Later On

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

Archive for September 25th, 2010

Book now available on Amazon

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Unlike last time, they are not (yet) offering it at a discount. As you can see, they have not yet brought over the content that describes the book. This coming week, I imagine.

UPDATE: Well, that was fast. Next to be transferred will be the reader reviews. I hope.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Books, Shaving

Here’s the “before” photo

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And here’s the “after”:

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Shaving

Confidence often is misplaced

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One of the common mistakes discussed in the excellent Decision Traps is the idea that you can trust a confident person more than one who isn’t confident. Mark Vonnegut describes what sometimes happens:

I started hunting wild mushrooms after an operation to save my left eye, a consequence of 27-inning August softball madness. My retina detached in protest of my being dehydrated and 52 and running around crashing into people. A week after the operation, I was allowed to walk around but was only supposed to look down.

Straight-out and without a lot of qualifiers, I should admit that I am not a careful person. I actually hoped that wild mushrooms might be helpful with my uncarefulness, that the stakes involved might have an alerting, focusing effect.

First you have to be scanning for mushrooms as you walk along. If you’re not looking for anything, maybe you won’t see anything. If you look for mushrooms, maybe you’ll see other things, but at least you’re looking — and then you find something mushroomlike. And here’s where I thought the carefulness would come in: I would be picking and maybe eating something that would either taste incredibly good or poison me.

I was so pleased with myself when I found what I thought were sweetbread mushrooms because they weren’t all chewed up by insects the way so many of the edibles were. When I was gnawing on this nondescript piece of crap that was supposed to be breadlike and delicate, it didn’t occur to me that I could have been wrong about the identity of the mushroom. I was going to write the authorities in question to tell them that the sweetbread mushroom had an indifferent taste and a disagreeable rubbery texture.

Fifteen minutes or so after eating the new mushroom, which I did not serve to my wife, thank God, my heart started racing, painful spasms seized the back of my throat and sweat started pouring off me. I remembered seeing a picture of a mushroom, one with a skull and bones under it, that was called the sweating mushroom. Funny name, I thought.

“I think I might have made a mistake with the mushrooms,” I said softly.

“What’s that, dear?”

“I think I made a mistake with the mushrooms,” I said too loudly. Had I been sure I had ingested a less-than-fatal dose, I would have just gone quietly to bed.

It didn’t help that I was on the staff of the hospital where I went to get my stomach pumped. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have gone elsewhere and maybe used another name…

Continue reading. What’s amazing is that he publishes this story and probably still expects his patients to stay with him. I would find another doctor in a New York minute: a guy who risks his own life due to overconfidence seems likely to risk my life as a patient from the same cause.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Medical

I can’t wait for the GOP to collapse

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Ed Brayton:

Once again the Republicans in Congress are proving that they put politics far ahead of policy. Earlier this year they made their own proposal:

In a letter to President Barack Obama seven months ago, 10 Republican senators led by Utah’s Orrin Hatch urged him to use tax relief to bolster the U.S. economy and create jobs.

Top on their list: extend and improve a research and development tax credit for businesses. "We urge you to help us enact a strong research incentive to keep us first in the world," the senators wrote.

Another tax break long popular with Republicans would let companies immediately deduct the cost of capital investments. In 2008, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio described it as giving employers "greater incentive to invest and create jobs for more Americans searching for work."

And now that Obama has made the same proposal:

Obama this month offered both proposals as part of his push to spur economic growth. Now, with House and Senate elections looming on Nov. 2, Obama’s proposals are getting a chilly reception from Republicans. They say Obama’s plans are flawed because he would also let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire and increase taxes elsewhere.

"There’s tremendous pressure on the Republican leadership, since things look so favorable for picking up seats, not to give the Democrats some type of advantage," said Lee Edwards, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based policy research group that promotes limited government.

"In today’s partisan atmosphere, it’s difficult to come together on a solution like this," he said.

Oh, of course, the problem is just a vague "partisan atmosphere" that no one is responsible for. Far easier to blame it on that rather than to call it what it is, game playing that puts politics ahead of integrity

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 10:44 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Politics

Lessons the CIA learned from the Nazis

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Interesting post by Ed Brayton:

Andrew Sullivan catches the New York Times once again describing something done by another country as torture when they refuse to call the same thing done by our country by that term. In an obituary for a British spy who was tortured by the Nazis, the Times said:

As she related in postwar debriefings, documented in Britain’s National Archives, the Gestapo tortured her — beating her, stripping her naked, then submerging her repeatedly in a bath of ice-cold water until she began to black out from lack of oxygen.

So it’s torture to beat a prisoner and subject them to hypothermia. If the Nazis do it, that is. Because our government did that over and over again over the last 8 years and the Times refuses to call that torture. Sullivan quotes the testimony of an American soldier who was posted at Camp Nama in Iraq, the secret prison camp run by Gen. McChrystal:

[The suspect] was stripped naked, put in the mud and sprayed with the hose, with very cold hoses, in February. At night it was very cold. They sprayed the cold hose and he was completely naked in the mud, you know, and everything. [Then] he was taken out of the mud and put next to an air conditioner. It was extremely cold, freezing, and he was put back in the mud and sprayed. This happened all night. Everybody knew about it. People walked in, the sergeant major and so forth, everybody knew what was going on, and I was just one of them, kind of walking back and forth seeing [that] this is how they do things…

Jeff explained that the colonel told them that he "had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in." Jeff did not question the colonel further on how these assurances were given to those in command in Camp Nama. He explained that they were told: "they just don’t have access, and they won’t have access, and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating. Even Army investigators." Jeff said that he did see Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq, visiting the Nama facility on several occasions. "I saw him a couple of times. I know what he looks like."

He quotes more testimony from other soldiers who saw the same thing being done at Gitmo. But that’s not torture because the NY Times says it isn’t.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 10:42 am

It gets better

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An important message to get to young gays and lesbians in bad environments. Via Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars:

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, Video

Once upon a time in Texas

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 10:24 am

The future of the book?

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Not sure that I like all of this. Digital information is terribly transitory and all too easily revised to reflect current views. Print stays in place, lasts for centuries, and does not require batteries or other special equipment.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 9:47 am

Posted in Books, Technology, Video

Stephen Colbert’s testimony to Congress—and Rep. Steve King’s reaction

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Rep. Steve King turns out to have no sense of humor—no surprise there: people filled with hate and anger generally have no room for a sense of humor. Watch both videos—and it’s a good post, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP

US busts Google, Apple, Intel over secret employee poaching pact

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One of the reasons we need a government and cannot simply "trust businesses to do the right thing." Nate Anderson reports:

You’ve heard of the government’s "Do Not Call" list aimed at shutting down unwanted telemarketers—but did you know that many tech companies have a "Do Not Cold Call" list aimed at shutting down competition? The US Department of Justice today announced a lawsuit—and a proposed settlement—over just such behavior at Google, Adobe, Apple, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar.

According to the complaint, these firms signed different deals with one another, but all had the same basic purpose: they prevented one company from "cold calling" employees at another company with a job offer. Here’s how Google described its own practices today in a corporate blog post:

…we were also building partnerships with other technology companies to help improve our products and services. In order to maintain a good working relationship with these companies, in 2005 we decided not to "cold call" employees at a few of our partner companies. Our policy only impacted cold calling, and we continued to recruit from these companies through LinkedIn, job fairs, employee referrals, or when candidates approached Google directly. In fact, we hired hundreds of employees from the companies involved during this time period.

Sounds innocuous—Google just doesn’t want to irritate its buddies!—but the government saw an anti-competitive cabal instead, one that "restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process," according to Assistant Attorney General Molly Boast.

The Justice Department spent a year mapping out these relationships. Here’s how it describes the resulting web of connections:

Beginning no later than 2006, Apple and Google executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Google on its internal “Do Not Call List,” which instructed employees not to directly solicit employees from the listed companies. Similarly, Google listed Apple among the companies that had special agreements with Google and were part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list;

Beginning no later than May 2005, senior Apple and Adobe executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Adobe on its internal “Do Not Call List” and similarly, Adobe included Apple in its internal list of “Companies that are off limits”;

Beginning no later than April 2007, Apple and Pixar executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Pixar on its internal “Do Not Call List” and senior executives at Pixar instructed human resources personnel to adhere to the agreement and maintain a paper trail;

Beginning no later than September 2007, Google and Intel executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google listed Intel among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list. Similarly, Intel instructed its human resources staff about the existence of the agreement; and

In June 2007, Google and Intuit executives agreed that Google would not cold call any Intuit employee. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google also listed Intuit among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list.

The companies involved have agreed to a five-year settlement that would prevent them from entering into any similar "no solicitation agreements." The Washington, DC federal court will now take a look at the settlement; if it signs off, the lawsuit will be over—and so will the "Do Not Cold Call" lists.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 9:37 am

The alcohol companies fight back

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David Sirota in Salon.com:

Here’s a fact that even drug policy reform advocates can acknowledge: California’s 2010 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana does, indeed, pose a real threat, as conservative culture warriors insist. But not to public health, as those conservatives claim.

According to most physicians, pot is less toxic — and has more medicinal applications — than a legal and more pervasive drug like alcohol. Whereas alcohol causes hundreds of annual overdose deaths, contributes to untold numbers of illnesses and is a major factor in violent crime, the use of marijuana has never resulted in a fatal overdose and has not been systemically linked to major illness or violent behavior.

So this ballot measure is no public health threat. If anything, it would give the millions of citizens who want to use inebriating substances a safer alternative to alcohol. Which, of course, gets to what this ballot initiative really endangers: alcohol industry profits.

That truth is underscored by news this week that the California Beer and Beverage Distributors is financing the campaign against the legalization initiative. This is the same group that bankrolled opposition to a 2008 ballot measure, which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.

By these actions, alcohol companies are admitting that more sensible drug policies could cut into their government-created monopoly on mind-altering substances. Thus, they are fighting back — and not just defensively. Unsatisfied with protecting turf in California, the alcohol industry is going on offense, as evidenced by a recent article inadvertently highlighting America’s inane double standards.

Apparently oblivious to the issues the California campaign is now raising, Businessweek just published an elated puff piece headlined "Keeping Pabst Blue Ribbon Cool." Touting the beer’s loyal following, the magazine quoted one PBR executive effusively praising a rate of alcohol consumption that would pickle the average liver.

"A lot of blue-collar workers I’ve talked to say ‘I’ve been drinking a six-pack of Pabst, every single day, seven days a week, for 25 years,’" he gushed, while another executive added, "It’s, like, habitual — it’s part of their life. It’s their lifestyle."

Discussing possible plans to "develop a whole beer brand around troops" — one that devotes some proceeds to military organizations — the executives said their vision is "that when you see Red White & Blue (beer) at your barbecue, you know that money’s supporting people who have died for our country."

Imagine marijuana substituted for alcohol in this story. The article would be presented as a scary exposé about workers smoking a daily dime-bag and marijuana growers’ linking pot with the Army. Undoubtedly, such an article would be on the front page of every newspaper as cause for outrage. Yet, because this was about alcohol — remember, a substance more toxic than marijuana — it was buried in a financial magazine and depicted as something to extol.

Couple that absurd hypocrisy with the vociferous opposition to California’s initiative, and we see the meta-message.

We are asked to believe that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 8:43 am

Irisch Moos all the way

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I had an email exchange about whether the recommended beginner brush has a small knot. I don’t think so—this brush has a small knot. But it did a good job working up a lather from Irisch Moos, with plenty of lather for three good passes. The newly arrived rhodium-plated Gillette President turns out to look very nice indeed, IMHO.

It’s been a while since I sent the razor in for a Razor Revamp, and last night I was thinking about the time it takes. Usually when you order from an on-line vendor, you wait through 1 shipping cycle: from the vendor to you. But a Razor Revamp requires at least four times that:

  1. Shipping from you to vendor
  2. Shipping from vendor to plater
  3. Shipping from plater to vendor
  4. Shipping from vendor to you

In addition, of course, there’s the time required to refurbish the razor at the vendor, before it’s sent to the plater. And then the plater undoubtedly has his own prep work time, and when the razor returns to the vendor it has to go througgh a quality inspection—in the case of the President, they found one tiny dot on the razor where the plating did not fill. So, in that case, two more shipping cycles: from the vendor back to the plater for a fix, and from the plater back to the vendor for another quality inspection.

So my President went through 6 shipping cycles, plus all the work. That takes time, and it’s an amount of time that seems quite long if you’re used to the usual elapsed time (from “order placed” to “item arrives”).

My point: if you ship off a razor for a Razor Revamp, know that it can take two months, though four weeks is probably closer to the average. Of course, the time away is nothing once the razor returns, looking so splendid and ready to be on display for the rest of your life. :)

And the President, with a new Astra Superior Platinum blade, did a fine job. And being able to use Irisch Moos at the finish was a pleasure as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 8:17 am

Posted in Shaving

Hummus, generalized

with one comment

Francis Lam takes a look at hummus:

  • Chickpeas
  • Tahini (sesame paste)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Lemon

And sees that this can be generalized:

  • Beans [plus a protein-complementary nut butter: sesame, pumpkin, almond, peanut, walnut, etc. - LG]
  • Fat and oil [already taken care of above - LG]
  • Salt
  • Aromatics
  • Acid
  • Cooking liquid from the beans

He includes the last because it turns out to be useful. With this generalization, he (and you) can now proceed to make a wide variety of recipes.

This reminds me of my recent discovery that just about all anecdotes about one’s cat can be generalized: “My cat did this cute thing and it made me love him/her at that moment.”

Written by LeisureGuy

25 September 2010 at 7:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

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