Later On

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

Archive for July 22nd, 2007

The US broadband problem

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Paul Krugman comments on it:

There was a time when everyone thought that the Europeans and the Japanese were better at business than we were. In the early 1990s airport bookstores were full of volumes with samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese business success. Lester Thurow’s 1992 book, “Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America,” which spent more than six months on the Times best-seller list, predicted that Europe would win.

Then it all changed, and American despondency turned into triumphalism. Partly this was because the Clinton boom contrasted so sharply with Europe’s slow growth and Japan’s decade-long slump. Above all, however, our new confidence reflected the rise of the Internet. Jacques Chirac complained that the Internet was an “Anglo-Saxon network,” and he had a point — France, like most of Europe except Scandinavia, lagged far behind the U.S. when it came to getting online.

What most Americans probably don’t know is that over the last few years the situation has totally reversed. As the Internet has evolved — in particular, as dial-up has given way to broadband connections using DSL, cable and other high-speed links — it’s the United States that has fallen behind.

The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here.

As a result, we’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 8:01 pm

Learn more easily by knowing your learning style

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If you’re a student or a teacher, this little questionnaire to determine your learning style should be of interest.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Very strange, in light of Bush’s rhetoric

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3,498: Number of Iranians the United States has accepted into the country in the past nine months. In contrast, the United States has admitted just 825 Iraqi refugees since 2003, “many of them backlogged applicants from the time Saddam Hussein was in power.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 2:26 pm

Odd secrecy

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It’s typical, of course, but this time it’s odd and ominous. Booman Tribune points out (and speculates about) this story:

Oregonians called Peter DeFazio’s office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure “bubbleroom” in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

“I just can’t believe they’re going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack,” DeFazio says.

Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn’t know who did it or why.

“We’re talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America,” DeFazio says. “I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee.”

Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say why DeFazio was denied access: “We do not comment through the press on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive.”

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he “cannot think of one good reason” to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

“I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House,” Ornstein said.

This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.

“Maybe the people who think there’s a conspiracy out there are right,” DeFazio said.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 2:17 pm

Sophie burrito

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Sophie is having to take meds orally—squirted into her little outraged kitty mouth with a syringe. She doesn’t really seem to care for that, and after she gouged a chunk out of my hand in her frantic efforts to escape, we are now wrapping her in a towel, making (as The Wife says) a Sophie burrito. That works pretty well. Today is the last day. Thank God.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 8:56 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

Shooter misfires

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Last night we watched Shooter, which is a clownish and awkward adaptation of Stephen Hunter‘s excellent and technical and complex thriller Point of Impact. Skip the movie and read the book.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 8:55 am

Posted in Books, Movies & TV

Food notes

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Last night we enjoyed a butterflied leg of lamb that I marinated and grilled. Here’s the recipe. It was extremely tasty, and I was pleased that I had a good carving board with a well around the edge. A carving board is a must-have if you like your knives: trying to cut the roast or ribs or whatever while it’s still in the pan—or on a plate—is hopeless. It’s hard, and you can ruin your knife or the pan or both.

Tomato “Bread Pudding”

The original recipe: Cut 1/2 a baguette into 3/4″ cubes. Toss with 1/2 stick butter, melted. Pulse 5 ripe garden tomatoes in the food processor with 1/2 tsp. each salt and sugar, plus pepper to taste. Toss with bread and bake in a buttered casserole dish at 400 for 30 minutes. Top with 1/4 c. grated Parmesan and cook 10 more minutes, then let stand 5 minutes before eating.

What I did: I used 1/4 c. of olive oil instead of 1/4 c. of butter (i.e., 1/2 stick). I put the olive oil in a skillet, along with a good amount of minced garlic. Sautéed that, added the bread cubes and tossed and sautéed them as well. The I salted and peppered them well, added the processed tomatoes (without their having any salt or sugar) to the skillet, and put that in the oven. Roasted and topped with Parmesan as described.

Quite good. The second time I made it, I added some crushed red pepper to the olive oil and garlic, and I also topped it with grated Romano instead of Parmesan. Excellent. Today when I make it, I’m going to process some fresh basil in with the tomatoes.  I also might use just 1/3 of the baguette loaf, so I get three recipes from a loaf instead of just two. It’s really good—and really easy. And I still want to try adding capers and perhaps some sliced black olives. Also some minced sweet onion.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2007 at 8:50 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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