Later On

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

Archive for April 2nd, 2008


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Very detailed MRI of a cat’s brain.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Cats

That good old stride piano

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Thanks to Jack from the Netherlands for suggesting this:

For more like that, do a YouTube search on Olivier Lancelot. And here’s Stephanie Trick playing James P. Johnson’s Carolina Shout:

The Netherlands, of course, is the great biking nation—and Steve of Kafeneio has a good post about how he found a Dutch bicycle that’s made in the California. And why not? If there are the Pennsylvania Dutch, why not the California Dutch. (PS: I know that the Pennsylvania “Dutch” are in fact “Deutsch”—I’m in the process of reading Page Smith’s fascinating two-volume book A New Age Now Begins: A People’s History of the American Revolution.)

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Jazz, Music, Video

It’s okay if you’re a Republican: flag-pin division

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ThinkProgress notes:

In a recent interview with GQ, former Bush adviser Karl Rove criticized Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for “not wearing a flag lapel pin,” saying that “to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism.” As Rove made this comment, however, interviewer Lisa Depaulo noticed that he wasn’t wearing a pin:

DEPAULO: You’re not wearing a flag pin, Karl.

ROVE: Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But I respect those who consciously get up in the morning and put a flag lapel pin on.

Rove’s ironic moment of criticism echoes a similar gaffe by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA). In February, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams caught Kingston attacking Obama over the pins while not wearing one himself.

Update: In another bit of irony, Ben Smith points out that Rove’s favored candidate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), didn’t wear a flag pin during his speech today.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

OMG. Passports with RFID outsourced.

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Via Schneier on Security, this story in the Washington Times:

The United States has outsourced the manufacturing of its electronic passports to overseas companies — including one in Thailand that was victimized by Chinese espionage — raising concerns that cost savings are being put ahead of national security, an investigation by The Washington Times has found.

The Government Printing Office’s decision to export the work has proved lucrative, allowing the agency to book more than $100 million in recent profits by charging the State Department more money for blank passports than it actually costs to make them, according to interviews with federal officials and documents obtained by The Times.

The profits have raised questions both inside the agency and in Congress because the law that created GPO as the federal government’s official printer explicitly requires the agency to break even by charging only enough to recover its costs.

Lawmakers said they were alarmed by The Times’ findings and plan to investigate why U.S. companies weren’t used to produce the state-of-the-art passports, one of the crown jewels of American border security

“I am not only troubled that there may be serious security concerns with the new passport production system, but also that GPO officials may have been profiting from producing them,” said Rep. John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Of course, much of the military is outsourced. Maybe next the GOP will want to outsource the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Think of all the money they’ll save.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 3:28 pm

Military uses FBI as cat’s paw

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Working around the rules, gaming the system, changing the rules if the rules get in the way—it’s the Bush way. From USA Today:

The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, the ACLU said Tuesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union based its conclusion on a review of more than 1,000 documents turned over by the Defense Department after it sued the agency last year for documents related to national security letters. The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court.

The letters are investigative tools used to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a judge’s order or grand jury subpoena.

ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman said the documents the civil rights group studied “make us incredibly concerned that the FBI and DOD might be collaborating to evade limits put on the DOD’s use of NSLs.”

It would be understandable if the military relied on help from the FBI on joint investigations, but not when the FBI was not involved in a probe, she said.

The FBI referred requests for comment Tuesday to the Defense Department. A request for comment from Justice Department lawyers for that agency was not immediately returned.

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 3:05 pm

Practice does not make perfect

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Perfect practice makes perfect. That’s why piano students play a new piece very slowly and, as much as possible, making no mistakes: because making the mistake results in learning the mistake. (This has obvious applications to wet shaving, of course.) From Science Daily:

If you are struggling to retrieve a word that you are certain is on the tip of your tongue, or trying to perfect a slapshot that will send your puck flying into a hockey net, or if you keep stumbling over the same sequence of notes on the piano, be warned: you might be unconsciously creating a pattern of failure, a new study reveals.

Karin Humphreys, assistant professor in McMaster University’s Faculty of Science, and Amy Beth Warriner, an undergraduate student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, suggest that most errors are repeated because the very act of making a mistake, despite receiving correction, constitutes the learning of that mistake.

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Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 2:53 pm

Ask philosophers

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Always good to get a philosopher’s take on things. presents answers to questions that people have submitted. And they’re still taking questions.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 April 2008 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Daily life

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