September 30, 2004

Things to Do During Tonight's Recitations

I'm planning to work out and watch the tape later.

For those of you watching live: Follow These Instructions. Just start at the top and work your way down. Though you may get locked into this one:

Yawn. (no, REALLY yawn), then immediately curl your tongue backwards and force it against the roof of your mouth. The saliva glands under your tongue will squirt like a squirtgun! You can only squirt once or twice before another yawn is required.
It's probably what the off camera contender will be doing.

Via Fantastic Planet.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2004

Mt St. Helens Cam

The Presurfer links to this web cam which give a great look at the currently shaking mountain.

I've hiked across the face of the mountain that is in this view. A picture, while worth a 1000 words, does small justice to being on the ground on the mountain.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2004

The Recitation

Yes, the recitation. This is a much better than 'debate' as a descriptor of tonight's marketing fluff piece involving bush and kerry. Thanks to Will Baude for pointing out Professor Leiter's post that led me to this term:

Which means, as these letter writers put it, that, "Instead of a debate, we will be watching two men reciting the lines they have committed to memory to prepare for this occasion" and that "the presidential debate is more like a joint news conference."
Really, this event won't even rise to the level of a news conference.

And, what's the deal with the TV folks being allowed to only show the one speaking? Are these guys not able to look presidential for more then 90 seconds at a time? Are they going to read crib notes while off camera? Pick their noses?

I had hoped the series of debates between kerry and bush might be substantive events but it appears that this will not be the case. Sadly, it seems the media is, so far, going along with the joke. The losers, of course, the American people.

Posted by Steve on September 30, 2004 | Comments (2)

September 29, 2004

A Benefit of the Deficit?

In 2003 US business invested $153 billion in foreign countries. This is about 27% of the world wide total foreign direct (FDI) investment of $560 billion and the second largest total on record. Sounds pretty positive.

Until you look at the other side of the picture. Historically FDI in the US has been about 20% of the world wide total and was $314 billion just four years ago. In 2003 FDI in the US was $29.8 billion, 5.3% of the total. Why has then been such dramatic slippage:

One explanation looks to the re-emergence of large budget deficits after the tax bills of 2001 and 2003. These can diminish confidence in America's longer-term growth prospects, and simultaneously give foreign investors the choice to put money into government securities with a guaranteed return, as opposed to tangible businesses whose future can never be entirely certain. Security concerns and intensive media coverage of recent business scandals may also affect perceptions.
But the US doesn't really need the jobs that this investment might have created, right?

Read the rest of the story.

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2004

Things You Should Know About the Debates Puff Pieces

Read Connie Rice's Top 10 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About the Debates

Via Nurse Ratched.

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2004

It's Gone and Nothin's Gonna to Bring it Back

Well, maybe there is a way to get back that old file that you can't find. Especially if it was ever on the WWW. Kim's story (shortened a bit):

I have a client with a site that's been in operation since early 2000, and we recently discovered that a couple of archived issues of her newsletter from that time were missing. We've ported the site over to several new designs over the years, ....

I was convinced they were simply gone for good, but then I had a last ditch idea: the Wayback Machine. I went and put in her site, checked back to one of the 2000 versions, and sure enough, there were the missing archives. I recreated the pages on her site, and now I'm a hero.

The Wayback Machine definitely has practical applications.

Yep, another great use of an already indispensible resource. I use the audio section of to listen to and download great music on a regular basis. And there is much more.

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2004

September 28, 2004

Fox News Amazing Success

Well, not really. Here's the story:

For the first time in its history, Fox News Channel beat the combined competition in primetime during the third quarter of 2004, with major headlines of the summer including the national political conventions and a brutal string of hurricanes.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Headline News averaged a combined total of 1.7 million. The quarter ended Sunday.

Paul, posting at Wizbang, tells us:


I'll probably have to defend this point later but this really shows that FoxNews is not the "far right wing" that the liberals love to call it. In fact, the opposite is true. When a single news source gets over half of all viewers, it is, by definition, in sync with the population at large.

He's right a little defense is in order.

Let's see, the US population is somewhat over 294 million. About 1.7 million watched Fox. That works out to a little over 1/2 per cent of the population. Hardly what I'd call "in sync with the population at large" and clearly Fox, while large in comparison to other cable news channels, is serving a pretty small niche market. It is not at all unreasonable to think this audience is primarily of one particular persuasion.

Update (9/29): Paul defends by saying "...the defense writes itself." I don't see any sign of it though....

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2004 | Comments (2)

Wishful Thinker

g w bush is a wishful thinker. Mark Kleiman tells us about w the wishful thinker:

That's what the President's fiscal, environmental, and foreign policies have in common: a gay willingness to believe that things will turn out for the best in the teeth of logic, and that they are currently turning out for the best in the teeth of the evidence.

Wishful thinking isn't seen as a horrible moral defect, like cowardice of meanness or dishonesty. It's just a human foible, perfectly consistent with being a decent and likeable person. (No, you don't think Mr. Bush is either decent or likeable, but you aren't the audience for this message.)

And yet everyone knows that wishful thinking is the road to disaster; everyone with children has warned them of its dangers. In a military commander, in particular, wishful thinking is horribly dangerous, as it was when Mr. Bush ignored the National Intelligence Estimate that largely predicted the current disaster in Iraq.

This pretty accurately describes the guy O'reilly interviewed and I suspect the one that will show up at the joint soundbite presentation Thursday night.

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2004

Medical News Feeds

While on the subject of things medical here is a nifty site: - The News Aggregator for Medical Topics. All your favorite medical feeds on one page.

Are there other subject area aggregation pages similar to this one? Like law, architecture, economics, european 19th century literature, well, you name it?

Via Doctor Mental.

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2004

Grand Rounds

Join the medical folks on their weekly tour "of the best of the medical blogosphere." The first edition is hosted at blogborygmi.

If you would like to go a little deeper into this world there are video archives of real world Grand Rounds hosted at many places on the net. A couple of places to start are: University of Arizona and the University of Washington.

Via Pharyngula.

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2004

Then and Now

kennedy in 1963

Bush supporters dismiss world opinion. saying Europeans don't like us, anyway. But Bush is the first American President in my memory who has to hide from the public when he goes abroad.
Hmmm, it seems that bush and cheney also hide from the public in the US. Unless, of course, the rally attendees have signed their loyalty oath or put in their time doing campaign work.

Posted by Steve on September 28, 2004

September 27, 2004

Modulator Changes

I'm making some changes to Modulator.

Already done:

  • Upgraded to Movable Type 3.11
  • Updated RSS syndication. See the top of the left side bar. I'll add an Atom feed as soon as I get it to work.
  • Some cosmetic changes.
Still to come:
  • Inline trackbacks
  • Dynamic Publishing.
  • Block hot linking. Yes there are a few folks out there stealing some bandwidth.
  • Add a favicon.
  • More cosmetic changes.
Please let me know if you notice any problems.

Posted by Steve on September 27, 2004

Flying High

Jane is pretty excited about taking a sub-orbital flight and, with good reason, points to her tip jar:

The new service will be called Virgin Galactic and expects to fly 3,000 new astronauts in its first five years. Fares will start at 115,000 pounds (US$208,000, euro169,000) for a suborbital flight, including three days' training.
As much as I'd like to fly with her I'm probably going to have to wait until the fare comes down a bit.

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

September 26, 2004

Freeway Blogging

Do you live in Colorado, Arizona or New Mexico?

Then take up the Freeway Blogger's challenge!

Hmmmm, there might be something here for all of you. I know the Freeway Blogger is not a bush supporter but the challenge doesn't say the signs have to be any special denomination.

Do remember, though, that in a land of freedom no individual should have the power that has been vested in the US presidency, no legislature the power of the the US senate or house, and no judiciary the power of the US supreme court.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on September 26, 2004

September 24, 2004

Happy Birthday

To Katie Elizabeth Jones and congratulations to the happy parents!

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2004

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

I'll post links to sites that have Friday photos of their chosen animals as I see them(no photoshops and no humans).

Leave a comment or trackback to this post and I'll add your site to the list. If there is interest I'll keep this as a weekly feature. Also, I'll add inline trackbacks during the next week to automate linking a bit.


DogsBirdsDidn't Make It

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2004 | Comments (1)


Here is a bit of bush animation for Friday.

Via the Everlasting Blort.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2004

Happy 4th Birthday

To The Presurfer!

You are missing out if you are not already stopping by The Presurfer for your daily dose of diversion.

Posted by Steve on September 24, 2004

September 23, 2004

Iraq: All is Well

bush and allawi have been telling the US public and the United Nations that the effort in Iraq is progressing. What does this look like in real life?

Well, in some areas of Iraq it may appear to be what they say. In others, it is something dramatically different. Since both the administration and the media fail to give us full disclosure of both the good and the bad a little visualization exercise might be helpful. To assist, Juan Cole has provided a script with some interesting transpositions:

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
Read it all. You might quibble with the different comparisons but it does help one visualize an environment that is not conducive to normal living.

An election and implementing some alleged version of democracy will fix all, right? Kevin Drum pretty well sums up what that means:

That's not much more than a mockery of democracy, but unfortunately I can't really complain too loudly. Roughly speaking, it would be as if Democrats and Republicans agreed to team up and decide in advance who was going to win each district in elections for the House, thus preventing any real choice. Which, of course, is pretty much exactly how it works these days, with both sides collaborating in gerrymandering schemes designed primarily to protect each other's incumbents.

In other words, Sistani is getting a democracy considered state-of-the-art by his occupiers. What more does he want?

Yes, Iraq will get democracy as envisioned by an administration that is watching the so called reagan victory over the evil empire implode with nary a whimper of opposition.

Is bush a little envious of putin......?

Posted by Steve on September 23, 2004

Microsoft, Security and your Pocketbook

It does not look like Microsoft is taking security as seriously as their cash flow:

Microsoft this week reiterated that it would keep the new version of Microsoft's IE Web browser available only as part of the recently released Windows XP operating system, Service Pack 2. The upgrade to XP from any previous Windows versions is $99 when ordered from Microsoft. Starting from scratch, the operating system costs $199.

That, analysts say, is a steep price to pay to secure a browser that swept the market as a free, standalone product.

"It's a problem that people should have to pay for a whole OS upgrade to get a safe browser," said Michael Cherry, analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. "It does look like a certain amount of this is to encourage upgrade to XP."

This is, though, just the tip of the iceberg. Many of these older systems, 49.2% of the Microsoft OS base, run on machines that can not support XP in a usable form. My family has 3 of these as well as a couple newer machines that have the memory and processor speed to support XP.

So, it is not just a matter of a $99 or $199 OS for the many people who would have to by new hardware to support XP.

But, this is also one reason why I run Firefox and Thunderbird on all our PCs.

Posted by Steve on September 23, 2004

September 22, 2004

God Speaks to Florida Voters!

Hey, if this map is accurate it is a clear message! (click Through the link)

Update (9/23): Reader K Welch notes that Snopes has done a bit of debunking on this one. And, of course, those of you who paid any attention to Frances will remember that it was extremely large, with an eye 50-85 miles in diameter and a total breadth of some 250-300 miles, so the narrow line on the map is a bit misleading.

However, if those narrow lines are a true representation of the path of the center of each hurricanes eye, then can the map be considered accurate?

Posted by Steve on September 22, 2004 | Comments (1)

September 21, 2004

Banned Book Week 9/24-10/1/04

Tegan and Trash Heap have the goods and Tegan links great poster of Batgirl at her day job.

I've read 22 of the books on the ALA's list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1999-2000 and will read Of Mice and Men again to commemorate the week.

How about you?

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2004

Gmail Stuff

All you folks with those new Gmail accounts might find some useful tools here.

Via The Presurfer.

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2004 | Comments (1)

The Marlboro Man

Was originally the Marlboro woman.

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2004

Government Failure...

Radley Balko summarizes a set of statistics about the government's efforts to suppress the market for recreational drugs:

By nearly every metric -- drug use, spending, availability, purity, price -- the drug war has failed. Throughly. And that's before considering the trespasses on our civil liberties our government has undertaken to achieve that failure.
Read the rest. The magnitude of the failure is really quite astounding.

So, who is benefitting from the $60 billion being spent annually by local, state and federal governments?

Posted by Steve on September 21, 2004

September 20, 2004

w wall poster

Everyone, left and right, will surely want one of these for their wall:


Click on image for full size GIF (100K).

Simon Woodside has the originals including PDF and EPS versions.

Via Anthony at Slapnose.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2004

Sky Captain

I read a review over the weekend that led me to put this on my go see list.

Now, Zombyboy has posted a review that moves Sky Captain right up to "Let's go see this on Saturday!" status:

Sky Captain has the one thing that makes up for all of its other drawbacks: fun.
Read the rest.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2004 | Comments (1)


Have Blogs Had an Influence on Big Media?

Well, maybe. David Sifry has started a timeline detailing "...where blogging had a significant effect on political events..."

It's a Wiki so you can help add entries or correct existing entries.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2004


PZ Myers asks a couple reasonable questions.

First, concerning dangerous weapons and airport security:

So now we let the underpaid, unqualified, uneducated people who get hired to man security checkpoints have the discretion to throw people in jail because they carry some unspecified item they think might be dangerous?
While these folks should be extra cautious this incident is just stupid.

Second, on fact checking for those who want heads to roll at CBS:

What�s their position on the responsibilities and obligations of a commander-in-chief who freely peddles bogus tales of mobile biowarfare facilities, nuclear weapons programs, imported radioactive materials from Africa, flying drones filled with nerve gas, and horrific stories of widespread Weapons of Mass Destruction that are going to be used to Blow America Up?
Yep, perhaps heads should roll at CBS and, since the media, congress and much of the blogosphere won't hold the executive branch to a similar level of scrutiny, come November the US voters should, perhaps, jsut fire the current executive branch office holders.

Posted by Steve on September 20, 2004

September 17, 2004

Friday Blogging

Hey, why bother with dogs, cats, birds, or spiders when you can have chaetognaths?

NB: I'm adding links to various Thursday and Friday stuff as I run across them.

Posted by Steve on September 17, 2004

September 16, 2004

Shining a Light on CBS and Fox

Well, it is always better that congress spends time and resources on hearings rather than making sound bites about and voting on legislation though both hearings and legislation are wastes of citizens resources.

Yet, I suppose, Hugh Hewitt's proposal for congressional hearings concerning Fox News would be entertaining:

Hearings now, immediately, would signal broadcasters and news executives everywhere that partisan maneuverings under the guise of news gathering--especially those that occur late in an election season--would be subject to close Congressional scrutiny.
And, as he says, the First Amendment will forstall "Sanctions against rotten, agenda-driven journalism..."

Apparently, right and left wing talk radio including folks like Rush, Medved, and Savage are not news gatherers or I'd expect Hewitt to include them in his hearings as well. And, if these folks are not news gatherers shouldn't they exhibit some truth in labeling? You know, non-ficton or pulp fiction, or, maybe, fantasy?

Whoops, Hewitt was talking about hearings on the CBS memo screw up.

If much less power were vested in the executive, legislative and, yes, the judicial branches of US government this issue would be a drop of rain in the ocean. It is long past time to start slicing back.

Update: I see that Walter was tackling this Hewitt hearing idea yesterday and the day before.

Update (9/17): Rick Peitz notes in the comments that Rush does "...does occassionally specify that his program is for entertainment purposes.."

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2004 | Comments (1)

All Those Feeds

Apparently there are big debates going on about news feeds (RSS, etc)over on the techie side of the 'sphere.

So here is 2 more cents worth:

  1. I don't mind feeds that abbreviate an article. If I'm not interested after the first several sentences I don't read the rest anyway and I'm perfectly happy to click once to bring down the rest of the article.

  2. I want folks to know I'm reading their material. Both personal aggregators and public aggregators should provide a way for us to show a preferred site as a referrer. Thus, if I'm downloading a page via Thunderbird, Firefox, Bloglines, etc., I'd like Modulator to show as the referring site.
I should note that I still prefer going to the original site to read material. It doesn't seem to take any longer to open 10-15 sites in new tabs then it does to click on the individual feeds in one of my aggregators.

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2004

September 15, 2004


Go see'm.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2004

Graduating in Style

Annotated senior pictures, e.g.: Because when you think of basketball, you think of crime scenes and police tape.

Like Ogged said: Hilarious.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2004 | Comments (1)

Hands Off!

Vice Squad notes today that this article suggests that the Sioux Falls, SD city council spent some time dealing with adult behavior:

This insufficient criminalization of voluntary adult activity could not be tolerated by the Sioux Falls City Council, who closed the "loophole" on Monday. I hope that they were a bit more specific than what this article reports: "An ordinance approved Monday night makes it illegal to touch someone in exchange for money."
Apparently they were a bit more specific as they amended:
...the Revised Ordinances of the City by adding a section prohibiting sexual touching for compensation,...
What's not clear is exactly what they mean by the words sexual and compensation.1

There is a clue to the first in the news article linked above. At the state level South Dakota plans to clarify their law: characterizing prostitution as any sexual contact that involves touching of female breasts or the genitals of either sex for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.
While this seems to limit the definition of sexual touching to a subset of possible erogenous zones this sentence like the first one above begs for additonal clarification as it appears to label all sexual activity of these types as prostitution. I suspect that they really are not planning to target those high schoolers in the backseat of their cars or husbands and wives. But, then again, this is South Dakota...

Oh yes, the above use of the word compensation is unbounded so it could reach a myriad of forms of compenstion, e.g., a job, a dinner, a marriage, mmmm, even, pleasure. Let your imagination run wild, well, not too wild...

1The site that appeared to have their City Code online did not respond.

Posted by Steve on September 15, 2004

September 14, 2004

A Few Questions for the Candidates

Here is Roxanne's opening:

Dear John Kerry and George "W standing for Women is a lot like Putin standing for Democracy" Bush:

I no longer give a shit about your Vietnam-era exploits. It doesn't matter to me if you were once a drunk-driving, cocaine-tooting mama's boy or if you were an effete BMOC.

More importantly, though, go read her questions for the candidates.

You may not agree 100% with the positions implied by the questions but this is the level at which any meaningful campaign should be occurring. That it isn't confirms more firmly my belief that the whole mess needs to be redone.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2004

Forgeries or Not Forgeries

I haven't said much about the Killian memos and won't be saying much more. Primarily because I don't think it makes much difference whether the memos are real or fake.

The only reason that even mention them now is this Matthew Yglesias post:

Assuming they are forgeries, we can conclude the following:
  • George W. Bush pulled strings to avoid combat service in Vietnam by entering the Texas Air National Guard, failed to complete his service in a rigorous manner and has lied about it repeatedly for years.

  • CBS News, like the United States of America, is run by some kind of idiots.

  • Other Texans, less fortunate than Dubya, died so that he could avoid service in a war he supported.
If they are real, remove the middle item regarding CBS News. The rest remain the same.

Update (9/14): Drudge reports that Killian's secretary says:

I typed memos that had this information in them, but I did not type these memos.
If this holds up, then see all three points above.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2004

Oh My

If you can view all these pictures without a shiver and a tear then you need to recalibrate yourself.

Click on the first thumbnail and page through them. Do read the text as well.

Via Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2004

Blogrolling Outage on Wednesday 9/15

Uhh, how many of you that use are aware that they have planned an outage from 12-3 PM EDT for tomorrow 9/15?

UPDATE (9/15): This outage has been rescheduled to 9/16 from 3-6 PM EDT.

I am a big Blogrolling fan and user but it does not speak well of an organizations customer service reputation to take their service down during what is, at least in the US, probably the busiest part of the day.

Whatever their reasoning they should tell a more complete story.

NB: Expect this to impact other services that scan and utilize these links.

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2004

Books to Read

If you have been looking for a few good books to read Jessa Crispin's list is the place to go:

These were all books that changed the books I was interested in, that shot me off in a different direction. They're not even my list of favorite books ever, just the ones that changed something. The list starts with the books read to me as a child, and then on to the books I started reading on my own and on through life.
Hey, I'm not recommending this list just because it's the first list of this sort that I have seen that includes Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita which is one of my favorites. There's a lot of good material here including some that just got added to my to read list.

For those that care here are just a few from my list of direction changing books that are not on hers:

Adam Bede by George Eliot
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

Posted by Steve on September 14, 2004

September 13, 2004

Atlantic Magazine

I subscribed to Atlantic Magazine for many years and have not read it for many, many years.

Francis Marrone at Two Blowhards has pretty much convinced me to give it another shot.

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2004

Wine from California

Do you want to have wine shipped to you from California and your state does not allow it?

Lynn Kiesling may have the answer for you. A seeming ingenious way to work around one aspect of government infringing on our right to exchange goods with one another.

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2004

A Quote for Today

colin powell on Meet the Press 9/12/04:

I have no indication that there was a direct connection between the terrorist who perpetrated these crimes against us on the 11th of September, 2001, and the Iraqi regime. We know that there had been connections and there had been exchanges between al-Qaida and the Saddam Hussein regime and those have been pursued and looked at, but I have seen nothing that makes a direct connection between Saddam Hussein, that awful regime, and what happened on 9/11.
Just in case someone continues to try to make this case.

Read the transcript.

Posted by Steve on September 13, 2004

September 12, 2004

A Dog's Life

Look out the window in the third picture down in this Danville, CA real estate photo spread.

If they have taken the picture offline check below the fold.

This is most entertaining in the context of the entire photo spread however the agents just might take it down one day so here is the picture.

Posted by Steve on September 12, 2004

September 11, 2004

Truth in Advertising?

The Economist sent and advertising insert in the paper this morning. One of those accept 4 free trial issues without obligation offerings. Ok, I thought, I'll look through the rest of the 12 page flier.

Well, on page 2 is their big don't you want to be like them pitch with a large headline reading: Leaders read it. Why? Hmmm, good question. Well it was a good question until I noticed the picture of the most prominent of the three displayed leaders. You guessed it: w.

You probably know that w is not a noted reader. Why does The Economist want us to believe he actually reads their magazine or are they simply conflating receiving the magazine (pg 3 of add) with actually reading the magazine?

Perhaps Jane Galt or someone else associated with the magazine could explain?

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2004

September 10, 2004

Stress Relief

Had a bad day? Need to let a little steam off? Go sing a couple verses of Growl Karaoke (Flash).

Via Circadian Shift.

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2004

They Used to Break Thumbs...

Ken Lammers has just read What Cops Know and finds it worthy reading.

He provides some excerpts and comments that are themselves worthy reading. Begin here and work backwords.

My post title refers to the 5th excerpt.

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2004


Eric has posted some fine pictures but wonders whether they might be forgeries.

Go let him know what you think!

Posted by Steve on September 10, 2004

September 9, 2004

Cameras, Cameras Everywhere.....

Via Talkleft I see that Chicago will soon have 2000 operative video surveillance cameras:

Officials said the bulk of the cameras already are in use at O'Hare International Airport, on the city's transit lines and in public housing, parks and schools, along with 30 police are using to try to curb violent crime. An additional 250 surveillance cameras still to be bought will raise the number available to more than 2,000. Locations for the new cameras have not been determined.
Of course, we should not have any privacy concerns:
Daley dismissed privacy concerns, saying the only places where the city installs cameras are public spaces. But he said private companies could choose to join their cameras to the network - for a yet-to-be-determined fee - so that 911 operators would have access to those cameras should something go awry in a private building.
If I were a private company I'm not at all sure I'd want to connect my system to a government operated system. The latter is bound to be innefficient and operated with different goals then I would have.

This does suggest to me that perhaps we private citizens ought to consider making use of this type of technology. I'm thinking of a somewhat enhanced Neighborhood Watch that will assist us in identifying and perhaps preventing crimes by individuals, gangs or government in our local neighborhoods. Perhaps street level cells could be combined with others to form a community network.

Since our current governments seem most concerned with victemless crimes we might even want to consider setting up a program that uses private organizations to identify perps and private court systems that use restitution to victems as the key "punishment." Of course, perps who do not want to participate in this system can be turned over to government folk to rot in jail.

And, you know, if we can keep enough perps out of jail via restitution then, perhaps, we can start eliminating the police-corrections complex that has led to the US incarcerating over 2,000,000 people in jails.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2004

A Question for w

It is an easy question. Even w should be able to handle it.

If you are so inclined you can contribute to the bounty that goes to the first person to ask w the question in a public forum.

Via Electrolite.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2004

September 8, 2004

What to Teach in Biology Class?

I suspect that this poll has spread far beyond Dover, PA. The question:

Do you think schools should allow a textbook that teaches the concept of a divine creator to be used in a biology class?
On Thursday, 9 September 2004 at 03:55:50 GMT the vote is 453 No to 328 yes.

Go cast your vote!

Via Pharyngula.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2004

Good News Bad News

Reason does not always get it right but the October cover is right.

Nick Gillespie has a sales pitch for the magazine here.

Update: Brian Doss seems to agree with the above cover statement.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2004

Page Layout and Blurb Structure

Here is some new research on page layout and blurb impact on news pages that might be helpful to some of you:

News websites have been with us for about a decade, and editors and designers still struggle with many unanswered questions: Is homepage layout effective? ... What effect do blurbs on the homepage have compared to headlines? ... When is multimedia appropriate? ... Are ads placed where they will be seen by the audience?
Many blog entries are what the article describes as blurbs and there is some good stuff on catching the readers attention.

Via Dan Gillmor.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2004


This article has an interesting discussion of the relation of childhood television watching to the increase in ADHD cases:

�The study revealed that each hour of television watched per day at ages 1 through 3 increases the risk of attention problems by almost 10 percent at age 7,�...
Plenty of debate in the article.

Of course, putting large numbers of children in prison like settings 7-8 hours per day is bound to cause some of them to get a bit antsy.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2004

September 7, 2004

w-cool Does the Rap

Julian Sanchez recreates the self deprecating part of w's acceptance speech:

Even hardline Kerry voters of my acquaintance found this at least temporarily disarming, and one suggested that Bush must've taken a page from Bunny Rabbit's final rap-battle in the Eminem movie 8 Mile. Now that, I thought, is something I'd like to see. So, with apologies to Slim Shady, here's what I imagine that might sound like�it helps if you picture Cheney behind him scratching Toby Keith on a turntable:
This is hilarious...go to Julian's Lounge right now to read the rap.

Via Catallarchy.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2004

A Chuckle Per Caption

Each of the top 3 captions selected by James Joyner for his GOP Convention Edition, Outside The BeltwayTM Caption ContestTM are chuckle worthy.

Check'm out.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2004

cheney wants to stay in office

Yea, I know, no surprise there.

Radly posts:

A Cynic Might Point Out Who Was in Office the First Time We Got Hit

Vice President Cheney:

It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.
Geez, is it getting ugly.
I have a couple questions for cheney and company:
1. Who have you bought off to assure it won't happen before 11/2 or, if you are reelected, afterwards?

2. Gosh, what strange argument will you use in 2008? Or will that have given you guys enough time to suspend the constitution?

3. Is there any reason not to think that you are the wrong choice?

NB: Neither bush nor kerry warrants a position as powerful as that of president of the US. Perhaps no one does.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2004

Pebbles to Hydrogen

China's growth demands a lot of energy and they are aggressively pursuing nuclear options. On the one hand traditional reactors such as have not been built in the US since 1979 and which make many nervous. On the other hand they are working on pebble-bed reactors:

A reactor small enough to be assembled from mass-produced parts and cheap enough for customers without billion-dollar bank accounts. A reactor whose safety is a matter of physics, not operator skill or reinforced concrete. And, for a bona fide fairy-tale ending, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is labeled hydrogen.
Small currently is in the 200 Megawatt range and cheap means approximately $300 million. These small reactors can be combined in a modular fashion using common monitoring and control systems. This seems promising simply from the perspective of power generation but there is more.

Apparently this reactor techcnology has promise for hydrogen production:

To power a billion cars, there's no practical alternative to hydrogen. But it will take huge quantities of energy to extract hydrogen from water and hydrocarbons, and the best ways scientists have found to do that require high temperatures, up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. In other words, there's another way of looking at INET's high-temperature reactor and its potential offspring: They're hydrogen machines.

...Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories believe efficiency could top 60 percent - twice that of low-temperature methods. INET plans to begin researching hydrogen production by 2006.

In that way, China's nuclear renaissance could feed the hydrogen revolution, enabling the country to leapfrog the fossil-fueled West into a new age of clean energy. Why worry about foreign fuel supplies when you can have safe nukes rolling off your own assembly lines? Why invoke costly international antipollution protocols when you can have motor vehicles that spout only water vapor from their tail pipes? Why debate least-bad alternatives when you have the political and economic muscle to engineer the dream?

Now this looks like a line of research I'd be putting a lot of money into if I were promising the citizens of my country a reduced reliance on foreign oil.

Update (9/9): An alert reader notes in the comments that the DOE has identified a similar reactor type as part of its technology evaluation roadmap. It is not, though, clear from the referenced document what level of funding the US has provided for this effort.

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

September 6, 2004

A Stitch of Protection

Adrian doesn't tell us where he found this:

"Many Chechens have sewn their pockets up in order to prevent anything being planted on them if stopped by police. One young Chechen exclaimed: "This is how we live, thanks to the Department on Fighting Organized Crime. First we were bandits, then became terrorists, and now we are becoming seamstresses."
This would be good advice for many victems of the drug thugs (many, many more examples available).

Via Pharyngula and Bitch. PH.D.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2004

Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts

New and longtime Firefox users may find some of Derek Featherstone's Favourite Keyboard Shortcuts helpful.

Some of you might ask, "Well, of what use is this Ctrl + 0 �zero� thing? How did my fonts change in the first place?"

Thanks for asking! As I just learned from Phil Ringnalda there are shortcuts for increasing or decreasing the fontsize: Ctrl + + and Ctrl + -.

There is a list of the more common Firefox shortcuts here.

NB: The first + sign in the above sequences means at the same time as.

Posted by Steve on September 6, 2004

September 4, 2004

A New Civil Right

Jessa Crispin apparently has been reading the Republican platform (94 pages). To be honest I haven't read a party platform in years and, while I suspect that there is a tremendous amount of bloggable material in each parties platform, I don't plan to start now. In a nutshell, they are laundry lists of things the federal government shouldn't be involved in at all.

However, I agree with both Jessa and Jaquandor that this item from page 56 is strangely put:

Our Party believes, as does the President, that reading is the new civil right.
The new civil right? Puzzling to say the least.

Now the goal they set in the next sentence seems reasonable on the surface:

Every child must be able to read by the end of the third grade.
But I am sure that there are some children who, though capable of reading, just will not progress that fast.

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

Using Coral to Link Large Files

Keywords has created a handy tool for those of you that might want to link large files:

I've created a handy bookmarklet you can use to instantly get the Coral version of a link. This should allow even the smallest of web content publishers to post large movies, graphics, etc. and not worry about their webserver going down due to excessive traffic.
Read the rest and get the bookmarklet at Keywords.

Posted by Steve on September 4, 2004

September 3, 2004

Solving w's Iraq Problem

Just send this over there for a few weeks.

On second thought perhaps we'd all be better off if this thing spent a few weeks in DC once everyone is back in town.

Via The Midnight Blog.

Posted by Steve on September 3, 2004

September 2, 2004

It Isn't Harvard Business School

But, hey, the University of Nigeria offers courses that might help a certain Harvard attendee balance his budget. For instance, Retail Management 604:

Learn the secrets of purchasing Hermes and Louis Vuiton leather goods for less than $1.00 each and reselling them for over $100!
Just like oil wells!

Via The Presurfer.

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2004

Simplifying the Tax Code?

When w says:

In a new term, I will lead a
bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.
He apparently means to make room for more special interest loopholes:
...we'll provide tax relief and other incentives to attract new business, and improve housing and job training to bring hope and work throughout all of America.
We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts, and provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them.
Seems like more of the same old, same old to me.

Thanks to Atrios for the early look at the w's presentation.

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2004

Frog Blogging

This is Rheobatrachus silus giving birth:

brooding_lg.jpg(Click for larger image)

Head over to Frogs A Chorus of Colors for an explanation and more cool pictures, study material, fun facts and frog sounds.

Via The Internet Scout Report.

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2004 | Comments (2)


dick cheney, 9/1/04, quoted Bernard DeVoto:

"Bernard DeVoto once wrote that when America was created, the stars must have danced in the sky."
The Rude Pundit explores other DeVoto material that cheney might appreciate.

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2004

September 1, 2004

Under Their Thumb

There is some truth to Trish Wilson's point:

...quite a bit of psychology is really about the people with power regulating the behavior of the people they wish to control.
Hmmm, this makes me think about all those drugged school kids.

Ever heard of drapetomania? No, likely not. Go over to Trish's and read about it.

Posted by Steve on September 1, 2004

Convention Things

To be precise, 1001 Things to Hate About the Convention.

There really are a 1001 of them ranging from the humorous to the serious and some that perhaps reflect positively about the convention.

And they are generally much more entertaining though I'm going to savor them a bit longer then PZ Meyers who says he has read them all.

Roxanne borrowed #17, Ayn Rand smiling up from hell, to headline a fine picture of these left behind children. I do doubt that Rand would be smiling about anything to do with the RNC convention, its candidates or their programs.

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

August's Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 25 top referrers for the month of August (there was a 6 way tie for # 20). Number 20 produced 9 referrals compared to 12 for number 20 in July.

July churn: 5 blogs dropped and 10 new ones added compared to 8 and 7 in June.

Overall traffic was up about 16.3% from July and up 230% from August 03 (no I do not expect the year to year growth rate to continue at that rate). I am also seeing an increasing number of visits from folks who have bookmarked Modulator and I thank all of you for visiting!

Top search phrase/word: Live Strong

Most popular post: Live Strong

Statistics are culled from AWStats running on Modulator's server at Hosting Matters.

Again, 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 September 1, 2004