Later On

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

Archive for July 11th, 2008

Three free Windows text editors for programmers

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Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Software

The five best Windows back-up tools

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Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Software

Where to get answers on-line

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Excellent post by Christina Laun—bookmark it. Title: “Lose Your Wikipedia Crutch: 100 Places to Go for Good Answers Online”. The first 10 (go to the link for the other 90.)

General

Find answers to all kinds of questions through these sites.

  1. InfoPlease: Visitors to this site will be treated to an almanac, atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary and much more, which should be more than enough to find information on just about anything you’d need.
  2. Fact Monster: Run by Infoplease, this site is geared towards the younger crowd, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great information here. Find answers to basic math, science, history and sports questions.
  3. About.com: This site provides articles on a huge variety of subjects, many of which provide useful information or can link you to sites that have what you’re looking for.
  4. Refdesk.com: Billed as a “fact check for the Internet,” this site provides a range of resources that make it easy to search the web, check an encyclopedia or dictionary, read the news and much more.
  5. Reference.com: Part of the Dictionary.com site, this online resource provides access to many encyclopedia articles, as well as the accompanying dictionary and thesaurus.
  6. Answers.com: Answers.com provides visitors with access to articles from sites and journals all over the Web.
  7. Factbites: Called a cross between a search engine and an encyclopedia, this site is designed to make searching for information easier by filtering out information and only giving you the most relevant results.

Library and Reference

Search through library archives and do research through these sites.

  1. Oxford Journals: Look through all the journals published by Oxford and find many articles that are free to read and download.
  2. eBrary: Many libraries give full access to eBrary’s collections, but if you don’t have one near to you that does, you can use this page and still enjoy looking through loads of books and journals.
  3. ibiblio: This site is full of public domain information including maps, books, pictures and much more that you can use in your next research project.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:59 pm

Interesting game

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Take a look. From the link (and there’s more at the link):

This fall, the Institute for the Future invites you to play Superstruct, the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. It’s not just about envisioning the future—it’s about inventing the future. Everyone is welcome to join the game. Watch for the opening volley of threats and survival stories, September 2008.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

Humans have 23 years to go

Global Extinction Awareness System starts the countdown for Homo sapiens.

PALO ALTO, CA — Based on the results of a year-long supercomputer simulation, the Global Extinction Awareness System (GEAS) has reset the “survival horizon” for Homo sapiens – the human race – from “indefinite” to 23 years.

“The survival horizon identifies the point in time after which a threatened population is expected to experience a catastrophic collapse,” GEAS president Audrey Chen said. “It is the point from which it a species is unlikely to recover. By identifying a survival horizon of 2042, GEAS has given human civilization a definite deadline for making substantive changes to planet and practices.”

According to Chen, the latest GEAS simulation harnessed over 70 petabytes of environmental, economic, and demographic data, and was cross-validated by ten different probabilistic models. The GEAS models revealed a potentially terminal combination of five so-called “super-threats”, which represent a collision of environmental, economic, and social risks. “Each super-threat on its own poses a serious challenge to the world’s adaptive capacity,” said GEAS research director Hernandez Garcia. “Acting together, the five super-threats may irreversibly overwhelm our species’ ability to survive.”Garcia said, “Previous GEAS simulations with significantly less data and cross-validation correctly forecasted the most surprising species collapses of the past decade: Sciurus carolinenis and Sciurus vulgaris, for example, and the Anatidae chen. So we have very good reason to believe that these simulation results, while shocking, do accurately represent the rapidly growing threats to the viability of the human species.”

GEAS notified the United Nations prior to making a public announcement. The spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Vaira Vike-Freiberga released the following statement: “We are grateful for GEAS’ work, and we treat their latest forecast with seriousness and profound gravity.”

GEAS urges concerned citizens, families, corporations, institutions, and governments to talk to each other and begin making plans to deal with the super-threats.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games

What our spineless Congress has given us

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Read Kevin Drum’s column to learn the fallout from Congress rollling over to approve wholesale surveillance. Big Brother is watching you. The result, of course, is just what the government wants: drying up of critical sources. No criticism in Big Brother’s republic.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:28 pm

Restrictions on blogs

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UPDATE: Totally bogus. As pointed out by the comment below, just read the letter—it’s just asking for a way for members to post more videos than the House.gov’s servers can currently accommodate. Rep. Bachman is speaking through her hat and totally distorting the facts, and I got taken in. My face is red.

Interesting development reported by Rep. Michelle Bachman from the 6th District of Minnesota:

A rule is making its way through Congress that will have a huge impact on our freedom of speech. This rule would prohibit Americans from getting information from their Members of Congress – about what they are doing in Washington, what they are saying, and what they are proposing – on websites that are not “approved” by the Committee on House Administration, the panel that creates rules governing the internal operations of the U.S. House.

This rule affects all of us regardless of political affiliation.

What this essentially means is that sites like YouTube that Members use to communicate with constituents would have to make their way through a complicated, arcane, and restrictive set of House regulations before Members could post videos on them. Under the proposal, the House Administration Committee would develop a list of “approved” websites, and Members of Congress could post content to only those websites.

This proposed rule could mean the end of blogs like this one that have become a real forum for conversation.

The rule has been proposed by the Democrat Chairman of the Commission on Mailing Standards, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), and is being considered for adoption by the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA).

Read Rep. Capuano’s letter to Chairman Brady.

If this rule is adopted, the free flow of information from Members to constituents and vice versa would be significantly stunted. Essentially, a panel of federal employees that are not neutral or independent would say what messages and formats are fit and unfit for circulation.

This rule accomplishes nothing except increased censorship of free speech.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Talking to teen-aged children

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You can learn how to do it:

Sex is one of the most difficult topics a parent can bring up with an adolescent, but a new study finds that parents who are taught specific communication skills can more readily tackle these conversations and sustain them over time. The study, published online by the British Medical Journal on July 11 with an accompanying editorial, evaluated a parenting program called Talking Parents, Healthy Teens. The worksite-based program teaches parents how to get past their own inhibitions and fears of making a mistake, and how to maneuver around classic teenage shrugs and “uh huh” responses. Targeting parents of sixth to tenth graders, it is the first program of its kind to be rigorously developed and evaluated.

A research team led by Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD, chief of general pediatrics and vice chair for health policy research at Children’s Hospital Boston, randomized 569 parents, employed at 13 large public and private worksites in southern California, to participate in the program or to serve in a control group. (Schuster led the study while at RAND Corporation, where the program was developed and where he was Director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention until moving to Children’s in November 2007.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

McCain and the press

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John Cole brings up the interesting question of why McCain continually gets a free ride from the press, which ignores his gaffes in favor of focusing on missteps by Obama. And the number of outright fumbles and weird statements from McCain is truly startling—to the extent that one begins to wonder whether he’s not suffering from a mild dementia as in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, ThinkProgress notes:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) regularly hypes the threat posed by Iran, saying they are “intent on acquiring nuclear weapons” and even attacking Democrats for allegedly not recognizing “the threat posed by an Iran with nuclear ambitions.” But when ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked McCain yesterday if an Israeli strike against Iran would be “jusified” in light of Iran’s recent missile tests, McCain said that he couldn’t determine “the nature of the threat” from Iran:

GIBSON: Would a strike by Israel be justified and what would you say to the Israelis?

MCCAIN: I can’t know whether a strike would be justified because I don’t know the progress or the significance or the nature of the threat. I know the threat is growing because of the continued development of nuclear weapons.

Later in the interview, however, McCain insisted that the Iranian threat was nevertheless “serious.” As Matt Duss notes: “McCain has repeatedly demonstrated that, regardless of whatever experience or judgment he may possess, he simply hasn’t done his homework on the region of the world most likely to command the next administration’s attention.”

It doesn’t seem to me that he hasn’t done his homework. It sounds more like he can’t remember his briefings anymore.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Living alone if you’re a woman

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In the aftermath of the Great War, many women in the UK had no opportunity to marry: almost an entire generation of British men had died on the battlefield. The result was a whole mode of life becoming common. (See Condemned to be Virgins: The Two Million Women Robbed By The War, by Amanda Cable.) By 1936, then, the path had been broken, and this book appeared:

The above book is the subject of a post by Bella DePaulo, the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After and a Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hillis’s book is available from Amazon, as are DePaulo’s and another book on the situation after the Great War, Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After the First World War, by Virginia Nicholson. The editorial review of Hillis’s book comments:

First published in 1936, with the chilling subtitle “A Guide for the Extra Woman”, this bestseller became a manifesto for single women (and those between husbands) keen on embarking on stylish solitary living. Although many of Hillis’s prescriptions are naturally outmoded, it’s impossible not to be charmed by her arch humor and old Hollywood glamour as she demands that her genteel readers simply must have four bed jackets, seven kinds of liquor and the right cold cream. A Vogue editor and proponent of solitary refinement, Hillis exhorts women to indulge themselves unblushingly—albeit thriftily—within their homes. Despite her fascination with frou-frou and beaux, Hillis bucks convention—arguing that women should be free to entertain men at home, drink in bars and generally do as they please; you will soon find that independence, more truthfully than virtue, is its own reward, she advises.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Melanoma on the increase among young women

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Very odd—and bad. Rob Stein reports in the Washington Post:

Increasing numbers of young women continue to be diagnosed with the most dangerous form of skin cancer even as the rate has leveled off in young men, federal health officials reported today.

An analysis of government cancer statistics between 1973 and 2004 found that the rate of new melanoma cases in young women had jumped 50 percent since 1980, but had not increased for young men in that period.

“It’s worrying,” said Mark Purdue, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute, who led the analysis published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. “What we are seeing in young adults right now could foretell a much larger number of melanoma cases in older women.”

The new research did not examine the reasons for the trend, but Purdue said it could be due to such factors as women spending more time outdoors and indoor tanning. Young women are much more likely than young men to frequent tanning salons, Purdue and others said.

“One possible explanation is increases among young women of recreational sun exposure or tanning bed use,” Purdue said. “Both of these things have been identified as risk factors. It’s possible increases in these two behaviors may be responsible.”

About 62,000 melanoma cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and more than 8,400 people die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Previous studies have shown that the rate of new diagnoses has been increasing among adults overall, but it was unclear what was happening with younger adults.

More at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 11:10 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Goodbye, corals (and coral reefs)…

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Yet another extinction looms:

A third of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction, according to the first-ever comprehensive global assessment to determine their conservation status. The study findings were published today by Science Express.

Leading coral experts joined forces with the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) — a joint initiative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International (CI) — to apply the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria to this important group of marine species.

“The results of this study are very disconcerting,” stated Kent Carpenter, lead author of the Science article, GMSA Director, IUCN Species Programme. “When corals die off, so do the other plants and animals that depend on coral reefs for food and shelter, and this can lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems.”

Built over millions of years, coral reefs are home to more than 25 percent of marine species, making them the most biologically diverse of marine ecosystems. Corals produce reefs in shallow tropical and sub-tropical seas and have been shown to be highly sensitive to changes in their environment.

Researchers identified the main threats to corals as climate change and localized stresses resulting from destructive fishing, declining water quality from pollution, and the degradation of coastal habitats. Climate change causes rising water temperatures and more intense solar radiation, which lead to coral bleaching and disease often resulting in mass coral mortality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 11:02 am

Gender differences: minimal

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Very interesting article by Daisy Grewal, Ph.D., a social psychologist and freelance writer based in the Silicon Valley. Bottom line:

… She started out with the hypothesis that most differences between the two sexes are negligent to non-existent. In fact, that is exactly what she found-with a few exceptions. The largest gender differences are in the domain of motor performance (such as throwing velocity and distance). A second area is sexuality, particularly in reported masturbation activity, and attitudes about casual and uncommitted relationships. Although much publicity has been given to gender differences in aggression, the differences are only moderate. Furthermore “relational” aggression which has been publicized as more common among girls shows no consistent gender difference.

For those who are at all curious, I highly recommend downloading the full article here. Many of the results are surprising – gender differences in math and verbal ability overall are quite small. Moreover, gender differences in traits like assertiveness, self-esteem, and even height are also quite small.

The question is then, why do most of us believe so strongly in gender differences despite the evidence that shows they are minimal for most things? For one, overinflated claims of gender differences appeal more to our intuitions. They sell more magazines and newspapers. They make for interesting non-fiction book titles, and they allow researchers to publish papers that gain them scientific recognition. Perhaps we start out believing in gender differences and therefore see them wherever we look.

Unfortunately, as Hyde points out, there are big costs to our beliefs in gender differences. Social psychologists have shown that beliefs often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. In other words, the more we believe something is true, the more we are likely to act in a way that makes it come true. Men are taught to believe that they aren’t good at communicating, that they lack tact, and are not good at interpreting emotions. Women are taught to believe that they aren’t cut out for leadership, they’re bad at math, and they should stick to certain careers that bring out their “natural” abilities. The costs for our beliefs are huge for both genders; and, given the lack of scientific data to support any of them, ought to be seriously re-evaluated. At the very least, I hope that anyone who has read this blog will have an extra grain of skepticism the next time they encounter a so-called gender difference in print or in person.

Read the whole article. Quite interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 10:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Tagged with ,

Ugly episode from the Korean War

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From Russ Kick at the Memory Hole:

The Associated Press has a major investigative story about the Korean War.:

In the early days of the Korean War, other American officers observed, photographed and confidentially reported on such wholesale executions [of political prisoners] by their South Korean ally, a secretive slaughter believed to have killed 100,000 or more leftists and supposed sympathizers, usually without charge or trial, in a few weeks in mid-1950.

Extensive archival research by The Associated Press has found no indication Far East commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur took action to stem the summary mass killing, knowledge of which reached top levels of the Pentagon and State Department in Washington, where it was classified “secret” and filed away.

This reminded me of an early Memory Hole article, which I’ve now updated with archival links and document images:

Civilian Massacres During the Korean War: US Military Documents Show Brass Ordered Slaughters

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Government, Military

Tagged with

Breastfeeding

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At what age should a child stop breastfeeding? So far as I know, there are no studies, with the age being based on social convention. And, as with many social conventions, seeing someone with another convention induces culture shock: “Why, that’s just wrong!!!” (meaning: “That’s not the way we do it!”) You can see a lot of that in the comments at Slashfood, where I discovered the video—not much “live and let live” there.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 10:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Need help? Just ask.

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A very positive and reassuring finding: people in general are happy to help if asked. From PsyBlog:

… In a series of studies Francis Flynn and Vanessa Lake of Columbia University tested people’s estimation of how likely others were to help them out. They got people to ask others to fill in questionnaires, to borrow cell phones and to escort them to the gym.

Across these studies they found that people underestimated how likely others were to help them by as much as 100%.

This is such a high figure that it demands an explanation – what’s going on here?

Part of the answer is our egocentric bias – we find it difficult to understand what others are thinking and feeling because we are stuck inside our own heads.

But it’s more than just that, argue Flynn and Lake, it’s also the fact that we underestimate just how much social pressure there is on other people to say yes. In effect, when you ask someone to help you, it’s much more awkward and embarrassing for them to say ‘no’ than you might think.

In two further studies Flynn and Lake supported this intuition by asking participants to put themselves in either the role of someone asking for help, or someone being asked for help.

They found that when people were help-seekers they reliably played down the social costs of saying no. But when they were the potential helper they realised how difficult it was to say no.

There’s two very practical messages coming out of this research:

  1. If you want help, just ask. People are much more likely to help than you think, especially if the request is relatively small. Most people take pleasure in helping others out from time-to-time.
  2. Make it easy for others to say no. The other side of the coin is that most of us don’t realise just how hard it is to say no to a request for help. Other people feel much more pressure to say yes to our requests than we realise. If the help you need is likely to be burdensome then think about ways of making it easier to say no.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Tagged with

Friday cat-blogging: Megs in her tunnel

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Megs in the morning

Megs in the morning

Back asleep

Back asleep

Wednesday I went into the living room and discovered Megs ensconced in her tunnel. Staring at me. I couldn’t force the flash to work in the first photo—on my Canon PowerShot S2 IS, if the setting is Auto, the force-flash button is unresponsive. Thank heavens for Adobe Photoshop Element’s Auto-Enhance.

But then I discovered the force-flash button worked in Portrait mode, so I took the second picture, but by then Megs had lost interest and was again asleep.

Lately, the blue tunnel is where it’s at for Megs. She’s also been meowing crankily at me. The Wife thinks Megs is having a mid-life crisis (She’s now 6 1/2). “Is this all there is?!” she asks.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 10:28 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

Reference site for garden problems

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In the comments to this post on the herbicide-tainted manure, Green Lane Allotments put a link to their Web page that provides much information on the problem and on how to deal with it.

Our web page explains our experiences and those of others suffering form this problem. It also gathers together all the information that a group of us have managed to find about the problem and advice on what to do etc.

Also we have lots of photos showing typical damage – don’t assume that if your plants aren’t growing well it is down to herbicide damage. Herbicide damage has specific symptoms

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Institut Karité this morning

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I really like Institu Karité shaving soap—it’s 25% shea butter. (They have two shaving creams, as well: one that’s 20% shea butter and one that’s 25%.) And it produces a great lather, this morning with the G.B. Kent BK4. I picked up a Gillette NEW that carried a Lord Platinum blade and got a wonderfully smooth shave. Leisureguy’s Last-Pass Shaving OIl—my own mix—did a good job for the oil pass, and I applied a splash of Pashana aftershave to a wonderfully smooth face.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 July 2008 at 9:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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