Later On

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

Archive for April 21st, 2008

John McCain

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In the US Senate, John McCain is the eigth-richest, worth a minimum of $28 million dollars. He has nine properties from Arizona to Virginia with an estimated worth of over thirteen million dollars, including a 2.7 million dollar condo on gorgeous Coronado Island.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Modern history in the Middle East

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The Council on Foreign Relations has an excellent guide, in video, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Watch it.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Learn history to minimize surprises

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Don’t you occasionally want to shout at politicians—and fellow citizens—“Learn some history!” Well, maybe that’s just me. But it’s always good to know how we got to where we are and what mistakes were made along the way—just to keep from making those same mistakes all over again.

Here are some good OpenCourseWare courses in history, and at the link you’ll also find useful articles.

#1 MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers more than 70 free world history courses through their renowned OpenCourseWare program. Most courses include lectures, assignments, reading lists, expository text, quizzes and exams. Nearly all of the courses are translated into multiple languages.

#2 UC Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley webcasts certain courses each semester. Current world history offerings include 16 courses and 22 lectures. Nearly all of the courses and lectures can be viewed online and downloaded as an audio or video file.

#3 The Open University

Britain’s Open University provides access to a number of free world history courses at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. Courses are mainly text-based and usually take between 10 and 20 hours to complete.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Cool bike

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A front-wheel drive recumbent, described by Cool Tools:

Although it takes a bit to master the ride, the Cruzbike’s a blast once you get the hang of it. It’s a front-wheel drive bike, so it gives you the comfort and speed of a recumbent without the long, long chain (one of the few negatives of most recumbents). The lack of chain in the rear makes it a perfect complement to the Xtracycle free radical SUB (sport utility bike), which is specifically why I bought the Cruzbike. Now I can, as much as possible, avoid having to drive a car entirely.I have the stock 65 psi tires on mine now (I ride the Freerider model), but I’m thinking of upgrading to new wheels with disc brakes and 100 psi tires to make it even more of a cargo-hauling truck.

I first bought a recumbent in 2000 after testing a bunch of them and, a week later, gave my upright to my father-in-law (I knew I wasn’t going back). I’ve since ridden bikes like the EZ-1 and have four recumbents currently: a Rans Rocket (my first), a Rans tandem, a BikeE (for my wife for quick jaunts around town) and the Cruzbike, which I bought last fall. The Cruzbike’s grip-shift handles the same as any other bike, and it takes hills pretty well for a ‘bent, albeit with the proviso that no ‘bent climbs as well as an upright because you can’t stand up on the pedals; small price to pay for being able to ride for hours without feeling any pain and for having a pleasurable touring ride experience. It feels great to glide through the world with your head in a normal, comfortable position, at a comfortable height (no craning to see traffic). I find I’m faster because you are more aerodynamic than on an upright, so it takes less work to maintain the same speed. And the Cruzbike in particular feels amazingly light, even with the Xtracycle. — John Gear

Cruzbike Freerider $925
Available from Cruzbike

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Walking break did good

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Seems like the break in the walks did me good. No aches at all today (and no Advil, either). And I cut my time almost 10%: 8 minutes cut from what was a 90-minute walk. Altogether rather pleasant.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Bacteriophages

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For the love of God, don’t let bacteriophages vote! Here’s why.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 11:53 am

Posted in Science

Outsourcing deadly force to private companies

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There’s an excellent post on the serious problem of having private companies allowed to use deadly force against guerillas and civilians in other countries, with legal immunity for whatever misdeeds the employees of the company commit, up to and including homicide. (Even the military does not allow that.) And Blackwater troops have even been deployed in the US—in New Orleans, for example.

Take a look at this, from the post mentioned:

It’s an important post, and you should read it. It begins:

I grew up, as many of you know, in a military family. In my family – as in most military families – there is a deep loyalty to the United States: the well-being of our country comes concretely before our families and very lives.

It is appropriate that when our country of, by, and for the people authorizes the use of deadly force, it is only to those whose loyalty to our country comes before any other loyalties they have.

Except that, as you know, that’s not now the case. Now we have people using deadly force in our names whose loyalty is instead to corporations, most notoriously Blackwater.

Continue reading, please.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 11:43 am

Penn & Clinton

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Sounds like a railroad line, but in Michelle Cottle’s fascinating account it’s more like a trainwreck. Read her article, which begins:

By the time Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle finally packed up her lovely corner office with its fresh blue carpet and mini-fridge full of Diet Coke, her exit must have come as a relief–even to many of her friends on Team Hillary. Since Iowa, colleagues had been conducting an uneasy deathwatch for her. New faces had begun popping up around Ballston (as Hillary HQ is called in honor of its suburban Virginia neighborhood), most notably Maggie Williams, Hillary’s chief of staff from her First Lady days. Initially, the campaign insisted that Williams was there merely to back up Solis Doyle, but, almost immediately, staffers began turning to Williams to solve problems and approve projects. When the inevitable strain of having two people atop the organizational chart became untenable, few questioned who would be the last woman standing. On February 10, the Sunday after Super Tuesday, Solis Doyle was officially out.

Leadership change brings disruption. And no one knows how to exploit disruption better than Mark Penn, the message master of Team Hillary. Long disdainful of Solis Doyle, Penn saw her departure as an opportunity to consolidate his authority, say insiders. He started hanging out in her old office, which had been transformed into a conference room, and taking over meetings and in-house e-mail chains she once handled (occasionally bumping up against similar efforts by Williams). At the same time, Penn’s colleagues from Burson-Marsteller, the p.r. giant of which he is chief executive, became more visible around HQ. “I think, post-Patti, he only got stronger,” says one in-house observer. Williams may have been the new chief, but Penn had his own ideas about how things should run.

Then came the news that Penn had attended a March 31 meeting with the Colombian ambassador to discuss his firm’s role in promoting a free-trade agreement specifically opposed by Clinton.…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 10:19 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Good news from Paraguay

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Liz passed along this story, which makes one feel hopeful. It’s by Patrick J. McDonnell of the LA Times. It begins:

A former Roman Catholic bishop who championed the downtrodden and challenged the long-entrenched political elite was elected Paraguay’s president Sunday, ending six decades of one-party rule in this South American nation.

Fernando Lugo, 56, dubbed “the bishop of the poor,” was leading by 10 percentage points with more than 90% of the results in, electoral officials said. He had about 41% of the vote to about 31% for his chief opponent, Blanca Ovelar of the ruling Colorado Party. Ovelar called the margin of victory “irreversible” and conceded defeat in the evening.

Lugo’s victory was historic in Paraguay, where the Colorado Party has held power even longer than the communist regimes of China, North Korea and Cuba. Spurring his triumph was widespread discontent with the ruling party’s long record of corruption, cronyism and economic stagnation.

The election of Lugo was the latest triumph by a left-leaning leader in Latin America, where a so-called pink tide of democratically elected presidents has altered the region’s political map in recent years.

“The humble citizens are the ones responsible for this change,” Lugo said at a downtown news conference as his lead grew. “Paraguayans have taken a great step toward civic maturity. . . . We have opened a new page in this nation’s political history.”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

US government lies

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George Packer has a blog for the New Yorker, and he writes this interesting post:

A young friend recently served fifteen months as a combat infantryman at an isolated patrol base in the nasty farmlands south of Baghdad. One day, he was enjoying a hot meal in the chow hall at a nearby forwarding operating base, when Condoleezza Rice appeared on the TV screen saying that the violence in Iraq hadn’t reached the point at which random bodies were turning up in the streets. The noise of dozens of hungry soldiers eating came to a stop. Some of them exchanged glances, but no one said a word. Since my friend, while out on patrol, regularly came across the corpses of tortured and murdered Iraqi civilians, he wondered if the Secretary of State was dissembling or deluded. It was, he let me know, a bad moment for him and his buddies.

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Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 9:14 am

Peaceful responses

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Some things are extremely difficult for people to grasp. Take shaving, for example: no matter how clearly you can show that the same blade will get different responses from different people—that any brand of blade will have those who love it and those who hate it—shavers generally cannot accept that idea. They cling to the notion that there’s some “objective” blade rating that’s “correct”, and can’t believe that someone would like a blade that they find bad, or would find bad a blade that they like.

And Mark Kurlansky, author of “Salt: A World History” and “A Basque History of the World,” among other books, has a column in the LA Times on how people find it impossible to accept the idea that nonviolence works, despite the evidence. (The column is clearly based on his most recent book, “Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea,” being published in paperback this month.)

The column begins:

In 1933, Mohandas K. Gandhi wrote this about his strategy of nonviolent activism, which he called the law of love: “The law will work just like the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not.”

I think he was right. History, from ancient China and the early Christians all the way up to the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the end of apartheid in South Africa, shows that it does work. You would think that after Gandhi’s uprising in India, and after the civil rights movement in a violent and hateful American South, no one would ever again doubt that fact. And yet, even today, the most common response to nonviolence, as though it has never been tried, is, “Nice idea, but will it work?”

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Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 9:12 am

Old Smokey

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I just go a $30 charcoal grill and gave it a try yesterday. It’s very nice: quite simple in conception and structure and quite inexpensive. It’s an Old Smokey. Their grills come in three sizes: 14″ grill (#14), 18″ (#18), and 22″ (#22). I got the #14. It goes together quickly: 8 screws, and you’re done. And it did a good job. I have it sitting on a stone-top table, so that the grill is at a good height. A good little grill if you want something economical.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 9:04 am

Posted in Daily life

Walking

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Only three good walks last week, but I suppose those weeks will happen. I’m remotivated for the coming week, so we’ll see. My car is still in at the shop.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 8:59 am

Posted in Daily life

Olde Barbershop

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Very fine shave today. Honeybee Spa’s Ye Olde Barbershop shave stick, worked into a great lather with the Simpsons Emperor 2 Super brush, and then a new Elios blade in the 1940s Aristocrat—three very nice passes, and then a couple of drops of Leisureguy’s Final-Pass Shaving Oil™ for the oil pass: perfection. A splash of TOBS Shave Shop aftershave to keep the theme, and then a nice cup of coffee.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2008 at 8:59 am

Posted in Shaving

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