Later On

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

Archive for August 10th, 2010

How to quit a job

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Here’s one way: Email a set of photos to everyone in the office, explaining why.

UPDATE: :sigh: It was a hoax.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Daily life

It’s not much, but…

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I just did 6 minutes on the Nordic Track ski machine. No stopped, but it was just 6 minutes. I was indeed huffing and puffing by the time I stopped. I’ll do another 6-minute stint this afternoon, and continue daily…

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 11:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Can you help me understand?

with 5 comments

A commenter mcoville has commented:

I don’t need millions in government grants to prove that sexual orientation is a choice.

When you decide to have sex you have to choose who to have sex with. Here is a simple question for you, if you choose to have sex with someone of the same sex does that make you homosexual? Yes it does. If you choose to have sex with someone of the opposite sex you are considered heterosexual. Of course there is bi-sexual to cover those that choose either partner.

Bottom line, they are all choices. This is middle school level deductive reasoning and only those that want to twist facts to support their cause try to make it difficult.

It seems obvious to me that mcoville is confusing sexual orientation (whether the people you find sexually attractive to be the same sex as yourself or of the opposite sex) with the choice of sexual partners.

My position, which mcoville stoutly denies, is that people in general do indeed choose their sexual partners, so that is a choice, but they do NOT choose whether they find males or females appealing: their sexual orientation is not a choice, though their sexual partners are.

Obviously, you can quickly figure out a person’s sexual orientation by looking at the sex of the person and the sex of the partners he or she chooses, but that does not mean that they choose their sexual orientation.

Am I missing something here? or is mcoville simply unable to reason? or both?

UPDATE: It’s so obvious I missed it. Mcoville writes: “This is middle school level deductive reasoning,” which indeed it seems to be. I think perhaps mcoville is in grade 7, 8, or 9.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 9:22 am

Posted in Daily life

Over 15,000 likely dead in Russia

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The extreme heat and the wildfires in Russia are having a terrible toll. I hope that someone asks Dana Perino to explain—her claim was that global warming would be very good for us and save lives. From Climate Progress:

Ria Novisti reports:

Russia has recently seen the longest unprecedented heat wave for at least one thousand years, the head of the Russian Meteorological Center said on Monday….

“We have an ‘archive’ of abnormal weather situations stretching over a thousand years. It is possible to say there was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat,” Alexander Frolov said.

He said scientists received information on ancient weather conditions by exploring lake deposits.

Frolov also said Russia’s grain crop may decrease by at least 30% compared to last year.

Once-in-a-thousand-year weather events ain’t what they used to be (see “Stunning NOAA map of Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge“).  And we’ve only warmed about 1.5°F in the past century.  We’re  projected to warm some 6 times that (!)  on our current emissions path.  So we ain’t seen nothing yet!

The BBC reports, “Moscow’s health chief has confirmed the mortality rate has doubled as a heatwave and wildfire smog continue to grip the Russian capital.”  The BBC repeats the “worst in 1,000 years of recorded Russian history” line, and quotes Frolov also saying, “It’s an absolutely unique phenomenon – nothing like it can be seen in the archives.”  But the BBC  is mum on global warming or climate change or greenhouse gas emissions.

At least  Russian leaders are starting to get (see Medvedev: “What is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past”).

Meteorologist Jeff Masters has the full story on just what Russia and the rest of the planet is going through: . . .

Continue reading.

Many conservatives say that the globe is cooling…  and that’s probably all you need to know about conservatism: it’s counter-factual. Conservatives also deny Einstein’s theories of relativity (special and general).

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 9:10 am

Robert Gibbs goes on the attack

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Attacking the Right is apparently too scary, so he attacks the Left, oddly enough. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent column—in particular, his update, which collects some criticisms of the Obama Administration from the Left. Well worth reading.

It seems that the Obama Administration is getting its feelings hurt by valid criticisms.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:52 am

Imperial ironies

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Glenn Greenwald asks which of these two is more ironic:

CHOICE A – from Politico, today

CHOICE B – from TPM, last week

Click the first link to see the headlines directly

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:47 am

Former Mexican president: Legalize drugs

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Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City, reporting for the LA Times:

Vicente Fox, the most recent former president of Mexico, is calling for the legalization of narcotics. In a post at his personal blog published over the weekend, the former president says: "We must legalize the production, distribution, and sale of drugs." Fox, whose election in 2000 ended more than 70 years of one-party rule in Mexico, argues that legalizing drugs would "strike and break" the economic power of drug-trafficking cartels operating in Mexico.

"We need to break the balance between criminals, markets, transfer routes, and criminal associations sheltered by corruption, intelligently, with much less doses of violence," Fox writes.

He also expresses support for the idea of state police forces to replace municipal police, which are plagued by corruption and often found to collude with organized crime groups. The military, the primary force currently deployed against the cartels, should be withdrawn due to rising allegations of human rights abuses, Fox also argues.

The post, in Spanish, is here. Here’s an automated translation into English.

Fox is the immediate predecessor of President Felipe Calderon, who initiated a military-led campaign against traffickers in Mexico that has so far claimed more than 28,000 lives since he took office in December 2006. Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has promised Mexico millions of dollars in aid in its fight against the cartels, and in recent visits to Mexico, President Obama has praised Calderon’s military strategy.

In a summit last week on the drug violence, Calderon offered a blunt assessment of the reach and power of the cartels, and said he would be open to a debate on legalization of drugs. His administration later clarified that Calderon is still opposed to legalization.

Both Fox and Calderon are members of the center-right National Action Party and are often singled out for criticism of Mexico’s efforts against drug trafficking. Critics point out that drug violence grew under President Fox as a result of his strategy of arresting or killing top cartel leaders, which led groups to splinter and fight violent internal battles for control of drug routes. The violence has only surged under President Calderon, getting worse and worse by the year. Others have openly suggested two consecutive PAN administrations have applied justice unevenly against drug trafficking groups, "favoring" the Sinaloa cartel over its rivals — despite several recent gains against major Sinaloa cartel figures. Calderon has said all cartels are treated equally in Mexico.

Fox’s post over the weekend is not the first time he’s publicly supported legalization of drugs in Mexico. He made the same basic argument during a U.S. media interview in May 2009. That year, Mexico quietly decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and LSD.

Fox now joins another former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, in support of some form of legalization of narcotics. Early last year, Zedillo and former leaders of Colombia and Brazil called for a "paradigm shift" in international drug policies.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Drug laws

A social history of the American character and culture

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Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character

by Claude S. Fischer

A review by Daniel Walker Howe

Last year, the British production company that made what has become the popular series America: The Story of Us for the History Channel invited me to review the script, which treats the invention of America across 400 years. I advised against the use of the term "American national character" on the grounds that it was misleading, since all Americans don’t have the same character, and the term elides variations in race, class, region, religion, ethnicity, gender, and politics. In any case, it was academically unfashionable. Now, Claude S. Fischer’s Made in America has rehabilitated the expression "American character," at least for me.

Made in America deliberately provides a view from Middle America. There is little about such academically fashionable subgroups as African Americans and organized labor, nothing about Hispanics or gays. There is some women’s history, but it’s more about the pioneer spirit than the suffrage movement or glass ceilings. The book describes a culture of abundance that took its start from the exploitation of a vast, rich continent whose previous occupants had just been (all too conveniently) decimated by unfamiliar diseases introduced by the settlers. Americans have always been a "people of plenty," as the great historian David Potter characterized them in his 1954 book of that name: eager for material possessions and lucky enough to have them widely available.

The book is a sociologist’s take on American social history, a distillation of Fischer’s vast reading. The copious notes, extensive index, and list of works cited take up as much space as the text itself. But Fischer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, is not overwhelmed by his ambitious undertaking. He writes not only for his fellow academics but also for the general literate public.

One of Fischer’s major arguments is that mainstream American culture has not changed fundamentally in 400 years. From the settlement of Jamestown to today, America has been about seizing opportunity and trying to make it big. Fischer favors the term "voluntarism" to describe this aspect of the American character. It is predicated on individualism — the assumption that each individual is sovereign and self-directed (in Thomas Jefferson‘s language, possessed of "inalienable rights," including "the pursuit of happiness") rather than defined — and confined — by group memberships. But individuals find that they can most effectively pursue happiness by voluntarily associating with one another, a model that influenced not only the creation of local, state, and federal governments, but also the churches of the Protestant majority, innumerable political and reform movements, social and professional societies, charities, and clubs. At length, voluntarism even redefined marriage as a companionate association between equals, subject to severance by mutual consent.

The "American character" began life in colonial times, confined to a minority of the population. Only white, male property owners over the age of 21 were accounted full citizens and responsible agents. They alone could vote, because they alone were self-directed individuals capable of rendering independent judgment on public issues. All others — women, employees, servants, and slaves — were dependents. Gradually, more and more groups and classes have been admitted into this circle of American privilege and responsibility and have adopted its outlook and perks. One by one, employees, women, blacks, and people between the ages of 18 and 21 have been granted civic participation and allowed to function as sovereign individuals. Immigrants from other cultures have usually willingly assimilated into the voluntaristic American one.

Fischer’s insight into American culture and character just about demolishes the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:32 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Chicken poses significant drug-resistant Salmonella threat

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Especially in Pennsylvania, apparently. Janet Raloff reports in Science News:

More than one-in-five retail samples of raw chicken cutlets collected in Pennsylvania hosted Salmonella, a new study found — twice the national average reported in a 2007 U.S. Food and Drug Administration survey. And where these bacteria were present, more than half were immune to the germicidal activity of at least one antibiotic. Nearly one-third were resistant to three or more drugs.

The good news: The Pennsylvania stats are lower than the chicken contamination rates seen in earlier studies involving other, admittedly less virulent food poisoning agents, such as Enterococcus faecalis. What the new data do point out is that rates of foodborne bacteria can be high, if regionally variable. They also point to the wisdom of cooks adopting the precautionary principle: assuming that all the chicken that enters their kitchens is bugged.

Epidemiologist Nkuchia M. M’ikanatha of the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Harrisburg and his colleagues collected 378 chicken cutlets from grocery stores and farmers’ markets throughout central Pennsylvania for a year. Some of the meat had been laying open, on display, in the butcher’s case; others had come prepackaged. Some had been labeled organic and a few carried designations that the meat came from animals raised without use of growth-promoting antibiotics.

Regardless of how the animals had been reared or what kind of outlet had sold the meat, all sources of chicken were equally likely to be contaminated, the researchers report in the August Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Indeed, “One of the six samples with an antibiotic-free claim was resistant to at least three antibiotics,” notes M’ikanatha’s team (which includes representatives of six state and federal agencies, the University of Pennsylvania and another research organization).

Although there is an arsenal of drugs available to fight Salmonella infections, one of more of those drugs may not work if the germs are resistant to them. And the source of many drug-resistant germs: the barnyard.

In the new study, 43 percent of tainted chicken hosted Salmonella immune to ceftiofur, an antibiotic approved for use on chickens as young as one-day old. That incidence rate is particularly disturbing, M’ikanatha’s group points out, because …

Continue reading. Vegetarians are laughing at us, you know.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:27 am

Drug-resistant flesh-eating germs

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Yuck. Jaymi Heimbuch reports at the Treehugger:

Sandy Wilson woke up after giving birth to her son to find that she was the victim of a flesh-eating bacteria. Over the course of five years, it ate away her skin, spleen, gall bladder, appendix, part of her stomach and ultimately, all of her intestines. The condition appears out of nowhere and used to be fairly rare, caused by a single type of strep bacteria. But now, drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA can make "flesh-eating" toxins that attack diabetics, obese people, cancer patients and others with weak immune systems…people who make up a growing portion of the American population.

According to R&D Magazine, to stop the spread doctors cut away dead tissue, but much of the time the infection advances even when it seems it was completely removed. Thanks to the popularity of everything from prescription drugs to anti-bacterial hand soaps, our fear of germs is making those that are capable of seriously harming us even stronger.

"In the first 20 years I practiced, I may have seen one case," said Dr. Alan Bisno, a retired University of Miami expert who has lectured other doctors on this. "Within a very few years, everybody in the audience had all seen cases."

Wilson’s story is gruesome but ultimately happy — after 5 years, she is finally able to return home to be with her son and possibly go back to work. The estimated cost of treatment so far is $5 million, paid for with insurance, then Medicaid, Medicare and disability. But for others, the story isn’t promising. In 2009, a "flesh-eating superbug" killed a father just four hours after being admitted to a hospital in Britain. The bacteria is being called "Britain’s new horror."

Called necrotizing fasciitis, the disease is …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:24 am

The Pils and JF Floris

with 2 comments

The Pils travel brush today, a very solid-feeling stainless—at least once you tighten the screws (the end cap and the brush knot, which screws into the hollow handle). I had a thought that the handle might feel too large, but in fact the brush feels fine and on this first use worked up ample lather for three passes. I used another triple-milled soap, and I believe Floris London JF is tallow-based. At any rate, the lather did its magic, and the iKon razor with its Swedish Gillette blade gave me a close but comfortable shave with no nicks or problems—a very pleasant shave, in fact. A splash of the Floris JF aftershave, and I’m good to go.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2010 at 8:20 am

Posted in Shaving

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