Later On

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

Archive for August 24th, 2010

What a relief

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Over the past week or so my stomach has felt queasy—not much, but constant and gradually increasing. Today, it hit me: the lemon juice I add to my iced tea: constant, daily, and a fair amount. I imagine it’s the constancy: we are told to eat a varied diet for a reason, I guess.

Two large glasses of iced white tea, no lemon, I feel noticeably better. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

The B Corp revolution

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I’ve blogged several times about how a modern corporation is legally a person, clinically a sociopath, and increasingly owes allegiance to no government or system of government but works internationally and beyond government. Indeed, one can trace serious efforts by corporations to take control of more governments, much as they have in the developing world.

I have previously blogged about the question: Do we have a constructive alternative to the destructive idea of the modern corporation? The post came after I watched the documentary The Corporation, which IMO is a "must-see."

I do worry about the ultimate effect of large, modern corporations with their resources and their legally required sociopathic outlook. So I was heartened to see this article by John Richardson:

Why isn’t Obama fixing the economy? Why isn’t he creating any jobs? That’s all we hear about lately, the catechism of the Tea Parties. But isn’t job creation the task of capitalists? Isn’t business supposed to be our mighty engine of prosperity? So why don’t Tea Party types ever march on corporate headquarters and ask them to create some jobs?

There is a reason, actually, but first I want to tell you about a small but growing movement to change the way business does business. It’s the struggle to create a new category of company called the "benefit corporation," also known as a "B Corp."

Did you know that corporations are legally prevented from being decent and humane? Say a corporate leader discovers that he can make a higher profit by moving a factory to China and throwing thousands of Americans out of their jobs. If he decides to make profits secondary to the well-being of his workers and neighbors, his stockholders can sue him. That’s because corporate laws are written so that a company’s "fiduciary responsibility" is to the stockholders. Nothing else matters. If the choice was between the survival of the corporation and the survival of America itself, the law would compel him to pick the corporation.

That seems a little screwy, doesn’t it? That’s what Jay Coen Gilbert concluded after his own ride through the corporate world. As a college student, Gilbert started a sports-apparel company called And One, which was worth $250 million when he sold it thirteen years later. When he and his partners sat down to plot their next move, they dreamed big.

"We wanted to figure out how we could harness the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems," Gilbert told me. "Our assumption was government and nonprofits are hugely necessary but insufficient to the task — business is three-quarters of the GDP. So we figured that trying to figure out how to remove some of the impediments that prevent business from being part of the solution would be a pretty useful thing."

To find practical solutions that would work in the real business world, they started talking to the leaders of civic-minded business like Shore Bank, Puravida Coffee, and Seventh Generation. "Out of 200 of those conversations, they told us there was infrastructure missing that would be pretty useful. One piece was around standards. The second was around legal corporate structure."

By standards, Gilbert means that there was no objective way to tell if a company was really doing good in the community, which is why the world is rife with companies that make noisy contributions to charity or clean energy without making any meaningful structural changes.

"So the first question was, what the heck should those standards be?"

Their solution was B Lab, a company that administers an ingenious rating system that includes 180 factors, from how green the corporate buildings are to how well the employees are treated and even how much transparency appears in the corporate report.

Since the summer of 2007, funded by their own money along with contributions from places like the Rockefeller Foundation and USAID, they’ve been signing up and certifying companies that agree, voluntarily, to respect a "triple bottom line" that includes community and worker benefits along with profits. There are now 330 companies on their roster, mostly small mom-and-pop type businesses but also some of significant size, like Dansko or Method Home Products.

This may seem like small change, yet another example of feckless do-gooderism, but this time it’s the cynics who are naĂŻve. As Gilbert points, there are already 40,000 business associated with progressive groups like the Social Venture Network and Balle, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Fully 11 percent of all United States assets under financial management — that’s $2.71 trillion — are controlled by the "socially responsible investing" industry that includes mutual funds like the Calvert Investments. One of the less-heralded American innovations, launched 250 years ago by Quakers who didn’t want their assets invested in businesses that profited from slavery, the SRI industry is powerful evidence that — before the pernicious idea that "greed is good" took hold in American minds — Americans wanted to do good while doing well. It required a massive propaganda effort from conservative think tanks and Republican politicians to invert our values to the point where decency and even patriotism became an irrelevant distraction.

But since the economic crash of 2008, the B Corp momentum has intensified dramatically. "It’s accelerating on a couple of fronts," Gilbert says. "We certified twice as many B Corps in the first half of 2010 as in the first half of ’09. That’s ripples in the pond — 330 ripples."

In order for those ripples to have impact, B Lab has been fighting to change America’s corporate laws. On Wednesday, I’m going to write about their recent victory in Vermont — and try to answer the vexing question of why any sane business would want to hobble the clarity of the bottom line with all this namby-pamby social do-goodism (also, the secret underlying psycho-mystical reason why we ask so little of our corporations). Here’s a taste from Will Patten of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility:

"I often say, I think it would be hard for a mean-spirited company to prosper in Vermont. We believe there’s a better way to create sustained profits and wealth. So it’s a huge paradigm shift, going from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism, but it isn’t a revolutionary radical idea here-it’s a way of doing business based on Vermont values."

After the break, some of my previous posts on this general topic:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 1:10 pm

Fresh pawpaws available

with 2 comments

Fresh pawpaws

I’ve never had a pawpaw. I’m tempted to give them a go. More info here.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

U.S. Anti-Islam Protest Seen as Lift for Extremists

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Fox News, which promotes the protests, is owned in part by Saudi billionaire. The Saudis (19 of whom crashed into the World Trade Center) are the origin not only of Osama bin Laden but also of Wahhabism, the reactionary branch of Islam embraced by the terrorists and extremists. So Fox News has some ‘splaining to do.

Scott Shane reports in the NY Times:

Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam.

Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries. At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda’s claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say.

“I know people in this debate don’t intend it, but there are consequences for these kinds of remarks,” said Brian Fishman, who studies terrorism for the New America Foundation here.

He said that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric hiding in Yemen who has been linked to several terrorist plots, has been arguing for months in Web speeches and in a new Qaeda magazine that American Muslims face a dark future of ever-worsening discrimination and vilification.

“When the rhetoric is so inflammatory that it serves the interests of a jihadi recruiter like Awlaki, politicians need to be called on it,” Mr. Fishman said.

Evan F. Kohlmann, who tracks militant Web sites at the security consulting firm Flashpoint Global Partners, said supporters of Al Qaeda have seized on the controversy “with glee.” On radical Web forums, he said, the dispute over the Islamic center, which would include space for worship, is lumped together with fringe developments like a Florida pastor’s call for making Sept. 11 “Burn a Koran Day.”

“It’s seen as proof of what Awlaki and others have been saying, that the U.S. is hypocritical and that most Americans are enemies of Islam,” Mr. Kohlmann said. He called the anti-Islam statements spawned by the dispute “disturbing and sad” and said they were feeding anti-American sentiment that could provoke violence…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Daily life, Media, Terrorism

ACLU challenges Illinois eavesdropping act

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This refers to the law that made it illegal to record (audio or video) a police officer going about his public duties. Becky Schlikerman and Kristen Mack report in the Chicago Tribune:

It’s not unusual or illegal for police officers to flip on a camera as they get out of their squad car to talk to a driver they’ve pulled over.

But in Illinois, a civilian trying to make an audio recording of police in action is breaking the law.

"It’s an unfair and destructive double standard," said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago challenging the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which makes it criminal to record not only private but also public conversations made without consent of all parties.

With cell phones that record audio and video in almost every pocket, the ability to capture public conversations, including those involving the police, is only a click away. That raises the odds any police action could wind up being recorded for posterity.

Opponents of the act say that could be a good thing and certainly shouldn’t lead to criminal charges.

The ACLU argues that the act violates the First Amendment and has been used to thwart people who simply want to monitor police activity.

The head of the Chicago police union counters that such recordings could inhibit officers from doing their jobs. [How? Has that been a problem? Examples, please. – LG]

In its lawsuit, the ACLU pointed to six Illinois residents who have faced felony charges after being accused of violating the state’s eavesdropping law for recording police making arrests in public venues.

Adrian and Fanon Perteet were passengers in a car at a DeKalb McDonald’s drive-through in November when police moved in. Officers suspected that the car’s driver was under the influence, according to the brothers.

Fanon Perteet, 23, said he was scared. Past experiences with police had left him suspicious of the officer’s motives, he said. So he pulled out his cell phone and turned on the video camera, which also records sound.

"I felt obligated to record so nothing happened," said Perteet, an event planner.

When the officers realized they were being taped, Perteet was arrested and taken to a squad car. Adrian Perteet, 21, a student at Northern Illinois University, then took out his cell phone and started recording his brother’s arrest…

Continue reading. Afraid of the Chicago police??? Why on earth…

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Thelonious Monk: Round Midnight

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Or should that be ‘Round Midnight? Probably.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 11:03 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Hear the one about the Iranian-American?

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Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 11:01 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

The game layer at the top of the world

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Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 11:00 am

Food notes

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It really is going to be hot today—of course, we all wilt at around 78 Âş F, so it’s relative. Right now in the living room it’s 79.2 Âş F.

So the idea of a cold soup occurred to me, and I thought of a buttermilk-apple cold soup. I can’t find a recipe, so I’ll just wing it: buttermilk, apple, pinch cinnamon, pinch salt, a little lemon juice, blend, and chill.

What was weird was that Safeway not only had no buttermilk but doesn’t eve4n seem to carry buttermilk anymore. Can that be possible? Surely not.

UPDATE: Not bad. What I actually did:

1/2 apple, stem removed
1/4 sweet onion
about 1 c buttermilk
pinch of salt

Blend, chill, eat. I tasted it and it’s not bad at all. Onions seem to go with apples in general—though of course I find that onions go with lots of things.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 10:32 am

The Koch Brothers

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Right-wing billionaire zealots. Jane Mayer’s profile at the link begins:

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 9:14 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Quick-snap ice tray

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Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 9:08 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

I want a scale that weighs me using pulsar flashes

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How cool would it be to have a scaled based on the General Theory of Relativity? Take a look.

Since the temporal effects of mass are even greater than the spatial effects (which produce gravity), even cooler would be a scale that uses time measure to weigh you.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 9:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Staggering cynicism from Fox "News"

with 7 comments

Read this post, watch its videos, and be amazed.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 9:01 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Media

Nordic

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13 minutes today. After doing 12 min on Sunday, I thought about it and decided that, rather than jump 3 minutes to get to 15 minutes at the end of the week, I’d just add 30 seconds a day, which would bring me to 15 minutes on Saturday with no abrupt increase.

So yesterday I did 12.5 minutes, today 13, and tomorrow 13.5 and so on.

Obviously: no more stops along the way.

Weather here has warmed up. Yesterday was the first day of the summer that I opened the apartment windows, and today they’re all open already.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 8:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

10 things you probably won’t hear from your doctor

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Click image twice to see full size.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 7:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

Lemon Frost, an experimental soap

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Another experiment from Honeybee Spa. After reading my comments on the previous soap, Peppermint Frost, Susan emailed to say that the lather’s quick demise was undoubtedly due to some reaction between the menthol and the essential oil being used, so she will experiment further.

Bringing a new soap to market still involves a certain amount of trial and error, and the soap that eventually does come to market will be much better than the prototype that I tried. So please do not assume that my experience with the soap will foretell yours: quite apart from individual differences, the soap you later try will be quite different than the soap I used.

This morning I tried another experimental soap: Lemon Frost. The frost part was quite evident, but I did not get any hit of lemon: it was overwhelmed by the menthol. However, the lather worked better with this soap and did not show the same tendency to die. The lather was indeed a bit thinner than with other Honeybee Spa soaps, but it did a good enough job for a fine shave, using the Feather premium razor and the same Feather blade I began with.

A splash of lime (I thought a citrus theme would be nice), and I’m ready for breakfast and, after a suitable pause, the Nordic.

Written by Leisureguy

24 August 2010 at 7:40 am

Posted in Shaving

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