Later On

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

Archive for September 17th, 2010

Things bugging me

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First is the problem of movie posters and the like: they are not posters. When one of them is put up, it is posted; the guy who put it up is the poster. And of course, movie posteds are the things we want to collect.”Posters”!

Another thing was presented by a CSI episode from season 2: the guy who owns a very expensive S-class Mercedes 99 (I think that was the ID) offers it to a chop-shop, which is glad to take it, the parts being worth 10-12 times separately than in the car. So then why aren’t arbitrageurs busy buying the cars as cars and then breaking them down and reaping the enormous profits from selling the parts? They don’t, so something is wrong with this picture. Can you spot it?

UPDATE: When I told the first example above (posted/poster) to The Wife, she immediately responded, “And “keeper” is the same thing… and “mailer.”” So it’s probably an example of some rule.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Daily life

A new low for Obama?

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Charlie Savage reports in the NY Times:

The Obama administration, fresh off a victory in persuading federal judges to dismiss a torture case for fear of revealing state secrets, is divided over using similar tactics to try to block a lawsuit over government efforts to kill an American citizen accused of ties to Al Qaeda.

The administration’s legal team is debating how aggressive it should be in a brief responding to the lawsuit, which is due Sept. 24. The suit, filed last month, seeks an injunction that would prevent the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who is accused of playing a leading role for Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

Justice Department lawyers are circulating a draft brief with several potential arguments for dismissing the case, and lawyers from national security agencies have met to discuss what should go into the final version. But they have not reached a consensus, according to officials familiar with the discussions, because the arguments seen as strongest also carry significant political and legal risks.

“There are a lot of cross-cutting things going on here, and they have to be very careful about how they litigate this,” said Jack Goldsmith, who was a senior Justice Department lawyer in the Bush administration. “It’s not just a question of winning the case. There is the public diplomacy side, and there are implications for everything else they are doing in the war on terrorism: detention and targeting and other things, too, I imagine.”

The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. It contends that designating a United States citizen for killing outside of a war zone, without an imminent threat, amounts to an extrajudicial execution, and it disputes the notion that battlefield law applies far from Afghanistan.

There is widespread agreement among the administration’s legal team that it is lawful for President Obama to authorize the killing of someone like Mr. Awlaki — regardless of his citizenship — if he is found in an ungoverned place or in a country that grants permission. (The details of any arrangement with Yemen are unclear.)

Mr. Awlaki has not been indicted or gone to trial to prove that he played an operational role in terrorist attacks. Still, he has released videos calling on Muslims to kill Americans, and the Treasury Department has labeled him a “specially designated global terrorist.” The man who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound jet on Dec. 25 is believed to have told interrogators that Mr. Awlaki directed him to do so.

Nevertheless, many in the administration are reluctant to air in court the case that Mr. Awlaki is waging war against the United States, in part because they do not want to concede that judicial review is appropriate for executive branch decisions on targeted killings.

Instead, they are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed without discussing its merits. For example, officials say, the brief is virtually certain to argue that Mr. Awlaki’s father has no legal standing to file a lawsuit on behalf of his son.

To strengthen the case, they are considering at least two other potential arguments, each with a downside.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 2:23 pm

Food thoughts

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I have now lost 28 lbs and am within striking distance of being "merely" overweight. I do give a lot of credit to the nutrition counselor and her little company.

First, it helps for someone to review your food log every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—and it keeps you maintaining the food log.

Second, cheating a little bit shows up by stopping weight loss. Surprise!

Third, there are times when it seems having a counselor seems absolutely essential. For example, after a week of closely following the diet, you find out that you not only didn’t lose any weight, you’ve gained 2 lbs. That’s when a counselor can say, "That happens. Make sure your food log is accurate, and let’s look at what we can do." What we did at various times for me were:

  • Reduce amount of beef consumed. I moved to chicken and fish.
  • Reduce snacking.
  • Make sure I eat a carb at each meal.
  • Exercise—my weight loss stopped finally when I was trying to do it by food alone.

Most of all, by seeing the counselor regularly I don’t have the experience I’ve had when trying to lose weight on my own: after a month or so, having a very careful 7-10 days of eating, with no weight loss at all and in fact a gain of a pound or two, would have made me (stupidly) abandon the effort. I would go get a big steak, have a big meal, and forget about losing fat. Now I have a new attitude.

Part of it is, as I’ve perhaps mentioned, that I paid a hefty fee to participate in the program. It gradually came to me that, having paid that fee, if I didn’t lose weight, it would amount to a scam: pay a lot of money, don’t get what you paid for. That motivated me strongly to lose this weight so I do not get scammed. I won’t let them cheat ME!! I’m going to lose the full 75 lbs! :)

And in case you’re wondering, I have already enrolled in and paid for the maintenance program I’ll follow once I reach target weight.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

"We can convict if we can keep information from the jury"

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Interesting story blogged by Dan Riffle at MPP:

Over on our state overview for Missouri, I mentioned the case of Kenneth Wells, a 57 year-old St. Charles man with no criminal record who was facing 5-15 years in prison for felony marijuana cultivation charges. Mr. Wells suffers from chronic seizures and had been using marijuana to treat his symptoms. As his doctor, whose testimony was ruled inadmissible because Missouri has no medical marijuana law, would have said:

“Marijuana is safe and effective in the treatment of seizure disorder as manifest in this case. In patients who have not obtained adequate seizure control with conventional therapy, cannabis offers a rational alternative at least as safe as conventional therapy for intractable chronic epileptic seizures. Mr. Wells has been exposed to multiple medications over the past 26 years to treat his seizures with risks far higher than with cannabis.”

The good news is that yesterday, the prosecutor handling the case sent Mr. Wells a letter to notify him that all charges were being dropped. So does this mean that patients in Missouri no longer need to worry about being prosecuted for legitimate medical marijuana use? Not exactly.

The bad news is the charges weren’t dropped because the prosecutor suddenly grew a heart. He felt, despite the ruling preventing Wells’ physician from testifying, that it would have been difficult to keep evidence of his condition from the jury, who likely wouldn’t convict once they knew about the seizure disorder. In other words, he was worried that a non-conviction would have “muddied the waters” regarding Missouri’s approach to medical marijuana, which of course is to arrest and convict seriously ill people for using the medicine their doctor recommends.

I mention all this because a bill has been introduced in the Missouri legislature every year for the last four years that could have prevented this unfortunate situation. This year the bill had more sponsors than ever, including a Republican physician, but was once again denied a hearing. While it’s nice that Mr. Wells won’t be convicted, he and his defense attorney spent more than two years contesting these charges before they were eventually dropped. Imagine all the time, money, and hand wringing both he and the state could have saved if Missouri had a more sensible approach to medical marijuana and he hadn’t been arrested in the first place.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 12:19 pm

Interesting: Alcohol lobby fighting against marijuana legalization

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For obvious reasons, I assume: people who use marijuana are less likely to use alcohol. Perhaps candy and chip manufacturers should be fighting for marijuana legalization. :) Mike Meno blogs at MPP:

On September 7, a major new front opened up in the campaign for Proposition 19, the ballot measure to tax and regulate marijuana in California. On that day, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors made a $10,000 contribution to a committee opposing Proposition 19.

In response, MPP issued the following statement by Steve Fox, director of government relations for the MPP and co-author of Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?:

“Unless the beer distributors in California have suddenly developed a philosophical opposition to the use of intoxicating substances, the motivation behind this contribution is clear,” Fox said. “Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition. They know that marijuana is less addictive, less toxic and less likely to be associated with violent behavior than alcohol. So they don’t want adults to have the option of using marijuana legally instead of alcohol. Their mission is to drive people to drink.”

The alcohol industry is now working hand-in-hand with the law enforcement community to keep marijuana illegal. For example, the California Police Chiefs Association has given at least $30,000 to the “No on Proposition 19” campaign, while the California Narcotics Officers’ Association has chipped in $20,500 of its own. This partnership underscores the hypocrisy among law enforcement officials opposed to Prop. 19.

“Members of law enforcement have argued against Proposition 19 by asserting, ‘We have enough problems with alcohol, we don’t need to add another intoxicating substance to the mix,’ implying that marijuana is just as bad as alcohol,” Fox continued. “But the truth is that a legal marijuana market would not add another dangerous intoxicant to the mix; rather it would provide adults with a less harmful legal alternative to alcohol.”

“In their campaign to defeat Proposition 19, members of law enforcement and the alcohol industry have joined together under an umbrella group calling themselves ‘Public Safety First.’ Sadly, by fighting to keep marijuana illegal and steering adults toward alcohol instead, they are putting public safety last,” said Fox.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 12:17 pm

Technology

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Interesting how technology will regress from time to time. I got a new Sony Blu-Ray DVD player to replace the old Sony DVD player, since I now have a TV capable of HD. If you put into the old player a DVD you had been watching (and put aside for a while as you watch other DVDs), the DVD would automatically resume at the point at which you stopped watching: extremely nice.

The new player lacks this feature. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

UPDATE: Just talked to Customer Support at Sony. They were quite helpful, but clearly the development process at Sony is badly broken and some high-placed manager should lose his or her job over this.

Here’s the story: The “resume-play” feature that I described above is part of Sony regular DVD players, and a very useful feature it is. But for the Blu-Ray player, the customer support person said that it will also resume from where I stopped provided:

  1. The DVD has not been removed from the drawer.
  2. The drawer has not been opened.
  3. The power has not been turned off.

In other words, you can resume after pressing “stop”: the very same “feature” that has been a (necessary) part of players from the outset.

I asked why such a clearly useful feature—and, let me tell you, and important part of the user experience—was omitted from their top-line new players. The only reason she could offer was that Blu-Ray takes more time to load than regular DVDs and a “resume-play” feature would have meant the user having to wait a “long time.”

I told her to compare that wait time with the time it took to load a Blu-Ray DVD and find where you were in it. That also takes a long time—and it takes attention: the resume-play feature is automatic.

What actually happened, I think, is that the development process is sufficiently bad that, as the new products were planned, no one did a list of user expectations and user experience with the current models. The user interviews and user observations were not done at all, or were done so poorly that the Sony people failed to detect performance features that are important to users.

Without the feature in the feature list, it was easy to overlook, especially if a new/different team of developers was working on the Blu-Ray model and didn’t know about the common features of the DVD models. Result: a crippled implementation of what should be an important new product line.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 9:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

18 minutes

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Nordic Track. Oofta.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2010 at 9:19 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

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