May 31, 2004

Shrek 2

First: do not leave when the ending credits start! Wait until they start again.

The movie is fun. Plenty of chuckles. Just the thing if you would like to spend a couple hours just hangin' out and not dealing with life's serious issues...unless you want to get in to that layer of the movie.

Parents: it is PG rated. I chuckled at the sexual humor and innuendo, Rabelasian flatulence, typical pratfalls and didn't chuckle much at the violence.

At the showing I attended with Mrs. Modulator the audience was probably 1/4 sub-teen with the rest being junior/senior high school types and adults. There were plenty of times I could just imagine the accompanying parents cringing at the thought of junior later asking about one scene or another.

Posted by Steve on May 31, 2004 | Comments (1)

Ending the Addiction

Nope, not drug or alcohol addiction though I suspect Bill Masters, sheriff of San Miguel County, Colorado would support individuals working to end their addiction.

Instead Masters argues that it is time to end the drug war addiction:

"The only reason why drugs and crime have expanded to reach every Mayberry village in the country is our blind obedience to misguided laws and police tactics that just do not work," Masters writes in his essay introducing the collection. "It is time to admit our own folly and stop our addiction to the drug war."
What does the drug war addiction cost:
According to research cited in Master's book The New Prohibition, state and federal authorities spend more than $9 billion a year to imprison close to half a million drug offenders. More people are sent to prison for drug offenses than for violent crimes, a trend that's been consistent since 1989. The overall cost to the justice system of arresting, convicting, punishing and supervising drug offenders stands at about $70 billion a year.
$70 billion??? I suspect that we could find much better things to do with that money. Including, of course, rehabilitation and retraining for the ex drug war addicts.

The Masters article via Avedon Carol.

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

May 30, 2004

bush's nader

On Friday Michael Medved spent part of his radio program bashing libertarians or, in his words, loosertarians. I say part because I listened to only 15-20 minutes. He may well have spent the entire show on this subject. Does anyone know if other talk jocks have taken up libertarian bashing now that there has been so much discussion about bush possibly loosing the libertarian vote?

Medved's attack, at least while I was listening, was primarily ad hominem and without substance.

I found it particularly interesting that Medved, a lawyer, found it important to put down one of the Libertarian candidates because this candidate was teaching an 8 hour class on the U.S. constitution in conjunction with the Libertarian convention. This suggested to me that Medved perhaps does not consider the consitution important or important for the president to understand.

g w bush has sworn to uphold the constitution but can you imagine him teaching a class on the constitution? Even one as short as 8 hours?

Just to be fair and balanced: while kerry's presentation may be smoother then w's it is not at all clear that either Yale grad could teach this short course.

Posted by Steve on May 30, 2004

May 29, 2004

True bush

w shares his true thoughts.

Via The Agitator.

Posted by Steve on May 29, 2004

May 28, 2004

Know more than you should

I agree with Scott on number 1: Milk Truck is my favorite of the new Discovery Channel adds. I rate the other three about the same and almost as good.

They are all fun to watch (Flash 6 required) so go do it and cast your vote.

Posted by Steve on May 28, 2004

May 27, 2004

Essential Music

A friend of Craig Newmark's sent him this list of Essential Classic Rock albums to assist in Craig's daughters education.

It is an excellent list even if it does not list my favorites in the top 10.

We have them all on vinyl and about half duplicated on CD. Sure, just like any such list you can quibble about this one or that one but this variant seems a fine place to start.

I wouldn't mind at all spending a long weekend with some friends and some refreshments working our way through 2-3 listens to each of these.

You really should go read the list at Craig's place (link above) but if you really must you can also look below the fold.

1 After Bathing at Baxter's, Jefferson Airplane

2 Retrospective, Buffalo Springfield

3 Wheels of Fire, Cream

4 Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix

5 Who's Next, The Who

6 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young

7 Manassas, Stephen Stills

8 Live at the Fillmore East, Allman Brothers

9 Eric Clapton (w/ Delaney & Bonnie), Eric Clapton

10 Beatles 65, The Beatles

Honorable mention:

Led Zeppelin II (or I), Led Zeppelin
Mr. Tambourine Man, Byrds
Beggars' Banquet, Rolling Stones
Rubber Soul, Beatles
Exile on Main Street, Rolling Stones
Abbey Road, Beatles
Santana's First, Santana
Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane
Grateful Dead Live (w/ Wharf Rat/ NFA), Grateful Dead
12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, Spirit
Crown of Creation, Jefferson Airplane

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

Page Not Found?

Understanding 404 around the world.

Via Dean Esmay.

Posted by Steve on May 27, 2004

The Rewards of Spam

In the case of Howard Carmack it is $16,000,000 lost in a suit and 3.5 to 7 years in jail.

Posted by Steve on May 27, 2004

Why Listen to Talk Radio?

Mindles H. Dreck has been listening to Air America and ponders just why it is he listens:

In other news, Garofalo and Seder compared various members of the administration to Nazis, etc. They remain interesting, like the Osbournes are interesting, but unfunny. I do keep listening, for reasons difficult to explain. I guess I get a kick out of hyper-partisan rhetoric. As anti-Howard Stern listeners famously told a pollster - 'to see what he'll do next'.
I usually listen to the talk shows only while driving and haven't been able to spend much time with Air America since they don't air where I live.

From Mindles' description, though, it sounds like the Air America jocks may be pretty much the same style as the other jocks, e.g., Limbaugh, Hannity, O'reilly, Medved, Savage, etc. I sometimes get tired of their hyper-partisan rhetoric, misinformation, and perpetual ad hominem arguments but 'see what he'll do next' does seem to bring me back the next day.

Oh, and it can be entertaining on the days that they all seem to be reading from the same script.

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

May 26, 2004

It's Late at Night

So, this seems like a good time for some porn!

But, just to keep things on the educational side, as recommended by Dr. Myers I'm heading over to this site which has lots of slimy copulating things and heavy sperm action.

See you tomorrow.

Posted by Steve on May 26, 2004

May 25, 2004

Satire, Cruel Satire

If you need a bit of a chuckle or a belly laugh head over here for some fine satire of Reynolds, Lileks, Kaus, DenBeste and Tacitus.

Via Pandagon.

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

Sitemeter Problems

Anyone else having problems with Sitemeter starting yesterday?

They haven't posted any activity for Modulator since about 2:30 yesterday and haven't responded to email queries.

Update (5/26): Sitemeter started reporting again at about 07:00 GMT. It appears they lost about 12 hours of data which matches the outage time PZ notes in the comments.

Posted by Steve on May 25, 2004 | Comments (3)

Goin' Phishing

I'm not a big Phish fan but perhaps some of you are and will be interested to know that they will close up shop after their summer tour ending Coventry gig.

Their site is very slow right now so if you are interested you can read Trey's note below the fold.


Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.

So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.

-- Trey Anastasio

Posted by Steve on May 25, 2004

Iraq Occupation to End!

This administration works very hard to get their preferred spin on what they consider to be their issues. And now, as noted by the NPR folks after the speech both bush in the speech and other administration officials over the last several weeks have been acknowledging that the liberators have now become the occupiers.

What the NPR folks did not comment on is that we now know when the occupation will end! bush told us:

The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections. On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and will not be replaced. The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs. (emphasis added)
There you have it. But, he then goes on to say that US troops will remain in Iraq.

It all seems to be games with words and for this administration that means it is all about politics and relection and suggests the following:

First, and likely the bush expectation, is that starting on July 1 the bush election campaign administration will tell us that our troops are the invited guests of the new puppet oversight authority (it is hard to call something not created by the Iraqis a government). Nothing meaningful will have changed but the administration will try to sell the ongoing occupation as not owned by bush and hope that the American people will not see through the semantic shenanigans.

The second scenario is that the new oversight authority tells the occupiers to get out(and do not think that the puppets will make this decision on their own). This could happen as an alternative to the first scenario or as a follow on.

Rove and company will be waving their wet fingers in the wind to decide when the second option will play best with the largest chunk of likely voters. They will trade their hard core war supporters for a victory in November if necessary...and all under the guise of they told us to leave.

We now know the reason the administration has been so focused on June 30. They believe that they will be able to deflect criticsim and blame for staying in Iraq, departing Iraq, killing civilians by saying that all they do is at the request of the Iraqi interim authority.

The main plan bush gave the American people was one to cover his tracks.

Posted by Steve on May 25, 2004

May 24, 2004

Digital Reality

The implication of this sequence of pictures is that the young man in the first picture has been transformed to all the following forms. But, perhaps the sequence really started with the dancer at the bottom or....

Via Deb.

Posted by Steve on May 24, 2004 | Comments (2)

Tonight"s Speech

I wonder how bush will explain this in his talk tonight. Somehow it just doesn't seem like stay the course will suffice.

Jack K at Ruminate This rightfully argues that if it hasn't been happening then this should be happening:

...people way deep down into the Pentagon chain of command would be having the experience of having to explain to the Commander in Chief, without benefit of squaring stories or prior practice, just how the hell it is...
that this happened.

If this is in fact the wedding party it appears to be there is, of course, no acceptable excuse for the attack.

Posted by Steve on May 24, 2004

May 22, 2004

Family Reunion Weekend

Wow, where is the blogging time.

Last weekend was a three day vacation, a crazy week at work and now off to a family reunion weekend several hours south of here.

Net result: little blogging.

Have a great weekend.

Posted by Steve on May 22, 2004

May 21, 2004

Modest Drug Policy Changes

The contrarian leader has some fine policy changes to put in place that will rationalize a lot of the injustice created by current US drug policy. Simple things like:

School Principals who enforce zero-tolerance policies must get written permission from one of their students before taking an aspirin or any other medication (any time of day or night).
There are a bunch more.

Via Pacific Views.

Posted by Steve on May 21, 2004

May 20, 2004

Taxing or Extortion?

Looks like the Italian Mafia may be taking some lessons from the US Gov/IRS:

Libero Grassi, owner of a thriving textile company outside Palermo, was killed in 1991 after he refused to pay a large monthly "pizzo," the Sicilian word for an extortion payment.

The new strategy is to avoid exorbitant rates, such as the ones applied to Grassi's factory, but to cast the protection net much further afield, even to small shopkeepers.

Yep, if you kill them they will not be around to pay you tomorrow. A much better method is to expropriate their assets and perhaps dump persistent refuseniks in jail.

And like much government and its tax collectors:

It means the Mafia selling itself as a fact of life, even a benevolent association that helps find a job or fix a problem. This makes it not just a criminal organization but a criminal phenomenon rooted in history and harder to extirpate.
It has long seemed that one reason the politician gangs have pretended to want to eliminate folks like the mafia is that they want the same business themselves: extortion taxes, your local lottery, etc.

Via Catallarchy.

Posted by Steve on May 20, 2004

May 19, 2004

Blogging Slowdown

Warning: this week has turned into a very slow blogging week due to work and volunteer activities taking long hours.

Yea, I know I should give up sleep to blog......

Posted by Steve on May 19, 2004

May 18, 2004

WMDs Found?

Jim Henley has it just right.

Posted by Steve on May 18, 2004

May 17, 2004

Birthday Present for...?

...well, give one of these to your favorite member of the american taliban.

Via Charles at In the Mind of Laquidara.

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

New at the Archive

Have you been to the Internet Archive yet?

The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.
Recent additions to the Archive include: recordings of Franklin Roosevelt and the Grateful Dead's 1993 concerts. For example:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan

Grateful Dead Autzen Stadium Eugene, Oregon August 21, 1993

If you are not familiar with the Archive go check it out. and if you are then go try out some of this new material.

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

May 14, 2004

How Not to Fight Terrorism

Do you really believe that the bush administration is tough on terrorism?

...NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself � but never pulled the trigger.
If you support a policy of taking action against known terrorists then why would you ever vote for bush or any bush supporters?

Via Mark Kleiman.

Posted by Steve on May 14, 2004 | Comments (1)

On the Road Again

Off for a 3 day vacation. Expect light to no blogging between now and Sunday night.

Posted by Steve on May 14, 2004

May 13, 2004

Watching Modulator's Navel

Modulator's 40,000th visitor arrived today (per Sitemeter). Regular readers will remember that number 20,000 arrived on January 27, 2004.

The first 20,000 took 267 days and the 2nd 20,000 only 106 days. I like that doubling rate but would be pleasantly shocked to see the next doubling (to 80,000 visitors) occur in 106 days.

I'd like top reward visitor number 40,000 with a link but I don't know who it was. I was a bit blindsided by the upsurge in search traffic today and that visitor zipped right off the bottom of the short but free Sitemeter referral log. Oh well, maybe next time.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by!

Posted by Steve on May 13, 2004 | Comments (2)

Another Kind of Ruins

Modern Ruins Photographic Essays is just wonderful.

But be careful when you visit as this is not a drop in and move on exhibition. It will suck you in and perhaps after spending a bit of time with, say, this photo you might begin to wonder just who, where and when you are.

Thanks to Zombyboy for the reference.

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


You don't have permission to access /girl on this server.

Apache/1.3.9 Server at Port 80


Plenty of cool geek ware at errorwear including this version of the blue screen.

Via Emma at Miss Appropos.

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

May 12, 2004

Send Them to Jail Now

After reading this in the NYT Mark Kleiman says:

What makes me sick is that some of the CIA officers may get hung out to dry, but there's no probability whatever that the lawyers safe in their Washington offices who approved all this garbage -- in your name and mine -- will ever be called to account.

There's a simple principle that applies here. No human being, or small group, is fit to be trusted with absolute and unreviewed power over another human being.

Yet more reasons why waiting for an election may be waiting too long.

Posted by Steve on May 12, 2004

Something Must Break

Josh Marshall:

And at a certain point -- though you'd imagine we'd already reached that point -- having the Secretary of State openly contradicting the Secretary of Defense and the president on a matter of such grave concern to the country is a situation that simply cannot last.
So, does bush fire powell instead of the superb rummie?

Posted by Steve on May 12, 2004

Voting for....?

James Joyner offers Another Reason Not to Vote for Kerry:

William Perry?! I think I�d rather give Matthew Perry a shot. I hear he�s available.

If this is John Kerry�s idea of what a good SecDef would be. . . .

(Hat tip: Steven Taylor)

James' post would make you think Perry was the only name suggested by kerry when Perry is the last of many mentioned in the linked article.

The first one mentioned? John McCain.

There are probably many better reasons not to vote for kerry and there are no reasons to vote for bush.

Posted by Steve on May 12, 2004

What to do?


Just why aren't we in the streets right now with torches and pitchforks, howling?

NB: I saw a link to this early this morning at PZ's place but did not go read it then.

Posted by Steve on May 12, 2004

May 11, 2004

What are Blogs Good For?

Kevin Drum provides a few bullets deserving of at least a link (see 3rd bullet).

On the other length NTODD and Mark Madsen have more too say and especially about the initial subject of Kevin's post.

Posted by Steve on May 11, 2004

Photos, Videos and More Photos

Steve Verdon asks:

A video was released on a militant islamic websitie supposedly showing the beheading of an American.
Now for those who are clamoring for the full disclosure of all the pictures and videos of the Iraqi you favor releasing this video? If not, how do you explain your hypocrisy?
As one who advocates full disclosure at all levels of government I'd be happy to answer.

Yes, release the video. And, release pictures of the coffins both leaving Iraq and arriving home; release pictures of the dead and wounded in situ (be they American, British, Iraqi, or other); release pictures of everything.

Posted by Steve on May 11, 2004 | Comments (3)

Blogger Comments

Blogger has released a new version that is making its users pretty happy.

However this seems like a pretty good reason for Blogger users to not use the new comment feature:

I thought I would start to switch over, but then I noticed the big problems with Blogger Comments as compared to Haloscan.

You can open Blogger comments to anyone (which I have), but when you post, you seem to have only two choices. If you are a registered user of Blogger, it allows you to put your name, but if you aren't, you are anonymous. In addition, there's no options to enter e-mail or, more importantly, website address.

In fact, this is really broken. Apparently not all the lights at Google are as bright as they'd like us to believe.

Posted by Steve on May 11, 2004

May 10, 2004

Motives and Revelations

Digby asks:

Ok. I think it may be time to start thinking outside the box.
Is Cheney reading the Left Behind series aloud at cabinet meetings or something?
Just in time to help us think about this question Jim Henley points to this interpretation of the Book of Revelations.

Posted by Steve on May 10, 2004

Register Now

Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein both seem to think a draft is ok.

They may want to head over here right now and practice signing up.

Via Radically Inept.

Posted by Steve on May 10, 2004

Who Is to Blame?

For you being overweight?

Too many would like to foist the blame on corporations and governments. For example:

This Westernization -- in some circles, Americanization -- of the global culinary landscape no doubt contributed to the fattening of the world. But many obesity experts say it's hard to know where to place the blame.

"What we're looking at is not solely an American phenomenon, but a transnational corporation phenomenon," Rigby said.

Rigby is policy director for the International Obesity Task Force.

Then there is this:

Choice also applies to foreign governments, which Paul Zimmet, director of the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said have played an equal role in allowing poor diets to become a health crisis.

Governments haven't done enough to make healthy foods affordable and physical fitness accessible, he said.

Just when did these things become governmental functions?

Zombyboy places the focus right where it belongs:

It is much easier to blame international corporations and America instead of focusing responsibility on the choices individuals make, though. It also takes responsibility for the effects of choices away from those individuals--instead of changing lifestyles and making hard choices, there's a possible payday from the latest round of lawsuits against the people selling the food.

Eating healthy and getting exercise aren't things that are forced on us, they are simple choices that we make on a daily basis. That many of us tend to make those choices poorly is not an indictment of an industry or a nation, it's an indictment against us.

Folks, put the fork down and take a walk!

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

May 7, 2004


Yep, my first reaction to this is a definite yuck:

A lot of people probably were shocked this week to read Cubs outfielder Moises Alou's admission that he urinates on his hands to toughen his hands. Jorge Posada was not among them.

The Yankees' catcher, who along with Alou and Anaheim outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is among a small number of big-league players who hit without batting gloves, said yesterday he does the same thing.


"A lot of guys like my father, who worked on the land, always used to do it," Posada said. "It keeps your hands from getting callused and cracking."

On the other hand, if it works....

Can anyone explain the underlying science?

Via The Sports Frog.

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

Interpreting rummie

Those of you watching reruns of rummies testimony may want to review his basic fighting techniques.

Posted by Steve on May 7, 2004

Representing American Values

From bush's remarks on May 6:

We also talked about what has been on the TV screens recently, not only in our own country, but overseas -- the images of cruelty and humiliation. I told His Majesty as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice, and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America.
But they may represent the values of the highest levels of the administration:
...according to eye witnesses to debate at the highest levels of the Administration...the highest levels...whenever Powell or Armitage sought to question prisoner treatment issues, they were forced to endure what our source characterizes as "around the table, coarse, vulgar, frat-boy bully remarks about what these tough guys would do if THEY ever got their hands on prisoners...."
The buck still stops at the top.

Posted by Steve on May 7, 2004

Mother's Day Campaign

This arrived last night in email* from the bushcheney04 campaign under Barbara Bush's name:

Dear Steve,

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I've been thinking about how proud I am of our children.

And it's with a mother's pride that I'm writing you today to ask you to support our eldest, George W., and his re-election campaign with a donation of $1000, $500, $250, $100 or $50.


You can read the whole thing in the extended entry.

Well, thanks for asking but NO.

Instead, I will use my potential donation to do something nice for my Mom and for Mrs Modulator.

Oh, one more thing. Though I don't agree with its other points I think this would have been a ok message if they had left out the solicitation paragraph. It seems just a wee inappropriate to me to try to leverage a nice thing like Mother's Day with the fund raising detritus.

*It came to the email address I use to subscribe to most things political.

Again, the entire solicitation message is in the extended entry and the text is unchanged from the original. The campaign apparently can not afford an editor.

Dear Steve,

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I've been thinking about how proud I am of our children.

And it's with a mother's pride that I'm writing you today to ask you to support our eldest, George W., and his re-election campaign with a donation of $1000, $500, $250, $100 or $50.

George W. has been President during challenging times and he has met the tasks at hand with a steely determination and clarity of purpose. From fighting the War on Terrorism to defending the homeland, the President has shown steady and strong leadership.

He has worked with Congress to lower taxes three times so American workers and entrepreneurs can get the economy growing again; pass the No Child Left Behind Act to help every child learn to read; and provide seniors with a prescription drug benefit.

The President has accomplished a lot in the past three and half years but there is much more he would like to accomplish. He will continue to help strength our homeland defense and lay a strong groundwork to win the War on Terrorism. He has put forward plans to save Social Security, secure pension plans and enhance retirement security for all Americans. And he has a comprehensive energy plan to make America less dependent on foreign oil.

Earlier this week, our son's re-election team announced their "March to a Million" campaign. Never before has a presidential campaign received contributions from over one million supporters. With your help, we'll make history.
This election is going to be a tough one. That is why I'm asking for your support. For months the President has been facing negative advertising from John Kerry and all sorts of pro-Kerry groups. I've been particularly disappointed in the personal attacks.

Your donation, no matter what the size, will help advertise the President's positive agenda for America and deliver his compassionate conservative message directly to the voters.

America needs a strong leader like George W. Bush. He is the right man to lead America during these challenging times.

Thank you very much for your support today. I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful Mother's Day.


Barbara Bush

Posted by Steve on May 7, 2004

May 6, 2004


bush apologizes

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2004

Chastising rumsfeld II

Jane Galt has stirred up a hornet's nest of disagreement with this call for rummies resignation:

the only way to repair the damage is for responsibility to be taken at the highest levels. And not the fake "I'm accountable but I'm not going to, y'know, be called to account" responsibility of Janet Reno, but real, honest to God, "Somethine went wrong on my watch, and I will suffer the penalty" responsibility. For the good of his country, it is time for Don Rumsfeld to go.
Her commenters are near unanimous in their disagreement and there is a lot of other disagreement as well, e.g., James Joyner. I certainly agree with Jane that responsibility must be taken to the highest levels (see previous post) and I'm sure you can find others who agree with one aspect or another of her call.

One of the arguments that has been made against the call for resignation is that cabinet heads like rummie are too far away from the action to be held accountable though both Skippy (via the Progress Report) and the Washington Post call this into question with respect to rummie.

Brian Doss also works through this argument and ultimately comes to the conclusion that there just might be a positive light at the end of his executive hari kari discussion. Long quote follows:

This reminds me of the tendency of Japanese executives to fall on their swords whenever something embarassing happened to the company (product recall, spectacular accident, stock value drops, etc), which at the time struck me as odd. The CEO didnt do the embarassing thing (usually, in the case of Japanese CEO self-firing), and usually didnt have anything to do with the process that caused the problem. But, upon reflection, CEOs are there as public faces of their organizations and so in some ways it can be seen as their duty to sacrifice themselves to propitiate the gods of the marketplace when trouble occurs.

Extending this idea to the Executive branch of the US government, what if every department head and secretary resigned whenever their minions did something stupid and/or their policies failed in a very public way. We couldnt have that, since that would mean a constant shuffling of new heads and secretaries every few days, which would mean pandemonium and chaos; nothing could get done at any federal agency due to the constant shakeups.

Er, wait. Hmmm

Yep, these are agencies best not doing much of anything and in this Iraq case I think rummie and his boss had a lot to do with the process that caused the problem.

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2004

Chastising rumsfeld

The culture of an american governing administration is ultimately set by the president.

bush's appearance on Arab television and the public ackowledgement of his alleged displeasure with rumsfeld are fairly transparent attempts to deflect our eyes from where the buck stops.

It is long past time for bush to start publically acknowledging his responsibility.

Via The Rittenhouse Review.

Update: Jacob Levy argues:

If Bush genuinely thinks Rumsfeld failed him and failed to fulfill his own responsibilities, then surely the time has finally come to demand Rumsfeld's resignation. If not, then an authorized public humiliation is unjustified. This looks like Bush attempting to deflect responsbility away from himself-- "The buck stops with that guy"-- while simultaneously refusing to demand that Rumsfeld take responsibility. It's petulant and childish.

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2004

May 5, 2004

Get Your ID Card Here...

No, you can't get it quite yet but here is much more then you ever wanted to know about the proposed UK national ID card.

You should read this as this discussion will be coming to the country where you live sooner rather then later.

Posted by Steve on May 5, 2004

Job Openings

Hey, why stay in the military when you can do the same thing for a lot more money.

Via the American Leftist.

Posted by Steve on May 5, 2004

There's More to Know

PZ Myers notes that the latest edition of The Tangled Bank is hosted at Invasive Species.

Go learn a bit about 17 year circadas, iron fertilization, growth cones, Formentera lizards, and other neat science stuff.

Posted by Steve on May 5, 2004

Moving Lists

Alex, the host of A List a Day, has moved over to A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago. A report on the merger is here.

Go say hello.

Posted by Steve on May 5, 2004

Will Oprah be Fined?

Kevin Aylward reports on an FCC investigation that may result in large fines for Oprah:

Using the recent FCC fines against Clear Channel Communications for airing indecent material on a Howard Stern radio broadcast, the 1900 complaints against a single episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show should lead to $5.9 million dollar fine.
If they actually do this I hope it happens well before the election. I have visions of huge anti-talibanbush rallies populated by hordes of Oprah and Howard fans.

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

You wanted to know...

...about the history of wire coat hangers, right?

Well, here is a short history and more importantly here are some suggestions for reusing them. The reuse article includes some illustrations including this one:


The authors are soliciting more pictorial suggestions so put those digital cameras to work.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by Steve on May 5, 2004

May 4, 2004

Alarming the Not Dead

This would not work all that well in an urn but, in addition to its normal application, might be a hot seller in regions populated by vampires and might even work better then this for zombies:

A cemetery in Santiago, Chile is offering its clients coffins with a sensor that detects any movement inside them after they have been buried.

Via Circadian Shift who picked it up from Business Pundit.

Posted by Steve on May 4, 2004

Everybody Be Happy

I am so tempted to quote the closing paragraph from Michael Berube's post: Put Him in the Cornfield. It is good on its own but it is much better in full context so go read.

Oh, and think happy thoughts.

Via Electrolite.

Posted by Steve on May 4, 2004

Infrastructure Mapping

The gallery at Geoge Mason University's Infrastructure Mapping Project has some great visualizations of various parts of North American critical infrastructures, e.g., long haul fiber, the electic power grid, and gaspipelines:

The Infrastructure Mapping Project's goal is to provide meaningful analysis of critical infrastructure and its interdependencies with vital sectors of the US and global economy. In this pursuit we map a wide variety of networks and phenomena ranging from the Internet the power grid and spam.
Their related research papers are listed here.

Posted by Steve on May 4, 2004

May 3, 2004

Breaking Knee

Jonathon Knee takes on alleged pornography and Jack Balkin does some Knee surgery.

Posted by Steve on May 3, 2004

Thunderbird 0.6 Released

The Mozilla folks have released Thunderbird 0.6. Current users will want it now and those of you still using some Outlook variant want now and just haven't realized it yet.

Posted by Steve on May 3, 2004

Shooting the Messenger

I wonder if this is set to go off when the tax forms are delivered:


Click on image for full size. Via Eugene Volokh.

Posted by Steve on May 3, 2004

The Lakers and the Candidates

Professor Bainbridge doesn't like the Lakers:

The Lakers personify our People/ET celebrity culture in which superficiality reigns supreme. They aren't a team - they're the sports world equivalent of VH1 Divas - four prima donnas plus entourages.
Which leads the Libertarian Jackass to wonder whether the Professor's future action will be consistent with his words:
I hope the good professor votes against Bush and Kerry for similar reasons.
But I don't think that the Professor puts bushco in this category:
As far as the elites are concerned, Middle America and the Republican Party are synonmous.
Here we see the modern Democratic party - secular elites at the top using the levers of government to effect wealth transfers from Middle America to reliable Democrat constituencies and special interests.
Now I do not disagree with his evaluation of what a Democratic government will do. The wealth transfer, using the power of government, is the whole game.

A simple variation of Bainbridge's last sentence describes the current state of affairs: Here we see the modern Republican party - religious elites at the top using the levers of government to effect wealth transfers from Middle America to reliable Republican constituencies and special interests.

Update: Kevin Drum and Steve Verdon have related posts.

Posted by Steve on May 3, 2004

Just the Facts Please

Former conservative liar David Brock heads up a new watchdog site called Media Matters for America:

Because a healthy democracy depends on public access to accurate and reliable information, Media Matters for America is dedicated to alerting news outlets and consumers to conservative misinformation -- wherever we find it, in every news cycle -- and to spurring progressive activism based on standards and accountability in media.
I thought Brock's confession, Blinded by the Right, passed muster and Media Matters looks like it might be a useful resource.

Media Matters would be even more useful if they would turn on an RSS feed.

There's more at Talkleft and in this New york Times article.

Posted by Steve on May 3, 2004

When Free is not Free

Over at Ebay you can pay good money for one of those free Google Gmail accounts. As Tyler Cowan notes "..right now supply is limited. Not surprisingly, a market in the accounts has arisen."

Maybe the buyers think getting one will give them an inside track on getting a share of Google stock; or that they can get a special username that they can then resale at a profit; or bragging rights amongst some alien species; or...well, just why are they spending this money?

I'll wait until they are readily available and then get one or two for ad hoc needs. They can sit on the shelf with my other freemail accounts for use as needed.

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

May 2, 2004

Hubble - Ten Years

The Washington Post has a nifty Hubble photo Gallery (free registration required). Here is a sample.

Posted by Steve on May 2, 2004

May 1, 2004

April's Top Referrers (Updated 5/2)

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 20 top referrers. Number 20 produced 11 referrals compared to 19 in February. Overall traffic was down about 3.5% which is actually pretty good considering I took a week off mid month and wrote 36% fewer posts. Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

April churn was down with with 6 blogs dropped and 5 new ones added compared to 9 and 9 in March.

Thank you one and all!

Also, I'd like to acknowledge significant referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati,,, MovableType, Blogdex, Bloglines,, 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 May 1, 2004

Where's my grape tomatoes?

The joys of govm't:

Yes, we are also protected from acquiring undersized tomatoes. And here we have a second reason why grape tomatoes are illegal. They're too small ( freedom from size limits is only for cherry tomatoes or those in trusses ) and they are not sold in trusses.......

So there we have it, in the 4 years since the EU last passed a regulation about tomatoes, a completely new type has arisen which virtually wipes out the type they last amended the regulation for. Wouldn't it be simpler simply not to have the regulation ?

Makes sense to me.

Via Virginia Postrel.

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

A Picture is worth....

Is a good, evocative picture worth a thousand words? Sure it is. It�s just that when it�s by itself, you can�t be sure which thousand words they are.
Go see what Teresa is talking about.
Posted by Steve on May 1, 2004