Later On

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

Archive for September 9th, 2007

Sounds good—too good to be true?

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A new battery technology:

Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine.
An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised “technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries,” meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.

By contrast, some plug-in hybrids on the horizon would require motorists to charge their cars in a wall outlet overnight and promise only 50 miles of gasoline-free commute. And the popular hybrids on the road today still depend heavily on fossil fuels.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” said Ian Clifford, chief executive of Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., which has licensed EEStor’s invention. “The Achilles’ heel to the electric car industry has been energy storage. By all rights, this would make internal combustion engines unnecessary.”

Clifford’s company bought rights to EEStor’s technology in August 2005 and expects EEStor to start shipping the battery replacement later this year for use in ZENN Motor’s short-range, low-speed vehicles.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 6:23 pm

RFID implants and cancer

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Interesting post from Boing Boing:

VeriChip — and other vendors — have been busily implanting radio-frequency ID (RFID) chips in human and animal subjects ever since the FDA approved the process. But a series of studies conducted from 1996-2006 noted a high incidence of dangerous tumors arising at the sites of RFID implants — something the FDA apparently did not consider when it approved the procedure.

Cancer or no, I wouldn’t go near an RFID implant. These things don’t have off-switches. They don’t have disclosure policies. They don’t have logs, or even notifiers. That means that you can’t stop people from interrogating your RFID, you can’t choose who gets to interrogate your RFID, you can’t see who has polled your RFID — and you can’t even know when your RFID is being read. You wouldn’t carry normal ID that behaves this way, but from London’s Oyster Card to the DOT’s FastPasses to the new US passports, these things are being stuck to our person in ever-greater numbers.

And while manufacturers claim that these things have inherent security because they can only be read from a few centimetres away, hackers have already ready them at more than 10m distance.

Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp. The company, which sees a target market of 45 million Americans for its medical monitoring chips, insists the devices are safe, as does its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, of Delray Beach, Fla.


Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 5:00 pm

Bookcase chair

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One peculiarity: unless the photo’s been flipped, the lamp is on the left. Great for left-handers, but right-handers want the lamp on the left so that their hand does not cast a shadow on what they’re writing. Still: it would be nice.

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9 September 2007 at 4:58 pm

Free Windows applications

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40 of ’em.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Software

Dark chocolate: 99% cocoa

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Just what it says. I want a bar.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life, Food

Pay attention in biology class

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To save yourself later embarrassment:

If you have raised kids (or been one), and gone through the pet syndrome, including toilet flush burials for dead goldfish, the story below will have you laughing out LOUD!

Overview: I had to take my son’s lizard to the vet.

Here’s what happened:

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

How the US should prepare for the decline

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Good piece by David Rieff in the LA Times today:

In Washington these days, people talk a lot about the collapse of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus that existed during the Cold War. But however bitter today’s disputes are about Iraq or the prosecution of the so-called global war on terrorism, there is one bedrock assumption about foreign policy that remains truly bipartisan: The United States will remain the sole superpower, and the guarantor of international security and global trade, for the foreseeable future. In other words, whatever else may change in the decades to come, the 21st century will be every bit as much of an American century as the 20th.

This assumption rests, in turn, on two interrelated beliefs.

The first is that because no country or alliance of states has shown any great desire to challenge U.S. preeminence — or demonstrated the means of doing so — no country is going to. China’s interests are regional at most, the argument goes, and the European Union is too divided, too unwilling or too weak to rebuild its once-formidable military machine. As for Russia, believers in the durability of a world order anchored in Washington insist that its declining population and excessive reliance on its energy wealth will in the long run preclude it from playing a central role in global affairs.

The second is that the world needs the U.S. and appreciates the role it plays. (In some versions of this argument, the world needs the U.S. far more than the U.S. needs the world.) If there have been no serious challenges to American hegemony to date, it is asserted, it is because the U.S. provides what are referred to by foreign policy analysts as “global goods”: It maintains political and economic stability around the world, it guarantees a democratic capitalist world order and, by virtue of its unparalleled military strength, it acts as a world policeman of last resort.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Government

Large holes in the ground

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Just what it says.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Daily life

Starbucks observations

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What I like: they print the capacity (in fluid ounces) on the bottom of the cups they sell.

What I don’t like: they cover up that information with the price tag.

A question: Do they print the capacity in fluid ounces in other nations, which use the metric system (except for Liberia and Myranmar)?

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

A good mum

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It comes out okay.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Interesting finding about liberals, conservatives

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From the LA Times. This finding certainly is consistent with the observation that the GOP seems to be much more organized and structured, with respect for hierarchy, than the Democratic party.

Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.

Scientists at New York University and UCLA showed through a simple experiment to be reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.

Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.

The results showed “there are two cognitive styles — a liberal style and a conservative style,” said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 11:53 am

From out of Iowa

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So: it was created in Iowa, not to far from where I lived at the time. It was in Cedar Rapids (though when we said, “Let’s go to Cedar Rapids,” The Eldest (much younger at the time) thought we were saying, “Let’s go to see the rabbits” and was initially eager for the trip). Here’s the story:

As the man generally regarded as the father of the automated switchboard, Peter Theis knows he has a lot to answer for.

“I’m the guy who did it, yeah,” 70-year-old Theis said. “I am ultimately to blame. I’m Dr. Frankenstein.”

It’s a bit more complicated than that, of course. The technology that many consumers believe serves no purpose but to prevent them from reaching a living, breathing service rep is in fact an electronic stew of a variety of systems.

But it was Theis who, in the early 1970s, cobbled together the nuts and bolts of what’s known today as interactive voice response, which is what allows a computer to respond to touch tones or spoken words with seemingly endless corridors of automated options.

“When I invented it, I knew this would be huge,” he told me. “My goal was to improve the efficiency of call centers. I never thought that people would misapply the technology.”

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 11:39 am

The special steak and tempero

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I linked earlier to this way of preparing a steak for the grill. The Wife commented that it reminded her strongly of the way we use Tempero, which (as you see) has a high component of salt. She especially liked it put over ribs for a few hours, then scraped off before the ribs were cooked.


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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 11:30 am

Free (yes: free!) Rosetta Stone language course

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Thanks to a good reader, I know now how to take the (excellent) Rosetta Stone language courses for free. (The link is to an earlier blog post.) As the reader writes:

I spent some time on your blog yesterday.   A nice mix of subjects.  The Firefox entries were a great help.  I tweaked my browser  after reading the posts. I like the food entries as well. 

The library post is great.  Don’t forget the Interlibrary loan exchange.  My library does not charge for getting books and materials from other libraries.  It also is now providing free access to some Rosetta stone programs so I am now studying German.

So I went to my library’s on-line catalog and, yes, I too have access through the library for free on-line Rosetta Stone courses. This is a fantastic benefit. I did a catalog search for “Rosetta Stone” and there it was. I simply register (and have to enter my library card number, since the course is only for library patrons), and Bob’s your uncle.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 11:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

When did you last make your own cheese?

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This post is worth reading for the photos and descriptions. It sounds like a fun project for The Eldest and The Older Grandson. The recipes:

Lemon Panir

prep time: 5 minutes ~ cooking time: 20-30 minutes ~ hang time: 1 hour

  • 1 qt whole or lowfat milk (the more fat, the more cheese!)
  • Juice of 1 Lemons or 6 tbsps Lemon Juice
  • Salt
  • Cheesecloth

Pour the milk and lemon juice to a non-reactive pan and heat over medium-low heat to 165°-185°F stirring frequently. The higher temperature should give you more curds. When the milk is to the right temperature, turn off the heat, put on the lid and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth. After 15 minutes pour the curds into the colander. (Save the whey if you want, it’s apparently quite tasty, good for making bread and good for feeding plants).

Tie the four corners of the cheesecloth together and allow the cheese to drain for an hour or until it stops dripping. Turn the cheese out into a bowl and add salt to taste.

To serve: Eat it straight from the bowl, on bread, on salads or in curries. Enjoy!

Summer’s Best Salad

prep time: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 1 lb of Cranberry or other Shell Bean, shelled and cooked for 20-30 minutes and then cooled
  • 1 lb of Romano Beans, snapped into small pieces and cooked until just tender, about 7 minutes, and then cooled
  • 4-6 cloves of the best Garlic you can find, minced
  • 5 ears of Sweet Corn, kernels cut off
  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes cut into bite sized chunks
  • Small handful of Bush or Greek Basil leaves
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tarragon Vinegar
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Mustard
  • Lemon Panir

Combine the beans, garlic, corn, tomatoes and basil in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Combine the vinegars, lemon juice and olive oil with a wee bit of prepared or dried mustard and whisk into a dressing with your favorite level of acidity. Pour the dressing over the salad, mix to combine and set aside to allow the flavors to develop for at least 30 minutes.

To serve: Give each person a few big spoonfuls in a bowl, top with lemon panir. Dig in and enjoy!

And more: fresh ricotta!

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 10:38 am

Hot-weather cucumber salad

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Frugal Cuisine has a salad recipe that sounds delicious:

Cucumbers are very refreshing when it is really hot, and here in Sichuan spicy foods are seen as a source of relief from the humidity. Most spicy cucumber salad recipes that I run into are very sweet, and I wanted to get away from sweetness and make a salad that was clean, sharp, and spicy. A Uighur restaurant in town serves a little plate of something very similar with their zhua fan dish of rice cooked with lamb and vegetables. A few spoons of this also goes well with dishes that are rich and mild like fried rice or noodles. I ate the ones pictured with a beer, which was also perfect.

The ground red pepper I am using is quite coarse, very like Korean gochu karu. Here in China it is very fragrant and mixed with sesame seeds. Slice one med English cucumber or two smaller ones into slices and salt them; let the slices stand for a few hours to drain. To the cucumber slices add three tablespoons of white vinegar (can use cider or rice vinegar, but use a bit more) and one teaspoon of coarse ground red pepper or cayenne, or more to taste. Slice a mild to medium red pepper into small pieces and toss the mixture together. (I don’t recommend using the very hot bird’s eye or Hunan peppers unless you are a serious chili head.) Store in the fridge for a few hours for flavours to blend; keeps for a few days.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 10:34 am

After the shave

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One of the pleasures of the shave is the final step: the aftershave. The general choice is between a balm (“soothing”) and a splash (with alcohol as an ingredient: “bracing”). But those adjectives don’t quite do the job. For example, the Proraso Pre- and Post-Shave Cream, with its freight of menthol and eucalyptus, is quite bracing.

There’s quite a selection on this page, which I started reading because of some complimentary remarks about PREP used as a pre-shave. (PREP is another pre- and post-shave cream, along with 3P on the same page). What particularly caught my eye was the Institut Karité Aftershave Balm: 25% shea butter (the same as the Institut Karité shaving soap). And that Prè de Provence Aftershave Balm doesn’t look too shabby, either. I think both of those would be of interest to guys in the northern states and Canada as we head into the blustery, cold, dry air of winter.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 10:21 am

Posted in Shaving

Eating for $15/week/person

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Interesting post and probably worth trying, to some degree. Even if one doesn’t achieve $15/week, the result will probably be a marked diminution in grocery bills.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Eating like a bird

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My breakfast now comprises only seed:

  1. Oat groats
  2. Flaxseed
  3. Chia seed
  4. English walnuts
  5. Pumpkin seed
  6. Coffee seed

The first two are cooked together, then nos. 3-5 mixed in, along with blackstrap molasses, cinnamon, and pepper sauce. No. 6 is ground and then steeped to prepare a broth, served separately.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 9:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Interview with Bobo

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Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2007 at 9:10 am

Posted in Cats, Video

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