Later On

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

Archive for March 28th, 2007

Gonzales on the firing line already

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From the US Attorneys:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales endured blunt criticism Tuesday from federal prosecutors who questioned the firings of eight United States attorneys, complained that the dismissals had undermined morale and expressed broader grievances about his leadership, according to people briefed on the discussion.

About a half-dozen United States attorneys voiced their concerns at a private meeting with Mr. Gonzales in Chicago.

Several of the prosecutors said the dismissals caused them to wonder about their own standing and distracted their employees, according to one person familiar with the discussions. Others asked Mr. Gonzales about the removal of Daniel C. Bogden, the former United States attorney in Nevada, a respected career prosecutor whose ouster has never been fully explained by the Justice Department.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 7:21 pm

Oh, my! A taste conference in Florence

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It looks wonderful.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Food

The warming oceans bring danger

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of all sorts:

A deadly species of jellyfish, translucent and the size of a thumbnail, is spreading along Australia’s coastline as a result of global warming, scientists warned today.

  A deadly Irukandji jellyfish
A deadly Irukandji jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish are among the world’s most toxic creatures – all but impossible to detect in the water but packing a potentially lethal punch belying their tiny size.

Until recently it was thought that they were confined to Australia’s northern tropical waters, but marine biologists have now found them off Queensland’s Fraser Island — a popular tourist spot about 400 miles south of their previously assumed range.

Their discovery has halted production of a Hollywood film, Fool’s Gold, starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, who were originally due to be filmed swimming in the sea. Dr Jamie Seymour, from James Cook University, said she had found five of the animals off the island.

“You can’t now say the waters around Fraser Island are jellyfish safe. I mean, these animals have the potential to kill you,” he told ABC radio.

“The ones we were catching weren’t any bigger than your thumbnail. They’ve got tentacles that are probably a half to three quarters of a metre long, and pretty much transparent. So unless you really know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to see them in the water.”

If they migrate south in sufficient numbers, irukandji would threaten the safety of swimmers, surfers and snorkellers along southern Queensland’s Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast holiday destinations.

Little is known about their biology but their toxicity is legendary. One of the tiny jellyfish was blamed for killing a 58-year-old British tourist, Richard Jordan, in the Whitsunday Islands of Queensland in 2002. A few months later, a 44-year-old American tourist was stung and also died.

Increased sea temperatures caused by global warming would extend the species’ range south, Dr Seymour said. But the tourism industry said it would be alarmist and premature to warn tourists of the new threat to their safety.

“We don’t want a perception to spread that every Sunshine Coast beach is a killing field,” said Daniel Gschwind, the head of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Environment, Science

The Republican Mystery

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Good column from Harold Meyerson:

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ hour-long meeting on sacking federal prosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took place after the election. The videoconference between leaders of the General Services Administration and Karl Rove’s deputy about how to help Republican candidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took place Jan. 26 this year.

During last year’s congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans’ message didn’t really impress the public, and apparently it didn’t reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn’t happened.

Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years, whose oversight policy towards the administration was “Anything Goes.” But their total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once the Democrats had taken control — with an oversight policy that could be summarized as “You Did WHAT?” — is mind-boggling.

Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration’s hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they’re conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 5:52 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

Q&A with David Iglesias

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Via Josh Marshall, GQ has a Q&A with David Iglesias:

Last December, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, along with seven of his colleagues, was “asked” to resign. The move was a head-scratcher: Only ten US Attorneys had been fired mid-term since 1982—and of those ten, eight were for completely justifiable reasons. (One, for instance, bit a stripper.) But these firings came in a cluster. And most of the USA-8, as the purged attorneys are being called, had strong records: a large number of cases prosecuted, high conviction rates. Iglesias, in particular, was a star—a 49-year-old former JAG lawyer, “a diverse up-and-comer” according to a Department of Justice evaluation, and someone who was being considered for the U.S. Attorney slots in both D.C. and Manhattan. Then, before he knew it, he wasn’t. He was out of a job, for reasons that were unclear to him, and was barely given time to find a new one. Worst of all, he had to listen to two of his former bosses, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and his deputy Paul McNulty, tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that he hadn’t performed up to snuff. Iglesias was a guy who’d set himself up for a long-term career in public service, possibly as a Congressman or even a Senator… and here he was, publicly smeared, his political career over. Now, with the scandal growing—contrary to what people in the White House and the Department of Justice initially said, evidence seems to suggest that the eight attorneys were fired for political, not performance-based, reasons—and the chances of Gonzales staying on as Attorney General looking more iffy with each passing day, Iglesias took time to talk about the creeping politicization of the Justice Department, the White House’s reckless pursuit of power, and his deep disappointment in Alberto Gonzales.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 5:33 pm

Bob Barr: Lobbyist for pot!

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From Politico:

Bob Barr, who as a Georgia congressman authored a successful amendment that blocked D.C. from implementing a medical marijuana initiative, has switched sides and become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project.

But that doesn’t mean he has become a bong-ripping hippie. He isn’t pro-drug, he said, just against government intrusion.

“I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people’s lives,” Barr said.

Aaron Houston, the project’s government relations director, said Barr brings a “great deal of credibility, particularly among people on the Republican side of the aisle.”

“He certainly would not have been the first person I would have expected to sign off to us, but I’m very pleased that he has,” Houston said. “I’m very pleased that he has come around, and I hope he serves as an example to his former colleagues.”

Ironically, Barr said he will help lead the fight to give District residents a say on whether to allow medical marijuana — the very thing the “Barr Amendment” denied them in 1998. He will lobby for the rights of states to set their own medical marijuana policy without federal interference.

The four-term former Republican congressman will also work to unplug a youth anti-drug campaign which a recent study showed actually increased the likelihood that all teens would smoke pot.

“A lot of conservatives have expressed great concern over the taxpayer money that is being wasted on this poorly run advertising campaign,” said Barr, who left Congress in 2003.

Houston said the project is a non-profit that seeks protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and advocates no jail time for marijuana use. Barr said there might be “legitimate medical uses of marijuana and we ought not have this knee-jerk reaction against it, and people ought to be allowed to explore.”

He said “explore” — not experiment.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Congress, Drug laws

Being cool as part of the DC media

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Glenn Greenwald includes the following trenchant analysis in his column today:

At some point — I’m not sure when exactly — some people started convincing themselves that adolescent, cliched, extremely self-conscious and contrived displays of above-it-all indifference was something virtuous, lofty and impressive. Whoever the person is who writes Gawker posts like that obviously thinks he’s some sort of audaciously irreverent, super-outsider-rebel, but the reality is that he has a warm chair waiting for him on the Chris Matthews Show, where he will fit right in — to strut around giggling about all the destructive corruption and dysfunction in our political and media institutions; mock as terribly uncool those who think that’s problematic; and then bask in the sophistication and jaded coolness he and his fellow cackling panelists think they displayed.

It’s no coincidence that the oh-so-way-out-there pioneer of super cool, very anti-establishment, “snarky” commentary which the Gawker author is trying desperately to emulate is now the Washington editor of (she’d talk about the Iraq war and mock Senators as nerds and make anal sex jokes! Wow – irreverent). That jaded coolness — which its practitioners believe is a hallmark of inventive insight — is actually as mainstream as it gets; it’s also the defining, ovearching attribute of Beltway media emptiness.

The Gawker cool guy summarizes the issue here as follows: our most prestigious and establishment mainstream political journalists who shape our country’s political discussions are “just as mean and gossipy and wrong-headed as Matt Drudge” — what kind of uncool, humorless losers would think that’s noteworthy or objectionable?

It’s one thing for someone to devote himself to pseudo-cool empty little chatter about the most tired and recycled Manhattan topics that fueled the culture pages of The Village Voice a few decades ago, and to do so in the most banal way (from a recent Gawker post: “The East Village is full of hookah bars and yet hookah bars are never full of East Villagers. What up?”). There’s nothing wrong with snide and frivolous content per se, and there seems to be a market for it. That’s all fine (I read and was amused by Wonkette years ago).

But it’s actually cringe-inducing when those who do that then convince themselves that they’re actually doing something provocative and edgy, and that only those who take themselves too seriously would find it inane, trite, and boring. That is painfully common: those who strut around showing off how they take nothing seriously end up taking themselves so seriously — and being so impressed with themselves — as a result. The fact that gossipy, giggly, petty even inaccurate chatter is perfectly appropriate for a place like Gawker does not mean that it is what ought to drive a newspaper that holds itself out, and is treated, as a credible journalistic source.

Most notably of all, with our country waging extremely brutal wars and threatening still new ones, detaining tens of thousands of people around the world, and plagued by a deeply lawless and corrupt government, one of the most destructive (and, among our media, most commonplace) delusions is that those who exhibit cheap and snotty indifference to such matters — who see the whole thing as a fun game to mock and belittle — actually think that their cynicism and indifference is a sign of how interesting, insightful, and superior they are. I bet Norah O’Donnell and Gloria Borger and scores of other national pundits are faithful Gawker readers, because so many of them share that mentality.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Government, Media

What the Justice Department scandals reveal

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Via Glenn Greenwald, this commentary by Radley Balko:

Of all the reasons to be outraged at Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, it’s typical that it was the firing of a handful of U.S. attorneys that finally motivated Congress to perform its proper oversight function. The charge is that Gonzalez and Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson fired the attorneys for overtly political reasons, such as San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam’s prosecution of GOP Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, or Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay’s refusal to launch a voter fraud investigation that may have overturned a Democratic victory in the 2004 governor’s race in Washington State.

I’ve written in the past that the White House’s official explanation for the firings of the attorneys – a disagreement over priorities – is actually more disturbing than what the White House is actually being accused of, which is basically abusing the office for partisan purposes, because of what this administration’s priorities actually are (foolish pursuits of vicitmless crimes like obscenity cases, Internet gambling, and the mass investigation of people who sell marijuana pipes over the Internet).

In addition to its misplaced priorities, this Justice Department has endured allegations of illegal spying and wiretapping, abuse of national security letters, neglecting federalism in its enforcement of drug and death penalty policies, attempting to suspend habeas corpus for terrorism suspects, and all-around contempt for the Constitution. It’s sad, but not terribly surprising, that it would take accusations of excessive partisanship – that is, unfairly using the office to gain a political advantage over the Democrats – to spur the Democrats in Congress to take any meaningful action. Trample on the rights of U.S. citizens, and the Democrats largely look the other way – can’t be seen as soft on crime, or on national security. But trample on the political prospects of Democrats, and the subpoenas fly.

The one useful thing to come of all of this is the small modicum of transparency that occurred almost by accident when the Justice Department responded to Congressional information requests by releasing thousands of emails related to the firings. The emails reveal some disturbing truths about the inner workings of this Justice Department, and in so doing show not only the vital importance of transparency in government, but just how much the unprecedented secrecy of the current administration conceals from the public.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 1:54 pm

William Shatner in a movie in Esperanto

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See? Esperanto isn’t dead.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Esperanto, Movies & TV

Interesting: why so few hurricanes this year? Dust

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Dust foiled predictions:

A recent NASA study suggests that tiny dust particles may have foiled forecasts that the 2006 hurricane season would be another active one.

In June and July 2006, there were several significant dust storms over the Sahara Desert in Africa. As this dust traveled westward into the Atlantic, satellite data show that the particles blocked sunlight from reaching the ocean surface, causing ocean waters to cool. These cooler waters may have impeded some storminess since hurricanes rely on warm waters to form.

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season wrapped up on Nov. 30 with just four tropical storms and five hurricanes, relatively calm compared to the record number of 12 tropical storms and 15 hurricanes in 2005.

While several factors likely contributed to the sharp decrease in the number of storms, “this research is the first to show that dust does have a major effect on seasonal hurricane activity,” said lead author William Lau, chief of the Laboratory for Atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “Dust concentrations may play as big a role as other atmospheric conditions, like El Niño, and offer some predictive value, so they should be closely monitored to improve hurricane forecasts.”

Other researchers, however, say that atmospheric dust may have had relatively little influence on the 2006 hurricane season compared to the effects of underlying El Niño conditions.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Environment, Science

VA hospitals need more resources

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They’re going to be dealing with many soldiers returning with post-traumatic stress disorder:

Retired U.S. Navy medic Charlie Anderson twice thought about committing suicide: once when he feared he would be sent back to Iraq in 2004 and again last year when a friend and fellow veteran killed himself.

“I can’t say that I can’t go because we don’t do that, I also can’t go because I’m putting people in danger if I do,” he said of his first brush with suicidal thoughts, which came while he was awaiting his second deployment.

In the end, Anderson was not deployed but it sparked a two-year effort to get help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one of thousands of soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan facing a battle to re-enter everyday life.

While much of the attention has been on physical wounds like traumatic brain injuries, as well as squalid living conditions for recovering soldiers, doctors, families and lawmakers are expressing growing concerns that veterans are not be getting the right mental health help.

Those worries come as President George W. Bush has ordered almost 30,000 more troops to Iraq. Already 1.5 million soldiers have been deployed in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, with one-third serving at least two combat tours, which increases the chances of PTSD.

Despite finally receiving treatment, Anderson finds himself in the middle of a divorce and still constantly on edge — jumpy at loud noises and always eyeing the exits of rooms.

“I have triggers every day, but I’m learning how to deal with them,” he said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 12 percent to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq suffer from PTSD. A 2004 Army study found 16.6 percent of those returning from combat tested positive for the disorder.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 12:30 pm

Lurita Doan: scum

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You can watch it for yourself:

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 10:57 am

Why we need the ERA

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The reader also sends this interesting article that describes how conservative men are becoming frightened:

Last week saw Al Gore’s triumphant return to Capitol Hill—the once-ridiculed candidate now acknowledged as a visionary and treated with long-overdue respect. But the most remarkable moment of Gore’s hours of testimony in both houses may have been one in which he wasn’t even involved. It shined a light on both the changed atmosphere in Washington today, and the fear and loathing that that change is bringing on.

The most confrontational part of the day came when Gore was being questioned by Oklahoma senator, famed global warming skeptic and former chairman of the environment committee James Inhofe, in a battle of wits that was not exactly an equal match. Inhofe had trouble getting Gore to answer questions the way he wanted to, and kept interrupting him and complaining about the limited time he was given.

After some back and forth between Inhofe and Gore, the new chair of the committee, Barbara Boxer of California, put a hand on Inhofe’s arm and said, “I want to talk to you a minute, please.” After Boxer suggested that Inhofe give Gore the time to answer his questions, Inhofe replied, “Why don’t we do this: at the end, you [Gore] can have as much time as you want to answer all the questions…” Boxer then interrupted: “No, that isn’t the rule. You’re not making the rules. You used to when you did this,” she said, holding up the chair’s gavel. “Elections have consequences. So I make the rules.”

Boxer spoke with a particular kind of authority: not angry, not loud, but unmistakably firm. There was no doubt who was in charge in that room. You could almost see the steam coming out of Inhofe’s ears, not only because he had been deprived of his power, but because he was deprived of it by a woman. She even held up the gavel, the symbol of that power, and practically taunted him with it. Freud couldn’t have scripted it much better.

(You can watch that and judge for yourself, but it seems to me that Senator Boxer spoke in quite a reasonable—even humorous—tone. See clip. – LG)

The response in some quarters was unsurprising. Michael Savage, whose hateful rants are reportedly heard by 8 million radio listeners every day, hit the roof. Referring repeatedly to “foul-mouthed, foul-tempered women in high places bossing men around,” he opined that the image of a woman giving a man orders would lead to more terrorist attacks (or something like that—it was a little hard to follow).

And it isn’t only extremists like Savage who are having trouble stomaching the idea of women in positions of increasing power. We now have a female speaker of the House, and the strong possibility of the first female president; the prospect is sending some men over the edge. MSNBC host Tucker Carlson recently described Hillary Clinton as “castrating, overbearing and scary.” Why Carlson looks at the junior senator from New York and immediately fears for the safety of his testicles might be something he and his therapist should explore, but he’s hardly alone—after the election Chris Matthews wondered on the air if Nancy Pelosi was “going to castrate Steny Hoyer.” And Matthews has gone through a series of man-crushes on politicians whom he sees as super-hunky in their masculine ways. First it was George W. Bush, then John McCain and the current object of Matthews’ affections is Rudy Giuliani. “I think he did a great job,” Matthews said about Giuliani’s tenure in New York. “And I think the country wants a boss like that. You know, a little bit of fascism there.”

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 10:53 am

Posted in GOP, Government

Banks encouraged in fraud

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From a reader, this startling article:

Just as the Enron scandal has faded into the back of the financial pages, the conservative movement has score a major victory in its push to make it harder for people victimized by the Enrons of the world and their enablers to obtain justice. Thanks to two Reagan appointees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, investment banks now have a way to legally profit from showing their clients how to defraud investors, without fear of those investors banding together to fight back.

Those two judges—E. Grady Jolly and Jerry Edwin Smith—virtually said as much in their ruling earlier this month against defrauded Enron investors and 30 state attorneys general—the plaintiffs in a class action suit against three large investment banks and their subsidiaries that were advising Enron. Jolly and Smith just didn’t say it as bluntly as the third judge in the case, James L. Dennis, a Clinton appointee, who wrote in his partial dissent that the ruling “immunizes a broad array of undeniably fraudulent conduct from civil liability … effectively giving secondary actors license to scheme with impunity, as long as they keep quiet.”

Al Meyerhoff, one of the plaintiff lawyers in the case, agreed. “Participation in fraud has thus been elevated by the Fifth Circuit to simply another line of business,” he wrote in an analysis of the ruling. “The effect of the opinion is to allow investment banks to both charge fees and escape liability for constructing and carrying out transactions that they understand have no other purpose than to falsify financial results reported to investors.”

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 10:44 am

Posted in GOP, Government

YouTube in defense of civil rights

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The Internet has really changed things in giving a new communications channel that is not under the control of corporations. What a great thing. Take this Slate article by Andrew Woods:

Last month, a federal court in Virginia dismissed the appeal of Khaled el-Masri, a German man whom the Bush administration admits it mistakenly kidnapped and tortured in the CIA’s “salt pit” in Afghanistan. I worked on the early stages of el-Masri’s case in 2005. We had sound legal arguments and plenty of evidence. But the case was booted out of court when the CIA claimed that the litigation would reveal “state secrets,” a doctrine that gives judges wide berth to dismiss lawsuits with little more explanation than “because I said so.” The judge could have gone either way, but the broader social backdrop—public fear of another attack—largely defined the legal landscape, and we were sunk. Courts have pushed back against the Bush administration only tentatively, for they remain uncertain about the value of human rights in an age of terror. Fortunately for their cause, human rights lawyers are starting to understand how to put a thumb on the scale: YouTube.

As America’s civil rights advocates knew well a half-century ago, lawyers are most successful when their legal arguments are attuned to broader social changes. When the NAACP went to court to end segregation in the South, it coordinated with groups staging sit-ins, knowing that the resulting public unrest would help shape Thurgood Marshall’s legal victories in the courtroom. This strategy works because, right or wrong, judges keep an eye on the street. Internal notes from the Supreme Court’s deliberations in Brown v. Board of Education suggest the justices spent less time discussing law than chewing over the state of race relations in the South. In fact, as law professor Michael Klarman points out, little relevant constitutional law had changed between Brown‘s ruling against segregation and Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that helped establish the “separate but equal” school regime. What had changed was the social context.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 10:11 am

Crazy John McCain

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This guy is actually running for president?

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 9:57 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Lurita Doan: Beneath contempt

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Some people sink so low that they are truly beneath contempt: Lurita Doan is a timely example. Refusing to take any responsibility whatsoever, refusing to stand up for what she did, refusing to acknowledge anything, she shows no character, no moral sense, no strength—nothing but blind party loyalty to the GOP.

In particular, watch this amazing video clip, and you can see someone who has no moral fiber whatsoever. Interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 9:44 am

The seven stations your home should have

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Seven well-defined and well-organized stations:

1. Destination Station – This station belongs where you come in and out of the house. It’s where you put all of your things down when you come in, such as purses, keys, and backpacks. We often drill a hole in the back of a drawer and run a power cord through the back of it for cell phone chargers. You can use simple shelving, you can convert an existing coat closet, or you can use a piece of “mud room” or entryway furniture.

2. Communication Station – This station is for the family calendar, messages, mail, and other communications that help the house run smoothly. One thing that we encourage is having a Family Binder that will contain all of the frequently-used information such as contacts, medical records, school handouts and lists, and sports team rosters and schedules.

3. Donation Station – Every home should have a designated place to collect items for donation, and when it’s full, the items can be taken to your favorite charity drop-off location. It’s also helpful to keep a clipboard here for listing the items you add to the pile, so that when it’s tax time, you will be better able to value your donations.

4. Gift and Shipping Station – You may not have a permanent station set up for this one, but at least gather all of these items together in a bin or drawer for easy retrieval when you need them. You should have gift wrap, scissors, tape, and all of the other items needed for wrapping and mailing.

5. Education Station – This station is the homework and reference area, mostly for the kids. You’ll need a comfortable flat surface, preferably a desk, where the kids can do their work. There should be good lighting, good chairs, plenty of office supplies, paper, a dictionary, a thesaurus, and probably a computer in this area. And don’t forget peace and quiet!

6. Creation Station – Homes with children and/or other artists need to have a place to paint, draw, sew, or pursue other creative outlets. Craft and art supplies can be stored here, nearby an available surface to work with plenty of light. Like the Gift & Shipping Station, you may not have this station set up permanently. We like using rolling plastic drawer carts for a mobile version of this station that fits easily in a coat closet.

7. Administration Station – Also known as the home office, this station is where the bills get paid, forms get filled out, medical claims are filed, and phone calls are made. Here you’ll need a desk, storage for all office supplies, a computer and printer, a filing cabinet and filing supplies, and a comfortable, functional chair. This station is where all of your basic office systems are centralized.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 8:04 am

Posted in Daily life

Your daily ration of cuteness

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Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 8:00 am

Posted in Daily life

The science of lasting happiness

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Lasting happiness is, of course, the very best kind—the one to get if you’re given a choice. And it’s being studied:

An experimental psychologist investigating the possibility of lasting happiness, Lyubomirsky understands far better than most of us the folly of pinning our hopes on a new car–or on any good fortune that comes our way. We tend to adapt, quickly returning to our usual level of happiness. The classic example of such “hedonic adaptation” comes from a 1970s study of lottery winners, who a year after their windfall ended up no happier than nonwinners. Hedonic adaptation helps to explain why even changes in major life circumstances–such as income, marriage, physical health and where we live–do so little to boost our overall happiness. Not only that, but studies of twins and adoptees have shown that about 50 percent of each person’s happiness is determined from birth. This “genetic set point” alone makes the happiness glass look half empty, because any upward swing in happiness seems doomed to fall back to near your baseline. …

The biggest factor may be getting over the idea that happiness is fixed–and realizing that sustained effort can boost it. “A lot of people don’t apply the notion of effort to their emotional lives,” Lyubomirsky declares, “but the effort it takes is enormous.”

Read the rest of the article at the link above.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2007 at 7:39 am

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