Later On

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

Archive for November 22nd, 2007

Michael Moore left this out of Sicko

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He said people wouldn’t believe it.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 7:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

FiberGourmet moves ahead with high-fiber pasta

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This is good news. From an email:

Hi, this is Ari with FiberGourmet. We recently introduced a new version of our high-fiber, low-calorie pasta, with an improved texture even closer to standard pasta, even higher fiber content (20g per serving!), and lower price. To celebrate the launch, we’re also putting the new product on sale: 10 bags of our pasta (5 lbs or 40 servings in all) for a mere 20 bucks! It’s the healthiest thing you can buy for a single picture of Andrew Jackson. You can check out all the details, including Nutrition Facts and a lab analysis, at www.fibergourmet.com/short.aspx If you have any questions, or are interested in a review sample bag or two, just contact me.

Thanks, Ari Holzer VP, FiberGourmet ari@fibergourmet.com

P.S: A note on the shapes. [I had told him that I liked cut pasta: elbow macaroni, spirelli, rotini, farfalle, and so on. – LG] This product is manufactured at a new facility we just started working with in Pennsylvania.

They wanted to stick with what they knew worked for the first production, so we made the same basic shape that we’re currently producing in Miami: fettuccine (although it is short-cut (2-3 inches) this time). However, the production went so smoothly that they’re willing to branch out to new shapes in the future. We did a trial run of elbow macaroni the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know when those start to hit the market as well.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 6:17 pm

Posted in Food

Those foreign fighters in Iraq?

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Fighters

They come from our allies (mostly from Libya and Saudi Arabia), not from Syria or Iran:

 Saudi Arabia and Libya, both considered allies by the United States in its fight against terrorism, were the source of about 60 percent of the foreign fighters who came to Iraq in the past year to serve as suicide bombers or to facilitate other attacks, according to senior American military officials.

The data come largely from a trove of documents and computers discovered in September, when American forces raided a tent camp in the desert near Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. The raid’s target was an insurgent cell believed to be responsible for smuggling the vast majority of foreign fighters into Iraq.

The most significant discovery was a collection of biographical sketches that listed hometowns and other details for more than 700 fighters brought into Iraq since August 2006.

The records also underscore how the insurgency in Iraq remains both overwhelmingly Iraqi and Sunni. American officials now estimate that the flow of foreign fighters was 80 to 110 per month during the first half of this year and about 60 per month during the summer. The numbers fell sharply in October to no more than 40, partly as a result of the Sinjar raid, the American officials say.

Saudis accounted for the largest number of fighters listed on the records by far — 305, or 41 percent — American intelligence officers found as they combed through documents and computers in the weeks after the raid. The data show that despite increased efforts by Saudi Arabia to clamp down on would-be terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, some Saudi fighters are still getting through.

Libyans accounted for 137 foreign fighters, or 18 percent of the total, the senior American military officials said. They discussed the raid with the stipulation that they not be named because of the delicate nature of the issue.

United States officials have previously offered only rough estimates of the breakdown of foreign fighters inside Iraq. But the trove found in Sinjar is so vast and detailed that American officials believe that the patterns and percentages revealed by it offer for the first time a far more precise account of the personal circumstances of foreign fighters throughout the country.

In contrast to the comparatively small number of foreigners, more than 25,000 inmates are in American detention centers in Iraq. Of those, only about 290, or some 1.2 percent, are foreigners, military officials say.

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 2:54 pm

Norman Solomon points to the elephant in the room

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It’s obvious when you actually look:

The economic coverage was fairly typical on a recent broadcast of the radio program “Day to Day,” airing nationwide from NPR News.

“There’s actually some good news out today about the American economy,” host Madeleine Brand announced. Then she introduced a reporter from the widely heard “Marketplace” show, Jill Barshay, who proceeded to offer the type of explanation that’s all too common in media accounts of economic trends.

“Well, just to be clear, we’re talking about worker productivity, which is how much stuff we make every hour,” Barshay replied. “And the Labor Department reported this morning that the hourly output per worker increased 4.9 percent in the third quarter. That’s the biggest jump in labor productivity we’ve seen since 2003. Another part of the report also says that labor costs fell a bit, so we’ve got employees being more productive and costing companies less. And this is important because it shows that the economy might be able to grow without generating inflation.”

Let’s unpack that narrative. From the outset, wages are described only as “labor costs” — which fell, “so we’ve got employees being more productive and costing companies less.”

With that kind of setup near the top of a story, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to depicting higher income for workers as a threat to the country’s economic well-being.

“Productivity is the economy’s best defense against inflation and recession,” the reporter went on, “and that’s because wages are the most important cost to companies, and most of our wages do go up every year, even if it’s just a little cost of living adjustment.”

And Barshay added: “So if we’re producing the same amount of stuff every year, then companies have a choice. They either can pass on these wage costs in the form of higher prices on the products we buy, or they take a hit to their profits. So if we’re producing more stuff, if we’re being more productive like we have in this past quarter, then we don’t have to worry so much about higher consumer prices or falling corporate profits.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t worry much about “falling profits.” Few working people do. What we worry about is job insecurity, lousy working conditions, unpaid hours, evaporating pensions, and healthcare coverage that’s either woefully inadequate or nonexistent.

But during that Nov. 7 news segment on “Day to Day,” a key theme was the menace of “falling corporate profits.”

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Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Intelligent Design and Cannabis Prohibition

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Very interesting column. Well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Small but legible calendar

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A design challenge with some very cool solutions.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with ,

At a certain point, ignorance is deliberate

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When political reporters—paid to know and report politics—still don’t know what “caging” is, it can only be that they are deliberately and purposefully remaining ignorant. Or else they are bone lazy and/or deep stupid. None of the three possibilities is attractive. ThinkProgress:

Earlier this week, Washington Post investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen hosted an online chat at washingtonpost.com. One of the participants asked Woodward and Leen how pervasive the voter suppression tactic known as “caging” is. The investigative reporters had no idea what it was:

Washington, D.C.: Don’t you have a duty to report criminal activity to the appropriate authorities?

How pervasive is “caging”?

Bob Woodward and Jeff Leen: We publish what we can find and document. Many times over the years government authorities have pursued the information we have dug up and launched their own investigations. But we’re trying to serve the readers, and we do not act as police or prosecutors. And please send us an e-mail explaing what “caging” is.

Woodward and Leen aren’t the only Washington Post reporters who are clueless about caging. In a washingtonpost.com online chat with congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman in May, a questioner asked “why Congress didn’t jump on Monica Goodling’s testimony about caging.” Weisman’s response: “So what is this caging thing?

So for all those Washington Post reporters out there, let’s go over the facts again.

Caging most recently gained attention in the U.S. attorney scandal. In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Tim Griffin, the former Rove protege who was placed as a U.S. attorney in Arkansas, led a “caging” scheme to suppress the votes of African-American servicemembers in Florida.

On Nov. 5, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Caging Prohibition Act, a bill to outlaw this “long-recognized voter suppression tactic which has often been used to target minority voters.” Bush administration officials have repeatedly tried to dismiss this as “direct-mail term.” But the charges are serious enough that earlier this year, several senators called for an investigation into the RNC’s use of this voter suppression tactic. Whitehouse and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) explained:

Caging is a voter suppression tactic whereby a political campaign sends mail marked “do not forward” to a targeted group of eligible voters. A more aggressive version involves sending mail to a targeted group of voters with instructions to sign and return an acknowledgment card. The campaign then creates a list of those whose mail was returned undelivered and challenges the right of those citizens to vote — on the ground that the voter does not live at the registered address.

Fill in Woodward and Leen on caging by contacting them here and here.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 12:14 pm

Air ray

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Extremely cool. Watch the short video. Don’t you want one?

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Techie toys, Toys

Thanks

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I’m first of all thankful that you’re reading this. For whatever reason, the readership of the blog seems to be gradually increasing, which I greatly appreciate.

A counselor I once saw pointed out that I seemed to work at getting people to like me, particularly if at first they seemed not to. The result was that I was more or less living a fiction, undermined by the feeling that, if they knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me so much. She advised me to just work at being myself and let the friendships fall as they might: some people indeed would not like me, but others would—just as before, but without a façade. I tried it, and it’s worked.

So in this blog you get pretty much me as I am. And I can definitely tell from some comments that not everyone cottons to me—but some do, and those are my proper audience. Welcome, and thank you.

I’m thankful for my whole family: my kids, their kids, their friends, my wife, and her family. All seem happy, productive, healthy, and enjoying life.

I’m also thankful for my own degree of health—it can be improved, but still it’s not bad. And I’m thankful I sleep well. The few times I’ve had trouble sleeping it’s seemed like hell.

And aren’t you thankful that the American public is starting to wake up and complain. Perhaps they’ll push the politicians, many loath to take a position, to act—to move into action and do the country some good.

My life is made easier by the continuing emerging of new interests and renewal of old interests. Ennui/boredom is a terrible curse—George Sanders committed suicide for that reason—and I’m thankful that it’s something that I only read about.

I’m thankful that I discovered kitties in time to enjoy them: great little guys, though weird in the extreme.

And much more… we’re lucky, if we but know it.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 11:07 am

Posted in Daily life

MR GLO

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Now I have an idea of the lifespan of the Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil pre-shave  bar. I started using the current bar on 16 July 2007. The bar is now on its last legs, just over 4 months later. So: three bars a year. (This is in case you’re hinting at MR GLO for a gift: ask for 3 and then repeat the request each year. 🙂 )

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Shaving

Edwin Jagger razors

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A reader asked that I write more about the Edwin Jagger razors. These razors take the Merkur Classic head, subject it to more quality control and polishing, and then have it plated either with heavy chrome or with gold. So much of the shave is from a really good Classic. It’s perhaps worth noting that Charles Roberts, developer of the Method shave, recommends the Classic head for shaving with that technique.

The handles are important, too. I have an ivory-handled Chatsworth, a lined Chatsworth (all metal), and an ivory-handled Georgian.

I should acknowledge that I’ve encountered some shavers who feel that the Jagger razors are not worth the money, but I really enjoy them and feel I get my money’s worth. For one thing, they are extremely well balanced and comfortable to hold. I don’t think of myself as someone who prefers a long handle or a thick handle, but the Jagger razors—all three of them—really feel exceptionally comfortable to hold and to wield. That may be why I drift into using them so often.

The Georgian’s large handle seems to make the razor head easier to place and to control. The long handles of the two Chatsworths provide good control as well, and I like the heft of the lined Chatsworth.

None of the razors seem at all slippery as you shave—and for me that was a problem with the Merkur 38C: the heavy weight and the handle design made the razor twist in my hand. With the Jaggers, I have no problems at all.

I don’t know that appearance is a determining factor in a tool, but it’s certainly a nice plus: I think these razors are exceptionally handsome. They have a place in any shaver’s wishlist, in my opinion.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 10:10 am

Posted in Shaving

The GOP doesn’t know how to govern

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Immigration

The GOP is simply incompetent in governing: they don’t know how to legislate for the common weal, and they don’t know how to execute the legislation and run the Executive branch. Here’s the latest SNAFU. (Oh, and how is the Katrina recovery going? ** sound of crickets **) Looking at the graph, you might feel a little sympathy because the applications doubled—but that was totally foreseeable and simply required good planning and sound procedures and adequate staffing and training—which, of course, the GOP simply cannot do: it involves spending a little money on government functions.

The Department of Homeland Security failed to prepare for a massive influx of applications for U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits this summer, prompting complaints from Hispanic leaders and voter-mobilization groups that several hundred thousand people likely will not be granted citizenship in time to cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election.

Bush administration officials said yesterday that they had anticipated applicants would rush to file their paperwork to beat a widely publicized fee increase that took effect July 30, but did not expect the scale of the response. The backlog comes just months after U.S. officials failed to prepare for tougher border security requirements that triggered months-long delays for millions of Americans seeking passports.

Before the fee hike, citizenship cases typically took about seven months to complete. Now, immigration officials can take five months or more just to acknowledge receipt of applications from parts of the country and will take 16 to 18 months on average to process applications filed after June 1, according to officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS. Such a timeline would push many prospective citizens well past voter-registration deadlines for the 2008 primaries and the general elections.

“We expected [the fee increase] might stimulate demand from some folks to file who wouldn’t have otherwise, and some from folks to file earlier than they would have,” said Michael Aytes, associate director of USCIS, “but we never anticipated” the extent of the growth. “It went off the charts,” he said.

Other factors include legal immigrants’ anxiety at an increasingly harsh tenor of the political debate over illegal immigration, and heightened interest in the 2008 presidential election, officials said.

The immigration agency’s workload has nearly doubled, Aytes said, with 1.4 million naturalization applications arriving from October 2006 to September 2007, compared with 731,000 applications the year before. Between July and September of this year alone, USCIS received 560,000 applications, he said.

The number of green-card-related applications surged to 876,000 in fiscal 2007, from 497,000 in fiscal 2006, he said. At one point this summer, USCIS had 1 million applications and checks waiting to be opened and acknowledged, Aytes said, a backlog that now stands at 235,000. Overall, USCIS received 7.7 million applications for all types of immigration benefits, up from 6.3 million.

“I really want to target the elections,” USCIS Director Emilio T. Gonzalez told the Associated Press in an interview published Tuesday. “I really want to get as many people out there to vote as possible.”

Aides, however, contradicted him. “We are going to process these cases as responsibly and as quickly as we can, but we’re not focused on any of the election cycle,” Aytes said. USCIS spokesman Bill Wright emphasized that political calculations played no role in agency decisions. “Any implication of that is ludicrous,” he said.

In June, poor planning and coordination between DHS and the State Department forced the Bush administration to temporarily suspend a new security requirement that Americans present passports when flying to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Processing times for passport applications ballooned from three weeks to three or four months, jeopardizing summer travel plans for millions of Americans. Wait times returned to normal after the State Department allocated more resources and staffing.

The new crunch — which some USCIS officials have dubbed a “frontlog” — threatens to create a political headache that also stems in part from a State-DHS miscommunication. In addition to raising immigration fees this summer, the Bush administration triggered another cascade of applications for legal permanent residency, or green cards, from skilled immigrant workers when it pushed back a planned July 2 deadline, largely because the two departments failed to coordinate on how many slots were available.

It is the same pattern,” said Crystal Williams, deputy director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It strikes me as remarkable. It’s not as if this could not have been predicted.”

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Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 9:59 am

Medical malpractice in “the best healthcare system in the world”

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Strange how highly people in the US regard our dilapidated, unsystematized, and money-driven healthcare situation. (I can’t call it a “system.”) Here’s another in a seemingly endless series. Why won’t Congress act? (Because they’re on the take and part of the problem: the industry-protection Congress.)

 The case of actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins, who were reportedly given 1,000 times the intended dosage of a blood thinner at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, underscores one of the biggest problems facing the healthcare industry: medication errors.

At least 1.5 million Americans a year are injured after receiving the wrong medication or the incorrect dose, according to the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science. Such incidents have more than doubled in the last decade.

The errors are made when pharmacists stock the drugs improperly, nurses don’t double-check to make sure they are dispensing the proper medication or doctors’ bad handwriting results in the wrong drug being administered, among other causes.

The events over the last few days at Cedars-Sinai, and a case in Indiana last year in which three babies died after receiving an overdose of the same drug, offer a vivid illustration of the problems hospitals face.

In both cases, nurses mistakenly administered a concentration of heparin 1,000 times higher than intended, giving the patients a dose with a concentration of 10,000 units per milliliter instead of the correct dosage of 10 units per milliliter.

The packaging of the 10,000-unit dose of heparin looks very similar to that of the 10-unit dose. In both cases, each hospital received the drug from Illinois-based Baxter Healthcare Corp., one of seven companies that manufacture heparin, a generic drug.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 9:46 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government, Medical

Tagged with

The Method and the Slant

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This morning I went Method with the Shavemaster brush, the authentic Cube, and the Shaving Paste. I’m now comfortable with renewing the lather in the course of the shave, and it strikes me that perhaps with other shaving products (particularly the shaving creams), the formula might include lather stabilizers to give the lather greater longevity. Anyone know?

At any rate, the lather was fine and the Slant, with a once-used Treet Black Beauty, delivered a close shave with no cuts. The aftershave was QEDman’s Lime Aftershave Skin Conditioner, quite nice. Overall, 9.6.

Today I’m going to revise and update my big Method post and provide links to it on the side and in the general shaving guides. People should know this option, right?

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2007 at 9:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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