Later On

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

Archive for October 3rd, 2006

Web ads today like the TV ads of yesteryear

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It looks as if the Web might be taking as big a role in politics as TV has—for one thing, people have more frequent access to the Web (at work, in WiFi locations, etc.) than to TV in such places.

I already blogged about this excellent Web ad for Nevada’s Proposition 7—90 seconds of clear explanation of what Prop 7 will do. Now they have another ad out, reminding people that the proposition will pass only if people vote for it. A very good GOTV message.

Wonder what this will do if it passes. Could we possibly be seeing the end of Prohibition again?

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 9:33 pm

Another small travel razor

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Razor with case Razor apart Razor almost put away Razor in case

This is a German travel razor, age unknown. Pretty old, I suspect. The metal case was plated, but much plating has worn off. The first photo shows the razor assembled for shaving (but with no blade), leaning against the closed case. In the second, the case is open and the head has been unscrewed from the handle and is lying in its two parts. The handle itself is partially unscrew. In the third, the head sections are in the case, and the handle has been unscrewed, with the smaller section almost completely inserted into the larger section. In the final, the smaller section is totally inside the larger section and is in its little slot in the case—a very different approach from the US travel razor from 1921.

The case was lined with velvet, now very worn. Although it seems like something from the Great War, the seller dates it from the 40’s or 50’s and says it is a “Befa.” The reason I put it early in the 20th century is the unplated brass handle and the rather fine metal case lined with velvet: this seems rather pre-Great War to me. I got it for $4.99. I will be shaving with it soon. Here’s the eBay photo, better lit than mine:

German razor

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Shaving

Megs asleep in my lap

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Megs asleep

There’s a canard that British Shorthairs are not lap cats. Hah! Megs has never heard that, obviously. I have a series of lap photos, and here’s one where she’s sound asleep—as sound asleep as cats get: if the UPS guy starts walking up to the door, she’s instantly awake and looking at the door.

Sometimes, as I am lying back in the chair, studying her sleeping form, my eyes grow heavy… We both snore, as it happens.

I like the way she stretches her little throat across my leg. I can distinctly feel when she swallows. She’ll also do the occasional twitch or settling in—motions of sleep.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Using your computer to work for good

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You have probably heard or read of how computers with a broadband connection can be used for large-scale projects, using the computer when it would otherwise be sitting idle. The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing is a project at the University of California Berkeley to allow you to participate, including letting you select the project that your computer will work on. BOINC is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and its projects are interesting and worthwhile. Mouse over each project for more details, and note this information, including the disclaimer/caveat:

You can participate in several projects, ensuring that your computer will be kept busy even when one project has no work. You can control how your resources (such as computer time and disk space) are divided among these projects. When you attach to a project, you will be asked for its URL. This is simply its web address: visit each project’s web site, and copy the URL from your browser’s address field.

Projects are independent. BOINC does not control or endorse BOINC-based projects. When you participate in a project, you entrust that project with the health of your computer and the privacy of your data. In deciding whether to participate in a project, you should consider the following questions:

* Do you trust the project to ensure that its applications won’t damage your computer or violate your privacy?
* Do you trust the project to use proper security practices on their servers?
* Does the project clearly describe its goals, and are these goals important and beneficial?
* Who owns the results of the computation? If the results are valuable, will they be freely available to the public or will they belong to a for-profit business?

Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 7:50 pm

It may be all over for Hastert

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Today Dennis Hastert said that he will not step down. As my friend in Ohio has pointed out at various times over the years, as soon as a politician says, “I will not resign,” they may as well start packing up his office—it’s the infallible sign that he will resign, and pretty soon, too. In the past, this has proved true, but of course past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future events, as financial people are wont to remind us. Still—I wonder if Denny Hastert will still be Speaker of the House in a week or two…

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

1 terabyte external drive

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I have a 0.5 terabyte external drive for my automatic daily backups, and now I see that a 1 terabyte external drive is here. Under the hood, though, it’s just two 0.5 terabyte drives that can be run for 1 terabyte of storage or as a mirroring system with 0.5 terabytes of storage. Still… a long way from the first hard drive I used on a PC: 0.01 terabytes.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Techie toys, Technology

Confusion about sexual orientation and pedophilia

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A large number of conservative commentators seem to be… well, “uneducated” is probably the kindest term. Pedophilia—the uncontrolled sexual attraction to very young people—is illegal if acted upon and generally regarded as a mental illness. Pedophiles may be attracted to young boys or young girls, of the same or the opposite sex (most pedophiles are male).

Homosexuals, OTOH, are persons whose affectional preference is for individuals of the same sex.

Pedophiles may be homosexual (e.g., Rep Foley ) or heterosexual, but the pedophilia is a totally separate matter than their sexual orientation.

This seems pretty simple—indeed, obvious—but apparently it’s too subtle for right-wing commentators. Perhaps this might help:

Homosexual Pedophilia: bad and illegal if acted upon
Heterosexual Pedophilia: bad and illegal if acted upon
Normal (Consensual Adult) Heterosexuality: okay and legal to act upon
Normal (Consensual Adult) Homosexuality: okay and legal to act upon

Perhaps they can carry a little card with this on it and refer to it from time to time.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 12:45 pm

Posted in GOP

Interesting way to prevent school shootings

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I admit that this had not occurred to me: the way to stop school shootings, it turns out, is to outlaw abortion and stop teaching evolution in biology classes. Who knew? It certainly seems an indirect route to a solution, but obviously the guy means it…

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

NY Times editors on the Foley matter

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The NY Times has a good editorial today:

History suggests that once a political party achieves sweeping power, it will only be a matter of time before the power becomes the entire point. Policy, ideology, ethics all gradually fall away, replaced by a political machine that exists to win elections and dispense the goodies that come as a result. The only surprise in Washington now is that the Congressional Republicans managed to reach that point of decayed purpose so thoroughly, so fast.

That House leaders knew Representative Mark Foley had been sending inappropriate e-mail to Capitol pages and did little about it is terrible. It is also the latest in a long, depressing pattern: When there is a choice between the right thing to do and the easiest route to perpetuation of power, top Republicans always pick wrong.

The news about Mr. Foley should have set off alarm bells instantly, even if the messages the leaders saw were of the “inappropriate” variety rather than the flat-out salacious versions that surfaced last week. But there was certainly no sense of urgency in their response, which seemed directed at sweeping the matter under the rug rather than finding out precisely what was going on.

The obvious first step — notifying the bipartisan committee that oversees the page program — was never taken, presumably because that would have meant bringing a Democrat into the discussions. After Mr. Foley assured everyone that he was simply engaged in mentoring, whatever leadership inquiry there was ended with telling him to stop e-mailing the youth who got the inappropriate letter.

It’s astonishing behavior for a party that sold itself as the champion of conservative social values. But then so was the fact that a party that prides itself on fiscal conservatism managed to roll up record-breaking deficits, featuring large amounts of wasteful pork earmarked to the districts of powerful legislators or the profit sheets of generous campaign contributors. So was the speed with which the party that billed itself as the voice of grass-roots exurban and suburban America turned itself into the partner of every special-interest lobbyist with a checkbook.

The good news is that American democracy, so flawed in many ways, is often fairly efficient at punishing parties that become addicted to self-perpetuation. This November may not force Congress to come up with a plan for Iraq, or even immigration. But if it reminds elected officials that there’s a punishment waiting for those who fall in love with their own sense of entitlement, it will have done its job.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Interesting Word tool for students and others

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This is sitting right there in Word, and I didn’t even know about it—though Word has so much going on, that’s no wonder. AutoSummarize can create those executive summaries that are such a pain—or at least a first draft of them.

At the same link, you can find a whole list of how-to articles for various programs in MS Office.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Education, Software

USB Duckie Fan

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$12 US for this little fan. You can power it via USB cable or with two AA batteries. Quiet, and puts out a good breeze. Also cute. The duckie is the on/off switch.

Also at the link: USB kitty, USB mini-humidifier, USB slippers, USB notebook cooling pad/hub, etc.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Techie toys

More on the Foley follies

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Via Steve Gilliard, a couple of math teachers—one a Democrat, one a Republican—talk about the Foley scandal.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 11:52 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

“Tasmanian” Devil, 1987-2006

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It’s hard when a pet dies, even one who has lived a long and happy life. “Tasmanian” Devil, known affectionately as “Devil,” passed away a few days ago. The photo above was taken a couple of hours before his passing.

Despite his name, Devil was a gentle and shy kitty—also large, though not so large as his buddy Buddy. Buddy is a cat, all black, who looks like a chow dog with short legs and a small head. He’s enormous, and if you (are able to) pick him up, he wants to hug you—like hugging a six-year-old kid.

Buddy also is a gentle soul, but not so shy as Devil was. When we were feeding them while the owner was away, we never saw Devil, who would retreat far under the bed as soon as he heard the footsteps of strangers. But Buddy would come out for a hug. Each had his own feeding bowl, and neither would eat from the other’s bowl: respect.

They were both indoor kitties because if Buddy went outside for a while, when he came back inside he wouldn’t recognize Devil and he’d freak out. You don’t want Buddy freaking out.

Devil was gentle unless his owner tried to trim his nails. Then he would show some serious (and sharp) attitude. So he had to be taken to the vet for nail-trimmings, where he would sit placidly, all but holding up his paw, toes apart, to make it easier, purring away. The vet would always tell the owner, “You could do this at home, you know,” while the owner gritted her teeth and shot sharp looks at Devil, who blandly ignored them. Obviously, Devil considered nail-trimming a job best left to the professionals.

In honor of Devil’s long life and recent passing, I offer this poem by Gavin Ewart. Rest in peace, Devil.

Sonnet: Cat Logic

Cat sentimentality is a human thing. Cats
are indifferent, their minds can’t comprehend
the concept ‘I shall die’, they just go on living.
Death is more foreign to their thought than
to us the idea of a lime-green lobster. That’s
why holding these warm containers of purring fur
is poignant, that they just don’t know.
Life is in them, like the brandy in the bottle.

One morning a cat wakes up, and doesn’t feel
disposed to eat or wash or walk. It doesn’t panic
or scream: ‘My last hour has come!’ It
simply fades. Cats never go grey at the edges
like us, they don’t even look old. Peter Pans,
insouciant. No wonder people identify with cats.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 October 2006 at 8:41 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

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