Later On

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

Archive for June 29th, 2008

Tune Up Your Bike

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An excellent introduction. Go to the tune-up section of for more.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Daily life

Persistent herbicide destroying crops in UK

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Is the US next? Kirk Murphy’s post at Firedoglake discusses that possibility. He begins:

In today’s Observer, Caroline Davies describes how this year British gardeners find their fruits and veggies are stunted, deformed, and dying. The culprit: Dow Chemical’s persistent herbicide aminopyralid sprayed on grazing land or fodder. The herbicide stayed in the plants the cattle ate, stayed in the cattle (and horse) poop, stayed in the compost produced from the poop, and came out the other end of the process all ready to kill food crops and home gardens.

Problems with the herbicide emerged late last year, when some commercial potato growers reported damaged crops.


[T]he herbicide has now entered the food chain. Those affected are demanding an investigation and a ban on the product. They say they have been given no definitive answer as to whether other produce on their gardens and allotments is safe to eat.

It appears that the contamination came from grass treated 12 months ago. Experts say the grass was probably made into silage, then fed to cattle during the winter months. The herbicide remained present in the silage, passed through the animal and into manure that was later sold. Horses fed on hay that had been treated could also be a channel.

It can’t happen here?…

Continue reading. Apparently it’s not a good idea to apply poison to your crops and cropland.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

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Abandoning Google for Microsoft (as employer)

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Interesting that some strongly prefer working at Microsoft to working at Google.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

The Arizona GOP’s view of McCain

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Pretty entertaining.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Bicycle knowledge

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Via comments to this Lifehacker post, JeffK points out two useful sites for information on working on your bike:

The Lifehacker post points to The Bicycle Tutor, but that site is temporarily overwhelmed by hits as a result. Check it in a few days.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Tagged with

Marijuana as treatment for neuropathic pain

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The growing body of evidence that marijuana (cannabis) may be effective as a pain reliever has been expanded with publication of a new study in The Journal of Pain reporting that patients with nerve pain showed reduced pain intensity from smoking marijuana.

Researchers at University of California Davis examined whether marijuana produces analgesia for patients with neuropathic pain. Thirty-eight patients were examined. They were given either high-dose (7%), low-dose (3.5%) or placebo cannabis.

The authors reported that identical levels of analgesia were produced at each cumulative dose level by both concentrations of the agent. As with opioids, cannabis does not rely on a relaxing or tranquilizing effect, but reduces the core component of nociception and the emotional aspect of the pain experience to an equal degree. There were undesirable consequences observed from cannabis smoking, such as feeing high or impaired, but they did not inhibit tolerability or cause anyone to withdraw from the study. In general, side effects and mood changes were inconsequential.

It was noted by the authors that since high and low dose cannabis produced equal analgesic efficacy, a case could be made for testing lower concentrations to determine if the analgesic profile can be maintained while reducing potential cognitive decline.

In addition, the authors said further research could probe whether adding the lowest effective dose of cannabis to another analgesic drug might lead to more effective neuropathic pain treatment for patients who otherwise are treatment-resistant.

Journal reference:

  1. Barth Wilsey, Thomas Marcotte, Alexander Tsodikov, Jeanna Millman, Heather Bentley, Ben Gouaux and Scott Fishman. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial of Cannibis Cigarettes in Neuropathic Pain. The Journal of Pain, (in press)

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 11:08 am

The future evolution of English

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English is now mostly spoken by non-native speakers of English, who import into it their own rules of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. The result is a different form of English—the evolution of the language, by the mass of speakers will thus be in that direction.

One benefit of using Esperanto as an international language is that it preserves the smaller languages that would otherwise die out. People can continue to speak their own family language and learn one other language—Esperanto—for general communication. English may soon feel the pinch that these smaller languages have long felt.

From an article by Michael Erard in Wired:

Thanks to globalization, the Allied victories in World War II, and American leadership in science and technology, English has become so successful across the world that it’s escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be. In part, this is because there are fewer of us: By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 11:05 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

Why Norway’s population is not declining

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Unlike Italy’s, for example:

As women advanced in education levels and career tracks over the past few decades, Norway moved aggressively to accommodate them and their families. The state guarantees about 54 weeks of maternity leave, as well as 6 weeks of paternity leave. With the birth of a child comes a government payment of about 4,000 euros. State-subsidized day care is standard. The cost of living is high, but then again it’s assumed that both parents will work; indeed, during maternity leave a woman is paid 80 percent of her salary. “In Norway, the concern over fertility is mild,” Aassve told me. “What dominates is the issue of gender equity, and that in turn raises the fertility level. For example, there is a debate right now about whether to make paternity leave compulsory. It’s an issue of making sure women and men have equal rights and opportunities. If men are taking leave after the birth of a child, the women can return to work for part of that time.”

The quotation is from the article discussed here.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in Daily life

Moving to the center

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Glenn Greenwald discusses the obsolescence—and the risk—of “moving to the center” for Democratic candidates. The public nowadays is far to the left of that “center.” Good column.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:49 am

Gearing up for the Iran war

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The Bush Administration sees how well we’ve succeeded in Iraq, and now they’re readying the country for war with Iran. Seymour Hersh has the details in his article, which begins:

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:36 am

Spruce up your science knowledge

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The Guardian has a very nice brief science course to remind you of some basic knowledge that you, as a citizen, should possess. The articles are brief and illuminating and may even provide the occasional bit of new information. If you have a budding scientist in the family, s/he will probably be interested as well.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:30 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Shiitake mushrooms

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I love shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried, and now it turns out that they offer some significant nutritional benefits:

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mushrooms are good for you—and shiitake byproducts can be good for other crops.

These mushrooms contain high-molecular-weight polysaccharides (HMWP), which some studies suggest may improve human immune function. Other research indicates that the shiitake compound eritadenine may help lower cholesterol levels.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agronomist David Brauer has been studying shiitake production at the agency’s Dale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center, Booneville, Ark. Working in collaboration with producers at the Shiitake Mushroom Center in Shirley, Ark., Brauer evaluated whether shiitakes grown on logs have higher levels of HMWP than shiitakes grown on commercial substrates.

The group inoculated logs with spores from three different shiitake varieties and compared the yield with shiitake yields grown on commercial substrates. They found that the log-grown shiitakes had HMWP levels as much as 70 percent higher than the substrate-grown shiitakes. The team also observed that shiitakes grown on red and white oak logs had higher levels of HMWP than shiitakes grown on sweet gum logs.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Bake those potatoes

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Potatoes are a rich source of potassium (as shown by the chart in this post): one potato has 1081 mg of potassium, almost as much as a cup of raisins (1089 mg). A banana, generally thought of as a good source of potassium, has 594 mg. And potassium, as explained at the link, is important for building muscle.

But if you cube the potato and boil it, the minerals are tossed out with the water. If you must boil potatoes, use the water as soup stock or the like. Obviously, if you are cubing the potatoes to cook in a soup, the minerals are not lost; they just go into the soup. The “loss” occurs only if the cubed potato’s cooking water is discarded. Here’s the story:

Cubing potatoes can reduce boiling time, but it also reduces mineral content by as much as 75 percent. That’s one conclusion from a study by research geneticist Shelley Jansky and plant physiologist Paul Bethke at the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wis.

Jansky and Bethke subjected six potato varieties to various methods of preparation, and then ran a mineral analysis for potassium and 10 other minerals. They found that cubing or shredding potatoes prior to boiling resulted in significant potassium reductions.

This could be a good cooking strategy for potato fans hoping to reduce potassium intake, such as dialysis patients. But individuals who want to get the highest nutritional bang for their buck would be better off boiling their potatoes whole.

Jansky and Bethke also examined the effects of leaching the potatoes—letting them soak in water overnight. Their results showed that leaching had no significant impact on potassium reduction, in contrast with conventional wisdom.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 10:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Fitday food tracking insight

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Yesterday I made a big batch of catfish stew—I can never resist buying catfish nuggets: taste exactly like the fillets, but less than half the price and perfect for stew. I measured the ingredients, of course, but I made a gallon of stew—enough for three days. I suddenly realized that I could enter into Fitday the foods and measures for the entire stew, rather than trying to compute the calories and composition per bowl. If I enter the entire stew yesterday, and then eat from it over the next couple of days, not entering anything for those meals, the average calories and nutrients will be accurate. Same thing with buying a couple of pounds of strawberries for snacks: enter the total amount on day 1 and enter nothing as I snack on them over the next day or two. The average will be accurate.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

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