Later On

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

Archive for January 30th, 2007

Thinking about money makes you stingy

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Interesting post:

How much money do you really need? Nearly everyone, regardless of their wealth, responds with an amount higher than what they currently have. Many financial planners suggest that Americans need to save at least $2 million by retirement in order to maintain their lifestyles. Yet what if you die before you spend all that money? What would the point of all that scrimping and saving have been?

A new article in the New York Times suggests that most people can maintain their existing lifestyle while saving just a fraction of that amount — $400,000 will do for a couple currently making $125,000 per year, and most of that can be saved during the 10 years before retirement. If you save too much when young, “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”

One problem is, the more we think about money, the stingier we get. Shelley Batts reviews some of the recent research:

In one experiment, it was suggested that just thinking about money made people greedy. Subjects were given $2 worth of quarters and then were asked to solve a word puzzle. Some of the puzzles were word-neutral, and others had words denoting money and wealth like “high-paying salary.” After finishing the puzzle, they were told they could donate some of their quarters to a student emergency fund. The subjects that completed the neutral puzzle donated an average of $1.34 while those who completed the money-centric puzzle averages a donation of 77 cents.

This might also partially explain the well-known phenomenon that people with lower incomes tend to donate a higher proportion of their salary to charity. In a second experiment, people with more Monopoly money were less likely to help a person who dropped a box of pencils. The more we have, it seems, the more we want to hoard — even when we could be spending the money on ourselves.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

The power of Congress WRT war

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Glenn Greenwald is particularly good today—three different posts so far, all worth reading. But I want to call particular attention to this one. It begins:

Russ Feingold today is chairing a Committee hearing in order to demonstrate that Congress has the Constitutional authority to compel the President to withdraw troops from Iraq, a power that is not merely confined to cutting off appropriations. Sen. Feingold is holding the hearing in the face of claims — mostly from Congressional Republicans and their supporters — that only the President has the power to make determinations about troop deployments, and Congress’ only power is one of appropriations.

Back in September, when Chris Wallace falsely accused Bill Clinton of emboldening the Terrorists by prematurely cutting-and-running from Somalia (a favorite right-wing meme), it was documented here (as Clinton himself pointed out to Wallace) that it was actually Republican Senators who forced Clinton to withdraw troops by imposing troop withdrawal deadlines on him and threatening further restrictions on his ability to keep troops there. But if one goes back and reviews that debate, it is quite striking that Republicans back then certainly did not seem to believe that Congress lacked the ability to restrict the President’s power to deploy troops. They argued exactly the opposite – that they had that power — and they used it to force Clinton out of Somalia (all excerpts are available here, by searching “Somalia):

John McCain’s stirring pro-withdrawal Senate speech about why it was urgent that the Senate force Clinton to leave Somalia is particularly interesting in light of all of his completely contrary claims today about Iraq:

Continue reading. (And read the other posts, too.)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 11:13 am

Froomkin misses one point

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From Froomkin’s column today (emphasis added):

From the first time the White House was asked about allegations that senior officials had exposed a CIA agent’s identity as part of a plot to discredit an administration critic, the answer was consistent.

As spokesman Scott McClellan put it as early as July 22, 2003: “That is not the way this President or this White House operates.”

But in the course of the Scooter Libby trial, one thing has become quite clear: That is precisely the way this White House operates.

Faced with accusations that they had marched the country to war on evidence they knew was suspect, White House aides evidently responded with little if any restraint in attempting to discredit their critics.

That lack of restraint, now exposed for all to see, is likely to leave a bad taste in the public’s mouth.

But generally speaking, it has served Bush and his aides well. The White House’s ferocity — compounded by an easily distracted press corps and a Republican-controlled Congress not the least bit interested in oversight — successfully kept crucial information about the administration’s use and abuse of prewar intelligence out of the public sphere through the 2004 election and, arguably, to this day.

My complaint is that being “easily distracted” is the effect, and the root cause is incompetence. A competent press corps would not be “easily distracted.” So I believe Froomkin should call a spade a spade and say “compounded by an incompetent press corps…”. An easily distracted press corps is worth about as much as an easily confused programming staff.

UPDATE: Later in that same column, Froomkin asks, “Why wasn’t the White House press corps a little quicker on this story? I don’t know.” Well, readers of this blog, you know: they’re incompetent: I-N-C-O-M-P-E-T-E-N-T.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 10:48 am

Bush: he’s a good ol’ boy, but he don’t think so good

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You’ll recall the many statements made by the White House on how Bush, increasingly dissatisfied with his generals in Iraq, finally had to roll up his sleeves and, in his role of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, put together a new plan: the Surge (aka “Escalation”). The plan he created has a substantial flaw. From Salon:

As the Senate nears an unprecedented debate on President Bush’s escalation of the Iraq war, almost all the public criticism has been aimed at the inadequate size of the new forces being sent to Baghdad (21,500 troops) and the extreme difficulty of reversing the course of the civil war. But last week, little noticed by the press and public, the Bush plan began to be attacked on a surprising new front — by Iraq hawks, like Sen. John McCain, concerned that the split command structure for the operation violates basic military doctrine.

The Baghdad surge plan, announced by the president on Jan. 10, calls for the new U.S. soldiers to be embedded with Iraqi forces, who will take the lead. But while the U.S. troops would report to American officers, their Iraqi counterparts, in an apparent sop to national sovereignty, would report to Iraqi officers. The potentially disastrous result: two separate and independent command structures within the same military operation.

I know of no successful military operation where you have dual command,” McCain told Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Tuesday. Petraeus, heralded by the Bush White House as the man who would make the surge work, signaled his agreement, telling McCain, “Sir, I share your concern.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 10:24 am

Honeybee Sue Coffee Mocha

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Used the wonderful Coffee Mocha Shea Butter shaving soap again this morning, with the Schick Injector. Pashana aftershave.

I got a wonderful shipment of Mama Bear soaps yesterday, and later today I’m going to list those whose fragrances most bowled me over. One will certainly be her Turkish Mocha. That I will use tomorrow.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:44 am

Posted in Shaving

The proverbial fat cat

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Fat cat

Via Healthbolt. Chubby little guy, clearly not a soccer player. But you can tell he loves that ball. Cats seem to grow emotionally attached to some of their toys. The Wife points out that he’s holding it as though it were his Teddy bear.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:39 am

Posted in Cats

Spoon-tender veal shank

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This recipe sounds absolutely delicious, with the added benefit of being easy to make. I love slow-cooked food.

The recipe in question is a recipe for veal shank that one braises for three to four hours in sweet white wine, surrounded by a benevolent court of onions and/or shallots, until the sauce has turned to a simmering amber, and the meat is so mellow and succulent it can be served and eaten with a spoon — hence the name.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Recipes

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