Later On

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

Archive for November 5th, 2007

TAL on where we find ourselves today

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Very good post below, from The Anonymous Liberal. (And you should also read this one.)

Marty Lederman, a former OLC attorney, reacts to this truly astounding story from ABC News (you might want to read the ABC story first):

What can one add to this? And what does it tell us that the story has been met with a collective yawn from the rest of the media? We have become so accustomed, so inured, to what would once have been unthinkable, that a story such as this, right out of a bad B-movie, is seen as business-as-usual, dog-bites-man.

I have been reluctant to say such things before now, but those stubborn facts keep adding up, and, if the Greenburg story is accurate, it’s hard to resist the simple conclusion that Gonzales and others were engaged, not only in an effort to completely distort the proper function of OLC (see generally Jack Goldsmith’s book), but also in a conspiracy to violate the Torture Act and the War Crimes Act (which at the time prohibited such conduct). When responsible, thoughtful lawyers — loyal conservative, Republican lawyers, mind you — told them that what they had approved was unlawful, they got rid of the lawyers, and concocted alternative, and patently ridiculous, legal advice (and rewarded the lawyer who was willing to sign his name to that advice).

I’m trying to avoid hyperbole, honest. But how is this not a huge scandal, in form (but certainly not in degree) directly analogous to what we, at Nuremburg, prosecuted German Justice Department lawyers for having done? (And no, I am am not saying that the crimes committed here are analogous to those approved by German lawyers, so please don’t go there in the comments thread.)

When future generations look back on this era of American history, I’m increasingly convinced that the harshest verdicts will be saved for the lawyers, people like David Addington, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. These were the people who were supposed to be the brakes, not the gas. They’re the people who were supposed to speak up for the law and for the Constitution, the people whose job it was to ensure that we are governed by laws and not men. And not only did they abdicate this responsibility, they chose to use their power of interpretation to make a mockery of the law. That’s the worse kind of betrayal. It’s like a doctor who uses his knowledge to harm instead of heal. Such will be the legacy of the torture lawyers.

UPDATE: Then again, maybe we’ve already gone too far down this road.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, Congress

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Wow! Impressive call for hold on Mukasey

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From Larry Johnson’s Web site (LJ is a former CIA official). Look at who signed this (at the end).

A group of distinguished intelligence and military officers, diplomats, and law enforcement professionals delivered an urgent message this morning to the chairman and the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on them to hold the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey until he takes a clear position on the legality of waterboarding.

Their message strongly endorses the view of former judge advocates general that waterboarding “is inhumane, is torture, is illegal.” The intelligence veterans added it is also a notoriously unreliable way to acquire accurate information.

They noted that the factors cited by the president and Mukasey as obstacles to his giving an opinion on waterboarding can be easily solved by briefing Mukasey on waterboarding and on C.I.A. interrogation methods.

The intelligence veterans noted that during their careers they frequently had to walk a thin line between morality and expediency, all the while doing their best to abide by the values the majority of Americans have held in common over the years. They appealed to Senators Pat Leahy and Arlen Specter to rise to the occasion and discharge their responsibility to defend those same values.


MEMORANDUM FOR: Chairman and Ranking Member Senate Committee on the Judiciary

FROM: Former U.S. Intelligence Officers

SUBJECT: Nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General

Dear Senators Leahy and Specter,

Values that are extremely important to us as former intelligence officers are at stake in your committee’s confirmation deliberations on Judge Michael Mukasey. With hundreds of years of service in sensitive national security activities behind us, we are deeply concerned that your committee may move his nomination to the full Senate without insisting that Mukasey declare himself on whether he believes the practice of waterboarding is legal.

We feel this more acutely than most others, for…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 8:22 pm

Good post on reading classic books

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I am a believer in the joy and benefits of reading classic (“great”) books. Here’s an interesting post on how to read them (given that you already accept the “why”).

BTW, I clicked the link for The Well Educated Mind to get the page, then clicked my little bookmarklet that checked my local library. Yep, they had it, so I put a hold on it. 🙂

If you haven’t really tried reading great books for a while, and if you’re over 40, try reading Madame Bovary. I don’t think under-40’s can really grasp and appreciate the book so well as those of a certain age. I read it in high school and was bored to tears—I don’t think I finished it. In my junior year of college, I read it again, and though it had some interest, I didn’t quite see what the fuss was about. I read it again when I was 40 and I couldn’t put it down.

Or, as recently posted on the blog, perhaps it’s time to try War and Peace, with the new translation and all.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Education

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Download is working now

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Let me know what you think of it so far: beginning of cooking compendium.

The Wife suggests that I warn people about my perennial editing fixation—though I prefer to think of it as “iterative refinement.” But in fact I do go back over what I’m writing and tinker a lot—adding things I forgot to mention, deleting unnecessary words, making verbs transitive when possible, and so on. So I welcome your suggestions, and note that what you see now in the download is definitely not what the final product will be.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 1:19 pm

Bush advises Musharraf

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Breaking news:

In what he described as “an emergency mission to help a key ally in the war on terror,” President George W. Bush flew to Islamabad today to give General Pervez Musharraf tips on how to eliminate democracy.

Mr. Bush said he scheduled the trip just hours after General Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended elections “because when it comes to eliminating democracy, I thought my friend Pervez could benefit from my experience.”

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Mr. Bush said that while he commended General Musharraf’s impulse to eliminate democratic institutions, he felt that the military strongman was going about it the wrong way: “When you’re getting rid of democracy, the last thing you want to do is tell people you’re doing it.”

Mr. Bush said that eliminating such things as privacy, freedom of speech and the constitution had to be done “very quietly and stealthy-like.”

“If I had gone on TV one day and just ended democracy like Pervez did, I would have caught holy hell from Maureen Dowd,” Mr. Bush chuckled. “You’ve got to be crafty about these things.”

Mr. Bush chalked up Mr. Musharraf’s decision to disclose the elimination of democracy as a “beginner’s mistake,” adding, “I’ve had six-plus years of practice at this.”

He also criticized the Pakistani dictator’s firing of the chief justice of the Supreme Court: “Trust me, if you’re going to get rid of elections, a Supreme Court could come in handy.”

Elsewhere, astronauts spent Saturday morning repairing a solar panel on the International Space Station, then spent the rest of the day drinking and stalking ex-lovers.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 11:53 am

Cool idea: home wind turbine

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EcoGeek has this info on the Helix wind turbine for home use:

Home-based wind power solutions are, as of now, not extremely practical. A lot of them require significant height, a big initial investment, and some unfortunate regulatory hoops that must be jumped through.

But Helix Wind is attempting to overcome some of those obstacles with their 2-kilowatt rated wind turbine. First, the turbine spins no matter what direction the wind comes from (including vertically) so it can be mounted lower, and generates more energy in turbulent (urban) environments. The turbine can be mounted lower, so installation costs will be lower, and regulations less significant.

Lots of information at the Helix Wind link—especially see the FAQs.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 11:48 am

At last!!!

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Finally, after a years-long wait, I have been able to get the wonderful Century Plaza album by the World’s Greatest Jazz Band: Yank Lawson, trumpet; Billy Butterfield, trumpet & flugelhorn; Bob Wilber, clarinet & soprano sax; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Eddie Hubble, trombone; Ralph Sutton, piano; Bob Haggart, bass; and Gus Johnson, Jr., drums. I’m listening to it now—how great it is to hear it again.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 11:17 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

The Last Supper in 16 billion pixels

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In case you want to take a really close look. Here it is.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 10:47 am

Posted in Art, Technology

Making your own handbound notebook

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From a chopstick and paper and thread…  Here are the instructions. This is well-timed for holiday gifts, eh?

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 10:06 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Pulled-pork sandwiches on a winter afternoon

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Take a look:

Pulled pork sandwich

And it’s not just the taste of the sandwich: it’s the way your house smells while it slowly cooks. I’m making it. Are you?

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 9:32 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Make a loaf of bread

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There are bakers in my family, so for them this will be old hat. But making a loaf of bread seems to me something that would be truly satisfying. Take a look at this post. The staff of life.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 9:19 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Interesting post on signifier vs. nonsignifier in art

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 9:07 am

Posted in Art

Bicycling, when a city embraces it

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Bicycling is such a good mode of transportation: non-polluting, provides exercise, is quiet, and so on. Yet some cities fight bicyclists—weird. Other cities, like Portland, embrace bicycling. Notice that Portland began planning and implementing their network of bike lanes in the early ’70s. More here:

Susan Peithman did not have a job lined up when she moved here in September to pursue a career in “nonmotorized transportation.” No worries, she figured; the market here is strong. “In so many ways, it’s the center,” Ms. Peithman, 26, explained. “Bike City, U.S.A.”

Cyclists have long revered Portland for its bicycle-friendly culture and infrastructure, including the network of bike lanes that the city began planning in the early 1970s. Now, riders are helping the city build a cycling economy.

There are, of course, huge national companies like Nike and Columbia Sportswear that have headquarters here and sell some cycling-related products, and there are well-known brands like Team Estrogen, which sells cycling clothing for women online from a Portland suburb.

Yet in a city often uncomfortable with corporate gloss, what is most distinctive about the emerging cycling industry here is the growing number of smaller businesses, whether bike frame builders or clothing makers, that often extol recycling as much as cycling, sustainability as much as success.

Like the local indie rock bands that insist they are apathetic about fame, many of the smaller local companies say craft, not money, is what drives them.

“All the frame builders I know got into this because they love bikes,” said Tony Pereira, a bike builder whose one-man operation has a 10-month waiting list, “not because they wanted to start a business.”

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Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 8:44 am


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There are certain books that I find myself repeatedly recommending, so I have collected those titles in one list, which I update from time to time as new titles come to the fore.

Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 8:35 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Writing

Floris London today

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Specifically, JF. I used the Simpsons Emperor 3 Super, which I have been thinking I like less than the Emperor 2 Super these days—that the Emperor 3 was too large. Well, I was wrong: it’s not to large, and in fact is quite a pleasure to use: a big comforting knot, filled with warm lather: quite luxurious, in fact.

I have a new Gillette Adjustable: the black long-handled model. I put in a new Feather blade, cranked it up to 5, and set to work. Very nice shave, though I think the handle is not sufficiently grippy and the razor seems head heavy. Guess it’s not one of my favorites.

Still: very good shave, quite close and smooth—9.2, I would say. And Floris London JF aftershave to complete the process.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2007 at 8:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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