Later On

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

Archive for February 9th, 2010

Extremely good movie

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I just watched American Women, and I highly recommend it. An Irish romantic comedy ensemble piece, it’s totally wonderful, not least because it offers a perfect realization of Louis Armstrong’s "Give Me A Kiss (To Build A Dream On)".

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Salad day

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I’m making this salad, and just waiting for the quinoa to finish. I was able to get red quinoa, which looks great.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

About Abdulmutallab

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John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, writes in USA Today:

Politics should never get in the way of national security. But too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points, instead of coming together to keep us safe.

Immediately after the failed Christmas Day attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information. Senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military were all actively discussing this case before he was Mirandized and supported the decision to charge him in criminal court.

The most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights, a long-standing FBI policy that was reaffirmed under Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s attorney general. The critics who want the FBI to ignore this long-established practice also ignore the lessons we have learned in waging this war: Terrorists such as Jose Padilla and Saleh al-Mari did not cooperate when transferred to military custody, which can harden one’s determination to resist cooperation.

It’s naive to think that transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody would have caused an outpouring of information. There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical.

Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights five minutes after being taken off a plane he tried to blow up. The same people who criticize the president today were silent back then.

Cries to try terrorists only in military courts lack foundation. There have been three convictions of terrorists in the military tribunal system since 9/11, and hundreds in the criminal justice system — including high-profile terrorists such as Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarius Moussaoui.

This administration’s efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.

Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda. Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill. They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community. And the notion that America’s counterterrorism professionals and America’s system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 1:50 pm

Grateful Dead studied by management theorists

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Interesting article by Joshua Green in the Atlantic Monthly:

Fans of the Grateful Dead are big believers in serendipity. So a certain knowing approval greeted the news last year that the band would be donating its copious archivefour decades’ worth of commercial recordings and videotapes, press clippings, stage sets, business records, and a mountain of correspondence encompassing everything from elaborately decorated fan letters to a thank-you note for a fund-raising performance handwritten on White House stationery by President Barack Obamato the University of California at Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was understood to be a fitting home not only because it exemplifies the spirit of the counterculture as much as, and perhaps even more than, Berkeley and Stanford, which also bid for the archive, but because the school’s faculty includes an ethnomusicologist and composer named Fredric Lieberman, who is prominent among a curious breed in the academy: scholars who teach and study the Grateful Dead.

It’s worth noting right up front the hurdles Dead Studies faces as a field of serious inquiry. To begin with, the news that it exists at all tends to elicit grinning disbelief; a corollary challenge is the assumptions people carry about its practitioners, such as my own expectation when arranging to visit Lieberman last year that I would encounter an amiable hippie, probably of late-Boomer vintage and wearing a thinning ponytail. Rough mental image: Wavy Gravy with a Ph.D.

Lieberman is nothing of the sort. A small man with parchment skin, wisps of white hair, and large round glasses, he could have looked more professorial only by wielding a Dunhill pipe. His interest in the Grateful Dead, he explained, had arisen largely by chance. In the 1960s, he studied under the noted ethnomusicologist Charles Seeger (father of Pete Seeger) at UCLA, and came to share his mentor’s dismay at the academy’s neglect of popular and non-Western music. Lieberman went on to teach a series of classes in American vernacular music and, though he held no particular fondness for the Grateful Dead, became one of the first academics to teach the band’s music, in the early 1970s.

In 1983, the Dead’s drummer, Mickey Hart, asked Lieberman to help …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education, Music

More on our cyberwar

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James Fallows in the new Atlantic Monthly:

Early in my time in China, I learned a useful lesson for daily life. In the summer of 2006, I saw a contingent of light-green-shirted People’s Liberation Army soldiers marching in formation down a sidewalk on Fuxing Lu in Shanghai, near the U.S. and Iranian consulates. They looked so crisp under the leafy plane trees of the city’s old colonial district that I pulled out a camera to take a picture of them—and, after pushing the button, had to spend the next 60 seconds running at full tilt away from the group’s leader, who pursued me yelling in English “Stop! No photo! Must stop!” Fortunately he gave up after scaring me off.

The practical lesson was to not point a camera toward uniformed groups of soldiers or police. The broader hint I took was to be more careful when asking about or discussing military matters than when asking about most other aspects of modern China’s development. I did keep asking people in China—carefully—about the potential military and strategic implications of their country’s growing strength. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union and consequent disappearance of the U.S. military’s one superpower rival, Western defense strategists have speculated about China’s emergence as the next great military threat. (In 2005, this magazine published Robert Kaplan’s cover story “How We Would Fight China,” about such a possibility. Many of the international-affairs experts I interviewed in China were familiar with that story. I often had to explain that “would” did not mean “will” in the article’s headline.)

The cynical view of warnings about a mounting Chinese threat is that they are largely Pentagon budget-building ploys: if the U.S. military is “only” going to fight insurgents and terrorists in the future, it doesn’t really need the next generation of expensive fighter planes or attack submarines. Powerful evidence for this view—apart from familiarity with Pentagon budget debates over the years—is that many of the neoconservative thinkers who since 9/11 have concentrated on threats from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran were before that time writing worriedly about China. The most powerful counterargument is that China’s rise is so consequential and unprecedented in scale that it would be naive not to expect military ramifications. My instincts lie with the skeptical camp: as I’ve often written through the past three years, China has many more problems than most Americans can imagine, and its power is much less impressive up close. But on my return to America, I asked a variety of military, governmental, business, and academic officials about how the situation looks from their perspective. In most ways, their judgment was reassuringly soothing; unfortunately, it left me with a new problem to worry about.

Without meaning to sound flip, I think the strictly military aspects of U.S.-China relations appear to be something Americans can rest easy about for a long time to come. Hypercautious warnings to the contrary keep cropping up, especially in the annual reports on China’s strategic power produced since 2000 by the Pentagon each spring and by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission each fall. Yet when examined in detail, even these show the limits of the Chinese threat. To summarize: …

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Government, Technology

Notepads you might love

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I’m a sucker for notepads: their pristine pages seem to ache for my pen, and I imagine myself writing all sorts of wondrous things in them. Dustin Wax seems to have the same affliction, and he reviews 5 different and useful notepads:

Hi. My name is Dustin, and I’m addicted to notepads.

I first realized I was addicted when I found myself prowling office supply stores in the wee hours of the afternoon, trying to score a college-ruled composition book. Pretty soon, I couldn’t go anywhere without my works – a battered red Moleskine and a black Sharpie click-pen.

And it got worse. I started thinking, “maybe there’s a perfect notebook out there for this particular project.” My Moleskine’s 192 leaves bound in pocket-sized covers wasn’t enough to satisfy my growing need for specialty papers.

The worst part is, I liked it. And I stand here before you, still liking it. Loving it. Yes, my name is Dustin, but I”m not a mere addict. I’m a paper enthusiast, a connoisseur of the carnet, a gourmand of the grid line, a foodie of foolscap.

Let me show you a few of my more exotic finds…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Daily life

iPhone fixes

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2010 at 12:17 pm

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