Later On

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

Archive for October 10th, 2007

How about the other way?

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Right-wing bloggers’ favorite Left-wing figures, and Left-wing bloggers’ favorite Right-wing figures? I would nominate this guy:

In a marked change from his predecessors, Florida’s new Republican governor is tackling many issues important to black voters, so much so that one black Democratic lawmaker calls him the state’s first black governor.

Charlie Crist’s agenda stands in sharp contrast to that of the national Republican Party, which has long had a contentious relationship with the black community and its leaders — most recently, when the party’s four leading presidential candidates skipped a debate at a historically black college.

“Crist is much different than national Republicans,” said Matthew Corrigan, a University of North Florida political science professor. “In some ways, you could argue that he’s done more on African-American issues than most Democrats have done recently.”

Since taking office in January, Crist has:

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Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 5:12 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

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Right-wing bloggers’ least favorite Right wingers

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This is interesting: 225 “right-of-center” blogs were asked to name their least favorite people on the Right. 45 responded, and the list (with the number of votes):

All bloggers were allowed to make anywhere from 1-12 unranked selections and were allowed to choose anybody on the right or generally perceived to be on the right that they liked: Republican, Conservative, Libertarian, politician, preacher, blogger, columnist, radio host, you name it!

The field was wide open — with two exceptions that I didn’t want to clutter up the list since they have absolutely no support in the party: racist David Duke, who never won national office and Democrat Fred Phelps of God Hates F@gs fame, who often gets misidentified as a Republican.

Without further ado, here are the right-of-center bloggers’ least favorite people on the right with the number of votes beside of each selection in parentheses:

18) Ted Stevens (4)
18) Olympia Snowe (4)
18) Mel Martinez (4)
18) Sean Hannity (4)
18) Lincoln Chafee (4)
17) Bill O’Reilly (5)
14) Lindsey Graham (6)
14) George W. Bush (6)
14) Mitt Romney (6)
12) Arnold Schwarzenegger (9)
12) Rudy Giuliani (9)
8) Andrew Sullivan (11)
8) Chuck Hagel (11)
8) James Dobson (11)
8) Ann Coulter (11)
6) Arlen Specter (12)
6) Pat Robertson (12)
4) Larry Craig (13)
4) Michael Savage (13)
3) John McCain (17)
2) Pat Buchanan (18)
1) Ron Paul (23)

We probably should do one for the Left. I can think of some right now: Joe Lieberman would lead the list, in all likelihood, and Dianne Feinstein would be there. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, of course… Hmm. Good exercise.

It’s interesting that many of the least favorites on the list would get quick agreement from the Left. Maybe the two sides can come together, after all.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 3:51 pm

Posted in GOP

He does make a good point…

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The clip below follows Mitt Romney’s answer:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: “Governor Romney, that raises the question, if you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?”

ROMNEY: “You sit down with your attorneys and tell you want you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what’s in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress…”

MATTHEWS: “Did he need it?”

ROMNEY: “You know, we’re going to let the lawyers sort out what he needed to do and what he didn’t need to do. But, certainly, what you want to do is to have the agreement of all the people — leadership of our government as well as our friends around the world where those circumstances are available.”

So: Ron Paul:

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Iran

Interview with Krugman

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Here’s a video of an interview with Paul Krugman.

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10 October 2007 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Books

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Slippery Rudy

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I wonder how Rudy Giuliani will fare as his campaign statements start to attract attention—and his marital and family history get examined by Christian conservatives. They can’t like his affairs or his casual approach to divorce (his wife at the time found out via the newspaper). But also there’s the truth problem:

On his Web site, Rudy Giuliani claims that he grew New York City’s police force by 12,000 officers between his inauguration as mayor in January 1994 and mid-2000. That’s just not true. Most of the cops he’s counting – 7,100 to be exact – were already housing or transit police who were simply folded into the New York Police Department. The merger of the departments didn’t increase the number of police in the city at all.

The actual increase in the size of the force was about 3,660, or about 10 percent, during the period Giuliani pinpoints. And Giuliani doesn’t mention that the cost of hiring about 3,500 of the officers was partially covered by the federal government under President Bill Clinton.

Lots more at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Tagged with

Food a-cookin’

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Today’s tomatoes have been going since around 10:30 a.m., and I just put a beef-shank dish on to simmer (covered) on top of the stove. It’s more or less the usual: brown the shank cross-sections, add a large chopped Spanish onion, a can of diced tomatoes, a handful of garlic cloves peeled, crushed, and chopped, a cup of red wine, a bunch of Italian parsley chopped, about 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 Tbsp horseradish, about a Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, some dashes of Tabasco. I had a mild chile pepper on hand, so I chopped up that and included it. Right now I have a cup or so of dried sliced Shiitake mushrooms that I’m reconstituting, and I’ll add those as well. Salt, pepper, thyme, Fines Herbes.

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10 October 2007 at 3:15 pm

Vintage Blades LLC

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VintageBladesLLC.com is a relatively new shaving vendor, but has become quickly established and has a good and complete shaving product line (along with offering various knives). Typical of many of the shaving vendors, he has no brick-and-mortar storefront, but sells exclusively via the Web—and, in this case, with an exceptionally well-designed Web site.

I’ve purchased many items from Vintage Blades, and the service and shipping are exemplary. I got some Rooney shaving brushes from him, and various soaps, shaving creams, and aftershaves in the high-end lines: Castle Forbes, Floris of London, D.R. Harris & Co., Taylor of Old Bond Street, and Truefitt & Hill. In fact, it was from Vintage Blades that I got my D.R. Harris shave sticks that I like so much, along with the D.R. Harris aftershaves.

He now also carries some of the Thayers witch hazels, along with Sara Bonnyman lathering bowls. (Sara Bonnyman is the maker of the famous Moss Scuttle.)

As it happens, I had a full complement of razors by the time Vintage Blades came along, so I didn’t need to buy more. He does offer most of the Merkur line (though not the Vision) as well as Dovo straight razors and straight razor sets.

Altogether, Vintage Blades is a good shaving shop with lots of excellent shaving supplies. He’s happy to answer emailed questions, and he ships promptly.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Shaving

Tagged with ,

And not keeping secrets

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Froomkin again:

Joby Warrick writes in The Washington Post: “U.S. intelligence officials will investigate allegations that the government improperly leaked a secretly obtained Osama bin Laden video, alerting al-Qaeda to a security gap in the terrorist group’s internal communications network that it was able to shut, an intelligence spokesman said yesterday.”

As Warrick wrote yesterday, just five hours after a private intelligence company sent confidential links to the video to White House Counsel Fred F. Fielding and the No. 2 official at the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, the video showed up on the Fox News Web site.

Now both the White House and the National Counterterrorism Center are denying responsibility.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino yesterday told reporters that Fielding was not the leaker. But at the same time, Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, told Warrick: “At this point, we don’t think there was a leak from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or the National Counterterrorism Center.”

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 11:11 am

State secrets aid coverups

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From Froomkin today:

David G. Savage writes in the Los Angeles Times: “In a victory for the Bush administration and its use of the ‘state secrets’ defense, the Supreme Court refused Tuesday to hear a lawsuit from a German car salesman who said he was wrongly abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA in a case of mistaken identity.

“The court’s action, taken without comment, was a setback for civil libertarians who had hoped to win limits on the secrecy rule, a legacy of the Cold War.

“Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the so-called state secrecy privilege has been invoked regularly to bar judges or juries from hearing claims of those who say they were beaten, abused or spied upon by the government during its war on terrorism. Administration lawyers have argued successfully that hearing such claims in open court would reveal national security secrets.

“Civil libertarians said Tuesday that the government was using the secrecy defense to cover up its own wrongdoing. They also said the broad use of this rule was doing further damage to the nation’s image, already sullied by international condemnation of its ‘extraordinary rendition’ program of arresting terrorism suspects and transporting them to foreign countries for interrogation.”

Linda Greenhouse writes in the New York Times: “In refusing to take up the case, the justices declined a chance to elaborate on the privilege for the first time in more than 50 years. . . .

“The Supreme Court created the doctrine in a 1953 decision, United States v. Reynolds, which began as a lawsuit by survivors of three civilians who had died in the crash of a military aircraft. In pretrial discovery, the plaintiffs sought the official accident report.

“But the government, asserting that the report included information about the plane’s secret mission and the equipment that it was testing, refused to reveal it. The Supreme Court upheld the government, ruling that evidence should not be disclosed when ‘there is a reasonable danger that compulsion of the evidence will expose military matters which, in the interest of national security, should not be divulged.'”

When, decades later, the family of one of the deceased military crew members finally acquired declassified copies of the documents, it turned out that there were no national security secrets in them — just embarrassing information about the Air Force’s negligence.

For more background, read renowned constitutional scholar Louis Fisher‘s essay on state secrets.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 11:08 am

Eating seafood: watch out for mercury

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There’s a reason I distrust business: business likes it bottom line far more than it likes the public weal. Note this, for example:

Source: Bloomberg News, October 4, 2007

“A nonprofit group backed by the seafood industry urged pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat more fish than recommended by U.S. officials concerned that mercury contamination can hurt babies,” reports Avram Goldstein. “The group, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, said women who avoid seafood to limit exposure to mercury deprive their babies and themselves of essential nutrients. Women should eat at least the 12 ounces a week suggested as a maximum by the government, the coalition said today at a briefing in Washington.” The report was funded with $74,000 from the National Fisheries Institute, a client of the Burson-Marsteller PR firm. Another food industry front group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, chimed in with a news release calling for environmental groups to apologize for creating “panic” about mercury in foods. Longstanding health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, responded to the report by re-emphasizing their advice to avoid excessive fish consumption.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 11:00 am

Saving the planet

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Grist.org is a great site for those who want to be constructive with respect to our environment. It’s a good link to pull onto the quick-link bar in Firefox, since you can find a few good articles every day. For example, one on how to talk to a climate skeptic. (I’ve linked to that one before, but it’s even more comprehensive now.) They’ve also just published their first book, Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-pompous, Non-preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 9:53 am

Tomatoes today

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I’m making another batch of slow-roasted tomatoes today. 13 Roma tomatoes covers my Silpat baking sheet with 5 rows of 5 tomato halves, with one half left for me to eat. I will brush them with olive oil, sprinkle them all with sea salt, and then do rows 1-5 this way:

  1. Sprinkle with ground coriander
  2. Sprinkle with ground pepper
  3. Sprinkle with granulated garlic
  4. Sprinkle with cayenne
  5. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan

That should be interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 9:43 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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An encouraging sign from LAPD

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The LAPD issued a 90-page report today on the May Day melee that pitted police against peaceful demonstrators. (Peaceful assembly is another one of those First Amendment rights.) The encouraging part is that the LAPD took full responsibility and did not try to cover up the issue or pass the buck. When people step forward and acknowledge mistakes, analyze the problems in enough detail that remedies can be applied, I think the public is reassured.

The LA Times has the story, from which this excerpt:

In a scathing self-critique, the LAPD on Tuesday blamed the May 1 MacArthur Park melee involving officers, immigration protesters and journalists on a series of fateful decisions by police commanders that escalated hostilities and resulted in a widespread breakdown in discipline and behavior by officers.

The findings, contained in a long-awaited report by top police officials, come as Police Chief William J. Bratton announced that at least 26 officers participating in the incident are under internal investigation and could face discipline for using excessive force.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 9:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Companies deciding what you can say

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This came up earlier, but it’s getting some play: Verizon and AT&T (and perhaps others) can cancel your Internet service if they don’t like what you say. That’s not a First Amendment issue, since the First Amendment is limited to government actions. From Wikipedia:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights. It prohibits the federal legislature from making laws that establish religion (the “Establishment Clause”) or prohibit free exercise of religion (the “Free Exercise Clause”), laws that infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to assemble peaceably, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Although the First Amendment explicitly prohibits only the named rights from being abridged by laws made by Congress, the courts have interpreted it as applying more broadly. As the first sentence in the body of the Constitution reserves all law-making (“legislative”) authority to Congress, the courts have held that the First Amendment’s terms also extend to the executive and judicial branches. Additionally, in the 20th century the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process clause of the 1868 Fourteenth Amendment “incorporates” the limitations of the First Amendment to restrict also the states.

However, protection is possible: Congress can simply pass a law saying that the Internet services can be canceled only in the event of non-payment of bills, for example. (Obviously, interruptions due to server failure, war, sun spots, earthquakes, sabotage, etc., are not cancellations of service.)

The LA Times has this note today:

If you’re displeased with the way a company treats you, you’re free to air your feelings in public, right? Not necessarily if you receive high-speed Internet access from AT&T Inc. or Verizon Communications Inc.

Buried deep within both companies’ voluminous service contracts is language that says your Net access can be terminated for any behavior that AT&T or Verizon believes might harm its “name or reputation,” or even the reputation of its business partners.

The language came to light the other day after AT&T sent notices to thousands of customers revising their service contracts as part of the company’s merger last year with BellSouth.

It follows an incident last month in which Verizon Wireless blocked an abortion-rights group from sending text messages over the company’s network, deeming the messages too controversial. The company subsequently backtracked from the decision.

Before that, AT&T was caught in August censoring political comments made by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder during a concert webcast. The company later said it had made a mistake.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 9:22 am

Posted in Business, Congress, Daily life

Tagged with

Watch out when you buy

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The NY Times has an editorial on the subject of product safety and government protection. This is an area in which I have disagreement with many on the conservative side. They generally believe that the government should butt out and let businesses sell what they want, and the free market will take care of everything. (Of course, the free market will not restore life to those killed in the process, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.)

I, on the other hand, believe that businesses have much more power than individual consumers and the government should be counter-balancing power to business and insist (through regulation and inspection) that products be safe. And, I believe, most people in this country agree with that proposition.

The Bush Administration has worked hard on behalf of business, often naming industry lobbyists to regulatory positions. And we see the result:

Most consumers still believe that if a product is on the shelf of a reliable store like Home Depot, somebody has tested it and proved it safe. At the least, they assume they would have heard about any dangers, the way they know about toxic substances in Chinese toys and toothpaste. But as Eric Lipton reported in The Times this week, that can be a dangerous assumption to make.

One harrowing example of a hazardous product is Stand ’n Seal, a spray designed to waterproof tiles and then “evaporate harmlessly.” At least two people died and 80 were sickened or hospitalized after using it in 2005. Yet more than two years after such reactions were reported to the manufacturer, to the stores that carried the product and to the federal government, some cans of the hazardous spray were still being sold to unwitting customers.

The federal watchdog designated to protect buyers from this sort of danger is the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or what is left of it. Under the Bush administration’s ideological drive to weaken agencies that regulate business, the commission has been “hollowed out,” in the favorite Washington phrase, to less than half its former strength. Its staff, which was 978 strong in its heyday, now numbers only 401. It has outdated laboratory equipment, and in another sign of neglect, the Bush administration has failed for months to appoint one of the commissioners.

The Stand ’n Seal case makes it clear that the safety commission is increasingly unable to protect consumers quickly. Since no premarket testing is required, companies are allowed to decide whether their own products are safe. They are required to report possible hazards or problems within 24 hours to the commission. In the case of Stand ’n Seal, it took three months from the time the company first received an alarming report of how its product affected customers until the commission finally issued a formal recall. Even after the recall, some of the cans were still on shelves as late as spring 2007.

Consumers deserve better. There needs to be a more effective way to report when there are problems with a product, and the commission should be required to make the complaints available to the public as they come in. Once the commission decides on a recall, the company should be required to advertise to let consumers know. The commission should also be able to levy bigger fines on manufacturers, and selling these goods should be illegal.

Congress has finally begun to recognize that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is yet another federal agency that has been stripped of its powers to protect the public. Senator Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas, is among those pushing to rebuild the agency, a few million dollars at a time. He, and others in Congress, should keep pushing. When greed or inefficiency trumps safety, consumers need a muscular Consumer Product Safety Commission to fight back.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 8:55 am

Illness is good for you: wrong

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Good op-ed from the NY Times today:

It’s flu season, and health agencies have expanded their flu shot recommendations to include all children ages 6 months to 5 years in addition to adults over age 50, and anyone, child or adult, with a chronic condition like severe allergies, asthma or diabetes.

More parents than ever before — nearly 65 percent — intend to vaccinate their young children this year, according to a poll by the University of Michigan. But that leaves more than a third unenthusiastic about doing so. Their reluctance may reflect not only weariness with the increasing number of childhood immunizations but also the widespread sentiment that colds and flus are a “natural” part of childhood, even vital for toughening up a developing immune system.

Some parents have come to embrace colds and flus, and in recent years we’ve seen a resurgence of the chickenpox party, where parents deliberately expose their preschoolers to infected playmates on the theory that it’s better to get the disease than to have the vaccine.

But the idea that illness is good for children — or anyone else — is wrong. In part, the idea of “good sickness” is a throwback to a now disproved version of the “hygiene hypothesis.”

In 1989, an epidemiologist in Britain, David Strachan, observed that babies born into households with lots of siblings were less likely than other babies to develop allergies and asthma. The same proved true of babies who spent significant time in day care. Dr. Strachan hypothesized that the protection came from experiencing an abundance of childhood illnesses.

Dr. Strachan’s original hygiene hypothesis got a lot of press, not only in the news media but in serious medical journals. Less publicized was the decade-long string of follow-up studies that disproved a link between illnesses and protection from inflammatory disorders like allergies and asthma. If anything, studies showed, early illness made matters worse.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 8:42 am

Bob Brookmeyer

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Bob Brookmeyer is one of my favorite trombone players. He generally favors a valve trombone, a pleasant diversion. He now has a new Web site, which you might want to visit. While there, you can listen to his music.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 8:34 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

Tagged with

Mama Bear

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Continuing the vendor profiles, let’s take a look at Mama Bear and her offerings at Bear-Haven.com. When I first started buying Mama Bear shaving soaps, she had an eBay store, but she moved to her own Web site some time ago and has since expanded the range of offerings.

As you can see, she offers more than shaving products: she has colognes, bath soaps (both cold process and glycerin), body creams, Christmas ornaments, and so on. But my interest is in the shaving products.

First are the soaps, made with either essential oils or fragrance oils, and she explains the difference. The range of fragrances is extensive, and I have a large collection of them. Some favorites: Turkish Mocha, Vanilla Cream, Ylang Ylang, Clove Leaf & Tangerine, and Tuscan Memories. Every time I look, she’s added more…

She also offers shaving sticks, including a tutorial by yours truly. (That’s my mug in the photos, except I look better.) And she has shaving creams, which I’ve not yet tried—these days I’m a soap guy.

She also sells other things, including alum blocks, very nice little wooden racks to hold the block, containers, and the Guide to Gourmet Shaving.

One benefit of soap that’s handmade in small batches is the range of fragrances. A large company—Gillette, for example, but even Geo. F. Trumper and Truefitt & Hill and the like—simply cannot afford to run up a new fragrance whenever they want. They must test, find a market, ensure that the fragrance will sell millions of copies, and the like, and so their range is naturally limited. If you really like to explore, the vendors of handmade soaps are where it’s at.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

Tagged with ,

A peachy morning

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I used the Mama Bear Peach Vanilla shaving soap this morning. I liked the Omega brush from yesterday so much that I used another Omega brush this morning. I swear, it’s like a warm, soft hand caressing one’s face.

Very good lather, and of course I did not rush the prep. I took the Edwin Jagger ivory-handled Chatsworth, which had an Astra Superior Platinum blade already in it, and shaved away the stubble, which by then was too soft and feeble to offer any resistance at all.

The alum bar, another rinse, dry, and Thayers Peach Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Astringent (meaning 10% alcohol). Extremely nice shave.

Written by Leisureguy

10 October 2007 at 8:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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