Later On

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

Archive for April 7th, 2007

Microsoft is dead

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Very interesting article. He makes a good case.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 9:16 pm

Wolfowitz: still a dick

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Read the whole thing:

A controversial raise for a World Bank employee who has been romantically involved with the Bank’s President Paul Wolfowitz was not the work of the Bank’s Ethics Committee, as originally alleged by Wolfowitz’s office, according to the watchdog group that leaked the information.Members of the Ethics Committee of the Board, the relevant body that would have approved the raise, which has triggered allegations of nepotism at the Bank’s highest levels, say that they knew nothing of the salary hike, according to the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organisation.

The new revelation appears to be at odds with the line maintained by officials in Wolfowitz’s office, who have in interviews with the Washington Post and the Financial Times, two newspapers that reported on the issue, claimed that the raise was approved by the board.

“Inside sources from the Bank have stated unequivocally that this was not the case, that board members only learned of the raise from news reports, and that the members are furious,” said GAP.

“There’s a question of fact here,” Beatrice Edwards of GAP told IPS. “It was a personnel action that was taken without a consultation with the board.”

So far, the Bank’s management has been unable to clarify who proposed and approved the irregular promotion and subsequent raise for Shaha Riza, a Bank employee in the external relations department, and Wolfowitz’s long-time girlfriend.

Wolfowitz’s office referred IPS queries to the Bank’s media department, which did not return phone calls for comment on Thursday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 9:01 pm

Posted in GOP

Little or no effect from long-term marijuana use

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From WebMD. Tell me again why we have a war on this drug?

Long-term and even daily marijuana use doesn’t appear to cause permanent brain damage, adding to evidence that it can be a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, say researchers.

The researchers found only a “very small” impairment in memory and learning among long-term marijuana users. Otherwise, scores on thinking tests were similar to those who don’t smoke marijuana, according to a new analysis of 15 previous studies.

In those studies, some 700 regular marijuana users were compared with 484 non-users on various aspects of brain function — including reaction time, language and motor skills, reasoning ability, memory, and the ability to learn new information.

“We were somewhat surprised by our finding, especially since there’s been a controversy for some years on whether long-term cannabis use causes brain damage,” says lead researcher and psychiatrist Igor Grant, MD.

“I suppose we expected to see some differences in people who were heavy users, but in fact the differences were very minimal.”

The marijuana users in those 15 studies — which lasted between three months to more than 13 years — had smoked marijuana several times a week or month or daily. Still, researchers say impairments were less than what is typically found from using alcohol or other drugs.

“All study participants were adults,” says Grant, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:54 pm

A bad chemical in our food containers

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Read the whole article, which begins:

Bisphenol A is ingested by practically everyone in Canada who eats canned foods or drinks from a can or hard plastic water bottles.

Now a controversy is raging over the safety of widespread public exposure to the chemical, which is known to act like a synthetic female sex hormone.

At the heart of the intense debate over bisphenol A is that it challenges the main tenet of modern toxicology, the idea that the dose makes the poison, a principle credited to the 15th-century Swiss alchemist Theophrastus Paracelsus.

Under this principle, a two-pack-a-day smoker is more at risk of cancer than a one-pack-a-day user, and the belief that rising doses make a substance more dangerous is the basis of all government regulations that seek to set safe exposures for harmful chemicals.

It seems obvious that a high dose of a poison would be more dangerous than a lower one, but bisphenol A is creating a stir because it doesn’t follow this seemingly common-sense rule. Researchers say this oddity results from the fact that bisphenol A isn’t a conventional harmful agent, such as cigarette smoke, but behaves in the unconventional way typical of hormones, where even vanishingly small exposures can be harmful.

This is why some environmentalists and scientists contend that bisphenol A, which leaches in trace amounts from food and beverage packaging, is among the scariest manufactured substances in use, an eerie modern version of the vaunted lead water pipes by which ancient Romans were unknowingly poisoned.

Extrapolating from the results of animal experiments, they suspect bisphenol A has its fingerprints all over the unexplained human health trends emerging in recent decades hinting at something going haywire with sex hormones, including the early onset of puberty, declining sperm counts, and the huge increase in breast and prostate cancer, among other ailments.

But manufacturers — which include some of the world’s biggest chemical companies — insist bisphenol A is harmless and say those claiming otherwise have it wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:49 pm

Interesting overtones of 1984

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MSNBC rewrites history to make the US look better with respect to Iran. We knew the media were bad, but it seems that they’re very, very bad. Horrid.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:16 pm

Posted in Media

Cool article: virtuoso violinist plays in the subway…

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From the Washington Post:

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L’Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you? What’s the moral mathematics of the moment?

On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

The acoustics proved surprisingly kind. Though the arcade is of utilitarian design, a buffer between the Metro escalator and the outdoors, it somehow caught the sound and bounced it back round and resonant. The violin is an instrument that is said to be much like the human voice, and in this musician’s masterly hands, it sobbed and laughed and sang — ecstatic, sorrowful, importuning, adoring, flirtatious, castigating, playful, romancing, merry, triumphal, sumptuous.

So, what do you think happened?

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music

Wonder what Bush is thinking

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From ThinkProgress:

“Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.”

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 7:58 pm

Good characterization of George W. Bush

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From a commenter on TalkingPointsMemo:

I’m convinced Bush is at 29% because voters perceive him as (increasingly) pathetic, deluded and ineffectual — a toxic mash-up of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 7:56 pm

Cat’s out of the bag: book coming out

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Not about Megs, but about shaving: Guide to Gourmet Shaving: Shaving Made Enjoyable will soon be published. I’m just finishing up the manuscript, and people on and are reviewing (and correcting) the list of vendors that will be in an appendix. The list will also be in a post on the blog, so you can click the appropriate links.

Since people now know, no sense keeping it a secret. Watch this blog for an announcement. Ideal gift for any shaver. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Books, Shaving

Good lamb vindaloo

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Though in fact, I learn, vindaloo should be made from pork. Wikipedia says:

Vindaloo also called Vindalho is a popular Indian dish. It was first brought to Goa by the Portuguese and soon became a pleasing Goan meal often served during very special occasions. Historically this was a pork dish cooked with plenty of wine vinegar and garlic, known in Portuguese as Vinha d’Alho (from “vinha” wine vinegar and “alho” garlic), but it soon received the Goan treatment of adding plentiful amounts of spice and chili. Restaurants often serve this dish with chicken or lamb sometimes mixed with potatoes. Traditional vindaloos do not include potatoes, the discrepancy arising because the word “aloo” means “potato” in Hindi.

Authentic Goan Vindaloo. Goans scoff at the usage of any other main ingredient besides pork in Vindaloo. The authentic taste of vindaloo comes from a unique blend of the fat in the pork, the garlic, vinegar, and the chilli (specifically the Kashmiri chilli, which is very flavorful yet not too pungent). In addition, traditional Vindaloo is not a curry but more of a dry sauce based dish, that tastes better as it ages. Chicken Vindaloo and Cauliflower Vindaloo would make most Goans reel with shock.

The dish has gained popularity in Britain, and has become a common fixture at Indian restaurants and curry houses. In colloquial English it is often referred to as a “Vindy” and is well known for its heat, being one of the hotter curries available. The popularity of the dish even inspired an English football song for the 1998 World Cup.

The Wikipedia entry includes links to a number of recipes. My vindaloo tonight included not only Penzey’s Vindaloo seasoning (“Hand-mixed from: coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, Korintje cinnamon, crushed brown mustard, cayenne red pepper, jalapeño pepper, cardamom, turmeric, Tellicherry black pepper and cloves.”) but also 3 habañero peppers, with seeds, chopped and cooked with the rest of the stuff. Hot. Hot. Hot.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Food

Megs’s best toy

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Megs has one of those circular thick, wrapped rubber bands used for a pony tail. It fell out of a library book, where it was apparently being used as a book marker, and she LOVES it. Well, mostly. Tonight, I observe, it seems to have been very, very bad and Megs has had to be stern with it—batting with one paw, then the other, then both, biting it, rolling on her back with it in her teeth. She carries it from room to room and I occasionally find it in the bed. She really gets more satisfaction from that than is normal, except for a kitty.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Susan Collins

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US Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has long tried to portray herself as a moderate—generally successfully, if you didn’t know her voting record. But in fact her votes have been right down the line what Bush wants. And now she’s facing re-election next year. The chickens are coming home to roost. Via AmericaBlog, this video:

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Congress, Election, GOP

Bent skylights through attic space

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Solatube looks pretty cool. Has anyone tried it?

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 10:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Cat food

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The Wife heard the president of Natura (which makes Innova and Evo cat food, the latter being the brand of kibble Megs enjoys) on NPR. From what she learned during the interview, it sounds like a very good company. They make all their own cat food—don’t contract out any of the operation. And they looked for the standards and guidelines on pet food, couldn’t find any, so follow the standards and guidelines for human food (in terms of quality of ingredients—obviously the diet balance is different for cats than for humans).

Megs and I are happy that she eats Evo kibble.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:51 am

Posted in Cats

Older Grandson at second Go tournament

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The Older Grandson is getting good tournament experience: a large tournament last weekend, a smaller tournament this weekend. Both tournaments are rated, so his AGA rating will be established.

One learns a lot in a tournament. First you focus on the game with an unusual intensity and then, after the game, you generally adjourn to another room and review the game with your opponent—at exactly the time when your mind is most open to learning from your (and his) mistakes. A few tournaments, combined with some study, can greatly deepen one’s understanding of the game.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:48 am

Posted in Go

New directions day

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I think Saturday might be a good day to try new things in the shaving arena. So today, I directed my attention to unused or seldom-used things: an Israeli blade, the Gillette NEW razor (from the ’30s: “This razor was called the NEW Gillette razor with 6 vital improvements: Reinforced Corners; Cut Our Corners; Rust Resisting Blade; New Shape Guard Teeth; Square Blade Ends and New Guard Channel.”), Superior 25mm brush, Speick shaving cream (German, in tube), and Florida Water as an aftershave.

I used the items in exactly the sequence you suspect, and enjoyed a pleasant shave. Certainly the Israeli blade pulled a bit more at the outset, but it settled down quickly. The Gillette NEW will require some getting used to, but nice to shave with a razor around 80 years old.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Shaving

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