Later On

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

Archive for April 5th, 2008

Kitten break

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

When your news reporter is a city boy

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Harvesting the fog

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What you see above is an artist’s rendition is a fog tower, to be constructed in Chile to harvest water from fog. It’s fascinating. More information and more photos here.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 3:33 pm

Diamonds and quantum computing

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This is cool:

Diamond is cool—even at room temperature. The stiff crystalline structure that makes diamond nature’s hardest material can shield an atom from heat vibrations—not forever, but a lot longer than in other materials.

Physicists have now learned to use that ultimate cocoon quality to store and manipulate information in single atoms at room temperature—feats that in other materials require getting to the neighborhood of absolute zero. Because its atoms can store the notoriously peculiar quantum information, diamond has become a candidate material for use in future quantum computers. Such devices would rely on quantum weirdness to perform certain tasks that would take an ordinary computer till the end of time.

Diamond, specifically artificial diamond, could also find more imminent applications, such as communicating data with unbreakable encryption or even advancing the understanding of quantum theory itself. Powering these applications would require just tiny artificial-diamond chips along with inexpensive tools such as simple lasers.

“The beauty of diamond is that it brings all of this physics to a desktop,” says David Awschalom of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Diamonds can be sharp cutters, but from the point of view of ordinary electronics, they are pretty dull, at least in their purest form. Diamond’s crystal lattice of carbon atoms doesn’t conduct electricity and has virtually no magnetism. There’s no such thing as a 100 percent-pure crystal, though, and diamond’s impurities are in fact Marilyn Monroe beauty marks that make it attractive for physics. “It’s the dirt that gives rise to the unusual properties,” Awschalom said during a recent talk in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Nitrogen is the most common impurity in diamond, where it can replace a carbon atom in the crystal. The most useful nitrogen impurities are those that happen to be next to a vacancy—a gap in the crystal where a carbon would otherwise be.

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Science

Caturday: Molly taking a (cat) nap

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Molly catnap

Molly tried to watch The Wife at working, but it was booooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrring, so Molly fell asleep.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Took a little walk

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For a change, flat route out, hilly back. Stopped along the way for lunch. Music for this walk was, of course, MJQ. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Clinton and Penn: awkward alliance

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Causing news:

Mark Penn runs the labor-busting PR giant Burson-Marsteller and is the top strategist for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign for president. His mixed loyalties have been a continuing image problem for Clinton, to the degree it makes the news. The Wall Street Journal first reported he “met with Colombia‘s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate (Clinton) opposes.” Burson-Marsteller “has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal.” The New York Times later noted that Penn apologized for his conflict of loyalty saying “the meeting was an error in judgment.”  (Source: Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2008)

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 10:26 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

ADHD medication and drug risk

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Science News:

Stimulants have long been prescribed to children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Over the past decade, child psychiatrists have debated the long-term potential for these medications to trigger drug abuse. Two new studies indicate that the stimulants do not increase children’s risk of abusing cocaine, nicotine, and other drugs as adults.

Although these findings come as a relief to child psychiatrists, not all the news is good. The new investigations, already published online and slated to appear in the May American Journal of Psychiatry, underscore earlier evidence that youngsters with ADHD frequently become drug abusers, whether or not they take prescribed stimulants.

“It is still critical that young people with ADHD be screened for substance abuse,” says Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md.

Boys with ADHD who start stimulant treatment early, at age 6 or 7, face a lower risk of later drug abuse than do those who begin taking medication later, between ages 8 and 12, report psychologist Salvatore Mannuzza of New York University’s Child Study Center and his colleagues.

In the 17-year study, 27 percent of early-treated participants abused drugs by their mid-20s. That roughly equaled the drug abuse rate among young men who had never had any psychiatric ailments.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

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Chess college

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UMBC Chess team

UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) took an interesting route. They decided to focus their intercollegiate competition on chess. So they recruited chess masters as coaches, recruited high school chess players, and have cut a wide swath in the chess world. (If only some college would take the same approach to Go!) Above, UMBC students play during the school’s chess team pep rally, which had cheerleaders, dancers and the pep band. Here’s the story from which the photo came:

As the Down and Dirty Dawg pep band blared Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the theme to Hawaii Five-O, scores of University of Maryland, Baltimore County students marveled at the scene unfolding in the student commons, complete with cheerleaders, the school mascot, the school dance team and a chess set with pieces 6 feet tall.

“Are we allowed to play with those?” asked UMBC sophomore Rupa Patel of Annapolis, as classmates posed for cell-phone photos with the oversized pieces and hoisted them from square to square as if staging an impromptu game.

“Only at UMBC, I guess,” said freshman Kat Patterson of Silver Spring.

Her words were echoed by many who attended the chess pep rally earlier this week, arranged to stoke enthusiasm as the school prepared to host the President’s Cup today and tomorrow – the Final Four of college chess.

Last month, the school got swept up in its first-ever run to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but that was an anomaly. At UMBC, chess has long been king. It has won four President’s Cups since the event began in 2001. The game is woven into the identity of the Catonsville school, part of its aim to be viewed as a place where development of the mind takes priority over other pursuits.

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 10:11 am

Posted in Education, Games

Modern Jazz Quartet

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I first became aware of the Modern Jazz Quartet late in high school. MJQ, as fans titled the group, was established in 1952 by Milt Jackson (vibes), John Lewis (piano, musical director), Percy Heath (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). Connie Kay replaced Clarke in 1955. It was a great group and lasted for years. They disbanded in 1974, but reunited for some concerts in later years.

Here’s a John Lewis composition, “Django”:

And another: “Bags’ Groove” (Bags was Milt Jackson’s nickname).

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Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

The American Media: focused on trivia

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Glenn Greenwald points out the embarrassing truth in today’s column, using (of all things) evidence. The column begins:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” – 102

“Mukasey and 9/11” — 73

“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16

“Obama and bowling” — 1,043

“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

“Obama and patriotism” – 1,607

“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Prawn curry in 30 minutes

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30-Minute Prawn Curry

Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Yet it’s easily whipped together in 30 minutes. Eat Like a Girl has the recipe, which requires only one comment: 250 g = 9 oz.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 9:28 am

Posted in Daily life

Social Security in fine shape

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I keep thumping this drum because the GOP keeps saying that Social Security will fall apart in 2017, which it will not do. Bob Slaughter was good enough to send along a link to this excellent explanation, worth clicking through to read. Medicare is in trouble, yes—especially with the very bad prescription drug benefits that the GOP rammed through Congress in a terrible abuse of power. Medicare needs attention, and in my opinion, the best solution is to go to a single-payer national healthcare program, but that will be difficult. Still, it would solve not only Medicare’s problems but the national problem of our not getting our money’s worth from our medical expenses.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 9:20 am

Iraq War expiration date: 1/1/09

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Good news:

A crucial yet overlooked deadline looms over the Iraq debate: Unless further action is taken, the war will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2009.

Despite protestations to the contrary, Congress clearly understood that it was authorizing the president to intervene militarily when it passed its joint resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq in October 2002. But it did not give him a blank check. It allowed for the use of force only under two conditions.

The first has long since lapsed. It permitted the president to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.” This threat came to an end with the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s government. It makes no sense to say that it continues today, or that our “national security” is “threatened by” the Iraqi government headed by Nouri al-Maliki.

Instead, U.S. military intervention is authorized under the second prong of the 2002 resolution. This authorizes the president to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” This has allowed the Bush administration to satisfy American law by obtaining a series of resolutions authorizing the United States to serve as the head of the multinational force in Iraq.

But here’s the rub. The most recent U.N. resolution expires on Dec. 31, and the administration has announced that it will not seek one for 2009. Instead, it is now negotiating a bilateral agreement with the Iraqi government to replace the U.N. mandate.

Whatever this agreement contains, it will not fill the legal vacuum.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 9:08 am

Posted in Daily life

Friday steps: 5364

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Not a walk day, really. Spent the day with The Wife, but we did walk around some and I did take a brief walk. I think it’s okay to have an occasional light day. Today I’m more ambitious and aiming at 10,000 steps. We’ll see.

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 8:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Three passes to perfection

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Excellent shave today. First, Honeybee Spa’s Floral Euphoria shea-butter shaving soap (one of her expensive soaps) whipped into a lather with the Rooney Style 3 Size Super Silvertip. Rich, wonderful, and fragrant lather—extremely nice. I picked up a Gillette NEW which was already loaded, and the shave was so smooth and easy that no polishing pass was needed. I had no idea which blade it was, but I was curious enough to open the razor: Astra Superior Platinum. And then a fine finish with TOBS Eton College aftershave. Wonderful!

Written by Leisureguy

5 April 2008 at 8:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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