Later On

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

Archive for March 19th, 2007

Nifty toy

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Toys keep you young, right? Check out this one.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 11:50 am

Posted in Daily life

Oldie but goodie: iodized salt for IQ

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This article recently came up in a discussion and I read it once again with interest. If you haven’t read it, it’s well worth the time. It begins:

Valentina Sivryukova knew her public service messages were hitting the mark when she heard how one Kazakh schoolboy called another stupid. “What are you,” he sneered, “iodine-deficient or something?”

Ms. Sivryukova, president of the national confederation of Kazakh charities, was delighted. It meant that the years spent trying to raise public awareness that iodized salt prevents brain damage in infants were working. If the campaign bore fruit, Kazakhstan’s national I.Q. would be safeguarded.

In fact, Kazakhstan has become an example of how even a vast and still-developing nation like this Central Asian country can achieve a remarkable public health success. In 1999, only 29 percent of its households were using iodized salt. Now, 94 percent are. Next year, the United Nations is expected to certify it officially free of iodine deficiency disorders.

That turnabout was not easy. The Kazakh campaign had to overcome widespread suspicion of iodization, common in many places, even though putting iodine in salt, public health experts say, may be the simplest and most cost-effective health measure in the world. Each ton of salt needs about two ounces of potassium iodate, which costs about $1.15.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 11:34 am

Recalled pet foods

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You probably have seen the announcements, but just in case:

Menu Foods Inc., whose products are sold under dozens of brand names, announced Saturday that it was recalling 50 brands of dog food and 40 brands of cat food. The “cuts and gravy” style products, sold in cans and pouches, are marketed nationwide by retailers such as Wal-Mart, Safeway and PetSmart. Consumers kept a phone line (866-895-2708) set up by Menu Foods busy all weekend.

The Food and Drug Administration advises consumers immediately to stop using the products, listed at, and consult their veterinarians if pets show signs of kidney failure. 

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 7:22 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

Display the carbon footprint

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Superb idea: give the consumer the information needed to make a decision:

The Carbon Trust is launching a green equivalent to the Fairtrade label – a consumer label which details the carbon footprint of a product and a commitment by its producer to reduce it.

Several major brand products, including Walkers crisps (carbon footprint: 75g), Boots Organics shampoo (148g) and Innocent smoothies (294g), will test the use of the logo – a white arrow wrapped in a black letter C. Over time it is expected that many more will join, raising the prospect that products might be marketed on the basis that they have the lowest carbon footprint in their marketplace.

The first product to be stamped with the logo will be Walkers cheese and onion crisps – the company’s best-selling flavour. The Carbon Trust has enabled the company to identify the footprint of the three competing products in its range – crisps, Quavers and Doritos – by tracing its production cycle from the potato and corn producers at the start to recycling consultants at the end.

As a result, Walkers has reduced the carbon footprint of the product by a third. The trust established that farmers were hydrating potatoes to make them weigh more, because they were being paid a price per ton. Potatoes were stored in artificially humidified sheds to increase their water content. Humidifiers use large amounts of energy and generate significant emissions.

Walkers was then frying the sliced potatoes to remove the moisture. This increased overall frying time and fryer emissions by up to 10 per cent.

By changing the way potatoes are traded, the trust found that the Walkers supply chain could save up to 9,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and £1.2m a year. It recommended farmers be rewarded for producing potatoes with low water content.

Research undertaken by the trust shows that 66 per cent of consumers say they want to know the carbon footprint of the products they buy.

For products to carry the label, companies will need to have completed a rigorous analysis of their product supply chains, and commit to reducing the carbon level of their product over the next two years.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 7:09 am

Iraq timeline with commentary

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Superb Frank Rich column:

Tomorrow night is the fourth anniversary of President Bush’s prime-time address declaring the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the broad sweep of history, four years is a nanosecond, but in America, where memories are congenitally short, it’s an eternity. That’s why a revisionist history of the White House’s rush to war, much of it written by its initial cheerleaders, has already taken hold. In this exonerating fictionalization of the story, nearly every politician and pundit in Washington was duped by the same “bad intelligence” before the war, and few imagined that the administration would so botch the invasion’s aftermath or that the occupation would go on so long. “If only I had known then what I know now …” has been the persistent refrain of the war supporters who subsequently disowned the fiasco. But the embarrassing reality is that much of the damning truth about the administration’s case for war and its hubristic expectations for a cakewalk were publicly available before the war, hiding in plain sight, to be seen by anyone who wanted to look.

By the time the ides of March arrived in March 2003, these warning signs were visible on a nearly daily basis. So were the signs that Americans were completely ill prepared for the costs ahead. Iraq was largely anticipated as a distant, mildly disruptive geopolitical video game that would be over in a flash.

Now many of the same leaders who sold the war argue that escalation should be given a chance. This time they’re peddling the new doomsday scenario that any withdrawal timetable will lead to the next 9/11. The question we must ask is: Has history taught us anything in four years?

Here is a chronology of some of the high and low points in the days leading up to the national train wreck whose anniversary we mourn this week [with occasional “where are they now” updates].

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 7:06 am

A victory for women’s health

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Public pressure can work:

Under pressure from women’s health advocates and lawmakers, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to fully fund the agency’s Office of Women’s Health. Last month, reports indicated that the FDA had “quietly removed” one-quarter of this year’s $4 million operating budget. Women’s health advocates believed it was “a long-anticipated payback for the trouble the office stirred during the prolonged debate over nonprescription sales of Plan B.”

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 6:56 am

Dan Bartlett, lying

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Yet again:

“Dan Bartlett, counselor to Mr. Bush, has said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that the president would waive executive privilege to allow his top aides to testify publicly. One Republican strategist close to the White House…said: ‘No president is going to let their senior staff assistant to the president go testify. Forget that. They might agree to do an informal interview, but they’ll never testify.’ … Democrats, citing a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, say presidential advisers, including 47 from the Clinton administration alone, have frequently testified before Congressional committees, both while serving the president and after they had left the White House.”

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 6:53 am

Walking in New York City

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I commented on how much New Yorkers walk, and was asked to find a link to substantiate the statement. So here it is:

New York City’s uniquely high rate of public transit use makes it one of the most energy-efficient cities in the United States. Gasoline consumption in the city is at the rate of the national average in the 1920s.[3] Researchers have found that of the 50 largest cities in the United States, New York is best positioned to endure an oil crisis with an extended gasoline price shock in the $3 to $8 dollar per gallon range.[4]

The city’s transportation system, and the population density it makes possible, also have other effects. Scientists at Columbia University examined data from 13,102 adults in the city’s five boroughs and identified correlations between New York’s built environment and public health. New Yorkers residing in densely populated, pedestrian-friendly areas have significantly lower body mass index (BMI) levels compared to other New Yorkers. Three characteristics of the city environment — living in areas with mixed residential and commercial uses, living near bus and subway stops and living in population-dense areas — were found to be inversely associated with BMI levels.[5]

Walk and bicycle modes of travel account for 21% of all modes for trips in the city; nationally the rate for metro regions is about 8%.[12] In 2000 New York had the largest number of walking commuters among large American cities in both total number and as a proportion of all commuters: 517,290, or 5.6%.[13] By way of comparison, the next city with the largest proportion of walking commuters, Boston, had 119,294 commuter pedestrians, amounting to 4.1% of that city’s commuters.[13].

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 6:51 am

Posted in Daily life

Quiet day in Baltimore

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A quiet day to recoup before the trip home.

New York City turned out to be a great place to visit—I’d heard that, of course. 🙂 One interesting finding: without exception the New Yorkers that we encountered and talked to were friendly, helpful, and courteous. One woman in particular has our gratitude: as we stood looking forlornly at The Daughter’s car blocked in by a frozen wall of slush and snow put up by the snow plows, a woman stopped to see if we needed help. Mirabile dictu, she had a strong metal snow shovel. The Son set to, and after about 20 minutes of high-level effort, the car was free, and we left for Rye to see The Younger Daughter’s wonderful house and her two friendly kitties, Ajax and Tessa.

Another friendly guy was the proprietor of the Garden Cafe, where we had Sunday Brunch. On Sunday we also visited the Robert Moses exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York and saw an excellent 20-minute 3-screen documentary of the history of the city, narrated by Stanley Tucci. Still highly recommended: Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, an informative biography of Robert Moses, coupled with a history of his pervasive influence in New York. (It’s a good book to get in hardback because of its size.)

Thanks to The Wife’s patient instruction on the use of the Paris Metro, I actually started to understand the subway system in New York. And it was quite a thrill to “take the A-train,” an immortal subway line thanks to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. At the Grand Central-Times Square shuttle we were entranced to see a movie being shot, with signage converting the stop to the 137th Street CCNY stop, which is The Son’s regular stop on going to work.

The Dim Sum we had in Chinatown was excellent, and altogether a great visit.

Today will consist of preparations for tomorrow’s flight to Monterey. Regular blogging will resume on Tuesday.

Written by Leisureguy

19 March 2007 at 6:08 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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