Later On

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

Archive for April 16th, 2007

Josh Marshall on old Alberto

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Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 3:56 pm

Megs in hammock

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Hammock Megs Hammock Megs 2 Hammock Megs 3

I thought it was time for a little Megs goodness. She was resting comfortably in her hammock, until I showed up with a camera. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Wolfowitz as Jimmy Swaggart

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James Fallows has a good take on this, which begins:

I was wrong to suggest that Paul Wolfowitz was like Robert McNamara. That is disrespectful to McNamara. The better comparison is to Jimmy Swaggart. Let me explain, through the roundabout medium of Norman Podhoretz.

Long ago, in the unbelievably frigid days in Washington just before Ronald Reagan was sworn in, by chance I met Podhoretz at a pre-inauguration party. He was then the editor of Commentary magazine and a big, fervent figure in developing what we would come to know as neo-conservatism. Two important allies in this cause were his wife, Midge Decter, and son in law, Elliott Abrams, later of Iran-contra fame. As a former employee of the soon-to-be- ousted Jimmy Carter administration, whose flounderings during the Iran hostage crisis became the neocons’ symbol of feckless American liberalism, I was not a natural invitee to such parties. But my next-door neighbor was a big-time Republican and had asked me over.I ended up uncomfortably in a corner with Podhoretz, to whom I had been introduced as an ex-Carterite. Politely, he asked what I was doing now. I said that I had just the day before finished a book about military policy. It would be published a few months later as National Defense. The point of the book, I told him, rose from what I had discovered during some interesting reporting in and around the Pentagon. If you looked objectively at the details of how men and machinery perform in combat, you would end up being skeptical of a lot of the very expensive, fragile, overcomplex weaponry in the US arsenal — and instead would pay a lot more attention to guile, agility, the moral elements of leadership, the bond between the military and the public, and similar assets that money alone couldn’t buy. And you wouldn’t be in any rush to pump up the defense budget, as Carter had begun doing after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (remember when that was considered the graveyard of big powers?) and as Reagan had promised to do even faster. You would instead concentrate on how troops and leaders did their jobs, under the unique constraints and circumstances of combat.

“Well, maybe,” Podhoretz said, skeptically. “It depends on what your intentions are.” That is, he could end up agreeing with my specific arguments if he believed I was, deep down, in favor of American strength. (Of course, virtually everyone whose views I described in the book, including the now-legendary Air Force colonel John Boyd, was a huge believer in American strength and had studied its operational realities, in detail.) But he might think something different if he suspected that I was merely grabbing another argument to denigrate the military. That is: first he’d figure out whether I was with-him or against-him. That would tell him whether to agree or disagree with my analysis. He didn’t put it quite that bluntly — and he was perfectly affable about it — but that was the point.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 1:35 pm

Word fun

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I long ago noticed that “cleave” has two exactly opposite meanings: to join (to cleave together) and to separate (to cleave asunder). Now I see this is only one example of many:

The word contronym (also the synonym antagonym) is used to refer to words that, by some freak of language evolution, are their own antonyms. Both contronym and antagonym are neologisms; however, there is no alternative term that is more established in the English language.

Contronyms are special cases of homographs (two words with the same spelling). Some examples:

  • anabasis – military advance, military retreat
  • apology – admission of fault in what you think, say, or do; formal defense of what you think, say, or do [New!]
  • aught – all, nothing
  • bolt – secure, run away
  • by – multiplication (e.g., a three by five matrix), division (e.g., dividing eight by four)
  • chuffed – pleased, annoyed
  • cleave – separate, adhere
  • clip – fasten, detach
  • consult – ask for advice, give advice
  • copemate – partner, antagonist
  • custom – usual, special
  • deceptively smart – smarter than one appears, dumber than one appears
  • dike – wall, ditch
  • discursive – proceeding coherently from topic to topic, moving aimlessly from topic to topic
  • dollop – a large amount, a small amount
  • dust – add fine particles, remove fine particles
  • enjoin – prescribe, prohibit
  • fast – quick, unmoving
  • first degree – most severe (e.g., murder), least severe (e.g., burn)
  • fix – restore, castrate
  • flog – criticize harshly, promote aggressively
  • garnish – enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)
  • give out – produce, stop production
  • grade – incline, level
  • handicap – advantage, disadvantage
  • help – assist, prevent (e.g., “I can’t help it if…”)
  • left – remaining, departed from
  • liege – sovereign lord, loyal subject
  • mean – average, excellent (e.g., “plays a mean game”)
  • off – off, on (e.g., “the alarm went off”)
  • out – visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)
  • out of – outside, inside (e.g., “work out of one’s home”)
  • oversight – error, care
  • pitted – with the pit in, with the pit removed [New!]
  • put out – extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)
  • quiddity – essence, trifling point
  • quite – rather, completely
  • ravel – tangle, disentangle [New!]
  • rent – buy use of, sell use of
  • rinky-dink – insignificant, one who frequents RinkWorks
  • sanction – approve, boycott
  • sanguine – hopeful, murderous (obsolete synonym for “sanguinary”)
  • screen – show, hide
  • seed – add seeds (e.g., “to seed a field”), remove seeds (e.g., “to seed a tomato”)
  • skinned – with the skin on, with the skin removed [New!]
  • strike – hit, miss (in baseball)
  • table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)
  • transparent – invisible, obvious
  • unbending – rigid, relaxing
  • variety – one type (e.g., “this variety”), many types (e.g., “a variety”)
  • wear – endure through use, decay through use
  • weather – withstand, wear away
  • wind up – end, start up (e.g., a watch)
  • with – alongside, against

Finding such idiosyncrasies in slang is much easier. The word “bad” can be used as slang to mean “good.” The word “bomb” has two slang meanings: “failure” (as usually used in the United States) and “success” (as usually used in the United Kingdom).

Some noteworthy antonyms aren’t homographs (words that are spelled the same) but homophones (words that are pronounced the same). Some of these include:

  • aural, oral – heard, spoken
  • erupt, irrupt – burst out, burst in
  • petalless, petalous – lacking petals, having petals
  • raise, raze – erect, tear down

Homophones that are near-antonyms:

  • reckless, wreckless

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Daily life

My jaw drops again: the Bush crowd is… is… words fail me

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Look at the lead paragraph in this story:

Lawyers for two men charged with illegally ejecting two people from a speech by President Bush in 2005 are arguing that the president’s staff can lawfully remove anyone who expresses points of view different from his.

What country are these lawyers talking about? And, later in the story:

Mr. Casper and Mr. Klinkerman lost their motion for dismissal, and this week their lawyers filed an appeals brief arguing that their clients had the right to take action against Mr. Young and Ms. Weise precisely because the two held views different from Mr. Bush’s.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 10:34 am

There will never be another administration like Bush’s (I hope)

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Look at this Kevin Drum post:

Remember those charges that North Korea was flooding the world with counterfeit U.S. bills laundered through a bank in Macau? A recent audit says it’s not true:

“From our investigations it is apparent that … the Bank did not introduce counterfeit U.S. currency notes into circulation,” the Ernst & Young audit said, noting that large cash deposits from North Korea were routinely screened for counterfeits by the Hong Kong branch of an unidentified bank with U.S. operations.

The audit’s conclusions about the laundering of counterfeit currency are significant because they cast doubt on Bush administration claims that North Korea has engaged in state-sponsored counterfeiting and introducing these fake bills via Banco Delta.

This is a big deal. On September 19, 2005, North Korea finally agreed in principle to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, prompting optimism that the six-party talks might finally be making progress. In a triumph of timing — maybe deliberate, maybe not — the very next day the Bush administration announced sanctions on the Macau bank, freezing its North Korean assets and causing the always prickly North Koreans to assume the U.S. was acting in bad faith. Shortly thereafter they walked out of the talks, and a year later announced that they had tested a nuclear weapon.

Now we find out that the charges were probably unfounded. Just like we found out in February that the original charges in 2002 that North Korea was pursuing uranium enrichment might not have been true either. Just another example of the Bush administration doing its best to bring our credibility down to the level of the most batshit insane regime on earth. Good job, guys.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 10:24 am

An egg separator to get

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Egg separator

I think the Grandsons would love this egg separator. I know I do.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 10:16 am

Posted in Daily life

April is National Grilled Cheese-Sandwich Month

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Really. Do you have an great recipes? Grilled cheese-and-tomato was a favorite back in college days, and with bacon as well—you could hear your arteries slam shut.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Red square in the sky

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There are wondrous things in the celestial sphere.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 10:05 am

Posted in Science

John Bolton—amazing

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BBC isn’t deferential in their interview—and Bolton continues to say amazing things:

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 9:58 am

Good point: the “100 hours” came up with no laws

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Read this column for a disappointing but true view. It starts:

The Democrats claim that they lived up to their campaign promise and enacted six major bills in their first 100 hours in office. The actual number is a fat, round, zero. None of the bills the Democrats are touting so far have made it into law and four of the six have been approved only by the House.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 9:10 am

Posted in Congress, Democrats

Sophie, birdwatcher

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The Wife reports that a bird couple seem to be building a nest just outside her bedroom window: lots of twittering and flying back and forth. Sophie, of course, is fascinated, but apparently realizes that if she jumps up on the windowsill to watch, she’ll scare the birds away. So she stands very tall, puss-in-boots style, and just peeks through the edge of the curtain to watch them. Her attitude is more one of watching pets than prey, but who knows what goes on in that little brain? Her little lamb duster seems to alternate between being her kitten and a mouse.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 8:16 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

Book is (sort of) published

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I’m waiting now for a proof copy of the book. Once I receive and approve that, announcements will go out. Very exciting.  Stay tuned.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 7:51 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

Why the Administration wants/needs a War Czar

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Via the reader in the Netherlands, a very worthwhile post. Here’s just a sample:

But I actually think this new plan is a more serious sign of disarray in the highest levels of the US chain of command than most people have so far realized.

Crucially, I think it signals that the President has a serious lack of trust in Defense Secretary Robert Gates. This, because– in line with longstanding US practice, as written into US law– the chain of military command currently runs from the President, through the (civilian) Secretary of Defense, and from him to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and thence to the commander on the ground.

There’s much more in the post, and it’s very much worth reading. The comments also include some good insights. Go check it out.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 7:08 am

Wow! What a shave!

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Monday is always a good-shave day, because of being able to mow down two days’ worth of stubble, but today is really exceptional: my face is amazingly smooth—here, feel—and no nicks at all. I used Honeybee Spa’s Peppermint shea butter shaving soap, rubbing the puck over my wet beard as a shaving stick. Great fragrance—curiously strong. Then I made a great lather with the Simpsons Harvard 3 Best Badger.

The razor is a gold Gillette Aristocrat, a model introduced in 1910, and I used a new Feather blade. (The razor and blade are exactly those pictured on the cover of the book.)  Fantastic shave.

Finished with 4711 (not 7/11) cologne aftershave. Great stuff. Wonderful shave.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2007 at 7:04 am

Posted in Shaving

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