Later On

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

Archive for July 9th, 2014

Amazing screen credit sequence…

leave a comment »

And the look leads directly into the geometry of the opening shot: The Thieves. Very nicely done.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

The body count keeps going up: 54 Palestinian civilians killed in airstrikes

leave a comment »

So: 3 Israelis brutally murdered. Then 1 Palestinian brutally murdered (burned alive). Then, tit for tat, 54 … wait, Palestinians.

The numbers go up fast. And yet the Palestinians still find it difficult to like the Israelis.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

leave a comment »

Boy, there’s some good writing out today. Read this one.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Russia, closing down: Authoritarians in charge

leave a comment »

Well written but somewhat depressing. Still: worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Strong words well stated on Israeli/Palestinian conflict

leave a comment »

Read this column by Raja Shehadeh in the New Yorker.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Mideast Conflict

7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly garbage journalism

leave a comment »

Christopher Ingraham reports in the Washington Posti:

Voter ID laws are back in the news this week after a group of college students joined a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s new restrictive rules. And as Catherine Rampell pointed out earlier this week, it’s not just ID laws – Republican state legislatures have been busy devising all manner of creative ways to make voting more difficult for traditionally Democratic-leaning groups.

All of these restrictive measures take their justification from a perceived need to prevent “voter fraud.” But there is overwhelming scholarly and legal consensus that voter fraud is vanishingly rare, and in fact non-existent at the levels imagined by voter ID proponents. That hasn’t stopped many Republican lawmakers from crying “fraud” every time they’re faced with an unfavorable election outcome (see also: McDaniel, Chris).

For reference, a round-up of the latest research is below. Let me know in the comments if I missed anything. . .

Continue reading.

And, of course, a Republican official in Florida, I believe it was, said quite openly that the purpose of the laws was to reduce Democratic turnout in elections. Pure and simple. That’s the goal, and if you look at the measures passed, that is exactly the (intended) effect.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Another example of garbage news—but the garbage gets thrown back

leave a comment »

The video clip is well worth watching, and also read the post.

And I will say that anyone who deliberately shuts off water to (for example) disabled shut-ins has something seriously wrong with them.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

What Happens When Penalties for Pot Smoking Are Reduced? Hardly Anything

leave a comment »

Well, one thing happens: people aren’t made to suffer so much for smoking pot, going to prison less often and for shorter sentences. I imagine they would see that as a big win, and so would I. Tom Jacobs writes in Pacific Standard:

As Washington becomes the second American state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, and Washington, D.C., moves toward decriminalization of the drug, critics worry that these changes in the law will alter people’s behavior. As pot becomes less stigmatized, they argue, more people will be tempted to start lighting up.

California Governor Jerry Brown put these concerns in the form of a (presumably) rhetorical question this past spring, asking: “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”

Recently published research from the U.K. suggests the governor can chill. It finds the 2004 “declassification” of marijuana in that nation, in which penalties for possession were drastically reduced, apparently had very little effect on people’s behavior.

“Our findings suggest essentially no increases in either cannabis consumption, consumption of other drugs, crime, and other forms of risky behavior,” writes economist Nils Braakmann of Newcastle University and his co-author, Simon Jones. Their research is published in the August issue of the journal Social Science and Medicine.

In 2004, cannabis was declassified from a Class B to a Class C drug in the U.K. This “led to a large reduction in the potential punishment for cannabis possession,” lowering the maximum penalty from five years to two, and also reducing fines. . .

Continue reading.

Really: we’re spending billions of dollars every year to enforce laws against something for which the usage would change not at all if we simply made it legal, started taxing it, and close down our paramilitary/military/law-enforcement money-pit. That’s what we spending all that money for—and ruining all those lives, including deaths of law-enforcement officers as well as criminals and innocent bystanders (e.g., shot to death in a SWAT team serving a summons through no-knock entry with flash-bang grenades, only to discover that they (the SWAT team) were at the wrong house, and that actually happens—repeatedly). That is, we incur those losses in order to make zero change in behavior.

Is there something wrong with this picture?

Now that is reporting that should (but probably won’t) change people’s views to better coincide with reality. But many will continue to cling to old beliefs. Evidence schmedivence.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 1:03 pm

Advice on how the Obama administration can learn from the IRS’s data mess

leave a comment »

Fascinating article about a guy trying to get public records available on-line, and what he ran into at the IRS. Worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 12:52 pm

A wonderful and insightful takedown of Vox by comparing it to FiveThirtyEight

leave a comment »

This one is really worth reading and thinking about. The problem with going along with journalist/pundits like Yglesias is that having factually incorrect beliefs can lead to enormously bad decisions—find your own favorite example. So the first requirement is to reflect reality, not provide yet another layer of false belief? Garbage in, garbage out, and our media basically feed us garbage. And guess what…

And I’m not talking about “liberal media,” I’m talking about simple failure to report facts (I’m looking at you, Fox News) and failure to note that a “balanced” argument on evolution with two points of view: that of an evolutionary biologist and that of a creationist. Just presenting that implies that the sides are balanced, not that one is as established a scientific fact as you’re likely to find, with evidence in every branch of biology and the ability to see it happening and even to start to figure out the code and how it evolved, and the other view is a counterfactual religious myth from just one of the myriad world religions (and one that doesn’t seem to care about the environment and what happens to it), a myth taken a tad too literally. That’s not balance, but that’s the sort of tripe we get from most media.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Media

Food Labelled ‘Organic’ Can Have Shocking Levels of Heavy Metals

leave a comment »

Imported foods, mostly—I hope. Ari LeVaux has the story at AlterNet:

Heavy metal pollution makes no distinction between how crops are grown. Irrespective of whether farming practices are organic or conventional practices are used, if the likes of cadmium, arsenic, lead, nickel and mercury are in the soil, water or air they can contaminate food and poison the people who consume it. With enough exposure, heavy metals can build up in the body, causing chronic problems in the skin, intestine, nervous system, kidneys, liver, and brain. Some heavy metals occur naturally in soil, but rarely at toxic levels, while human activities like mining, manufacturing and the use of synthetic materials like paint, and even some agricultural chemicals, can release heavy metals into the air and water, and from there they find their way to the soil. And once in the soil, heavy metals are virtually impossible to remove.

China acknowledged last April that a staggering one-fifth of its arable land is seriously polluted with heavy metals, thanks to decades of aggressive industrial development. China’s Environmental Protection Ministry looked at data sampled between 2006 and 2013 and described the situation as “not optimistic.” The most commonly found heavy metals were cadmium, nickel and arsenic. The revelation came after months of speculation about the report, which at one point was not going to be released as the results were considered to be a “State Secret.”

Cadmium, one of the metals found in high concentrations in Chinese soil, is one of the most toxic heavy metal pollutants. It moves through soil layers with ease, and is taken up by a variety of plants, including leafy vegetables, root crops, cereals and grains. Last year it was discovered that nearly half of the rice for sale in the southern China city of Guangzhou was tainted with cadmium, which caused a major uproar.

Nickel and arsenic, the other two pollutants found in greatest amounts, aren’t so great either.

In the U.S., arsenic in apple juice has been on the popular radar since September 2011, when Mehmet Oz reported high arsenic levels in multiple samples of apple juice that were independently tested for his television show. More than half of the apple juice consumed in the U.S. comes from China.

Oz was taken to the woodshed for being alarmist by a number of experts and authorities, including the FDA, which disputed the results with its own data. ABC News’ senior health medical editor, Richard Besser, called Oz’s claims “extremely irresponsible,” comparing it to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

A few weeks later, FDA admitted it had withheld many test results which did, in fact, support Oz’s claim. Besser apologized to Oz on national television, and soon after the FDA collected about 90 retail samples of apple juice for a new round of analysis. According to FDA documents now available, the levels reported by Oz are in fact consistent with those detected by the agency in samples from China and Turkey.

Last year the agency set a limit, also known as an “action level,” on arsenic in juice, at 10 parts per billion, the same level that’s enforced in drinking water. Currently, FDA has import alerts set for four firms, two each in China and Turkey. The products of these companies, while regularly tested for arsenic because of previous violations of the action level, continue to be imported.

While China is not the only polluted region from which we import food, with a combination of aggressive industrial development and legendarily lax enforcement, it’s become a poster child for scary food imports. But any region with rapid industrial development and suspect environmental regulations could be a candidate for producing food contaminated with heavy metals.

While we don’t import a huge amount of food from China overall, we do consume large amounts of certain things in addition to apple juice, like garlic and farmed seafood—including 80 percent of the tilapia we eat. Much of China’s surface water, including water used for aquaculture, is polluted, not only with industrial toxins but also with agricultural fertilizers, which fuel the growth of algae. Algae can accumulate heavy metals, as will the fish that eat it. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 11:04 am

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

leave a comment »

Interesting return to targeting people based on their religious beliefs: no other evidence necessary, apparently. Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain report at The Intercept:

The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

  • Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
  • Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;\
  • Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
  • Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
  • Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.

“I just don’t know why,” says Gill, whose AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 8:26 am

Stealth vs. iKon DLC Slant, with Mike’s Natural

leave a comment »

SOTD 9 July 2014

I’m not sure why my flash did so poorly but I suspect it’s due to reflection from where the label doesn’t cover the lid.

At any rate: I used palm-lathering since Mike’s Natural is one of the soaps that did not work so well with my wet-brush lathering method, and I have to say that palm-lathering this soap works a lot better than my other method: it was easy to work more water into the lather (which this soap seems to like), and the result was extremely nice, both fragrance and lather.

Both the Stealth and the iKon DLC slant are excellent razors. The iKon seemed to glide a little easier, which I attribute to a combination of its greater mass and the polished DLC coating. In particular, the coating seems to contribute to the glide.

The other spot to check was to compare under-the-nose performance. The iKon seemed to be easier to use in the WTG pass than the Stealth, but the XTG and ATG passes were equally easy, I would say. But shaving under the nose has not been a problem for me—perhaps physiognomy, perhaps technique, perhaps a combination. But the iKon did feel a bit less bulky.

Both razors gave a very smooth and easy shave. I continue to like the SE handle on the iKon and was wondering what it would look like if the polished portion of the handle, just above the knob at the end, were given a DLC coating (for looks, not function: I don’t think one would particularly want a DLC-coated smooth handle, though I’d certainly be willing to try—and in that case, the matte rather than the polished finish would be better).

A good splash of Stirling Vetiver finished the shave, and the result is a BBS, nick-free finish.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 July 2014 at 8:06 am

Posted in Shaving

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: