Later On

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

Archive for September 17th, 2008

The least important bill

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Very interesting post at The Simple Dollar—and clever. Go read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Daily life

Freeware for the Mac

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Specifically, ten freeware packages that do the job of various commercial (i.e., not free) applications.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Software

Library run

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Just returned a handful of movies to the library and checked out:

Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, by Barton Gellman. (Scott Horton interviews Gellman about the book here.)

Charlie Bartlett, a movie.

Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. Another humongous Stephenson novel.

Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again [at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD – LG’s alma mater], by Roger Martin

The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, by Josh Waitzkin, based on this post I read today in My Mind on Books: “‘The Art of Learning’ from a chess and martial arts master”.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

More on Bisphenol A

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This post has excellent information on what’s going on now and why Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is on the case and writing to the FDA to get more information. I strongly urge you to read this one. It begins:

We’ve discussed the component of plastics bisphenol A (BPA) here before (here, here) but yesterday the Journal of the American Medical Association published a significant paper with an accompanying editorial that deserves mention. A panel of the FDA was scheduled to meet the same day to review FDA’s draft assessment that BPA was not a safety problem in the US food supply and environment. As a result of the JAMA article, the ranking member of the Committee on Finance, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has written to the Commissioner of the FDA asking for a clarification of the FDA’s position on the science underlying a recent NIH review of BPA’s safety together with the names, titles, internal communications and communications with the chemical industry trade association and manufacturers of BPA. Clearly Grassley smells a rat. The precincts of the FDA are already so odorous it’s a wonder a new stink can even be detected. So this one must really reek. Here’s some of the background from the Editorial:

In this issue of JAMA, Lang and colleagues report the results of the first major epidemiologic study to examine the health effects associated with the ubiquitous estrogenic chemical bisphenol A (BPA). This compound is the base chemical (monomer) used to make polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers, the resin lining of cans, and dental sealants; it also is found in “carbonless” paper used for receipts as well as a wide range of other common household products. Based on their analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004, Lang et al report a significant relationship between urine concentrations of BPA and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities in a representative sample of the adult US population. (vom Saal, F, Myers P in JAMA)

BPA is one of the highest volume chemicals in production worldwide. It has become ubiquitous in the environment, including food and drink, and BPA levels can now be detected in 90% of Americans. BPA also acts like a mimic of the major female sex hormone family, the estrogens. A very large body of animal literature has showed two things: that BPA has biological effects at levels relevant to environmental exposure and similar to natural estrogens (nanomole range); and that in animals it acts through response mechanisms also present in humans. The Lang et al. paper therefore is not surprising. It is pretty much what we would expect to see. On the other hand, the paper is surprising, because looking a representative sample of the US population for common diseases usually involves so much noise you can only see the strongest signals through the static.

The study involved …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 12:51 pm

Not Deborah Madison’s Lentil Salad

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This started off as a Deborah Madison recipe, but I made so many deviations from it that it makes sense just to post my version, which (though I say it myself) is wonderfully tasty. (Here’s the original, in case you’re interested.)

Not Deborah Madison’s lentil salad
Total time: 40 minutes    Servings: 6

Original Note:

From The Greens Cookbook. Puy lentils are at Whole Foods markets, Nicole’s Gourmet Foods in South Pasadena and Monsieur Marcel at the Fairfax Farmer’s Market. Brown lentils are at Trader Joe’s. Make a day ahead; the flavors improve overnight.

Lemon vinaigrette
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons olive oil , or more to taste

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest, the paprika, cayenne, garlic and salt. Whisk in the olive oil. The dressing should be tart. Taste and adjust seasoning, oil and lemon juice.

Salad
1 lb small Black Beluga Lentils (I couldn’t find Puy lentils, aka French Green Lentils), rinsed
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8 inch cubes
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan combine the lentils, carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic and salt. Add enough water to cover and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large or 2 small jalapeños, chopped (not seeded)
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried thyme
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground pepper

While the lentils are cooking, mix the above ingredients in a large bowl. (You will add the lentils, so make sure there’s room.)

Drain the cooked lentils and fold the vinaigrette into the warm lentils.

Add the lentils to the bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and red wine vinegar to taste.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 12:38 pm

Why the government took a 79.9% stake in AIG

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Why not 80%?  Ezra Klein explains. Turns out there’s a good reason.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 11:07 am

McCain yesterday and today

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Steve Benen says it well:

Yesterday, on the “Today” show, John McCain rejected the notion of government intervention to support AIG, saying, “I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG.” NBC’s Matt Lauer asked, “So, if we get to the point, in the middle of the week when AIG might have to file for bankruptcy, they’re on their own?” McCain replied, “Well, they’re on their own.”

This morning on “Good Morning America,” McCain took a far different line on the bailout. “I didn’t want to do that. And I don’t think anybody I know wanted to do that. But there are literally millions of people whose retirement, whose investment, whose insurance were at risk here,” McCain said. …

Continue reading because it’s really worth reading in its entirety.

And note also this AP story by Glen Johnson:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:49 am

Posted in Election, GOP

We need referees

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Excellent point made by a commenter to Talking Points Memo:

Hi, I’m a big fan of TPM, have never commented before but I’ve got a financial background and have grown really frustrated about the way the Democrats — the Obama campaign in particular — have not driven home their fundamental differences on how they view the role and operation of the financial markets, and how, at this point, implementation of one point of view over another is becoming the difference between the U.S. sliding downward into 2nd-world economic status or the dollar and U.S. financial markets maintaining their leading role around the world.

One metaphor the Democrats don’t use, that I think of over and over when I hear Obama speak about the need for regulation: the markets operate like team sports — like say, a football game. Team sports don’t operate well without referees, and that’s exactly what’s happened under the Republicans.

They can blame Clinton all they want — the fact is, the Republicans under leadership of such brain trusts as Phil Gramm have methodically removed the referees from the games, and look what’s happened. One of the primary reasons investors shy away from putting money into third world countries is an ABSENCE OF REGULATION.

Why doesn’t Obama encapsulate his ideas in this way? Democrats believe in free markets, but free markets need rules and referees, just like a football game does, otherwise chaos and destruction.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:42 am

The Wall Street Journal on Palin

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Thomas Frank has a very interesting column on Sarah Palin in the Wall Street Journal, a conservative publication. It begins:

It tells us something about Sarah Palin’s homage to small-town America, delivered to an enthusiastic GOP convention last week, that she chose to fire it up with an unsourced quotation from the all-time champion of fake populism, the belligerent right-wing columnist Westbrook Pegler.

“We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity,” the vice-presidential candidate said, quoting an anonymous “writer,” which is to say, Pegler, who must have penned that mellifluous line when not writing his more controversial stuff. As the New York Times pointed out in its obituary of him in 1969, Pegler once lamented that a would-be assassin “hit the wrong man” when gunning for Franklin Roosevelt.

There’s no evidence that Mrs. Palin shares the trademark Pegler bloodlust — except maybe when it comes to moose and wolves. Nevertheless, the red-state myth that Mrs. Palin reiterated for her adoring audience owes far more to the venomous spirit of Pegler than it does to Norman Rockwell.

Small town people, Mrs. Palin went on, are “the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars.” They are authentic; they are noble, and they are her own: “I grew up with those people.”

But what really defines them in Mrs. Palin’s telling is their enemies, the people who supposedly “look down” on them. The opposite of the heartland is the loathsome array of snobs and fakers, “reporters and commentators,” lobbyists and others who make up “the Washington elite.”

Presumably the various elite Washington lobbyists who have guided John McCain’s presidential campaign were exempt from Mrs. Palin’s criticism. As would be former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, now a “senior adviser” to the Dickstein Shapiro lobby firm, who hymned the “Sarah Palin part of the party” thus: “Their kids aren’t going to go to Ivy League schools. Their sons leave high school and join the military to serve our country. Their husbands and wives work two jobs to make sure the family is sustained.”

Generally speaking, though, when husbands and wives work two jobs each it is not merely because they are virtuous but because working one job doesn’t earn them enough to get by. The two-job workers in Middle America aren’t spurning the Ivy League and joining the military straight out of high school just because they’re people of principle, although many of them are. It is because they can’t afford to do otherwise.

Leave the fantasy land of convention rhetoric, and you will find …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Why Palin fired Monegan—latest reason

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Zachary Roth says it succinctly at TPMMuckraker:

So Sarah Palin’s latest explanation for why she fired Walt Monegan is that he had gone over her head in seeking federal money for an initiative to combat sexual assault crimes, before she had approved the program.

But it now appears that the program in question is one that most elected officials would be wary of admitting they hadn’t strongly backed. According to Peggy Brown, who heads the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Monegan wanted to use the federal money to hire retired troopers and law enforcement officials, and assign them to investigate the most egregious cases of sexual assault — including those against children.

In other words, if Palin’s new story is true, she fired Monegan for being too aggressive in going after child molesters.

ABC News reported yesterday that, although Alaska leads the nation in reported rapes per capita, Palin hasn’t made the issue a priority as governor.

Monegan, however, appeared eager to change that. “He seemed to get the issue and really took it seriously,” Brown told TPMmuckraker.

According to the Palin camp, too seriously.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:30 am

Lifestyle changes that extend life

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Nothing spectacular, but good to know:

A new study suggests that middle-aged women who followed certain key lifestyle habits had lower risk for death than those who did not.

Researchers led by Robert van Dam, PhD, of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, looked at death risk and five lifestyle factors:

  1. cigarette smoking,
  2. being overweight,
  3. low physical activity,
  4. no light or moderate alcohol use, and
  5. low-quality diet.

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

FDA criticized over Bisphenol A

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UPDATE: This post has excellent information on what’s going on now and why Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is on the case and writing to the FDA to get more information. I strongly urge you to read this one.

Todd Zwillich has an interesting article for WebMD. It begins:

Researchers and environmental groups attacked the FDA for concluding that a widely used plastic ingredient is safe for humans, saying the agency ignored critical studies showing potential ill health effects.

The comments came at a hearing called by the FDA to examine the science around bisphenol A (BPA). The chemical is used in hard plastic products, including some baby and water bottles, and is also used to line metal food cans.

A growing number of advocacy groups and some members of Congress have called on regulators to ban bisphenol A.

A recent draft report by FDA scientists concluded that the amount of BPA humans typically consume in food and drinks does not pose a health risk.

Craig Henry, chief operating officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, submitted testimony at the hearing that the FDA performed a thorough, well-documented review of the available toxicological information. He said the research used a sound analytical approach and that the FDA’s evaluation of the science on BPA was comprehensive.

And Steven Hentges, PhD, a scientist with the American Plastics Council, called the FDA’s preliminary review “completely appropriate.” He also said the industry supports more research into alleged brain and other health effects of BPA.

[Emphases added. Clear conflicts of interest. – LG]

But several scientists have warned that the agency had discounted studies suggesting health effects in animals at BPA levels far below what regulators say are safe.

“Since these food containers are not proven safe, the FDA should not be assuring us that they are safe,” said Diane Zuckerman, head of the National Research Center for Women and Families. “It does feel like there’s been a rush to judgment.”

Critics pointed to five studies linking BPA exposure in brain alterations and abnormal prostate growth in rodents. Those effects were seen at levels many times lower than what the FDA concluded is safe for people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:24 am

45 web sites that deliver free music

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You know some of them, but you don’t know them all. Here they are.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Music

Trying to stop the ethics investigation

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Michael Isikoff has an interesting post on how the GOP is working hard to shut down the investigation into why Palin fired Monegan. Read the post for a clear account of what’s going on, including this paragraph:

Then this week, Van Flein (again assisted by O’Callaghan) filed a new motion with the Personnel Board. This one argued that, after a review of the evidence, including internal e-mails within the governor’s office, the governor’s lawyers had determined there was “no probable cause” to pursue any ethics inquiry into Palin at all. As a result, it argued, the previous motion for an ethics inquiry (which Van Flein himself had filed less than two weeks ago) should be dismissed.

Some efforts lead to a very tangled web indeed. The reasons for Monhegan’s firing have been all over the map, beginning with a claim that he hadn’t been fired at all (which didn’t last long once he showed the letter that terminated his employment). Liars should have good memories.

Steve Benen points out that the current reason for firing Monhegan is that he was getting tough on child molesters. Seriously. This at least is consistent with the McCain campaign’s attack on Barack Obama for legislation teaching young kids (beginning in Kindergarten) how to be wary of sexual predators. The post at the link begins:

Sarah Palin’s explanations for why she fired Walt Monegan as Alaska’s public safety commissioner have evolved over time. Most of the justifications have been debunked, and some of the reasons contradict other reasons.

But as Zachary Roth explains, the latest explanation is a real doozy.

…Palin’s latest explanation for why she fired Walt Monegan is that he had gone over her head in seeking federal money for an initiative to combat sexual assault crimes, before she had approved the program.

But it now appears that the program in question is one that most elected officials would be wary of admitting they hadn’t strongly backed. According to Peggy Brown, who heads the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Monegan wanted to use the federal money to hire retired troopers and law enforcement officials, and assign them to investigate the most egregious cases of sexual assault — including those against children.

In other words, if Palin’s new story is true, she fired Monegan for being too aggressive in going after child molesters.

Seriously, that’s the argument. Sexual abuse is a real problem in Alaska; Palin never considered it a high priority of her administration; and Monegan was anxious to tackle the problem by taking advantage of a federal program. And Palin rewarded Monegan for his efforts by firing him. That is, as of now, the official line from Palin’s camp.

More at the link. Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Digital adding machine

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With rockers for switches. Via collision detection, which discusses the machine:

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 9:39 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Obama ad with substance

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Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 8:47 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Why is academia more liberal than conservative?

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Very interesting post pointed out to me by Castlecraver: Why is academia liberal? From that link (though there’s lots more at the link):

One can argue that some fields of inquiry attract liberals [the social sciences, for example – LG], and others [business, for example – LG] attract conservatives. Some areas are built on liberal foundations, others on conservative foundations. So far, so good.

But, let’s look at apolitical departments. How about math, natural sciences, engineering, agriculture, medicine? One’s political views are not aired during the job interview, exposed in faculty meetings, do not show up in classroom teaching, do not get published in peer-reviewed journals. So, how come 90% of those faculty are also liberals/Democrats/Greens? Why are conservatives shunning these areas, or being shunned (if even recognized) by these departments? Is there something deeper going on here?

Answer at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 8:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Tagged with

American ethnic geography

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Fascinating site, via Very Short List: American Ethnic Geography. Site has a list of maps (PDFs) that show by county various ethnic distributions. For example (and many more at the link):

Percent Scots-Irish

Percent Scottish

Percent French

Percent French Canadian

Percent Cajun

Percent Dutch

Percent German

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 8:20 am

Posted in Daily life

Geo. F. Trumper Rose

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Trumper Rose shaving soap was the choice this morning, an enjoyable fragrance and a fine lather, thanks to the Rooney Style 2 Finest. Then another of the Gillette NEW razors, loaded with a new Treet Classic blade. Extremely nice shave, finished with Acqua di Parma aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2008 at 7:31 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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