Later On

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

Archive for December 27th, 2008

Israel and Hamas

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Extremely good post by Ian Welsh. It begins:

This beauty from Tzipi Livni is completely Orwellian:

The government ordered the strikes on Hamas only after it saw no other way to stop rocket attacks on its southern towns, she said.

I can imagine no scenario under which bombing Hamas will stop rocket attacks. In particular, these attacks were aimed at the security forces, killing the police chief and the security chief and 140 Hamas Security forces.

Now, who do you think enforced the truce? Who is it that Hamas uses to make sure rockets only get launched when Hamas wants them to? That would be… the police and the security forces.

Bombing Hamas is not going to stop the attacks, if anything it will increase them. But Israel has degraded Hamas’s ability to control the various folks who launch the missiles (many of whom are not Hamas).

It is also notable that Hamas’s actual military forces, as opposed to security forces, were not targeted.

This attack occurred for domestic political reasons, not to stop the missile attacks, unless the Israeli political class is completely delusional…

Continue reading, and especially read the comments.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 12:33 pm

More on “clean coal”

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I fear we perhaps should not trust the coal industry when they talk about how clean coal is. For instance:

David Roberts, an environmental writer for, has written a great critique of the coal industry’s “clean coal” campaign, pointing out that “it’s an obvious scam — easily exposed, easily debunked. Just because it’s obvious, though, doesn’t mean the media won’t fall for it. Indeed, the entire ‘clean coal’ propaganda push is premised on the media’s gullibility.”

Roberts notes, as have others including a recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP), that “the companies funding ‘clean coal’ PR aren’t spending much on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research.” They have therefore made no progress in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that make coal a potent cause of global warming. The concept of “clean coal” was invented to answer concerns about global warming, and its advocates play a rhetorical game of bait-and-switch on precisely this topic. When pressed about how coal can be clean, Roberts observes, “they revert to the other definition of ‘clean’ — the notion that coal plants have reduced their emissions of traditional air pollutants like particulates and mercury (as opposed to greenhouse gases).”

To see how this flimflam works on a gullible media, Roberts points to the example of Politico’s Erica Lovley, whom he dubs “2008’s presumptive frontrunner for Most Gullible Journalist.” (Perhaps we’ll have to add that category to next year’s Falsies Awards.) He provides an example showing how Lovley allowed a coal industry spokesman to use the bait-and-switch trick to “dispute” CAP’s report by changing the subject rather than actually addressing the facts.

I wrote recently about another breathtakingly cynical — and ultimately ineffective — coal industry PR stunt, the …

Continue reading. And at the link, an amazing video by the coal industry showing that supermodels routinely work in coal mines. The coal industry is to the environment as Bernard Madoff is to investing.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 12:29 pm

“Clean coal” contributes 5.4 million cubic yards of hazardous material to Tennessee landscape

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Read Hilzoy’s post, which includes this disquieting information: “This Scientific American article with the comforting title “Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste.”

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 12:22 pm

State fact sheets

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These are up to date and doubtless invaluable for the student working on a report as well as people who want to know more about a particular state.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life

One who avoided Bernard Madoff

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And who spotted in 1997 that Madoff was engaged in fraud. Thanks to Jack for the tip. Barrons reports (via Truthout):

James Hedges, President and founder of LJH Global Investments in Naples, Fla., has invested billions in hedge funds and private equity since 1990 through relationships with numerous hedge funds.

His clientele have been said to include the Cargill family, of the privately held agriculture giant Cargill, Inc. He’s also helped out the University of Pennsylvania endowment and the Rockefeller family, if legend has it correctly. And in 1997, he took a meeting with Bernard Madoff in New York to consider placing money with the man now accused of perpetrating a $50 billion global Ponzi scheme.

Barron’s chatted recently with Hedges about why he was able to dodge a bullet when he walked out of Madoff’s offices eleven years ago without a deal.

Barron’s: You once took a pass on investing in Bernie Madoff’s fund. What troubled you?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 11:11 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Two-second-pause problem may be fixed

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The new drive has helped a lot, but the two-second pause was still present. After peering at Task Manager, sorted in descending order on the CPU usage, it became apparent that Firefox, even when quiescent, would suddenly sop up 50% of my CPU for a couple of seconds every 5-10 seconds. So I closed Firefox for a while to use Word with no Firefox open: no pauses. When I reopened Firefox, all open tabs had vanished—so it goes—and when I opened only three (Google Reader,, and the blog) the pausing was still present. But I noticed in the status line at one pause that it was waiting on WebNotes, about which I recently blogged. I disabled the WebNotes add-on and since then: no pauses.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 10:39 am

Warm idea: passive houses

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Via Kevin Drum, this interesting article in the NY Times:

DARMSTADT, Germany — From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace.

In Berthold Kaufmann’s home, there is, to be fair, one radiator for emergency backup in the living room — but it is not in use. Even on the coldest nights in central Germany, Mr. Kaufmann’s new “passive house” and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.

“You don’t think about temperature — the house just adjusts,” said Mr. Kaufmann, watching his 2-year-old daughter, dressed in a T-shirt, tuck into her sausage in the spacious living room, whose glass doors open to a patio. His new home uses about one-twentieth the heating energy of his parents’ home of roughly the same size, he said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 10:26 am

Comment on Christmas dinner

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Our very fine standing rib roast is now a happy memory. I do now know that, when I buy a standing rib roast, I should also buy a package of sliced provolone, for roast-beef sandwiches are in the offing.

We used this high-temperature method of roasting the beef because The Wife wanted roasted potatoes. She peeled the potatoes (we got only two, a pound apiece) and sliced them lengthwise into quarters and put them in the bottom of the pan that held the roast. To keep them from sticking, they were coated with olive oil, but soon they were roasting in the beef drippings.

The roast and potatoes turned out perfectly, and that method will be used again when we want potatoes cooked with the roast. And because it was at 500º for only 15 minutes, there was no significant smoke or spattering in the oven.

I made two horseradish sauces: one by mixing grated fresh horseradish into crème fraîche and the other by mixing it into mascarpone. The crème fraîche version was better with the roast, but the mascarpone version was very nice as a roast-beef sandwich spread for one side, with a good mustard on  the other.

The roast was quite a good size, but it was only two ribs.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 9:29 am

Change in food policy

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Mark Bittman points out two articles:

Two interesting pieces about food policy and the new administration, one from The Times’s own Kim Severson (note the lovely illustration by my friend Steve Brodner), and one from The Washington Post.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 7:56 am

From my balcony early this morning

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Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 7:42 am

Posted in Daily life

Mango oil and West Indian Limes

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Atkinson’s mango-oil shaving soap, a gift from a previous Christmas (thanks, Aniko!), made a fine lather with the Rooney Style 2 Finest. The Gillette NEW did a good job, though the Astra Superior Platinum blade was on its last legs and now resides in the blade graveyard: the small sealed can that accepts dead blades through the slot I cut. The can is now about half full.

Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes was a good choice for the aftershave: a tropical fragrance that goes well on a winter morning.

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2008 at 7:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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