Later On

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

Archive for December 27th, 2006

So All May Eat, Inc.

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DesignVerb has a nice post on this nifty idea: a restaurant set up so that everyone can eat, with money or not. (And the menu looks pretty good, too.)

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Business, Food

Barbecue sauce from my childhood

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“Barbecue” at the time also referred to grilling—and no wimpy Webers: this was the 1940s, and a grill was open and used charcoal pieces, not briquettes. Webers and briquettes came much later. This sauce was created, so far as I know, by the guy who had the local Chevrolet dealership. I recall having it on grilled steaks. Very simple:

1 bottle Heinz ketchup (about 12 oz)
1 10-oz bottle Worcestershire
Juice of 2 big lemons
1 stick butter, melted
3 cloves crushed garlic

Mix with whisk. Baste meat as it grills.

It was yummy.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Recipes

Welsh rabbit

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I love a good Welsh rabbit (though this recipe uses the alternative “rarebit”). Great food for a cold night.

Welsh Rarebit
Time: About 20 minutes, plus cooling
Adapted from Fergus Henderson

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon mustard powder, or to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
¾ cup strong dark beer, like Guinness
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 pound Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, or a mixture), grated
4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread.

1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.

2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).

3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 or more servings.

Here are three others on the theme that I’ve had for years:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 6:36 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Spinach and lettuce may lower blood pressure

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Good news:

A type of nutrient found in vegetables like spinach and lettuce may be Mother Nature’s way of keeping blood pressure in check.

A small new study suggests the nitrates in many vegetables may keep blood vessels healthy and lower blood pressure.

Previous studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, can reduce blood pressure.

But it’s been difficult to determine exactly which nutrients in fruits and vegetables are responsible for these blood-pressure-lowering effects, researchers in this study say.

Nitrates Lower Blood Pressure

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences examined the effects of short-term nitrate supplementation in a group of 17 healthy, nonsmoking young adults.

Each participant rotated between taking a daily dose of nitrate supplement equivalent to the amount normally found in 150 to 250 grams of a nitrate-rich vegetable — such as spinach, lettuce, or beetroot — for three days, and taking a placebo for a different three days.

The results showed that average diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure measurement) was 3.7 mm Hg lower after three days of nitrate supplementation than it was after taking the placebo for three days.

The researchers say these benefits are similar to those found among healthy participants in the DASH trials and suggest that nitrates’ blood-pressure-lowering effects merit further study.

Roasted beets are really yummy, and the greens are tasty, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Food, Health, Science

The war plan for Iran

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Glenn Greenwald lays out the neoconservative war plan for Iran—and the neoconservatives still direct George Bush’s views. His post begins:

It is hardly news to point out that the warmongers and neoconservatives in the Bush movement are radical, and are becoming increasingly more desperate with the rapid worsening of the predicaments for which they are responsible.

But if you really spend intensive time digging deeply into the things they’ve been saying and thinking for the last five years — as I’ve been doing recently in writing my book — it is nonetheless astounding: (a) just how deranged and detached from basic reality are their statements and (b) that they have not been forcefully cast out of respectable and mainstream political dialogue as a result of what they say and how they think.

Neoconservatives have now become such caricatures of themselves that it almost pity-inducing to read what they are writing (though even the briefest reminder of the tragic damage they have wrought precludes any possibility of real pity). When it comes to operating within the minimum confines imposed by basic rationality and plain reality, neoconservatives really are indistinguishable from, say, Lyndon LaRouche or Fred Phelps or any number of other deranged extremists who are not merely radical in their ideology, but are so far removed from reality that they command no attention beyond the occasional derisive reference.

Yet there is little doubt that these same neoconservatives still exert the greatest influence on the thinking of our current President, and the more decorated among them still command great respect from our nation’s media stars. They are as bloodthirsty as they are detached from reality, as amoral as they are radical, and it is long past the time that just a fraction of the scorn that they so plainly merit be heaped upon them.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 5:08 pm

Get ready for more food-borne illness

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Thanks to the GOP. From TPMmuckraker:

Contaminated spinach, suspicious green onions, E. coli-laden lettuce — it seems like green vegetables are the newest threat to America.

Turns out there may be a reason: the Food and Drug Administration, charged with ensuring the country’s food safety, hasn’t gotten the funding to do the basic studies it needs to draft appropriate regulations. From today’s Baltimore Sun:

Recurring outbreaks of food-borne illness from contaminated produce are “unacceptable” in today’s society, the government says. But the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t done much of the basic research that would let it write regulations to fix the problem.Six years after the FDA first issued general guidance to the produce industry on how it might prevent contamination from microbes such as E. coli 0157:H7, experts say federal regulators still can’t answer key questions. . . .

Without such specifics, FDA talk of regulations to protect consumers from more outbreaks like the recent ones involving fresh spinach and Taco Bell restaurants could be little more than bureaucratic saber-rattling. . . .

In a business-friendly administration, many new regulatory efforts advance slowly, if at all. But the FDA’s predicament is more acute because an agencywide budget squeeze is putting disproportionate pressure on its foods program. . . .

An internal budget analysis prepared this summer, “FDA Financial Realities,” concluded that the FDA’s food program budget would need $176 million more in 2007 to provide roughly the same level of service as it did in 2003.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 4:52 pm

I still can’t understand the GOP

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They just can’t seem to take seriously their responsibilities. I mentioned this earlier, but here’s just a partial list:

Readers keep finding examples, so we keep growing our list of information products “disappeared” by the Bush administration which appear to have contradicted its policy preferences. We’re up to 28. You can see the complete list here. The latest:

* For more than a year, the Interior Department refused to release a 2005 study showing a government subsidy for oil companies was not effective.* The White House Office of National Drug Policy paid for a 5-year, $43 million study which concluded their anti-drug ad campaigns did not work — but it refused to release those findings to Congress. (Thanks to skeptic)

* In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission ordered destroyed all copies of an unreleased 2004 draft report concluding that media consolidation hurt local TV news coverage, which runs counter to the administration’s pro-consolidation stance. (Thanks to Jim Tobias)

* After Bush assumed power in 2001, the Department of Labor removed from its Web site “Don’t Work in the Dark — Know Your Rights,” a publication informing women of their workplace rights. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* The Department of Labor also removed from its Web site roughly two dozen fact sheets on women’s workplace issues such as women in management, earning differences between men and women, child care concerns, and minority women in the workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* In February 2004, the appointed head of the Office of Special Counsel — created to protect government employees’ rights — ordered removed from a government Web site information on the rights of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the public workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 4:49 pm

Democrats will run Congress fairly

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The GOP-controlled Congress was amazing in the way the Democrats were stifled at every turn. The GOP took a heavy-handed and overtly undemocratic approach:

Under the Republican majority, legislation was written without Dem input; bills were passed without letting Dems read it; Dems’ bills were denied hearings and votes; Dems weren’t allowed to offer amendments to legislation; Dems weren’t even allowed to use hearing rooms. If Dems managed to win a key vote on the floor, Republicans would simply keep the vote open — literally for hours, if necessary — until enough arms could be twisted and/or lawmakers bribed. Being a congressional Democrat in recent years was frequently nothing short of humiliating.

All in all, the GOP behaved abominably. And now they’re the minority. And how are they responding?

And on Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi and other House Dem leaders are making it quite clear that, regardless of how the GOP majority treated the minority over the last 12 years, Dems will take the high road and bring a more reasonable governing style back to Congress. As the NYT noted today, Pelosi gave Dennis Hastert the use of prime office space in the Capitol out of respect for his position; she reached out to House Minority Leader John Boehner to develop a task force to explore independent enforcement of ethics rules; and the Dem leadership issued a statement of principles that calls for regular consultation between the Democratic and Republican leaders on the schedule and operations of the House and declares that the heads of House committees should do the same.

A more detailed look at the situation—and how the GOP is determined to use Pelosi’s fairness against her—can be found here. The GOP is amazingly irresponsible, ignoring their duties and treating government as a game.

Here’s the story in the NY Times. A quote:

After chafing for years under what they saw as flagrant Republican abuse of Congressional power and procedures, the incoming majority has promised to restore House and Senate practices to those more closely resembling the textbook version of how a bill becomes law: daylight debate, serious amendments and minority party participation. …

In the House and Senate, the leadership is vowing to conduct full and open conference committees that reconcile differing legislation passed by the two chambers and produce a final bill. In recent years, those sessions have all but disappeared, with senior Republicans hashing out final versions behind closed doors, occasionally adding provisions passed by neither the House nor the Senate. Some of the major legislation approved in the final hours of the past Congress was written in private by just a few lawmakers and aides and rushed to the floor.

Democrats said the Republican majority typically refused to tell them even where the supposedly bicameral, bipartisan conference sessions were being held.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 4:25 pm

Excellent post of GOP overreach

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The whole sordid story is well worth reading. What contemptible and incompetent scum they are. Example from the link:

Then Chairman Dan Burton––who famously re-enacted the suicide of Clinton deputy White House counsel Vince Foster by shooting at what he called a “head-like thing” (later widely reported to be a melon) in his backyard–issued 1,089 such unilateral subpoenas in six years. Since a Republican entered the White House, the G.O.P. Congress has been far less enthusiastic in its oversight. Waxman likes to point out that the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony to get to the bottom of whether Clinton had misused the White House Christmas-card list for political purposes, but only 12 hours on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 4:08 pm

Taking the long view in scientific experiments

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Science

Another little savings plan

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The Simple Dollar has another savings plan for you to consider for the new year: the Abraham Lincoln Plan. (I blogged earlier about his first plan, the George Washington Plan.) If you’re not quite up to Lincoln, but want more than Washington, there’s the Thomas Jefferson Plan.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Good post about bad bosses

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Firedoglake has a great post about bad bosses. Some terrible bosses are mentioned, but this was the “winner”:

The winning entry described her boss as a millionaire dentist who, because so many patients canceled appointments on Sept. 11, 2001, took the money he would have made that day out of his employees’ paychecks.

The competition wasn’t easy. Consider this one:

And then there’s the fellow who dubs himself Karsh in Georgia, who says his new boss wrecked a well-functioning, creative team through back-biting, race-baiting, verbal abuse, and inappropriate snooping into people’s personal lives. Not to mention her penchant for making animal noises:

To make matters worse, she makes barnyard noises at inappropriate times. If she’s angry, she’ll bark and growl like a dog. If she’s tired, she whinnies like a horse. Mostly, she just walks up and down the hall making cicada-like noises. Her actions and behavior are the main reason we’ve had 50 percent turnover in the past year in our office.

The post also has some things one can do about such bosses.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Keeping things secret

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Here’s what I’m talking about in this earlier post: Conservatives seem to hate transparent government and the sharing of information. I don’t understand it.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 12:12 pm

Surprising calorie facts

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I planned today’s menu at 1505 calories, but it’s coming in at a whopping 1617. The problem: I thought I had chard, but in fact I had kale. For 17 oz. (dry, before cooking): chard 92 calories, kale 241 calories. Big difference.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 11:55 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Skype email toolbar

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A Skype toolbar you can add to Outlook, Outlook Express, or Thunderbird—Windows only, I fear, though I’m sure the Mac already has something better. Via Lifehacker.

Things you can do with Skype Email Toolbar

  • Call Skype Names and phone numbers written in emails
  • See when your contacts are online
  • Start instant messaging in follow up to emails
  • Add a Skype Button to your email signature, so other people can just click to call you

UPDATE: Well, maybe you can install it. I get a DLL error. I’ll wait to see whether it’s a bug to be fixed. In the meantime: boy, do I love A43, a (free) Windows Explorer replacement. I haven’t mentioned it for a while, but I use it all the time, and it’s just great.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 10:36 am

Posted in Skype, Software

Printable car activities for the kids

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Roadside Bingo

The Eldest will find this useful on car trips with the boys: printable car activities.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 10:29 am

Posted in Daily life

10 Great Resources for Saving & Investing

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Dumb Little Man points out some useful sites.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 10:26 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

What you can do with a Sharpie pen

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Justine

Well, maybe not you. But Justine Ashbee can. (Via Designverb) When you get to the site, click to enter.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 10:18 am

Posted in Art

Executive pay: if the needle’s in the red,

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bend the needle. The SEC took a familiar GOP approach: when the figures are alarming, don’t do anything about the situation. Instead, either stop reporting the figures altogether (e.g., classify them, scrub them from Web sites) or change the way the figures are defined or collected so that they look better, though the underlying situation continues to fester. AND report that on a very slow news day (late afternoon before a weekend or holiday).

Yep, the recipe’s been followed. I am working on a definition of what a principled conservative would be like, but this sort of thing makes me think that “principled conservative” is an oxymoron.

For example, conservatives—all conservatives, so far as I can tell—do not like to allow the common people access to information that they need to make good decisions. The conservatives bitterly fought the nutrition labeling requirements, for example. They simply did not want people to be able to know the nutritional value of the food they bought.

And here, once again, the conservatives do not want people to have clear information. In fact, conservatives seem to like secrecy and oppose open government, transparency, and accountability. I do not understand that.

Here’s the ugly story:

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move announced late on the last business day before Christmas, reversed a decision it had made in July and adopted a rule that would allow many companies to report significantly lower total compensation for top executives.

The change in the way grants of stock options are to be explained to investors is a victory for corporations that had opposed the rule when it was issued in July, and a defeat for institutional investors that had backed the S.E.C.’s original rule.

“It was a holiday present to corporate America,” Ann Yerger, the executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said yesterday. “It will certainly make the numbers look smaller in 2007 than they would otherwise have looked.”

Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said yesterday that he viewed the decision as “a relative technicality” that improved the rule. When the rule was adopted in July, Mr. Cox said it was aimed at providing information that would allow shareholders to “make better decisions about the appropriate amount to pay the men and women entrusted with running their companies.”

In announcing the new rule on Friday, he said “the new disclosure requirements will be easier for companies to prepare and for investors to understand.”

As controversy has grown over rising executive pay, it has been hard to even get agreement on the total value of compensation for top executives. The rules passed last summer required companies to disclose more information and to compile it in a summary compensation table that is expected to become the standard by which corporate pay is compared.

The new rule changes the way grants of stock options will be measured in that summary table.

Under the old rule, if a company awarded an options grant valued at $15 million to an executive this year, the full amount of $15 million would show up in the summary compensation table.

Under the new rule, which takes effect immediately, the amount reflected in the table would be much smaller, with the remaining part of the $15 million included in later years, as the executive qualifies to exercise the options.

Under some circumstances, the options grant might not be reported at all in the first year, even if the executive would otherwise have been the company’s highest paid executive had the full value of the option grant been included.

The new rule is intended to make the disclosures identical to the way companies report options expenses in their financial statements, under accounting standard 123R, as approved by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 9:37 am

Interesting memoir: Jesus Land

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Jesus Land, by Julia Scheeres, sounds like an interesting memoir. Here’s an excerpt.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2006 at 8:30 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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