Later On

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

Archive for April 9th, 2008

Torture okayed at the highest levels

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From a ThinkProgress post—and click the link to read more

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

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Six months at a time

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 8:17 pm

Wolf Blitzer on the Iraq scam

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Interesting comment from Wolf Blitzer of CNN:

ust before and immediately after the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, Bush administration officials optimistically predicted that Iraqi oil exports would soon finance the reconstruction of the country. That didn’t happen. U.S. taxpayers were stuck with the literally tens of billions of dollars in bills.

Now, five years later and with the price of oil reaching more than $100 a barrel, Iraqi oil exports are generating huge sums — $56.4 billion this year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says Iraq now has tens of billions of dollars in surplus funds in their banks and in other accounts around the world, including about $30 billion in U.S. banks right now.

But Levin notes that the Iraqis by and large are still not using their money to build new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. Why should they? Uncle Sam is still doing that for them.

“The result is that far from financing its own reconstruction, as the administration promised five years ago, the Iraqi government has left the U.S. to make most of the capital expenditures needed to provide essential services and improve the quality of life of the Iraqi citizens,” Levin said in his opening remarks before the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “As of last Thursday,” Levin added, “the United States is paying the salaries of almost 100,000 Iraqis who are working on reconstruction.”

At a time of economic distress in the United States, including fears of recession, home foreclosures, job losses, infrastructure strains, and health care worries, U.S. lawmakers publicly are asking why the Iraqis themselves can’t pick up the tab for their own reconstruction. Privately, several of them are going one step further — asking whether they Iraqis actually are playing the U.S. taxpayers for suckers.


Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 4:56 pm

How often do the media get a story right?

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Very damn seldom, it seems. ThinkProgress notes:

A number of media outlets characterized yesterday’s Senate hearings on the situation in Iraq and the future of U.S. policy there as a confrontation between Democrats and Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

The headline to the Los Angeles Times’s article on the hearings read “Petraeus, Democrats square off,” despite the fact that the actual report noted that “Republcans questioned Petraeus’ strategy with equal vigor.” But others all but ignored Republican criticism of President Bush’s Iraq policy and statements from Petraeus and Crocker altogether:

New York Times: “Both General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker faced sharp questioning from Democrats who sounded increasingly exasperated.”

Chicago Tribune: “Democrats peppered Petraeus and Crocker with tough questions about the Iraqi government’s performance and its continued heavy reliance on its American benefactors.”

Associated Press: “Petraeus was told by a parade of Democrats that, after five years of war, it was past time to turn over much more of the war burden to the Iraqis.”

– CNN’s Campbell Brown: Petraeus’s recommendation to “leave about 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for an undetermined period of time” after July “didn’t sit well with Democrats.”

– NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski: “Democrats quickly pounced” on Petraeus’s recommendation to pause troop withdrawals after July.

However, statements from a number of Republican senators during yesterday’s hearings undermine these characterizations. For example:

Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH): “The American people have had it up to here” with the war. The U.S. should tell its allies in the Middle East: “Hey guys, we’re on our way out.”

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “What are we doing? I don’t see Secretary Rice doing any Kissinger-esque flying around. Where is the diplomatic surge?

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN): “Simply appealing for more time to make progress is insufficient.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m looking for an articulation as to how we get to the end” […] “We’re at a point in the conflict where an articulation of the endgame needs to be made.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):”We’re continuing to pay for the training and equipping of Iraqi forces. I’m told that we’re even continuing to pay for fuel within Iraq. Isn’t it time for the Iraqis to start bearing more of those expenses?

Sen. John Warner (R-VA): “Is all this sacrifice bringing about a more secure America?

At some point, the media will realize the American public, Democrats, AND Republicans have all turned sour on the war in Iraq.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 4:02 pm

So how do you eat sardines?

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No, I’m not asking “head first or tail first”? The Wednesday Chef is new to sardines and asked for ideas. She had purchased water-packed. My suggestions:

Sardines: water pack is fine, though I also like the olive-oil pack or fish-oil pack. Some ideas:

1. Use in a tossed salad. With the protein the sardines add, the salad can be a meal. With the oil packs, let the oil be part of the dressing (complete the dressing with lemon juice); with water pack, drain and then add sardines to salad.

2. Use your food processor and cream cheese and your imagination to make a spread. [e.g., garlic, dash Tabasco and Worcestershire, dab of mustard, perhaps some capers and little juice, some lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper. A little onion? – LG]

3. Use in a tomato-based spaghetti sauce—again, using the oil to sauté the garlic and onions if using oil-pack. A little crushed red pepper, parsley, tomatoes, simmer, and some pasta: a meal in itself.

4. Sandwich on toast with mustard, onion, cheese, and a leaf of lettuce.

So what ways do you have for eating sardines?

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 3:11 pm

Keeping greens fresh in the fridge

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Chocolate & Zucchini has a good routine for keeping greens fresh (full article at the link):

… Every week I get one bunch of leafy herbs — flat-leaf parsley, chervil, cilantro — and one paper bag’s worth of small salad leaves, which I prefer over a head of lettuce. These days it’s a mâche fest…, but I’ll switch to arugula, baby spinach, or mesclun (mixed greens) when they’re in season again.

I start with the herbs: I remove any elastic or string tying them, and rinse them in a shallow bath of cold water in the bowl of my salad spinner [I use a Zyliss spinner instead of the Oxo, but either is fine. – LG]. I drain the herbs, rinse them again if the water was a little brown, and spin them as dry as I can. I line a plate with a paper towel, arrange the herbs on top, and leave them out for 15 minutes, or until dry.

I line the bottom of a medium plastic container with a fresh paper towel and, using kitchen scissors, snip the top of the herbs (tender stems + whole leaves) into the container, discarding the stems, or freezing them for soups and stews. I close the lid of the container, and place it in the fridge.

Then, over the next three or four days depending on the type of herb, all I have to do is open the container, take a handful of ready-to-use herbs, and add them to salads or sprinkle them on dishes. Bliss, I tell you.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Women: bad news about belly fat

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Avoid belly fat:

Having a big waist may raise women’s death rates, even in women who aren’t overweight. That news comes from a study of 44,600 female nurses enrolled in a long-term health study. The bottom line: Waists mattered more than weight.

Being in the normal weight range was less important than having a waist less than 34.6 inches and a waist-to-hip ratio of less than 0.88 .To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

“Although maintaining a healthy weight should continue to be a cornerstone in the prevention of chronic diseases and premature death, it is equally important to maintain a healthy waist size and prevent abdominal obesity,” the researchers write in the April 1 edition of Circulation.

When the nurses were 40 to 65 years old, they measured their waists and hips for the study. At the time, none had had heart disease or cancer.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

Ibuprofen builds muscle

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Taking daily recommended dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen [I personally avoid acetaminophen. – LG] caused a substantially greater increase over placebo in the amount of quadriceps muscle mass and muscle strength gained during three months of regular weight lifting, in a study by physiologists at the Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University.

Dr. Chad Carroll, a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Todd Trappe, reported study results at Experimental Biology 2008 in San Diego on April 6. His presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Physiological Society (APS).

Thirty-six men and women, between 60 and 78 years of age (average age 65), were randomly assigned to daily dosages of either ibuprofen (such as that in Advil), acetaminophen (such as that in Tylenol), or a placebo. The dosages were identical to those recommended by the manufacturers and were selected to most closely mimic what chronic users of these medicines were likely to be taking. Neither the volunteers nor the scientists knew who was receiving which treatment until the end of the study.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:41 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

How to jump out of bed each morning

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This is interesting: a collection of tips on how to wake up bright-eyed and ready to go. For example:

The way our bodies function optimally is if we eat like a king in the morning and a pauper in the evening. This means that it’s best to eat heavier, bigger portions in the morning because these meals will give us high energy throughout the day and then burn off.

Eating like a pauper, meaning small light meals, in the evening allows us to go to sleep on an empty stomach. If your body is functioning normally, and you don’t have stomach ulcers, going to sleep on a mostly empty stomach will allow you to sleep better. This nightly fast allows your body to take it’s focus away from digestion and put it towards repair and rejuvenation of the body’s cells.

More tips at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in Daily life

Another free Office alternative

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Download Squad describes it (click link for full article):

Office suites like Google Docs and Zoho Office have been busy adding offline access to let you access and edit spreadsheets, text, and presentation documents in a web browser whether you’re connected to the internet or not. But paying ThinkFree customers have had this ability since last year.

That’s because ThinkFree offers two products: an online, web-based office suite and a Microsoft Office-compatible suite for the desktop. Users can synchronize data between the web service and their desktops. But up until this week, users had to pay $50 for access to the desktop software. Now, as expected, ThinkFree has launched a free version of its desktop software. …

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

The green way to go: liquefaction

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This seems like a good idea to me: liquefaction of the remains (except for the bones):

… Within a tank called a resomator, the body is immersed in a 1:21 solution of potash lye and water. Gas-powered steam generators build up pressure within the tank as the temperature rises up to around 170 degrees celcius. Thanks to the pressure (and despite what the general news media would have you think) there is no boiling, only a chemical reaction that completely liquifies everything but the bone ash in our bodies. When the tank is opened, only the bone ash and any implants or prosthetics the person had remain.

… Through talks with Sandy Sullivan, the founder and MD of Resomation Ltd, I’ve found out that an average cycle in this tank of three hours will consume around 90 kWh, while a cremation will consume 250 kWh. According to Mr Sullivan, the total carbon footprint of a resomation is 18 times less than that of a cremation. Additionally, resomation is a 100% mercury-free process, something neither regular burial nor cremation can boast.

More at the link—including the made-up word “liquification” (like writing “satisfication” instead of “satisfaction”). “Liquefaction” is easy to recall if you know Robert Herrick’s much anthologized poem, “Upon Julia’s Clothes”:

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 10:13 am

Picky eating: genetic?

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Parents of picky eaters, take heart: It is not your cooking. A new study of twins shows that children who turn up their noses at certain foods may simply be “programmed” to do so.

Myles Faith, PhD and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia evaluated the eating patterns of more 792 twins aged 7 years old. The researchers found that genetics mostly dictates a child’s picky palate and cravings for items like peanut butter and jelly. The findings support earlier animal experiments and adult twin studies that linked eating behaviors to genetics.

“To our knowledge, this is one of the largest investigation[s] to document genetic influences on the 24-[hour] food and beverage intake of prepubertal children, which suggests that genes may contribute considerably to … children’s eating patterns,” the authors write in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study group included both identical and fraternal (non-identical) twins. The children’s parents provided information regarding what each child ate and drank the previous day, including serving size. Researchers grouped foods into nine categories: bread and butter; peanut butter and jelly; breakfast cereal and milk; fruit; red meat and pork; vegetables; candy; fish and lemon; and high-salt snack foods.

Genetics seemed to influence boys’ choice of food and beverages more often than in girls. Boys ate a lot more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than girls, who showed no genetic preference for this type of meal. Identical twins, who have the exact same genes, seemed to choose more similar foods and beverages than non-identical twins.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 9:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

Good summary of the Crocker-Petraeus hearing

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Here you find a summary of the high points. And Obama made a good point:

While it seemed very cordial, Obama was able to hit Petraeus and Crocker very hard. Obama took them down a path. First, on Al Qaeda on Iraq. He got Petraeus to agree with him that the total elimination of Al Qaeda is an impossible standard for withdrawal. Next he goes after Crocker’s points about Iranian influence, pointing out that both Iran and Al Qaeda  are in Iraq because we invaded and that we can not expect to eliminate Iranian involvement.

Then came the hammer. Obama pointed out that if the definition of success is put so high – no Al Qaeda, no Iranian influence, a prosperous diverse democracy we will be there forever. He then points out that we still, after 8 hours of testimony, have no definition of success. And he points out, something that we have been saying all day, they have no definition of success.

Crocker’s weak response its “hard and complicated.”

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 8:06 am

Posted in Congress, Iraq War

Business crimes without punishment

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The GOP will go to great lengths to make life easy for businesses, including not enforcing regulations and either defunding regulatory agencies or putting business lobbyists in charge of them. And now the latest approach: businesses that commit crimes do not have to go to trial, but instead just promise not to do it again. (I doubt that the GOP will use this approach on non-white-collar criminals, toward which they maintain a flinty heart. It’s only business criminals that merit coddling.) The NY Times describes the new approach:

In 2005, federal authorities concluded that a Monsanto consultant had visited the home of an Indonesian official and, with the approval of a senior company executive, handed over an envelope stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. The money was meant as a bribe to win looser environmental regulations for Monsanto’s cotton crops, according to a court document. Monsanto was also caught concealing the bribe with fake invoices.

A few years earlier, in the age of Enron, these kinds of charges would probably have resulted in a criminal indictment. Instead, Monsanto was allowed to pay $1 million and avoid criminal prosecution by entering into a monitoring agreement with the Justice Department.

In a major shift of policy, the Justice Department, once known for taking down giant corporations, including the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, has put off prosecuting more than 50 companies suspected of wrongdoing over the last three years.

Instead, many companies, from boutique outfits to immense corporations like American Express, have avoided the cost and stigma of defending themselves against criminal charges with a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which allows the government to collect fines and appoint an outside monitor to impose internal reforms without going through a trial. In many cases, the name of the monitor and the details of the agreement are kept secret. [Don’t want the public to find out about business misdeeds, do we? Why, people might start to distrust the company. – LG]

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Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 7:53 am

Tuesday steps: 11,672

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The regular destination, using a flat route—didn’t quite feel up to the hills. It was chilly with a light wind—had to wear a jacket, of all things. Feel as though I’m progressing.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 7:24 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Ylang Ylang delight

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This morning I used Honeybee Spa Ylang Ylang shea-butter shaving soap. This is another of her Essential Oils line, and I got it in a tub. Got an absolutely superb lather from it—fragrant and dense—using the Rooney Style 1 Size 1 Super brush. I loaded the brush and applied (in effect) a coating of soap to my beard, then added driblets of hot water to bush and continued to work up the lather. It was going well, and then, after the final driblet, which clearly hit the sweet spot, the lather was suddenly perfect. The usual phrase, I guess, is that the lather “exploded”—not quite the right word, but the swift transformation when the lather more or less clicks into place is striking.

I picked up the Edwin Jagger ivory Chatsworth, which had a Zorrik blade, and three passes pretty much finished the job. But I did want to try the sample of Gentlemens Refinery shaving oil, so I did an oil pass. Very nice oil, and a very smooth finish. Aqua Velva was the aftershave, and I’m feeling good.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2008 at 7:22 am

Posted in Shaving

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