Later On

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

Archive for August 14th, 2008

Teens misestimate traffic risks

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Interesting finding below. I wonder whether a well-designed video game could raise awareness and teach better judgment regarding traffic situations.

Most teens’ attitudes regarding trauma-related injuries, particularly those due to motor vehicle crashes, reflect an sense of invincibility and focus on fate rather than choice, according to new research published in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Teenage drivers have the highest motor vehicle crash and fatality rate of any demographic group. Injury prevention programs, which educate the public about the link between injury and high risk behaviors such as infrequent seatbelt use, impairment because of alcohol abuse, and speeding, are a requirement for accredited trauma centers. However, researchers say existing injury prevention initiatives often fall short of countering flawed beliefs and must better demonstrate – especially to teens – how and why their young age puts them at greater risk for injury.

“Students need to comprehend that it is lack of judgment, not only lack of skill, that increases the risk of injury to one’s self and others. ‘Not wanting something bad to happen’ is simply not enough,” said Najma Ahmed, MD, PhD, FACS, assistant trauma director, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto. “In addition to giving teens the knowledge and teaching them the technical skills, injury prevention programs must also address teens’ attitudes about being immune to illness and death as a means of changing high-risk behaviors, such as driving while impaired.”

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Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

The Bacon Chronicles: Bacon butter

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So the exploration of bacon continues. Miss Ginsu offers recipes for three butters, one of which is bacon butter (about as treyf as it gets). Click the link for the other two recipes.

The Bacon Butter is divine on grilled vegetables (try it on your corn-on-the-cob), the Herb Butter is great sliced and slipped under the skin of a chicken you’re about to roast, the Anchovy Butter especially loves steaks and broiled fish… and (surprise!) all three are delicious spread across the surface of a fresh baguette. Or maybe even a hot biscuit. Mmm…

Blended Bacon Butter
1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup crisp bacon, finely crumbled (or proscuitto or serrano ham, minced)
1/4 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1. Blend the butter in a bowl with the bacon or minced proscuitto/serrano (a wooden spoon works well for this).

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Roll the butter into a tight log shape in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week. If you won’t use it that day, wrap well (or seal in a freezer bag) or freeze for up to 3 months.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 5:40 pm

An anthropological intro to YouTube

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Via Mind Hacks, which notes:

Wesh runs a digital ethnography project which looks at how cultures form and operate on the net.

The project’s blog is also full of fascinating insights and is well worth checking out if you thought anthropology was only ever about people who don’t have electricity.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 5:11 pm

Micro-managers, take note

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Generally systems work best if they are not so heavily controlled. Take, for instance, this intriguing article by Mark Buchanan in New Scientist:

We humans prefer the tidy to the untidy, the ordered to the disordered. We like pristine geometrical regularity, and eschew what is erratic and irregular. We want predictability and, more than anything, we want control.

In these confusing times, it might seem as if we have little power over anything. Instead of letting it get us down, though, perhaps we should take comfort from the work of Dirk Helbing, a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Helbing has been studying the movement of tens of thousands of cars on road networks; the workings of vast webs of interacting machines on factory floors; and other systems, where the complexity of what happens and why routinely defeats the human mind.

What Helbing and others are finding is that our penchant for regularity and control is seriously misguided. In many situations they are discovering that it is better to give up some of our control and let systems find their own solutions. Often the answers turn out to be unlike anything our minds would imagine, yet the outcomes are far more efficient.

The findings come as something of a relief to today’s engineers, who are increasingly dealing with problems too complicated for them to solve. Take one of the earliest successes chalked up by machines allowed to take control.

Back in 1992, General Motors were having trouble managing the automated painting of trucks at an assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Machines in 10 different paint booths could paint trucks as they came off the line, but because the trucks came off in an unpredictable order and the painting machines needed sporadic maintenance and repair, finding an efficient assignment of trucks to booths seemed impossible.

General Motors’ visionary engineer Dick Morley suggested

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Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Killing off our planet: Oceans division

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Humanity doesn’t act as though it has intelligence, does it? Latest example:

In the latest sign of trouble in the planet’s chemistry, the number of oxygen-starved “dead zones” in coastal waters around the world has roughly doubled every decade since the 1960s, killing fish, crustaceans and massive amounts of marine life at the base of the food chain, according to a study released today.

“These zones are popping up all over,” said Robert Diaz, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who led of the study published online by the journal Science.

Diaz and co-author Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden counted more than 400 dead zones globally, ranging from massive ones in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to small ones that episodically appear in river estuaries. The amount of “biomass” that is missing because of low oxygen levels in the Chesapeake Bay would be enough to feed half the commercial crab harvest for a year, Diaz estimated.

Low oxygen, known as hypoxia, is a significant measure of the downstream effect of chemical fertilizers used in agriculture. Air pollution is another factor. The nitrogen from the fertilizer or pollution feeds the growth of algae in coastal waters, particularly during summer. The algae eventually dies and sinks to the bottom, where the organic matter decays in a process that robs the bottom waters of oxygen.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 2:22 pm

YouTube for Teachers

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The Airtightnoodle points out this wonderful resource: Teacher Tube. Spread the word to all teachers. An example.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Anti-malware toolkit

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Very interesting software for maximum computer protection.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Mouse may be fixed

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My Logitech MX Revolution mouse has been frequently giving me double-clicks on the left button when I click only once. It’s intermittent. Sometimes I get several in a row, then a period of single clicks. I downloaded and re-installed the driver. No help. I posted a query in the forum. No answer. I tried a different mouse: no double clicks.

So I went to the email support option and drafted my query to email to support. The final step before clicking “submit” is that they list a number of problems (with solutions) and ask if any of those help. I dutifully clicked the one that seemed most likely to help, and found this little piece of advice:

Try resetting the mouse by switching it on or off.

So I turned the mouse off, turned it back on. Problem gone.

Remember this for when your mouse drives you crazy. I think the clicking off and then back on clearly and unmistakeably shows the mouse who is master and thus brings it to heel.

UPDATE: Scrolling is working better, too. From now on, I turn off the mouse each evening.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Spending behavior

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As dollars lessen in value (thanks, George) and the economy moves into recession, spending habits must change. (Note especially this post by Kevin Drum.) But changing habits is going to be difficult, especially for some:

For some, spending in today’s tumultuous economy is not a problem, especially for those who don’t care what everyone else has. But for others, casino splurges, not saving enough or buying the latest iPhone on impulse can lead to emotional turmoil or financial troubles, according to several new studies on consumer behavior. These studies, presented at the 116th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, show how various approaches to spending can lead to contentment or problems. The studies cover the buying habits and emotional well-being of spenders, the demographics of gamblers and who is at risk for trouble, the strategies people use to save and the emotional reactions of impulse buyers.

In one study, psychologist Miriam Tatzel, PhD, of Empire State College, State University of New York, compared peoples’ spending habits with their sense of well-being.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 10:25 am

Posted in Daily life

Balcony gardening

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The shiso is coming along fine. Although it had a late start, I’m hoping to actually be able to eat some of the leaves. The whole farming thing is intriguing, and I’m wondering whether I should extend my efforts. This container looks very nice for a modest balcony gardening, but $255! Too much. Even $127 seems like a lot, but I would pay $63.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Summertime pasta

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From Mark Bittman:

Pasta with corn, zucchini and tomatoes is a flexible dish in both flavorings and ingredients. You can use onions, garlic or shallots singly or in combination; add string beans or fresh limas or other beans to the mix; substitute eggplant for the zucchini. Think of it as a delicious mélange of whatever is on hand.

Pasta With Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes
Yield 4 servings Time 30 minutes

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the cob using a sharp knife in a shallow bowl in the sink to maximize yield and minimize mess. [Simply Recipes suggested using a bundt pan: rest the end of the cob in the depression on the center peak, the pan being large enough to catch all the kernels – LG]

  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup corn kernels (from 2 or 3 ears)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash (from 2 or 3 small vegetables)
  • 1 medium onion or 3 or 4 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1 sprigs tarragon
  • 4 plum or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound cut pasta, like penne.

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown. Add zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini begins to brown.

2. Add onion or shallots and garlic if you are using it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add tarragon and cook for 30 seconds, then tomatoes. Put pasta in boiling water and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. While pasta cooks continue to cook sauce, reducing heat when tomatoes begin to break down. If sauce dries out (with plum tomatoes, this is likely), add some pasta cooking water, about 1/2 cup at a time. When pasta is done, drain it, toss with sauce and remaining oil or butter, and serve immediately.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 10:04 am

“Nations don’t invade other nations”

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McCain goes on the record saying that “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.” He was, of course, talking about Russia’s invasion of Georgia, not the US invasion of Iraq. I think he’s forgotten that one.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 8:57 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Pygmy Anteater

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More videos of the little guy here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pygmy Anteater“, posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 8:20 am

Posted in Daily life

When generals fall out

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Interesting report by Carol Rosenberg for the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

GUANTANAMO BAY NAY BASE, Cuba — One general testified about another general at the war court Wednesday, describing a Pentagon official fast-tracking trials here as “abusive, bullying, unprofessional.”

Moreover, in testimony, Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti, deputy prison camps commander, described the approach employed earlier this year by his counterpart, Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, this way:

“Spray and pray. Charge everybody. Let’s go. Speed, speed, speed.”

The colorful testimony — using battlefield language — was in pretrial hearings in the case of Afghan detainee Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan accused of wounding two U.S. troops by throwing a grenade in a bazaar in Kabul.

Hartmann is the legal advisor overseeing the first U.S. war crimes tribunals since World War II. Jawad’s attorney, Air Force Reserve Maj. David Frakt, wants his client’s charges dismissed on grounds that Hartmann exerted ”unlawful influence” on the Guantánamo trials from his perch at the Pentagon.

Frakt alleges in his motion that Hartmann usurped the role of a prosecutor — rather than act as an impartial supervisor — by pressuring military attorneys to charge Jawad because the case involved battlefield bloodshed.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 8:06 am

Posted in Military

Movie report

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Last night I watched the 1978 film Death on the Nile, an Agatha Christie mystery with Peter Ustinov in the role of Hercule Poirot, Belgian Detective. It was a roaring good time with a fine cast enjoying the chance to overact a bit. Two and a half hours, so one certainly gets one’s money’s worth. Then Cousin Bette, another costume drama, quite compelling. And Penzey’s Southwest Seasoning is indeed a fine popcorn topping.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 8:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

Vanilla today

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Honeybee Spa’s Vanilla Cream Shave stick, lather through adroit use of the Rooney Style 3 Size 1 Super, then a new Treet Classic blade in the Edwin Jagger Ivory Chatsworth—very smooth, very effective. Three passes and then a splash of Coty’s Raw Vanilla aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

14 August 2008 at 7:59 am

Posted in Shaving

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