Later On

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

Archive for December 21st, 2006

Valobra

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Valobra

Virgilio Valobra makes a wide variety of fine soaps, and this almond-scented shaving soap is very nice. Although it comes as a bar, it’s soft—about the consistency of modeling clay. I squished it into a little Rubbermaid one-cup container and use it from there.

The company also makes a shave stick, and I just got one. I’m going to try it tomorrow. My routine is now to use shaving soap on MWF and shaving cream on TTS.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 6:08 pm

Posted in Shaving

How UPS does it

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Computers have affected all lines of work. Look at what they’ve done for UPS.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

A Gender Test, by Scott Adams

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From his blog:

The BBC reports that a female Indian athlete who recently won a silver medal in a regional competition has failed a gender test. Seriously.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6188775.stm

I have to think that of all the tests you could fail, a gender test would be the most embarrassing. The article is a bit sketchy on the test itself but it reportedly involves an endocrinologist, psychologist, and gynecologist.

I have to wonder what the psychologist’s test looked like, since other experts were checking her junk. I assume there was some sort of highly offensive, stereotypical, and sexist written exam. It probably looked like this:

1. Shopping is…
a. A fascinating experience that is even better when shared.
b. A method used to extract secrets from terrorists.

2. What does “nothing is wrong” mean?
a. Start guessing and apologizing or I’ll kill you in your sleep.
b. Oh shit.

3. The best time for sex is…
a. When your mood and your schedule are right.
b. Do you mind if I masturbate a little while I take this test?

4. When you observe a man doing a simple task, you think…
a. That frickin’ baboon is doing it wrong and ruining everything.
b. Why would I watch a man do a simple task?

5. When a man doesn’t notice your new hair color it means…
a. He no longer loves you.
b. Hair has different colors?

6. After a man explains the undeniable logic of his point of view…
a. It proves that he just doesn’t get it.
b. Case closed!

7. Your reaction to this test is…
a. Bastard!
b. Ha Ha! You’re dead, Dude.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

The growing list

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My God, it’s like the Soviet Union in the bad old days*. The Bush Administration works hard to hide the truth, no matter what it takes.

*I’m referring here just to attempting to hide the truth and rewrite the facts in favor of ideology, not the indefinite imprisonment and torture of suspects with no charges filed and no access to a lawyer or the courts.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 4:10 pm

Obese people have efficient gut bacteria

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Hmmm. I wonder if this is a partial explanation of why to lose weight I have to drop calorie intake way below what Fitday calculates would work:

Obese people have higher levels of unusually efficient bacteria in their guts than lean people do, offering a possible explanation for why they get fat, researchers reported today.

Humans need bacteria in their guts to help convert otherwise indigestible foods into a form that is digestible, and the bacteria in obese people are better at the process, a team from Washington University in St. Louis reported in two papers published in the journal Nature.

In effect, obese people obtain more energy than lean people do from the same amount of food, and those extra calories are deposited on their waists.

The same disparity was found in mice, and giving lean mice the bacteria from fat animals caused them to gain weight, the researchers said.

If the findings hold up, they could lead to new ways to induce weight loss or to prevent weight gain from happening in the first place.

“This is a potentially revolutionary idea that could change our views of what causes obesity and how we depend on the bacteria that inhabit our gut,” wrote Matej Bajzer and Randy J. Seeley of the University of Cincinnati in an accompanying editorial. “But a great deal remains poorly understood.”

Experts cautioned that it was too soon to manipulate gut bacteria in the hopes of becoming slimmer.

The proliferation of the efficient bacteria may be the result of obesity and not its cause, said Dr. Richard Atkinson of the Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, Va., who was not involved in the research.

“If they are right, this could really be a significant advance,” he said. “But I am not sure they are interpreting their data right. Correlation is not causation.”

Neurobiologist Hans-Rudolf Berthoud of Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, who was not involved in the research, agreed.

“This doesn’t show that the bacteria cause obesity, absolutely not,” he said.

More likely, he said, is that hormonal changes in the gut caused by weight loss alter the distribution of bacteria.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 11:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

USB roll-up piano keyboard

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For you who like to play a piano

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 11:09 am

Posted in Techie toys, Technology

You are in danger

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I have repeatedly beat the drum that, since Bush believes he can imprison and torture suspects indefinitely, you are at risk. Anyone can be a suspect, and it’s not under their control—the person in control is the person who suspects them. And ignorant, paranoid, hostile, passive-aggressive incompetents—e.g., Republicans—are willing to suspect just about anyone who’s “different” (e.g., educated, tolerant, respectful, and adjusted). I posted this morning about the suspicions being broadcast about Barack Obama—he’s got a funny name, see, and his middle name is Hussein—what does that tell ya?

The NY Times has an editorial about one such suspect:

Ever since the world learned of the lawless state of American military prisons in Iraq, the administration has hidden behind the claim that only a few bad apples were brutalizing prisoners. President Bush also has dodged the full force of public outrage because the victims were foreigners, mostly Muslims, captured in what he has painted as a war against Islamic terrorists bent on destroying America.

This week, The Times published two articles that reminded us again that the American military prisons are profoundly and systemically broken and that no one is safe from the summary judgment and harsh treatment institutionalized by the White House and the Pentagon after 9/11.

On Monday, Michael Moss wrote about a U.S. contractor who was swept up in a military raid and dumped into a system where everyone is presumed guilty and denied any chance to prove otherwise.

Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago, was a whistle-blower who prompted the raid by tipping off the F.B.I. to suspicious activity at the company where he worked, including possible weapons trafficking. He was arrested and held for 97 days — shackled and blindfolded, prevented from sleeping by blaring music and round-the-clock lights. In other words, he was subjected to the same mistreatment that thousands of non-Americans have been subjected to since the 2003 invasion.

Even after the military learned who Mr. Vance was, they continued to hold him in these abusive conditions for weeks more. He was not allowed to defend himself at the Potemkin hearing held to justify his detention. And that was special treatment. As an American citizen, he was at least allowed to attend his hearing. An Iraqi, or an Afghani, or any other foreigner, would have been barred from the room.

This is not the handiwork of a few out-of-control sadists at Abu Ghraib. This is a system that was created and operated outside American law and American standards of decency. Except for the few low-ranking soldiers periodically punished for abusing prisoners, it is a system without any accountability.

Yesterday, David Johnston reported that nearly 20 cases in which civilian contractors were accused of abusing detainees have been sent to the Justice Department. So far, the record is perfect: not a single indictment.

Administration officials said that prosecutors were hobbled by a lack of evidence and witnesses, or that the military’s cases were simply shoddy. This sounds like another excuse from an administration that has papered over prisoner abuse and denied there is any connection between Mr. Bush’s decision to flout the Geneva Conventions and the repeated cases of abuse and torture. We hope the new Congress will be more aggressive on this issue than the last one, which was more bent on preserving the Republican majority than preserving American values and rights. The lawless nature of Mr. Bush’s war on terror has already cost the nation dearly in terms of global prestige, while increasing the risks facing every American serving in the military.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 11:02 am

More lists for the list hounds

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Top 100 useful sites from the Guardian

Top 100 education blogs from the Online Education Database

Top 10 3-D sidewalk drawings

Freeware games

There. As Mary McGoon said about cubing marshmallows, “That’ll keep you busy.”

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life

Good points from Kevin Drum

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Kevin Drum, the Political Animal, makes two good points:

* Social Security: In the worst case, if we do absolutely nothing, SS is projected to grow from about 4% of GDP to 6% of GDP and then level out. In other words, it means that over the next 30 years, total federal spending will rise from about 20% of GDP to 22% of GDP. This is just not that big a deal.

* Medicare/Healthcare: Yeah, the cost of healthcare is going to increase. But it’s going to increase no matter who pays for it. I know that libertarians hate taxes and government spending as a matter of principle, but seriously, is it really worse for the economy if the feds handle our rising healthcare costs vs. American corporations getting socked with the bill? Especially since evidence from other countries suggests that national systems can accomplish the same thing we accomplish at lower cost while still providing higher satisfaction, better outcomes, and equal quality — and, apparently, without causing any noticeable economic dislocations? I understand the principle involved here, but in practical terms what are we really afraid of?

Bottom line: Social Security isn’t going away and it’s not going to get cut back in any serious way no matter who’s in charge. Ditto for Medicare. National healthcare may or may not happen, but if it does it will be due to the kind of public outcry that no one can ignore. (I mean, Dems have been flogging national healthcare for 70 years and we haven’t gotten it yet, so obviously it’s not going to happen based on our silver tongued eloquence, right?)

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:39 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

How’s that abstinence education working out?

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Not so well:

More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.

“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”

Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings. The study, released Tuesday, appears in the new issue of Public Health Reports.

The study, examining how sexual behavior before marriage has changed over time, was based on interviews conducted with more than 38,000 people — about 33,000 of them women — in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 for the federal National Survey of Family Growth. According to Finer’s analysis, 99 percent of the respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage.

Even among a subgroup of those who abstained from sex until at least age 20, four-fifths had had premarital sex by age 44, the study found.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:33 am

Posted in Daily life

Extremely cool optical illusion

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This one‘s for the Older Grandson. (Safe for work)

Here are more.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:29 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Living paycheck to paycheck

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Two versions.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:25 am

Posted in Daily life

Cooliris turns out to be quite useful

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When I install a Firefox add-on, I never know whether it’s something I’ll frequently use or something that just gets carried along. Cooliris turns out to belong in the “frequently used” category. Well worth installing, IMHO.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:07 am

Posted in Firefox, Software

Weird and interesting stuff

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Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 10:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

GOP kills good policy

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This would be shocking if there were not so many other examples of GOP perversity in government.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 9:20 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

Crooks are clever

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Honeypot Rogue wifi—who would have thought? Thanks, Gina.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 9:11 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Good job-search advice

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This post will be useful to those looking for a job. Since companies like to lay people off before the end of the year—making for blue holidays—it might be timely for some, alas.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 9:09 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Cool candy

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I’d like to take the grandsons for this.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 9:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Video

How crazy is the Right Wing?

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Ans: very, very crazy.

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 8:35 am

Posted in GOP

What if you’re pre-diabetic?

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How do you avoid slipping into type 2 diabetes, something thoroughly worth avoiding? It’s fairly simple, luckily:

First, maintain a low percentage of body fat. Fat acts as an endocrine gland and if you have too much, it fights the effects of insulin. Generally speaking, your BMI should be less than 25. If you’re going to be extra-careful, less than 24.

Second, eat a balanced diet, and the proportions I’m eating are those recommended: Carbs 55% of calories, fats 25%, protein 20%, and get 30-35g of fiber daily.

Third, eat foods with a low glycemic index—those are the foods that slowly release glucose into the bloodstream as they’re digested. Eschew refined sugars and starches, which kick up the blood glucose levels quickly and cause a surge of insulin. A good start is to skip potatoes, bread, and desserts. Below is a list of foods arranged in descending order by glycemic index (better foods are higher in the list), and here’s another reference. (In fact, Mendosa’s site is in general a goldmine of information.)

UPDATE: I’m told that diabetes educators now think the glycemic index is pretty much worthless. Individual responses to foods differ—depending on the person, potatoes or corn or rice or whatever could send the glucose up sharply. Also, the combination of foods affects absorption rate. OTOH, my endocrinologist was pretty clear on avoiding refined foods, sugars, and the like. And I don’t think it will hurt to eat foods with a lower glycemic index. But it’s not the absolute overall solution.

Fourth, exercise. Muscles are better than fat at keeping the body away from diabetes, so do both weight training and aerobic exercises (like walking).

I also recommend that you read Elizabeth Hiser’s highly informative The Other Diabetes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

21 December 2006 at 8:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

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