Later On

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

Archive for November 1st, 2010

Donnie Yen is just fantastic

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I’m watching two on Netflix Watch Instantly: Ip Man and Flash Point, and just watched Kill Zone, which struck me as a tragic opera libretto, though martial arts instead of singing. All recommended, of course.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Movies & TV


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Oofta! I guess it makes sense that, if it strengthens your core, your core will get an intense workout. And it does. Aspirin tonight for me.

What’s weird is trying to do movements that you’ve never done. The instructor is a model of patience: "Bend your knees. No, not your arms—your knees. No, don’t raise your back, just bend your knees. Knees." etc. I feel like a doofus, but I suppose in time I’ll develop the new neural pathways to support the new movements. In the meantime, some of my muscles are quite unpleasantly surprised: they had a nice cushy deal, no work required, and then I hit them with this.

I’m going again on Thursday.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

The cargo bombs

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Read just the following updates to Greenwald’s latest column to get an idea of how out of control the US is becoming:

To see how thoroughly anti-American advocacy is conflated with Terrorism, see this interview in which CNN’s Eliot Spitzer interviewed radical Iman Anjem Choudary and, at the end, spat:  “You deserve to be arrested, prosecuted, jailed for the rest of your life. That is what you, sir, deserve. You are a violent and heinous terrorist.”

Choudary’s crime?  As CNN put it:  he “has justified the killing over and over of innocent women, men, children, wherever it happens in the world in pursuit of his cause“; told Spitzer of the Yemeni bombing plot:  “When you send bombs over there, what do you expect them to send back to you? What did you expect to find in a package? You know, chocolates? Of course you’re going to find bombs. They’re going to give you a taste of your own medicine”; and admitted telling Americans that violence against the U.S. is justified in retaliation for American violence against Muslims.

If that’s all it takes to be “a violent and heinous terrorist” who belongs in prison for life, would Spitzer similarly condemn David Broder, the countless others who justified the massacres in Iraq, or other killings of innocents in the name of causes which Spitzer himself supports and which he himself therefore justified?  To ask the question is to answer it, and to reveal how elastic, self-serving and manipulative these terms are.

UPDATE:  In the most predictable development ever, The Atlantic reports:  “Foiled Bomb Plot Sparks Calls for Expanded Military Presence in Yemen.”  The first line reads:

The U.S. is seriously considering sending elite “hunter-killer” teams to Yemen following the foiled mail bombing plot by militants in Yemen. The covert teams would operate under the CIA’s authority allowing them to kill or capture targets unilaterally, The Wall Street Journal reports.  Support for an expanded U.S. military effort in Yemen has been growing within the military and the Obama administration, according to The Journal.

I’m sure that escalated military activity in Yemen along with roving bands of CIA hit squads will go a long way toward solving the problem of anti-American hatred in that country and the Muslim world generally.  If only we kill more of them and bring more violence to their country, they’ll stop wanting to mail  bombs to ours.  See also:  this post from earlier today on the reliance of even the NYT‘s Public Editor on anonymous military sources to uncritically spout the military line.

UPDATE IIHere’s what NPR listeners heard on Friday (h/t Pedinska):

MELISSA BLOCK: Now, Dina, the fact that these packages were coming from Yemen targeting apparently Jewish synagogues in Chicago, that triggers all sorts of connections, doesn’t it?

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Indeed. I mean, they think that al-Qaida in Yemen is somehow behind this. And the sources I spoke to said that they believe that they saw the fingerprints of the American-born imam that we’ve talked a lot about, Anwar al-Awlaki, and perhaps he’s behind this.

Why not just turn over these media outlets to government officials directly and cut out the middlemen?  I suppose the answer is that doing so would destroy the illusion of independence, which is vital to the effective dissemination of propaganda.  John Parker –former military reporter and fellow of the University of Maryland Knight Center for Specialized Journalism-Military Reporting — last week mocked NPR’s Tom Gjelten for mindless subservience to the Pentagon’s line on the WikiLeaks documents.  As he notes, that is not unique to Gjelten but rather illustrative of how our establishment media functions generally.

UPDATE III:  Perusing news accounts, it seems the most mystifying aspect of this whole episode — as always — is trying so very hard to understand why anyone in Yemen would possibly want to mail a bomb to the United States, of all places?  Why oh why would anyone there want to do that? It’s so puzzling.

I of course recommend that you read the entire column—and while you’re at it, this column on stupendous NY Times fail.

UPDATE: If you can’t read anything else, just read the three articles at the links in UPDATE III.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 2:25 pm

Takes me back to my high-school days

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Though I first heard it as the quartet with Chet Baker. Still: this is very nice:

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Jazz, Video

Time to legalize marijuana

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An editorial in New Scientist:

WHEN California acts, the world watches. While other jurisdictions dallied, the most populous state in the union has been experimenting with brave policies. Notable among these are its efforts to clear pollutants from the air and make household appliances more energy efficient. In the face of vested interests that predicted this would have dire economic consequences, the golden state went ahead anyway. When the fears proved unwarranted, other states followed suit.

Now California stands on the brink of a decision that could sway not only other states but also other nations. On 2 November, its electors will vote on proposition 19, which if passed would lead to the legalisation of marijuana (see "All eyes on California for marijuana ballot"). It would be a bold move which, if executed successfully, could become a template for the ending of marijuana prohibition around the world.

The case for legalisation is clear. Recreational drug use is as old as humanity, and has not been eradicated by even the most draconian laws. Making possession and supply of weed illegal has done little to limit availability. Instead it opens up an opportunity for criminal gangs, wrecks the lives of users who are branded with a criminal record, and distracts the police from more important work. Legalisation would allow the supply of marijuana to be regulated, just as governments worldwide regulate alcohol. Legal marijuana can also be taxed.

One immediate impact would be felt south of the border. Mexico’s drug cartels are the largest suppliers of marijuana to the US. The gangs attack each other and the Mexican authorities, and the cost of this conflict is terrible. Some border towns have become war zones. Tens of thousands have died since 2007.

Many Mexican politicians think that legalising marijuana would make the cartels a little less powerful. The war would not end, and the cartels would surely continue to deal in other illegal drugs, and pursue other illegal activities such as kidnapping. It would, nevertheless, make a dent in their income.

Yet even discussion of legalisation in Mexico has never got off the ground – due in large part to pressure from the US, which underwrites the fight against the cartels. Mexico should control its own drug policy, and if California legalises marijuana it will be harder for the US to prevent its neighbour doing the same.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 11:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Drug laws

Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis

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A very intriguing study published in the Lancet (free registration required to read entire article). Here’s the summary:

Background – Proper assessment of the harms caused by the misuse of drugs can inform policy makers in health, policing, and social care. We aimed to apply multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) modelling to a range of drug harms in the UK.

Methods – Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, including two invited specialists, met in a 1-day interactive workshop to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven to the harms to others. Drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance.

Findings – MCDA modelling showed that heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

Interpretation – These findings lend support to previous work assessing drug harms, and show how the improved scoring and weighting approach of MCDA increases the differentiation between the most and least harmful drugs. However, the findings correlate poorly with present UK drug classification, which is not based simply on considerations of harm.

Funding – Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK).

Needless to say, alcohol is legal, regulated, and taxed, and marijuana, a relatively harmless drug, is illegal and accounts for locking up around 800,000 Americans a year: very expensive and totally pointless.


US Marijuana Arrests

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 9:44 am

It may be time to learn to draw

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I find it odd that school instruct children in handwriting but not in drawing: they are quite similar skills, and both are equally useful. (Today’s schools seem satisfied with teaching neither.)

Perhaps it’s time you learned to draw.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2010 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

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