Later On

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

Archive for October 29th, 2006

Bush’s secret plan: destroy as much of the US as he can

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From Joe Galloway on

If President George Bush’s hasty news conference on Iraq this week was the Republican October Surprise — unveiling some sudden presidential flexibility after three and a half years of stubbornly staying a losing course — it didn’t work.

With the midterm elections now days away, it smacked more of a change in semantics than a serious change in the direction of a war that seems to be spiraling out of control.

“Benchmark” is the new White House buzzword. We’re not setting a “timetable” for the withdrawal of America’s 147,000 troops in Iraq. We’re not putting any real heat on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. No cutting and running for us.

And, yes, the president has full faith and confidence in the chief architect of the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. You’re doing a heckuva job, Rummy. Never mind that your approval rating is at 12 percent among the American people, Don. The Decider puts you at 110 percent.

So we’re going to stay put in Iraq; going, in fact, to stay the course all the way to victory. We aren’t going to be drawing down our troops, who are square in the middle of a burgeoning Iraqi civil war. In fact, we might even send more troops over there if the president can find any to send from an Army and Marine Corps already stretched so thin that you can read your morning paper through them.

The president says that there’ll be tough fighting to come, which is hardly news to a military that’s already suffered more than 2,800 killed and 22,000 wounded; a military so ground down that it won’t be able to man the next annual deployments without once again reaching out and activating thousands of Army National Guard and Reserve troops that have maxed out their active duty availability.

Oh yes. One other bit of news: the White House that says nothing is too good for our troops has turned its back on a plea by Army leaders for a $25 billion increase in its 2008 budget so it can carry out the missions the administration has assigned to it.

The White House Office of Management and Budget rejected Army chief Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker’s extraordinary plea by for the additional funds to pay for repairing and replacing thousands of worn out and blown up tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees.

Instead of the $25 billion that Schoomaker says the Army needs just to keep doing what it’s been doing with spit, adhesive tape and baling wire for the last five years, the Pentagon says the Army can have $7 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 9:17 pm

Oh, that Bush and his analysis

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From Greg Mitchell’s column in Editor & Publisher, discussing Bush’s free-wheeling meeting with a pack of conservative columnists:

And there were, for me at least, some surprising revelations. Bush says, for example, that Gen. John Abizaid (“one of the really great thinkers”) was the one who “came up with” the recent construct about the enemy in Iraq, “If we leave, they will follow us here.” Bush then explains that this is what makes the Iraq struggle “really different from other wars we’ve been in.” This completely overlooks the official U.S. line in trying to halt the communists in Vietnam and Korea, not to mention the Nazis and the Japanese in World War II.

“I’m not a good faker,” Bush declares elsewhere, which some may disagree with.

Another revealing moment comes when Bush flatly declares that only “25% or so” of Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq. In fact, a Gallup poll released this week shows that the number is actually 54% who want us out quickly — within a year at most. Bush also mischaracterizes the war opponents, saying they “just don’t believe in war,” as if they are all pacifists.

Then he goes on: “I believe when you get attacked and somebody declares war on you, you fight back. And that’s what we’re doing.” Of course, this ignores the fact that Iraq did not declare war on us — but it’s been so long now, maybe he’s just forgotten.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 5:26 pm

Oh, no: French-press coffee & cholesterol

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From Science News, 30 November 1996, bad news. OTOH, the news is 10 years old, so maybe new discoveries have vindicated coffee. (Also: I drink French-press coffee, and all my blood signs are excellent.)

UPDATE: A very good point emailed by a friend: “I would advise you not stating your medical experience. Whether or not you don’t experience a change in cholesterol is not the point—that’s why they have large studies. Some smokers live until they are 90. If a smoker bragged about his avoidance experience, it would look foolish.”

Many coffee aficionados eschew the filtered brew, arguing that filters remove some of a bean’s savory flavor. What filtering really does — besides screening out gritty grounds — is eliminate coffee’s oils, rich in alcohols known as diterpenes. Two of these alcohols, cafestol and kahweol, can elicit a number of unhealthy changes in the blood of regular coffee drinkers.

The newest diterpene effect to be identified — an increase in blood levels of an enzyme that is normally associated with damage to liver cells — emerged in a 6-month long Dutch trial with healthy, coffee-loving volunteers.

Rob Urgert and his colleagues at Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands recruited 46 men and women to participate in the experiment. All of the volunteers received a locally popular blend of coffee and strict instructions on how to brew two batches of it each day.

Urgert’s group directed half the men and women to pour boiling water through 33 grams of ground beans sitting in a cone-shaped filter until the dripping brew filled a half-liter jar.

The remaining volunteers were told to pour their boiling water and ground beans together into a French press — also known as cafetière — coffee maker. The top of this type of pot is fitted with a large plunger. The volunteers were told to stir the mix and then to let the grounds steep for 2 to 5 minutes before they pushed the plunger down. (This effectively stops the brewing and traps any floating grounds so that they won’t enter the cup.) The coffee was then decanted into another bottle.

The participants, all healthy and between the ages 19 and 69, were told to drink almost a liter of the coffee daily for 24 weeks. Every 2 to 4 weeks, the scientists brought the volunteers in for blood tests that measured concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, and a host of liver enzymes.

A report of the study, published in today’s British Medical Journal, shows that men and women who drank the filtered coffee exhibited no changes over the course of the trial in any of the assayed blood constituents. Previous studies by Urgert’s group had shown that such a filter effectively removes all of the coffee-oil’s diterpenes. Those who drank coffee made by the French press method, however, displayed a host of undesirable changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 2:36 pm

Small post on Blogger vs. WordPress

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From AmericaBlog:

NOTE: Blogger is down AGAIN. We, like every other blog on Blogger, are only able to post intermittently — literally we’re publishing each post a good 50 to 100 times before it shows up. We are frantically trying to launch the new blog, with a new non-Blogger server this week. And for any tech reporters out there, Blogger is lying to you. They’re saying if we’d just switch to Blogger Beta everything would be fine. Well, guess what — you have to be invited to join Blogger Beta, and I haven’t been invited, nor has anyone else I know. Not to mention, the fine print tells you that blogs of over a few thousand posts, which is every decent sized blog out there, can’t use the beta yet. So basically, Blogger is melting down the week before the elections and Blogger and Google are making excuses. Nice.

I’m so happy I switched to WordPress from Blogger.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 2:20 pm

Posted in WordPress

Giving up

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I have decided that it’s hopeless: the Feather double-edged blade is the only one I really like and that provides a comfortable, close, irritation-free shave. YMMMDV (Your mileage may most definitely vary), but all the others—the Derby Extra, the Israeli Personna, the Euro Gillettes, the ShaveMaxes, the Merkurs—none of those can hold a candle to the Feather.

So tomorrow I’ll ship all my stash of non-Feather double-edged blades to LetterK for use in his invaluable blade sampler packets. Those are the only way for a new shaver to find his Feather, as it were.

And, what’s more, blade preference can change as technique improves. At the beginning, I don’t think Feathers were it for me. But as my technique developed and settled, the Feathers clearly emerged from the pack, so far I was concerned.

What a relief not to have that stack of non-Feather blades hanging over me!

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Shaving

Best sleep mask ever

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I just got a query about the sleep mask. The Tempur Sleep Mask is the best I’ve found. You can buy them in The Back Shop, and you might google out a better price (closer to $30, but not much lower than that).

It’s very soft and comfortable, and the velcro fastener lets you adjust the elastic band to the most comfortable setting—at which point you put it off and on using just the elastic, without having to undo the velcro. The design allows room for eye movement for those REM moments. Really great.

I use it for my nap in The Chair, with Megs on lap.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Yet another reason we need national health insurance

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Insurance companies are now deciding not to pay for prescription meds if they don’t feel like it. From The Consumerist:

“Your drugs are too expensive.”

That’s basically what United Health Care had CVS tell Kelly when she went to get a scrip filled. Kelly has taken the meds for three years. Her past two insurance companies covered the prescription without fail.

Now United Health Care has decided the drugs are too pricey, and, “…since a generic is not available, they’ve decided the best way to prevent paying too much for their clients’ medication is to put limits on how many pills they’ll pay for per client, per month,” she writes.

Kelly needs to take 1.5 pills per day, 45 pills per month. United will only cover 30.

That’s not the worst of it.

The pharmacist told her that if the pills are a medical necessity, as they are, she should have her doctor call the insurance company and explain the need for the medicine.

Kelly said to the CVS pill pusher, “An authentic written prescription from a medical doctor is not proof enough of medical necessity but a phone call with no real explanation will make giving me 15 more pills OK?”

The white coat affirmed this was correct. In addition, if United ultimately determines not to cover the 15 pills, the cost would be $50.

This practice seems pretty ridiculous and arbitrary on United Health Care’s part but we have to ask, if you’re going to switch providers, shouldn’t you find out whether they cover the medicine you’ll be needing?

Kelly’s letter: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 12:49 pm

Bob Schieffer asks Ken Mehlman some good questions

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Via AmericaBlog:

CBS’S BOB SCHIEFFER: Why is the Republican National Committee spending its money on an ad down in Tennessee, the purpose of it seems to be to suggest that the Demoratic candidate Harold Ford is an African-American?

RNC CHAIRMAN KEN MEHLMAN: The ad that you’re talking about is an ad that is being run independently of the Republican National Committee.

SCHIEFFER: Just a minute, let’s run the end of the ad, let’s hear what it say.

[Woman’s voice: “The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”]


MEHLMAN: The way that the law works, unfortunately it’s a law that I think ought to be changed, and by the way it’s a law on which people on both sides of the campaign reform think ought to be changed, is that if I talk like I do on a regular basis to candidates like Mr. [Republican Senate candidate Bob] Corker then the TV ads that are run beyond a very small limit are run independently of me. This ad is down, I’m please the ad is down, and I’m pleased that the focus of that campaign is now about questions like…

SCHIEFFER: But you paid for it.

MEHLMAN: I’ve talked to Senator McCain and to Senator McConnell, both of whom have been on different sides of the campaign reform issue. Both agree that a law which says the Republican National Committee pays for the ad, but it’s also illegal for the Chairman of the RNC, for the political director of the RNC, or the communications director of the RNC…

SCHIEFFER: But, but Mr. Mehlman, the logic… if I think something is wrong but I take advantage of a law that allows me to take advantage of that, that’s pretty lame, if I may say so.

MEHLMAN: My response to that ad is the same response Mr. Ford had from a race perspective. I would not have put the ad up. I did not think that it was necessarily a racist ad, at the same time…

SCHIEFFER: But you approved of it.

MEHLMAN: I did not approve it.

SCHIEFFER: You said you thought it was “fair.” You’re on the record saying that.

MEHLMAN: Well I thought some of the issues raised in that ad, the issue of taxes, I think those are fair issues, on the other hand I personally would not have put that ad up.

SCHIEFFER: But what does that say, you talk about “values” and stuff, that you’re taking advantage of an ad when you know what it says is wrong and you admit that it ought not to be that way but you’re willing to take advantage of it.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 12:34 pm

Strange knowledge

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I’ve mentioned the Dynamite Duo who are organizing my apartment, cleaning as they go. But it’s not just cleaning—they are in effect moving me in, finding the correct placement for furniture, etc. For example, for the first time I really am able to see the view my apartment enjoys:


Only it’s better than that in real life, of course. My chair has had its back to the view (so the light comes over my shoulders as I read), but they put the chair across the room, sideways to the sliding glass door (and facing the monitor I use to watch movies). Very nice. (I’ve been in the apartment for 14 years.)
And they did something that I was all excited to tell to The Wife: the little plastic dustpan has a sort of cupped handle that turns out to be exactly the right size to snap onto the broom handle! I told her and she was all, “Yeah, they all do that.” Hmph. When I learn something new, I tell people.

So I was talking to The Son today, and I told him of the discovery. He said, “Yeah, pretty much all plastic dustpans do that.”

I felt like a New Guinea tribesman, ignorant of modern technology, seeing for the first time a lighter or a flashlight in action: primitive, out of touch. How do people know all these things?

Then The Son, trying manfully to be tactful, pointed out that probably I was not ignorant of any “common knowledge” in, for example, shaving. But in the particular arena of cleaning, perhaps my more limited experience had resulted in not knowing some things that, well, most people know (since they clean).

I have to admit that that is possible.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Humor

Gin watch

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I came across this gin recently, new to me: Bafferts. It has a unique tall, twisted bottle and the cap (unusual for gin) is a cork. Hendrick’s also uses a cork, though—and has a pleasant taste that’s more pronounced than that of Bafferts.

Bafferts is a standard English dry gin—good as gin is good. One drawback is that the bottle, attractive as it is, stands too tall for the average cabinet. Still, it makes a fine Martini (link goes to best recipe).

UPDATE: The Son points out that the too-tall bottle of Bafferts is, like that of Galliano, probably deliberate: if you can’t put it away, it stays in view both as a implied suggestion to partake and to be visible to visitors.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 10:24 am

Posted in Drinks, Food

Another step toward a totalitarian government

with 2 comments

Via Boing Boing, this comment on the Act that Bush signed into law. It increases his power as President, making the office more and more like that of a dictator:

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President’s ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007” (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a “public emergency” and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.”

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 8:53 am

Businesses moving quickly while GOP still in power

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So Big Business is writing its wish list and to get the GOP to act while it can. Businesses love Government when it gives the Businesses more power and more protection. This is exactly why Democrats must regain control of Congress:

Frustrated with laws and regulations that have made companies and accounting firms more open to lawsuits from investors and the government, corporate America — with the encouragement of the Bush administration — is preparing to fight back.

Now that corruption cases like Enron and WorldCom are falling out of the news, two influential industry groups with close ties to administration officials are hoping to swing the regulatory pendulum in the opposite direction. The groups are drafting proposals to provide broad new protections to corporations and accounting firms from criminal cases brought by federal and state prosecutors as well as a stronger shield against civil lawsuits from investors.

Although the details are still being worked out, the groups’ proposals aim to limit the liability of accounting firms for the work they do on behalf of clients, to force prosecutors to target individual wrongdoers rather than entire companies, and to scale back shareholder lawsuits. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 8:43 am

Lewis Tardy sculptures

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Pretty cool mechanistic sculptures. The site has a flash intro that you can skip. Sculptures are found under “gallery,” “archive,” “ladies,” and “earlier works.” Mousing over and/or clicking provides more detail.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 October 2006 at 8:33 am

Posted in Art

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