Later On

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

Archive for January 29th, 2008

Kitty history and genetics

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Kitties, listen up:

The Fertile Crescent of the Middle East has long been identified as a “cradle of civilization” for humans. In a new genetic study, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have concluded that all ancestral roads for the modern day domestic cat also lead back to the same locale.

Findings of the study, involving more than 11,000 cats, are reported in the cover article of the January issue of the journal Genomics.

“This study confirms earlier research suggesting that the domestication of the cat started in the Fertile Crescent region,” said Monika Lipinski, lead researcher on the study and a doctoral candidate in the School of Veterinary Medicine. “It also provides a warning for modern cat fanciers to make sure they maintain a broad genetic base as they further develop their breeds.”

Leslie Lyons, an authority on cat genetics and principal investigator on this study, said: “More than 200 genetic disorders have been identified in modern cats, and many are found in pure breeds. We hope that cat breeders will use the genetic information uncovered by this study to develop efficient breed-management plans and avoid introducing genetically linked health problems into their breeds.”

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Cats, Science

Legal consequences of civilian war contractors

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This is interesting:

A year after Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers tore down the towering statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdous Square, a few dozen American civilians at a U.S. military base in Iraq climbed into a row of camouflage tractor-trailers and awaited instructions. Earlier that morning, the drivers, employees of Houston-based Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. (KBR), had been told that the roads outside Camp Anaconda, about 70 miles north of Baghdad, were labeled Code Red — off limits. That wasn’t a big surprise. Local radio and Armed Forces television had been reporting for days that U.S. military units and civilian contractors were under heavy attack. Weeks earlier, four security guards working for Blackwater USA had been shot, burned, dismembered and strung from a bridge in Fallujah; that city was now in chaos. Still, here inside “the wire,” as the drivers called the well-guarded camp, civilian truckers counted on KBR for their safety.

Around 10 a.m., the KBR security adviser announced a change in status. The roads were now Code Amber, he said — open for traffic. If the men were concerned about the last-minute change, or worried about driving unarmored military vehicles instead of the white trucks they usually drove to distinguish them as civilians, there was nothing they could do about it: KBR employees must follow the instructions of their convoy commanders.

Things would only get stranger. As the trucks lined up at the gate to leave, the drivers were told that their destination had changed. Instead of Camp Webster, where they’d originally been assigned to go, they’d be delivering fuel to Baghdad International Airport. Most had never been to the airport before; some had never even been outside the secured camp. None knew the route or was given a map.

“A soldier drew a map with a stick in the sand, that’s all I saw,” recalls Edward Sanchez, an affable trucker from Silver City, N.M., who was driving for KBR that day. Ray Stannard, a trucker from El Paso, remembers it well. “They just said, ‘Follow the truck in front of you.'” That’s just what they did. One convoy had already been sent toward the airport by a different route. Another sent on the same route had turned around, though these drivers didn’t know why. Now it was their turn. It was late morning by the time the mile-long convoy of about 25 trucks drove out the gates of Camp Anaconda in a cloud of dust and headed west.

As they passed the broken-down shacks and rundown buildings along the freeway, it was eerily quiet. “It started out smooth going,” recalls Stannard, a lanky 49-year-old with a ruddy face and an old Marine Corps tattoo on his right forearm. Then, about 20 minutes into the trip, the scene changed. “We started seeing our trucks on fire,” he says, describing KBR tractor-trailers in flames along the road.

As they reached a stretch in the road where several overpasses cross the highway, “we saw women dropping what looked like buckets of cement on the trucks,” says Stannard. Then he heard the staccato racket of gunfire. “I heard Zimmerman [Tommy Zimmerman, another driver] on the radio, saying, ‘My truck is breaking down,’ and I could hear rounds popping off.” Next he heard Tommy Hamill, the convoy commander, say he’d been hit. “I knew we were in trouble now,” Stannard says.

Within seconds Stannard’s truck was under fire, too. So were the trucks in front of and behind him, the gunfire now steady. “We were taking so many rounds, they were hitting fuel tankers. Fuel was spilling out everywhere.”

Sanchez, a former Navy mechanic built like a wrestler, was driving the 14th truck in the convoy that day. “It was like spaghetti,” he says, describing how fuel was spurting in streams out of the bullet holes that riddled their tankers. “Bill Bradley [another driver] yelled for help twice. That was the last I ever heard from him.” Soon another driver was yelling that he was on fire, begging not to be left to die in Iraq. Calls for help over the radio were the last that Sanchez and Stannard heard from seven of the KBR drivers that day. Those screams, the sounds of the gunfire and the memory of watching fellow driver Steven Fisher bleed to death in the Humvee that rescued them still haunt them.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 2:29 pm

Two common fallacies used to dupe people

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Perhaps even to dupe us:

In 2003 nearly half of all Americans falsely assumed that the U.S. government had found solid evidence for a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. What is more, almost a quarter of us believed that investigators had all but confirmed the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a 2003 report by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, a polling and market research firm. How did the true situation in Iraq become so grossly distorted in American minds?

Many people have attributed such misconceptions to a politically motivated disinformation campaign to engender support for the armed struggle in Iraq. We do not think the deceptions were premeditated, however. Instead they are most likely the result of common types of reasoning errors, which appear frequently in discussions in the news media and which can easily fool an unsuspecting public.

News shows often have an implicit bias that may motivate the portrayal of facts and opinions in misleading ways, even if the information presented is largely accurate. Nevertheless, by becoming familiar with how spokespeople can create false impressions, media consumers can learn to ignore certain claims and thereby avoid getting duped. We have detected two general types of fallacies—one of them well known and the other newly identified—that have permeated discussion of the Iraq War and that are generally ubiquitous in political debates and other discourse.

Spinning Straw into Fool’s Gold
One common method of spinning information is the so-called straw man argument. In this tactic, a person summarizes the opposition’s position inaccurately so as to weaken it and then refutes that inaccurate rendition. In a November 2005 speech, for example, President George W. Bush responded to questions about pulling troops out of Iraq by saying, “We’ve heard some people say, pull them out right now. That’s a huge mistake. It’d be a terrible mistake. It sends a bad message to our troops, and it sends a bad message to our enemy, and it sends a bad message to the Iraqis.” The statement that unnamed “people” are advocating a troop withdrawal from Iraq “right now” is a straw man, because it exaggerates the opposing viewpoint. Not even the most stalwart Bush adversaries backed an immediate troop withdrawal. Most proposed that the soldiers be sent home over several months, a more reasonable and persuasive plan that Bush undercut with his straw man.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Daily life

Louisiana: most corrupt state in the US?

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Could be:

LA judges

Vernon Valentine Palmer, a law professor at Tulane University in New Orleans, could not understand how justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court could routinely hear cases involving people who had given them campaign contributions. It seemed to him a raw and simple conflict of interest.

So he wrote polite letters to each of the seven justices, urging them to adopt a rule that would make disqualification mandatory in those cases.

Six months passed without a single response, and he wrote again. “I used seven more stamps,” he said, “and I still got no reply.”

Professor Palmer is a senior member of the Tulane law faculty and the director of its European legal studies program. He is not an expert on judicial ethics, but he knows a thing or two about the rule of law.

Peeved, he decided to take a closer look at the Louisiana Supreme Court. He recruited John Levendis, an economics professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, to help with the statistics, along with a half-dozen law students to crunch numbers and code cases. Their conclusions, to be published next month in The Tulane Law Review, are not pretty.

In nearly half of the cases they reviewed, over a 14-year period ended in 2006, a litigant or lawyer had contributed to at least one justice, sometimes recently and sometimes long before. On average, justices voted in favor of their contributors 65 percent of the time, and two of the justices did so 80 percent of the time.

The conventional response to such findings is that they do not prove much.

Judges do not change their votes in response to contributions, the argument goes. Rather, contributors support judges whose legal philosophies they find congenial and, incidentally, sometimes benefit when their judges apply those philosophies in a principled and consistent way that just happens to benefit them.

You may think that is a distinction without a difference, which is why you do not teach judicial ethics.

Professor Palmer was, in any event, able to address that objection by asking several additional questions.

He looked first at cases in which no one involved in the lawsuit had ever made a contribution, before or after the suit was filed, to establish a baseline. Some judges tended to vote for plaintiffs, others for defendants.

Justice John L. Weimer, for instance, was slightly pro-defendant in cases where neither side had given him contributions, voting for plaintiffs 47 percent of the time. But in cases where he received money from the defense side (or more money from the defense when both sides gave money), he voted for the plaintiffs only 25 percent of the time. In cases where the money from the plaintiffs’ side dominated, on the other hand, he voted for the plaintiffs 90 percent of the time. That is quite a swing.

“It is the donation, not the underlying philosophical orientation, that appears to account for the voting outcome,” Professor Palmer said.

Larger contributions had larger effects, the study found. Justice Catherine D. Kimball was 30 percent more likely to vote for a defendant with each additional $1,000 donation. The effect was even more pronounced for Justice Weimer, who was 300 percent more likely to do so.

“The greater the size of the contribution,” Professor Palmer said, “the greater the odds of favorable outcomes.”

A similar study of the Ohio Supreme Court conducted by The New York Times in 2006 continues to echo in that state. It appeared about a year after an appeals court there threw out a $212 million jury verdict in a case involving a business dispute between two companies, and it caused the lawyers on the losing side to take a look at who had contributed to the campaign of the judge who wrote the decision. It turned out that the judge, William G. Batchelder, had received a lot of money from Robert Meyerson, the chief executive of the company on the winning side, the Telxon Corporation.

The lawyers for the company on the losing side, Smart Media, asked for a rehearing and got one, sort of. In November, a substitute panel of appeals court judges refused to undo the earlier decision, saying there was no procedure to allow that. Judge Robert Nader, dissenting, could barely contain his disbelief, saying the initial decision was infected by “approximately $1 million in contributions from a very financially interested individual” to Judge Batchelder, a Republican, and to the local Republican Party.

This was, Judge Nader wrote, “a classic scenario giving rise to every nuance of political influence in our courts which calls for self-disqualification.”

The case is now before the Ohio Supreme Court. Mr. Meyerson, the executive, has given money to two of its justices as well.

A couple of weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court said the Constitution had nothing to say about the way New York elects its judges. But several justices went out of their way to question the practice of electing judges. Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer said, for instance, that campaign fund-raising in judicial elections might be at odds “with the perception and the reality of judicial independence and judicial excellence.”

But you do not have to do away with elections and or even fund-raising to make a drastic improvement in the quality of justice in state courts around the nation. All you need to do is listen to Professor Palmer. If a judge has taken money from a litigant or a lawyer, Professor Palmer says, the judge has no business ruling on that person’s case.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Check for a recall if it breaks

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Excellent idea:

Last time our DVD player broke, I went out and bought a new one. The Best Buy salesman said he wasn’t surprised that it had only worked for a year; he called them “disposable.”Two years later, the new one is broken. But this time, instead of going shopping, my husband had an idea.

“Check online for recalls,” he told me.

I don’t know what gave him the hunch. Maybe it was that time a few years back when our microwave started sparking like crazy and we found out (after several failed attempts by Sears to fix it) that it had a recalled part.

At any rate, he was right. I Googled the maker (Toshiba) and the model number (SD-3980SU2), and immediately came up with an information page about a recall. One 5-minute phone call later, and I am expecting a new, 2008 model of the DVD player to arrive within a couple of weeks. I will have to package up the old DVD player and mail it in, but a new DVD player is worth a trip to the post office any day in my book.

Now I have to get Googling to see if the broken cord to my Roomba could have possibly been recalled …

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 11:50 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Meatball-filled rice bombs for the bento box

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These look good—and I love the rice-bomb mold.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 11:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Handmade fountain-pen nibs

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I have a couple of pens with handmade nibs. Here’s a fascinating interview (with photos) of a nib maker. More info here and also here.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 11:27 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

More progress toward all-electric auto

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Kent Beuchert will be pleased to see real progress:

Earlier this month, a stealthy startup that says its ultracapacitor-based energy storage system could make conventional batteries obsolete took a small step toward proving its many skeptics wrong.The company, EEStor, based in Cedar Park, TX, has made bold claims about its technology but has so far failed to deliver a working commercial product. However, an agreement announced this month with Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, MD, suggests that the company could be making progress–at least enough to convince a major defense contractor that the technology has merit. The agreement gives Lockheed an exclusive international license to use EEStor’s power system for military and homeland-security applications–everything from advanced remote sensors and missile systems to mobile power packs and electric vehicles. The technology, Lockheed said in a statement, “could lead to energy independence for the Warfighter.”

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 10:39 am

Interesting ideas for security models

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The just published Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World may have offer some innovative approaches to improving security:

Arms races among invertebrates, intelligence gathering by the immune system and alarm calls by marmots are but a few of nature’s security strategies that have been tested and modified over billions of years. This provocative book applies lessons from nature to our own toughest security problems–from global terrorism to the rise of infectious disease to natural disasters. Written by a truly multidisciplinary group including paleobiologists, anthropologists, psychologists, ecologists, and national security experts, it considers how models and ideas from evolutionary biology can improve national security strategies ranging from risk assessment, security analysis, and public policy to long-term strategic goals.

From the Inside Flap
“A fascinating read, and an essential and novel perspective on international security. Sagarin and his collaborators are not afraid to think outside the box, effectively making the case that we need to think about these problems in new ways.”–Simon Levin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology, Princeton University

“Sagarin and Taylor’s Natural Security searches for the roots of political stability by studying interaction in its most fundamental forms, from genes and cells to ideology. This fresh, bold book heralds a vital integration of evolutionary analysis with real-life problems.”–Richard Wrangham, Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University

“As the ongoing disaster in Iraq so graphically demonstrates, we need new ways to think about international security and what policies to pursue. Drawing on modern evolutionary biology in diverse ways these essays suggest new modes of analysis and scientific additions to our social, economic and political models. The net result is an insightful and stimulating contribution to a critical debate.”–Malcolm Dando, Professor of International Security, Bradford University, UK

About the Authors
Raphael D. Sagarin is Associate Director for Ocean and Coastal Policy at The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Terence Taylor is the President and Director of the International Council for the Life Sciences. He previously served with the United Nations as a Commissioner and Chief Inspector for Iraq on weapons of mass destruction and was a career officer in the British army.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Books, Government, Science

Security vs. privacy: a false dichotomy

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This post makes an excellent point:

If there’s a debate that sums up post-9/11 politics, it’s security versus privacy. Which is more important? How much privacy are you willing to give up for security? Can we even afford privacy in this age of insecurity? Security versus privacy: It’s the battle of the century, or at least its first decade.

In a Jan. 21 New Yorker article, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell discusses a proposed plan to monitor all — that’s right, all — internet communications for security purposes, an idea so extreme that the word “Orwellian” feels too mild.

The article (now online here) contains this passage:

In order for cyberspace to be policed, internet activity will have to be closely monitored. Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search. “Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation,” he said. Giorgio warned me, “We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.'”

I’m sure they have that saying in their business. And it’s precisely why, when people in their business are in charge of government, it becomes a police state. If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass immigration into the former East Germany and modern-day China. While it’s true that police states like those have less street crime, no one argues that their citizens are fundamentally more secure.

We’ve been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often — in debates on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and political rhetoric — that most of us don’t even question the fundamental dichotomy.

But it’s a false one.

Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don’t have to accept less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm and a tall fence. Think of guns, anti-counterfeiting measures on currency and that dumb liquid ban at airports. Security affects privacy only when it’s based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach.

Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and — possibly — sky marshals. Everything else — all the security measures that affect privacy — is just security theater and a waste of effort.

By the same token, many of the anti-privacy “security” measures we’re seeing — national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining and so on — do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.

The debate isn’t security versus privacy. It’s liberty versus control.

You can see it in comments by government officials: “Privacy no longer can mean anonymity,” says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence. “Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.” Did you catch that? You’re expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who — presumably — get to decide how much of it you deserve. That’s what loss of liberty looks like.

It should be no surprise that people choose security over privacy: 51 to 29 percent in a recent poll. Even if you don’t subscribe to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s obvious that security is more important. Security is vital to survival, not just of people but of every living thing. Privacy is unique to humans, but it’s a social need. It’s vital to personal dignity, to family life, to society — to what makes us uniquely human — but not to survival.

If you set up the false dichotomy, of course people will choose security over privacy — especially if you scare them first. But it’s still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. The famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin reads: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It’s also true that those who would give up privacy for security are likely to end up with neither.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 10:02 am

Information I didn’t want to know

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So today I’m having just one cup of coffee, not two:

Daily consumption of caffeine in coffee, tea or soft drinks increases blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes and may undermine efforts to control their disease, say scientists at Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers used new technology that measured participants’ glucose (sugar) levels on a constant basis throughout the day. Dr. James Lane, a psychologist at Duke and the lead author of the study, says it represents the first time researchers have been able to track the impact of caffeine consumption as patients go about their normal, everyday lives.

The findings, appearing in the February issue of Diabetes Care, add more weight to a growing body of research suggesting that eliminating caffeine from the diet might be a good way to manage blood sugar levels.

Lane studied 10 patients with established type 2 diabetes and who drank at least two cups of coffee every day and who were trying to manage their disease through diet, exercise and oral medications, but no extra insulin. Each had a tiny glucose monitor embedded under their abdominal skin that continuously monitored their glucose levels over a 72-hour period.

Participants took capsules containing caffeine equal to about four cups of coffee on one day and then identical capsules that contained a placebo on another day. Everyone had the same nutrition drink for breakfast, but were free to eat whatever they liked for lunch and dinner.

The researchers found…

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 9:39 am

Excellent Web site exposes front groups

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The site is Full Frontal Scrutiny, and you should bookmark it. Their bannerhead:

“The American public deserves to know when someone is trying to persuade them.”U.S. FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

We strongly agree. That’s why we created this site: to focus public attention on the people and organizations who function in our society as hidden persuaders. You’ll find them at work posting to blogs, speaking before city councils, quoted in newspapers and published on the editorial page, even sponsoring presidential election debates. All this while pretending to represent the grassroots when in fact they are working against citizens’ best interests. We call these organizations front groups. One of the best ways to put their agendas in proper perspective is to expose their work. That’s what this website is for. We hope you’ll use it, tell your friends about it, even contribute to it.

Go take a look at some of the groups they’ve identified working behind the scenes.

UPDATE: The commenter CE didn’t know to click the link “We” in the text above, and so didn’t fully understand the groups that started FrontGroup.org. Here’s the text at that link:

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 9:29 am

Six services to send large files

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From Resource Shelf:

What tools or services can I use to send/share large files to others without having to use an FTP client?

Here are six of them. Most are free. Try them all and see which one(s) work best for you. Most should have you up and running in a matter of minutes.

1) Podmailing
Send unlimited sized files using p2p and the BitTorrent. Free.
Available for PC and Mac.

2) SendSpace
Send up to 300MB files, free.

3) senduit
100MB limit. URL times out after set amount of time. Free.

4) YouSendIt
Free trial.

5) SavethisFile
No limit, free and fee-based plans.

6) TransferBigFiles
Send up to 1GB.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 9:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Interesting numbers

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From Greg Palast:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.
So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

– George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.

– $20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year – and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”

Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 9:01 am

US does it differently: bail bonds

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I hadn’t realized that only the US (and the Phillipines) use bail bondsmen—for almost all other countries, such a practice would be illegal:

Wayne Spath is a bail bondsman, which means he is an insurance salesman, a social worker, a lightly regulated law enforcement agent, a real estate appraiser — and a for-profit wing of the American justice system.

What he does, which is posting bail for people accused of crimes in exchange for a fee, is all but unknown in the rest of the world. In England, Canada and other countries, agreeing to pay a defendant’s bond in exchange for money is a crime akin to witness tampering or bribing a juror — a form of obstruction of justice.

Mr. Spath, who is burly, gregarious and intense, owns Brandy Bail Bonds, and he sees his clients in a pleasant and sterile office building just down the street from the courthouse here. But for the handcuffs on the sign out front, it could be a dentist’s office.

“I’ve got to run, but I’ll never leave you in jail,” Mr. Spath said, greeting a frequent customer in his reception area one morning a couple of weeks ago. He turned to a second man and said, “Now, don’t you miss court on me.”

Other countries almost universally reject and condemn Mr. Spath’s trade, in which defendants who are presumed innocent but cannot make bail on their own pay an outsider a nonrefundable fee for their freedom.

“It’s a very American invention,” John Goldkamp, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University, said of the commercial bail bond system. “It’s really the only place in the criminal justice system where a liberty decision is governed by a profit-making businessman who will or will not take your business.”

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 8:59 am

Rice types

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Good post, with photos, of various types of rice.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 8:54 am

Posted in Food

The full Method

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But probably not completely correctly done. I created the lather using both the shaving paste and the activator: brush the olive-oil block vigorously, then add a dab of shaving paste and a squirt of activator to the brush and work the lather some more.

I used the Merkur 1904 again, with the same Zorrik blade as yesterday. Two passes down, one across. Then I applied some cutting balm, which seems to be a shaving oil, and did the final against-the-grain pass. I’m still undecided on using oil in a shave.

Finally, the rinse—and with the oil, also a wash (MR GLO)—and dry. I applied the conditioner and a spritz of the tonic. I am not a balm guy, so the conditioner felt heavy at first, and the tonic applied on top didn’t seem to make a difference. But now, having made my coffee, my skin feels very nice indeed: it’s absorbed the conditioner, or the conditioner has done its job…. I don’t know. But, bottom line, my skin feels quite nice. And smooth.

I need to watch Mantic’s Method Shaving videos again to know exactly how to work with the new tools.

UPDATE: Okay, my mistakes: I should apply activator and work it into the mix before the shaving paste. Easy to fix next time. Also, in the finishing step, I can use just a bit of the cutting balm, with activator or soap or shaving paste or combination: just create an effective lubricating layer for the buffing of rough spots remaining. Finally, the tonic goes on before the conditioner—I think that will work much better. Next time, all will go well.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2008 at 8:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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