Later On

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

Archive for July 4th, 2008

Friday cat-blogging

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Megs, rejoicing in the afternoon sun. Taken yesterday. Click to biggen.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Why Wal-Mart needs unions.

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Think how much money they would have saved: the events in the court case described by H.J. Cummins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune would have never happened if Wal-Mart had a good strong union.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. broke Minnesota labor law more than 2 million times over six years, routinely forcing some employees to work off the clock through lunch and rest breaks, a Dakota County judge has ruled.

The violations were willful, said District Judge Robert King in a ruling Monday in Hastings. They could bring a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation, which could mean a $2 billion fine for the world’s largest retailer. A jury will decide the size of the penalty during the second phase of the trial, expected to begin Oct. 20.

Nancy Braun, one of four named plaintiffs on the suit, said Tuesday that she was “ecstatic” about the judge’s decision. Braun, who worked in an Apple Valley store for about 14 months beginning in March 1998, said the store repeatedly didn’t find people to give her breaks when she was the sole cook and waitress at the store’s grill.

In several instances no one came in time for her to go to the bathroom. “I would end up soiling myself,” said Braun, now 53 and living in Rochester. “Sometimes I’d have other clothes with me in my locker, or they would say to me, ‘We have clothes in the store you can buy.'”

Braun said she kept complaining, “and they kept promising to get me help, but they never did it.” …

More at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 4:19 pm

Joe Galloway on FISA

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A column well worth reading, which begins:

Early next week the U.S. Senate will vote on an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with a few small amendments intended to immunize telecommunications corporations that assisted our government in the warrantless and illegal wiretapping it has grown to love.

That such a gutting of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution even made it out of committee is yet another stain on the gutless and seemingly powerless Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

That a majority on both sides of the aisle — not least of them the presumptive nominees for president of both political parties — intend to vote for such a violation of Americans’ right to privacy and of the sanctity of their personal communications is a stunning surrender to those who want us to live in fear forever.

We are living in a time when the right of habeas corpus — which simply put is your right to be brought before a proper court of law where the government is made to prove that there is good and legal reason to detain you — recently survived by a margin of only one vote at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now these bad actors are prepared to set aside your right to privacy — written into the Constitution as a key part of our Bill of Rights — with hardly a nod in the direction of the true patriots who rebelled against an English king and his army to guarantee those rights.

That they will do this while the last empty phrases of the political windbags at the Fourth of July celebrations are still echoing across a thousand city parks and the bright red, white and blue bunting and blizzard of American flags still flap in the breeze is little short of breath-taking.

How dare they?

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 1:40 pm

Remains of the day the nova exploded

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Take a look. The wave front clearly was traveling at 6% of the speed of light = 11,176 miles per second.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 10:39 am

Posted in Science

The environment: not a priority

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From ThinkProgress:

In April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) waived at least 30 key environmental laws and regulations it claimed were impeding the completion of 670 miles of border fence. Environmental groups subsequently protested the decision.
Border residents have sued DHS for “hoodwink[ing] landowners into waiving their property rights.”

The El Paso Times reported yesterday that the environmental impacts of the fence were so severe that even the Environmental Protection Agency criticized it, reportedly voicing “serious concerns about how barrier fencing would affect habitat, animals and communities.”

According to documents obtained by the Sierra Club, the EPA warned DHS about the severe implications of extending the border fence. One official rated the project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley as “EC-2, Environmental Concerns-Insufficient Information“:

The draft Environmental Impact Study contains insufficient information for an adequate review. Of particular concern to EPA is the potential for long-term adverse environmental and ecological habitat impacts in the study area.

The EPA reported to DHS several deleterious impacts of the fence which DHS did not adequately consider:

No mention of “how the wall would impact water quality.”

No discussion of the “fence’s potential impact on migratory species or impact to their home range, in particular, large mammal species (e.g., deer or carnivores) or birds.”

– Maps created by DHS show that “the fence could run straight through houses and backyards.”

– “The fence could also cut off farmers from prime farmland close to the water.”

The EPA urged the Border Patrol to “consider alternative locations for fence placement that will result in the least impacts.” Ultimately, however, Chertoff issued “the biggest use of legal waivers since the administration started building the fence.” “From the EPA’s comments, it was clear they weren’t going to get any kind of go ahead anytime soon,” the Sierra Club noted.

Ironically, when pushing for the construction of the border fence in 2007, Chertoff remarked, “Illegal migrants really degrade the environment.”

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 10:38 am

Mother’s vitamin D status during pregnancy

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Vitamin D is on a big upswing—more and more discoveries are made about its importance and the subclinical deficiency suffered by most Americans. (I take 3000IU of Vitamin D capsules daily.) Now the finding of its importance for the baby’s dental health:

Low maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy may affect primary tooth calcification, leading to enamel defects, which are a risk factor for early-childhood tooth decay. Today, during the 86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, investigators from the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg and Victoria) present the results of a study they conducted to determine the vitamin D status of pregnant women, the incidence of enamel defects and early-childhood tooth decay among their infants, and the relationship with pre-natal vitamin D levels. Two hundred six pregnant women in their second trimester participated in the study. Only 21 women (10.5%) were found to have adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D concentrations were related to the frequency of milk consumption and pre-natal vitamin use. The investigators examined 135 infants (55.6% male) at 16.1 ± 7.4 months of age, and found that 21.6% of them had enamel defects, while 33.6% had early-childhood tooth decay. Mothers of children with enamel defects had lower, but not significantly different, mean vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy than those of children without defects.

However, mothers of children with early-childhood tooth decay had significantly lower vitamin D levels than those whose children were cavity-free. Infants with enamel defects were significantly more likely to have early-childhood tooth decay.

This is the first study to show that maternal vitamin D levels may have an influence on primary teeth and the development of early-childhood tooth decay.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Amazon.com

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Via MakeUseOf, Amazon’s Gift Central helps with gift selection: ready lists of appropriate gifts for the people in your recipient list. (Note the “Gift Organizer” to the left.) You have to be logged on, of course, to see the material specific to you.

Also, if you’re logged on and bought a copy of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving from Amazon instead of Lulu, you can see my Amazon blog post here (scroll down to see the post). I discuss what’s new in the Second Edition.

BTW, my Lulu sales rank is now #420—not long until I’m in the top 400. 🙂 Maybe it’s time for you to buy a few copies of the second edition for gifts, eh? (Buy from Lulu…)

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 10:30 am

Posted in Daily life

Shelley’s Heart

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Shelley’s Heart, by Charles McCarry, is one of the Paul Christopher series, but stands a little outside: Paul Christopher does not appear, and the novel is a direct sequel to The Better Angels.

Shelley’s Heart is not one of McCarry’s best: the characters generally devolve into caricature. But it’s interesting for clearly showing his position on many issues and also prescient in its uncanny predictions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 10:09 am

Posted in Books

Quantum physics lectures by Hans Bethe

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Informative and enlightening—and by an iconic physicist.

In 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points and archival material.

Intended for an audience of Professor Bethe’s neighbors at Kendal, the lectures hold appeal for experts and non-experts alike. The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 9:24 am

Posted in Education, Science

Eucalyptus

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Mama Bear’s Eucalyptus shaving soap this morning, making a fine lather with the Sabini ebony-handled brush. Then the Apollo Mikron, still with the Wilkinson Sword blade, stripped away the stubble. Draggon Noir aftershave to finish the ritual.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2008 at 9:22 am

Posted in Shaving

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