June 30, 2005

What To Do When...

....you die.

Well, most folks get stowed away 6 feet under in a box. Some visit an oven and end up blowing in the wind, sitting on a mantle or perhaps stashed in the closet. I haven't thought about this often and when I have the right thing always seemed to be to get buried without the box...a return to the earth kind of thing.

There is another option which is worth giving some thought to:

It's one of the most personal choices someone can make -- deciding to give one's body to medical science. As part of a series on the end of life and the gift of teaching, NPR's Melissa Block talks to people who have have offered to become body donors.
Yes, take the organ donor idea one step further and donate your entire body. You can still do the ash, box or return to the earth thing when you are done teaching.

Something to think about and to incorporate into your living will (hmmm,...I'd better get one of those done!)

Posted by Steve on June 30, 2005 | Comments (2)

Alert! Alert!

The Apostropher reviews pre and post election terror alerts. Do you know how many terror alerts there have been since November 2004?

Posted by Steve on June 30, 2005

June 29, 2005

Will The Rhode Island leg Override Their governor

Apparently governor carcieri vetoed overwhelmingly approved legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Hopefully the leg critters hold their ground!

Talkleft has details.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2005

Hit Skippy

It looks like Skippy may not get number 1,000,000 by his 3rd blogiversary...but, hit him anyway...there are still 11 or 14 days left.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2005

Edloe: In Memoriam

Regular boarders of the Friday Ark are also regular fans of Edloe and her siblings:

Grumbly Snuffly

Mouth Open

Edloe Capsizes

Edloe and the Supreme Cats

Edloe the Airship

The Two Fluffy Cats

Condolences to Chez Simon.

Edloe: Rest in Peace.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2005

The Earth on Your Desktop! .....Slowly

I am still excited about the new Google Earth application I mentioned in the last post. However, after spending way too much time playing with it yesterday some concerns and caveats:

1. I'm not sure it really needs the computing power claimed. It never seemed to use more than 3-5% of CPU on my laptop which is hardly a speed demon (Pentium M 1.6GHz).

2. The above might be because it is currently interminably slow uploading data. Individual locations seemed ok at first but then became very slow and if you try to do anything really interesting like tilt and scroll (like driving down the highway) it is just not ready for prime time.

3. There are a lot of gaps in the satellite images and some are pretty old. I'd like to know they are making a concerted effort to fill the gaps and update the old pictures.

On the other hand, I am really excited for the future of these type of applications. Microsoft, Yahoo, etc., will have to respond and then Google again, and, will, just let your imagination run wild. We think there is cool stuff on the web now. It will seem like horse and buggies in a few years.

Update: With somewhat faster data loading this morning I did see CPU spikes up to 52%. Also, testing some local directions I discovered that Google does not yet know about a major new local freeway interchange that was completed about 6 months ago. They definitely need to work on their updating.

Posted by Steve on June 29, 2005

June 28, 2005

The Earth on Your Desktop!

Barry has the goods on Google Earth.

This is too cool! Never mind playing games to dribble away time. If you've got the bandwidth and the system go now and play.

  • Watching the earth spin as you swing from the US to, say, Fallujah is pretty nifty.
  • Even though I've seen the shot before it is still a bit unnerving to be able to identify my car in the driveway of my house!
Warning: Broadband and computing power needed. You will not want to play with this if you are a dial up user! Well, you will want to, but it will be really, really slow.

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2005

Zombie Dogs

Zombyboy can be pretty adept at finding stuff that, to use his words:

is just creepy as hell. I mean, really, truly, and honestly disturbing like you wouldn’t believe.
On the other hand it just might save your life someday!

Posted by Steve on June 28, 2005 | Comments (1)

June 27, 2005

When Dissemblance Reigns

But why?

Although he does not look like a terrorist, more like an emaciated, weasel human being with his eyes turned inward. He is different. He is a terrorist. I hate Winston Smith.
Well, was the mission accomplished or will it go on for another 10-15 years?

Posted by Steve on June 27, 2005

June 26, 2005

Mafia Numbers Game Is Alive and Well

Governments show their true colors by operating lotteries to generate revenue. Dan Gilmour nails it in this 6/22 post:

At the top of Page 1 today in the SF Chronicle is a story about the "Mega Millions" lottery that Californians will soon be able to enter. It's unfortunate governance for states to be in this rancid business, but it's irresponsible journalism to promote it.

State-run lotteries are slimy. They run advertising that I suspect would get other people sued for deceptive practices. They convince people who can least afford it to gamble. They shift tax burdens. No one forces people to gamble, true, but gambling addiction is a very real thing.

States should not be in the business, period. But rather than honestly deal with revenue needs, they con their residents into "games of chance" that entice stupidity, or worse.

For states to promote this practice is shameful enough. I wish responsible media organizations would just refuse to join the parade.

Dan is right. States should not be in lottery business and responsible journalists should be making clear to their readers that throwing away their money on lottery tickets is not a good thing.

But, then, states shouldn't be in the business of doing most of what they do.

Posted by Steve on June 26, 2005

June 25, 2005

Public: Is it Education or Babysitting

In San Ysidiro it appears to be a large dose of the latter:

SAN YSIDRO – Today, San Ysidro Middle School will recognize 516 eighth-graders in a ceremony to promote them to high school, regardless of whether they passed middle school.

More than a fourth of them did not.

In today's ceremony, 143 students who either flunked classes, didn't earn at least a 2.0 grade-point average, or missed too many days of school will march alongside those who did everything required of them.

First, they shouldn't be walkin with the rest. Second, can we really justify taking your and my money to use for a glorified babysitting service?

Via Overtaken By Events.

Posted by Steve on June 25, 2005 | Comments (2)

It's Ancient, It's Right

Precedent, precedent, precedent. Apparently because the idea that thieves and governments can point a gun and take whatever they want has been around for centuries makes it right:

You have to accept that government can take property. The power of eminent domain is ancient. What the Constitution requires that "just compensation" be paid to the owners and that the taking be for a "public use." This case was about what counted as a "public use."
Slavery is ancient. Human sacrifice is ancient. The idea that women should not have the vote is ancient. None of these practices is considered acceptable today in the United States.

The Constitution is a great document. It was a great step forward in the development of human societies. And, in the context of the Constitution and subsequent jurisprudence Kelo should not surprise anyone. That does not make Kelo just or consistent with the rule of law. Thank goodness that Kelo has generated outrage. There is some hope that we can look toward an even better Constituion in the future. One that clearly focuses on serving and protecting the individuals it should be meant to serve.

In one of the comments to her post Althouse asks:

All you conservatives: why aren't you interested in federalism today?
and here argues:
If you generally support federalism, that means you like the idea of freeing state and local government to set their own policies in response to local ideas about how things ought to be done. You like decentralized decisionmaking.
I doubt I'd be considered a conservative so my answer may not count. What is broken here is that this is all about government. Where are our rights as individual human beings? Did we establish our governments to legitimize gangs of thieves or to protect the rights of individual human beings? I know which answer I prefer.

Furthermore, decentralized decision making is great but not when it is only governments who can make the decisions and not when a government entity can breach the rights of the very people it is meant to serve. Decentralized use of local knowledge leads to great results when individuals and freely formed associations of individuals exchange goods and services with others free of force and fraud.

Posted by Steve on June 25, 2005

June 24, 2005

Kelo Fallout....

I expect we will be seeing many more reports like this one:

Unjust and un-American indeed.
Most children learn the right lesson much better than the 5 who supported theft in Keno and, in fact, better than the founders:
The most important fact in all this childhood drama was simply that I wanted something that was not mine, and without the consent of the owner, nothing I could do would make that thing morally mine, and as long as my parents were my parents, nothing I could do would make it physically mine, either.
A constitution that respects individuals will not contain a takings clause but rather it is clear that it needs to be a blocking clause something along the line of
nor shall private property be taken for public use, without the consent of the owner.
The mafia might object but not an entity intended to protect its citizens.

Posted by Steve on June 24, 2005

The Force Takes Oprah

At the hands of Jedi Cruise...

Via Scott.

Posted by Steve on June 24, 2005

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

We'll post links to sites that have Friday (plus or minus a few days) photos of their chosen animals as I see them (photoshops at our discretion and humans only in supporting roles).

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email Modulator and we'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 LabKat.

And, check out Laurence's fine graphical analysis of Friday Ark boardings.

Arkive editions of the Friday Ark.


InvertebratesDogsBirdsOther VertebratesDidn't Make It
Exceptions (inclusion not guaranteed)

Posted by Steve on June 24, 2005 | Comments (13)

June 23, 2005

Here's to the Wookie in You

Some of these pics of passed out wookies are pretty hilarious! Check out both the Wookie Hall of Fame and the Wookie Upload Gallery.

What their mommies and daddies will think when they eventually see their wee one in fine form? I wonder if they all gave permission to publish their picture. Well, probably more then one submitted their own but surely not all.

Posted by Steve on June 23, 2005

What's the Dif? Part 2

I read the news today oh, boy!

Even prepared, though, I expect to become nauseous this weekend when I read Kale. It is another case that Micha can use in his paper equating the mafia and government. Lynn Kiesling quotes this from the AP:

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue. ...
Yep, it's all about more revenue. And, as Patri Friedman notes:
Now they’ve interpreted the word public in Amendment V ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.") to mean anything which benefits the public in general, including private businesses, rather than the more obvious interpretation of direct public use. Since you can argue that pretty much any private business benefits the public, now your local officials, who “know best", get to decide whether or not to bulldoze your fucking home. (emphasis in original)
Read the rest of their posts and follow Lynn's links for much, much more.

Update: Randy Barnett notes this apropos comment by Lysander Spooner.

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

June 22, 2005

What's The Dif?

Micha Ghertner notes:

The line between government and mafia grows ever smaller, if it ever existed at all.
Well, one difference might be that governments often persuade their citizens that voting for the top dog makes it all legitimate.

I'm looking forward to Micha's Mafia paper.

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2005

Kangaroo for Breakfast

Skippy probably wouldn't be too happy with this but do check out this picture sequence from the Daily Irrelevant. Make sure to click through to what happens next...

Seems to me that this meal might not be sound evolutionary strategy... really, talk about not being able to move after a big meal.

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

June 21, 2005

Beware the evil phone system....

This marketing movie touting Voice over IP is pretty entertaining.

Via Susan Crawford.

Posted by Steve on June 21, 2005

Credit Freezes and Personal Information

Kevin Drum has this right though he does not go quite far enough:

I have an idea to fix this: don't take three days to unfreeze the report. In fact, I have a better idea: by default, personal credit reports should never be shown to anyone until the credit reporting agency contacts the consumer independently and receives permission to do so. This could be by phone, internet, or mail.
I proposed something related but more generalized a while back:
No institution or business, 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.
We must give back control of personal information to the owner of that information: the involved individual. Right off the top I can't think of any acceptable exception to this.

In the other direction and something I did not address in the earlier post:

Individual consumers of goods and services may disclose evaluative and price information about their transactions with individuals and entities who regularly offer goods and services to consumers. Individuals and businesses engaged in commercial activity may disclose price and evaluative information about their activities as long as this information can not be related to an individual connsumer. Private institutions or businesses may collect and disseminate this information for free or for fee except as noted above.
Thus you can evaluate and provide pricing information about your doctor, lawyer, service station, hardware store, etc., by name but not vice versa.

The general principles here are: 1) individuals own information specifically related to them; 2) therefor individuals can not be prevented from releasing seller specific evaluation or information so long as that information is truthful and non-libelous; and 3) for these purposes corporations, partnerships or other commercial associations of individuals are not individuals.

Posted by Steve on June 21, 2005

June 20, 2005

Modulator Quotes # 1

Disease usually results from inconclusive negotiations for symbiosis, an overstepping of the line by one side or the other, a biologic misinterpretation of borders.

Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: Germs

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2005

Wasting Energy

Ethanol is clean. Ethanol is enviromentally friendly. North Dakota is going to subsidize ethanol use.

Only the last sentence may be true. North Dakota apparently is going to supplement the over $.50/gallon federal subsidy with an additional subsidy:

Gas stations are expecting ethanol fuel sales to zoom when a state tax break takes effect next month, although backers of the alternative fuel are less sure if consumers will stick with it.
Why use ethanal? Well,
Ken Kornkven, manager of a Cenex station in Portland, N.D., said some customers who can't use E-85 also support it simply because it's a renewable fuel.

"It's a feel-good thing," he said. "Even if they aren't using it they liked to see it being used."


As part of the initiative, a group of college students are traveling the state this summer in a vehicle festooned with a "GoE" logo, promoting ethanol and giving away free tanks of the blended fuel.

"I think a lot of people have heard of ethanol, but I don't know how many of them know the benefits," said Brent Klava, 21, a North Dakota State University student. "It's a win-win for everybody."

But is it really a win-win for everybody? Recent studies suggest that ethanol fuel is not a great way to solve our energy problems:
Recently, Patzek published a fifty-page study on the subject in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Science. This time, he factored in the myriad energy inputs required by industrial agriculture, from the amount of fuel used to produce fertilizers and corn seeds to the transportation and wastewater disposal costs. All told, he believes that the cumulative energy consumed in corn farming and ethanol production is six times greater than what the end product provides your car engine in terms of power.
Another article argues that ethanol's touted cleanliness, reduced carbon dioxide production, can be achieved with a simpler approach:
Essentially you may as well burn gasoline and use the land base for reforestation (to store carbon in soil organic matter and standing biomass) than to grow corn and produce ethanol.
Patzek has a complimentary suggestion: repurpose all the funds devoted to ethanol to making automobiles more efficient.

Seems reasonable to me! Better that we all benefit from the wealth transfer than to give these dollars to corn growers and fertilizer makers.

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2005 | Comments (1)

Medical Marijuana Accessories

I'm not sure why this is being reported as something new as these vaporizors (R) have been available for quite a few years:

The biggest hit on the medical marijuana scene could soon be a high-tech gizmo that lets people inhale the drug but skip the smoke.

The device is a marijuana vaporizer. One version looks like a metallic volcano and sells for more than $500. Its creator calls it "the Mercedes-Benz of vaporizers."

By heating marijuana to a point where vapors are formed but before combustion, a vaporizer is free of many of the toxins found in marijuana smoke, advocates say.

"You don't have the harshness you get from smoking, no next-morning cough, no shortness of breath," said Kathy Gagne, a 56-year-old Oakland resident who began vaporizing marijuana five years ago to treat her depression.

These are probably pretty popular with the non-cigarette smoking ganja users and as you can see at this California Norml information page there are a wide variety of vaporizers available.

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2005

June 19, 2005

They Really Do Listen to What You Say

Moms and dads, today especially dads, your kids really do listen and learn when you talk.

Wield your power wisely!

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2005

One Aspect of the Media's Liberal Bias

Bryan, Why Now, reports on the perspective of a republican NPR radio jock:

Tonight he was responding to someone complaining about NPR reporting being biased. Greg stated his party affiliation and pointed out that the Republican Party has the White House and the US Congress, the Florida governor and legislature are also Republican, so get a grip, if the news is negative, it is going be negative about Republicans. If people want to elect some more Democrats, and give them control of something, then the news can be negative about them.
There's a lot of truth in this though at the national level it sure seems that the bush administration got a pass from the media and the democratic congress critters throughout his first term...

Posted by Steve on June 19, 2005

June 18, 2005

Examine Yourself Regularly

Guys, you need to do this regularly!

It doesn't hurt and you can do it with a friend...

Via Professor Myers.

Posted by Steve on June 18, 2005

June 17, 2005

Photo Stamps

For a little more than double the regular price you can buy USPS approved stamps with your picture on them! They might find some buyers amongst the Ark boarders:

Via Chaos Digest.

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2005 | Comments (1)

Rare Exports Movie

Take a break. Take it now! Go learn where they all come from every year.

Via Creek Running North via Feministe.

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2005

Brittanica's Ultimate Reference CD for $7

When I saw this I headed right over to Amazon to buy the Encyclopedia Britannica 2005 DVD Ultimate Reference Suite. And then saw that there was not 1 but 2 separate rebates involved from some company I've never heard of. Oh, you can track it beginning 4 weeks after submission and don't expect anything from us for 8-10 weeks.

I decided that there was no way we would use this enough to make it worth the rebate hassle. Your mileage may vary!

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2005

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

We'll post links to sites that have Friday (plus or minus a few days) photos of their chosen animals as I see them (photoshops at our discretion and humans only in supporting roles).

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email Modulator and we'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 Blog d'Elison.

And, check out Laurence's fine graphical analysis of Friday Ark boardings.

Arkive editions of the Friday Ark.


InvertebratesDogsBirdsOther VertebratesDidn't Make ItExceptions (inclusion not guaranteed)

Posted by Steve on June 17, 2005 | Comments (15)

June 16, 2005

Nielson Media

The Modulator family received a card today from Nielsen Media Research telling us

...that your household has been chosen to be a "Nielsen Family" ...for a one week TV survey.
Cool. We'll probably do this. We appreciate that they contacted in advance and, of course, their positive response rate is probably much higher than if they did not send the card.

For instance, I did not respond well to the outfit that called a couple weeks ago asking me to participate in a survey about current issues. They called while we were eating dinner and wanted to ask 80 questions. Yea, I'm going to sit there and answer 80 questions for a complete stranger and they didn't even offer any compensation for my time.

I'm not going to ask Nielsen to pay for our time. However, their customers are not going to be real happy when our TV viewing habits are projected nationally. In the past week TV has garned 5 hours of my time and 2.5 of those were watching the PBS showing of The Grateful Dead movie a couple nights ago, .5 for the Canadian version of Antique Roadshow, 1 for 2 editions of Jeopardy and the rest for portions of the NBA finals. By the time we get set up for their survey the NBA will be done and, well, we probably won't watch much.

On the other hand the Tour de France will have started and we'll watch a couple hours/day.

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

The Company You Keep

Often your actions do a better job of displaying your true character than your words. The same can be said for the company you keep. So if this is an accurate description of one of your allies:

...your great ally, the wonderful President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan is a weak, woman-hating, dreadful coward of a man, a friend of those who would rape to humiliate and scorn, and pillage for power and perversion.
...then what does it say about you?

Via Jaquandor.

Update: Tom Watson has current information on Mukhtaran Bibi here.

Posted by Steve on June 16, 2005

June 15, 2005

They Are All Awry

The drug terrorists in action again:

Lawndale residents were on edge and Chicago police on alert Tuesday afternoon after a police officer shot a 17-year-old youth in what authorities described as an undercover drug bust gone awry.

As dozens of uniformed officers and detectives combed the crime scene in the 1800 block of South Harding Avenue, more than 75 people gathered around, many angrily protesting the shooting and shouting obscenities.

The shooting unfolded around 11:40 a.m., when an undercover officer, a member of the narcotics and gang division, attempted to make a drug buy from an unidentified 17-year-old male, Chicago police spokesman Pat Camden said.

The teen and another male signaled to the police officer that a deal would be made, Camden said. The pair led the officer to a narrow vacant lot between two houses on South Harding.

Before the transaction could be made, the youth allegedly displayed a handgun and told the officer to turn over his money, Camden said. The officer obliged, Camden said, and handed over a series of bills that had been marked by police.

Sure, the kid may have deserved being taken down for the alleged attempted theft. However, the undercover officer terrorist was attempting to entrap the victim in order to enforce unjust and immoral legislation. When those who are charged with protecting us interfer in the non-fraudulant exchange of goods and services amongst free people it time to hire someone else.

Posted by Steve on June 15, 2005

CD Copy Protection

My first reaction when I read the subtitle of this San Jose Mercury News article (R)?

Well, I won't be buying any of those CDs.

Then I read the article.

It looks like the schema being proposed will allow what I consider to be plenty of copies for typical fair use requirements. We do, in the Modulator family, make mix CDs and backup copies for the car and other places with high risk of theft. As long as I can make 3-4 copies I really don't care whether I can make 7, 8 or more copies of a CD or for that matter whether I can put a song on an IPOD (yea, I know lots of you like IPODs).

Oh, and has anyone run across any betting lines on how long before the most onerous of the copy protection schemes will be breached? If one really wants to some of the approaches appear to be rather trivial to get around.

Posted by Steve on June 15, 2005 | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

If You Liked Paris Eating Burgers...

..why, then, you'll love this (turn your audio down a bit if at work). Heck, you'll laugh even if you haven't seen the original.

Via Good Morning Silicon Valley.

Posted by Steve on June 14, 2005 | Comments (1)

Be Careful What You Give Them

I suspect that not many have ever doubted that Microsoft would do whatever it took, give up whatever was necessary or cooperate with any government to make a buck yuan.

Google, though, has tried to make us believe that they are different. Take a look at the Google Corporate Philosophy. Here are a few items:

  • You can make money without doing evil.
  • The need for information crosses all borders.
Unless you want to make money in China and then the definition of evil may be a bit fluid:
In an interview with Playboy, Brin was asked what Google would do if faced with a choice between compromising search results and being unavailable to Chinese users. He responded: "There are difficult questions, difficult challenges. Sometimes the 'Don't be evil' policy leads to many discussions about what exactly is evil."
What you think is safe today may be well be in a government file tomorrow. What you believe is accurate today may well be revised tomorrow at the direction of your friendly government revisionist. Be careful out there!

Via Heretical Ideas.

Update: For a different take see Scobeleizer.

: Corrected currency spelling error.

Posted by Steve on June 14, 2005 | Comments (1)

Census Data on Google Maps

Have you ever wondered why someone would spend the time to create something with no apparent reward? Well, this new site, gCensus.com, which overlays US Census data on Google Maps was fall out from a college class:

Specifically, the course focused on scientific data collected in such fields as fluid dynamics, physics, and weather. The class was small, about a dozen people, and this allowed the class to be somewhat informal in nature. We read two or three published research papers per week and discussed the papers in round table discussions during class meetings.

One of the assigments we were given was open-ended. The assigment was to "do something interesting with a large data set". I looked around at possible datasets and came across the census data. At approximately ten gigabytes, I thought it qualified as a large data. At the same time, spring 2005, Google had just released its map technology. I thought the two were a perfect match and gCensus is the result.

Philip at Google Blogoscoped hints that the author may be at risk of Google closing him down. Is anyone aware of Google shutting down any other sites using overlays on Google Maps?

Modulator previously noted chicagocrime.org which overlays Google Maps with Chicago crime statistics.

Via The Presurfer.

Posted by Steve on June 14, 2005

June 13, 2005

Compassionate Use

Barry Campbell has opened up Compassionate Use:

Tracking the effort to create legal, medical and social justice for sick folks and their caregivers in the United States.
Link up, check in regularly and petition your congress critters, state legislators, county and city politicians to support medical marijuana use now and to work toward ending state terrorism and the war on drugs.

Via The Oubliette.

Posted by Steve on June 13, 2005

June 12, 2005

On Friendship

...the best relationships are voluntarily chosen, the highest and purest relationship is friendship; there is no one down and it's voluntary on both sides.
Mary Frohman, 1947-2005, In Memoriam

Via Jim Henley.

Posted by Steve on June 12, 2005

June 11, 2005

Raich and Torture

Even though it would still not be just in a free society:

To ban marijuana, Congress should have amended the Constitution through the arduous process prescribed by the Framers, just as it did when it banned alcohol. Instead it has amended the Constitution through legislative assertion and judicial acquiescence.
Aand, I think a pretty strong case can be made that the alcohol ban was itself unconstitutional.

On a related note Radley Balko argues that the federal medical marijuana ban may in fact be torture.

Posted by Steve on June 11, 2005

Perishable Art

These Chinese Watermelon Drawings are pretty astounding.

Posted by Steve on June 11, 2005 | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005

Medical Marijuana in Congress

Here is one small action you can take to help return freedom and sanity to the United States:

In the next few weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on an amendment that would end the federal government's barbaric attacks on seriously ill patients in states with medical marijuana laws. We are in striking distance of passing the amendment, but we need your help to do it.

The Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment* would bar the U.S. Department of Justice -- including the Drug Enforcement Administration -- from spending any money to raid or arrest bona fide medical marijuana patients.

Take action now! Contact your representative direcctly now or go to the Marijuana Policy Project Take Action Now page to use their automated email system.

Posted by Steve on June 10, 2005

Friday Ark

Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

We'll post links to sites that have Friday (plus or minus a few days) photos of their chosen animals as I see them (photoshops at our discretion and humans only in supporting roles).

Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email Modulator and we'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 Music and Cats.

And, check out Laurence's fine graphical analysis of Friday Ark boardings.

Arkive editions of the Friday Ark.

Update: Hmmm, a few seemingly deviant exceptions this week. But I figure the animals have to eat, the cook will need a beer and music after cooking and some coffee to energize for the morning after.


  • Duck Pond: Taffy, Sasha and horses added 6/11
  • karbonkountymoos: Cattle and Old Dog added 6/11
  • BirdsOther VertebratesDidn't Make ItExceptions (inclusion not guaranteed)

    Posted by Steve on June 10, 2005 | Comments (21)

    June 9, 2005

    Who Needs a Draft?

    With recruiting techniques like this?

    This young man's experience with military recruiters started while he was still in high school. Perhaps this is one of those areas where a parental consent law might make some sense especially to those who value life. Something along the lines of:

    No representative of a military organization or any other organization that trains people to kill may contact any individual below the age of 21 without written permission of the individual's parents. No individual below the age of 21 may join or enlist in the above referenced organization without written approval of their parents.
    Yes, in answer to your first questions. The above does say parents which is plural which means both parents must sign. Second, I picked 21 and not 18 as individuals in the US have been restrained from the full execution of their rights (alcohol consumption for example) until they are 21.

    Posted by Steve on June 9, 2005 | Comments (3)

    June 8, 2005

    Raich Followup

    Balko has linkage...and more.

    Let's all work together to shove the Raich decision and the whole drug war debacle down the throats of the federal, state, and local drug terrorists...

    Posted by Steve on June 8, 2005

    Beyond Raich

    Why exactly are the drug terorists waging this war on supposedly free people? Dennis Perrin has a few thoughts in answer:

    Still, it seems comical that at this late date we're dealing with shit like this, esp given the larger and more pressing horrors of the world. But systems of control are self-perpetuating, as are the delusions that keep them humming. And criminalizing marijuana requires massive delusion and lying by those who seek control. To be expected. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, alcohol and cigarettes do nothing creative for you and accelerate your chances for death, yet they're legal. Weed, on the other hand, opens a door in your mind and lets you see how you are getting royally fucked on a regular basis, yet it's illegal. Coincidence . . .?
    Go read the rest!

    Via Arthur Silber.

    Posted by Steve on June 8, 2005

    June 7, 2005

    bush on bush

    Jack Balkin has found w doing some self-evaluation. I didn't really think w had it in him. I was wrong.

    Posted by Steve on June 7, 2005

    Acid Substitute

    PZ Myers has found a non-chemical inducer of a bad acid trip:

    My cortical neurons were arcing and snapping and dying with agonized wails from the first page; it's like the dark book of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred to rational people, where words writhe in insane alien geometries and infiltrate the mind of the reader, leading to madness and death and worse-than-death.
    Caveat Lector!

    Posted by Steve on June 7, 2005

    June 6, 2005

    Supreme Court Supports Federal Thugs

    In Gonzalez V. Raich the US supreme court ruled in favor of the federal thugs, justice department and congress, who would deny individuals living in the land of the supposedly free the authority to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes.

    They had an opportunity to fix years of misapplication of the commerce clause and to reaffirm the concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they recently did in Lawrence. They failed.

    There is more The Volokh Conspiracy, How Appealing, Scotus Blog and I'm sure all over the media and blogosphere as the day goes on. The full decision is here (PDF).

    Update: Information on using so-called democratic means as called out in the opinion can be found at the Marijuana Policy Project site.

    Update2: Zombyboy has a somewhat less radical reaction than the above and concludes with:

    What we get today is two irrational decisions rolled up in one: the decision to expand commerce control over increasingly non-commercial endeavors and the decision to continue to insist that marijuana is a more dangerous drug than any of the opiates that are commonly prescribed to relieve pain. Sorry, but I just don’t see it.

    Finally, this from Justice Thomas via NRO:

    If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

    Unfortunately, that sounds about right to me.

    I have not always agreed with Thomas but I sure agree with Zombyboy.

    If the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers should it be retained?

    Update 3: Radley Balko has a lot to say about this. And will probably say more than what I've linked.

    Note that in a free society the debate would not be about federalism, whether the feds or the states have the power (they certainly don't have the right) to enact laws impinging on indidual rights, but whether the state at any level should have this power. My answer is that neither the federal government nor a state government has any valid reason to tell someone whether or not they can grow grain to feed their animals or cannabis to ease their pain.

    A state that abuses its power by enacting such laws or regulations has abdicated its legitimacy.

    Posted by Steve on June 6, 2005 | Comments (2)

    June 4, 2005

    Federal Election Commission Rulemaking

    Well, there certainly has been a lot of electrons spilt over some proposed rulemaking by the FEC. You can find many, many more without looking very hard.

    An excellent evaluation of the whole fiasco comes from the Coyote Blog:

    I have come to the conclusion that arguing over who gets the media exemption is like arguing about whether a Native American in 1960's Alabama should use the white or the colored-only bathroom: It is an obscene discussion and is missing the whole point, that the facilities shouldn't be segregated in the first place.
    Typical responses to the proposed rulemaking in the blogosphere come fromWhile this is too pleasing an activity to apply to the folks on the FEC the sentiment is right on.

    If the FEC makes a ruling inappropriate to free individuals or unconstitutional (not necessarily the same thing) and it is likely that they will as they are a creature of the federal government then, rather than be cowed by these twits, we should all simply ignore them. Yea, there will be allegations, subpoenas, cease and desist orders, prehaps even arrests and court cases, etc., as federal thugs swoop down on free speaking individuals. There are, though, lots of us and even the feds can't build jails very fast.

    That this kind of stuff is even possible makes a telling case that the folks at the top have access to too much of our treasure and are either feeling threatened or believe they can get even more but need to cut off uncontrolled channels of potential challenge. It is long past time to take back control of our own wealth.

    Posted by Steve on June 4, 2005

    June 3, 2005

    Hmmm, ...Not Going to Participate at This Place

    It's called Shagster.net and

    is a site to keep track of your sexual conquests, and give them a rating out of 10 for their troubles.
    I admit to having signed on to Classmates.com but haven't found a compelling reason to join any of other online communities and as John says: This may be the worst Internet community idea I've yet encountered...

    Posted by Steve on June 3, 2005

    Friday Ark

    Cats, Dogs, Spiders and ? every Friday.

    We'll post links to sites that have Friday (plus or minus a few days) photos of their chosen animals as I see them (photoshops at our discretion and humans only in supporting roles).

    Leave a comment or trackback to this post or email Modulator and we'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 Enrevanche.

    And, check out Laurence's fine graphical analysis of Friday Ark boardings.

    Arkive editions of the Friday Ark.


    InvertebratesDogsBirdsOther VertebratesDidn't Make ItExceptions (inclusion not guaranteed)

    Posted by Steve on June 3, 2005 | Comments (16)

    June 2, 2005

    Textbooks I Won't be Buying

    Here is a good example of why legislative sessions should be reduced(Free Reg) to, say, a week if not completely eliminated:

    Maybe Democrats in the state Assembly should just go ahead and write textbooks for California's students. They're so confident they know what constitutes a good one.

    For instance, who knew that making a textbook longer than 200 pages was such a bad idea that there needs to be a law against it?

    These folks have way too much time on their hands.

    The bill's sponser has been bashed a bunch but remember that 42 (mostly democrat) of the 70 representatives voted for this. That Californians elected 42 such bright people to rule their lives is a pretty good indicator that the eduction system there is broken.

    Part of the alleged justification:

    Textbooks are too laden with print supplemental materials, and too uninteresting in style. In the 21st century, the information age, information changes more rapidly than books can be printed. Educated, informed citizens of the 21st century will have to rely on technology and media for information. Textbooks should provide an overview of the critical questions and issues of a subject, and then become a roadmap to guide students to other means and sources of information.
    To which I say, BS.

    I'm long out of school and use the internet extensively to research areas in many subjects. Much, I'd expect, as a K-12 student might do once they've reached a certain level of competence. I also buy 2-4 high school/college survey textbooks a year (plus 20-30 volumes of more in depth material) for my own library. No 200 page textbook can cover the breadth and depth needed for any survey course even to provide the minimal requirements noted above.

    Even if you reduce the range of focus 200 pages is still rediculous. For instance, if you are studying 13th-14th century world economic systems an excellent overview with references to a lot of primary material (much not available on the net) is Abu-Lughod's Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350. It has just over 450 pages. Sure, you can find this subject reduced to a paragraph, a few pages, or a chapter or two but whatever chunk you prefer will be in a volume that should take more than 200 pages to be meaningful....unless its volume N of a series.

    Via The Carnival of Education: Week 17.

    Posted by Steve on June 2, 2005 | Comments (2)

    Drug War Killers

    A guaranteed result of prohibitions is inconsistent product quality which sometimes can have deadly results:

    Seven people have died in Portland from apparent heroin overdoses in the past week, prompting police to warn users that a recent shipment of the drug might be more powerful than usual or possibly poisoned.

    "We're not fans of heroin use," said Sgt. Brian Schmautz, a Portland police spokesman. "But obviously, the last thing we want is to have people dropping dead from this stuff."

    Well, it is not at all clear that this is not what the perpetrators of the drug war want.

    Product quality related deaths can be eliminated simply by ending the prohibition. Then the marketplace would develop sets of branded products with identifiable quality perhaps tested by something comparable to Underwriters Laboratory. Sure, someone could still overdose but it would no longer be accidental but rather, as with alcohol, the user would have to make a stupid decision to consume large quantities.

    Blame for these deaths must be placed on those who legislate for and enforce the drug prohibitions.

    Posted by Steve on June 2, 2005

    WAPO VP Deems bush a Reliable Source

    Yesterday on NPR Michelle Norris interviewed Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post:

    As editor during Watergate, Bradlee was responsible for overseeing the paper's coverage of the scandal and deciding whether to trust his reporter's sources, including "Deep Throat."
    In a discussion about the number of sources required for a story to go forward this exchange took place:
    Norris: I remember from my days1 that reporters generally needed multiple sources. You needed to come back with more than one name to back up your story.

    Bradlee: That is the goal, certainly. Many stories we kept out of the paper because tehy only had one source.

    But, if you think about it for a minute, if the President of the United States tells you something then you don't really need a second source. You don't hear President Bush say this is so and then go check it with somebody. You don't have to do that.

    Hmmm, just when did the president become infallible? Shouldn't the fourth estate be fact checking everything that government officials say? And, with regard to the current president, it should be pretty clear to the press that disassembling, dissembling and dissimulation are the norm.

    We are truly in deep trouble if faith based journalism is now the norm!

    1Norris worked for Bradlee at the Washington Post.

    Posted by Steve on June 2, 2005

    June 1, 2005

    Do You Care....

    ...that IE 7 will not run on Windows 2000 machines?

    Microsoft has confirmed that it won't release a version of its upcoming Internet Explorer 7 for Windows 2000, putting an end to speculation -- some of it fueled by Microsoft -- that the Redmond, Wash.-based developer would offer a more secure, revamped browser to users of that the aging-but-still-used operating system.
    Well, no, I don't care! Firefox runs just fine on the one W2000 machine we still have as well as on the XP SP2 machines we have.

    Posted by Steve on June 1, 2005 | Comments (1)

    Education and Science

    There is plenty to learn and think about at The Carnival of Education and the Tangled Bank!

    Add Zombyboy's article Why the Schools Won't Change to your education reading list!

    And, don't go to the Discovery Institute to learn anything. As PZ Myers reports

    ...their earlier implications of legitimization have been shown to be crass spin, and it has been sharply and unambiguously criticized as "not consistent with…scientific research".
    Well, I guess you could learn how to spin...but, there are probably more reliable sources than these folks.

    Posted by Steve on June 1, 2005

    Summer Reading

    Tyler Cowan's class is in the fall but I know you are all eager students so this reading list should make a good addition to or replacement for your current summer reading list.

    Arnold Kling has a few suggestions for additional material.

    Perhaps in the fall Tyler will post/link his lecture notes and we can all participate in a little on line discussion.

    Posted by Steve on June 1, 2005


    Eugene Volokh does not appear to think highly of the French non vote on the proposed EU constitution:

    As best I can tell from what I've read recently, the substantive arguments for the French "no" vote weren't very sound, either; and peevishness at the political classes' seeming arrogance doesn't strike me as a great reason to vote no.
    He does not go into detail on what those substantive arguments were but there is one argument that I find quite compelling: the document is 485 pages long. Only a lawyer or a judge could love a constitution of that size.

    Consider the brevity of the US Constitution and the huge bureaucratic and legal bloat that has occurred in a modest 200 years. Heck, with 485 pages to start with the EU will need bariatric surgery before it even leaves the starting gate.

    Related notes:

    Lynn Kiesling "...concluded that it was a curate's egg."

    Steeph has probably already voted no today in the Netherlands. He has studied it much more thoroughly than the average voter!

    Posted by Steve on June 1, 2005