Later On

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

Archive for December 24th, 2007

Oscar Peterson, RIP (1925-2007)

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Oscar Peterson was truly one of the jazz greats. NY Times:

Oscar Peterson, whose early talent, speedy fingers and musical genius made him one of the world’s best known jazz pianists, has died. He was 82.

Peterson died at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga on Sunday, said Oliver Jones, a family friend and jazz musician. He said Peterson’s wife and daughter were with him during his final moments. The cause of death was kidney failure, said Mississauga’s mayor, Hazel McCallion.

”He’s been going downhill in the last few months,” McCallion said, calling Peterson a ”very close friend.”

During an illustrious career spanning seven decades, Peterson played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. He is also remembered for touring in a trio with Ray Brown on bass and Herb Ellis on guitar in the 1950s.

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Jazz

The US: sometimes a leader, often a follower

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And sometimes quite a laggard follower—one thinks of the metric system, for example, or abandoning slavery, or land mines:

Three quarters of the world’s countries have signed an international agreement to ban antipersonnel landmines. The Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty – to never again use, produce, acquire, or export these so-called “hidden killers” of civilians – reached its 10th anniversary this month. But the United States is still not a signatory.

Unfortunately this “just say no” approach to international treaties has become a pattern for the US, especially under the Bush administration. This trend must change. The president’s successor should make it a high priority for the US to rejoin the world and reassume the country’s role as a globally respected leader.

In some cases the rationale for US opposition is tied to security, economic, or legal considerations. But in all cases the unifying principle behind the Bush administration’s refusal to join these treaties seems to be ideological – not wanting to encumber the US with further international obligations or to constrain America’s freedom of action.

This “America unbound” approach is making the US the odd man out on critical global issues. In March of this year, a new human rights treaty was opened for signature at the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention would ensure that people around the world with disabilities enjoy the same rights as everyone else to equal protection before the law, and in work and education opportunities.

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 2:57 pm

Megs, caught napping

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Megs napping

I like the way she rests on her chin on her paw while sleeping across my shins.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Best movies of 2007

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The 25 best—and the best according to different lists.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 11:09 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Springnote: interesting note-taking site

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Another Web 2.0 application, Springnote is a note-taking wiki that allows you to share (and thus consolidate) notes: valuable for students who are cooperating in their learning. Download Squad describes it:

Springnote is a powerful browser-based note-taking system. You can forget about the standard text only inputs that many online note tools offer, this application has the ability to drop in images, attach files and organize layout at will. Its wiki-style note-taking system allows pages of content like todo’s, monthly calendars and plans to be created with Word-like functionality and tools with tags, change history, folder hierarchy and page bookmarks for more important content. Springnote’s can also be shared between friends for reading or collaboration.

Perhaps the most important feature of Springnote is the ability to import and export notes. Downloading options include HTML, XHTML and Send to a Blog or use anywhere else. Importing can be done using MS-word docs, .txt, HTML or OpenDocument .odt formats. Springnote has an open API and unlimited storage of text files with 2GB file storage available. There are tons of Springnote mashups that you can utilize to expand the functionality of your account, including IM, Flickr, and Firefox toolbar integration.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 10:50 am

Waterboarding: torture? or a swimming lesson?

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The second choice above was offered by US Senator Kit Bond (R-MO). Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether he has experienced waterboarding and, alternately, whether his swimming instructor was a CIA-trained torturer. I think it would be instructive to videotape Senators and Representatives who say that waterboarding is not torture undergoing waterboarding. It feels like this.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 10:35 am

Vince Guaraldi Trio

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While I’m blogging this morning, I’m also ripping my Vince Guaraldi CD collection (nine CDs total, all on the Fantasy label). I thought I had already done it, but discovered I had ripped only one of the nine. Now I’m doing them all at Ogg VBR quality 7 (224 kbits/sec). I like his stuff, can you tell?

Here’s his son talking about him:

And here’s one of his big hits—this album in fact is one I’m ripping:

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 10:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Music

Hi-tech solar-powered toothbrush

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The solar power is not to drive a motor, but to generate ions that (they say) kills harmful bacteria in the mouth. No toothpaste used: just light and water and the toothbrush. Take a look. Seems like a good brush to have at work, since it needs no toothpaste.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:48 am

Vitamin D deficiency

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Take those vitamin D supplements:

In a cross-sectional study involving 96 women aged 18 to 49 years who consulted their General Practitioner over a one period and wore concealing clothes [that block sunlight from reaching the skin – LG], results indicate a significantly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Hypovitaminosis D was defined at a threshold of 53 nmol/L or 75 nmol/L. 99% of the subjects showed hypovitaminosis D. Additionally, 82.5% of subjects showed vitamin D deficiency (threshold of 30 nmol/L). Thus, the results of this study suggest a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in premenopausal women who wear concealing clothing.

“[Hypovitaminosis D among 18-to-49-years-old women wearing concealing clothes, an ignored reality in general practice], Belaid S, Martin A, et al, Presse Med, 2007 Nov 29 [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Université Claude Bernard, F-69008 Lyon, France).

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

High dairy intake in childhood has risks

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This is sobering:

In a cohort study involving 4,383 subjects recruited during childhood, results indicate that the consumption of a family diet rich in dairy products during childhood may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer in adulthood. Family food consumption was assessed from 7-d household food inventories. During a follow up period of 65 years, 770 cancer registrations or cancer deaths occurred. After adjusting for potential confounders, high childhood total dairy intake and milk intake were independently associated with nearly a three-fold increased risk of colorectal cancer, compared with low intake. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “A family diet rich in dairy products during childhood is associated with a greater risk of colorectal cancer in adulthood. Confirmation of possible underlying biological mechanisms is needed.”

“Childhood dairy intake and adult cancer risk: 65-y follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort,” van der Pols JC, Martin RM, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 86(6): 1722-1729. (Address: Longitudinal Studies Unit, Division of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. E-mail: j.vanderpols@uq.edu.au ).

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:31 am

Posted in Food, Health, Science

Good news re: fish-oil supplements

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They’re just as good as eating fish:

In a randomized study involving 23 healthy premenopausal female volunteers, results indicate that omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish consumed weekly or from fish-oil capsules taken daily are equally bioavailable. The subjects were randomized to consume a daily average of 485 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from 2 servings of oily fish (salmon and albacore tuna) per week (n=11) or from 1-2 fish-oil capsules/day (n=12), for a period of 16 weeks. At intervention end, EPA+DHA in red blood cells increased 2.2% in the oily fish group and 1.9% in the fish-oil capsule group. Similar results were observed for EPA+DHA in plasma phospholipids. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “These findings suggest that the consumption of equal amounts of EPA and DHA from oily fish on a weekly basis or from fish-oil capsules on a daily basis is equally effective at enriching blood lipids with omega-3 fatty acids.”

“Comparison of the effects of fish and fish-oil capsules on the n 3 fatty acid content of blood cells and plasma phospholipids,” Harris WS, Pottala JV, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 86(6): 1621-1625. (Address: Lipid and Diabetes Research Center, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA. E-mail: bill.harris@usd.edu ).

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

Fog index = 10

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I ran the blog through another readability test (and at the link you can check any blog). My scores came out:

Gunning Fog Index 10.06
Flesch Reading Ease 58.48
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.61

I have to confess that I don’t know what these measures mean, but the site says that TIME and Newsweek have a fog index of 10, so I would guess that this means the blog is quite readable.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:06 am

Posted in Daily life

The US needs unions

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Paul Krugman has a good column this morning on the corporate fight to kill off unions. It’s a bad fight on many levels—for one things, a good union helps a corporation by preventing management from focusing exclusively on the short-term returns. (Business Week from time to time runs a story on this topic.) But unions are important simply for human reasons, to prevent corporations from totally exploiting their workforce.

Once upon a time, back when America had a strong middle class, it also had a strong union movement.

These two facts were connected. Unions negotiated good wages and benefits for their workers, gains that often ended up being matched even by nonunion employers. They also provided an important counterbalance to the political influence of corporations and the economic elite.

Today, however, the American union movement is a shadow of its former self, except among government workers. In 1973, almost a quarter of private-sector employees were union members, but last year the figure was down to a mere 7.4 percent.

Yet unions still matter politically. And right now they’re at the heart of a nasty political scuffle among Democrats. Before I get to that, however, let’s talk about what happened to American labor over the last 35 years.

It’s often assumed that the U.S. labor movement died a natural death, that it was made obsolete by globalization and technological change. But what really happened is that beginning in the 1970s, corporate America, which had previously had a largely cooperative relationship with unions, in effect declared war on organized labor.

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Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 9:04 am

Valobra! What a shave stick!

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Heavy beard = shave stick, right? This morning I picked up the Valobra shave stick and the Simpsons Harvard 3 Best brush, and quickly had just the lather I wanted.

I’m sticking with the Aristocrat and its Treet Blue Special. Probably should change the blade—the first path didn’t get so smooth as I expected—but with three passes, there’s nothing to complain about: smooth shave pleasure.

Parfums de Nicolaï New York aftershave: very nice.

Written by Leisureguy

24 December 2007 at 8:55 am

Posted in Shaving

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