Later On

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

Archive for February 24th, 2007

Bush gearing up for Iran

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From Reuters:

Despite the Bush administration’s insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.

The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.

The panel initially focused on destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air Force adviser and a Pentagon consultant, who were not identified.

The consultant and a former senior intelligence official both said that U.S. military and special-operations teams had crossed the border from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives, according to the article.

In response to the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said: “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous.

“The United States has been very clear with respect to its concerns regarding specific Iranian government activities. The president has repeatedly stated publicly that this country is going to work with allies in the region to address those concerns through diplomatic efforts,” Whitman said.

Pentagon officials say they maintain contingency plans for literally dozens of potential conflicts around the world and that all plans are subject to regular and ongoing review.

The article, citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials, also said the Bush administration received intelligence from Israel that Iran had developed an intercontinental missile capable of delivering several small warheads that could reach Europe. It added the validity of that intelligence was still being debated.

The article also included an interview conducted in December with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who said that while he had no interest in initiating another war with Israel, he was anticipating and preparing for another Israeli attack sometime this year.

Israel launched a cross-border offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon last July.

Nasrallah also said he was open to talks with Washington if such discussions “can be useful and influential in determining American policy in the region,” but they would be waste of time if the purpose was to impose policy.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 8:00 pm

Useful graphs

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Should you be interested in global warming and causes, these graphs are helpful:

On that last one, scroll down for a useful set of graphs, especially the last three in the list:

  1. Expanded record of CO2 from the last 50 years at Mauna Loa
  2. CO2 at Mauna Loa since 1958. [1] [2]
  3. Trends of major greenhouse gases.
  4. Solar variation and greenhouse gases during 420,000 years.
  5. Recent global CO2 emissions, logarithmic scale.
  6. Carbon dioxide variations during the last 550 million years.
  7. 400,000 year Carbon dioxide variation (ancestor image).
  8. 650,000 year Carbon dioxide and temperature variation showing correlation.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Environment, Science

Clinical recognition and treatment of “childhood”

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The paper begins:

Jordan W. Smoller University of Pennsylvania

Childhood is a syndrome which has only recently begun to receive serious attention from clinicians. The syndrome itself, however, is not at all recent. As early as the 8th century, the Persian historian Kidnom made references to “short, noisy creatures,” who may well have been what we now call “children.” The treatment of children, however, was unknown until this century, when so-called “child psychologists” and “child psychiatrists” became common. Despite this history of clinical neglect, it has been estimated that well over half of all Americans alive today have experienced childhood directly (Suess, 1983). In fact, the actual numbers are probably much higher, since these data are based on self-reports which may be subject to social desirability biases and retrospective distortion. The growing acceptance of childhood as a distinct phenomenon is reflected in the proposed inclusion of the syndrome in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, or DSM-IV, of the American Psychiatric Association (1990). Clinicians are still in disagreement about the significant clinical features of childhood, but the proposed DSM-IV will almost certainly include the following core features:

1. Congenital onset
2. Dwarfism
3. Emotional lability and immaturity
4. Knowledge deficits
5. Legume anorexia

Clinical Features of ChildhoodAlthough the focus of this paper is on the efficacy of conventional treatment of childhood, the five clinical markers mentioned above merit further discussion for those unfamiliar with this patient population.


In one of the few existing literature reviews on childhood, Temple- Black (1982) has noted that childhood is almost always present at birth, although it may go undetected for years or even remain subclinical indefinitely. This observation has led some investigators to speculate on a biological contribution to childhood. As one psychologist has put it, “we may soon be in a position to distinguish organic childhood from functional childhood” (Rogers, 1979).


This is certainly the most familiar marker of childhood. It is widely known that children are physically short relative to the population at large. Indeed, common clinical wisdom suggests that the treatment of the so-called “small child” (or “tot”) is particularly difficult. These children are known to exhibit infantile behavior and display a startling lack of insight (Tom and Jerry, 1967).


This aspect of childhood is often the only basis for a clinician’s diagnosis. As a result, many otherwise normal adults are misdiagnosed as children and must suffer the unnecessary social stigma of being labelled a “child” by professionals and friends alike.


While many children have IQ’s with or even above the norm, almost all will manifest knowledge deficits. Anyone who has known a real child has experienced the frustration of trying to discuss any topic that requires some general knowledge. Children seem to have little knowledge about the world they live in. Politics, art, and science — children are largely ignorant of these. Perhaps it is because of this ignorance, but the sad fact is that most children have few friends who are not, themselves, children.


This last identifying feature is perhaps the most unexpected. Folk wisdom is supported by empirical observation — children will rarely eat their vegetables (see Popeye, 1957, for review).

Causes of Childhood

Now that we know what it is, what can we say about the causes of childhood? Recent years have seen a flurry of theory and speculation from a number of perspectives. Some of the most prominent are reviewed below.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Medical, Science

Why are so many journalists just plain bad?

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Glenn Greenwald lays out an example, but I’m asking the question.

This New York Times article today, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John M. Broder, on the debate among Congressional Democrats over how to end the Iraq War, encapsulates so much of what is wrong with our national media. These are the first two paragraphs of the article:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 — Congressional Democrats, divided over how to press President Bush to alter his policy in Iraq, are wrestling over whether to use the power of the purse to wind down the war, and they seem headed for a confrontation among themselves, possibly as early as next week, over a proposal to revoke the 2002 resolution authorizing the war. Some Democrats acknowledge that they are in a sticky situation as they try to map out a strategy that will appease the antiwar left, which is pushing for conditions on war financing, without alienating moderate Democrats and Republicans who fear being painted as unsupportive of the troops.

There are so many lazy and fact-free assertions in these two paragraphs — which shape the entire article and which, in some sense, are also shaping the overall Iraq debate — that it is hard to know where to begin. The insularity of these reporters means that some conventional premise arises among them, typically based in long-standing political stereotypes that they themselves created and perpetuated, and they are then incapable of thinking about issues in any other way even when facts make inescapably clear that their premises are false (the premise that Democrats are politically endangered by their “antiwar left” was the basis for an entire Fox show hosted by Wall St. Journal ideologues last week, and that theme then arrives unscathed in the pages of The New York Times this morning).

In what universe is it the case that demands for an end to the Iraq War are emanating from the dreaded and cliched “antiwar left”? According to the latest Pew poll:

Public support for the war in Iraq continues to decline, as a growing number of political independents are turning against the war. Overall, a 53% majority of Americans believe the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible – up five points in the past month and the highest percentage favoring a troop pullout since the war began nearly four years ago.

That’s not a majority merely against the war, or against the surge, or wanting a gradual withdrawal. Those numbers are much higher. This is a majority of Americans favoring “bring[ing] troops home as soon as possible.” That’s quite an “antiwar left” we have here. And:

[I]n the current survey, 55% of independents say they favor bringing the troops home as soon as possible, compared with 40% who believe the troops should remain.

And, for good measure: “Among Democrats, roughly two-thirds (68%) want Congress to stop funding in an effort to block the troop buildup” and “more Democrats also support a troop withdrawal than did so in January (74% now, 66% then).” So apparently, 3 out of 4 Democrats — along with a majority of independents — are now part of the “antiwar left.” And they’re not the only ones: “By roughly three-to-one (71%-23%), Republicans believe that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq until the situation there is stable.” So almost a quarter of Republicans are now part of the “antiwar Left.” And this December, 2006 CNN poll makes the point clearer still.

The national media continues to depict demands for an end to this war as the by-product of the fringe “antiwar left,” and perpetuates the banal myth that Democrats face political peril because they have to satisfy this fringe element of their party. In fact, the true fringe group is the group of hard-core war supporters who support the President’s desire that the war continue indefinitely. Did Stolberg and Broder happen to notice the results of the 2006 midterm election?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 2:37 pm

The broken US Army

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Thanks to Rumsfeld and especially to Bush, the commander-in-chief (as he frequently reminds us). Via AmericaBlog, this column by Ann McFeatters:

A day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an eye-opener – about our soldiers, our government generally and the Bush administration.

I visited the renowned hospital after The Washington Post exposed serious problems at the center, where as many as one-fourth of our injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are treated.

The Post reported that soldiers are housed in deteriorated conditions of mold, mice infestations and disrepair. Facilities for amputees are inadequate. Depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome are often overlooked. Nightmarish paperwork stymies even the most aggressive.

What I saw was not a lack of caring or quality medical care. But I found a soldier without his legs sent in four different directions for four forms over the course of a day. His exhausted wife, near tears, was pushing him in a wheelchair through ice.

I talked with a woman whose husband has been in and out of Walter Reed for nearly two years after losing his face in war. His wife had nothing but praise for his plastic surgeons. But she said Walter Reed’s bureaucratic morass is unbelievable.

I saw the family of a soldier whose helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. He has badly broken legs, a cracked pelvis, a broken jaw, a collapsed lung and a punctured eardrum. Six of his teammates hovered near him, caring for his family, who had flown across the country, including his disabled father.

His fellow soldiers said he described the pain as “intolerable” after his first surgery, but that he was more concerned about the fate of his friends. Eight did not survive. Eager to help, one of his comrades went looking for a video-game console. “At least his hands are OK,” he said.

In recent days, the commander at Walter Reed, Maj. Gen. George Weightman, and the Army’s surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, have been all over TV, saying the problems at the facility are being fixed and that they are “extremely proud” of the work their staffs are doing.

But the point is that crumbling infrastructure, inhumane bureaucracy and inadequate treatment for mental disorders have been known about for years and have been permitted to continue.

The month before the Post’s series ran, a conference on “quality of life” problems faced by soldiers, their families and civilian staff at Walter Reed found a long list of “issues.” They included: soldiers not getting benefits to travel as scheduled; lack of direction for emergency family care; unequal benefits based on the locale where a soldier is injured and not on the extent of injuries; and no overall plan to help wounded warriors through their convalescence.

When former defense chief Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush were planning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did they never think to determine how the wounded would be helped? Did they not know that today’s injured soldiers are dealing with far more horrific injuries than in the past because battlefield medicine keeps more of them alive?

Walter Reed is supposed to close in 2011. But facilities to handle its patients have not been built, renovated or expanded. Funds may not be scarce for cool new weapons, but they are exceedingly scarce for real soldiers.

If the Army is broken, as many believe, Rumsfeld and Bush broke it. And fixing it is proving more difficult than fixing the courageous soldiers the administration sent to war and who came back broken.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 12:24 pm

Break through writer’s block

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Via Lifehacker, some cute exercises to exorcise writer’s block.

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 11:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Writing

Last day of lather experiment

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Today I used the second shaving cream: CS 2 Bulgarian lavender

  1. Effect on skin (dryness, etc.): no problem there
  2. Quantity of lather (how easily it lathers up): Lathered as well as CS 1, though a bit slower start. Plenty of lather though
  3. Quality of lather (slickness): slickness was fine
  4. How well lather lasts: lasted well

On the whole, I preferred the shaving creams to the shaving soaps. Got another very good shave. Finished with alum bar and Pashana.

Tomorrow is the day off, and next week is the week of creams: Castle Forbes, Saint Charles Shave, and Cyril R. Salter. Tune in for all the excitement!

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2007 at 9:39 am

Posted in Shaving

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