Later On

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

Archive for February 15th, 2008

Funny, in a bitter sort of way

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I’m liking Hillary Clinton less and less. I guess that’s what campaigning’s all about. Now this:

“As Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign was blasting Sen. Barack Obama for his ties to the Exelon Corporation, the firm of Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist, was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very same nuclear energy client,” reports Sam Stein. Penn’s PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, works for Exelon and the Exelon-funded pro-nuclear group New Jersey Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition (NJ ACRE), as the Center for Media and Democracy previously reported. Recently, Exelon paid Burson-Marsteller more than $230,000, coded as “public affairs.” Exelon said the work involved NJ ACRE and strengthening local support for “the renewal of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant’s operating license.” The payment covered Burson-Marsteller’s work between June and November 2007, which included carrying out a poll and setting up “speaking engagements and events for Patrick Moore,” the Greenpeace activist turned PR consultant and co-chair of the nuclear industry-funded group Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 2:37 pm

How the Right will fight Obama

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Good piece, and thanks to Ray for pointing it out:

He’s said it many times, in many different venues, and perhaps the words change a bit over time, and the cadences, too, but the message is always the same:

“I think the pundits have it wrong. I think the American people have had enough of politicians who go out of their way to look tough, who say one thing in a caucus and another in a general election. When I am the nominee of our party, the choice will be clear. My Republican opponent won’t be able to say that we both supported this war in Iraq. He won’t be able to say that we really agree about using the war in Iraq to justify military action against Iran, or about the diplomacy of not talking and saber-rattling. He won’t be able to say that I haven’t been open and straight with the American people, or that I’ve changed my positions. And you know what? The American people want that choice. Because I believe that’s what we need in our next President.

“We’ve had enough of a misguided war in Iraq that never should have been fought – a war that needs to end.”

Barack Obama said that in a Des Moines speech back in October, but he’s been repeating it – with added emphasis – as his campaign has taken off. It’s that last line that always gets the loudest, most prolonged applause: the audience goes wild, people stand and cheer – as well they should. We are told that the ideological differences between Obama and the Clintons aren’t all that great, that in fact they barely exist, which I think is a highly dubious proposition, but, in any case, on this issue – the vital question of war and peace – the gulf between them could not be wider, or deeper.

She, after all, voted for the war, and she’s been saber-rattling over Iran – much to AIPAC’s delight. Obama, on the other hand, has taken a clear and consistent antiwar position on the Iraq war, as angular as one could hope for in a mainstream politician, while her insincere pandering to the antiwar instincts of the Democratic base has been absolutely shameless.

This is the real source of Obama’s streak of solid victories, aside from the hypnotic effects of his oratory: contra the conventional wisdom, it isn’t all about style with him, or “platitudes,” as John McCain puts it. It’s all about his opposition to the Iraq war. When Obama makes his appeal to Democrats, “and, yes, plenty of Republicans out there who are ready to turn the page on the broken politics and blustering foreign policy coming from Washington” – as he put it in his Des Moines speech – that is very far from mouthing bromides, as blusterer-in-chief McCain will soon discover if and when Obama wins the nomination.

Obama has emerged as the antiwar candidate, constantly driving home the point that he – unlike the Senator from New York – had the judgment to doubt the veracity of the President’s case for war from the get-go.

The Clintons are desperately trying to spin this away, with President Priapus denouncing Obama’s antiwar record as “a fairy tale” and The New Republic rather more subtly suggesting “Obama himself may understand that the issue is more complicated than his condemnations of Hillary Clinton’s judgment.” That’s the last line of a rather curious piece by Michael Crowley, whose microscopic examination of Obama’s public pronouncements on the war question might have been published by – except for that last line.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:36 pm

Hospitals belatedly taking steps toward safety

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It’s all broken, folks. We need Democrats to get in there and fix things. Latest example:

In 2005, the year that a drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA killed an estimated 19,000 Americans, Dr. Lance Peterson began an experiment in three hospitals near Chicago. Peterson, infection control officer for Evanston Northwest Healthcare, tested everyone who entered the hospitals for MRSA, and disinfected those who were carriers of the germ. Within a year, the hospitals’ rates of MRSA infections had fallen by half. Peterson estimated that nine lives were saved.

Peterson’s study is one of more than 150 showing that when hospitals actively hunt for carriers of MRSA and beef up precautions to prevent its spread, they can dramatically reduce serious infections and deaths. But despite 30 years of research showing that these “search and destroy” tactics can stop MRSA, until recently few U.S. hospitals used the procedures. Instead, they seemingly held up their hands and shrugged at an epidemic that now kills more people each year than AIDS, murder or Parkinson’s disease.

But a grassroots public accountability campaign has been mounting, with 19 state laws now requiring hospitals to tighten infection control. Finally, hospitals are starting to get tough. By late 2006, 29 percent had started so-called “active surveillance” of MRSA, according to a survey by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control. Today, close to half of our 6,000 hospitals are doing it, and most others are in the planning stages. “We’ve reached the tipping point,” says William Jarvis, an infections expert. “The public was tired of waiting.”

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:33 pm

Legality of waterboarding: depends on how much water

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This is sickening:

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker has something to turn your stomach over. Steve Bradbury, the unconfirmed-but-still-in-office head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council, wrote secret legal opinions in 2005 and 2006 justifying waterboarding and other war crimes. Today, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Bradbury how such obvious war crimes could be legal, especially given how the U.S. prosecuted Japanese officials for waterboarding in World War II.

Bradbury’s answer: It depends on how much water is used. “Our office has advised the CIA when they proposed waterboarding, that the use of the procedure, subject to strict limitations and safeguards, was not torture, did not violate the Anti-Torture Statute,” he said. The Japanese used “forced consumption of mass amounts of water,” you see, and so because the U.S. uses an unspecified amount of water less than that of Imperial Japan, it’s legal.

Perfect. So the question is: How much water does the CIA have to force someone to ingest in order for it to be torture? I’m calling the Justice Department.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:31 pm

The Bush Administration would mess up a free lunch

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Those jokers and hacks cannot do anything right, but it’s the natural result of the sole criterion being party loyalty and taking orders.

The Centers for Disease Control on Thursday urged FEMA to evacuate hurricane refugees from 38,000 trailer homes they’ve been occupying for up to two years. It warned that formaldehyde levels in the trailers were up to 60 times higher than normal and averaged about five times the normal level. “Long-term exposure to levels in this range can be linked to an increased risk of cancer,” said CDC Director Julie Gerberding. “We think it’s wise for people to be relocated before the hot weather arrives in summer.” She added that the elderly, children, and people with respiratory illnesses should be moved first. Higher temperatures cause the release of more formaldehyde into the air from the trailers’ wood panels.

FEMA Administrator David Paulison responded that FEMA would “provide information to our residents in an expedited manner.” He said the emergency management agency was moving people out of the trailers at a rate of 800-1,000 per week. In the meantime, Gerberding said, residents should stay outside as much as possible, and keep their windows open.

In an earlier post, we noted that a scientist at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which comes under CDC’s wing, had been punished for drawing attention to the carcinogenic threat from high exposures to formaldehyde.

A Democratic overseer said the CDC statement “should have been made more than a year ago. … These agencies knew since the spring of 2006 that Hurricane Katrina and Rita victims living in those trailers were getting sick.” FEMA delayed credibile testing of the trailers, and the CDC failed to look at the health consequences of exposure to formaldehyde, added Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tennessee.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:29 pm

Dems taking aim at credit card companies

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As Washington’s politicians and prognosticators haggle over the cause of the nation’s recent economic wilt, a group of House Democrats have proposed to reform an institution they claim has contributed to consumers’ burdens: the credit card industry.

That industry, these policymakers say, provides an invaluable service to consumers. But companies, they add, have also adopted a slew of dubious billing and marketing practices that target vulnerable populations, disguise fees and penalize cardholders even when they pay their bills on time. Hoping to give consumers more protections under their credit agreements, the lawmakers have crafted a handful of legislative proposals designed to rein the industry in.

“What good is a contract when one side doesn’t get to make any decisions?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who introduced legislation Feb. 7 that would reform the industry. Maloney’s bill, for example, would force companies to provide 45 days notice when they raise interest rates (currently no notice is required); it would force companies to mail bills at least 25 days before the payment is due (current law is 14 days), and it would cap over-the-limit fees at 3 percent (there is currently no cap).

Reps. Mark Udall (D-Col.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) are pushing similar proposals, all of which have the strong backing of consumer groups. Reform, Udall said, would not benefit only consumers. “It’s also important for the credit card industry,” Udall said, “for their legitimacy.”

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:27 pm

Extremely good clarification

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Well worth reading. The intro:

Both Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Greek tend to be rather telegraphic, leaving as understood what in English would be necessary connecting words. The translators of the King James Version adopted the convention of inserting the missing words in italics.

David Herszenhorn of the New York Times seems to write rather Biblically, leaving out some important words. For those of you not familiar with the NYT-Testament English, I’ve inserted the missing words in brackets in Herszenhorn’s story about the anti-torture bill and John McCain’s vote against it.

In addition to the textual issues, note the conventions of this particular brand of journalism:

1. Only Democrats have political motives.
2. Only Senators have valuable opinions about what does and does not constitute torture. The views of law professors and members of the JAG corps don’t count.
3. Only Senators who support the President have relevant backgrounds. Bond’s chairmanship of Intelligence counts; Lugar’s chairmanship of Foreign Relations doesn’t.
4. Gross inconsistencies in Sen. McCain’s positions must not be mentioned. That McCain wrote a bill that allowed the President to secretly authorize some unknown number of harsh interrogation techniques does not detract from his position as a “steadfast opponent” of torture.

BILL CURBING TERROR INTERROGATORS IS SENT TO BUSH, WHO HAS VOWED TO VETO ITWASHINGTON — The Senate voted Wednesday to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods [called “torture” under domestic and international law] that have been used by the Central Intelligence Agency [and an unknown number of other agencies and contractors] against [an unknown number of people described by the government as] high-level terrorism suspects [at least scores of whom have died as a result]. The vote, following House passage of the measure in December, set up a confrontation with President Bush, who has threatened to veto it.

Continue reading. Please.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:24 pm

Save billions with dryer add-on

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Only drawback is that the savings are cumulative over all dryers, not just on your own dryer. Still, great technology:

Generally when people offer up miracle devices from backyard and basement tinkering, we’re pretty skeptical. But it’s hard to argue with Michael Brown. Especially when he hooks his “Dryer Miser” up to a Whirlpool dryer, turns it on, and pulls out dry clothes using half as much energy as the exact same dryer without his device.

The device, really, is fairly simple. Instead of using a traditional air-in-contact-with-heating-coils heater, it uses an oil as the heat-transfer medium. The oil needs less energy to heat, and, once heated, holds onto the heat better. That oil is then used to heat the air that gets blown into the drying drum.

The device is so much more efficient that it can be plugged into a regular 110 V plug (instead of 220s now required by dryers.) Considering how simple this is, it’s a marvel (or perhaps a travesty) that GE or Whirlpool didn’t think of it first. Additionally, the heating unit only ever reaches about 150 F, since the heat-transfer is so much more efficient. Traditional dryers have to heat their elements up to 1000 F in order to reach optimal efficiency, resulting in about 15,000 household fires each year.

The device can be installed by a technician in 30 minutes at a total cost of around $300, which would be recouped in less then four years. A quick calculation based on the number of households with electric dryers (around 80 million) and the average amount spent on electricity for drying clothes a year ($85 per household) shows that this device could indeed save several billion dollars per year just in America.

Already Brown is in talks with a major European manufacturer to integrate the device into new units, and he’s raised several million dollars in angel funding. He’s also talking to the EPA about getting his dryers Energy Star rated. Up until now, dryers have been so inefficient that not a single one on the market has been awarded with the Energy Star label.

While it would have been easy to call his dryers the most efficient on Earth. Brown always qualifies the statement with “aside from the sun.” And that’s a touch of modesty that, to me anyway, is very welcome.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 1:21 pm

Has anyone seen this folder?

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From the Department of Homeland Security:

WASHINGTON—In an emergency press conference held this morning, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged the American public to be on the lookout for a folder that was misplaced sometime in the last 24 hours, most likely in the DHS offices, but also possibly anywhere else.

The last known location of the folder, described as a blue hanging-type folder with the DHS logo on the front, was in the hands of Assistant Secretary of the Office of Intergovernmental Programs Anne P. Petera during a classified meeting with President Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday. It reportedly contains a number of documents and satellite images that would be of no interest whatsoever to anyone if they found it.

“I can assure all Americans that the assistant secretary could have sworn she had it with her when she went through the metal detector,” Chertoff said. “According to the latest information, she set it down for only a second right before the briefing, and now it is gone. Officials have diligently checked everywhere from the bathroom, to the top of the refrigerator in the breakroom, to the underground emergency command bunker we were touring this morning with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control, but apparently it has simply disappeared.”

Added Chertoff, “It has got to be around here somewhere, so please, if you see a blue folder, say something.”

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 12:22 pm

A look back on Friday afternoon

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It was a long time, but it went by fast:

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Music, Video

Garden advice: grow shiso

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Now that I can get hamachi from Whole Foods, I just need a good source of shiso. And here it is: grow it. (Family members, please note: I have ordered seed packets and you’ll be receiving yours soon.)


If you are a gardener, even if your garden is limited to some pots on a sunny windowsill, if there’s one herb you should try to grow it’s shiso. Shiso, or perilla to give its botanical name, is a very refreshing herb that can be used in all manner of ways. For bentos though one interesting aspect of shiso is that it has some antibacterial qualities. That’s one reason why you see green shiso leaves being used as a garnish with sashimi. You can use the fully grown leaves as edible dividers, to wrap rice or meat or other things, and a lot more. See this bento from last summer where I used salted shiso leaves as onigiri wrappers. I love shiso-wrapped onigiri, they taste so fresh! I think that shiso is used quite a lot in the winning Hello Kitty bento too (for the head wrapper and the paws).

This article on Just Hungry describes shiso and some other Japanese vegetables and herbs to consider growing, as well as seed sources. In terms of the growing conditions shiso needs, I’ve found that it grows quite well in our cool climate here, and thrives in most of Japan, so it should do well in many conditions. If it likes your garden it will start self-seeding itself. Even a single plant in a pot will provide you with leaves for you to garnish your bento with in the summer months. Since shiso can be pretty expensive to buy in the shops, even if you can get a hold of it, it’s well worth growing.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 11:43 am

One problem with bigotry

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Once you unleash bigotry, it grows and expands and provides ignorance in lieu of knowledge, fantasy in place of fact. Juan Cole in Salon:

For much of January, one might have thought that the Republican candidates for president were already competing against a single opponent. Not one called Hillary or Barack, but with a moniker even more chilling in the eyes of hard-line Republicans: Islamic fascism.

The American public, worried about mortgages, recession and a seemingly interminable war in Iraq, was unimpressed — those who fear-mongered the most about Muslim terrorists have faltered at the polls. Even the remaining front-runners, John McCain and Mitt Romney, have said bigoted things about Muslims and their religion. But Islamophobia as a campaign strategy has failed, and it may well come back to haunt the Republicans in the general election.

Back when the GOP presidential field was still flush with tough-talking right-wingers, no one was more outrageous in targeting Muslims than Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who suggested that Muslim terrorists inside America were plotting the imminent detonation of an atomic bomb on U.S. soil. How to prevent this Tom Clancy scenario? “If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo declared. “Because that’s the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they otherwise might do.”

That sort of wild-eyed bigotry only fuels the cycle of mistrust and vengeance. One can only imagine how much more difficulty Tancredo generated for U.S. diplomats attempting to explain to America’s Muslim allies why a presidential candidate was talking about nuking Islam’s holiest cities, the larger with a population nearly that of Houston.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 11:37 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

The high-school-to-college transition

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Back in the day, we had printed guides to colleges: thick books that were quickly out-of-date, and precious little general help. But the Internet has changed that, and now a variety of services are possible. I was just told of one,, which offers a broad range of services—and is free. It includes advice (and tools) regarding college prep, college search, financial aid search, and so on. Definitely worth a look.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 11:29 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Floris London

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I have a few Floris shaving soaps and aftershaves, along with a bottle of the No. 89 cologne. (BTW, despite the statement in the video, James Bond was not a Floris customer: he is a fictional character. Florence Nightingale and Mary Shelley, OTOH, were real. It’s passing odd that no distinction is made between the real and the fictional—although it is, of course, marketing, which might explain it.)

At any rate, given my own enjoyment of Floris products, I thought this video, by way of, was appropriate. Video is here.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 11:10 am

Posted in Shaving

The Lost Kristol Tapes

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Thanks to Ray for pointing out this nice piece:

As Eric Alterman has written, he’s the “journalist” of “perpetual wrongness” (as well as an “apparatchik” of the first order and a “right-wing holy warrior”). And for that, he’s perpetually hired or published: Fox News, the Washington Post op-ed page, Time Magazine, and most recently, the New York Times where, in his very first column, he made a goof that had to be corrected at the bottom of column two (and where, with his usual perspicacity when it comes to the future, he predicted an Obama victory in the New Hampshire primary). Liberal websites devote time to listing his many mistakes and mis-predictions. In a roiling mass of neocons, right-wingers, and liberal war hawks, he’s certainly been in fierce competition for the title of “wrongest” of all when it came to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. (“Iraq’s always been very secular?”) I hardly have to spell out the name of He Who Strides Amongst Us, the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard. But, okay, for the one person on the planet who doesn’t know – it’s Bill Kristol. The notorious Mr. Kristol, the man whose crystal ball never works.

But isn’t it the essence of American punditry that serial mistakes don’t matter and no one is ever held to account (as in this primary season) for ridiculous predictions that add up to nothing? As New York Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal put it after his paper signed Kristol to a one-year contract, “The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual – and somehow that’s a bad thing? How intolerant is that?”

How intolerant indeed! Since no one in the mainstream is accountable for anything they’ve written, the management of the Times can exhibit remarkable tolerance for error in its gesture to the neocon right by hiring a man who’s essentially never right. His has been a remarkable winning record when it comes to being right(-wing) by doing wrong. Former Saturday Night Live contributor Jonathan Schwarz pays homage to that record in what follows. Tom

The Lost Kristol Tapes
What the New York Times Bought
By Jonathan Schwarz

Imagine that there were a Beatles record only a few people knew existed. And imagine you got the chance to listen to it, and as you did, your excitement grew, note by note. You realized it wasn’t merely as good as Rubber Soul, or Revolver, or Sgt. Pepper’s. It was much, much better. And now, imagine how badly you’d want to tell other Beatles fans all about it.

That’s how I feel for my fellow William Kristol fans. You loved it when Bill said invading Iraq was going to have “terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East”? You have the original recording of him explaining the war would make us “respected around the world” and his classic statement that there’s “almost no evidence” of Iraq experiencing Sunni-Shia conflict? Well, I’ve got something that will blow your mind!

I’m talking about Kristol’s two-hour appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal on March 28, 2003, just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq. No one remembers it today. You can’t even fish it out of LexisNexis. It’s not there. Yet it’s a masterpiece, a double album of smarm, horrifying ignorance, and bald-faced deceit. While you’ve heard him play those instruments before, he never again reached such heights. It’s a performance for the history books – particularly that chapter about how the American Empire collapsed.

At the time Kristol was merely the son of prominent neoconservative Irving Kristol, former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle (aka “Quayle’s brain”), the editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard, and a frequent Fox News commentator. He hadn’t yet added New York Times columnist to his resumé. Opposite Kristol on the segment was Daniel Ellsberg, famed for leaking the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam era. Their discussion jumped back and forth across 40 years of U.S.-Iraqi relations, and is easiest to understand if rearranged chronologically.

So, sit back, relax, and let me play a little of it for you.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 10:16 am

Posted in Iraq War, Media

Physicians group calling for end to cannabis ban

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Why the resistance to totally legalizing cannabis for medical purposes? Here’s the latest:

Medical marijuana

A large and respected association of physicians is calling on the federal government to ease its strict ban on marijuana as medicine and hasten research into the drug’s therapeutic uses.

The American College of Physicians, the nation’s largest organization of doctors of internal medicine, with 124,000 members, contends that the long and rancorous debate over marijuana legalization has obscured good science that has demonstrated the benefits and medicinal promise of cannabis.

In a 13-page position paper approved by the college’s governing board of regents and posted Thursday on the group’s website, the group calls on the government to drop marijuana from Schedule I, a classification it shares with illegal drugs such as heroin and LSD that are considered to have no medicinal value and a high likelihood of abuse.

The declaration could put new pressure on Washington lawmakers and government regulators who for decades have rejected attempts to reclassify marijuana.

Bush administration officials have aggressively rebuffed all attempts in Congress, the courts and among law enforcement organizations to legitimize medical marijuana.

Clinical researchers say the federal government has resisted full study of the potential medical benefits of cannabis, instead pouring money into looking at its negative effects.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 9:52 am

Another global warming disaster in progress

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Global warming deniers don’t like to respond to actual evidence, so the comments will probably refer to various crank papers/theories that global warming is not happening, etc. Also lots of personal comments about Al Gore. Here’s the disaster, still on-going because the US government will do nothing to take steps to fight global warming.

Dead zones

Peering into the murky depths, Jane Lubchenco searched for sea life, but all she saw were signs of death.

Video images scanned from the seafloor revealed a boneyard of crab skeletons, dead fish and other marine life smothered under a white mat of bacteria. At times, the camera’s unblinking eye revealed nothing at all — a barren undersea desert in waters renowned for their bounty of Dungeness crabs and fat rockfish.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” Lubchenco said, recalling her initial impression of the carnage brought about by oxygen-starved waters. “It was so overwhelming and depressing. It appeared that everything that couldn’t swim or scuttle away had died.”

Upon further study, Lubchenco and other marine ecologists at Oregon State University concluded that that the undersea plague appears to be a symptom of global warming. In a study released today in the journal Science, the researchers note how these low-oxygen waters have expanded north into Washington and crept south as far as the California state line. And, they appear to be as regular as the tides, a lethal cycle that has repeated itself every summer and fall since 2002.

“We seem to have crossed a tipping point,” Lubchenco said. “Low-oxygen zones off the Northwest coast appear to be the new normal.”

Although scientists continue to amass data and tease out the details, all signs in the search for a cause point to stronger winds associated with a warming planet.

If this theory holds up, it means that global warming and the build-up of heat-trapping gases are bringing about oceanic changes beyond those previously documented: a rise in sea level, more acidic ocean water and the bleaching of coral reefs.

Low-oxygen dead zones, which have doubled in number every decade and exist around the world, have a variety of causes.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 9:47 am

External vs. internal blessings

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Good post by A. P. David:

In response to my recent piece about Herodotus and the verdict of history, someone wrote: “when Solon says, ‘man is entirely what befalls him…one must look always at the end of everything–how it will come out finally’–the “it” there, is still some essential story, some personal myth that comes gallumphing [sic] through the chaos.”

He continues, speculating about the celebrated “end” of Socrates: “… is it something personal that we don’t know about, a sorrow he hid, a problem in the face of which he gave up?”

I think there is some insight here into the story that immediately follows in Herodotus’s narrative, about Adrastus, the ill-starred guest-friend of Croesus, and Atys, Croesus’s own son. The story is once again filled with what we moderns have come to call “fairy-tale” elements. (It is endlessly fascinating to wonder what the source of these all-too-human motifs might have been. That such motifs are familiar to us, and yet drawn independently of ancient Herodotus and the stories he knew, can lead to the grandest speculation about our supra-historical nature. I shall try not to indulge it here.)

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 9:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Celery thoughts

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You recall the post about how celery makes chicken stock taste better, even if you can’t tell the celery’s been added? It occurred to me that celery’s mysterious power may be why it found a place in the “holy trinity” of French cooking, mirepoix:

Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots and celery (either common Pascal celery or celeriac). Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews, and sauces. Mirepoix is known as the holy trinity of French cooking.

These three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics. Similar such combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers, chiles, and ginger. For the combination mirepoix au gras, or a Matignon, ham and/or pork belly are used as additional ingredients.

They may be used in various combinations, as dictated by the cuisine and the dish itself.

Traditionally, the ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots. The ratio for bones to mirepoix for stock is 10:1. When making a white stock, or fond blanc, parsnips are used instead of carrots to maintain the pale color.

Mirepoix derives its name, as many other elements of French cuisine do, from the patron of the chef who established it, in this case one of the house of Lévis, seigneurs of Mirepoix since the eleventh century, a famous name in Languedoc. The particular member of the house of Lévis whose chef is credited by the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française with giving a name to an old technique is Charles-Pierre-Gaston François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix (1699-1757), maréchal de France and ambassador of Louis XV.

Based on these latest findings I’m going to add minced celery to various cooked and braised dishes to see how the taste is affected.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 8:55 am

Method Friday

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Today a full Method shave, using a couple of things I received from another shaver—thanks, Kurt. The Lime-Green Tea Hydrolast Shaving Paste, for example. Quite nice.

I did the full treatment: Activator, Shaving Paste, and Cube with the Shavemaster brush, and after 3 passes with the Edwin Jagger Georgian with yesterday’s Treet Blue Special, the Cutting Balm (the last-pass shave oil in the Hydrolast system), and, finally, the Skin Tonic and Conditioner.

All in all, a very nice shave, but I especially want to know the Cutting Balm. Now that I know to use just a few drops, I found Hydrolast Cutting Balm to be a very good last-pass shave oil indeed. Certainly as good as my homemade: light, lubricating, and gets the job done. Worth using on its own for the Oil Pass.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2008 at 8:37 am

Posted in Shaving

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