Later On

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

Archive for April 26th, 2011

Uninstalling on the Mac

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On Windows machines, uninstalling a program is generally pretty simple: run the uninstaller. The Mac uses a different technique: you drag the app’s icon (which appears in the Apps folder) to the trash—and quite often, that works. But when it doesn’t, what’s the fallback? I haven’t found it yet.

The app is the Tutorial for Keynote on the iPad: it was cheap, I bought it, and I didn’t notice that it was for the iPad, which I don’t have. So I’m trying to uninstall it. I have dragged it, carefully and repeatedly, to Trash. That doesn’t work. So what’s the fallback? This Mac is not inclined to share the secret.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 5:49 pm

ACLU note: They do defend Christians and sue Muslims

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The GOP has its knickers in a painful twist about the ACLU. The ACLU’s specific mission is to defend the Bill of Rights, and the GOP hates that. In fact, the GOP hates the Bill of Rights, presumably because it protects the individual. The GOP is not much on individualism: people have to march in step, sing from the same hymnal, and anyone who points out any error or outright stupidity in the party platform or position is promptly drummed out the party. The GOP does not tolerate dissent at all.

Ed Brayton has a post giving yet more examples of the ACLU defending people and the Bill of Rights. This time the defendants are Christians who burned pages from the Quran, and (in another case) the ACLU is suing a Muslim charter school (a public school) for teaching religion in the classroom. In addition the ACLU is defending the right of a Christian Pastor (Terry Jones) to protest outside a Muslim mosque on Good Friday.

Wonder what the GOP will say about these cases?

The post is brief and worth the click. As you read it, you will doubtless wonder at the foolishness of the GOP.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 5:28 pm

An American disgrace: Guantánamo

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Excellent column by Glenn Greenwald pointing out that things we have learned about the camp at Guantánamo and how it was run, based on information from Wikileaks since our own government has kept us in the dark—probably because it’s such a mess.

I highly recommend you read the article. On Obama breaking his campaign promise to close Guantánamo:

Over the weekend, The Washington Post published a detailed account of why Obama has not closed Guantanamo, debunking the apologists’ claim that he did everything he could but was thwarted by an independent Congress. Marcy Wheeler highlights just some of the key points from that article.

But read the entire column, which includes quotes from and links to many newspaper articles.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:54 pm

Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

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When the American Revolution began, the rebels were (of course) traitors, treasonous to a man and woman, taking arms against their existing government. Some living here refused treason, of course, and remained loyal to the government and the king. Nancy Isenberg reviews two books about these people, one of which is rather weak (Tories, the first one reviewed). The other, however, look quite interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Books

Business opportunities with dictators

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Interesting article in the Washington Times by Eli Lake about businesses eager to make money by helping dictators oppress their citizens.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Are we building a domestic army?

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The US Army and Air Force (by virtue of its birth from the Army) are not allowed to operate on US soil by the Posse Comitatus Act, and similar restrictions are placed on the US Navy and Marine Corps. So the government cannot call out the military to restore order.

Last night I was watching S.W.A.T.: Fire Fight, a more or less standard issue police action film. I was struck by how the SWAT teams were presented: as warriors, more or less along the lines of SEALs or Delta Force. Their weaponry is, of course, specialized for urban warfare and it includes special-purpose armored vehicles. In effect, SWAT teams seem to be very like special forces units, though of course under the command of the local chief of police and city councils. That has proved to be a problem in some cases.

As I watched the movie and the militaristic nature of the SWAT teams became apparent, I wondered whether there was a mechanism that could, in one decree, put the country’s SWAT teams under Federal control and a unified command. Probably not, but if such a thing happened, one would have a small, highly trained army trained in urban warfare. Not that the US will need such a thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:21 pm

Pennsylvania needs a new rapid-response plan

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Nicholas Kusnetz reporting for ProPublica:

When Chesapeake Energy lost control of a Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania on April 19, an emergency response team from Texas was called in to stop the leak. By the time the team arrived more than 13 hours later, brine water and hydraulic fracturing fluids from the well had spewed across nearby fields and into a creek.

Why did a team have to be called in from Texas, as the Scranton Times Tribune has reported? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.

According to a plan that Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced in August 2010, a Pennsylvania-based emergency response crew should have been available to handle the blowout. The plan was created after Texas crews had to be called in to deal with two serious gas drilling accidents last summer. The first was a blowout at an EOG Resources well in Clearfield County on June 3 — it took the Texans 16 hours to arrive at that site. The other was a fireat a Huntley & Huntley well in Allegheny County that killed two workers on July 23 — the emergency responders showed up 11 hours later that time.John Hanger, the DEP’s former secretary, said at the time that the delay was unacceptable.

“When an accident occurs, we cannot wait 10 or more hours for a crew to fly in from halfway across the country,” he said in a news release.

To remedy the situation, Hanger said that Texas-based CUDD Well Control would open a new facility in Bradford County and that 16 specially trained responders would be able to reach any well in Pennsylvania in five hours or so. If a well operator didn’t respond promptly, the DEP would call in the CUDD team. Drilling companies could use CUDD, too.

The arrangement seemed to work. When a Talisman Energy well blew out in Tioga County on Jan. 17, the CUDD team had the well under control in less than four hours.

Dennis Corley, CUDD’s vice-president, said he offered the company’s services to Chesapeake after last week’s blowout — which occurred in Bradford County — but was told that Chesapeake was already under contract with another emergency responder, Houston-based Boots & Coots.

Corley said the DEP did not request help from CUDD. The DEP, which is now led by Michael Krancer, didn’t respond to calls and emails from ProPublica. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Wow: Sony is hacked with customer credit card numbers stolen

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Sony is not saying directly that the credit card numbers were taken—just that they could have been taken and you should get a new credit card.

This sounds like a major disaster, commercially. I continue reading Overconnected with interest.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Knowledge and fantasies

with 5 comments

A recent post generated a comment thread of interest to me. I was particularly struck by the notion that quantum physics is a fantasy. It certainly is a creation of the human mind, and yet it has an extraordinarily strong connection with reality, generating predictions accurate to the extent of our ability to measure, and as we improve the precision of our measurements, we find that the accuracy is unaffected. This is really a special sort of fantasy, unlike (say) The Lord of the Rings.

The same thing applies to mathematics, and in the comment thread I include Clarence R. Wylie, Jr.’s sonnet “Paradox” on the oddness of the connection between external reality and human thought.

We have some obvious terminological problems in the discussion. One is the word “reality”. Are my thoughts real? Obviously. I’m having them right now, and in fact I’m writing this one down. It’s not the reality possessed by a rock, but (as I point out in the comments at the link) neither is that of a cat.

I think we have to allow that creations of the human mind—memes—are real. They emerge from the same fundamental stuff (particles and forces) that are the foundation of all. In earlier posts I made a direction at setting out instances of emergence (and indeed there’s an intriguing book devoted to this specific investigation: The Emergence of Everything, by Harold Morowitz).

With the idea of emergence, we can construct a ladder of reality, beginning with the ur-stuff of the Big Bang, leading through the emergence (and splitting) of forces and particles, atoms, stars, galaxies, heavier elements, life, us, memes, and (undoubtedly) et cetera.

And then there’s the ideas to which “to know” points: we “know” lots of things—the taste of vinegar, how to play the banjo (well, Steve Martin and some others do), how to cook (some of us), and so on. Some knowledge involves words, some does not.

At any rate, an interesting topic of discussion.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 10:24 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Corruption personified

with 2 comments

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

Signs of progress in Spanish

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I’m starting to make connections. One problem with making your own deck (using Anki) is the presence of typos. I had pretty well learned “el echo” (ceiling) when Veronica, my cleaning lady, told me it was “techo” not “echo“. Oops. But now: do I ever know that word.

I just was reviewing the words in our textbook (all review now, no new words to learn, so I’ll start on the next book in the series), and this morning reviewed the word for “referee”: “el/la arbítro/a” when I got to looking at that accent mark. First, the word was difficult to say—as though it didn’t fit the pattern of the words I was learning (but it still could be correct: “fácil” is still somewhat difficult to say well and fluently). More important, the accent mark (written) makes no sense, since that is the syllable that would normally be accented (though sometimes an accent is written even if the syllable would be accented anyway, the reason is usually obvious: the word “él” (“he”) bears an accent to distinguish it from “el” (masculine definite article).

So I looked it up, and it was a typo. The correct spelling is “árbitro/a“, and now the word is easier to say and the accent makes perfect sense: if the antepenult is accented, it must be a written accent.

I’m pleased that I could tell that something was wrong. And now, of course, I know that word quite well. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 8:12 am

Posted in Education

Goodbye to a brush

with one comment

A very fine shave, although the third pass was done using the Simpson Chubby 1 Best brush instead of the Grosvenor pictured. The Grosvenor I have is a mix of boar and badger bristles, and I have been unsuccessful in getting it to hold a lather. It’s as if dissimilar bristles have some sort of action analogous to dissimilar metals, with devastating effects on the lather. YMMV and probably does: many like the Grosvenor a lot.

As you can see, I’m following my Proraso muse, but this is the end of it: I have no other Proraso shave stuff. A very fine lather today (other than the problem noted—but the first pass was great), and the Apollo Mikron did a fine job in three passes. A splash of Floris No. 89, and I’m ready to finish my homework. (Light blogging this morning.)

Anyone who wants the Grosvenor for $6 (the postage), let me know.

UPDATE: Grosvenor gone now.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2011 at 7:48 am

Posted in Shaving

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