Later On

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

Archive for July 2nd, 2006

Good column on Kiva.org

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I’ve blogged about Kiva before. It’s not a paid plug—in fact, it’s the opposite: I’ve sent money to them. But it’s a thoroughly worthwhile endeavor. Here’s a good column on the organization.

I’m happy to say that the micro-loans I funded (a tailor shop in Bulgaria, a beauty salon in Honduras, a bread route in Honduras, and a one-bus transporation company in Honduras) are being repaid on schedule. When all the money’s repaid, I can direct the loans to new businesses or get the money back or donate it to Kiva. It’s a very gratifying way to give.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Philanthropy

So it wasn’t 9/11 after all

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Via AmericaBlog and Daily Kos, it looks as though 9/11 didn’t change some things:

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

“The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,” plaintiff’s lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. “This undermines that assertion.”

There’s more on the story at the link, but the story (if true) shows that Bush is lying (gasp!) when he says that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 are why he started the domestic spying program: he had already started…

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 8:04 pm

Hillary on the right side of the minimum wage

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Bob Herbert points out that Hillary is doing something that many liberals have advocated:

The most important pay increases for most members of Congress are their own, and they are diligent in that regard. Senator Clinton, in a floor speech supporting the minimum-wage hike, said, “During the past nine years, we’ve raised our own pay by $31,600.”

Mrs. Clinton has introduced a bill that, in addition to raising the minimum wage to $7.25, would link Congressional pay raises to hikes in the minimum wage. Under the bill, the minimum wage would be increased automatically by the same percentage as any increase in Congressional pay. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 7:53 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

The military vs. the President on Iran

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Seymour Hersh has an article on the disagreements between the military and George Bush regarding Iran.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 5:07 pm

For a little fun

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visit this site.

And for more fun, try StumbleUpon, the Firefox add-on through which I stumbled upon that site…

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Art, Techie toys

Not talking about any particular President…

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Interesting article in the New Scientist:

Not only are overconfident people more likely to wage war, they fare worse in the ensuing battles. What’s more, this characteristic is not the sole preserve of the male.

Dominic Johnson of Princeton University and colleagues recruited 200 volunteers to play the role of the leader of a fictitious country that is in conflict with another. Before the game, volunteers were asked to predict how their performance would rank compared with the other 199 volunteers. They then played anonymously and received $10 if they beat their opponent – that is, if they amassed the most wealth or won the war.

People who made higher-than-average predictions of their performance – those who had greater self-confidence – were more likely to make unprovoked attacks and less likely to win $10 (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3606).

Those people, both men and women, also were more narcissistic, according to a psychological test. Narcissism, not maleness, makes some people overly optimistic and aggressive, the researchers say.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 12:32 pm

Polycom Communicator

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I got it! and it’s very nice indeed. Polycom tells its own story and you can also read various reviews, like this one. As noted in the sidebar, this comment is at my own initiative, though I have to say I didn’t pay list price, thanks to Froogle. I got it for $98 (plus shipping) from The Nerds.net. It arrived 1 July, though the notification I got said it would arrive 6 July. I’m not complaining.

The Communicator is totally designed around Skype, and has Skype controls on the front—mute, control volume, bring up Skype, and answer a call or hang up. It’s full duplex, and Polycom (through their conference phones) have lots of experience in the speaker phone area. Very small and compact, with a carry case. The USB cable is a tad short, but one can get extensions, and it’s really long enough—and it wraps up and stores under a lid in the back of the case, the open lid becoming the prop to hold the thing at the right angle.

All in all, I’m delighted. If you go Skype—and why not, if you have a broadband connection—this little device is very nice indeed.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 11:29 am

Posted in Skype, Techie toys

War-crimes trial coming for Rumsfeld et al.?

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Alert Reader pointed out an excellent op-ed in yesterday’s LA Times:

… The real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court’s holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda — a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act.

The provisions of the Geneva Convention were intended to protect noncombatants — including prisoners — in times of armed conflict. But as the administration has repeatedly noted, most of these protections apply only to conflicts between states. Because Al Qaeda is not a state, the administration argued that the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to the war on terror. These assertions gave the administration’s arguments about the legal framework for fighting terrorism a through-the-looking-glass quality. On the one hand, the administration argued that the struggle against terrorism was a war, subject only to the law of war, not U.S. criminal or constitutional law. On the other hand, the administration said the Geneva Convention didn’t apply to the war with Al Qaeda, which put the war on terror in an anything-goes legal limbo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 7:42 am

No paid product placements

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It’s a long practice in blogs to recommend books and movies, talking about nifty new techie toys, and point out cool things to buy (like the Peruvian aji mentioned in the post below). Blogs for the most part are, after all, friends writing for friends.

But now the innocent practice is being subverted:

“You can’t believe anything you see or read,” complains Ted Murphy. “You think those judges on American Idol want to drink those giant glasses of Coke?”

It’s funny to hear him say this because Murphy, who founded a Tampa-based interactive ad agency called MindComet, also runs a side business that pays bloggers to write nice things about corporate sponsors — without unduly worrying about whether or not bloggers disclose these arrangements to readers. (A scan of relevant blog searches strongly suggests that, often, they don’t.)

Murphy is launching PayPerPost.com, which will automate such hookups between advertisers and bloggers and thus codify a new frontier of product placement. Advertisers pay to post details about their “opportunity,” specifying, among other things, how they want bloggers to write about, say, a new shoe, if they want photos to be included, and whether they’ll pay only for positive mentions. Bloggers who abide by the rules get paid; heavily trafficked blogs may command premium rates. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2006 at 7:28 am

Posted in Media

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