Later On

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

Archive for July 25th, 2008

David Letterman interviews Jane Mayer

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Mayer wrote The Dark Side, recently published.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 1:21 pm

Don’t think I could sleep in these houses

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Not peacefully, anyway. And I certainly wouldn’t jump up and down. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Daily life

Can I claim some credit?

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On April 24 of this year, I sent this email to Glenn Greenwald:

Subj: An idea for your consideration

Indeed, it’s no doubt an idea you’ve already had.

While your books are excellent and make an impact, they have a long lead time and also speak to a generation attuned to TV rather than print.

You’ll note that Josh Marshall has begun to expand his on-line TV offerings.

The obvious thought is for you (perhaps with similarly minded people) to conduct interviews with politicians and civil servants and other informed observers, based on asking questions of importance rather than questions about trivia, and relentlessly focusing on facts (today) rather than fantasy (predictions of tomorrow). In other words, the interviews would be to inform rather than to entertain.

Putting them on-line (e.g., via YouTube) would allow wide distribution (I imagine that every thoughtful blog would carry them) and also keep them available as need arose to refer back to a seminal discussion.

Big-name politicians may not be interested at first, but there are some dedicated politicians working hard for worthwhile causes that would welcome some recognition and the opportunity to present the facts that drive them. I’m thinking, for example, of Representative Louise Slaughter. This mailing came from her office (michelle.adams@mail.house.gov) yesterday:

As everyone knows, LMS has been working on this bill since 1995! The House passed the bill on 4/25/07 by a vote of 420-3. Since then, Sen. Coburn has had a hold on it in the Senate. We finally worked out a deal with Sen. Coburn on Monday regarding the firewall language. The Senate hotlined the bill yesterday and has resolved all objections (that we know about). The Senate comes in tonight at 5pm. They have to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act. Then they think they might proceed to debate on GINA with a vote tomorrow. The bill then has to come back to the House for a vote – hopefully early next week. Once we pass it, it goes to the President. If you have any questions, let me know.

It would be possible to vary the format, choosing the format appropriate for each program—and since the video is on-line, program length can also vary, choosing a length appropriate for the program. Some possibilities:

a. An expert or panel of experts simply clarifying some issue or topic, presenting not only the facts but the causal chains.

b. You and perhaps another questioner interviewing politicians and/or experts to clarify what is at stake on a pending question.

c. Setting priorities, in which you and others work to determine appropriate priorities in various areas (healthcare, education, Iraq, regulatory approaches, US Israel/Palestine policies, etc.). The idea is to choose an area and then break it down into various steps that could be taken and prioritize the steps.

And so on.

Salon may or may not be interested, but I’m sure Marshall would be.

Thanks for reading.

Now look at today’s announcement.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Daily life

Calls for impeachment

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Glenn Greenwald has a good column, which begins:

Former Reagan DOJ official, constitutional lawyer, and hard-core conservative Bruce Fein was one of the first prominent Americans to call for George Bush’s impeachment in the wake of the illegal NSA spying scandal. Back in late 2005 and 2006, when even safe-seat Democrats like Chuck Schumer were petrified even of uttering the words “broke the law” when speaking of the Bush administration — let alone taking meaningful action to investigate and putting a stop to the lawbreaking — Fein wrote a column in The Washington Times forcefully and eloquently arguing:

Volumes of war powers nonsense have been assembled to defend Mr. Bush’s defiance of the legislative branch and claim of wartime omnipotence so long as terrorism persists, i.e., in perpetuity. Congress should undertake a national inquest into his conduct and claims to determine whether impeachable usurpations are at hand.

In 2006, Russ Feingold called Fein as one of his witnesses in support of Feingold’s resolution to censure President Bush for his lawbreaking. Today, Fein is one of the witnesses who will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in favor of Dennis Kucinich’s impeachment resolutions (joined by Elizabeth Holtzman, Bob Barr and several others). As KagroX details here, that the House is holding hearings on Kucinich’s resolution is not, in any way, an indication that the Congress is prepared to take those resolutions seriously. Manifestly, they are not. Yesterday, Jane Hamsher spoke with Bruce Fein on BloggingheadsTV about why the Democrats have, in general, failed to hold the Bush administration for their multiple crimes (Slate yesterday detailed some of the many Bush crimes). Here is what Fein — echoing an argument I made a couple of weeks ago — said on that topic:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 12:49 pm

More on medical marijuana in California

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As noted in an earlier post, California has legalized medical marijuana and dispensaries of medical marijuana. The Federal government has yet to follow suit, though the DEA periodically says that it is not interested in arrest and prosecution of patients who are following a doctor’s recommendation (though their actions contradict their statements). David Samuels has a good article on what is happening as a result of the California laws. It begins:

The Tibetan prayer flags suspended on a string over the sleeping body of Captain Blue rose and fell in fluttering counterpoint to the wheezy rhythm of his breath. Lifted by a gentle breeze off the Pacific Ocean, each swatch of red, white, yellow, or green cotton bore a paragraph of Asian script. Every time a flag flaps in the breeze, it is thought, a prayer flies off to Heaven. Blue’s mother says that when her son was an infant he used to sleep until noon, which is still the time that he wakes up most days, on his platform bed in a one-bedroom apartment overlooking Venice Beach, a neighborhood of Los Angeles.

It was now three o’clock in the afternoon, and Captain Blue was dozing after a copious inhalation of purified marijuana vapor. (His nickname is an homage to his favorite variety of bud.) His hair was black and greasy, and was spread across his pillow. On the front of his purple T-shirt, which had slid up to expose his round belly, were the words “Big Daddy.” With his arm wrapped around a three-foot-long green bong, he resembled a large, contented baby who has fallen asleep with his milk bottle.

Captain Blue is a pot broker. More precisely, he helps connect growers of high-grade marijuana upstate to the retail dispensaries that sell marijuana legally to Californians on a doctor’s recommendation. Since 1996, when a referendum known as Proposition 215 was approved by California voters, it has been legal, under California state law, for authorized patients to possess or cultivate the drug. The proposition also allowed a grower to cultivate marijuana for a patient, as long as he had been designated a “primary caregiver” by that patient. Although much of the public discussion centered on the needs of patients with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases that are synonymous with extraordinary suffering, the language of the proposition was intentionally broad, covering any medical condition for which a licensed physician might judge marijuana to be an appropriate remedy—insomnia, say, or attention-deficit disorder.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 12:45 pm

Good Firefox tips

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Take a look—at the post, and at the link included with the post.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 12:39 pm

An additional early vaccination to reduce measles outbreaks

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Measles is not trivial. Wikipedia notes:

Complications with measles are relatively common, ranging from relatively mild and less serious diarrhea, to pneumonia and encephalitis (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis), corneal ulceration leading to corneal scarring[6] Complications are usually more severe amongst adults who catch the virus.

The fatality rate from measles for otherwise healthy people in developed countries is low: approximately 1 death per thousand cases. In underdeveloped nations with high rates of malnutrition and poor healthcare, fatality rates of 10 percent are common. In immunocompromised patients, the fatality rate is approximately 30 percent.

Measles is a significant infectious disease because, while the rate of complications is not high, the disease itself is so infectious that the sheer number of people who would suffer complications in an outbreak amongst non-immune people would quickly overwhelm available hospital resources. If vaccination rates fall, the number of non-immune persons in the community rises, and the risk of an outbreak of measles consequently rises.

Now it’s found that measles outbreaks can be cut by an additional early vaccination:

Outbreaks of measles in developing countries may be reduced by vaccinating infants at 4.5 months of age as well as at the World Health Organization’s recommended routine vaccination at 9 months, according to a study published on BMJ.com today. These findings should lead to reconsideration of the policy for vaccination during measles outbreaks and in humanitarian emergencies, say the authors.

Maternal antibodies protect against measles during the first months of life and infants routinely receive their first vaccination between 9 and 15 months to coincide with when these maternal antibodies are lost. This vaccination policy was based on children born to naturally infected mothers, but measles vaccination campaigns over the past 20-25 years in low income countries have resulted in many mothers being immunised and transferring only half the maternal measles antibodies as naturally immune mothers.

Similarly, HIV positive mothers transfer a smaller number of antibodies than HIV negative mothers and HIV positive children also lose their protective maternal antibodies early. As a result, a new group of children now exist who may lose their protection by 3 to 5 months of age and there may well be a need to provide measles vaccination at an earlier age.

A measles outbreak in Guinea-Bissau in Africa offered Professor Peter Aaby and colleagues a unique opportunity to assess the protective effect of earlier vaccination at 4.5 months.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2008 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

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