Later On

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

Archive for December 11th, 2007

New projection from pundit class

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Not in the sense of “prediction” but in the sense “if I believe it, then most people think the same way.” Glenn Greenwald:

The other item about which I wanted to write was this new poll (.pdf) from CBS and The New York Times. The latest flock-like chirping from our pundit class is that the Iraq war’s “improving” prospects war mean that it will no longer play a significant role in the 2008 election. David Brooks today was but the latest to unveil this new wisdom, following along with Peter Beinart’s fact-free declaration last week that the diastrous war he cheered on is now politically irrelevant (a column that, as intended, predictably caused people like National Review‘s Ramesh Ponnuru to issue the ultimate TNR/NR ComplimentCliche: “Peter Beinart has a smart column”).

But look at virtually every question about Iraq from today’s comprehensive poll (questions 3, 6, 15, 78, 80, 82). Public opinion about Iraq is substantially unchanged when compared to two months ago, six months ago and even a year ago. Americans remain overwhelmingly opposed to the war and few if any other issues compete with it in terms of importance or intensity.

And all of that is true even though the perception has marginally increased that the “surge” has resulted in a decrease in violence (questions 79, 81). Yet even with perceptions of decreased violence, Americans believe that the war in Iraq was a grave mistake; only a small minority believes we are “winning”; and they overwhelmingly want to withdraw — not “whenever the job is complete,” but rather, within less than a year (49%) or, at most, within 1-2 years (24%). Only a miniscule minority (8%) endorse the pro-war mantra of staying “as long as it takes.”

The alleged improved perception of this war among Americans and its disappearance as a critical political issue is purely a figment of the active imagination of the Beltway pundit class (motivated, at least in part, by the desperation to rid themselves of the damned spot that cannot be scrubbed out). One of the principal ways that the Beltway establishment enforces its own undemocratic power is studiously to ignore public opinion and dismiss it as irrelevant, no match for the wise and gilded wisdom of their high priests. But here we see self-interested propagandists like Peter Beinart and David Brooks not merely dismissing public opinion as irrelevant, but just brazenly distorting it, all in order to align public opinion with their own desires, thus enabling them to pose deceitfully as the Voice of the People even as they espouse views which the vast majority rejects.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Iraq War, Media

565 mpg

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A smart automaker would start making these to improve their Corporate Average Fuel Economy. From ecoGeek:


… People might think you’re crazy, but after you tell them how far you can go on a two-gallon tank of gas, maybe they’ll start to question their own insanity. So when we came across the Twike, we got pretty excited.

The Twike was originally designed by a bunch of students in Switzerland in the ’80s and then taken on by a German firm for production. While it may look like the usual “bizarre” electric vehicle (it’s fully electric, zero emissions), taking a look inside reveals that you can actually pedal to produce up to 500 watts in tandem with a passenger to extend the range of the car by up to 50%. Now THAT’S new!

The car is steered using a joystick configuration, much like in an airplane, and has the accelerator and brakes (regenerative brakes of course) operated by buttons built into the stick. Awesomely geeky! The batteries are lithium-ion and can be charged from a regular household outlet, though slower here than in Europe, where it charges at a rate of about 1km potential per minute. Of course at 12.5 miles per KWh, which is the equivalent of 565 mpg, charging overnight is fine by me! The range on a single charge is anywhere from 20-90 miles depending on driving conditions (and how in shape your legs are!).

They talk about “Grey energy” on their website, the amount of energy used to produce a vehicle, which in this case is 8,400 KWh, compared to 42,000 KWh for a conventional car. What’s the best line from their website though?

“Tailpipes? We don’t need no stinking tailpipes.” Sweet!

$26,000 US might seem like a lot for a glorified electric bicycle, but amazingly they are sold out for 2007 in North America and are taking orders for 2008. It might not take you on cross-country tours (unless you are in great shape), but as a commuter verhicle, what better way to get to and from that lazy office job and stay in shape?…

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 3:25 pm

The perfect cup of tea

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Very nice post, which includes:

… Now, I like an absorbing ritual as much as the next mildly autistic kitchen geek, but I couldn’t help finding this a little ridiculous. I had always thought of tea as “the hot drink I never particularly want”, or “the hot drink that isn’t coffee”, and while I knew vaguely about Japanese tea ceremonies and Russian samovars, it had never occurred to me that procedure as simple as boil, steep, drink could be made so incredibly complicated. Until, that is, I took a sip of the Silver Needle. It was extraordinary: as alive and nuanced as an aged Bordeaux, at once delicate and rich, astringent and refreshing, it was something not to gulp idly, but to savour and contemplate. For comparison’s sake, I made a cup the old-fashioned way: I set a (non-adjustable) kettle on to boil, then steeped the leaves for while. The result was flat and dull.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Good cookbook

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I just got from the library Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bittman is “The Minimalist” at the NY Times, and in general I like his recipes a lot—and this book is no exception. If you’re an occasional or perpetual vegetarian—or know such persons—this book would be a good gift (to yourself or to them).

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Books, Recipes

Service Pack 1 for Microsoft Office 2007

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Since I have MS Office 2007, I downloaded the service pack. It’s enormous, but installed readily enough.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Software

Christine Todd Whitman: accountable? She says, “No”

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What would happen if personal responsibility became supported? Accountability? Awful (for some) to contemplate:

A former Environmental Protection Agency chief should not be held personally liable for telling residents near the World Trade Center site that the air was safe to breathe after the 2001 terrorist attack, a government lawyer argued Monday.

Holding Christine Todd Whitman liable will set a dangerous precedent, leaving public officials to worry that their words to reassure the public after disasters will open them up to personal liability, Justice Department attorney Alisa Klein told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“If you speak, you will be potentially held liable,” she said. “Then the clear message for government officials is to say nothing.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Sherrie Savett said Whitman “made false statements to the public, inducing them, seducing them to go back to their homes and to send their kids back to school.”

Residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn filed a lawsuit claiming they were exposed to hazardous dust and debris from the fallen twin towers.

They say Whitman should be forced to pay damages to properly clean homes, schools and businesses and be forced to create a fund to monitor the health of victims, some of whom claim they suffer from asthma, lung disease and other ailments.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts in Manhattan refused to dismiss Whitman as a defendant, calling the actions of the former New Jersey governor “conscience-shocking.”

The EPA’s Office of the Inspector General said the agency did not have data and information to support statements made in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that the air was safe to breathe. The EPA’s internal watchdog concluded that the agency, at the urging of White House officials, gave misleading assurances that there was no health risk from the dust in the air after the towers’ collapse.

The lawyers and judges on the panel agreed that holding a member of the president’s cabinet personally liable was unprecedented. Still, one judge said there was a question of accountability. The appeals court declined to immediately rule.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 12:52 pm

The military: circling the wagons

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Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann is the legal adviser at Guantánamo, yet in testimony before Congress he seems not to have any legal knowledge whatsoever. Watch the video clip. His statement is so unethical, dishonorable, immoral, and illegal (clearly he’s perjuring himself—the question asked is exactly the sort of thing for which he is responsishable) that it hurts. I hope his family is ashamed of him.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 December 2007 at 12:24 pm

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