Later On

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

Archive for August 11th, 2014

Very cool bike—still a prototype

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Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 7:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Anki, a great tool for learning a language (and much else besides)

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Anki (free) is a terrific tool for learning anything that requires some level of memorization—which almost everything does, but particularly language: vocabulary must be learned, and though the affix system of Esperanto helps a lot, the roots must still be learned.

Take a look a these excellent comments on Anki and its power.

And note this partial list of decks available:

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.53.51 AM


It should be noted, however, that it’s a very good idea to build your own deck from the book you are working from: it helps you learn the material just from building the deck, and it’s also convenient that the deck matches the book.


Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 11:33 am

NY Times discovers (belatedly) what “torture” means

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A completely unimpressive and very belated realization by the NY Times. It’s hard to respect the integrity of that publication. The Times does have some good reporters, but the editors seem to live in another world.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 11:20 am

Posted in NY Times, Torture

Patent office hides its errors in report to Inspector General

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Lisa Rein writes in the Washington Post:

Prompted by multiple whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began an internal investigation two years ago of an award-winning program that’s been praised in and outside government: Employees are allowed to work from home.

What the inquiry uncovered was alarming.

Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top agency officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.

Oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was “completely ineffective,” investigators concluded.

But when it came time last summer for the patent office to turn over the findings to its outside watchdog, the most damaging revelations had disappeared. The report sent to Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser concluded that it was impossible to know if the whistleblowers’ allegations of systemic abuses were true.

“What we hoped to see was an unfiltered response,” Zinser said.“That’s not what this was. It’s a lot less sensational. The true extent of the problem was not being conveyed to us.”

The original findings, by contrast, raise “fundamental issues” with the business model of the patent office, which oversees an essential function of U.S. commerce, said Zinser, who was provided a copy of the original by a patent official.

The patent office, while relatively obscure, plays a crucial role in supporting the nation’s commerce and economic development. But the agency’s army of examiners and other officials has been falling behind, with a backlog of patent applications swelling to more than 600,000 and estimated waiting times of more than five years.

The Washington Post obtained copies of the internal report and the version provided to the inspector general, which at 16 pages is half the length of the original.

Both reports conclude . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 10:55 am

World champion yo-yo

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When I was in elementary school and junior high (1946-53, roughly), yo-yo experts were sent to schoolyards around the country to amaze kids during recess—and it did indeed send us all running to the store to buy a yo-yo. Duncan yo-yos were the best, and the experts probably were financed by the company. Most, as I recall, were Filipino. None were as good as this guy, but they were damned good.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 10:20 am

Posted in Daily life

Michael Mann gets his day in court

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Paul Krugman explains the issues well:

If climate change doesn’t scare you, and our failure to act doesn’t inspire despair, you’re not paying attention. And the great sin of the climate deniers is their role in delaying action, quite possibly until it’s too late.

But there are other, smaller evils; and one that strikes close to home for me is the campaign of personal destruction waged against Michael Mann.

Mann, as some of you may know, is a hard-working scientist who used indirect evidence from tree rings and ice cores in an attempt to create a long-run climate record. His result was the famous “hockey stick” of sharply rising temperatures in the age of industrialization and fossil fuel consumption. His reward for that hard work was not simply assertions that he was wrong — which he wasn’t — but a concerted effort to destroy his life and career with accusations of professional malpractice, involving the usual suspects on the right but also public officials, like the former Attorney General of Virginia.

As you can imagine, I find it easy to put myself in Mann’s shoes; obviously a lot of people would like to do something similar to me, although they haven’t (yet?) found a suitable line of attack.

Now for the slightly encouraging news: Mann filed suit against National Review for defamation. And as D.R. Tucker points out at Washington Monthly, the latest response from NR sounds very much like a publication running scared.

Also encouraging is the evident inability of NR to understand how you defend against a charge of defamation. You don’t repeat the false allegations — sorry, guys, but courts also have access to Google and Nexis, and can find that all the charges have been rejected in repeated inquiries. You try, instead, to show that you made the allegations in good faith. But of course they didn’t.

Good for Mann in standing up here; he’s doing all of us a service.

The articles at the links are interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 10:07 am

Posted in Global warming, GOP, Law

Mr. Pomp, HTGAM Chocolate Bourbon, and the Stealth

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SOTD 11 Aug 2014A very nice shave with a BBS finish.

Mr. Pomp (the brush) made a great lather quite easily from HTGAM’s Chocolate Bourbon shaving soap, and the razor stealthily removed every trace of stubble, easily and with no sign of a nick. A good splash of Stirling Vetiver aftershave—as you see, this aftershave is witch hazel and aloe vera, very nice—finished the job and started the week in fine style.


Written by LeisureGuy

11 August 2014 at 10:00 am

Posted in Shaving

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