Later On

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

Archive for June 26th, 2008

Drink coffee, lower your risk of liver cancer

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Good news for coffee-oriented people:

A new large, prospective population-based study confirms an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver cancer risk. The study also found that higher levels of gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) in the blood were associated with an increased risk of developing the disease. These findings are published in the July issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article and an accompanying editorial are also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life, Health

Censorship in the US today

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Alive and well. Dan Kennedy has an excellent story in the Boston Phoenix, which begins:

Freedom of expression may be guaranteed by the Constitution. But it’s an idea we have to fight for every day.

That has never been more true than in the post–9/11 era. Just ask Adam Habib, a South African academic of Muslim heritage and critic of the war in Iraq, who’s been banned from speaking in Boston this summer because of secret — and, he insists, nonexistent — evidence that he has ties to terrorism.

The great civil libertarian Nat Hentoff once said that our sex drive pales in comparison with our urge to censor. It’s an urge that is played out in places high and low, encompassing both the serious and the absurd. Military veterans protesting the war are arrested in Boston and charged with disturbing the peace. An anti-abortion-rights activist in Maine borrows sex-education books from public libraries and refuses to return them. A legislative leader in Rhode Island — the head of John McCain’s presidential campaign in that state — compares anonymous critics to “terrorists,” and helps kill a proposal aimed at guaranteeing their First Amendment rights.

These are just a few of the cases highlighted in our Muzzle Awards, an annual Fourth of July roundup now in its 11th year. Since 1998, the Phoenix has been honoring those who’ve brought dishonor to themselves by trampling on the rights of free speech and personal liberties in New England.

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 2:25 pm

Federal searches of your laptop

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I blogged about this, and here’s a story by Federica Narancio in McClatchy:

U.S. border agents are copying and seizing the contents of laptops, cell phones and digital cameras from U.S. and foreign travelers entering the United States, witnesses told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.

The extent of this practice is unknown despite requests to the Department of Homeland Security from the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution and several nonprofit agencies.

The department also declined to send a representative to the hearing. Subcommittee Chairman Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said Homeland Security had told him that its “preferred” witness was unavailable Wednesday.

Feingold added that he’d submitted written questions about the seizures of electronic data — and of some devices — to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in April. To date, Feingold said, he’s gotten no reply.

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 2:20 pm

Underground house: very cool

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🙂 It’s also cool that you can build an underground house for $50—and up, of course. Cool Tools features the book today, with the review written buy someone who did that. This would be an excellent summer project if you own a little land in the country.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

And more on that EPA email

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An article by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post that begins:

White House officials last December sought to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from submitting a proposed rule that would limit greenhouse-gas emissions on the grounds they pose a threat to public welfare, agency sources said yesterday. And upon learning that EPA had hit the “send” button just minutes earlier, the White House called again to demand that the e-mail be recalled.

The EPA official who forwarded the e-mail, Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett, refused, said the sources, who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

The proposed rule was EPA’s response to an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that the agency had violated the Clean Air Act by refusing to take up the issue of regulating automobile emissions that contribute to global warming.

Burnett, who resigned from the agency this month, sent the e-mail to the White House Office of Management and Budget at 2:17 p.m. Dec. 5 and received the call warning him to hold off at 2:25 p.m., the sources said. The EPA is expected to release a watered-down version of its original proposal within a week, highlighting the extent to which Bush administration officials continue to resist mandatory federal limits on emissions linked to global warming.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that White House officials never opened EPA’s e-mail. In March, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee disclosed documents showing that the White House had overruled EPA’s findings on the impact of vehicle emissions on climate change.

Burnett refused to comment on the White House calls but said in an interview, “In early December, I sent an e-mail with the formal finding that action must be taken to address the risk of climate change,” adding that he resigned his political appointment because the agency had been stymied in its efforts to respond to the Supreme Court. “The White House made it clear they did not want to address the ramifications of that finding and have decided to leave the challenge to the next administration. Some [at the White House] thought that EPA had mistakenly concluded that climate change endangers the public. It was no mistake.”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 12:02 pm

The EPA email

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more about "The EPA email", posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 11:54 am

Posted in Daily life

Esther Slater McDonald

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Another Monica Goodling type. Very strange person.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:31 am

Have you tried lucid dreaming?

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Lucid dreaming is when you know you’re dreaming and start to exercise deliberate control over the contents of the dream. Here’s a site devoted to the pursuit of lucid dreaming.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in Daily life

Giant vertical wind turbine

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Despite the drawbacks of the vertical axis design, here’s a vertical wind turbine that uses magnetic levitation instead of bearings. Sounds very cool.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:21 am

Atheists and morality

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Another interesting post on the Psychology Today blogs, this one by Jesse Prinz.

Atheism is said to pose a major threat to morality. Some theists claim that disbelief leads to moral relativism and undermines a major factor motivating prosocial behavior. Recent research can help us see what is true and false about these anxieties.

These issues have special resonance in the United States. A new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reveals that 92% of Americans believe in some kind of god. Other research suggests that atheists are among the least trusted minority groups. Consider a recent paper in the American Sociological Review by Minnesota researchers Penny Edgell, Joseph Gerteis, and Douglas Hartmann. They report that 39.6% of people polled say that atheist do “not at all agree with my vision of American Society.” This score is higher than any other group by a considerable margin. A 2007 shows that 53% of Americans would not vote for an atheist president, and another Gallup poll suggests that 84% of Americans think the nation is not ready for an atheist in the White House. The major source of concern inmorality. Many people worry that the faithless lack a moral rudder. Without God, morality loses its foundation.

Is this concern really justified?

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

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Views of mental illness, conservative vs. liberal

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Interesting note by Peter Kramer in the Psychology Today blogs:

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that a mentally ill person may be competent to stand trial and yet not competent enough to represent him- or herself without the assistance of an attorney.

The decision rests on trial judges’ ability to distinguish fine differences in levels of competence. In the past (Godinez v. Moran, 1993), the Court had rejected the notion that to agree to a plea bargain requires more competence than to participate in a trial, where a lawyer can guide the proceedings. But here, in a majority opinion written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court ruled that collaborating with one’s lawyer is less demanding than acting on one’s own and that trial judges can determine when a defendant has one competence and not the other.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia seems to attempt personally to gauge the competence of the criminal defendant, Ahmed Edwards, noting that although some of his written communications were unintelligible, others were coherent, as was his verbal presentation in court.

Both Justice Breyer and Justice Scalia consider issues of “autonomy” and “dignity” to be in play; both agree that self-representation is more likely to lead to an unfavorable outcome for a defendant than representation by an attorney.

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:04 am

Decisive: the first year with mum

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Interesting:

The way mothers interact with their babies in the first year of life is strongly related to how children behave later on. Both a mother’s parenting style and an infant’s temperament reliably predict challenging behavior in later childhood, according to Benjamin Lahey and his team from the University of Chicago in the US. Their findings1 have just been published online in Springer’s Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

The researchers looked at whether an infant’s temperament and his mother’s parenting skills during the first year of life might predict behavioral problems, in just over 1,800 children aged 4-13 years. Measures of infant temperament included activity levels, how fearful, predictable and fussy the babies were, as well as whether they had a generally happy disposition. The researchers looked at how much mothers stimulated their baby intellectually, how responsive they were to the child’s demands, and the use of spanking or physical restraint. Child conduct problems in later childhood included cheating, telling lies, trouble getting on with teachers, being disobedient at home and/or at school, bullying and showing no remorse after misbehaving.

The results indicate

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Ozone destruction in tropical Atlantic

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Interesting:

Large amounts of ozone – around 50% more than predicted by the world’s state-of-the-art climate models – are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Published today (26th June ’08 ) in the scientific journal, Nature, this startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds. It has particular significance because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane. The findings come after analysing the first year of measurements from the new Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory, recently set up by British, German and Cape Verdean scientists on the island of São Vicente in the tropical Atlantic. Alerted by these Observatory data, the scientists flew a research aircraft up into the atmosphere to make ozone measurements at different heights and more widely across the tropical Atlantic. The results mirrored those made at the Observatory, indicating major ozone loss in this remote area.

So, what’s causing this loss?

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in Global warming, Science

Language affects personality

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Interesting:

People who are bicultural and speak two languages may actually shift their personalities when they switch from one language to another, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research. “Language can be a cue that activates different culture-specific frames,” write David Luna (Baruch College), Torsten Ringberg, and Laura A. Peracchio (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

The authors studied groups of Hispanic women, all of whom were bilingual, but with varying degrees of cultural identification. They found significant levels of “frame-shifting” (changes in self perception) in bicultural participants—those who participate in both Latino and Anglo culture. While frame-shifting has been studied before, the new research found that biculturals switched frames more quickly and easily than bilingual monoculturals.

The authors found that the women classified themselves as more assertive when they spoke Spanish than when they spoke English. They also had significantly different perceptions of women in ads when the ads were in Spanish versus English. “In the Spanish-language sessions, informants perceived females as more self-sufficient and extroverted,” write the authors.

In one of the studies, a group of bilingual U.S. Hispanic women viewed ads that featured women in different scenarios. The participants saw the ads in one language (English or Spanish) and then, six months later, they viewed the same ads in the other language. Their perceptions of themselves and the women in the ads shifted depending on the language. “One respondent, for example, saw an ad’s main character as a risk-taking, independent woman in the Spanish version of the ad, but as a hopeless, lonely, confused woman in the English version,” write the authors.

The shift in perception seems to happen unconsciously, and may have broad implications for consumer behavior and political choices among biculturals.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

More efficient jet engine

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A better jet engine that can help reduce greenhouse gases and flying costs.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:52 am

Hummus via Veggichop

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I used my Veggichop to make hummus this morning:

1 cup cooked garbanzos
1 oz peeled garlic cloves
2 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt
dash of shoyu sauce

After multiple pulls, it’s done. It’s not a smooth paste, but rather VERY VERY finely chopped and mixed—and quite tasty. I’m happy with it. 🙂 Total amount made: 1.25 cups.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:44 am

Posted in Daily life

Another conservative pay-off to Big Oil

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Greg Palast, in an email:

Twenty years after Exxon Valdez slimed over one thousand miles of Alaskan beaches, the company has yet to pay the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the jury. And now they won’t have to. The Supreme Court today cut Exxon’s liability by 90% to half a billion. It’s so cheap, it’s like a permit to spill.

Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.

But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.

In San Diego, I met with Exxon’s US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, “Admit it; the oil spill’s the best thing to happen” to the Natives.

His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal – but Natives die.

And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.

In today’s ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote that Exxon’s recklessness was ”profitless” – so the company shouldn’t have to pay punitive damages. Profitless, Mr. Souter? Exxon and it’s oil shipping partners saved billions – BILLIONS – by operating for sixteen years without the oil spill safety equipment they promised, in writing, under oath and by contract.

The official story is, “Drunken Skipper Hits Reef.” But don’t believe it, Mr. Souter. Alaska’s Native lands and coastline were destroyed by a systematic fraud motivated by profit-crazed penny-pinching. Here’s the unreported story, the one you won’t get tonight on the Petroleum Broadcast System:

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Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in Daily life

Vertical-axis wind turbines

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Vertical-axis wind turbines seem to make more sense than the usual type: vertical-axis turbines take up less room. I’ve blogged about them before (this design and this design—I like the latter better), and now there’s more at Ecogeek.org.

However, read this story in Mother Jones on the drawbacks of vertical-axis wind turbines.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Global warming

Tagged with

If you want to send Obama a message

You can send it here.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:05 am

Famous last words: Barack Obama division

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From TPM Election Central last October:

It’s official: Obama will back a filibuster of any Senate FISA legislation containing telecom immunity, his campaign has just told Election Central. The Obama campaign has just sent over the following statement from spokesman Bill Burton:

“To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

As we reported here yesterday, MoveOn and a dozen top liberal bloggers were preparing to wage an aggressive campaign today to pressure Obama and Hillary to say that they’ll support Chris Dodd’s vow to filibuster any Senate FISA bill containing telecom immunity. And late yesterday both Obama and Hillary put out statements saying that they’d back Dodd’s threatened filibuster of the current legislation that’s just come out of the Senate intel committee.

Those statements, however, lacked the clarity that immunity opponents have been looking for, so today the MoveOn and lib blogger campaign has been in full swing. MoveOn emailed members this morning urging them to call Obama and Hillary and…

Tell him/her the public is counting on him/her to filibuster any bill that gives immunity to phone companies that broke the law.

Now we have Obama’s answer: He’ll support a filibuster of any such bill.

When informed of Obama’s decision, MoveOn expressed relief. “Excellent — this is the kind of leadership we need to see from the Democratic candidates,” MoveOn spokesman Adam Green told Election Central. “Dodd, Biden, and Obama all agree. Will Clinton get on board?”

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 8:55 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

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