Later On

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

Archive for October 2nd, 2007

Free software for tracking blood glucose readings

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I didn’t know about these two programs until they were mentioned in the “general topics” forum of  Bg Tracker and SugarStats. My endocrinologist is going to love this. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical

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Megs struggles against sleep

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Megs checks Megs doesn’t care

Megs, bleary-eyed, tries to check on what I’m doing, then figures, “What the hell?” and goes back to sleep. Morning sun, the great soporific.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Anita Hill responds to Justice Thomas’s book

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From the NY Times Op-Ed section:

ON Oct. 11, 1991, I testified about my experience as an employee of Clarence Thomas’s at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I stand by my testimony.

Justice Thomas has every right to present himself as he wishes in his new memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son.” He may even be entitled to feel abused by the confirmation process that led to his appointment to the Supreme Court.

But I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.

In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his.

Justice Thomas’s characterization of me is also hobbled by blatant inconsistencies. He claims, for instance, that I was a mediocre employee who had a job in the federal government only because he had “given it” to me. He ignores the reality: I was fully qualified to work in the government, having graduated from Yale Law School (his alma mater, which he calls one of the finest in the country), and passed the District of Columbia Bar exam, one of the toughest in the nation.

In 1981, when Mr. Thomas approached me about working for him, I was an associate in good standing at a Washington law firm. In 1991, the partner in charge of associate development informed Mr. Thomas’s mentor, Senator John Danforth of Missouri, that any assertions to the contrary were untrue. Yet, Mr. Thomas insists that I was “asked to leave” the firm.

It’s worth noting, too, that Mr. Thomas hired me not once, but twice while he was in the Reagan administration — first at the Department of Education and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After two years of working directly for him, I left Washington and returned home to Oklahoma to begin my teaching career.

In a particularly nasty blow, Justice Thomas attacked my religious conviction, telling “60 Minutes” this weekend, “She was not the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed.” Perhaps he conveniently forgot that he wrote a letter of recommendation for me to work at the law school at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa. I remained at that evangelical Christian university for three years, until the law school was sold to Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., another Christian college. Along with other faculty members, I was asked to consider a position there, but I decided to remain near my family in Oklahoma.

Regrettably, since 1991, I have repeatedly seen this kind of character attack on women and men who complain of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In efforts to assail their accusers’ credibility, detractors routinely diminish people’s professional contributions. Often the accused is a supervisor, in a position to describe the complaining employee’s work as “mediocre” or the employee as incompetent. Those accused of inappropriate behavior also often portray the individuals who complain as bizarre caricatures of themselves — oversensitive, even fanatical, and often immoral — even though they enjoy good and productive working relationships with their colleagues.

Finally, when attacks on the accusers’ credibility fail, those accused of workplace improprieties downgrade the level of harm that may have occurred. When sensing that others will believe their accusers’ versions of events, individuals confronted with their own bad behavior try to reduce legitimate concerns to the level of mere words or “slights” that should be dismissed without discussion.

Fortunately, we have made progress since 1991. Today, when employees complain of abuse in the workplace, investigators and judges are more likely to examine all the evidence and less likely to simply accept as true the word of those in power. But that could change. Our legal system will suffer if a sitting justice’s vitriolic pursuit of personal vindication discourages others from standing up for their rights.

The question of whether Clarence Thomas belongs on the Supreme Court is no longer on the table — it was settled by the Senate back in 1991. But questions remain about how we will resolve the kinds of issues my testimony exposed. My belief is that in the past 16 years we have come closer to making the resolution of these issues an honest search for the truth, which, after all, is at the core of all legal inquiry. My hope is that Justice Thomas’s latest fusillade will not divert us from that path.

Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University, is a visiting scholar at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 2:14 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

Tagged with , ,

Fair trade improving farmers’ lives

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From the NY Times:

Fair trade
VARGINHA, Brazil — Rafael de Paiva was skeptical at first. If he wanted a “fair trade” certification for his coffee crop, the Brazilian farmer would have to adhere to a long list of rules on pesticides, farming techniques, recycling and other matters. He even had to show that his children were enrolled in school.

“I thought, ‘This is difficult,’” recalled the humble farmer. But the 20 percent premium he recently received for his first fair trade harvest made the effort worthwhile, Mr. Paiva said, adding, it “helped us create a decent living.”

More farmers are likely to receive such offers, as importers and retailers rush to meet a growing demand from consumers and activists to adhere to stricter environmental and social standards.

Mr. Paiva’s beans will be in the store-brand coffee sold by Sam’s Club, the warehouse chain of Wal-Mart Stores. Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Starbucks already sell some fair trade coffee.

“We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching to fair trade,” said Paul Rice, president and chief executive of TransFair USA, the only independent fair trade certifier in the United States.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Business, Caffeine

Tagged with ,

Arctic ice going faster than expected

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From the NY Times:

The Arctic ice cap shrank so much this summer that waves briefly lapped along two long-imagined Arctic shipping routes, the Northwest Passage over Canada and the Northern Sea Route over Russia.

Over all, the floating ice dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a century or more, by several estimates.

Now the six-month dark season has returned to the North Pole. In the deepening chill, new ice is already spreading over vast stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Astonished by the summer’s changes, scientists are studying the forces that exposed one million square miles of open water — six Californias — beyond the average since satellites started measurements in 1979.

At a recent gathering of sea-ice experts at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Hajo Eicken, a geophysicist, summarized it this way: “Our stock in trade seems to be going away.”

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Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 2:01 pm

Halfway to goal

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I just finished my post-lunch walk: 22 minutes 23 seconds, halfway to my goal of a 45 minute walk. Moving right along.

I finally broke out the MP3 player and took it along: Nat King Cole singing Stardust, an Art Tatum small-group rendition of Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, and Dave McKenna playing some fine stuff.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Daily life

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Sometimes Day-Tipper is opaque

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From today’s tips:

Easy way to make your own compost bin
Want whiter teeth? Every morning when I get up I drink a glass of cold fresh water mixed with 4 large tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I drink the whole glass and swirl the mixture around my teeth. After a couple of weeks you’ll notice whiter, cleaner and fresher teeth.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 11:10 am

Posted in Daily life

Can we afford to keep marijuana illegal?

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Following is an email I received from the Marijuana Policy Project. As we close in on a $10 trillion national debt, our legislators should be looking for ways to cut costs and increase revenues. And after 80 years of war on this drug, do the figures below indicate that the current approach is working at all?

A new report that MPP co-released yesterday shows that marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers $41.8 billion annually in law enforcement expenses and revenues lost to government at all levels.

The analysis, by researcher Jon B. Gettman, Ph.D., is based primarily on government estimates of the U.S. marijuana supply, prices, and arrests. (MPP and Dr. Gettman made international headlines in December 2006 when we co-released his analysis showing that marijuana is the top cash crop in the U.S.) Click here to read some news coverage of Gettman’s latest report.

Key findings of “Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws” include:

• Marijuana arrests constitute 5.54% of all U.S. arrests, costing taxpayers $10.7 billion in criminal justice expenses annually.

• The total U.S. marijuana supply is 14,349 metric tons annually, with a retail value of $113 billion.

• Marijuana prohibition diverts the entire $113 billion in sales from the legal economy, costing $31.1 billion in lost tax revenues annually.

This documentation of our nation’s failed marijuana laws comes just after the FBI reported a record 829,627 marijuana arrests in 2006.

The evidence against marijuana prohibition keeps mounting. Funding and promoting cutting-edge research like this and getting it into the news and into the hands of lawmakers takes financial support from people like you — people who are motivated to turn common sense and cutting-edge research into action.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government

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Business shifting to Democratic party

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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on a major shift: business is abandoning the GOP for the Democratic party.

The problem is with how elections are funded: large campaign contributions (which businesses and industry lobbies can afford) tend to buy access and—more important—votes. This is seen quite clearly in our corrupt Congress. For example, Representative Don Young’s (R-Alaska) $10 million earmark for a highway in Florida after a fund-raiser hosted by real-estate developers there gave him $40,000. (That one was particularly egregious: the earmark was added after the bill passed Congress but before it was sent to the White House for signature—something completely at odds with the process and apparently unique. So far, the House is refusing to investigate.)

Thus the Democratic party, which has so far been the main protection for the individual against the power of Big Business, could very easily become a voice of Big Business with all that that means: dropping food inspections, undermining prescription drug testing, weakening industry safety standards, limiting product liability judgments and (in general) protecting businesses against lawsuits by individual consumers, allowing telecommunications companies to decide what can be communicated (for example, the new AT&T terms of service do not allow subscribers to criticize AT&T), and so on.

That would, IMHO, be bad. Big Business has lots of power, the individual consumer has little power.

But how to stop it? Allow only public funding of elections? That runs into the free-speech provision of the US Constitution: supporting a candidate’s election campaign is free-speech in action, and money talks.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 10:00 am

Staged demos

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We read all too often of military or other demonstrations that are totally staged. Looks like it’s still happening. From Scheier on Security:

I assume you’ve all seen the news:

A government video shows the potential destruction caused by hackers seizing control of a crucial part of the U.S. electrical grid: an industrial turbine spinning wildly out of control until it becomes a smoking hulk and power shuts down.The video, produced for the Homeland Security Department and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, was marked “Official Use Only.” It shows commands quietly triggered by simulated hackers having such a violent reaction that the enormous turbine shudders as pieces fly apart and it belches black-and-white smoke.

The video was produced for top U.S. policy makers by the Idaho National Laboratory, which has studied the little-understood risks to the specialized electronic equipment that operates power, water and chemical plants. Vice President Dick Cheney is among those who have watched the video, said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because this official was not authorized to publicly discuss such high-level briefings.

More here. And the video is on

I haven’t written much about SCADA security, except to say that I think the risk is overblown today but is getting more serious all the time — and we need to deal with the security before it’s too late. I didn’t know quite what to make of the Idaho National Laboratory video; it seemed like hype, but I couldn’t find any details. (The CNN headline, “Mouse click could plunge city into darkness, experts say,” was definitely hype.)

Then, I received this anonymous e-mail:

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Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 9:13 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with ,

Alternate-day shaving

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Until I can figure out why yesterday’s shave was difficult, I’m shaving on alternate days so that each shave can tackle a two-day stubble. My goals are two:

First, to get the same kind of excellent shave I’ve been getting with the Treet Blue Special blades; and

Second, to deliberately reproduce the “difficult” shave to prove to myself that I understand the cause.

I currently believe that the problem was one of lather and perhaps the soap: lather too dry, beard not sufficiently wetted. (A dry whisker is as tough as a copper wire of the same diameter, according to Gillette studies.)  So one thing I will do is to use the very same soap and brush and create as best I can the same lather.

But first, of course, I want to reassure myself that good shaves are still easy to achieve, and for that I’ll be using a different soap, brush, and lather—a wetter lather, obviously.

Giovanni suggested in the comments that I try the Proraso Pre- and Post-shave Cream as a pre-shave, but I’m not much of a menthol fan, I find. And, previously, I did not have to go to use a pre-shave to get a really excellent, smooth, effortless shave. So I’m going to try without a pre-shave and see what happens.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 9:04 am

Posted in Shaving

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