Later On

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

Archive for October 18th, 2007

Just made the delicious chicken recipe

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Remember this one? I just put it into the oven and will be eating it in 30 minutes or so. I used my large (4-qt) sauté pan, which allowed plenty of room for the chicken to lie flat. (Six largish thighs.) Recipe difficulty, on a scale of 1-10 (1 = boiling water, 10 = 5 course full French dinner), is about a 3: dead easy, in other words. Nothing to it, once you’ve done the shopping.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Thank Senator Dodd

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It seems that few Democrats these days have much in the way of courage. Please take a moment to thank Senator Dodd for putting a hold on the nefarious bill to provide immunity to telecom lawbreakers. (I even made a contribution. You can, too.)

Thanks to Sean for pointing this out in the comments.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Congress, Democrats

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Good news for your future

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This has certainly been true for me:

The correlation is pretty clear: the older we get, the happier we become.

Only in the last decade have researchers begun to measure happiness across the life span and, in doing so, try to understand why older people tend to be so content.The explanation doesn’t appear to be biological — some chemical in the brain that mellows us just when all those plump neurons needed for thinking and memory are shriveling up. Rather, most scientists now think that experience and the mere passage of time gradually motivate people to approach life differently. The blazing-to-freezing range of emotions experienced by the young blends into something more lukewarm by later life, numerous studies show. Older people are less likely to be caught up in their emotions and more likely to focus on the positive, ignoring the negative.

I also wonder if the increased happiness of older people might also be the result of not having kids around anymore. As Daniel Gilbert notes, “The only known symptom of the empty-nest syndrome is increased smiling. Careful studies of how women feel as they go about their daily activities show that they are less happy when taking care of their children than when eating, exercising, shopping, napping, or watching television.” According to the self-reports of parents, looking after the kids is only marginally better than mopping the floor.

Final thought: are older people less vulnerable to status anxiety?

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Daily life

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Another Attorney General (nominee) who allows torture

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He allows it by saying that it’s not torture, that he doesn’t know whether it’s torture or not, or some other device to allow it:

Throughout his nomination hearings, Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey has consistently denounced the use of torture. Torture is “antithetical to what this country stands for,” he said yesterday. “I would be uncomfortable with any evidence used in trial that is coerced,” he added.

But under questioning from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today, Mukasey refused to classify the practice of waterboarding — in which a suspect has water poured over his face to simulate drowning — as unconstitutional, repeatedly claiming it depends on how one defines “torture”:

MUKASEY: If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional. […]

WHITEHOUSE: If it’s torture. That’s a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn’t. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding…is constitutional?

MUKASEY: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.

WHITEHOUSE: I’m very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.

MUKASEY: I’m sorry.

Mukasey claimed that he doesn’t “know what’s involved in the technique” of waterboarding. But as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has pointed out, there’s no question that waterboarding is torture: “[T]o make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture.”

Mukasey’s position also puts him at odds with CIA director Michael Hayden, who has reportedly banned waterboarding from CIA terror interrogations.

UPDATE: Marty Lederman at Balkinization comments, “It’s really remarkable how far we have fallen when a jurist of Judge Mukasey’s caliber cannot answer such questions without hesitation.”

UPDATE II: Human Rights First observes that Mukasey’s statements imply “that forms of coercive interrogation which violate Common Article 3 may be practiced by government agencies, including the C.I.A. ”

And from John Cole at Balloon Juice:

I am no legal scholar, but I just don’t understand how someone trying to get the job as Attorney General can get away with saying things like this in his confirmation hearing:

After some legal argumentation, Mukasey replied, essentially, that going outside a statute is an extreme step, and implied that he’ll take steps to ensure that “push doesn’t come to shove” between presidential authority and statutory limitation. But he left the door open for at least some nebulous presidential power that trumps congressional attempts at limitation.

Why do we even have statutes anymore if they are just for guidance?

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:58 pm

Thought-crimes swiftly punished

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The Bush Gestapo in action:

Twenty-four year old Tam Tran is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and has consistently spoken out on U.S. immigration reform. On May 17, she appeared before the House Immigration Subcommittee to speak in support of the DREAM Act, which would have granted legal status to children of immigrants who complete at least two years of college.

More recently, a USA Today article on Oct. 8 featured Tran in an article on “children caught in the immigration crossfire”:

Without the DREAM Act, Tam Tran, 24, is a person without a country. The daughter of Vietnamese boat people, Tran was born in Germany, where her parents ended up after the German Navy plucked them out of the sea. The family moved to the USA when Tran was 6. … For now, Tran is permitted to stay — only because the United States has no repatriation treaty with Vietnam. Tran, who has never been to Vietnam, says that “I consider myself a Southern Californian.

Just three days after the article appeared, federal officers entered her home in the middle of the night and forcibly arrested her family. Tran’s family was detained on a “years-old deportation order,” even though they have been in regular communication with immigration officials for almost 20 years since arriving in the United States.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chair of the immigration subcommitee, equated the family’s arrest to “witness intimidation” and accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of targeting the Tran family because Tam “testified before Lofgren’s panel earlier this spring.” Earlier this week, USA Today spoke with Lofgren about the Tran family’s arrest:

Would she and her family have been arrested if she hadn’t spoken out?” Lofgren said of Tran, who was not at home for the raid but has been asked to report to Immigration and Customs officials next week. “I don’t think so.

Since Bush crony Julie Myers took over ICE, the agency has increasingly become known for its willingness to retaliate against immigrants who publicly discuss their situation in the United States. Arrests have been made after individuals spoke out on everything from immigration reform, to workplace rights, to the right to fair wages, to the right to report crimes without fear of retaliation.

UPDATE: More on the DREAM Act from Migra Matters.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:46 pm

Sad and hopeful both

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Senator Dodd has placed a hold on the telecom get-out-of-liability-free card—well, not quite free: the telecoms had to give a lot of money to various Senators to move them in the right direction. Senator Dianne Feinstein, of course, was quick to support the move: she is my Senator only in name, and I will vote for an overt Republican before I’ll vote again for her.

Read Glenn Greenwald’s column on this mess. And more here.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:41 pm

We need a more equitable NLRB

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The GOP has pulled all the teeth from the NLRB so that companies can illegally fight unions with impunity. A Democratic sweep in 2008 may enable/encourage Congress to address the imbalance. For now:

As part of a wider campaign to free mall workers from low wages and unfair working conditions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began organizing janitors employed by the cleaning contractor Service Management Systems (SMS) at Paramus Park. Within weeks, workers say supervisors with SMS threatened to fire anyone who supported the union.

“We work everyday with fear,” Christian Valle, a janitor at Permaus Park, told The American Prospect through an interpreter. Valle said he wanted to join the union for “job security” because “sometimes [SMS doesn’t] pay us the full hours, they raise their voices at us, and they threaten to fire us so we don’t become part of the union.”

In July, SEIU filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against SMS, citing interrogation, surveillance, and coercive statements and threats against workers joining the union. SEIU is the nation’s largest union, representing more than 225,000 janitors.

The complaint against SMS was just the beginning, as SEIU documented a more systemic practice of intimidation against union-affiliated workers in malls owned by General Growth Properties. In August, SEIU filed six more unfair labor practice charges against cleaning contractors hired by General Growth, and one specifically against the corporation itself. Then in September, SEIU filed 10 more unfair labor practice charges against the company.

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Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:26 pm

Maybe not suicide?

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From the British newspaper The Mirror:

Newly released evidence adds to the theory that MoD scientist Dr David Kelly was murdered and did not commit suicide, an MP has claimed. Norman Baker revealed that the penknife Dr Kelly apparently used to slash his wrist did not carry his own fingerprints.Lib Dem Mr Baker said: “The angle you pick up a knife to kill yourself means there would be fingerprints.

“Someone who wanted to kill themselves wouldn’t go to the lengths of wiping the knife clean of fingerprints.

UN weapons inspector Dr Kelly, 59, was found dead near his Oxfordshire home in 2003, days after he was named as the source of a BBC story that claimed the British government had “sexed up” a dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Iraq War

Now a patron of Monterey County Free Library

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Just returned from a little outing, including going by the MCFL and signing up. That library has what I think of as the authentic alluring library fragrance—i.e., the same as the library of my childhood, Ardmore Public Library. Checked out a few books, got informational materials (including info about the OPAC), and am ready to go.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

More on Mint (Web 2.0)

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I blogged earlier about Mint, and so far it looks good to me, but Lifehacker has a very good and thorough review with screenshots. Take a look. (The Wife is still wary of it.)

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Tagged with , ,

Being creative-er

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You know already, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, that I like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the books he wrote based on his research. “Flow” is his term and much of his research involves discovering more about that state of mind. In past postings I’ve recommended his books, and Mind on Books reminds me to recommend another: Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention:

In the last chapter of his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, based on interviews with 91 creative individuals, Csikszentmihalyi offers some practical suggestions for enhancing creativity. These are the summary points discussed more completely in the book:

  • Try to be surprised by something every day.
  • Try to surprise at least one person every day.
  • Write down each day what surprised you and how you surprised others.
  • When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.
  • Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to.
  • If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable.
  • To keep enjoying something, you need to increase its complexity.
  • Take charge of your schedule.
  • Make time for reflection and relaxation.
  • Shape your space.
  • Find out what you like and what you hate about life.
  • Start doing more of what you love, less of what you hate.
  • Develop what you lack.
  • Shift often from openness to closure.
  • Aim for complexity.
  • Find a way to express what moves you.
  • Look at problems from as many viewpoints as possible.
  • Figure out the implications of the problem.
  • Implement the solution.
  • Produce as many ideas as possible.
  • Have as many different ideas as possible.
  • Try to produce unlikely ideas.
  • Choose a special domain.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:23 am

1000 days, 1000 drawings, 1000 entries

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Watch this cool video.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:11 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Video

Chemical-plant security and externalizing costs

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Corporations do everything they can to externalize their costs—i.e., get someone else to pay for it. That’s what leads to pollution: corporations don’t want to pay for keeping their effluents (liquid, solid, or gas) clean. It’s better (for their P&L statement) to just dump the stuff and let someone else (e.g., the taxpayers, future generations) pay to clean it up. Generally, we handle this problem with regulations that force companies to pay for the clean-up—and often they find, to their surprise, that cleaning up the effluents actually reduces their processing costs so that they come out ahead.

Sometimes the externalization of costs is relatively benign. With today’s telephone system, the costs of having telephone operators have been externalized: you and I are our own phone operators, placing our local and long-distance calls. I bet that most of you have never heard the courteous voice of a telephone operator say, “Number, please.” Or tried to call your dad at his store and have the operator say, “I just saw him walking to the post office. You hang up and I’ll have him call you when he gets back.”

And we now fill our own grocery carts and we’re starting to do our own checkout. ATMs have displaced thousands of bank tellers. We can now print shipping labels with the postage on them so that the postal clerk’s job is done in part by us.

Chemical plants present a particular and location-specific problem with regard to the costs of security:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:09 am

Posted in Business, Government

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From our own Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

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Via treehugger:

Reporting from Pop!Tech…catch it live here! More smarties than you can shake a stick at in beautiful Camden, Maine for 3 days.

From what TreeHugger understands, lots of the sustainability focus around the oceans has been focused on better fishing practices. Marcia McNutt, head of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), shared with us that, in her opinion, climate change should be a bigger concern than fishing practices. As a result, her organization now spends 50% of their budget in that direction.

She explains that climate change will affect many aspects of the oceans. For example (from least impact to worst):

1) The temperature change will raise sea levels.

2) The ocean circulation patterns will shift, thereby reducing its productivity.

3) The chemistry of the ocean will become more acidic (PH is up 30% already).

In addition, she suggests that ocean acidification will be a larger problem than global warming. Among other things, MBARI is doing research into what happens as our oceans get more and more acidic, as well as what antidotes might be applied e.g. iron fertilization — see TreeHugger’s coverage of Plantos’ efforts here, here and here for more on that.

What can I do, you say? We thought you’d never ask. Here are a few things that we believe Marcia would suggest:

1) Read Collapse by Jared Diamond to help set the context.

2) Get and use those little pocket fish guides (now also available on your cell phone) to vote with your dollars. And don’t be shy, tell your friends.

3) Eat less and smaller fish. This is also better for your health, as the bad stuff bio-accumulates as you eat higher on the food chain.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 10:51 am

Posted in Environment, Global warming, Science

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More on healthcare

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How about this map of the world done via patients-per-doctor? (To make the map actually readable, click the thumbnail and then click the resulting image to bring it to full size.)

Patients per doctor

The text reads, “This poster (published in September 2007) hangs on the wall of waiting rooms at the doctor. This way we let Dutch people know how privileged they are when it comes to medical care, and thus how appropriate it would be for them to help Doctors of the World help the less privileged.” From the link:

Remarkably, Cuba leads the world (or at least those countries shown on this map) in the patients per doctor ratio. Other countries doing very well include the successor states to the communist bloc nations, which generally had good (and cheap) health care, and the developed (capitalist) nations in Europe and beyond – although the Netherlands is quite far down, and behind neighbouring countries such as Denmark, Belgium, France and Germany, if ever so slightly. Here’s the complete list: …

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Medical

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Charles Stross: Halting State

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I just finished Charles Stross’s new book, Halting State. On a minor technical note, he has an interesting approach to a multiple-viewpoint story: each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the characters, and that character is addressed in second person. I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it works quite well.

The story itself is a relatively near-future highly technical piece, centered on on-line games, and I think a dedicated gamer could get quite a bit more from the story than did I. Still, it’s an enjoyable and fast-paced novel with some interesting predictions about the direction of national competition in tomorrow’s world. Recommended.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 8:55 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

More good questions for the GOP presidential candidates

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Balloon Juice has a few more:

From our thread yesterday, a couple more good questions the rabble-rousers here at Balloon Juice would like to see posed to the GOP candidates.:

1.) “Would you have sex with a man to stop a terrorist attack?”

2.) “If lowering taxes results in increased revenues then would lowering taxes to zero result in infinite revenues?”

3.) “If you had a time machine, would you travel back in time and abort Bin Laden?”

4.) “Would you torture and kill Jesus to ensure mankind’s salvation? And how does that work?”

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 8:48 am

Posted in Election, GOP

flip & tumble 24/7 bag

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Via, I found this very nifty folding shopping bag. It’s made of lightweight ripstop nylon and folds into a little package about the size of a peach. Unfolded, it’s a 12″ x 14″ x 5″ bag with a 26.5″ strap. The strap is wide and has a shoulder pad, so it doesn’t dig into your shoulder or hand. Very nice idea. They’ll be shipping in two weeks.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 8:47 am

L’Occitane day

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L’Occitane Cade shaving soap comes in a very new pewter bowl, and makes a very nice lather. It’s another shea-butter soap. I used the Rooney Style 3 Size 1 Super, which works well with soaps and creams both.

The razor was the Merkur gold Slant Bar with a day-old Treet Black Beauty. It produced a smooth, easy shave with no nicks. And for the aftershave I used L’Occitane Cade shea butter aftershave balm. I’m really not a balm guy, but once this dries or is absorbed or whatever, it does leave the skin feeling nice.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 8:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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