Later On

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

Archive for May 2nd, 2009

Rethinking masks on the flight

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Maybe no mask:

Wash your hands.

I know this sounds silly, but it is far more effective at preventing flu than having a dose-pack of Tamiflu in the medicine chest. Take it from a doctor, mother and reporter who covered SARS as well as bird flu where they were most virulent.

In 2003, as SARS was spreading across Asia, I was posted in Beijing. Many families fled. My children’s school — the International School of Beijing — was one of the very few in the city to stay open, although my daughter’s class of 25 dwindled below 10. For the children who remained, the school instituted strict policies — the ones that schools promote all the time but never really enforce. For parents, the first was: Don’t send your child to school sick. For students, it was: Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly during the day — before meals, after recess. No one got SARS. But more than that, the stomach bugs and common colds that are the bane of elementary schools all over the world disappeared as well.

If hand-washing is the first lesson of the SARS epidemic to apply to today’s swine flu outbreak, the others are: Masks, the symbol of protection, are only rarely useful. And enjoy being outside; it’s not where you will get the flu.

I hate seeing pictures of people in Mexico riding bicycles and walking down the street in masks. Infectious diseases are not transmitted well outside and in sunlight. As a doctor and as a reporter, my cardinal rule is to interview sick people with infectious respiratory diseases — from garden-variety flu to tuberculosis to bird flu — in open spaces. That sometimes means an open-air hospital ward. So yes, avoid crowded, closed spaces in places where there may be danger.

Also, avoid touching things that lots of other people touch — door knobs and escalator handrails, for example — and then touching your nose or mouth. Having worked in an emergency room, I got into the habit.

Masks are for when you can’t avoid a closed space during a serious outbreak — when, say, you need to travel by a crowded bus or plane or subway. In 2003 I had a mask in my bag as I traveled to severely affected cities across Asia, but wore it only rarely. When transmitting an infectious disease through the air, a patient is generally sneezing or coughing. During the height of the SARS outbreak in China, if a nearby passenger exhibited symptoms, I moved to another part of the subway or plane.

I can tell you from my experience in Beijing that having an entire city of masked people is devastating to the social fabric. It is hard to have conversation through a mask — you can’t see smiles or frowns. Also, not all masks are equal. A good mask, well fitted and worn properly, is uncomfortable and hard to breathe through. And wearing a mask casually draped over your ears is more of a totem against disease than a scientifically valid form of protection.

In a normal season in the United States, tens of thousands of people die of complications of influenza. A baby’s death in Texas or the 200 people who have succumbed in Mexico are tragic cases, but not by themselves worrisome totals. They could even suggest that this strain of swine influenza is quite mild. We have no idea how many people came down with lesser infections — presumably a huge number — that went unrecorded by the public health system. More data is needed to sort this out.

Which is why public health officials are frantically performing contact tracing and surveillance to track where the outbreak is going. It is the best way to head off something worse and help society prepare. But watching them perform this important business should be reassuring, not a reason to panic…

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 5:52 pm

Democrats to be replaced

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2 May 2009 at 3:30 pm

Ukulele Bach

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

Torture works best if you starve the victim first

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Spencer Ackerman in the Washington Independent:

According to a recently declassified Justice Department document, the CIA believed that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques like sleep deprivation worked better when a detainee’s resistance was weakened from hunger. The agency, with the legal approval of the Justice Department, employed a regimen that sharply restricted the caloric intake of detainees in its custody — an intake distinctly below federal nutritional guidelines for inmates in U.S. prisons.

Steven Bradbury, chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in during George W. Bush’s second term, provided an overview of an authorized CIA technique to manipulate detainee’s diets in order to make them receptive to interrogation. Using references to calories, Bradbury wrote in a May 10, 2005 memo, “[T]he recommended minimum calorie intake is 1,500 kcal/day, and in no event is the detainee allowed to receive less than 1,000 kcal/day.” While having his diet restricted, a detainee would be fed not solid food, but “commercial liquid diets (such as Ensure Plus).” The restricted diet, according to Bradbury’s memo, would be subject to “frequent medical monitoring,” and a detainee would be measured “weekly” to ensure that he did not lose more than “10 percent of his body weight,” which would trigger termination of the diet.

That caloric intake would be unacceptable for the Justice Department to administer to an inmate in a federal prison. The department’s Bureau of Prisons requires federal prisons to adhere to “the Daily Reference Intake (DRI) for nutrients published by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of the Sciences” in order to “ensure proper nutrition,” according to the bureau’s 2006 policy handbook. The National Academy of the Science’s Dietary Reference Intakes estimates nutritional requirements on a sliding scale depending on Body Mass Index and level of activity. But for adult men who stand just under five feet tall and who maintain a “sedentary” level of physical activity with a low body mass index, the minimum caloric requirement in the guideline is 1,848 calories. All other nutritional elements of the guideline require greater caloric intakes for adult men, ranging from 2,000 to 3,720 calories…

Continue reading. What a nation we became!

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:43 am

Interesting: A challenge to the Voting Rights Act

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A FindLaw article by Roger Citron, Assistant Professor of Law at Touro Law Center on Long Island:

Today, the Supreme Court hears oral argument in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder ("NAMUDNO"), arguably the Court’s most important – and perhaps most difficult – case of the term. NAMUDNO involves a powerful challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act ("the Act") and implicates fundamental constitutional principles, pitting the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments’ protections of civil rights against the value of state sovereignty. Paradoxically, the very success of the Act in combating racial discrimination in voting has enabled such a strong challenge to one of its basic provisions.

(Apparently recognizing the significance of and public interest in NAMUDNO, the Court will provide same-day access to audio of the oral argument, something it hasn’t done since the oral argument more than a year ago in District of Columbia v. Heller, involving the Second Amendment right to bear arms.)

In this article, I will briefly describe the legislative history of the Voting Rights Act, discuss the challenge to Section 5 asserted by the plaintiff in NAMUDNO and the lower court’s rejection of that challenge, and offer a prediction about the outcome of the case before the Supreme Court. Among legal commentators, the conventional wisdom is that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote will be decisive; I agree. As I will explain below, my view is that Justice Kennedy will vote to uphold the constitutionality of Section 5.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Its Subsequent Reauthorizations

The history of the Voting Rights Act dates back to the period shortly after the Civil War, when the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were adopted. The Fifteenth Amendment specifically guarantees that the "right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Despite this guarantee, however, African Americans encountered substantial obstacles to voting – including literacy tests, property qualifications, and other impediments intended to thwart their right to vote – for nearly a century after the ratification of the amendment in 1870.

Eventually, in 1965, Congress responded with …

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2 May 2009 at 11:40 am

Controlling teens’ sexual explorations

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"Good luck" is my first response. But the article by Julie Hilden is interesting:

Recently, the Wall Street Journal and its law blog reported on a Pennsylvania controversy over "sexting" – the practice of sending nude or semi-nude photos of oneself or others via cellphone. After some "sexted" photos were confiscated from students at a high school, the local District Attorney threatened to file broad child-pornography charges if the teens were not willing to enroll in a five-week compulsory educational program covering topics such as "what it means to be a girl in today’s society." (This topic is telling; sexting controversies often seem to be connected to adults’ discomfort with girls’ expression of their sexuality. It seems likely, too, that discomfort with gay teens’ sexuality will eventually lead to a sexting controversy as well.)

The ACLU rightly responded with a lawsuit. Because First Amendment rights were at issue, the suit could properly be filed prior to charges being brought, in order to address the ongoing "chilling effect" on speech of the threat of prosecution hanging overhead. A federal judge has temporarily enjoined the D.A. from filing charges, with a hearing to occur in June.

These particular charges are ill-grounded in law, as the ACLU has pointed out. The photos at issue show teen girls in their bras or, in one case, topless. In contrast, child pornography laws typically cover lascivious displays of the genitals and/or sexual activity. Thus, this is likely to be an easy case — as the judge’s initial ruling, granting an injunction in the ACLU’s favor in part because of its high likelihood of success on the merits, indicates.

This is not the first time that old laws have proven to be a bad fit with recent technology. But it’s an especially worrying example of a general problem, because both criminal charges and First Amendment rights are at issue.

In this column, I will consider how the law should respond when much harder cases regarding sexting come along, as they inevitably will. These cases would involve photos of underage teens having sex, displaying their genitals in a lascivious way, or both. Accordingly, these cases could validly form the basis for child-pornography charges. But should they always trigger charges? Or should the law be adjusted to take into account the factual nuances of the case?

Should There Be "Romeo and Juliet" And Age-Specific Exceptions for Sexting?

There is no question that if an adult traffics in photos that fit the child pornography laws – that is, photos that include a lascivious display of an underage person’s genitals, or show an underage person having sex — it is a very serious crime, as well as despicable behavior. Indeed, the Supreme Court recently issued an opinion allowing the prosecution of even those traffickers who offer virtual child pornography (involving no real children) but believe it is real – as I discussed in a prior column.

But what if teenagers take the photographs and do the trafficking, and the subjects and recipients of the photos are exclusively the teenagers themselves? Should the crime – and the penalties – be the same?

My answer is a strong …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law, Technology

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Tracking the flu

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The Flu Wiki Forum offers a forum for up-to-date information on the flu.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

How a Supreme Court case tore the GOP in two

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Marci Hamilton in FindLaw:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade — recognizing a woman’s right to choose an abortion with the consultation of her doctor — has served as a kind of cement, bonding conservatives who are opposed to the decision. The ruling brought together evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Orthodox Jews into a novel political marriage. And in turn, their united power led to a revolution within the Republican Party.

In the course of this revolution, the party was transformed from one identified primarily with fiscal conservatism and libertarian principles, to one primarily identified with the evangelical Christians who rose to their apex of power in the Bush Administration. Now, however, single-minded opposition to the decision appears to be the reason for the decreasing size (and, therefore, power) of the Party.

Alienating Moderates Such as Senators Specter and Snowe

Sen. Arlen Specter’s recent shift from the Republican to the Democratic Party was apparently motivated in part by his wish to avoid a Republican primary. He’s been in the Party for decades, and understandably felt betrayed by the fact that more conservative forces were willing to force him to go through a rough primary, rather than allowing him to proceed into the election as the party’s consensus candidate. There is much more at issue here than that consideration, however. Top Republicans have been trying to play this as solely a move by Specter, but it is equally a move by the Party itself.

The morning after Specter switched sides, …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:30 am

Humanity’s destruction of life on Earth

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A book review:

What We Leave Behind
by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay

A review by Jeremy Garber

"Industrial civilization is incompatible with life. It is systematically destroying life on this planet, undercutting its very basis. This culture is, to put it bluntly, murdering the earth. Unless it’s stopped — whether we intentionally stop it or the natural world does, through ecological collapse or other means — it will kill every living being. We need to stop it."

–Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay

÷ ÷ ÷

From the first paragraph of the preface through four hundred trenchant pages of well-reasoned and well-researched polemic, What We Leave Behind is a scathing indictment of our culture’s wanton disregard for, and destruction of, life on earth. Co-authored by Derrick Jensen (A Language Older Than Words; The Culture of Make Believe; and volumes one and two of Endgame) and Aric McBay (Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life after Gridcrash), the book is unwaveringly forthright, urgent and compelling. While there has been no shortage of recent works written about climate change, environmental degradation, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and impending catastrophe, few are as direct, pragmatic, and compassionate as this one.

With an understanding of waste and its associated cycles (decay and regeneration) as the center from which their premise unfurls, Jensen and McBay assert that the disruption of these processes and the increasing toxicity of our garbage (both organic and industrial) are having devastating consequences on the health of ecosystems worldwide. These disastrous effects, they argue persuasively, are intrinsic to the industrial capitalist system. They see this system, based as it is on centralizing control and externalizing consequences, as impervious to any meaningful systemic change, "Industrial capitalism can never be sustainable. It has always destroyed the land upon which it depends for raw materials, and it always will."

Jensen and McBay employ some sobering statistics to further illustrate how rampant the deleterious effects of our culture have become. In the chapter on plastic they write, "There is at least six times more plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean than phytoplankton." Though much of the data cited throughout the book is as bewilderingly unreal, the book concludes with over 30 pages of end notes and bibliographic sources, making a reader or would-be critic hard-pressed to make a case that the authors were hurried in their writing or lacking in research.

Portions of the book confront the notion of sustainability, and the so-called "greenwashing" of industries that are inherently unsustainable. "It’s a pretty basic point that’s perhaps intentionally missed by almost everyone in this culture who claims to participate in sustainable activities: an action is sustainable if and only if all necessary associated actions are sustainable." The authors, as example, instance the green architecture movement and its most renowned champion William McDonough (dubbed a "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine in 1999). As stated on McDonough’s website, he worked to install a "10-acre (454,000 sq. ft.) ‘living’ roof" atop the Ford Rouge Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, that serves to "retain half the annual rainfall that falls on its surface….provide habitat….[and offer] a glimpse of the transformative possibilities suggested by this new model for sustaining industry." McDonough also developed a new campus for Nike’s European headquarters in The Netherlands, described by a Nike executive as "designed to integrate the indoors with the surrounding environment, tapping into local energy flows to create healthy, beneficial relationships between nature and human culture." Jensen and McBay expose the duplicity often underlying what is passed off as sustainable initiative: …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:27 am

Joe Conason on a particular nominee

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Good report from Joe:

Every Supreme Court nomination is not only a strategic presidential opportunity but a clear measure of the nation’s current political dispensation. For Barack Obama, the anticipated chance to replace Justice David Souter has arrived at a time of massive political and ideological shifting that this decision can underscore. Glancing over the latest list of potential nominees, there is at least one highly qualified jurist whose selection would emphasize change — and might well lure the Republicans into yet another of the foolish mistakes that have done them so much damage.

The name of that particular nominee would be Sonia Sotomayor, daughter of a working-class Bronx family from Puerto Rico, who now serves on the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

Leaving aside for a moment the question of her precise place on the judicial spectrum between liberal and conservative, Sotomayor represents everything that a president choosing his first justice in his first term could desire. As a female her elevation would begin to bring gender equity to a forum where historically men have exercised far too much unchallenged power over the lives of the women. As a Latina, her rise would symbolize the next stage in the full enfranchisement of immigrants whose language, status and poverty have too often turned them into scapegoats for the cultural and economic costs of globalization.

Obama could safely ignore the predictable complaint that he had somehow excluded white males (which is already being voiced in some quarters) because, thanks to his predecessor, members of that group were awarded the last two seats on the court. Presumably he will consider other female, Hispanic and African-American candidates as the process begins, but the presumption in favor of Sotomayor is strong unless a significant problem surfaces while vetting her.

That doesn’t mean a Sotomayor nomination would encounter no opposition. In fact, the professional right-wing activists who have dominated so many judicial nomination battles are already coming after her. According to Ben Smith in Politico, one such activist is circulating a memo that brands Sotomayor a "hard left activist" judge with extreme views on affirmative action, and pillories her for saying that her life as a minority woman influences her judicial thinking. The same memo goes on to smear her as a "bully" who lacks the proper temperament to serve on the Supreme Court.

Of course, such complaints would be comical to hear in a Senate debate, coming as they would from ..…

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2 May 2009 at 11:21 am

The Party of No in action

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Or should that be "inaction"? Here’s the story:

A Louisiana senator is stalling Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate’s nomination as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fugate had sailed through his nomination hearing and Monday cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote. Republican Sen. David Vitter said, however, that he’d blocked Fugate because of concerns he has with FEMA.

"I have a hold on the FEMA nomination because I sent a list of hurricane recovery questions and projects to FEMA, many of which have not been adequately addressed," Vitter said in a statement. "I’m eager to get full responses and meet with the nominee immediately."

The hold — which comes a month before the start of hurricane season — was reported in CQ Today, a Capitol Hill newspaper, which noted that Vitter’s home state "bore the brunt of the botched agency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005."

At that time, FEMA was led by Michael Brown, who had little emergency management experience. Fugate, however, garnered widespread praise for deft handling of back-to-back hurricanes in Florida and won bipartisan support at his confirmation hearing and was expected to be confirmed swiftly.

Vitter’s fellow Louisiana senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu, backs Fugate. She said, however, that she understands Vitter’s concerns, which apparently relate to FEMA’s maps of controversial "high-velocity flood zones," a designation related to coastal areas that are at high risk in a hurricane or an area that faces significant risk in the event of a flood. Federal regulations currently prohibit FEMA from funding new construction in such zones, and Louisiana officials want more flexibility…

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2 May 2009 at 11:18 am

The hypocrisy of the Party of No

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One could fill an entire blog with instances of Republicans who espouse contradictory positions, always picking in each instance the position that benefits them. When the GOP was in power, for example, it said that filibustering judicial appointments was practically unconstitutional, and that EVERY candidate deserved an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate. That was then—and even then, somehow when Harriet Meiers was proposed by George Bush, the GOP quickly abandoned the up-or-down vote principle. Now that Obama will be appointing judges, the filibuster suddenly is no longer unconstitutional. And now this, from ThinkProgress’s Faiz Shakir:

This morning on Fox News, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove criticized Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a potential nominee for the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. “She could be even more liberal than Souter was,” Rove said. “She has a reputation on the Court of Appeals that she’s on for being very liberal.” He then argued that Sotomayor’s views would be cause for conservatives to oppose her, despite her qualifications for the position:

On the other hand, she’s also likely to draw opposition from conservatives because her opinions on the Circuit Court of Appeals have been very liberal and very expansive. In fact, this is going to be one the big dividing lines. President Obama…said he wanted a judge who would uphold the Constitution, but also a judge would be empathetic. These two things are in conflict.

Watch it:

Needless to say, Rove is being hypocritical. When he was shepherding Bush’s Supreme Court nominees through the process, he explicitly made the argument the President was owed deference to choose a qualified nominee and opposition party had a “responsibility to back” that pick. Here’s what Rove told the Washington Post in July 2005:

Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief political architect, said precedents from the most recent Supreme Court vacancies suggest that opposition-party senators have a responsibility to back a president’s choice if they believe a nominee is qualified, even if they disagree with the person’s views. He also maintained that a strongly held ideological stance would not amount to “extraordinary circumstances” justifying a Democratic filibuster under a recent bipartisan Senate deal. […]

Rove made clear that Bush will consult with senators in both parties, but that he has no interest in any kind of grand bargain between the White House and Congress in which legislators would give support in exchange for advance input on the president’s choice. Some Democratic groups have suggested that Bush seek an early consensus. Rove, however, cited his own weekend reading of the Federalist Papers to argue that the framers of the Constitution envisioned no such role for Congress, leaving the president alone to make nominations.

In the interview with Fox News this morning, Rove lauded the Bush White House’s preparedness for filling the Supreme Court vacancies when they arose and suggested the Obama White House is unprepared for making a nomination. It seems Rove has quickly forgotten his “active role” in the disastrous nomination of Harriet Miers, who came under relentless assault from Bush’s conservative base.

Update: Last night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz argued, "I think it’s time to say it. This is no time for bi-partisanship, we need a liberal on the Supreme Court. … Will President Obama put a liberal lion on the Supreme Court, and I mean no shame, no apologies. Or will he cave in when the Party of No starts crying about a consensus choice? May I remind Americans tonight, we had a consensus back in November, it was called an election. They lost. Elections have consequences. This is our time to shape the future of this country."

Update: The National Review’s Matthew Franck urges GOP senators not to filibuster Obama’s nominee. "Supreme Court nominations deserve an up-or-down vote," he writes. But he also urges "Republicans to throw some sand in the gears" to slow down the confirmation process. [True to the Party of No – LG]

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 11:12 am

Protecting our groundwater

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The EPA will take action:

Faced with new evidence that utilities across the country are dumping toxic sludge into waterways, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to impose new restrictions on the level of contaminants power plants can discharge.

Plants in Florida, Pennsylvania and several other states have flushed wastewater with levels of selenium and other toxins that far exceed the EPA’s freshwater and saltwater standards aimed at protecting aquatic life, according to data the agency has collected over the past few years. While selenium can be beneficial in tiny amounts, elevated levels damage not only fish but also birds and people who consume contaminated fish.

Ironically, the reason more selenium and metals such as arsenic are now entering U.S. waterways is because the federal government has pressed utilities to install pollution-control "scrubbing" technology that captures contaminants headed for smokestacks and stores them as coal ash or sludge. The EPA estimates that these two coal combustion residues — which are often kept in outdoor pools or flushed into nearby rivers and streams — amount to roughly 130,000 tons per year and will climb to an estimated 175,000 tons by 2015.

Eric Schaeffer, who used to lead the EPA’s enforcement office and now heads the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group, said the agency must take action to avoid solving "one environmental problem by creating another."

"Scrubbers will help clean our air, but let’s make sure that the toxic metals stripped out of coal-plant smokestacks don’t end up in our water," he said, adding that the EPA’s toxic release inventory ranks the power industry as the nation’s second-largest discharger of metals and metal compounds. "It’s crazy not to have limits on toxic discharges this big."

Mary Smith, director of the engineering and analysis division of the EPA’s water office, said the agency initially assessed the toxic emissions of 56 industries and found that the utility industry "was at the high end of the range." When it comes to selenium in power plant effluent, she added, "We’re looking at how low it can go and what is economically achievable."

While the EPA has not comprehensively sampled the nation’s utilities, some operations have reported wastewater selenium levels far above the agency’s guidelines. Sampling at Edison Mission Energy’s Homer City, Pa., plant, for example, found …

Continue reading. I am perpetually amazed by the folks who believe that businesses should not be regulated at all, and the invisible hand of the Free Market will automatically correct all abuses. I wonder how the Free Market would have handled this sort of pollution. It seems to me that the Free Market doesn’t do a thing about polluting the air or the water.

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2 May 2009 at 11:05 am

Lindsay Graham and the Supreme Court

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Bad news, I suspect. The report from Jay Newton-Small:

Both sides of the aisle spent all week lamenting/celebrating Arlen Specter’s party switch and the potential for a 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate. But Specter’s swap leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee without its most prominent GOP moderate. In any other committee that wouldn’t matter but in the Judiciary Committee one minority vote is needed to report out nominees to the bench, from the committee’s rules:


The Chairman shall entertain a non-debatable motion to bring a matter before the Committee to a vote. If there is objection to bring the matter to a vote without further debate, a roll call vote of the Committee shall be taken, and debate shall be terminated if the motion to bring the matter to a vote without further debate passes with ten votes in the affirmative, one of which must be cast by the minority.

The current Republican Judiciary Committee members are: Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, and Tom Coburn (Roll Call is reporting that Hatch or Session — both conservatives — are Specter’s potential successors for the ranking slot). Most of these Republicans are pretty conservative save Graham, who was …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 10:59 am

Razor and Brush/Giovanni Arbate: An Appreciation

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Although I noted earlier that Razor and Brush—aka Barbieria Italiana—would close it doors, I did not in that post recognize the enormous contribution this vendor—Giovanni Arbate—made to today’s traditional wet-shaving. Until he opened the site, most of us were unaware of the enormous range of products available—particularly blades. Shavers mainly selected from one of six makes: Swedish Gillette, Feather, Israeli Personna, Crystal, Merkur, and Derby. Once you found which of those worked best, that was it.

One shaver got interested in blade collecting, and began urging us all to expand our blade horizons. At about the same time, Gio started Barbieria Italiana with an offering of unfamiliar brands of blades along with some aftershaves and soaps that we didn’t know.

We began sampling those wares, and Gio began expanding his range of offerings. Barbieria Italiana became a shaving site that had a great number of items not otherwise available in the US—and many of us found brands of blades that were better than anything we had been using, and economical as well.

Razor and Brush eventually evolved to include:

In addition, he provided links to a variety of shave sites:

Later On
Adventures in wet shaving
Dynasty of Lao
Mike’s Rants and Raves
The Shave Den
Straight Razor Place
Gut Rasiert (German)
Mr. Razor
NassRasur (German)

All of this is still intact and on the Web. Although you can’t order from Barbieria Italiana’s shave store, you certainly can browse and build wishlists. seems to be continually expanding the range of its offerings, so one can hope that someday one can get the full range of Barbieria Italiana’s products. Moreover, the Message Board and the Sales Board are still operational.

Gio and Razor and Brush transformed the US shave scene, and although Gio can no longer be an active vendor, he has certainly made his mark and deserves much gratitude from American wetshavers.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Chocolate-Sandalwood shave

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Commenter Gogo suggested that I try mixing some of the soaps—e.g., use the Wild Orange shave stick on half my beard, Chocolate on the other half, and then work up the lather from the mix. I love the idea, and The Wife suggested a Chocolate-Sandalwood combination (since she has a perfume that uses that mix). So: after MR GLO and the rinse, I used the Chocolate shave stick lightly over my whole beard, then loaded the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super with Sandalwood—not heavily, just enough—and worked up the lather. It worked quite well, and the fragrance was definitely a mix of the two.

The red-tipped Super Speed with a “Swedish” Gillette did a terrific job: absolutely smooth face, no nicks. TOBS St. James aftershave was a good finish.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2009 at 10:20 am

Posted in Shaving

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