February 29, 2004

Leap Year

Well, blogging has been slow to non existent for the last several days but how can I skip this opportunity to post on February 29.

Who knows, if I don't post on this I may forever miss the opportunity. Hey, the next one is four years away.

So, I hope you all enjoyed your extra day.

Posted by Steve on February 29, 2004

February 27, 2004

This is the End

Of Kevin's Friday cat blogging. Which is too bad. Jasmine and Inkblot have become fixtures. Maybe Kevin's readers will overwhelm him and he will find a way to continue.

Commenter Jeff Boatright nails today's pictures:

The cat on the left is avoiding reading the latest economic reports.

The cat on the right foolishly read them...

I suspect we will see more of these felines in the future.

Posted by Steve on February 27, 2004 | Comments (1)

Blogrolling Moving On

If you use blogrolling.com you will want to read Jason's going away letter which is up on the Breaking News page.

He is selling to tucows and says that:

...I decided on Tucows because they are an extremely upstanding group of guys (they're Canadian, after all!) who will treat all of you with care and respect. They are going to continue running Blogrolling as is, which was one of my reasons to go with them.
As a heavy blogrolling user I thank Jason for the service he has built, wish him the best of luck going forward and hope that the new folks will continue as is plus a growing list of enhancements.

Posted by Steve on February 27, 2004

Just a Guy with a Martini

Who is that masked man.

Via Turtleneck.

Posted by Steve on February 27, 2004

Getting out of Bankruptcy

Micah, at Catallarchy, has figured out how the US can avoid bankruptcy.

Ok, I almost titled this: Today's Chuckle but the problem is real and the solution speaks volumes about why we have the problem in the first place.

Posted by Steve on February 27, 2004 | Comments (1)

February 26, 2004

Sleeping With Zombies II

This guy does it in the name of science. Some pics linked from text are not work safe.

Via The Agitator.

Update (3/5): Update: The bitch had a few words about this.

Posted by Steve on February 26, 2004 | Comments (1)

February 25, 2004

Early 20th Century Postcards

Al Sessions, Fulton Chain, has several hundred 1900-1910 postcards and is putting them up at Postcards From the Attic. Only a portion of them are up so far and based on the quality of the images the postcards are in excellent condition.

They are fascinating reflections of early 20th century culture.

I look forward to seeing more of them.

Via Metafilter.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2004

Relax and Enjoy

The Slitherly D is concerned with whether and how he might help a young woman mend her sartorial ways:

In the middle of a law school class, surrounded by 80 of her peers, she sits with a vacant expression displaying nearly a full square foot of conservative cut bikini bottom (rainbow striped today, for those keeping score). Most days one can see the bottom seam on her right thigh. Yes, really.
Will Baude in his usual thorough way when dealing with such matters comes to the conclusion that Slitherly should abstain from advising the lady.

I'm with Will on this and suggest that Slitherly if he really must pay attention to her undergarments instead of the lecture simply relax and enjoy the view.

Update: Dylan responds to Will here.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2004 | Comments (1)


Head over to Mike harris' place and read Very Scary Shit About John Ashcroft from the February 2004 Vanity Fair.

Via Teresa Nielsen Hayden who also quotes a jiucy bit of the article and worries that Harris may have quoted too much (read 'all') of the original article.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2004

Sleeping with Zombies

Trish Wilson says "the whole idea" of these things "makes my skin crawl."


Posted by Steve on February 25, 2004

California Polling

Oh, those finicky voters.

Just a month ago bush received a 52% approval rating in California and now it is down to 43%. The director of the Field Poll Mark DiCamillo:

...called those figures "damning," saying voters' lack of trust in Bush undermined their views of his performance on a range of issues.
Sure, but these numbers could just as easily swing back the other way next month or in October. bush's handler's are certainly quite busy looking for the issue(s) and events to make this happen.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2004

February 24, 2004

Freeing Human Relationships

Kevin Drum argues:

PRIVATIZE MARRIAGE?....Libertarians frequently suggest that the state should get out of the marriage business entirely. Just make it a private contractual affair.

This sounds good, but it's impossible: the state is heavily involved whether we like it or not, and in ways that simply can't be privatized. Atrios explains.

Atrios doesn't explain anything at all. He does provide a couple interesting links: 1) 1997 GAO report (PDF) on 1049 federal laws in which marriage is a factor (not a listing of 'all the rights and benefits of civil marriage' as Atrios states) and 2) a shorter list from NOLO. He then puts a few of the latter in bold and says they 'would be difficult or impossible to establish by private contract.' Some examples:
Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can�t force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.

Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

Obtaining domestic violence protection orders.

Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

In a society where marriage is a private contract issue there is no reason why any the above items would not be easily dealt with. Your valid contract should give you these benefits just as it does today.

No, Kevin, it is not at all impossible. And, cleaning up the current mess will give federal and state legislatures something useful to do for a year or two.

Posted by Steve on February 24, 2004

Lifelong Learning Source

DB has been studying existentialism while he drives and has a recommendation for us:

...if you are interested in lifelong learning about various topics, you should explore the Teaching Company.
The first courses I looked at cost more then I'm willing to pay but then I found the sale items and the price is right. I'm going to buy one or two and give them a try.

Posted by Steve on February 24, 2004

On Blogging

James Landrith points out a couple interesting blogging articles.

First, Dan Farber asks What's up with blogging, and why should you care?:

Many blogging advocates believe that blogs are the most significant democratizing force since the rise of the Internet itself.
Maybe, maybe not. But blogs do open channels of communications and lead to relationships that would otherwise not exist.

Second, Eric Richardson asks Can Corporations and Blogging Co-exist?:

.... .the fundamental problem with corporate blogging. There is a conflict of interest between the open nature of the blog format and the restraints of corporate image and sponsorship.
I don't know as this is a real conflict on a clearly branded corporate blog. Readers can see the sponsorship information and appropriately filter what they are reading.

If, on the other hand, a business or political entity pays folks to man a blog that appears to be simply the voices of its author(s) when in fact it is a stealth propaganda effort then Richardson's conflict holds.

Posted by Steve on February 24, 2004

February 23, 2004

The Mantra, Punters, Givers, Formatters and Mentors

If you have owned a computer or used one at work chances are you have had a chance to talk to 'tech support' and your experience may have been good or bad.

This Salon article is well worth the second or two to click through to the premium content and depending on your past experience with tech support you will either laugh or scream as you relive past experiences.

You will not, though, look forward to your next call. Your support might have been outsourced to a company that gets paid by the call and where technician training might go like this:

Beyond a cursory overview of the computers we were in charge of healing, the closest thing to a troubleshooting tool we were taught was The Mantra. When class ended, which varied wildly depending on Chad's interest and mental status, we were all encouraged to say The Mantra out loud. We repeated it over and over, the words seating themselves deep in the folds of our brains until the breakup of class began to feel more and more like the end of a cult meeting.

The Mantra is simply, "We don't support that."......Without The Mantra we'd waste precious time trying to answer questions beyond the scope of our expertise. Never mind that the scope of our expertise was largely limited to reciting The Mantra and logging calls. The important thing was that we understood our mission was to answer questions that fell within the limited margins outlined in the computer's warranty. Beyond that we didn't have to do anything.

Of course, over some period of time companies who choose to save a penny now by providing this type of service to their customers should find themselves out of business.

Via Dan Gilmour.

Posted by Steve on February 23, 2004

Pain and Reward

If you can stand the annoying singers you will find dollar off coupons for a Quiznos sub sandwich.

Via Resurrection Song.

Posted by Steve on February 23, 2004

New Directions?

Jonathan Wilde has noticed a possible trend at Wired.

Posted by Steve on February 23, 2004

February 21, 2004

Off to the Mountains

for the weekend. Enjoy yours!

I'll be back late Sunday or Monday.

Posted by Steve on February 21, 2004

February 20, 2004

The Sun

Pictures, illustrations and visualizations. You get it all at this site (Flash) which was jointly developed by NASA and UC Berkeley. I partiulcarly liked the coronal Mass Ejection visualiazation which shows the earth's magnetosphere turning aside charged solar particles.

Via The Internet Scout Report.

Posted by Steve on February 20, 2004

February 19, 2004

Talkin' about kerry and bush

James Webb, Reagan's Secretary of the Navy has a few things to say about kerry and bush. First he hammers kerry on vietnam:

To be sure, Kerry deserves condemnation for his activities as the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
And then he hammers bush:
Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target.
Webb has a lot more to say about both. You read. You decide.

Via The Angry Bear.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004


would anyone name a drink Pimp Jiuce? Apparently because of a song.

The ingredient list looks better then many competitive products but the price is $2.00 (US) a can and the potential audience for something with this name is somewhat small. So, it has been on the market for 6 month, has anyone seen it in a store?

Via drink me.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004 | Comments (2)

Keeping Track of Your Clothes (and maybe you)

RFIDs well probably be a positive thing for retail inventory management:

(London, UK - 18 February 2004) Exel, the global leader in supply chain management, has announced that it will embark on a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) project with House of Fraser, Britain's leading department store group. The trial will represent one of the most advanced and ambitious projects in the industry as it will test the application of RFID across international supply chains.

The project will encompass individual products from House of Fraser's own brand manufacturers in China. RFID tags will be attached directly to garments providing the scope to track shipment movements at item level. The tags enable automatic, real-time product visibility at any point in the supply chain.

This type of application is well underway in the US as well. In particular Wal-Mart has an agressive program.

Once these things proliferate everyone and their cousin will have RFID readers, for example: 1) your friendly border guard will quickly know that you are lying about the price of that nice coat from Canada; 2) on the positive (?) side the traffic cop could quickly know if there are stolen goods in the car she just stopped; 3) your neighbor will know that you bought that sweater at the dollar store not Nordstroms. We will all probably need to buy RFID zappers to kill the damn things once we take something out of the store.

Oh, and remember to pay cash so that your purchases can't be tied back to your credit card. There is no point in feeding federal, state, local or business databases and giving the banks an automatic skim on everything that you buy.

Via White Rose.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004 | Comments (1)

Not a Black Hole

Apparently some things do not pass through with ease:

When doctors took an X-ray they were amazed. There was an enormous mass in his stomach. The metal in there weighed 5.4 kilos, enough to force his stomach down between his hips, which it did not do.
Here is the X-ray image. Unhappily the hunger artist did not survive the corrective surgery.

Via Medpundit.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004

rumsfeld Hand to Hand Combat

These pictures of rummies fighting techniques are great (may be slow loading). One of my favorites is Drunken Temple Boxing.

Via All Matter Travels in Spirals who interestingly enough includes a trackback link but not a permalink in his posts.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004

Eating Stars

No, not what you are thinking....

The Speculist links to these nifty animations of of black holes gorging on various delectable morsels and there is a photo album of other nifty Chandra images here.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004

Running for Office

Mary Beth Williams noted hostess of Wampum is running for the state legislature in Portland, Maine.

Give her a helping hand if you are so inclined.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2004

February 18, 2004

People's Choice

bush got at least one thing right today when he discussed the currently hot marriage issues:

"People need to be involved in this decision," Bush said. "Marriage ought to be defined by the people not by the courts. And I'm watching it carefully."
Tim Dunlop provides an appropriate response:
Three thousand marriages by Friday? Sounds to me like the people are already "involved in this decision." Oh, right. Wrong people.
Issues such as marriage when these issues involve consenting adults do not belong in the realm of congress, the judiciary (except as required to adjudicate contract disputes), state legislatures, county or city governments. And to the extent any of these governmental entities establish programs that use marrieage status as a discriminating factor those programs should be expunged or restructured.

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2004

May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar,

my fuel cell is almost out of fuel. Well, these folks are using glucose not table sugar but this looks pretty interesting anyway:

First, the microbial fuel-cell oxidizes glucose to completion, liberating all 24 electrons stored in each molecule of glucose, compared with fuels that are being used or targeted for use in conventional fuel cells � hydrogen (2 electrons) or methanol (6 electrons).
Via The Knowledge Problem.

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2004

Spider-Man Fans Alert

Have you been wondering what you might have missed over the years? Well check out the Spider-Man Cover Archive:

I'm a Spider-Man completist and in order to help out other fans, I've created this site. Pretty much all the images shown here are from my personal collection. And yes, scanning all those covers drove me mad. Some say, I had to be mad to start such a task in the first place. I'll leave it up to you to decide which one is the case here.

Does this site really contain a complete list of Spider-Man comic publications? Well, I hope so but I'm pretty sure it's not the case. There will always be new giveaways, cover variants or appearances that I do not know of.

There are about 5000 cover scans here, WOW.

Via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2004 | Comments (1)


Thudfactor has written a short dictionary of bushspeek and is looking for more listing. Go help him out.

An example:

Activist Judge

English: A judge who misuses his office by rulling in ways contrary to the common sense of the law.

Bushspeek: A judge that rules in a manner which you find disagreeable because it forwards the political agenda of the opposition.

Though this is oft used by the bushies it also seems to be increasingly used by many other persuasions as well.

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2004

February 17, 2004

These Coattails May not Have Legs

In todays Kentucky Congressional election the loser, Republican State Senator Alice Kerr :

...based her campaign in large part on her support of President Bush, who had a 63 percent approval rating in a recent poll taken by The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

Mr. Bush made a commercial for Kerr's campaign and House Speaker Dennis Hastert stumped for her. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gave her $10,000 and loaned top aides to run her campaign.

And lost 83,890 to 65,300 to Democrat Ben Chandler.

I wonder how quickly the republican house and senate leaders who are up for reelection this year will distance themselves from the administration boat anchors?

Via Atrios.

Posted by Steve on February 17, 2004

A New Republican Subspecies

The Beavis and Butthead Republican.

Via Resurrection Song.

Posted by Steve on February 17, 2004

Now Get More When you Google

From a Google press release:

Google Inc.today announced it expanded the breadth of its web index to more than 6 billion items. ...
Google's collection of 6 billion items comprises 4.28 billion web pages, 880 million images, 845 million Usenet messages, and a growing collection of book-related information pages.
Will moves like this be enough to keep Google on top?
To be sure, the search game is still anyone's to win, despite popular opinion that Google is the locked-in leader. The most concrete evidence of a tenuous perch is the transfer of the search crown from Yahoo to Google over the past few years.
Via beSpacific.

Posted by Steve on February 17, 2004

Jenny's Phone Number

I've noticed comment on this at several sites already and as the bids keep increasing I'm sure it will attract more interest.

Someone is selling Jenny's phone number on Ebay. The current bid 2:16 PM Eastern is $80,700.

From Urban Legends:

In "Jenny," a young man laments not having the courage to dial a number found scribbled on a wall but finds some comfort in the notion that he can someday call this girl and sweep her off her feet. Though not explicitly stated in the lyrics, it's strongly implied the name and number were harvested from a bathroom wall, which also implies "Jenny" is a gal of easy virtue and is to be had for the price of a phone call.

"Jenny (867-5309)" caused nothing but grief for telephone customers unlucky enough to have that combination of numbers as their own....

An adjunct to this legend is the rumor that due to the overwhelming number of prank calls now made to 867-5309, that phone number is permanently non-assigned for every area code in North America. That isn't the case � although 867-5309 is unassigned in many area codes, we have verified that it is still a valid working number in some of them. The putative owner of the 867-5309 phone number in New York (area code 212) recently put it up for auction on eBay.

So, how much will this initial sale reduce the value of the number in other exchanges? Will local phone companies offer it up in the areas where it is currently unassigned?

Update (5:12 PM Eastern): The Ebay auction linked to above has disappeared. Someone, though, alleges to have Jenny's only West coast number available. Starting price $5,000 with no bids yet.

Update (11:24 PM EST): Alex at A List A Day details some of the 867-5309 tagalongs that have cropped up.

Posted by Steve on February 17, 2004

February 16, 2004

For Your Favorite Cell Phone User

There are many handsfree options available but for something unique you might get them something like this from Pokia.

While it may be a bit more to carry at least they will no longer be subject to commitment because they have been seen many times talking to imaginary people.

Via Belle.

Posted by Steve on February 16, 2004

Who are those NASCAR dads?

Slactivist rolls out some demographic info and asks:

NASCAR has become a potent symbol for populist appeals. When politicians seek to exploit this symbol, we should ask what kind of populism they're pursuing.
There is more on the political bent of the NASCAR folks here.

Posted by Steve on February 16, 2004

February 15, 2004


Lambert ran the bush-cheney campaign slogan, "Steady Leadership in a Time of Change," through an anagram server. It gave 8 results and Lambert likes number 1 best:

I'm a hypertense, death-dealing fiasco
Via Atrios.

Update (2/16): George Must Go has a top 10 list of additional suggestions.

Posted by Steve on February 15, 2004

Junk Science

I am sure that there is a lot of junk science being performed in the world but the web site junkscience.com may not be the best place to get an objective evaluation of scientific research:

Unsuspecting visitors might think that Milloy�s site is devoted to criticizing shoddy science, but they would be wrong. If you look at what he �debunks� you will find that the real criterion for deciding what is �junk science� is not the quality of the work, but the political agenda that it might support.
As usual apply your critical thinking skills when visiting sites like junkscience.com and, well, apply them all the time.

Via John Quiqqin at Crooked Timber.

Posted by Steve on February 15, 2004

Save Your Blood

Keep your knives sharp and use them correctly:

Aside from pots and pans, knives are the most important tools in a kitchen in which any cooking beyond heating canned soups is being done. Treat them with care and use them correctly, and there's no need to ever spill your own blood upon the counter and thus be forced into a phase of light blogging!
There is more courtesy of Jaquandor who write's after reading about Jim Capozzola's knife work.

Posted by Steve on February 15, 2004

February 14, 2004

Plan B

For the FDA it appears that 'B' stands for babies. Why else would the FDA ignore the 23-4 vote of its scientific advisory panel and continue to withhold the morning after drug 'Plan B' from the over the counter retail market?

Well, perhaps babies and, as Mark Kleiman suggests, politics:

I'm prepared to bet that the FDA will eventually do the right thing. But how many unwanted pregnancies, leading to how many abortions, will result from this obviously political decision?
Yep, politics, and one more example of why such decisions should not be in the hands of political hacks.

Mark also says:

Once again, we can expect a deafening silence from the libertarians, whose sincerity about personal liberty I keep doing my level best not to doubt.
I don't know if there will be a deafening silence or not. However, I suspect that most real libertarians not only would object to this decision but also argue that the FDA should not have any say in the matter at all, that it should not even exist as a government function.

Posted by Steve on February 14, 2004

For your Valentine

A small diamond as a token of your love.

Though it might just squish her. As Scott at AMCGLTD notes:

At that density and size, it should be noted, the thing has a gravitational field about three thousand times stronger than the earth's.
And Michael at Discount Blogger reports that on hearing the news:
... the simultaneous orgasm experienced by worldwide employees of De Beers very nearly registered on the Richter scale.

Posted by Steve on February 14, 2004

Cult of w

Krugman hammers away at w and company for including 27 pictures of w in the fiscal 2005 budget document:

By my count, this year's budget contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. ...

It was not ever thus. Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.

The issue here goes beyond using the Government Printing Office to publish campaign brochures. In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.

My knee jerk reaction to Krugman's column was that the budget document was something worthy of saddam or the great leader.

Well, a 'quick' look shows that there are 16-17 pictures of bush in the first 191 pages of the document (I got bored at that point...there was still a way to go until the end). And there were more pictures of others along with at least a few charts and graphs. As much as I'm tired of looking at bush this document seems more like a corporate marketing piece then a glorification of bush (of course I reserve my right to change my mind on this once I've read a few sections).

I suspect that the primary readers of the document will be economists, a few journalists and congressional staffers devoted to whoever is paying their salary. I'd rather the bushies had saved our money and simply given them the text and the numbers.

Posted by Steve on February 14, 2004

February 13, 2004

Three times the height of Mt. Everest

The Apostropher has some cool pictures of Olympus Mons on Mars.

Posted by Steve on February 13, 2004 | Comments (1)

A Free People?

Well, at least their government thinks so:

Today The P.P.R.K. is a genuine worker's state where all the people are completely liberated from the exploitation and oppression. The workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals are the real owners of the power and defend their interests.
Ok, at least some folks in North Korea buy into this and other interesting versions of reality sprinkled throughout the site. Learn history, political science, buy tourist gifts and more while visiting.

If you enter this site from the front instead of linking to an internal page you will get an introduction to the Great Leader.

Via Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Steve on February 13, 2004

A Picture is worth....

I suspect that w's handler's simply told him to pose with the man that

Investigators say... is the North American chief of Islamic Palestinian Jihad and that the Holy Land Foundation is a front for Hamas.
Well, the above picture was taken in early 2000 and Al-Arian hadn't been indicted yet. But he also had not contributed any money to bush...so why were Mr and Mrs w all smiles here?
Saffuri dissolved NMBA in May 1998. Since leaving the AMC, he has severed public ties with his former friends and colleagues, joining forces instead with conservative activist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Together with Norquist, he established the Islamic Institute in 1998 with seed money provided in part by donors in Saudi Arabia and by the Government of Qatar.

During the 2000 election campaign, Saffuri became the head of Muslim Outreach for the Bush-Cheney campaign, and orchestrated a meeting between Governor George W. Bush and Al-Arian during a campaign stopover in south Florida.

Anything for a vote.....

Via Joe Fish.

Posted by Steve on February 13, 2004

February 12, 2004

Some Days

it just goes on and on....


Posted by Steve on February 12, 2004 | Comments (5)

Marine Reading Material

If you are looking for a book for your Marine something from this list might just fill the bill.

Via the evangelical outpost.

Posted by Steve on February 12, 2004

February 11, 2004

Kerry Tricks?

The Talking Dog has some concerns with John Kerry:

There were also Karl Rove style "push-polls" in Iowa and New Hampshire, all while a smirking candidate pretended to stay above the fray. Remind you of anyone? That's kind of my point: we'll be replacing one irritating, dirty-rat-bastard Skull and Bones member with another. That's progress? We're supposed to be better than them-- not just better at being them than them.
Now the dog may just be a little jealous that his choice of candidates has fallen by the wayside. But, really, when it gets right down to the nitty gritty this is pretty much the way it has been for a long time.

Posted by Steve on February 11, 2004

February 10, 2004

Outsourcing Woes

More pressure on IT jobs. According to the info on the site these folks have had some pretty high positions outsourced to them.

Via Nurse Ratched.

Posted by Steve on February 10, 2004 | Comments (1)

Fulfilled and Performing

Sadly, No! has detailed the key elements of mcclellan's responses to questions about bush's war record during today's press gaggle.

Posted by Steve on February 10, 2004

dressin' and talkin'

bush action figure

Via MaxSpeak.

Posted by Steve on February 10, 2004

Firebird and Thunderbird Upgrades

The Mozilla folks released new versions of their excellent open source browser and email client earlier today: Firebird Firefox and Thunderbird. Yep, they have renamed the browser again. Oh, well the logo is still pretty cool.

I'll be spending a few minutes later today or tomorrow upgrading the browser and email clients on my various machines at home and at work.

Give them a try.

Posted by Steve on February 10, 2004

February 9, 2004

Sullivan on bush

I haven't often read Andrew Sullivan but his analysis of bush's MTP appearance seems pretty accurate to me:

We have a few options here: The president doesn't know what he's talking about, or he's lying, or he trusts people telling him lies. But it is undeniable that this president is not on top of the most damaging part of his legacy--the catastrophe he is inflicting on our future fiscal health.
And in closing:
I cannot help liking the president as a person. I still believe he did a great and important thing in liberating Iraq (although we have much, much more to do). But, if this is the level of coherence, grasp of reality, and honesty that is really at work in his understanding of domestic fiscal policy, then we are in even worse trouble than we thought. We have a captain on the fiscal Titanic who thinks he's in the Caribbean.
Via Atrios where some of you may be entertained by the comment thread.

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004

What's a Conservative to Do?

For a moment never mind that I'm not a conservative.

A few minutes ago I was thinking about what appears to be the upcoming bush-kerry competition. First, I think bush is a total disaster (and thought much the same of his predecessor). His potential opponent, depending on which aspects of his voting record you review, looks like a bush clone on Iraq or only a bit left of bush when it comes to spending.

So I was thinking that since things happen best in DC when they happen least that the optimal result this time around will be a kerry win along with a few more repuglicans in both the house and senate. About 1 minute later I happened on to Chris Lawrence's post linked below which is in response to Steven Taylor who has some thoughts on my opening question and reminds folks:

In short, repeat after me: �I will never get exactly what I want all the time from democratic government.�

The only government in which one gets everything one wants is a government in which one is the absolute dictator. Those jobs are hard to come by.

and then points out:
To put it in simple terms: if one is unhappy with aspects of Bush's administration, this shouldn't be a surprise. However, the only serious alternative, it would seem, is Kerry.

And recall that all the conservatives who were upset with Bush I's breaking of the "read my lips pledge" and who said that "it can't get any worse" helped led to eight years of Bill Clinton.

To which Chris Lawrence replies:
On the other hand, if you�re a conservative�not necessarily a Republican, mind you�a spell of divided government might well be desirable.

...given that Congress is essentially a lock to remain in Republican hands for the forseeable future,* if you�re not much of a social conservative and you make under $200k it�s hard to see what you�d lose under a Kerry (or Edwards) administration.
This is probably good advice for conservatives as well as those who are orthogonal to the demublicans.

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004 | Comments (1)

The Medical Care Market

As Kevin Drum notes the US medical care market is not a free one:

The United States really doesn't have a free market in healthcare at all; in fact, it's just a bizarre melange of jury rigged policies that seem to provide the worst of all worlds. We don't get the universal coverage and bargaining power of a single-payer system, but we also don't have the competitiveness and price pressure of a true free market system.
Kevin then goes on to ask:
So what, then, is the big problem with simply trying to rationalize the system?
By which he means implement a federal single payer system or more specifically universal health care. And he then argues:
In fact, if the system were well designed � never a betting proposition, I admit � overall costs might even be a little less.
Well, he is right if congress is going to design it you don't want to bet on it being rational or anywhere close to efficient.

I had actually thought for an irrational moment that when he suggested "simply trying to rationalize the system" that he might have really meant what he was saying and been about to suggest beginning to move down the long road to a free market for medical care. Oh well.

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004 | Comments (1)

ROTK: Extended Edition

Will it be ready for XMAS? Of course, why el$e is Jackson working on it now:

"I'm going to work on an extended DVD version, though I don't think all of that will make it in, because the pacing would be really weird," Jackson told the magazine. "But there's some good stuff that's not in the book."
I don't know as I want much good stuff that was not in the book. As much as I loved the movie I am still smarting over the missing Scouring of the Shire.

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004 | Comments (5)

bush Military Records

There may be a good reason why bush has not released his military records.

Via Dru Blood.

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004 | Comments (1)

It's not just call centers and IT Jobs

Tyler Cowan takes a look at medical care outsourcing:

More Americans and other nationals are traveling to Thailand for health care. A heart bypass costs 8-15K instead of 25-35K in the U.S. and arguably the service is better. In addition to a good doctor they will give you limo pick-up and convalescence time in a hotel. You can get a nose job for less than a quarter of the price. If you are uninsured, lightly insured, or stuck in a Canadian queue, why not go abroad for your care?
Hmmmm..., I wonder at what point your insurance company will pay your travel costs?

Posted by Steve on February 9, 2004

February 8, 2004

bush Meets the Press

James Joyner considered the performance and found that:

Overall, it was largely uneventful, but the president acquitted himself well enough. He came across as thoughtful and considered. And, while he was almost certainly prepared for hours by staff members, he didn�t appear to be giving the memorized speeches that one is accustomed to from politicians on these programs. Bush actually seemed to pause and consider his answers.
Brad DeLong thought Russert could have done a better job with his followup questions
Tim Russert didn't seem to me to do a very good job. He didn't ask what seemed to me the natural follow-up questions...Here are three examples
Go read'm.

Now, Kevin Drum appears to disagree a bit with James:

It's hardly surprising that I thought Bush's performance on Meet the Press was weak ("labored and uninteresting....like he was addressing a class of sixth graders"),
and expresses some surprise at the responses from NRO:
...but the fine conservatives over at NRO are piling on in a fashion normally reserved for Jimmy Carter op-eds...For once, I find myself in full agreement with National Review....
(Kevin quotes a number of the responses he refers to.)

I've watched part of it and at this point find it unlikely I'll invest the time to watch the last half hour unless it is to reconsider what James described as pausing to consider his answers. My reaction after a few of these pauses was that bush was faking them in order to pretend the answers were considered. My secondary thought was that he was pausing in order to assure himself that he was dredging up the correct practiced answer for the question.

And, as Dave Ehhrenstein notes, these are frightening words:

I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind.

Posted by Steve on February 8, 2004 | Comments (1)

Protecting the US

Norbizness has pictures of these evil doers:

Five Cuban acts nominated for Grammy Awards, including Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club, have been denied U.S. visas needed to attend Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles, a top Culture Ministry official said Thursday.
And as usual with this opaque administration:
Officials at the American mission declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality rules.
And my usual note: in a free country this type of confidentiality is unacceptable.

Posted by Steve on February 8, 2004

February 6, 2004

Oh, Really?

USA Today would have you believe:

Sen. John McCain's presence on a panel charged with investigating U.S. intelligence gathering will give the group immediate credibility because of his willingness to criticize the Bush administration, key lawmakers say.
I also have several bridges for you.

More then a few countervailing views can be found. For instance this from Brad DeLong:

He has the most partisanship and the least ethics of anyone to sit on the federal bench in my lifetime (save possibly his masters Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas). And he is there to blow up the Commission if it reaches any conclusions that the Bushies do not like.
and there is more at Orcinus.

Not only is it stuffed with stooges this diversionary commission isn't even chartered to look at the administration's use of the intelligence it received.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2004

Search Wars

Buried deep in this NYT article is this:

And Google has embarked on an ambitious secret effort known as Project Ocean, according to a person involved with the operation. With the cooperation of Stanford University, the company now plans to digitize the entire collection of the vast Stanford Library published before 1923, which is no longer limited by copyright restrictions. The project could add millions of digitized books that would be available exclusively via Google.
This is really good stuff but, since copyright protection has lapsed on these books, I wonder why they would be available exclusievely via Google.

Will Wilkenson is 'jacked' about this and also notes that:

This is, by the way, what Microsoft is really good for. It puts the fear of Jesus in the Googles of the world, and makes 'em hustle to make us happy. So what I'm really hoping for is that Microsoft comes close in the search war, and succeeds in creating a superfast integrated search in Windows that allows me to search my own measly 30gb hard drive at something close to the speed that Google manages to search the whole goddam internet, but falls short in the end because of all the glorious innovations the Google geniuses lay at our feet in order to keep us from straying.
Things should be pretty exciting in this space over the next several years.

Via Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2004 | Comments (3)

Friday Chuckles

I use the plural because every beginning letter I checked at Amusing UK place names brought a chuckle.

Via Particles.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2004

February 5, 2004

Who is Lying?

Mark Kleiman considers part of Tenet's testimony:

But that's separate from the question of whether the President deceived the American people about the nuclear threat from Iraq. The Director of Central Intelligence just told us, unemphatically but also unequivocally, that he did.

The least you can say about this is that it can't be right for Bush and Tenet each to keep his job. If Tenet is lying, he should be fired. If Tenet is telling the truth, Bush should be replaced.

This isn't quite the spin I heard on talk radio today while I spent a few hours on the local freeways. They seemed to be able to only find parts of the testimony that painted bush positive.

Posted by Steve on February 5, 2004 | Comments (1)

Strange Budget Choice

Why would the folks putting together bush's budget propose eliminating funds for building decontamination research?

an Environmental Protection Agency acknowledgment that his proposed cut "represents complete elimination of homeland security building decontamination research."

The agency said in the documents that Bush's proposal will "force it to disband the technical and engineering expertise that will be needed to address known and emerging biological and chemical threats in the future."

This certainly seems inconsistent with the image the bushies seem to be trying to project. A mistake perhaps? Or simple blundering?

Posted by Steve on February 5, 2004

Slow Blogging

Yesterday and today have/will be consumed by real work and meetings running into the late evening. I should be back to a 'regular' posting pattern sometime tonight.

As usual, there are many interesting folks on the blogrolls. Take a look at a few that you don't regularly visit.

Posted by Steve on February 5, 2004

February 4, 2004

Stop it, Now!

Wow, this guy really doesn't like bloggers and in particular Movable Type users.

Via The Commissar.

Posted by Steve on February 4, 2004 | Comments (1)

February 3, 2004

Looking for Pictures of JJ's ....

Earlier today Zombyboy noted:

Blog traffic is up quite a bit today, but not for any good reason. Apparently, the world is pretty curious about ...
Well, traffic seemed pretty normal to me until about 4 hours ago (1:00 AM GMT) when something I posted yesterday made it to number 2 for a certain set of google search terms and started a minor googlanche.

I don't expect to get any repeat visitors out of this group either. Darn.

Update (2/5) Interest in this subject is ongoing. The above mentioned googlanche continues and has expanded to include Yahoo and MSN which are two search sources that normally don't show up here very often.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004 | Comments (1)

FCC headed in Wrong Direction

Atrios states:

Some day our country is going to have to take a long hard look at itself and wonder why it tolerates massive amounts of violence on TV, but a single Boob is capable of driving us collectively insane.
And Jaquandor asks the same quesion this way:
why are we so incredibly tolerant of things in our popular culture like bullets shredding bodies, limbs being severed, and massive explosions killing hundreds -- and yet so incredibly scandalized by a wide-angled shot, lasting for mere seconds, of a female breast whose nipple isn't even exposed?
The FCC, to the extent it should do anything at all, would do well to 'take a long hard look' at this issue.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004 | Comments (1)

Partners in Abuse

Britsh home secretary david blunkett apparently drinks from the same cup as US attorney general john ashcroft. blunkett is proposing changes to British law that fly in the face of individual rights:

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allows foreigners who are suspected international terrorists to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial in the event their lives would be in danger if they were deported.
Mr Blunkett wants to extend this so prosecutors can take action against suspected British extremists even though the evidence may not be strong enough to win a conviction under existing laws.

This may mean lowering the burden of proof in such cases from "beyond reasonable doubt" to what is acceptable in civil cases, "the balance of probabilities"
Evidence in the new trials would be kept secret from the defendants ...
We have to have prevention under a new category which is to intervene before the act is committed, rather than do so by due process after the act is committed when it's too late.

This may mean lowering the burden of proof in such cases from "beyond reasonable doubt" to what is acceptable in civil cases, "the balance of probabilities".

None of this is acceptable under any circumstances whether applied to citizens or non-citizens.

When dealing with someones life or when justifying war "beyond a reasonable doubt" needs to be a minimum standard.

Via David Carr at Samizdata.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004

awol Disclosure

bush needs to clear up his military record now. He can not afford to have it haunt him through the next 9 months which it will without complete transparency.

The story has legs. See this the Washington Post here and here; see this Daily Howler piece.

It is not at all clear how w got the pass last time around. Yea, Gore wasn't a combat veteran but his record shined more brightly then w's. If bush end's up facing a Kerry or Clark this will be an issue whether the candidate pushes it or not.

bush needs to provide his entire record in unredacted form to the public immediately. Starting a policy of truth and transparency now may be all he can do to salvage his administration.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004 | Comments (2)

Kim's Valentine Tip

You need to keep this in mind!

Via Scott.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004

Let's Balance the Budget

Dwight Meredith takes a shot at balancing the budget for w and the punch line is:

Okay, we have cut all of the fat. Waste, fraud and abuse have been eliminated. Perhaps we nicked a little muscle along the way. The problem is that we have cut only $385 billion out of a deficit of $521 billion.

The other problem is that the only discretionary spending left in the budget is for Defense and Homeland Security.

I am not kidding. We have eliminated all federal government discretionary functions except Defense and Homeland Security and the budget remains more than $130 billion in the hole.

Of course, w has no interest in balancing the budget and could hit his target of reducing the deficit by 50% by making some of the cuts Dwight enumerates but there does not appear to be any such proposal in this years budget.

The federal budget situation is a mess and there is no meaningful excuse that the current administration and its republocrat accomplices in congress can offer up to cleanse themselves.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004

NFL Apologizes

Jim Henley clarifies the NFL statement regarding the SB halftime entertainment.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2004

February 2, 2004

The WMD Commission

Fred Henning as found out who bush will appoint to the independent commission to investigate white house misuse of intelligence information on WMDs.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

How to get out of a Spider Hole

Dig Deeper.

Via Craig Cheslog.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

Cheney Says

Mad Kane published an interview with Dick Cheney earlier today. Here is a sample:

CHENEY: I deny everything.

MADKANE: Everything?

CHENEY: Everything.

MADKANE: Do you deny that you went duck hunting with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia?

CHENEY: Absolutely.

MADKANE: But Mr. Vice President, even Justice Scalia admits that you two went duck hunting together.

CHENEY: Never heard of the man.

Sounds about right.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

Rejections, more Rejections

For you writers and writer wannabees here are some first hand experiences to help you through your formative submissions. For example:

Thank you for sending your essay "Catching Up." I apologize for the long delay in responding. As much as I enjoyed it, I'm afraid I don't have any room right now to buy a first-person essay. We are chuck-full, and turning away even pieces we like.
Yep, I like that 'turning away even pieces we like.'

More importantly, though, is this post from Theresa Nielson-Haydon where she applies her professional experience to helping us understand the context of rejection letters:

A major portion of it is devoted to writers anonymously posting rejections they�ve received, and commenting on how it made them feel. I do understand their need to vent, and some of their lamentations made me feel genuinely sympathetic. Others didn�t have that effect.

What would I know about it? Simple. I�m one of those evil SOBs who rejects their manuscripts.

As usual she does into great and entertaining detail.

What do you think rejected ones? Or, for that matter, accepted ones?

Via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

Food for Thought

One possible reason Dean looked so good and then fell so hard in Iowa and New Hampshire:

Given the relentless hammering he took from the media, Dean was lucky to get 26% of the New Hampshire vote. Even so, Dean may be done for. Or, more to the point, done in. Some will say that he strung his own rope, but it looked more like a media lynching to me. Assuming I'm right about this, why did television want to hang Howard Dean?

I may have an answer. It may be that, once again, we have met the enemy and he is us. By pre-announcing the possibility that this might be The Internet Election, we issued fair warning both to the traditional media and the big money politicos that a threat was at hand.

If Dean could actually raise enough money online to match in aggregate the much larger and fewer donations Bush has bought from the plutocrats with his tax cuts, it would shake the system to its rotten core. Worse, if information from the Web and the Blogosphere were to start defining enough personal realities to contest the great mass of tube-zombies at the polls, the gazillions presently spent on television campaign ads would start to wither. An enormous amount of power and money might be at stake.

Of course, anything this short must be out of context, or incomplete, if it was written by Barlow. So, read the rest.

The Barlow link is via David Isen who is concerned about the implications of Dean's new campaign manager:

Howard Dean, the erstwhile "Internet candidate," urgently needs to explain to his core Nethead constituency why Joe "Nethead" Trippi is out and Roy "Bellhead" Neel is in. Neel was president of the US Telecom Association (USTA) in the late 1990s....

But now, unless the Dean campaign does something immediate and heroic to shore up its Nethead core, it is time to "Move On."

I think that it is pretty clear that a candidate who tries to rely only on 'netheads' will not be viable. 'Netheads' do not encompass a large enough part of the voting population yet. But watch 2012 and beyond.

The Isen link is via Lawrence Lessig.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

Doing Your Work?

The Speculist suggests that:

Thinking Machines...Maybe closer than we think.

Maybe already here:

This is one time you do need to go read Phil's post as well as the original article. Thaler's work appears to be pretty amazing and very interesting.

And for you folks a little concerned about what kind of work you will be doing 20-30 years from now here are some thoughts about what you might not be doing:

All of the possible applications for Creativity Machines make some people uneasy. The machines could easily supplant people for many mundane jobs, and Thaler predicts that some traditionally human-only jobs, including laboratory scientist, could be up for grabs. Computer chemists could soon design new compounds and figure out how to make them.
While a 'leisure' culture is a long way off it appears to be time for serious work on what it means to be human in a world where work, if it exists at all, is very different from today.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

One more on the 'Superbowl'

I wasn't going to say more about yesterdays marketing event that had a football game scattered through it but then I read Andrew Cline's post and thought I'd just react to it. First:

I believe my nine-year-old daughter should be able to watch the Super Bowl with me without being exposed to Janet Jackson's boob or Kid Rock's desecration of an American Flag.
Yep, we should have been warned and all this talk of the boob baring being an accident...I don't buy it one bit. Why else did he reach across her chest and grab on? On the other hand, we did not have young children in the house at the time and were more surprised then anything else.

We also were not amused or entertained when Kid Rock appeared wearing a flag. It did not lend anything to his, for us, mostly unintelligible performance and seemed to only serve to insult a large part of the audience.


The game was boring until the end.
I enjoyed the game and think it would have been much better if I'd used a TIVO or some such and watched it without the commercials. And they did seem to create more then the usual number of opportunities for commercials.

Yes, the commercials. I didn't pay enough attention to them. My laptop was open and I was working on some financial statements that needed to be done yesterday. However, I did kind of listen and Andrew sums up the high point of the event nicely:

The funniest line of the entire evening wasn't meant to be funny. In the list of side effects for the erectile dysfunction drug Cilas was this dire warning (paraphrased): If an erection lasts more than four hours, seek immediate medical attention.
My wife and I were both ears only at this time but it got our attention, our laughs and several minutes of amusing discussion.

Update: Tegan has a complete rundown of all the ads. Counting the ad package at the end of the game there were 29 breaks. Somewhere there was an American football game....

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2004

January's Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 20 top referrers . Number 20 produced 12 referrals compared to 9 in December. Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

There was less churn in January then in December as 5 blogs dropped off and 4 new ones have been added .

Oh, and January was a record month for Modulator! 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, Sitemeter, NZ Bear's Ecosystem, Bloogz 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 February 2, 2004

February 1, 2004

Superbowl Pictures you may have Missed

Update(2/3): the folks at Vivid Blurry I link to below were forced to take the pictures off their site. There is still a single picture at The Gothamist link below.

Who was that the announcers were talking about just before the second half kickoff? And, would you like a close up of Janet and Justin?

Head over to Vivid Blurry*. Not work friendly.

Via The Gothamist where resides another NWF photo of J & J.

Update (2/2): Kevin Barkes wonders why Janet was wearing a Borg implant (NWF)? Via Vodka Pundit.

*Upate (2/7/06): The Vivid Blurry link above is a 404 now. Try this and this. Neither are work friendly.

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2004 | Comments (4)

awol's pass may be revoked this time around

Perhaps this time around bush's military record (or lack thereof) will see the light of day in complete detail.

It looks like the dems are going to keep active in the media:

Mr. McAuliffe criticized President Bush on his attendance for National Guard service during the Vietnam War. The comments delineated a line of attack that Senator John Kerry, the front-runner in the campaign and a decorated war veteran, may adopt should he be the party's nominee and face Mr. Bush in a one-on-one race.
Jack Balkin has some thoughts on this here:
Instead of cowering in the corner when the media said that the charge of desertion was false, Terry McAuliffe is raising the more plausible question whether the President was AWOL while in Alabama. Nevertheless, it is particularly strange to me that McAuliffe chose to break this story on Super Bowl Sunday, which is not a good time to cover a political event.
and quotes extensively from a 2000 NYT article that suggests bush should be cut some slack on this. However there is this:
Mr. Bush went to work for Winton M. Blount a few days after Mr. Blount won the Republican primary in Alabama on May 2, 1972.

From that time until after the election that November, Mr. Bush did not appear for duty, even after being told to report for training with an Alabama unit in October and November.

Mr. Bartlett said Mr. Bush had been too busy with the campaign to report in those months but made up the time later.

It seems to be that if you have been told to report for duty and you don't show up that is a pretty good description of AWOL. It certainly was when I was in the service.

It might be worth some journalistic time to look more closely at exactly how bush got into the Air National Guard. For instance how well did w match up with the requirements that everyone else had to meet?

As mentioned in the last post honesty is a good policy. And for governments and those wanting to play with other folk's lives honesty and complete transparency are mandatory.

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2004

Uhhh, when will the bs stop?

From the Guardian:

Intelligence sources, policy makers and weapons inspectors familiar with the details of the hunt for WMD told The Observer it was widely known that Iraq had no WMD within three weeks of Baghdad falling, despite the assertions of senior Bush administration figures and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
As Jim Henley notes:
The official hawks, like bad dope dealers, got too fond of their own product. They wanted it to be true and convinced themselves of their desires.
Most of us have been taught that honesty is a good thing and will bring good results in life. The republicans still have time to nominate a candidate who has learned this lesson.

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2004

Blogger's Deck of Cards

The Commissar's Deck of Cards:

...a deck of 52 playing cards to assist our troops in Blogistan to identify dangerous bloggers, regime holdouts, and hardcore Blaa-blaah-ists.
is good for a chuckle and some serious hunting.

Via Kevin Aylword who is the 8 of spades.

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2004

Game Day

My best score is 1136 so far. I'll get a few more swings in (and maybe a post or two)during the repeated lapses in action during the other game this afternoon.

Via Sugarfused.

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2004