Later On

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

Archive for July 15th, 2008

Kitties…

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This is more Molly than Megs—though Megs, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

“A line was crossed…”

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David Neiwert has an important post at Firedoglake. Please click through to read it (and see the video). It begins:

It seems there was good reason to be concerned about the unusual handling of the cases of illegal immigrants caught up in last month’s massive raids at Postville, Iowa — where, as we noted at the time, immigrants not only were treated like cattle, the prosecutors engaged in questionable tactics as they processed these cases: deploying the unusual tactic of threatening the immigrants with felony identity-theft charges and sending them to prison when they either plead guilty or were quickly found guilty.

Yesterday there was a New York Times editorial directing us to an essay by Erik Camayd-Freixas, a Spanish-language court interpreter who was called in to help process detainees in the raid. It makes the devastating case that the Department of Homeland Security, in collusion with the Justice Department, is (in the words of one observer we heard from about this case) “basically gaming the Federal judiciary using existing law, rules and regulations to force the judiciary to act as a coerced agent of the executive to imprison undocumented workers, after which they are deported with a prison record.”

As Camayd-Freixas makes clear, these workers were charged improperly with a crime of which they were innocent as the means of forcing them to plead guilty to a lesser charge, for which they then accepted five-month prison sentence.

As the NYT editorial says: …

Continue reading. I especially want to call your attention to this snippet:

It’s perhaps worth remembering that incipient police states always target the most vulnerable members of society when they start out. And in today’s America, there are no people more vulnerable than those millions of workers here, for a human universe of reasons, illegally. That’s not to say we are in an incipient police state, but the warnings are unmistakable — especially in tandem with the Bush administration’s massive acquisition of previously unimagined executive-branch powers — and should not be dismissed blithely.

We can sit back and watch with grim satisfaction as these people are rounded up like cattle and forcefed into a Kafkaesque travesty of justice, and say to ourselves: Glad it’s happening to them and not me. But sooner or later, those same forces find new targets. And sooner or later, we’re all on that list.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 4:43 pm

McCain’s memory skills

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ThinkProgress:

Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that during a press availability, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he’s been concerned by “a couple of steps that the Russian government took in the last several days,” including “reducing the energy supplies to Czechoslovakia.” Of course, “Czechoslovakia” dissolved into two independent countries 15 years ago and now, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are member states — separately — of the European Union.

Slip of the tongue? Perhaps. The McCain campaign even scrubbed the transcript of the event. However, he did it again today. Touting his “League of Democracies” idea to garner support for action against Iran’s nuclear program during a town hall meeting this afternoon, McCain cited a recent example of Russia working against American interests:

McCAIN: And I regret that and I regret some of the recent behavior that Russia has exhibited in I’ll be glad to talk about that later on including reduction in oil supplies to Czechoslovakia when they agreed with us on a missile defense system.

Watch it:

This is at least the fourth time in the last year that McCain has harkened back to the old days when the Iron Curtain divided Europe. But his forgetfulness has more history. McCain referred to the non-existent country — once in 1994 and another time in 1999 — which caused then Gov. George W. Bush to question McCain’s cozy relationship with the media:

“I don’t think there is any plot; I hope there isn’t,” Bush said. “But it’s an amazing phenomenon, I’ll tell you that. It’s like the flap over the foreign-leader deal. A guy gets up and quizzes me — it’s my fault for trying to answer — but John McCain says something about the ‘ambassador to Czechoslovakia.’ Well, I know there is no Czechoslovakia (there’s a Czech Republic and a Slovakia), but yet it didn’t make the nightly national news. I’m not going to gripe about it, but the media question is starting to pop up.”

But “McCain is running on his supposed foreign policy superiority” and as MoJo blog points out, he “really shouldn’t be making these mistakes…[he] can’t possibly be ignorant of the basic state of the world.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Our gullible media

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I was told once of a person who could never remember the difference between “gullible” and “morbid.” So I’m hoping that you know the difference… The following story shows why reading blogs is an important complement to reading the mainstream media:

Two years ago an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) referred to the dream run that Patrick Moore and Christine Todd Whitman were getting in the media representing the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. CJR noted that few journalists were disclosing that the group was created by the Nuclear Energy Institute with assistance from Hill & Knowlton. “Part of the thinking, surely, was that the press would peg them as dedicated environmentalists who have turned into pro-nuke cheerleaders, rather than as paid spokespeople. And the press came through.” They still do. Jay Hancock, a business columnist for the Baltimore Sun, wrote in his blog that “Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has decided that the risks of nuclear energy are lower than the risks of continuing to use carbon energy.” Hancock is not the only journalist not to disclose Moore’s nuclear industry ties to his readers. The week before his post, a CanWest News Service story simply described Moore as an “avid proponent of nuclear” power.

Source: Jay Hancock’s blog, Baltimore Sun, July 12, 2008

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Business, Media

More on Mayer and the US torture program

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Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP

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Growing vegetables by the square foot

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A 4’x4′ garden provides 16 one-square-foot plots, and if you exploit that garden to the utmost, you can grow a surprising amount of produce. Read more here.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

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Good development for hydrogen-fueled cars

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Take a look:

A greener, less expensive method to produce hydrogen for fuel may eventually be possible with the help of water, solar energy and nanotube diodes that use the entire spectrum of the sun’s energy, according to Penn State researchers. “Other researchers have developed ways to produce hydrogen with mind-boggling efficiency, but their approaches are very high cost,” says Craig A. Grimes, professor of electrical engineering. “We are working toward something that is cost effective.”

Currently, the steam reforming of natural gas produces most of our hydrogen. As a fuel source, this produces two problems. The process uses natural gas and so does not reduce reliance on fossil fuels; and, because one byproduct is carbon dioxide, the process contributes to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the carbon footprint.

Grimes’ process splits water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, and collects the products separately using commonly available titanium and copper. Splitting water for hydrogen production is an old and proven method, but in its conventional form, it requires previously generated electricity. Photolysis of water solar splitting of water has also been explored, but is not a commercial method yet.

Grimes and his team produce hydrogen from solar energy, using two different groups of nanotubes in a photoelectrochemical diode. They report in the July issue of Nano Letters that using incident sunlight, “such photocorrosion-stable diodes generate a photocurrent of approximately 0.25 milliampere per centimeter square, at a photoconversion efficiency of 0.30 percent.”

“It seems that nanotube geometry is the best geometry for production of hydrogen from photolysis of water,” says Grimes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 1:27 pm

Disquisition on cheese rind

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Whether to eat and enjoy, or trim and discard. Read here.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Going green pays off

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Companies resist regulation even when the regulations benefit the bottom line—basically, companies resist change, even change for the better, because once change starts, who knows where it might end. So even though adopting green technology would save money, companies resist it. For example:

Though many policymakers have argued that environmental regulations can negatively impact on an organization’s bottom line, a new study by George Mason University researcher Nicole Darnall shows that companies that develop green production processes can not only offset the costs of regulations, but can also reap further benefits. The study, which looked at more than 2,600 manufacturing facilities operating in seven different countries, showed that more stringent environmental policies are related to diminished company profits. However, organizations that improve their environmental performance by enhancing their internal efficiencies and developing new green products and technologies can offset the cost of regulation or even accrue a net gain.

“The primary reason why the United States and many other countries do not have national climate change policy and do not implement more stringent environmental legislation is due to the costs the regulations would impose on firms,” says Darnall, assistant professor of environmental science and policy. “The results of this study are important because realizing that these costs can be offset—or eliminated entirely—is further evidence that policymakers could support the advancement of more ambitious environmental policy goals without putting undue financial burdens on corporations.”

The study showed that businesses can profit in two important ways. First, by improving their internal production processes to reduce waste, companies are more likely to enhance profits. “Many companies paint their products with solvent-based paints. By switching to water-based paints these businesses can eliminate toxic wastes in their production process and the need to meet certain environmental regulations. They also can speed up the time it takes to get their product to market and avoid long term liabilities associated with toxic waste disposal,” Darnall says.

The second way companies can profit from going green is by developing innovative green products and technologies and entering new markets. Businesses that do so are poised to take advantage of increased market demand for green products and make less environmentally friendly technologies obsolete.

According to recent research, 15 percent of consumers routinely pay more for green products, and another 15 percent seek green products if they do not cost more. “There are people who pay premium prices for these kinds of products,” says Darnall.

Corporate buyers also are demonstrating a growing demand for purchasing green products. “Companies don’t want to inherit waste from their suppliers. As a result, many companies are using green production as a condition of purchasing a supplier’s products.”

The study is the first to look broadly at international companies. Understanding these relationships globally is particularly important since more companies now operate internationally and must adhere to multiple regulations.

“Many policymakers believe environmental regulations are a win-lose proposition—society benefits from a cleaner environment, but businesses are at an economic disadvantage,” says Darnall. “This research shows it can be a win-win. Companies that develop greener production practices benefit society, and can also green their bottom line.”

Source: George Mason University

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 1:21 pm

TV bad for kids…

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Apparently:

Despite the fact that pediatricians recommend no screen media exposure for children under age 2, three-quarters of very young children in America live in homes where the television is on most of the time, according to research. A new study has found that leaving your TV set on disrupts young children while they are playing, even if the channel is tuned to adult shows. This means that simply having the TV on, even in the background, may be detrimental to children’s development. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, is published in the July/August 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at 50 children ages 1, 2, and 3. Each child came to a lab with a parent and was invited to play for an hour with a variety of age-appropriate toys. For half the time, a television was on in the room, showing an episode of the adult game show Jeopardy!, with commercials; during the other half hour, the TV was turned off.

Researchers observed the children as they played to determine whether background TV—defined as adult-oriented television that is on and may be watched by older members of the family, but which very young children don’t understand and to which they pay little attention—affected the children’s behavior during play.

Background TV was found to disrupt the toy play of the children at every age, even when they paid little attention to it. When the television was on, the children played for significantly shorter periods of time and the time they spent focused on their play was shorter, compared to when the TV was off.

“Background TV, as an ever-changing audiovisual distractor, disrupts children’s efforts to sustain attention to ongoing play behaviors,” according to Marie Evans Schmidt, who is now a research associate at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston and is the lead author of the study. “Background TV is potentially a chronic environmental risk factor affecting most American children. Parents should limit their young children’s exposure to background television.”

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Tagged with

Another reason why I don’t eat in fast-food places

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The idea is unappetizing.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Extremely interesting explanatory post

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About why Democrats act so spineless in standing up to the Bush torture regime: because the leaders are themselves implicated. Glenn Greenwald:

Harper‘s Scott Horton yesterday interviewed Jane Mayer about her new book, The Dark Side. The first question he asked was about the Bush administration’s fear that they would be criminally prosecuted for implementing what the International Red Cross had categorically described as “torture.”

Mayer responded “that inside the White House there [had] been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees,” and that it was this fear that led the White House to demand (and, of course, receive) immunity for past interrogation crimes as part of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. But Mayer noted one important political impediment to holding Bush officials accountable for their illegal torture program:

An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

As we witness not just Republicans, but also Democrats in Congress, acting repeatedly to immunize executive branch lawbreaking and to obstruct investigations, it’s vital to keep that fact in mind. With regard to illegal Bush programs of torture and eavesdropping, key Congressional Democrats were contemporaneously briefed on what the administration was doing (albeit, in fairness, often in unspecific ways). The fact that they did nothing to stop that illegality, and often explicitly approved of it, obviously incentivizes them to block any investigations or judicial proceedings into those illegal programs.In December of last year, The Washington Post revealed:

Four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

The article noted that other Democratic members who received briefings on the CIA’s interrogation program included Jay Rockefeller and Jane Harman. While Harman sent a letter to the CIA asking questions about the legality of the program, none ever took any steps to stop or even restrict the interrogation program in any way.

Identically, numerous key Democrats in Congress — including Rockefeller and Harman — were told …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 12:18 pm

HbA1c = 5.7%

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Doctor report good. Cholesterol levels excellent (I eat a lot of fish and take wild-salmon-oil capsules), blood pressure good. And HbA1c at 5.7% is not bad at all—it’s in the normal range. He still wants me to walk and to lose fat, and so do I.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 11:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

Crop coming in

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Today the tiny shiso leaves are just starting to become visible. I counted four of them. A wonderful feeling, this farming. Now I have to find out where to apply for subsidies.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 10:47 am

Posted in Daily life

Challenges to the domestic spying law

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Interesting report by Spencer Ackerman on court challenges to the domestic spying law:

With the Congressional battle over revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ending in a victory for President George W. Bush last week, a coalition of civil libertarians and journalists has decided to take the fight to the courts.

Late last week, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Service Employees International Union and The Nation magazine filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which Bush signed into law on Thursday. In Amnesty v. McConnell, the civil libertarians claim that the new law’s allowance of what they call “sweeping and virtually unregulated authority to monitor the international communications” of U.S. citizens and residents is a violation of the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Separately, the ACLU requested…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 10:45 am

Oh, dear: Euro at a new high

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€1.00 = US$1.6036. I guess we can forget about any trips to Paris for a while.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 10:36 am

Play is serious business

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Play is the method we use to perfect skills. Play can refer to games, where it’s obvious that playing is leading to improved skills. Play can be used as acting in a play, and again the development of skills (in presenting accurately states of emotion) is involved. Children’s play is involved with developing mechanical skills, reasoning skills, social skills, and the like. Once, in Iowa City years ago, I was walking along the street and saw the fire fighters out in the street with their new elevated ladder. They were clearly playing with it, to learn how to operate it and improve their skills. From this post, a list of 6 types of play that children practice:

  1. Unoccupied play: the child is relatively stationary and appears to be performing random movements with no apparent purpose. A relatively infrequent style of play.
  2. Solitary play: the child is are completely engrossed in playing and does not seem to notice other children. Most often seen in children between 2 and 3 years-old.
  3. Onlooker play: child takes an interest in other children’s play but does not join in. May ask questions or just talk to other children, but the main activity is simply to watch.
  4. Parallel play: the child mimics other children’s play but doesn’t actively engage with them. For example they may use the same toy.
  5. Associative play: now more interested in each other than the toys they are using. This is the first category that involves strong social interaction between the children while they play.
  6. Cooperative play: some organisation enters children’s play, for example the playing has some goal and children often adopt roles and act as a group.

More at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 10:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Tagged with ,

OTOH: reading level

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blog readability test

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life

Cussing on this blog

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Via the Dynasty of Dr. Lao, I ran the Cuss-O-Meter on my blog:

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 9:41 am

Posted in Daily life

More Cheney fingerprints on torture

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From ThinkProgress:

In the spring of 2004, then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson issued a classified report warning “that interrogation procedures approved by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks might violate some provisions of the international Convention Against Torture.” Helgerson’s report “also raised concern about whether the use of the techniques could expose agency officers to legal liability.”

In an interview today, Harper’s Scott Horton asks investigative journalist Jane Mayer about the revelation in her new book that “Helgerson was summoned repeatedly to meet privately with Vice President Cheney” before his investigation was “stopped in its tracks.” Mayer said that Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson was “highly unusual“:

MAYER:Asked for comment, Helgerson through the CIA spokesman denied he felt pressured in any way by Cheney. But others I interviewed have described the IG’s office to me as extremely politicized. They have also suggested it was very unusual that the Vice President interjected himself into the work of the IG. Fred Hitz, who had the same post in previous administrations, told me that no vice president had ever met with him. He thought it highly unusual.

According to Mayer, Helgerson’s report is said to be “very disturbing, the size of two Manhattan phone books, and full of terrible descriptions of mistreatment.” Mayer added that Cheney’s interest in Helgerson proves that as early as 2004 “the Vice President’s office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in The Program.”

In October 2007, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden “ordered an unusual internal inquiry” into Helgerson’s office, focusing on complaints that Helgerson was on “a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with

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