Later On

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

Archive for October 30th, 2006

The GOP: not responsive, but hostile

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This video sums up the GOP attitude toward the press and toward veterans: no engagement and no support. The reporter is in error when he states that the actions against the press (putting their hands on the camera, on the reporter’s face, physical touching the reporting team) was “almost assault”: it was assault. The GOP simply does not like a free, questioning press. (Just to remind you who Marilyn Musgrave is: she is the US Representative who believes that the most urgent and important issue facing the country, the most critical issue, is gay marriage. She’s against it, I gather.)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

It’s started: electronic voting machines not working

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And, oddly enough, they’re registering votes cast for the Democratic candidate as being cast for the Republican. In Florida, of course.

After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors — and a caution against the careless casting of ballots.

Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen — the final voting step.

Election officials say they aren’t aware of any serious voting issues. But in Broward County, for example, they don’t know how widespread the machine problems are because there’s no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems.

In Miami-Dade, incidents are logged and reported daily and recorded in a central database. Problem machines are shut down.

”In the past, Miami-Dade County would send someone to correct the machine on site,” said Lester Sola, county supervisor of elections. Now, he said, “We close the machine down and put a seal on it.”

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Election, Government

And, speaking of science, what are these?

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Two crescents

Click the photo twice to get it full size, and note that there are two crescents visible: a small distinct one and an enormous faint one. What are they? Answer.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Science

Americans really are scientifically illiterate

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We saw it earlier in the percentage of Americans who do not accept evolution as a fact—of the countries tested, the US was 33rd in accepting evolution. And now we see that Americans somehow can’t grasp that human activity can account—and almost certainly does account—for global warming. This degree of ignorance shows not just simple ignorance but rather willful ignorance—holding hands over ears, shutting eyes, and singing “La, la, la, la” whenever the opportunity to learn is offered. This kind of ignorance surely counts as a sin and as an affront to God, Who presumably is the source of the universe, how it works, and our intelligence to understand it. People who are wilfully ignorant are, IMHO, less than animals. I wonder how Dante would have situated them in Hell—perhaps living as moles.

Global warming

When it comes to global warming, scientists and the American public aren’t talking on the same wavelength.

Most scientists believe that humans and their machines are mainly responsible for the 1.4 degree Fahrenheit rise in the world’s average temperature in the last 100 years. Most Americans think otherwise.

Last Wednesday, a group of 18 climate scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court declaring that they’re 99 percent certain that “greenhouse gas emissions from human activities cause global climate change, endangering human health and welfare.”

Only 41 percent of those polled last summer by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, however, accepted the argument that climate change is due primarily to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels in cars, trucks and factories.

The rest of the 1,501 adults in the survey either said there’s no solid evidence that the Earth is warming, or that if there is, the extra heat is the result of natural climate patterns, such as fluctuations in the sun’s radiation.

This public skepticism flies in the face of the most widely accepted scientific assessment of the cause of global warming, which lays the blame primarily on “greenhouse gases” generated by humans.

The leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted by cars, trucks and factories and traps the sun’s heat in the atmosphere.

The official scientific consensus is contained in a massive report issued in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization that the United Nations created to collect and assess the work of climate scientists.

The IPCC report concluded that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” The authors defined “most” to mean more than half and “likely” to mean that they’re 66 percent to 90 percent sure that their statement is true. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 6:24 pm

Plan disposal when you buy

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It’s called life-cycle planning: when you start to build/buy something, the plans must include how it will be disposed of. In one’s personal life, this means when you buy that vase, you must at that point decide how you will get rid of it: Goodwill? eBay? trash? Aunt Thelma? (will she want it)

The cold fact is that every material possession you acquire you (or your heirs) must eventually dispose of. (Obviously, this applies to equipment, not supplies consumed as part of living.) The vase, the book, the cellphone, the TV set, the kitchen knife, the collections of knick-knacks: all should have a final destination clearly assigned at the time you acquire them.

Why? Because, when you think about it, you really won’t know what to do with some of them, and that might make you rethink the acquisition. I’ve certainly noticed some hesitations now that I’m thinking this way. Disclosure: I started to think this way only when I started trying to dispose of stuff and realized that for quite a few things—fountain pen collection, for example—I really had no idea how to pass it along.

So, as you look at the fantabulous paperweight, try to figure out what you’ll do with it when the time comes to pass it along.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Daily life

Smoking marijuana does not cause cancer

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In fact, it seems possible that it might even protect against cancer.

I’m blogging this because one of the claims opponents of Prop 7 in Nevada are making is that pot smoking causes cancer. But research shows that claim is false:

People who smoke marijuana do not appear to be at increased risk for developing lung cancer, new research suggests.

While a clear increase in cancer risk was seen among cigarette smokers in the study, no such association was seen for regular cannabis users.

Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or nonusers.

The findings surprised the study’s researchers, who expected to see an increase in cancer among people who smoked marijuana regularly in their youth. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Health, Medical

Bush doing all he can to kill the EPA

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Now he’s closing down their libraries:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has closed its principal library for researching the effects and properties of chemicals.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) strongly opposes the closure, saying it will undermine the ability of researchers to reveal chemical hazards in the future. There are some 1,700 new chemicals introduced each year.

“Without this research assistance, EPA scientists have fewer resources to conduct thorough analyses on hundreds of new chemicals for which companies are clamoring for agency approval to launch each year into the mainstream of American commerce,” said Jeff Ruch, director of PEER.

The EPA says the materials will still be available

“The EPA is committed to ensuring unique library materials are available to the general public, the scientific community, the legal community and other organizations,” spokesperson Suzanne Ackerman wrote in an e-mail statement.

Physical holdings of the Office of Prevention, Pollution, and Toxic Substances library will be made available on-line, Ackerman said. Other services will be made available electronically, she said.

Typically, data used in the new chemicals program is considered confidential business information and is subject to sensitive data access restrictions, Ackerman said. This data will continue to be available to EPA scientists through internal mechanisms.

Citing budget pressures, EPA has closed several of its regional libraries across the country.

“EPA’s hasty, buzz saw slashing at its library network is now interfering with its mission of harnessing the best available science to protect human health and the environment,” said Ruch, noting that Congress has yet to approve EPA’s actions. “Given the tremendous public health risks, this is absolutely the last place EPA should be cutting.”

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 3:24 pm

Create backups by emailing stuff to yourself

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This works best if you have a Web-based email account—e.g., gmail. The file you mail to yourself thus is stored off-site. You can set up an automated backup program that will take care of the emailing without your having to remember to do it: the redoubtable Gina Trapani explains how.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Recreational sounds

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Via My Alter Ego Speaks, this fascinating sound toy.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Music, Software, Techie toys

Web-based to-do lists

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Web-based things mean that you can use them from any computer (thus the popularity of, e.g., and that they can easily be shared without mailing files (e.g., WriteBoard). Also, if you’re (for example) traveling with a Pocket PC, you could build Web-based lists of things to do when you get back and then, on your return, check them from your home computer. Or, if you’re a stay-at-home spouse, you can build a list for the at-work spouse to check before coming home.

So someone on AskMeFi brought up Web-based to-do lists. Here are a few:

Email to self, but saved as draft so you can add to the list

Ta-Da Lists (several people liked this)

Remember the Milk

The To-Do list part of Base Camp

Use the Google Portal as your home page, and use “add stuff” to add their to-do list to it



The GTDTiddlyWiki isn’t quite the same: you save a copy on your computer (here’s how) and then you can bring it up in your browser and use the various list features, saving it again when you’re done. Pretty cool, but it does reside on your computer. Here’s an explanation, courtesy of Lifehacker, and a tutorial, courtesy of TiddlyWiki.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

More bad news about Bush Administration

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The pattern continues:

Julie MacDonald, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, has consistently “rejected staff scientists’ recommendations to protect imperiled animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act.” A civil engineer with no training in biology, she has overruled and disparaged the findings of her staff, instead relying on the recommendations of political and industry groups. Some highlights:

MacDonald presented industry positions as equivalent to scientific studies. In 2004, a panel of Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologists recommended giving the greater sage grouse protection under the Endangered Species Act. But in her review of the panel’s report, she denigrated many scientific studies as mere “opinion,” and stated, “We should treat [them] as we would treat an industry publication,” she wrote.

MacDonald pressed staff biologists to more seriously consider industry positions. During a dicussion of the great sage grouse population, MacDonald wrote, “This paragraph completely ignores the comments received by the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association and the Idaho Cattle Association.” As the Washington Post notes, the organizations “opposed the listing on the grounds that it would limit their use of land where the birds live.”

– Under MacDonald, the Department of the Interior (DOI) reversed a staff ruling based on comments from the Air Force. In 2000, FWS published recognized Tabernaemontana rotensis as a species and proposed to list it as an endangered species. The T. rotensis tree has been reduced to approximately 30 plants found primarily on lands managed by the Air Force. In 2004, the decision to list was reversed, “prompted in part by a comment from the Air Force.”

Under the Bush administration, just 56 species have been listed under the Endangered Species Act, for a rate of about 10 a year. Under Clinton, officials listed 512 species, or 64 a year, and under George H.W. Bush, the department listed 234, or 59 a year.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Union of Concerned Scientists have more.

The GOP hates America.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 11:45 am

Beginner’s guide to free-lancing

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This looks like a good introduction. I free-lanced for a while, but didn’t like it. Perhaps I lacked the temperament. Things that were problems for me:

a. You have to be constantly marketing yourself and your skills and looking for the next job.

b. It’s very hard to turn down work, which means you end up overworked and never able to take a vacation. (If you should have some free time, it induces a panicky search for work.)

c. You get very tired of people and companies who want you to work for free because of the great exposure and referrals you’ll get.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 11:29 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Kitty dreams

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Kitty dreams

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 9:46 am

Posted in Cats

Scandal score: GOP 15, Dems 4

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From TPMmuckraker:

Last week, Roll Call reported that there were 17 known federal investigations into members of the 109th Congress. We noted an 18th they missed — Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).

Since then, a new investigation has come to our attention: The FBI is investigating Colorado’s Rep. Bob Beauprez (R), following allegations he used restricted voter information as part of his gubernatorial bid.

That makes 19 known federal investigations into members of the 109th Congress. For those keeping score, the Republican members can claim 15 of the investigations; the Democrats, four.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 9:41 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater

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From the TPMmuckraker:

Stay Denied in Blackwater Wrongful Death Suit
“The families of four civilian contractors killed in Iraq have cleared another legal hurdle in their wrongful death lawsuit against the men’s employer, Blackwater USA.

“The U.S. Supreme Court denied Blackwater’s request for a stay, meaning the case heads back to state court in North Carolina for trial….

“The lawsuit claims Blackwater failed to provide them with armored vehicles, weapons and maps as promised, and did not give them a chance to learn local routes before being sent out on their fatal mission. As Brian Ross first reported on ABCNews PrimeTime last year, one of the men complained about the unprofessionalism in an e-mail home just before he died.” (The Blotter)

From Whitewater to Blackwater
“Blackwater USA, the private military contractor in the Bush Administration’s “war on terror,” has a new lawyer working to defend it against a ground-breaking wrongful death lawsuit brought by the families of four of its contractors killed in Iraq. The new “counsel of record” for the North Carolina-based company is none other than former Whitewater investigator Kenneth Starr–the independent counsel in the 1999 impeachment of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. Starr was brought in last week by Blackwater to file motions in front of the US Supreme Court in a case stemming from the killing of four Blackwater contractors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on March 31, 2004.

“‘I think that Blackwater has brought in Kenneth Starr to somehow leverage a political connection to help them succeed in a case where they can’t win on the merits,’ says Marc Miles, an attorney for the families of the Blackwater contractors. Starr takes over from Blackwater’s previous counsel, Greenberg Traurig, the influential Washington law firm that once employed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. ‘They bring in all these big-time lawyers from nationwide firms with hundreds of attorneys. Blackwater is really painting this David and Goliath picture themselves.'” (The Nation)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 9:37 am

A tasty-sounding pork roast

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From Chocolate & Zucchini:

Pork Roast with Spiced Red Cabbage, Apples, and Prunes

It is a very satisfying and very easy one-pot dish that should be served with strong mustard to tease the vegetables’ slight sweetness, and my one suggestion of improvement is to brine the meat beforehand in a simple water-salt-sugar solution, so the meat will be salted right down to its heart.

1 tablespoon olive oil
One 800-gram (1 3/4 pounds) boneless center cut pork roast, brined
Fine sea salt
1 small head red cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced thinly
2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut in eighths
8 prunes, pitted and halved
4 whole garlic cloves (with their papery skin still on)
Whole coriander seeds
French four-spice mix (ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves)
1/2 cup red wine
Freshly ground pepper

Serves 4.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the roast and sear for a few minutes, flipping the meat regularly, until browned all over. Season with salt and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the cabbage, apples, prunes, and garlic to the pot, stir to coat, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the cabbage starts to soften. Season with whole coriander seeds, French four-spice (light-handedly), and salt. Stir to combine.

Form a little nest in the middle of the vegetables and place the roast there. Pour the wine over the meat and vegetables, cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about an hour, stirring from time to time to make sure the vegetables don’t burn at the bottom, until the meat is cooked through (I just cut a slice to check when I think it’s done, but if you have a meat thermometer, it should read 70°C / 160°F).

Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the juices have reduced by half. Taste the vegetables, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with pepper, and serve with strong mustard on the side.

My only comment is that 160° seems a tad overdone to me. I would go with 150-155°. YMMV.
“Rôti de Porc au Chou Rouge Epicé, Pommes et Pruneaux” continues

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 9:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Recipes

Don’t trust big businesses

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For some reason, large businesses generally have the morals of a corrupt weasel. Does anyone know of any research of why businesses act in such immoral and unethical ways, in ways that are directly opposed to the common good? What happens to people who make the decisions? Is it diffusion of responsibility, just a reflection of how people in general will act if they can get away with it? Are people really so bad? Certainly some religions—e.g., Christianity—strongly advocate the position that all people are sinners (and thus, to some degree, evil).

Case in point:

Safety experts for BP PLC warned their bosses of the potential for a “major site incident” 2 1/2 years before an explosion at the company’s Texas City refinery killed 15 people, according to a broadcast report.

CBS’ “60 Minutes” also reported Sunday that the Texas City plant manager, Don Parus, told his bosses in the company’s London headquarters that most workers at the refinery felt the plant was unsafe.

According to CBS, one worker wrote, “This place is set up for a catastrophic failure.”

BP’s top refinery executive, John Manzoni, has said under oath he didn’t know of serious safety concerns until the explosion.

“They didn’t do much,” said Brent Coon, an attorney representing several victims suing BP. “Two months later the plant blew up.”

Another 170 people were injured in the explosion about 40 miles southeast of Houston.

The explosion occurred when faulty sensors did not warn of gathering vapors near the isomerization unit, which boosts the level of octane in gasoline. The vapors ignited as the unit was starting up.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, one of several agencies investigating the blast, concluded the unit had a history of problems and was not hooked up to a flare system that burns off vapor and could have prevented or minimized the accident. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 9:00 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Your GOP at work

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First, top posts at the State Department are going to the politically connected, especially those with neo-con connections. The standard personnel procedures are being by-passed.

Second, Tony Snow really seems to think that Cheney was not talking about waterboarding when he said that giving a “dunk in the water” to terrorists was a good practice—a “no-brainer” in the Vice President’s words. Of course, Snow’s credibility on this is weak, since he also admits that he doesn’t know what Cheney was talking about. So it may indeed have been waterboarding, rather than tossing them fully clothed into a pool. [More here – LG]
Third, Rumsfeld recalls how people were highly critical of the Administration during WWII.

All this from one Al Kamen column. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 8:52 am

Two short but highly illuminating readings

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First is Fareed Zakaria’s piece on how we should proceed now in Iraq.

Second is this post on Steve Gilliard’s News Blog where a reader completely demolishes Zakaria’s ill-considered and shallow analysis.

It would behoove Washington pundits to get out a bit more and stop talking to each other. IMHO, of course.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 8:40 am

Really striking GOP campaign ad

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Targeted directly at the GOP base. Powerful. Watch it now.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2006 at 8:27 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Humor, Video

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