Later On

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

Archive for September 26th, 2007

Airlines have gone berserk

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Some action must be taken:

Airline films need attention. On a recent US Airways flight, the in-flight airline movie screen dropped down from the overhead and began showing images of incredible violence. A drive-by shooting, a child crushed to death by a car, kids swapping guns. And that was in the first five minutes of the film. What’s crazy is that children on the flight were watching these images regardless of whether or not their parents purchased headsets. All because the screens were positioned so that everyone could see them. On other flights, parents have struggled to protect their kids from images of murder, torture, melting faces and death – all shown on publicly viewable screens.

And the NY Times notices it, too:

A husband shoots his wife in the face, then drags her body from the pool of blood. A 12-year-old boy is crushed against a fence by a car. A teenager zips up her jeans in the bathroom after a sexual encounter.

These are images from movies shown to passengers recently on overhead screens in airlines, and they are sources of a new and vigorous outcry from parents, flight attendants and children’s advocacy groups who say that in-flight entertainment has become anything but family-friendly.

Critics say their anger comes as airlines, eager to cater to current tastes and acceding to more permissive standards for the entertainment media, have relaxed their rules for what they show.

Movies with R ratings are more frequently shown, though with editing, along with television reruns including sexual content, violence and other fare intended for teenagers and adults.

Because federal broadcast laws do not apply to in-flight entertainment, and because airlines need not adhere to Motion Picture Association of America ratings or television standards, parental advocacy groups have begun lobbying for change. At least one group has asked federal legislators for laws to curb violence shown on overhead screens.

Flying with children, the critics say, has become a scary experience.

“It’s almost routine now when you’re on a plane to sit there and go, ‘Whoa!’ ” said James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, which reviews entertainment products for parents. “But you’re a captive audience, and you have almost no control.”

Thomas Fine and Sara Susskind of Cambridge, Mass., recently spent two hours on a United Airlines flight distracting their 6-year-old son, Zachary, from the R-rated “Shooter,” which depicts multiple gory killings. The sound of gunshots from nearby earphones alerted Zachary to look up, Mr. Fine said. “It’s not like he can look away when he hears the sound, and he’s sitting on a plane bored, and he’s 6,” Mr. Fine said.

The airlines counter that they are trying to appeal to the widest possible audience while respecting parents’ needs, and that parents can avoid shows if they wish.

“Parents have to be responsible for the actions of their kids — whether they shouldn’t look at the screen or look away,” said Eric Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines. … “People love Pepsi, and we don’t serve that, so there you go, we just ruined their flight. That’s an accurate analogy.”

More at the link. I stopped here to show the stupidity of the airlines’ response.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Movies & TV

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Harvest Moon tonight

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Tonight’s a full moon, the Harvest Moon.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Daily life

Food notes

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Just made a new 2-cup batch of chile-garlic paste and my knuckles and the backs of my fingers are burning from rinsing the seeds off the peppers in the soaking liquid. Wow! It smarts. I thought I’d use the paste instead of mayo on my roast-beef sandwiches for lunch.

And I roasted another beef roast: chuck cross-rib roast, boneless, $2/lb on sale.

Tomorrow I’ll cook the Brussels sprouts and make more caramelized onions. I realized after the last batch of the onions that the slices need to be very thick, since the onions cook down to very little.

UPDATE: Hey, I see that the LA Times is making chile-garlic paste today—essentially the same as mine, except I use a fair number of hot dried chiles (like habaneros and chipotles and chile de arbol and the like) and don’t use the carroway and coriander seeds.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Food

DEA running amuck

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What’s the point of things like this? From an email:

Right now, the DEA is currently raiding the River City Patient Center in Sacramento, California — the longest established medical marijuana dispensary in the city. Protesters have gathered outside the building in support of the collective.

And yesterday, the DEA began threatening landlords in the Santa Barbara area who lease space to medical marijuana dispensaries — activity that’s legal under California state law — with federal prison time and forfeiture of their properties. Several dispensaries closed right away.

This follows a similar move in Los Angeles in July — a maneuver that was condemned in a Los Angeles Times editorial as “a deplorable new bullying tactic.”

No matter what state you live in, will you please take a few minutes towrite all three of your members of Congress to protest this federal interference in state law? MPP’s action center is easy to use: You can send one of our pre-drafted letters, or you can personalize the letter.

This is just the latest in the campaign of terror the DEA is waging on the sick. In June and July, the DEA conducted extensive medical marijuana raids in several California counties and in Oregon, including raids on at least 10 Los Angeles clinics in late July. Most were aimed at medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally under state and local laws, and in several cases the DEA detained and terrorized individual patients.

If this outrages you like it does me, would you help MPP hire a new grassroots organizer in California, as well as to retain a lobbyist to help push legislation in Sacramento to protect these dispensaries? If enough supporters on this e-mail list donate today, MPP will be able to fully pay for both positions.

These reprehensible DEA attacks — which run counter to state law, as well as the 78% of the American people who support “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering” — are preventing effective local regulation of medical marijuana: Cities and counties in California are passing ordinances to ensure that medical marijuana dispensaries follow the law and serve patients properly. But by treating all who provide medical marijuana to the sick as common drug dealers, the DEA has become the single largest obstacle to effective regulation of these establishments.

A major Los Angeles raid actually occurred at the exact moment that members of the city council were holding a press conference to discuss an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana providers.

Local officials and major newspapers are outraged by the DEA’s actions. After the July raids in Los Angeles, L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine — a Republican and former police officer with the L.A. Police Department — said, “I am greatly disturbed that the Drug Enforcement Administration would initiate an enforcement action against medical marijuana facilities in the City of Los Angeles during a news conference regarding City Council support of an Interim Control Ordinance to regulate all facilities within the City. This action by the DEA is contrary to the vote of Californians who overwhelmingly voted to support medicinal marijuana use by those facing serious and life threatening illnesses. The DEA needs to focus their attention and enforcement action on the illegal drug dealers who are terrorizing communities in Los Angeles.”

After a series of DEA medical marijuana raids in San Francisco, the city’s health director, Dr. Mitchell Katz, wrote to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, “These actions have resulted in 4,000 persons with chronic illness left without access to critical treatment upon which they rely. Certainly in this post-September 11 environment, it seems that a DEA priority punishing organizations for distributing cannabis for medical purposes to chronically ill individuals is misplaced.”

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Tagged with ,

Getting the benefit from painful, awkward situations

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A good post on how, when you inevitably experience a “bad” situation—for example, losing your job—how to get as much benefit from it as you can.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Mental Health

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Almost irresistible toys

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Some  things, if well designed and well made, are almost irresistible. For example, I went into the hardware store to buy a washer, and I came out with a washer and also a little LED flashlight that also shines a laser (the better to tease Megs). Here are some things that seem to me to fall into that category:

Flashlights
Kitchen tools
Mechanical pencils
Notebooks
Pens
Pocket Knives

Any others you can think of?

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 11:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Techie toys

Definitive Westerns

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The Son and I got to exchanging emails about Westerns, and as I thought about that movie genre, I decided to make a definitive list of good Westerns. All of the following are on the list for one reason or another, as is evident when you watch them.

To make it interesting, I omitted three Westerns from the list. The first person who names all three in the comments will get a free and suitably inscribed copy of the Guide to Gourmet Shaving. 🙂 Here’s the list, in alphabetic order:

El Dorado
For a Fistful of Dollars
Four Faces West
Once Upon a Time in the West
Ride the High Country
Rio Bravo
Seven Men From Now
Shane
Silverado
The Magnificent Seven (
not so good as Seven Samurai, but still good)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
The Searchers
The Unforgiven
The Wild Bunch
True Grit
Warlock

UPDATE: I forgot to say when contest will end. Let’s make it 24 hours: Thursday at 11:42 a.m. Pacific time.

UPDATE 2: Contest is over, those who were close enough will be notified. The ones I actually had in mind:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
One-Eyed Jacks
Rustler’s Rhapsody
(the parody entry)

But I must say the Westerns in the comments made me think. Stagecoach might be included just because of its historical significance, though I enjoy it less than those in the list. Red River probably should be in the list. McCabe and Mrs. Miller I found just too much of a downer. I did think of Blazing Saddles, but for parody I liked Rustler’s Rhapsody better. YMMV.

Anyway, thanks for playing. Now I got some watchin’ to do. Some of those mentioned I haven’t seen (e.g., Greaser’s Palace).

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 11:42 am

Posted in Movies & TV

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Lulu.com sales rank getting better

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The Lulu.com sales rank for the Guide to Gourmet Shaving is now 1,033. Yesterday it was 1,038, so thanks to loyal readers the book has moved up 5 places. 🙂 I really do appreciate it. Somehow breaking 1,000 (or getting to three digits) seems like an achievement.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 9:53 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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True greatness: The Goon Show

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The Goon Show is a wonderful radio comedy. The first episode I heard was as I was driving to the Iowa City Public Library listening to KSUI, the University of Iowa radio station. It was something about a plot to smuggle solid gold saxophones, and a Hercules Gritpyppe-Thynne described one Count Jim Moriarty as the French overland saxophone champion.

I arrived at the library, turned off the car engine, and continued listening until the end of the program. From that day I tuned in every week. I soon grew to know the cast of characters, played by Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers, Ray Ellington, and, occasionally, Max Geldray and the announcer Wallace Greenslade. Just writing those names takes me back.

The Goon Show Site has lots of information on the show, and you can now buy episodes on CD, with 25 released thus far.

Here’s one scene from the show. It’s a radio programme, so the video is just distracting filler for the eyes. Try listening with your eyes closed. The two characters are Eccles, the complete idiot (for whom all those books were written), played by Spike Milligan, and the much beloved Bluebottle, played by Peter Sellers (and based, Sellers later recounted, on a scout leader he met on a train who had that very voice).

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 9:07 am

Posted in Humor, Video

Tagged with , ,

The Blackwater mess

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The more things come out, the worse it looks. That’s probably why the State Department is forbidding Blackwater to testify before Congress and why the State Department won’t testify. Apparently, the State Department doesn’t believe that Congress have oversight responsibilities.

This story sums up the situation as of now. A few points from the story, quoting directly:

… In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department’s authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions. “The military is very sensitive to its relationship that they’ve built with the Iraqis being altered or even severely degraded by actions such as this event,” the official said.

“This is a nightmare,” said a senior U.S. military official. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we’re trying to have an impact for the long term.” The official was referring to the prison scandal that emerged in 2004 in which U.S. soldiers tortured and abused Iraqis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 8:23 am

Sweet-potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream sauce

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Via Slashfood, this great-looking illustrated recipe. Looks easy—except I no longer have a Kitchenaid mixer. But if you do, this looks well worth trying.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 7:56 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Tagged with ,

Brussels sprouts: not just for breakfast anymore

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I really like Brussels sprouts. For a while, they were bitter, but growers came to their senses, and nowadays they are almost sweet—as well as exceptionally nutritious. I cut them in half vertically (through the stem) and steam them for 8 or 9 minutes, then pour some balsamic vinegar over them and refrigerate them. That way I can cook once and eat them over several days. Tasty, and look at the nutritional table at the link (scroll down).

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 7:46 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Creating a habit: exercise

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I blogged this before, but it seems to be working so well, I thought I should really bring your attention to it: a post at Zen Habits on how to create a habit of exercise. The ideas—start very easy, have a “trigger” for the exercise, don’t try to add another habit for two months, and so on—are sound. I was thinking I’d add weight-training to the walking next week, but on re-reading his post, I realize I should wait until the end of December: create a separate habit for weight training only after the walking habit’s well established.

Read the post. Here’s the first step to get you started:

  1. Set one easy, specific, measurable goal. There are several keys to setting this crucial goal:
    • Written: Write this down. Post it up. If you don’t write it down, it’s not important.
    • Easy: Don’t — DO NOT — set a difficult goal. Set one that is super, super easy. Five minutes of exercise a day. You can do that. Work your way to 10 minutes after a month. Then go to 15 after 2 months. You can see what I mean: make it easy to start with, so you can build your habit, then gradually increase.
    • Specific: By specific, I mean what activity are you going to do, at what time of day, and where? Don’t just say “exercise” or “I’m going to walk”. You have to set a time and place. Make it an appointment you can’t miss.
    • Trigger: I recommend that you have a “trigger” right before you do your habit. For example, you might always brush your teeth right after you shower. The shower is the trigger for brushing your teeth, and because of that, you never forget to brush your teeth. Well, what will you do right before you exercise? Is it right after you wake up? Right after your coffee? Right when you get home? As soon as you take off for lunch? A trigger that you do every single day is important.
    • Measurable: By measurable, I mean that you should be able to say, definitely, whether you hit or miss your goal today. Examples: run for 10 minutes. Walk 1/2 a mile. Do 3 sets of 5 pushups. Each of those has a number that you can shoot for.
    • One goal: Stick to this one goal for at least a month. Two months if you can bear it. Don’t start up a second goal during that 30-day period. If you do, you are scrapping this goal.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 7:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tagged with ,

Great kitchen tool: the corn zipper

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Kuhn Rikon corn zipper

I like to use fresh corn in cooking when I can—it’s cheaper (when it’s in season, which is when I use it) than frozen corn kernels. Plus it’s fresh.

I’ve been cutting the kernels off the cob with a knife, but that’s not very satisfactory: either I cut too shallow, removing just the tops of the kernels, or too deep and the knife sticks into the cob.

Enter the Kuhn Rikon corn zipper. $12 and the perfect tool for the job. Shuck the corn, start at the tapered end, and pull the zipper down the cob. Presto: one complete row (perhaps a little more) of kernels sliced cleanly and effortlessly from the cob, to fall into the bowl. Place the little line beside the smiley face on the tool right at the edge of the cut row, pull it again, and another row strikes the bowl. Easy, clean, and the kernels cut right at the bottom with no effort.

My immediate thought was to buy one for everyone I know, but The Wife thought that was a bad idea. So I’m blogging it. If you cook with corn, this is the bomb.

I read someplace in a food blog (Simply Recipes? not sure) this idea: put a little butter in a pan and brown it—that is, cook it over medium heat until the foaming is over and the butter is just starting to turn brown. Then add the corn kernels and stir. They cook very quickly, and with the browned butter they taste wonderful.

Highly recommended. (The tool and the recipe.)

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 7:32 am

Day 9 and going strong

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This particular Treet Blue Special is definitely the little blade that could. I’m amazed. I do think, though, that certainly by the end of the week I’ll probably replace it—but still… Another good shave today.

I used the Simpsons Emperor 3 Super brush on the Durance L’òme shaving soap. I really like the soap, and the little ceramic dish is a very nice touch.

Three passes and a good shave. Aftershave was Booster Aquarius. And now my first pint of coffee.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2007 at 7:12 am

Posted in Shaving

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