Later On

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

Archive for June 2nd, 2010

I truly do not understand

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I was thinking of Israel and the situation there, including the Hamas rocket attacks, the 2008 invasion of Gaza, the embargo since… And I was examining my opinions on the matter, and I pictured an Israeli, reading my condemnations of the commando attack, saying, “You just don’t understand.” And then it hit me: he’s absolutely right (or would be, were he here and said that): I do not understand.

I realized that, in this country (or in Canada or in any other country I’ve visited), I could not picture there being a large number of people whose status was such that a family could simply be ejected from its home and then the person ejecting him takes over the home as his own—always “he” because it is ultimately a matter of physical force: the citizen, in himself and with his friends, must bring enough force that the family has no choice but to flee. And what the house-seizer did is illegal. And then the house-seizer is admired and praised for having done that: more or less his entire community supports this.

That is so alien to me, and yet the average Israeli citizen fully accepts this and sees it as right and proper. So I can see that I truly do not understand.

And in thinking over our own history, I had the same difficulty of seeing as acceptable and even praiseworthy to own other humans as property, to do with more or less as you pleased, and even to go to war to continue that system: that’s a mindset I truly cannot understand. I can’t put myself in a frame of mind to see that situation as not only normal, but even admirable, part of the romance of the South. I can see that I truly do not understand.

That Southron view is not so far in the past, really. See “Study Finds Blacks Blocked From Southern Juries.”

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Daily life

Interesting service-related lie

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Steve Benen:

When people compare Arizona’s "let me see your papers" immigration law to 1930s Germany, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) takes it personally. "Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lost him when I was 11 because of that … and then to have them call me Hitler’s daughter. It hurts," she said the other day. "It’s ugliness beyond anything I’ve ever experienced."

The problem, as Kos noted, is that Brewer’s father didn’t die fighting the Nazi regime in Germany.

Gov. Jan Brewer said in a recent interview that her father died fighting Nazis in Germany. In fact, the death of Wilford Drinkwine came 10 years after World War II had ended.

During the war, Drinkwine worked as a civilian supervisor for a naval munitions depot in Hawthorne, Nev. He died of lung disease in 1955 in California.

For crying out loud.

OK, so Brewer misled the public about her father’s service record. She’ll apologize and move on, right? Wrong.

Officials with the governor’s administration said her statement should not be taken to mean that she was claiming her father was a soldier in Germany during the Nazi regime.

I’m confused. When Brewer said her "father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany," that wasn’t intended to mean that her father was an American soldier in Germany during the Nazi regime?

Can’t anybody here play this game?

To be sure, this isn’t nearly as offensive as Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.) repeated falsehoods about his own military service, but a pattern starts to develop — Republicans are having trouble separating fact from fiction when it comes to those who wear the uniform.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Military

Two tasks done

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Megs has had her pedicure at Cottage Veterinary in PG, and I’ve had my 10-minute walk. Now to do stretching.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Megs

Two excellent posts on the Israeli attack on the flotilla

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Both of these are worth reading, one by Peter Beinart and one by Noah Millman.

Also read this post from someone who knows the American Jewish girl who was blinded in one eye by a tear-gas canister shot into her face by one of the commandos.

And Andrew Sullivan spots an interesting word choice:

An interesting account:

"I was the second to be lowered in by rope," said Captain R. "My comrade who had already been dropped in was surrounded by a bunch of people. It started off as a one-on-one fight, but then more and more people started jumping us. I had to fight against quite a few terrorists who were armed with knives and batons."

I note two things. It began with a one-on-one fight. This was not a lynch mob primed to kill. It was a reaction that spread as more soldiers arrived. The second thing I note is that the captain describes the passengers as "terrorists."

 

I clicked the link to read the story, and it’s interesting that throughout the story, when quoting the Israeli commandos, they continually use "[activists]"  as the opponents—quite obviously replacing the word "terrorists" which was actually used. Apparently the Israeli commandos had been told that everyone on the ships were terrorists.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 1:43 pm

Please, Mr. President, save us now

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Clive Crook at the Atlantic:

Commentators are achieving something close to all-faction consensus over Obama’s oil-spill performance. Many liberals, following the path marked out by a near-hysterical James Carville, now seem angrier than Obama’s usual opponents, who at least have the consolation of seeing the president assailed from all sides.

Apparently it is a great idea to elect a president who is calm in a crisis, except when there’s a crisis. Then what you need is somebody to lead the nation in panic — or, as Maureen Dowd put it, to be "a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting [sic] what Americans feel so they know he gets it." What the nation needs at times like this in fact is a daddy who will stop being so remote, and make everything all right. You think I’m exaggerating? Dowd:

Oddly, the good father who wrote so poignantly about growing up without a daddy scorns the paternal aspect of the presidency.

The paternal aspect of the presidency. We are all Malia now. "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

David Gergen does not actually ask to have his head patted, but he channels Peggy Noonan’s view that unless Obama does something — just does something — it could be all over for the presidency. Gergen suggests a detailed program of moving the deckchairs around, concluding:

And finally, very importantly, exercise the powers of leadership every day from the Oval Office.

Yes, just exercise those powers. Why didn’t they think of that?

Speaking of deckchairs, John Dickerson calls for more creativity:

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu seems to be the best place to look so far. He used gamma rays to help focus on the initial size of the leak. In other quarters there’s also brainstorming that might lead to a spark. For example, federal officials are now talking to Titanic director James Cameron.

All right. Gamma rays. Cool undersea robots. Now we’re getting somewhere.

And at least we can be more certain of our ideological convictions. As Donna Brazile notes, the oil spill proves we need big government. That’s something. I remember thinking much the same after the meltdown at Chernobyl. It’s bad, but at least they have big government to sort it all out.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 1:32 pm

Petroleum engineer responds to the spill

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Interesting Salon article by Robert Reich, which begins:

A petroleum engineer who’s worked in the oil industry tells me BP is doing the minimum to clean up the oil and everything it can to protect its bottom line. According to the engineer, here’s what BP should be doing right now to mitigate the damage. If the president were to put BP into temporary receivership, he’d have the power to get BP to:

1. Stop releasing dispersants. So-called dispersants are toxic, and it’s crazy to add more poison to the Gulf. Dispersants do nothing to assist the environment in naturally cleaning the oil; their main use is PR. They reduce the number of ugly pictures of birds covered in pure black crude. Dispersants break the thick layer of crude into smaller globs, but that doesn’t help the Gulf and its wildlife. Most of the crude just mixes with the water to produce a goop that looks like chocolate ice cream but is highly poisonous.

2. Mobilize every possible tanker to siphon up crude from as close to the leak points as possible. Oil industry leaders as John Hofmeister (president of Shell Oil from 2005 until 2008) have recommended this, but inexplicably neither BP nor the federal government are talking about even trying this idea. BP currently has only one spot where they have inserted a tube into a riser, or pipe, that is leaking oil from the sea floor. The company is gathering the crude oil and siphoning it up to a drill ship for storage.

They should have at least a dozen collectors. BP has 24 tankers that are being used to make money for BP, not for clean-up duty. (President Obama should also use all necessary federal power — or money, and send BP the bill — to put as many tankers and refineries from other companies on the task.)

Mile-long pipes could be dangled down into the crude spewing from the wellhead and at each breach in the riser pipe, and the tankers could pump the crude mixed with water back into the tankers. They could then separate the crude and water in the tanker, and pump the water out on the spot. This should continue until each tanker is full of oil. The crude should then be taken to a refinery for processing, as other tankers take their place. Submersibles can be used to monitor the uptake into the dangling pipes, moving them as needed to keep them picking up as much crude as possible.

Even after some separation time in the tankers, the crude will be contaminated with water beyond the typical water contamination levels acceptable at refineries. This would drive up the price of gas in the short term. The president will need to go on TV and ask all Americans to cut their gasoline and energy usage in half, as an emergency response to the disaster in the Gulf, so that tankers and refineries can enact these far-from-perfect clean-up measures.

3…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 1:03 pm

Does rosemary reduce toxins in grilled meat?

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Thanks to The Younger Daughter for passing along a link to this interesting column. Anahad O’Connor writes in the NY Times:

Cooking meat at high temperatures is known to create toxins called heterocyclic amines, which have been linked to some cancers. Marinating lowers the risk by preventing the formation of the toxins. But one ingredient that makes a big difference is rosemary. Studies show that adding it to ground beef and other types of muscle meat before grilling, frying, broiling or barbecuing significantly reduces heterocyclic amines.

In a study published in The Journal of Food Science in March, scientists tested extracts of rosemary on ground beef patties that were cooked at temperatures from 375 degrees to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The extract was added to both sides of the meat before cooking. The higher the concentration, the greater the reduction in heterocyclic amines (in some cases by over 90 percent.

Scientists attribute this to …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

A Mystery: When Did Government Exempt Gulf Drilling from Detailed Environmental Reviews?

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Ryan Knutson and Marian Wang for ProPublica:

As you may have heard, before the big BP disaster the government’s chief oil drilling regulator let most drilling go forward in the Gulf of Mexico with very little environmental review. Somehow, the Minerals Management Service decided that there was little chance of disaster and thus gave the entire central and western Gulf an exclusion from a requirement for comprehensive environmental reviews.

Yes, you heard that right. Drilling projects in the entire central and western Gulf of Mexico have what the government calls a “categorical exclusion” from detailed environmental studies. The Gulf, by the way, is where most of the nation’s offshore drilling takes place. (Here’s a handy flow chart from the government showing the approval process.)

How such a broad exclusion was established is an enduring mystery.

On its website, the MMS says categorical exclusions are established “based on experience,” and only after “hundreds” of studies have been completed without showing significant impacts.

That raises the question: When did the MMS do so many studies in the Gulf that it decided they were no longer necessary? And who approved that decision and why?

We’ve spent the better part of a month trying to unravel it, and the answer we have so far: The exclusion was created a long time ago, but not even the government knows exactly when or where it came from.

We do know a few things: 1) The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality ultimately gives the green light for establishing these exclusions. 2) This particular exclusion likely emerged during the early 1980s—we know that because Holly Doremus, an environmental law professor at UC Berkeley, appears to have found the earliest reference to this rule in the 1980 Federal Register.

When we called officials at the Council on Environmental Quality, even they explained that they no longer retain the knowledge or the documents relating to why the Gulf exclusion was created, but they did say that categorical exclusions in general first appeared in the late 1970s. CEQ officials sent us to the National Archives for the documents about the Gulf.

The MMS’s website does mention the exclusion. That’s where we found the language about the exclusion being based on many studies. Here’s the full reference: …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 11:33 am

Teaching about the Confederacy

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I am beginning to think that we should teach, in history and civics courses, much more about the Confederacy and the Civil War, including some primary texts—a good one would be the Cornerstone Speech made by Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy, on March 21, 1861, which includes:

The prevailing ideas entertained by [Thomas Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically … Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

That’s from an excellent article in Salon by Michael Lind. Read the whole thing.

Yes, let them learn more about the Confederacy and the reasons each state gave for leaving the Union: the actual words. South Carolina, for example:

… We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation…

So the reason South Carolina left the Union was to keep the institution of slavery intact and protected. Take a look at the others, if you want:

More documents here.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 11:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Chocolate lovers: unconched chocolate available!

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Read this article, which begins:

Working in rented space in an industrial building near chop shops in Somerville, Massachusetts, Taza Chocolate is not a remelter of purchased chocolate — a high craft of its own as practiced by certain celebrated chocolatiers. Rather, it is one of a handful of superior new U.S. producers of chocolate who work in small batches, starting with cocoa beans. Taza, which sold its first bar in 2007, processes minimally; it aims at maximum aroma. Above all, what sets it apart is that it doesn’t conch.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 11:02 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

The United States of Jesus

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Steve Benen describes a serious problem:

New reports out of Afghanistan point to a province where Taliban followers hope to become judges, so they can apply their religious beliefs to court rulings, rather than the secular tenets of the law.

Wait, did I say the Taliban in Afghanistan? I meant Christian conservatives in California.

A group of conservative attorneys say they are on a mission from God to unseat four California judges in a rare challenge that is turning a traditionally snooze-button election into what both sides call a battle for the integrity of U.S. courts.

Vowing to be God’s ambassadors on the bench, the four San Diego Superior Court candidates are backed by pastors, gun enthusiasts, and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages.

"We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values," said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the group’s candidates. "Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary."

I suppose the obvious observation here is that the direct election of judges — the law in 33 states — may not be the best idea.

But there’s far more to this particular problem, called the "Better Courts Now" initiative. Here we have a series of far-right attorneys who are running on a fairly specific platform — they promise to be biased, partial jurists, basing their decisions on a religious agenda. The difference between these kinds of judges and those found in Iran and Saudi Arabia is … well, there really isn’t a difference.

In other words, these judicial candidates want to turn their courtrooms into a position consistent with a theocracy. Indeed, the initiative was launched by two pastors.

"Any organization that wants judges to subscribe to a certain political party or certain value system or certain way of ruling to me threatens the independence of the judiciary," San Diego County’s District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told the AP."Judges should be evaluated based on their qualifications and their duty to follow the law."

Except that is apparently old-school thinking, which some elements of the right have no use for.

Why elect a judge who will provide a legitimate forum for a fair trial when you can elect a right-wing religious activist who believes he’s following instructions from above?

And given that voters don’t often turn out for down-ballot races like these, and that the candidates themselves are generally not well known to the public, organizers of this effort believe they have a reasonably good chance at pulling it off — and they may very well be right.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 11:00 am

GOP can’t decide whether to spend money or reduce the deficit

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The GOP has become completely silly, though of course they continue to do a lot of damage. Steve Benen:

The price tag on the defense appropriations bill approved by the House last week was pretty stunning: $726 billion. It’s far higher than the totals from the Bush/Cheney administration because, when Republicans were in charge, they played budget games and funded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan separately.

Given the enormous amount of money going to the Pentagon — we now spend about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined — Paul Waldman raises a good question.

[W]here are all those "fiscal conservatives" who said that it just cost too darn much to extend unemployment benefits? That we have to live within our means, and stop borrowing money? That the government needs fiscal discipline? That the deficit is a time bomb that will obliterate us all?

Where were they? Nowhere. They’re quite happy to borrow hundreds of billions to spend on defense, because they just happen to like spending money on defense. They don’t find unemployment benefits, or health care, or any of a hundred other things we could spend money on to be particularly worthy, but instead of just saying so, they say, "Well, we’d love to, but we just can’t afford it." You can’t call yourself a "deficit hawk" if the only programs you want to cut are the ones you don’t like anyway.

Well said. It’s a reminder that when Republicans block domestic spending on areas like extended unemployment insurance, what we’re seeing is a reflection of priorities — the already-enormous Pentagon budget is important (even if it means funding programs the Defense Department doesn’t want) and struggling families aren’t.

It’s also a reminder that Republican talk about fiscal responsibility is a shallow scam. Putting aside the fact that GOP interest in the issue is quite new — these are, after all, the same Republican officials who added $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years — it’s also incredibly narrow. They want to reduce the deficit, but if you raise the prospect of tax increases, now that tax rates are at their lowest rates since the days of Harry Truman, they balk. They want to get spending under control, but if you even mention modest cuts to the breathtaking Pentagon budget, the GOP looks for a fainting couch.

Meanwhile, with European countries embracing austerity measures, what’s on the chopping block? Their defense budgets, of course. Prominent conservative voices like to say that we should do what Greece and others in Europe are doing, and look to scale back dramatically, but they’re apparently hoping we don’t pay too close attention to the kind of measures getting cut.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said, publicly and repeatedly, that the United States can’t keep spending such vast amounts of money on the military indefinitely.

If conservative deficit hawks are inclined to agree, now would be a good time to say so.

Update: Bruce Bartlett had some interesting analysis on this issue last week

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 10:58 am

Orrin Hatch goes after politicians who lie about their military service

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Sen. Hatch (R-UT) has proposed to make it a criminal offense to lie about one’s military service “for the purposes of gaining recognition, honorarium, official office, or other position of authority, employment or other benefit.”

He’s clearly taking aim at Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General running for the US Senate, who in a speech (after saying that he served “during” Vietnam) said that he served “in” Vietnam, which he didn’t. In the past, Blumenthal has been careful to say that he was never in Vietnam, but then this little mishap happened in his speech.

The amusing thing is that a Republican has made numerous false claims about his military record, and when Hatch’s office was questioned whether the law would apply to this guy, responded that of course it would not. The law is only for Democrats, though that wasn’t included in the text.

More here.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 10:41 am

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP

Some good pieces on the Israel attack

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These are worth reading:

What does Israel fear from media coverage?

Israeli Officials And American Conservatives Claim ‘There Is No Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza’ , which include:

A U.N. fact-finding mission described the Israeli blockade, which Israel claims is aimed at Hamas, as “collective punishment.” A U.N. official said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has “collapsed,” and 60 percent of households there were short on food. The Guardian notes that according to UN statistics, “around 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.”

Amnesty International reported recently on the plight of Gazans as a result of the blockade:

The blockade [has] continued to cut off almost 1.5 million Palestinians from the rest of the world, isolating them in Gaza’s cramped confines, and greatly limiting the import of essential goods and supplies. This gratuitous exacerbation of the privations already suffered by the inhabitants of Gaza seriously hampered their access to health care and education and destroyed industries and livelihoods.

A U.N. spokesperson last year called Gaza “a prison.” “Eighty percent of Gaza’s population are refugees and non-refugees who rely on the UN aid,” he said, adding, “What is happening in Gaza now surpasses the capacities of any humanitarian organization.”

Israel and the Blockade (NY Times editorial)

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 10:35 am

Israel’s stance against Gaza

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It’s worth reading this column by David Grossman in the Guardian. From the column:

…The closure of Gaza has failed. It has failed for four years now. What this means is that it is not merely immoral, but also impractical, and indeed worsens the entire situation, as we are reminded at this very hour, and also harms the vital interests of Israel. The crimes of the leaders of Hamas, who have held the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captive for four years without once allowing the Red Cross to visit him, and who fired thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli towns and villages, are acts that must be firmly dealt with, utilising the various legal means available to a sovereign state. The ongoing siege of a civilian population is not one of them…

In fact, group punishment is a violation of the Geneva Convention, and Israel is a signatory to the convention, with this reservation:

Subject to the reservation that, while respecting the inviolability of the distinctive signs and emblems of the Convention, Israel will use the Red Shield of David as the emblem and distinctive sign of the medical services of her armed forces.

But the prohibition on group punishment seems to be ignored. Of course, the US ignores the Geneva Convention in its fight against terrorists—and indeed, ignores the Convention Against Torture, which it also signed and ratified. So the US is in a weak moral position in this international situation.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 10:23 am

Fred Kaplan on Israel’s blockade of Gaza

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Fred Kaplan in Slate:

Israel’s storming of the Mavi Marmara, killing at least nine Free Gaza activists and wounding several more, was an act of jaw-gaping stupidity—strategically and tactically, even leaving aside morally.

You needn’t be a partisan of Hamas to think so. Look at today’s headlines on the editorial page of Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz: "The price of flawed policy," "Fiasco on the high seas," "Seven idiots in the cabinet," "A failure any way you slice it."

Let us stipulate that Israel’s blockade of Gaza—which has been policy since 2007, when Hamas took control after winning the parliamentary elections yet kept up mortar attacks against Israeli territory—is legitimate. (It’s worth noting, in this context, that Egypt has been enforcing a blockade on land, as well.)

It is also certainly clear, by their own admission, that the organizers of the six-ship flotilla sailing toward Gaza intended not merely to deliver aid to Palestinians but also to challenge the blockade, a move that they had to expect might provoke a confrontation.

That being the case, Israeli commanders had the right—as a matter of national security—to block the ship’s passage, even by boarding it if necessary, especially if they first issued radio warnings to turn back or face consequences (as, in this instance, they did).

However, as Clausewitz famously noted, war is politics by other means. A blockade is an act of war (in this case, an extension of the fact that Hamas considers itself to be at war with Israel); when it comes to wars involving Israel, any act of violence is fraught with politics in every meaning of the word. And in this sense, Israel’s actions on the Mavi Marmara reflect a total disconnect between military means and political ends…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 10:05 am

The killer app for the iPad?

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This could be it. Rich Jaroslovsky in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Don’t tell Steve Jobs, but I’ve been running Adobe Flash on my iPad. Windows 7, too. My Apple heresy comes courtesy of LogMeIn Ignition, an iPad app that allows me to take control of any Internet-connected computer on which I’ve previously installed a small piece of host software. While LogMeIn’s technology has been around for a while, it has taken Apple’s new tablet to unlock its potential. Or maybe vice versa: Ignition may be the first indispensable iPad app.

Setup is a snap. Install the $29.99 app from the iTunes App Store, then establish a user name and password. From each computer you want to control, go to the LogMeIn website and download the needed software, a process that takes less than five minutes. The app works with both Windows PCs and Macs.

When you run Ignition on the iPad, you’re taken to a list of every machine you’ve enrolled. (Computers that are online appear in bold, those that are offline are grayed out.) Choose one, and within moments you’re looking at the desktop of your computer, right on the iPad. All your open windows, programs, and files are displayed precisely as they would appear if you were sitting at your desk.

At this point, you can accomplish a lot. Using my Windows PC, I updated my bank accounts with Quicken and used the iPad’s virtual keyboard to add a few thoughts to a memo I was writing in Microsoft Word. On my iMac, I bought a song from iTunes, added a few entries to my Things to-do list, and browsed Safari to view some sites in all their Flash-enabled glory—something that Apple CEO Jobs won’t allow in Safari’s iPad/iPhone version.

There are limitations…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 9:35 am

The rocket attacks on Israel

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It occurred to me this morning that, had Israel gone the direction of integrating the Palestinians into their society and neighborhoods, the rocket attacks would not have occurred, since the rockets would be as likely to kill Palestinians as Israelis. Moreover, it’s not too late: Israel can readily integrate its neighborhoods by selecting random houses in a neighborhood, ejecting their current Israeli occupants, and having Palestinians take up residence. You might object to the idea of a government simply throwing people out and taking over the house, but Israel has done this for years with no great objections. Their experience in doing this could pay off now.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 9:26 am

Another synthetic-bristle brush

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men-ü kindly offered to send me one of their synthetic bristle brushes, and I accepted. The brush works quite well—as good as the average silvertip badger brush at a lower cost. Take a look at the brush and a description of the benefits of synthetic bristles here. They make an excellent case for using synthetic bristles, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the EU will eventually get around to outlawing badger bristles. In any event, a good synthetic bristle brush, like this and others, really does work well. For vegans, of course, it’s a slam-dunk, but even meat-eaters will find this brush good.

It worked up a great lather with no effort from De Vergulde Hand shaving soap, and three easy passes with the HD holding a Swedish Gillette blade make for a fine shave: I greet the day (and the cleaning ladies) with a perfectly smooth visage.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2010 at 7:58 am

Posted in Shaving

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