Later On

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

Archive for December 30th, 2006

Cute eBay auction

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Great auction. Be sure to read the questions and answers at the bottom. Thanks to The Wife for pointing this out. (What was she searching for?)

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

We do not have a police state in the US

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But some people seem to be practicing for it.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Do we have a free press?

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Does the Bush Administration even want a free press?

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 6:26 pm

Against stupidity….

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Schiller said that, and here it still is today.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Religion, Science

“Hack” = “idea” — and here are 50

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I don’t know how “lifehacks” became a popular term, but there it is. And here are 50 of them, from which you can probably find a few that are helpful to you.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good news from Congress at last

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The Democratic Congress plans to take action:

As they return to work, congressional Democrats intend to move on three fronts: a 100-hour plan, a long-term agenda, and a barrage of oversight hearings on various issues but particularly on the Iraq war.

Within the first 100 hours of legislative business, a deadline expected to close just before Bush delivers his State of the Union address, House Democrats say they’ll vote to:

  • Raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.
  • Curb lobbyists’ influence by banning meals and gifts to lawmakers and requiring more disclosure and oversight.
  • Repeal subsidies for the oil industry.
  • Cut college-loan interest rates in half.
  • Reduce prescription-drug prices for seniors by requiring Medicare to negotiate rates with pharmaceutical companies.
  • Pass another bill that allows expanded federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, betting on better prospects for an override if the president vetoes it again.
  • Implement unfulfilled recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission and beef up port security.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 12:27 pm

The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.

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Via Glenn Greenwald, the worst top 10. The reason we revolted against England was to secure our civil liberties—now they’re being trashed.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 11:06 am

Oh, the irony, the unbearable irony

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Glenn Greenwald points out that Bush has praised Iraq for holding a fair public trial and the used the rule of law to convict Saddam Hussein, who (according to Bush) is the King of Terrorists. And yet—Bush won’t allow the rule of law to apply to anyone simply suspected of being a terrorist, citizen or not. (If a citizen, Bush can simply unilaterally declare the person to be an enemy combatant, and all the protection of the law, the Constitution, fair procedures simply drop away.)

Read the whole article.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 11:03 am

Big oil and the Bush Administration

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From Political Animal:

BEHOLDEN TO BIG OIL…. If I didn’t know better, I might just think the Bush administration is a little too cozy with the oil industry.

The Justice Department is investigating whether the director of a multibillion-dollar oil-trading program at the Interior Department has been paid as a consultant for oil companies hoping for contracts.

The director of the program and three subordinates, all based in Denver, have been transferred to different jobs and have been ordered to cease all contacts with the oil industry until the investigation is completed some time next spring, according to officials involved.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation had not been announced publicly, said investigators were worried that senior government officials had been steering huge oil-trading contracts to favored companies.

This news, of course, comes shortly after we learned that former Interior Secretary Gale Norton has sailed through the revolving door to become a lawyer for Royal Dutch Shell.

Which comes shortly after revelations that officials at Bush’s Interior Department tried to hide information that federal incentives for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are not cost effective, do not produce a lot of oil, and are generally just a massive give-away to oil companies.

Which comes shortly after news the Interior Department has barely bothered to collect royalties from oil companies, which the industry owes the government for drilling on federal property, in recent years.

If administration officials aren’t careful, the public might get the impression that they’re beholden to Big Oil. Wouldn’t that be shocking?

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:47 am

Smooth ride on square wheels

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Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:34 am

Posted in Science

The all-seeing tongue

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Weird but true: seeing with the tongue:

Blind since birth, Marie-Laure Martin had always thought that candle flames were big balls of fire. The 39-year-old woman couldn’t see the flames themselves, but she could sense the candle’s aura of heat.

Last October, she saw a candle flame for the first time. She was stunned by how small it actually was and how it danced. There’s a second marvel here: She saw it all with her tongue.

The tongue, an organ of taste and touch, may seem like an unlikely substitute for the eyes. After all, it’s usually hidden inside the mouth, insensitive to light, and not connected to optic nerves. However, a growing body of research indicates that the tongue may in fact be the second-best place on the body for receiving visual information from the world and transmitting it to the brain.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:16 am

Posted in Science

Sea squirts: big bad news

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Sea squirts are invading new environments—and they’re damn difficult to stop.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:13 am

Posted in Environment, Science

Pot makes you smart

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At least, it reinforces the growth of new brain cells. Tell me again: why is it illegal?

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:09 am

Posted in Drug laws, Science

Night terror: the dreaded demon of the dark

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Good article. I hope you and I never suffer from this.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 10:08 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Playing dead as a survival technique

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Cute idea: play dead and the predator will leave you alone, at least enough times that the behavior is selected for.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:58 am

Posted in Science

Staying up late is bad for you

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Just as I thought: staying up to all hours is bad for you—in fact, in women it can lead to breast cancer. Just read. (Not a joke.)

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:55 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

Superfoods Part Deux: Eat for your brain

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Very good article in Science News. (The first part of the two-part article is good, too, on how exercise benefits the brain—link is at the top of this article.)

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:52 am

The Simpsons and math

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One of the writers of The Simpsons is mathematically inclined and manages to get a good bit of math into the program—e.g., a seeming counterexample to Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:48 am

Posted in Science

Extremely cool: the Martian analemma is not a figure-8

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The analemma is the figure traced out by the sun over a year if you checked its position at its highest point each day. On Earth, that figure is the “8” familiar as the mysterious marking on purchased globes. On Mars, it’s not.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:45 am

Posted in Science

Riverbend has something to say

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Via Steve Gilliard, this post from Riverbend, an Iraqi blogger who lives in Iraq:

End of Another Year…

You know your country is in trouble when:

  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country’s ‘Golden Years’.
  6. Your country is purportedly ‘selling’ 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it’s going to cut back on providing that hour.
  8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is ‘sectarian bloodshed’ or ‘civil war’.
  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that’s been missing for two weeks.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No—really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It’s like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The ‘mistakes’ were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2006 at 9:23 am

Posted in Iraq War

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