Later On

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

Archive for February 8th, 2009

Movie mysteries

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Why isn’t the movie Bye Bye Blues available on DVD?

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

Good lunch

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In a large bowl I put about half of a bin of organic spring mix leaf lettuce.

I cut 3 rashers thick bacon into squares and put that in a fry pan over medium heat.

While the bacon gradually started cooking, I took a 1-cup storage thing and put in

  • Olive oil
  • Golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp tarragon Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Hot paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

I shook the be-jesus out of that and poured it over the spring mix and tossed it.

The bacon was coming along, so I paid attention to that until the pieces were all browned. They, too went into the salad, but not the bacon fat. I put in four sea scallops (the large guys) and cooked those on both sides. They go into the salad, but not the bacon fat. I add a handful of arame seaweed I had soaked and sautéed that and then poured the contents of the fry pan over the salad.

So, I told The Wife, I did get some of the bacon fat.

Sounds like you got it all, she said.

Well, I said, yes, I did. And then I tried to pretend that I had said I got (the) sum of the bacon fat. But she didn’t believe me.

It was a very fine salad.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 2:55 pm

Experiences produce more happiness than possessions

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The Eldest will be pleased to read this: she’s long been a fan of "experience" gifts.

Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases? A new psychology study suggests that buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them. The findings will be presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting on Feb. 7. The study demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality — a feeling of being alive.

"These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being," said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

Participants in the study were asked to write reflections and answer questions about their recent purchases. Participants indicated that experiential purchases represented money better spent and greater happiness for both themselves and others. The results also indicate that experiences produce more happiness regardless of the amount spent or the income of the consumer.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. "Purchased experiences provide memory capital," Howell said. "We don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.

"People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though 35 years of research has suggested the opposite," Howell said. "Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences."

"The mediators of experiential purchases: Determining the impact of psychological need satisfaction" was conducted by Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and SF State graduate Graham Hill.

Source: San Francisco State University

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 1:15 pm

How to build a better fireplace fire

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Very interesting. Take a look: it’s not intuitive.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Daily life

The Feds and cannabis

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Mark Kleiman, who knows drug policy quite well:

When Devlin Barrett, now covering the Justice Department for AP, asked me for my interpretation of the White House statement about not using federal drug enforcement resources to arrest people selling cannabis out of the "dispensaries" that are legal under California law (though of course still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act), I shot from the lip as usual, saying "It means that it’s no longer Federal policy to beat up on the hippies."

I was surprised when Barrett managed to get that quote past his editors.

I think it’s more or less the right analysis, though. The whole "medical marijuana" fight is culture-wars Kabuki.

Many of the "dispensaries" are about as medical as a wine store; the ads in the back of the LA Weekly (which come just ahead of the escort-services ads, if memory serves) advertise brand names and "1 gram free for first-time visitors," not levels or ratios of the active chemicals, which is what an actual patient would be interested in. The list of available preparations is usually called a "menu."

And while DEA raids the dispensaries, it is also (in partnership with the National Institute of Drug Abuse) still actively blocking research that might lead to FDA approval of either whole cannabis or an extract.

The current California system — which is much more radical than the original Prop. 215 permission for patients and their primary caregivers to possess or grow cannabis for medical use — actually makes legal cannabis much more easily and widely available than would prescription availability; with on-site physicians to write "recommendations" based on imaginary ailments, the dispensaries are much closer to Amsterdam-style "coffee shops," and if the Feds actually get out of the way they may ramp up their marketing effort.

That’s part of the reason most of the "medical marijuana" advocates have no particular interest in doing actual clinical research. (The other half of the reason is that medical pot is one of the few issues where the drug-warrior position is actively unpopular.)

It will be interesting to see whether the Obama Administration decides to make this issue a poster child for science-based policy.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 1:01 pm

What the "Centrists" have wrought

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Paul Krugman:

I’m still working on the numbers, but I’ve gotten a fair number of requests for comment on the Senate version of the stimulus.

The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.

According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, are even more pessimistic. So the original $800 billion plan was too small, especially because a substantial share consisted of tax cuts that probably would have added little to demand. The plan should have been at least 50% larger.

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending — much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast — because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects — and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Congress, Daily life, Government

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The plot to kill Google

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Interesting:

Google, the powerful online search service, is coming under attack from enemies including Microsoft and AT&T, report Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein. The company’s enemies include business competitors; traditional advertisers, who are losing revenues to online advertising; and internet service providers whose interests clash with Google’s support for net neutrality. Last year, Thompson and Vogelstein note, the anti-Google coalition got the U.S. Department of Justice to kill a proposed business deal between Google and the Yahoo! company. "Microsoft hired lobbyists who knew how to drum up support among rural and Latino groups, and before long organizations as far-reaching as the American Corn Growers Association and the Dominican American Business Network had voiced their opposition," they write. For PR support in that campaign, Microsoft turned to LMG, a secretive Washington DC public affairs firm that specializes in astroturf campaigns. Thompson and Vogelstein expect the anti-Google campaign to intensify in 2009, with a focus on painting the company as a threat to personal privacy.

Source: Wired, January 19, 2009

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:44 pm

Power moving to the people?

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A very interesting post, from which I take only a bit:

… The world is changing. When a senatorial office cannot do any business because their phones are ringing off the hook continuously for several days, their faxes are clogged, their e-mail inboxes are full of thousands of messages, and their mail is brought into the office in large bags or boxes, all of them from constituents, all asking the elected official to change the vote from Yes to No, they perk up and pay attention. This is a completely new and surprising level of constituent interest that baffles them. But they listen. And they tend to do what their constituents tell them. Sooner or later they will realize that what press is saying has nothing to do with what citizens really want. The press has lost all its credibility with the people, it is now also slowly losing credibility with the people in power.

This kind of thing has already happened a number of times over the past couple of years. Laws have been passed or blocked because of such concerted action. People won or lost elections due to having a tin ear or not when voters chimed in on their office telephones. …

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:36 pm

Top US lawyer warns of deaths at Guantánamo

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UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a post on this with good links to other articles.

From The Guardian:

Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley, an American military lawyer, will step through the grand entrance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London tomorrow and demand the release of her client – a British resident who claims he was repeatedly tortured at the behest of US intelligence officials – from Guantánamo Bay. Bradley will also request the disclosure of 42 secret documents that allegedly chronicle not only how Binyam Mohamed was tortured, but may also corroborate claims that Britain was complicit in his treatment.

But first, Bradley, a US military attorney for 20 years, will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a “critical list”, according to Bradley.

Mohamed, who is suffering dramatic weight loss after a month-long hunger strike, has told Bradley, 45, that he is “very scared” of being attacked by guards, after witnessing a savage beating for a detainee who refused to be strapped down and have a feeding tube forced into his mouth. It is the first account Bradley has personally received of a detainee being physically assaulted in Guantánamo.

Bradley recently met Mohamed in Camp Delta’s sparse visiting room and was shaken by his account of the state of affairs inside the notorious prison.

She said: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:32 pm

Crazy ideas: vaccines cause autism

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The guy who pushed the idea is a crackpot who was paid £400,000 to do the research by a group of lawyers who wanted to sue vaccine companies. Takedowns are everywhere in the science community: his research cannot be replicated and a review of his notes shows that he simply made up data from time to time. Here are a couple of good posts to get you started:

From Science-Based Parenting, a blog by Skeptic Dad:

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from friends that the reasons they are worried about vaccines are the combo shots, such as the MMR.  Why?  They don’t really know, but they heard it was too much for the immune system.

This wild speculation and fear can be traced back to one irresponsible scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his study on twelve patients.  Wakefield had England in a tizzy because his study showed that autism could be traced to problems in the gut due to the MMR vaccine.  Or could it?

Other scientists attempted to replicate Wakefield’s study, but they came up with opposite results. The Cochrane Review listed over 31 quality studies that showed no link between autism, bowel problems, and the MMR vaccine.  And yet, there are scores of parents who not only believe that the MMR vaccine is the root cause of autism, but they also believe Jenny McCarthy’s lie that a strict gluten-free (etc.) diet cured her son…

Continue reading.

From Respectful Insolence:

Pity Andrew Wakefield.

Actually, on second thought, Wakefield deserves no pity. After all, he is the man who almost single-handedly launched the scare over the MMR vaccine in Britain when he published his infamous Lancet paper in 1998 in which he claimed to have linked the MMR vaccine to regressive autism and inflammation of the colon, a study that was followed up four years later with a paper that claimed to have found the strain of attenuated measles virus in the MMR in the colons of autistic children by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It would be one thing if these studies were sound science. If that were the case, then Wakefield’s work would have been very important and would have correctly cast doubt on the safety of the MMR. Unfortunately, they were not, and, indeed, most of the authors of the 1998 Lancet paper later withdrew their names from it.

Over the next decade, aided and abetted by useful idiots in the media, by British newspapers and other media that sensationalized the story, and the antivaccine movement, which hailed Wakefield as a hero, Wakefield managed to drive MMR vaccination rates in the U.K. below the level of herd immunity, from 93% to 75% (and as low as 50% in some parts of London). As a result, I "thanked" Andrew Wakefield for his leadership role in bringing the measles back to the U.K. to the point where, fourteen years after measles had been declared under control in the U.K., it was in 2008 declared endemic again

Continue reading

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

David Sirota on Obama’s Team of Zombies

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Good article by Sirota in Salon. It begins:

Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a "team of rivals." America was told that finally, after years of yes men running the government, we were getting a president who would follow Abraham Lincoln’s lead, fill his administration with varying viewpoints, and glean empirically sound policy from the clash of ideas. Little did we know that "team of rivals" was what George Orwell calls "newspeak": an empty slogan "claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts."

Obama’s national security team, for instance, includes not a single Iraq war opponent. The president has not only retained George W. Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, but also 150 other Bush Pentagon appointees. The only "rivalry" is between those who back increasing the already bloated defense budget by an absurd amount and those who aim to boost it by a ludicrous amount.

Of course, that lockstep uniformity pales in comparison to the White House’s economic team — a squad of corporate lackeys disguised as public servants…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:19 pm

Good profile of Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

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Tom Ricks has a good profile of Gen. Odierno in the Washington Post. It begins:

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was an unlikely dissident, with little in his past to suggest that he would buck his superiors and push the U.S. military in radically new directions.

A 1976 West Point graduate and veteran of the Persian Gulf War and the Kosovo campaign, Odierno had earned a reputation as the best of the Army’s conventional thinkers — intelligent and ambitious, but focused on using the tools in front of him rather than discovering new and unexpected ones. That image was only reinforced during his first tour in Iraq after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

As commander of the 4th Infantry Division in the Sunni Triangle, Odierno led troops known for their sometimes heavy-handed tactics, kicking in doors and rounding up thousands of Iraqi "MAMs" (military-age males). He finished his tour believing the fight was going well. "I thought we had beaten this thing," he would later recall.

Sent back to Iraq in 2006 as second in command of U.S. forces, under orders to begin the withdrawal of American troops and shift fighting responsibilities to the Iraqis, Odierno found a situation that he recalled as "fairly desperate, frankly."

So that fall, he became the lone senior officer in the active-duty military to advocate a buildup of American troops in Iraq, a strategy rejected by the full chain of command above him, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr., then the top commander in Iraq and Odierno’s immediate superior.

Communicating almost daily by phone with retired Gen. Jack Keane, an influential former Army vice chief of staff and his most important ally in Washington, Odierno launched a guerrilla campaign for a change in direction in Iraq, conducting his own strategic review and bypassing his superiors to talk through Keane to White House staff members and key figures in the military. It would prove one of the most audacious moves of the Iraq war, and one that eventually reversed almost every tenet of U.S. strategy. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Army, Military

Echoes from the past: ancient extinctions today

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Interesting (and there are photos at the link):

Paleontologists can still hear the echo of the death knell that drove the dinosaurs and many other organisms to extinction following an asteroid collision at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. “The evolutionary legacy of the end-Cretaceous extinction is very much with us. In fact, it can be seen in virtually every marine community, every lagoon, every continental shelf in the world,” said University of Chicago paleontologist David Jablonski. It is, he said, “sort of an echo of the big bang for evolutionary biology.”

This conclusion followed a detailed global analysis of marine bivalves, one of the few groups plentiful enough in the fossil record to allow such a study, which was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Andrew Krug of the University of Chicago, Jablonski and James Valentine of the University of California, Berkeley, examined the geologic ages of every major lineage of living bivalves the world over, from oysters and scallops to quahogs and cockles. Their report appears in the Feb. 6 issue of the journal Science.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Evolution, Science

The National Yiddish Book Center

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If you read Yiddish, you can download books in the language from the National Yiddish Book Center.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 11:57 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Knowledge vs. Ignorance

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Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 11:48 am

Posted in Congress, GOP

GOP inconsistency

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You can get someone from the GOP Rightwing caucus frothing at the mouth just by mentioning Al Franken, the soon-to-be Senator from Minnesota. They will choke and spew on how bad it is that a Liberal from show business will soon be in politics. How awful. Ronald Reagan, of course, is a very different story, under the aegis of IOKIYAR.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 11:21 am

Rejecting The Know Nothings

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I may have to get TV reception just to watch Rachel Maddow’s show.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Rejecting The Know Nothings", posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 11:18 am

Posted in Daily life

We’re all in this together

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Empathy and group identification can create a sense of “we’re all in this together,” in which the suffering of another is felt as a problem for the entire group. Sometimes countries can pull together like this, although (sadly) it’s often during bad times rather than good—one thinks of London during the Blitz. You would think, given the terrible economy and the hundreds of thousands losing their jobs (and many their homes as well) that the US would pull together with an attitude of “we’re all in this together.” But from observing how Wall Street used their bailout funds (paying enormous bonuses even in the face of terrible performance), it’s clear that some are not in this together with us, but are simply out for themselves.

Part of the problem may be that our mass media fell in general more affinity with Wall Street financiers than with the public. Steve Benen notes their response to Obama’s national address—and of course, the way that the talk shows host many, many more from the Right than from the Progressive front.

UPDATE: Susie Madrak has a very good post on the overall situation, in which those who feel they are not in this together with others are aptly named: parasites, who are now eating the host. And she correctly identifies many lawmakers as belonging to the “parasite” category.

UPDATE 2: “Centrist” Senators have cut the stimulus bill, and have moved lots of funds to tax cuts (which do NOT stimulate the economy the way government spending on projects would). These Senators feel quite calm about their plan, which results in 600,000 fewer jobs created. After all, those Senators know that they will have a job—though with any luck, they’ll be hounded out of office by angry voters and constituents.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 11:13 am

Posted in Daily life, Media

Trying to parse wingnut rhetoric

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I praise David Neiwert for holding his nose and diving into the flood of garbage that spews from the mouths of media wingnuts. In this post, he looks carefully at a conversation between Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck, living examples of why abortion is sometimes a good idea, and works hard to make sense of what they say and provide factual and historical data to correct the product of their mushy minds. Why are the most outspoken Rightwingers so ignorant? I suppose their ignorance is what allows them to be Rightwingers.

At any rate, Neiwert does a fine job and his entire post is worth reading—though I bet Ingraham and Beck never read it.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 10:57 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Meyer lemons entering mainstream?

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I noticed something different this Meyer lemon season: bagged Meyer lemons of uniform size grown in Florida. I found them yesterday at Costco.

In the past, Meyer lemons at the store were of different sizes and clearly grown locally, but now the big growers seem to be moving in: industrialization of the Meyer lemon.

What I think happened is this: the Meyer lemon was originally a curiosity, and then Alice Waters started using them at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and word got out. People started wanting them—a lot. But trees grow slowly, and planting a lot of trees of a particular variety is a big investment. So the industrial growers stood back and watched to make sure this wasn’t a fad. And it wasn’t, so they planted, and now the first fruits of that planting are hitting the market. The lemons so far are small: getting the first crop off the trees as soon as possible to start realizing some return on the investment, but in time we may get larger Meyer lemons. But the fact that they’re bagged and from Florida means that commercial growers are now active.

That’s my guess, anyway. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer lemon: the Meyers are so much better than the Eureka and Lisbon lemons that are the supermarket mainstay.

Written by Leisureguy

8 February 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

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