Later On

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

Archive for September 15th, 2011

(Kitteh) Energy Technology of Tomorrow: Green Energy at Home

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Best watched fullscreen:

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Cats, Technology, Video

Interesting comments on the Frontiers Airlines fiasco

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James Fallows has been running a series of interesting responses to his original post. All of them are worth reading, including all of the most recent, from which I excerpt but a single communique from one of his readers (and you really should read the whole thing):

>>The incident involving the woman and two men says a lot about the excessiveness of our response to security concerns, but I think less has been said about what it says about the incompetence and inadequacy of that response.

Let us imagine a contrafactual hypothetical: that the woman and two men were, in fact, terrorists. What threat would they pose, since they’d all gone through intrusive searches before boarding the plane, and they were limited to a presumably safe few ounces of chemicals in their carry-ons. Are we saying that these pre-boarding searches don’t protect us from danger? And since the plane had already landed, are we to assume the plot failed? Was there any evidence of anything? Burnt shoe? Tampered panels in the bathroom? What?

And what if they weren’t the only terrorists? On 9/11 there were multiple simultaneous teams in operation. Supposing the security people in this incident had caught one – wouldn’t it be important to immediately determine if it was a false alarm, and raise a hue-and-cry if it was NOT? It would seem that, if they were actually suspected of being dangerous, that letting them cool their heels for hours was compounding the danger.

Are we to believe that, after 10 years of our security state, we still don’t have the means or procedures to assess the threat within minutes, not hours? What kind of a reaction is that? What were the people in Detroit waiting for, another plane to blow up somewhere else in the country?

What angers me about the extent of our “security theater” is just how unserious it is. This was a horrific way to treat innocent fliers. It was also a horrific way to deal with potential terrorists, because it didn’t do anything to prevent an attack.

This member of the public might be willing to talk about a trade-off between personal liberty and security, but I’m completely unwilling to accept this trade-off, where personal liberty is denied in exchange for bureaucratic convenience and an incompetent pretense of security.<<

And I ask again, “Home of the brave?” Whom are we hoping to kid? The very perception of a threat, much less the (over-)reaction to it, speaks volumes about how brave we are in practice (as opposed to in song).

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Business, Government, Law

Make your own aftershave splash

with 3 comments

This recipe looks pretty good to me. I’m sure, though, that I’ll add some glycerin.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Shaving

South River Miso has a new Web site

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Same URL, but a lot of revamping. Videos on miso making. Their on-line store. Lots of new stuff.

Full disclosure: I love their miso.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

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Arctic ice continuing to vanish

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This is the worst summer melt ever—as bad as 2007—and this time with no unusual weather to account for it. The slowdown in global temperature increases seems to be simply because the oceans have been absorbing a lot of the heat, and that may be the effect killing off the ice now.

I wonder whether anyone who’s paying attention still holds that the Arctic ice is doing fine and global warming is not happening.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 9:47 am

Restoring liberty to the US

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It will be difficult to restore our freedoms and liberty because so many in the US are now so frightened that they are eager to embrace any sort of heavy-handed authoritarian measures if told these may possible increase their safety. (“Home of the brave” indeed! But the US has always been inclined to ignore the meaning of words—people in Great Britain prior to the US Civil War found our constant drumbeat of praise for “freedom” and “equality” difficult to reconcile with our enthusiasm for slavery.)

But the ACLU, which has a long history of fighting for American rights under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (and long strongly opposed by the GOP and the Right in general, which strongly believes that these rights and liberties apply only to people just like themselves and to no others), now has a report on how we might try resuming the American experiment of human rights and the rule of law. From their site:

Download the Report »

An ACLU report release to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 warns that a decade after the attacks, the United States is at risk of enshrining a permanent state of emergency in which core values must be subordinated to ever-expanding claims of national security. (More on Civil Liberties After 9/11 »)

The report, entitled, “A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years after 9/11,” explores how sacrificing America’s values – including justice, individual liberty, and the rule of law – ultimately undermines safety. (Read the full report »)

Everywhere And Forever War

The report begins with an examination of the contention that the U.S. is engaged in a “war on terror” that takes place everywhere and will last forever, and that therefore counterterrorism measures cannot be balanced against any other considerations such as maintaining civil liberties. The report states that the United States has become an international legal outlier in invoking the right to use lethal force and indefinite military detention outside battle zones, and that these policies have hampered the international fight against terrorism by straining relations with allies and handing a propaganda tool to enemies.

A Cancer On Our Legal System

Taking on the legacy of the Bush administration’s torture policy, the report warns that the lack of accountability leaves the door open to future abuses. “Our nation’s official record of this era will show numerous honors to those who authorized torture – including a Presidential Medal of Freedom – and no recognition for those, like the Abu Ghraib whistleblower, who rejected and exposed it,” it notes.

Fracturing Our “More Perfect Union”

The report details how profiling based on race and religion has become commonplace nationwide, with the results of such approaches showing just how wrong and ineffective those practices are. “Targeting the American Muslim community for counterterrorism investigation is counterproductive because it diverts attention and resources that ought to be spent on individuals and violent groups that actually pose a threat,” the report says. “By allowing – and in some cases actively encouraging – the fear of terrorism to divide Americans by religion, race, and belief, our political leaders are fracturing this nation’s greatest strength: its ability to integrate diverse strands into a unified whole on the basis of shared, pluralistic, democratic values.”

A Massive and Unchecked Surveillance Society

Concluding with the massive expansion of surveillance since 9/11, the report delves into the many ways the government now spies on Americans without any suspicion of wrongdoing, from warrantless wiretapping to cell phone location tracking – but with little to show for it. “The reality is that as governmental surveillance has become easier and less constrained, security agencies are flooded with junk data, generating thousands of false leads that distract from real threats,” the report says.

“A Call to Courage” points out that many controversial policies have been shrouded in secrecy under the rubric of national security, preventing oversight and examination by the public. “We look to our leaders and our institutions, our courts and our Congress, to guide us towards a better way, and it is now up to the American people to demand that our leaders respond to national security challenges with our values, our unity – and yes, our courage – intact.”

READ THE FULL REPORT »

MORE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES AFTER 9/11 »
Download PDF (1.69 MB)»

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 9:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Spicy-sweet green beans

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I’m going to make these at some point. Ingredients:

Salt
1 pound green beans
1/2 cup whole almonds
3 garlic cloves
1 or 2 dried hot red chiles, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.3 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Black pepper

They suggest also trying asparagus.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

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