Later On

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

Archive for October 20th, 2006

Wow! An industry group looks to the public good

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It should not be unusual, but unfortunately it is: An industry group has taken a stand that will benefit the public:

U.S. trucking-industry leaders proposed Friday that all new heavy trucks be equipped with tamperproof controls to prevent them from going faster than 68 mph.

“For the sake of safety, there is a need to slow down all traffic,” said Bill Graves, the president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, based in Alexandria, Va.

The proposal, Graves said, is meant to address the problem of increasing highway-death rates, which after many years of decline have risen modestly since 2000.

Anne McCartt, the vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in nearby Arlington, Va., lauded the initiative, which the truckers offered as a petition to the Department of Transportation.

“We applaud them,” said McCartt, whose group is funded by the insurance industry.

AAA also endorses speed limiters on trucks, said Mantill Williams, the director of public affairs for the drivers’ group, although it has endorsed no particular speed limit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 7:18 pm

Pat Tillman, 1976-2004

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This powerful note is from Pat Tillman’s brother Kevin. You will recall that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in a botched mission led by an inexperienced officer, and the Army promptly put together a pack of lies about what happened.

Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 3:37 pm

Canker sores can be due to toothpaste allergy

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It looks like The Older Grandson is allergic to SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). It was diagnosed by the pediatric dentist in part due to his frequent canker sores. Canker sores not the same as cold sores, which come from a virus. From the Internet:

Canker Sores (Apthous Ulcers)

Canker sores, also known as apthous ulcers, mouth ulcers and more formally as apthous stomatitis, are oval or round reddened swellings in the mouth that if elevated usually burst within 24 hours. Once the mouth ulcer bursts it becomes covered by a gray or yellow-white membrane and is surrounded by a bright red lining. Canker sores are usually small, less than 0.5 cm diameter (minor apthae) however they may also be large, greater than 0.5 cm (major apthae).

Canker sores are different from cold sores (fever blisters). Canker sores are often confused with cold sores, also known as fever blisters, because they can appear to be similar, however the two are very different. Canker sores occur only INSIDE of the mouth, and not over bone — on the tongue and on the linings of the cheeks, lips, floor of mouth, and the throat. Canker sores heal in 3 – 10 days and are not contagious.

Cold sores occur OUTSIDE of the mouth. They may also occur inside the mouth but only over bone — on gum tissue or the roof of the mouth. Cold sores heal in 7-14 days and are very contagious. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus and may infect any tissue they touch, (fingers, eyes, etc.) on the infected individual and anyone else he or she comes in direct contact with. The initial fever blister (herpes virus) infection may be accompanied by fever, aches and swollen glands. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

Another guy gets a stingray barb in the heart

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Sting Ray
Another freak accident:

In a freak event eerily reminiscent of the death of Australian naturalist Steve Irwin, a Florida man was stung in the heart yesterday by a stingray that leapt into his boat.

James Bertakis, 81, was boating with his granddaughters near the town of Lighthouse Point, 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Fort Lauderdale, when a three-foot-wide (one-meter-wide) spotted eagle ray bounded out of the water and fell into the boat.

As Bertakis struggled to get the ray out of the vessel, the animal lashed its ten-foot (three-meter) tail, piercing the man’s heart with its venomous barb.

The barb remained lodged in the man’s chest, while the women brought the boat ashore and called for help.

Surgeons performed two operations on Bertakis yesterday and today, ultimately removing the 1-foot (0.3-meter) barb by pulling it through his heart. Bertakis was listed in critical condition late Thursday.

Comparisons to the recent death of Steve Irwin are difficult to avoid; Irwin died while filming a television special off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on September 4, when he was stung in the heart by a bull ray.

Irwin removed the barb from his chest before losing consciousness and dying at the scene. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Virtual Shakespearian world as on-line game

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Three-dimensional digital worlds and the world of William Shakespeare–it’s hard to imagine two more disparate universes.

But bridging the gap between them is exactly what Edward Castronova, an associate professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and the leading expert on the economies of virtual worlds, is doing.

On Thursday, the MacArthur Foundation is expected to announce a $240,000 grant to Castronova and his team to build “Arden: The World of Shakespeare,” a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, built entirely around the plays of the Bard.

“We’d like to allow our players to learn something valuable, so that’s why it’s about Shakespeare.”

–Edward Castronova

That means players can expect to trot around in 17th century regalia, buying ale in Elizabethan taverns and joining guilds aimed at toppling dukes and earls.

For Castronova, a longtime Shakespeare fan who once acted in a performance of “Richard III” and wrote a book called “Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games,” bringing Shakespeare’s universe to life is the chance of a lifetime. And, it’s an opportunity to use an MMO as a serious social-science research tool. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 12:16 pm

Pimp your Firefox with thumbnails

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Isn’t that what people say now? They “pimp” something to make it look better? I want to be au courant—though I guess using au courant is not au courant. At any rate, IE 7 is now out, and has some very nice features—plus, according to one report I’ve read, its memory footprint is half that of Firefox. OTOH, it lacks some of the Firefox extensions. Still, it’s looking good.

One thing it offers that’s very nice is a view of thumbnails of pages that you have open. You can click a thumbnail, or navigate with arrow keys, and open the page.

Firefox, I find, also has this feature, through an extension. I just installed it—very slick, very nice.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 10:33 am

Posted in Firefox, Software

GOP, Party of Lies

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From TPM:

If you’re a GOP candidate with your back to the wall, it’s probably not a good idea to say, “read my lips.” Brings back bad memories.

The GOP candidate in question here is not George H.W. Bush — it’s Senator Mike DeWine, who’s fallen far behind Dem challenger Sherrod Brown. Today a dozen Ohio TV stations yanked a GOP ad attacking Brown, mainly because the ad was demonstrably false. The NRCC sank over $700,000 into the ad. It said Brown “didn’t pay his unemployment taxes for 13 years.” Even though the Brown campaign produced proof that the claim was false, the NRCC hung in there and claimed they weren’t fudging the facts. Still, the networks disagreed and killed the ad.

But the story doesn’t end there. At tonight’s debate between Brown and DeWine, the ad came up again. And DeWine — never one to give up when the going gets tough — hung on to the claim that the ad was true. And he compounded the absurdity of the whole story by saying: “The ad, Sherrod, is true. Read my lips. The ad is true.”

Read his lips.

Click at the link to see a video of DeWine lying. Interesting to watch the GOP in action at what it does best: lie.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 10:17 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

“Stay the course” = never said “Stay the course”

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This would be funny if the GOP’s taking the US into war and keeping us there wasn’t so tragic in the consequences. 

Also note these contrasting statements:

Rep. John Sweeney (R), 6/8/06: “Zarqawi represents the insidious forces that we are fighting in the War on Terror. This is a critical example of why we must stay the course and finish this mission.”

Rep. John Sweeney (R), 10/18/06 : “I think that the strategy of ‘staying the course’ is not a strategy at all. It doesn’t work. There are going to have to be adjustments in any war if that is the case.”

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 10:11 am

US knew guy was innocent, had him tortured anyway

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Via TPMmuckraker, the Boston Globe reports:

Days before the Bush administration put Canadian citizen Maher Arar on a plane for Syria, Canadian law enforcement officials advised their U.S. counterparts that evidence of terrorist links by Arar was not definitive.

Why the Bush administration still shipped Arar to Syria — where he was tortured — and whether he remains on the United States’ terror watch list are still unknown. Administration officials refuse to talk about the case.

It has been a month since a Canadian commission cleared Syrian-born Arar of all suspicion of terrorist activity, yet Arar still can’t get into the United States, one of his lawyers, Michael Ratner, said Thursday.

John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to clear Arar’s name and let him come into the United States this week to receive a human rights award.

Gonzales did not reply, Cavanagh said. At the Justice Department, a spokesman said he was unaware of the letter and could not comment.

It is not the Justice Department that keeps track of terrorist watch lists, but rather the Homeland Security Department, where spokesman Russ Knocke said in an e-mail, “We do not disclose names on watch lists.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 9:57 am

Worse than I thought: no mention in newspapers

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Jerry Lewis
I knew that TV news wouldn’t mention it, but to my surprise, no mention in NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, or San Diego Union-Tribune. Guess it will sink totally out of sight. This is how the GOP gets away with so much: incompetent reporters.

There was, however, this interesting note in the LA Times, via TPMmuckraker:

Prosecutor in Lewis Probe Leaves — to Join Lawmaker’s Defense Firm

“Debra Wong Yang, U.S. attorney for California’s central district, is resigning to take a job with a high-profile private law firm.

Yang is expected to leave Nov. 10 for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where she will serve as co-chair of the firm’s crisis management practice group. . . .

“[The firm] provides legal counsel to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, currently under investigation by Yang’s office over his ties to a lobbyist.” (LA Daily News)

Lewis really knows how to handle an investigation, eh? And the press lets him get away with it. This is the sort of thing that’s destroying our country.

ThinkProgress has a bit more.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 9:42 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Join the US Torture Corps

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So far, still satire:

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 9:18 am

We’re ruining the oceans

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It’s unbelievable that humanity is more or less deliberately destroying the oceans and the life in them, while at the same time taking no serious steps to combat global warming. Note that the dead zones are on the coasts, where most of ocean life lives. It’s as if humanity has decided that it doesn’t need to preserve its own habitat.

Taking effective action to address crises of this sort requires government leadership and participation. We are not going to get that from the GOP. Just as the GOP will protect businesses rather than consumers and workers, the GOP will protect businesses rather than the environment. In the eyes of the GOP, businesses must be protected at all costs, and allowed to do whatever they want in order to increase their profits. The GOP worships profits. What does it profit one to gain the whole world, while losing his soul—and the world to boot?

The number of “dead zones” in the world’s oceans may have increased by a third in just two years, threatening fish stocks and the people who depend on them, the U.N. Environment Program said on Thursday.

Fertilizers, sewage, fossil fuel burning and other pollutants have led to a doubling in the number of oxygen-deficient coastal areas every decade since the 1960s.

Now experts estimate there are 200 so-called ocean dead zones, compared with 150 two years ago.

“Some successes are being scored but in other areas — like sewage, nutrients from fertilizer run off, animal wastes and atmospheric pollution; sediment mobilization and marine litter — the problems are intensifying,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.

The first “dead zones” — where pollution-fed algae remove oxygen from the water — were found in northern latitudes like the Chesapeake Bay on the U.S. East Coast and the Scandinavian fjords. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 8:41 am

Bush campaigns on behalf of mistress-beater

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What happened to Family Values? Not that important, after all? From the Washington Post:

So it has come to this: Nineteen days before the midterm elections, President Bush flew here to champion the reelection of a congressman who last year settled a $5.5 million lawsuit alleging that he beat his mistress during a five-year affair.

“I’m pleased to be here with Don Sherwood,” a smiling president told the congressman’s loyal but dispirited supporters at a luncheon fundraiser Thursday. “He has got a record of accomplishment.”

Quite a record. While representing the good people of the 10th District, the married congressman shacked up in Washington with a Peruvian immigrant more than three decades his junior. During one assignation in 2004, the woman, who says Sherwood was striking her and trying to strangle her, locked herself in a bathroom and called 911; Sherwood told police he was giving her a back rub.

At a time when Republicans are struggling to motivate religious conservatives to go to the polls next month, it is not clear what benefit the White House found in sending Bush to stump for Sherwood — smack dab in the middle of what Bush, in an official proclamation, dubbed “National Character Counts Week.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 8:33 am

The GOP: child abusers and enablers

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This is shocking, even to those accustomed to sleazy GOP actions:

A file allegedly suppressed by Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) has been obtained by Raw Story.

In 1995, just three days into her tenure as Secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Wilson removed a routine working file alleging that her husband had engaged in inappropriate contact with a minor. The file was then transferred to the department’s attorney in her own Albuquerque office, where it soon went missing.

At the time, a local investigative news team learned about the swap, but could not confirm certain details of the file. They were not able to recover the document itself.

More than ten years later, Raw Story has uncovered and confirmed the authenticity of the police incident report believed to be contained in the missing dossier. Filed as a case of child abuse in 1993, it contends that Wilson’s husband Jay Hone, an Albuquerque attorney, touched a then-16 year old boy “in a manner that was not welcome.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 8:25 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Here comes tyranny, voted in by GOP Congress

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The GOP, as clearly shown by their actions and votes, has no interest in preserving our fundamental freedoms. Congress has given the President unparalleled powers, and the Justice department, under sycophant Alberto Gonzales, has leaped to use those powers. From this morning’s paper:

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that “no court, justice, or judge” can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

Beyond those already imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, the law applies to all non-U.S. citizens, including permanent U.S. residents.

The new law already has been challenged as unconstitutional by lawyers representing the petitioners. The issue of detainee rights is likely to reach the Supreme Court for a third time.

Habeas corpus, a Latin term meaning “you have the body,” is one of the oldest principles of English and American law. It requires the government to show a legal basis for holding a prisoner. A series of unresolved federal court cases brought against the administration over the last several years by lawyers representing the detainees had left the question in limbo. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 8:15 am

GOP Administration: an extension of Big Business

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I’ve observed before that the mark of a business-dominated government is that its concern is the welfare of business, not the welfare of consumers and workers. The Bush Administration is one of the worst, but the uncritical love of Big Business is a hallmark of the GOP. President Bush takes an action that’s typical of this sort of attitude. From ThinkProgress:

President Bush recess-appointed former coal industry executive Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Senate had twice refused to confirm him “because of his troubling mine safety record — the mines he managed from 1989 to 1996 incurred injury rates double the national average.”

A couple of observations: President Bush loves the recess-appointment route, which enables him to bypass Congress—I think he’d simply do away with Congress if he could, and of course, he pretty much has, what with the rubber-stamping GOP Congress and the Presidential Signing Statements which (Bush believes) enable him to ignore the laws Congress passes.

Second, not only does the guy appointed to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration have a terrible safety record and was a mine executive (i.e., advocates for Big Business, not workers), the position has actually been vacant for two years, so important is worker safety to President Bush.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 8:07 am

Friday cat-blogging: Megs just thinking

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Megs thinking

Megs, still in my lap, just thinking. Who knows what thoughts squeeze through their tiny minds? Still, she seems happy.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 October 2006 at 7:33 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

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