Later On

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

Archive for June 12th, 2007

Greenwald on the Al-Marri decision

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Some reading to do:

The decision (.pdf) of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Al-Marri case technically rests on narrow grounds of statutory construction regarding the scope of the Military Commissions Act, but it is actually quite extraordinary in the broader constitutional principles it affirms and the tone it uses to apply them.

Next to the Padilla travesty, the Government’s treatment of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri — just on the facts alone — may very well be the single most despicable instance of deliberate denial of the most basic liberties. I have written about the facts and circumstances of al-Marri’s detention here.

I really recommend reading (at least) the first 11 pages of the court’s decision, where the court sets forth in very stark and clear terms exactly what we have done to al-Marri. I recall the sensation, back in law school, of reading legal opinions from various periods of time throughout our country’s history which began by recounting the government’s behavior and finding it difficult to believe that any government could engage in such conduct without provoking a massive backlash (and sometimes it did).

That is the reaction which this opinion provokes (even though the facts are familiar). No matter how many times one thinks about it, reads or writes about it, it never ceases to amaze — literally — that our government has asserted the power to imprison people, including those on U.S. soil, and keep them locked up for years and years, indefinitely, without so much as charging them with any crime or even allowing them access to lawyers. And that is to say nothing of what is done to them while being held completely incommunicado. That was just a line that one thought the American Government could not cross without enormous backlash. Yet our government has done exactly that for years — and has spawned a set of presidential candidates vowing to continue doing so at least as aggressively, if not more so — without much protest at all.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 5:23 pm

Junipero Gin report

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Well, the NY Times panel and I agree: Junipero Gin does make a good Martini, with more assertiveness and punch than Plymouth Gin—and perhaps not quite so good a Martini. Their report comments, ” Smooth, clean and very dry with assertive, classic flavors of juniper and citrus: a martini with one eyebrow raised.” Certainly worth trying, but Plymouth Gin is a better buy and makes a better Martini.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Drinks

Watch a guy play a theramin

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Pretty cool.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Music, Technology

Excellent video

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Developing a good strategy for a game you can play only one time:  Watch the whole thing. Thanks to reader JA for passing this along.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 2:24 pm

Good question: “Do you believe in atoms?”

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The beginning:

Suppose we asked a group of Presidential candidates if they believed in the existence of atoms, and a third of them said “no”? That would be a truly appalling show of scientific illiteracy, would it not? And all the more shocking coming from those who aspire to run a technologically sophisticated nation.

Yet something like this happened a week ago during the Republican presidential debate. When the moderator asked nine candidates to raise their hands if they “didn’t believe in evolution,” three hands went into the air—those of Senator Sam Brownback, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Tom Tancredo. Although I am a biologist who has found himself battling creationism frequently throughout his professional life, I was still mortified. Because there is just as much evidence for the fact of evolution as there is for the existence of atoms, anyone raising his hand must have been grossly misinformed.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Some progress

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AP:

Bill would require pharmacies to fill orders no matter beliefs
Monday, June 11, 2007

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) A pharmacy would be required to fill prescriptions for any drug it stocks such as birth-control pills regardless of a pharmacist’s moral beliefs under a bill that cleared the Legislature on Monday.

The bill, approved 56-18 by the Assembly, establishes a pharmacy’s duty to fill lawful prescriptions without undue delay and without consideration for a pharmacist’s moral, philosophical or religious beliefs.

If a pharmacy doesn’t have a prescription in stock, the pharmacy would have to either obtain it under expedited ordering or find a nearby pharmacy to fill the prescription.

The bill was approved by the Senate in June 2006 and goes to Gov. Jon S. Corzine for his signature.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Music

What’s wrong with the military?

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I’ve been reading stories about the US Military Academy, and paens to “Duty, Honor, Country” and the importance of always telling the truth—and then things like this:

“The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste – either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.”

wmdclosehome.jpg

Does anyone know of a book or study that explains what happens to so corrupt the idea of “Duty, Honor, Country” and honesty?

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 11:16 am

Posted in Military

And more corruption

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The FDA’s mission is to protect the public, not corporations. But:

While revising their drug-review policy last year, Food and Drug Administration officials met 112 times with industry representatives but only five times with consumer and patient groups, according to data out Monday from the House Appropriations Committee.

… “The FDA has essentially become the government affairs office of the pharmaceutical industry,” Hinchey said in a statement, which called the relationship between the agency and industry “far too cozy and inappropriate.” Hinchey is the author, and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the chief co-sponsor of an FDA reform bill that would prohibit the agency from collecting fees from the companies it regulates. Instead, the money would be deposited into the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

Read the whole story.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 10:12 am

Expanding corruption

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Now the FBI:

When the FBI asked Congress this spring to provide $3.6 million in the war spending bill for its Gulfstream V jet, it said the money was needed to ensure that the aircraft, packed with state-of-the-art security and communications gear, could continue to fly counterterrorism agents on “crucial missions” into Iraq.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the bureau has made similar annual requests to maintain and fuel the $40 million jet on grounds that it had a “tremendous impact” on combating terrorism by rapidly deploying FBI agents to “fast-moving investigations and crisis situations” in places such as Afghanistan.

But the jet that the FBI originally sold to lawmakers in the late 1990s as an essential tool for battling terrorism is now routinely used to ferry FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to speeches, public appearances and field office visits.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 9:58 am

Laying on the line re: telecom companies

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Kevin Drum:

Last year I gave my take on the telecom industry:

As near as I can tell, most telecom CEOs would sell their mothers into white slavery if they thought it would help them keep one of their competitors at bay for a year or five longer, and their record of bending, breaking, and twisting the rules in order to maintain their monopoly position…would fill a phone book.

Tough! But not tough enough. Here’s Matt Stoller today:

They are monopolists, run by seriously bad people, and viciously anti-democratic. The telecom giants are large, lumbering, stupid beasts; cable companies are quick and weasely, but even more unethical if possible. Both sets of companies offer awful service, dishonest pricing plans, and generally are in bed with politicians at a local level and on a Federal level that it’s literally stunning.

You won’t read that on the op-ed page of the Washington Post. But maybe you should. In a more fundamental way than, say, the soda industry or even the automobile industry, the behavior of the telecom industry really matters to all of us, and the basic problem is not a lack of competition. It’s the fact that there’s virtually no room for new competitors to enter the market.

The issue immediately at hand is…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 9:49 am

A better mosquito trap

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It’s getting to be mosquito season, and with West Nile virus, one can no longer just ignore the problem. From Cool Tools:

OakStump Farms Mosquito Trap

When I saw this cheap trap at Logan’s Trading Post three years ago, I figured what the heck, but we’ve been amazed at how effective they are. About three fourths of the way up from the bottom of the jug a tube runs through a hole in each side. Fill the jug with water up to the bottom of the transverse tube, add a pheromone pack, let it sit for a week with the top off (to make sure it gets the right attention), then close it after topping the water off. The mosquitoes fly into the tube and lay their eggs. When they hatch, the little mosquitoes can’t figure out how to get out. With luck, in about three weeks the trap will literally be swarming with skeeters.

We empty ours once a year and add new water once a month or so; as long as you break the breeding cycle early enough in the spring it’s not a big deal if you forget to water them later in the season. On our quarter-acre lot, I’ve found that three traps is plenty. So far this season, I haven’t seen a single mosquito (except for the two or three I let out when I opened up one of the traps to top it off w/water). Only one of the three traps have looked really busy this year (last year, it was two of three).

We don’t get many bugs inside. We live in an 1872 farmhouse, so we do get the occasional palmetto bug, but never up so high as to need the Bugzooka. However, living as we do, in the North Carolina piedmont, we’re plagued by mosquitoes; particularly the new “Asian Tiger” mosquitoes, which leave me and my sweetheart itching and inflamed for days after working in the garden or yard. We tried the “propane to human breath” machine (the Mosquito Magnet) for a year or so, and it simply didn’t catch any mosquitoes. The fan was not powerful enough to suck in the little buggers, so the mesh bag they said would be full of bugs was full of dust and pollen. We tried the doughnuts you’re supposed to dunk in places (like gutters) where water stands from time to time, and they didn’t help. We drilled holes in all of our trashcans and recycling bins, but they still bred mosquitoes. We heard about services that will spray some sort of natural insecticide all summer long, but they were too expensive.

With these traps, we can now work in the yard or garden or sit on our porch — one of the small joys that defines Southern living — without fear.
— Steven Champeon

OakStump Farms Mosquito Trap $10
Available from Drugstore.com

It turns out that OakStump Farms has a whole line of pest traps: yellowjackets, flies, slugs, gypsy moths, codling moths, and Japanese beetles.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 7:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Gin update

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Plymouth gin, as we all now know, is not a London Dry gin, but rather a (and the only) Plymouth gin. It took first place in the NY Times Martini tasting/contest and, so far as I can tell at this point, deservedly so—an amazingly smooth and tasty gin.

The Wife stopped in Palo Alto and brought home two other gins to try: the second-place gin from the tasting, Junipero, by Anchor Distilling, and Citadelle, a French gin about which I’ve heard good. (Since the NY Times provided no comprehensive list of the gins tasted/tested, I don’t know whether Citadelle was included. [UPDATE: oops—the writer of the article wrote that he favored the Citadelle Martini, but the others disagreed.]) She also saw Cadenhead’s Old Raj Dry Gin, the third-place gin, but didn’t buy a bottle ($68). Perhaps later.

I’ll try these and report. Citadelle includes these botanicals:

  • Juniper France
  • Coriander Morocco
  • Orange peel Mexico
  • Cardamom India
  • Liquorice China
  • Cubeb pepper Java
  • Savory France
  • Fennel Méditerranean
  • Iris Italy
  • Cinnamon Sri Lanka
  • Violets France
  • Almonds Spain
  • Cassia Indochina
  • Angélica Germany
  • Grains of paradise West Africa
  • Cumin Holland
  • Nutmeg India
  • Lemon rind Spain
  • Star anise France

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 7:35 am

Posted in Drinks

I do eat meat

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So I found this magazine interesting: Meatpaper. It sounds as though it will resemble Gastronomica, but with a meat focus. Articles for “issue zero” are available at the link, along with links to meat-related articles in blogs. From one of the articles, I thought this was interesting:

About two years ago I took my entire kitchen crew, three cooks and [food writer] Harold McGee, and we went down and did a goat slaughter, which would later go into an Easter supper at my house. We bought the goats and slaughtered them on the farm. And I’ll tell you, from that day on, there were never any mistakes with meat in this restaurant. Because the cooks that watched the slaughter, they realized that there’s an animal that’s dying. There needs to be that consciousness in this industry. I felt like a hypocrite; I can go and serve meat all the time and talk about the whole-animal ethic, and yet I hadn’t done a slaughter. And it was hard. It was really hard. I don’t think people realize what it does to you emotionally. It makes you really think about what you’re doing at the restaurant every day.

It reminded of something I had read about how tigers will patrol their territory and watch over “their” herds. And once I read about a lion who had brought down a zebra, and as the lion ate, it would pause and lick the zebra’s face, as it would a cub—a kind of affection and appreciation.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 7:17 am

Posted in Food

Expensive toys

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I do enjoy listening to my CD collection these days—ripped onto my computer using FLAC, so no loss at all in quality, then played, using VUPlayer (free) and the RCA Lyra Wireless ($35, but I believe no longer available—it even had a remote that worked with Musicmatch), through the stereo in the living room. One in effect has an infinitely malleable and extensible CD player, since I can create playlists of all sorts. Today’s playlist, for example, starts with the Fapy Lafertin Quartet, then the Robin Nolan Trio, and ends with a couple of CDs by the Rosenberg Quartet—all jazz ensembles in Europe, courtesy of the reader in the Netherlands. And old Fapy can seriously swing.

Right now I’m listening at the computer, but when I go into the living room later, I’ll switch the music over to the Lyra.

But the point of all this is that someone has put together a similar setup that works by itself: the Sonos ZP80 & ZP100 WiFi Music System. Here’s the manufacturer’s site. Pretty cool—but I already have the capability.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 7:04 am

Breakfast

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My breakfast is pretty much the same each day unless I go out for breakfast, but I do enjoy the meal—and this blog is totally about breakfasts in and around London. Fun to read, and note that his/her blogroll provides links to other breakfast blogs. For example, this one with a focus in Canada, has luscious photos.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 6:50 am

Posted in Food

Ultrasmooth doesn’t require skipping a shave

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Ultrasmooth again today, so having heavier stubble isn’t necessary, it just heightens the contrast. I used QED’s Patchouli, Tea Tree, & Peppermint shaving soap—yowsa! a real waker-upper. The Plisson brush from Paris, France, produced a wonderful lather, removed with the Merkur Slant Bar and a Wilkinson blade. Total ease of shaving, no nicks, no cuts.

QEDman’s shaving soap was so pleasant that I think I’ll devote this week to his soaps. Great stuff. Tomorrow will be one of my favorites, Special 218.

Finished with a blast from the past, Old Spice aftershave, though I swear that they’ve reformulated it at some point in the past 50 years. It just doesn’t seem to have the same fragrance as when I was in high school.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 June 2007 at 6:48 am

Posted in Shaving

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