Later On

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

Archive for February 1st, 2007

“A failed cover-up”

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David Ignatius:

Why was the White House so nervous in the summer of 2003 about the CIA’s reporting on alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger to build a nuclear bomb? That’s the big question that runs through the many little details that have emerged in the perjury trial of Vice President Cheney’s former top aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The trial record suggests a simple answer: The White House was worried that the CIA would reveal that it had been pressured in 2002 and early 2003 to support administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and that in the Niger case, the CIA had tried hard to resist this pressure. The machinations of Cheney, Libby and others were an attempt to weave an alternative narrative that blamed the CIA.

The truth began to emerge on July 11, 2003, when CIA Director George Tenet issued a public statement disclosing that the agency had tried to warn the White House off the Niger allegations. In that sense, the Libby trial is about a cover-up that failed.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 7:26 pm

Big Oil hates life on Earth

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It’s the same old story:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative group on global warming, will report on Friday that it is “very likely” that human activities were the main cause of warming in the past 50 years.

Prominent global warming deniers, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sen. James Inhofe, have already been downplaying the report and contravening the science. But the Guardian reports that there is a more orchestrated movement going on below the radar to confound the public about the IPCC’s report.

The oil lobby is so desperate to push back on the new climate change report that they have been offering to pay global warming skeptics to speak out:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.


The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at AEI, who confirmed that the organisation had approached scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC report.

AEI has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil. The well-heeled oil lobby is a primary reason why doubt still exists in the general public about the cause of global warming.

As Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth pointed out, despite the fact that no peer-reviewed scientific articles published in recent years express any doubt that climate change is happening, more than 50 percent of news media coverage of the issue includes the oil industry’s position on the subject.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 7:22 pm

Skype headset advice

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From AskMeFi.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Skype, Technology

Hmmm – guess I’ll subscribe to

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Again. I subscribed before, but let the subscription lapse when I felt I wasn’t getting enough nourishment. But now Glenn Greenwald is moving his blog to Salon, lock, stock, and barrel—and it looks as though Juan Cole may join him.

Greenwald is NOT to be missed.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Media

Nine rules of thumb re: food

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Megnut summarizes the take-home points from Michael Pollan’s article:

From last weekend’s The New York Times Magazine comes Michael Pollan’s latest article about The Age of Nutritionism. I would’ve written about it sooner but it took me until last night to finish reading it. It’s 12 pages long. While the entire thing is absolutely worth reading, he ends with a “few (flagrantly unscientific) rules of thumb collected in the course of [his] nutritional odyssey” that bear repeating here, with my notes:

1. Eat food. Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Non-dairy creamer? You’re out. You too, breakfast-cereal bars.

2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims.
Science keeps changing, so trying to follow fads won’t guarantee health. You have a better chance at health by just eating a well-balanced diet.

3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
All those signs point to food that’s been processed. More process = less nutrients and vitamins, never mind the environmental costs of producing the food.

4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.
Buy food at farmer’s markets and you can avoid the foods listed in #3 very easily.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Food, Health

Aging eyes

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A cheerful little email from Harvard Medical School, promoting their book The Aging Eye:

Like the rest of your body, your eyes naturally change throughout your life. But the effects become more apparent as you get older and the structures in and around your eyes become less efficient. For most people, the first sign of change is presbyopia, a deterioration in close-up vision. Luckily, this problem can be treated with reading glasses.

However, more serious age-related eye problems can cause vision loss or distortion. Almost 1 million Americans older than 40 are considered legally blind, and another 2.4 million have significantly reduced vision. Among all Americans over age 40, about 1 in 28 has some type of visual impairment.

The risk of developing vision problems increases as you get older, especially after age 65. One dramatic example: People age 80 or older make up about 8% of the U.S. population, but account for 69% of people who are blind.

There are four eye disorders that pose the greatest threats to vision in the later part of life: cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

Cooking Compendium Supplemental Information

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Reviews of the Compendium: If you’re using the compendium and finding it useful, I would greatly appreciate it if you would post your review at Many thanks.

Agave syrup disrecommended: I was very high on agave syrup because of its low glycemic index, but take a look at this post and also at this article in the WSJ. I’ve decided that I will discontinue using it.

Salad Spinner: I tried this Zyliss salad spinner: it did not work at all. I emailed Zyliss with my complaint and received no answer whatsoever. I am now skeptical of Zyliss quality, so be careful. Companies do, unfortunately, go downhill. I did buy this Oxo Good Grips salad spinner and it’s a winner: works easily, well designed, and a keeper.

Chef’s Planet Preptaxi: This little scoop works especially well for chopped foods, and the sides keep the food from spilling. More info here (with photo).

Knives and knife-sharpening: Be sure to read this important post—and avoid the Chef’s Choice knife sharpener. Reasons why in the post.

Swissmar Borner V-Slicer Plus: I recently got one of these and I’m extremely impressed with how well it works. The “Plus” means that it comes with its own storage box, a definite plus: storage in the box saves space and protects the blades. Here’s a demo of a model that has legs, which mine lacks. (No problem: I generally place it atop a bowl to receive the chopped veggies.) One caution: either use the supplied food safety holder or use a cut-resistant glove on the hand holding the vegetables. I was chopping carrots—very easy, very quick—and before I knew it I had taken off a slice of thumb: a clean, deep slice that bled a lot. Ugh.

When cleanliness works against you: Sometimes you end up with a “dirty” pan that should not be washed, but instead used again. For example, if you cook up a bunch of bacon, think of what would be good to cook in the pan before you clean it. For example, you could pour off the extra grease (perhaps saving it for later use in flavoring and sautéing things) and sauté some greens in the pan, scraping up the tasty bits stuck to the pan as you do. I had this morning a little pan I had used last night to render from chicken fat. After I poured off the fat to save, I didn’t wash the pan but instead used it for my morning hot cereal: the little residue of chicken fat will flavor the cereal. I do the same thing when I melt butter in the pan for popcorn: the pan, without cleaning, is used then for breakfast cereal. So before you rush the pan to the sink, think about the flavor involved and how you might use it. This typically applies to pans in which things have been sautéed.

Very cool kitchen knives: These knives have the ultra-sharp carbon-steel edge, which is easy to keep sharp, and the carbon steel core is clad in stainless so the knife doesn’t rust or discolor discolor. Very nice idea.

Immersion blender: At the time I wrote the Compendium, I didn’t have an immersion blender, but I have since acquired one and am finding it enormously useful. This is the one I got, and it comes with a small container for blending small amounts—making mayonnaise, for instance, or in a recent recipe blending onion, ginger, garlic, and a little water. It’s particular nice for making soups—I’ve been making a whole string of broccoli soups, blending the broccoli in the pot after cooking. And cleanup is a snap: just remove the blending element and rinse it off after use. Highly recommended.

Best kitchen scale: For $29, this one’s hard to beat. Cool Tools reviewed it, and it’s better than any I’ve seen before: accurate to 0.1 ounce (and you can change the readout to metric) up to 55 lbs. I like my scale, but it only allows 11 pounds—plenty for kitchen use, but still… And it’s only $29. Read the review, and then decide.

Oily fish: eat them often. Oily fish include beneficial amounts of omega-3, which has all sorts of benefits. This post explains one benefit and includes a list of oily and non-oily fish so you know what to shop for. Because oily fish can accumulate some toxins (for example, mercury), it’s good to focus on fish low on the food chain: sardines, anchovies, herring, smelts, salmon, and the like. Tuna, higher on the food chain (i.e., it eats fish in the first list), should be eaten more sparingly.

Soak brown rice overnight. If you soak brown rice overnight before soaking, you increase its nutritional value. See this post.

The 20 most healthful foods for under $1. List found here.

Avoid tilapia and catfish. These two farmed fish have much too high a ratio of omega-6 oils to omega-3 for good health. For the same reason, avoid these cooking oils: soybean, safflower, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed. (Olive oil and canola oil are okay.) See this report.

Encyclopedia of spices: A good site to bookmark.

Useful information on dietary supplements. Take a look and bookmark it. Obviously, try to get all your nutrition, including micronutrients, from food sources, not from supplements. Some supplements, as for antioxidants, are worthless—they pass through the body too fast, whereas antioxidants in foods are digested slowly and absorbed.

Fructose and obesity. Bottom line: avoid concentrated fructose (which you can get from refined sugar and from high-fructose corn syrup). Fruit by itself is okay. Here’s the study.

Omega-3 twice as important for girls than for boys. And avoid omega-6 oils (e.g., corn oil, soy oil, sunflower oil). Read this post.

Nutritional value of shiitake mushrooms: Turns out that they’re pretty darned good for you.

Potassium for muscle development: Potassium is vital for muscle development—here’s a summary of the study and a chart showing the best sources of potassium. The two best: raisins and potatoes—but note that cubing the potato and boiling it loses 75% of the potassium and other minerals into the cooking water—if you discard it, you lose the minerals. So cube the potatoes if you’re cooking them in soup (the minerals just go into the soup and are not lost), but otherwise bake them.

Excellent prep bowls: These prep bowls are the best I’ve found (for me), and at $10 for the set they’re quite reasonable. The more I do all the ingredient preparation before starting cooking, the more I like it.

Chef’N Veggichop: This looks like a good alternative to a full-fledged food processor—it won’t do everything the food processor will do, but it does quite a bit and takes much less room. And, of course, it’s much less expensive. Take a look. I got one and find I use it often: very easy clean-up, and does a great job of chopping.

Antioxidant food values: This site contains a list of foods with their antioxidant values, which you can view alphabetically by food or in order of antioxidant values (and spices rate very high). Worth perusing.

Oxo Salad Spinner: I have a Zyliss I still use, but nowadays the best bet seems to be the Oxo salad spinner. Read about it here.

Barefoot Contessa cookbooks: The Eldest is a big fan of the various Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, so I spent some time yesterday looking through a few that she has. She’s right: few ingredients in each recipe, straightforward instructions and generally easy, and they look as though the result is delicious (and The Eldest assures me that’s true). So you may want to go to your library and check out a few and see what you think.

Celery improves taste of broth: Read about it.

Cleaning stainless steel pots and pans: Every time you use your stainless cookware (pot, sauté pan, skillet, whatever), clean the cooking surface with a stainless cleanser such as Barkeeper’s Friend, Cameo, Kleen King, or the like. Don’t use steel wool, but a nylon or copper scratchy pad is fine. This cleaning will keep the surface pretty much nonstick.

Mushrooms: Regular old domestic white mushrooms are as nutritious as the more exotic varieties.

Adding spiciness and capsaicin: At the link is a very nice way to add the spiciness you may want—and certainly capsaicin is good for you. The crushed dried varieties of peppers, with a good ceramic grinder as offered, works very well and is very handy indeed.

Gripping the knife: Grasp the handle with the last three fingers of your hand, and hold the top of the blade between thumb and forefinger. This affords a stable grip (knife will not twist) and gives you the best control.

Exceptional pork baby back ribs.

The USDA provides an invaluable on-line database of nutritional information. Use it to determine exactly what nutrients you’re getting in your food.

The Sunbeam Hotshot produces a pint of water at 180º. This temperature is, unfortunately, too low for brewing coffee. Coffee requires water that is at least 195º and not more than 205º. I’m now using an electric kettle, which brings water to the full boil (212º). A very short wait results in water at 205º, which I pour over the grounds in my little Melitta cone filter perched atop the coffee cup. See coffee guidelines here.

OTOH, 180º is perfect for white tea, the most healthful form of tea with many excellent antioxidants and a definite cancer preventive—not to mention delicious. Try a sampling of Adagio white teas, for example. (I particularly like White Peony.) Brew at 180º for seven minutes, then pour the tea off the leaves (which can be used for another brewing). It’s been found, BTW, that the benefits of white or green tea are greatly augmented if you drink them with citric acid—for example, a squeeze of lemon.

The Adagio ingenuiTEA is a perfect little brewer, whose 1-pint capacity is an excellent match for the 1-pint capacity of the Hot Shot. Get a 1-pint cup (from Starbucks, for example) and you’re set. (Starbucks prints the capacity of their cups on the bottom, then carefully covers that information with the price sticker—so peel back the sticker and look for a 16 oz cup.)

The goji berry is also known as the wolfberry. The article at the link has useful info, and not that organic domestic goji berries are actually organic. Given the problems with foods from China, I’m now ordering domestic goji berries. Check Google. But be careful. I thought I had found a site that sold berries grown in the US, but when I got them, I found that they were imported from China after all.

Superfood treat: The superfoods section of Cooking Compendium might have been the source of ingredients for Aztec Chocolate Bark: hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds; cayenne pepper; cinnamon; ancho chili powder; bitter or semi-sweet chocolate. Get chocolate in the 90% cacao range and you’ve got a very healthful treat.

Tea notes: One of the appendices gives the best brewing temperatures for various types of tea. This interesting post compares teas brewed at the best temperature vs. the same tea brewed without regard to temperature. And this site has some interesting teapots.

Non-stick pan: For the token non-stick pan (for cooking eggs), it’s hard to beat the price of this T-Fal Cherry 8″ omelet pan (also available in Blueberry): $5.94 with free shipping if you use Amazon Prime or include it in an order that totals $25.00.

Kid’s Plate: In the Introduction, I mention the kid’s plate idea briefly, but you can find more information here and here. And the result (for me) of using it.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Food

“Please read before suing”

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From the New Yorker, a great Shouts & Murmurs column:

Dr. Goodbody’s Total Goodbody System™ is such a revolutionary and completely natural way to eliminate all your health problems that it is quite common for people to feel frightened before using it and to feel disoriented and more frightened afterward. Before calling our customer-service line or 911, we suggest that you sit down, drink eight glasses of water, and read our responses to the following testimonials, submitted by other satisfied customers just like yourself.

$750 for a thirty-day supply? That’s $25 a pill. Isn’t that a lot of money?

—J. Lowell, Charlottesville, Va.

Not when you consider that that comes to just about a dollar an hour—a dollar for an hour free of all your pains and complaints. Wouldn’t you pay a dollar to feel like a million bucks? You’d have to be crazy not to.

And it’s not merely a “pill.” Each Dr. Goodbody’s Total Goodbody System™ daily bolus contains the entire line of Dr. Goodbody Solutions™, including ColoRooter™, BloodFlush™, TumorStopper™, and several other remedies that are no longer available in most states. That’s why each pill weighs nearly three ounces, and why we recommend that you take it with eight glasses of water and the supplied lubricant.

My doctor has strongly warned me against trying your system, and told me not to come crying to him when my insides fall out.

—C. Mazin, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Of course your doctor would say that.

I have been taking my daily bolus with eight glasses of water for three weeks now and have seen none of the results graphically depicted on your Web site. Instead I have gained sixty pounds and have become so bloated I no longer have fingerprints. What am I doing wrong?

—T. O’Donnell, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

You need to increase the size of the glasses of water. But keep the total number of glasses to eight.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Medical

The Earth does move

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It wasn’t so long ago that Alfred Wegener, who first conceived of continental drift, died a lonely death, ignored and ostracized by the scientific establishment. Only he was right, of course, and now plate tectonics is totally accepted. (Cool diagrams at the link.)

And we can now see Africa ripping apart in real time:

Africa is being torn apart. And as Ethiopia’s rift valley grows slowly wider, an international team of scientists is taking a unique opportunity to plot the progress of continents on the move.

3D view of satellite radar measurements of how the ground moved in September 2005. Over about 3 weeks, the crust on either side of the rift moved apart by as much as 8 metres, with molten rock filling the crack between the plates. Satellite radar data is from the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite. (Figure was prepared by Tim Wright, University of Leeds using Google Earth)

The 28-strong team is led by University of Leeds geophysicist Dr Tim Wright, who has secured a £2.5 million grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to study the seismic events taking place in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia.

It’s here that two mighty shelves of continental crust, the African and Arabian plates, meet — and are tearing the landscape apart.

For most of the time, this happens at around the same speed that human fingernails grow — about 16mm a year. But the gradual build-up of underground pressure can lead to occasional bursts of cataclysmic activity.

The most dramatic event came in September 2005, when hundreds of deep crevices appeared within a few weeks, and parts of the ground shifted eight metres, almost overnight. More than two billion cubic metres of rising molten rock — magma — had seeped into a crack between the African and Arabian tectonic plates, forcing them further apart.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 11:06 am

Posted in Science

Garlic and cystic fibrosis

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I use quite a bit of garlic—love the stuff. I buy three bulbs at a time. And apparently for a good reason:

Garlic has been hailed a wonder drug for centuries and has been used to prevent gangrene, treat high blood pressure, ward off common colds and is even believed by some to have cancer-fighting properties.

Now, scientists at The University of Nottingham are leading a new pilot study to see if the pungent bulb could also hold the key to preventing cystic fibrosis patients from falling foul of a potentially-fatal infection.

The research will look at whether taking garlic capsules can disrupt the communication system of the pathogen Pseudomonas to prevent illness from taking hold.

The project will unite University experts in child health, respiratory medicine and molecular microbiology with clinicians at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects around 7,000 people in the UK, half of whom are children. The disease causes difficulties in digesting food and children may be slow to put on weight and grow properly. Both children and adults with the condition are vulnerable to repeated and chronic chest infections which damage the lungs and which may, ultimately, be fatal.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common causes of chronic infection in CF patients. Current treatment aims to eradicate it when it first appears. If the infection becomes established it may be suppressed with antibiotic nebulisers. However, these have a major impact on quality of life for the patient because they are time-consuming (given twice a day, every day, for life) and often the patient still has to be admitted to hospital for more intensive treatment.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:53 am

Possible replacement for depleted uranium

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The military assures us that depleted uranium poses no danger when it’s used for armor-piercing rounds, even when it’s fragmented into dust. Unfortunately, of course, the military lies with such enthusiasm and frequency that they have the credibility of an under-quota used-car salesman. We may have a replacement for depleted uranium:

Armor-piercing projectiles made of depleted uranium have caused concern among soldiers storing and using them. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory are close to developing a new composite to do the job even better, while being composed of environmentally safe materials. Its internal structure resembles fudge-ripple ice cream.

Nanostructured metallic glass + tungsten extruded composite. (Image courtesy of Ames Laboratory)

Ames Laboratory senior scientist Dan Sordelet leads a research team that is synthesizing nanolayers of tungsten and metallic glass to build a projectile. “As the projectile goes further into protective armor, pieces of the projectile are sheared away, helping to form a sharpened chisel point at the head of the penetrator,” said Sordelet. “The metallic glass and tungsten are environmentally benign and eliminate health worries related to toxicity and radiation concerns regarding depleted uranium.”

Depleted-uranium-based alloys have traditionally been used in the production of solid metal, armor-piercing projectiles known as kinetic energy penetrators, or KEPs. The combination of high density (~18.6 grams per cubic centimeter) and strength make depleted uranium, DU, ideal for ballistics applications. Moreover, DU is particularly well-suited for KEPs because its complex crystal structure promotes what scientists call shear localization or shear banding when plastically deformed. In other words, when DU penetrators hit a target at very high speeds, they deform in a “self-sharpening” behavior.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:48 am

Take fatigue seriously

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Fatigue should not be ignored:

Instead of dismissing grumblings about being tired or exhausted, people should take these complaints seriously before they lead to a worsened health state or even death, says a University of Alberta researcher investigating fatigue.

Dr. Karin Olson, a U of A professor from the Faculty of Nursing, argues that there are differences between tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion and that recognizing those distinctions will help health-care workers create better treatment plans for their patients. Her findings are published in the current issue of “Oncology Nursing Forum.”

Olson has studied fatigue in six ill and non-ill populations: shift workers, recreational long distance runners, individuals with cancer in active treatment or palliative settings, and individuals diagnosed with depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. Having worked with cancer patients for many years, she saw how serious fatigue was and the impact it had on the patients’ quality of life. Some patients even withdrew for a potentially curative treatment saying they were “too tired.”

“The kind of fatigue experienced by individuals with cancer is different from the feeling that you or I have at the end of a busy week,” said Olson. “Interestingly, when you start looking at other populations, such as people with chronic illnesses or shift workers and take a broad view, the descriptions of fatigue are the same. Thus, while the reasons for fatigue may vary, the kinds of adaptations required may not.”

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

Why so few women scientists?

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Because evolution made males more scientific? Here’s a better explanation:

Ok, I need to get involved in another CV fracas about women in science right now like I need a hole in the head, but here goes:

As a female scientist, I explain my situation to my male peers with the following analogy: Why don’t more men knit?

Is it that evolution has denied most men the finger control, patience, and artistic vision needed to knit? Or, is it that a man who knits will spend all his free time engaged in a pastime of no interest to practically every other man he knows? That almost all the people he can turn to discuss his ideas and knowledge with will be women? Now suppose that knitting took years of advanced training, beginning in high school. How many teenage boys do you think would be eager to enroll in knitting classes? How long would it take for those young men’s skills to be viewed and judged neutrally, rather than being praised as “remarkably good knitting for a man”? How would they feel being one of very few men at every knitting workshop and conference they attended? Would others at the conference assume they were there as the spouse of a “real” knitter? Would anyone think to go to them for expertise unless they’d spent years proving that they were the Best Knitter Ever?

I am currently in a department where women are one-third to one-half of the undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and tenured faculty. Such bright spots indicate directly the primary role that a positive culture has on promoting women’s participation in science. (Same for minorities, but we’re way behind on that one.)

And yes, we have a number of men in our department who knit. You gotta problem with that?

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Sen. McCain, a man without honor

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Here’s McCain addressing General Casey about Casey’s conduct of the war—which, as you’ll recall, was dictated by Bush’s ideas on strategy and Bush’s political needs:

Josh Marshall comments:

If there’s anyone left who thinks there’s much redeemable about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) get ready to change your mind. Here he is at this morning’s hearings for the nomination of Gen. Casey to be Army Chief of Staff. Remember that Casey was the top commander in Iraq. And according to the new Bush script he’s responsible for ignoring Iraq’s steady slide into anarchy over the last three years. All General Casey’s fault. Bush would have gotten serious about security. Sent new troops. Done whatever. But Gen. Casey just kept him in the dark. And here’s Sen. McCain going along with the malarkey.

It’s like a show trial.

Casey was definitely part of what’s happened in Iraq. He was the senior commander. He’s responsible too. But to imagine that he led the president down the garden path? Please.

We’ve got Spencer Ackerman at the hearings and he’ll be reporting in later at TPMmuckraker. Here’s his preview from earlier this morning.

UPDATE: More of McCain’s lies about this matter.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:24 am

How Bush will get his war with Iran

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Josh Marshall quotes Brzezinski on the tactic:

Brzezinski focuses us on the essential dynamic we face with this renegade president …

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

This is the hinge on which everything now turns. Bush doesn’t want to be to blame for the mess in Iraq. So it has to be Iran. There’s a bright line leading from the crisis of accountability to the next stage of strategic disaster.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:14 am

At long last: bill against vote suppression

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Thank heavens it’s happening:

Prompted in part by misleading campaign tactics that marred elections in several states, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) introduced legislation Wednesday that would criminalize lying to or otherwise intentionally misleading voters to keep them away from the polls.

Among the controversial 2006 elections was a U.S. House race in Orange County, in which thousands of Latino citizens received letters wrongly suggesting they could go to jail for voting.

The measure would also stiffen penalties for voter intimidation.

Obama and Schumer framed the need for the proposed legislation within a larger struggle for suffrage and civil rights.

“It’s hard to imagine that we even need a bill like this,” said Obama, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. “There are people who will stop at nothing to try to deceive voters and keep them away from the polls. What’s worse, these practices all too often target and exploit vulnerable populations like minorities, the disabled or the poor.”

Under the legislation, anyone who knowingly misleads voters about polling times and places, voter eligibility and registration requirements, candidates’ party affiliation or outside endorsements could face fines of up to $100,000 or five years in prison. In addition, the bill would increase the punishment for voter intimidation from one year to five years in prison.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 10:00 am

Maybe they’ve learned their lesson

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“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” – B. Franklin. So this time “Slam dunk” is not in the cards.

From the LA Times:

The Bush administration has postponed plans to offer public details of its charges of Iranian meddling inside Iraq amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence, U.S. officials said.

U.S. officials promised last week to provide evidence of Iranian activities that led President Bush to announce Jan. 10 that U.S. forces would begin taking the offensive against Iranian agents who threatened Americans.

But some officials in Washington are concerned that some of the material may be inconclusive and that other data cannot be released without jeopardizing intelligence sources and methods. They want to avoid repeating the embarrassment that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that information the administration cited to justify the war was incorrect, said the officials, who described the internal discussions on condition of anonymity.

“We don’t want a repeat of the situation we had when [then-Secretary of State] Colin L. Powell went before the United Nations,” said one U.S. official, referring to Powell’s 2003 presentation on then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s unconventional weapons program that relied on evidence later found to be false. “People are going to be skeptical.”

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Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 9:55 am

The benefit of dropping glipizide

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Usually I sit here reading and blogging until I get hungry. Then I go into the kitchen, take the glipizide, and wait 30 minutes before I can eat. Just now I felt hungry, went into the kitchen, and realized that I can go ahead and eat with no wait. What a great thing!

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 9:30 am

Posted in Daily life

“Service” redefined

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The Wife just called. She was driving on her commute and suddenly a red triangle with a yellow circle, both with exclamation point, comes on, the word “PROBLEM” appears on the display, and the code “VSC” is shown. She pulls over, calls me, and I give her the phone number of the Toyota service department. She calls and asks what the “VSC” means.

“Well, you probably should bring it in.”
“But can I drive?”
“Yeah, probably.”
“I mean is it safe?”
“Well, you can probably take it in up there.”
“What does the ‘VSC’ mean?”
“Don’t know. Bring it in and we’ll check it out.”

Great. Now, she reports, cruise control doesn’t work.

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 9:29 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

USB Posture Reminder

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For you who have back problems, this useful USB Posture Reminder. And isn’t USB great? Who could foresee the range of devices that would emerge once there was a simple, standardized connector…

Written by Leisureguy

1 February 2007 at 9:15 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

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