Later On

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

Archive for February 16th, 2008

Alastair Reynolds’s Chasm City

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I’ve now completed the second in the series. Enjoyable and kept up the pace and the history.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Telecoms fighting net neutrality

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Bad news. Now that they know US Senators are for sale, they’re ramping up their demands:

Telecommunications industry groups have attacked a new bill calling for government regulators to take a closer look at how broadband providers manage their networks.

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act, introduced earlier this week by Rep. Ed Markey, the Democratic chairman of the House subcommittee on telecommunication and the Internet, could make it illegal for service providers to block or degrade traffic on their networks.

Its introduction revisits the contentious debate over Net neutrality, which has industry groups championing the free market and warning that government intervention threatens to choke off growth and innovation in the Internet economy.

“The market-based approach has made the Internet what it is today,” Joe Ferren, a spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), told InternetNews.com.

“Should the federal government decide what the Internet looks like — or should the free market? Ferren said. “To date, it’s been the free market, and it’s been a smashing success.” [Except that what the US calls “broadband” is laughably slow compared to what other countries now enjoy. – LG]

The USTelecom Association also condemned the bill, calling it “antithetical” to the goals of promoting innovation and extending broadband deployment.

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 6:49 pm

Blu-ray totally won

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For example:

Not like it’s any huge surprise or anything — after all, the HD DVD deathwatch is already in full effect — but Niveus has just informed us that due to “customer demand and format war influences,” it will be adding support for Blu-ray and “ceasing production of HD DVD-based servers.” According to CEO Tim Cutting, “incorporating Blu-ray into its offerings has always been part of the plan, but the demand from its customers, market trends, and recent announcements expedited its decision to come to market with Blu-ray support sooner rather than later.” Adding more salt to the wound, he continued by saying that “while it has stood behind HD DVD as a viable high-definition platform, company engineers have been running Blu-ray in its testing facilities and are very impressed with the performance and integration with its servers.” Another one bites the proverbial dust, eh?

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

More and more surveillance

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Sometimes by mistake, sometimes not:

A technical glitch gave the F.B.I. access to the e-mail messages from an entire computer network — perhaps hundreds of accounts or more — instead of simply the lone e-mail address that was approved by a secret intelligence court as part of a national security investigation, according to an internal report of the 2006 episode.

F.B.I. officials blamed an “apparent miscommunication” with the unnamed Internet provider, which mistakenly turned over all the e-mail from a small e-mail domain for which it served as host. The records were ultimately destroyed, officials said.

Bureau officials noticed a “surge” in the e-mail activity they were monitoring and realized that the provider had mistakenly set its filtering equipment to trap far more data than a judge had actually authorized.

The episode is an unusual example of what has become a regular if little-noticed occurrence, as American officials have expanded their technological tools: government officials, or the private companies they rely on for surveillance operations, sometimes foul up their instructions about what they can and cannot collect.

The problem has received no discussion as part of the fierce debate in Congress about whether to expand the government’s wiretapping authorities and give legal immunity to private telecommunications companies that have helped in those operations.

But an intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because surveillance operations are classified, said: “It’s inevitable that these things will happen. It’s not weekly, but it’s common.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 2:57 pm

The effects on kids of school shootings

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Interesting:

Once again, school shootings are in the headlines. And for students at Northern Illinois University and their peers across the country, those headlines have been all too familiar in their young lives.

The timeline of school shootings includes Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999, Red Lake High School on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota in 2005, an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania in 2006, and Virginia Tech in 2007. And the Northern Illinois University shooting was the fourth at a U.S. school in a week, according to media reports.

Students who were in elementary, middle, or high school when Columbine happened are now teens or young adults.

“These young people have been exposed to more violence than perhaps any other previous generation just because of [its prevalence] in television, movies, and actual coverage of violent incidents,” Scott Poland, EdD, tells WebMD.

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 2:55 pm

Obama’s website

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Good place to go for his policy statements. Good website in general.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

The immunity stampede

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Once the telcoms showed that the US Senate is up for sale, you naturally expected that any lawbreaker with substantial funds (e.g., large businesses) would start buying their own immunity. And you would be right:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has sponsored an unusual provision at the urging of the nation’s banks granting them immunity against an active patent lawsuit, potentially saving them billions of dollars.

Adopted with little fanfare, the amendment would prevent a small Texas company called DataTreasury from collecting damages from banks for infringing on its patented method for digitally scanning, sending and archiving checks. The patents were upheld last summer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after they were challenged.

The provision, passed without dissent by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July and inserted into legislation scheduled for a vote by the full Senate this month, is a rare attempt by Congress to intervene in ongoing litigation, congressional experts say. [As businesses get more information on the actual selling price of the Senate, we can expect these attempts to become more common. – LG]

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 10:03 am

Posted in Business, Congress

Tagged with

Ahmad Jamal

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Ahmad Jamal, born 1930, is a great jazz pianist, putting out his first album in 1951. Great stuff. This first clip (from 1959) is “Darn That Dream,” a Jimmy van Heusen composition—and Jimmy van Heusen is a story in himself. (I recall reading a profile of Jimmy Van Heusen and his work with Frank Sinatra in a recent New Yorker (I think), but damned if I can find it.)

And here Ahmad Jamal Trio with Gary Burton:

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

Ow!

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This can’t be good for your hand.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 9:55 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Cooking with guanciale

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My guanciale arrived yesterday, and today I’m shopping for a couple of dishes to make with it. UPDATE: bottom line: meh. Not worth getting again.

UPDATE 2: Wait, maybe it’s okay. Here’s the idea: don’t think of it as bacon, and slice it thick. It’s too fat and the taste is too strong. Think of it as prosciutto and slice it very thinly. Then sauté those slivers, pour off the excess fat, and use in the dish. That seems to work.

From the link:

… for any pasta all’amatriciana to be authentic, it must be made with guanciale — cured, unsmoked pig jowl.

Italians take guanciale for granted, but it’s fairly new to American kitchens. Almost all the recipes in American cookbooks call for ordinary bacon — which is too smoky — or Italian pancetta, which is too lean. Guanciale, which means pillow, a description of its shape, has an especially rich, sweetly porky flavor and a buttery texture.

Anne Burrell, the chef at Centro Vinoteca in Greenwich Village, who once worked with Mario Batali, makes her bucatini all’amatriciana with very crisp rashers of guanciale. ”It’s all about the guanciale,” she said of the dish.

When I asked Sandro Fioriti, chef and owner of Sandro’s on the Upper East Side, what he used in his bucatini all’amatriciana, Mr. Fioriti, a Roman, pointed to his cheek. ”Guanciale,” he said.…

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 9:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Floris London

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After posting the link to the Floris London video, I naturally thought of Floris this morning. I picked the Simpsons Duke 3 Best and Floris JF shaving soap, and quickly had a fragrant lather.

One of the forums was discussing the Gillette Rocket, the English equivalent of the Gillette Super Speed, so that was the razor I selected. The Rocket looks very like a Super Speed, but is heavier made and the knob is closed at the end. It’s a twist-to-open razor.

I took a blade from a brand new to me: Gillette 7 O’Clock—not the same (and, as turned out, very much not the same) as the 7AM brand. The 7AM is (for me) a mediocre blade, not very sharp. The 7 O’Clock is one of the sharpest I’ve ever used. In fact, neglectful of blade angle, I have myself two bad nicks on the upper lip (promptly staunched with My Nik Is Sealed, but still…). But a sharp blade makes for a good shave, even if the razor is rather mild (as is the Rocket).

Three passes, then I decided to try Total Shaving Solution for the Oil Pass. It seemed slicker, perhaps less thick(?) than my own mix, though again the menthol comes through very strongly. It did make the Oil Pass good extremely well (and no more nicks).

Aftershave was, of course, Floris JF. And I’m impressed with the 7 O’Clock. Now to see if I can improve my technique so that it’s safer for me.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 February 2008 at 9:18 am

Posted in Shaving

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