Later On

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

Archive for March 3rd, 2008

Makes you wonder….

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NY Times, report from May 7, 2004:

At least six air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, made a tape recording a few hours later describing the events, but the tape was destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it, the Transportation Department said Thursday.

The taping began before noon on Sept. 11 at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., where about 16 people met in a basement conference room known as the Bat Cave and passed around a microphone, each recalling his or her version of the events of a few hours earlier. The recording included statements of 5 or 10 minutes each by controllers who had spoken by radio to people on the planes or who had tracked the aircraft on radar, the report said.

Officials at the center never told higher-ups of the tape’s existence, according to a report made public on Thursday by the inspector general of the Transportation Department.

A quality-assurance manager at the center destroyed the tape several months after it was made, crushing the cassette in his hand, cutting the tape into little pieces and dropping them in different trash cans around the building, according to the report. The tape had been made under an agreement with the union that it would be destroyed after it was superseded by written statements from the controllers, the report said.

The quality-assurance manager told investigators that he had destroyed the tape because he thought making it was contrary to Federal Aviation Administration policy, which calls for written statements, and because he felt that the controllers ”were not in the correct frame of mind to have properly consented to the taping” because of the stress of the day.

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Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 8:45 pm

157 best free software tools

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PC magazine reviews them.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Destruction of Democracy, Part LXVIII

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On Friday, the White House issued a new executive order effectively gutting the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB), “created in 1976 in the wake of widespread abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies.” Under the order, many of the IOB’s investigative powers will now be transfered to DNI Mike McConnell. “Rather than intelligence agencies reporting their activities to the board for review, they will now report them to McConnell,” the AP notes.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 2:21 pm

Megs, pondering

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This photo provides affirmative evidence for the question, “Do cats ponder?”

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

How to handle problems

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If the needle goes into the red zone, bend the needle back. Problem no longer so visible, and that’s good enough. Or this approach:

A former SAS soldier was served with a high court order yesterday preventing him from making fresh disclosures about how hundreds of Iraqis and Afghans captured by British and American special forces were rendered to prisons where they faced torture.

Ben Griffin could be jailed if he makes further disclosures about how people seized by special forces were allegedly mistreated and ended up in secret prisons in breach of the Geneva conventions and international law. Griffin, 29, left the British army in 2005 after three months in Baghdad, saying he disagreed with the “illegal” tactics of US troops.

He told a press conference hosted by the Stop the War Coalition this week that individuals detained by SAS troops in a joint UK-US special forces taskforce had ended up in interrogation centres in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Guantánamo Bay. He had not witnessed torture himself but added: “I have no doubt in my mind that non-combatants I personally detained were handed over to the Americans and subsequently tortured.”

Referring to the government’s admission that two US rendition flights containing terror suspects had landed at the British territory of Diego Garcia, Griffin said the use of British territory and airspace “pales into insignificance in light of the fact that it has been British soldiers detaining the victims of extraordinary rendition in the first place”.

The Ministry of Defence said it did not comment on special forces’ activities.

In a separate move, the media have been prevented by a court order from reporting a court martial of six SAS soldiers charged with a conspiracy to “defraud of a value of about £3,000”.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 10:31 am

The always vexing question of popcorn toppings

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I brought this up in in the off-topic forum and have a number of interesting ideas to try.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 10:25 am

Megs, wondering if she stepped in something

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Sniffing paw

Just checking.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Where the US is headed with “tort reform”

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Kevin Drum:

Halliburton, it turns out, is immune from criminal prosecution when its female employees are gang raped in Iraq, and recently a Texas judge ruled that they’re immune from civil suit too. Why? Because their employment contracts contain a binding arbitration clause. So no matter how egregious their conduct, Peggy Garrity writes that you’re probably out of luck if you want compensation:

This is a preview of the demise of the jury system intended by the innocuous-sounding tort reform movement. “Tort reform” is a deliberately deceptive term coined in the 1980s by tobacco, pharmaceutical, insurance and gun lobbyists and lawyers who set about to transform our civil justice landscape by eliminating corporate exposure to civil liabilities. After years of an all-out campaign, at the heart of which was relentless media propaganda, judicial selection and legislation, the courthouse doors are rapidly being closed to average citizens, who will be shunted off into a lucrative private legal system presided over by retired judges employed by alternative dispute-resolution providers.

Word. Elsewhere in this morning’s paper, we learn that having already decided that injured patients can’t sue medical device makers, the Supreme Court is likely to extend that ruling to apply to makers of prescription drugs too:

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, ruled last month that patients injured by most medical devices can’t sue their manufacturers. And this fall, a similar case could extend the same legal protection to the much larger pharmaceutical industry — a frequent target of lawsuits.

….In recent years, documents and e-mails uncovered in court cases have shown that some companies kept safety issues involving their products from the FDA. “Without the tort system, what reasonable assurance do we have we will learn about the bad actors?” asked David Vladek, a law professor at Georgetown University.

Well, that’s sort of the whole point, isn’t it? If you’d like to learn more, I have two reading suggestions. First is Blocking the Courthouse Door, by Stephanie Mencimer, a comprehensive look at the business community’s relentless attempt to shield itself from liability for just about everything. (Review here.) If that sounds a little too heavy for your taste, try John Grisham’s latest opus, The Appeal. Sure, it’s John Grisham, so the quality is a little iffy. But The Appeal features an evil corporation buying justice in Mississippi, a Karl Rove-like campaign manager smearing a liberal Supreme Court justice for fun and profit, and the religious right cast in a supporting role as dupes of the business community that really calls the shots in the Republican Party. It’s great liberal porn for your next trip to the beach.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 9:59 am

Brands of blades

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I’ve frequently pointed out that a brand of blade that’s good for shaver A may be bad for shaver B, a mysterious but frequently observed fact. Hence the sampler packs, since A (and B) must find their best blades through their own direct experience.

Over at, a number of polls were run to see how shavers experienced various brands. The percentages don’t necessarily add to 100—simple rounding error, and insignificant. The numbers in brackets show the number of shavers responding. Some brands have been available in the US for a long time, and the numbers for those brands are correspondingly high. Moreover, it turns out that most shavers, once they find a brand that seems to work, are uninterested in exploring further. So the figures of interest from the poll are the percentages: proportionately how many shavers found each brand to be good, so-so, or bad.

Even though every brand will have some who experience it as “bad” or “so-so”, I do encourage exploring the various brands of blades: it’s interesting, inexpensive, and you will find an occasional brand that astonishes you with the quality of shave that it offers—not the result of the shave—once you can get a nick-free BBS shave with no irritation, it’s hard to get much better—but the process of the shave.

Some blades definitely astonished me by how much smoother and easier and more pleasant they made the shaving experience. The first time it happened, I was (figuratively) floored. I hadn’t realized that it would be possible to get such a significantly better shave (the experience, not the closeness of the shave—that result was good for both brands). And this blade (Treet Blue Special) was one that works only for a minority—I just happened to be one of that minority.

Since then I’ve found several brands that offer a really pleasurable shaving experience—though, as the polls below clearly show, for each brand some will find that that the brand does not work for them or is only so-so. But some will find it good, and occasionally some will find it superb.

So if you want to see just how much pleasure a shave might offer, I encourage you to explore. More information on the various blade sampler packs here.

The results of the polls, in descending order on % “Good” (ties in descending order on % “So-so”):

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Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 9:29 am

Posted in Shaving

Florida-water shave

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Exceptional shave this morning, and even without an Oil Pass. The usual pre-shave beard wash with MR GLO, then a shaving stick, since it’s Monday: Tryphon Florida Water shave stick. Worked up a good lather with the Simpsons Emperor 3 Super, and since I’m now enjoying that brush a lot, took my time.

A new Treet Blue Special blade placed in my Gillette Fatboy (adjusted to 5), and three passes to perfection. And, the finishing touch, a splash of Murray & Lanham Florida Water aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2008 at 8:01 am

Posted in Shaving

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