Archive for November 14th, 2006
I find that I’m carrying the Cross Ion gel ink pen quite a bit these days. It fits comfortably in my pants pocket, so it’s handy even if I should wear a shirt with no pocket, and it’s comfortable to write with. Nice pen. Refills (and pens) available in various colors at Staples and the like.
Mentioning Robert Graves and his works led me to start The Long Weekend: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939, which he wrote with Alan Hodge (his co-author as well in writing The Reader Over Your Shoulder). This paragraph near the beginning struck me:
The revolutionary tendency among the Fight Forces [there were several instances of mutiny after the Armistice was signed because of delays in demobilization and poor living conditions - LG] had been idealistic rather than practical: one reason being that everyone who had served in the trenches for as much as five months, or who had been under two or three rolling artillery barrages, was an invalid. ‘Shell-shock’, from which all suffered to a greater or less degree, was a condition of alternate moods of apathy and high excitement, with very quick reaction to sudden emergencies but no capacity for concentrated thinking. It was credibly explained as a morbid condition of the blood, due to the stimulation of the thyroid gland by noise and fear. Shell-shock, which brought distressing nightmares with it, often affected its victims with day-visions and warmed their critical sense. Its effects passed off very gradually. In most cases the blood was not running pure again for four or five years, and in numerous cases men who had managed to avoid a nervous breakdown during the war collapsed badly in 1921 or 1922. Many officers and N.C.O.s, especially in ‘shock-divisions’ and the Royal Air Force, had also become confirmed whisky and rum addicts. The problem of the re-absorption of these men into civil life was complicated by their unfitness for any work that needed reliable judgement and steady application. They had been led to believe that the fact of having served honourably at the Front would be a safe coupon for employment; whereas, on the contrary, the more exhausting their service had been, the smaller was the peace-time demand for them. A million men found that their old jobs had either disappeared or were held by someone else—usually a woman, or a man who had escaped conscription.
I wonder how the US will handle the return of its troops from Iraq, many of whom will similarly be shell-shocked—or, as we now say, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
After installing and trying various themes, I find that I like Classic Compact 2.0.2 the best. It really is compact, giving lots of screen room.
What should I do next? If the question resonates with you, the link shows a cute Web app that you download to your local machine and use through your browser (even if you’re offline).
Very useful, especially since I generally have some “standard” tabs open. Having just the icon gives me lots more tab room. You can set it so double-click shrinks/expands the tab.
For Thanksgiving, I offer you:
Bourbon Yams and Sweet Potatoes
4 1/2 lbs mixed yams and sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 Tbs butter
1/3 cup bourbon
1/2 cup (or more) walnuts, coarsely chopped
Bake yams and potatoes in jackets in a hot oven for 1 hour or until soft. Scoop out the meat and beat it with the soft butter, bourbon, and salt. Don’t overdo the bourbon—I did once and it’s too strong. Put the mix in a shallow, greased baking dish. Dot with butter and walnuts. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.
Actually, all those “yams” in your supermarket are sweet potatoes of one variety or another. The yam is a white, more or less tasteless tropical root with not much food value. When the sweet potato was introduced, the marketing folks wanted a monicker that didn’t include “potato,” hence “yam.”
But, however you call it, the above is very tasty. And you can do all except the oven work ahead of time.
53rd. That’s the rank of the United State’s climate policies among the 56 countries that contribute at least 1% of the world’s greenhouse gases, as determined by the environmental group Germanwatch. “Only China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia” rank lower.
Of course, most countries don’t have people like James Inhofe:
James Inhofe, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, is spending his last days in power attacking a children’s book on climate change. The book, published by the United Nations in March, is “based on the theme of climate change and on what children can do to mitigate effects of climate change.” Inhofe’s staff breathlessly notes, “The book features colorful drawings and large text to appeal to young children.”
Inhofe claims the book conveys inaccurate information about climate change to children. Actually, it’s Inhofe’s press release that’s inaccurate. Here’s an example:
“The morning after his dream, Tore sets out on a quest for knowledge about the dangers of catastrophic manmade global warming. A “snowy owl” informs Tore that “the planet’s heating up” and that both the Arctic and Antarctica “are warming almost twice as fast as elsewhere.” [EPW Note: The Arctic, according to the International Arctic Research Center was warmer during the 1930’s than today and both the journals Science and Nature have published studies recently finding — on balance — Antarctica is both cooling and gaining ice.]
So, Inhofe claims Antarctica is gaining ice. There is only one study that examined all of the ice sheet on Antarctica. The study was published this March and, using NASA satellites, found, “The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year.”
Some right-wing groups have used a study by Curt Davis to claim Antarctica is gaining ice. But Davis’ study only looked at the interior of the continent. Since global warming leads to more precipitation, increased snow on the interior of Antarctica is consistent with climate change. In June, Davis told ThinkProgress that using his study to claim Antarctica is gaining ice is “completely wrong.”
We could go on, but you get the idea.
This isn’t the first children’s book that Inhofe has attacked. He also smeared a book for children written by respected New York Times reporter Andy Revkin. Read Revikin’s response here.
Inhofe is terminally stupid—and also paid mountains of cash by the oil industry to fight the idea of global warming.
This is a good idea, via Consumerist: photocopy the front and back of all the cards in your wallet/purse:
The next time you get the itch to photocopy your ass on the company printer, try this instead: photocopy the contents of your wallet. Now, you might ask why would you want to photocopy all of your sensitive information onto one sheet of paper so that an identity thief could easily steal your very soul? The reason is because if you ever lose your wallet, having a quick photographic inventory will be a life saver. Here are a few reasons why:
- You will have all of your account numbers and all of your credit card phone numbers in one place.
- You will have a copy of your driver’s license that you can use, unofficially, until you get yours replaced.
- You will have a record of all the items you will have to replace.
- If you had any “important” business cards (from other people), at least you’ll now have a record of their information.
- If you have a Constanza-type wallet, now is an excellent excuse to recycle those useless receipts or other slips of paper you’ve acquired. Seinfeld is in syndication, you don’t need to keep all those receipts to feel cool.
So, how should your wallet inventory be taken? Photocopy the front and back of every card (the front for the account numbers and the back for the service numbers) and keep those sheets in a safe place. Remember to date the photocopies so you know how stale that information is and be sure to update it every so often so you have a fresh copy to work with. And be absolutely sure to shred the old copies.
Then Performance Reviews are a part of your life. Here’s how to ace your next one.
Okay, I’ve moved up to Firefox 2.0 and am liking it. It has a nice in-line spell checker that’s useful (though it doesn’t recognize “okay” as a legitimate spelling). And by waiting, Roboform Pro got its upgrade out. The installation is easy, and it automatically updates the extensions that have updates and disables those that don’t work with 2.0, and tells you about it. All my extensions save two work with Firefox 2.0.
I carefully tagged among my del.icio.us bookmarks 15 essential Firefox 2.0 add-ons. So now to work.
The Session Manager add-on I had installed is not compatible with Firefox 2.0, which has its own session manager. But I also lost the button to open the tab last closed, which was quite handy. So I added Undo Closed Tabs Button.
UPDATE: Well, StumbleUpon didn’t last long. It does odd things to Firefox—it did that before, and I removed it, but I thought perhaps it would be improved. In any event, Yoono seems to have similar functionality.
I don’t know that I agree, but OTOH I really do like not having a job… 10 reasons not to get a job.
The Bush administration’s treatment of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri ought to be shocking and horrifying. Instead, it is now not only depressingly familiar, but also something that is formally sanctioned by the U.S. Congress.
In 2001, al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was in the United States legally, on a student visa. He was a computer science graduate student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he had earned an undergraduate degree a decade earlier. In Peoria, he lived with his wife and five children.
In December, 2001 he was detained as a “material witness” to suspected acts of terrorism and ultimately charged with various terrorism-related offenses, mostly relating to false statements the FBI claimed he made as part of its 9/11 investigation. Al-Marri vehemently denied the charges, and after lengthy pre-trial proceedings, his trial on those charges was scheduled to begin on July 21, 2003.
But his trial never took place, because in June, 2003 — one month before the scheduled trial — President Bush declared him to be an “enemy combatant.” As a result, the Justice Department told the court it wanted to turn him over to the U.S. military, and thus asked the court to dismiss the criminal charges against him, and the court did so (the dismissal was “with prejudice,” meaning he can’t be tried ever again on those charges). Thus, right before his trial, the Bush administration simply removed Al-Marri from the jurisdiction of the judicial system — based solely on the unilateral order of the President — and thus prevented him from contesting the charges against him.
Instead, the administration immediately transferred al-Marri to a miltiary prison in South Carolina (where the administration brings its “enemy combatants” in order to ensure that the executive-power-friendly 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all such cases). Al-Marri was given the “Padilla Treatment” — kept in solitary confinement, denied all contact with the outside world, including even his own attorneys, not charged with any crimes, and given no opportunity to prove his innocence. Instead, the Bush administration simply asserted the right to detain him indefinitely without so much as charging him with anything.
Read the rest of this entry »
This Consumerist posting quotes an expert in finding false charges on phone bills as saying “80% to 90% of all phone bills are dirty.” And, of course, with on-line billing, you might never look at your bill from one month to the next.
The post has a very nice checklist. Print it, and check those phone bills.
I think the false charges would stop if Congress would pass legislation saying that, if a consumer identified a false charge, the phone company would reimburse the consumer an amount equal to three times the false charge. A Federal bureau could act as a referee, and if the phone company refused to pay until the bureau was called in, the phone company would pay 10 times the false charge, half to the consumer and half to the bureau (to defray the cost of running the bureau).
Suggest this to your newly elected Representative if s/he’s a Democrat. (A Republican would reject the idea out of hand, since the GOP favors the business over the consumer.)
You can take the test and have it scored for you.
Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.
My score was 26.
Once in designing a draft answer sheet for a test, in which you mark date of birth by filling in ovals, I arranged (as a joke!) the months in alphabetic order “as a convenience to the user.” What was strange was how hard it was to get them in alpha order by hand—the learned sequence kept overriding the alpha sequence.
Even better than Monday’s, I think. I used the wonderful Nancy Boy shaving cream and a Simpsons Harvard 2 Best shaving brush—a little guy, so I lathered directly on my beard, which I’m enjoying now and will probably continue for a while. The Slant Bar, ninja among razors, smoothly and silently slicing through the stubble forest. Finished with the hot water rinse, the cold water rinse, and Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury Herbal Aftershave Cream. What with the Nancy Boy shaving cream and the Taylor Herbal aftershave cream, my face feels quite pampered—and very, very smooth. Good way to start the day, that and a pot of Ethiopian Harrar in my French press.