Later On

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

Archive for September 20th, 2011

A .950 caliber rifle (not rimfire)

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Astonishing. What do you use these for? (It has a “sporting” exception that makes it legal, but what is the sport? Hunting revived Tyrannosaurus Reces?)

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Living alone—no, really alone

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Like on a small island in the Pacific, or deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Fascinating Cool Tools column on some who have done it, and the record they made of their efforts: books, film, and journals. Take a look; fascinating column. Includes a video of the Alaskan homesteader.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 11:18 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Stolen—sorry, “seized”—assets pad police budgets

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More on asset forfeiture by John Burnett at NPR (podcast downloadable at link):

Every year, about $12 billion in drug profits returns to Mexico from the world’s largest narcotics market — the United States. As a tactic in the war on drugs, law enforcement pursues that drug money and is then allowed to keep a portion as an incentive to fight crime.

As a result, the amount of drug dollars flowing into local police budgets is staggering. Justice Department figures show that in the past four years alone, the amount of assets seized by local law enforcement agencies across the nation enrolled in the federal program—the vast majority of it cash—has tripled, from $567 million to $1.6 billion. And that doesn’t include tens of millions more the agencies got from state asset forfeiture programs.

In Texas, with its smuggling corridors to Mexico, public safety agencies seized more than $125 million last year.

While drug-related asset forfeitures have expanded police budgets, critics say the flow of money distorts law enforcement — that some cops have become more interested in seizing money than drugs, more interested in working southbound than northbound lanes. . .

Continue reading. Our War on Drugs is like a poison in the civic bloodstream, corrupting government officials everywhere: lots of money, lots of pressure. Why doesn’t it occur to Congress that this War is not working? Legalization with regulation and taxation would put an end to this nonsense. Look at LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) to see their take.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 9:46 am

Posted in Government, Law

Legal theft

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If you’re going to steal, it only makes sense to restrict your thievery to venues in which it is legal—Wall Street is a master of this, because businesses who raid their pension funds to get the millions of dollars they award to top executives as bonuses, knowing that eventually the employees whose retirement funds they’re using will get nothing. And for law enforcement, asset forfeiture works quite well:

Let’s be clear about what civil asset forfeiture is not:

  • It’s not confiscation of contraband or illegal goods
  • It’s not property that has been withheld as evidence during a criminal investigation.
  • It’s not a fine or restitution imposed on someone duly convicted of a crime

Civil asset forfeiture instead refers to legal property or cash owned by individuals not charged with any crime, which is nevertheless seized by law enforcement agents who merely suspect it was used in a crime.

  • If tens of thousands of dollars in cash are found in a person’s home, it is automatically suspected of having been used in drug dealing, because no “normal” person would have that much cash lying around. “Odd or eccentric people”, who distrust banks and keep their savings at home, are at risk.
  • If trace amounts of marijuana are found in a vehicle, the vehicle may be seized, even if the owner was unaware that any drugs were transported in the vehicle.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), was intended to correct some of the worst abuses. (More information on the history of Civil Asset Forfeiture and CAFRA are found on our Background page.) But abuses and outrages continue . . .

Civil asset forfeiture can’t be “fixed” because its very essence breeds conflict-of-interest: . . .

Continue reading.

We really need to put an end to this.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 9:35 am

Posted in Democrats, Government, Law

Looking at the post-Peak oil industry

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Here’s Kevin Hall of McClatchy interviewing Daniel Yergin on his book The Quest:

When Daniel Yergin published “The Prize,” an 873-page exhaustive historical narrative about oil, in 1991, it changed how policymakers and academics alike thought about energy. His new book “The Quest,” published Tuesday, is likely to do the same.

“The Quest,” equally meaty at 804 pages, is broader in theme. It’s subtitled “Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.” As with his earlier work, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, Yergin relies on stories and vignettes to bring to life the changes and challenges that are taking place in the energy sector and the global scramble for oil.

Yergin, who’s now an energy consultant, begins where he left off, highlighting the events now reshaping global politics and oil politics. The introduction covers this year’s devastating tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan and the Arab Spring, involving the collapse of strongmen across the Middle East and North Africa.

“I was really struck that here are two very major sets of events, very different, halfway around the world but each of them with major impact on what our energy future is going to look like. Both of them came as surprises, and yet we will be for many years assessing and living with the consequences,” Yergin said in a lengthy interview with McClatchy ahead of the book’s release.

“The Quest” covers everything from the peak oil theory, which holds that the world’s oil production is in or near a permanent decline, to renewable and alternative sources of energy. It took Yergin five years to write it, and even in that time frame much changed in the energy sector.

In that five years, oil prices surged, Wall Street began treating oil contracts as prize investments, new technology boosted natural gas production from shale oil, and crude oil produced from ultra-deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico began supplanting imported oil from the Middle East. And of course, there’s demand from China.

“One of the things that surprised me was China. China hardly appears in ‘The Prize,’ because China was not a factor in the world oil market,” Yergin said. “China in ‘The Quest’ is the only country that gets two chapters. And it’s very much a narrative explaining how energy and oil have evolved as part of this larger story of China’s emergence on the world’s stage.”

“The Quest” ends on the unfolding prospects for the electric automobile.

“Around 2008, the electric car — which has a very long history — started to gain political traction and political support. And companies started to get behind it. So the book really concludes on the future of the automobile — what will we be driving in 10 or 15 years? — and it’s not clear yet by any means, and I don’t think it will be clear until after 2015 or so where the electric will fit in,” he said, concluding himself that “at least our personal transportation is going to have a larger electricity component in some form.”

Here’s more on what Yergin thinks.

Q: “The Quest,” as a title, is a metaphor?

A: I think that there is really a huge challenge. We have a $65 trillion world economy. If we get back on track it could be a $130 trillion economy by 2030, in just a couple of decades. And the question is, “What is going to be the energy system? How are we going to provide the energy that an economy of that scale needs, and at the same time how are we going to ensure the security of energy and reconcile our energy needs with environmental questions?” I found those were the underlying issues that I kept encountering as I wrote the book.

Q: Why do you see the Arab Spring as so important to the future of energy? . . .

Continue reading. There’s a video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 9:24 am

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

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Brain activity: Obese vs. Lean

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As regular readers know, I have often objected to the universal “cure” for obesity (“eat less, move more”), which ranks (and I choose the verb advisedly) with equally effective cures for depression (“cheer up”; “look at the bright side”), poverty (“earn more money”; “spend less than you earn”), and so on: simple injunctions with no explanations of how actually to accomplish the task. These picayune pronouncements are on par with an even simpler “cure” for obesity: “Lose weight.” This is simply restating the problem as though that provided a solution. It doesn’t.

Meanwhile, in the real world, science keeps untangling the issues that create the problem of obesity. They tend not to look at moral failure as a cause, the common focus of those who are lean, but rather at how the body works.

Here’s a recent finding reported in Science News by Janet Raloff:

In obese people, even when the brain knows the body isn’t hungry, it responds to food as if it were, new brain-scan data show. That means that when obese people try to shed weight, they may find themselves on the losing side of a battle with neural centers that unconsciously encourage them to eat.

For instance, in normal-weight people a neural reward system that reinforces positive feelings associated with food turns off when levels of the blood sugar glucose return to normal after a meal — a signal that the body’s need for calories has been sated. But in obese people, that reward center in the central brain turns on at the sight of high-calorie food even when their blood sugar levels are normal.

The new findings show that “the regulatory role of glucose was missing in the obese,” says Elissa Epel of the University of California, San Francisco, an obesity researcher not involved with the new study. She says the data might “explain the drive to eat that some obese people feel despite how much they’ve eaten.”

For the study, nine lean and five obese adult volunteers viewed pictures of foods such as ice cream, french fries, cauliflower or a salad while undergoing brain scans. Throughout the procedure, researchers asked the recruits to rate their hunger and how much they wanted a particular item.

Volunteers arrived for their brain scans several hours after eating, and the researchers used insulin pumps to establish volunteers’ blood sugar levels at either normal background values (roughly 90 milligrams per deciliter), or at the “mild” end of low (around 70 milligrams per deciliter). That low value can occur briefly in some people during the day, especially in people with diabetes or metabolic conditions that precede diabetes, notes endocrinologist Robert Sherwin of Yale University, coauthor of the new study.

All volunteers reported wanting food, especially high-calorie fare, when blood glucose was low, Sherwin’s team reports online September 19 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Brain scans showed that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 9:11 am

Super shave: The planets align

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Today is one of those shaves where you keep sneaking caresses of your chin and cheek—faceturbation is the common term—because they are so astonishingly smooth.

And, of course, with a combination of new things I’ve tried, it will take a while to untangle the causes from the coincidences. Fortunately, I’m in no hurry.

I began the shave with washing my beard at the sink with MR GLO, then rinsing, then applying the last of The Shave Den pre-shave balm, rubbing it into my beard thoroughly with my fingertips. Then I showered, leaving the balm to do its thing.

Out of the shower, back at the sink, I washed my beard area again with MR GLO—habit—and then applied Nancy Boy Replenishing shaving cream, one of their two types: Signature is mint-eucalyptus and Replenishing is cucumber, so far as the fragrance is concerned. Both are designed to be used brushless if you want, but I do love to brush and they do make a modest sort of close-clinging lather. The fragrances are wonderful—the cucumber is very refreshing.

The Thäter is a redoubtable brush, and I like it a lot. It did me proud.

The Gillette Fat Boy, replated in rhodium by Razor Emporium, was using a Swedish Gillette blade of some uses, but I could tell it was doing a good job. The shaving balm, as I felt against the grain for any roughness during the final polishing pass, acted as an oil pass: same exact feeling in my left hand (pulling across the skin to find rough spots) and in my right (the razor sliding nicely through the roughness with a rush of tiny cutting sounds as the stubble fell).

I really do think the pre-shave balm contributed: I could tell as I felt the skin that the balm was still at work. I’m not a pre-shave sort of guy, but this stuff may be the ticket. Of course, it could be the Nancy Boy, but “oil-pass” feeling during the polishing pass was surely from the balm. In any event, I’ve now ordered a full jar for more testing. Any of you guys tried this?

The Nancy Boy aftershave balm is nice: a pea-sized amount in one hand, rub hands together, then rub face. Not bad.

The final result: Fantastic. This is what a morning shave should be. I’m set for the day!

Written by LeisureGuy

20 September 2011 at 8:21 am

Posted in Shaving

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