Later On

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

Archive for October 16th, 2006

Shopping addiction

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It’s not just food that can be addictive, resulting in compulsive behavior. It’s also shopping—i.e., buying:

Talk about buyer’s remorse. A new national telephone survey indicates that nearly 6 percent of adults find themselves unable to resist frequent shopping binges that leave them saddled with debt, anxiety, and depression.

Buying gone bad, also known as compulsive buying, occurs almost as often in men as in women, says a team led by psychiatrist Lorrin M. Koran of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The new survey offers the best estimate to date for what some mental-health workers regard as an addiction to spending money. Earlier prevalence figures for compulsive buying, based on interviews with small groups of consumers, ranged from 2 percent to 16 percent. Because women seek psychiatric treatment for uncontrolled spending more often than men do, scientists previously pegged it as a predominantly female condition.

“The widespread opinion that most compulsive buyers are women may be wrong,” Koran says.

He and his colleagues describe their findings in the October American Journal of Psychiatry. Koran says that he would now like to see a larger survey that probes the emotional and social impact of uncontrolled purchases on people’s lives.

In 2004, the team conducted roughly 11-minute interviews with 2,513 individuals, ages 18 and up, contacted randomly by phone. Interviewers asked about cardinal signs of compulsive buying, such as intrusive or senseless impulses to buy, frequent purchases of unneeded or unaffordable items, and shopping for longer periods than intended. Questions also touched on financial problems and emotional letdowns after buying sprees.

Compulsive buying, as defined by a high score on a tally of the cardinal signs, occurred in 6 percent of women and 5.5 percent of men, regardless of racial or ethnic background, Koran’s group says. Compulsive buyers averaged 40 years of age, compared with 49 years for the other participants. A majority of compulsive buyers reported annual incomes under $50,000, whereas only 39 percent of the others reported incomes in that category. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 9:55 pm

Rep. Doolittle (R-CA) lawyer meeting with Justice Dept

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Doolittle says the meetings are just to clear his name

Rep. John Doolittle acknowledged Monday that his lawyer, whom he has paid more than $38,000 in the last two months, is talking with the Justice Department about the congressman’s relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Washington Post and other papers, citing unnamed sources, have said the Roseville Republican and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., are under investigation in the Abramoff matter.

Doolittle’s office in a statement late Monday, again insisted that the congressman is not under investigation. Instead, it characterized the meetings as an effort to clear the congressman’s name.

“The congressman’s attorney has had several conversations with the Justice Department which we believe have been helpful toward clearing the congressman’s name,” said Laura Blackann.

“The congressman’s attorney has committed to the Justice Department that in order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation, details of their interactions will remain private,” she said. “To date, the congressman has not been contacted or questioned by the Justice Department and has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation.”

Blackann said Doolittle “instructed his attorney to establish contact with the Justice Department to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”

The new disclosures have added fuel to the campaign of Democratic challenger Charlie Brown, who has tried to tie Doolittle to the “culture of corruption” in Washington, D.C., arising from the Abramoff scandal and the bribery conviction of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-San Diego.

The GOP: the party you can trust to do wrong.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

This is very warm: kitty pod

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A little electrically heated kitty bed that converts to a kitty carrier. Very clever: kitty goes in to get warm; being warm, gets sleepy; being sleepy, goes to sleep. Then you put on the cover and are off to the vet for the checkup before kitty can awaken.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 9:36 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Technology

A fresh start is now difficult—later, impossible?

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This is grim: if you once make a mistake, it follows you forever. No more fresh starts?

In 41 states, people accused or convicted of crimes have the legal right to rewrite history. They can have their criminal records expunged, and in theory that means that all traces of their encounters with the justice system will disappear.

But enormous commercial databases are fast undoing the societal bargain of expungement, one that used to give people who had committed minor crimes a clean slate and a fresh start.

Most states seal at least some records of juvenile offenses. Many states also allow adults arrested for or convicted of minor crimes like possessing marijuana, shoplifting or disorderly conduct to ask a judge, sometimes after a certain amount of time has passed without further trouble, to expunge their records. If the judge agrees, the records are destroyed or sealed.

But real expungement is becoming significantly harder to accomplish in the electronic age. Records once held only in paper form by law enforcement agencies, courts and corrections departments are now routinely digitized and sold in bulk to the private sector. Some commercial databases now contain more than 100 million criminal records. They are updated only fitfully, and expunged records now often turn up in criminal background checks ordered by employers and landlords.

Thomas A. Wilder, the district clerk for Tarrant County in Fort Worth, said he had received harsh criticism for refusing, on principle, to sell criminal history records in bulk.

“How the hell do I expunge anything,” Mr. Wilder asked, “if I sell tapes and disks all over the country?” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 7:22 pm

Long-term Democratic advantage?

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Voter preference
I meant to link to this earlier: A report by Kevin Drum on how the political scene when you’re 20 affects your political outlook the rest of your life. Read his report, which is an analysis of the chart above. Verrrrrrry interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Election, Government

Two very good and very different movies

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First, the disturbing movie: Oldboy, a Korean movie that hits pretty hard—but is very good. Definitely not a “dancing teacups” movie, and not safe for children. It’s a movie that will stick in your mind. Set in the present day.

Next, the very satisfying and straightforward movie, The Hidden Blade, set in the 1860s, a time of great change in Japan. Absorbing and beautiful.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

This is cool: local Go player

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The guys painting the apartment are Korean, and one saw my Go board through the dining room window as he was painting. He just introduced himself, and we’re going to get together to play some Baduk. (Korean for “Go.”)

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Go

Food rings

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Not criminal rings, literal rings—as in jewelry. The Wife passes along this link. Just think: a BLT as jewelry.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Daily life

GOP corruption—but I repeat myself

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UPDATE: He is pleading guilty. See note at end of this post.

Lester Crawford was dishonest in more ways than one. You’ll recall that he was confirmed on his promise to make a decision on Plan B, a promise he promptly broke. Now it seems he’s also dishonest in the legal sense:

Former FDA chief Lester Crawford was charged Monday with lying about his ownership of stock in companies regulated by his agency.

The Justice Department accused the former head of the Food and Drug Administration with falsely reporting that he had sold stock in companies when he continued holding onto shares in the firms governed by FDA rules.

The criminal charges were outlined in court papers known as an “information,” a legal document which ordinarily precedes a guilty plea. The Justice Department’s fraud and public corruption section filed the papers in U.S. District Court in Washington. Crawford was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate Tuesday afternoon. The former FDA chief was accused of making a false writing and conflict of interest.

The papers state that Crawford failed to disclose his income from exercising stock options in Embrex Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., an agriculture biotechnology company regulated by FDA. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 12:48 pm

The Harry Reid smear implodes

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From Harry Reid’s Web site:

Washington, DC— Senator Harry Reid of Nevada today issued the following statement:

“Last month, Republicans openly boasted that they would engage in a campaign of personal attacks and smears to hold onto power in Washington. In recent days, we witnessed their latest attempt to do just that.

“Republicans may believe in cover-ups. I believe in ensuring all facts come to light.

“Last week, a highly misleading report by the Associated Press implied that I made a profit selling land I no longer owned. That article was wrong. Here are the facts: I bought the land in 1998, I sold it in 2004, and I listed my ownership of the land on official Senate disclosure forms every single year.

“Now I have taken an additional step. Today, I directed my staff to file amended financial disclosure forms noting that in 2001, I transferred title to the land to a Limited Liability Corporation. As the amended forms make clear, this routine legal move in no way altered my actual ownership of the land. On each disclosure form after 2001, I have added a note to clarify that the land already disclosed in detail on those forms was owned by me through the LLC.

“The Ethics Committee has not yet advised me whether I should file these amended forms, but even if I am not required to do so I am happy to go beyond what is needed to provide the fullest disclosure. The amended forms make clear what was true all along – I owned the land through the LLC when I sold it in 2004.

“Also, in the course of preparing the amended disclosure forms, my staff has identified some clerical errors and two minor matters that were inadvertently left off my original disclosure forms. First, in 2004 I sold about one third of an acre in my hometown of Searchlight. Second, a quarter acre of land that I received from my brother in 1985 appreciated in value above the $1,000 reporting threshold at some point in recent years. Both of these items will be listed on my amended disclosure forms.

“Finally, I have acted today to respond to another issue some plan to raise. I have sent a personal check in the amount of $3,300 to my political campaign to fully reimburse the campaign for donations it made over several years to the employee holiday fund in my apartment building. These donations were made to thank the men and women who work in the building for the extra work they do as a result of my political activities, and for helping the security officers assigned to me because of my Senate position. The donations came from my campaign – no taxpayer dollars were ever involved.

“When the campaign first donated to the holiday fund, its experienced lawyer William Oldaker advised us that such donations were permissible. The campaign’s current lawyer, Marc Elias, says the same thing. Nonetheless, I am reimbursing the campaign from my own pocket to prevent this issue from being used in the current campaign season to deflect attention from Republican failures.”

The GOP relies almost exclusively on lying, negative campaign ads (generally also lies), taking money for favors, and covering up scandal. What an amazing political party. Have they EVER taken a positive step in the last decade?

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

The importance of shaving

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Shaving, Video

Why newspapers won’t admit their errors

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Very interesting article:

Why is it so hard for newspapers that have climbed out onto a limb in reporting a story to turn back once they hear the wood cracking? Instead of announcing their errors in judgment, most newspapers reverse course by ignoring the flawed stories in their back pages and taking a new tack—as if those old stories had never been written. Inside the trade, correcting a previous story in a new story without acknowledging the past error is called row-back.

The inability—or the refusal—to admit mistakes mainly increases distrust, disrespect, and contempt for the media. So why do they take this course? See the article at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 11:25 am

Posted in Media

Another blog editor

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This one looks quite good, and Lifehacker rated it the better of the two top editors it tested. Works with Windows, Mac, and Linux. So all you bloggers at there, check it out: Performancing for Firefox.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, when you load your post, this editor includes a little commercial and link to the Performancing Website. I cannot recommend the editor. Stick with BlogDesk. It’s also free, very easy to use, and you don’t have to clean up behind it.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 11:20 am

“Bush: ‘Get me some compassion! Stat!'”

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Funny yet pitiful story about Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”: all conservatism, no compassion. Read it and give a mordant chuckle.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 11:05 am

Another crooked GOP politician

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Curt Weldon, mentioned before, is in the crosshairs: the FBI just raided his lobbyist daughter’s home—and the home of the other lobbyist in the very small, very successful company she ran (at age 28, with no previous lobbying experience). Weldon, like many GOP politicians, had a lucrative business of selling his votes and influence.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 11:02 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Woofta! Look at all the scheduling conflicts!

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The GOP really should invest in some good scheduling software. Denny Hastert was going to compaign with 30 different candidates, but, jeez, the scheduling conflicts are just mounting up so that he’s not being able to campaign with a lot of them.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 10:59 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Degrees of wrongness

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From an interesting article:

In belles lettres the witty literary slight has evolved into a genre because, as 20th-century trial lawyer Louis Nizer noted, “A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults.” To wit, from high culture, Mark Twain: “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” Winston Churchill: “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” And from pop culture, Groucho Marx: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” Scientists are no slouches when it comes to pitching invectives at colleagues. Achieving almost canonical status as the ne plus ultra put-down is theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli’s reported harsh critique of a paper: “This isn’t right. It’s not even wrong.” I call this Pauli’s proverb. …

Not even wrong. What could be worse? Being wronger than wrong, or what I call Asimov’s axiom, well stated in his book The Relativity of Wrong (Doubleday, 1988): “When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 10:29 am

Posted in Science

Interesting article on autism spectrum disorders

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A theory about the cause:

  • Because mirror neurons appear to be involved in social interaction, dysfunctions of this neural system could explain some of the primary symptoms of autism, including isolation and absence of empathy.
  • Studies of people with autism show a lack of mirror neuron activity in several regions of the brain. Researchers speculate that treatments designed to restore this activity could alleviate some of autism’s symptoms.
  • A complementary hypothesis, the salience landscape theory, could account for secondary symptoms of autism such as hypersensitivity.

Full article at the link above.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 10:25 am

MySpace: pedophile smorgasbord

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Why isn’t MySpace interested in protecting the underage children using their service? It seems obvious on the face of it that the service would prove attractive to pedophiles, yet MySpace seemingly has no interest in doing anything about that. Perhaps a big, fat, hairy lawsuit is needed to get their attention. Even better, someone did it for them and verified that there’s a real problem. Now that MySpace knows that the problem exists, inaction on their part amounts, I should think, to aiding and abetting…

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 9:57 am

Talk against human traffiking, act to support it

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The Bush White House has a strong reputation for tough talk and weak action—in fact, actions that counter the tough talk. Bush repeatedly talks about strong support for programs for which he is at the same time cutting the funding. And now this ugly thing has come to light.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2006 at 9:49 am

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