Later On

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

Archive for October 8th, 2006

A business-run government

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One sign of a business-run government is that it is always concerned with the welfare of businesses, not of consumers. For example:

Destined for American kitchens, planks of birch and poplar plywood are stacked to the ceiling of a cavernous port warehouse. The wood, which arrived in California via a cargo ship, carries two labels: One proclaims “Made in China,” while the other warns that it contains formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.

Because formaldehyde wafts off the glues in this plywood, it is illegal to sell in many countries — even the one where it originated, China. But in the United States this wood is legal, and it is routinely crafted into cabinets and furniture.

As the European Union and other nations have tightened their environmental standards, mostly in the last two years, manufacturers — here and around the world — are selling goods to American consumers that fail to meet other nations’ stringent laws for toxic chemicals.

Wood, toys, electronics, pesticides and cosmetics are among U.S. products that contain substances that are banned or restricted elsewhere, particularly in Europe and Japan, because they may raise the risk of cancer, alter hormones or cause reproductive or neurological damage.

Michael Wilson, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, said the United States is becoming a “dumping ground” for consumer goods that are unwanted and illegal in much of the world. Wilson warned earlier this year in a report commissioned by the California Legislature that “the United States has fallen behind globally in the move toward cleaner technologies.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 5:34 pm

Quizzes for Tolkien fans

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How much do you know?

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Books

The ultimate betrayal

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Via Steve Gilliard, this excellent post by Sara Robinson:

Less than two months ago, during my first week here at Orcinus, I wrote the second segment of my series, Cracks In The Wall … In that post, I combined John Dean’s observations in his book Conservatives Without Conscience with my personal knowledge of the fundamentalist terrain, and listed some of the more common triggering events that inspire individual fundamentalists to start seeking alternatives to authoritarian religion.

The very first item I listed — in no small part because, in my experience, it’s the most important and common one of the bunch — was Betrayal By Authority. Here’s what I said about it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 4:49 pm

US Navy fires lawyers who do their job well

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Via Josh Marshall, this news report. What a black eye for the US Navy: excellence is punished.

The Navy lawyer who took the Guantanamo case of Osama bin Laden’s driver to the U.S. Supreme Court – and won – has been passed over for promotion by the Pentagon and must soon leave the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, said last week he received word that he had been denied a promotion to full-blown Navy commander this summer – “about two weeks after” the Supreme Court sided against the White House and with his client, a Yemeni captive at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Under the military’s “up or out” promotion system, Swift will retire in March or April, closing out a 20-year career of military service. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Military

Self-Portrait launches

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The Son reports:

My most recent project, Self-Portrait has just launched on Turbulence.org. The project is a software search for my face among the millions of photos contained on Flickr.com.
The project’s site displays three photos:

  • An ever-changing photo that depicts what is currently being evaluated by Self-Portrait‘s facial recognition software
  • The most recent photo that was identified as containing a face. (The software often misses seeing faces and occasionally misidentifies an inanimate object as a face.)
  • The most recent photo that has a high probability of depicting me. Clicking on this photo allows viewing earlier photos that were found to contain me.

Six of the photos that probably contain me are being included in the 30th anniversary exhibition, PRC | POV Photography Now and The Next 30 Years, at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.
In other news, the videos documenting my Frames exhibition were selected as an Editor’s Choice in the most recent issue of Drunken Boat.

Self-Portrait” is a 2006 commision of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.

The artist would also like to acknowledge Neurotechnologija for the generious donation of their Verilook Face Identification SDK.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 10:26 am

Posted in Art

Maybe a semi-colon instead of a comma?

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President Bush may want to change his characterization of our casualties in the war in Iraq. From today’s WaPo—and note the last word in the report:

The number of U.S troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly level in nearly two years as American GIs fight block-by-block in Baghdad to try to check a spiral of sectarian violence that U.S. commanders warn could lead to civil war.

Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq, the highest number since the military assault to retake the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November 2004, according to Defense Department data. It was the fourth-highest monthly total since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The sharp increase in American wounded — with nearly 300 more in the first week of October — is a grim measure of the degree to which the U.S. military has been thrust into the lead of the effort to stave off full-scale civil war in Iraq, military officials and experts say. Beyond Baghdad, Marines battling Sunni insurgents in Iraq’s western province of Anbar last month also suffered their highest number of wounded in action since late 2004.

More than 20,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in combat in the Iraq war, and about half have returned to duty. While much media reporting has focused on the more than 2,700 killed, military experts say the number of wounded is a more accurate gauge of the fierceness of fighting because advances in armor and medical care today allow many service members to survive who would have perished in past wars. The ratio of wounded to killed among U.S. forces in Iraq is about 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 in Vietnam.

“These days, wounded are a much better measure of the intensity of the operations than killed,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The surge in wounded comes as U.S. commanders issue increasingly dire warnings about the threat of civil war in Iraq, all but ruling out cuts in the current contingent of more than 140,000 U.S. troops before the spring of 2007. Last month Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East, said “sectarian tensions, if left unchecked, could be fatal to Iraq,” making it imperative that the U.S. military now focus its “main effort” squarely on Baghdad. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 10:11 am

Hey! Kevin Drum’s got a NY Times op-ed

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Pretty cool of ol’ Kevin. Here’s the op-ed:

The American public loathes the bickering, deadlocked 109th Congress. Its approval rating was a subterranean 25 percent in September’s New York Times/CBS poll. That makes this year’s Democratic strategy simple: make sure the public knows exactly who’s in charge of this wretched assemblage. Not a speech should go by without the phrase “Republican Congress” being repeated at least a dozen times. Two dozen would be even better.

So that’s that. But Democrats also have an opportunity to do something more constructive in this fall’s campaign: they should package a common-sense foreign policy so that it sounds like the common sense it is.

That means taking seriously the idea that our national interest is served by easing tensions and reducing hatred of the United States. This in turn means remaking the United States military so it can fight insurgencies and conduct peacekeeping missions more effectively; making serious use of multilateral institutions instead of deriding them; once again acting as an honest broker in the Middle East; and using economic engagement to help bring the Muslim world into the global community.

Democrats need to learn how to make this case convincingly, because it’s the only way we’re going to win the war against militant Islamic jihadism. It might help the party win an election or two as well.

And the icing on the cake:

Democrats now outdistance Republicans on every single issue that could decide voters’ choices come Nov. 7. In addition to winning — for the first time in the Newsweek poll — on the question of which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror (44 to 37 percent) and moral values (42 percent to 36 percent), the Democrats now inspire more trust than the GOP on handling Iraq (47 to 34); the economy (53 to 31); health care (57 to 24); federal spending and the deficit (53 to 29); gas and oil prices (56 to 23); and immigration (43 to 34).

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 8:06 am

Sunday cat-blogging: Sophie’s headrest

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Sophie headrest

Here’s Sophie asleep—again. But this time she’s discovered that The Wife has thoughtfully placed a new headrest in just the right position for a comfortable [sic] nap.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 October 2006 at 7:59 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

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