Later On

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

Archive for June 2011

Goal reached

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In a post early this month, I noted that I expected to reach goal this month. It’s the last of the month, and my weight this morning is 173.6 lbs, 1.4 lbs below my goal weight: a reasonable safety margin. The scale gave my body fat as 19.9%, but I don’t know how accurate that is. BMI is 23.5, comfortably below 24. :)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 June 2011 at 8:40 am

Posted in Fitness

Ginger’s Garden & the Pils

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I took my new Thäter brush for a spin this morning: extremely nice feel and good lather from Ginger’s Garden Almond Cream shaving soap—nice soap with muted fragrance and good lather.

I haven’t used the Pils lately, but this morning I once again realized why I like it so much: it does a superb job of shaving. This is the stainless model, which I then had plated in gold. The Swedish Gillette blade is previously used but still did a smooth job.

Three smooth passes, a splash of Acqua di Parma, and we’re off a day’s adventures.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 June 2011 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

5 of 65 US nuclear plants prepared for disaster

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Not bad, eh? The other 60… well, what did you expect? The US nuclear industry more or less runs the regulatory agencies, who see their role as “helping” the nuclear industry be profitable. I’m surprised that 5 were okay. If they were. Here’s the story, by John Sullivan for ProPublica. Note in his report how the agency still was trying to cover up the problems.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2011 at 3:07 pm

Obsession: Pocket protector

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Now that I’m carrying fountain pens again, I am definitely going with a pocket protector: I already have an indelible ink spot on one shirt (thankfully, on the inside wall of the pocket (and my T-shirt beneath), but not on the visible side. But a wink is a good as a nod, so I’m started a search.

PocketProtectors.com that 5 different styles, including a “stealth” model (which I’m wearing now), but on receiving it, it turns out to be .5″ too narrow and 1.2″ too shallow to actually fit my pocket. I looked around, but “custom pocket protectors” refers only to the printing on the protector: the size is standard.

Instructables has DIY projects to make a pocket protector, so I’ll go that route.

It’s not simply to protect against ink, of course: the weight of the pens drags the pocket out of shape, and a protector will protect not only the fabric but the shape. Also, with the several pens in the protector, moving from shirt to shirt is much simpler.

I do like the banner under which PocketProtectors.com marches:

You’re bold, practical, self-confident, and you don’t give a hoot what other people think about you… you wear a pocket protector!

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2011 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Little illuminations

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The nice thing about learning a language is the frequently stumbling upon a new and deeper understanding. Just now, I suddenly had an insight: I was struggling to remember a short word: tras meaning after or behind. I have trouble with some little words, and tras, tan, and tal have been bugging me—particularly tras.

This morning it came up again in my Anki deck, and once more I didn’t get it right—but as I stared at the card, I suddenly realized that detrás and detrás de (the first an adverb meaning “behind” and the second a preposition meaning “behind”). Aha! that’s were the tras comes in: de-tras, just like a-dónde in the interrogative “¿Adónde?“: “Where to?”—a means “to” and donde means “where”. Seeing such connections is not only helpful, it’s part of what makes learning a language fun.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2011 at 9:58 am

Posted in Daily life

Policing the Police: How to effectively record police misbehavior

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Here (via the invaluable Ed Brayton) is an Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal on effective technology that could one day keep you out of prison (as the private prison industry sponsors more sweeps to arrest citizens and jail them: gotta grow profits—the invisible hand of the market demands that).

After the recent Vancouver riots, it became clear that the world is surveiling itself at an unprecedented scale. Angry citizens gave police one million photos and 1,000 hours of video footage to help them track down the rioters. If we aren’t living in a surveillance state run by the government, we’re certainly conducting a huge surveillance experiment on each other.

Which is what makes two new apps, CopRecorder and OpenWatch, and their Web component, OpenWatch.net, so interesting. They are the brainchildren of Rich Jones, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate who describes himself as “pretty much a hacker to the core.” Flush with cash and time from a few successful forays into the app market, nine months ago Jones decided to devote some of his time to developing what he calls “a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures.”

CopRecorder can record audio without indicating that it’s doing so like the Voice Memos app does. It comes with a built-in uploader to OpenWatch, so that Jones can do “analysis” of the recording and scrub any personally identifying data before posting the audio. He said he receives between 50 and 100 submissions per day, with a really interesting encounter with an authority figure coming in about every day and a half.

To me, something like OpenWatch could help solve a major problem for investigative reporting in an age when newsrooms are shrinking. We’ve still got plenty of people who can bulldog an issue once it’s been flagged, but there are fewer and fewer reporters with deep sourcing in a community, fewer and fewer reporters who have the time to look into a bunch of different things knowing that only one out of a hundred might turn into a big investigation. Perhaps providing better conduits for citizens to flag their own problems can drive down the cost of hard-hitting journalism and be part of the solution for keeping governments honest.

At first, the app did not have grand aspirations. Jones built it for some friends who’d gotten into some trouble with the law and who could have been aided by a recording of their interaction with law enforcement. But Jones’ worldview began to seep into the project. Informed by Julian Assange’s conception of “scientific journalism,” Jones wanted to start collecting datapoints at the interface of citizens and authority figures.

“It’s a new kind of journalism. When people think citizen media, right now they think amateur journalism … I don’t think that’s revolutionary,” Jones told me. “I don’t think that’s what the ’90s cyberutopianists were dreaming of. I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data.”

Already, CopRecorder is in the hands of 50,000 users, who’ve just happened to stumble on the app one way or another. Jones hopes that they’ll upload their encounters with authority figures so that he can start to build a database of what citizens’ encounters are like in different places. Then, he figures, patterns will emerge and he’ll be able to point out to the world exactly where the powerful are abusing their authority. . .

Continue reading. It’s an important article, and it includes a audio.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2011 at 8:30 am

The lessons of Christianity

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Christianity teaches that one should love others, even one’s enemies, and if struck simply offer the other cheek. This is a high standard, and people inevitably sometimes fail. What’s worrisome is when the failure becomes institutionalized so that Christian churches go astray from the Christian beliefs.

For example, on the issue of interracial marriage—two people who are in love and wish to join in holy matrimony, but are of different races—the Christian position (one would think) is to celebrate such love. But in fact evangelical Christians don’t agree. By a significantly higher percentage than other groups, evangelical Christians oppose interracial marriages. Why? Who knows? Fear most likely. It surely is not from love.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2011 at 8:22 am

Posted in Religion

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