Later On

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

Archive for January 23rd, 2008

“Progress” redefined

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The think tank Redefining Progress has worked for some time to create a better (more sensible) definition of progress than, say, the Gross Domestic Product or the Gross Domestic Product per capita. They came up with the “Genuine Progress Indicator” (GPI), and the graph shows the differences:

GPI

In terms of your own daily life—well, you can decide for yourself. And how do they get the GPI?

The GPI is one of the first alternatives to the GDP to be vetted by the scientific community and used regularly by governmental and non-governmental organizations worldwide. Redefining Progress advocates for the adoption of the GPI as a tool for sustainable development and planning.

On a yearly basis, Redefining Progress updates the U.S. Genuine Progress Indicator to document a more truthful picture of economic and social progress. Our latest update, which plots GPI accounts from 1950 to 2004, shows that economic growth has been stagnant since the 1970s.

Download report: The Genuine Progress Indicator 2006

How We Measure Progress

The GPI starts with the same personal consumption data that the GDP is based on, but then makes some crucial distinctions. It adjusts for factors such as income distribution, adds factors such as the value of household and volunteer work, and subtracts factors such as the costs of crime and pollution.

Because the GDP and the GPI are both measured in monetary terms, they can be compared on the same scale. Measurements that make up the GPI include:

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Daily life

Chalmers Johnson on how to sink the US

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This article is well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 11:55 am

Harry Reid—I hate to say it—is contemptible

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What a putz! Glenn Greenwald:

Harry Reid — who has (a) done more than any other individual to ensure that Bush’s demands for telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping powers will be met in full and (b) allowed the Republicans all year to block virtually every bill without having to bother to actually filibuster — went to the Senate floor yesterday and, with the scripted assistance of Mitch McConnell and Pat Leahy, warned Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and others that they would be selfishly wreaking havoc on the schedules of their fellow Senators (making them work over the weekend, ruining their planned “retreat,” and even preventing them from going to Davos!) if they bothered everyone with their annoying, pointless little filibuster.

To do so, Reid announced that, unlike for the multiple filibusters from Republican colleagues, he would actually force Dodd and company to engage in a real filibuster. This is what Reid said:

[I]f people think they are going to talk this to death, we are going to be in here all night. This is not something we are going to have a silent filibuster on. If someone wants to filibuster this bill, they are going to do it in the openness of the Senate.

That is what Democrats have been urging Reid to do to the filibustering Republicans all year — in order to dramatize their obstructionism — but he has refused to make them actually filibuster anything, generously agreeing instead that every bill requires 60 votes. Instead, he reserves such punishment only for the members of his own caucus trying to take a stand for the rule of law and the Constitution, those who are trying finally to bring some accountability to this administration. As I noted in my post yesterday, Reid had the audacity to send his spokesman, Jim Manley, to falsely claim to the New York Times that “Senator Reid intends to do everything he can to strip immunity from the bill” — even though the exact opposite is true. Reid is engaged in at least as much maneuvering to ensure that Bush and Cheney get what they want here as McConnell would be willing to do if he were the Majority Leader.

Here’s the obviously scripted dialogue Reid had yesterday with McConnell and Leahy on the Senate floor, all in a transparent attempt to shame Dodd, Feingold and others out of filibustering or otherwise trying to prevent the Senate from complying in full — and without delay — with the latest orders handed down to them by the Commander-in-Chief. This is their real character of Reid and the Democratic Senate leadership on full display (h/t Pow wow):

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 11:10 am

Posted in Congress, Democrats

John Edwards looks better and better

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Look at this mess:

For the past few years, progressives have been saying that one of the most important things Democrats needed to do was to get tough. Republicans had been kicking sand in their faces too long, and the time had come to hit back just as hard. In my own contribution to this chorus, I started a chapter in my last book by quoting Sean Connery’s character from The Untouchables: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way.”

But now the candidate who should be as familiar as anyone with “the Chicago way” — given that he’s actually from Chicago — is on the receiving end of some less than polite politics, and more than a few progressives don’t like what they’re seeing. Barack Obama and his advisors did a lot of careful planning for this campaign, but there’s one thing it doesn’t seem they prepared for: Their main opponent, Hillary Clinton, is running like a Republican. And it appears to be working.

Three weeks ago, I wrote that Clinton was working to make voters uneasy, utilizing just enough fear to encourage them to stick with the known quantity in the race. But in the time since, her campaign has begun to appear more and more as though it’s being run by Karl Rove or Lee Atwater. Pick your tired metaphor — take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps — however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only not going easy on Obama, they’re doing so in awfully familiar ways. So many of the ingredients of a typical GOP campaign are there, in addition to fear. We have the efforts to make it harder for the opponent’s voters to get to the polls (the Nevada lawsuit seeking to shut down at-large caucus sites in Las Vegas, to which the Clinton campaign gave its tacit support). We have, depending on how you interpret the events of the last couple of weeks, the exploitation of racial divisions and suspicions (including multiple Clinton surrogates criticizing Obama for his admitted teenage drug use). And most of all, we have an utterly shameless dishonesty.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Tell John Edwards: “Lead or leave!”

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I got an email from Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald (a bulk emailing):

John Edwards should challenge his rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to go back to Washington, DC and fight against retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

The Republicans are not going to let Harry Reid punt and extend the Protect America Act for another 18 months so it looks like the FISA bill is going to come back up again on Monday. Chris Dodd’s objection to Unanimous Consent still stands, so they will pick up in the middle of the Motion to Proceed debate.

Without the help of the presidential candidates, we are doomed to lose this fight. And all their calls for change will ring hollow if they allow George Bush to railroad this bill through a supine Democratic-controlled Senate because of their absence.

You can email Senator Edwards directly at john@johnedwards.com.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 10:33 am

Posted in Congress, Election

Worthless Attorney General

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An Attorney General unable to make a decision:

 Throughout his October confirmation hearings, Attorney General Mike Mukasey denounced the use of torture, stating that it is “antithetical to what this country stands for.”

But when it came to declaring the practice of waterboarding torture, Mukasey hedged. “I don’t know what’s involved in waterboarding,” he told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), arguing he first needed to be “read into” the administration’s program. Mukasey pledged to study the matter and said he would order a “review” after being confirmed:

If, after such a review, I determine that any technique is unlawful, I will not hesitate to so advise the president and will rescind or correct any legal opinion of the Department of Justice that supports the use of the technique.

After the confirmation, Senators continued to press Mukasey on the issue, but he refused to be rushed into deciding whether he considers waterboarding torture without a full “review.” Today, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mukasey said he has “been read into the program” but suggested that he still hasn’t come to a firm conclusion:

Yes, I’ve been read into the program, but that’s part of a process. I said I would look at the program. Look at the letters. And give my answers. I haven’t yet figured out precisely when and precisely how. I understand that the time is coming.

Today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and nine other Senate Judiciary Commitee members urged Mukasey to decide his position. “It has been over two months since then, ample time for you to study this issue and reach a conclusion,” they wrote. The committee members noted that on November 27, “State Department Legal Advisor John Bellinger said you were giving ‘high priority’ to reviewing interrogation techniques.”

With only 12 months left in office, Mukasey is creating the perception that he’s trying to run out the clock to avoid taking a stand on torture.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 9:54 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with

Worthless leaders

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And not just Bush: Pelosi and Reid should be replaced posthaste.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 9:52 am

Posted in Congress, Democrats

Resources for the student

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And aren’t we all students, in a sense? Dustin Wax created a great compilation at Lifehack.org, including:

  • Free Applications Every Student Needs (see below)
  • Online Tools Students Should Check Out (see below)
  • Websites for Students (Aside from Lifehack) (see at the link above)
  • Advice for Students from Lifehack.org (see at the link above)
  • Online Research Resources (see at the link above)

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 9:29 am

Money-saving tips for food

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This has some good ideas, and obviously not just for vegans—it works for all except those who subsist entirely on meat, dairy, and eggs. (In fact, the title at the link seems somehow self-congratulatory, as though the tips are reserved for a special group.) Still: good tips.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Make your own Bento box chopsticks

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Chopsticks

Very cool idea—a little kit so you can have your own special chopsticks. And, at the link, also a set of collapsible chopsticks.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 8:53 am

Posted in Daily life

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

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An interview with Michael Pollan:

 As a health writer, I’ve read hundreds of nutrition studies and countless books on diet and eating. And none of these has contained such useful advice as the cover of Michael Pollan’s latest book, “In Defense of Food.’’

Wrapped around a head of lettuce are seven words that tell you pretty much everything you need to know about healthful eating. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’’

This seemingly-simple message is surprisingly complex, because there is food, and then there are what Mr. Pollan describes as “edible food-like substances.’’ Mr. Pollan, who writes for The New York Times Magazine, developed something of a cult following for his best-selling book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which traced the food chain back to its original source. But while “Omnivore” left many scared to eat, “In Defense of Food” helps the reader bravely navigate the food landscape, explaining what food is, what it isn’t and how to tell the difference.

Mr. Pollan agreed to take some time this week to answer a few questions from the Well blog.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Validation of what you knew

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They were lying to get the US into a war:

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 8:43 am

North Dakota farmers lost appeal on industrial hemp

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Industrial hemp is an extremely useful crop and grows well even in marginal soils. At one time, the American colonists were required to grow it. Currently, the DEA treats industrial hemp as though it were an intoxicant and forbids growing it, although it’s perfectly legal to import it.

Farmers in North Dakota, supported by the state legislature and the state Department of Agriculture, went to extreme measures to get approval for a pilot program, but the DEA would not respond at all. So the farmers went to court, and one result was good: the University of North Dakota had waited eight years for the DEA to respond to their application for cannabis research. They finally did get a response, and approval. The story, from late November:

In Bismarck, US District Court Judge Daniel Hovland Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by two would-be North Dakota hemp farmers seeking to end the DEA’s ban on commercial hemp farming in the United States. Controlling opinions in the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals find that the federal Controlled Substances Act includes industrial hemp within the definition of marijuana, thus leaving hemp under the jurisdiction of the drug agency, Hovland wrote in his 22-page decision.Backed by a state law permitting industrial hemp production and a friendly state Department of Agriculture, farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, the latter also a Republican state legislator, applied for licenses from the DEA to grow hemp. When the DEA failed to act on their applications, they sued in federal court.

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Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 8:31 am

Zorrik and the Method

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Big Zorrik

I just received a new formulation of the Hydrolast Shaving Paste, a pink-colored version. So I got out the Shavemaster and worked up a good lather on the olive-oil soap, added the dollop of shave paste to the brush, and worked the lather some more, with excellent result.

I used the same Zorrik blade I’ve been using, in the Edwin Jagger Georgian, and did a four-pass shave: double down, across, and up. Extremely smooth result, and a nice finish with Royall Spyce.

Extremely nice.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2008 at 8:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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