Archive for May 30th, 2008
And very easy to cook. They’re boneless in the sense that some watermelons are seedless: they have bones/seeds, but they’re so soft it makes no difference.
I washed them, pulled the heads off (which cleans them), shook them in a plastic bag with seasoned flour, sautéed them in olive oil (or butter), drained them on paper towels, squirted the juice of a lemon over them—man, they were tasty. I’ll get more tomorrow.
Matthew Blake in the Washington Independent points to an interesting story:
Tim Shorrock at Salon has a great piece of investigative reporting on, what he calls, “the intelligence industrial complex.” Shorrock chronicles how White House officials and contractors have benefited financially from the “war on terror,” while leaving open the question of how the arrangements have affected intelligence gathering.
About 70 percent of the $50 billion budget for America’s spy agencies goes to private contractors, often run by people that just left the Pentagon or intelligence community. Roger Creasey, the national security council’s deputy director under Bill Clinton, says that the connections made working for spy agencies is “liquid gold” in the private sector. Joan Dempsey, a former top intelligence official in both the Clinton and Bush administration, is now vice-president of Booz Allen, a company she likes to see as a “shadow intelligence community.”
Dick Armitage’s business practices are specifically targeted. While Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, Armitage had cultivated an image of an administration maverick critical of the Iraq War. Now Armitage splits time amongst being adviser for the McCain campaign, adviser to the Pentagon, and a stakeholder in several companies profiting off the war Armitage opposed.
Coverage of Iraq War contracting has been largely critical, citing waste, fraud, and abuse. Some suggest that the contractors are actually counterproductive to the military’s efforts. That conclusion is not in Shorrock’s Salon piece, which is excerpted from a book he just completed. It would be interesting to find out how making the spying trade a for-profit business has hurt or helped intelligence agencies.
Amazing story about renewable carbon-neutral gasoline by Jozef Winter at EcoGeek:
… Sapphire Energy, a California-based company, has been working away to create actual gasoline from a renewable, carbon neutral source: algae. While we’ve heard of many different processes for making fuels from algae, this one certainly tops the list. They’ve managed to produce 91-octane, ASTM certified gasoline, ready to be pumped into your car. They stress that it is not ethanol, and not biodiesel.
Move over Brent Crude, it’s Green Crude’s turn.
The company, they say, started with 3 friends discussing a very interesting question: “Why is the biofuel industry spending so much time and energy to manufacture ethanol — a fundamentally inferior fuel?” A very good question indeed, and one they sought to answer on their own terms. The friends – a bioengineer, a chemist, and a biologist – set out to recruit the best minds they could find to collaborate with them on the project, and the results are staggering. “The company has built a revolutionary platform using sunlight, CO2 and microorganisms such as algae” to produce the fuel, without the use of arable land, and while we haven’t yet seen any data, they claim it to be very water efficient.
They also announced that they raised $50 million from Arch Rock Ventures, Venrock, and the Wellcome Trust. It is evident that Sapphire will become a major player in the coming years for alternative fuel production, and one cannot help but be inspired with confidence when Arch Rock says: “We realized at that point we could change the world, so we sat them down and told them, ‘the checkbook is completely open; tell us what you need’.” Not a statement you hear everyday from a venture capital firm. …
… Greensulation is a renewable and biodegradeable insulation currently undergoing testing, and when it hits the market – potentially as soon as 2010 – it will be the first of its kind in the industry. The insulation is made mainly of rice hulls, mushroom roots and recycled paper, which are mixed together with water and hydrogen peroxide, placed in plastic containers, and put in a dark place where it can literally grow into shape. It is then baked to stop photosynthesis of mold and spores, and voila! – a rigid panel of insulation that can withstand heat up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenehit. The best part is it can be done cheaply since it utilizes agro-garbage and easily obtained ingredients, and contains no petroleum.
The product is proven to be fire retardant – far more so than common pink insulation products – but is still under testing to make sure it can resist mold growth and conforms to strict building codes. But building companies all over the world are already contacting the inventors at Ecovative wanting to know more about the innovation. …
This looks like a nice watch. Gearlog says:
The Pathfinder is shock-proof and extreme temperature- and water-resistant at up to 200 meters deep. It comes equipped with a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. The Ultimate Pathfinder includes Casio’s self-adjusting technology, solar power and Waveceptor Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping Technology—meaning no need to change the time manually for Daylight Saving Time or leap years
The Ultimate Pathfinder includes a large LCD screen for reading the time, graphs, and measurements. One-touch sensor buttons leads to direct operation of sensors and means no scrolling through menus to get the measurements you need quickly. Button guards prevent against accidental operation of sensors and enhance the practicality of the Ultimate Pathfinder.
The PAW1500-1V is currently available in black resin at Macy’s stores for $350 list. The same Pathfinder model is also available with a titanium band, model PAW1500T-7V, at other Macy’s for $400.
I bought a pound of them yesterday, so tonight is big smelt night. I’m hesitating between broiling and sautéing. Do you have any favorite smelt recipes?
Seems like an excellent idea for a Bloody Mary. And here are plenty more good ideas for infusing vodka.
If you do conference calls on Skype, for example, you might well want to record them. Or if you do a phone interview, you might find recording it to be helpful. Or if you’re making arrangements by phone for a get-together and you’re worried that the details are going to be too numerous to remember and you don’t want to take notes while talking. Here’s how. Free, of course.
Penzu offers a good way to keep a journal on the Web. It doesn’t need to be a personal journal, obviously: it can be a project journal (if you provide the sign-in info to all members of the team, all can contribute); it can be a purpose-specific journal (e.g., a dinner journal, a job-search journal, a fitness journal, a course journal (whether as teacher or student), a book journal, etc..
Dustin Wax has an excellent post on eBooks: the various formats, where to find them, and how to read them. Worth bookmarking as a reference for when the eBook readers finally get good enough to buy.
A very good post by Hilzoy in Political Animal:
“In an encounter last night in the lobby of a New York Hotel, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan apologized for denouncing a former White House colleague, Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism advisor, after Clarke wrote a book highly critical of the Bush administration in 2004.Now McClellan is facing a similar denunciation from the White House for his own highly critical book.
“I should have known how personal it would get when they went after me, well, I mean, after what I said about you”, Clarke says McClellan told him in the lobby of New York’s Essex House.
“I think I can forgive you now”, Clarke says he replied.
“I’d like to ask you to”, McClellan reportedly answered.”
I have mixed feelings about McClellan. As best I can tell, what changed his mind about the Bush administration was having Rove and Libby completely destroy his credibility (what there was of it) by lying to his face so that he could repeat their lies in public. That was, in fact, a terrible thing to do. But, as this encounter makes clear, it’s not as though McClellan didn’t know that people were having their good name savaged by the White House. It’s not even as though he had not willingly participated in that savaging. But he never seems to have thought that it could happen to him.
That’s a hard thing, and part of me sympathizes. But another part thinks: you should figure out what’s wrong with trashing someone and destroying his credibility when you do it to someone else. You shouldn’t have to wait until it happens to you.
That said, better late than never, I guess. I can only hope that some of the people who once defended this administration are open-minded enough to notice how many erstwhile members of the Bush administration have come out with memoirs saying essentially the same thing, and how the administration trots out essentially the same talking points against all of them. You’d think that if so many ex-White House people were “disgruntled former employees”, that might raise questions about whether something in the White House had given them cause to be disgruntled. And you might wonder why, if all of them had somehow gone insane or been eaten up by bitterness or were trying for massive book payments, they all came out with the same set of criticisms.
One can only hope.
He gives a really high-class reason for our invasion of Iraq. Via ThinkProgress:
Later, of course, he continually said that “in six more months” things would be better, or “the next six months is critical” or decisive or whatever—so frequently did he trot our the “next six months” that Atrios defined “the next six months” as a Friedman Unit (or FU).
Via Lifehacker (and check the Lifehacker link for links to other good tips), this video shows one way to dice an onion. My own method is slightly different: I exploit the fact that onions grow in layers. So I cut off both top and bottom before slicing the onion vertically (through the poles, as it were). I then peel off the brown papery skin, as she does, and slice the onion into slices down through length and then across. In other words, I don’t do the horizontal cuts: the onion will fall apart as you work it into whatever dish you’re making (for example, while you toss the salad or sauté the onion) separating itself on the layer lines. Is that clear?
The desire for vengeance is strong among humans—and destructive, which is probably why God reserved it for Himself. (Hebrews 10:30, New American Standard Bible: “For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’” and Romans 12:19: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.”) And Jared Diamond points out in this interesting article that a state could hardly survive its citizens reserving vengeance for themselves. The article begins:
In 1992, when Daniel Wemp was about twenty-two years old, his beloved paternal uncle Soll was killed in a battle against the neighboring Ombal clan. In the New Guinea Highlands, where Daniel and his Handa clan live, uncles and aunts play a big role in raising children, so an uncle’s death represents a much heavier blow than it might to most Americans. Daniel often did not even distinguish between his biological father and other male clansmen of his father’s generation. And Soll had been very good to Daniel, who recalled him as a tall and handsome man, destined to become a leader. Soll’s death demanded vengeance.
Daniel told me that responsibility for arranging revenge usually falls on the victim’s firstborn son or, failing that, on one of his brothers. “Soll did have a son, but he was only six years old at the time of his father’s death, much too young to organize the revenge,” Daniel said. “On the other hand, my father was felt to be too old and weak by then; the avenger should be a strong young man in his prime. So I was the one who became expected to avenge Soll.” As it turned out, it took three years, twenty-nine more killings, and the sacrifice of three hundred pigs before Daniel succeeded in discharging this responsibility.
Countee Cullen was one of the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and today is the anniversary of his birth in 1908. His early life was complex:
Cullen was born with the name Countee LeRoy Porter and was abandoned by his parents at birth. He was raised by his grandmother, Mrs. Porter, but because he was very secretive about his life, it is unclear where he was actually born. Scholars state he was either born in Louisville, Kentucky, or Baltimore. Later in his life, Cullen said he was born in New York City. It is known that he attended Townsend Harris High School for one year and then transferred to DeWitt Clinton High School in New York and received special honors in Latin studies in 1922.
In 1918, Mrs. Porter died. Cullen was subsequently adopted by Reverend Frederick Ashbury Cullen, minister at Salem Methodist Episcopal Church in Harlem, and thus Cullen was raised a Methodist. Throughout his unstable childhood his birth mother never attempted to contact Cullen, and would not attempt to do so until sometime in the 1920s, after he’d become famous.
Graduating from New York University in 1925 as Phi Beta Kappa, he was already writing some of the acclaimed poems published in books by Harper and Brothers: Color (1925), Copper Sun (1927). He won first prize in the Witter Bynner Contest in 1925. Graduating with a Harvard University M.A. degree in 1926, the poet traveled to France as a Guggenheim Fellow. Upon his return in 1928, he married Yolanda Du Bois, daughter of W.E.B. Du Bois, in a prominent celebration. She divorced him two years later, saying that he told her he was sexually attracted to men.
From 1934 on, Cullen taught English and French at the Frederick Douglas Junior High School, though he declined a Creative Literature invitation from Fisk University in Nashville. In 1940 he married an old friend, Ida Mae Roberson.
His favorite poet was John Keats, but his own work also included plays. In 1935 he translated Medea by Euripedes, seven choruses of which were set to music by Virgil Thompson. His one act play, The Third Fourth of July, ran for 113 performances at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway, introducing Pearl Bailey as Butterfly.