Later On

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

Archive for November 22nd, 2009

The mammogram brouhaha

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It is depressingly clear why the American public in general does not like science: science consists of replacing old theories and ideas with new, better theories and ideas, all based on observed evidence.

First of all, the public in general hate change. They think change is evil. Things should always be the way they are now, or possibly (for the older public) the way it was when they were younger.

That’s why so many jumped on something so trivial as a change in a recommended procedure—a change based, of course, on evidence so that it is known that the new recommendation is better than the old recommendation. One would call that "progress," right?

But the millions and millions who loathe change don’t want progress. They want things to stay the same. Even if it’s demonstrably better and would save money while giving more people healthcare coverage (for example), a large proportion of the public will be frightened and resistant. Something new!! OMG!!! Panic! Quickly! All this without examining (to return to the eponymic example) the actual findings and statistics that led to the new recommendation.

I just realized that, to a large extent, I’ve described the GOP.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Daily life

Question for Old Testament experts

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The Old Testament (as Christians call it) contains many, many laws about what you can eat and what you must not. I was wondering whether, among the laws, any forbids the eating of human flesh. Murder is, of course, forbidden, but I am reminded of a traveler who was nervous about the native guides, of a tribe that once practiced cannibalism. On being question, one of the guides reassured the travelers that no longer was cannibalism a part of their activities—though, he said, if any of the travelers were to die, they would certainly not be wasted.

No, I haven’t come across any unusual sales or strange Web sites. I was just wondering as a matter of curiosity.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Wasted potential

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From Sloshspot. Click image, then click the result to get the full size.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Daily life

More on the manufactured "failure" of Obama’s trip

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James Fallows has two more good posts on the actualities of Obama’s trip vs. the press reports:

Manufactured failure #3: insider’s view of the Obama trip

Manufactured failure #4: more on Obama’s trip

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 1:24 pm

Walk 22 Nov 09

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Just over 34 minutes, and to 6th Street in PG and back. Last night I decided that my ultimate goal was to walk to the PG clock tower on Forest. Once I reach that, my walk is done, and I’m free to walk home anyway I like—that is, I won’t necessarily just turn around and walk right back. I’m in downtown PG at that point, and I might want to wander around for a while.

I like these little flowers—and it’s quite nice to have new blooms showing up Thanksgiving week.

This is a little house I always admire.

I’ll get a better photo another time, showing the very nice lamps.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Health

Interesting: Perils of nighttime computer use—and a fix

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Very interesting article (and associated software) at MakeUseOf.com.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 11:48 am

Freeware registry cleaners

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I have a couple of registry cleaners that I run whenever I install or uninstall a program—Windows generally mucks up the registry with either action. MakeUseOf.com has a post on the top freeware registry cleaners, so I downloaded the free version of the top-ranked package and just ran it. It found and fixed 877 registry errors that the other programs apparently missed. (It does do a full registry backup if you want before starting the fix process, and it does a checkpoint before doing the fix.)

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 10:15 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Lost army finally found

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Fascinating article, and thanks to The Younger Daughter for the pointer:

The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology’s biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian researchers.

Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II. The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.

WATCH VIDEO: Take a closer look at a valley of bones that researchers think may belong to the fabled lost army of Cambyses II.

VIEW A SLIDE SHOW: See some of the remains found in the Sahara Desert.

"We have found the first archaeological evidence of a story reported by the Greek historian Herodotus," Dario Del Bufalo, a member of the expedition from the University of Lecce, told Discovery News.

According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt.

After walking for seven days in the desert, the army got to an "oasis," which historians believe was El-Kharga. After they left, they were never seen again.

"A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear," wrote Herodotus.

A century after Herodotus wrote his account, Alexander the Great made his own pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun, and in 332 B.C. he won the oracle’s confirmation that he was the divine son of Zeus, the Greek god equated with Amun.

The tale of Cambyses’ lost army, however, faded into antiquity. As no trace of the hapless warriors was ever found, scholars began to dismiss the story as a fanciful tale.

Now, two top Italian archaeologists claim to have found striking evidence that the Persian army was indeed swallowed in a sandstorm. Twin brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni are already famous for their discovery 20 years ago of the ancient Egyptian "city of gold" Berenike Panchrysos.

Presented recently at the archaeological film festival of Rovereto, the discovery is the result of 13 years of research and five expeditions to the desert.

"It all started in 1996, during an expedition aimed at investigating the presence of iron meteorites near Bahrin, one small oasis not far from Siwa," Alfredo Castiglioni, director of the Eastern Desert Research Center (CeRDO)in Varese, told Discovery News.

While working in the area, the researchers noticed a half-buried pot and some human remains. Then the brothers spotted something really intriguing — what could have been a natural shelter.

It was a rock about 35 meters (114.8 feet) long, 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) in height and 3 meters (9.8 feet) deep. Such natural formations occur in the desert, but this large rock was the only one in a large area.

"Its size and shape made it the perfect refuge in a sandstorm," Castiglioni said.

Right there, the metal detector of Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat of Cairo University located relics of ancient warfare: a bronze dagger and several arrow tips.

"We are talking of small items, but they are extremely important as they are the first Achaemenid objects, thus dating to Cambyses’ time, which have emerged from the desert sands in a location quite close to Siwa," Castiglioni said…

Continue reading. Once again Herodotus has proved reliable.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2009 at 9:35 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Science

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