Later On

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

Archive for August 2006

VA doesn’t want vets to get help with disability claims

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Just read it. Don’t you suspect that the real reason the guy’s fighting it is because it sends a correct message?

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 7:05 pm

Gene therapy cures melanoma

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This is a big advance, it seems to me: Scientists have genetically modified the patient’s own immune cells so that they were able to eradicate melanoma:

Scientists for the first time have genetically modified tumor-fighting immune cells, allowing patients to rid themselves of an aggressive form of cancer, according to a study released Thursday.

The technique, used to cure two patients with advanced melanoma, paves the way for a new approach to fighting cancer by harnessing — and boosting — the body’s own immune system instead of relying on toxic chemotherapy and radiation treatments to kill out-of-control tumors.

The researchers from the National Cancer Institute, whose findings were published online by the journal Science, say the strategy could be adapted to treat breast, prostate, lung, colorectal, and other common cancers.

“It’s obviously very exciting,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the research. “It’s a proof of concept of being able to develop a technique where they can use a patient’s own blood cells to fight cancer.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Health, Medical, Science

Healthful beef

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I’m sure I’ve blogged about it before, but grassfed beef is the best in terms of healthfulness. “Organic” beef is still normally grainfed, which is hard on cattle (whose digestive systems don’t deal well with grain) and on people (because of the low levels of omega-3 fats). An article in the NY Times gives good information. Also included below is a list of sources for grassfed beef.

Ranchers of grass-fed beef say they have made great strides in the last few years by relearning what came naturally before the era of the feedlot, then building on it. They use heritage breeds that thrive on grass rather than on grain, as well as crossbreeds developed with advanced genetics.

They have relearned the science of rotating pastures and determined which grasses provide better nutrition in a region like the Northeast, where pastures are not endless, as they are in the West.

Humane, nonstressful slaughter is considered even more important than in the conventional cattle industry, where the practice is being slowly adopted.

And, finally, they are aging the beef longer to tenderize it more. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Beef, Food, Health

The GOP hates the working class

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Via ThinkProgress, this press release:

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to recess appoint Paul DeCamp as head of the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the nation’s wage and hour laws, including overtime laws, workplace discrimination laws, and child labor laws. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today on the recess appointment:

“Enforcing the nation’s wage and hours laws is a critical task that ensures that employees are not cheated out of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The person in charge of enforcing wage and hour laws must be objective and willing to take on powerful employers if they are abusing the wage laws.

“As a lawyer, Paul DeCamp has never represented American workers in a single case. He has worked on behalf of Wal-Mart – a company with an abhorrent record of labor relations – and other companies against the interests of American workers and consumers in numerous cases. Yet he is the man that President Bush has chosen as one of the nation’s top enforcers of workplace rights. It’s no surprise that President Bush would appoint a corporate lawyer to a position intended to safeguard workers against corporate abuses. This recess appointment is one more reminder that the President does not care about making sure that workers are treated fairly on the job or enforcing laws that he doesn’t happen to like.”

More from the AFL-CIO blog: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 2:32 pm

Kitty oral-care kibble

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I blogged earlier about feeding the kitties Hill’s Science Diet t/d. Then I came across this note today:

For healthy pets, Science Diet® Oral Care® is available through veterinarians and pet specialty retailers carrying the Science Diet product line. It is an appropriate choice to maintain a clean, healthy mouth in adult pets with no current health issues. If a pet suffers from gingivitis or is at risk of more serious dental disease, Prescription Diet® t/d®, which is available only through your veterinarian, may be a better choice.

So we’ll talk to our vet about the best choice for our cats. (The same foods are also available in canine formulas. And, BTW, I didn’t know that garlic was a deadly poison for dogs. Did you?)

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Cats

Does Byrd also have a hold on the bill?

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Below I posted (here and here and here) about the hold on the bipartisan bill to create a public, searchable database of Federal grants and contracts. All of those were to slam Sen Stevens (R-Alaska) for placing the hold. But it looks as though he were joined in this by Sen Byrd (D-WV), who is also notorious for having his snout deep into the public trough. Bad news, and the Democratic leaders ought to pressure Byrd to lift the damn hold.

UPDATE: Byrd has confirmed—and dropped—his hold.

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 10:50 am

Posted in Government

Nice: from AmericaBlog

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Remembering September 11.

Oval office

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 9:55 am

Lead-up to the war

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Alert Reader has pointed out this excellent timeline of the run-up to the war in Iraq: what was known and when, and what was told to the US public. The timeline was created by Mother Jones, and it will continue to be updated. (You can sign up to receive email notification of updates.) Extremely interesting.

The timeline starts in 1990, as you can see by scrolling up the timeline on the left. Months for which things are noted are indicated by color. The final entry is 19 March 2003, when the war began.

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 8:55 am

Bush’s decision-making

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I blogged earlier about self-taught practitioners, including self-taught decision-makers (“deciders,” to use President Bush’s term). I mentioned that it’s important to evaluate the process by which a decision is reached, as well as its outcome, in determining best practices: a lucky guess can produce a good outcome, and a careful process can by stymied by some chance occurrence. But, given the law of averages, one would expect a careful process to produce more good decisions—and good outcomes—in the long run.

President Bush, though, is self-taught and his process is to “go with his gut.” He’s mentioned this from time to time, and he relies heavily on his ability to read people and understand their motives. For example, you will recall the first time he met Putin, Bush said, ” I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”

And, as Suskind noted in his book The One Percent Doctrine, Bush also evaluated the man who brought the warning in August 2001 that Osama bin Ladin was determined to strike in the US:

The book’s opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush’s Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president’s attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 8:44 am

Inexpensive pre-shave

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I blogged about Chris Moss’s discovery of how well Trumper Coral Skin Food works as an  every-pass pre-shave. He looked at the ingredients, and noticed the glycerine. Since glycerine is quite inexpensive and available in any reasonable drugstore, he decided to try that:

I tried the straight glycerine today, and I think it gives the same result as the Skin Food as a pre-shave. Leaves the skin very soft, smooth and not in the least tingly from the razor. (I used a slant bar and a Feather blade today). This will make a cheaper alternative to the Skin Food, and should be available in your local pharmacy, and might also be available where soap making supplies are sold, or even confectionery (used in making traditional icing).

So: I’ll give it a go tomorrow.

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 7:42 am

Posted in Shaving

Kitty food weirdness

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Sophie has decided that she doesn’t like the Wellness Salmon kibble that she’s been happily eating ever since she arrived. So The Wife stopped by the pet store in Pacific Grove, and find that they’ve heard of this little problem. They provided 10 sample packets of kibble, with instructions to put them in little piles along the floor and see which one(s) the kitty would eat. The Wife reports:

The problem with free samples is that they’re not necessarily things you would choose yourself. Some of the samples didn’t seem that healthy – rice as one of the top ingredients, for example. I chose the 3 that seemed best:

– alternate flavour of Wellness
– Natural Balance “regular”
Natural Balance venison and green peas (those are the only ingredients!)

Remember, she was hungry… but she sniffed all three carefully, then started in on the venison, then alternated between that and the NB regular – cleaned up both of those, and didn’t touch the Wellness. And she was still hungry, because I put some NB venison down in her bowl afterward and she chowed down – she just came in to the living room and burped.

So: no more Wellness for Sophie—at least for a while. Both kitties like the Hill’s Science Diet t/d (the big kibble), luckily.

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2006 at 7:23 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

UK airports confiscate pens

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That would kill me if I had my Omas Arco Celluloid fountain pen with me. Via Boing Boing, here are the rules. Among them:

You’re allowed only one carry-on item when boarding a plane at a British airport, and it may not exceed these dimensions:

  • 45 cm (about 17 3/4″) long
  • 35 cm (about 13 3/4″) wide
  • 16 cm (about 6 1/4″) deep

They are incredibly strict about this size restriction. …

As rows were called to board the plane, everybody had to go to one of three security stations set in front of the jetway. A security person would ask you to empty your pockets and place the items on a table. If you had a carry-on bag, it would be very thoroughly searched by hand.

Next comes the personal search. I haven’t been frisked so throughly since my check-up at the doctor’s last month. The security guy did a full police-style pat-down search, including checking under the collar and the waistband of my jeans. You’ll also be asked to take off your shoes for inspection. …

Another thing they don’t tell you — in fact, they don’t tell you until the search at the gate: they won’t let you bring a pen onto the plane. I only lost a ball-point pen which I’m pretty sure came from Tucows’ office supply closet. Others were less fortunate; in the bin where confiscated pens were being collected, I saw a at least a dozen “executive” pens, including Crosses and Mont Blancs. If you’re accustomed to carrying an expensive pen, do not take it with you!

Without pens, we had nothing with which to fill out the immigrations and customs forms required for international flights arriving at their first port of entry to the United States. We ended up — all 172 of us — sharing the chief flight attendant’s pen, passing it from row to row.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Daily life

More on the secret hold by Sen. Stevens

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From TPMmuckraker:

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) held up a bill that would create a free, searchable database of government contracts and grants because he was worried about the proposal’s price tag, his spokesman told me this afternoon. Its cost has been estimated at $15 million.

Stevens’ office has asked Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the sponsor of the bill, for “a cost-benefit analysis to make sure this does not create an extra layer of unnecessary bureaucracy,” spokesman Aaron Saunders said. The Senator “wanted to make sure that this wasn’t going to be a huge cost to the taxpayer and that it achieves the goal which the bill is meant to achieve.”

Saunders added that Stevens’ hold was not “secret,” and that he would back the bill if the analysis shows that “it achieves its goal and it achieves its goal well.”

But Sen. Coburn’s spokesman John Hart questioned Stevens’ motive. “The only reason to oppose this bill is if he has something to hide,” Hart said.

Hart said that Stevens, who’s on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, failed to attend any hearings on the bill, an assertion backed up by vote tallies. “If he had concerns, he should have addressed them in regular order rather than blocking something that will benefit millions of taxpayers,” Hart said. He added that after Stevens’ office raised the concerns, Coburn’s office requested a meeting, but never got one. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 2:49 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

A moment of silence for the 1st Amendment

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From the BBC:

An architect of Iraqi descent has said he was forced to remove a T-shirt that bore the words “We will not be silent” before boarding a flight at New York.

Raed Jarrar said security officials warned him his clothing was offensive after he checked in for a JetBlue flight to California on 12 August.

Mr Jarrar said he was shocked such an action could be taken in the US.

US transport officials are conducting an inquiry after a complaint from the US Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

JetBlue said it was also investigating the incident but a spokeswoman said: “We’re not clear exactly what happened.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Speaking of “addictive”: nicotine levels up

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The Washington Post runs a story that tobacco companies have increased the level of nicotine in cigarettes, making them more addictive:

The level of nicotine that smokers typically consume per cigarette has risen about 10 percent in the past six years, making it harder to quit and easier to get hooked, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Department of Health.

The study shows a steady climb in the amount of nicotine delivered to the lungs of smokers regardless of brand, with overall nicotine yields increasing by about 10 percent.

Massachusetts is one of three states to require tobacco companies to submit information about nicotine testing according to its specifications and the only state with data going back to 1998.

Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. called the findings “significant.”

The study found the three most popular cigarette brands with young smokers — Marlboro, Newport and Camel — delivered significantly more nicotine than they did six years ago. Nicotine consumed in Kool, a popular menthol brand, rose 20 percent, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 2:07 pm

High-church services bad for your health?

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Science News reports a potential problem in high-church services: serious pollution from candles and incense. (The same problem clearly could occur in homes that are heavy on candles and incense.)

Even brief exposure to contaminated air during a religious service could be harmful to some people, says atmospheric scientist Stephan Weber of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. A previous study in the Netherlands indicated that the pollutants in smoke from incense and candles may be more toxic than fine-particle pollution from sources such as vehicle engines.

… There have been few investigations of the health consequences of candles and incense, even though they are usually lit indoors, sometimes in crowded spaces with limited ventilation.

Weber conducted the new study in St. Engelbert Church in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. The church staff burns candles during each mass and incense on some holidays.

Weber installed two devices that continuously sampled air during a 13-day period that began on Christmas Eve of 2004. The equipment measured concentrations of particles up to 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) and also those 1 µm or smaller (PM1), which endanger people’s hearts, lungs, and arteries. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Environment, Health, Science

Interesting crackpot book

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Julian Jaynes, of Princeton University, wrote a fascinating book titled The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, finding scattered bits of evidence that indicated that we became conscious as our bicameral mind melded—until then, we heard (in what more or less corresponds to our left-brain mind) “voices” (from our right-brain mind), which we obeyed. There’s much more to it than that, and though it’s crackpot (IMHO), it’s interesting crackpot. Some of it is based on the kind of misreading that (and the Classical Daughter will correct me if I’m wrong) led some to speculate that, in Homer’s time, people’s vision responded to different wavelengths of light, hence the ubiquitous “wine-dark sea,” the sea being, as we know, not wine-dark at all. But them someone noticed that the flanks of working oxen were also “wine-dark,” as was the forearm of a fighting man, and realized that perhaps the word meant something like “sparkling from drops of water” or the like.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 11:35 am

Posted in Books

USPS Global Priority flat-rate envelope

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Here’s a shipping option for international shipments that you may not know: UPDATE As of 14 May 2007, the small Global Priority envelope is no more. The large Global Priority cardboard envelope (to hold a 9×12 envelope) is $9.00 to Canada and Mexico, $11.00 to other countries. Use the small custom form, and you write the address directly on the cardboard envelope (i.e., there’s no separate form for that with a blister pak).

You can mail up to 4 lbs in the Global Priority envelope.

Also, there’s a flat-rate Global Priority (I think they now call it International Priority) box: $37 to Europe. It takes the larger customs form, and you get insurance coverage free, the amount based on the weight of the box.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 11:28 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Learning Go

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I got an email from someone asking how to learn Go. This site (scroll down to “Learn the Basics”) has some excellent links that should be helpful. Note the interactive Go tutorial (requires Java).

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 11:14 am

Posted in Go/Baduk

Hybrid racer

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The Eldest and The Son-in-Law are big Formula One fans. I can’t wait to hear their reaction to this:

… breaking news from Italy that N.Technology S.p.a. and Tatuus s.r.l. have signed a deal to produce a new single-seater Formula car. Tatuus, which builds Formula Renault cars, will take care of bulding N.Technology’s concept and will also provide technical assistance and spare parts service to the teams involved in the new series.

The new single-seater car will have a 2-litre, 4-cylinder, 250-bhp engine, gearbox and clutch controls on the steering wheel and has been conceived to be fitted with an hybrid engine system. N.Technology’s Andrea Fiorani reports that the first season for the formula will be the 2007 season. Formula N.T07 cars will compete in a new international series within the European rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Eurosport will be responsible for the TV production and broadcasting of the events of the international series. That’s the first sketch of the Formula N.T07 car which predictably looks a lot like a Formula Renault – more news when it comes to hand, but we must say we’re excited at the prospects of creating an environment where creative and higly competitive engineers develop hybrid technology.

Photos at the link. Clarification: this is not a Formula One car—but it is a racer. See comments here.

Written by Leisureguy

30 August 2006 at 10:17 am

Posted in Business, Technology

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