Later On

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

Archive for November 6th, 2009

Legalization of Immigrants Substantially Improves Economic Status

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Interesting report by Daphne Eviatar of the Washington Independent:

A new report prepared for the Immigration Policy Center finds that illegal immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s via the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) went on to earn substantial gains in their socioeconomic status. The report suggests that, contrary to the idea that legalizing immigrants will increase competition for scarce jobs in the U.S., legalization of many of the 11 million or so current undocumented immigrants would actually yield economic benefits, not only for the immigrants but for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Between 1990 and 2006, Mexican immigrants legalized under IRCA dramatically increased their education levels, reduced poverty rates and became more likely to buy their own homes. Real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance, the report finds.

Economic Progress via Legalization is one of three reports issued by the Immigration Policy Center today aimed at encouraging policymakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The other two look at the social and economic benefits of legalization, and at who should be allowed to benefit from an “earned legalization” program.

It looks as though legalizing currently illegal immigrants would benefit everyone.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Frozen Antarctic lakes yield new viruses

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It fascinates me how lifeforms evolve to exploit every ecological niche. Katherine Harmon for Scientific American:

In the chilly depths of one of Antarctica’s freshwater lakes, a surprising number of novel viruses thrive.
Researchers braved frigid temperatures to collect water samples from Lake Limnopolar, located on Livingston Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, and sequenced the genomes of the collected species. The new genetic study reveals some 10,000 species of viruses from a dozen families.

The viral diversity in the surface lake was "unexpectedly high," the authors wrote in a report on their findings, published online Thursday in Science. Most aquatic environments typically are home to viral species from only three to six families. The authors attribute the "unprecedented taxonomic diversity and high genetic richness" to the low diversity of other organisms at the site.

These extremophiles survive by living in the lake’s eukaryotes, subsisting through nine months of low nutrient—and dim light—levels. They are closely related to viruses that infect larger animals and plants rather than more common aquatic bacteriophages that infect prokaryotes.

The researchers also compared samples taken at different times of the year and found that come high summer (December in Antarctica), when the ice melts away from the lake’s surface, many of the single-stranded DNA viruses had changed into double-stranded versions. "It looks like a completely different lake in the summer," noted Antonio Alcami, of the Spanish Research Council and coauthor on the study, reported.

In fact, some of these more complex viruses may be changing to help their hosts thrive and adapt to a sunnier summer environment, which in turn helps the viruses proliferate. The viruses were found, for example, to contain genes involved in photosynthesis, which might help their algae hosts bloom in the summer.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:39 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

A Texas death-penalty case

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Lisa Gray in the Houston Chronicle:

Every death penalty case raises big, Biblical themes: vengeance versus mercy, punishment versus redemption, the Old Testament versus the New.

But never have those themes been plainer than they are in the case of 32-year-old Khristian Oliver, who — pending a last-minute stay of execution — will be executed this evening.

During his murder trial in Nacogdoches, jurors brought four Bibles into the jury room. To decide his fate, they turned to the Old Testament, to eye-for-an-eye verses including Numbers 35:19: The revenger of blood shall himself slay the murderer; when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.

Of course, jurors are supposed to interpret state law, not the Bible. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that those jurors “had crossed an important line” by using specific Bible verses to decide whether Oliver would live or die, that the U.S. Constitution prohibits that sort of “external influence.” And last month, Amnesty International called to have Khristian’s sentence commuted.

But so far, the Old Testament penalty stands.

Biblical themes have long been the domain of Khristian’s father, Kermit Oliver, a well-known painter and the first African-American artist represented by a major Houston gallery.

Kermit often used his family as models in his allegorical paintings: His fans recognize his wife, Katie, who is also a painter, and their three children. Khristian, the youngest, is the blond one, the boy who looks white, lighter-skinned even than his light-skinned parents. Not long after his birth, he was the central figure in Young Mitras in Gown Designed for His Presentation to the Temple.

In 1984, when Khristian was about 7, the Olivers left Houston for Waco, where Katie had inherited a house. Khristian didn’t fit easily with either the black kids or the white kids in that black-and-white town, and he found little in-between. But he made OK grades, ran cross-country and belonged to a Catholic church.

Somewhere around his high-school graduation, though, he lost his bearings. He fought with his parents and fell in with a bad crowd. A roommate taught him burglary. He fathered a child. He smoked pot. No longer baby Mitras in grand robes, he became a different figure entirely: a prodigal son.

Every tragedy has a point of no return, and Khristian’s came on March 17, 1998, when he was 21…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Two good posts at The Simple Dollar

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Trent has two interesting posts:

24 Ways to Save Money Today

A big part of successful frugality is the routine with which you live your day-to-day life. Here are twenty four little things that you can incorporate into your daily routines that just trim a little money away from your spending – and puts it into something more important to you… Continue reading.

A Reflection of Your Closest Friends

It’s often said that people are reflections of their five closest friends in many ways: behaviors, income levels, values, and so on.

Five years ago, almost all of my closest friends spent money like it was water. They were constantly doing things like playing poker, pushing each other to “one up” the rest with better gadgets and other material things, going out for drinks all the time, making fun of each other for looking less affluent, and so on. To put it simply, if you didn’t show many signs of material affluence, you were made fun of and ridiculed.You felt like less of a person if you weren’t spending money hand over fist.

Today, all of my inner circle of closest friends are pretty happy just spending an evening together playing cards or a board game. Instead of constantly going out on the town, we go to each other’s homes and hang out, watching each other’s DVD collections or playing each other’s games. We’ll make meals together and eat them together instead of going out for dinner all the time. Instead of talking about who has the latest gadget, we talk about who’s developed a better strategy at a well-played game or what sort of things we’ve been doing to improve the property we already have.

In that same time frame, my own feelings about spending money changed drastically. I went from spending rampantly to being careful about my money. I started spending more time at home rather than out and about, focusing my energy on getting good at a smaller number of things instead of chasing the new.

Perhaps most interestingly, I went from feeling pretty awful about myself to feeling pretty good about myself.

Look at your close circle of friends. What do you see? Chances are, you see something that looks much like you… Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:23 am

Posted in Daily life

Excellent brush

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The little Omega boar brush I actually didn’t have high hopes for: it seemed to have too short a loft and was quite stiff. OTOH, this was its first use, and boar brushes do require some break-in. I let it soak in hot water while I showered, and then worked up a lather from Mama Bear’s Turkish Mocha. My gosh! The little brush was already quite good: soft, pliable, resilient, and making a very fine lather. And the beechwood handle is comfortable and pleasant to grip.

It didn’t quite hold enough for the third pass, but close—and this was the brush’s first use. This is the third Omega boar brush I’ve tried, and all three have been quite good. Omega seems to know what it’s doing.

I do like the fragrance of the Turkish Mocha, and the lather too was good. The Mühle open-comb razor with a newish Astra Keramik Platinum blade did its usual fine job, and I do like Boosters Oriental Spice aftershave.

Fine shave.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2009 at 9:18 am

Posted in Shaving

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