Later On

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

Archive for June 23rd, 2007

A very cute little animal

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Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Daily life

More blade sampler packs.

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I think beginning safety razor shavers are realizing that they really must try a variety of blades to find the best that will work for them, that a blade recommended by someone else may or may not work for them. So the sampler pack experience is unavoidable if you want a good shave. And now there are more:

In the US: here and here.
In the UK: here.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Shaving

Technology moves ahead everywhere

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This writer describes “the best toilet experience of my life.” Read it.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 4:48 pm

Useful free software

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I occasionally want to copy a filename or a list of filenames to the clipboard so I can transfer the list to another program. Hard to do, until I found this little jewel: Copy2Clip. It installs itself as a new function in Windows Explorer, and using it is as easy as π. Terrific find.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Software

Speaking of gullibility, I give you the NY Times

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Glenn Greenwald points out the sad truth that the NY Times seems not to learn from its experience:

Josh Marshall publishes an e-mail from a reader who identifies what is one of the most astonishing instances of mindless, pro-government “reporting” yet:

It’s a curious thing that, over the past 10 – 12 days, the news from Iraq refers to the combatants there as “al-Qaida” fighters. When did that happen? Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were “insurgents” or they were referred to as “Sunni” or “Shia’a” fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as “al-Qaida”.

Welcome to the latest in Iraq propaganda.

That the Bush administration, and specifically its military commanders, decided to begin using the term “Al Qaeda” to designate “anyone and everyeone we fight against or kill in Iraq” is obvious. All of a sudden, every time one of the top military commanders describes our latest operations or quantifies how many we killed, the enemy is referred to, almost exclusively now, as “Al Qaeda.” But what is even more notable is that the establishment press has followed right along, just as enthusiastically. I don’t think the New York Times has published a story about Iraq in the last two weeks without stating that we are killing “Al Qaeda fighters,” capturing “Al Qaeda leaders,” and every new operation is against “Al Qaeda.”

The Times — typically in the form of the gullible and always-government-trusting “reporting” of Michael Gordon, though not only — makes this claim over and over, as prominently as possible, often without the slightest questioning, qualification, or doubt. If your only news about Iraq came from The New York Times, you would think that the war in Iraq is now indistinguishable from the initial stage of the war in Afghanistan — that we are there fighting against the people who hijacked those planes and flew them into our buildings: “Al Qaeda.”

What is so amazing about this new rhetorical development — not only from our military, but also from our “journalists” — is that, for years, it was too shameless and false even for the Bush administration to use. Even at the height of their propaganda offensives about the war, the furthest Bush officials were willing to go was to use the generic term “terrorists” for everyone we are fighting in Iraq, as in: “we cannot surrender to the terrorists by withdrawing” and “we must stay on the offensive against terrorists.”

But after his 2004 re-election was secure, even the President acknowledged that “Al Qaeda” was the smallest component of the “enemies” we are fighting in Iraq:

A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein — and they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group. . . . The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein — people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. . . .

The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda.

And note that even for the “smallest” group among those we are fighting in Iraq, the president described them not as “Al Qaeda,” but as those “affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda.” Claiming that our enemy in Iraq was comprised primarily or largely of “Al Qaeda” was too patently false even for the President to invoke in defense of his war. But now, support for the war is at an all-time low and war supporters are truly desperate to find a way to stay in Iraq. So the administration has thrown any remnants of rhetorical caution to the wind, overtly calling everyone we are fighting “Al Qaeda.” This strategy was first unveiled by Joe Lieberman when he went on Meet the Press in January and claimed that the U.S. was “attacked on 9/11 by the same enemy that we’re fighting in Iraq today”. Though Lieberman was widely mocked at the time for his incomparable willingness to spew even the most patent falsehoods to justify the occupation, our intrepid political press corps now dutifully follows right along.

Here is the first paragraph from today’s New York Times article on our latest offensive, based exclusively on the claims of our military commanders:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 7:19 am

True pirates…

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and a view of the Royal Navy strongly at variance with the much beloved Aubrey/Maturin series:

A Review by Chris Bolton

Let me get this out of the way upfront: I hate pirate jokes; Talk Like a Pirate Day lost its novelty for me a couple of years ago; and after suffering through the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, I would have to be kidnapped by buccaneers, tied to the mast of their ship, and forced at gunpoint to watch the third film.

Nonetheless, The Republic of Pirates, Colin Woodard’s examination of the real-life pirates who scoured the Bahamas in the early 1700s, won me over faster than a commandeered Ship-of-the-Line closing in on a Spanish Galleon.

Don’t expect an N. C. Wyeth portrait of heroic scoundrels battling scurvy villains, or a romantic Johnny Depp swashbuckler. Woodard’s up-close portrait of such legendary figures as Blackbeard, Black Sam Bellamy, and the “pirate king” Henry Avery is grounded in harrowing details that offer ample reason for sailors to have abandoned a Royal Navy or merchant ship for a pirate’s often-dreary, exceedingly dangerous life.

With a wealth of historical detail, Woodard does an excellent job of depicting his larger-than-life characters in compelling shades of gray. Just when you think you’re on the side of a privateer who overcame horrendous beginnings, along comes an unsavory tidbit about how he treated prisoners or dealt in the slave trade to sway your loyalty.

Don’t look for heroes anywhere in this book. The Royal Navy offered an unspeakably hard life, with sailors suffering illness and death for low wages that were often withheld anyway. And those were the lucky ones.

On a journey from Charleston to Bristol, Captain John Jeane took a dislike to his cabin boy, whom he had whipped “several times in a very cruel manner” and increased the pain by pouring pickle brine into the wounds. Jeane strung the child up to the mast for nine days and nights with his arms and legs fully extended.

Jeane was just warming up, but I’ll spare you the even grislier details.

For every horrific account like this one, Woodard offers a riveting anecdote of thievery and seafaring adventure. There are times when the pirates’ exploits have the charm and cathartic thrill of a great heist pulled off with aplomb. And there’s no shortage of big action scenes, written in a fittingly breathless style:

Swords drawn and muskets at the ready, over 100 pirates crouched behind the Fancy‘s rails, waiting for the ships to come together. When they did, lines snapping, sails tearing, their wooden hulls moaning and creaking with the stress, Avery and company rushed over the side and onto the decks of the crippled vessel.

Like any good work of nonfiction, The Republic of Pirates is fascinating simply in the breadth of its research. I can’t, of course, vouch for the book’s historical accuracy, but Woodard has done an impressive job of sifting through conflicting, often apocryphal accounts and countless myths and legends to offer an engrossing depiction that is every bit as gritty, suspenseful, and electrifying as any fiction.

And I promise, reading the book is far shorter, and infinitely more rewarding, than sitting through the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 7:06 am

Posted in Books

Hitting one out of the park…

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State Representative Angie Paccione answers the marriage equality question in 2006 debate for US Congress in Colorado against the author of the FMA:

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2007 at 7:02 am

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