Later On

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

Archive for July 3rd, 2012

Getting what you wish for: Blocking immigrant labor

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Interesting outcome from GOP efforts to block immigrant labor, reported in McClatchy by Tony Pugh:

On more than 10,000 acres of drained swampland in western New York, Maureen Torrey’s family farm grows an assortment of vegetables in the dark, nutrient-rich soil known as “Elba muck.” Like other farms in the area, Torrey Farms Inc. of Elba, N.Y., depends on seasonal labor, mainly undocumented field hands from Mexico, to pick, package and ship its cabbage, cucumbers, squash, green beans and onions throughout the nation.

With the peak harvest season at hand, Torrey’s concerns about a labor shortage are growing. A crackdown on illegal immigration, more job opportunities in Mexico and rising fees charged by smugglers are reducing the number of workers who cross the U.S. border illegally each year to help make up more than 60 percent of U.S. farmworkers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation projects $5 billion to $9 billion in annual produce-industry losses because of the labor shortages, which have become commonplace for farmers such as Torrey, who said there were 10 applicants for every job five years ago.

“In the last year that wasn’t the case,” she said. “We hired anybody that showed up for field work. It’ll be interesting to see how many people we have knocking on the door this year.”

With the cherry harvest under way in south-central Washington state, the Sage Bluff farmworker housing compound in Malaga is only half full, with nowhere near the 270 workers it can accommodate. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2012 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Business, GOP, Government

Terrific spam filter: SpamSieve

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OS X Mail program has a built-in spam filter that uses Bayesian inference to refine its filtering, but for some reason the filtering eventually clogs somehow, and no matter how many times I mark “Raspberry Ketone” (to pick one obnoxious example) as “junk”, it continues to show up in the inbox.

Today I reached my limit. I did a quick search and found SpamSieve, which had good reviews and looked good. I’ve now installed it, tweaked it (to get the icon off the dock), and started training it. Wow! It’s good. $30 (with 30-day free trial) and well worth it IMO. (I was getting a ton of spam a day—more Russian spam sites need to be closed down, but they pay off government officials and so are protected. Indeed, government officials may own the sites, for all I know.) But SpamSieve has delivered me from their clutches.

It also does iPhone and iPad spam filtering. And it handles a lot more than OS X Mail:

SpamSieve is a universal binary that runs natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs using Mac OS X 10.4 through 10.7. It is designed to work with the following e-mail programs:

  • Apple Mail from Mac OS X 10.4 and later.
  • Emailer 2.0v3, previously available from Claris.
  • Entourage v.X (2001) and later (Entourage 2004 or 2008 recommended) from Microsoft.
  • Eudora 5.x or 6.x (in Sponsored or Paid mode) from Qualcomm. SpamSieve will also work with Eudora 8.0.0b1 (a.k.a. Penelope) if you follow the Thunderbird instructions. It does not work with Eudora 8.0.0b2 or later.
  • GyazMail 1.2.0 (1.5.8 or later recommended).
  • MailForge 2.0.4 and later from Infinity Data Systems.
  • MailMate 1.1.2 and later from Freron Software.
  • Mailsmith 2.3.1 and later from Stickshift Software. (By applying this workaround you can use SpamSieve with Mailsmith 2.1.5.)
  • Outlook from Microsoft Office 2011 and later.
  • Outlook Express 5.0 and later from Microsoft.
  • Postbox 2.0 and later (not Postbox Express) from Postbox, Inc (non–Mac App Store version).
  • PowerMail 4.0 and later (6.x recommended) from CTM Development.
  • Thunderbird or 2.x from Mozilla. Thunderbird 3 and later are not compatible with plug-ins for Thunderbird 2.x, and due to changes in Thunderbird it does not look like it will be possible to create a SpamSieve plug-in for newer versions of Thunderbird. However, SpamSieve does work with Postbox, which is an enhanced version of Thunderbird.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2012 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Software

Bubble news

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The bubble has left the eye (and, presumably, the building). The Wife and I were have a social half-day with friends, I was telling about the bubble, very small this morning I noticed, and I looked down, and… no bubble! I haven’t been this pleased and excited about losing something since… well, my virginity, I suppose.

Appointment with ophthalmologist made already: Friday the 13th, as luck would have it. And then straight to to order progressive lenses. What a day!

Also had a wonderfully good visit, with much non-stop conversation from all.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2012 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Infrastructure and the increasing effects of climate change—and of privatization

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James Fallows has an excellent post worth reading. I will take one segment from it, but do click the link.

The segment deals with the effects of privatization. The GOP presents privatization as an unalloyed good thing—in part, of course, because they get a lot of money from companies eager to dig into the public till and take all that lovely taxpayer money (cf. Dick Cheney’s gift to Halliburton through the no-bid, blank-check, cost-plus contracts in Iraq: billions and billions going to Halliburton (and a good portion on to Cheney, who owned tons of stock from his time as CEO of Halliburton).

If you think the connection is not tight, note how carefully Gov. Christie protects the private corporation that now runs (or rather, mismanages with disastrous results) the halfway houses in New Jersey. Through a line-item veto (see story at the link), he has blocked the legislature from investigating just what is going on with so many escapees and resulting murders from the ineptly run (but doubtless highly profitable) enterprise. Christie, of course, is one of the industry’s minions in their raid on the public treasury. From the story at that link:

. . . In response to articles in The New York Times that detailed widespread violencegang activity, drug use and escapes plaguing the halfway houses, Mr. Christie ordered the Corrections Department last week to step up their inspections and the Legislature sought to increase their scrutiny.

After the governor’s vetoes, Democratic lawmakers on Friday denounced him, saying he was trying to protect Community Education Centers, the dominant halfway house operator, which has long had connections to prominent politicians of both parties.

A close friend and political adviser of Mr. Christie’s, William J. Palatucci, is a senior vice president at the company. Mr. Christie was registered as a lobbyist for the company in 2000 and 2001, when he was a private lawyer, and in recent years he has repeatedly visited and praised the company’s facilities.

Community Education received roughly $71 million of the $105 million that was spent on halfway houses in New Jersey in the fiscal year ending last June 30.

In an interview, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, a Democrat from Union County who is also an undersheriff, said the accusations against the halfway houses were so disturbing that the state should immediately pull inmates from them. Mr. Cryan said he was surprised by the line-item vetoes.

“He seems not to care about the obvious conflict of interest with his friend Bill Palatucci,” Mr. Cryan said. . .

So Christie was (and still is?) a recipient of money from the company.

Here’s the segment from Fallows’s column, in which he quotes an interesting article by Gregg Easterbrook:

Why people are mad at Pepco. I have nothing but admiration for the crews that are working in tough situations. But the electric company itself? It’s worth noting that this is a corporation, not a city utility, and Gregg Easterbrook explains the tradeoff it has made:

As the good-government website OurDC notes,”From 2008 to 2010, Pepco CEO Joe Rigby earned $8.8 million and Pepco top officers earned more than $22 million. During that same period, Pepco reported $882 million in profits, paid no federal and state income taxes and received $817 million in tax refunds.” Yet as the money rolled in, the Maryland Public Service Commission allowed Pepco to cut back on maintenance, in order to divert funds to dividends and management bonuses….

Pepco faces a simple reliability equation: The more it spends on improving service, the less is available for dividends and executive bonuses. CEO Rigby is a major shareholder, so in effect awards himself a commission when he keeps infrastructure spending low and dividends high. After the mega-thunderstorm, Dominion Power [another provider in the area] took 14 hours to restore all its transformers and main feeder lines… while Pepco took 36 hours… Within 48 hours of the storm, Dominion had 2,000 out-of-state workers present to assist in restoration; Pepco had just 300. If Pepco drags its feet on recovery, the utility avoids paying doubletime or tripletime, plus expenses, to out-of-state crews.

You see how very profitable it is for companies to get the government to discontinue a service by outsourcing it to private industry, which can then milk it for all it’s worth by degrading service and diverting the money to their own personal pockets.

This is strikingly similar to the way the Mafia in New York would spot a good restaurant and tell the manager, “We’re now partners.” Then the Mafia would simply cash out the restaurant: selling good stock, replacing with cheaper stock, getting rid of employees to replace them with their people, and so on, until the restaurant goes under, but so what? They’ve made their money and they can move on to the next.

Private companies are not the way to do government services. Private companies want only to make money; government services want to serve the public. There is good and bad on both sides, but I see the bad predominantly happening on the private-sector side. I’m open to counter-examples, of course. Pepco is an example of how services degrade with privatization, while individual grow wealthy.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2012 at 9:54 am

A new (old) Slant and a wonderful brush

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I just received (from Italy) a NOS Slant from a bygone era. White bakelite, but with metal inserts for threads, it’s quite light (in weight as well as color), but the performance is excellent. But let’s begin at the beginning.

Pre-shave wash with Whole Foods 365 glycerin soap, which I’ll highly recommend in the next edition. Note that the pre-shave soap is a soap, and so does not work well with hard water: rather than lubricating the beard, the soap scum that forms from soaps when subjected to hard water has the opposite effect. Of course, a distilled water shave is an easy workaround for those who must endure hard water—and it really is easy, as you know if you’ve tried it a few times. (Experience naturally helps.)

The Omega silvertip brush shown is one of the softest fluffiest brushes I have. No problem in creating a lather from soap, of course: just load it at length as usual, and the lather is wonderful and the touch of the brush is unbelievably gentle. This is really a terrific brush: like a gentle caress from a warm, soft hand. And as usual, Otoko Organics provided a rich, creamy lather that’s wonderful for the skin.

The Slant shaves impeccably. The light weight turns out to be no problem at all, since a Slant requires light pressure in any event. And it did a very fine job indeed, with the usual Slant efficiency and efficacy. This is similar to the Merkur Slant in having the twist so that the blade’s slant (from upper left to lower right) is the same on both sides. There is no brand name on box or razor, but it’s an excellent shaver and, of course, a super travel razor—especially for a backpacker: three-piece, so it disassembles into a very compact package, and very light in weight: 0.6 oz, including the blade.

A splash of Paul Sebastian, and I’m good to go.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2012 at 9:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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