Later On

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

Archive for January 28th, 2008

Sampler packs update

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The blade sampler packs—essential for any shaver looking for a better shaving experience—have been revised, both in content and prices. Latest versions and prices are in this post. Because the likelihood of your finding great blades increases with the number of brands you try, my recommendation as the single best choice among all the sampler packs is this one:

Sampler Pack #5 (Huge): Brands represented: 7AM Platinum Hi Stainless, Astra Superior Platinum, Derby Extra Super Stainless, DORCO 300 Platinum, DORCO 301 Platinum Extra, Feather Hi-Stainless, Gillette 7 O’Clock Sharp Edge, Gillette Platinum (a.k.a. “Swedes”), Iridium Super Extra Stainless, Merkur Super Platinum Stainless, Personna Platinum Super Stainless (Red Israeli), Sharp Stainless, Sputnik Platinum Chrome, Super-Max Platinum Chrome, Super-Max Super Stainless, Tiger Superior Stainless, Treet Blue Special, Treet Classic, Treet Dura-Sharp Carbon, Treet Platinum Chrome, Trig Silver Edge Stainless, Wilkinson Economie, Wilkinson Sword Classic, Zorrik Super Stainless
24 brands, 165 blades total, $35.00, 21¢ per blade.

Here’s how to order.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Will the CPSC ever recover?

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ThinkProgress:

Throughout Bush’s presidency, the White House has used the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to put business interests over the public interest:

– Bush’s first CPSC chair, Harold Stratton, assured the business world that he would “break the barrier of fear” by making it more difficult to order product recalls.

– Bush’s nominee to replace Stratton, Michael Baroody, opposed asbestos regulations, highway safety reform, and government action to combat global warming.

– The current acting head, Nancy Nord, opposed Congressional efforts to strengthen the CPSC, even after millions of toys made in China were recalled this fall for containing dangerous levels of lead. Together, Nord and Stratton also took nearly 30 trips since 2002 at the expense of industries and companies the CPSC is supposed to regulate.

Apparently, Bush has not learned his lesson. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that the White House was considering nominating Gail Charnley to head the CPSC.

Besides being a consultant for the tobacco industry “from the early 1990s through 2001,” Charnley has a long history of shilling for coal:

– Charnley wrote a 2006 op-ed in the St. Louis Dispatch opposing restrictions on coal emissions. She was writing on behalf of coal-industry front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. [Washington Post, 1/26/08]

– Charnley lobbied state officials on behalf of Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED), another coal front group. “Her work involved telling state officials in Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, and who knows where else, that mercury from power plants is simply not the problem environmentalists are making it out to be.” [Pump Handle, 1/28/08]

Charnley has also consistently hidden her industry ties. In a 2004 letter to a technical journal about a study on human testing of pesticides, Charnley did not disclose that the study had been partly funded by pesticide makers.

She also neglected to disclose her work with CEED in a published article on WebMD’s Medscape on the risks of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Nor did she reveal her relationship to the coal group when testifying to the Pennsylvania state senate on mercury emissions.

Like her predecessors at the CPSC, Charnley opposes government regulation at all costs. She dismisses the need to regulate environmental hazards to children’s health because “government agencies do not know which environmental exposures actually pose risks to children.” She also wrote that, since mercury emissions was a “global” problem, “limiting US power plant emissions alone will have little impact.”

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 5:23 pm

A Clean-Shaven Man

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Who could resist?

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Shaving, Video

Cool chart

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Interesting, eh?

GDP growth

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Daily life

Who’s watching the CIA?

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No one, apparently:

American intelligence has a serious problem.

But it is not that the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine services, Jose Rodriquez, allegedly destroyed, in 2005, the videotapes of the enhanced interrogations of terrorist detainees. No, the real problem is that institutional oversight of the intelligence community has failed. It is dysfunctional, perhaps irreparably so. There is no adult supervision of American intelligence or how the White House chooses to use it.

Like many Washington stories, the fury over the destruction of the videotapes of CIA interrogations is misdirected. It has diverted to the usual demands to know who did what, how far up the ladder the blame game can be played, and when will we get to see a perp walk on cable news. Some fine American intelligence officers have lawyered up, and are looking ahead to big legal fees. Congressional and media outrage are cloaked in the usual sanctimony of a quest for accountability. Yet the outrage on Capitol Hill seems oddly muted—as if there is some bipartisan agreement in hoping it will go away. Perhaps, like many Washington dramas, this one, too, will just veer off and, ultimately, fade away.

That the tapes actually existed, but were destroyed under such questionable circumstances, makes the story all the more enticing; the perceptions of what was on the tapes are now limited only by the imagination. When I first heard that the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques had been videotaped, my first reaction was, “what were they thinking?” Is there simply no adult supervision left in Washington? How did we get from the glowing promise of a Pax Americana when the Berlin Wall fell to this sorry state?”

In short order, we have passed such unaccustomed American milestones as preemptive war, Abu Ghraib, enhanced interrogation techniques, allegations of torture and legal opinions downgrading the relevance of the Geneva Conventions. Americans and the world have been told repeatedly that “we don’t torture”, but such denials have fallen into the same sorting bin as Richard M. Nixon’s declaration, “I am not a crook.” History will only remember “torture” and “crook.”

The House and Senate committees that now oversee intelligence were established by Congress more than three decades ago, to deal with problems rooted in the abuse of executive power and the CIA. In the last 30 years, the system has worked only when government was split between the White House and Congress—and then only moderately well. It has worked far less well—or not at all—during periods of one-party rule, like the first six years of the Bush administration.

But other practices undermine attempts to maintain strong intelligence oversight. Under the rules, particularly sensitive activities, including most covert actions ordered by the president, can be briefed to just the chairs and ranking members of the two committees – the “gang of four.” These politically sensitive briefings are sometimes expanded to include the majority and minority leaders of both house of Congress—a so-called “gang of eight.” While perhaps not initially intended to weaken the oversight system, briefings to the gangs of four or eight now regularly do just that.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 3:58 pm

Inability to govern: greenhouse gases division

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From the Washington Independent:

For six years, the Bush administration denied or ignored the impact of climate change. But last May, after the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could no longer avoid it, President George W. Bush ordered the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. He promised to release new rules by the end of the year.

Eight months later, the rules to limit tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are locked up in a White House vault somewhere, a doleful example of this administration’s unsubtle political maneuvering around inconvenient scientific truths, and a slap in the face to government scientists who try to confront them.

The administration’s evasions have created an embarrassing spectacle. The EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, denied California the right to issue its own greenhouse gas regulations, despite warnings from his staff that EPA would be sued over this—and would lose. Then, when Congress demanded to see internal documents where this advice was given, Johnson handed them over—but they were almost entirely whited out with tape. He claimed attorney-client privileges because EPA had been, as his staff warned, sued. Congressional staffers tore the tape off the documents and gave them to reporters anyway.

Dramatic changes are riding on the policy struggle that inspired these shenanigans. Big industry groups have pressed the Bush administration to forbid the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. They fear, correctly, that an agency ruling on vehicles will open the way to strict controls on coal plants, factories and other industries. They paint the regulations as a looming threat to the economy as it hovers near recession.

Environmental groups say that industry has been dragged kicking and screaming through Clean Air Act rulings in the past, without bringing the economy to its knees. Cleaner and safer cars, soot-free smokestacks and acid rain-free forests came about through EPA rules, not the beneficence of industry, they point out. If global climate change, they add, is as serious a problem as scientists say, we need to act now.

“Over the last 35 years of the Clean Air Act,” said Vickie Patton, a former EPA official who is now at the Environmental Defense Fund, “we have consistently demonstrated that America can meet big challenges in addressing the impacts of airborne contaminants. But you have to have standards to unleash American innovation and ingenuity on these critical challenges. And there’s no bigger challenge today than the imperative to address global warming. ’’

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 3:55 pm

“Compassionate Conservatism” in action again

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NY Times Editorial:

President Bush’s threat to veto a bill intended to improve health care for the nation’s American Indians is both cruel and grossly unfair. Five years ago, the United States Commission on Civil Rights examined the government’s centuries-old treaty obligations for the welfare of Native Americans and found Washington spending 50 percent less per capita on their health care than is devoted to felons in prison and the poor on Medicaid.

A bipartisan bill to begin repairing this shameful situation is now on the Senate floor. It takes aim at such long neglected needs as the plight of urban Indians, who account for two-thirds of the nation’s 4.1 million tribal population. Most of the American Indians and Alaska natives living in cities are either ineligible for, or unable to reach, the limited help of the Indian Health Service’s reservation-based programs. During the Bush years the White House has sought to eliminate — not bolster — the severely underfinanced Urban Indian Health Program.

Studies have established that Native Americans suffer worse than average rates of depression, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The Senate bill would improve treatment for these problems, as well as address alcohol and substance abuse, and suicide among Indian youth. It would expand scholarship help so more American Indians could pursue careers in health care.

The administration insists it wants to improve health care for Native Americans. But it objects to the most basic parts of the Senate measure, including its provisions for better urban health programs and its proposal to provide better access to Medicaid and Medicare. Officials also reject the bill’s proposal to build new clinics because it would require the government to pay construction workers prevailing local wages and benefits.

The nation has clear legal and moral obligations to protect the welfare of Native Americans. Congress must rebuff President Bush’s veto threat and vote overwhelmingly to strengthen and reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 3:38 pm

Megs guarding the doorway

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Doorway Megs

Megs on guard duty—or at least sitting right in the path as you attempt to enter or leave the study.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

Back from physical therapy

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My arm/shoulder is getting better quickly. I got a new exercise today: hold upper arm against my body, elbow on rib cage and directly beneath shoulder, lower arm at right angles with hand in front of body. Against slight resistance, pull hand from directly in front to against upper abdomen, without moving elbow from its position. After about 15 of those, make the resistance the other direction: hand against upper abdomen moves against resistance to directly in front of body, without moving elbow from its position.

The physical therapist said that using InstantBoss to take brief breaks very 10 minutes to rotate my shoulders, swing arms, revisit posture, move head from side to side, etc., was an excellent idea.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Software

Interrogating Saddam Hussein

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Interesting:

From 60 Minutes’ fascinating interview with FBI agent George Piro, who led the American team to interrogate Saddam Hussein:

Piro says no coercive interrogation techniques, like sleep deprivation, heat, cold, loud noises, or water boarding were ever used. “It’s against FBI policy, first. And wouldn’t have really benefited us with someone like Saddam,” Piro says.Why not?

“I think Saddam clearly had demonstrated over his legacy that he would not respond to threats, to any type of fear-based approach,” Piro explains.

“So how do you crack a guy like that?” Pelley asks.

“Time,” Piro says.

Months of time, during which Piro manipulated Saddam, creating a relationship based on dependency, trust and emotion.

Oh, and by the way: “He considered [Osama bin Laden] to be a fanatic. And as such was very wary of him. He told me, ‘You can’t really trust fanatics,'” Piro says.”

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 12:21 pm

MR GLO, every day

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I got a couple of comments about MR GLO—Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil soap, the pre-shave I use every morning that I shave. I first blogged it here (with photo), and I’ve used it in preparation for every single shave since. A bar lasts me about 4 months. It’s a pre-shave, notice: wash your beard with it before beginning the shave, then rinse, then apply lather (from a shaving soap or shaving cream or combination).

I don’t mention MR GLO in my daily shaving note just because it would get boring. People who’ve read the shaving book know that I use it always, and now everyone does. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Shaving

A garbage heap of lies

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Lies from Bush, lies from the press, lies from most of Congress. It’s an ugly story, but it’s also an important story. Glenn Greenwald continues to update his post today:

Last August, the Democratic Congress amended FISA when it passed the Protect America Act because the Bush administration and Mike McConnell shrilly warned — literally — that the country would be attacked by The Terrorists if they didn’t do so immediately. The administration insisted that without the vast new warrantless eavesdropping powers which that law provided, the entire country would be under grave threat of an imminent attack from Al Qaeda. As The Washington Post‘s Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus reported back then:

McConnell won the fight, extracting a key concession despite the misgivings of Democratic negotiators. Shortly after that exchange, the Bush administration leveraged Democratic acquiescence into a broader victory: congressional approval of a Republican bill that would expand surveillance powers far beyond what Democratic leaders had initially been willing to accept. Congressional, administration and intelligence officials last week described the events leading up to the approval of this surveillance, including a remarkable series of confrontations that ended with McConnell and the White House outmaneuvering the Democratic-controlled Congress, partly by capitalizing on fresh reports of a growing terrorism threat.

“We had a forcing function,” a senior administration official said, referring to the intelligence community’s public report last month that said al-Qaeda poses a growing threat to the United States and to lawmakers’ desire to leave town in August. “The situation was key to making it work,” the official said, adding that the report’s conclusions were “fortuitous” rather than engineered.

A critical moment for the Democrats came on July 24, when McConnell met in a closed session with senators from both parties to ask for urgent approval of a slimmed-down version of his bill. Armed with new details about terrorist activity and an alarming decline in U.S. eavesdropping capabilities, he argued that Congress had days, not weeks, to act.

“Everybody who heard him speak recognized the absolute, compelling necessity to move,” Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said later of the closed session.

Democrats agreed. “At that time, the discussion changed to ‘What can we do to close the gap during the August recess?'” said a senior Democratic aide who declined to be identified because the meetings were classified. As delivered by McConnell, the warnings were seen as fully credible. “He’s pushing this because he thinks we’re in a high-threat environment,” the senior aide said.

Democrats claimed to be so embarrassed by what was, even for them, the most absurd capitulation imaginable that they immediately vowed that it would not happen again:

Yet both sides acknowledge that the administration’s resurrection of virtually unchecked Cold War-era power to surveil foreign targets without warrants may be only temporary. The law expires in 180 days, and Democrats, smarting from their political defeat, have promised to alter it with new legislation to be prepared next month, when Congress returns from its recess.

So that’s how the Protect America Act — like most other laws drastically expanding the President’s unchecked powers — was born: in a climate of rank fear-mongering and exploitation of the Terrorist Threat: If you don’t give the President these new extraordinary powers, we’re all going to die.Once the Democrats did what they were told and passed the PAA, the President “commended” them and insisted that the new law was indispensable in Keeping Us All Safe:

When our intelligence professionals have the legal tools to gather information about the intentions of our enemies, America is safer. . . . Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, has assured me that this bill gives him the most immediate tools he needs to defeat the intentions of our enemies. And so in signing this legislation today I am heartened to know that his critical work will be strengthened and we will be better armed to prevent attacks in the future.

The PAA’s amendments to FISA — but not FISA itself — expire on February 2 and, due almost entirely to the behavior of the White House and their GOP Congressional followers, it seems unlikely that a new law can be in place by that date. On Thursday, Mitch McConnell blocked votes on all amendments, all but forcing the Democrats to filibuster today in order to prevent a final vote before those amendments can be considered. And, after refusing for months to allow House members access to any documents relating to the programs they’re supposed to vote on, the White House announced last week — just days before the PAA expires — that they will finally allow Representatives to review tens of thousands of new documents. As a result of these GOP-caused delays, Congressional Democrats are seeking a 30-day extension of the PAA to give them time to pass a new law in a calm and deliberate manner. But after claiming that the PAA is oh-so-vital to our ability to remain alive, the President this weekend threatened that he would veto any such extension, thus allowing this Extremely Critical Law to expire, as reported by The Politico‘s Mike Allen:

The White House told Democratic congressional leaders Saturday that President Bush opposes a 30-day extension of an expiring eavesdropping law and instead wants an expanded version to be passed by Friday. “The president would veto a 30-day extension,” a senior administration official said.

The administration explicitly admits that the President won’t allow an extension because he wants to repeat the success of last August — when Congressional Democrats capitulated to every Bush demand because they were told they had to act within a matter of days, i.e., before their recess, lest they cause us all to be killed by The Terrorists. “They need the heat of the current law lapsing to get this done,” said a senior administration official, courteously granted anonymity by The Politico‘s Allen to issue these threats. This veto threat is one of the President’s most brazen acts ever, so nakedly exposing the fun and games he routinely plays with National Security Threats. After sending Mike McConnell out last August to warn that we will all die without the PAA, Bush now says that he would rather let it expire than give Congress another 30 days. He just comes right out and announces, then, that he will leave us all vulnerable to a Terrorist Attack unless he not only gets everything he wants from Congress — all his new warrantless eavesdropping powers made permanent plus full immunity for his lawbreaking telecom partners — but also gets it exactly when he wants it (i.e., now — not 30 days from now).

If the Democrats had even the slightest strategic sense and/or courage — just the slightest amount — this is a political confrontation they would be uncontrollably eager to have. Just imagine if they sustain the filibuster today and instead pass a 30-day extension of the PAA, and then Bush vetoes it, knowingly choosing to leave the intelligence community without the ability to Listen In When Osama Is Calling. It would be the height of political stupidity for Democrats to be afraid of that outcome.

That’s what is at stake today as Senate Democrats try to sustain a filibuster against the Republicans’ efforts to force a final vote on the truly pernicious Senate Intelligence Committee bill. Are there any limits at all on the willingness of Congressional Democrats to be bullied and humiliated by Republicans, even by the most transparently disingenuous tactics such as these? FDL has the contact information for calling and faxing the Senators who appear to be key for sustaining the filibuster, and Jane Hamsher reports that — almost certainly due to public pressure — both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are going to be present for the vote today in order to vote for the filibuster. The vote is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST and I’ll be live-blogging the events today here.

The veto threat from the President is so unbelievably corrupt and manipulative that if our national press had even the smallest amount of critical faculties and understanding of the issues, that veto threat would be a major story. After all, how can the President possibly threaten the country that he will veto a law that he himself has claimed for months is indispensable for Protecting Us All?

But as has been true from the beginning of this scandal, reporters have been too slothful to learn the facts (or too willing to distort them), and administration officials have been easily able to convince them of all sorts of things that are patently false, which they then convey to their readers. Here, for instance, is what The Politico‘s Allen wrote:

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 11:38 am

The Bush Tragedy

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I’m currently reading Jacob Weisberg’s gripping book The Bush Tragedy. It’s a thoughtful book, not a book of snarky comments. Weisberg looks at the Bush presidency through the lens of Shakespearian tragedy, and his efforts to understand the character of the players and how that character was formed and how, given the character, the outcome was inevitable is as enthralling as a thriller, if more somber and profound. It’s really a book worth reading.

And today Weisberg has a column looking at what might have been:

As George W. Bush prepares to deliver his final State of the Union address, it’s worth revisiting the first speech he gave to a joint session of Congress. His valedictory words tonight will provide an opportunity to reflect on the kind of president Mr. Bush was. The speech delivered seven years ago points to the very different sort of president he might have been.

Mr. Bush began his February 2001 address by hailing the new spirit of cooperation he hoped would characterize his relations with Congress. “Together we are changing the tone in the nation’s capital,” he declared. The new president’s top priority would be education. He intended to marry the liberal desire for more federal money to the conservative demand for higher standards.

The rest of the speech was similarly moderate in tone and substance. Mr. Bush planned to use part of the enormous fiscal surplus he inherited for a broad-based tax cut. But he also wanted to expand Medicare benefits, preserve Social Security, extend access to health care and protect the environment. He concluded with an exhortation to bipartisanship — in Spanish. “Juntos podemos,” he said. “Together we can.”

Mr. Bush seemed genuinely to want to be the kind of president indicated by that first address. He meant to build a broad coalition on the model of his governorship in Texas, where he worked closely with Democrats in the Legislature, made his chief cause correcting racial disparities in education, and was re-elected in 1998 by an almost 40 percentage point margin, including 27 percent of the black vote and at least a third of Latinos. I always sort of liked that George W. Bush. Whatever happened to him?

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 11:19 am

Recycle those cellphones

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They’re too dangerous for the garbage:

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 11:06 am

Omnivore’s dinner delight

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Thanks to The Son and The Younger Daughter, The Wife and I will soon enjoy two wonderful dinners:

Natural Prime boneless rib-eye steaks — For me, the rib-eye is the king of steaks, and the Natural Prime sounds like a winner:

Lobel’s Natural Prime beef comprises premium rib and loin cuts from livestock raised in open pastures on a 100% vegetarian diet that is free of subtherapeutic antibiotics and growth hormones. Certified prime by the USDA, our Natural Prime steaks and roasts are abundantly marbled, deliciously flavorful, and aged for up to six weeks to ensure maximum flavor and tenderness.

The cattle are raised by a cooperative of 50 farms with a total of 30,000 acres of farmland throughout the Northeast. To participate in this program, each farm pledges to follow humane livestock management practices that include providing cattle with room to roam and forage in a stress-free, safe environment; free access to clean, fresh water; and supplemental feed that is a mix of all-natural grains and grasses.

5-rib rack of Kurobuta pork:

Legend has it that Oliver Cromwell discovered the Berkshire breed more than 300 years ago while his army was at winter’s quarters in Reading in the shire of Berks, England. From that time, the Berkshire breed has been revered for its outstanding quality, texture and flavor.

During the early 1800s, the breed was refined and has remained a pure breed since. In 1875, the American Berkshire Association (ABA) became the nation’s first swine registry and has maintained pedigree records ever since.

Berkshire swine were first brought to Japan as a gift from the British government in the 19th century.

Also, known as Japanese black hog, the breed has thrived in Japan as Kurobuta pork, a name that is synonymous for a unique dining experience.

Lobel’s Kurobuta pork is raised by small, Midwestern family farms, using all-natural production methods.

According to the ABA, Berkshire pork is well documented for its superior quality in tests conducted over the past decade. It scored the highest of all breeds in a study of sensory quality at the National Barrow Show in Austin, MN. Other studies, including those conducted by the Journal of American Science, Berkshire pork ranked tops in 19 of 22 quality measures.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 10:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Yglesias comments on the torture article

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Yglesias has a comment on the Ackerman article I just mentioned:

I had always thought “it was worse than a crime, it was a mistake” was something Joseph Fouché said (and his background in the secret police is more apropos given the subject of the article) but besides that it’s an absolutely excellent piece. One area of inquiry that, for now, must remain shrouded in mystery and speculation is to what extent the problems with this approach are precisely what made them appealing to Bush. The US government has, after all, plenty of agencies who interrogate prisoners routinely and lots of interrogations have been done historically. If I had been President, I would have tasked such agencies with the new job.

That would have resulted in “non-physical, non-coercive techniques like building rapports with detainees—much like the FBI does, and much like what worked 60 years ago at places like Fort Hunt against hardened, sadistic Nazi officers.” And it wouldn’t have even resulted in that outcome because I’m an especially humane kind of guy. It’s just that that is, in fact, what the FBI does and what the military did when it had to interrogate Nazis, etc. That’s the process, the process works, and it doesn’t raise any moral or legal qualms so it’s all good. Why on earth would I turn to the CIA and have them re-invent the wheel? Well, I suppose Bush might have if deep down he’s just the sort of person who likes the idea of torture and brutality; someone who at some level would be disappointed to hear an agency official not respond to 9/11 by immediately requesting permission to start torturing people.

But whatever the reason, it’s just a huge, huge, huge mistake. Just as with surveillance policy, the Bush administration seems incapable of processing the idea that a certain level of formal constraint on what the security services are allowed to do may be necessary to make them work properly. Instead, the underlying presumption seems to be that transparency, the rule of law, accountability, etc. are all incredibly weaknesses in a system of government and that liberal democracies have been prevailing for the past couple of centuries despite the integral features of such a political system rather than because of them.

Equally interesting are the comments to Yglesias’s post. Go read. (Thanks to Ray for the pointer to the article.) Example comment:

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 10:23 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with

CIA: knows little of interrogation

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Definitely worth reading. The article begins:

In a bucolic field two miles north of Mount Vernon, beside a baseball diamond in Fort Hunt Park, Va., about 20 veterans of a secret World War II intelligence unit gathered together last year for the first time since 1946. The National Park Service was holding a ceremony to commemorate their service. The men, mostly in their eighties, had never before told their stories. During the war, Fort Hunt was a secret interrogation center, where some 4,000 German and Italian military officers, high-ranking government officials and scientists were debriefed. A few years ago, Park Rangers responsible for the area learned of Fort Hunt’s critical intelligence role in recently declassified documents, and they decided to create a memorial and reunite the unit’s veterans. The dedication ceremony was held over two balmy, peaceful days last October.

Col. Steve Kleinman, a U.S. Air Force Reserve interrogator, 50, who had served in Panama and both Iraq wars, was one of the speakers that fall day. In a conversation earlier this month, Kleinman said he was horrified by America’s turn to what Dick Cheney has called “the dark side” in the war on terrorism: indefinite detention in the name of national security, torture in the name of intelligence collection. And so he fought against it. Kleinman joined an effort, sponsored by the Intelligence Science Board—an interagency intelligence-advisory panel—to get the intelligence community to finally renounce torture. His speech at Fort Hunt was a subtle rebuke of the use of torture, comparing the war on terrorism to an earlier era, when interrogators shunned brutality.

Suddenly, at Fort Hunt that October day, a veteran approached Kleinman. “I never laid a hand on one of my prisoners,” the older man said. “That allowed me to do my job and retain my humanity.” Kleinman was moved. “I thought, when’s the last time I heard an interrogator concerned about that?” he recalled.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 10:19 am

Bacon candy

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The Son will like this, I imagine:

Bacon goes with everything, including rice. It’s salty and bacon-y. I’ve souped it up by adding some Japanese flavors sweet-salty flavors. The result is almost like bacon candy. A little goes a long way.

It’s great sprinkled on just about everything. Besides rice, you could sprinkle it on eggs, vegetables, your tongue…

Sweet-salty bacon furikake

You’ll want to try to select a fairly low fat bacon. A dry-cured one is best. You can also use a cured ham like proscuitto.

  • About 150g / 5.25 oz lean bacon
  • 1 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 Tbs. raw cane sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce

Chop up the bacon quite finely.

In a large frying pan, sauté the bacon over a low-medium heat until it’s rendered a lot of its fat and is fairly crispy, but not burned.

Drain the bacon on paper towels. Wipe out the pan to get rid of any bacon fat.

Add the other ingredients over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar is melted. Return the bacon and stir around until the liquid is gone.

Let cool completely. Optionally whirl it in a food processor until very finely chopped.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two (if it lasts that long).

Spicy variation: Add a little of our favorite condiment, nanami (shichimi) tohgarashi.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Food, Recipes

Puppy love

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 8:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Let’s start the week with a pleasant story

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This is nice:

A woman who tossed her engagement ring into a field in 1941 after a disagreement with her fiancé has been reunited with it almost 70 years later.

Violet Booth, then Violet Bailey, threw the diamond ring away after arguing with her husband-to-be, Samuel.

The childhood sweethearts, who were out walking, quickly made up. But after a fruitless search for the ring, they believed it was lost for ever.

Yet, almost seven decades later, Mrs Booth, now 88, is able to wear it again after her grandson found it buried in the field.

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Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in Daily life

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