Later On

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

Archive for August 28th, 2007

Right-wing think tank: Bush as President for Life

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Wow. They do have some ideas, don’t they? Digby rescues the article from the think tank as they busily try to erase it:

I’ve been getting a lot of emails about this group Family Security Matters which boasts such right wing luminaries as Barbara Comstock, Monica Crowley, Frank Gaffney, Laura Ingraham and James Woolsey among others on its board of directors. It seems like they are just another of the dozens of wingnut welfare programs devoted to throwing good money after bad keeping conservative operatives gainfully employed.

The emails I’m getting say they are busily scrubbing articles all over the place. When you look at what they’ve left up you have to wonder what could possibly be so bad they have to scrub it.

This one is still in the Google cache for now, and it’s certainly a keeper. Here, for posterity is:

Exclusive: Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
Philip Atkinson

Author: Philip Atkinson
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: August 3, 2007

While democratic government is better than dictatorships and theocracies, it has its pitfalls. FSM Contributing Editor Philip Atkinson describes some of the difficulties facing President Bush today.

Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
By Philip Atkinson

President George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2005 after being chosen by the majority of citizens in America to be president.

Yet in 2007 he is generally despised, with many citizens of Western civilization expressing contempt for his person and his policies, sentiments which now abound on the Internet. This rage at President Bush is an inevitable result of the system of government demanded by the people, which is Democracy.

The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.

When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.

This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. [“Wisest” in a special sense, I think. – LG] Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 6:49 pm

Posted in GOP, Government, Iraq War

Reining in Home Owners Associations

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It looks as though Home Owners Associations require some regulation and limitations on their power:

Do homeowners’ associations wield too much power?

Some North Texans facing fines, liens and even foreclosures for everything from fake flowers to satellite dishes say there’s no question about it.

Eli Barron didn’t ask his homeowners’ association for permission to install seven solar lights.

He didn’t know he had to until he received a letter.

The association threatened to fine him $200 a day until he removed the energy-conserving lights.

It threatened to hire a contractor to remove the lights at Barron’s cost.

If he refused to pay, they informed him, they could foreclose.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

Molly mid-scratch

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Molly mid-scratch

Molly caught  in the middle of a scratch—or maybe she was going to scratch, raised her back foot, then forgot about it, as cats will do.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Stop the catch-22 on medical marijuana research

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From the Marijuana Policy Project:

Would it surprise you to learn that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is refusing to allow medical marijuana research to move forward — despite a clear recommendation from its own administrative law judge to let such research happen?

If you’re like me, this will be just the latest outrage from the same agency that insists on terrorizing and arresting medical marijuana patients and providers who are complying with state law and their doctors’ advice.

Would you please take one minute to ask your U.S. House member to direct the DEA to permit medical marijuana research to move forward?

MPP’s online action center has done all the work for you; just click a few buttons and your letter will be sent.

(Congress provides the DEA with 100% of its funding — all of it taxpayer money — so the DEA is more likely to listen to members of Congress than just about anyone else.)

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Working on rational drug laws

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From the Drug Policy Alliance:

If you told me a year ago we were near a tipping point in Congress on rolling back one of the worst excesses of the war on drugs, I probably would have thought you were crazy. But the movement to eliminate the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity has grown so strong that Senators are tripping over themselves to support reform. Three different bi-partisan reform bills have already been introduced in the Senate – all by unlikely allies – and the Judiciary Committee is set to have hearings on the issue in September. Please take a minute today to fax your Senators and help build momentum against these draconian mandatory minimums.

Take action now.

Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are different forms of the same drug, and have similar effects on the brain and nervous system. Federal law, however, sets a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between the two forms.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Congress, Drug laws

Panda bear cub: the first 3 months

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life

When will the US get national healthcare?

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From the NY Times today:

The nation’s poverty rate fell in 2006 for the first time this decade, the Census Bureau reported today, even as the percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage hit a record high.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 11:12 am

Razor bumps

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I don’t suffer from razor bumps, but some shavers do—in particular, African-Americans often have the problem. Shaving with a double-edged razor helps quite a bit, compared to the tug-and-cut action of the multiblade-cartridge razor—provided that the shave is done with good prep, the right blade for the shaver, and good shaving technique. And now products are available aimed at helping shavers who get razor bumps. I’ve never used Bump Patrol, the product at the link, but the site also offers a video on shaving techniques—but, oddly, the suggestion is to use a multiblade-cartridge razor. Why? Just to make sure that the customers have to continue to buy the product?

Here’s a discussion on the shaving forum that offers some good advice.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 11:10 am

Posted in Business, Shaving

The Army: still a strange institution

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From ThinkProgress:

On March 12, the Pentagon announced that Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, who oversaw neglect at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was resigning, effective immediately. NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported that it was “very likely” Kiley “would be reduced in retirement, at least one rank” and “be forced to retire at that two-star level.”

In order to retire as a three-star general, Kiley would have had to do at least three years of active-duty service in that grade. The higher the grade, the greater the retirement pay and benefits a general receives.

Kiley was appointed Army Surgeon General on Sept. 30, 2004. Therefore, as Miklaszewski noted, he retired before serving out his three-year term at the three-star level.

But ThinkProgress has learned that Kiley is still serving at the Pentagon, despite announcing his “retirement” in March. An official in the Department of the Army Public Affairs told ThinkProgress:

He [Kiley] is no longer serving as the Army Surgeon General but is in a transition status pending his retirement. … Currently Maj. Gen Kiley does not have a specific retirement date. He is no longer performing any duties related to The Surgeon General and is pending retirement.

When asked why the Army didn’t immediately ask for Kiley’s retirement in March, we were told that such information was “protected under the Privacy Act which restrict disclosure of information pertaining to administrative actions or personal communication.”

The law states that if an officer does not serve at that grade for three years, “the Secretary of Defense may authorize the Secretary of a military department to reduce such period to a period not less than two years.” Therefore, the Army may still be holding open the door to the possibility that Kiley may serve through September and retire with the pay and benefits of a three-star general.

During his time overseeing Walter Reed and serving as Army Surgeon General, Kiley ignored the neglect at Walter Reed. As far back as 2003, Kiley was told “that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds.” He also ignored Beverly Young, the wife of Rep. Don Young (R-AK), when she told him about a soldier at Walter Reed “lying in urine on his mattress pad.” Even after the Washington Post investigation, Kiley claimed that the problems at Building 18 “weren’t serious.”

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 10:52 am

Posted in Army, Health, Medical, Military

Spitzer threatens to sue over SCHIP

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The Bush Administration decision to cut back on children covered under the State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has riled quite a few—and now Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, may sue:

Today in the New York Daily News, Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) sharply criticizes the Bush administration’s cuts, which block the state’s plan to expand coverage “to children whose parents earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, from 250 percent currently.” From his op-ed:

There are 400,000 uninsured children in New York. To put this in perspective, if they were to gather in one place, they would form the second-largest city in the state – larger than Rochester, Albany and Binghamton combined.

To deny coverage to these children is not only morally wrong, it is profoundly bad public policy. […]

But then – last Friday – the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, at the behest of President Bush, slammed the door in the face of children and families across our nation.

Not only would CMS prevent states from increasing their income limits to bring more children into the program, CMS has actually proposed reducing the income limits many states already have, forcing children out of the program and into the ranks of the uninsured.

Yesterday, Spitzer also threatened to sue the federal government “on charges that new regulations on children’s health insurance violate an existing program that covers children from lower-income families.”

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 10:49 am

Self-improvement caveats

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Good point in this post—and consistent with the current tagline on my blog about the rate of change.

Self improvement is often described in a rosy manner. It’s all upsides and money in droves, speedboats, a 500% increase in productivity, great relationships and instant weight loss. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

But there are, of course, potential downsides and challenges to be aware of.

Below I’ve listed a few of them. They aren’t that serious really, most of them are just things that easily slip your mind. Getting stuck in the self-help junkie mode of spending thousands of dollars on books/cds/dvds and seminars or getting lost in some kind of destructive cult is a lot worse.

Since these five things are easy to forget about – or miss, especially when you first start learning about self improvement – I thought I’d write them down. That’s always a good way to, well, remind you of the important things and not let them get lost in everyday worries and life.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 10:11 am

Posted in Daily life

Cool drawings

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Take a look. Via DesignVerb, who says that the guy has a book and is looking for a job in the entertainment industry.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 10:03 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Like seltzer? Sparkling water?

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Home carbonator

Cool Tools has a great post on making a home carbonation system: quick, easy, and you can customize your seltzers:

Home Carbonation System

I drink a lot of seltzer. So much that my fiancée says I couldn’t survive without bubbles in my water. After trying a SodaClub home soda maker (picture above right) and realizing it would cost $70 to buy a special part for it, I found a really detailed resource for building my own, simple home carbonation system for under a $100 using a CO2 tank, regulator, hose and a carbonator cap (details below). It took ten minutes to build. I love having very good homemade soda on the cheap and not having to lug around seltzer bottles or worry about it going flat. With a scuba-like tank in the kitchen, guests always ask “What is that?!” and I really love demonstrating. When one friend of mine said he didn’t like soda, I whipped him up a mango soda from this special puree of mango I had. He absolutely loved it! And a by-product of the cost of producing low cost seltzer water is that I can experiment with different flavored sodas. I mean some really wacky stuff, like lychee-tangerine or coconut-lucima. If I don’t like it, or it tastes weird, I don’t feel guilty about draining the entire liter or two-liter bottle.

My 20lb system makes over 1133 liters of carbonated water. In practice, efficiency is not perfect, with unavoidable losses in the hose and headspace. But at current prices of $20 per 20lb tank-fill, the cost to convert tap water to seltzer is under $0.02 cents per liter. A single fill of a 20lb tank charges over 500 bottles, which will keep you supplied for 1.5 years if you consume an average of one bottle daily. In terms of break even, assuming that you can find liter bottles of seltzer water for $0.99 per bottle, then it’ll take roughly 100 bottles for the system to break even. I definitely drink a liter a day, so it only took about 3 months for me to break even — not to mention all of the labor and space that it saves to lug in and store 8.3 dozen liter bottles of seltzer water.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 9:48 am

Doing one thing

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One of the points I make in the Guide to Gourmet Shaving is that shaving can bring a clear focus to the mind, like other activities that are absorbing—making a putt, for example, or rock-climbing:

The contemplative aspect of a satisfying shaving ritual is important. Most of us live hurried lives, multitasking and rushing about, harried by time demands. What the morning shave with a safety razor offers is a small oasis of unhurried calm and single-minded attention to remind you what it feels like to be unrushed and not to be doing one thing while thinking of something else.

Kafeneio has a good (and entertaining) post this morning with some examples of “hurried lives, multitasking and rushing about.”

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 8:47 am

Posted in Daily life

Blade mysteries

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It is a mystery to me why the same blade will draw such different responses from different shavers—far more difference than, say, brushes or razors or shaving soap, though those, too, have a “Your Mileage May Vary” factor.

This morning I read a review of one of the two best blades I’ve found. (Given the enormous variation in shaver response to blades, it’s somewhat odd to even have blade reviews, but people do crave guidance.) The review also omits the usual (and important) qualifiers, such as “for me” and “YMMV”. For example:

I am truly astounded at how despicably bad these blades are. They are nothing close to sharp and the pull/drag is truly a marvel of modern metallurgy. If this is the best that Pakistan has to offer, I am in awe that every Pakistani man is not sporting a Rumpelstiltskin. This product is a tragic waste of metal.

His experience surprises me, even though I know that different shavers respond differently to the same brand of blade. And, of course, that’s (a) why we have sampler packs of blades and (b) why it’s so important for each shaver to go through the sampler packs and find his own “best blade.” You really have to judge based on your own experience.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 8:41 am

Posted in Shaving

Mango-oil shaving soap

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Among my faves now—and why don’t more shaving soaps use terra-cotta bowls? Probably because they’re breakable, but they do feel nice in the hand.

I used the Alesse Pure Badger brush. Badger grades go (upward) something like this: pure, best, silvertip, super silvertip. The pure badger, I found this morning (with this brush, at least) feels fine, but won’t hold so much lather nor generate so much lather as “best.” OTOH, “best” can be quite close to “silvertip”—in fact, among the Simpson brushes I have, some are better (for me) in “best” than in “super” (the Simpsons name for silvertip, though their “best” also looks silvertippish).

As you can gather, not only do the terms have no strict definition, their use varies greatly from one brush manufacturer to another.

Still, I got a good enough lather, and with a Gillette NEW holding some blade I like, I got a very nice shave indeed, finishing with the alum block and Royall Vetiver. Then into the kitchen to decant the cold-brewed coffee and make myself a cup of hot-brewed.

Written by Leisureguy

28 August 2007 at 8:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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