Monthly Archives: October 2003

Navel Gazing

Modulator’s 10,000th visitor arrived today (per Sitemeter). Regular readers will remember that number 5000 arrived on September 8. yea, right!
The first 5000 took 126 days and the 2nd 5000 only 53 days. I like that doubling rate but would be pleasantly shocked to see the next doubling (to 20,000 visitors) occur in 53 days.
Oh, and visitor 10,000 was Eric Siegmund, proprietor of The Fire Ant Gazette, who linked from his Sitemeter referral log. Thanks for stopping by.
And, thank you to everyone else who has taken the time to visit.
Happy Halloween!

Taking Tests

Kevin White at Catallarchy is learning the basics of test taking:

Today we had an exam. This was very easy, once I accepted that the professor thinks a “certain way” and expects the highly subjective questions to be answered from that perspective.
This one caught my eye:

True or False: Business leaders have an obligation to see that everyone, particularly those in need, benefit from their firms’ actions.

The answer, in the real world, is so obviously False that it hardly bears discussion. However, within the class, the answer is so obviously True that one scarcely has to stop to consider it.

The basic lesson here applies both inside and outside the classroom. To be successful, and sometimes to survive, you need to understand the perspective of the professor or perhaps the inquisitor. Of course, that does not mean you have to agree with their perspective.

Terrorist Government Developing Super Viruses

From the New Scientist:

A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.
The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.
The work has not stopped there. The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.
The new virus, which is about to be tested on animals, should be lethal only to mice, Mark Buller of the University of St Louis told New Scientist. He says his work is necessary to explore what bioterrorists might do.
But the research brings closer the prospect of pox viruses that cause only mild infections in humans being turned into diseases lethal even to people who have been vaccinated.

As The Speculist says: A legitimate government has no use for this. It is a tool for terrorists.

Buying Work

According to the Center for Public Intgegrity:

Executives, employees and political action committees of the 70 companies that received government contracts for work in either Iraq or Afghanistan contributed slightly more than $500,000 to President Bush’s 2000 election campaign, according to a comprehensive study of the contracts released on Tuesday.

Frankly, I am surprised that the number is so small and would be very interested to see what these same companies have already contributed to bush’s 2004 campaign fund.
Bribing public officials is also a variant of what economists call rent seeking which is defined by Gordon Tullock:

… the outlay of resources by individuals and organizations in the pursuit of rents created by government

Center For Public Integrity reference via the New York Times.