Later On

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

Archive for June 18th, 2008

Interesting: Firefox 3 security

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I use Webroot Spy Sweeper to check for spyware, and I run it four times a week. Normally it finds between 15 and 25 cookies that are spyware, sometimes more. Of course, this week I installed Firefox 3 a few hours of operating time after the last sweep. Spy Sweeper is just finishing up today’s sweep: 2 spyware cookies. I’ve NEVER seen so few. I may cut back to sweeping once a week.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Firefox

Blackwater wants case tried under shari’a

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Interesting: Blackwater has requested that a case that was brought against it be tried under Islamic law. The story, by Joseph Neff and Jay Price:

The private military company Blackwater has cultivated a patriotic reputation, with its staff of retired military and former police officers, and the requirement that most of its workers swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Blackwater’s aviation wing recently filed a unique request in federal court, where the widows of three American soldiers are suing the company over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

The company, based in Moyock, doesn’t want the case heard in an American courtroom under American law: it wants the case decided by Shari’a, the Islamic law of Afghanistan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 4:00 pm

Update on campaign on spying and telecom immunity

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Glenn Greenwald has a very good update on the effort to see that even the wealthy obey the law. It begins:

There are numerous developments to report concerning the campaign to stop the FISA/telecom bill and to target those who enable it. First, the amount raised in the last 24 hours is now a truly extraordinary $90,000 — bringing the total for this campaign over $170,000. The more that number goes up, the more potent this campaign will be, the harder it will hit its deserving targets. Contributions can be made here. [PLEASE donate — LG.]

The ACLU Press Release announcing this new coalition, which is being called “Strange Bedfellows,” is here. We expect to announce numerous other additions to the coalition — many quite significant — very shortly.

According to a new article from Roll Call (sub. rq’d), the House “may consider contentious electronic spying legislation on Friday ‘if that’s ready to go,’ Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said [today].” There is no question that Hoyer is well aware of and is now responding to this campaign against him.

As of today, Hoyer has stopped falsely denying that he engineered this deal. He has also stopped falsely denying that it contains telecom amnesty. Instead, he is now offering the excuse that he had no choice but to negotiate it because “conservative” Democrats were threatening to support the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill and Hoyer was thus forced to negotiate the best deal he could. From CQ today: …

Continue reading—he makes some very good points and also shows the nature of the opposition.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 3:40 pm

The PR fight over gay marriage

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It’s heating up:

California is a hotbed for political messaging, as same-sex couples get married and conservative groups try to stop them with a November ballot initiative. Equality for All, a coalition supporting same-sex marriage, has hired Ogilvy PR Worldwide, the Democrat-leaning firm Dewey Square Group and the polling firm Lake Research Partners. Dewey Square’s Steve Smith is the coalition’s lead campaign consultant, while Ogilvy’s Maggie Linden, a ballot initiative veteran and former political aide, is heading media outreach. On the other side, ProtectMarriage.com has hired Schubert Flint Public Affairs. The firm’s Jeff Flint is leading the effort in support of the ballot initiative, called the California Marriage Protection Act. Flint used to work at Russo Marsh & Rogers, the Republican-leaning political firm which counts the pro-war group Move America Forward among its clients. Other firms are focusing on the burgeoning same-sex marriage industry, with Manning, Selvage & Lee promoting Chemistry.com to Californians and Laramore Communications promoting marriage and honeymoon packages in “gay-friendly” Sonoma County.

Source: O’Dwyer’s PR Daily (sub req’d), June 17, 2008

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Daily life

And global warming is worse than we thought

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Changes have been greater than previously believed:

New research suggests that ocean temperature and associated sea level increases between 1961 and 2003 were 50 percent larger than estimated in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The results are reported in the June 19 edition of the journal Nature. An international team of researchers, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist Peter Gleckler, compared climate models with improved observations that show sea levels rose by 1.5 millimeters per year in the period from 1961-2003. That equates to an approximately 2½-inch increase in ocean levels in a 42-year span.

The ocean warming and thermal expansion rates are more than 50 percent larger than previous estimates for the upper 300 meters of oceans.

The research corrected for small but systematic biases recently discovered in the global ocean observing system, and uses statistical techniques that “infill” information in data-sparse regions. The results increase scientists’ confidence in ocean observations and further demonstrate that climate models simulate ocean temperature variability more realistically than previously thought.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 3:32 pm

How to respond to climate change deniers

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One way is simply to provide them this link, which offers extensive (and updated) information for those who can still understand information. At the top of that page:

Below is a complete listing of the articles in “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic,” a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:

Individual articles will appear under multiple headings and may even appear in multiple subcategories in the same heading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Global warming, Science

Software: make it up

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Interesting interview in Scientific American:

There is no one manual dictating how [software] should be written. In essence, programmers now simply string together commands to make devices do what consumers expect them to do. There are no rules for software developers to follow, such as those that guide most engineering disciplines, and there is no historical frame of reference code writers can study to determine which approaches work and which do not.

IBM fellow and self-proclaimed “software archaeologist” Grady Booch explains why this needs to change—and what it will take to bring software writing into the 21st century.

You say there’s a “dirty little secret” when it comes to writing software. Care to share that with us?
In other disciplines, engineering in particular, there exist treatises on architecture. This is not the current case in software, which has evolved organically over only the past few decades. All software-intensive systems have an architecture, but most of the time it’s accidental, not intentional. This has led to the condition of most software programming knowledge being tribal and existing more in the heads of its programmers than in some reference manual or publicly available resource.

By not having a codified approach to writing software, we’re playing with fire. How so? ,,,

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

Why Chris Matthews would be bad on MTP

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Because he’s incredibly ill-informed and talks long before his brain is engaged.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Media

Tiny origami

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Via Boing Boing:

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Fascinating article

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Thanks to Liz, for pointing out this intriguing article by Dean Ornish, MD:

Here’s some very good news: your genes are not your destiny.  Earlier this week, my colleagues and I published the first study showing that improved nutrition, stress management techniques, walking, and psychosocial support actually changed the expression of over 500 genes in men with early-stage prostate cancer.  This study was conducted at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with Dr. Peter Carroll, Dr. Mark Magbanua, Dr. Chris Haqq, and others.

In this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we studied gene expression in biopsies from 30 men who were diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.  These men had decided not to undergo conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for reasons unrelated to the study.  They had early, small-volume prostate cancer with stable prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and Gleason scores of six or less, meaning that their tumors were not aggressive.

We biopsied their prostates at the beginning of the study and again three months later, after making comprehensive lifestyle changes.  Since these patients did not have conventional treatments during this time, it enabled us to assess the effects of the lifestyle changes on gene expression without confounding interventions such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

The changes included a plant-based diet (predominant fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy products, and whole grains low in refined carbohydrates), moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes per day), stress management techniques (yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and guided imagery for one hour per day), and participating in a weekly one-hour support group.  The diet was supplemented with soy, fish oil (three grams/day), vitamin E (100 units/day), selenium (200 mg/day), and vitamin C (2 grams/day).  These lifestyle changes are described more fully in my book, The Spectrum.

After three months, we repeated the biopsy and looked at changes in normal tissue within the prostate. We found that …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 12:39 pm

Spontaneous writing

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It’s amazing what your mind can produce when you drop the barriers—the editor, the censor, the judge who live in your mind, waiting to pounce. One way to silence them is to write quickly, too fast for them to react. Give it a go. At the link, you’ll receive instructions—once you click “Go” you have 60 seconds to write whatever comes to mind when you see the one-word stimulus. (Mine was “deep.”)

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Writing

List of phobias

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Lots of phobias in this list. Of particular interest to those who have phobias—or who have friends or family with phobias—is that nowadays phobias are pretty well understood and often easy to cure. It’s worth doing if the phobia—for example, Aviophobia—presents a problem in one’s work or daily life. I do recommend, however, that one see a reputable psychologist or therapist for such treatment and avoid pseudoscience or any treatment that involves, say, crystals. Wikipedia notes:

Some therapists use virtual reality or imagery exercise to desensitize patients to the feared entity. These are parts of systematic desensitization therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy lets the patient understand the cycle of negative thought patterns, and ways to change these thought patterns. CBT may be conducted in a group setting. Gradual desensitisation treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort and to make a continuous effort over a long period of time.

Hypnotherapy coupled with Neuro-linguistic programming can also be used to help remove the associations that trigger a phobic reaction.

Anti-anxiety or anti-depression medications can be of assistance in many cases. Benzodiazepines could be prescribed for short-term use.

Emotional Freedom Technique, a psychotherapeutic alternative medicine tool, considered to be pseudoscience by the mainstream medicine, is allegedly useful.

These treatment options are not mutually exclusive. Often a therapist will suggest multiple treatments.

One interesting aspect of phobias is that the symptom is the ailment: if you remove one phobia there is no underlying problem that then presents as a different phobia. If the phobia is cured, it’s over.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Mental Health

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Democrats prepare to give Bush whatever he wants

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The Democratic “leaders” are ready to roll over yet again for President Bush—what a bunch of contemptible cowards, betraying their principles, the Constitution, their party, and the public—and for nothing. Glenn Greenwald continues to collect donations to hold their feet to the fire and show that cowardice has consequences. His column today begins:

I’ll have a new update very shortly on the genuinely exploding campaign against the Steny-Hoyer-led Congressional effort to give the President warrantless eavesdropping powers and amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms. Just among a handful of blogs alone, almost $80,000 has been raised in less than 24 hours, with the total fundraising amount now over $160,000, to be aimed exclusively at vulnerable members of Congress who support this legislative travesty.

Until those updates are ready, I wanted to note one highly revealing fact. …

For the record, I did indeed contribute, and as much as I could afford—in fact, more. I feel that this issue is critical, and I also want to cleanse Congress of cowardice.

The NY Times has a strong editorial comment this monring on the issue:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 11:31 am

Serious talk of war crimes

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From Dan Froomkin today:

The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability.

In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees.” He called the abuse “systemic and illegal.” And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in the New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement.

Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation.

The new report, he writes, “tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual’s lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

“The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full-scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted –both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

“In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. . . .

“After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Pamela Hess of the Associated Press has more on the report, which resulted from “the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far” and “found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders.”

So if war crimes were committed, who’s responsible? …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 11:11 am

Supreme Court restores habeus corpus

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Glenn Greenwald has an excellent commentary on the Supreme Court decision that found the US Constitution requires habeus corpus except in times of Rebellion or Invasion, just like it says. Note that the right-wing “strict constructionists” were against this decision.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 10:55 am

Posted in Government

Excellent software made better

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As you know, I am a big fan of Evernote and use it constantly. But when I upgraded to Firefox 3, the Evernote button vanished: it did not have a secure update capability. (This lack took down several add-ons, but just over the past day 4 have come back. Updates will be occurring rapidly.)

When I emailed Evernote support, they suggested that I download Evernote 3, since Evernote 2.2 (which I was using) would have no more work done on it. I did download Evernote 3, and my! have those guys been busy.

Evernote 2 was a great way to clip things on my desktop and keep them organized for ready retrieval. Evernote 3 takes the idea one step further and lets you clip things on your laptop, desktop, mobile PC, cell phone (including photos), or whatever, and save all the clips in a single file (Web-based) that you can synch with any of your computers. You can, of course, still use Evernote in the single-computer mode, but this new capability is striking—and extremely useful for people on the go. Read about it. Watch the video below. UPDATE: Check out this post on Lifehack.org.

You need an invitation to start using it—and it’s free. I have 20 invitations to give out. Let me know if you want one.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 10:08 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Excellent review of yesterday’s hearings

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On TPMMuckraker, Kate Konick has a very good piece going over the discoveries from yesterday’s hearings. By all means, click through and read it. It begins:

Yesterday we learned about the CIA’s larger involvement in developing torture techniques at Guantanamo Bay — techniques previously thought to have been developed primarily by the military.

In an epic eight-hour, three-panel hearing, the Senate Armed Services Committee examined dozens of documents and grilled former Pentagon officials involved in developing the interrogation methods introduced in 2002.

(Among several good articles on the hearings, a good place to start isSpencer Ackerman’s article at the Washington Independent.)

Key to the hearings were the minutes of a meeting between CIA counter-terrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman and a group of military and intelligence officials who convened at the base in Cuba to discuss the use of harsher interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The techniques derived from a training regimen U.S. Special Forces troops used prepare troops to withstand torture –Survival Evasion Resistance Escape, or SERE.

Continue reading. These hearings are, of course, what Congress should have been doing all along, but the GOP is more interested in cover-up than in investigating.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 10:02 am

The amazing series continues

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I can’t praise enough the series by Tom Lasseter on how the US has treated its detainees (prisoners). Read them all:

An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad.

Browse an archive of documents obtained by McClatchy in the course of this investigation.

Also, at the first link, a list of videos of interviews.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 9:31 am

Red wine and weight loss

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Is there no end to the good news about red wine? Kathleen Doheny reports in WebMD:

An antioxidant found in red wine and grapes known as resveratrol — already thought to help keep the heart healthy and ward off cancer — may also turn out to be a fat fighter, according to new research.

In the laboratory, exposure to resveratrol prevented pre-fat cells, termed pre-adipocytes, from increasing and from converting into mature fat cells, according to Martin Wabitsch, MD, PhD, a researcher from the University of Ulm in Ulm, Germany. Wabitsch presented the findings this week at ENDO 08, The Endocrine Society’s 90th annual meeting in San Francisco.

“We have to show it works in the same way in human beings,” Wabitsch tells WebMD.

The hope, he says, is to continue the research and, if it bears out, develop drugs that will use the same mechanism as the resveratrol in controlling the fat cells.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 9:23 am

Firefox 3 downloads so far

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Take a look. Still going for the 24-hour record.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 June 2008 at 9:17 am

Posted in Firefox

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