Later On

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

Archive for July 30th, 2007

If your tap water is hard

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Very hard water makes shaving difficult—the soap won’t lather, the razor scums up, etc. One solution is to get a household water softener—ideally one that regenerates by volume of water used, not by time—and have all taps except the kitchen cold go through the water softener.

But a simpler solution is to buy (inexpensive) distilled water at the drugstore (sold in gallons for use with steam irons, for example) and a hot-water dispenser:

Instant Hot Water: Prepare foods and beverages faster with instant hot water from a Zojirushi electric dispensing water pot. Water is dispensed electrically — no hand pumping required. New wide-angle visual water level gauge, sturdy handle, easy to clean nonstick interior. Micro computerized control maintains temperature at your choice of 175°, 195° or 208° F, with constant display of actual water temperature via extra large LCD display. Features dechlorinate mode, reboil mode, descaling mode, auto shutoff for boil-dry protection, and swivel base. Program function allows you to select delayed start time. The 40″ power cord is securely held onto the unit by a powerful magnet, yet detaches extremely easily for refilling. (Lid also detaches for filling.) Smart touches like this abound on Zojirushi’s products.

Safe: There’s no safer way to use hot water than with a Zojirushi instant hot water dispenser. “Unlock” button prevents accidental activation, and water is dispensed straight downward into your cup or other container in a gentle, steady stream. The risk of sloshing scalding hot water from open containers is eliminated.

Efficient: Set at 175°, Zojirushi rates the 12 hour power consumption of the LCC50 at under 500 cumulative watts. Compared to the energy-wasteful method of stovetop heating, Zojirushi instant hot water dispensers save not only time, but energy and money too.

The Younger Daughter uses something like this to have instant hot water available for making a cup of tea at her office. (She doesn’t use distilled water for that, of course.)

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Dept of Justice still in decline

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From FindLaw, by Carl Tobias, the Williams Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

2007 has not exactly been a great year for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. DOJ’s problems include the ongoing controversy over nine U.S. Attorneys’ dismissal and the departure of many upper-echelon DOJ officials partly because of that dispute. But they don’t stop here: There is also the continuing controversy over the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program and related initiatives, such as the misuse of national security letters. Moreover, there have been longstanding fights with Congress that involve many DOJ programs’ overpoliticization, and implicate the Attorney General’s candor. These developments have conspired to erode professionalism, morale and effectiveness at the DOJ.

If remedial actions are not instituted soon, the Department’s downward spiral will continue and adversely affect DOJ, the justice system, and national law enforcement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 3:15 pm

Police like to harass photographers

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The list of police harassment of photographers is long. Police especially don’t like photographs being taken when they are arresting someone, but in general the police rule is “No photographs.” But note this:

A few months ago, my improv troupe was filming a guerrilla improv mission. Something odd happened to our camera man on his way back to the studio:

I stopped at the corner of 11th and walnut (right in front of City Center Square) and started shooting some additional construction work to weave in our piece. As I was shooting on the public sidewalk, a blue blazered security officer from City Center Square walked across the street to where I was and said I couldn’t shoot anymore. I explained my rights as a photographer shooting in public domain and he said it didn’t matter because there were federal offices in City Center Square and that was a no-no. Gotta’ love the Patriot Act.

If only he had Bert Krages’ flier, The Photographer’s Right, handy.

Most attempts at restricting photography are done by lower-level security and law enforcement officials acting way beyond their authority. Note that neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography. Similarly, some businesses have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them.

If you are a photographer or videographer, you need to print off and carry this flier. Stop letting fear keep you from doing your craft.

And also note this:

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Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Expertise demonstrated by errors

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Greenwald:

What is the most vivid and compelling evidence of how broken our political system is? It is that the exact same people who urged us into the war in Iraq, were wrong in everything they said, and issued one false assurance after the next as the war failed, continue to be the same people held up as our Serious Iraq Experts. The exact “experts” to whom we listened in 2002 and 2003 are the same exact establishment “experts” now.

Hence, today we have yet another Op-Ed declaring that We Really Are Winning in Iraq This Time — this one in the NYT from “liberal” Brookings Institution “scholars” Ken Pollack and Mike O’Hanlon. They accuse war critics of being “unaware of the significant changes taking place,” proclaim that “we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms,” and the piece is entitled “A War we Might Just Win.”

The Op-Ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start. To lavish themselves with credibility — as though they are war skeptics whom you can trust — they identify themselves at the beginning “as two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq.” In reality, they were not only among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, but repeatedly praised the Pentagon’s strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.

Worse, they announce that “the Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility,” as though they have not. But let us look at Michael O’Hanlon, and review just a fraction of the endless string of false and misleading statements he made about Iraq and ask why anyone would possibly listen to him about anything, let alone consider him an “expert” of any kind:

Read the whole column.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 11:53 am

Posted in Iraq War, Media

Three Emperors and a Rooney

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(click for full size)

The photo is a little misleading: the two smaller Emperors are roughly as white on the tips of the bristles and the largest. These are the Simpsons Emperor family in Super: Emperor 3 (the largest), Emperor 2, and Emperor 1 (the smallest). The tape measure is for scale, and on the other side of it is the Rooney Style 2 Finest for comparison.

I like all the Emperors. Em’s Place (scroll down) has the Emperor 3, but I don’t think that she carries the Emperor 2 and 1, which I bought from the Gentleman’s Shop. (If the brush is shipped out of the UK, you don’t pay the VAT.)

I like all three of the Emperors and use all three, but if you were to buy just one, I think it probably should be the Emperor 3. And I do like the Super.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 11:35 am

Posted in Shaving

Gonzales: a pattern of prevarication

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Washington Post:

When Alberto R. Gonzales was asked during his January 2005 confirmation hearing whether the Bush administration would ever allow wiretapping of U.S. citizens without warrants, he initially dismissed the query as a “hypothetical situation.”

But when Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) pressed him further, Gonzales declared: “It is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.”

By then, however, the government had been conducting a secret wiretapping program for more than three years without court oversight, possibly in conflict with federal intelligence laws. Gonzales had personally defended the effort in fierce internal debates. Feingold later called his testimony that day “misleading and deeply troubling.”

The accusation that Gonzales has been deceptive in his public remarks has erupted this summer into a full-blown political crisis for the Bush administration, as the beleaguered attorney general struggles repeatedly to explain to Congress the removal of a batch of U.S. attorneys, the wiretapping program and other actions.

In each case, Gonzales has appeared to lawmakers to be shielding uncomfortable facts about the Bush administration’s conduct on sensitive matters. A series of misstatements and omissions has come to define his tenure at the helm of the Justice Department and is the central reason that lawmakers in both parties have been trying for months to push him out of his job.

Yet controversy over Gonzales’s candor about George W. Bush’s conduct or policies has actually dogged him for more than a decade, since he worked for Bush in Texas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 9:25 am

Number of hurricanes doubled due to global warming

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Reuters:

The number of Atlantic hurricanes in an average season has doubled in the last century due in part to warmer seas and changing wind patterns caused by global warming, according to a study released on Sunday.

Hurricane researchers have debated for years whether climate change caused by greenhouse gases from cars, factories and other human activity is resulting in more, and more intense, tropical storms and hurricanes.

The new study, published online in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, said the increased numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes in the last 100 years is closely related to a 1.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in sea surface temperatures.

The influential U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a report this year warning that humans contribute to global warming, said it was “more likely than not” that people also contribute to a trend of increasingly intense hurricanes.

In the new study, conducted by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology, researchers found three periods since 1900 when the average number of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes increased sharply, and then leveled off and remained steady.

From 1900 to 1930, Atlantic hurricane seasons saw six storms on average, with four hurricanes and two tropical storms. From 1930 to 1940, the annual average rose to ten, including five hurricanes.

From 1995 to 2005, the average rose to 15, with eight hurricanes and seven tropical storms, the researchers said.

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Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 9:21 am

More on the Media

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James Fallows was on the case 11 years ago:

My thanks to my Atlantic-blog colleague Matthew Yglesias (plus others) for referring back to my 1996 cover story in the Atlantic, Why Americans Hate the Media. Three pentimenti:

* The related American Prospect piece that M. Yglesias also mentions, which is oddly listed on the Prospect site as having come out in 2002, was in fact published in March, 1999 — while Bill Clinton’s enemies were still smiting him about (his idiocy involving) Monica Lewinsky. I remember so clearly because I wrote it during “personal time” while working on the Word product-design team at Microsoft in the first half of 1999.

* On evergreenness in general: several times I have considered revisiting the whole what’s-wrong-with-the-press question and have instead plugged on with other topics — Iraq policy, China — for reasons that boil down to: what’s the point? The problems with the media are the same as I tried to describe 11 years ago — just worse, and with new technology. But there’s always tomorrow…

* That Atlantic cover story was in fact an excerpt from my book Breaking the News. And anyone who would like to read the pitch in its full glory need only click here.

You can buy Breaking the News here at a good price.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 9:09 am

Posted in Media

Brush cleaner for shaving/makeup brushes

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Just got this tip on Badger & Blade: M.A.C. brush cleaner does a great job of cleaning shaving brushes as well as the makeup brushes it was intended for.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 8:21 am

Posted in Shaving

Derby blade not bad

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It’s been a long time since I used a Derby Extra blade. These are held in generally high regard, and I no longer recall exactly why I decided they were not for me. Thanks to LetterK, I have a pack now, and this morning I gave one a go.

I used a Mama Bear Sandalwood Vanilla shaving stick—extremely nice, and gave a thick, dense lather with the Simpsons Emperor 2 Super. Working up the lather was a pleasure in fragrance and feel.

With beard well prepped, I picked up the Edwin Jagger Georgian holding the new Derby and set to work. It was a very good shave. The Derby performs fine, with only a little tugging at my toughest whiskers, which are around my mouth: upper lip, lower lip, and at the corners. No cuts, no nicks, and quite a smooth result.

Finished with the alum block and Coty’s Raw Vanilla aftershave.

I do detect that the Derbys are not quite so sharp as, say, the Feathers and the Treet Blue Special, but they are quite serviceable and I understand why they are the mainstay for many shavers, especially with the very good price when bought in bulk on eBay.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2007 at 8:02 am

Posted in Shaving

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