Later On

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

Archive for February 25th, 2011

Want bowel cancer? Eat more meat

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Very interesting post at Food Politics by Marion Nestle:

The UK Department of Health issued a warning today to eat less red and processed meat.

  • Red meat means beef, lamb and pork as well as minced meat and offal from these animals.
  • Processed meat means ham, bacon, luncheon meat, corned beef, salami, pâté, sausages and burgers.

The warning is based on a new report from the independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).  Its report evaluated the effects of iron on health. Because red meat is a primary source of dietary iron, the committee looked at evidence on the links between red meat and processed meats and bowel cancer.

The report concludes that the link “probably” exists and that:

Adults with relatively high intakes of red and processed meat (around 90 g/day or more) should consider reducing their intakes. A reduction to the UK population average for adult consumers (70 g/day cooked weight) would have little impact on the proportion of the adult population with low iron intakes.

How much is 90 grams?  It is only three ounces of cooked meat.

The UK Health Department advises:

  • People who eat a lot of red or processed meat – around 90g or more of cooked weight per day – are at greater risk of getting bowel cancer;
  • Cutting down to the UK average of 70g a day can help reduce the risk; and
  • This can be achieved by eating smaller portions or by eating red and processed meat less often.

The Department points out that cooked meat weighs about 70% of its uncooked weight (it has less water). So 3 ounces of cooked meat is equivalent to about 4 ounces of uncooked meat.

Expect to hear lots of reactions like “red meat can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet.”

And where are the US Dietary Guidelines on the subject of red and processed meats?  Buried in euphemisms, alas:

  • Choose lean meats
  • Choose seafood instead of some meat
  • Reduce calories from solid fats

No wonder Americans are confused about diet and health.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 7:49 pm

Killing off the middle class

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Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad — specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular — in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” — Mr. Bremer’s words, not the reporter’s — and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.”

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there’s this:  . . .

Continue reading. So it goes.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 4:58 pm

Posted in GOP, Government

Great wood shims

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I use these under the front legs of my bookcases to tilt them back against the wall and increase stability. They’re terrific. No wonder they’re a Cool Tool.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Daily life

Cyberwar on us

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Interesting note in this article:

. . .  But I think the real lesson of the hack – and of the revelations that followed it – is that the IT security industry, having finally gotten the attention of law makers, Pentagon generals and public policy establishment wonks in the Beltway, is now in mortal danger of losing its soul. We’ve convinced the world that the threat is real – omnipresent and omnipotent. But in our desire to combat it, we are becoming indistinguishable from the folks with the black hats.

Of course, none of this is intended to excuse the actions of Anonymous, who HBGary President Penny Leavy, in a conversation with Threatpost, rightly labeled “criminals” rather than politically motivated “hacktivists.” The attack on HBGary was an unsubtle, if effective, act of intimidation designed to send a message to Barr and other would be cyber sleuths: ‘stay away.’

We can see their actions for what they are, and sympathize deeply with Aaron Barr, Greg Hoglund and his wife (and HBGary President) Penny Leavy for the harm and embarrassment caused by the hackers from Anonymous, who published some 70,000 confidential company e-mails online for the world to see. Those included confidential company information, as well as personal exchanges between HBGary staff that were never intended for a public airing. Its easy to point the finger and chortle upon reading them, but how many of us (or the Anonymous members, themselves) could stand such scrutiny?

Its harder to explain away the substance of many other e-mail messages which have emerged in reporting by Ars Technica as well as others. They show a company executives like HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr mining social networks for data to “scare the s***” out of potential customers, in theory to win their business. While “scare ’em and snare ’em” may be business as usual in the IT security industry, other HBGary Federal skunk works projects clearly crossed a line: a proposal for a major U.S. bank, allegedly Bank of America, to launch offensive cyber attacks on the servers that host the whistle blower site Wikileaks. HBGary was part of a triumvirate of firms that also included Palantir Inc and Berico Technologies, that was working with the law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to develop plans to target progressive groups, labor unions and other left-leaning non profits who the Chamber opposed with a campaign of false information and entrapment. Other leaked e-mail messages reveal work with General Dynamics and a host of other firms to develop custom, stealth malware and collaborations with other firms selling offensive cyber capabilities including knowledge of previously undiscovered (“zero day”) vulnerabilities.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with private firms helping Uncle Sam to develop cyber offensive capabilities. In an age of sophisticated and wholesale cyber espionage by nation states opposed to the U.S., the U.S. government clearly needs to be able to fight fire with fire. Besides, everybody already knew that Greg Hoglund was writing rootkits for the DoD, so is it right to say we’re “shocked! shocked!” to read his e-mail and find out that what we all suspected was true? I don’t think so.

What’s more disturbing is the way that the folks at HBGary – mostly Aaron Barr, but others as well – came to view the infowar tactics they were pitching to the military and its contractors as applicable in the civilian context, as well. How effortlessly and seamlessly the focus on “advanced persistent threats” shifted from government backed hackers in China and Russia to encompass political foes like ThinkProgress or the columnist Glenn Greenwald. Anonymous may have committed crimes that demand punishment – but its up to the FBI to handle that, not “a large U.S. bank” or its attorneys.

The HBGary e-mails, I think, cast the shenanigans on the RSA Expo floor in a new and scarier light. What other companies, facing the kind of short term financial pressure that Barr and HBGary Federal felt might also cross the line – donning the gray hat, or the black one? What threat to all of our liberties does that kind of IT security firepower pose when its put at the behest of corporations, government agencies, stealth political groups or their operatives? Bruce Schneier – our industry’s Obi-Wan Kenobi – has warned about this very phenomena: the way the military’s ever expanding notion of “cyber war,” like the Bush era’s “War on Terror” does little to promote security, but a lot to promote inchoate fear. That inchoate fear then becomes a justification for futher infringement on our liberties.

“We reinforce the notion that we’re helpless — what person or organization can defend itself in a war? — and others need to protect us. We invite the military to take over security, and to ignore the limits on power that often get jettisoned during wartime,” Schneier observed. That kind of conflation is clear reading Barr’s e-mails where the line between sales oriented tactics and offensive actions blur. The security industry veterans I spoke with at this year’s show were as aghast at Barr’s trip far off reservation, but they also expressed a weary recognition that, in the security business, this is where things are headed.

What’s the alternative? Schneier notes that focusing on cyber crime as “crime” rather than “war” tends to avoid the problems with demagoguery. Focus on cyber crime and hacking in the same way as you focus on other types of crimes: as long term problems that must be managed within the “context of normal life,” rather than “wars” that pose an existential threat to those involved and must be won at all costs. The U.S. needs peacetime cyber-security “administered within the myriad structure of public and private security institutions we already have” rather than extra-judicial vigilantism and covert ops of the kind the HBGary e-mails reveal. Here’s hoping HBGary is the wake up call the industry needed to reverse course. . .

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

Business practices: Plumbing discovery

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The Eldest had a faucet (not that old) fall apart, and she talked over her options with a trustworthy plumber and learned:

Plumbing companies make two entire lines of plumbing supplies: (1) Total Crap™, which they sell through Home Depot, Loew’s, and other chain stores that sell directly to the consumer, and (2) Solid Products, sold only through plumbing supply houses to professional plumbers. The latter are slightly more expensive, but they also don’t fall apart after a few years’ use.

The point seems to be to accommodate stores that want to compete solely on price. Consumer experience seems not to be factored in to the equation.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Business

Weight notes

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My weight is up 5 lbs, but it’s heading back down. I started eating whole servings of starch (1/2 c uncooked rice in the one-pot meal—two servings because two meals—instead of the 1/3 c I had been using: it’s just that the rice tastes so good that I started using full portions, a mistake), I got some feta to use here and there, and I was so hungry at night I started doing protein snacking (a boiled egg here, a string cheese there).

But now I don’t panic. I’ve been here before and I know what to do. The first thing to do is cut out the feta and the protein snacks. My one-pot meals are back to using 1/3 c in place of 1/2 c in the starch area, and I also and quitting the sardines/mackerel GOPMs. They taste great, but those are oil-rich fish (and thus their great nutritional value and omega-3 content). I picked up some Dover sole and some boneless, skinless chicken breast.

These slight adjustments, coupled with on-going exercise and eliminating all non-meal eating save for the two pieces of fruit (one for mid-morning snack, one for mid-afternoon snack), will quickly get me back on track.

The idea is not to panic, but simply return to good practice and keep the timely record.

UPDATE: FWIW, the Spanish mackerel is excellent. It doesn’t have a strong taste, but it is definitely rich.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Fitness, Food

Busy morning

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I had to ready the apartment for the cleaning ladies. The lead cleaning lady grew up in Mexico, and she told me earlier that my signing up at MPC to take Spanish inspired her to enroll in a course in learning English as a foreign language. When she arrived, she asked me to listen to her pronunciation, and she very carefully pronounced “thirty.” The aspirated “th” clearly is difficult. Then I asked her to listen to the strange noises I make when I try to roll the r’s in, say, “pizarra” (blackboard). It must have made a great sight, her struggling with “thirty” and me with “pizarra.” But we both managed it.

She said that she learns something new in every class. She’s as excited about her class (taught all in English!, she told me) as I am about mine. She also said that her daughter (who’s in the 7th grade, I believe) told her that from now on she (the daughter) will speak only English to her. 🙂

Then to the PO, to Healthy Way, to Whole Foods, to Safeway, and home. On goes the oven, in goes my GOPM using Spanish mackerel (I hope that eating this will improve my ability to roll my r’s).

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Daily life

Military goes into business for itself

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Apparently the US military is becoming fed up with civilian control, which I guess is not delivering dollars fast enough to the military and its suppliers, so they have decided to reverse the direction of control and start to systematically control members of Congress.

Michael Hastings reports in Rolling Stone:

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”

The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”

When Holmes and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan in November 2009, their mission was to assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban and the local Afghan population. But the following month, Holmes began receiving orders from Caldwell’s staff to direct his expertise on a new target: visiting Americans. At first, the orders were administered verbally. According to Holmes, who attended at least a dozen meetings with Caldwell to discuss the operation, the general wanted the IO unit to do the kind of seemingly innocuous work usually delegated to the two dozen members of his public affairs staff: compiling detailed profiles of the VIPs, including their voting records, their likes and dislikes, and their “hot-button issues.” In one email to Holmes, Caldwell’s staff also wanted to know how to shape the general’s presentations to the visiting dignitaries, and how best to “refine our messaging.”

Continue reading.

UPDATE: Links have been updated.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 10:32 am

Obama’s authoritarian tendencies

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Some have expressed dismay at my disgruntlement with bad actions by the Obama Administration. I don’t like bad actions by my government, and I particularly do not like bad actions by a president who promised the opposite while campaigning and for whom I voted.

Take, for example, his determination to close down any non-official sources of information about what our government is doing—especially, it appears, when those sources reveal government misbehavior. And he promised the exact opposite, but he revealed early on that his promises were worthless. Take a look at this:

Last April, the DOJ served a subpoena on New York Times reporter James Risen, demanding to know his source for a story he published in his 2006 book regarding a “reckless” and horribly botched CIA effort to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.   That subpoena had originally been served but was then abandoned by the Bush DOJ, but its revitalization by the Obama administration was but one of many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President, who ran on a platform of “protecting whistleblowers”:

Adicionar imagemThose pretty words have given way to the most aggressive crusade to expose, punish and silence “courageous and patriotic” whistleblowers by any President in decades.  As the Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood put it, “They’re going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor.”  And last May, The New York Times described how “the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks.”  This war has entailed multiple indictments and prosecutions of Bush-era leaks which exposed various degrees of corruption, ineptitude and illegality.  And, of course, the Obama administration’s preoccupation with destroying WikiLeaks — which has led it to boast of efforts to prosecute the group for publishing classified information (which other media outlets do every day), target WikiLeaks supporters with invasive harassment, and even subpoena the Twitter accounts of several WikiLeaks associates, including a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament — has been well-documented.

But it’s the DOJ’s increasing willingness to target journalists as part of this crusade that has now escalated its seriousness.  Last month, the DOJ claimed it had found and arrested Risen’s source:  Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who left the agency in 2002 (he now works in the health insurance industry).  As part of Sterling’s criminal proceedings, it was revealed yesterday that federal investigators had secretly obtained Risen’s bank records, information about his phone and travel activities, and even credit reports to unearth his source:

Federal investigators trying to find out who leaked information about a CIA attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program obtained a New York Times reporter’s three private credit reports, examined his personal bank records and obtained information about his phone calls and travel, according to a new court filing.

The scope and intrusiveness of the government’s efforts to uncover reporter James Risen’s sources surfaced Thursday in the criminal case of James Sterling, a former CIA officer facing federal criminal charges for allegedly disclosing classified information. . . . The revelation alarmed First Amendment advocates, particularly in light of Justice Department rules requiring the attorney general to sign off on subpoenas directed to members of the media and on requests for their phone records.

First Amendment advocates said the Justice Department’s use of business records to find out about Risen’s sources was troubling. Those records, they argue, could potentially expose a wide array of Risen’s sources and confidential contacts — information that might fall beyond the initial investigation that led to Sterling’s indictment . . .

“To me, in many ways, it’s worse than a direct subpoena,” said Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota law professor and former director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Third-party subpoenas are really, really invidious. . . . Even if it is targeted, even if they’re trying to just look at the relevant stuff, they’re inevitably going to get material that exposes other things.”

Kirtley also said journalists often aren’t notified when

Continue reading. Am I wrong to feel that this is a very bad thing?

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 10:23 am

Art Tatum truly knew how to tickle the ivories

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Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 9:37 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

A new Bay Rum

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A good shave using a previously used Astra Keramik blade in the red-tipped Super Speed. I got a fine lather from the Prairie Creations tallow & lanolin based soap, thanks in part to the Rooney Style 2. Three passes, a splash of the new (to me) Bay Rum, and I’m good to go. This bay rum is made locally, up in Bonny Doon. I like it so far: great fragrance. I got it here.

Written by Leisureguy

25 February 2011 at 9:23 am

Posted in Shaving

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