Later On

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

Archive for January 5th, 2007

Disturbing story about a crazed radio station

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Hard to believe, but undoubtedly true. In the US, folks.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Business, Media

John Stewart interview

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John Stewart in this video interviews Rajiv Chandrasekaran about his amazing book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. What the US did—what the Bush Administration did—was nothing short of criminal. The book is fascinating, and your library has it.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 4:55 pm

1 TByte drive: $400

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Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is first to the mat with an announcement of a 1-terabyte hard disk drive. Industry analysts widely expected a 1TB drive to ship sometime in 2007; Hitachi grabbed a head start on the competition by announcing its drive today, just before the largest U.S. consumer electronics show starts next week.

According to Hitachi, the drive ships in the first quarter of 2007, and will cost $399–less than the price of two individual 500GB hard drives today. The drive, called the Deskstar 7K1000, will be shown this weekend in Las Vegas at the 2007 International CES, also known as the Consumer Electronics Show, as well as at the Storage Visions storage conference.

Hitachi will have three flavors of the 1TB drive; however, only the Deskstar version will be available at launch. The company also plans to offer a CinemaStar version of the drive, for use in DVR and set-top boxes, as well as an enterprise version with a certified mean time between failure rating. Both of those versions are expected in the second quarter of this year.

Industry Milestone

“No question, it’s a milestone for the industry,” says John Rydning, research manager for hard disk drives and components at IDC. “It’s interesting that the industry is delivering a 1TB drive in the 51st year of the industry.” The first hard drive, manufactured by IBM, shipped in 1956.

Hitachi notes it took the industry 35 years to reach 1GB (in 1991), 14 years more to reach 500GB (in 2005), and just two more years to reach 1TB.

The company hopes to be the first to market with a 1TB drive. The company is locked in competition with Seagate for those honors; Seagate reconfirmed its intentions to ship a 1TB drive in the first half of 2007, but it has not offered any further details.

Drive Details

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Technology

Bad sign for Democrats

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From TPMmuckraker:

Justin reported back in November that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), who’s been under federal investigation since April of last year, was headed to chair the panel that controls the purse strings for the Justice Department.

Well, the new Speaker doesn’t see a problem with that. In fact, she took a bizarrely blasé stance on the issue when talking to a West Virginia news station:

Less than 24 hours after taking over as House speaker, Pelosi took NEWS9 cameras on a tour of the Capitol. There, she said she will still allow Mollohan to hold his powerful position which oversees the budget of the Justice Department — the very people investigating his financial dealings.”Quite frankly, I think the Justice Department is looking into every member of Congress. I always say to everybody, ‘You’re now going to get a free review of your family tree — past, present and future, imagined and otherwise,'” Pelosi said.


Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 4:14 pm

Bad news from industrial pork processing

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When you process pork at an industrial level, you do a lot of damage. And, if you’re a Big Business, you try to avoid paying for or mitigating any of that damage:

Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pork processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year. That’s a number worth considering. A slaughter-weight hog is fifty percent heavier than a person. The logistical challenge of processing that many pigs each year is roughly equivalent to butchering and boxing the entire human populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Louisville, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City and Tucson.

Smithfield Foods actually faces a more difficult task than transmogrifying the populations of America’s thirty-two largest cities into edible packages of meat. Hogs produce three times more excrement than human beings do. The 500,000 pigs at a single Smithfield subsidiary in Utah generate more fecal matter each year than the 1.5 million inhabitants of Manhattan. The best estimates put Smithfield’s total waste discharge at 26 million tons a year. That would fill four Yankee Stadiums. Even when divided among the many small pig production units that surround the company’s slaughterhouses, that is not a containable amount.

Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do — even if it came marginally close to that standard — it would lose money. So many of its contractors allow great volumes of waste to run out of their slope-floored barns and sit blithely in the open, untreated, where the elements break it down and gravity pulls it into groundwater and river systems. Although the company proclaims a culture of environmental responsibility, ostentatious pollution is a linchpin of Smithfield’s business model.

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Business

Malcolm Gladwell on Enron, etc.

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Malcolm Gladwell has a fascinating article in the latest New Yorker. One little tidbit: the judge says, as he sentences Skilling:

“The evidence established that the defendant repeatedly lied to investors, including Enron’s own employees, about various aspects of Enron’s business,” the Judge said. He had no choice but to be harsh: Skilling would serve two hundred and ninety-two months in prison—twenty-four years. The man who headed a firm that Fortune ranked among the “most admired” in the world had received one of the heaviest sentences ever given to a white-collar criminal. He would leave prison an old man, if he left prison at all.

But, in fact, Enron had made all the proper disclosures about its deals and filed all the required paperwork. Indeed, the information that brought Enron into bankruptcy was information from these filings from Enron itself. The matter was complex, but there were no lies. It was a mystery, as Gladwell explains, not a puzzle.

Read it at the link.

UPDATE: And be sure to read this strong rebuttal to Gladwell’s article. The criminal justice system did indeed work—at least better than the writers of popular articles would have us believe.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Business

Interesting thought from Joe Biden

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Via TPM, in the Washington Post:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will “be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof,” in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.

“I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost,” Biden said. “They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy — literally, not figuratively.”

Biden gave the comments in an interview as he outlined an ambitious agenda for the committee, including holding four weeks of hearings focused on every aspect of U.S. policy in Iraq. The hearings will call top political, economic and intelligence experts; foreign diplomats; and former and current senior U.S. officials to examine the situation in Iraq and possible plans for dealing with it. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will probably testify next Thursday to defend the president’s new plan, but at least eight other plans will be examined over several sessions of the committee.

Other witnesses invited for at least 10 days of hearings include former national security advisers and secretaries of state, including Brent Scowcroft, Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry A. Kissinger, Madeleine K. Albright and George P. Shultz.

Biden expressed opposition to the president’s plan for a “surge” of additional U.S. troops and said he has grave doubts about whether the Iraqi government has the will or the capacity to help implement a new approach. He said he hopes to use the hearings to “illuminate the alternatives available to this president” and to provide a platform for influencing Americans, especially Republican lawmakers.

“There is nothing a United States Senate can do to stop a president from conducting his war,” Biden said. “The only thing that is going to change the president’s mind, if he continues on a course that is counterproductive, is having his party walk away from his position.”

Biden said that Vice President Cheney and former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld “are really smart guys who made a very, very, very, very bad bet, and it blew up in their faces. Now, what do they do with it? I think they have concluded they can’t fix it, so how do you keep it stitched together without it completely unraveling?”

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 12:04 pm

CDC releases kids’ vaccination schedule

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From WebMD:

The CDC has released its 2007 recommended vaccination schedule for kids 0-18 years old. The schedule includes two new vaccines and tweaks to recommended flu and chickenpox vaccination.

One of the two new vaccines targets certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer. The CDC recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls 11-12 years old. Girls can get the vaccine when they’re as young as 9 years old. Girls 13-26 years old can catch up on HPV vaccination if they’ve never gotten the vaccine or missed earlier doses, the CDC notes.

The HPV vaccine, approved by the FDA last year, is thought to be most effective if given before girls become sexually active, since HPV is sexually transmitted. The HPV vaccine comes in three doses. The second and third doses are to be given two and six months, respectively, after the first dose.

The other new vaccine on the immunization schedule targets rotavirus, a virus that causes diarrhea. The CDC recommends that kids get the rotavirus vaccine in three doses, with one dose given when they’re 2, 4, and 6 months old.

The CDC also recommends yearly flu vaccination for all children 6-59 months old, as well as a second dose of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine when kids are 4-6 years old. Kids should get their first chickenpox vaccine dose when they’re 12-15 months old, says the CDC.

The CDC’s 2007 immunization schedule for children appears in the Jan. 5 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

If your child has missed vaccines or you have questions about vaccines for children, talk to your child’s doctor.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 11:22 am

Posted in Health, Medical

How big are we?

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Not very:

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 10:19 am

Posted in Science, Video

Bad news about child car seats

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They are tested the way the military tests its pet projects: under careful conditions to ensure that the project/car seat passes. Read this and ask where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is on this one. NHTSA is the Department of Transportation agency responsible for establishing and enforcing safety standards for passenger vehicles.

UPDATE: Probably the correct agency is the Consumer Products Safety Commission, but look for no help there so long as we have a GOP administration. From ThinkProgress:

Consumer groups are preparing “to assail rumored Bush candidate to head Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist Michael Baroody.” Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America notes, “It’s sort of astonishing that the administration would pick someone from a regulated industry.”

UPDATE: More on this travesty from the Carpetbagger.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 9:02 am

The hand-warming mouse

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I know people who would like this: a mouse that warms your hands. It has an on-off switch, so if it’s hot, you can turn it off. But many offices are cold year-round.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 8:49 am

Very nice trip journal—with food photos

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This is quite pleasant. Rack of lamb is a big fave for The Wife and me.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

More on government health care

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Paul Krugman continues to hound this issue. As he has pointed out previously, the government can deliver superb health care at a fraction of the cost we normally pay: the VA Medical program is a marvel of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, in part because of doing away with all the health-insurance reviews, paperwork, and folderol and in part because of their early implementation of comprehensive on-line medical records. But conservatives don’t want government programs to be cost-effective and efficient, so they are now busily trying to wreck that—just as they wrecked and destroyed and closed the EPA reference libraries, selling off all assets and irreplaceable collections at pennies on the dollar so the libraries could not be reconstituted.

But today’s column:

Universal health care, much as we need it, won’t happen until there’s a change of management in the White House. In the meantime, however, Congress can take an important step toward making our health care system less wasteful, by fixing the Medicare Middleman Multiplication Act of 2003.

Officially, of course, it was the Medicare Modernization Act. But as we learned during the debate over Social Security, in Bushspeak “modernize” is a synonym for “privatize.” And one of the main features of the legislation was an effort to bring private-sector fragmentation and inefficiency to one of America’s most important public programs.

The process actually started in the 1990s, when Medicare began allowing recipients to replace traditional Medicare — in which the government pays doctors and hospitals — with private managed-care plans, in which the government pays a fee to an H.M.O. The magic of the marketplace was supposed to cut Medicare’s costs.

The plan backfired. H.M.O.’s received fees reflecting the medical costs of the average Medicare recipient, but to maximize profits they selectively enrolled only healthier seniors, leaving sicker, more expensive people in traditional Medicare. Once Medicare became aware of this cream-skimming and started adjusting payments to reflect beneficiaries’ health, the H.M.O.’s began dropping out: their extra layer of bureaucracy meant that they had higher costs than traditional Medicare and couldn’t compete on a financially fair basis.

That should have been the end of the story.

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 8:44 am

Friday cat blogging: Tunnel Megs

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Tunnel Megs 1 Tunnel Megs 2 Tunnel Megs 3

Isn’t she cute? I took these this very chilly but sunny morning, shortly after my shave: another Saint Charles Shave soap (those are quite good), the Slant Bar, the Emperor 2, and the Lavender Thayers Witch Hazel Astringent.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2007 at 8:33 am

Posted in Cats, Megs, Shaving

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