Later On

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

Archive for August 12th, 2008

Another weird substance

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Thanks to The Younger Daughter for pointing out this:

More info here, including an explanation.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Daily life

Why is Mukasey our Attorney General?

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Mainly due to Sens. Schumer and Feinstein, but I’m asking why such a person would want the job. His latest pronouncement:

“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he said. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.”

He’s talking about the illegal procedures used to fire and hire US Attorney Generals, using political criteria.

I’m sure that many in the Bush Administration are relieved that hear that breaking the law is not a crime.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 6:44 pm

Relationship downside of birth-control pill

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Bad news about birth-control pills: women who use them tend to make bad choices of mates. Daniel DeNoon explains at WebMD:

A woman is sexually attracted to men who smell like a good genetic match, but birth control pills make her desire the “wrong” men, a U.K. study shows.

Who is the right man? Studies suggest women are attracted to men whose genetic makeup differs from their own. Having a genetically different mate increases the chances for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

“If this really happens in the real world, women on the pill would end up choosing a more genetically similar mate than she would otherwise choose and the implications go on from there,” study researcher S. Craig Roberts, PhD, tells WebMD.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Ignorance hates science

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Amazing report—and for The Elder Grandson’s birthday, we gave him a book of chemistry experiments to do at home…

A special guest post “home science under attack” by Robert Bruce Thompson…

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents.Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He’s not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for … doing experiments.

Authorities concede that the chemicals found in Deeb’s basement lab were no more hazardous than typical household cleaning products. Despite that, authorities confiscated “all potentially hazardous chemicals” (which is to say the chemicals in Deeb’s lab) from his home, and called in a hazardous waste cleanup company to test the chemicals and clean up the lab.

Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for Marlboro, stated, “I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.”

Allow me to translate Ms. Wilderman’s words into plain English: “Mr. Deeb hasn’t actually violated any law or regulation that I can find, but I don’t like what he’s doing because I’m ignorant and irrationally afraid of chemicals, so I’ll abuse my power to steal his property and shut him down.”

In effect, the Massachusetts authorities have invaded Deeb’s lab, apparently without a warrant, and stolen his property. Deeb, presumably under at least the implied threat of further action, has not objected to the warrantless search and the confiscation of his property. Or perhaps he’s just biding his time. It appears that Deeb has grounds for a nice juicy lawsuit here.

There’s a lesson here for all of us who do science at home, whether we’re home schoolers or DIY science enthusiasts. The government is not our friend. Massachusetts is the prototypical nanny state, of course, but the other 49 aren’t far behind. Any of us could one day find the police at the door, demanding to search our home labs. If that day comes, I will demand a warrant and waste no time getting my attorney on the phone.

There’s a word for what just happened in Massachusetts. Tyranny. And it’s something none of us should tolerate.

Robert Bruce Thompson is the author of Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments – For students, DIY hobbyists, and science buffs, who can no longer get real chemistry sets, this one-of-a-kind guide explains how to set up and use a home chemistry lab, with step-by-step instructions for conducting experiments in basic chemistry. Learn how to smelt copper, purify alcohol, synthesize rayon, test for drugs and poisons, and much more. The book includes lessons on how to equip your home chemistry lab, master laboratory skills, and work safely in your lab, along with 17 hands-on chapters that include multiple laboratory sessions.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 4:10 pm

I don’t like to brag, but I have a pterygium and you don’t

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Probably you don’t. And you don’t want a pterygium—it’s not a pet, though it sounds sort of like one. It will grow, but slowly. However, peeling it off tends to rouse it up and it grows back faster. I got some GenTeal eye drops, which are said to help. Mostly avoid irritating the eyes: avoiding things like chlorinated water (I don’t swim), dust, UV rays. I wonder whether a long period when I didn’t wear sunglasses contributed. Oh, well.

On the bright side, I am getting lenses from a new prescription that should markedly improve my vision. The old prescription was suboptimal. OTOH, I am now without my good glasses for a week. So it goes.

When you’re out of doors, wear sunglasses. Good ones. That’s my advice.

UPDATE: “Good ones”: I have found that amber/brown provides the sharpest image (better than green or grey, for example). 85% light absorption is good: the sunglasses should absorb enough light so that you can’t wear them indoors because everything’s then too dark. Polarized is good: cuts down on glare from reflected light, which is polarized as well. The glasses should reflect all ultraviolet and infrared. REI is a good source, as is a good optician. (A “good optician” is one who agrees with my recommendations. 🙂 )

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Daily life

Party distinctions

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Very good post at the Booman Tribune:

I don’t know how many undecided voters stumble across this ‘Progressive Community’, but here’s something for you to think about. In every presidential election there is one party that works fervently to register as many voters as possible and another party that works with equal vigor to create obstacles to registration and to cull the rolls of voters (not excluding fully qualified voters). It should tell you something about the nature of the two major parties that they each follow this same pattern year after year. If you are uncertain about which party takes which action, you can begin reading here:

Republicans are moving to examine surges in voter registrations in some states. A Republican lawyers group held a national training session on election law over the weekend that included campaign attorneys for Sen. John McCain and other Republican leaders. One session discussed how party operatives can identify and respond to instances of voter fraud.Republicans said they are particularly worried about prospects for fraud in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and are beginning to comb thousands of new registrations in those states for ineligible applicants.

Meanwhile, the Democrats:

Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer last Tuesday said in a memorandum to campaign supporters that their own voter legal defense operation is under way, earlier than those of previous Democratic campaigns, including legal counsel on the ground in 50 states. The campaign is working closely with the Democratic Party, which said it has spent three years building a voter-protection program that includes more than 18 paid staff and 7,000 lawyers. The personnel deployed Aug. 1 and are dealing directly with local elections officials.

Or, you can put it this way:

Traditionally, Democrats favor fewer checks on verification and greater access to voting to encourage larger turnouts, particularly among lower-income and minority voters, who tend to favor Democrats. Republicans usually push for closer monitoring, in such forms as laws with strict requirements for voters to present identification, which can result in lower turnout.

The Republicans and the Democrats each have self-serving reasons to take these positions. But it remains true that the Democrat Party favors greater voter participation and the Republicans try to keep voter participation down. One of the recent tricks utilized by the Republicans is to claim that there is widespread voter fraud. Basically, they allege that there are voters who cast more than one ballot (say, in two locations on the same day), people that vote for the dead, people voting that should be ineligible to vote (not U.S. citizens, felony record, or too young), etc. The problem with these allegations is that there have been numerous studies done that show that these types of voting fraud cases are extraordinarily rare.

In recent years, …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 9:19 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, GOP

Cool weather program

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Specifically NOT a cool-weather program, note. Check it out. Free, of course. If you want to check out Leisureguy’s weather, my ZIP Code is 93940.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 8:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Clinton’s campaign

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Via James Fallows, a very interesting examination of the internals of Hillary Clinton’s campaign by Joshua Green:

For all that has been written and said about Hillary Clinton’s epic collapse in the Democratic primaries, one issue still nags. Everybody knows what happened. But we still don’t have a clear picture of how it happened, or why.

The after-battle assessments in the major newspapers and newsweeklies generally agreed on the big picture: the campaign was not prepared for a lengthy fight; it had an insufficient delegate operation; it squandered vast sums of money; and the candidate herself evinced a paralyzing schizophrenia—one day a shots-’n’-beers brawler, the next a Hallmark Channel mom. Through it all, her staff feuded and bickered, while her husband distracted. But as a journalistic exercise, the “campaign obit” is inherently flawed, reflecting the viewpoints of those closest to the press rather than empirical truth.

How did things look on the inside, as they unraveled?

To find out, I approached a number of current and former Clinton staffers and outside consultants and asked them to share memos, e-mails, meeting minutes, diaries—anything that would offer a contemporaneous account. The result demonstrates that paranoid dysfunction breeds the impulse to hoard. Everything from major strategic plans to bitchy staff e-mail feuds was handed over. (See for yourself: much of it is posted online at www.theatlantic.com/clinton.)

Two things struck me right away.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 8:31 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Vitamin D: low levels deadly

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I’ve beat the drum about the importance of vitamin D quite a bit. I take 3000 IU of vitamin D a day, plus I try to be outside occasionally. Generally speaking, Americans have low levels of vitamin D—down to subclinical deficiencies. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone. People in the southern states—the belt from Florida across to southern California—who also work outdoors every day will have no problems with sufficient vitamin D. But if you live in the middle or northern belt of the US and/or work indoors, take care that you get sufficient vitamin D. Latest finding:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins are reporting what is believed to be the most conclusive evidence to date that inadequate levels of vitamin D, obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, lead to substantially increased risk of death. In a study set to appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine online Aug. 11, the Johns Hopkins team analyzed a diverse sample of 13,000 initially healthy men and women participating in an ongoing national health survey and compared the risk of death between those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D to those with higher amounts. An unhealthy deficiency, experts say, is considered blood levels of 17.8 nanograms per milliliter or lower.

Of the 1,800 study participants known to have died by Dec. 31, 2000, nearly 700 died from some form of heart disease, with 400 of these being deficient in vitamin D. This translates overall to an estimated 26 percent increased risk of any death, though the number of deaths from heart disease alone was not large enough to meet scientific criteria to resolve that it was due to low vitamin D levels.

Yet, researchers say it does highlight a trend, with other studies linking shortages of vitamin D to increased rates of breast cancer and depression in the elderly. And earlier published findings by the team, from the same national study, have established a possible tie-in, showing an 80 percent increased risk of peripheral artery disease from vitamin D deficits.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 8:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

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Tax favoritism

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The tax cuts have notoriously and overwhelmingly favored the wealthy, and now this, from ThinkProgress:

A new GAO report has found that “two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005.” The GAO “said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.”

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 7:54 am

Boots and Bay Rum

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I used the Boots shave stick today, the only commercial shave stick that has an actual container—at least the only one I know. Very good lather with the Simpsons Duke 3 Best doing the brushing, and I used the Apollo Mikron again today—I’m getting such good shaves with it that it’s hard to move on. Three passes, and then Taylor of Old Bond Street Bay Rum aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2008 at 7:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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