Later On

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

Archive for November 8th, 2008

For some tasks, dogs are better than cats

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Make yourself feel good: read this post.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 11:52 am

Posted in Daily life

30 Firefox add-ons

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Here’s a good list of Firefox add-ons, with commentary. I didn’t know about that first add-on and it looks very interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 11:28 am

Megs, just after yesterday’s photo

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Right after I snapped yesterday’s photo I took another.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 11:07 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

Join the scientific enterprise

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Very interesting article on how distributed computing is now starting also to tap the intelligence of the computer owners. Worth reading (though to see the article you must be a subscriber). Here’s the article sidebar:

Forget Tetris or Solitaire, join one of these science projects and put your free time to good use


Help train computer vision and artificial intelligence systems.


A spin-off from GWAP, play with an anonymous partner to label objects as quickly as possible and help improve this image search engine.


Puzzle your way through folding or designing protein structures and help biologists design the next generation of drugs.


Classify images of a million different galaxies to help answer some of the biggest questions in cosmology.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 10:52 am

Morning report

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A morning of little ambition—it may turn into a day of reading, though a trip to Whole Foods is on the agenda. I did put some beef short ribs in the oven (at 200º F, to cook all day): sprinkled on both sides with kosher salt, lots of pepper, granulated garlic, and Penzey’s Mural of Flavor, then the juice of two large lemons squeezed over them. One package of regular short ribs, two packages of boneless.

Yesterday I made a dish of fresh kale (stripped out stems and cut those into small pieces and started them cooking first) and leeks, cooked in olive oil and then splashed with some balsamic vinegar, covered, and simmered for 20 minutes. I let that cool, and last night had two bowls of it: first bowl was topped with crumbled sheep’s milk feta and drizzled with toasted pecan oil, second bowl topped with pecans and crumbled gorgonzola and drizzled again with pecan oil. Very tasty indeed.

I finished The Accident Man, a credible first thriller from the library. Working my way through lots of movies, but with a new ability to immediately return any movie that doesn’t catch my interest or match my mood.

Political blogging is down now—I want to wait and see what Obama does. In the meantime, several elections still not decided and of great interest. On the whole, I think the Rahm Emanuel appointment to Chief of Staff makes sense: someone with experience, ability, and who knows the ropes. I don’t think Obama will be a president who’s pushed around by his staff—he seems to have a clear grasp of what he wants to do and is determined to do it.

Of course, I want Lieberman to lose his committee chairmanship and, in fact, out of the caucus altogether. I can’t wait for his term to end. I doubt very much that he would be re-elected. Ned Lamont is going to have the last laugh.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 9:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

More on high-fructose corn syrup

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From the NY Times:

… Just this month, researchers from Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago took a look at the link between kidney disease and high-fructose corn syrup. Using data from nearly 9,400 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004, they tracked consumption of sugary soft drinks, a major source of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States, and protein in the urine, a sensitive marker for kidney disease. They found that overall, people who drank two or more sugary sodas a day were at 40 percent higher risk for kidney damage, while the risk for women soda drinkers nearly doubled.

In June, the Journal of Hepatology suggested a link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in sodas and fatty liver disease.

And this summer, a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that fructose may make people fatter by bypassing the body’s regulation of sugars, which means it gets more quickly converted to fat than do other sugars.

Many scientists hypothesize that high-fructose corn syrup has contributed to rising obesity rates, although others say there is no solid evidence to support the theory. The corn refiners agree, dedicating a Web site to the “sweet surprise” of high-fructose corn syrup. …

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 8:54 am

When to stop shuffling and deal

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It depends on the game. From Science News:

Here’s the rule: To assure cards get sufficiently mixed up, shuffle a deck seven times. Mathematician, magician and card shark Persi Diaconis of Stanford University created shock waves in Las Vegas when he figured that out back in 1992. Most dealers had been shuffling much less.

But now Diaconis is issuing an update. When dealing many gambling games, like blackjack, four shuffles are enough. The reason for the lower number is that many games require randomness for only a few specific aspects of the cards, not all. In blackjack, for example, suits don’t matter. Diaconis and his collaborators extended the earlier analysis to account for these variations.

Gamblers and casinos aren’t the only ones who will benefit. One the most useful tools for applied mathematicians — the Monte Carlo simulation — was inspired by the games of chance that are main attractions in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The new card-shuffling results apply directly to this method, promising to save mathematicians computer time.

Shuffling starts by cutting the deck roughly in half. During the shuffling, a few cards fall from one side, then a few from the other. Diaconis, Sami Assaf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and K. Soundararajan of Stanford University made the same assumption Diaconis and his collaborator Dave Bayer made back in 1992, that the cards are more likely to fall from the larger stack — an assumption borne out in real life.

Assaf started by using a very small deck, just four cards, and played with it a lot. Then she tried five, then six. From her experiments, she guessed a formula for how mixed the cards were, for whatever property she cared about. Then she worked out a proof. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 8:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Games, Science

Language usage with Asperger’s Syndrome

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Interesting article by Lynne Soraya, who has Asperger’s Syndrome herself. It begins:

Recently, I read fellow PT Blogger Edouard Machery’s posting, Intentional Action and Asperger’s Syndrome. In it, he delineates the results of a recent study he conducted with Tiziana Zalla designed to measure differences in how people with Asperger’s perceive intentionality. While I find the study’s results interesting, I believe the differences indicated have less to do with mindreading abilities, but rather highlight the unique differences in pragmatic language that manifests in those with Asperger’s.

In the study, participants were presented with two cases, the free cup case and the extra dollar case. Participants were then asked to determine whether the actions described in the individual cases were intentional or not:

The Free-Cup Case
Joe was feeling quite dehydrated, so he stopped by the local smoothie shop to buy the largest sized drink available. Before ordering, the cashier told him that if he bought a Mega-Sized Smoothie he would get it in a special commemorative cup. Joe replied, ‘I don’t care about a commemorative cup, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.’ Sure enough, Joe received the Mega-Sized Smoothie in a commemorative cup. Did Joe intentionally obtain the commemorative cup?

The Extra-Dollar Case
Joe was feeling quite dehydrated, so he stopped by the local smoothie shop to buy the largest sized drink available. Before ordering, the cashier told him that the Mega-Sized Smoothies were now one dollar more than they used to be. Joe replied, ‘I don’t care if I have to pay one dollar more, I just want the biggest smoothie you have.’ Sure enough, Joe received the Mega-Sized Smoothie and paid one dollar more for it. Did Joe intentionally pay one dollar more?

The majority of those not on the spectrum judged that Joe’s actions in the Extra-Dollar Case were intentional, but his actions described in the Free Cup Case were not. Those with Asperger’s judged that both actions were not intentional. Mr. Machery’s conclusion is that this demonstrates that those with Asperger’s have impaired abilities to judge whether these actions were intentional.

I argue not. I argue that the difference in reaction can be traced to the logical, literal and precise way that those with Asperger’s comprehend and use language. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 8:49 am

Posted in Daily life

Roast chicken with pears, shallots, and leeks

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Sassy Radish has a very nice recipe today, one that I believe I’ll make. At the link are photos and comments.

Roast Chicken With Pears, Shallots And Leeks

6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs
1 pear, thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced (the white part only – discard the top green, stringy part)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup orange juice, and perhaps more to coat the bottom of the pan if not enough
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and pat dry the chicken parts and place in a 9×11″ glass baking dish. Surround the chicken with the pear, shallots, leek and garlic. Pour orange juice and olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper.

After 20 minutes, turn the drumsticks over onto the other side and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*I recommend the dark meat here because it is more difficult to overcook and it develops this amazing, falling-off-the-bone flavor and texture that is just difficult to get with white meat. I swear, you will wonder why it’s so easy and yet so good.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Polar Ice

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J.M. Fraser recently added a second shaving cream to the line, with a fragrance to match the Booster Polar Ice aftershave. I would expect products with this name to be heavily mentholated (for the chill factor), but these are not. A little menthol, perhaps, but mild. Very pleasant fragrance and the usual great J.M. Fraser lather, this time worked up with a Superior Brushes brush. The razor is a Gillette Milord, made right after WWII as production returned to civilian items. The blade was an Astra Keramik, and it did a fine job.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2008 at 7:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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