Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mathematical Hedge Funds

" Without question, quantitative trading approaches - carrying names such as "black box trading," "algorithmic trading" and "statistical arbitrage" - are all the rage. Lumped in with these mysterious-sounding approaches are high-IQ terms like "pattern matching," "genetic algorithms" and "neural networks." At the essence of these strategies are two distinct features: (1) humans aren't involved in the decision-making process; and (2) models are designed to either "learn" like humans or to detect non-intuitive relationships among a sea of data that can't be readily seen by humans."

My rich friend asked me if I wanted to form a hedge fund with him -- I think this was the kind of strategy he had in mind. unfortunately, i'm not ready for prime-time with statistical arbitrage, and ultimately I agree with the crux of this piece which is that the gains from computer-driven arbitrage will likely be fleeting.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

TechnoUtopian Christmas Stories

From Freedom-to-Tinker:
"How the Grinch Pwned Christmas: The Grinch, determined to stop Christmas, hacks into Amazon’s servers and cancels all deliveries to Who-ville. The Whos celebrate anyway, gathering in a virtual circle and exchanging user-generated content. When the Grinch sees this, his heart grows two sizes and he priority-ships replacement gifts to Who-ville."

And more so check 'em out.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Greg Mankiw's Blog:
"Does the study of economics tend to make people conservative?

I believe the answer is, to some degree, yes. My experience is that many students find that their views become somewhat more conservative after studying economics. There are at least three, related reasons."

Read the whole thing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cure for Diabetes on the Horizon?

National Post:

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

"I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

This would be great -- especially for my dad who's been type 2 diabetic for years.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Libertarian Swing Votes

"Because libertarians tend to be younger and better educated than the average voter, they’re not going away...One more bit from our post-election Zogby poll: We asked voters if they considered themselves “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” A whopping 59% said they did. When we added to the question “also known as libertarian,” 44% still claimed that description."
Of course we mustn't forget that the majority of the electorate are stupid and ignorant.

Monday, December 11, 2006

UN downgrades man's impact on the climate
"Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent."

i'm shocked, shocked! Of course if you read on you'll see the UN is sticking to overblown claims about how much the temperature "may" rise in the future ... but they have downgraded their previous [irrationally high] estimate of how much sea levels "may" rise (why? because measuring the rate of sea level change is easy and its still rising about an inch every fifteen years, just like it was a hundred years ago.) This is a major blow to global warming psychos, because this is their own people, the very scientists who profit from environmental hysteria, moderating their climate predictions.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm Listening to ...

So, every month some new music videos are put up on xbox live, and I've found some good songs there (thanks Micro$oft for this freebee) recently. Back in september i discovered the wonderful group Audioslave. Check out their songs "Like a Stone" and "original fire". A few weeks ago I discovered a nice tune called "Los Angeles is Burning" by Bad Religion.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Penn & Teller: Global Warming is BS

Personally I've only seen a few episodes of "BullSh!4", and the rough language marred the experience for me, but I loved their point of view and presentation. I also saw Penn interviewed on Glenn Beck and thought he was great. Now, I'm extremely gratified to report that they have correctly categorized global warming as kine excrement.

Link to YouTube video.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gears of War

Gears of War Poster
Originally uploaded by Datamax.
OK, so I've been spending a truly sick amount of time playing a game that I simply must blog about a game that has totally blown my mind ... Gears of War. If you already own an xbox360, then you must run, not walk, run out and buy this game. If you're one of the unfortunate unwashed mass of luddites out there yet to have the glory of high def gaming via the 360 -- its worth every penny of the $400 price tag. (think of it this way, the 360 is only marginally more expensive than an iPod!)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

MIT Prof on Global Warming

From Dr. Lindzen, my hero:
Over the last 100 years or so, globally averaged surface temperature, which is always varying a little, has gone both up and down, but over the whole period it is estimated to have risen about half a degree centigrade (using the US National Climate Data Centre's analysis; other analyses give as much as 0.65C).

However, this value is associated with substantial error bars, and the warming is occurring in a system that can vary about that much without any forcing at all - something not surprising in a system that is both turbulent and heterogeneous.

Yes, there does appear to be warming, but the amount is hardly certain or indisputable. And the amount found does not appear that alarming.

The alarm, I would suppose, comes from the notoriously inadequate climate models.

Ah yes, my favorite chestnut from my years as a graduate student: proof by computer simulation. It was shoddy science then, and its shoddy science now. True science should be based on empirical observation, and models verified by empirical observation (ie models that make measurable predictions that can then be checked against reality to ascertain the model's accuracy). To call global warming alarmism "science" is a gross distortion.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Climate vs. Weather

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US government agency, announced that for the second consecutive month, temperatures across the US were actually cooler than average. We can't whine about lack of coverage here because in fairness, ABC's Bill Blakemore (presumably an Al Gore voter) jumped right on the story. However, they spent as much time telling viewers how this trend did not debunk the global warming theory as they did reporting on the fact that temperatures dropped. ABC went on to explain to its viewers that this was a trend in weather, not climate. Big difference.

They're actually right about that, and we'd agree with them on that point. But as Noel Sheppard points out over at NewsBusters, back on August 4, Blakemore reported on the nation's heat wave, citing it as evidence of so much global warming. Apparently, it's climate when the temperature goes up, it's weather when the temperature goes down.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Via Instapundit

We see odd symptoms of this progressive disease in the most surprising ways. Note the current agitating for intervention in Dafur—but without promises to “stay the course” when it gets messy (and it will); note also sermonizing about the killing there without frequently mentioning the culprits: radical and racist Islamists (notice the odd preference for the passive voice that thousands “perish” or “die” rather than Islamic nomadic and Arab nationalists raping, butchering, and machine-gunning them).

It is hard to know whether liberals are more scared of doing nothing while 400,000 “perish” or indirectly aiding George Bush’s trumped war against terror by lending their support to stopping radical Islamic killers, many of whose enablers in the Sudanese government were the very ones who hosted Osama bin Laden.
The steadfast refusal of some in our body politic to call a spade a spade puzzles me. The same kind of head-in-the-sand mentality applies to the current debates about racism in higher education, where blacks and hispanics recieve more help than other races in admissions and financial aid.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Liberals tolerate anything but Christianity

There must also be the legitimate suspicion that Christianity is regarded as a “soft target” by union activists. It is doubtful whether student bodies of other faiths would be informed that they had to accept those who did not wish to uphold their beliefs as executive committee members or have their termcards scrutinised for perceived slights against homosexuality.

This article goes out to Lewis Pasiliao.

Friday, November 17, 2006

John Edwards, PS3, and Walmart

Yesterday, a staff person for former Sen. Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart
electronics manager in Raleigh, North Carolina to obtain a Sony
PlayStation3 on behalf of the Senator's family...
The Company noted "the PlayStation3 is an extremely popular item this
Christmas season, and while the rest of America's working families are
waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front.
While, we cannot guarantee that Sen. Edwards will be among one of the first
to obtain a PlayStation3, we are certain Sen. Edwards will be able to find
great gifts for everyone on his Christmas list."

What a crock. Just because he's an ex-senator he thinks he gets special access to the PS3? Give me a friggin break.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mark Tapscott

Via -:
"When Republicans worry more about staying in government than about limiting government, they get thrown out of government."
Beautifully put. I can't help but feel like the GOP's current pain is well deserved ... I'm just not happy that we have to suffer through the next few years of a D-Rat congress.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The New Yorker:

The Critics: A Critic At Large:
"Converse concluded that “very substantial portions of the public” hold opinions that are essentially meaningless—off-the-top-of-the-head responses to questions they have never thought about, derived from no underlying set of principles. These people might as well base their political choices on the weather. And, in fact, many of them do."
My only surprise is that political scientist needed a bunch of research to reach this conclusion.

Election Day Approaches

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Election Day Approaches:
"So the next time a friend of yours tells you he's not voting, don't try to change his mind. It's a good bet that if he's not voting, he's not been following the election closely anyway. Maybe he watched a baseball game instead of the debates. Maybe he is bored silly with all the talk of targeted tax cuts, privatized social security, and campaign finance reform. Maybe he's as ignorant about public policy as those focus groups of undecided voters that are the media's latest darling.

So rather than pushing your friend to the polls, perhaps you should thank him for staying at home. He's making your vote count just a little bit more."
Via Instapundit. Nice -- I actually favor some sort of basic intelligence test prior to voting to ensure that voters have some minimal level of knowledge and understanding of the issues.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Kerry Fiasco

Senator Bill Frist - VOLPAC:
"it is perfectly clear what Mr. Kerry said … what’s unclear is whether Mr. Kerry ever means what he says. Perhaps he was against his comments before he actually made them."
I've been sick these last two days -- which has been horrible (stomach flu). the only upside has been watching Kerry be ... himself. I think this will be a big galvanizer for the republican base ... folks like my parents, for example, are probably apoplectic right about now. Angry first for the comments and doubly angry for the lack of a contrite apology. What a show ...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How I will vote

I received a sample ballot today, so I'm sharing how I'll vote with everyone.

Senator: Katherine Harris (R). This is a tough one because I've had the unpleasant opportunity to hear Ms. Harris on the radio, and she sounds like a typical politico. I also harbor a secret desire to see the GOP go down in flames this election cycle -- they must be punished for their sins! (think: Katrina-motivated nanny statism, the lack of spending restraint, corruption-earmarks-pork, anti-liberty legislation).
But. The dems would only be worse. The sad part is that I feel like many republicans are banking on this; it seems like ive heard at least two right wing radio hosts say just that, and that's pretty pitiful. (hey, im but ugly and a mental retard, but you should see the other guy ...)
Also Bill Nelson is a total A-hole -- i just despise his blatant pandering to the old people in his ads here in florida.

Govenor&Lieutenant: Crist and Kottkamp (R). Again, I don't like Crist -- i didn't vote for him in the primary; but his democratic opponent is pratically promising to raise my taxes. and believe me, i already pay enough.

Attorney general: I'm not voting because I have no idea who these guys are.

Chief Finanical officer: not voting.

Superintendent of schools: Tibbetts (R) -- Tibbetts sounded good when speaking: run a tight ship, treat the schools a business, manage costs, track performance ... my first cringe-free vote.

Judges: I'm voting that all the judges be put out on their ears. Rep and Dem alike, I just feel like we need fresh blood there.

Congress: Jeff Miller (R). See senator above -- I actually rate jeff miller above harris, but if he'd had a more stellar record on pork I'd be more enthusiastic.

Amendment1 (to limit non-recurring revenue expenditure): YES. This will make it harder for florida to piss away tobacco settlement money.

Amendment4 (tobacco advertising) NO. Hell no! This stupid ammendment would mandate anti-tobacco advertising. It would take 15% from the tobacco settlement money and waste it on little infomercials. But it would require matching funds drawn from florida's taxes, 57 million dollars this year alone. screw that.

Amendment7 (Disabled veterens tax break) NO. "disabled" veterens already get a sweet deal -- throwing more money at them through this tax break is just gratuitous.
plus this only applies to old veterens -- its blatant age discrimination/pandering to the elderly.

Amendment3 (broader support) YES. This amendment makes amending the constitution harder by requiring a supermajority instead of a mere 50.00001 %. This is a good idea because it means only more centrist amendments will get passed.

Amendment6 (increased homestead exemption for old people) NO. Hell No! This is more pandering to the old folks crap. In fact this is total shite. Basically its just seniors trying to vote themselves more wealth redistribution from younger working floridians. screw that.

Amendment8 (eminent domain) YES. Bring it on! y'all know how i feel about the travesty that was RAICH, my only beef is that this amendment doesn't go far enough -- it leaves too many holes for local governments to squeeze "takings" through. Don't let the government force you to sell you home so that your property can be developed by some fat-cat: screw eminent domain forever.

So that's pretty much it -- I'll see you all at the polls.

The Straw That Broke the Multi-Culti Camel's Back

TCS Daily:
"14-year old British schoolgirl Codie Stott was arrested for trying to get a good grade in her group science project. She had been placed with a group of students only one of whom spoke any English. When they began talking what she deduced was Urdu among themselves, she realized she had no hope of completing the project. She went to her teacher, and prefacing her request with a diplomatic, 'I'm not trying to be funny, but ...' she asked to be moved to an English-speaking team. The teacher reacted violently, raising her voice in the classroom to shout, 'It's racist! You're going to get done by the police!'"
Its hard to believe stuff like this happens, but there ya go.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Go on an eight-week carbon diet. - By Meaghan O'Neill and - Slate Magazine

Go on an eight-week carbon diet. - By Meaghan O'Neill and - Slate Magazine:
"There's no longer any real doubt about it: Global warming is happening. The average temperature of the Earth's surface has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past hundred years, and overwhelming evidence suggests that most of the increase is due to greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide released by humans. Though a 1-degree increase might not seem like much, even a small rise in global temperature significantly changes the climate, potentially resulting in major storms and droughts, disruption of the food supply, and the catastrophic spread of disease."
I call BS. The first part is right, of course, the earth has warmed a degree in the last century. But there is NOT overwhelming evidence that "most" of the warming is caused by GGs. To quote from the International Panel on Climate Change:
From the body of evidence since IPCC
(1996), we conclude that there has been a discernible [a small 1% effect is discernible] human influence on global climate. Studies are beginning [beginning = the science is not settled] to separate the contributions to observed climate change attributable to individual external influences, both anthropogenic and natural. This work suggests [but does not show conclusively] that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial [substantial could mean 10% or 80% of the contribution, the scale is still unknown] contributor to the observed warming, especially over the past 30years. However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing.

More importantly, there is zer0-zip-nada evidence that modest warming will result in "major storms, droughts, catastophic spread of disease" (which is why Meaghan uses the sneaky word "potentially" when describing these horrors.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet

New York Times:
"Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong."
Too true. This article correctly harps on the new online gambling law that has ticked off millions of online-poker players, but the sentiment applies equally well to copyright law and file sharing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why are Universities so racist?

BLACKFIVE: Why are Universities so racist?:
"Universities discriminate because a merit-based entrance system would not match the rainbow diversity required by the left. Once you accept that as fact, there are two paths you can take. One is the current system of using racial preferences to elevate chosen victim groups until the rainbow is duplicated, the second is the much tougher choice to admit that racism is not the reason there are too few qualified black and Hispanic applicants"
Yep, racism against whites and asians. I think this sort of thing only hurts blacks and asians in the long run, because it becomes that much harder for truly qualified black and hispanic students to prove themselves. The situation also strengthens subtle discriminatory mind-sets by throwing white university students into contact with black students who are less qualified, on average.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Everyone You Know Thinks the Same as You
"Studies show that most people interested in politics associate nearly exclusively with others who have similar political beliefs. In fact, research by sociologist David Knoke at the University of Minnesota shows that if you know whether a person's friends are Republicans, Democrats or independents, you can predict with near certainty that person's political views.

Homophily may help explain some of the bitter partisanship of our times -- when your friends are drawn exclusively from one half of the electorate, it is not surprising that you will find the views of the other half inexplicable."
Living in an echo-chamber -- I actually wrote an engineering paper on this phenomenon last year at a cooperative-control conference. Basically, when you associate exclusively with like-minded people, you become irrationally confident in your shared views.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A secular version of Kingdom Come

spiked | A secular version of Kingdom Come:
"The environmental belief pattern fulfils all the demands of a secular religion, elevating the elect few above the common herd of vulgar, unthinking consumers; creating secular rituals, like fastidious eating, and garbage-sorting, as well as a full calendar of public worship, or protest. And like all religions, ecology has its eschatology, its end-time, the belief in the coming apocalypse, or to give it its modern name, climate change."
so true. Global warming alarmists exercise such blind faith in the climatologist "experts", who are meanwhile directly profiting from the environmental hysteria through massive increases in their funding -- kind of like some religious leaders profit from inculcating hysterical blind faith in their religion's adherents.

Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech

spiked :
"The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalised, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.

Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate."
Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Is Mankind Warming the Earth?

Proud To Be Canadian .ca:
"Ten years ago, Danish researchers Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen first hypothesized that cosmic rays from space influence the Earth’s climate by effecting cloud formation in the lower atmosphere. Their hypothesis was based on a strong correlation between levels of cosmic radiation and cloud cover – that is, the greater the cosmic radiation, the greater the cloud cover. Clouds cool the Earth’s climate by reflecting about 20 percent of incoming solar radiation back into space.

The hypothesis was potentially significant because during the 20th century, the influx of cosmic rays was reduced by a doubling of the sun’s magnetic field which shields the Earth from cosmic rays. According to the hypothesis, then, less cosmic radiation would mean less cloud formation and, ultimately, warmer temperatures – precisely what was observed during the 20th century.

If correct, the Svensmark hypothesis poses a serious challenge to the current global warming alarmism that attributes the 20th century’s warmer temperatures to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases."
I've always had a gut feeling that celestial conditions will be found to be much more significant for global temperature trends than carbon-based air pollution.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

men have higher IQ than women ?

Its official, men have higher IQ than women:
"At each and every level of family income, for every level of fathers' and of mothers' education, and for each and every one of seven ethnic groups, males had higher G scores than females, the study found.

A study of 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence, has confirmed a surprising new finding -- that men have a 4- to 5-point IQ advantage over women by adulthood.

Because girls mature faster than boys, the sex difference is masked during the school years, which explains why the sex difference was missed for 100 years."
I'm not sure what to make of this. Frankly, I believe it. I note however that this means nothing for any individual woman: my wife for example, or my daughter for that matter, are extremely intelligent women. That's the key thing to remember about these statistics -- average group capability says nothing about an individual's capability.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

same-sex marriage confusion -:
"IS THERE A RATIONAL BASIS for banning same-sex marriage?"
The rhetoric on this subject is totally backwards. The headline should read:
Is there a rational basis for re-defining marriage to include homosexual unions?
The problem here is three-fold:

First, the burden of proof has magically been moved from those seeking a change of the status-quo (ie the gay-rights crowd who are hell bent on changing the meaning and *legal definition* of the word marriage) to those who oppose such change. Does this strike anyone else as bass-ackwards? Usually when someone seeks to change a venerable and well-functioning institution, the burden of proof falls on those seeking alteration, not vice-versa.

Second, the phrase "ban same-sex marriage" misrepresents the issue. Imagine, if you will, someome who proposes a "ban on heterosexual marriage". To me this sounds like a law against forbidding men and women from living together as husband and wife. This is *not* how I would describe someone who was merely quibbling about the *label* that society attaches to a man and woman living together as husband and wife.
AFAIK, noone is proposing a ban on homosexuals living together as a couple -- so why the disengenuous rhetoric? Traditionalists merely oppose redifining a word that provides a useful distinction, a description of certain type of solemnized co-habitation.

Third, the question (as posed) is a raging case of Circulus in demonstrando (circular argument). In other words the whole issue is posed in a way that accepts homosexual relationships as a form of marriage -- the very thing that is at dispute! No honest discussion of this issue can begin with a question including the words "same-sex marriage", because for traditionalists of my persuasion those words are meaningless: marriage is (by venerable and long-standing definition) never same-sex.

Lastly it also occurs to me that this SSM push seems fundamentally illegal -- all of the laws governing marriage have been passed with a traditional marriage in mind. By redifining the word marriage, a revolution in law will have been perpetrated in an essentially un-democratic way.

TIME: Another Ice Age? (1974)

TIME Magazine, Jun. 24, 1974:
"However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."
A nice article in Time magazine circa 1974 when all the experts were convinced we were heading for another ice age. Yep, global cooling has been a real bitch for us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Natioal Academy of Science -- junk study on women in science

The Becker-Posner Blog:
"The study was conducted by a committee appointed by the NAS (along with the National Academy of Engineering), and it concludes that women's underperformance in academic science and engineering relative to men is caused not by any innate differences between men and women but by subtle biases, and by barriers in the form of refusing to make science jobs more 'woman friendly.' The study is available online at

The study will, one hopes, be carefully dissected by experts, but I will be surprised if it stands up to expert scrutiny."
Me too. I'll go out on a limb here and say that men *on average* are innately better at the spatial sort of reasoning required in many science and engineering disciplines. Just my own observation and experience.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Photic sneeze reflex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Photic sneeze reflex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Photic sneeze reflex (also referred to as sun sneezing, photogenic sneezing, or whimsically called ACHOO, a backronym for Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst) is a medical condition by which people exposed to bright light sneeze. The photic sneeze reflex can also cause one to sneeze many times consecutively. The condition occurs in 17% to 25% of humans with more common occurrence in Caucasians than other human races. The condition is passed along genetically as an autosomal dominant trait.

The first mention of the phenomenon is probably in the later work attributed to Aristotle (Problems, book XXXIII).

The probable cause is a congenital malfunction in nerve signals in the trigeminal nerve nucleus. The fifth cranial nerve, called the trigeminal nerve, is apparently responsible for sneezes. Research suggests that some people have an association between this nerve and the nerve that transmits visual impulses to the brain. Overstimulation of the optic nerve triggers the trigeminal nerve, and this causes the photic sneeze reflex."
I have it, my father has it, my wife and children have it -- now I know why.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

South Park Revealed -: "We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We've had him say bad words. We've had him shoot a gun. We've had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn't just show a simple image."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Center for Information Technology Policy » Voting Study

Center for Information Technology Policy » Voting Study

Go to this Princeton website and watch the video ... awesome. As I've said before, Diebold voting machines are trash.

Find entire albums - using Google

Just replace the word "band" (keeping the quotes) with the band or artist you want to find. Should give you entire folders of music. Yes, I know--it's an old trick, but I've lost this link many times and figured many others had, too.

click here to find mp3s

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finding an Edge: Sports betting markets

"PicksPal is a free sports site where people “bet” on upcoming games. No money is involved. If they win, their point total goes up and they have bragging rights around the office. Since launching about a year ago over 100,000 people have joined the site, making daily picks on just about every kind of sporting event in the U.S. ...

Recently, however, the PicksPal team noticed that a very small percentage of users tend to be correct in their picks significantly more often that they should be statistically. When they grouped these special users they found them to be a powerful predictive force.

Sports betting (both legal and illegal) is a massive worldwide business. Participants are always looking for an edge and are willing to pay for picks by “experts”...

Tom and his team figured out pretty quickly that there was a potentially massive business here. And next Tuesday they are going to start tapping into that business when they launch what they call “Genius Picks”. For $10, users can get access to the collective wisdom of the 30 best PicksPal players over the previous five weeks in a given sport, and get five predictions on upcoming games."
Makes me wanna get into the sports betting thingie.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Piled Higher and Deeper

Nature of modern science:

Gun Rights victory in Brazil
"The notion that an individual right to arms might be included within international human rights law is, of course, a compelling one."
Instapundit has a nice pull quote from the NYT -- the funny thing is how the Times implicitly takes the argument that "the bearing of arms is a right" as some kind of devious NRA ploy, a shady tactic to oppose the holy purposes of anti-gun activists.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Club For Growth

Jeff Flake on Earmark Reform Nice video showing my new favorite politician, Jeff Flake, speaking on the recently passed earmark reform.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Politics Central:
"France’s newspaper of record accuses the Israeli army of deliberately firing at journalists and destroying media property (including the Al Manar studios). France’s state-owned television network produces, broadcasts, and distributes worldwide a blood libel against Israel. A cameraman employed by France 2 films staged news. And somehow French society can accommodate all of these attitudes and practices. But when a media watch site calls for the dismissal of those responsible for producing, broadcasting, and defending a falsified news report that accuses Israeli soldiers of the cold blooded murder of a Palestinian child, the director is sued for defamation, for sullying the honor of the plaintiffs.
How will this case be pleaded, tried, and judged in a French court?"
Too much info in this article to summarize. If you're interested in state-sponsored oppression of freedom to think in good ole France, then follow the link for an unbelievable attack on the liberty to question state media.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Burning Man: Our Review

Tim’s Blog:
"After a two-hour traffic snarl at the gate, we arrived at our camp: exhausted, surly and coated with a fine layer of dangerous alkali dust. If the founder and King Rat of Burning Man, Larry Harvey, had been present we would have gladly taken turns shocking his balls with a car battery, Abu Ghraib-style. We were that pissed. Larry was likely in St. Bart’s spending our money, or perhaps in a fabulous underground lair built by enslaved hippies from previous burns, or maybe just laughing from his Lear jet above in his trademark white Stetson."
OK backrgound information: Burning Man is a one week celebration held in the middle of the desert in Nevada every year, mainly attended by SanFrancisco new-age hippie types. Its in the news annually being plugged by the Web 2.0 shills in places like Wired and BoingBoing.
Anyway, this is a totally hillarious review. I laughed my head off reading it because it sort of vindicated what I had already supposed Burning Man was all about. Note that the article is R-rated for vulgar language, so don't read it if colorful language offends you.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sullivan Smackdown

Protein Wisdom:
"How a reminder by the President of his administration’s long-standing position and strategy for fighting the War on Terror comes to be characterized as “cynical” is beyond me—though perhaps for Sullivan it is somehow unfair, two months before an election, for the President to make his case for the administration’s ongoing war strategy in order to clearly differentiate his policies from those of his political and ideological opponents, who use any and every opportunity to second guess and criticize."
Read the whole thing. Via Instapundit.

more pictures ...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hack the vote

"Black Box Voting found that given $12 in tools, four minutes, and a little determination, you can access a Diebold voting machine's memory card, remove and replace it without a trace. This new development really isn't all that surprising given that it's been shown that these machines can be hacked in more than one way, even by monkeys. Concerned citizens, just switch to absentee paper ballots from now on -- it may be low-tech, but it's a hell of a lot more secure going the 'old-fashioned' way."
Diebold's technology sucks, plain and simple.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Who should replace Kofi Anan at the UN?

The Bullwinkle Blog » Blog Archive » Time Asks, I Answer.:
Tony Soprano. He’d steal less. He wouldn’t take any shit from anybody and a UN Resolution would be enforced, or else. They’d need a new sign though…
(Via Instapundit.) Go check out the proposed new logo of the UN -- friggin' hilarious.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Global Warming's Real Inconvenient Truth

RJ Samuelson at Wapo:
"Al Gore calls global warming an 'inconvenient truth,' as if merely recognizing it could put us on a path to a solution. That's an illusion. The real truth is that we don't know enough to relieve global warming, and -- barring major technological breakthroughs -- we can't do much about it. This was obvious nine years ago; it's still obvious. Let me explain."
Here's the thing enviro nut-jobs are loathe to admit: there's a finite amount of oil in the earth -- some say we've already passed "peak oil", the point of highest annual production, but all agree that we'll eventually run out.
Question: What is the probability that we, as a global economy, will not use all of the oil?
Answer: Zero. Someone will use it. Its cheap and we have trillions of dollars worth of equipment that requires it to function. We could pass Kyoto, pass even more draconian legislation -- America could stop using petroleum all together and STILL the oil would be burned by someone, by some struggling poor economy desperate for cheap energy.

The upshot is that all of the carbon contained in the oil will be put in the atmosphere -- there's just no question about it. So let's all stop whining about global warming and stop pretending that punishing american consumers is going to produce anything positive.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

America: More Like Sweden Than You Thought

TCS Daily:
"In the USA the poor get 39% of the US median income and in Finland (and Sweden) the poor get 38% of the US median income. It's not worth quibbling over 1% so let's take it as read that the poor in America have exactly the same standard of living as the poor in Finland (and Sweden). Which is really a rather revealing number don't you think? All those punitive tax rates, all that redistribution, that blessed egalitarianism, the flatter distribution of income, leads to a change in the living standards of the poor of precisely ... nothing."
Interesting income data that proves, in my view, how ineffective modern nanny states are at improving the lot of the poor (at least relative to free-market capitalism). Via Instapundit.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by willard_curtis.
this little icon (which will now appear in my sidebar) will automatically add a feed from technoutopia to your windows live homepage. So give it a click if you're a windows live fanboy or fangirl.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Nation Divided Over Piracy

Wired News:
"In Fleischer's world, the Motion Picture Association of America and rights holders are attacking digital technology itself, trying to hang on to an outdated model. 'It's an inevitability that digital data will be copied.... The alternative to peer-to-peer piracy is person-to-person piracy,' he says. While some online pirates take pains to distinguish themselves from those who sell counterfeit DVDs and CDs, he sees such physical bootlegging as just 'a symptom of underdeveloped computer networks.'

When asked about compensation for artists, both men reject the language itself. No artist sits down to 'create content,' Fleischer says. 'Culture has always been heterogeneous,' and money is only one way of rewarding creativity. The idea of a rights holder, like a record label or movie studio, that patronizes and distributes human creativity is, for Fleischer, 'a very strange utopia that has never existed.'"
Another Wired article on piracy; this one covers the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds "Pirate Party" of Sweden -- a political group poised to overtake the green party in terms of parliament representation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Secrets of the Pirate Bay

Wired News:
"So fast was the Pirate Bay's rebound that some news articles reporting the site's demise went to print after it was back up, recalls Peter. The resuscitated site had a few glitches, but the resurrection was remarkable in that it had never really happened before; when the major American rights holders take a website down, it stays down. The pirates delivered a victory message to the MPAA, and the Swedish equivalent, APB, through the site's reverse-DNS, which now read:"
Great article on my favorite bittorrent site, The Pirate Bay. My favorite quote from the article, and the sentiment that makes the Bay so endearing:
He chose the name Pirate Bay to make clear what the site was there for: no shame, no subtlety. These people were pirates. They believed the existing copyright regime was a broken artifact of a pre-digital age, the gristle of a rotting business model that poisoned culture and creativity. The Pirate Bay didn't respect intellectual property law, and they'd say it publicly.
Viva la revolucion!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Becker-Posner Blog

The Becker-Posner Blog:
"Illegal gambling is a standard example of a radically underenforced, 'victimless' crime ('victimless' in the sense of being a voluntary transaction, as distinct from a coerced transaction such as theft. The gambling laws are underenforced largely because gambling is victimless, which makes detection difficult and also reduces the public’s willingness to devote resources to preventing it. The argument for criminalization is that gambling is an unproductive and often an addictive activity that, by virtue of its addictive character, drives the gambling addicts to bankruptcy."
Great essays on the ins and outs of legislation on internet gambling.

Cambridge in Colour - Digital Photography Tutorials

Cambridge in Colour - Digital Photography Tutorials:
"Digital Photography Fundamentals

* - A Background on Color Perception
* - Understanding Digital Pixels: PPI, Dithering and Print Size
* - Understanding Bit Depth
* - Understanding Image Types
* - Understanding Digital Sensors
* - Understanding Camera Metering & Exposure
* - Understanding Image Noise, Part 1: Concept and Types
* - Understanding Image Noise, Part 2: Examples and Characteristics
* - Understanding Sharpness
* - Understanding Depth of Field"
This is a great site on digitial photography. For example in his techniques section, he explains how one can take several shots at different exposures and then combine them (digitally) to produce a photo that has superior contrast. Emily, this site is right up your alley.

Monday, August 07, 2006

USA running a trade surplus?

The Skeptical Optimist:
"In other words, our assets abroad must be worth a lot more than “the books” would indicate, because there aren’t many other ways to explain why we are earning (net) $30 billion today on foreign direct investment, instead of paying out (net) $210 billion that the “books” would suggest should be the case. For a good illustration of that key point, read the Euro Disney example in the paper.

We’re running a trade surplus"
Interesting thesis.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Survey: Most obese claim to eat healthy - Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News:
"More than three-quarters of obese Americans say they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than 11,000 people.

About 40 percent of obese people also said they do 'vigorous' exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

'There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise,' said Dr. David Schutt"

I find this very funny -- also, I know certain [obese] members of my family who are totally convinced that they have very healthy diets (especially compared to my diet).

Thursday, July 27, 2006


The Volokh Conspiracy - -:

The classic example of chutzpah is the person who murders his parents, then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan. But how about a government leader that puts a terrorist organization in his cabinet; gives the organization free reign over the southern part of his country from which the organization every so often attacks a neighboring country; and defends the organization as 'liberators;'* and then demands reparations from the neighboring country when the terrorist organization starts a war?"
I don't know why but i've always loved the word chutzpah -- it makes me feel like I'm a character in Fiddler on the roof or something. Anyway, David's point is well taken.

Pork, Earmarks, and Congress-vermin

The Club For Growth -
"Thanks to Congressman Jeff Flake's 19 anti-pork amendments, we now have every House member on record regarding their positions on earmarks. Before now, House members have been able to avoid scrutiny because their pork was co-mingled with other projects and tucked into the dark corners of big spending bills."
So here's the deal; our congressman (R-Jeff Miller, Florida District 1) has a pretty good record -- he voted against pork on 15 of the 19 ammendments. But why wasn't he 100%? Yes, he could have joined the hundreds of Dems and rebulicans that voted FOR pork on all 19, but I'm not satisfied with even 4 votes for pork.

So I looked a little closer to see what types of pork our dear congressman likes. Answer: 1. ($1,000,000) for a locomotive shop in Penn. 2. Swimming pool in Banning, CA ($500,000) 3. Lewis Center for Education Research ($4,000,000) 4. Leonard Wood Research Institute ($20,000,000)...
24.6 million dollars on a bunch of pork. Thanks Jeff Miller.

Sorry droning on here, but I dug down a little to see some specifics and came across the actual text of the debate on the House floor. They all sound basically the same but I'll copy the dialogue surrounding the first one to give you a flavor of what's being said:

Amendment offered by Mr. Flake (R-Arizona):
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for Juniata Ultra Low Emission Locomotive Demonstration, PA.

Mr. FLAKE: Mr. Chairman, this is $1 million for the Juniata locomotive shop…it goes to a locomotive shop owned by Norfolk Southern. I can't know for sure, because there is no description of the earmark anywhere in the bill.
…Again, here is a situation where we know so little about this earmark, and this seems to be the only forum where we can find out about it ... Has this been authorized? What is the process of oversight? That is what we are here for.

Mr. HOBSON: Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. HOBSON: Mr. Chairman, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Shuster).

Mr. SHUSTER: Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to my colleague's amendment, which seeks to eliminate an important research and development program that would take place in the Juniata locomotive shop, which is in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Yes, that is my district. [ed. Obviously, you freaking vermin. Lets use money from taxpayers all across the nation to fund your buddies in your district.] I am proud to stand up and take claim for this earmark. [ed. its just shameless…]

…This new hybrid locomotive will reduce harmful emissions, increase fuel efficiency and take locomotive research and development in a new direction. [ed. So what? Just because something is good doesn’t mean the federal government should fund it!]

The freight rail industry consumed over 4 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2005 and freight rail traffic has grown at unprecedented levels in the past 3 years. Finding new technologies to save fuel in the movement of freight will benefit everybody. [ed. Bull-crap.]

Additionally, it is important to note that any technology gains from this project and research development will be open to the public. [ed. Keep dreaming. Any technology will be patented by GE so fast it would make your head spin.] So this a 10 percent investment by the public, and everybody will benefit. General Electric will benefit. [ed. That’s the truth] The other rail companies will benefit by this research and development.

Further, Mr. Chairman, this is about more than just reducing energy use. It is about improving our environment. [ed. More bull-crap.]

I prefer working cooperatively with the private sector to reduce harmful emissions of nitrous oxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter. This program seeks to accomplish this as well. [ed. we have a whole federal program to work on protecting the environment – if you want to bump up funding for it, then do so. Don’t try to sneak in this pork under the guise of environmentalism. Freaking vermin.]

Mr. Chairman, I would encourage my colleague from Arizona to withdraw the amendment, but, if not, I hope my colleagues will support me and vote down this amendment. This initiative, if enacted, it will, by 2008, will have hybrid locomotives as well as hybrid cars moving us into the future. [ed. Right – this 1million dollar kickback to a locomotive shop in your district is going to help get us hybrid cars. What a liar…]

Mr. Chairman, let me just make the point that why would we assist only the locomotive sector? What about construction vehicles, highway vehicles? Again, we are picking and choosing, just based on our decisions. We are not the font of all knowledge. [ed. Exactly! Jeff Flake for President!]

And if we decide that we are just going to direct every bit of spending and that we are not going to have oversight because we have directed it and therefore we need no oversight, and all we have in terms of oversight is this 5 minutes that we have really never exercised before to question an earmark when it comes to the House floor, Mr. Chairman, I would submit that we have a broken process here. It is simply wrong. We cannot be doing this.

In 1987, President Reagan vetoed the highway bill because there were 152 earmarks. The last highway bill we passed last year had over 6,000. Other bills have had similar increases in earmarks. And yet we say it is not enough.

If we know our own districts and we know how to direct spending, then why not direct it all? Why not earmark every account?

Again, we have demonstrated again and again, some of the authors of these amendments have not even shown up to defend them. We do not even know if there is any oversight for previous earmarks or for the ones that are here now. Yet we just blindly just say, all right, if a Member wants it, let's approve it.

We try and try and we will come up with an example of where this earmark led to this discovery or that, and we ignore that when we take money from the taxpayers and spend it on a teapot museum or on the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania or on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or on the Baseball Hall of Fame, then we are taking money we should not take from the taxpayers at all.

Go Jeff Flake! Boooo on Miller for the 4 times he voted for federal pork spending.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pictures ...

Hillary Clinton's American Dream :)

ScrappleFace: "The junior senator from New York said the American Dream Initiative “recaptures the spirit of our forefathers.”

“When they journeyed across the mountains and rivers,” she said, “they faced hardship, disease , back-breaking labor and death in hopes that some day they could become middle class, and turn over the reins of their destiny to a large, centralized federal government. The Democrat party represents the best hope for fulfilling that American dream.”

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nice. Fake, but still a nice ad concept. Via John Scalzi's blog.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sony pulls "PSP White is coming" ads in Netherlands - Engadget

Sony pulls "PSP White is coming" ads in Netherlands - Engadget:
"Sony's pulled the plug on their 'PSP White is coming' ad campaign in the Netherlands, which depicted, well, you know."
Want to laugh -- follow this link and check out Sony's ad for the new white psp.

CleanFlicks v. Kate Winslet's Breasts

Reason: How Hollywood won a lawsuit while losing a cultural battle:
"I have no problem with gratuitous nudity (is there any other kind in a movie?), foul language, and graphic violence; but I'm squarely on the side of the easily offended CleanFlicks' customers. They are doing precisely what technology is there for: to create the sort of art, music, video, and text that an individual or group of individuals wants to consume.

By all accounts, the CleanFlicks-type outfits weren't ripping off Hollywood in any way, shape, or form—they were paying full fees for content—and they weren't fooling anyone into thinking their versions were the originals; the whole selling point of CleanFlicks' Titanic is that it spared audiences the original movie's brief moment of full-frontal Winslet. CleanFlicks was simply part of a great and liberatory trend in which audiences are empowered to consume culture on their own terms—not the producers'."
For those living in a cave -- a federal judge ruled that cleanflicks' business model is illegal because it violates the copyrights of hollywood directors ... I hate to harp on these intellectual property items, but are you sensing the insanity here? Here's a company that performs a service that any consumer could legally do for himself (make an edited copy of a movie that was legally purchased). They charge a premium for doing the service; everybody wins. The customer is spared the pain and effort of doing the editing himself. Cleanflicks makes a profit. And Hollywood sells movies to people that otherwise wouldn't buy the smutt-laden offerings. Crazy crazy crazy. To paraphrase the BBC, may this judge rot in hell.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Dilbert Blog: Secret Society

The Dilbert Blog: Secret Society:
"My Solution to the Two Epidemic Crisis of the United States

This is a 2 phase plan that will make our country superior to all other nations on the globe.

Phase 1: Liposuction Farms
We establish a centralized Facilities for Fat Deposits. All citizens we get free liposuction from Enron, Mobile, Shell, BP. These fat deposits will then be taken to be processed into Phase 2.

Phase 2: Lard Bio-fuel Technologies
Fat from the fat people repository is processed and refined into a clean burning fuel to run my automobile.

Now we have a motive to be fat. I am helping our countries dependance on foreign energy sources seems perfectly sane and rationale. Fat people won't feel so depressed. When you put that whopper into your mouth you can smile and feel good about it knowing later on its going to power the world."
humor from a commenter at Scott adams' blog. LMAO.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What's So Great About America?

The American Enterprise:
"For the Third World visitor, the American supermarket is a marvel to behold: endless aisles of every imaginable product, 50 different types of cereal, multiple flavors of ice cream, countless unappreciated inventions like quilted toilet paper, fabric softener, roll-on deodorant, disposable diapers.

The immigrant cannot help noticing that America is a country where the poor live comparatively well. This fact was dramatized in the 1980s, when CBS television broadcast an anti-Reagan documentary, “People Like Us,” which was intended to show the miseries of the poor during an American recession. The Soviet Union also broadcast the documentary, with the intention of embarrassing the Reagan administration. But it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans had television sets and cars. They arrived at the same conclusion that I witnessed in a friend of mine from Bombay who has been trying unsuccessfully to move to the United States for nearly a decade. I asked him, “Why are you so eager to come to America?” He replied, “Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”"
Yeah Americas got problems, but what the anti-american possie lacks is perspective. If considered against, for example, the rest of planet earth, the US is a great place to live. Can you think of somewhere else *you* would rather live? Found via Instapundit.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Instapundit wants in ...
"Still, I'm apparently a Pollyannaish techno-utopian because I hold a Faulknerian belief that mankind will not only survive, but prevail."
Well, Heyyyyy! Glenn reynolds is a technoutopian too. Welcome to the fold. I'm not ashamed of a little optimism and the hope and belief that technology will enable a better world. technology = applied wisdom/knowledge.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Republicans Plan to Wipe Out All Federal Programs
"Apparently rushing to lock in a long-sought goal before the fall elections, GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment - or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.

With strong support from the Bush White House and the Republican Study Committee, the proposal would create a 'sunset commission' - an unelected body with the power to recommend whether a program lives or dies, and then move its recommendations through Congress on a fast-track basis with limited debate and no amendments."
Finally, congress is doing something that I can totally get behind! Please, Let this become law -- imagine a world where federal progams eventually die, unless specifically renewed because they're actually functioning as intended and on budget. The article here is anti-sunset, but the vast majority of watchdog groups eagerly support such restrictions on government power -- sunset committees curb the rampant growth of wasteful inefficient government-style programs.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Porn: Good for America?

"The number of rapes per capita in the United States has plunged by more than 85 percent since the 1970s, and reported rape fell last year even while other violent offenses increased, according to federal crime data.

Hmm. What's different since 1970? Lots of things, of course, though bared midriffs and short-shorts are back. But probably the most relevant difference is porn. In 1970, some people argued that porn caused rape. Since 1970, though, porn has exploded. In 1970 you had to work pretty hard to find porn. Now you have to work nearly as hard to avoid it.

But rape has gone down 85%."
I guess among our people its almost axiomatic that porn is evil, so color me unconvinced by this argurment. In fact, all violent crime massively declined throuthout the 1990s, so I'm thinking there are other causes for the decline in rape. Still, its an interesting thesis. A better way to establish a negative correlation between porn and rape would be to do a state by state or county by county analysis and try to isolate porn and rape and see if the statistics reveal any meaningful correlation after correcting for economic and racial environments.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Diet Progress

As promised, Here's a chart of my progress to date.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WikiMapia: USA / Florida / Shalimar

WikiMapia: USA / Florida / Shalimar:

Here's a cool site. It takes Google Earth data and overlay's a wiki: any site visitor can draw a rectangle on the satellite map and tag a location. Go to the site and mouse over "Wikimapia" in the upper right corner and click on "Add new place". Then you can draw, resize and place a rectangle and add a title and notes. Tres cool. I've linked to my town, and as you can see I've put quite a few locations down for Shalimar and Ft. Walton Beach. If you know more public attractions, go ahead and add them -- that's what wikis are all about, harnessing group knowledge.

Monday, June 19, 2006

No More Cavities?

Damn Interesting:
"Oragenics' approach to stopping tooth decay is straightforward: they have used recombinant DNA technology to produce a new variety of S. mutans which does not excrete lactic acid. Instead, it excretes tiny amounts of an agent called Mutacin 1140 which is deadly to other strains of S. mutans, giving these new bacteria an edge over the existing organisms. Once the modified bacteria get a toehold in the mouth, the existing population of S. mutans will be methodically wiped out, leaving the non-acid-producing bacteria in its place. In the absence of acid-producing bacteria, the teeth have little to fear."

Sign me up for the mutant bacteria! Seriously, sign me up -- I hate flossing. Actually sign my kids up too -- dental bills are such a downer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scientists respond to Gore's climate catastrophe

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe:
"Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, 'There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.' Patterson asked the committee, 'On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?'

Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and 'hundreds of other studies' reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun."
I instantly assumed that Gore was full of it when I first heard about his climate change movie, just from remembering his BS from the election in 2000, but its nice to see others agree with my assessment.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

test your hearing range online

ochen k.:
"Most humans are born with the ability to hear frequencies from about 20 Hz (low) up to 20,000 Hz (high) but that range shrinks as we get older. A guy in England figured that meant kids can hear things adults can't - specifically, very high frequencies. He created a device that pulses an annoying tone at about 15,000 Hz with the idea that when the device is used, it will repel kids while being unnoticed by adult. Perfect for solving that youth-loitering problem you've been having in front of your shop."
I heard the 15khz signal, though it sounded a little fainter than the lower frequency test tones. I could barely hear the 16 khz tone -- it was very faint. 17khz and above, I heard nothing! I guess it was a waste of money buying those ipod headphones that pump out music up to 22khz -- I should have bought the crappy version that tops out at 18khz, I literaly can't hear the difference.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Rat Park

"The colony was built to examine Alexander's hypothesis that drug addiction is a myth and that continued drug use, particularly the use of heroin, is largely the product of unhappiness, not neurophysiological compulsion. Alexander hypothesized that the addiction to morphine commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to the conditions in which they are normally kept, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself."
Fascinating article. Apparently, rats that are kept in tiny little cages with nothing to do all day are 20 times more likely to become "addicts" than rats that have a little freedom, some toys, and some rat-chicks to have sex with.

Google Spreadsheet and Diet

So I wanted to try out Google's new online spreadsheet dealio, and I also happen to be on a diet (ah yes, 174 is too much for my little 5'8" frame). Anyway, here's the Link to a spreadsheet showing my calories consumed and daily weights as well as a four-day moving average of weight.

**Edit** Oops, the link goes to a passworded area of google. Drat, looks like I'll have to just post pictures from time-to-time of my progress.

Read the ad out loud :)

sofaking.jpg (JPEG Image, 418x277 pixels)

Friday, June 09, 2006

me with beard

me with beard2, originally uploaded by jwillardcurtis.

I'm testing Flickr's auto-blogging function. If you're reading this on my blog and looking at a picture of me in monterey 2 years ago with a beard, then I LOVE flickr. Emily is going to go gaga with the functionality offered -- I think we'll probably have to get a pro account and move all of our family photos onto flikr. This will be so worth it -- no more worrying about backing up the photos to multiple hard-drives and constantly archiving the photos onto dvd-r's. :-)


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Before Prohibition: Images from the preprohibition era

Images from the preprohibition era:
"Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup was an indispensable aid to mothers and child-care workers. Containing one grain (65 mg) of morphine per fluid ounce, it effectively quieted restless infants and small children. It probably also helped mothers relax after a hard day's work."
Nice. I think only parents can appreciate this sentiment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More MPAA Idiocy

"A week ago, they were crowing about how shutting down Pirate Bay was such a huge victory for the entertainment industry. Instead, the site was back up two days later, and only suffered additional outages because so many more people started using the site, thanks to the MPAA's inadvertent advertising for the site that, previously, was only known in select circles. Yesterday, we noted the entertainment industry was poised to do the same thing for, putting out official warnings telling people that it was illegal (something AllofMP3 denies), that effectively alerted an awful lot of people where they could get cheap, DRM-free music."
These MPAA guys got hit very hard with the village-idiot stick when they were kids.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Doctor Wasn't Cruel Enough: panic over oxycontin

Reason: "The Doctor Wasn't Cruel Enough": How one physician escaped the panic over prescription drugs:
"Some 90 percent of people who abuse Oxycontin also have histories of using cocaine and psychedelic drugs. Were most of these people innocent 'victims' of evil doctors? Isn't it more likely that they were prior heavy drug users who sought additional drugs and, because there's no objective way of measuring pain, were able to get them from compassionate doctors? Aren't doctors who do believe people's accounts of pain exactly the ones we want in practice?"
This reminds me of a recent encounter with medical fear of being prosecuted for "overprescribing" pain meds. My wife, who suffers from chronic back pain, called a back specialist to make an appointment. The doctor's secretary, before even beginning to ascertain the details of my wife's situation, bluntly stated: "We don't prescribe pain medication".
To which statement I reacted with open-mouthed astonishment. In other words, it doesn't matter if you are in real pain, it doesn't matter if the MRI shows you have 5 herniated disks, we're not going to give you any evil "drugs". Ridiculous! So legitimate sufferers go without pain-meds because the Feds are obsessed with controlling what Americans put into their own bodies???

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The first W:
"When a big story breaks — like, say, a major arrest foiling a frightening terrorist plot in peaceful Canada — the first question anyone wants to know is “who?”. Who did it? That is, after all, the first of journalism’s five Ws: who, what, when, where, why (and how).

But The New York Times on my doorstep this morning didn’t bother answering the who question in its story today until a spare mention of “Islamic” in the 22nd paragraph and “Muslim” in the 31st and even those were not terribly informative. In the fifth paragraph, the suspects were merely “mainly of South Asian descent.” India? Burma? Thailand? Indian? Southeast? Southwest? French-speaking terrorists from Vietnam coming to join their Quebecois confrères, perhaps? Who’s to know?

The Times wasn’t the only one. I heard the report on radio and they didn’t answer the first W, either. This is not journalism. Journalism answers the most basic questions, especially the tough ones.

A later story in The Times used the word “mosque” in the lead. Well, that helps.

Various stories also fell over themselves to say there was no known connection to al Qaeda. So? Is that the exclusive franchiser of islamofascist terrorism?"
Which is why the mainstream media is an almost useless source of information unless you take the time to watch *both* fox news and cnn. Or you could just plug-in to the blogosphere and get better, more concise, information from a diverse collection of informed and intelligent sources.

Monday, June 05, 2006

TCS Daily - Libertarianism and Poverty

TCS Daily - Libertarianism and Poverty:
"Charitable organizations are better suited to dealing with the pathology of poverty. When people get checks from the government, they tend to think of this as an entitlement. They are getting money in exchange for doing nothing. They learn that this is how you get money -- you take it from others. Taking money from others is what criminals do. Productive people get money from other people by exchanging something of value."
Like Arnold in this provocative essay, I favor decentralized non-state solutions to poverty.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

List of Civil Rights Violations ...The Pirate Bay Raid |
"This is a list of all civil rights violations that happened in relation to the raid on The Pirate Bay’s Servers 5 days ago...

1. This was ordered by the MPAA through the White House through the Swedish Government. Prosecutors and police knew they couldn’t act against TPB, but were ordered to anyway. Double or triple fault.
2. Thomas Bodström, minister of justice, gives direct orders regarding specific cases. (This may be a bit odd for foreigners to understand, but ministers aren’t heads of their departments here; they represent the departments to the government, which writes general rules. It is absolutely forbidden for a minister to interfere in a specific case). He has later gone on record denying this.
3. In direct violation with Swedish judiciary custom, the raid takes place.
4. From an investigatory point of view, there is no reason at all to close down TPB. They are completely open and transparent with what they are doing, and the BitTorrent protocol description is public. From an investigation standpoint, there is nothing additional to be gained by shutting down TPB..."
The list goes on and on. This whole fascist police-state action against TPB stinks to high heaven.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

The Volokh Conspiracy - Against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:
A person who opposes same-sex marriage on policy grounds can and should also oppose a constitutional amendment foreclosing it on grounds of federalism...
I'm extremely sympathetic to this viewpoint, but upon reflection (and after reading many insightful comments posted on the above blog-post) I am convinced that an ammendment banning SSM is a good thing.

Here's why. The argument that "this is not a federal matter and should be left untouched by the hands of DC poloticians" blindly overlooks reality. Reality is that federalism is basically dead in the USA. The federal government, and the supreme court, have basically indicated over the past 100 years that there's no aspect of our lives that they're not willing to legislate -- from the womb (by denying the several States to pass laws protecting the unborn) to our bodies (by saying what drugs we can and cannot put in them, because such activity falls under "innerstate commerce") to our schools to ... everything. So to naively say that this ammendment is a blow to federalism is ridiculous -- what federalism? where is this federalism operant?

The constitution is the starting point, the given axiom, the point at which a discussion of the law begins -- therefore any debate about a proposed ammendment to the constitution can't rely on *legal* arguments for direction, because whatever ammendment is passed will trump any a priori legal analysis. Thus, the debate on this ammendment should happen on moral and cultural and social grounds. I hereby endorse any ammendment making SSM illegal in the USA.

Global Warming Fisking

The Daily Ablution: My Response to Johann Hari:
"I repeat my position. For the record, I:

* think climate change is probably happening,
* but wonder if there may not be at least some concomitant benefits,
* go on to suggest that there may be a significant non-anthropogenic component;
* and, consequently, wonder to what extent horrendously expensive measures to combat it are necessary or desirable."
I agree. This is a fun read, but it jumps right into the middle of an on-going debate so be prepared to be a little lost. The post is by Scott Burgess who is responding to an attack by Johann Hari. Hari is attacking Bjorn Lomborg's book "Skeptical Environmentalist" which I've never read but which appearently challenges the prevailing leftist-green doctrine that massive and immediate STate-sponsored intervention is required to avert global catastrophe.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 Raided

Slyck News:
"In a move that many thought would never come, learned this morning that was raided by Swedish police.

“…The police right now is taking all of our servers, to check if there is a crime there or not (they are actually not sure),” spokesperson “brokep” told

The seizure of’s entire server farm will guarantee this BitTorrent tracker will remain offline until the police complete their investigation. The uncertainty on the part of the police may stem from the fact's servers only host .torrent files, not actual copyrighted material."
F**K the POLICE!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Kudlow's Money Politic$: Great American Boom Continued: "Economic pundits keep telling us about the impending slowdown. Well, they’ve been waiting for a slowdown for years. Actually, I’ve heard about this slowdown for 25 years, ever since Reagan restructured and revived American capitalism through low tax rates, deregulation, and disinflation.

The reality is about 3.5 percent growth since the early 1980’s with very few interruptions. Total employment and wealth creation have soared during this entire span of time.

There’s a lesson here: Tax incentives matter. Price stability matters. Markets are smarter than central planners.

Think of it."

Congress needs to be Fired

National Review Online:
"By nothing more than dumb luck, the Republican-controlled Congress—lambasted for the junkets, earmarks, and “culture of corruption” that have aligned to produce the lowest approval ratings in memory—was handed a shot at some desperately needed redemption. All its leaders had to do was make the right choice between condemning the rankest corruption and displaying an outsized arrogance. Guess which one they chose?"
This whole scandal, whereing Congress claims to be immune from FBI probes even when the FBI has a warrant, sickens me. Why would I want Congressmen, of all people!, to be above the law be above criminal investigation. Heck, I'd like to make it easier to probe congressmen -- I say: take Congressman Jefferson to the nearest prison and give him a rectal exam and find out where exactly he's hidden all of his bribe money.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How Police Interrogation Works
"One method of creating a baseline involves asking questions that cause the suspect to access different parts of his brain. The detective asks non-threatening questions that require memory (simple recall) and questions that require thinking (creativity). When the suspect is remembering something, his eyes will often move to the right. This is just an outward manifestation of his brain activating the memory center. When he's thinking about something, his eyes might move upward or to the left, reflecting activation of the cognitive center. The detective makes a mental note of the suspect's eye activity."
This is a fascinating article on how police get confessions -- classic psychological warfare. It amazes me that more suspects don't simply demand a lawyer; every cop show I've seen has the lawyer's first advice being "don't say anything to the police".

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


"In a viral marketing move that's sure to draw the fire of Apple fanboys enthusiasts (probably right here in the comments, if history is any indication), SanDisk has posted a website called 'iDon't' that encourages people to flee the closed iPod universe (the 'iTatorship,' they call it) -- and to pick up a SanDisk Sansa e200 while they're at it. While we certainly won't go into the pros and cons of each company's products here (mainly for fear of getting flamed), we must say that the iDon't site features little compelling content other than a few cheesy wallpaper downloads and some links to anti-iPod sites, and mostly comes across as sour grapes from the runner-up in an industry being dominated by a single player. Still, other manufacturers need to do something in order to gain market share, and R&D is, like, really expensive, so if you can convince a couple of kids to sport t-shirts and buddy icons featuring your propaganda, who knows, maybe a few consumers will bite."
As a proud ownder of iPod's nano, I can honestly say that Apple pwns the digital music market because their players are simply better and the customer experience is superior to their competitors. (Not that I've *ever* bought a song off iTunes, remember fight the power!)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Xbox 360 hack downloadable

"They took their sweet time after the first announcement on March 18th, but finally someone has bothered releasing a redistributable version of the firmware hack allowing you to boot backups on your Xbox 360"
Yes, all you 360 gamers out there can now just borrow the games from your friends and burn them to a DVD+R/DL (if you have access to such a burner). The hack involves opening up your xbox case and plugging the data cable from the dvd drive into an SATA socket on your mobo. Then boot from a DOS floppy disk and run some software to reflash the drive's firmware chip. All-in-all its a straightforward modification, but its going to be too much for 99% of xbox owners out there.

Yahoo 2.0

Technology Review: Emerging Technologies and their Impact:
"For a year or more, a common buzzword uttered by Yahoo engineers and executives has been 'social media' -- the idea that one-to-many communication on the Web has given way to many-to-many communication, and that traffic and conversation naturally cluster around content, such as videos, photos, blog posts, and bookmarks. Examples of social media in action at Yahoo include My Web 2.0, where users can save, share, and tag Web pages they've visited; Yahoo 360, a free blogging and social networking service; and Flickr, which first popularized the concept of 'tagging,' or adding informal labels to content such as photos to facilitate searches later."
Allright, as a self-appointed prophet of the technoutopia I feel it a duty to try and push my friends into this improved technology. Specifically -- web 2.0 sites like flikr and blogger and social networking. So check out yahoo's new junk -- its pretty cool, and what it enables is sharing more of your life with friends and family (via photos on flickr, text on blogs, videos on youtube ...)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Modern Parenthood -:
"We keep hearing about declining birthrates, but raising a kid is far more expensive -- financially, emotionally, and in terms of time -- today than it was a few decades ago. As she occasionally notes, things that were considered adequate, or even examplary, parenting then are now considered abuse or neglect. In fact, when you look at how the burden of childrearing has increased, it seems amazing that we see as many people having children as we do.

Society would be a lot better off (emotionally and demographically) if it would cut parents more slack on this stuff, though as she notes, much of the pressure is the result of competitiveness among parents, particularly mothers."
I agree with this sentiment -- I've often wondered why now-a-days kids just have to have pre-school, soccer league, ballet lesson, music lessons, gymnastics, karate, as well as church involvement as a *bare minimum*. My father, for example, didn't benefit from any of these "enriching activities" and he turned out fine. In fact he probably spent his childhood playing in the forest, smoking cigarettes with his buds and reading comic books. All in all, we make parenting into more of chore than it should be, IMHO.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fire Florida's Senators

"Listed below are Senators, grouped by how many times they voted to support one the three Coburn anti-pork amendments that have come to a vote: the CSX Railroad relocation in Mississippi (Coburn lost 47-50); the 'seafood promotion strategies package' (Coburn won 51-44), and the Northrup Grumman bailout (Coburn lost 48-51)."

OK, here's the deal (and I'm talking to Emily, Kevin Oneal,Lewis P, and Brian Perry especially) both of our state's senators are porkers -- if you check out the link they voted for the two pork projects that narrowly passed (the Mississippi highway boondoggle and the Northrup G bailout, costing us 1.2 Billion dollars together). So here is the link to email Martinez (I can't believe I voted for this SOB. I naively assumed that since he campaigned as a small-government republican that he would be, you know, for a smaller federal government). If watching the federal government piss away your tax dollars on pork projects upsets you, please write and let you voice be heard.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Seize Arab Oil by Force?
"But just to troll a bit more, I do think that seizing Saudi and Iranian oil would be entirely morally justifiable on terms usually approved of by the left: They didn't earn it, they inherited it (it's like the Estate Tax writ large!). They're extracting huge profits for fatcats at the expense of the poor. They're racist, sexist, homophobic theocrats! (Literally!) Surely if it's ever permissible to redistibute wealth by force, this is the case. Right?"
Except american "liberals" try to target only white christians with wealth redistribution schemes, so that's why they'd be contra.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Catallarchy » The Road To Hell Was Paved With Bad Intentions

Catallarchy » The Road To Hell Was Paved With Bad Intentions:
"Like the Nazis, the Communists murdered tens of millions. But even today, few people hold both movements in equal contempt. Citizens of the West remain largely ignorant of the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. But even those who know what happened shy away from the thesis that the two movements were morally equivalent. Why is this?"
Good question.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts

"If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil. Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender: 'If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market?'"
This article is a must-read if you're interested in our fuel situation. I've always believed that ethanol was a con foisted on us by mid-western farmers through our political process.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Oil Dilemma

The Skeptical Optimist:
"here’s a helpful quote from the recent past by Saudi Arabia’s Sheik Yamani, when asked how the oil age might end:

The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones."
Everyone is talking about how expensive gas is nowadays -- and I don't like it anymore than you. However, lets all remember that gas is a commidity whose price is determined by world-wide supply and demand; just like the price of sugar, gold, wheat, steal, ... So moderate your impulse to run to our government asking for a solution. We don't really want to live in a country where the feds control the price of commodities, do we? They kinda already tried that in the USSR and it didn't work too well.

Also, as the skeptical Optimist points out in his post, high gas prices are the best way of transitioning to other energy sources (solar, hydrogen, ethanol, etc.), because lets face it, we're not going to drive hydrogen powered cars untill its cheaper to do so. High gas prices spur the technology that will end the oil age.

Republican Crisis

Via Instapundit:
"Okay, real conservatives, Republicans, and libertarians, stay home. Just...stay home in 2006. Or - what the hell - vote for a Democrat. We have to wake up the Stupid Party, before it completely merges itself into the Republicrat Statist Party."
This is pretty much how I feel ... Republican in power act just like the dems did for all the years they were in power ... where is the reduction in govt spending? where are the school voucher programs? where is the balanced budget? where is the transparent and accountable governance?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sharing = Stealing ?
"Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan: 'Fans who share music are not thieves or pirates ... sharing music has been happening for decades.'"
I couldn't have said it better myself. Of course, nothing will convince the die-hard information-nazis who can't stand the fact that people might want to share media with their friends. Just remember, sharing an mp3 is not much different than sharing a dvd or sharing a book or taping a song off the radio or TIVOing a tv show or ...

Fight the Power!

EFF: RIAA Petition
We condemn the RIAA's choice to force the family of a 12 year-old girl to forfeit $2,000 - money that could have gone to feed, clothe and educate this honor student. We stand with the retirees, parents, children and others who have been caught in the RIAA's line of fire.

We respect reasonable copyright law, but we strongly oppose copyright enforcement that comes at the expense of privacy, due process and fair application of the law.

We urge you, as our representatives in Congress, to stop this madness.

We oppose the recording industry's decision to attack the public, bankrupt its customers and offer false amnesty to those who would impugn themselves. We call instead for a real amnesty: the development of a legal alternative that preserves file-sharing technology while ensuring that artists are fairly compensated.
OK guys, plz go sign this petition and let congress know where you stand.

Stealth Campaign of Uber-Rich to Repeal Estate Tax

Public Citizen | Press Room - Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy:
"18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.

The report profiles the families and their businesses, which include the families behind Wal-Mart, Gallo wine, Campbell’s soup, and Mars Inc., maker of M&Ms...

The report details the groups they have hidden behind – the trade associations they have used, the lobbyists they have hired, and the anti-estate tax political action committees, 527s and organizations to which they have donated heavily.

In a massive public relations campaign, the families have also misled the country by giving the mistaken impression that the estate tax affects most Americans. In particular, they have used small businesses and family farms as poster children for repeal ... But just more than one-fourth of one percent of all estates will owe any estate taxes in 2006. And the American Farm Bureau, a member of the anti-estate tax coalition, was unable when asked by The New York Times to cite a single example of a family being forced to sell its farm because of estate tax liability."
I'm usually against high taxes, for sound economic reasons. However, money has to come from somewhere to fund the military, courts, roads, etc. and I find the current estate tax to be imminently fair. All the hogwash about farmers and small-businesses isn't supported by the facts. The real need for estate-tax reform is at the state level, where many states are much more aggressive than the feds in soaking even the middle class types who die.