Later On

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

Archive for December 17th, 2008

50-50 chance with colonoscopy?

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Interesting:

A new study finds that colonoscopy is strongly associated with fewer deaths from colorectal cancer. However, the risk reduction appears to be entirely due to a reduction in deaths from left-sided cancers. According to the study, colonoscopy shows almost no mortality prevention benefit for cancer that develops in the right side of the colon. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in North America. The study appears today on the Annals of Internal Medicine Web site (www.annals.org) and will be printed in the January 6, 2009, issue.

“While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for evaluation of the colon, our study sheds light on some of the real-world limitations of this practice for screening and prevention,” said Nancy Baxter, MD, PhD, Colorectal Surgeon and a Researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, who is lead author on the study.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

A new finding on dark energy

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This is quite interesting. At the link is a video showing the development of the universe and how dark energy is now affecting it. The post begins:

For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of “dark energy” on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. By tracking how dark energy has stifled the growth of galaxy clusters and combining this with previous studies, scientists have obtained the best clues yet about what dark energy is and what the destiny of the universe could be. This work, which took years to complete, is separate from other methods of dark energy research such as supernovas. These new X-ray results provide a crucial independent test of dark energy, long sought by scientists, which depends on how gravity competes with accelerated expansion in the growth of cosmic structures. Techniques based on distance measurements, such as supernova work, do not have this special sensitivity.

Scientists think dark energy is a form of repulsive gravity that now dominates the universe, although they have no clear picture of what it actually is. Understanding the nature of dark energy is one of the biggest problems in science. Possibilities include the cosmological constant, which is equivalent to the energy of empty space. Other possibilities include a modification in general relativity on the largest scales, or a more general physical field.

To help decide between these options, a new way of looking at dark energy is required. It is accomplished by observing how cosmic acceleration affects the growth of galaxy clusters over time.

“This result could be described as ‘arrested development of the universe’,” said Alexey Vikhlinin of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., who led the research. “Whatever is forcing the expansion of the universe to speed up is also forcing its development to slow down.”

Vikhlinin and his colleagues used Chandra to observe the hot gas in dozens of galaxy clusters, which are the largest collapsed objects in the universe. Some of these clusters are relatively close and others are more than halfway across the universe.

The results show …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Science

Beware the brown recluse spider

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brown_recluse2

Brown recluse spider. Note the violin-shaped mark on its back. And here’s the result of a bite:

BrownRecluseBitelrg

They move indoors for the winter:

As the cold weather creeps in, so do brown recluse spiders. True to their name, the brown recluse is a shy, reclusive spider looking for a warm home. Drawn to clutter, closets and complex storage environments, the spiders actually want to stay away from humans. But, if care is not taken, people could find themselves sharing their home with one of ‘the big three,’ according to a University of Missouri entomologist. The brown recluse is one of three spiders in the United States considered venomous – the other two are the black widow and the hobo spider. Brown recluse spiders are not aggressive, and because they are so reclusive, most bites happen by accident, according to Richard Houseman, associate professor of entomology in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. If brown recluse spiders are known to be in a home, Houseman recommends checking clothing, shoes and bedding each time the items are used.

“Often, bites occur when a person puts on a jacket or clothing that has a brown recluse spider inside,” Houseman said. “If the spider feels trapped against a person’s skin, it will bite in self-defense.”

If bitten, there are some important actions to take immediately:

  • Wash the site of the spider bite.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Apply a general antibiotic to the site to minimize the risk of secondary infection.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible and try to capture and take the spider with you so the bite can be confirmed as a brown recluse bite.

“The spiders inject what’s called a hemotoxin,” said Houseman, who also is a state urban entomology specialist with MU Extension. “The hemotoxin produces a blister that turns black and sloughs off within 24 hours leaving an ulcerous open wound that takes six to eight weeks to heal, leaving a permanent scar. In very rare cases, the bite may lead to fever, rash, vomiting, coma, and death within two or three days.”

The brown recluse likes to make a winter home in attics, basements, or areas where things are placed and left for long periods of time. The spiders are drawn to boxes of papers or files, which have a lot of cracks and crevices to use for hiding. Minimizing clutter in and around the home and sealing boxes are important ways to reduce the chance of a large brown recluse population in a home. Bug sprays do not work for ridding a home of brown recluse spiders. Like many spiders, they have long hairs on the bottom of their feet that enable them to walk across treated surfaces without getting a lethal dose. However, professional pest control companies have products that can be effective when applied to the spider’s hiding places, according to Houseman.

“The best idea is to use sticky traps because the spiders will move onto the sticky traps and be caught,” Houseman said. “The traps can be thrown away and replaced easily. Over time, there will be fewer spiders caught, which indicates the population has been greatly reduced.”

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

More info in this Wikipedia article, including range and habitat.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Daily life

More findings re: global warming

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Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 2:16 pm

Where our money goes

Cheryl Russell, a demographer and the editorial director of New Strategist Publications, posted in her blog the expenses that consume more than half of the $50,000 the average US household spent in 2006 (most recent year for which information is available). Without going into amounts (click the link for that), the top 10 items (listed here in descending order) consume more than half the money:

Deductions for Social Security
Mortgage interest (or rent, $2,436.89)
Vehicle purchases (net outlay)
Groceries (also shown by individual category)
Restaurants (also shown by meal category)
Gasoline and motor oil
Federal income taxes
Property taxes
Health insurance
Electricity

The smallest expense is a tie (44¢) each on Clothing Storage and on Rental of Television sets. The complete list is interesting. For example, Clocks (at position 330 of a total of 362) run $3.70 a year for the average household. Shaving Needs, position 248, runs $16.84 a year (or 6 Gillette Fusion cartridges at the discounted price of 8 for $22.48 on Amazon). OTOH, if you buy Astra Superior Platinum double-edged blades in bulk, you can get more than 180 for $16.84.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Daily life

Most eventful cities of 2008

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From the press release:

San Diego, December 17, 2008 – Eventful – the leading source for local events – today released its second annual ‘Most Eventful Cities’ report, which ranks U.S. cities according to the number and diversity of local events for residents and visitors. Eventful derives the rankings from its database of local events, which contains the world’s largest selection of information on what’s happening in cities throughout the world. The report provides a unique insight into the character of U.S. cities and the interests and activities of their residents, with some interesting and unexpected results.

For the second year in a row, Eventful analyzed data for all U.S. cities with a population exceeding 100,000, as well as select cities with smaller populations, examining the quantity and nature of the local events in each market. As one would expect, major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago held several of the top spots. At the same time, many smaller cities made surprise appearances in the rankings due to unexpectedly large number of events for their size. Seattle jumped from thirteenth place to fifth overall this year thanks to its vibrant music scene and its wealth of outdoor activities. San Francisco, meanwhile, held steady in third place due to its abundance of diverse cultural offerings, strong options for singles and proximity to thousands of acres of open space.

Other cities’ top rankings reinforced their already existing reputations. Branson, Missouri, which bills itself as the “live music capital of the world,” took second place in the music category, beating out Los Angeles and Chicago. The entertainment attractions of Las Vegas (pop. 560,000), from nightlife to performing arts, vaulted the city from nineteenth to ninth in the overall rankings.

Meanwhile, Pasadena (pop. 145,000), north of Los Angeles, headed up the new ‘Small but Eventful’ category, besting several college towns with thriving concert venues, including Berkeley (pop. 100,000), Ann Arbor and Gainesville (both pop. 115,000).

“The quantity and selection of local events provide a fascinating window into the soul of a city,” said Jordan Glazier, CEO, Eventful. “You learn a lot about the nature and rhythm of a place by seeing how its residents use their free time, entertain themselves and engage with their community.”

With approximately eight million events to choose from, Eventful helps active people throughout the world discover, share and create events ranging from concerts to singles events to kids’ activities to community happenings. Eventful users can promote their events on Eventful for free and choose from an assortment of tools to advertise their events on other Web sites and social networks. The 8 million members of Eventful’s user community now have the opportunity to connect both on and offline by sharing their common interests through local events.

Methodology for 2008 ‘Most Eventful Cities’ rankings Eventful has the largest aggregation of local events in the world, with approximately eight million upcoming events on the site at any time. The 2008 ‘Most Eventful Cities’ rankings are based on the total number of events listed on Eventful that took place in each U.S. city between December 1, 2007 and November 18, 2008. For the new ‘Small but Eventful’ category, Eventful looked at cities with populations smaller than 150,000 that had the highest number of events per capita.

Rankings: Top 25 ‘2008 Most Eventful Cities’

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Daily life

Best quotations of 2008

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According to Fred Shapiro, editor of The Yale Book of Quotations:

1. “I can see Russia from my house!” — Sarah Palin on her foreign-policy credentials, as satirized by Tina Fey, NBC “Saturday Night Live” broadcast, Sept. 13, 2008

2. “All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.” — Sarah Palin responding to Katie Couric’s asking her to specifically name newspapers or magazines she reads, CBS News interview, Oct. 1, 2008

3. “We have sort of become a nation of whiners.” — Phil Gramm on Americans concerned about the economy, quoted in Washington Times, July 10, 2008

4. “It’s not based on any particular data point, we just wanted to choose a really large number.” — Treasury spokeswoman explaining how the $700 billion number was chosen for the initial bailout, quoted on Forbes.com, Sept. 23, 2008

5. “The fundamentals of America’s economy are strong.” — John McCain, interview with Peter Cook on Bloomberg TV, Apr. 17, 2008

6. “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” — Department of the Treasury’s proposed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, Sept. 2008

7. “Maybe 100.” — John McCain on how many years U.S. troops could remain in Iraq, response at town hall meeting, Derry, N.H., Jan. 3, 2008

8. “I’ll see you at the debates, bitches.” — Paris Hilton, video responding to John McCain ad attacking Barack Obama as a celebrity, Aug. 2008

9. “At a time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos, he [Barack Obama] says we only have one president at a time. I’m afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have.” — Barney Frank, remark to consumer advocates, Dec. 4, 2008

10. (tie) “Cash for trash.” — Paul Krugman on the financial bailout, New York Times, Sept. 22, 2008

10. (tie) “There are no atheists in foxholes and there are no libertarians in financial crises.” — Paul Krugman, interview by Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time” broadcast, Sept. 19, 2008

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Daily life

Caroline Kennedy unable to state her qualifications for Senate position

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Interesting: no answer when asked what her qualifications were to be Senator. I think it’s probably wise of her not to answer, since her qualifications are, so far as I can tell, that she has the surname “Kennedy.”

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:41 pm

Scholarly journals free table of contents service

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From the press release (and more information at the link):

Keeping up-to-date with the scholarly literature just became much easier, thanks to a new service called ticTOCs  – Journal Tables of Contents Service.

http://www.tictocs.ac.uk

ticTOCs is a new scholarly journal tables of contents (TOCs) service.  It’s free, its easy to use, and it provides access to the most recent tables of contents of over 11,000 scholarly journals from more than 400 publishers.  It helps scholars, researchers, academics and anyone else keep up-to-date with what’s being published in the most recent issues of journals on almost any subject.

Using ticTOCs, you can find journals of interest by title, subject or publisher, view the latest TOC, link through to the full text of over 250,000 articles (where institutional or personal subscriptions, or Open Access, allow), and save selected journals to MyTOCs so that you can view future TOCs (free registration is required if you want to permanently save your MyTOCs).  ticTOCs also makes it easy to export selected TOC RSS feeds to popular feedreaders such as Google Reader and Bloglines, and in addition you can import article citations into RefWorks (where institutional or personal subscriptions allow).

You select TOCs by ticking those of interest – thousands of TOCs, within a tick or two (hence the name ticTOCs).

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Basic ingredients for a healthful kitchen

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Useful information from the American Cancer Society:

The first step to cooking healthfully is to stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthful meals in a hurry. Keep these foods on hand for fast meals on busy nights.

In the Cupboard

  • Beans: Black, pinto, kidney, chickpeas, lentils, refried
  • Rice: Brown, long grain, rice mixes
  • Pasta: Whole wheat, spaghetti, fettucini, penne, bowtie, ramen noodles
  • Other grains: Couscous, orzo, cornmeal, whole wheat crackers, bread sticks, bread crumbs
  • Onions
  • Canned tomatoes: Diced, whole, seasoned, sun-dried, sauce, salsa
  • Canned vegetable: Mixed vegetables, green beans, mushrooms
  • Canned and dried fruits: Applesauce, raisins
  • Sauces: Pasta, pizza, tomato
  • Soups: Canned soups, broth and bouillon and dried soup mixes
  • Meats: Canned tuna, salmon, minced clams, and chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Evaporated milk
  • Vinegars: Cider, red and white wine, balsamic
  • Oils: Olive, canola, peanut, and nonfat cooking spray

In the Refrigerator

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • 100% vegetable and fruit juices
  • Reduced-fat milk and yogurt (without added sugar)
  • Reduced-fat cheeses: Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey Jack, cottage, Parmesan
  • Reduced-fat sour cream and cream cheese
  • Whole wheat and corn tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Minced garlic
  • Sauces: Worcestershire, soy, teriyaki, and chili
  • Ketchup and mustard (spicy and Dijon)
  • Salad dressings with olive oil or reduced fat

In the Freezer

  • Frozen vegetables, fruits, and 100% juices
  • Frozen chopped onions and chopped green pepper
  • Breads: Whole grain breads, dinner rolls, English muffins, bagels
  • Meats: Chicken breast, ground turkey breast, extra lean hamburger
  • Fish: Red snapper, salmon, orange roughy, cod, flounder, sole
  • Frozen yogurt or fruit sorbet

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains
A whole grain is made up of three parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. Refined grains are made from the endosperm. Because the bran and germ contain much of the vitamins and minerals and all of the fiber found in grains, whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than refined (or processed) grains. Shoot for at least three servings of whole grain foods each day.

For healthful and delicious recipes, visit our recipe page.

I edited the passage lightly—the writer(s) were apparently ignorant of the distinction between “healthy” (having good health) and “healthful” (promoting good health). Example: I am healthy because I eat healthful foods and follow healthful habits.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Psychology Today blogs by focus

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You can see the full list here. The topics:

Addiction
Anxiety
Autism (including Asperger’s)
Behavioral Economics
Child Development
Creativity
Crime
Depression
Diet
Eating Disorders
Evolutionary Psychology
Gender
Happiness
Integrative Medicine
Media
Memory
Neuroscience
Parenting
Personality
Pets (so far, dogs only)
Philosophy
Procrastination
Psych Careers
Psychiatry
Psychotherapy
Relationships
Resilience
Self-Help
Sex
Sleep
Social Life
Spirituality
Sport and Competition
Trauma
Twins
Work

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

NPR picks “bests” of 2008

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NPR picks ten best cookbooks.

NPR picks best jazz CDs.

NPR picks best books with a variety of lists: best graphic novels, best literary letters, best fiction, best crime and mystery, etc.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Jazz, Recipes

Old divides can be viewed on new maps

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Look at this fascinating map to see how old divisions hang on.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 11:41 am

Posted in Daily life

One Laptop Per Child in the field

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Thanks to The Younger Daughter for pointing out this article:

In Peru, there are 10,000 one- and two-room schools — and thousands of children who live in homes without running water or electricity. But now, many of those same kids are the proud owners of their own little piece of modern technology: a laptop computer.

The laptops are part of a huge educational experiment. Peru is purchasing hundreds of thousands of low-cost computers developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and leading technology experts as part of the One Laptop Per Child project.

Laptops In Arahuay

The introduction of the OLPC program is meant to flip a switch and link poor, rural villages to the modern era.

Take a small school in Arahuay, a tiny village perched on the edge of the Andes Mountains, 8,000 feet above sea level. A lot about Arahuay makes it feel impossibly isolated: poor roads, steep landscape, limited running water and electricity.

Students at the school received their laptops in the spring of 2007.

Some students live far away from the school — which teaches grades 1 through 12 — and so they must walk for miles. Many swing their laptops as they make the daily trek.

And when they arrive at school and begin to work, the students use their laptops for everything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 11:27 am

The future evolution of man

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Evolution is what life does, and so it’s natural to wonder where we are going in terms of our evolution. Peter Ward has an interesting article on the topic in Scientific American:

Key Concepts

  • People commonly assume that our species has evolved very little since prehistoric times. Yet new studies using genetic information from populations around the globe suggest that the pace of human evolution increased with the advent of agriculture and cities.
  • If we are still evolving, what might our species look like in a millennium should we survive whatever environ­mental and social surprises are in store for us? Specu­la­tion ranges from the hopeful to the dystopian.

When you ask for opinions about what future humans might look like, you typically get one of two answers. Some people trot out the old science-fiction vision of a big-brained human with a high forehead and higher intellect. Others say humans are no longer evolving physically—that technology has put an end to the brutal logic of natural selection and that evolution is now purely cultural.

The big-brain vision has no real scientific basis. The fossil record of skull sizes over the past several thousand generations shows that our days of rapid increase in brain size are long over. Accordingly, most scientists a few years ago would have taken the view that human physical evolution has ceased. But DNA techniques, which probe genomes both present and past, have unleashed a revolution in studying evolution; they tell a different story. Not only has Homo sapiens been doing some major genetic reshuffling since our species formed, but the rate of human evolution may, if anything, have increased. In common with other organisms, we underwent the most dramatic changes to our body shape when our species first appeared, but we continue to show genetically induced changes to our physiology and perhaps to our behavior as well. Until fairly recently in our history, human races in various parts of the world were becoming more rather than less distinct. Even today the conditions of modern life could be driving changes to genes for certain behavioral traits.

If giant brains are not in store for us, then what is? Will we become larger or smaller, smarter or dumber? How will the emergence of new diseases and the rise in global temperature shape us? Will a new human species arise one day? Or does the future evolution of humanity lie not within our genes but within our technology, as we augment our brains and bodies with silicon and steel? Are we but the builders of the next dominant intelligence on the earth—the machines?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 11:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Experimental evidence for the broken-window theory

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Interesting:

In the late 80’s, New York experienced a high rate of violence and crack was everywhere. In 1985 when George L. Kelling, coauthor of the article “Broken Windows“, was hired as a consultant to the New York City Transit Authority, the subway was awfull. Kelling implemented new measures. He made every graffiti disappear and cleaned every station. Day after day after day, new graffitti would be made in the night and removed during the day, until oneday the new policy started to be successful and graffiti progressively disappeared. Mayor and police department of New York also employed the same method, they implemented a zero tolerance policing with easier arrestee procedure. Police started enforcing the law very strictly, against subway fare evasion, public drinkers, urinators, and the like. The rates of both petty and serious crime fell suddenly and significantly.

New York crime and drug decline is one of the best example of a successful implementation of the Broken Window Theory (BWT). BWT states that signs of disorder, like graffiti, dirty streets, broken windows… induce more disorder. Not only more graffitti and other petty crimes, but also more serious crimes like murder, robbery, etc. Consequently, removing the minor signs of disorder is thought to induce a decrease in the amount of more serious crimes.

The BWT has been implemented in many cities around the world, with some success, but until now, the causal arrow leading from minor crime to more serious ones has remained highly speculative.

In a recent paper, Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg and Linda Steg conduct insightful and delightful field experiments to assess the BWT. I’ll detail just one example to give you the flavour of the six experiments. In one setting they looked at whether individuals would steal an envelope visibly containing a five euro note. “The white (addressed) window envelope sticking out of a mailbox (situated in Groningen) was very noticeable for everyone approaching the mailbox, and it was clearly visible that the envelope contained a €5 note”. In the baseline condition the mail box and the ground surrounding it were clean. In one test condition the mail box was covered with graffitti and in another the ground was covered with litter.

The results were quite dramatic, the rate of robbery doubled between the baseline and the “disorder” conditions! In the baseline condition, 13% of passer-bys stole the envelope, with graffitti this rate raised to 27% and with litter to 25%.

The authors conclude: …

Continue reading. And the comments to the post are quite interesting as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 11:14 am

Low-glycemic diet good for type 2 diabetics

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Interesting finding reported on WebMD by Salynn Boyles:

Following a diet designed to keep blood sugar from rising after meals helped diabetic people keep their disease under control in a new study published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association.

People with type 2 diabetes who ate what is known as a low-glycemic-index diet for six months had greater blood sugar control and fewer heart disease risk factors than those who followed another eating plan.

Both diets were high in fiber and low in saturated fat, and both derived about 40% of their calories from carbohydrates.

But the low-glycemic-index diet emphasized carbohydrates that had less impact on blood sugar levels, such as beans, pasta, nuts, and certain whole grains.

“These are the basic foods that your grandparents probably ate but they are no longer staples of the American diet,” lead author David Jenkins, MD, of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, tells WebMD.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 11:09 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Good steak news for cooking at home

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Apparently you don’t need extremely high temperatures: lower temperatures and longer cooking will do just fine. Read this note, which concludes:

There’s nothing new here, really, except a reminder that moderate heat will cook a beautiful steak with all the sensory appeal of one charred over the fires of hell, and with none of the sensory distress of a house full of grease and smoke — so long as you leave it untouched to brown really well and let it rest for a while after it comes out of the pan.

UPDATE: It may work for him, but it didn’t work at all for me. I will stick with this method.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 10:08 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Global cooling: it’s not happening

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Renee Schoof of McClatchy Newspapers reports:

The year 2008 was the ninth warmest year since instrumental temperature measurements began in 1880, and all of the nine warmest years have occurred in the past 11 years, NASA reported on Tuesday.

The new data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and other government agencies on Tuesday adds to the evidence scientists have been observing about a warming Earth as fossil fuel burning emits heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

NASA also reported that the January to November global temperature was 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the 20th Century.

NASA also noted that the past year was cooler than any since 2000. Scientists note that global warming is a steady trend, but within it there are natural variations.

The NASA report noted that “Eurasia, the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm, while much of the Pacific Ocean was cooler than the long-term average.” It said the relatively cooler temperature in the tropical Pacific was due to a La Nina, the cool phase of a natural temperature variation. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 9:36 am

Obama’s theory of change

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Mark Schmitt had an interesting article in The American Prospect a year ago. The blurb:

Hope and bipartisanship are not things that Obama naively believes are present and possible — they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure.

The article is especially interesting now that we see Obama put his theory in action. The article begins:

The phrase “theory of change” is a bit of jargon that I first encountered in the philanthropic and non-profit world, where it refers to a fairly new way of evaluating the effectiveness of projects by drawing out the underlying assumptions about how they lead to social change. It’s a useful innovation, because often differences that seem to be about ideology or effectiveness are really just different ideas about the process that will lead to change, though unspoken and unquestioned. (For example, a foundation dedicated to ending hunger might choose between giving $100,000 to a food bank that feeds 100 people a day, or to a legal group that sues the state over Food Stamp eligibility rules, or to a national group that organizes poor people to push Congress for a total Food Stamp overhaul. At the end of a year, only the food bank would have results to show, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only effective approach — the potential results from the other two approaches to change are much greater, if the legal and political strategies are sound.)

It’s fascinating that this concept has become the key distinction in the Democratic presidential campaign. This is not a primary about ideological differences, or  electability, but rather one about a difference in candidates’ implicit assumptions about the current circumstance and how the levers of power can be used to get the country back on track. It’s the first “theory of change” primary I can think of.

Hillary Clinton’s stump speech is built around the speechwriter’s rule of three, applied to theories of change: one candidate believes you achieve change by “demanding” it, another thinks you “hope for it,” while she alone knows that you have to “work for it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2008 at 9:04 am

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