Later On

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

Archive for January 15th, 2011

Outing report

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The campus offices were all closed, but I did wander around a bit and found the library, student center, bookstore, and so on. I’ll go back on Tuesday, when they’ll be open. It’s a bit smaller than I had pictured.

I’m about to put in the oven a repeat of the chicken, mushroom, and spinach dish, though I’ll do everything I did yesterday and also add some chopped asparagus on top. This time I’m using rice for the starch.

Molly is simply enormous.

When I was at the grocery store, I got to talking to a guy who was curious about the duck eggs and I told him what I knew. He ended up buying a couple. I told him that I would definitely be eating more, but only after reaching goal. Today I’m 201.0 lbs, so I’ve now lost 49 lbs, which I told him—I could see he was dying to know—and he made a comment about how it takes willpower.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I think that’s a mistake. I came home, fired up Scrivener, and wrote a draft of an introduction to the book I’m planning about this project, emphasizing that, with the right approach, willpower is not such an issue.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2011 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Food

How musical are you?

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Find out here. It takes just 25 minutes and supports (and contributes to) scientific research. Go on, give it a go.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2011 at 2:21 pm

More robbery, this time by Homeland Security

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A bad sign of what our government has now become:

For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it’s sometimes easy to lose perspective about just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are.  One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary.  Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security’s practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products — laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like — copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it.  Worse, all of this is done not only without a warrant, probable cause or any oversight, but even without reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in any crime.  It’s completely standard-less, arbitrary, and unconstrained.  There’s no law authorizing this power nor any judicial or Congressional body overseeing or regulating what DHS is doing.  And the citizens to whom this is done have no recourse — not even to have their property returned to them.

When you really think about it, it’s simply inconceivable that the U.S. Government gets away with doing this.  Seizing someone’s laptop, digging through it, recording it all, storing the data somewhere, and then distributing it to various agencies is about the most invasive, privacy-destroying measure imaginable.  A laptop and its equivalents reveal whom you talk to, what you say, what you read, what you write, what you view, what you think, and virtually everything else about your life.  It can — and often does — contain not only the most private and intimate information about you, but also information which the government is legally barred from accessing (attorney/client or clergy/penitent communications, private medical and psychiatric information and the like).  But these border seizures result in all of that being limitlessly invaded.  This is infinitely more invasive than the TSA patdowns that caused so much controversy just two months ago.  What kind of society allows government agents — without any cause — to seize all of that whenever they want, without limits on whom they can do this to, what they access, how they can use it:  even without anyone knowing what they’re doing? 

This Homeland Security conduct has finally received some long-overdue attention over the past several months as a result of people associated with WikiLeaks or Bradley Manning being subjected to it.  In July, Jacob Appelbaum, a WikiLeaks volunteer, was detained for hours at Newark Airport, had his laptop and cellphones seized (the cellphones still have not been returned), and was told that the same thing would happen to him every time he tried to re-enter the country; last week, it indeed occurred again when he arrived in Seattle after a trip to Iceland, only this time he was afraid to travel with a laptop or cellphone and they were thus unable to seize them (they did seize his memory sticks, onto which he had saved a copy of the Bill of Rights).  The same thing happened to 23-year-old American David House after he visited Bradley Manning in the Quantico brig and worked for Manning’s legal defense fund:  in November, House returned to the U.S. from a vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend and her family, was detained, and had his laptop and memory sticks seized (they were returned only after he retained the ACLU of Massachusetts to demand their return).

But this is happening to far more than people associated with WikiLeaks.  As a result of writing about this, I’ve spoken with several writers, filmmakers, and activists who are critics of the government and who have been subjected to similar seizures — some every time they re-enter the country.  In September, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of these suspicionless searches; one of the plaintiffs on whose behalf they sued is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen who had his laptop seized at the border when returning to the U.S. last year: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2011 at 9:44 am

Doesn’t this sound like armed robbery?

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Ed Brayton:

Here’s a new twist on the already appalling reality of asset forfeiture in this country, and it happened right here in Michigan. Oakland County authorities raided a medical marijuana club in Oak Park this week, seizing $20,000 in cash from employees and patients — but without filing any charges against any of them. They were in compliance with state law, so no charges were filed.

But the police still seized all that cash, not only from the organization but from the wallets of every patient in the place. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Oakland County authorities raided the Oak Park headquarters and retail complex of medical marijuana entrepreneur and advocate Rick Ferris, 46, of Berkley but made no arrests “because none of us were breaking the law,” Ferris’ spokesman Rick Thompson said.

“It seemed more like intimidation than anything else,” Thompson said after the raid Wednesday…

In Wednesday’s raid, officers wore bulletproof vests, and one wore a mask, said attorney Jim Rasor, who represents Big Daddy’s Enterprises. But they took nothing except about $20,000 in cash, gathered from receipts, the offices and wallets of about 10 employees and patients, he said.

The sheriff gets 80% of the money seized, under state drug forfeiture laws that give the rest to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, said Rasor, who also is an elected Royal Oak city commissioner.

“I know, as a public official, that the public sector is running out of money. But it’s just plain wrong to finance your operation on the backs of people who are ill (or) providing a safe alternative to obtaining medical marijuana on the street,” Rasor said.

This is more than intimidation, it’s nothing more than legalized theft by the government. The asset forfeiture laws allow the government to seize cash or property that is either gained through a criminal enterprise or involved in the commission of a crime. But because the forfeiture is called civil rather than criminal, they can seize the assets without even charging you with the crime in question, much less convicting you of it. Worse yet, the burden of proof is then on the victim of the seizure, not on the government.

That’s pretty bad, but even worse: if you read the story in the Detroit Free Press on-line, they removed all of the story beginning in the middle of the third paragraph quoted above, starting with the sentence that begins “But they took nothing except about $20,000 in cash…”.

This seems consistent with Glenn Greenwald’s point that journalism in the US has become a government propaganda and protection organ. I did write to the reporter who wrote the story to ask about the editing, but no reply as yet.

Greenwald explains the change in American journalism, with good examples, in this column, well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2011 at 9:39 am

The Wee Scot and Prairie Creations

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The Spiced Rum tallow & lanolin Prairie Creations shaving soap is quite nice, and the Wee Scot ginned up plenty of lather for three passes. The Wee Scot is a fully functional shaving brush, not just a novelty.

The Gillette red-tipped Super Speed with a Wilkinson blade did a good job, though the blade seemed to struggle a bit so after the shave the blade went into the blade safe.

A splash 0f Lustray Spice aftershave, and I’m off on errands.

Written by Leisureguy

15 January 2011 at 9:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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