Later On

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

Archive for April 14th, 2009

Google Search Cube

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It’s here. Kind of cute.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Technology

Good-movie report

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Just finished Bottle Shock. Fully satisfying: interesting, absorbing, and intriguing.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Thank for Constant Reader for this

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Movie: The Seven Little Foys (1955)
Bob Hope plays the role of Eddie Foy.
James Cagney plays the role of George M. Cohan.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Movies & TV, Video

Are drones worth the human cost?

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An important story. Lede:

US drone bombings have reportedly killed 687 Pakistani civilians since 2006. During that time, US Predator drones carried out sixty strikes inside Pakistan, but hit just ten of their actual targets. Last week, a group of peace activists last week staged the first major act of civil disobedience against the drone attacks in the United States. Fourteen people were arrested outside the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where Air Force personnel pilot the unmanned drones used in Pakistan. We speak with longtime California peace activist Father Louis Vitale, who was among those arrested, and with Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 2:19 pm

Tax code changes

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Interesting article by Joseph Schatz in Congressional Quarterly, which begins:

Energized by a global summit meeting two weeks ago where world leaders called for a crackdown on abusive tax havens, Congress seems likely this year to debate significant elements of the federal income tax code as it affects corporations. But it’s not likely to be the debate those companies had been hoping for.

In a budgetary environment that seems to get worse every day as the government expands its spending to battle the recession and financial crisis, President Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill are looking for new sources of money. And corporations have become a prime target. Not only is talk increasingly focused on ways to clamp down on offshore tax abusers, but revenue hunters also have their sights on scaling back the so-called deferral rules that permit companies to put off paying taxes on their foreign profits.

For all this, businesses will probably get little in return. Instead of negotiating the trade-offs that would be part of a broad overhaul of the corporate tax system, multinational corporate icons that employ millions of Americans — from Microsoft to Sara Lee — find themselves struggling not to be lumped together with shadowy tax offenders. And they are scrambling to distinguish their perfectly legal tax deferrals from questionable practices for the purpose of tax avoidance.

“Those are two really different things, said Alan Auerbach, director of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance at the University of California at Berkeley, raising a warning flag about legislatively conflating these very different concepts. “Clearly we need revenue,” Auerbach said. “On the other hand, I wouldn’t necessarily react to a weak economy by raising corporate taxes.” …

Continue reading. Graphs at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 2:16 pm

"Rule of Law": Spain vs. the US

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Glenn Greenwald:

Scott Horton reports this morning that, in Spain, "prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates [John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Doug Feith and William Haynes] over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo."  Spain not only has the right under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture to prosecute foreign officials for torturing its citizens, but it — like the U.S. — has the affirmative obligation to do so. (Indeed, the Bush administration itself insisted just last year that the U.S. the right to criminally prosecute foreign officials for ordering acts of torture even in the absence of an accusation that any of the victims were American).

As Hilzoy argues, however, the primary obligation for these prosecutions lies with the country whose officials authorized the war crimes — the United States:

It is a requirement of law, the law that the Constitution requires Obama, as President, to faithfully execute.  He should not outsource his Constitutional obligations to Spain.

That the U.S. has the legal obligation under the U.S. Constitution, our own laws and international treaties to commence criminal investigations is simply undeniable.  That is just a fact. Yet it’s hard to overstate how far away we are from fulfilling our legal obligations to impose accountability on our own torturers and war criminals.

The barriers to these prosecutions are numerous, but one of the principal obstacles is that CIA Director Leon Panetta has been emphatically demanding that there be no investigations of any government officials whose conduct was declared legal by DOJ lawyers (i.e., the very individuals the Spanish are now investigating for war crimes).  And it’s not surprising that Panetta has taken this position given that at least two of his top deputies at the CIA are among those implicated, to one degree or another, in the torture regime, as John Sifton detailed earlier this month at The Daily Beast:  …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 1:02 pm

Learn physics, amaze your friends

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Open Culture:

There’s something compelling about physics. Almost every major open courseware collection features a well-crafted physics course, and these courses consistently rank high on iTunesU and YouTube Edu. Let’s give a quick overview of the favorites.

At Stanford, we’re putting together a six course sequence called Modern Physics: The Theoretical Minimum. Taught by Leonard Susskind, one of America’s leading physics minds, this course traces the development of modern physics, moving from Newton to Einstein to Black Holes. So far, we’ve made five of the six courses available online (get them here), which amounts to 100 hours of free classroom footage. Hard to beat. (And, in case you’re wondering, the sixth course is being taped right now, and it will be coming online during the months to come.)

Another program that has received a fair amount of attention is Walter Lewin’s series of courses at MIT. As The New York Times has noted, Lewin has long had a cult following at MIT, and now, thanks to his physics courses, he’s achieved a minor degree of fame on the internet. His lectures, delivered with panache, can be found here: …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2009 at 12:59 pm

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