Later On

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

Archive for January 7th, 2008

Quick wine-carrier/gift-wrap

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Via Lifehacker:

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Daily life

Why marijuana is illegal

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Interesting history and why the call is for the “re-legalization” of marijuana:

Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug.

The actual story shows a much different picture. Those who voted on the legal fate of this plant never had the facts, but were dependent on information supplied by those who had a specific agenda to deceive lawmakers. You’ll see below that the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate.

You’ll also see that the history of marijuana’s criminalization is filled with:

  • Racism
  • Fear
  • Protection of Corporate Profits
  • Yellow Journalism
  • Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
  • Personal Career Advancement and Greed

These are the actual reasons marijuana is illegal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Marijuana’s anti-cancer properties

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I blogged earlier about a recent finding that marijuana slows growth of cancer cells, but now I find that this is (in a way) old news (see below). The government destroys all research results that show useful properties of marijuana: doesn’t that strike you as insane?

Alternet
May 31, 2000
Title: Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in ‘74
Author: Raymond Cushing
www.alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=9257
Faculty Evaluator: Mary King M.D.
Student researchers: Jennifer Swift, Licia Marshall,

Corporate media coverage: AP and UPI news wires 2/29/00

A Spanish medical team’s study released in Madrid in February 2000 has shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, destroys tumors in lab rats. These findings, however, are not news to the U.S. government. A study in Virginia in 1974 yielded similar results but was suppressed by the DEA, and in 1983 the Reagan/Bush administration tried to persuade U.S. universities and researchers to destroy all cannabis research work done between 1966 and 1976, including compendiums in libraries. The research was conducted by a medical team led by Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutence University in Madrid. In the study, brains of 45 lab rats were injected with a cancer cell, which produced tumors. On the twelfth day of the experiment, 15 of the rats were injected with THC and 15 with Win-55, 212-2, a synthetic compound similar to THC. The untreated rats died 12-18 days after the development of the tumors. THC treated rats lived significantly longer than the control group. Although three were unaffected by the THC, nine lived 19-35 days, while tumors were completely eradicated in three others. The rats treated with Win-55,212-2 showed similar results.

In an e-mail interview for this story, the Madrid researcher said he had heard of the Virginia study, but had never been able to locate literature on it. “I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by theses people, but it has proven impossible,” Guzman said. His response wasn’t surprising, considering that in 1983 the Reagan/Bush administration tried to persuade American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966/76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries, reports Jack Herer. “We know that large amounts of information have since disappeared,” he says.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 2:06 pm

Why the two US soldiers were shot?

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Wonder if this could be the reason:

Yesterday there were a flurry of reports about an Iraqi soldier shooting and killing two US soldiers during a joint mission. Reported as the first time this has happened, the reports in the American press may tell only half the story.

The rather startled reports repeated assertions that the attack was for “reasons unknown.” Iraqi reports say the US soldiers were kicking a pregnant Iraqi woman when shot. Here’s what we’ve been able to learn so far.

On December 26, two American soldiers were killed during a “joint Iraqi-U.S. patrol undertaking security duty in al-Haramat area, western Mosul.”

The Multinational Force press office initially reported these deaths on December 28:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Dec. 26 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire during dismounted combat operations.

Yesterday the MNF changed the story, releasing a new statement:

Two US Soldiers killed during a combined Iraqi Army and CF operation in Ninewah province on Dec. 26, were allegedly shot by an Iraqi Soldier.

For reasons that are as yet unknown, at least one Iraqi Army Soldier allegedly opened fire … The incident occurred as US and Iraqi Army Soldiers were conducting operations to establish a combat outpost. Three other US Soldiers and one civilian interpreter were wounded in the attack.

The Iraqi Soldier who allegedly opened fire fled the scene but was identified by other Iraqi Army personnel and was then apprehended. Two Iraqi Army Soldiers are More…now being held in connection with the incident.

Coalition and Iraqi investigations into the incident are underway.

The AP reported on the new version – but did not mention that the MNF had previously given a very different account and repeats Green Zone government claims that:

Initial results from an Iraqi investigation indicate that the soldier who opened fire may have links to local militants, said Brig. Mutaa Habib Jassim al-Khazrachi, commander of the Iraqi army’s 2nd Division, who did not elaborate.

They leave out the part of the story that is capturing attention in Iraq.

Aswat Al Iraq provided the initial lead that there was more that was not being reported here:

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Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 1:56 pm

Great video on the One Laptop Per Child computer

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Really worth watching—and this is the laptop that Intel is trying to kill.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 11:11 am

We all want CheneyCare

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Good point:

Last month, the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee ran ads in Iowa newspapers advocating for a single-payer health-care bill, highlighting the fact Vice President Dick Cheney has benefited from his government-provided coverage. “If he were anyone else, he’d probably be dead by now” due to his long history of health problems, claimed the ad.

In the group’s newest round of ads, which ran “in eight New Hampshire papers” on Friday and will go “national” today, they dub a new name for “guaranteed, publicly-funded health care for all Americans”: CheneyCare.

The ad “asks readers to go to CheneyCare.org and sign a petition in support of CheneyCare for all Americans”:

CheneyCare

Cheney’s office “did not respond to a request for comment” by the Washington Examiner, but in December, when the original ads ran, Cheney spokesperson Megan Mitchell said that “something this outrageous does not warrant a response.”

As ThinkProgress noted at the time, what is actually outrageous is the fact that there are roughly 47 million people in America without health insurance, including 3.2 million children, but President Bush twice vetoed legislation that would have expanded coverage to 4 million more children.

While it is certainly good that Vice President Cheney was able get the medical attention he needed, the groups’ ad is right. Americans do deserve “CheneyCare for all.”

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in Government, Medical

How shallow are political reporters?

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Answer: Very, very shallow. Glenn Greenwald explains:

At The New Republic‘s blog, Jason Zengerle confesses what is and has long been too obvious to require much proof — the media is uncontrollably in love with John McCain. And Zengerle’s reason why this is so is equally unsurprising: McCain gives them unfettered access, so they love him. Everything is about them, and whichever politician flatters and charms these adolescent, coddled narcissists is the recipient of their uncritical love (that explains much, though not all, of their profound failure in covering the Bush campaigns and administration). Zengerle also says:

Speaking of McCain and the media, I was at a dinner tonight with various political reporters who are up here to cover the happenings, and it was pretty funny how giddy/relieved they were at the prospect of a McCain-Obama general election campaign, as opposed to, say, a Romney-Clinton one. Suddenly, the next 11 months of their lives look a whole lot more enjoyable.

Those preferences — all based in their own petty personal desires — couldn’t be more obvious in the media narrative spewing forth. Dancing around like munchkins in Oz, they proclaim that the wicked Clinton witch is dead and McCain is surging with a miraculous, glorious comeback. Leave aside whether any of that is true. Why are predictions and speculation even part of the job of a political reporter at all? One can see why opinionists and pundits might dabble in that sort of predictive analysis, but why do “reporters” covering these campaigns consider it their province to guess about which candidates are going to win and lose, as opposed to, say, reporting on what they argue, what their claims are, the truth of their positions, etc. etc.?

Aside from the fact that these endless prediction games completely overwhelm any substantive discussions, their guesses — which are really wishes — are almost always dreadfully wrong and plainly designed to advance their concealed agenda for which candidates they like and dislike. Why is any of that something that reporters ought to be doing at all? Is there any distinction between what a “reporter” does and what a “pundit” does covering this campaign? There doesn’t seem to be any.

As but one example, consider this new daily tracking poll today from Rasumussen Reports. At least according to this poll, it is true that there has been one candidate who has been genuinely surging in the last week or two among Democratic voters nationally — John Edwards:

Rasmussen

Edwards — who, just one week ago, was 10 points behind Obama nationally among Democrats — is now only two points behind him. Less than a month ago, he trailed Clinton by 29 points. Now it’s 13 points. He is, by far, at his high point of support nationwide. Apparently, the more exposure Democratic voters get to Edwards and his campaign positions — and that exposure has been at its high point during his surge — the more they like him. By contrast, Obama is more or less at the same level of support nationally, even having decreased some since his Iowa win (for most of mid-Decemeber, he was at 27-28 points).

Yet to listen to media reports, Edwards doesn’t even exist. His campaign is dead. He has no chance. They hate Edwards, hate his message, and thus rendered him invisible long ago, only now to declare him dead — after he came in second place in the first caucus of the campaign.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 10:40 am

Posted in Election, Media

“You must fear! Fear is important!”

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Krugman today:

… The November election will take place against that background of economic distress, which ought to be good news for candidates running on a platform of change.

But the opponents of change, those who want to keep the Bush legacy intact, are not without resources. In fact, they’ve already made their standard pivot when things turn bad — the pivot from hype to fear. And in case you haven’t noticed, they’re very, very good at the fear thing.

You see, for 30 years American politics has been dominated by a political movement practicing Robin-Hood-in-reverse, giving unto those that hath while taking from those who don’t. And one secret of that long domination has been a remarkable flexibility in economic debate. The policies never change — but the arguments for these policies turn on a dime.

When the economy is doing reasonably well, the debate is dominated by hype — by the claim that America’s prosperity is truly wondrous, and that conservative economic policies deserve all the credit.

But when things turn down, there is a seamless transition from “It’s morning in America! Hurray for tax cuts!” to “The economy is slumping! Raising taxes would be a disaster!”

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Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 10:01 am

Posted in Daily life, Election

The 2007 best of PhysicsWorld.com

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Good list—and much more at the link:

It was the year that the first “commercial” quantum computer was unveiled, and 2007 also saw a flurry of research into the supersolid state of matter. Astronomers improved our understanding of the cosmos by zeroing in on the origins of ultra-high energy cosmic rays and providing the best-ever map of dark matter in the universe. While the Nobel Prize in Physics – awarded for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance – demonstrated how investing in fundamental research could lead to rapid improvements in technology, the year ended on a sour note with some physicists in the US and UK facing significant cuts in their research funding.

1. January: Map sheds light on dark matter
2. February: International Linear Collider plans are unveiled
3. March: Graphene meets negative refraction
4. April: Rogue neutrino is ruled out
5. May: Physics loses a polymer pioneer
6. June: Large Hadron Collider misses 2007 start up
7. July: The ongoing saga of the supersolid
8. August: The latest schemes for stopping light
9. September: Quantum computers get on the buses
10. October: GMR pioneers scoop Nobel Prize
11. November: Cosmic-ray mystery solved at last
12. December: US and UK physicists face funding cuts

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 9:52 am

Posted in Science

Rice and smothered cabbage soup

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This sounds delicious—and looks good, too. (Photos at the link.)

Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup
Serves 2 if that’s all you’re having for dinner

Smothered Cabbage:

2 pounds Savoy cabbage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. Shred the remaining head of cabbage very fine, either with your food processor’s shredding attachment or by hand. Be sure to remove the cabbage’s inner core.

2. Put the onion and olive oil and a large saute pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring, until it’s softened and taken on some color. Then add the garlic. When the garlic has turned a pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it has wilted.

3. Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar to the pan. Turn the cabbage over once, completely, then lower the heat to minimum and cover the pan tightly. Cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, stirring from time to time. Add 2 tablespoons of water, if needed, during the cooking if the cabbage becomes too dry. When done, taste and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Soup:

The smothered cabbage
3 cups homemade meat broth or 1 cup canned beef broth diluted with 2 cups of water or 1 1/2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups of water
2/3 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the cabbage and broth into a soup pot, and turn on the heat to medium.

2. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice. Cook, uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the soup becoming too thick dilute it with a ladleful of homemade broth or water. The soup should be on the dense-ish side when finished.

3. When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, stir in the butter and the grated cheese. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual plates and allow it to settle a few minutes before serving.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 9:47 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

More thoughts on microcultures

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Your family is one microculture, and their relatives and connections—the people with whom they socialize and mingle and among whom they formed friendships—form the microculture in which you were raised as a child. This group of people defined for you, as a child, how the world of people was and how social interactions worked. So you absorbed the moral values of that culture.

I blogged earlier about the possible effects of this microculture in shaping the GOP worldview, and even earlier in observing how my own grandchildren were being educated into their family’s microculture.

Of course, some rebel against the culture in which they were raised, and leave it for good. Others rebel slightly, in adolescence, merely as a test, and return again to the culture, which has embraced them since childhood. It’s very difficult to shed the worldview one has absorbed as a child, which is why giving children the tools of self-education in the reality of the world—the ability to look dispassionately at actual evidence and to test conclusions against evidence—is so important.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 9:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Intel stomps on good works

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Ugly, but in a capitalist system the only motive is profit:

Intel has decided to finally call it quits with the One Laptop Per Child non-profit project, due to (in their own words), a “philosophical impasse.” It sounds deep and profound, doesn’t it? Seems all along Intel was deeply committed to providing children low cost laptops in developing countries even though when OLPC was first launched it mocked the program and forecast its demise.

Since those remarks put a few dings in its public relations image, Intel came to the party (albeit late) with its own low cost laptop version, called Classmate, for children in developing countries. Of course, the Classmate laptop has Intel chips in it, not AMD chips, like the OLPC model. That’s one version of a philosophical difference.

In another philosophical reversal, Intel decided to join the OLPC Board of Directors last July, and collaborate with OLPC’s mission to provide technology to children in developing countries. However, their new relationship was short lived when OLPC demanded Intel stop undercutting OLPC. Apparently, in its zeal to provide technology to children, Intel’s sales force asked Peruvian officials to drop their quarter million unit order of OLPC laptops, and buy Intel’s Classmate instead.

And now, its come to this. A philosophical impasse from which there is no return, all in the name of, well the children, of course. “We have long believed there is no single solution to the needs of children in emerging and underdeveloped markets,” Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.

So, what’s your take on Intel’s reversal? Philanthropic or profit driven?

Full disclosure: I bought one of the OLPC computers for The Younger Grandson.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 9:24 am

Monday morning start

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When I think of the years I spent wearing a beard, when I could have been shaving… Oh, well. Today partly makes up for it. The Erasmic shave stick brought to fine lather with the Simpsons Emperor 2 Super, which I used because I’ve been exclaiming about the delights of the Emperor 3, and I didn’t want the 2 to feel neglected. And indeed it’s a charming brush and fully satisfactory in its own right: a bit more scrubby than the 3, as you would expect, and brings up a fine lather.

Then the Merkur gold Slant with a Treet blade that was already in it. Three passes, Acqua di Parma aftershave, and I feel a new man—a new man with a wonderfully smooth face, at that.

Written by Leisureguy

7 January 2008 at 8:15 am

Posted in Shaving

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