Later On

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

Archive for March 8th, 2007

Away on Friday: Sophie to keep you company

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Sophie 1 on cardboard Sophie 2 on cardboard

Two camera-phone photos of Sophie resting on her very own piece of cardboard. I rather like these photos, which to me resemble paintings: interesting coloration, slightly impressionistic…

I’ll be away for the day, so take this opportunity to reread the comprehensive guide to gourmet shaving (link “my shaving knowledge” at the right). 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Cats, Sophie

Somewhat bummed

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A few bad things in a row can leave one feeling bummed. For example, suppose the following happened to someone:

  1. Weighed and discovered weight on wrong side of loss line
  2. Went to do taxes and discovered one 1099 form was missing
  3. Got phone message regarding insurance bill (overdue, though bill never arrived)

Somehow it seems like more.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Daily life

The trial was just Act I

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman announced he will hold a hearing on whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. In addition, Waxman released a letter he wrote special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, stating in part:

“The trial proceedings raise questions about whether senior White House officials, including the Vice President and Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove, complied with the requirements governing the handling of classified information. They also raise questions about whether the White House took appropriate remedial action following the leak and whether the existing requirements are sufficient to protect against future leaks. Your perspective on these matters is important.”

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 1:25 pm

Whistle the kids home

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On a summer day when the kids are playing somewhere in the neighborhood, how do you call them home? Shouting just doesn’t carry. Try this whistle. Also good if you’re at a big public park with people and kids running here and there: whistle for your kids.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 9:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Why Linus loves his security blanket

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Kids think their totemic object has a special “essence”:

Every parent of a young child knows how emotionally attached children can become to a soft toy or blanket that they sleep with every night. New research, published today in the international journal Cognition, suggests that this might be because children think the toy or blanket has a unique property or ‘essence’.

To support this theory, Professor Bruce Hood from the University of Bristol and his colleague Dr Paul Bloom of Yale University, USA, showed that 3-6 year-old children have a preference for their cherished items over apparently identical duplicates.

Children were introduced to a scientific looking machine that could copy any object but was in fact a conjurer’s cabinet where an accomplice inserted replica items from behind a screen.

Professor Hood said: “When offered the choice of originals and copies, children showed no preference for duplicates of their toys unless the object to be copied was the special one that they took to bed every night. A quarter of children refused to have their favourite object copied at all, and most of those who were persuaded to put their toy in the copying machine wanted the original back.”

It used to be thought that these attachment toys or transitional objects were comfort items that provided a sense of security for infants raised in households where they slept separately from the mother. However, the results with the copy box studies suggest that in addition to these physical properties of the toy, children believe that there is some other property of their objects that cannot be physically copied.

This unique property also applied to objects belonging to famous people. Hood and Bloom placed a metal goblet in the copying machine and told 6-year-olds that the object was special either because it was made of a precious metal or because it once belonged to the Queen. When shown the original and a copy, children thought the duplicate silver goblet was worth the same as the original, but a goblet that once belonged to royalty was worth more than any copy.

Hood and Bloom liken this early reasoning to adult notions of ‘essences’ where we think invisible properties inhabit objects that make them unique as if these properties were physically real. This may explain why some adults think that authentic works of art and memorabilia contain some of the essence of the original creator or owner. Likewise, it also partly explains our reluctance to touch or wear items previously owned by murderers.

Case study: The desperate plea for the return of  Laurel’s ‘Mouse’ shown in the poster stuck to the gates of a local park in Bristol, shows how distraught parents can get when these items go missing.

Sadly, Mouse was never found but someone took a picture of Mouse to their mother who very kindly knitted a copy for Laurel. But Laurel spotted the difference and although delighted to have a replacement for Mouse, she didn’t develop the same attachment to it that she had had for the original.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 8:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Women are better than men: making friends edition

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From ScienceDaily:

A four-year study by sociologists at The University of Manchester has found that women are much more likely than men to make deep and lasting friendships.

The investigation into social networks by the University’s Research Centre for Socio-Cultural Change found that men are more fickle and calculating about who they should be friends with.

Women on the other hand, stand by their friends through thick and thin.

Adding to the bad news for male prestige, the study confirms the stereotype that men are likely to base their friendship on social drinking.

Of the 10,000 individuals studied who took part in the 1992 to 2002 British Household Panel Surveys, women are much more likely to stay with the same friends.

Single people, older people and white collar workers are also good at paring up.

Middle class people are more likely to cast their net of friendship far wider, whereas the working class tend to stick to their own kind.

Dr Gindo Tampubolon said the findings on female friendship were doubly significant because the data suggests we are much more likely socialise with people from our own gender – 75 per cent of best friends were with the same sex.

Dr Tampubolon, who is based at the School of Social Sciences, said: “Friendship between women seems to be fundamentally different to friendship between men.

“It’s much deeper and more moral: it’s about the relationship itself rather than what they can get out of it.

“Women tend to keep their friends through thick and thin across geography and social mobility.

“And women’s view of friendship has something to do with how they express themselves and form their identity.

“Men, on the other hand are more fickle with their relationships and seem more interested in ‘what’s in it for me’”.

He added: “The findings reflect our view that friendship is not a choice. We have contact with friends, family, neighbourhood and work which we are or are not able to turn into friendships.

“Middle class people are more adept at doing this and tend to define friendship more widely such as work, family and the pub.

“Working class people, on the other hand, are more limited: they’re likely to form a best friend with another working class person.”

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 8:51 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Map this and map that

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Create your own map slide shows showing how distributions along various demographics change over time.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 8:35 am

Posted in Education, Software

Car miscellany

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The Wife is driving up to Palo Alto, not quite awake. Her Prius had been in for one of the comprehensive services. As she approached a stop sign just before pulling onto the highway, she took a look at the speedometer and realized she was doing 85. “My God,” she thought, “I’ll never be able to stop in time.” But she did, and then on the highway, checked the speedometer again and saw that she was going 110. Omigod. She took her foot off the accelerator, very glad that she hadn’t been caught, and the numbers dropped suspiciously fast. Then she realized that the car had been set to metric during the service, and she was looking at kph, not mph.

That reminded me of this video whose link appeared in the shaving forum: the Bugatti Veyron doing an honest 253 mph (407 kph). The Bugatti is 1,001 horsepower, and the guy said in the video that it’s pretty easy to get a car up to 150 mph, but to get from there to 250 mph requires 700 horsepower.

The Wife, to whom I was relating this, pointed that it’s odd, but if you do get 700 horses, they can’t go any faster than one horse. So I told her that was the basis of the riddle, “If a hen and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long would it take a rooster sitting on an old brass doorknob to hatch a warehouse?”

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 8:24 am

Posted in Daily life

The Bush Administration addresses global warming

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By telling its scientists not to talk about it:

Internal memorandums circulated in the Alaskan division of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service appear to require government biologists or other employees traveling in countries around the Arctic not to discuss climate change, polar bears or sea ice if they are not designated to do so.

In December, the Bush administration, facing a deadline under a suit by environmental groups, proposed listing polar bears throughout their range as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because the warming climate is causing a summertime retreat of sea ice that the bears use for seal hunting.

Environmentalists are trying to use such a listing to force the United States to restrict heat-trapping gases that scientists have linked to global warming as a way of limiting risks to the 22,000 or so bears in the far north.

It remains unclear whether such a listing will be issued. The Fish and Wildlife Service this week held the first of several hearings in Alaska and Washington on the question.

Over the past week, biologists and wildlife officials received a cover note and two sample memorandums to be used as a guide in preparing travel requests. Under the heading “Foreign Travel — New Requirement — Please Review and Comply, Importance: High,” the cover note said:

“Please be advised that all foreign travel requests (SF 1175 requests) and any future travel requests involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice and/or polar bears will also require a memorandum from the regional director to the director indicating who’ll be the official spokesman on the trip and the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 7:47 am

Ipso facto: word of the day

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Today’s word of the day is two words: ipso facto. (I wonder if they’re planning to skip tomorrow.) It immediately brought to mind Archie, of the old radio show Duffy’s Tavern, which always began with a ringing phone. The phone was picked up, and Archie would say, “Duffy’s Tavern. Duffy ain’t here. Archie the manager speaking.”

One usage they often returned to is readily illustrated: “Shaving with a safety razor may take a little more time. That’s the ipso, but the facto is that it’s much better for your skin.”

Or this quotation from Irma Rumbauer’s Joy of Cooking, from a review:

Henrietta’s recipes made mouth–watering reading. That, as Archie of Duffy’s Tavern would say, is the ‘ipso,’ but the ‘facto’ is that they are almost impossible to follow.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 7:30 am

Posted in Daily life

It’s not just the veterans: Native Americans, too

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The Bush Administration continues to lash out at and punish the very constituencies it is supposed to be serving. Moral corruption of the worst sort—combined, you’ll note, with the usual lies and denials as the cover-up swings into action. They know what they’re doing is wrong, which is why they deny it, which makes it worse. Here’s the story:

After tribal elder Vera Quiroga was turned away from the very clinic she helped to found, she had little choice but to drive to a far-off reservation for her dental work.

The reason, she said, is that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs doesn’t recognize her as a Yaqui, even though her children and grandchildren have tribal documentation.

“They said if you don’t have federal paperwork you can’t get service anymore,” said Quiroga, 82.

While federal law requires taxpayer-funded tribal clinics to serve all patients of Indian ancestry, some have recently stopped admitting those who can’t document their federal tribal status, patients and clinic officials tell The Associated Press.

Federal officials deny that qualified patients are being turned away and say they’re doing all they can to ensure a health program for urban Indians isn’t shut down entirely. The Indian Health Service oversees 33 clinics nationwide that provide free or discounted medical services to city-dwelling Indians.

But Martin Young, chairman of the board of the Santa Barbara clinic where Quiroga was turned away, said it received a letter last fall from the Bureau of Indian Affairs instructing it to stop offering free health services to patients from unrecognized tribes or who don’t have a bureau identification card.

It has since turned away about 200 patients, he said.

An Indian Health Service spokesman said the letter explained who was eligible for care, but denied that the agency instructed Santa Barbara to withhold services. However, clinic managers in Tucson, Ariz.; Wichita, Kan.; and Boston reported getting similar directives.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 7:22 am

Shaving soap experiment

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So I diverged from the week’s plan to try out Miss Jenny’s Clove Shaving Soap, a cube of which arrived in yesterday’s mail. The cube shape is a pain: convenient, perhaps, for Miss Jenny, much less so for her customers. Then the description says the soap was created for shaving but can also be used for bathing, a remark I’ve not seen on any other shaving soap.

I saw why, though, when I used it. Despite its wonderful fragrance, the lather was insipid and the lather on the brush had vanished by the time I finished the first pass: something else unique to this soap. I broke out the l’Occitane Cade soap, worked up a quick lather, and finished the shave with that.

I was using the stubby little Simpsons Chubby 1 Best, a fine little brush. In fact, since it was sort of cheated, I’ll use it again tomorrow. The Merkur Futur, which delivered its usual fine shave, finished with alum bar and TOBS Bay Rum. Very fine shave, and I learned something valuable in addition to gaining a bathing soap.

Written by Leisureguy

8 March 2007 at 7:17 am

Posted in Shaving

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