Later On

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

Archive for July 23rd, 2008

Using law to justify torture

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A very good article by Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Independent. It begins:

For months now, Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey has refused to investigate whether Bush administration officials committed war crimes by authorizing the torture of suspected terrorists. His reasoning? Any actions were authorized by the administration’s lawyers, and so cannot constitute a crime. As he wrote to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), one of 56 House Democrats who last month called on Mukasey to appoint a special counsel: “It would be both unwise and unjust to expose to possible criminal penalties those who relied in good faith on … prior Justice Department opinions.”

But can the alleged use of torture be so easily waived away? Since the so-called “war on terror” began, the Bush administration has, by its own admission, used “enhanced interrogation techniques” like forcing detainees to stand for 40 hours; simulated drowning and dousing detainees’ naked bodies with cold water in chilled prison cells. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formally approved the use of “stress positions,” attack dogs, sexual humiliation and physical violence. And these are just the officially sanctioned techniques the public knows about.

As the photos and written accounts of torture, sodomy and murder at Abu Ghraib have revealed, the American public may only know a limited amount when it comes to abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Indeed, Human Rights First in 2006 found that in the previous four years, at least eight U.S. prisoners had been tortured to death.

The Democrats’ call for an independent investigation has received little attention – perhaps because the Justice Dept. has consistently denied that policymakers could be culpable. After all, they were acting on the advice of legal counsel.

Indeed, evidently anticipating the Democrats’ charges, in 2002 the White House, Justice and Defense Departments began creating a paper trail of legal memos in the hopes of insulating their actions. Thus the infamous “torture memos,” written by former Justice Dept. lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, were drafted to define torture narrowly – and were careful not to rule it out. Last week, the legal commentator Stuart Taylor Jr. accepted Mukasey’s position without question. Taylor wrote in Newsweek that there was no sense in prosecuting government officials. President George W. Bush, Taylor argued, should pardon everyone; the matter of culpability should be dropped.

But do the administration’s legal memos put the matter to rest? Does soliciting a set of self-serving opinions actually shield senior government officials from prosecution?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

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Good advice for pre-diabetics

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In WebMD Miranda Hitti reports on some good advice for pre-diabetics:

If you’re one of the estimated 57 million people in the U.S. with prediabetes, an expert medical committee has some advice for you.

The committee, assembled by the American College of Endocrinology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, has been meeting in Washington, D.C., for the last two days talking about prediabetes.

Here are their recommendations for dealing with prediabetes:

Don’t blow it off. In prediabetes, blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes — yet. But prediabetes isn’t harmless; it makes diabetes (and its many complications) more likely. And it’s a risk for your heart right now.

The bottom line: Prediabetes is an immediate risk and a shadow hanging over your future health. So get aggressive about dealing with it now. Don’t wait until it gets worse.

Focus on lifestyle. “Lifestyle is the first way to go” in dealing with prediabetes, committee member Yehuda Handelsman, MD, FACP, FACE, medical director of the Metabolic Institute of America, said today at a news conference about the committee’s prediabetes recommendations.

Here are the steps the committee wants you to take:

  • Lose 5% to 10% of your body weight — for good.
  • Get 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week.
  • Eat low-fat diet with adequate dietary fiber.
  • To lower blood pressure, cut back on sodium and don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Take aspirin, unless you have a medical reason not to (ask your doctor first).
  • Get your blood pressure and cholesterol down to the levels recommended for diabetes patients.

Take medication, if needed. If lifestyle isn’t enough to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, medications may help. But you’ll still need to persist with the healthy lifestyle.

Don’t get hung up on numbers. The blood sugar benchmarks for diagnosing diabetes are “somewhat arbitrary,” says Alan Garber, MD, PhD, FACE, the committee’s chairman and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. If your blood sugar numbers are outside of the normal range, that’s enough of a cue to take action.

The committee also called for further research to find out which prediabetes patients are at the highest risk, and to study drug treatment for prediabetes. The committee’s work was sponsored by various drug companies.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tips for a good pasta salad

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Good to know.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Molly doing a ceiling check

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Molly, deciding whether to ask for a lift.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Facing the freshwater crisis

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The Scientific American has a good collection of articles on the coming dearth of freshwater. The introductory article at the link (with other links on that page) begins:

  • Global freshwater resources are threatened by rising demands from many quarters. Growing populations need ever more water for drinking, hygiene, sanitation, food production and industry. Climate change, meanwhile, is expected to contribute to droughts.
  • Policymakers need to figure out how to supply water without degrading the natural ecosystems that provide it.
  • Existing low-tech approaches can help prevent scarcity, as can ways to boost supplies, such as improved methods to desalinate water.
  • But governments at all levels need to start setting policies and making investments in infrastructure for water conservation now.

A friend of mine lives in a middle-class neighborhood of New Delhi, one of the richest cities in India. Although the area gets a fair amount of rain every year, he wakes in the morning to the blare of a megaphone announcing that freshwater will be available only for the next hour. He rushes to fill the bathtub and other receptacles to last the day. New Delhi’s endemic shortfalls occur largely because water managers decided some years back to divert large amounts from upstream rivers and reservoirs to irrigate crops.

My son, who lives in arid Phoenix, arises to the low, schussing sounds of sprinklers watering verdant suburban lawns and golf courses. Although Phoenix sits amid the Sonoran Desert, he enjoys a virtually unlimited water supply. Politicians there have allowed irrigation water to be shifted away from farming operations to cities and suburbs, while permitting recycled wastewater to be employed for landscaping and other nonpotable applications.

As in New Delhi and Phoenix, policymakers worldwide wield great power over how water resources are managed. Wise use of such power will become increasingly important as the years go by because the world’s demand for freshwater is currently overtaking its ready supply in many places, and this situation shows no sign of abating. That the problem is well-known makes it no less disturbing: today one out of six people, more than a billion, suffer inadequate access to safe freshwater. By 2025, according to data released by the United Nations, the freshwater resources of more than half the countries across the globe will undergo either stress—for example, when people increasingly demand more water than is available or safe for use—or outright shortages. By midcentury as much as three quarters of the earth’s population could face scarcities of freshwater.

Scientists expect water scarcity to become more common in large part because …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Cute critter

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Ajolote

Ajolote

More info here.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Why some laundry products make you sick

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Because they contain toxic chemicals not listed among the ingredients:

A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products and air fresheners found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. All six products tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.

“I first got interested in this topic because people were telling me that the air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick,” said Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs. “And I wanted to know, ‘What’s in these products that is causing these effects?'”

She analyzed the products to discover the chemicals’ identity.

“I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found,” Steinemann said. Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; as well as acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane.

“Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these six products, and none were listed on any product label. Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic ‘hazardous air pollutants,’ which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level,” Steinemann said.

Her study was published online today by the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review. Steinemann chose not to disclose the brand names of the six products she tested. In a larger study of 25 cleaners, personal care products, air fresheners and laundry products, now submitted for publication, she found that many other brands contained similar chemicals.

Because manufacturers of consumer products are not required to disclose the ingredients, Steinemann analyzed the products to discover their contents. She studied three common air fresheners (a solid deodorizer disk, a liquid spray and a plug-in oil) and three laundry products (a dryer sheet, fabric softener and a detergent), selecting a top seller in each category. She bought household items at a grocery store and asked companies for samples of industrial products.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:31 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Health

Easy no-bake cheesecake

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Mark Bittman’s column today has this recipe (and a video at the link of him making it):

No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour’s chilling

16 graham cracker squares (8 whole crackers), crushed
1/4 cup ground pecans or walnuts, optional
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
Rind of a lemon, freshly grated
Pinch salt
About 1 1/2 cups blueberries.

1. Combine crushed graham crackers, nuts if using, and melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of an 8- or 9-inch square pan (glass is good) to form a crust about 1/4-inch thick. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Using a standing or hand mixer, or a whisk, combine cream cheese, ricotta, honey, lemon rind and salt, and blend until smooth.

3. Spread cheese mixture carefully and evenly over crust, using a spatula or butter knife to smooth top. Cover with fresh blueberries and chill for at least an hour, or until set. Cut into squares or bars and serve.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Library of photos of the American West

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Might be of interest. From the link:

The Bureau of Land Management has launched an enhanced online image library that  combines thousands of digital photographs of landscapes and historical images of the American West.

The BLM Image Library, available through the BLM Website at http://photos.blm.gov, contains more than 60,000 images of public lands, mostly in 12 Western states, including Alaska. A special collection maintained by the BLM’s National Operations Center includes 3,600 historical photos dating back to the early surveys of the West.

Users are able to search state and national collections by keyword or descriptions, then download images in a variety of sizes. A “shopping cart” feature allows users to collect a number of images and then download all in a compressed folder.

The BLM Image Library was established in 2001 and went on to become a popular resource used for publications, presentations, Websites, and news stories. The system has been upgraded and enhanced to work within the BLM’s redesigned Website. A large collection of images from the BLM-California State Office nearly doubled the size of the library to 64,000 images.

Among the images are thousands of illustrations of areas managed by the BLM, including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, and popular recreation areas. The collection also includes spectacular images of the agency’s  vast landscape resources, as well as images of multiple uses and resources managed by the BLM, including livestock grazing, mineral development, energy production, wild horses and burros, wildfire, and cultural sites.

“We’re thrilled to have the Image Library back online,” said Jeff Krauss, the Chief of the BLM’s Public Affairs Division.  “It has been  one of the BLM’s most popular Internet resources for graphic artists, educators, Web designers, and news organizations.  It will be a big help for people to visualize and promote the great landscapes we manage.”

Many of the images in the BLM Image Library are considered public domain. They may be used in print and electronic publications without further authorization from the BLM. However, users are asked to give photographic credit to the Bureau of Land Management. Most images are in JPG format and range in size from 800 pixels for Web and presentation use to 2000 pixels for publications. Historical images were scanned from black-and-white prints and saved in high-resolution TIF format.

The BLM manages more land – 258 million acres – than any other Federal agency.  Most of this public land is located in 12 Western States, including Alaska.  The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.  The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.  The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:19 am

Posted in Daily life

Firefox 3 extensions

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MakeUseOf has a list of Firefox 3 extensions that may be of interest. I also really like TinyURL Creator (in the list), but I used “Customize” to drag it onto the tool bar as a button, which seems easier than putting it into a drop-down menu.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:17 am

Dianne Feinstein: it’s time to go. Bye.

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Mike Lillis in the Washington Independent:

Caving to big oil demands, the Senate on Tuesday approved a plan that intensifies trade sanctions against Burma’s military regime but abandons an earlier push to penalize Chevron, the last major U.S. company propping up the repressive junta.

The move marks a departure from an earlier House-passed proposal that would have eliminated a large tax break for Chevron, potentially prodding the company to divest its share in a controversial natural gas field off the coast of Burma. Supporters of the House bill had said it would help destabilize Burma’s corrupt military leaders by slashing a vital source of their income.

“When the generals run out of cash,” said Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Cal.), who sponsored the House bill before he succumbed to cancer in February, “change will come to Burma.”

Yet despite wide bipartisan support, the bill hit a stumbling block in the Senate, where several lawmakers objected to the Chevron provision. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) was one such voice. She told Politico last month that forcing Chevron out of Burma would be “counterproductive,” because “other countries are going to take it over and, most particularly, the Burmese government will take it over. So what is gained by doing this?”

Many human-rights advocates say there is much to be gained, arguing that Chevron’s presence in Burma has a symbolic value that leaves Washington no moral suasion in convincing foreign investors to quit supporting the junta. “Unless Chevron is out of there, the United States doesn’t have the moral authority to tell other countries to get out,” said Nyunt Than, president of the Burmese American Democratic Alliance, a non-profit group.

Faced with election-year time restraints, however, House and Senate negotiators removed the Lantos Chevron provision. In its place is language urging the oil giant to get out of Burma voluntarily — something the company has said it will not do.

The House passed the compromise bill last week, and President George W. Bush, a vocal critic of Burma’s regime, is expected to sign it into law shortly.

The international outrage over the Burmese junta has intensified over the last year following several high-profile episodes. Last fall, the junta orchestrated a violent crackdown on thousands of monks and other pro-democracy protesters. More recently, the junta barred most international aid in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta in May. Estimates place the number of dead at more than 130,000. These actions pushed Congress to install stronger sanctions.

With several proposals floating around Capitol Hill, the major sticking point became how to approach Chevron, grandfathered to operate in Burma under current sanctions. The debate set Feinstein and other Chevron supporters against some House Democrats, who were fighting to preserve the Lantos bill as a memorial to their deceased colleague. Lantos had been a fierce advocate for human rights and was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress. He died of esophageal cancer in February, after nearly 28 years in the House.

The debate has also carried a hint of election year politics. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the likely GOP presidential nominee, sponsored a bill last year that would have required Chevron to sell its share in Burma’s gas field, called the Yadana project. That position turned political convention on its head, with the Democratic Feinstein supporting the oil industry and the Republican McCain siding with human-rights advocates. McCain’s office did not respond to several calls and emails requesting comment.

Feinstein, a member of the same state delegation as Lantos, had long been one of Washington’s most vocal critics of Burma’s repressive regime. In February, for example, she joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in sponsoring legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate who’s been under house arrest for much of the last two decades. Yet, on the topic of Chevron, Feinstein has aligned herself squarely behind the San Ramon, Cal.-based company.

Her support has not gone unnoticed. During her last reelection cycle in 2006, Feinstein took in $11,200 from the company — the third highest tally of all 535 members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign watchdog group.

Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber — pointing out that the California senator was not directly involved the House/Senate negotiations — referred questions to those who were.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 11:00 am

Costs of global warming by state

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Considering that conservatives such as Jim Inhofe continue to say that global warming isn’t even happening, the costs are amazing:

Climate change will carry a price tag of billions of dollars for a number of U.S. states, says a new series of reports from the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER). The researchers conclude that the costs have already begun to accrue and are likely to endure. Combining existing data with new analysis, the eight studies project the long term economic impact of climate change on Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Ohio. Studies on additional states are in the works.

“We don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict specific bottom lines, but the trend is very clear for these eight states and the nation as a whole: climate change will cost billions in the long run and the bottom line will be red,” says Matthias Ruth, who coordinated the research and directs the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland. “Inaction or delayed action will make the ink run redder.”

Last year, Ruth conducted a similar nationwide analysis and concluded that the total economic cost of climate change in the United States will be major and affect all regions, though the cost remains uncounted, unplanned for and largely hidden in public debate.

“These new state snapshots can help underscore the extent of damage already experienced in various parts of the country,” Ruth adds. “We hope the data and the trends can help state and local policy-makers plan for additional changes ahead.”

The eight new studies are being released today at the legislative summit of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) convening in New Orleans. The NCSL collaborated with CIER to develop summaries for the thousands of officials participating in the convention.

STATE SUMMARIES

Note: The economic impacts are based on climate changes already in motion. Unabated climate change would likely increase these economic effects.

  • Colorado: More than $1 billion in losses due to impacts on tourism, forestry, water resources and human health from a predicted drier, warmer climate.
  • Georgia: Multi-million dollar losses from predicted higher seas along Georgia’s coast.
  • Kansas: Losses exceeding $1 billion from impact on agriculture of predicted warmer temperatures and reduced water supply in much of the state.
  • Illinois: Billions of dollars in losses from impact on shipping, trade and water resources. Warmer temperatures and lower water levels predicted for much of the state.
  • Michigan: Billions of dollars in losses from damage to the state’s shipping and water resources. Warmer temperatures and lower water levels predicted for much of the state.
  • Nevada: Billions of dollars in losses from a much drier climate and pressure on scarce water resources. Water limitations could affect tourism, real estate, development and human health. Many western states may confront similar challenges.
  • New Jersey: Billions of dollars in losses from higher sea levels and the impact on tourism, transportation, real estate and human health.
  • Ohio: Billions of dollars in losses from warmer temperatures and lower water levels and the resulting impact on shipping and water supplies.

The 8 complete reports are available online.

LESSONS FOR STATES

The report offers five “lessons” derived from the researchers’ analysis:

  1. “There are already considerable costs to society associated with infrastructures, agricultural and silvicultural practices, land use choices, transportation and consumptive behaviors that are not in synch with past and current climatic conditions. These costs are likely to increase as climate change accelerates over the century to come.”
  2. “The effects of climate change should not be considered in isolation. Every state’s economy is linked to the economies of surrounding states as well as to the national and global economy. While the economic costs of climate change are predicted to vary significantly from state to state, the negative impacts that regional, national and global markets may experience are likely to affect all states and many sectors.”
  3. “While some of the benefits from climate change may accrue to individual farms or businesses, the cost of dealing with adverse climate impacts are typically borne by society as a whole. These costs to society will not be uniformly distributed but felt most among small businesses and farms, the elderly and socially marginalized groups.”
  4. “The costs of inaction are persistent and lasting. Benefits from climate change may be brief and fleeting – for example, climate does not stop changing once a farm benefited from temporarily improved growing conditions. In contrast, costs of inaction are likely to stay and to increase.”
  5. “Climate models and impact assessments are becoming increasingly refined…Yet, little consistency exists among studies to enable ‘summing up’ impacts and cost figures across sectors and regions to arrive at a comprehensive, state-wide result.” More precise modeling will require further research.

“If there’s a single bottom line in all of this research, it’s that delaying action on climate change carries a significant cost,” says Ruth. “State, local and national leaders will save money in the long-run by adopting a proactive approach.”

The researchers selected the eight states to be analyzed based on the availability of data from prior studies, while avoiding replication of research on states already in the limelight (e.g., California). The researchers also made their selections to provide geographical diversity.

Source: University of Maryland

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 10:38 am

Site of interesting stuff

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Browse this site for a while. Interesting oddities. I particularly like the bacon-flavored dental floss and will buy some. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 10:28 am

Posted in Daily life

Martin Seligman on the state of psychology

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Martin Seligman is the author of the fascinating book, Learned Optimism, which I perennially recommend.

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Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 10:17 am

Posted in Daily life

Biofilms: how they do it

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Biofilms have long fascinated me: a bunch of individual bacteria, once enough are present with a certain density, suddenly start acting as a cooperative colony, producing a protective film that binds the colony together. Clever little devils, considering they don’t have two brain cells to rub together. Now the protective mechanism of the film is becoming clearer:

Bacteria rarely come as loners; more often they grow in crowds and squat on surfaces where they form a community together. These so-called biofilms develop on any surface that bacteria can attach themselves to. The dilemma we face is that neither disinfectants and antibiotics, nor phagocytes and our immune system can destroy these biofilms. This is a particular problem in hospitals if these bacteria form a community on a catheter or implant where they could potentially cause a serious infection. Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig have now identified one of the fundamental mechanisms used by the bacteria in biofilms to protect themselves against the attacking phagocytes. The scientists are now publishing their findings in the renowned specialist publication PLoS ONE, together with colleagues from Australia, Great Britain and the USA – the discovery being that biofilm bacteria use chemical weapons to defend themselves. Until now, scientists have been unable to understand the root of the biofilm problem – the inability of phagocytes to destroy these biofilms. Dr. Carsten Matz decided to investigate this problem. As a model for his investigation, this Braunschweig-based researcher decided to look at marine bacteria. They face constant threats in their habitat from environmental phagocytes, the amoebae, which behave in a similar way in the sea as the immune cells in our body: they seek out and feed on the bacteria. So long as bacteria are swimming freely and separately in the water, they are easy pickings for these predators. However, if they become attached to a surface and socialize with other bacteria, the amoebae can no longer successfully attack them. “The surprising thing was that the amoebae attacking the biofilms were de-activated or even killed. The bacteria are clearly not just building a fortress, they are also fighting back,” says Carsten Matz.

The bacteria utilise chemical weapons to achieve this. A widespread and highly effective molecule used by marine bacteria is the pigment violacein. Once the defence system is ready, the biofilm shimmers a soft purple colour. If the attackers consume just a single cell of the biofilm – and the pigment they contain – this paralyses the attackers momentarily and the violacein triggers a suicide mechanism in the amoebae.

“I feel that these results could offer a change of perspective,” says Carsten Matz. “Biofilms may no longer be seen just as a problem; they may also be a source of new bioactive agents. When organized in biofilms, bacteria produce highly effective substances which individual bacteria alone cannot produce.” And the scientists hope to use these molecules to combat a specific group of pathogens: Human parasites that cause devastating infections such as sleeping illness and malaria. Amoeba are ancient relatives of these pathogens and thus biofilm-derived weapons may provide an excellent basis for the design of new parasiticidal drugs.

Source: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Planning events—weddings, for example

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I had an earlier post on wedding planning, using a link I got from Download Squad. Unfortunately, the DS post is misleading: the “tools” are actually just categorized collections of advertisements. So I went and looked for myself, and found a UCLA site that provides good information and a variety of worksheets to use in planning an event (e.g., a wedding). Some of the information is specific to UCLA but is readily revised to reflect your own event.

Timeline

A timeline is organized chronologically by date and may include tasks, staff assignments, program notes and their corresponding deadlines.

  • Event Timeline: The event timeline outlines the tasks to accomplish for the event from month-to-month, week-to-week, and day-to-day. It looks at the entire event planning process from start to finish.
  • Printed Materials Timeline: The printed materials timeline outlines the deadline dates pertaining to the printed material design, printing and mailing.

Schedule

A schedule includes tasks, staff assignments and program notes or cues centering on the days preceding and the day of the event. It is organized by time of day.

  • Event Schedule: The event schedule outlines the different event components based on date, time and location.
  • Program Schedule: The program schedule outlines the different individuals and components that make up the spoken or performed program based on date and time of day.
  • Production Schedule: The production schedule details from setup to strike each aspect, task, duty and cue to be completed in the days preceding and during the event. It is categorized by date and time.

Worksheets

See these worksheets to assist you with planning specific event components: catering, rental, speaker, venue and volunteer.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in Daily life

Bad news: CCD spreading to wild bees

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The disease that has been killing domesticated bees (trucked around the country to pollinate crops) is spreading to wild bees:

Bees provide crucial pollination service to numerous crops and up to a third of the human diet comes from plants pollinated by insects. However, pollinating bees are suffering widespread declines in North America and scientists warn that this could have serious implications for agriculture and food supply. While the cause of these declines has largely been a mystery, new research reveals an alarming spread of disease from commercial bees to wild pollinators. In a study published in the July 23 issue of the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Michael Otterstatter and James Thomson of the University of Toronto present compelling evidence that commercially produced bumble bees used in greenhouses are infecting their wild cousins, and that this is likely contributing to reductions in the natural pollinating bee population.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 9:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Medical

Aerodynamic drag, then and now

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Interesting article in TreeHugger on the aerodynamic drag of various automobiles. For example:

  • Rumpler (1921): 0.28
  • Toyota Prius (current model): 0.26
  • General Motors EV-1 (the model crushed and discarded): 0.195
  • Aptera (later this year): 0.11 (competitive with Formula One cars)

The article directs you to this comprehensive list, but take a look at the article for the nice photos of the Rumpler (plus a paper cut-out model you can make).

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 9:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

White House turnaround on greenhouse gases

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Matthew Blake writes in the Washington Independent:

At a Senate hearing today Jason Burnett, a former Environmental Protection Agency official, testified to how the White House changed its mind on whether the EPA should regulate greenhouse gases. Burnett, who worked with EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to formulate global warming policy, said the White House was totally for regulating global warming-causing emissions in November 2007. But what happened next, Burnett told the Senate environment and public works committee, was “strange indeed.”

Burnett sent an email to the White House in December saying that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and that, therefore EPA has no choice but to regulate them (the Supreme Court ruled in May 2007 that EPA must regulate greenhouses if they are proved harmful). Originally, Joel Kaplan, the White House deputy chief of staff, and the Office of Management Budget agreed. But then Kaplan and OMB abruptly told Burnett to say that he “accidentally” sent the email. Burnett refused to do so and the email is still sitting apparently unopened by the White House.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-Ca.) chair of the committee, is planning to hold a committee vote Thursday on whether to subpoena the email.

Burnett also spent today giving equally eyebrow-raising accounts of how the EPA administrator was for, then quickly against, giving California a waiver to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles. Burnett said Johnson changed his mind after it was specified to Johnson that the president wanted a “single fuel economy standard” for vehicles. This standard would be the energy bill that became law in December.

In both of these decisions, Burnett said that he, Johnson and two other top EPA officials would meet with top representatives from the White House, President’s office, Vice President’s office and other government agencies like the Dept. of Transportation and OMB. While Burnett charitably described it as a “robust interagency process” he was taken aback by OMB general counsel Jeff Rosen’s ignorance about global warming-causing carbon dioxide molecules. Rosen requested that EPA only count carbon dioxide molecules in the air that came from automobiles, not ones from power plants. “It was sometimes embarrassing,” Burnett said, “For me to return to EPA and say that I had to explain to OMB that carbon dioxide is a molecule and you can’t differentiate in the air where a molecule came from.”

The gist of Burnett’s revelations have come out in earlier transcribed interviews he provided to Congressional committees. Republicans on the Senate environment committee, normally ardent foes of Boxer’s preferred global warming policies, did not question the veracity of Burnett’s testimony. Idaho’s Larry Craig, though, did try to take a swipe by noting Burnett’s not a doctor. And he entered into the record “some additional information on Burnett.” This information is probably that Burnett’s given a ton of money to the Obama campaign and may start to work for it.

As long as Larry Craig’s the only politician questioning his motives, Burnett’s account should stick– and shape the story of Bush’s EPA.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 9:05 am

Mr. Taylor

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I particularly like the fragrance of Mr. Taylor’s Shaving Cream and Mr. Taylor’s aftershave—both made, of course, by Taylor of Old Bond Street. I used that combination today, with the Rooney Style 2 for a superb lather, a Gillette adjustable with a long black handle (can’t recall the name of that model) holding a Feather blade, and Hydrolast Cutting Balm for the oil pass. Very pleasant and very smooth.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2008 at 8:02 am

Posted in Shaving

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