to help the UC system sidestep the current budget crisis.

The proposal, which would be the first surcharge of its kind in the country, would increase fees for approximately a third of the students in the University of California system by as much as $3,000, based on an arbitrary determination that a $90,000 family income makes one wealthy, and thus able to pay more for the same education.

Well, I hope this does not get past the 'considering a proposal' stage.

Via The Noble Pundit.

Posted by Steve on October 7, 2003

Stephenson and the Roots of the Modern World

Neal Stephenson fans might injoy this brief interview by Glenn Reynolds at Tech Central Station.

Via The Speculist in a discussion of the Roots of the Modern World.

Posted by Steve on October 7, 2003

Soaring Eagles

Need a little break this afternoon? Give this a listen:

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ended a speech at a Charlotte, North Carolina seminary with a rousing rendition of a song he wrote called 'Let The Eagles Soar' (February 25)
Well, he probably sings better then I but........

Via The Gamer's Nook.

Posted by Steve on October 7, 2003

October 6, 2003

republican calls bush a terrorist

republican calls bush a terrorist

Busy Busy Busy

Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), recently:
We didn't make the decision about going to war. The terrorists made the decision about going to war.
Well, ok, but are Republicans allowed to say that about the man they call the President?
Head over to the Busy site to see the bush actions that connect the dots.

Posted by Steve on October 6, 2003

Calling the Callers

Dave Berry riffs on the woe's of the American Telemarketing Association in yesterday's column:

That's correct: The ATA received NO WARNING that it was going to get unwanted calls! Not only that, but these unwanted calls were an INCONVENIENCE for the ATA, and WASTED THE ATA'S TIME!
It's a shame that they should be inconvenienced. Just in case you want to express your condolences Dave lists another number.

Oh, and see this post from last Friday for more numbers!

Via Tegan.

Posted by Steve on October 6, 2003

Today's Biology Lesson

Froguts Virtual Dissection site offers lab work with a frog, squid and an owl pellet with more coming soon. Requires Flashplayer.

Via Samizdata.

Posted by Steve on October 6, 2003

October 5, 2003

Late Night Reading

Wampum looks at some of the numbers behind last weeks employment figures. They are not quite as rosy as the +57,000 jobs might suggest.

This Commonweal Institute report (PDF) on the tort reform movement. Via Seeing The Forest.

Good Night!

Posted by Steve on October 5, 2003

October 4, 2003

Windows Security

Microsoft has two new patches up. If you use Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer you should head over there to get them.

Note, I only use IE to talk to non standard web sites like many of Microsoft's.

Via Sugerfused.

Posted by Steve on October 4, 2003

Nemo Found, Nemo Stolen

A while back, as some of you may remember, I posted this picture of Nemo.

It was linked by a number of folks: some linked to my post, some used the picture and provided the usual courteous acknowledgement but several others linked the picture directly from my server on to their bulletin board systems without the courtesy of an acknowledgement and generated hundreds of unacknowledged downloads.

So, enough is enough, I am breaking the link these folks are using. I apologize for any incovenience to the rest of you. The link to the original post is still good...just the link to the picture has been changed.

Posted by Steve on October 4, 2003 | Comments (14)

The 2003 Ignoble Prizes

One of the great things about the blogosphere is how many things even a modest reader can learn about that never make their way to network news, fair and balanced fox, your local paper, etc.

The most recent for me is the Ignoble Prize which has been presented since 1991:

Every Ig Nobel Prize winner has done something that first makes people LAUGH, then makes them THINK. Technically speaking, the Igs honor people whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced."
The The Apostropher's favorites of 2003 are listed here and my personal favorite for the last two years is the 2002 Ignoble Prize in Economics:
The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world. [NOTE: all companies are U.S.-based unless otherwise noted.]

Posted by Steve on October 4, 2003

October 3, 2003

Free Speech

Give the Do Not Call plaintiffs a call:

Chartered Benefit Services, Inc. � (847) 797-8500
U.S. Security � (405) 917-5566
Global Contact Services � (704) 782-0596
InfoCision Management Corporation � (330) 668-1400
Use up some of those free minutes on your cell phone and call them frequently to exercise your first amendment rights.

Courtesy of Tech Law Advisor via The Curmudgeonly Clerk.

Posted by Steve on October 3, 2003

arnold's Amendment

Thank goodness these constitutional amendments have a high approval bar and usually take a while to get the necessary state ratifications:

Now, as Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger chases the governorship of the most populous state, the House and Senate are weighing proposals for a constitutional amendment that would allow a naturalized citizen to become president. But Schwarzenegger's candidacy is only a side issue in the debate.

The question turns on whether a decision by the framers of the Constitution more than 200 years ago remains relevant in today's more inclusive America, one in which the foreign-born population is at an all-time high.

Arnold should be old, frail and limp by the time this gets its final vote.

The proposed amendment does have bipartisan support:

Conservatives such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and liberals such as Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) favor opening the presidency to immigrants. Hatch's bill would allow people who have been citizens at least 20 years to hold the office, while Frank is supporting a House bill with a 35-year citizenship requirement.

"I think it's a mistake to have that in the Constitution," Frank said of the current limitation. "It's reflective of a double standard that somehow immigrants aren't fully equal with people born here."

It is reflective of a standard and I don't thank it is any more problematic a standard then the age limitations. The debate should be interesting and I think I will start out with the conservative position that this isn't broken so we don't need to fix it.

On the other hand what a delicious thought: watching how his rightside supporters respond to arnold's behaviour as president. I suspect he'd make clinton look like an innocent.

Via Body and Soul.

Oh, and go over to Skippy's to see 'a movie poster for ah'nold's latest flick.'

Posted by Steve on October 3, 2003 | Comments (8)

Ashcroft Supports Independent Counsel

The truth of the matter is that if the law's been violated, we should be able to ascertain that.

We can, if we have an independent person without a conflict of interest�

You guessed it. Words spoken by ashcroft on October 4, 1997. Read the entire Liberal Oasis piece.

Via Ruminate This.

Posted by Steve on October 3, 2003

October 2, 2003

Turn up the Radio, Honey!

How is this different from today's radio or TV?

He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
The quote is from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr's Harrison Bergeron which is included in the new compilation: The Literary Book of Economics. It is definitely worth taking a few minutes to read!

Recommended by Marginal Revolution.

PS: Does this book support this statement from The Leiter Reports:

Economists, of course, take the existence of a Nobel Prize in their field as an indication of the closeness of their field to real science. But perhaps the best rationale for a Nobel Prize in economics is its proximity to literature?

Posted by Steve on October 2, 2003

The Music Future

MUSICIAN, PLAY WITH THYSELF: The RIAA is going to lose this fight. Maybe not this lawsuit, and maybe not the next few. But within the next five years it will be over.
Michael Lopez has some predictions about what the music industry will be like a few years down the road and I think he's probably spot on.

Via Byzantium's Shores.

Posted by Steve on October 2, 2003

Another Deck of Cards

Some of you may want to review this French deck before heading over to the Dilbert site I mentioned in the last post.

These should generate a chuckle whether you love'm or hate'm.

They used a good picture of dubya who ranks as the king of diamonds. Is this too high?

Via Untelevised.

Posted by Steve on October 2, 2003

The 2003 Weasel Awards

Click over to Dilbert to vote for your weasels of the year:

Remember that being a weasel isn't the same as being evil. Serial killers, for example, are evil but they rank low on the weasel scale because they give you exactly what they promise. World-class weasels are people with hidden agendas and cynical motives. They're greedy, selfish, and power-hungry and they think you're not smart enough to stop them. Often they're right, and that's the most annoying thing about weasels.
Via A Small Victory.

Posted by Steve on October 2, 2003

September Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's top referrers which is based on blogs that provided 12 or more referrals in the month of September (up from 10 or more referrals last month). Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

There are 19 of you this month which is up from 15 last month. 4 blogs dropped off and 8 new ones have been added.

Thank you one and all!

Also, I'd like to acknowledge significant referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati, weblogs.com, blogrolling.com, MovableType, Blogdex, blogoshpere.us, NZ Bear's Ecosystem and Daypop.

All of the blog rolls except the Base Roll are ordered by most recently updated so be sure to ping weblogs.com or blogrolling.com 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 October 2, 2003

Late Night Reading

OPEN SOURCE POLITICS has exploded in readership this week.

These entries are good reads:

Robert Novak is a coward,
The CIA's Patriotic Math,
A Matter of Trust, and
I Have A Little List ...

are all about The Valerie Plame Affair.

There's also the Ben Franklin True Patriot Act Action Alert:

Pie In the Sky and
The Politics of Power;

Oh yea, there is a two part piece on Asbestos Legislation #1;and #2,

plus the
Florida Political Breakdown.

It's all good.

Posted by Steve on October 2, 2003

October 1, 2003

Keep Limbaugh?

Clark and Sharpton are calling for ESPN to fire Limbaugh but Kevin Drum has a better idea:

See, the fact is that Limbaugh and his fellow blabbers say this kind of stuff all the time. But they only say it on the radio, and only dittoheads are listening, and the mainstream media doesn't report it because, you know, it's just radio, and it's just Rush, and that stuff gets a free pass. So most Americans don't actually know what Rush and his pals are like.

So I say, keep him on the air. Let America see what Rush and his fellow right wing bigots are really like. Maybe it will open their eyes.

On the other hand, I wonder what the demographics are for this ESPN show.

Posted by Steve on October 1, 2003

California Meaning

The folks at Language Removal Services have created a great public good:

As a part of our public outreach programs, Language Removal Services has here created the first "language-free" political debate. It is our hope that this will allow you to better understand the true positions of the candidates. Below, we present language removals of the leading candidates to replace Davis.
At a minimum listen to Huffington and one of the others. She is amazingly free of content.

Via NPR while navigating the local commute.

Posted by Steve on October 1, 2003

Walking the Dog

Ted VanCleave operates a site called Totally Absurd Inventions and posts weekly examples.

For instance, this week, for your enjoyment, he presents the Doggie Umbrella (US Patent D342,712, 1992).

There's more. Whenever you need a lighthearted look at misguided human effort head on over and take a look.

Posted by Steve on October 1, 2003

Hot Charity Blogging

Subtitled "The charity drive that gives you a little something in return..." the 2003 Blogger Boobie Thon for Charity is underway.

Warning - the cause is good, go donate, but some pages may not be work appropriate.

Via Jason.

Posted by Steve on October 1, 2003

Reading Away Messages

The Shifted Librarian asks librarians:

Does your library understand the growing significance of instant messaging and real-time chat?
How many of you bloggers or blog readers are using some form of IM today?

Posted by Steve on October 1, 2003 | Comments (2)