March 31, 2004

Is Your Pop-up Blocker Working?

If not you might want to remedy the situation now (R):

The banner and pop-up ads placed by the Republican National Committee on about 1,400 sites starting March 19....
I'm not a democrat but I do concur with Charles Kuff's sentiment:
Of course, as a good Democrat, I heartily cheer this effort. You go, guys! Spread those popups like kudzu!
It really is too bad they are not spending more of their money on this approach.

Via Sisyphus Shrugged.

Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004

Binary Message

Learn binary counting and send a message all at once.

Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004

Surf's Up

New computer simulations suggest that Saturn's moon Titan might be pretty entertaining for surfers:

Wind speeds of 20 km/h produce waves five metres high (16 feet). This is seven times as high as those produced on Earth by the same wind speed, although Titan's lower gravity makes the waves more widely spaced and slower moving.

However, the wind speed estimates used are conservative and could be higher, generating truly giant waves.

Some improved wet suit designs will be needed to take adavantage...

Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004

Air America

Andrew Cline has a yawn for Air America:

I have questioned the concept of liberal talk radio before...... I don't think it will draw much of an audience; it's not a good business concept.
He has quite a bit to say about this and sums up with:
What sells in electronic media is ideological validation. The right has perfected its talking points and its media personalities to such an extent that they present an entertaining product for people who wish to bask in the glory of their own ideology. I do not believe this basking is a good thing for the continued health of a democratic republic. And I do not think liberals should stoop to imitating it. It's a lot like admitting ideological defeat.
This seems about right. When I listen to the right wing talk folks I generally hear a lot of this basking and stroking and generally code words (liberal, hilory, bush hater, etc) substituting for thoughtful analysis. If this becomes all Air America offers then why bother.

But, I'ill withhold judgement until I've had a chance to listen for a few months.

Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004

Not Joining Orkut

Chris Tweney tells us why he is not joining Orkut and his reasons seem good to me.

Via The Talking Dog.

Posted by Steve on March 31, 2004 | Comments (2)

March 30, 2004

How Many RSS Subscribers do You Have?

Well, this is cool. When they pull a feed from a site both Bloglines and YahooFeedSeeker report how many folks are subscribing to the feed.

Jeremy Zawodny shows a sample here.

Now, all we need is an easy way to read this stuff from the log file and manipulate the data. My current method is kind of cumbersome: download archive file, unzip and then parse with Notepad.

Posted by Steve on March 30, 2004

Downloading has an Impact on Music Sales

The impact, though, is very small and in some cases positive:

This estimated effect is statistically indistinguishable from zero despite a narrow standard error. The economic effect is also small. Even in the most pessimistic specification, five thousand downloads are needed to displace a single album sale. We also find that file sharing has a differential impact across sales categories. For example, high selling albums actually benefit from file
So, as has been recently mentioned here the content providers and in particular the RIAA might want to take another look at their business models. Perhaps the artists should consider whether they really want to be involved with the RIAA members.

On the other hand Newmark's Door links to this study which argues that there is a significant impact. I hope Craig does take a closer look at the two studies and write something on their comparative validity from a technical perspective.

Initial link to the Strumpf Oberholzer-gee study via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on March 30, 2004

Free Culture Discussion

Read along with Lawrence Solum a he discusses Free Culture:

This is the first of eight posts on Lessig's book--a sort of blogospheric book club. You are invited to read along, and to send your comments on the book, my posts, or on the comments of other readers.
The class reading schedule may be a bit agressive if you are not an academic (faculty or student) but if you are at all interested in intellectual property issues and the internet you will be well served to join in.

Via Lawrenc Lessig.

Update: Lawrence Lessig discusses the rationale for the free offering.

Update (3/31): Tech Law Advisor notes that a Wiki of Free Culture has been created.

Posted by Steve on March 30, 2004

March 29, 2004

Lucky Family

These folks are lucky that they did not end up on this list (via Say Uncle).

Wash too many clothes and expect a visit from the police. Radley asks:

And is anyone else troubled by the fact that cops are permitted to comb utilities records for suspiciously high electric bills? What other records are they allowed access to? Can they look through your cable bill to see what pay-per-view movies you're ordeing?
It seems to me that we should be more then troubled. How many more have to die before enough folks will stand up and say no?

Posted by Steve on March 29, 2004

Jammin' the Night Away

Well, I don't agree with SK Bubba's rating of the Allman Brothers Band as the greatest touring jam band Ever. Regular readers will probably know my choice.

However, Bubba's rating and Scott's review of last night's Beacon Theater show inspire me so I'll download a recent show or two for listening and plan to attend their next close by gig.

Posted by Steve on March 29, 2004 | Comments (2)

When Will Iraq be Liberated?

Or is there a new definition and this can be expected in the United states soon?

Via Hammerdown.

Posted by Steve on March 29, 2004

After Left Behind

Ezra has a suggestion for one more volume in the Left Behind series.

Posted by Steve on March 29, 2004

March 27, 2004

Office Alternative

Zombyboy has been using OpenOffice and finds it to be a good alternative to M$ Office. From his review:

If you are a hardcore user of all of Office's applications and functionality, it's probably worth the money. For the rest of us, the low cost should make OpenOffice an obvious choice, even given the large download.
I do not currently use OpenOffice but have in the past and concur with Zombyboy's review. If I were getting a new home PC I think it would be a good fit and it would be just fine for my small business as well.

Update (3/29): I should probably have rechecked at least the spreadsheet module before joining in the above recommendation. Please read Jim Henley's comment.

Posted by Steve on March 27, 2004 | Comments (2)

March 26, 2004

Free Culture

Well, yes, really free culture.

Lawrence Lessig's new book Free Culture is available both for sale and for free via download or bittorrent.

It will be interesting to see how this experience compares to these results.

Lessig's announcement is here.

Posted by Steve on March 26, 2004

March 25, 2004


The Modulator staff has been overwhelmed with real world work and home activities this week.

And, heck, the Clarke conversation has been well covered! If you need to catch up on this Tim Dunlop is a good place to start.

When time permits, hopefully later today, the staff looks forward to reentering the virtual world with a few thoughts on the pledge case.

Posted by Steve on March 25, 2004

March 24, 2004 Slowness

Hmmm, seems to be backed up a bit this afternoon...which is causing loading problems with the sidebars. Sorry. (20:14 GMT)

Posted by Steve on March 24, 2004

March 23, 2004

It's Not There

Jim Henley helps us out by advising that this website does not exist.

Who am I to argue that you should always double check such propositions.

Posted by Steve on March 23, 2004

Sorry to See You Go

The fine blog From the margins of academe, Invisible Adjunct, is signing off.

While I mostly lurked there I still say Thanks for the great conversations!

Best wishes for the future.

Posted by Steve on March 23, 2004

A Lesson for the RIAA and MPAA

Lost in their ongoing attempt to keep the music market constrained the RIAA continues to harrass music downloaders and the MPAA is attacking peer 2 peer applications and working to have anticopying technology built into consumer goods.

They would, perhaps, be better served to look at what is happening over at that bastion of capitalism on the web: the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Amongst other activities these folks sell books and an interesting thing has happened to the volumes that they have made available on the web: the sales of paper copies improve. For example, they recently made a book called Omnipotent Government available on the web:

What happened was precisely the reverse of what the publisher expected. Instead of lost sales, the sales of the book shot up. In the few weeks since the text went online, more copies of this book left our warehouse than during the whole of the last decade.
The RIAA and MPAA folks would do well to think about this:
The point is to expand the market and not assume a fixed number of consumers. Books online and offline reinforce the viability of each other, just as movies in theaters boost movies in rental, and free radio helps the market for CDs for purchase. It takes some thought and entrepreneurial judgement to understand why, but the history of technological development informs the case.
Read the rest of the article.

Via Hit and Run.

Posted by Steve on March 23, 2004 | Comments (1)

March 22, 2004

Clarke's Book

Tim Dunlop has read the first bit of Clarke's book Against All Enemies and has a lot to say about it:

The first thing to say is that, despite all the hostility arising from the 60 Minutes interview last night, Clarke is rather more respectful of the administration than I might have anticipated.
This is in respect to both bush and rice. Sure, this impression may change after more reading but given all the ranting going on today I certainly expected readers to have a different impression.

Based on Tim's review of the first chapter that this will be a book that folks on all sides of the related issues will want to read:

I guess there are two stories being interwoven: the close-up detail of the day and of how the administration and the various intelligence and security agencies reacted to the attacks, and then Clarke's reflections on the people involved, and the broader context within which the events unfolded.

There's not much point trying to recount the close-up detail, the way planes were grounded, the air force was scrambled, the individuals from the President down were secured and the way all the actions to cope with the attack were launched, because no summary can do it justice. All I can say is, if you get a chance to read it, read it. It's a gripping account.

I'm looking forward to the reading and the discussion.

Posted by Steve on March 22, 2004

March 20, 2004

What's a Misys To Do

The headline to this article would probably draw a big fine from the American Taliban if it was used on the US airwaves.

Via the Apostropher.

Posted by Steve on March 20, 2004

March 19, 2004

Windy Blogging

Paul Goyette is maintaining a map of Chicago bloggers.

His model is the DC Metro map maintained by Maureen.

If you live there and want the world to know send him your info.

Posted by Steve on March 19, 2004

Scissors and Memorysticks

Coming soon to a birthday list near you is the latest from the Swiss Army Knife folks:


Via Circadian Shift.

Update(5/13/04): Kevin Aylward read a two month old The Register today and decided that he wants one of these too. Now if he were a more regular reader here he'd be much more current....:)

Posted by Steve on March 19, 2004


Take a break and delve into the fascinating world of microscopic life.

This amateur has created a nice site with many cool pictures of various protozoa and plenty of links for those who want to learn more.

The predatory Dileptus looks a bit like a fish or a skinny penguin.

Via The Scout Report.

Posted by Steve on March 19, 2004

March 18, 2004

March Madness

The Modulator staff will spend the rest of today attending college basketball games. No more posting until tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Posted by Steve on March 18, 2004

What gender is it?

If you're like most people, common everyday items look inert to you. But what you may not know is that many of them have a gender.

Ziploc Bags

Male, because they hold everything in but you can see right through them.


Female, because once turned off, it takes a while to warm up. It's an effective reproductive device if the right buttons are pushed, but can wreak havoc if the wrong buttons are pushed.


Male, because it goes bald and often it's over inflated.

Hot Air Balloon

Male, because to get it to go anywhere you have to light a fire under it
and, of course, there's the hot air part.


Female, because they're soft and squeezable and retain water.

Web Page

Female, because it's always getting hit on.


Male, because it uses the same old lines to pick people up.


Female, because over time, the weight shifts to the bottom.


Male, because it hasn't evolved much over the last 5,000 years, but it's handy to have around.

Remote Control

Female. Ha!!! You thought it'd be male, didn't you ??? But consider this: it gives a man pleasure, he'd be lost without it, and while he doesn't always know the right buttons to push, he does keep trying.

Posted by Steve on March 18, 2004

March 17, 2004

Endorsing bush

I look forward to seeing this show up in one of the zillion bush ads currently supporting fine programming in 18 states:

The statement said it supported President Bush (news - web sites) in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry
The bush-cheney campaign must be thrilled get an endorsement from al-Quaeda.

Via Pandagon.

Posted by Steve on March 17, 2004


Jaquandor nails this one:

I have no trouble imagining the guy's cry of "Oh, noooooooo!" as he reached the point of impossibility in his plan.
Yep, he probably would not cut it on The Apprentice.

Posted by Steve on March 17, 2004

osama Chase

Ok, this would be great news pretty entertaining if they succeed:

Osama bin Laden narrowly escaped capture by French troops working with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, perhaps several times, the head of France's armed forces said Monday.

French soldiers are determined to capture the fugitive head of the al Qaeda network by the end of the year, Gen. Henri Bentegeat said.

And, yes, even though they are working with US forces it would be pretty ironic if it is the French that actually capture him.

Via Max at MaxSpeak who is looking forward to a religious conversion.

Update (3/18): Tom at The Funny Farm speculates what might happen if the French capture Osama.

Posted by Steve on March 17, 2004 | Comments (1)

City Government at Work

City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.
Read the rest of the story.


Posted by Steve on March 17, 2004

March 16, 2004

Politicians Are Not the Only Ones Who Flip-Flop

Who flip-flops on the issues? bush say kerry, kerry says bush.

Other folks who change their tune (R) frequently are the good folks who give us medical advice:

When the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently concluded that one's sense of thirst -- not a set number of glasses of water -- should determine the amount of liquid to drink each day, this respected scientific group overturned yet another widely held piece of health advice.
The article provides plenty of examples as well as a synopsis of current evidence on a number of issues of daily concern.

Others might argue that if you stick with your program medical science will find its way back to you. I'd suggest, though, that we err on the side of reason and apply DB's approach to our daily lives:

I have ranted concerning this general issue in the past. Science demands that we test and revise hypotheses. As a physician we must search for the best data and make decisions based on those data, understanding that we may change as new data appear.
Stay informed, evaluate the evidence and change as necesssary.

Posted by Steve on March 16, 2004


Krispy Kreme's announcement may reflect a rational attempt to broaden their market as well as a response to the obesity police:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, long known for its high-calorie treats, says it plans to offer a low-sugar doughnut to attract dieters and diabetics.

Exactly how low the sugar content would be was unclear Thursday.

However, if I'm going to buy a donut, which is not often, it is going to be the real thing. Otherwise, what's the point?

Via The Storm.

Posted by Steve on March 16, 2004

Blue-Ribbon Delay

Why will the bipartisan committee charged with looking into pre-Iraq invasion intelligence take until 2005 to report the answer? Perhaps because they don't care:

Questions of objectivity won't be resolved until the panel completes its task. Five weeks after being appointed, the group has not met, and it is unclear when it will.
Via Talking Points Memo.

Posted by Steve on March 16, 2004

March 15, 2004

Maximizing Government Revenue

Yet another novel approach to funding government:

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than �3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn�t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.
I'm kind of surprised he doesn't want to charge these unlucky folks the full cost plus a little instead of a paltry �3000 but then the British may be able to house someone for much less then it costs in the US.

This kind of crap fits right in with things like forfeiture laws.

Via Samizdata and White Rose.

Posted by Steve on March 15, 2004

Some Possible Good News on the Spam Front

This looks like a good thing:

Comcast, the US cable giant, is threatening to disconnect customers whose infected PC are being used to relay spam messages.

Up to 30 per cent of spam is now spewing from hijacked "zombie" PCs. Spammers use Trojan horses and worms to take over PCs and use them as spam engines, a practice that can severely disrupt the operation of ISPs.

I'd like to see them extend this to include PCs infected with Blaster and other worms that continually spew out probes looking for machines to infect. There policy should provide a mechanism for these users to regain access once they have cleansed their PC.

There is some risk that Comcast will block some innocents as well. Remember, Comcast is the outfit with the Kafkaesque usage policy.

Posted by Steve on March 15, 2004

guardsman bush

The discussion of bush's military record seemed to die away rather abruptly some weeks ago. It is good to know, though, that not everyone has bought into the idea that the complete record is now before the public.

Check out this article:

Some military researchers and a former Texas Guard lieutenant colonel believe the stringent regulations -- known as the Human Reliability Program -- may have been invoked to stop Bush from flying Texas Air National Guard jets in 1972.
Yes, this is speculative stuff as the record still seems to be incomplete.

As Rick says:

I have all these documents and more, copies of every set of orders I ever received, academic reports for every course I attended. Now, maybe that's just me; I kept a copy of everything. But, when I ordered an updated copy of my Fische, it was all there.

Can we just access his MicroFische?

Via Orcinus.

Posted by Steve on March 15, 2004

March 12, 2004

American Taliban

Is in action:

The FCC is seeking the maximum $27,500 for each of the alleged violations, or $247,500 in all, from a March 13, 2003, broadcast that included a graphic discussion about pornographic film star Ron Jeremy. Portions of the conversation were rebroadcast eight times in promotional spots for the show.
I'd change the station if this schlock came on and would not have Elliot in the Morning on in the first place. However, for those who want to tune in I can think of no justification for saying no.

Posted by Steve on March 12, 2004

Talking Freely

Ron Paul has a few thoughts on our esteemed congess' efforts to make us be good via the �Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004�

This atrocious piece of legislation should be defeated. It cannot improve the moral behavior of U.S. citizens, but it can do irreparable harm to our cherished right to freedom of speech.

This attempt at regulating and punishing indecent and sexually provocative language suggests a comparison to the Wahhabi religious police of Saudi Arabia, who control the �Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.� Though both may be motivated by the good intentions of improving moral behavior, using government force to do so is fraught with great danger and has no chance of success.

He follows this by hammering both the left and the right for past and present support for violations of our free speech.

Hey, he may be a republican but he has this one right.

Via Freespace.

Posted by Steve on March 12, 2004

Is Your Network Connection Down?

Scott points us to a list of activities for that ill fated time.

Posted by Steve on March 12, 2004 | Comments (1)

Reading e-books

Tegan read the e-book version of Gaiman's Coraline last night. She provides a brief review

So this one gets a strong recommendation from me along with a warning to adults to not read it at night.
Probably the 9-12 year olds that Coraline is targeted at should not read it at night either.

I read this a few months ago, enjoyed it and, like Tegan, found it creepy but without the creepiness it would not have been near as fun to read.

Tegan also has some thoughts on e-books

Another downside is the mere act of reading on a computer screen. While I can handle it now, I'm sure my eyes won't let me in a few years.
Which is why I haven't read any e-books yet. I still find myself printing longer material to read the old fashioned way.

Posted by Steve on March 12, 2004 | Comments (1)

March 11, 2004

Search and Seizure

Just in from Europe:

The European Parliament has passed the EU Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive by 330 votes to 151.
At passage, the law imposes civil penalties on counterfeiters, but amendments aimed at bringing in criminal sanctions for piracy, favoured by large media companies, were defeated, and a late-tabled amendment restricted the civil penalties to so-called professional counterfeiters, and not individuals copying music or films on an occasional basis "in good faith" for their own use.

... the directive does allow companies to raid offices, homes, seize property and petition courts to freeze the bank accounts of those they believe to be engaged in piracy.

Do they really mean "allow companies to raid...?" So now Vivendi, et al, hire their own enforcement arm to perform the function of the police?

Well, I'm going to look at this in more detail when time permits just to make sure what the article says is a reasonable translation of the proposed law. But, if it is even close to right then folks in the EU are in real serious trouble.

Via Nipper's Patent Law Blog.

Posted by Steve on March 11, 2004

March 10, 2004

SPAM Suits

Well, I wasn't convinced when the 'Can-Spam' legislation originally passed that we could count on the big folks to go after the spammers. I was wrong:

Microsoft Corp. and other leading Internet companies, in an unusual joint effort among corporate rivals, announced six lawsuits today against hundreds of people accused of sending millions of unwanted e-mails in violation of the new federal law against "spam."
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. But, heck, even if they successfully stamp out these folks in the US I expect that the increasing number of items I see from Russia, etc., will continue.

You can find the actual complaints at Findlaw.

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2004 | Comments (3)

Where Does the Buck Stop Now?

Apparently it still stops in the Lincoln and other White House bedrooms:

Bush's criticism of the Clinton fund-raising scandal is one of the reasons the White House identifies guests. In a debate with Vice President Al Gore in October 2000, Bush said: "I believe they've moved that sign, 'The buck stops here,' from the Oval Office desk to 'The buck stops here' on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country."

Bush's overnight guest roster is virtually free of the famous � pro golfer Ben Crenshaw is the biggest name � but not of campaign supporters.

At least nine of Bush's biggest fund-raisers appear on the latest list of White House overnight guests, covering June 2002 through December 2003, and-or on the Camp David list, which covers last year. They include:

Yes this bit of hypocrisy should be pointed out but no one should be surprised that bedsheets are traded for friendship or money.

First, you can pretty much count on the bush team either having done, doing or planning to do something they hammer the opposition about.

Second, and more important, the US government transfers huge amounts of money from the losers to the winners and the latter's stripes change only modestly from administration to administration. Until we the people put a stop to the massive transfers we can expect politicians to seek favours votes and donations and reward those who give them with both bedsheets and favorable laws and regulations.

Via Calpundit who picked it up from It's a Crock. The Apostropher also comments.

Update: John Cole and Mark Kleiman both argue that a Bush - Clinton comparison is off the mark and I acknowledge both their points which are different enough that you should go read their posts.

I will, though, stick to what I say in the two paragraphs above the 'Via' statement.

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

What's a Million $?

At the risk of redundancy (yes, some of you may have read your local paper this morning) I bring you the million dollar bill:


Some bright light actually tried to pass one of these at her local Wal-mart.

Perhaps the treasury will need to put some of these into circulation when it comes time to pay down the debt.

Via The Gothamist.

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2004

New at Yahoo Maps

I know there are others but Yahoo Maps has worked well for me for a long time.

They have just added a new feature called SmartView which allows you to quickly find different services that are located in the area of a specific address. The should save me quite a few trips to the yellow pages!

Via beSpacific who used 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. as a test address. Give it a try.

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2004

March 9, 2004

Ideological Purity II

As promised I retook the Libertarian Purity test. This time I tried to take on the persona of a libertarian minarchist: score 105. What I don't know is whether this would meet Professor Caplan's scoring for a minarchist since his grading scale is really based on perfection being a pure anarcho-capitalist.

Tomorrow, if time permits, I'll be someone with libertarian leanings and a more practical view of the next 20-40 years.

Oh yea, Jim Henley discusses all of this a bit here.

Posted by Steve on March 9, 2004


Cool! Modulator just evolved into a Large Mammal.

Note to Modulator staff: this is great but since you are 388 spots away from the top of the category and only two links away from devolution you'd better be on your toes!

Posted by Steve on March 9, 2004 | Comments (2)

Economics and Business

If these subjects interest you check out the 20 posts up at Catallarchy in the latest rendition of The Carnival of the Capitalists.

Posted by Steve on March 9, 2004

Goin' Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

I apologize in advance. It is late and this post assumes some prior knowledge as I'm too tired to spend time on backstory which is pretty readily available for those who are interested.

I like good music in small indoor venues much better then in large outdoor amphitheaters and stadiums. The sound stays around you, the mood stays around you and you really can not escape. You must ride out the storm.

Ratdog tonight (3/8) was no exception and an excellent example of why many of us keep going back for more and then more. A perfect storm. Well, not quite but it was clear that the band and Weir in particular were trying. There was a fair amount of experimentation. Some of it worked and some didn't...I saw Weir grimace several times. No not quite perfect but maybe the next show will be...and even if it is not you will know that they tried, you will be hooked by what they teased and didn't quite play and just maybe they will play your perfect set list next time.

Let me mention just a few of tonight's many treats.

I was ecstatic by 20 minutes in. They opened with Truckin' which blew out into a hyper Brown-eyed Women. The whole place was shaking. The rest of the first set was fine and included strong versions of Big Boss Man and Deal.

The second set was huge! The acoustic coupling of Me and Bobby Mcgee and Victim or the Crime was both well done and wrenching. Yea, it can happen that way: loss leading to addiction if you let it. An acoustic Victim you ask. Yes, and with all the usual dissonance.

The centerpiece of the second set: a complete thundering Terrapin Station Suite enclosing a failed attempt to break into The Other One that eventually found its way into Black Peter before coming up for air with the conclusion of the Terrapin Suite. I thought it would never end, I did not want it to end.

The Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad encore was turned up and driven over the top. The audience went crazy!

Miscelaneous: Chimenti's keyboard work was outstanding; Weir's mic needed to be turned up or he needed to stay closer as his vocals frequently got lost in the mix: andRobin Sylvester may be a fine base player but he was so low in the mix that it couldn't be proven tonight.

And, Scott and Kim, I thought there would be an Estimated Prophet tonight....but they played it Saturday in Vancouver.

Complete setlist here.

Posted by Steve on March 9, 2004 | Comments (2)

March 8, 2004

Ideological Purity

Well, in this case Libertarian Purity.

Radley Balko, noted Libertarian blogger, scored 98/160 which stikes me as fairly middle of the road though the test site calls this entering "...the heady realm of hard-core libertarianism." Then I saw in the comment thread that Julian Sanchez scored 79 and Jim Henley 101.

I would have expected these 3 folks to score higher, much higher and since they did not I suspect that how you score on this test has a lot to do with the perspective you use when taking the test and that for the results to be somewhat comparable this bias needs to be included. For instance, I took the test from the perspective of what I thought an anarcho-capitalist might answer and scored 153. Tomorrow I'll try to take it from the perspective of a libertarian min-archist and see what kind of score I get. Then I'll try again from the position of ok, I have libertarian leanings but what is practical in the near term (20-40 years).

Yazad raises some other issues with the test including that it is US centric and suggests some other tests that you can try.

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

Buffalo Blog Selling Books

Jaquandor who wants to get back to Google's # 1 spot for Buffalo Blog is selling some of his books.

Normally I would consider this a form of blasphemy but, needing room for incoming volumes, I am slowly sorting through my library looking for books to sell.

So I was about to give him a pass on this until I found that one of the books he is selling is The Danzig Trilogy by Gunter Grass. The Tin Drum, volume 1 of the trilogy, is one of my all time favorites and my copy is filled from front to back with marginalia. I hope that Jaquandor is selling an extra copy and still retains a well used version.

Posted by Steve on March 8, 2004 | Comments (2)

College Lessons

Dean Esmay does not like college: at least the one he is at and the courses he is taking. He says:

It appears to me that the only thing I've learned in college is how to sit down, shut up, and jump through hoops without much complaint. Which is, perhaps, the real purpose of undergraduate education today.
Yea, it is too bad he had to go to college to learn the standard lessons of elementary school.

The comment thread to Dean's post has some interesting reading.

Via Outside the Beltway.

Posted by Steve on March 8, 2004 | Comments (5)

Walking your Talk

An honest man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him.

He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome- plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."

Posted by Steve on March 8, 2004 | Comments (2)

March 7, 2004

Beware the Coin Toss

It looks like it isn't quite fair:

The typical person flipping a coin varies enough in velocity, position, angle, and such to produce random-looking sequence. But when viewed this way, there is no reason for the flips to be precisely fair.

Now, with mathematician Richard Montgomery, Diaconis has shown that coin flips are in fact slightly biased to land on the same side as they started when flipped. By closely observing people flipping coins and carefully modeling the process, they estimate a bias on the order of 1�2%, dominating for example the house advantage in some casino games.

And if Diaconis is flipping they will land the way he wants them 100% of the time.

Via Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Steve on March 7, 2004 | Comments (1)

March 6, 2004

Good News on the pretend Patent Front

The key here is not that M$ may be off a $521 million hook. No, it is simply that the patent office invalidated the Eolas patent (also known as the 906 patent):

A system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object.
This patent should not have been awarded in the first place. Not only is there substantial prior art but this type of software process patent should not qualify for a patent. Yea, I know the patent office has been granting these types of patents but, come on, let's restrict patents to things that take, say, a bit of originality and genius. Not things that your average programmer or system analyst knocks out routinely.

Via mozillaZine.

Posted by Steve on March 6, 2004

March 5, 2004

Friday Kitty

Belly Dancer (Open Discreetly)

Adult Content .


You just had to look...... ;-)

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

Move Over Democrats and Republicans

Though his campaign billboards could not be as attention grabbing as this perhaps Nader could form a US version of this new Australian political party for his current political run.

In a brief discussion of the new party's founder The Curmdugeonly Clerk offers us a learning moment:

this is not the first time that Ms. Moore has stood for office. No doubt, portions of her film oeuvre are available online; however, I will leave finding such material as an exercise for the reader.
Via Dylan at The Slitherly D.

Posted by Steve on March 5, 2004

Protect yourself against Identity theft

I just received this from my brother and thought some of you might find it useful.

The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first
name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book they will
not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name
but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put
the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last
four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number and
anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check
processing channels won't have access to it.

Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have
a PO Box use that instead of your home address. Never have your SS# printed
on your checks (DUH!) you can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it
printed, anyone can get it.

Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both sides of
each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet
and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.

Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport
when I travel either here or abroad.

We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards, etc.

Unfortunately I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was
stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly
cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line
approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change
my driving record information online, and more.

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this
happens to you or someone you know:

We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key
is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom
to call. Keep those where you can find them easily.

File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen,
this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step
toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important: (I never even thought to do

Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place
a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of
doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for
credit was made over the Internet in my name.

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information
was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all
the damage had been done.

There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves'
purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then,
no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away
this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them in their

The numbers are:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Pass this information along. It could really help someone you care about.

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

From george to georgina


I'd be surprised not to see a kerry version of this soon.

Via Boing Boing.

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

March 4, 2004

Argghh, Zero Tolerance Policies

These are just the thing that administrators like so that their jobs will not require any thinking (never mind the possibility of creative thinking).

In reference to a case where a 12 year old was expelled for bringing his own scissors to a sewing class Jim Peacock at Zero Intelligence (a new blog devoted to zero tolerance issues) writes:

Scissors, in Home Economics class, are a weapon and posession of them requires expulsion? We've gone from "Don't run with scissors in your hand" to "You can't come to school if you use scissors". Scissors are not a weapon. They are a tool, just like a chair or a pencil or a pointer or the cord from the window blinds. All of them have proper uses and all of them can be used to hurt another person. In fact, can you think of any common scholastic item that can't be used to hurt somebody?
The full story is here.

Via Overlawyered.

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

A Doll's Life

This site should compliment this product nicely. Just imagine the possible coordinated marketing efforts.

First link via Particles.

Posted by Steve on March 4, 2004

Broadband over Power Lines

Lynn Kiesling noted Cinergy's announcement of a new broadband data transmission service using in place power lines and Brian Doss suggests that

Seems like a major kick in the jimmy to the cable companies, though, if it takes off.
Well, it is one small step in a couple of right directions.


Faster speeds (in excess of 3 mbps) at lower monthly cost than other broadband services
More bits per second at a lower cost is a good thing. Note, though, that 'in excess of 3 mbps' might mean just 4 mbps and it might mean 20 mbps. It will likely depend a lot on your location and how many other folks you might be sharing the outside power lines with. Oh, and 3, 4 or even 20 mbps hardly qualifies as broadband. I don't like to think of these modest speeds as true broadband though compared to that old dial up modem they seem fast.

Broadband? Think 100 mbps as the bar.


Local area networking from all power outlets over existing electrical wiring
This is cool but not new. I have been doing this for about six months now. The downside is that I get less then 10 mbps over these connections compared to 100 Mbps in the rooms that I have wired to a 100 mbps switch. But this is just fine if I am browsing, blogging etc. It is not near good enough if I am trying to move a 1.5 gigabyte file (think 2-3 hour live concert uncompressed) from one machine to another.


Upload and download access at the same speeds
This is a huge failing of current cable and telco provided low bandwidth "broadband' services. The slow uplink speed that the cable companies provide drives them to prohibit from implementing servers on their home networks (well, this is probably also driven by a fear that user supplied content might just compete with their other services) and makes it near impossible for users to engage in any interactive activities that require higher simultaneous bandwidth to be useful. For instance, full screen interactive video requires about 440 kilobits per second both directions to get to a minimal level of usability. Hopefully, Cinergy will not incorporate onerous use restrictions into their acceptable use policy.

Again, though, these are but small steps in the right direction. Your phone and cable companies are not providing the service levels that they could and you are being short changed. Just as an example you consider why they are not expounding a vision like this?

Posted by Steve on March 4, 2004 | Comments (3)

March 3, 2004

Games, Nasty Games

Scott has found a lot of nifty diversions lately. Devil Balls is particularly cruel.

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

The Music Industry Might be Wise to Get Rid of the RIAA

John Dvorak makes this interesting argument:

Copy protection schemes, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and lawsuits against file sharers are not going to save the music business. In fact, the opposite is true. I'm convinced that the shuttering of the original wide-open Napster almost four years ago was the beginning of the end for the recording industry. This is because Napster was not just an alternative distribution network; it was an alternative sampling system.
Dvorak is right about the aborted potential of Napster to power growth in the music industry but it was never going to survive in its old form with or without Napster like sampling capability.

I can't predict exactly how it will transform as such things take on a lives of their own but I do expect to see massive disintermediation despite the best effort of the faltering industry dinosaurs.

Napster was the tip of the meteor so to speak. The RIAA, Warner, Sony, etc., congress, the FCC all need to just get out of the way because we will have our music and we will have it at the price and in the form that we find useful and enjoyable.

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

A Lawyer is a Lawyer is a Lawyer


Well, no, not exactly. We all read about trial lawyers, district attorneys, attorney generals, defense lawyers, etc., and perhaps think we know all about lawyers. Most of us don't visit lawyers often if at all. We tend not to use them for our marriages, our real estate purchases, etc. Really, why would we want to waste money on a lawyer. Sometimes we are right. Other times we are wrong.

So what other kinds of lawyers are there besides the 'glamorous' ones listed above. There are the transactional lawyers. The what? Well, I scratched my head over that for a long time and finally got my head wrapped around it a year or so ago when I realized that I had worked with many transactional lawyers and just hadn't correctly applied the label. They all did this:

...write contracts that protect our clients when things go wrong.
Scheherazade writes a lot more about what it means to be a transactional lawyer and you should go read it all. I particularly enjoyed this part:
The part that's not fun is the chronic suspicion you have of everyone else, and what turns into a constant tug-of-war between trying to draft the contract so your own client has free rein to be as big of a son-of-a-bitch as he/she/it wants while the other side gets hamstrung if they stop being sweetness and light. I can see why businesspeople don't want to cultivate that particular sharp imaginative ability, and outsource it instead to us.

Via Professor Bainbridge who adds to Margaret's discussion:

Perhaps my main disagreement with her comments is that they doesn't sufficiently stress the role of regulatory arbitrage - figuring out how to structure a deal so that the size of the pie expands for everybody (her analysis focuses mainly on pie division). In addition, good transactional lawyers also devote attention to the question of thinking about how the contract incentivizes good behavior on the part of both their client and the other side.
Transactional lawyers will be an important part of any future free society (read unencumbered by inefficient and oppressive gov't regulations).

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

March 2, 2004

I May Have to Buy a MAC

This former MAC bigot switched to Windows machines many years ago: I have been surrounded by Windows machines at work for years and the schools where my kids attended and my wife works long ago ditched their Apple IIs and MACs.

Something like this may lead me back to a MAC. The price is right! I can't count the times I have started to catalog my library and never finished. It keeps growing and I get no closer.

Does anyone know of a similar (function and price) program for a Windows XP machine?

Via Mike Silverman.

Posted by Steve on March 2, 2004 | Comments (5)

Water of Life

On Mars:

The Mars rover Opportunity has discovered powerful evidence that water once "drenched" the surface of Mars and made the planet habitable for life at some unknown time in the distant past, NASA scientists said Tuesday.
This is very cool stuff.

On the other hand, we are, perhaps, lucky Mars is not currently suspected of supporting life. Or we might be dealing with this:

Why take chances?
Life, if found on Mars,
Might evolve and threaten Earth:
Launch pre-emptive strikes!

Update (3/2): There is a lot of good info on what the water announcement really means here. Via Electolite.

Posted by Steve on March 2, 2004

Just Who are you Working For?

As The Angry Bear Points out:

You can't play Three-Card Monte without a mark, a patsy, a sucker. Guess who's playing the sucker in Greenspan's shell game?
And, it is you and me folks who are playing that roll. Read the rest here and here.

Shouldn't we be getting just a little bit angry about getting robbed every day? If our government will not protect us perhaps it is time for a change...and not just presidents.

Posted by Steve on March 2, 2004

perle jumps ship

This just in from Doug at georgemustgo:

Shorter Richard Perle*: "I just wrote a book that says we should invade Syria, Iran, and Libya, and given that the unadulterated 100-percent bat-shit-craziness of these ideas may hurt the President's re-election campaign by association, it's probably best if I hang back for a while."

Richard Perle, stepping into the strike zone and taking one for the team. A prince among men.

Hmmm, is perle more dangerous inside or outside the administration?

Via Sadly, No!.

Posted by Steve on March 2, 2004

Keeping Time

Need a clock on your screen? Try the Human Clock. Both the digital and the analog versions update once per minute.

Oh yea, you can submit your own timestamped pictures for inclusion.

Via The Presurfer.

Posted by Steve on March 2, 2004

March 1, 2004

February's Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 21 top referrers (normally 20 but there was a tie for 20th. Number 20 produced 13 referrals compared to 12 in December. Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

February churn was up from January with with 6 blogs dropped off and 7 new ones added.

February was a record month for Modulator! Though a significant part of this was due to a super bowl related exposure that may not be repeated for a while.

Thank you one and all!

Also, I'd like to acknowledge significant referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati,,, MovableType, Blogdex,, 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 or to push to the top of the rolls. These are certainly the sites I tend to look at first and visitors will see you at the top of the roll as well.

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

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

Terry Nichol's Trial Prediction

Jerralyn says:

Given the repeated failure of the FBI to get its act together regarding the documents in this case, our money is on a dismissal.
My paranoid question of the day: Is there reason to think that this is what the feds want?

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004

bush stoned blues

With acknowledgement to Mr. Dylan Jerry Politex crafted The Bush Stoned Blues. Here's the chorus:

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for food
I'm in the streets
With the Bush stoned blues
Sing along to the rest at Bush Watch.

Via Expecting Rain entry 13 for 3.1.04.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004

Time Out for Some Insects

For nearly everything insect try out The Insectlopedia. I know I will be spending some time perusing their links. While a few are stale there is a wealth of cool stuff from pictures to the practical: what they eat, where they live, what sex are they, etc.

Via Metafilter.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004

bush demonstrates support of democracy

Well, not really. Aristide may not be everyone's favorite elected leader but it will be interesting to learn the full story of why the bush administration drove him out of office.

Maxspeak quotes Jeffrey Sachs from the Financial Times (go read the rest):

The crisis in Haiti is another case of brazen US manipulation of a small, impoverished country with the truth unexplored by journalists. In the nearly universal media line on the Haitian revolt, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was portrayed as an undemocratic leader who betrayed Haiti's democratic hopes and thereby lost the support of his erstwhile backers. He "stole" elections and intransigently refused to address opposition concerns. As a result he had to leave office, which he did at the insistence of the US and France. Unfortunately, this is a gravely distorted view.
And Joe at American Leftist reports that Aristides' resignation was actually a 'kidnap' carried out by Americans.

If these allegations hold up it should make us all wonder just what bush means when he talks about democracy.

Update (a few minutes later): More here and here.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004

What's Terrorism

Eric Muller is looking for a little clarity:

In December of 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft equated criticism of the administration's policies with "aiding terrorists."

Last week Secretary of Education Rod Paige called the nation's largest teacher's union a "terrorist organization" because the union opposes parts of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

And now private citizens are joining the rhetorical war. A Wyoming rancher is accusing agents of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service of "terrorism" for going onto his land to collar a tranquilized wolf.

Ah, for the good old days when terrorism was, like, blowing up buildings and stuff.

And this rhetorical softness serves the needs of an administration that wants to fight a never ending war against something called terrorism.

Go to Eric's original post for links to the examples.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004


Julia made it into the Seattle Times with this post on the fake Kerry-Fonda picture.

Some of these would benefit from some digital reworking.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004

Carnival Time

Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Danial Moore's place. Plenty of good reading here for those interested in in issues related to business and economics.

Hat tip to Catallarchy for the reminder.

Update (3/2): Post date corrected, it is no longer April Fools day. Thanks, Tom.

Posted by Steve on March 1, 2004 | Comments (1)