Later On

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

Archive for June 23rd, 2008

Stealing an election

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Interesting. I didn’t know this—and it does seem bad. Check it out (PDF file).

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Election

Interesting and prescient novel

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As you know, I’m reading Charles McCarry’s Paul Christopher novels. These are espionage novels of a high order—McCarry worked for the CIA. They are also more than that. The reading sequence, as we now know, is this:

  1. The Miernik Dossier (1973)
  2. The Secret Lovers (1977)
  3. The Tears of Autumn (1974)
  4. The Better Angels (1979) (Christopher family)
  5. The Last Supper (1983)
  6. The Bride of the Wilderness (1988 ) (historical novel concerning the Christopher family)
  7. Second Sight (1991)
  8. Shelley’s Heart (1995) (Christopher family)
  9. Old Boys (2004)
  10. Christopher’s Ghosts (2007)

I recommended The Tears of Autumn to anyone interested in JFK assassination conspiracy theories. I just tonight finished The Better Angels, which does not fall into the regular sequence and, I believe, can be read outside the series, and I want to recommend it highly to anyone interested in current politics. Notice the publication date: almost 30 years ago. But when you read it, you will, I think, be amazed. I don’t like to spoil things by imparting too much information, but do go to the effort of reading this book and thinking about associations that may occur to you. At the link are used copies, but unfortunately the list does not include any terribly inexpensive used copies. Indeed, you might as well buy it new at if your library system has no copy.

For best results, I recommend that you read the book this summer.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Books

Call the Obama campaign and remind them of Obama’s promise

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Obama promised to filibuster any bill that included telecom immunity. Now is a good time to remind him of his promise. It seemed, when I called, as if they were trying to walk it back to “he will work to remove that provision,” which I think is excellent—BUT, I said, if the provision stays in, he has promised a filibuster. That is what I’ll be looking for.

Free call to the campaign: 866-675-2008, then press “6” on a touch-tone phone to talk directly to someone.

More info here.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 5:09 pm

Quite a dessert

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She says it’s easy. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Joe Galloway on Gen. Taguba

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McClatchy’s military correspondent Joe Galloway has a good column today on Gen. Taguba:

Tony Taguba knew something about prisoners in wartime long before the Pentagon ordered him to investigate the torture and shameful mistreatment of Iraqi detainees revealed by those soldier photographs taken inside Abu Ghraib prison.

You see, his father, Sgt. Tomas Taguba, was a soldier in the famed Philippine Scouts and was, briefly, a prisoner of the Japanese after Bataan fell in the opening days of our war in the Pacific. Sgt. Taguba escaped during the Death March and spent the next three years spying on the Japanese and relaying the information to U.S. forces.

After the war, the senior Taguba was allowed to enlist in the U.S. Army and served honorably and unsung until his retirement. His son was born in Manila in 1950 but grew up as American as apple pie, earned an ROTC commission at Idaho State University and was only the second Filipino-American to attain the rank of general in our Army.

Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba would undergo his own trial by fire when, in 2004, he was named by the Pentagon to conduct a carefully walled-in investigation of the abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

By regulation — and no doubt by the design of those who appointed him — Taguba could not investigate any uniformed or civilian official whose rank was higher than his own two stars.

Taguba and his investigators sifted and probed and assessed the blame as high as they were permitted to go. Taguba believed — no, he KNEW — that the responsibility for this outrage went much higher. He knew it reached to the office of then Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and likely beyond to the lawyers who served President George W. Bush and perhaps even to the president himself.

But the brass, military and civilian, wanted Taguba and those who ran 16 other Army investigations of the Abu Ghraib scandal only to get to the bottom of the situation, not to the top.

A female Army Reserve military police brigadier general was reprimanded but criminal charges and courts martial were limited to five enlisted men and women, none ranking any higher than staff sergeant.

For his honesty in both the investigation and in sworn testimony before congressional committees Tony Taguba became persona non grata in the halls of the Pentagon. The career of one of the Army’s more talented and honorable officers ended with an untimely retirement.

But Taguba wasn’t done. The full truth had not been told.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 1:49 pm

Computer weirdness

with 3 comments

I alluded to my problems in a post below. Some progress has been made. I reinstalled Internet Explorer and finally located the program file. It’s not in Program Files/Internet Explorer (although that folder exists), nor in any subfold. Noooooooooo—that would be too easy. It’s in a subfolder of the Windows folder. So I now have a shortcut on my desk.

First of all: the Megs larger photo loads instantly in Internet Explorer, no problem at all. And it still stalls and loads slowly in Firefox, so somethings awry in Firefox. I’ll disable add-ons to start with.

But weirder: when I put a URL in the address bar of IE and click Go, the result is that Firefox comes up with that URL: I can’t get a URL to open in IE. I finally got my blog to open in IE by changing the home page to my blog. I did unclick the Firefox option to check whether it’s the default browser, and clicked the IE option to check whether it’s the default browser, closed both, and re-opened IE. No joy—still it goes to Firefox to open a URL—and now it’s even ignoring the URL of the home page I set (blog) and going to an MSN home page.

I’m still plugging away, but this is so weird.

UPDATE: Okay, I uninstalled Firefox, to force IE to open the URLs. Now when I try a URL, IE gives me a message “application not found.” And it sticks with the one URL it seems to know: my blog (the home page). (IE did let me edit this post, though.)

Update: Uh-oh: I now can’t download Firefox: IE won’t go to that URL…   Later: Thank God I had a copy of the install file still in My Downloads. So I’m back up on Firefox.

… Disabled a whole pile of add-ons. Still no joy: image load takes forever.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Software

George Carlin, 1937-2008

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Via ThinkProgress:

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 10:09 am

Posted in Daily life

Why no procurement oversight?

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Since 2002, the Army’s contracting budget has ballooned from $46 billion to $112 billion in 2007. However, as the AP reported last week, the number of investigators charged with hunting down fraudulent or wasteful contracts has stayed the same, at less than 100 agents.

Now the Army has proposed adding five active-duty generals who would oversee purchasing and monitor contractor performance — a move recommended by a blue-ribbon panel last fall. But the White House, through the Office of Management and Budget, “has shot down” the Army’s plan:

According to a May 28 report to Congress on the status of the recommendations, Army Secretary Pete Geren said a proposal for five extra generals was submitted in March to OMB for approval. The office’s role is to ensure proposed budgets and legislation are consistent with the administration’s policies.

On May 12, the Army learned its proposal had been rejected. The report does not say why. A week after the rejection, the Army appealed OMB’s decision.

The Army’s proposal of adding five oversight generals would cost a mere $1.2 million a year in personnel costs. By contrast, a Defense Contract Audit Agency found $4.9 billion “in overpricing and waste” in Iraq contracts since 2003, which doesn’t include the additional $5.1 billion “in expenses charged without documentation.” In other words, the White House opposes a contract oversight proposal that would cost a mere .012 percent of the $10 billion already lost to contract waste.

Last year, the White House tried to block legislation that would limit the use of no-bid contracts and require greater congressional oversight. Despite Bush’s opposition, the Senate passed the bill unanimously, and the House approved it with 347 votes.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 10:02 am

The New Republic Syndrome

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Glenn Greenwald has a good column today, discussing a central problem in the Democratic party, which he calls the New Republic Syndrome, for reasons he explains. The symptoms:

The defining beliefs of this Syndrome are depressingly familiar, and incomparably destructive: Anything other than tiny, marginal opposition to the Right’s agenda is un-Serious and radical. Objections to the demolition of core constitutional protections is shrill and hysterical. Protests against lawbreaking by our high government officials and corporations are disrespectful and disruptive. Challenging the Right’s national security premises is too scary and politically costly. Those campaigning against Democratic politicians who endorse and enable the worst aspects of Bush extremism are “nuts,” “need to have their heads examined,” and are “exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s.” Those who oppose totally unprovoked and illegal wars are guilty of “abject pacifism.”

It’s exactly that mentality that has brought us to where we are as a country and a political system today. It’s not at all surprising — and wouldn’t have surprised the Founders in the least — that a radical and corrupt political faction (the Bush-led Right) has been able to take over parts of the Government and sought to consolidate political power. The expectation was that this would happen, and the solution was to devise a litany of checks — the Congress, the media, opposition parties — that would stand up to and vigorously oppose that faction and prevent it from running rampant.

It’s primarily the failure of those institutions, rather than the emergence of a corrupt and lawless faction, that has made the Bush era so unique and distinctively destructive. Those institutions have failed because they have been, and continue to be, defined by the meek, amorphous, principle-free New Republic Syndrome, which thinks that its restrained tolerance and complicit embrace of patent Bush extremism is some sort of mark of political sophistication and Seriousness.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 9:48 am

Computer tsuris

with 3 comments

Suddenly it takes forever to load large images, and the loading begins with an error message: “The image [image URL] cannot be displayed because it contains errors.” (For example, if I click the photo of Megs in the post just below.)

Yet at the same time, there is something going on: connecting to the site, then waiting for the site in very short cycles, repeated many times a second—as if a lot of stuff is being loaded, but not showing on the screen. If I just leave that and go to another tab, the image is eventually loaded. But then if I click the image to make it larger, it stalls.

A non-blog example: Here’s an image that triggered the message. When it finally did load, it’s not full size, but when I click it, it doesn’t enlarge. Moreover, even though it’s loaded, the hour-glass “activity in progress” icon continues to show, flickering slightly as if the activity is occurring in bursts.

Any ideas? This just started, and I haven’t loaded any new software to trigger it so far as I can recall. I do have virus protection.

I’m running a virus scan now. I have my suspicions about a giveaway program I installed, a font manager.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 9:19 am

Posted in Daily life

Gardenia shave stick

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This morning I used Honeybee Spa’s Gardenia shave stick—wonderful floral fragrance. I almost decided that I would just use the Rooney Style 2 Finest from now on—it’s the brush I like best. But at the last minute I picked up the Rooney Style 3 Small Super Silvertip, and it worked fine. Wonderful lather. I used a 1940’s Aristocrat (the very razor pictured on the cover of the Guide to Gourmet Shaving) with an Elios blade. Three good passes, followed by a polishing pass with All Natural Shaving Oil. Floris JF aftershave to finish. Very good beginning to the day.

Written by Leisureguy

23 June 2008 at 9:11 am

Posted in Shaving

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