Archive for October 2009
Sometimes you get a head of garlic and pop off a nice-sized clove of garlic only to discover that it’s made of a couple of dozen nano-cloves. Highly annoying. I just throw those away as too small to bother with.
Chicken is going into the oven…
The guest blogger today is the Nobel prize-winning Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, by way of HuffPost. As you’ll see, he’s the mirror image of Bush’s Energy Secretary (see “Bodman as Orwell: DOE erases ‘most successful’ weatherization program from website“).
I’ve always been a bit of an energy efficiency nut.
I’ve made it my mission to cut the utility bills at every home we’ve owned. Long before I learned about the risks of climate change, I was fanatical about energy efficiency because I’m cheap.
Whenever my wife and I move into a new home, I check the attic for adequate insulation. I look for leaks around doors and windows and install a programmable thermostat if needed. In our latest home, I’ve also insulated our water pipes with inexpensive foam from our local hardware store and painted mastic sealant on the seams of the air ducts. When our hot water heater needed replacement, we installed a tank-less water heater which decreased our summer-time gas use by 50%. In the summer, we found that setting the thermostat at 77 – 78 degrees and a gentle breeze from a fan was all that is required to be comfortable.
So far, we are on track to cut our utility bills by about half compared to the previous owner, but we are doing more. Our home has two large skylights that funnel too much heat out in the winter and let too much heat in the summer. We intend to replace these older windows with modern widows with five times the efficiency.
Taking these steps is called “weatherization.” I would rather call it “saving money by saving energy.” Over the next several years, we want to help millions of American families seize the same opportunity to cut their utility bills by making their homes and appliances more energy efficient while increasing comfort.
We are making a major down payment on this effort through the President’s economic recovery plan.
First, the Recovery Act expanded tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades to your home. If you purchase and install certain energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, or heating and cooling equipment, you can receive a tax credit for 30% of the cost, up to $1,500. For example, if insulating your attic costs around $1,600, you’ll receive a $480 tax credit, and you could save up to $200 on your utility bill each year.
Second, we are launching an innovative new effort called “Retrofit Ramp Up” that will simplify and reduce the cost of home retrofits by funding pioneering programs that reach whole neighborhoods and towns. If we can energy audit and retrofit a reasonable fraction of the homes in any given residential block, the cost will be greatly reduced. Programs such as these will decrease barriers to saving money: inconvenience, inertia, and inadequate information. We want to make home energy efficiency upgrades irresistible and a social norm for homeowners.
This effort could offer homeowners innovative ways to finance the upfront investments they can’t afford on their own. For example, homeowners might receive a loan for an energy improvement and pay back the principal and interest over time via an assessment on their property tax bill. The homeowners might pay an extra $400 per year on their property tax bill but save $500 a year on their utility bill. Since the financing would be attached to the property tax bill, both the savings and the loan payments stay with the house if the owners decide to sell.
What’s 4 Dinner Solutions has a very tasty sounding set of recipes:
I know this sounds like a crazy recipe, but the Garlic, Garlic Chicken is a keeper. The garlic roasts to a nice, nutty, sweet flavor, perfect with a slice of bread. Friends made this for me and after the first bite, I was sold, I couldn’t believe how good it was. The Sliced Pepper Salad came about because I was at the store last week and they had a huge sale on peppers of every color. Each one has a different flavor, so I didn’t want to do much too overwhelm that, but you can add sliced onion if it appeals to you. Get a really good Artisan bread and you’ve got a dinner that takes less than 20 minutes to prep.
On the board tonight:
- Garlic, Garlic Chicken
- Loaf of a good crusty Artisan bread
- Sliced Pepper Salad
- Hot Apple Cider with Ginger Snaps
Continue reading for the recipes of the items in bold. Sounds easy—and I’m going to do it!
UPDATE. Man, from 45 minutes on the fragrance of the roasting chicken/garlic is tantalizing. Still have 15 minutes to go. I can’t stand it.
Although the GOP is still talking about "death panels" in their efforts to kill healthcare reform, they’re also getting ready to attack Net Neutrality—again, relying heavily on distortions and lies since they seem unable to come up with any reasonable basis for their opposition (just as with healthcare reform). Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress:
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to move forward with regulations to preserve the open architecture of the Internet. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is trying to make our current system’s “net neutrality” official by ensuring that broadband providers “cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications” and are “transparent about their network management practices.” That same day, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced legislation to block the FCC, inexplicably arguing that preserving net neutrality would be a “government takeover of the Internet.”
Yesterday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) held a conference call with bloggers to discuss net neutrality. He and Rep. Anna Eschoo (D-CA) have introduced legislation — which currently has seven co-sponsors — to “establish overarching national broadband policy and ensures an open and consumer oriented Internet.” Markey stressed the importance of fighting “misinformation,” invoking death panels and the other red herrings the right wing slung into this summer’s health care debate:
As you all know, a lot is being written and said about what open Internet requirements would mean for broadband investment innovation and consumers. [...]
It’s almost as though some people want to have their own equivalent of “death panels” that we had in the health care debate back in August. That was a red herring that took us off the main point of providing health care to everyone, for a month or six weeks. Now we’ve got that straightened out, but we have to battle hard to make sure the misinformation is responded and responded to in a very brief period of time.
Fox News host Glenn Beck has been fear-mongering on net neutrality for weeks, saying that the Obama administration is trying to shut down freedom of speech. “You have a freedom of speech or the government,” said Beck last week. “You can’t really have both.” He’s been getting his talking points from Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity, who also fueled Beck’s campaign against former Obama adviser Van Jones. Some telecom companies — which, along with the cable industry, is driving opposition to an open Internet — have begun astroturfing efforts as well.
The telecom and cable industries are the ones interested in controlling access to information on the Internet. What the FCC’s regulations on net neutrality would do are ensure that the Internet remains an open, non-discriminatory marketplace of ideas, rather than a pay-for-play system where broadband providers could make certain companies’ sites run faster if they’re willing to dole out large sums of money.
Net neutrality is essential to free speech, which both the Christian Coalition and the Gun Owners of America have acknowledged. From a 2008 testimony by Michele Combs, the Christian Coalition’s vice president of communications:
Consequently, the reason the Christian Coalition supports Net Neutrality is simple. We believe that organizations such as the Christian Coalition should be able to continue to use the Internet to communicate with our members and with a worldwide audience without a phone or cable company snooping in on our communications and deciding whether to allow a particular communication to proceed, slow it down, or offer to speed it up if the author pays extra to be on the “fast lane.”
Trent Hamm reflects on the most important lessons he’s learned since starting The Simple Dollar. He begins:
Over the past three years, I’ve had countless opportunities to reflect not only on my own personal finance and life journey, but that of thousands of readers who have contacted me over the years with questions and stories.
Along the way, quite a few principles for personal and financial success began to appear. These same features pop up again and again in people’s stories and comments – and I find them to be deeply true in my own life as well.
The single most important part of personal finance is truly knowing yourself.
Why do you buy the things that you do? Why are you worried about this situation? Why do you feel this way about this product? Why do you respond to guilt in this way?
The answer to all of these questions lies with introspection. The answer to all of these questions is also a tremendous boost when it comes to personal finance. If you understand fully the internal reasons why you desire something, you can work through those reasons, validate them or throw them aside, and then make a clear, enlightened, and rational decision about whether to acquire it.
The more introspection you do, the more naturally the true answers to those questions become and the easier it becomes to recognize your more dangerous and frivolous impulses for what they are. This leads not only to tremendous financial success, but great personal success as well.
The second most important part of personal finance is …
Useful post by Michael Grabell and Jennifer LaFleur and Amanda Michel and Christopher Flavelle at ProPublica. It begins:
When the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package passed in February, President Obama pledged that American taxpayers would be able to track every dime. Today, the government released its first comprehensive look—a trove of data on 121,000 stimulus reports worth about $159 billion. Democrats and Republicans are already using the new data to support claims that the stimulus triumphed or flopped. But how much can you reliably conclude from the data? Here is ProPublica’s guide to what’s new, what’s missing and what to watch for:
Of all the stimulus data released today, the most-watched figure is likely to be 640,329 – the number of jobs reported to be created or saved. Counting jobs might sound easy, but it’s a lot more complicated than it seems. And there are a number of important caveats to keep in mind.
First, the number is not an actual headcount but a calculation of full-time equivalents. The White House instructed recipients to measure the number of hours worked on stimulus projects and divide it by the number of hours in a full-time schedule for the quarter. So a construction worker on a one-month paving project would count only as a third of a job. The upshot: More people could have been employed, but the data doesn’t tell you if their job lasted two days or will last two years.
The $159 billion detailed in today’s release represents less than half of total money made available to date. It doesn’t include more than $100 billion in …
Dear Mr. Levitt,
The problem of global warming is so big that solving it will require creative thinking from many disciplines. Economists have much to contribute to this effort, particularly with regard to the question of how various means of putting a price on carbon emissions may alter human behavior. Some of the lines of thinking in your first book, Freakonomics, could well have had a bearing on this issue, if brought to bear on the carbon emissions problem. I have very much enjoyed and benefited from the growing collaborations between Geosciences and the Economics department here at the University of Chicago, and had hoped someday to have the pleasure of making your acquaintance. It is more in disappointment than anger that I am writing to you now.
I am addressing this to you rather than your journalist-coauthor because one has become all too accustomed to tendentious screeds from media personalities (think Glenn Beck) with a reckless disregard for the truth. However, if it has come to pass that we can’t expect the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor (and Clark Medalist to boot) at a top-rated department of a respected university to think clearly and honestly with numbers, we are indeed in a sad way.
By now there have been many detailed dissections of everything that is wrong with the treatment of climate in Superfreakonomics, but what has been lost amidst all that extensive discussion is how really simple it would have been to get this stuff right. The problem wasn’t necessarily that you talked to the wrong experts or talked to too few of them. The problem was that you failed to do the most elementary thinking needed to see if what they were saying (or what you thought they were saying) in fact made any sense. If you were stupid, it wouldn’t be so bad to have messed up such elementary reasoning, but I don’t by any means think you are stupid. That makes the failure to do the thinking all the more disappointing. I will take Nathan Myhrvold’s claim about solar cells, which you quoted prominently in your book, as an example.
As quoted by you, Mr. Myhrvold claimed, in effect, that it was pointless to try to solve global warming by building solar cells, because they are black and absorb all the solar energy that hits them, but convert only some 12% to electricity while radiating the rest as heat, warming the planet. Now, maybe you were dazzled by Mr Myhrvold’s brilliance, but don’t we try to teach our students to think for themselves? Let’s go through the arithmetic step by step and see how it comes out. It’s not hard.
Let’s do the thought experiment of building a solar array to generate the entire world’s present electricity consumption, and see what the extra absorption of sunlight by the array does to climate. First we need to find the electricity consumption. Just do a Google search on “World electricity consumption” and here you are: …
I’ve been Googling about, reading things on feeding cats a raw-food diet. Unsurprisingly, I found several schools of thought, some fiercely at war with others.
Generally speaking, everyone agrees that feeding your cat a good diet of raw meats, bones, and organ foods, with or without some supplements, is a good idea. Some like to use a meat grinder, while others are adamant that no grinder should be used since pre-ground foods fail to give the cat exercise is chewing and gnawing, important for the health of their teeth and gums.
Of course, Dr. Pierson’s recipe does include some chunked pieces of meat, which will require chewing, but all the bones are ground. I think I’ll occasionally include raw meaty bones—for example, chicken wings, chicken ribs with meat attached, little pieces of Rock Cornish game hens with bones. This should provide some of the chewing exercise. Small raw bones are not a danger. The suggestion is to avoid chicken necks: too much bone per meat, though I think an occasional neck would be good.
Oddly enough, there was a fair amount information on feeding dogs a raw-food diet. Do people still have pet dogs? (Just joking—but I am definitely a cat person.)
There’s universal agreement that kibble is bad, bad, bad, and the 24/7 kibble buffet is terrible. I do like feeding Megs twice a day—twice a day I get a lot of attention.
I’ve just seen my first genuine piece of psychology graffiti. The picture is from a wall in Universidad de Antioquia and the graffiti is promoting a conference on the application of ‘liberation psychology’ to preventing violence and helping the victims of violence in Colombia.
The text in Spanish is roughly translated as “We propose a scientific endeavour committed to historical reality and the problems and aspirations of the people” and is a quote from social psychologist and Catholic priest Ignacio Martín-Baró.
Martín-Baró was working in El Salvador during it’s bloody civil war and was using social psychology to research the opinions and views of the people and was producing results contrary to the propaganda of the army and government.
He was murdered by the El Salvadorian army in 1989 but he has had a massive influence on psychology and public policy in Latin America.
This in part was due to his strong belief in social psychology as an applied discipline to improve the society and the conditions of the poorest and most deprived.
While liberation psychology itself is typically associated with the left, one of Martín-Baró’s legacies is the practice of using social psychology for social improvement, something which is widely accepted in Latin America, regardless of political orientation.
It may seem strange that a conference is being advertised through graffiti, but political graffiti is common on the university campus and ranges from spray painted slogans to huge colourful murals.
If you’re interested in learning more about liberation psychology, The Psychologist had a 2004 article discussing both the discipline and Martín-Baró.
This morning Megs really got her first full meal with the homemade food that I cooked up—or rather mixed up, since it is not cooked but raw: the very point.
Last night she tasted the batch, but this morning it was almost all there: too big a change to absorb quickly, no doubt.
This morning I dumped one of the little containers of her food into a plastic sandwich baggie and put that in hot water to warm up from the fridge. I used 1/2-cup containers (the disposable plastic storage things from Ziploc), which was about right for a 3-oz serving. But now I think I’ll just put them in sandwich baggies to store and freeze.
Using a baggie in hot water warms the food up almost immediately, since you can squish it thin in the baggie. Once it was warmed, I dumped it into her food dish and sprinkled a little FortiFlora over the top. I put it down, and she really scarfed it down. It was nice to see her chewing vigorously as she came across the little chunks of chicken. She finished about half of it quickly, then went to the hammock for her post-breakfast nap. I imagine that she’ll return and finish off more in the course of the day.
I got 9 days’ worth of food from the 3 lbs of chicken thighs (along with the other stuff from the recipe, though I did include an additional 8 oz of gizzards for organ meat). Next time I might try using a whole chicken minus the back (don’t want too much bone per meat).
The 1000-watt meat grinder ($99) wasn’t quite up to the job: it really strained at grinding the thigh bones. So I’m returning this grinder and getting the 1200-watt grinder that was recommended in the first place.
I must say that it’s quite satisfying seeing Megs chow down on food that I made for her. I’ll also be interested to see how she fares on the diet, which should be much better for her than the kibble she was getting in the past.
Molly also seems to have found a food she loves: the Evo canned 95% Venison cat food. Within a week or two, she should be fully transitioned to that, and we’ll let her live on that until kibble is forgotten altogether. At that point, we’ll try her on homemade food.
Exceptionally good shave today, and the Semogue 2000 is definitely coming along. With the Dovo shaving soap, I got enough lather — good lather — for three passes with no problem. Part of the trick is pumping the brush some to work the lather fully up into the brush.
The Mühle porcelain-handled razor with an Astra Keramik blade did a very good job indeed, and New York aftershave is, of course, a favorite.
Very good, albeit late, start to the day.
Generalizing a bit, it seems like a logical consequence of the note below (by Hardy Green in Business Week’s BTW column) that everyone should stop giving gifts. Spend the money on things you want for yourself, and everyone’s satisfaction would go up. Anyway, the real pleasures of the holidays are not the gifts, but of seeing and spending time with family and friends, cooking and eating traditional dishes, building up memories for the next occurrence. The gifts would be easy to drop.
Here’s the note:
Wharton School economist Joel Waldfogel has built something of a reputation as a Christmas killjoy. Starting with a 1993 article in the American Economic Review ("The Deadweight Loss of Christmas"), he has been rattling the chains of Yuletide gloom.
Waldfogel says holiday spending is "a massive institution for value destruction." That’s economist-speak for the fact that so many gifts—billions of dollars’ worth, he contends—match up so poorly with what recipients want or would have bought for themselves. Now, in a new book, Scroogenomics (Princeton University), he puts an updated figure on the waste arising from holiday giving. "U.S. givers spent $66 billion in 2007," he writes, but the value of recipients’ satisfaction is much lower. Quantified, the satisfaction gap represents "an annual deadweight loss of $12 billion." That’s approaching what the federal government dissipates yearly, he says, citing the $17.2 billion in misspending estimated by Citizens Against Government Waste.
Waldfogel’s estimates of the lost value in holiday giving derive from student surveys he has conducted over the years. At first he simply asked recipients to estimate the total cost of the gifts they got and the amount they would have been willing to pay for them (apart from any sentimental value). In later surveys he asked participants to estimate prices and values both for the gifts they got and for stuff they had purchased for themselves. People ascribed 18% more value per dollar spent to their own choices.
The least "efficient" gifts, Waldfogel writes, tend to be from relatives who don’t see family members often enough to know their desires. ("Nobody is better than you at buying the sweater you want," he said in a phone interview.) And while giving cash is a way to preserve gift value, it’s often considered inappropriate or cold.
Gift cards, which now represent up to a third of holiday spending, are stigma-free, Waldfogel notes. But 10% of their value goes unredeemed each year. His suggestion: Retailers should donate those balances to charity.
Getting things ready—and early. UPS won’t be here for another 2-3 hours. Not shown in photo: the 3.5 lbs chicken thighs, 1/2 lb chicken liver, 1/2 lb chicken gizzards. Those are still in the fridge.
I’ll discard the skin from half the thighs and the bones of 20% of them, based on this recipe. I’ll separate the eggs and cook the whites before adding to the grinder.
The meat grinder is scheduled for delivery today, so I went shopping for the chicken thighs, livers, and gizzards. (I wanted the heart/gizzard combo pack, but Whole Foods has only gizzards—still, that should do as an organ meat, and Nob Hill is getting heart/gizzards next week, and he said they’re mostly hearts.
In the meantime, Megs is happy eating only the Evo chicken and turkey dinner, while Molly’s still struggling with the transition from kibble. However, she seems to like the Evo 95% Venison, along with a little order of kibble on the side, so she may end up liking the homemade food.
I’m going to clean up the kitchen before starting so perhaps I can take some photos.
That was the title of a book popular among the adults when I was a very little kid. I got a copy and sent to The Son for his 40th birthday, and the title comes back to me now:
From the link:
The simple network message that started it all: “lo.”
On October 29, 1969, that message became the first ever to travel between two computers connected via the ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet.
The truncated transmission traveled about 400 miles (643 kilometers) between the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Stanford Research Institute.
The electronic dispatch was supposed to be the word “login,” but only the first two letters were successfully sent before the system crashed.
Very good post at Skeptical Science. From the post:
… So we see that comparisons of present day climate to periods 500 million years ago need to take into account the fact that the sun was 4% less active than now. What about times closer to home? The most recent period when CO2 levels were as high as today was around 15 million years ago, during the Middle Miocene. CO2 levels were at about 400 ppm. What was the climate like at the time? Global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today. Sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher. There was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland. The close coupling between CO2 and climate led the author to conclude that "geological observations that we now have for the last 20 million years lend strong support to the idea that carbon dioxide is an important agent for driving climate change throughout Earth’s history." (Tripati 2009).
To sum up, Dana Royer says it best: "the geologic record contains a treasure trove of ‘alternative Earths’ that allow scientists to study how the various components of the Earth system respond to a range of climatic forcings." Past periods of higher CO2 do not contradict the notion that CO2 warms global temperatures. On the contrary, they confirm the close coupling between CO2 and climate.
It’s a party value, of course. Steve Benen:
Maybe this will help bring some much-needed attention to the story.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) excoriated Republicans on Thursday for stalling more than 200 executive and judicial nominees that in some cases have been lingering on the executive calendar for months.
"Senate Republicans are simply so opposed to everything, absolutely everything, that they even oppose putting people in some of the most important positions in our government," Reid said in a floor statement.
In the midst of the H1N1 flu outbreak, Republicans put a hold on President Obama’s surgeon general nominee. The federal courts are backlogged, but Republicans are blocking votes on President Obama’s judicial nominees. The White House has sent qualified people to the Hill to lead the Office of Legal Counsel, head the General Services Administration, and a variety of diplomatic posts, but Republicans have put holds on all of them, too.
This just isn’t normal. Indeed, the Senate isn’t supposed to function this way — and it never has functioned this way. It’s obstructionism on a scale without precedent.
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about regular ol’ opposition to White House nominees. If GOP senators wanted to reflexively oppose, en masse, every nominee the administration to the Hill, that would be fine. In fact, it’d be a huge improvement over the status quo.
Instead, Republican senators simply don’t want these nominees to get a vote at all. The officials wait in limbo for months — some have had their lives put on hold since March, waiting for a simple up-or-down vote — and government posts that need to be filled remain empty while the 40-seat minority dithers.
It’s an embarrassment to the institution.
The GOP did back down on the Surgeon General nomination, which was then unanimously approved by the committee and passed the Senate by a voice vote. But the GOP continues to block everything else that they possibly can.
And she gets paid to do that—so Joe goes along, I guess. Joe Conason:
If Democrats are disappointed by Joe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster any healthcare reform bill that includes a public option, they shouldn’t be. Despite all of his past promises to support universal healthcare, nothing was more predictable than the Connecticut senator’s fealty to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.
Much the same can be said of Sen. Evan Bayh, who emerged from hiding on healthcare to announce that he too plans to filibuster against reform with the Republicans, regardless of what his constituents and Americans in general plainly want. Like Lieberman, his state is home to powerful corporations that want reform killed — and like Lieberman, his wife has brought home very big paychecks from those same interests. . (UPDATE: A report published in a South Bend paper Thursday night says Bayh may now support a floor debate.)
The Lieberman family’s financial ties to the health industry are no secret, yet their full extent remains unknown. During her husband’s 2006 reelection campaign, Hadassah Lieberman’s employment as a "senior counselor" to Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s biggest lobbying firms, briefly erupted as an issue, especially because the clients she served were in the controversial pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. Exactly what she did for those clients has never been disclosed.
At the time she joined the public relations and lobbying conglomerate in the spring of 2005, she expressed the touching hope that she would somehow be able to help those in need. "I have had a lifelong commitment to helping people gain better healthcare," she said in a press release. "I am excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Hill & Knowlton to counsel a terrific stable of clients toward that same goal." Less than a year later, having pocketed $77,000 in salary, she quit without explanation — just as her husband was facing a tough primary that he would eventually lose. Throughout the campaign, Hadassah Lieberman, her husband and their spokespersons explicitly refused to discuss her professional activities, except to note that she had not been required to register as a lobbyist.
But her stint at Hill & Knowlton was merely one episode in a professional lifetime devoted to the corporate health sector. For most of the past three decades, …
Dan Colman finds a couple:
Both those links are well worth clicking just to read about the movies and watch a preview. Now I want Roku to be able to let me watch YouTube videos on my TV.