April 30, 2004

Google Codes for Microsoft

It appears that the bright folks at Google may be a bit challenged when it comes to writing standards based interfaces.

Posted by Steve on April 30, 2004

Studying Your Chemistry

Tom Lehrer's Elements set to Flash animation by Mike Stanfill.

There are other cool animations on this site for you to check out including this one especially for the Friday cat bloggers.

Posted by Steve on April 30, 2004

Baseball Blogging

Every baseball team owner in the country should jump on the idea of adding WiFi access to their stadiums like the Giants:

SBC asked what technology initiatives we were looking at, and a natural confluence was the Wi-Fi. It was a no-brainer, because the ROI issue went out the window -- our major sponsor wanted to install this for us.
Yea, their sponsor paid for it but it seems like this would provide great marketing opportunities and reinvigorate the weekday afternoon game.

If you are a wired worker who spends most of your time writing, researching and exchanging email just maybe a connected afternoon at the ballpark will bring you back to the game. I'd certainly be more likely to go to more games though I'd have to give up the 2-3 magazines I usually read in the course of a baseball game (the 1/year I currently go to).

This probably won't catch on at football games as there are so few of them at a particular venue though there are plenty of breaks in the action. The idea probably wouldn't work that well for soccer or basketball where the action is fairly constant. Well, except for the televised basketball games (especially the NCAAs) that are ruined by the repeated long commercial time outs.

Via Ernie the Attorney.

Posted by Steve on April 30, 2004 | Comments (3)

April 29, 2004

Money Matters

Learn all about the new $50 bill via this nifty interactive tutorial. There is also one for the $20 bill.

For more, head over to Marginal Revolution where Tyler Cowan provides some historical background on currency and answers this question: What if modern technology made counterfeiting unstoppable?

Meanwhile, use cash: disintermediate the credit card providors and, if you will, take as many of your transactions as you can off the surveillance grid (be it marketing folks, or....).

Oh yea, it is faster and more fun to pay with cash!

Interactive stuff via The Presurfer (sorry, no permalinks).

Posted by Steve on April 29, 2004 | Comments (3)

April 28, 2004

Smoking Assault

Radley Balko warns of creeping nanny-statism:

The California state assembly is now considering a law banning you from smoking in your own car if your kids are riding with you.

Make no mistake, they'll be in your home next.

Radley, you are correct. There shouldn't be any additional laws necessary regarding this. Assault it pretty straightforward and the kids could certainly sue concurrently or later. It shouldn't take many assault convictions and successful law suits to pretty much eliminated this problem.

I consider adults who smoke in cars or even in their homes with accompanying children to be a bit senseless, if not stupid.

On the other hand, if it is a privately owned establishment that is clearly labeled as a smoking environment then consenting adults should be free to patononize or work there without any outside interference.

Posted by Steve on April 28, 2004

End the Dole

I'm not a big fan of the WTO. Amongst other issues I have the WTO seems to operate behind a mask of secrecy that might even make the bush administration blush. However, there may be some positives:

When the US government gives away some $4 billion to American cotton farmers in return for a crop that's valued at only $3 billion, something's amiss.
And cotton subsidies are just a portion of the $19 billion that the federal government pays to boost US agriculture and its exports each year.
This week, the Geneva-based World Trade Organization made a preliminary ruling that the United States must end cotton subsidies because they distort global trade.
The WTO, which the US helped create as a way for consumers to benefit from open markets, has dealt a blow to the biggest stumbling block to expanded trade. Governments in rich nations need to use this ruling to persuade domestic farm lobbies that they can no longer delay the inevitable: no subsidies, only free competition.
It should not need WTO rulings to help persuade farm lobbies that the time for subsidies have ended. The people funding the subsidies should just say no!

Yep, that's you and me paying these subsidies via taxes.

Update (4/29): Jane Galt has some good words about this ruling.

Posted by Steve on April 28, 2004 | Comments (1)

Getting that next Position

Tyler Cowan recommends these job hunting suggestions to people wanting to be an economics professor.

While the list is focused on finding a tenure track job there are a lot of good tips for anyone looking for any job or admission to a graduate school.

Posted by Steve on April 28, 2004

Food for Thought


Via Tribolum.

Posted by Steve on April 28, 2004

Freedom's Just Another Word

In his remarks at the Republican National Committee Presidential Gala on October 8, 2003 bush says:

But the war on terror is more than just chasing down the killers or holding tyrants to account. The war on terror -- our security comes in the war on terror from the spread of human liberty. (Applause.) See, free nations do not develop weapons of mass destruction. (Emphasis added) Free nations do not intimidate their neighbors. Free nations are peaceful nations.
bush claims to mean what he says so just how does he explain this:
Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads.
I still looking for definitions of "free" and "weapons of mass destruction" that eliminate the dissonance.

bush quote found via Dubya Speak and the Slate article is via Niall Kennedy.

Posted by Steve on April 28, 2004

April 27, 2004

Phone Cams Gone Mad

Mike Lee as created a montage of 1715 phone cam images taken over an 18 month period.

More mobile photography (moblogs) here.

Via The Shifted Librarian.

Posted by Steve on April 27, 2004

Still Visible

At the top of the right side bar you will find an entry for The Invisible Adjunct under Top Referrers. The site won't be there next time. You may remember that I mentioned a while back that she was closing up shop.

Well, it is pretty clear that she is gone but not forgotten. This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education provides an interesting profile of the real invisible adjunct and her academic world:

The mystery surrounding her identity was part of what made her blog work. In a way, she stopped being just herself, transformed instead into Every Adjunct. Knowing who she was might have broken that spell.
Read it!

Via Crooked Timber where Henry Farrell uses her story as a stepping off point to a rant about The Calvinist illusion is that luck has nothing to do with it - markets reward virtue.

Most interesting is that Henry makes this point:

Calvinists sought evidence that they were favoured by God through accumulating goods without consuming them. If you did well in worldly affairs, you could take this as a sign of God�s favour.

This may or may not be a good historical explanation. Still, it captures a set of attitudes expounded by some (although certainly not all) exponents of free markets. In many important respects, markets are political creations - they reflect differences in the bargaining power of different social groups.

Seems to me that most serious free market proponents would agree with Henry that markets today, and for the past couple hundered years, are indeed political creations. They would go one step beyond and say that this is a major problem that we should be working to eliminate.

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

April 26, 2004

Over Rated

Kevin Drum rates common sources of news from worst to best:

1. Supermarket tabloids
2. Talk radio
3. Local TV news
4. Small local newspapers
5. Chain newspapers
6. Network newscasts
7. Major national dailies, including the New York Times
8. The very best of the glossy magazines
This seems to be pretty much correct except that Talk Radio might be ranked one notch too high.

And I'd put National Public Radio right up with the major national dailies though Kevin may not have thought them big enough to be ranked. NPR gets hammered a lot by the highly rated talk radio folks but most this seems to be based on their perception of NPR's political orientation and not NPR's factual quality.

Posted by Steve on April 26, 2004

April 25, 2004

Reading List Aids Procrastination

A few folks have marked up this list of books(below). You know the deal: bold the ones that you have read. And this is easier then picking up the debate on Grand Stragies and conscription.

I found this via jaquandor who notes that it is like all such lists and leaves out some that should be there. So a couple items that I would add or change: add Kafka's The Trial (or replace The Metamorphosis) and on the esoteric side add Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. There are many more but, for now, I'll leave them to others. Well, except for one: Jaquandor knows that I think highly of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass.

I have read quite a few of these and l'd like to say that I could carry on a literate discussion about each and every one. Alas, this is not the case. Many of them I read long ago and as I lack an eidetic memory they have become shadows in the mists of time. They do look great in the book cases though.

It is also nteresting that the linkage trail is so short. After Jaquandor it goes like this: Jason who got it from Lynn Sislo who got it from Deb who got it from Misty. Is Misty the creator?

Update: Misty provides links to others in the comments.

See the list in the extended entry.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bront, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bront, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers

Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss (yes to Adam Bede)
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garca - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales

Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way (I'll try again one of these days)
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac

Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden

Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple

Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

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

April 23, 2004


With more then just a cool cat picture Trish Wilson carries the banner for Friday cat blogging.

Posted by Steve on April 23, 2004

Chernobyl - A Ghost Town

Who needs Friday wierdness when reality is so fascinating and horrifying.

Via Michael Caldwell via Jim Henly.

Posted by Steve on April 23, 2004

Faster Reading

Very much faster then I have been. Eugene Volokh has already finished Stephenson's The Confusion.

I'm still crawling through Quicksilver which I have been enjoying for much longer then I anticipated as noted here. In fact I've been enjoying Quicksilver enough that I already have The Confusion waiting on the bookshelf (I wanted needed to have a 1st edition).

I'd feel bad if my only reading over the past year had been several hundred pages of Quicksilver but I've been able to sneak in other reading at the rate of about 1 book for every 9 pages of Quicksilver and, of course, uncounted blog postings.

Update: Via Catallarchy a pointer to this Salon interview with Neal Stephenson (I had to visit a one screen add to get to the premium content).

Posted by Steve on April 23, 2004

April 22, 2004

The Tangled Bank

Interested in biology, natural schience or medicine? Then take a look at The Tangled Bank. From PZ Myers' introduction:

In cooperation with several other of us geeky science types, I am pleased to announce our own version of the "Carnival of the Vanities"....

Two things will distinguish us from the original "Carnival of the Vanities": 1) we are specifically restricting ourselves to articles in the field of science and medicine, very broadly defined, and 2) we've got a different name.

PZ Meyers is hosting the first edition at Pharyngula.

Posted by Steve on April 22, 2004

Pricing Gas

Via Scott here is a map of gasoline prices populated with blogger provided info. I note that the price recently posted for Houston is only $1.60/gallon.

I often use gasbuddy to find a low price. Their Houston page shows someone paying 1.55/Gal as recently as last night.

Last week in Canada I paid $0.855(Can)/Liter which works out to about $2.36(US)/gal at the then current exchange rate. I made sure I arrived back in the states with a near empty tank so I could pay $1.989(US)/gal and was quite happy.

Posted by Steve on April 22, 2004

Earth Day

Sadly, No! has a fine Earth Day post up. It includes a number of good suggestions...even one about oval office cleaning.

Posted by Steve on April 22, 2004

April 21, 2004

All About Wal-Mart

Friend or foe here is a site dedicated to all things Wal-Mart.

Via Kevin Drum. AS usual be sure to read the comment thread for some lively discussion.

Update: If I had been properly keeping up on my reading I would have seen this at Jaquandor's place two days ago. He was far ahead of Kevin.

Posted by Steve on April 21, 2004

April 20, 2004


The term 420, four-twenty, started cropping up on mailing lists, blogs and in classroom discussions with regularity a few days ago. Much as every year in recent memory.

Paul Goyette reminded me of this annual discussion. For those of you who are afraid to ask (some time ago it took me a few years to figure it out) Snopes has the story though perhaps one of those San Rafael kids had read some Lovecraft while enjoying a bit of Acapulco Gold.

Posted by Steve on April 20, 2004

April 19, 2004

Misleading Headlines Trolling for Readers

I am often annoyed by the stretched attemps of journalists and their editors (and your current host) to tempt readers with stupid puns, alliterations and the like. For some reason, yet to be explored, this does not bother me so much when bloggers are the perps.

I am doubly annoyed when they lie at the same time. Today C/net published an article with this headline:

'Phishing' scams luring more users
I have a few samples of Phishing scam emails locked away in a folder and, yes, the headline lured me to the article to see if there was new info. Especially the bit about the apparent growing success of these scams.

But it turns out they have no clue. Here is the meat:

...said Monday that in September 2003 the company encountered just 279 phishing e-mails. In January 2004, this figure reached 337,050 and then dropped back to 215,643 by March. The company said it is impossible to estimate exactly how many people have been fooled by the phishers.
You read it right. The rate is down and there is nothing to substantiate the headline's allegation that these scams "'are luring more users." Argggghhhh....

All this aside you might want to make antiphishing.org a regular stop for the latest scam updates.

Posted by Steve on April 19, 2004

April 18, 2004

Mixed Visions

Jaquandor is back and already in fine form.

However, if you are hung over or in an altered state of consciousness you may not want to visit this site which presents some challenging species mixing.

Oh, and Jaquandor and Aaron may not know that, while Britney can not hold a candle her, Salma is not the top rated Hayek in some circles.

Posted by Steve on April 18, 2004

April 16, 2004

Return Message

Unplugged and out of touch.

4+ days with no net access and while newspapers were available I let them be grist for others.

By the third day unconnected seemed normal and the withdrawal symptoms were relatively mild.

But, just to show that withdrawal was not complete, when I saw this guy:

I couldn't help but think of PZ Myers.

This full image has been squeezed down to about 176 KB. For best results click on the thumbnail and save the image to your local system and view it with your preferred image viewer.

Regular posting should slowly return to normal, whatever that is, over the weekend.

Posted by Steve on April 16, 2004

April 12, 2004

Away Message

The Modulator staff will be vacationing most of this week.

Both connectivity and writing time will be limited so expect a slow posting week.

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


Whether you have been for or against the Iraq war please read this post by Jim Henley.

Posted by Steve on April 12, 2004

April 11, 2004

Eating Out

Here's the deal:

Dress properly, act dignified, be polite, smile. And spend a little extra for good service� it will pay you back in droves.
Yep, with the right bribe you will find yourself eating at a select table in that exclusive restaurant that has a 2 hour wait if you can get in at all.

Via Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Steve on April 11, 2004

April 10, 2004

Public Recording

Max asks:

Can anyone explain by what legal authority a U.S. Marshall can order a journalist to erase a tape recording of statements made in a public place? If only someone with legal expertise had been on the scene.
Eugene Volokh considered the same event and says:
If this report is accurate, then I don't see any legal justification for the marshal's demand, or the marshal's seizing the tape recorder (which therefore sounds like a Fourth Amendment violation to me). To my knowledge, there's no law -- it would presumably have to be a Mississippi law -- prohibiting tape recording of public events, even ones on private property.
This practice seems to be common in other contexts. For instance, theater and concerts come immediately to mind. How is Scalia's practice different from, for example, Bob Dylan's?

Note, I in no way support Scalia's practice. He is a civil servant and as such should be 100% transparent in all work and public activities.

On the other hand, I think musicians are being foolish when they prohibit recording. Of course, in many cases (not Dylan) it would take only a few concert recordings to circulate to expose the complete lack of creativity they bring to the stage.

Posted by Steve on April 10, 2004

April 9, 2004

Need to feel dominant?

Rule the subservient chicken (Flash). It can throw pillows. What else can you make it do?

Via Brian Livingston.

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

April 8, 2004


Scheherazade has some excellent advice for folks who use parking garages and Mike extends it to another venue and also tells us what to do after after parking.

Posted by Steve on April 8, 2004

April 7, 2004

Wasting Millions, Earning Billions

First, via Hit & Run I learn that the american taliban bushies are not only running a ridiculous deficit but that they are also wasting millions of the dollars that they don't have chasing down willing folks selling product to willing buyers. Come on feds, if there are assaults, rapes, fraud, extortion, etc., go after'm otherwise leave the people you are supposed to serve alone.

And, then I learn via Boing Boing that the guy who may or may not be the world's richest man makes a portion of his billions selling furniture to the folks willingly buying product from the folks the feds are harrassing.

Ahhhh, the webs of commerce.

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2004 | Comments (2)

A Beam in Your Eye

Never mind other folks' mote. Get your own beam.


Via Gizmodo.

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2004 | Comments (2)

Maggots, Leeches and....


Yes, whipworms are joining the arsonal of modern medical technology following the recent discovery of the benefits of maggots and the periodic reappearance of leeches as a treatment for various conditions.

In a recent clinical trial 50% of ulcerative colitis patients and 70% of Chron's disease patients entered remission when treated with regular doses of pig whipworms.

The theory is that the human immune system evolved to deal with worm parasites and may become overactive in their absence. An interesting unintended consequence of the large reduction in human parasite infections in advanced western economies.

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2004

Understanding Condi

The New York Daily News seems to think that these Twenty Things About Condi including her advice to clinton in 1993, her workout routine and her impact on ariel sharon are important to know prior to tomorrow's testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

Via A List a Day.

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2004

April 6, 2004

Nope, No Transparency Here

The bushies will not release to the 9/11 Commission the complete text of rice's preempted 9/11 speech. Josh Marshall tries to understand why not:

Unless the argument is that we can't let our enemies know the depth of the poor judgment displayed by the president's national security team it is searchingly hard to fathom what possible national security issue could be implicated by handing over the speech since it was -- do we have to say it? -- a speech! A speech for public consumption.
And just to be clear:
Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House, said only: �The White House is working with the commission to ensure that it has access to what it needs to do its job.�
These folks must have a different understanding of the commission's job then the rest of us.

Posted by Steve on April 6, 2004

Do it Often

If you are a guy you might want to modify your behavior as appropriate:

Frequent sexual activity may reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer, according to a study in the April 7 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The cancer risk in men who reported more than 20 monthly ejaculations was 33 percent less than that of other men, the Harvard University study showed.

Your mileage will vary.....

Posted by Steve on April 6, 2004

Privacy, Forget It

The US National Security Agency apparently played a major role in the arrest of 9 folks in Britain and 1 in Canada on charges of planning a terrorist act and belonging to a terrorist group. The key: an intercepted email message:

"That's the first admission I've actually seen that they actually monitor Internet traffic. I assumed they did, but no one ever admitted it," Mr. Farber said.

Officials at the NSA could not be reached for comment. But U.S. authorities are uniquely positioned to monitor international Internet and telecommunications traffic because many of the world's international gateways are located in their country. And once that electronic traffic touches an American computer -- an e-mail message, a request for a website or an Internet-based phone call, for instance -- it is routinely monitored by NSA spies.

"Foreign traffic that comes through the U.S. is subject to U.S. laws, and the NSA has a perfect right to monitor all Internet traffic," said Mr. Farber, who has also been a technical adviser to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Uhhh, no they do not have that right and to the extent that there are laws allowing this behavior they need to be severly curtailed if not eliminated. There is too great an opportunity for abuse and, at minimum, these searches should not be allowed without probable cause. This does not appear to be the case at NSA.

Frankly, I would have expected Farber, who sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation to express a little more concern about this.

Posted by Steve on April 6, 2004

Losing Height to Europe

I spend a lot of time around the sports of basketball and rowing and, though dealing with a biased sample, I thought Americans were getting taller. There seem to be more and taller women and men in these programs then in the past.

But Burkhard Bilger reports in this weeks New Yorker that this is not the case across the population as a whole:

By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the country seemed set to regain its eminence. The economy was expanding at a dramatic rate, and public-hygiene campaigns were sweeping the cities clean at last: for the first time in American history, urbanites began to outgrow farmers.
Then something strange happened. While heights in Europe continued to climb, Komlos said, "the U.S. just went flat." In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven't grown taller in fifty years.
One possible reason:
In a recent British study, one group of schoolchildren was given hamburgers, French fries, and other familiar lunch foods; the other was fed nineteen-forties-style wartime rations such as boiled cabbage and corned beef. Within eight weeks, the children on the rations were both taller and slimmer than the ones on a regular diet.
This may not be the whole story but it certainly provides food for thought and, I think, individual action.

Via Newmarks Door.

Posted by Steve on April 6, 2004

April 5, 2004

Why Iraq?

Christopher Hitchens says he asks all opponents of the Iraq invasion this question (among others) and claims it never gets answered:

Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not?
Tim Dunlop fixes this for Hitchens by answering this question (and the others):
Hitchens himself mentions in the article the long-term interest in regime change shown by people like Paul Wolfowitz (dating from the 1980s), and we know that such a policy was a high, if infrequently mentioned, priority of the incoming Bush administration, so I'd say that a confrontation with Iraq was inevitable once the Bush administration came to power.
And, not knowing that they were responding to Hitchens question I ran across two other folks in the same reading session that also have answers. First, John Scalzi who supported the war:
Indeed, I submit that had 9/11 never happened, we'd still have had tanks trundling through Baghdad one way or another -- because Dubya would have found a way to make it happen. It was personal. Saddam was dead meat as soon as the Supreme Court gave Dubya the keys to the White House."
And second, Jaquandor, who riffed off Scalzi's post:
A friend of mine who is considerably more liberal than I (!) remarked to me when Bush was sworn in, "How long before we're at war with Iraq again?" I confess that my answer was, "Probably not that long, I imagine."
Jaquandor then points to the main reason the bushies are in so much trouble now. I paraphrase: 1) within the administration there was a common goal of invading Iraq but different factions had different reasons and 2) the reasons the administration gave to the people were not their real reasons (plus the reasons given were apparently not quite based on fact). The world we live in does not like dissonance between idea and action and will resolve it with often unpleasant results for the perpetrators.

Posted by Steve on April 5, 2004

Afternoon Relief

This seems like Friday material but what the heck. Most of the day is already down the toilet so head over and check out Toilets of the World.

If your favorite is missing just send the host a round trip ticket and he'll go photograph it. And he helps you out with Toiletological Linguistics or Where's the toilet? in 70 languages.

Via Metafilter where one of the commenters reminds us of this jewel from 2003: The Top Ten Urinals.

Posted by Steve on April 5, 2004

Costco's Bookshelf

While at Costco this morning I noted down the names of the politically oriented volumes on the book table. Here is the list starting from the high visibility end:

Hannity.....Deliver Us From Evil
Clark.........Against All Enemies
Hughes......Ten Minutes From Normal
Leamer......Sons of Camelot
Stossel.......Give Me A Break
Franken......Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Lewis... .....Buying of the President 2004
Charon......Useful Idiots
Hannity.....Let Freedom Ring
I don't know as there is much to make of this beyond this is what they are selling and the prices are good. Perhaps I'll do this again in a month or so and with more data we might have more fun.

Posted by Steve on April 5, 2004 | Comments (3)

bush Policys Create Job Growth

Washington DC has averaged 0.8% job growth per year while w has been in office. Which might show that deficits have been good for the bureaucracy.

Ok, sure this is not fair. Even in DC bush has not done as well as reagan and clinton who scored 4.1% and 2.4% annual job growth in DC. And it paints a distorted picture as it turns out that so far 63 of the top 100 labor markets have shown job loss during bush's first 3 years or, full the half full crowd, 37 of the top 100 have shown job growth.

Read a more thorough comparison at American City Business Journals.

Via Suburban Guerilla.

Posted by Steve on April 5, 2004

April 3, 2004

Watching for Sign

Hmmm...perhaps the DA will be watching Tyco jurer #4 for signs of ill earned income. The Talking Dog suggests that there might be reason:

Dennis Koslowski and Mark Swartz of the Tyco Corporation, who bought themselves a mistrial today after 11 unfruitful days of jury deliberations. And when I say bought a mistrial, let me just say I mean EXACTLY that-- "J'Accuse", and leave it at that.=; Juror No. 4, a 60-something retired schoolteacher who went to law school in her 50's, flashed the "OK" sign to the defense table, to signify that the brown paper bag arrived where it was supposed to (this is all on information and belief, and IMHO; I have no idea HOW Koslowski and company managed to get the juror to side with them-- maybe they even did it with their case;...
Thieves of all kinds need to spend their time in jail and pay back their victims. Too bad these guys probably won't live long enough to make restitution...it'd take more then a few life times to earn the $600,000,000 legitimately.

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

April 2, 2004

Where We've Been

Lists detailing what it was like somewhere in 19xx or 18xx show up from time to time in varying formats. We might be well served if we clipped and posted one next to our monitors as a reminder of how much things can change and how little someone looking back on 2004 from the future may understand us.

Tyler Cowen provides some excerpts from one version and Michael at 2blowhards provides a variant extracted from an audio Economics course he has listening to.

Read both lists here:

Tyler Cowen's List:

Average life expectancy was 47.

Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were 8,000 cars and just 144 miles of paved roads.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

More than 95% of all births took place at home.

90% of all physicians had no college education.

Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

The five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia & influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke

And worst of all,

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

Michael's list:

# Total U.S. population in 1900 was 76 million people, less than a third the population we have now.

# The U.S. was the wealthiest economy in the world. Per capita income was on a level with Britain and Australia, was twice that of France and Germany, and was quadruple the standard of living in Japan and Mexico.

# Still, most Americans in 1900 were living in what we today would consider poverty. In present-day dollars, per capita American income in 1900 averaged around $5000, less than a fifth the current level. In other words, the typical American in 1900 had about the same income that a typical Mexican has today.

# Only three percent of American homes were lit by electricity.

# Only about a third of American homes had running water; only 15% had flush toilets; and half of farm households didnt even have an outhouse.

# Most people lived within a mile of where they worked, and depended on their feet to get them around. Only one urban household in five owned a horse.

# Half of all people lived in spaces where they averaged more than one person per room. Taking in lodgers was common.

# Half the population drank alcohol; half didnt. The half that did averaged two hard drinks and two beers a day; wine consumption was minimal. In Europe, by contrast, people drank twice as much beer, and averaged more than four glasses of wine a day.

# Life expectancy at birth was 47 years, and infant mortality rates were high. Of every 1000 babies born, 140 died in their first year. These days, fewer than 10 do.

# Flu, pneumonia, typhoid, gastritis, and whooping cough were common causes of death.

# 10% of the American population was completely illiterate, and the average adult had an 8th grade education. Only 7% of students would ever complete high school.

# A mans typical on-the-job work week consisted of 60 hours of work spread over six days. Pensions were rare; men generally worked until they were too feeble to go on doing so. 2/3rds of men over 65 had fulltime jobs.

# Women were 18% of the paid work force. They mainly worked in fields like textiles, apparel, shoes, canning - fields where you were paid according to how much you produced.

# At home, women spent around 40 hours a week on meal preparation and meal cleanup, seven hours on laundry, and another seven hours on housecleaning. The average housewife baked a half a ton of bread -- about 1400 loaves -- a year.

Posted by Steve on April 2, 2004

Friday Spiders

For those of you who miss Kevin Drum's cats there is some fine spider blogging today.

First, PZ Myers introduces us to his first spring visitor.

Second, Mrs Tilton presents a couple of fine arachnids in detail. Mrs Tilton is a regular Friday spider blogger who will be on vacation for a couple weeks.


Update: In this exclusive interview with SK Bubba Kevin, now blogging at The Washington Monthly, reveals why cat blogging ended:

SKB: Have you consciously changed your blogging style? For example, do you tend towards more "serious" topics?

KD: No. ....They just asked me to keep doing what I've been doing all along.

The only change is that I don't do purely personal posting anymore. Catblogging is the main fatality.

Posted by Steve on April 2, 2004 | Comments (1)

April 1, 2004

Perspective on Fallujah

Jane Galt puts the terrible event in Fallujah in a proper perspective here and then here:

What happened in Fallujah is horrifying, and cries out for justice. But it cries out for justice precisely because that mob in Fallujah was composed of people, just like us, who should be expected not to do evil things, but do anyway sometimes, because that is the human condition. And it is horrifying in part because if America were invaded (even by a relatively benevolent occupier), it is more likely than not that we would see hungry, frightened mobs doing much the same thing.
Just go read both posts!

Posted by Steve on April 1, 2004

April 1 Foolery

Via Metafilter here is a list of many of today's jokes, traps and put ons...some better then others and some not work safe.

Posted by Steve on April 1, 2004

California Governing

It is too early to tell how the second approach will play out but it is pretty clear that the first failed:

1) Gray Davis:

�In golf, they teach you to hit one shot -- and you don't think about anything but that shot. And then you go to the next shot, and hit that shot�My natural reaction is caution. I take life a step at a time.�
2) Arnold Schwarzegger:
Everything falls into place if you look at the overall picture. If you just piecemeal it, you just look at one at a time really close and you don�t look at the other things, with blinders on, that�s when you start making mistakes and start scrambling. And you don�t want to scramble.�
I certainly prefer the latter approach.

Via Daniel Weintraub.

Posted by Steve on April 1, 2004

A Blog of Blogs

Well, really, an aggregator. I don't know whether I'll ever use Kinja as I'm quite happy with Bloglines and my blog rolls but I'm probably not in the first cohort of the target audience.

Some folks might find Kinja valuable:

Kinja is an RSS reader for people who don't know what RSS is, who don't know what a reader is, for that matter, or don't care. A Kinja digest looks much like a weblog, with excerpts arranged in reverse chronological order.
Kinja is getting a fair amount of publicity including a NYT article and lots of linkage. It will be interesting to watch and see how this service evolves and how it impacts blog world.

Oh, and you might want to read their terms of service which apparently has a lot in common with Yahoo's.

Via The Gothamist.

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

Out of Work?

It looks like Google is hiring.

Posted by Steve on April 1, 2004

March's Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 21 top referrers (yet another tie for 20th). Number 21 produced 19 referrals compared to 13 in February. Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

March churn was up from February with with 9 blogs dropped off and 9 new ones added.

Thank you one and all!

Also, I'd like to acknowledge significant referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati, weblogs.com, blogrolling.com, MovableType, Blogdex, blogoshpere.us, 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 April 1, 2004