Archive for August 9th, 2010
(click to enlarge)
Above are three travel brushes: l to r, Pils, Mühle prototype, and Mühle. The knots in each case are stored in the hollow handle. With the Pils, the bottom is unscrewed, as a cap, and the brush, unscrewed from the top, drops in. Unfortunately, this means the possibly damp brush faces the small opening in the base cap rather than the large opening at the top.
The two Mühles both work alike: The top cap unscrews from the handle, the knot unscrews from that and is dropped into the handle, with the top cap screwed back to keep the knot from falling out. In this design, the knot faces the large opening.
The Mühle threads seem much more precisely machined than on the Pils, and Mühle steals a march by using aluminum for the travel brush: one does want to minimize weight.
I got my Mühle from The Superior Shave—the aluminum one comes in three colors: black, blue, or aluminum. There’s also a slightly heftier version in nickel-plated silver, like the prototype above.
I did at one time have a Simpson Major travel brush, but that brush is too bulky and heavy to be practical as a travel brush, though at one time the turnback design was cool.
I see the doctor this afternoon about my knee. I’m asking for a cortisone shot, and also advice about knee wraps and the like. I’m also going to get my bicycle back from The Wife and try cycling once my knee is a little better—thanks for the suggestion, Steve.
I did get a two-day “plateau buster” meal plan from my nutrition counselor. I’ll start that tomorrow.
UPDATE: I decided that my knee doesn’t hurt enough to get the cortisone—I’ll just continue ice packs and ibuprofen and not putting too much weight on it. The doctor encouraged me to do low/no-impact exercises like elliptical trainer, bicycle exerciser (less strain on knee than actual bicycling), the cross-country ski machine. And then, as I get better, working up to the walk gradually.
He also wants to keep an eye on the underlying joint, just to be sure that there’s no problem there. And he’s doing some blood work to check on indicators of inflammation.
Last week, Mexico’s President Calderon called on President Obama to join the debate on legalizing marijuana. The US drug policy has lined the pockets of the drug cartels with billions of dollars, and they are threatening to destabilize not only Mexico but countries across Latin America.
In many regions, the drug gangs are seeking to replace the government, imposing their own taxes in towns they dominate.
Three former Latin American presidents — Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil — wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, urging the legalization of marijuana as a way to undermine a major source of income for cartels.
Recently, the U.S. Joint Forces Command warned that the Mexican government could experience “a rapid and sudden collapse” due to drug cartel violence. And the outgoing head of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, warned that drug cartels “threaten … the well-being of the Mexican people and the Mexican state.”
The problem is so bad that following President Calderon’s statement, two Mexican cardinals have endorsed his call to open a debate on the merits of legalization.
There have been 28,000 people killed since 2006 in the war with the drug cartels, including 1200 in July – the deadliest month yet. The recent shooting in Arizona that triggered the debate between right and left over immigration was the result of marijuana smuggling, not people trying to get over the border to find jobs. It’s insane that the conversation instantly devolved into a right-left battle over immigration. The Arizona law does nothing to address the underlying problem.
Yesterday the Guardian had a piece on the push to end prohibition, including the Just Say Now campaign we launched last week. Further, the Guardian editorial board called on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to “launch a national debate on whether we should try legalisation,” and to “tear up the current policy. It has failed.” “That debate must be opened in Britain and the recent change of government provides a rare opportunity,” they say.
But as Peter Guither notes, although there is strong interest in the issue among both progressive and conservative voters, leadership on both sides of the aisle have been unwilling to address it. Most are terrified of walking into a meat grinder of social taboos left over from the culture wars, and they won’t brave it until the public demands it.
That’s why we launched the Just Say Now campaign. Over 30,000 people have already signed the petition to President Obama, saying it’s time to end the war on marijuana. America’s prison population has quadrupled since 1984 when Nancy Reagan’s war on drugs began, and the private prison system exploded.
Last fall, Eric Holder issued a directive that the DEA should respect state medical marijuana laws. But as Jacob Sullum notes, that directive had a lot of wiggle room and as a result the DEA’s raids on medical marijuana suppliers continue.
Please show your support and sign the petition asking President Obama to end the war on marijuana.
- Former Police Chief Urges President Obama to Join Mexican President Calderon in Debate on Legalizing Marijuana August 4, 2010
- Want to Defuse the Mexican Border Problem? Legalize Marijuana July 23, 2010
- Obama’s Drug Strategy All Talk, No Walk May 12, 2010
- No on Prop 19 Calls Our “Just Say Now” Campaign “Tasteless” August 2, 2010
- Just Say Now’s Aaron Houston Debates Marijuana Regulation on Fox & Friends August 6, 2010
You all know I’m a big fan of the work Tim Shorrock has done to track the dangers of the privatization of the intelligence industrial complex. Today, he kicks off an ongoing relationship with the Daily Beast–so now we can read at the Daily Beast what the WaPo will cover in two years in warmed-over form. Today’s article traces the role that Jane Harman’s husband and the guy who just bought Newsweek for $1, Sidney, has in an intelligence advisory group called “Business Executives for National Security.”
But few in Washington are aware that the real intelligence insider of the Harman family may be Sidney himself, through his connections to an obscure but highly influential organization known as Business Executives for National Security.
Founded by [Stanley] Weiss, a mining and chemical executive who for years served as a director of Harman’s audio-equipment company, BENS today represents about 350 of the country’s largest manufacturing, transportation, information technology, communications, and national-security firms.Harman himself chaired the organization’s executive committee from 1982 to 2009 and “contributed over $1 million over the years” to the organization, Weiss told The Daily Beast in an email from Indonesia. Although its CEO, retired Army General Montgomery C. Meigs, manages the organization, its corporate members, led by Harman, have set the pace. “Dr. Harman played an important role [in BENS] for a quarter century,” Weiss told me. “He was deeply involved in all aspects of BENS’ work.” Harman could not be reached for comment.
Shorrock goes on to describe how BENS has been pushing privatization since the Clinton Administration, and just last month recommended further opportunities for profiteering to the Obama Administration.
Just last month it was asked by Obama’s Defense Department to review its recommendations for reducing the cost of military business operations. It came up with a dense, three-page list of suggested changes, among them: outsourcing more “non-core functions” and a recommendation that the Pentagon eliminate “the practice of treating ‘excessive profits’ as improper.”
And yeah, Shorrock points out that her husband’s role in outsourcing intelligence was a conflict of interest when Jane Harman chaired the House Intelligence Committee (and she still chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee at the Committee on Homeland Security). But seeing as how we’ve got DiFi, another spouse of a big MIC contractor, currently running the Senate Intelligence Committee, I guess we should just write that off as par for the course, huh?
Before lawmakers broke for their August recess, a couple of key pieces of legislation were defeated because of Republican procedural concerns. A bill to offer more health care resources for 9/11 rescue workers was defeated in the House, for example, because Republicans said they wanted to offer poison-pill amendments and Democrats wouldn’t let them. Likewise, a bill to offer tax breaks to small businesses was defeated by Senate Republicans for the same reason.
What’s with this GOP preoccupation with procedure? Why should important legislation die over amendments that won’t pass anyway? Before senators headed home last week, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) tried to explain his party’s thinking.
"Saying to a senator, ‘You can’t bring up your amendment,’ is like saying to your 5-year-old son, ‘OK, Johnny, whatever you do, don’t touch the stove.’ Johnny’s going to spend the whole week trying to figure out a way to touch the stove."
Hmm. If I didn’t know better, I might think Lamar Alexander believes Republican lawmakers act like 5 year olds.
A few months ago, the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein noted that GOP leaders "are becoming the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious."
Apparently, Ornstein isn’t the only one who’s noticed.
Interesting article by John Buntin at Governing:
In January 2002, Margaret Winter, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) National Prison Project, received a letter from Willie Russell, an inmate on Mississippi’s death row.
"I am on a hunger strike to the death," the letter began. In highly idiosyncratic language, the letter then described conditions at the facility where death row was housed, Unit 32.
Unit 32 was one of seven prisons located on Mississippi’s fabled penal institution, Parchman Farm. As described by Russell, it was also a lot like hell. Inmates were locked in permanent solitary confinement. In the summer, the cells were ovens, with no fans or air circulation. Russell’s was even worse: He was in a special "punishment" cell with a solid, unvented Plexiglas door. The cells were also sewers, thanks to a design flaw in cellblock toilets that often flushed excrement from one cell into the next. Prisoners were allowed outside — to pace or sit alone in metal cages — just two or three times a week. Inside was a perpetual dusk: One always-on light fixture provided inadequate light for reading but enough light to make it hard to sleep.
Then there were the bugs. The only way to avoid being eaten alive, Russell wrote, was to wrap himself in clothes like a mummy, which made the brutal Delta heat even more unbearable. Worst of all, though, was the noise. Psychotic inmates screamed through the night. Conditions were so bad, Russell continued, that some dozen-odd other inmates — about one-quarter of Mississippi’s death row population — had also joined the hunger strike.
"I had heard this sort of thing before," Winter says, "but I was gripped by the power of this letter. It was like something out of the Book of Genesis. It had a biblical grandeur to it. And I believed it." Winter hurriedly arranged a trip to Parchman Farm, where she met her correspondent for the first time. He was a giant of a man — 6 feet 8 inches tall, 250 pounds. Though he was handcuffed, shackled, belly-chained and dressed in the distinctive, solid red jump suits worn by death row inmates, he clearly was a proud man, "fantastically imposing." But he already was visibly wasted by the hunger strike. His skin was ashen, his eyes bluish and dry.
"He didn’t want false hope," she recalls. "He said he would stop if I would give him a solemn assurance that we could make changes — significant changes. He didn’t want to be strung along." He’d rather die now instead.
Winter told him that if she could corroborate what he was saying, she felt certain they could change conditions such that he would want to continue living and fighting his death sentence. Russell accepted the offer and agreed to end the hunger strike. Seven months later, in July 2002, the ACLU filed suit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of Russell, five other inmates and those similarly situated. The ACLU alleged that "defendants knowingly subject the death row prisoners to barbaric and inhumane conditions, which wantonly inflict unnecessary pain and constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and 14th amendments to the Constitution of the United States."
But where Winter saw a noble giant, Parchman Farm staff saw the 41-year-old Russell as something else — a murderer with a history of violent crime…