Later On

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

Archive for October 6th, 2006

A better mosquito trap

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Skeeter Bag
This one apparently works really well. Via Boing Boing. For $13.33, worth a shot, I’d say. Link at the site explains the drawbacks of the mosquito traps that use CO2 as an attractant.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Force the elevator to go directly to your floor

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Not very nice, but in an emergency….

Press down the close-door button and the floor you want at the same time. This trick has worked on all the office elevators I have tried so far. I find it works the easiest on:
Otis Elevators
Dover Elevators
And Most Desert Elevators

From i-Hacked.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

GOP trying to protect Hastert with a bodyguard of lies

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The particular lie being spread now as a GOP talking point is that, as soon as the sexually explicit IMs surfaced, Hastert braced Foley and told him to either resign or be expelled. Alas for that talking point, Foley had resigned 3 hours before ABC made the sexually explicit emails public. Hastert himself has admitted that Foley resigned before anyone could talk to him about it.

What’s with the GOP? Do they just like to lie?

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government, Media

Prop 7 opponents go beyond lying, to breaking the law

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Nevada’s Proposition 7 will allow the sale—under state control, regulation, and taxation—of marijuana to adults in special marijuana stores. Click here for a 90-second explanation.

As I blogged earlier, the first response of those opposing Proposition 7 was simply to lie about what it proposed.

Apparently that wasn’t effective, so now they’re simply breaking the law. From an email I received today from Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project:

The Nevada government is once again trying to thwart the Marijuana Policy Project’s campaign to pass its initiative to end marijuana prohibition in the state.

On Wednesday, the state ethics committee announced that it effectively will not be pursuing public officials who are illegally campaigning against MPP’s initiative on the public dime until after Election Day — when it will be too late to keep them from affecting the vote. But we’re continuing to fight back.

We badly need your help to fight off this illegal resistance as Election Day draws near. Would you please donate just $10 or more to the campaign today?

On September 19, the Clark County Board of Commissioners — which represents Las Vegas — passed a nonbinding resolution opposing MPP’s initiative to tax and regulate marijuana in the state … despite the fact that state law prohibits government officials from spending taxpayer money, time, or resources to oppose or support a ballot question.

Because this law has clear legal precedent, including a Nevada Supreme Court decision in 2002 and a Nevada attorney general’s opinion in 2004, MPP filed a formal complaint with Nevada’s attorney general, asking him to prosecute the county commissioners and other public officials — like Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Detective Todd Raybuck, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Stan Olsen — who have spent taxpayer money to oppose MPP’s initiative. The attorney general sent the issue to the state ethics commission.

While our complaint was awaiting a decision, Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick held a news conference on the taxpayers’ dime for the sole purpose of advocating against MPP’s initiative — despite the fact that the legality of doing so was in dispute! We’ve now added him to our complaint.

You can see him rant and rave on this CNN news story here.

But on Wednesday, the ethics commission issued a variety of procedural requests that effectively mean that it won’t be issuing an opinion until after Election Day.

This means that Nevada’s public officials can continue ignoring the law for the remainder of the campaign!

This is simply outrageous. If you agree, would you please consider donating the maximum amount that you can so that we can afford to continue fighting to pass our initiative — and fighting our opponents — everywhere, and every day, until Election Day?

(Speaking of fighting, we’ll be filing complaints with the state every time public officials in Nevada break the law. Under the law, they could all face heavy fines.)

We’re already in the midst of a heavy battle to pass our initiative, and now we’re up against opponents who don’t care if their tactics are legal or ethical. Would you please stand with us during the last four-and-a-half weeks of the campaign by helping us out financially today?

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Election, Video

Bad names to have

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Kevin Drum notes:

Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes has somehow gotten hold of a copy of the no-fly list used by airport authorities to screen for possible terrorists. So who’s on the list?

Gary Smith, John Williams, and Robert Johnson are some of those names. Kroft talked to 12 people with the name Robert Johnson, all of whom are detained almost every time they fly. The detentions can include strip searches and long delays in their travels.

“Well, Robert Johnson will never get off the list,” says Donna Bucella, who oversaw the creation of the list and has headed up the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center since 2003. She regrets the trouble they experience, but chalks it up to the price of security in the post-9/11 world. “They’re going to be inconvenienced every time … because they do have the name of a person who’s a known or suspected terrorist,” says Bucella.

You know, I’ll bet if there were some senator named Robert Johnson, the FBI would figure out a way to make this list a little more user-friendly. Maybe we should try to elect one.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 2:53 pm

And for PC users

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From the same article as linked to in the previous entry:

Computer users are always coming across little bits of information—from e-mails, from conversations, and from blogs, RSS feeds, and other Web sites. Often we’d like to do something with this information, rather than letting it whiz by into oblivion. As the systems that present information have evolved, so have the means for storing and keeping track of data we might like to use later on. Starting twenty-five years ago, when almost the only data that flowed into a computer came via early e-mail or bulletin-board systems, I’ve tried about 200 different data-management programs, including two I mentioned several months ago in this space. These are Microsoft’s OneNote, which looks sleeker and more Mac-like than other Microsoft Office applications and, while predictably well integrated with Microsoft’s Outlook and Word, also works very well with non-Microsoft products like the Firefox Web browser; and Chandler, from Mitch Kapor’s Open Source Applications Foundation, a still-emerging effort to create a free, all-platform information manager.

Good data managers do three things. They let you bring information into the program easily, from textual sources like e-mail or from Web sites. They let you classify, or “tag,” incoming information, if you already know what you’d like to do with it: for example, you might want to save a certain Web clip for information about next summer’s vacation or for a work project you have under way. Other information you might want to dump into a general storage bin without a specific purpose but on the chance you might want to look at it again. And the programs let you later retrieve the information you’ve stored, whether you’ve classified it or not, by means ranging from simple keyword searches to elaborate ways of detecting relationships among data.

All the programs I’ll mention meet three crucial tests. They allow effortless data collection, tagged and untagged storage, and flexible retrieval options. They differ in where they’ve placed their emphasis, and in whether they’re aimed at users who like structure and outlines or those who prefer looser organizational schemes. Compared with OneNote and even Chandler, they are generally less ambitious in their aims and come from smaller (and sometimes shakier) enterprises. In wine terms, these are mainly garagiste offerings rather than from the main châteaus. But each excels in a certain way, and all are worth at least experimenting with, since they’re available for free trial periods. Unless otherwise noted, each program can be found at a Web site of the same name or via a simple Web search. With a few exceptions, these programs are for PCs only. The two programs for Macs, though, are particularly elegant. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 2:45 pm

Neat Mac programs

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The Atlantic Monthly is a great magazine, and James Fallows one of their best writers. He has a regular feature on technology, and in the current issue he highlights two programs for the Mac:

One is DevonThink, created in Germany, which was mentioned previously in these pages but can’t be mentioned often enough. It is only so-so in collecting data, but it is superb at organizing and searching what you have amassed. It has an exceptional “semantic search” utility, which like a good Web search engine can often find what you’re looking for even if that is not exactly what you typed in. (The only comparable PC program I’m aware of is dtSearch.) The other is Tinderbox, from Eastgate Systems, of Watertown, Massachusetts. Its Web-clipping utilities are primitive at best, but it is a wonderful tool for arranging ideas, seeing, and changing the relationships among them, and generally doing creative work.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 2:30 pm

FBI lying as a CYA

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demanded an investigation into why the FBI took no action after CREW handed them emails showing Foley at work. The FBI responded with anonymous lies to the Washington Post. The story:

It looks like the FBI’s tried to rabbit-punch a good-government group that’s been demanding to find out why the bureau didn’t open a probe of Mark Foley months ago.

On Monday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington demanded an investigation into why the FBI didn’t open a probe of Mark Foley in July, when the group forwarded copies of the former lawmaker’s questionable emails to the bureau.

This morning, an unnamed “official” fired back via a blind quote in the Washington Post, which suggested the group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, had held the emails for months before giving them to the FBI, and would not cooperate with agents:

One law enforcement official — speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation — also told The Washington Post the FBI believed that CREW may have received the e-mails as early as April and that the group refused to tell the FBI how they were obtained.

CREW says that’s categorically false. “They’re making it up. There’s no question about it. As things get worse for them, they seem to be making up more lies,” CREW spokeswoman Naomi Seligman told me.

She stood by the group’s claim that it received the emails in mid-July, and forwarded them to the FBI shortly thereafter [the same day, as it turns out — LG]. “We were more than willing to cooperate with them,” Seligman said of the bureau — but the FBI never contacted her group. “If they did call us, we’d love to know when.” Her group continues to call for an investigation of the matter by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Earlier the FBI had lied in saying that the emails CREW gave them were heavily redacted, and that’s why the FBI did nothing. That lie went down in flames because CREW had kept copies and showed clearly that there was no redaction.

The FBI: protecting you, right after they protect themselves.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 12:53 pm

The yo-yo business

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Selling yo-yos has its ups and downs (sorry—couldn’t resist), but this nifty site has a whole boatload of different yo-yos for your collection. When I was a kid the yo-yo companies would send around to school playgrounds yo-yo professionals, who would amaze us with what could be done. They didn’t sell yo-yos, just got us hungry to buy and try. Then on to next playground. They would come around in the spring usually—and this was a town of 2400 in southern Oklahoma with one elementary school, so they really beat the bushes.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Amazon Prime search tool

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Amazon Prime is a service (for $79/year) that has some benefits:

Unlimited Express Shipping

  • Free Two-Day Shipping on over a million in-stock items sold by Amazon.com
  • Overnight Shipping for only $3.99 per item—order as late as 6:30 PM ET
  • Ship to any eligible address in the contiguous United States

Effortless Shopping

  • No minimum purchase required
  • No need to consolidate items to save on shipping

Convenient Sharing

  • Share the benefits of your Amazon Prime membership with up to four family members living in the same household

But note the limitation in the above: “items sold by Amazon.com.” Amazon now sells many items for other stores, including Target. So now this handy search that searches only through the Amazon-Prime eligible items.

UPDATE: A reader points out this search site, which does the same and more with a better interface.

UPDATE 2: Chris points out Amazanian, another good search site.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

The US under Bush: “Torture ‘R’ US”

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The AP reports:

Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement obtained by The Associated Press.

The two-page statement was sent Wednesday to the Inspector General at the Department of Defense by a high-ranking Marine Corps defense lawyer.

The lawyer sent the statement on behalf of a paralegal who said men she met on Sept. 23 at a bar on the base identified themselves to her as guards. The woman, whose name was blacked out, said she spent about an hour talking with them. No one was in uniform, she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 11:08 am

Strong words against a lying, incompetent President

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As Alert Reader has pointed out, and as Dan Froomkin puts near the top of his column today, Keith Olbermann has spoken strongly out against the lies that President Bush is using in an attempt to divide the country and continue his trashing of our freedoms:

His newscast-ending “special comment” yesterday was a doozy. Here’s the text ; here’s the video, from the Crooks and Liars blog.

Read and/or watch what Olbermann says. It’s sad but it’s true. Froomkin also bemoans how most of the media will not speak to the lies that drip from the President’s lips. One passage from Olbermann’s comment:

It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation.

Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies of treason.

But it is the context that truly makes the head spin.

Just 25 days ago, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this same man spoke to this nation and insisted, “We must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.”

Mr. Bush, this is a test you have already failed.

If your commitment to “put aside differences and work together” is replaced in the span of just three weeks by claiming your political opponents prefer to wait to see this country attacked again, and by spewing fabrications about what they’ve said, then the questions your critics need to be asking are no longer about your policies.

They are, instead, solemn and even terrible questions, about your fitness to fulfill the responsibilities of your office.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 10:23 am

Bush Administration: incompetents in power at last

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They can’t even get the easy ones right. From the WaPo editorial page:

The Bush administration has pushed aggressively for expanded surveillance powers, military commissions and rough interrogation techniques. When it comes to fighting the war on terrorism, just about anything goes. Except, that is, those routine steps with no civil liberties implications at all that might significantly interrupt terrorism — such as, say, reading the mail of convicted terrorists housed in American prisons. The federal Bureau of Prisons, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine wrote, “does not read all the mail for terrorist and other high-risk inmates on its mail monitoring lists.” It is also “unable to effectively monitor high-risk inmates’ verbal communications,” including phone calls. So while the administration won’t reveal the circumstances under which it spies on innocent Americans, the communications of imprisoned terrorists, at least, appear sadly secure.

This is not a hypothetical problem. Jailed terrorists and organized-crime figures try to communicate with confederates outside of prison walls. Three inmates involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, while housed at the federal government’s highest-security prison, managed to exchange around 90 letters with Islamist extremists between 2002 and 2004, including with terrorists in Spain who were planning attacks there. Just last month, federal prosecutors accused a drug lord at the same facility of running a huge distribution network in Los Angeles using coded conversations and messages. Imprisoned people can direct major crimes from behind bars.

Yet somehow, the bureau leaves unread a lot of mail to and from inmates it designates as warranting monitoring. What’s more, at some federal institutions, the amount of mail monitored is going down . Part of the problem is that the bureau “does not have enough proficient translators to translate inmate mail written in foreign languages” — a government-wide deficiency [that’s been exacerbated by firing all gay/lesbian translators because of their sexual orientation — LG]. Even when officers eyeball mail, they are not sufficiently “trained in intelligence techniques to evaluate whether terrorists’ communications contain suspicious content,” the report said.

This should be the easy part of fighting terrorism. It is simply a question of devoting adequate resources to making happen something that everyone agrees needs to happen. When a lawyer for the imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman helped him covertly send messages to his followers, federal prosecutors rightly pressed charges and won a conviction against her. How ironic that other terrorists need only set pen to paper and their exhortations can slip through unread.

Bush: exploring the bottom.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 9:43 am

Bush: above the law

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It’s still going on: the Boston Globe reports (below) and AP is on it, too.

President Bush this week asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey a new law in which Congress has set minimum qualifications for future heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Congress passed the law last week as a response to FEMA’s poor handling of Hurricane Katrina. The agency’s slow response to flood victims exposed the fact that Michael Brown, Bush’s choice to lead the agency, had been a politically connected hire with no prior experience in emergency management.

To shield FEMA from cronyism, Congress established new job qualifications for the agency’s director in last week’s homeland security bill. The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has “a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management” and “not less than five years of executive leadership.”

Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 9:38 am

Friday cat-blogging: Sophie looking adorable

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Sophie asleep on hutch

Sophie is not just all beauty and no brains. When she was a much younger kitty, she had to take some foul-tasting medicine via a syringe. I rinsed the syringe out and left it on the kitchen counter. When the time came for the next dose, the syringe was not to be found, and Sophie, of course, looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Fortunately, there was a spare syringe, which was put away after rinsing. The missing syringe never, ever turned up.

During the day, the bedroom door is shut, so that Sophie will stay out in the main part of the apartment. On days when The Wife, who works at home, must drive up for a day of meetings, Sophie has taken to hiding under the bed. Not a problem. First, she doesn’t hide all that well: usually her tail is hanging out. Second, there’s a toy in the bedroom, and all The Wife has to do is call to Sophie and throw the toy out into the hall. Sophie bounds after it, door is shut, Bob’s your uncle. Today, however, The Wife discovered that Sophie had taken the toy under the bed with her. 🙂 Clever kitty.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 October 2006 at 8:34 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

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