February 28, 2005

No Politicians Allowed at This Site

No, really, they should be abducted.

Via Byzantium's Shores.

Posted by Steve on February 28, 2005

February 26, 2005

Microsoft Malware

Perhaps showing their true colors Microsoft makes it pretty clear that they are no better and perhaps worse than the proverbial fox guarding the hen house:

Microsoft should be ashamed of itself for trying to turn its own security flaw to its commercial gain. There's no reason to believe that customers installing a mandatory security fix also want to change their browser home page to an MSN portal, and there's even less excuse for trying to spring a change on the unwary.

Interestingly, the test version of Microsoft's new AntiSpyware program does something similar.

Of course, if you are not using IE as your browser you did not notice this happening to you. Hint, hint.

And, why shouldn't Microsoft owe, say, $5 compensation to everyone who had to spend time reconfiguring their systems as a result of this theft.

Posted by Steve on February 26, 2005 | Comments (2)

Main Stream Rally Squad

I had been holding out some hope that the main stream media might find their way back to real journalism, to being the 4th estate. But I have little left.

Jill nails it in calling out this Washington Post article which she aptly summarizes as she looks bitchin' in "fuck-me" boots.

Posted by Steve on February 26, 2005

February 25, 2005

The No-Comments Guy Comments

Just because....

In addition to being a thoughtful and interesting writer on many topics Will Baude is noted for his dislike of comments and does not have them on Crescat Scententia.

But he can't resist writing them elsewhere:

I have been posting too much in the comments of other blogs lately; unfortunately, I don't have a script that would automatically track all of my comments all over the web onto one page.
He was looking for that script last year:
Still, it would be nice if there were simple software that let a roaming blogger automatically have a sidebar on his blog that said something like: "These are the recent comments I have made on other weblogs..." with relevant links.
Seems to me that this would be pretty easy to accomplish with Blogrolling or some other link list tool. And, I for one, would go check out some some of Will's comments.

However, I think Will once suggested something like this: if a post is worth commenting on it warrants a post on your own blog (which the first link above kind of represents...).

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2005 | Comments (1)

Firefox 1.0.1 Released

Firefox 1.0.1 has been released and is available for download. Security patches and bug fixes.

You can also pick it up via BitTorrent. FWIW,I did an http download on machine A and a BitTorrent (Azeurus) on machine B. Http took 8-9 seconds and BitTorrent about 5-6 seconds. Yes, I had access to a fast network connection.

Via Just Well Mixed.

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2005 | Comments (1)

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

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

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email me and I'll add yours to the list. Check back regularly for updates throughout the day on Fridays and somewhat less frequently over the weekend.

Dog folks: remember to submit your links to the Carnival of the Dogs hosted by Mickey's Musings.

Cat folks: remember to submit your links to the Carnival of the Cats which goes up every Sunday and will be hosted this week by Mind of Mog.

Oh, some of you may have missed the fine graphical analysis of Friday Ark history that Laurence did last week: Check it out.

Archive editions of the Friday Ark.


DogsBirdsOther VertebratesInvertebrates
Didn't Make It

Posted by Steve on February 25, 2005 | Comments (13)

February 24, 2005

Feeds, Feeds, Almost Everywhere

Via Knowledge Problem this database of newspaper RSS feeds. Only a few of the nearly 1200 listed newspapers currently have feeds shown. Help the folks expand the listing.

Also, the AP has RSS feeds. Via A Stitch in Haste.

Posted by Steve on February 24, 2005

February 23, 2005


I struggled a bit trying to categorize this post: science, politics, culture, humor, or? It touches on them all and I chuckled (and, yes, groaned) as I read the original material:

Dean, at Powerline, leaps to the defense of Hindrocket in a post titled "Call me Stupid" and PZ Myers doesn't hesitate.

Also, John Holbo on Hindrocket as Jonah Jameson via Fables of the Reconstruction.

Posted by Steve on February 23, 2005 | Comments (1)


Embed sensors and transmit the data to a collection device via Human Area Network (HAN).

I can think of a myriad of health care related applications for RedTacton's technology, e.g., real time glucose monitoring for diabetics or real time micro dosing of medication in direct response to physiological changes. RedTacton has more suggestions.

Check it out and let your imagination run wild.

Via Medgadgets via Catallarchy.

Posted by Steve on February 23, 2005

February 22, 2005


Most of you are, by now, aware of the Choicepoint fiasco:

Criminals posing as legitimate businesses have accessed critical personal data stored by ChoicePoint Inc., a firm that maintains databases of background information on virtually every U.S. citizen, MSNBC.com has learned.

The incident involves a wide swath of consumer data, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit reports and other information. ChoicePoint aggregates and sells such personal information to government agencies and private companies.

Ed Foster notes:
What the ChoicePoint fiasco really shows we need, however, are baseline federal privacy standards that apply to all industries. Although it's certainly ironic that the "nation's leading provider of identification and credential verification services" couldn't figure out it was selling our info to a ring of criminals, the real problem is that data brokers like ChoicePoint can legally sell our information to just about whomever they please.
Federal standards and regulations are invariably broken and generally never written with individual citizens in mind but Ed's last point hits the nail on the head.

No institution, government or private, can be allowed to collect or distribute, for free or for fee, any information about an individual without that individuals specific consent on a per incident basis and if the distribution is for a fee then that individual must be compensated at a rate agreeable to the individual.

The Privacy Digest has more information on both what the Choicepoint breach means to individuals and what information they may have about you.

Posted by Steve on February 22, 2005 | Comments (1)

Grand Rounds

Get a healthy dose of medical reading at Grand Rounds XXII now up at Catallarchy.

Posted by Steve on February 22, 2005

February 21, 2005

Seabird Skulls and Bones

Bird lovers, biologists, and the curious will find these skulls, bones, and accompanying text fascinating:

Seabirds live in a complicated world. They have to cope with very different situations: flying in all types of weather, walking on land, swimming in the water, digging burrows, diving under water etc. Seabirds also have to deal with a myriad of prey and food types. No wonder they developed a wide range of foraging techniques tuned to their main source of food: from the small zooplankton to dead whales. No wonder that there exist a great variety of seabirds with a likewise great variety of adaptations.

All of these adaptations are reflected by the built of the skeleton. Although the parts are treated separately, their form and function can only be understood by looking at the whole picture: the morphology of the bird in relation to is environment, its adaptations, its foraging strategies etc.

Here is the skull of a Caspian Tern:

Sterna caspia.JPG

Via Boing Boing.

Posted by Steve on February 21, 2005 | Comments (1)

Private Armies and Government Control

Phil Carter suggests that the US should take advantage of private military units that are cropping up in Iraq.

On the other hand, Mark Kleiman raises a number of concerns including:

Armed forces not subject to governmental control are a recipe for thuggery at best, assassination in the middle, and civil war at the worst.
This seems like a pretty good description of armed forces under government control. Well, perhaps, the last phrase should be modified to read: waging war at the worst.

Posted by Steve on February 21, 2005

February 20, 2005

Contrary to What You Might Think

The US federal government actively prescribes and distributes medical marijuana.

Just thought you'd like to know....

Posted by Steve on February 20, 2005

The Somerville Gates

Who need Christos?

Posted by Steve on February 20, 2005 | Comments (3)

February 19, 2005

Dog Blogger Challenge

Laurence Simon, founder of the Carnival of the Cats, charted the history of the Friday Ark and found out that:

When it comes to petblogging: cats rule, dogs drool.
Now, I don't remember any drooling dog pictures but if I were a dog owner I'd still be a bit insulted and take up the challenge: get you entries in both at the Friday Ark and the Carnival of the Dogs.

Posted by Steve on February 19, 2005

February 18, 2005

Mapping a Phone Number

Ursula is not real happy with one aspect of Google searching:

I use Google everyday, but I am not digging their new feature that allows you to enter a phone number and get a map to the address
These capability with or without Google has been around a long time. Just go to any of the various white page services, key in the number, and they will do a reverse look up and provide an address. Take the address to your preferred map site and, presto, you have the same thing Google is doing.

Me, I'd like to see the kids at Google talk to each other! Really, shouldn't they at least be listing the Google map?

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2005 | Comments (2)

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

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

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email me and I'll add yours to the list. Check back regularly for updates throughout the day on Fridays and somewhat less frequently over the weekend.

Do remember The Carnival of the Cats every Sunday and hosted this week at Flying Space Monkey.

Archive editions of the Friday Ark.


DogsBirdsOther VertebratesInvertebratesDidn't Make It

Posted by Steve on February 18, 2005 | Comments (10)

February 16, 2005

Turning off the Federal Government

I haven't heard anything good about the REAL ID Act, HR 418. Ron Paul, though, hints at a way to turn off the federal government:

Supporters claim it is not a national ID because it is voluntary. However, any state that opts out will automatically make non-persons out of its citizens. The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government they will cease to exist. It is absurd to call this voluntary.
If the people of enough states just say no then most of us can cease to exist in the eyes of the federal government. What a pleasing thought!

Aside from this remote possibility there are many reasons this legislation should be squashed. Read it, weep, then call your congress critter and tell them to just say no!

Via Declan McCullagh.

Posted by Steve on February 16, 2005 | Comments (1)

February 14, 2005

Catching up on Genetic Dispositions

Well, by mistake I decided to read Kristoff's column from yesterday:

Instead, modern science is turning up a possible reason why the religious right is flourishing and secular liberals aren't: instinct. It turns out that our DNA may predispose humans toward religious faith.
Via previous education I knew just where to look for the antidote to this stuff and Myers was P.Z. on the spot:
It�s nothing but modern molecular preformationism. Palmistry for the genome. We�ve been fighting against this simplistic notion of the whole of the organism prefigured in a plan or in toto in the embryo since Socrates, and it keeps coming back. We�ve moved from imagining a little homunculus lurking in the sperm to one hiding in the genome. It�s just not there. You can�t point to a spot on a chromosome and say, �there�s the little guy�s finger!�, nor can you point to a spot and say, �there�s his fondness for football!�.

Kristof, for instance, points to a particular gene as the source of piety. Piffle. Here�s his shining locus of sacredness, VMAT2:

It won't hurt you to read the rest of the post yourself...

Over at Crooked Timber John Quiggen provides additional curative resources by working through some statistical, logical, and definitional failings in Kristoff's piece and more generally with pop evolutionary psychology.

As usual the comment threads to both posts provided plenty of stimuli for both my chuckle gene and my thinking gene.

Posted by Steve on February 14, 2005

February 13, 2005

For Everyone Living With Someone

If you have a roommate, flatmate, housemate, etc., then put this blog on your daily reading list. Via Jaquandor whose housemate probably has a bit to say about this.

Posted by Steve on February 13, 2005

February 11, 2005

This has go to Stop!

I'm absolutely annoyed that my driver's license is available on the web and you shuld be upset about yours being there as well.

Via Desert Cat's Paradise.

Posted by Steve on February 11, 2005 | Comments (4)

Through the Hoop

Tyler Cowan says that this is the way the French play basketball.

Posted by Steve on February 11, 2005

Wear Yellow

Recommended viewing: Lance Armstrong on the Oprah Winfrey show today!

Disclaimer: The Modulator staff are supporters of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and fans of Lance and cycling. We do wear yellow! You should as well.

Posted by Steve on February 11, 2005 | Comments (2)

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

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

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email me and I'll add yours to the list. Check back regularly for updates throughout the day on Fridays and somewhat less frequently over the weekend.

Do remember The Carnival of the Cats every Sunday and hosted this week at The Conservative Cat.

Archive editions of the Friday Ark.


DogsBirdsOther VertebratesInvertebratesDidn't Make It

Posted by Steve on February 11, 2005 | Comments (13)

February 8, 2005

My New Map and Directions Site

It took just 30 seconds to make up my mind. Google's new map, driving direction, yellow page site is good! I have used Yahoo Maps for years but neither it nor Mapquest hold a candle to this. Julie puts it succinctly:

DHTML-driven (IE/Firefox only right now, I believe, but YMMV) maps service. Driving directions, yellow pages, etc. Drag-the-map with your mouse, DHTML controls, no more of that click-wait, click-wait, click-wait, click-wait never-quite-right map manipulation.
Try it out. Change now!

Update: Barry provides some usage tips and suggests that this might be a good front end for Keyhole, another Google product.

Update II (2/9): Via Zomboyboy here is a more technical look at this tool.

Posted by Steve on February 8, 2005 | Comments (1)

Comments on a Young Author

John Scalzi has written a fine annotation of a young author's illustrated children's tale:

What the author is saying is that while we need to integrate the lessons of nature, we are also more than what is given to us in our natural state. When nature fails or flags -- as it inevitably must -- our other talents must engage until such time as our natural states are refreshed again. A telling message for young women: Know who you are and be in touch with your nature, but be ready to use all the resources available to you, in all aspects of your life.
Read the original story and the rest of Scalzi's commentary.

You might also enjoy Scalzi's recent novel: Old Man's War.

Via Sara's Spot.

Posted by Steve on February 8, 2005 | Comments (1)

February 7, 2005

Depressing Reading

For those of you who have not already found it here is the fiscal year 2006 potus budget request (missing minor items like the Iraq occupation).

Via beSpacific.

Posted by Steve on February 7, 2005 | Comments (1)

Social Security Shell Game

No surprise, it is the bushter himself moving the shells around. While he pretends that younger workers will benefit from his proposals the truth is, well, different. Read this from the Minnesota Star Tribune for pointers to just a few misdirections.

There are a lot of changes I'd like to see made to Social Security starting with separating its accounting entirely from the general fund and ending with, yes, privatization some time in the future.

Based on their current presentations I have zero confidence that the bush administration can or even wants to implement a viable process to accomplish this. But, then, these are the folks that brought us that fine prescription drug plan a while back.

Via Talkleft.

Posted by Steve on February 7, 2005

Frog Day

Click through at The Presurfer to find out "What Kind of Frog are You?"


pixiefrog.jpg The African bullfrog, or Pixie frog as it is often called (because of it's latin name, not because it's as cute as a fairy!), is one of the largest frogs in South Africa. Usually, they hang out in open grassland, and if there are any to be found, they'll sit around in puddles. When startled, these frogs will blow up like balloons to scare away the intruder! In the dry season, they will burrow into the ground. These guys eat lots and lots of really big bugs, fish, mice, lizards, and even other frogs.

Or, also courtesy of The Presurfer, if you just want to look at frogs go see a random one.

Posted by Steve on February 7, 2005 | Comments (1)

The World's Biggest, But is it Useful

The folks at Web's Biggest say that they are "The World's Biggest Directory Search Engine." Last week Internetweek reported that:

A Web search engine that uses the "whois" database said Friday that it searches more Web sites than any other search engine, including Google, which crawls the Web in a different manner for its search results. ....
"Other search engines missed from a third to more than half of the Web sites [included] in the Web's Biggest search results," the firm stated.
Always on the outlook for better information sources I headed right over and entered a search that has pointed a few visitors to Modulator: live strong bands. The results were 3 references that appeared to be paid adds and they were preceded by this message:
Important: We suggest you make your search LESS specific. Please remember you are not searching the contents of web pages like you do at Google or Yahoo. You are searching one paragraph website descriptions. Furthermore, you will only find websites that contain EACH of your keywords in their description. Web's Biggest is designed to find websites devoted to what you are looking for, not web pages that happen to contain those words.
On the other hand a search for Lance Armstrong generated quite a few results.

Want to find the text of the state of the union speech? Well, it is #2 on Google and the Web's Biggest responds with the above "be less specific" message and no links of any kind. And it was a bit slow doing that.

Lesson: use your preferred traditional search service first. In fact, I'm still puzzling over why I'd use them at all...

Posted by Steve on February 7, 2005 | Comments (2)

February 6, 2005

Enriched Reading

Want a different perspective on your favorite or least favorite blogger. Read them through the eyes of The Pornolizer. Not work friendly!

Via An Englishman's Castle who reviewed www.number-10.gov.uk through its eyes.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2005

The Two Happiest Places on Earth?

According to Hefner:

Hefner, accompanied by four blonde girlfriends, said he had another purpose for his visit to the park. It was a belated birthday gift to one of his companions, Holly Madison, who sported a small Mickey doll on her hip.

"All the girls are Disney fans," Hefner said. "But Holly is obsessed."

As for the world's most famous bachelor, it's all about staying young.

"What has never left me, quite frankly, is the boy himself," Hefner said. "It is the connection to childhood. There are two 'Happiest Places on Earth': One is Disney, and the other is the Playboy Mansion."

Via The Disney Blog.

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2005

February 4, 2005

This is the Freedom People are Dying For?

The drug thugs have been active in Baltimore and gonzales will probably not be prosecuting the murderers:

Just before 5 a.m., officers from the Baltimore County Police Tactical Unit were serving a search and seizure warrant related to a narcotics investigation at a home in the 8100 block of Del Haven Road when two officers approached the bedroom door on the second floor, according to police spokesman Ofc. Shawn Vinson.

When they opened the door, the officers allegedly were met by Cheryl Noel, 44, who was pointing a handgun at them, Vinson said.

Fearing for his life, one officer fired three shots, according to Vinson, striking and killing Noel.

Pete Guither comments:
Of course, the raid was pre-dawn (before 5 am). So you're sound asleep, and suddenly awakened by explosions, crashing sounds, feet tramping upstairs, and a lot of people yelling. How clear is your mind going to be? Can you distinguish that they're identifying themselves as police officers? When the door to your bedroom opens and there's two men dressed in black wearing ski masks pointing guns at you? Imagine yourself in that scenario. How would you react? What if you had a gun by your bed?

So why would they raid the house in this way?

Why, indeed:
All of this for less than a half ounce of marijuana, paraphernalia and possession of black powder (gunpowder) used for muzzle load hunting.
We need to clean our own yard and then, maybe, there will be an example that does not require gang violence to spread.

Via Avedon.

Posted by Steve on February 4, 2005

Map your Music

Fill in the musician or band and Music Plasma will show you related groups. Note, they are not complete and you might scratch your head a bit about relationships they do and do not show.

Flash required.

Posted by Steve on February 4, 2005

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

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

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email me and I'll add yours to the list.

Do remember The Carnival of the Cats every Sunday and hosted this week at Running Scared.

Archive editions of the Friday Ark.


DogsBirdsOther VertebratesInvertebratesDidn't Make It

Posted by Steve on February 4, 2005 | Comments (10)

February 3, 2005

Top Firefox Extensions

PC Magazine presents their selection of the top 15 Firefox extensions.

But, why doesn't the first one on their list, About Site 0.1.1, show up on the Firefox extensions page? Could just be me...clues appreciated.

: JM, No Fancy Name, found it.

It is a cool extension. Now that I've worked with it just a bit I'm not sure how how often I will use it. Pulling up the Technorati Cosmos for a site may be a bit quicker than my Technorati Anywhere toolbar link and I do like that it pulls up the info in a new tab instead of a new window.

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2005 | Comments (1)

Searching for......

The Zero Boss found an ironic search phrase/source in his logs. (Warning: some will consider the language offensive)

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2005

February 2, 2005

January's Top Referrers

On the right side bar is the updated roll of Modulator's 21 top referrers for the month of January. Numbers 20 and 21 each produced 24 referrals compared to 15 for number 20 in December.

December churn: 8 blogs dropped and 9 new ones added compared to 6 and 6 in December.

Overall traffic was down about 7.6% from December and up 522% from December 03 (no I do not expect the year to year growth to continue at that rate).

Top Referrer: Unqualified Offerings . Thanks, Jim!

Top search phrase/word: live strong bracelets

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 referrals from some of the blogosphere's 'service' sites: Technorati, weblogs.com, blogrolling.com, MovableType, Blogdex, Bloglines, blogoshpere.us, Sitemeter, NZ Bear's Ecosystem, Bloogz and Daypop.

All of the blog rolls are ordered by most recently updated so be sure to ping weblogs.com or blogrolling.com to push to the top of the rolls. These are certainly the sites I tend to look at first and visitors will see you at the top of the roll as well.

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

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2005

Fish Fun

Find the places to click and then figure out the variations. Good for a couple minutes of timewasting.

Via Ghost of a Flea.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2005 | Comments (1)

Guantonamo Prisoner's Rights II

Bryan, in a comment to this post notes:

I was in law enforcement and part of our public liability training dealt with section 242 of Title 18 of the US Code which gives non-citizens the same rights as citizens in the area of criminal law.
On his blog, he links to the relevant sections of the US Code including Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, � 2340A - Torture which says:
a) Offense.� Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.� There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if�
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.� A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
I suspect the gonzales will not be upholding his obligation as attorney general to uphold the laws of the United States.

Oh, I suppose, though, that like his predecessor he will wastefully allocate plenty of resources to activities occurring between consenting adults.

Posted by Steve on February 2, 2005

February 1, 2005

Some Good Advice!

From Leonard Pitts:

I won't lie: It's not easy. People--black and white--will always have expectations, and when you refuse to live by those expectations, they'll call you names, they'll shut you out. It's not easy, but I guarantee that if you stay with it, you'll find that it is worthwhile. I guess what I'm telling you is this: Please have the guts to be who you are. And to dream brobdingnagian dreams.
Read the rest. (Free registration required or try Bug Me Not)

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2005

How Much Are You Paying Your Stock Broker?

And should you be paying that much?

A model that assumes stock market traders have zero intelligence has been found to mimic the behaviour of the London Stock Exchange very closely.
Well, maybe, maybe not:
However, the surprising result does not mean traders are actually just buying and selling at random, say researchers. Instead, it suggests that the movement of markets depend less on the strategic behaviour of traders and more on the structure and constraints of the trading system itself.
Whether you are going to throw darts, employ a broker, or make your own buy/sell decisions spend some time learning the basics!

Posted by Steve on February 1, 2005