Later On

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

Archive for October 8th, 2007

Right brain vs. left brain

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When you click the link below, you’re going to see a spinning dancer in silhouette. What you need to decide, before reading more, is whether she is turning clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Here’s the link.

See comment for my answer.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 7:24 pm

Posted in Science

Tagged with

Having no shame

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This is amazing, except that we’ve seen it so many times before.

Two weeks ago, the Democratic radio address was delivered by a 12-year old Maryland boy named Graeme Frost. Graeme told his story of being involved in a severe car accident three years ago, and having received access to medical care because of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He said:

If it weren’t for CHIP, I might not be here today. … We got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the CHIP program. But there are millions of kids out there who don’t have CHIP, and they wouldn’t get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt. … I just hope the President will listen to my story and help other kids to be as lucky as me.

The right-wing immediately condemned Democrats for daring to put a human face on the SCHIP program at a time when Bush was proposing a “diminishment of the number of children covered.” Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) — who has posed with children to advance his own political agenda — claimed Graeme was being used “as a human shield.”

Conservatives have more recently turned their targets on young Graeme Frost himself. A poster at the Free Republic propagated information alleging that Frost was actually a rich kid being pampered by the government. Among other bits of information, the post by the Freeper “icwhatudo” asserts that Graeme and his sister Gemma attend wealthy schools that cost “nearly $40,000 per year for tuition” and live in a well-off home.

The smear attack against Graeme has taken firm hold in the right-wing blogosphere. The National Review, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang, Powerline, and the Weekly Standard blog have all launched assaults on the Frost family. The story is slowly working its way into traditional media outlets as well.

Here are the facts that the right-wing distorted in order to attack young Graeme:

1) Graeme has a scholarship to a private school. The school costs $15K a year, but the family only pays $500 a year.

2) His sister Gemma attends another private school to help her with the brain injuries that occurred due to her accident. The school costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost.

3) They bought their “lavish house” sixteen years ago for $55,000 at a time when the neighborhood was less than safe.

4) Last year, the Frost’s made $45,000 combined. Over the past few years they have made no more than $50,000 combined.

5) The state of Maryland has found them eligible to participate in the CHIP program.

Desperate to defend Bush’s decision to cut off millions of children from health care, the right wing has stooped to launching baseless and uninformed attacks against a 12 year old child and his family.

Right wing bloggers have been harassing the Frosts, calling their home numerous times to get information about their private lives. Compassionate conservatism indeed.

UPDATE: TP commenter Mr. Ed notes that Malkin visited the Frost’s home and business today. A coworker of Mr. Frost tells Malkin that the family is “struggling,” but she refuses to believe it.

UPDATE II: More from John Aravosis and Whiskey Fire.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government, Medical

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Windows only: AppSnap

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Via Lifehacker:

Windows only: Previously-mentioned auto software updater AppSnap can now detect what applications already exist on your system and check for new versions online in one click. AppSnap comes with a fabulous list of free software built in. You check off the ones you want and AppSnap downloads and installs them for you. That’s great for building new systems, but now AppSnap can find apps already installed on your machine, let you know which ones have a new version available for download online, and upgrade them in one shot. Two thumbs up. AppSnap is a free download for Windows only.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

Tagged with ,

Molly’s home

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She explained all the way home that a Bad Thing had happened to her. Luckily, she seems to assume that we knew nothing of what would happen. She’ll have a very light dinner, and then tomorrow can resume eating normally. The stitches will be absorbed, so no need to return. A big milestone now passed.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Conservatives Without Conscience

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I’m reading Conservatives Without Conscience (published in 2006) right now. It’s by John Dean, a lifelong Conservative (and former counsel to Richard Nixon), and it’s his attempt to figure out what happened to the Republican Party over the last couple of decades.

Originally he was going to write the book with his friend and sometime mentor Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), but as Senator Goldwater’s health and vigor failed, Dean shelved the book. But he kept their notes, and finally was moved to write it. (At the link you’ll find hardbound copies in good shape for $1, and it’s a highly readable and fascinating book—order a copy. whether you’re conservative or liberal. You’ll be glad you did.)

As I started to read it, I started putting in Book Darts when I found something worth re-reading—and now I have dozens of Book Darts in place. Some places marked:

“Authoritarian governments are identified by ready government access to information about the activities of citizens and by extensive limitations on the ability of citizens to obtain information about the government. In contrast, democratic governments are marked by significant restrictions on the ability of government to acquire information about its citizens and by ready access by citizens to information about the activities of government.” (page xxxvii, quoting Robert G. Vaught, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, summarizing Alan Westin’s work.)

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 2:42 pm

Lots o’ on-line educational resources

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Look at this post at Lifehacker—all sorts of great resources on-line via the .EDU underground.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Education, Software, Technology

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Tomatoes superb

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I let the tomatoes roast at 200º for 7 hours. They are superb. I’m not going to be able to save any, alas. I’m eating them one by one right now. But they are so easy to make that I can run up another batch at any time. I think next time I’ll sprinkle them with a little cayenne in addition to the black-olive salt and ground coriander.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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RazorandBrush.com

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RazorandBrush.com is a relatively new vendor, but has rapidly expanded its product offerings—and continues to expand them. At the link you’ll find links to articles (upper left), an active message board and a sales board (where individuals can offer items for sale) in the first main entry, and down at the bottom left a link to the store: Barbieria Italiana. There you will find the main menu:

Brushes
Razors
Blades
Soaps & Creams
Pre & Aftershaves
Fragrance
Bath Soaps
Accessories
Other

The selection of blades is especially good. It looks at first as if every blade in the world is offered, but in fact the blades offered are only those that Giovanni (the proprietor) found gave a decent shave. Quite a few blades didn’t make the cut (as it were). And if you believe that you haven’t yet found the perfect blade for you, I highly recommend the largest of the sampler packs. All of the blades I currently favor I found in the largest sampler pack. YMMV, of course, but with the range of blades offered, I’d be surprised if you didn’t find a “best blade for you” among them.

In addition to the blades, an excellent selection of soaps and creams is available—scroll and scroll and scroll. The selection includes some that are hard to find—for example, the Palmolive Lemon from India, one that I especially like. Valobra is an excellent brand, and the Arko shave stick provides an excellent shave at a low cost: $1.49 per stick.

Similarly, the selection of Pre & Aftershaves is excellent and varied, and the Fragrances will include some you’ve probably not seen.

Among the brushes offered are some stunningly beautiful silvertip brushes from Omega and Koh-I-Noor—remarkable brushes. I have several Omega brushes that I like a lot, and I’m looking at the Koh-I-Noor line carefully…

He’s happy to answer questions about the products (or shaving), or (even better) you can post the question on the message board and get responses directly from other customers.

All in all, an excellent source with superb service. The ordering process is simple. What I did was to call the number and give my credit card information by phone. Giovanni keeps that on file, so I can order just by sending an email that lists the item(s) I want. He replies with the total amount, including shipping, and as soon as I email back my approval, he ships and charges the card.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Business, Shaving

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Walk already done

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I took my walk early today. It was 11 or 12 blocks out—I lose count, but certainly a block farther than Friday. And it took 32.5 minutes. Closing in on goal…

My legs and back seem to be recovering: less soreness and stiffness. It will be nice when I can stop walking a longer distance each day.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 11:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tagged with ,

Stixy: collaborate via Web 2.0

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Stixy is a free on-line way to share text, photos, PDFs, notes, to-dos, and what have you with a defined group: family, friends, workgroup, club, whatever. It looks as though it would be quite useful for a computer-oriented group.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 11:00 am

ClassicShaving.com

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Classic Shaving is the first vendor I found when I began exploring. I was actually simply looking for a good shaving brush for The Son, and when I found the site and started reading it, I was astonished to see safety razors and double-edged blades were still made and still offered. Fairly quickly I moved from buying a shaving brush to buying a razor, blades, shaving soap, shaving cream, aftershaves, ….

Classic Shaving sells a variety of straight razors in addition to the safety razors that I use. For example, this handsome model:

Straight razor

The ne plus ultra of straight-razor shaving is having a set of 7 straight razors, boxed with the slots and/or razors labeled Sunday through Saturday: a razor for each day of the week. The benefit is that with such a set, where each razor is used but once a week, you can go for months and months without having to hone the razor.

Classic Shaving sells the Merkur line of safety razors, including the recommended beginner razor, the Merkur Hefty Classic (aka HD). They have a good variety of shaving soaps and creams and, in the same section, aftershaves and colognes. And they sell the wonderful Rooney shaving brushes in Styles 1, 2, and 3 (all sizes, all handles) plus the traveling shave brush.

The site also includes a number of useful articles in the “How To and Why” section.

Like all the on-line vendors, Classic Shaving relies a great deal on word-of-mouth (or, more properly, email) recommendations from one shaver to another, or on favorable comments on the shaving forums, so they (like the other vendors) have superb customer service. I’ve ordered from them many times, and always the orders have been handled promptly and fulfilled with no problems.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 10:04 am

Posted in Shaving, Uncategorized

Tagged with

Avoid repeating myths/errors

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Even if they’re labeled as “myths” or “errors,” they are often remembered as facts. Instead of stating myths, state the facts. From Neuromarketing:

Usually marketers concentrate on getting their own message out, but sometimes it seems necessary to respond to the claims of others. The most annoying of these situations are claims or rumors that are totally false. What should one do if, for example, an activist group makes false allegations that your product causes cancer or is made from baby seals? One’s first reaction would be to start a major effort to set the record straight — call a press conference, schedule interviews, and buy ad space . Oddly, those steps may be the worst reaction to the charges, and the reason is the way people’s brains work.

As described by Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post in Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach, efforts to negate incorrect statements can actually cause people to believe that the false statement is true.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a flier to combat myths about the flu vaccine. It recited various commonly held views and labeled them either “true” or “false.” Among those identified as false were statements such as “The side effects are worse than the flu” and “Only older people need flu vaccine.”

When University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz had volunteers read the CDC flier, however, he found that within 30 minutes, older people misremembered 28 percent of the false statements as true. Three days later, they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual. Younger people did better at first, but three days later they made as many errors as older people did after 30 minutes. Most troubling was that people of all ages now felt that the source of their false beliefs was the respected CDC.

What does this mean for marketers and public relations specialists? In general, it’s better to avoid repeating a false rumor or scurrilous attack in order to deny it. While at times this may be unavoidable, in many cases the best approach to damage control may be to emphasize the positive. Instead of repeating a rumor that your noise-canceling headphones cause brain cancer, emphasize their safety and the extensive testing that confirms that. Avoid interview situations that could result in the rumor being repeated and requiring a denial. Never run an ad that says, “You may have heard a rumor that our headphones cause brain cancer. This is false.”

Obviously, if a rumor or or other attack gains so much traction that it’s major news, denial will be necessary. In general, though, the neuromarketing approach should be to avoid repeating false facts whenever possible, because doing so – even in the context of correcting them – may actually cause people to believe them.

As an alternative, though, a truly massive campaign can have more powerful effects than it deserves. In an NPR interview, the author of the Washington Post article, Shankar Vedantam, notes,

When you have people who are systematically trying to manipulate you, spread propaganda, for instance, and they repeat the same information over and over again, the fact that we are not very good at remembering where we heard a particular piece of information, we tend to believe that we have heard the information from multiple independent sources and therefore it must be true, rather than from the same untrustworthy source over and over again.

So, to sum up, the brain-oriented approach is to avoid describe false allegations whenever possible, and repeat your own message as often as you can.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 9:52 am

Posted in Daily life

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Profile of Socrates

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I enjoyed this. Perhaps you will as well:

During his lifetime Socrates wrote nothing down. Yet his wisdom has formed the bedrock of western philosophy. Socrates was viewed as a great teacher. But he did not claim to be a teacher. In fact, he frequently said ‘all I know is that I know nothing’. By all accounts Socrates was both poor and ugly. Yet in a society that placed tremendous value on beauty and wealth, people of all classes were magnetically drawn to his teachings and enigmatic personality.

As he wrote nothing down, there is some dispute about what Socrates actually said. But, from the writings of Plato and others, we can gain a few glimpses into the character and ideals of this ancient sage and unique philosopher.

The Socratic Dialogue
Perhaps the most arresting feature of Socrates’ legacy is his unique method of teaching and arriving at the truth. Socrates didn’t claim the truth is this or the truth is that. He sought to question students in a way that would lead them to arrive at the truth themselves. Socrates frequently claimed to know nothing. Yet, if Socrates knew nothing, why were people so eager to hear him talk? The reason was that Socrates was able to make people reconsider their own ingrained ideas; Socrates had a way of making people think for themselves and consider truth from different angles.

This method of conversation incurred the ire of some people; they were not happy that Socrates was able to show the limitations of their thinking. Yet, the genius of the Socratic method was that he never had to directly tell people their inadequacies; they came to realise it themselves.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 9:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with , ,

Torture machine now available

Via Kevin Drum, this distressing story about a machine pretty much designed for torture: incredibly painful, leaves no marks, and doesn’t cross the Bush threshold of “organ failure or death.” (According to the Bush Administration, anything short of that is not torture.) Here it is:

“Where do I put my finger? There … OK? Nothing’s happening … is it on?”

“Yes, it’s on. Move your finger a bit closer.”

“Er … ow! OW!” Not good. I try again. “OWWW!” I pull my hand away sharpish. My finger is throbbing, but seems undamaged.

I was told people can take it for a second, maximum. No way, not for a wimp like me. I try it again. It is a bit like touching a red-hot wire, but there is no heat, only the sensation of heat. There is no burn mark or blister.

Its makers claim this infernal machine is the modern face of warfare. It has a nice, friendly sounding name, Silent Guardian.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 8:47 am

Chili verde

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Chili verde

Simply Recipes has a very good-looking recipe for this chili verde this morning. I definitely will be making this. The changes I can already tell I will make in the recipe:

10-15 garlic cloves broiled instead of 5
Jalapeños with stem removed but ribs and seeds intact
Definitely will use Poblano and/or Anaheim chilis
8 cloves or garlic cooked with pork instead of 3

Otherwise, the recipe looks good to me. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 8:03 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Shaving vendors

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I thought I would do a little series on the heroines and heroes of the traditional shaving movement: those who sell the equipment and supplies we gourmet shavers need to practice our craft/hobby. Now that vibrating multiblade cartridges and their plastic holders have taken over the shelves of most local stores, we gourmet shavers would be out of luck were it not for the World Wide Web.

So over the coming days I’ll write a bit about several of the vendors and my experience with them. Certainly I won’t come close to covering the full list of vendors—there are many, as it turns out. Those that I describe will be those that I have patronized the most.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 7:37 am

Posted in Business, Shaving

Same GOP as ever

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Take a look. Paul Krugman writes:

There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots.

Well, I don’t know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism — and Mr. Bush hasn’t strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he’s the very model of a modern movement conservative.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 6:11 am

Up early

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Awoke at 5:00 a.m. and got up: today is a Big Day for Molly. She is going to have her first Big Operation. The breeder suggested going to the clinic instead of the vet, since the clinic does the operation constantly and is in good practice, and the SPCA clinic here requires their furry little patients to arrive between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. I wasn’t about to go back to sleep at 5:00 and then have the alarm awaken me from a sound slumber at 5:45, so I got up, put the tomatoes in the the oven (brushed with olive oil and sprinkled lightly with coriander and, thanks to The Wife, black-olive salt). They can slowly roast all day.

Then coffee, and as the clock rolled around, a shower and shave. Again, meticulous prep: MR GLO, then lots of lathering with the G.B. Kent BK4 and Art of Shaving Lemon Shaving Soap—a very nice lather indeed. This morning I picked the Futur and whatever blade it held (Astra Superior Platinum, I imagine), and again: no resistance at all from the stubble. I’ve missed the singing sound of the Futur at work.

Magnificently smooth shave, and Stetson Sierra aftershave, a manly fragrance. And now I’m awaiting The Wife to drive out to the clinic with Molly.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2007 at 6:09 am

Posted in Shaving

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