Later On

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

Archive for September 8th, 2007

A steak idea worth trying

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Something to grill this week.

UPDATE: I tried it, and I think my steak was too thin for the method. Result: very salty steak. If you try it, get a very thick steak.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 8:44 pm

More new-camera fun: view from the balcony

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View from balcony

Photo taken from the balcony five minutes ago.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Daily life

Firefox: 400 million downloads

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I assume that this must count as separate downloads every update that you download — that is, 400 million downloads does not equal 400 million users. Still: a lot of users. Part of their secret is the tremendous array of (free, useful) add-ins. I don’t think I even remember what a plain vanilla Firefox is like. (The updates — even to a new version number, like Version 2 — bring along all the add-ins that will work with the update, and also tracks the ones that don’t so that you are informed when an update is available for those so that you can start using them again.) Great program.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 12:16 pm

The Shave Den Store

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Just found this—very belated, since it’s been doing business for a while. Check it out: The Shave Den Store.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Business, Shaving

Megs and the new camera

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Megs beside chair Megs with box Megs with box 2 Megs with toys

A new camera, Megs hanging around, what more could you ask? Photos above show Megs beside the chair, then two of Megs making out with the box the camera came in, and finally Megs sitting among some of her wealth. Note the little elastic ring just NW of Meg’s right ear. That’s her elastic band with which she does her Jack LaLanne exercises. She keeps very good track of the band—it moves from place to place and room to room, but she always knows where it is.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 11:28 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Know thyself

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Via the Happiness Project, here’s a collection of questionnaires to help you along to self-knowledge.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 11:09 am

Who decided to disband the Iraq army?

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Probably one of the top 5 worst decisions in the Iraq war was the decision to disband the Iraq army, “a move that put 250,000 young Iraqi men out of a job, out on the streets, angry, and armed—and all but guaranteed the violent chaos to come.”

So whose idea was it? Not Bush’s, apparently. He thought the idea was to keep the army intact. Fred Kaplan at Slate has an article on the decision (via Kevin Drum). He first notes that it wasn’t Bremer:

Bremer is right about one thing: It wasn’t him. Though he wouldn’t be so self-demeaning as to admit it, he was a mere errand boy on this point. He arrived in Baghdad on May 14, 2003. The next day, he released CPA Order No. 1, barring members of the Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the Iraqi army.

Then Kaplan provides this amazing piece of information:

What we do know is that both orders directly violated decisions that had been made at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

On March 10, 2003, a week before the invasion, the National Security Council held a principals’ meeting, attended by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, the Joints Chiefs of Staff, and the top aides to all these officials. They decided that after the war, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be set up—similar to such panels in post-apartheid South Africa and post-Communist Eastern Europe—to ferret out the undesirable Baathists from those who could reliably work for a post-Saddam regime. Most Baathists were ordinary, even apolitical, people whose jobs required them to join the party. A rough calculation by NSC staffers and intelligence analysts was that only about 5 percent of the party—the leaders—would have to be removed, and even they would have the right to appeal.

On March 12, at another principals’ meeting, on what to do about the Iraqi military, these same top U.S. officials decided to disband the Republican Guard—Saddam’s elite corps and bodyguards—but to call the regular army’s soldiers back to duty and to reconstitute their units after a proper vetting of their loyalties.

Both of these decisions were unanimous. NSC staff members had briefed officials on these plans before the meetings, up and down the chain of command, and they encountered no substantive dissent.

Read the entire article. Fascinating.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 10:26 am

Autistic children immune to contagious yawns

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The BPS Research Digest reports that children with autism are seemingly ‘immune’ to contagious yawning – perhaps as a result of their reduced social awareness.

Yawning is mysterious: no-one really knows why we do it, but we do know it’s reliably ‘contagious’.

Seeing someone yawn, or indeed, just thinking about someone else yawning, makes us more likely to do the same. For example, this article may well be enough to trigger a yawn in some people.

One of the three key aspects of autism is a difficulty with social interaction (the other two being difficulties with certain types of abstract thinking and a restricted or repetitive range of interests or behaviours).

So a group of researchers, led by psychologist Dr. Atsushi Senju, wondered whether children with autism might be less susceptible to yawn contagion.

They came up with the ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ idea of showing videos of people yawning to groups of typically developing children, and children with a diagnosis of autism.

The study [pdf] showed that children with autism were far less likely to yawn in response to watching others do the same.

Often, autistic social difficulties are put down to a problem with ‘theory of mind‘ the ability to understand other people’s beliefs, intentions and desires, but it’s not clear that contagious yawning relies on this.

The researchers don’t have any easy answers for why yawn contagion is reduced in autism, but suggest, without committing, that known differences in viewing faces, possible differences in mirror neurons or problems with imitating others might be linked.

The BPSRD has a talent for picking up on previously obscure but striking studies, and this is another great example.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Where’s the compassion?

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President Bush’s first campaign used the slogan “compassionate conservatism” to describe his political philosophy. And yet we see little compassion in action. The NY Times has this editorial today:

The Bush administration reached a deplorable, preordained verdict yesterday when it denied New York State permission to expand a valuable health insurance program to help cover middle-class children. The administration, which makes no effort to disguise its disdain for government insurance programs, imposed new, excessively stringent requirements last month that not only guaranteed New York’s denial but will make it nearly impossible for any state to expand coverage.

The denial shows the White House at its most ideological and intransigent. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of children in New York — and many more nationally — will end up paying the price.

New York wanted to raise its income threshold for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-chip, from the current $51,000 for a family of four to more than $82,000. There is room to debate whether that level — four times the poverty level — is too high, but the administration is not basing its rejection on those grounds. Federal officials say they have no authority to reject a state’s plan based on income eligibility alone.

That is apparently why the administration cooked up new requirements that allow it to block middle-class coverage on other grounds. This is a distressing change for a program that had previously given states great leeway to devise coverage to fit their own circumstances.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 8:58 am

Tipping the front desk for free room upgrade

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This is a fascinating thread. Apparently it’s true: at many hotels a discreet tip to the front desk while requesting a complimentary room upgrade will produce results. Worth a try, eh?

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Spice: twice is nice

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Another spicy day: Old Spice shaving cream, lathered with the Simpsons 58 Best. Good brush, but I think I might prefer the 56—the loft of the 58 is a little longer than I like.

A new blade: the Bic Chrome Stainless, kindly sent to me by another shaver. It’s a French brand, manufactured in Greece, and I loaded it into the Edwin Jagger Georgian. I’m finding that when I try a new brand of blade, I like to use the Merkur Classic head, and the EJ versions of these are quite nice.

It’s not a bad blade. The first two passes were fine, though I noted a little resistance in the third pass. Still, a very smooth shave, and this time the aftershave was Lustray Spice.

Maybe I should see how long I can continue the spice theme. Check in next week. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2007 at 8:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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