Later On

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

Archive for October 30th, 2007

Ah, nothing like a 54 min 40 sec walk

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Especially when listening to the Goon Show on the new Cowon D2. Very good, and went by quickly, it seemed.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tagged with ,

Karate cat

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

Typical of the Bush Administration: destroy Federal agencies

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Can you believe this? Well, yes, I imagine you can. It’s another example of trying to turn the government into a shill for business and abandon all pretense of protecting the public and promoting the common weal. Here’s the story:

The nation’s top official for consumer product safety has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency, which polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools.

On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.

Ms. Nord opposes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate laws.

The measure is an effort to buttress an agency that has been under siege because of a raft of tainted and dangerous products manufactured both domestically and abroad. In the last two months alone, more than 13 million toys have been recalled after tests indicated lead levels that sometimes reached almost 200 times the safety limit.

Ms. Nord’s opposition to important elements of the legislation is consistent with the broadly deregulatory approach of the Bush administration over the last seven years. In a variety of areas, from antitrust to trucking and worker safety, officials appointed by President Bush have sought to reduce the role of regulation and government in the marketplace.

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 11:37 am

Accountability: where is it when we need it?

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Good post by Stephen Pizzo:

Those us of a certain age have been here and done this before. And many of us wonder how we could possibly allowed ourselves to be sucked into it again. And then it dawned on me this weekend — the one critical thing we did not learn from our disastrous Vietnam experience. It’s not what we did, but what we failed to do. And that one thing is the reason for nearly everything that’s gone so terribly wrong in Iraq and our so-called “war on terror.”

Got your pen? Because we can’t afford to ever for this again. Okay, here it is:

Accountability — personal, civil, criminal and international accountability.

We forced just that on Nazi government, officials, military and collaborators after WW II. And we insisted on it for the Khmer Rouge butchers of Cambodia. We even imposed it on the leaders we deposed in Iraq who are, one by one, being tried and hung for the crimes they committed against Shiites in Iraq.

But nothing even close to that happened to the men who trumped up and executed the war in Vietnam. The only accountability they’ve faced has been easily dismissed rhetorical scoldings. Instead of facing their accusers in a court of law they were allowed to go on with their lives as if the blood of thousands wasn’t virtually dripping from their hands.

Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and other’s in the Johnson and Nixon administrations actually went on to advise other presidents and continue to live the good life unmolested — un-prosecuted.

It’s a fact of history that undoubtedly gave considerable aid and comfort to officials of the current administration. Great comfort must have been provided by the sight of Henry Kissinger popping in and out of the Bush White House and McNamara appearing on panels with academic and other former government officials. Those two men alone are responsible for the deaths of more civilians than Saddam Hussein’s entire bloody career. Yet nearly 40 after their crime spree, they walk free, respected, included, wealthy.

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 11:08 am

For Judge Mukasey: helpful info on waterboarding

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You’ll recall that Mukasey doesn’t know whether waterboarding is torture or not. This may help:

George Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey for U.S. attorney general — once thought to be smooth sailing — is experiencing a bit of turbulence. The problem is, Mukasey can’t bring himself to say whether or not waterboarding is torture:

During his confirmation hearings earlier this month, Mukasey said he believes torture violates the Constitution, but he refused to be pinned down on whether he believes specific interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, are constitutional.

“I don’t know what’s involved in the techniques. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional,” he said.

But after World War II, the United States government was quite clear about the fact that waterboarding was torture, at least when it was done to U.S. citizens:

[In] 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

“Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he sai

Mukasey’s non-answer has raised doubts among Democrats, and even some Republicans, on the Senate Judiciary Committee:

[The] Democrats on the committee signed a joint letter to Mukasey, making sure that he knew what’s involved, and demanded an answer to the question as to whether waterboarding is torture.

Then two days later, the doubts grew louder. Two key Democrats, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) both said publicly that their votes depended on Mukasey’s answer to the waterboarding question.

Then it was Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who saw an opening after Rudy Giuliani refused to call waterboarding torture (”It depends on who does it.”). Most certainly it’s torture, McCain said. When pressed, he stopped short of saying that he would oppose Mukasey’s nomination if he didn’t say the same, but he added to the chorus of those who professed to be interested in what Mukasey’s answer to follow-up questions will be.

Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said that if Mukasey “does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind.”

Rep. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has also thrown in his lot of doubts and concerns.

Of course, if the past is a guide, Mukasey will easily win nomination, and nearly all these senators who have expressed concern will vote for him.

Waterboarding has become an isssue because the Bush White House signed off on it as an interrogation technique — and thus moved the United States into the company of pariah states that permit torture — after the 9/11 attacks.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 10:45 am

Cowon D2

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Okay, the Wired tests of desirable techie toys did me in. I got a Cowon D2 media player, which now comes in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB versions, all of which will accept a memory expansion card: the SD 4GB card (at $35), for example. It’s all flash memory, no tiny hard drives—and thus no moving parts. And—a biggie for me—it will play not only .MP3 files, but also Ogg, FLAC, and others.

It’s very nice that it will accept and display .jpg files. I use my Adobe Photoshop Elements ver. 4.0 to cut down the filesize while leaving the image quality by-and-large intact: File, Save for Web. That option lets you specify the quality level, and even “High” quality will trim a 2 MB .jpg to 100 KB or so. One caution: there’s a checkbox on the “Save for Web” popup that lets you specify the result as a “Progressive” .jpg—a .jpg that, on a Web page, becomes progressively clearer. The D2 will not accept Progressive .jpgs, so uncheck the box. Fortunately, the box is “sticky” and will remain the way you set it.

Another minor sticking point: when you download and install the upgraded firmware (following the very clear directions on the Cowon Web page), the USB connection is set to “MTB”. It should be changed to “MSC” or the Jetshell program, which runs on your PC and facilitates file management on the D2, will not be able to find the device. So after updating firmware, go to Settings, System, USB connection, and change it from MTB to MSC.

Other than that, it’s been clear sailing. The tiny stylus is not really needed, and I use different headphones since those that come with the unit don’t fit my ear. I noticed after the walk yesterday that I was sweating enough to steam up the unit a little—I was carrying it in my shirt pocket. I got out a snack-size Ziplock baggie and the D2 fits very nicely in it. I zip the baggie shut except for one end, from which the headphone cord emerges, and I can see the screen and work the controls without removing the D2 from the baggie.

I got them as a deal with myself: if I get them, I must walk, since the purpose was to have something to listen to on the walk. So far, so good. (One day.)

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 10:33 am

Posted in Techie toys

Tagged with ,

No more “exceptional”

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I can’t go on calling my morning shave “exceptional.” They’re pretty much all exceptional any more. (“Any more” used as a positive seems to be an Iowa-ism.) So I’m going to use the Kafeneio 10-point scale, in which (roughly) 7-10 point shaves fall into the “exceptional category.”

Today’s shave is easily a 9.6. Yesterday was cold, blustery, threatening rain, and in general unpleasant (though I did walk for 55 minutes), so this morning I insisted on Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving soap, and I used the Rooney Style 2 Finest brush. The lather was 9, and the brush itself was 10: the bristles are softy and yet springy, and coax out wonderful lather. The whole thing was so enjoyable I stretched out the lathering.

Then I picked up the Edwin Jagger lined Chatsworth, holding a Treet Black Beauty that had a couple of shaves on it already, and went to work. Very smooth, very easy, very close. When I rinsed after the second pass, I realized my face was already passably smooth, so the against-the-grain pass was really just polishing.

An absolutely smooth visage, which welcomed the Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather aftershave. What a shave! Exceptional 9.6, easily.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2007 at 9:34 am

Posted in Shaving

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