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.