Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 21st, 2006

Good source of New Mexico chili peppers

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In various forms: powdered, flaked, mixes, etc. And inexpensive. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Bike furniture

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The Son once did a sculpture that included several (dozens?) of bicycles. When I saw this selection of furniture made from bicycle parts, it occurred to me that he could make good use of the sculpture leftovers.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life

Easy size comparison

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Check it out: enter the dimensions of the object you’re interested in, and see it compared to some everyday object you select.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Daily life

Don Walser, 1934-2006

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Don Walser, the Pavarotti of the Plains, has just passed away. I have several of his CDs. He was a really great country/western singer and also, to all appearances, a fine man.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Daily life

For car fans

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Some family members are big fans of automobiles. Here’s a free digital magazine about cars to satisfy the inner mechanic/driver.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology, Toys

Good site for fans of movies & television

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A reader pointed out this site, which is excellent reading for those who enjoy movies and television. Great stuff.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 11:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Movies

Wanted: a cat

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Wanted not by me (and certainly not by Megs, a very territorial little girl), but by a reader:

My wife and daughter (6.5 yrs old) will absolutely NOT let me get us a dog. I love dogs… cats are another subject. I love cats with “dog” personalities…know what I mean? Dogs are predictable… cats, not so much.

Your Megs sparked an interest in me, however. I’ve done some research and feel that maybe this is a cat we can ALL love.

I’d like your observations on Megs… her strengths and faults. Is she “kid-friendly”? My daughter is quite timid around all animals and our new pet must be well behaved and mellow.

So, when you have a minute, jot down some thoughts for me? I really appreciate it. Our house must have a pet.

First, I totally agree on the interesting differences between dogs and cats—I even blogged about it a while ago. In that post, I mentioned (and linked to) Roger Tabor’s two books on cat behavior. I highly recommend that you get those. Unless you are a long-time cat person—or have immediate access to a long-time cat person—you’re going to need to help understanding your cat. These two books are immensely helpful, with enough photos to hold the interest of a 7-year-old. I suggest that you read the books before you get a cat: the books will help confirm or disconfirm the desire to have a cat, and will create an informed climate for the new cat. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 10:57 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

The proper use of leisure

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I recalled this morning that the proper use of leisure is thought by some (e.g., Plato) to be the study of philosophy. And yet my reading in philosophy these days is quite limited. Perhaps it’s time to take up again one of the books of my youth and have at the glorious struggle once more. Where to begin? One thinks almost immediately of Plato, that elusive guy. Do you guys favor any philsophers? Hegel fans, raise your hands….  Kant….  Hume…

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 9:48 am

Posted in Daily life

Politics in the time of the Web

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Politics Guy (whose tone and approach I applaud and admire) raises two points worth discussing:

a. With the advent of the Web and 24-hour cable news, politics today is over-examined, with too much scrutiny and too much time spent magnifying foibles and missteps into scandals; and

b. The two-party system contains a problem in that it works to divide the country, and in particular allows each party to attack every member of the other party for the missteps of a few.

In this post, I’ll address just the first point, and in its support, one can look at, say, the endless speculations and predictions trotted out as “news” because there’s not enough news to fill all the air time and print space. Too many reporters and too many “news” programs do not simply report but move into speculation and prediction—and Brill, in the now-defunct magazine Brill’s Content, had a regular column that matched predictions against actual outcomes. The predictions did not fare well, but the commentators making the predictions were (outside of Brill’s magazine) never called to account, never seemed to learn, and continued to make their predictions without hesitation.

I recall in particular a prediction made by Cokie Roberts about some sub-committee outcome the next day, and on the next day the sub-committee did something totally at variance with Cokie’s prediction, but on the NPR program she blithely commented on what happened (with no reference at all to her prediction of the day before) and make further predictions for the following days.

OTOH, the closer inspection of politicians and the political process is leading to interesting discoveries, thanks (in large part) to political bloggers (among whose number I am not included)—both the bloggers’ own work and the cross-fertilization that happens as bloggers and reporters read each others’ work.

For example, the surfacing of the famous “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, a fat piece of pork due to Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) came in part because of the new scrutiny and the new visibility.

And finding the two senators (Byrd (D-WV) and Stevens) who had blocked the Coburn-Obama bill to create a publicly accessible and searchable database of earmarks (pork) was due to the work of bloggers from both left and right. (When the two Senators were found out, they both immediately dropped their opposition with strained excuses, and the bill now awaits President Bush’s signature.)

So, in my view, the benefits of transparency and close inspection outweigh the drawbacks. I think it will in time make politicians more uncomfortable in working against the public interest, and it will bring more people a greater understanding of the political process.

Indeed, one flaw I see in the current political picture is the public’s lack of understanding and education about politics. And, being removed, they notoriously don’t vote, and that means that politicians think they can get away with anything. The involvement of the blogs brings more people in to look, and (as is said of debugging open-source programs), with enough eyes, every bug is shallow. With enough people looking on and reporting, errors (of reports or of politicans) are quickly corrected.

So my feeling is: Let the information flow. Let more people look at what’s going on. Let more people write (and read) about it. It’s good for the country. And, incidentally, the Coburn-Obama bill is a big step in the right direction.

In closing, let me note that the work continues even as I write. The dam has broken, and the waters continue to gush forth.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 9:41 am

No more grade-school homework

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The Eldest brings my attention to this article, a review of three books on whether homework in grade school is worth having. The answer, it seems, is “No.” When you look at well-done research, the value of having homework during the elementary years is zero—or even negative, if you consider that students are required to spend hours doing something of no value, when they could be doing things of value—like play.

One of the authors quoted is Alfie Kohn, whose book No Contest: The Case Against Competition I read years ago. He takes the contrarian position that competition is worse than cooperation. Students in an art competition produce worse art than if they’re not competing, students competing in school don’t learn as much as those who cooperate (and, as companies found out, competitive students have to be taught how to work cooperatively instead of competing against their colleagues). Coaches who extol the virtues of competition when looking at athletic contests bemoan competition when it springs up among team members. Very interesting book, with research to back up his position.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2006 at 8:45 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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