Later On

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

Archive for August 21st, 2010

Impressive Frank Rich column on the "GZM" controversy

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Frank Rich has a very powerful column, and much of the power comes from the calm and factual recounting of the entire history of the controversy, as much as from the effects it will have on US interests. He begins:

The “ground zero mosque,” as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room. It’s not going to determine President Obama’s political future or the elections of 2010 or 2012. Still, the battle that has broken out over this project in Lower Manhattan — on the “hallowed ground” of a shuttered Burlington Coat Factory store one block from the New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club — will prove eventful all the same. And the consequences will be far more profound than any midterm election results or any of the grand debates now raging 24/7 over the parameters of tolerance, religious freedom, and the real estate gospel of location, location, location.

Here’s what’s been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the “ground zero mosque” just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America’s nine-year war in Afghanistan. The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51, as the project is known, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for that war, which is dedicated to nation-building in a nation whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques.

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?

You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.

We owe thanks to Justin Elliott of Salon for the single most revealing account of this controversy’s evolution. He reports that there was zero reaction to the “ground zero mosque” from the front-line right or anyone else except marginal bloggers when The Times first reported on the Park51 plans in a lengthy front-page article on Dec. 9, 2009. The sole exception came some two weeks later at Fox News, where Laura Ingraham, filling in on “The O’Reilly Factor,” interviewed Daisy Khan, the wife of the project’s organizer, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Ingraham gave the plans her blessing. “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it,” she said. “I like what you’re trying to do.”

As well Ingraham might…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Religion

Excellent movie if you’re interested in design

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objectified, available as Netflix Watch Instantly.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 4:13 pm

More Basie

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Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

Nordic Track

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12 minutes.

No stopping.

Also: no music. I got a new 32GB SDHC card for the Cowon, so I’m loading it up. 32 GB is a lot of music and voice. I have on there the Iliad, the complete plays of Shakespeare, and Don Quixote, though of course voice recordings use little space.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 11:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Absolutely brilliant

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Charlton Heston speaks well and convincingly. Watch the whole thing.

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21 August 2010 at 10:23 am

Posted in Daily life

"Beware of the coming police state"

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21 August 2010 at 10:06 am

Count Basie

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I’ve really been enjoying my (free) subscription to "Jazz on the Tube". Here’s are some examples:


Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 10:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Video

U.S. Inaction Lets Look-Alike Tubes Kill Patients

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Why did this continue? Why were not doctors and nurses who knew of the problem raising Cain? Why wasn’t Congress on the job? Gardiner Harris reports in the NY Times:

Thirty-five weeks pregnant, Robin Rodgers was vomiting and losing weight, so her doctor hospitalized her and ordered that she be fed through a tube until the birth of her daughter.

But in a mistake that stemmed from years of lax federal oversight of medical devices, the hospital mixed up the tubes. Instead of snaking a tube through Ms. Rodgers’s nose and into her stomach, the nurse instead coupled the liquid-food bag to a tube that entered a vein.

Putting such food directly into the bloodstream is like pouring concrete down a drain. Ms. Rodgers was soon in agony.

“When I walked into her hospital room, she said, ‘Mom, I’m so scared,’ ” her mother, Glenda Rodgers, recalled. They soon learned that the baby had died.

“And she said, ‘Oh, Mom, she’s dead.’ And I said, ‘I know, but now we have to take care of you,’ ” the mother recalled. And then Robin Rodgers — 24 years old and already the mother of a 3-year-old boy — died on July 18, 2006, as well. (She lived in a small Kansas town, but because of a legal settlement with the hospital, her mother would not identify it.)

Their deaths were among hundreds of deaths or serious injuries that researchers have traced to tube mix-ups. But no one knows the real toll, because this kind of mistake, like medication errors in general, is rarely reported. A 2006 survey of hospitals found that 16 percent had experienced a feeding tube mix-up.

Experts and standards groups have advocated since 1996 that tubes for different functions be made incompatible — just as different nozzles at gas stations prevent drivers from using the wrong fuel.

But action has been delayed by resistance from the medical-device industry and an approval process at the Food and Drug Administration that can discourage safety-related changes.

Hospitals, tube manufacturers, regulators and standards groups all point fingers at one another to explain the delay.

Hospitalized patients often have an array of clear plastic tubing sticking out of their bodies to deliver or extract medicine, nutrition, fluids, gases or blood to veins, arteries, stomachs, skin, lungs or bladders.

Much of the tubing is interchangeable, and with nurses connecting and disconnecting dozens each day, mix-ups happen — sometimes with deadly consequences.

“Nurses should not have to work in an environment where it is even possible to make that kind of mistake,” said Nancy Pratt, a senior vice president at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego who is a vocal advocate for changing the system. “The nuclear power and airline industries would never tolerate a situation where a simple misconnection could lead to a death.”

Tubes intended to inflate blood-pressure cuffs have been connected to intravenous lines, leading to deadly air embolisms. Intravenous fluids have been connected to tubes intended to deliver oxygen, leading to suffocation. And in 2006 Julie Thao, a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., mistakenly put a spinal anesthetic into a vein, killing 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, who was giving birth.

Ms. Thao, who had worked two eight-hour shifts the day before, was charged with felony neglect. She pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges. But experts say such mistakes are possible only because epidural bags are compatible with tubes that deliver medicine intravenously.

“This is a deadly design failure in health care,” said Debora Simmons, a registered nurse at the University of Texas Health Science Center who studies medical errors. “Everybody has put out alerts about this, but nothing has happened from a regulatory standpoint.”

Continue reading. It’s interesting to note that anesthesiologists encountered a similar problem: the connecting devices were all the same, regardless of whether the gas was oxygen, nitrogen, CO2, or whatever. This caused some deaths, but the anesthesiologists took action and forced connectors to be unique for each gas so that misconnections became impossible. Other medical specialties have refused to take any action to reduce instances of malpractice—indeed, medical doctors for the most part even refuse to follow a checklist. When malpractice does occur, the medical profession prefers to attack patients and lawyers (over which they have no control) rather than change their practices and weed out incompetent doctors (over which they do have control).

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 9:50 am

DoD, lying again

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What is it about the military code of conduct that so greatly encourages lying. Lying about Pat Tillman, for example, or about Jessica Lynch. “Lie, Lie, Lie.” That would seem a more appropriate motto than “Duty, Honor, Country.” Glenn Greenwald:

When the controversy first arose over the lack of redactions in the war documents released by WikiLeaks, the website insisted that, using the New York Times as an intermediary, it had asked the Obama administration for help in removing names of Afghans before releasing the documents, a claim the Pentagon vehemently denied.  The New York Times, needless to say, sided with the Government — that’s what the NYT does — but they did so by simultaneously confirming the truth of WikiLeaks’ version of events.  From the Associated Press article, July 31, on that controversy:

Also on Saturday, a New York Times reporter who has been the newspaper’s liaison with Assange, dismissed Assange’s claim that WikiLeaks had offered to let U.S. government officials go through leaked documents to ensure that no innocent people were identified. Assange told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview that aired Thursday that the New York Times had acted as an intermediary and that the White House hadn’t responded to the offer.

Times reporter Eric Schmitt told the AP that on the night of July 23, at White House spokesman’s Robert Gibbs’ request, he relayed to Assange a White House request that WikiLeaks not publish information that could lead to people being physically harmed.

The next evening, Schmitt said, Assange replied in an e-mail that WikiLeaks was withholding 15,000 documents for review. Schmitt said Assange wrote that WikiLeaks would consider recommendations made by the International Security Assistance Force “on the identification of innocents for this material if it is willing to provide reviewers.”

Schmitt said he forwarded the e-mail to White House officials and Times editors.

“I certainly didn’t consider this a serious and realistic offer to the White House to vet any of the documents before they were to be posted, and I think it’s ridiculous that Assange is portraying it that way now,” Schmitt wrote to the AP.

On Friday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said it was “absolutely, unequivocally not true” that WikiLeaks had offered to let U.S. government officials go through the documents to make sure no innocent people were identified.

Do you see what happened there?  Schmitt, wanting to side with his Pentagon friends, publicly suggested that Assange was lying when he claimed that he offered to allow the Government to suggest redactions, even as Schmitt himself acknowledged that “Assange wrote that WikiLeaks would consider recommendations made by the International Security Assistance Force ‘on the identification of innocents for this material if it is willing to provide reviewers’,” an offer Schmitt says he conveyed to the White House.  In other words, Schmitt defended the Pentagon’s denials that Assange made this offer even as he himself described the very events which proved Assange was telling the truth.  At the very least, WikiLeaks clearly indicated its willingness to have government officials review the documents and make recommendations about redactions — something those officials refused to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 9:18 am

Hot-Sauce Recipes

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Melissa Clark has a nice little post in the NY Times on making hot-pepper sauce, and includes two recipes:

Tangy Salted Green Chilies

Garlicky Red Chili Hot Sauce

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21 August 2010 at 9:04 am

About the job losses

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The GOP has worked hard in Congress to obstruct all efforts to aid unemployment—the GOP believes if the country as a whole is hurting financially, the voters will blame the party in power and thus the GOP will win. Damage to the country and its people? Irrelevant. Winning is everything. Steve Benen:

It’s pretty obvious that the U.S. market has been in a crisis situation for far too long. By any reasonable measure, 2010 is vastly better than 2009, but with the unemployment rate pushing 10%, and initial claims for unemployment insurance climbing to 500,000 last week, the scope of the problem is enormous.

But that’s no excuse for partisan nonsense. House Ways and Means ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.) issued a "report" yesterday, showing that — get this — the nation has lost jobs over the last year and a half. "While Democrats promised their 2009 stimulus would create 3.7 million jobs, the reality is far different," stated a release from Camp’s office. "To date, 2.6 million jobs, including 2.5 million private sector jobs, have been lost."

This is lazy, intellectually dishonest drivel. That it’s coming from someone who may be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is more than a little distressing.

Even a House Republican should be able to understand the reality here. When the Recovery Act passed, the economy was in freefall. When President Obama was sworn into office, the economy was losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month. By Camp’s absurd reasoning, a recovery effort that didn’t magically transform the entire economy, and instantly stop the job losses, necessarily constitutes failure. It’s the kind of ridiculous argument one might hear from a partisan hack, desperate to score a cheap, baseless point, but leading members of Congress should know better.


Consider this chart Ezra Klein recently posted. The point isn’t that the stimulus was perfect — it should have been much bigger, not smaller as Camp would have hoped — but rather, that the job losses predate the policies advanced by the Obama administration. (It’s based on data economist Rob Shapiro put together, using Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.)

I realize guys like Camp have a petty little game to play. They either don’t understand public policy very well, assume the public doesn’t understand public policy very well, or perhaps a little of both. But independent analyses of the administration’s recovery efforts prevented a catastrophe. The administration should have done much more — in other words, it should have moved much further away from what Republican proposed — but the objective evidence is nevertheless clear.

Camp’s entire approach to economics has been thoroughly discredited, and at a moment of crisis, he and his GOP colleagues got it very wrong. He has a reason to be embarrassed, not a reason to publish silly reports.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 9:01 am

Morning report

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Yesterday I ate with care, did my Nordic, and seem to have finally broken through the 230-lb plateau: I weigh 229.0 this morning—and you can be sure that I’m not celebrating with food.

I did indeed have the Padrón peppers sautéed in olive oil with a little salt, including a batch for an evening snack. I hadn’t realized it, but the rule seems to be 85% mild, 14% slightly spicy, and 1% tongue-bleeding-fire hot. I hadn’t hit that last guy until last night: one entire glass of water, a thin slice of butter I chewed up, half a cucumber eaten… nothing helped until, after 2-3 minutes, the fire collapsed on its own. I do like the peppers, but serve with large bowls of chilled whole-milk yogurt.

Today I’m doing 12 minutes Nordic again, but tomorrow I go to 15 minutes for a week.

PEPPER UPDATE: A guy at offers this:

We’ve been growing them for about 5 years now. Had a batch last night as a matter of fact. One thing is for certain, if you let them grow too big they are guaranteed to be 100% tongue-burning hot.

From now on, I’m eating the small ones.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 8:51 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Food

Blade and soap experiment

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Honeybee Spa kindly sent me two experimental soaps to try, both menthol. The Peppermint Frost above is one of them, and the Apollo blades were sent by Razor Emporium, also to try.

Peppermint Frost might as well be called “Christmas Morning”: the fragrance of peppermint combined with the chill of menthol really brings the season to mind. I did note that the lather in the brush did not last so well as other Honeybee Spa soaps—possibly because of the menthol, of which the soap seems to have a lot (which will greatly appeal to menthol fans). I went back to the puck after the first pass to refresh the Rooney Style 1,1.

Still, reloading the soap is not a biggie, and I bet this soap will be popular with the menthol crowd. The Apollo blades seemed very like Derby blades, which to me are somewhat “tuggy,” but which others like a lot. As noted previously, individual response to a given blade varies widely. I did indeed get a smooth shave, using the Apollo Mikron razor, and then a splash of Blenheim Bouquet starts the day.

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2010 at 8:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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