Later On

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

Archive for February 2nd, 2011

Improv tricks you can use in business

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Interesting article that begins:

At first glance, improv might seem like the direct opposite of the business world. It’s silly, raucous, and spontaneous. But improv actors are sharp professionals who have an incredible ability to pull from past dialogue, anticipate future scenes and relationships, and engage audiences in just moments. If you’re trying to make it in the business world, you can learn a lot from improv actors. Here are 25 tricks that work just as well in business as they do on stage.

  1. Introduce yourself: Don’t assume anyone already knows who you are. As character actor, writer and improviser Jeremiah Murphy reveals, "the trick is to cram your introduction with as much detail as you can so your scene partner and you will have all sorts of material." It’s the same principle you should apply to interviews, business meetings and networking events.
  2. Don’t block others: This meaning of "block" refers to the refusal of any line a player throws at you. Even it seems cheesy, laugh at or contribute to a joke, and play along with the person you’re talking to. Otherwise, you’ll seem offensive and boring.
  3. Remember the "Yes, and" rule: Accept information your partner gives you, but also remember to add something to it. "Yes, I also think this speaker was a great choice, and I’m excited to see him/her at the lecture series next month, too." You want to be a source and to fuel a two-way conversation, not just a nodder.
  4. Listen: One of the most important strategies in improv is to listen to your partner. You’re relying on each other to move the scene along, and it’s the same in a business meeting or conversation. Pay extremely close attention to what the other person is saying and how they say it. These details will pay off later, when you’re trying to remember everyone you’ve talked to and want to follow up.
  5. Use your body: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Business

The 12 worst colleges for free speech

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Interesting report. Bucknell College is on the list—as is Yale and—to my surprise—Johns Hopkins.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education, Law

GOP request surveillance of Americans

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I thought at one time the GOP opposed Big Government and such things. But look at this headline:

GOP pushing for ISPs to record user data

The story, by Declan McCullagh for CNN, begins:

The House Republicans’ first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.

A House panel chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss forcing Internet providers, and perhaps Web companies as well, to store records of their users’ activities for later review by police.

One focus will be on reviving a dormant proposal for data retention that would require companies to store Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for two years, CNET has learned.

Tomorrow’s data retention hearing is juxtaposed against the recent trend to protect Internet users’ privacy by storing less data. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission called for "limited retention" of user data on privacy grounds, and in the last 24 hours, both Mozilla and Google have announced do-not-track technology.

A Judiciary committee aide provided a statement this afternoon saying "the purpose of this hearing is to examine the need for retention of certain data by Internet service providers to facilitate law enforcement investigations of Internet child pornography and other Internet crimes," but declined to elaborate.

Thanks to the GOP takeover of the House, the odds of such legislation advancing have markedly increased. The new chairman of the House Judiciary committee is Lamar Smith of Texas, who previously introduced a data retention bill. Sensenbrenner, the new head of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, had similar plans but never introduced legislation. (It’s not purely a partisan issue: Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, was the first to announce such a proposal.)

Police and prosecutors are the biggest backers of data retention. FBI director Robert Mueller has said that forcing companies to store those records about users would be "tremendously helpful in giving us a historic basis to make a case" in investigations, especially child porn cases. An FBI attorney said last year that Mueller supports storing Internet users’ "origin and destination information," meaning logs of which Web sites are visited. . .

Continue reading. These people really hate democracy, don’t they? Or at least they’re extremely uncomfortable with it and are determined to get it under control (theirs).

You’ll all recall when the FBI was given special restricted use of National Security Letters to get information about people linked to terrorism? Well, of course they used it for everyone. You CANNOT SIMPLY TRUST THE FBI. Over and over they have broken the law. The ACLU reported last April 10 on the National Security Letters:

The FBI’s general counsel and the Justice Department Inspector General (IG) testified today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on the most recent IG report on the FBI’s use of National Security Letters (NSLs). NSLs allow the FBI to secretly demand personal records about innocent customers from Internet Service Providers (ISPs), communications service providers, libraries, financial institutions and credit reporting agencies without suspicion or prior judicial approval. The FBI can then bar recipients of NSLs from disclosing anything about the records demands.

In January, the IG released a report on the FBI’s use of “exigent letters,” or emergency letters, to gain private records for investigations when no emergency existed. The FBI routinely issued NSLs after the fact in an attempt to legitimize the use of exigent letters. Today, the IG testified on the extent of the abuse of exigent letters and “other informal requests for telephone records.”

The NSL statute was greatly expanded under the Patriot Act, passed hastily by Congress in the days following 9/11. After the statute’s expansion, the IG’s office released a series of reports over the last several years, including its January report, outlining systemic misuse and abuse of NSLs by FBI agents. Late last year, to avoid expiration on December 31, 2009, Congress extended three provisions of the Patriot Act through February 28, 2010. Despite bills pending in both the House and the Senate to amend the expiring provisions, as well as the NSL provision, Congress decided instead to move ahead with a straightforward reauthorization in late February.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Washington Legislative Office:

“It has become painfully clear that unchecked Patriot Act power will inevitably lead to abuse, and National Security Letters are a poignant example. To ensure that our privacy and free speech rights are protected, there must be clear oversight and strict guidelines tied to their use. Innocent Americans have been swept into investigations and recipients have been barred from speaking about it publicly.

“Not only that, report after report from the FBI’s own Inspector General illustrates the blatant and systemic abuse of national security letters. Congress has less than a year before it must address the Patriot Act again. NSL reform must be made a priority this year instead of being kicked further down the road."

The ACLU Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2004 on behalf of an ISP that received an NSL, challenging the FBI’s authority to demand records through NSLs and to gag NSL recipients. A federal appeals court ruled in 2008 that parts of the NSL statute’s gag provisions were unconstitutional and sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether the gag on the ISP could stand. In October 2009, a federal court ruled that the government can continue to enforce the now six-year-old gag order on the ISP even though the FBI abandoned its request for records several years ago.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:43 pm

US wrong-footed in its support for repressive dictatorships

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The US has long supported some very bad people in power. Indeed, the US supplies them arms and training to keep them in power, despite their horrendous human rights record. (I wonder whether the worsening human rights record of the US is an effect of the association.) Moreover, the CIA trains their torturers—the CIA even wrote a manual on how to torture for some of our Latin American dictators. Death squads? Fine, we’ll support them. So long as they don’t try to help their people, because that would be socialist/communist/leftist and the US will march in and, if necessary, overthrow the legitimate government so we can get a dictator back in power who will prey on the people, not help them. (Example: Chile.)

So, naturally, the US’s first inclination is throw support to the dictators whose people are rising up after decades of abuse. But it looks as though those dictators may fall—that happens fairly often when governments go much too far—and I doubt that the governments that come to power will have friendly feelings toward the US.

Here’s an interesting site that’s worth exploring: Collateral Damage: Human Rights and US Military Aid After 9/11. Their blurb:

After more than a year of reporting and research, combing through thousands of foreign lobbying records and haggling with government officials over Freedom of Information Act requests, we have published one of the most comprehensive resources on U.S. military aid and assistance in the post-9/11 era. “Collateral Damage” couples the reporting of 10 of the world’s leading investigative journalists on four continents with a powerful database combining U.S. military assistance, foreign lobbying expenditures, and human rights abuses into a single, easily accessible toolkit.

Collateral Damage
U.S. hands out vast sums of money to combat terrorism while ignoring human rights records; lobbying key to funding flows

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2007 — Five years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the influence of foreign lobbying on the U.S. government, as well as a shortsighted emphasis on counterterrorism objectives over broader human rights concerns, have generated staggering costs to the U.S. and its allies in money spent and political capital burned. >>

Much more at the link, including an interactive map. And here’s a menu:


Stories by Region
Middle East

South America

Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Military Aid Document Warehouse Team Project Funding Podcast

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:26 pm

Big day

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I’m running a little ragged. I did 15′ of Nordic, but was running late, so stopped, checked in at Healthy Way, then to Whole Foods to pick up some food for The Wife’s fridge: she arrives home this evening. (We’re all excited—when I took the stuff over, Molly walked out into the hall to look for her.)

And I put together a glorious one-pot meal using the Cajun Classic Dutch oven—that’s now in her fridge as well, and tomorrow she can pop it into the oven and and cook it, and have lunch and dinner.

I was looking for a link for the little Cajun Classic, and I found two: the enameled one, which I have, is $25, but you can get a cast-iron one, totally suitable for GOPMs, for $12. Can’t beat that price. I should note that the Cajun Classic is one of the wide, squat pots; the Staub is narrower and taller. I like the Staub better. But: $12 v. $100.

I have just a few posts I want to blog, and then I’m spending the afternoon desperately trying to learn some Spanish—they go so fast.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, GOPM

A fine shave

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Very fine shave. Nancy Boy‘s Signature shaving cream is intended as a brushless shaving cream, so I didn’t attempt to build a lather—I used the brush merely as a handy applicator. I have in the past been able to get a bit of a lather, but since the product works well without that, why bother?

Three wonderful passes with the Eclipse and its doughty Swedish Gillette blade, and I started the day. I’m not much of a balm guy, but the Intesa is quite nice.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2011 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Shaving

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