Later On

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

Archive for December 23rd, 2007

Dinner lately

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Here’s what I’ve been having for dinner lately:

Chop up several cloves of garlic and let sit for 15 minutes.

Perhaps a little chopped onion or scallion as well.

A splash of olive oil in a small sauté pan, heated over medium heat.

Add garlic (and onion) and sauté briefly, then a tablespoon or so of pine nuts and freshly grated pepper.

After that’s nicely sautéed, a handful or three of baby spinach and/or dandelion greens or some other greens.

When that has cooked and reduced, a little sherry vinegar. Break an egg into a well and cover until white is cooked.

Scoop up into a bowl and enjoy.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

More Christmas spirit

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Music

Incandescents going, going,…

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CFLs and LEDs are coming in:

The country and the world would be better off if Americans replaced their incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. That’s why the energy bill approved by Congress last week mandated a transition to CFLs by 2012. The only question is whether Congress has mandated a transition that would have occurred anyway.

CFLs — the bulbs that look like soft-serve ice cream cones — last 10 times as long as the hot-filament bulbs that have been in use for 125 years, and they use a quarter to a third as much electricity. CFLs cost more, though the price is coming down. Replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL brings a $30 savings over the bulb’s lifetime.

The aggregate effects of a switch are staggering. Between 2012 and 2030, CFLs will save Americans an estimated $40 billion, avoid the construction of 14 coal-burning power plants, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 million tons.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 4:11 pm

Too bad the interrogation wasn’t videotaped

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A bad interrogation, apparently.

Lies. Trickery. Deceit. For detectives interrogating murder suspects, they are part of the standard playbook.

And they are tactics that were clearly used by detectives who interviewed Martin H. Tankleff in 1988 hours after he called 911 to report finding both his parents stabbed and badly beaten in their Long Island home. Both parents died from their wounds.

Mr. Tankleff confessed and was convicted of their murders, and he served 17 years in prison before a state appeals court ruled on Friday that he may have been wrongly convicted, ordering a new trial.

While the court did not say that the detectives acted inappropriately, its decision renewed doubts about how Mr. Tankleff’s confession was obtained. In so doing, the ruling tapped into a longstanding conversation among legal experts and the law enforcement community about how much deception is too much.

Mr. Tankleff, now 36, remained in prison Saturday. But the Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas J. Spota, said that Mr. Tankleff could soon get a bail hearing that could lead to his release.

Somewhat cryptically, Mr. Spota also told reporters that he had never said that Mr. Tankleff was guilty in the deaths of his parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Government

Healthcare: a cogent argument against Edwards

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Jonathan Alter has a good column arguing against the Krugman/Edwards approach to developing a national healthcare plan. He in fact echoes comments some have made on this blog about the practical reality of the Obama approach. Worth reading. It begins:

Paul Krugman is a brilliant Princeton economist and fine columnist for The New York Times who was far ahead of the pack in asserting that George W. Bush is a total disaster as president. His clarity in explaining what academics call “political economy” is without peer. But his attack on Barack Obama on December 17 was wrong on history, wrong on politics and wrong on what the future holds for Obama’s “big table” idea.

Krugman calls Obama “naïve” and an “anti-change candidate” because he favors bringing all of the players in the health care debate around a “big table” and rejects the populist message of John Edwards, who is apparently Krugman’s choice for president. “Anyone who thinks the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world,” Krugman writes, endorsing Edwards’s view that the insurance and drug industries should be excluded from any talks on health care reform because they stand to lose profits.

The columnist and his candidate both believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt succeeded by being a polarizing figure. I studied FDR for four years while writing a book about him, and this is simply untrue. It’s also untrue of other successful Democratic presidents and for a simple reason: “Bitter confrontation” simply doesn’t work in policy-making.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

The police, FBI, CIA all should videotape interrogations

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All interrogations should be videotaped always. Not only do the videotapes disprove (and prevent) official misconduct in interrogations, the tapes make it possible to review interrogations (in the light of subsequent findings), both by the original interrogators and by others who become involved in the investigation. Moreover, interrogation techniques can then be studied and the best practices more widely adopted. It’s hard to understand why interrogations would not be videotaped. The LA Times:

The controversy over destroyed CIA videotapes has highlighted weaknesses in American intelligence agencies’ methods of interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects, according to current and former officials and experts, who say those methods are compromising the ability to extract critically important information about the threat from Islamic extremism.

Congress, the Justice Department and the CIA inspector general are investigating why the CIA destroyed tapes of its 2002 interrogations of two alleged senior Al Qaeda leaders, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. Investigators think Zubaydah was recorded being waterboarded — a controversial tactic that mimics the experience of drowning. The tapes were destroyed in 2005.

By their own accounting, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have not videotaped the interrogations of potentially hundreds of other terrorism suspects. That indicates an outmoded level of secrecy and unprofessionalism, the interrogation experts contend.

They say that the U.S. is behind the curve of current best practices, and that videotaping is an essential tool in improving the methods — and results — of terrorism interrogations. And the accountability provided by recording is needed to address international concerns about the United States’ use of harsh, potentially illegal techniques, these experts add.

They say that the United States could learn a lot from methods used by Israel, Britain and other countries with decades of experience in interrogating terrorists but that so far, it has not.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Government

David Allen’s free Getting Things Done articles

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All his free articles:

 Here is every free article in the David Allen store zipped for your convenience.

This is an easy way to get all the articles with one click, for reading at your leisure.

NOTE-Occasionally a zip file will be blocked by your internet provider, if that is the case you will need to order each article individually. This is a convenient option for folks that can receive them.

This file is sent as a downloadable link to your email address. This link does expire in 7 days so do print the articles or save them so that you can view them later.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Fascinating woman

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Marie Stopes:

When David Gelsthorpe took up his new job last year as curator of palaeontology at the Manchester Museum, one of the UK’s great Victorian institutions, among his first tasks was cataloguing its scattered collection of fossils. As he opened boxes and checked labels he spotted a familiar name: Marie Stopes. Like most, he knew Stopes as the pioneer of sexual equality for women. He also knew that before she won fame as the champion of birth control and a woman’s right to sexual fulfilment, Stopes had made a name for herself as an expert on fossil plants. “These ‘lost’ specimens show that she was as pioneering in her pursuit of fossils as she was in social reform,” says Gelsthorpe.

Stopes arrived in Manchester in 1904 with a reputation for flouting regulations and defying convention. She had bent the rules to complete her degree at University College London in just two years. Then Stopes was off to Germany to study at the Botanical Institute in Munich on a research scholarship. The lone woman among 500 men, she was unable to speak the language and barred from taking a doctorate because she was a woman. Stopes worked furiously, learned German and had the rules changed. In 1904 she returned home with her doctorate and started a job at the University of Manchester, where she was the first woman to teach science. Stopes had also fallen in love: out of 500 men, she had picked the one that Edwardian England was least likely to approve of – Kenjiro Fujii, a man almost twice her age, married and Japanese.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 11:53 am

Posted in Science

From Pro-Life to Anti-Ethics

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Good commentary from A. C. Grayling:

If the promise implicit in recent work on reprogramming adult skin cells into pluripotent stem cells is realised, the chief gain will be greater simplicity, safety and straightforwardness in stem cell research and its eventual therapeutic applications. That is welcome news. But press coverage has predictably focused on the claim that this approach avoids the ethical objections over the use of embryos, objections raised mainly by those who sympathise with the so-called “pro-life” agenda.

It is not often remarked that “pro-life” objections are themselves arguably unethical, nor that they are inconsistent with what the pro-lifers’ beliefs should make them infer from what happens elsewhere in nature.

To start with the first point: stem cell research is aimed at alleviating many diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hearing and vision loss, and muscular dystrophy. The suffering and disability that could be diminished in people who actually (as opposed to potentially) exist, with their relationships, responsibilities, hopes, jobs and interests in full flow, is enormous – and genuinely pro-life.

If the adult skin cell work proves to be a dead end, and it turns out that only embryonic stem cells will do, the need will return to challenge the objectors’ insistence that it is more ethical to privilege 30 cells in a blastocyst over the needs of ill, disabled or dying children and adults.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 11:48 am

Posted in Science

Special reports from New Scientist

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 11:42 am

Posted in Science

Best science-related videos on-line

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From New Scientist:

Skydiving from space — On 16 August 1960, Joe Kittinger jumped out of a balloon at an altitude of over 30 kilometres and plummeted to Earth. It’s a feat that has yet to be repeated, let alone bettered. 7 min

The science of living longer  — Want to know what supplements the world’s leading ageing researchers take to increase their lifespan? Tune in to this fascinating discussion between some of the world’s leading longevity researchers, talking to US science show host Charlie Rose. Watch it before your holiday feast if you want to take advantage of the advice on caloric restriction. 56 min

Fermat’s last theorem — Andrew Wiles begins his compelling documentary about how he cracked the most famous problem in mathematics: “Perhaps I could best describe my experience in doing mathematics in terms of entering a dark mansion…” 45 min
Inner life of the cell — Breathtaking, scientifically accurate animation of how immune cells move from blood into tissue. 8 min 30 sec  Broadcast version from ABC World News. 2 min 50 sec

The boy with the incredible brainThe remarkable story of Daniel Tammet, who can remember p to 25,000 decimal places, learn a language in a week and multiply huge numbers together. He says he can see the numbers  in his head, a claim that may change our understanding of neuroscience. 47 min

How to evolve a watchIf a creationist ever asks you why a boxful of gears and cogs never evolve into watch, no matter how much you shake them, show them this video. 10 min

Feynman on quantum electrodynamicsQuite possibly the greatest science lecturer in history takes you from photons as corpuscles of light to quantum electrodynamics in a four-part lecture recorded in 1979. Amazingly, no detailed prior knowledge of physics is required. Set aside a few hours for this series. First part, 1 hr 20 min

The social atom — Physicist and writer Mark Buchanan lectures on how simple physics models can reproduce the bizarre decision-making behaviour of humans. A fascinating introduction to the new discipline of social physics. 1 hr 9 min  (requires Internet Explorer 6 and Microsoft Media Player 7 or higher)

A ride into spaceNASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman describes what it’s like in space and talks through photos from his five shuttle flights, including the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. 7 min

Two takes on mitosisA synchronised swimming team demonstrates how this type of cell division takes place. 1 min
Or try this more traditional explanation. 1 min 29 secs

Cornflour capersTape a baking tray to a loudspeaker, fill it with cornflour and water, and watch what emerges. 2 min 26 sec

Black marketPhotographer Patrick Brown investigates how traditional Chinese medicine fuels an illicit international trade in wildlife. He follows the trail from market stalls to the jungles of Cambodia, where he joins customs officials tracking rhino poachers. 10 min

Alex the African grey parrotWith a vocabulary of 100 words, an ability to count to 6 and to recognise shapes and colours, Irene Pepperberg’s African grey parrot wowed scientists and the public alike until his untimely death earlier this year at the young age (for a grey parrot) of 31.  2 min

Lighting a magnesium pencil sharpener with waterWater doesn’t extinguish burning magnesium – it makes the fire all the fiercer. Vital knowledge if you’re a firefighter. 1 min 49 sec

The iPhone challenge  — Columnist David Pogue of The New York Times reviews the Apple iPhone in the heady days before its official launch earlier this year. 5 min 49 sec

LSD tested on British soldiersHow acid could bring world peace, man. 1 min 37 sec

Cape Canaveral rocket explosionA Delta rocket carrying a $45 million GPS satellite explodes over the launch pad, raining fire on the surrounding area. 2 min

Cosmos: Shores of the cosmic oceanThe first episode of the landmark popular science series presented by the astronomer Carl Sagan. Awe-inspiring in approach, panoramic in breadth and overdue for a revival. Altogether now: “The cosmos is all there is or ever was or ever will be…” 1 hr (Portugese subtitles)

Ali G on scienceThe British comedy character Ali G interviews a panel of scientists. Thought-provoking stuff. 7 min

The joy of statsSwedish development expert Hans Rosling debunks myths about the developing world with engaging graphics and “the best stats you’ve ever seen”. One of several fascinating talks filmed at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference. 20 min

From issue 2635 of New Scientist magazine, 22 December 2007, page 68-69

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 11:38 am

Posted in Science, Video

How many species of giraffes?

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Lots more than people thought. Generally it was accepted that there was one, but there in fact are six, possibly seven. And they even look quite different (in terms of markings). Read more here, with photos.

And giraffes can fight:

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 10:40 am

Posted in Science

Romney’s view of presidential power

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Romney believes that a president has unlimited powers—in effect, the president is a tyrant. Read this article for more.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 10:27 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Dry-aging the roast

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I decided to try dry-aging the roast. From the November-December 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (page 14):

To dry-age a prime rib, buy your roast up to one week early. Pat it dry and place it on a wire rack set over a paper-towel-lined cake pan or plate. Set the racked roast in the refrigerator and let it age until you are ready to roast it, three to seven days. (I left one in the refrigerator for nine days; the cooked roast was meltingly tender with big flavor.) Before roasting, shave off any exterior meat that has completely dehydrated. Between the trimming and dehydration, count on a seven-pound roast losing a pound or so during a week’s aging.

I put the roast on the bottom shelf, assuming that to be the coldest. For the shaving, I’m thinking the Merkur Futur with the Astra Superior Platinum blade.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 10:22 am

Posted in Food

Giuliani: the guy who can’t solve a problem

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Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Election, GOP

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