Later On

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

Archive for April 5th, 2010

A thought triggered by the Wikileak video

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I’m talking about this video:

I can understand why the military would try to cover this up—the military, so far as I can tell, always tries to cover up their misdeeds. If that doesn’t work, the lowest ranking soldier(s) have to take the fall, and everyone else gets off. At least that’s how it seems to work in the past decade.

But seeing this makes me wonder just what is in the terror photos that they will not release and do not want us to know. That’s the most overt coverup yet—and of course Obama is fully participating.

The thing is, we the American people have the right to know. This is our government, and it is our responsibility and duty to know what the government is doing (in general) and take action (through voting, calling Representatives and Senators, writing blogs, and the like) when action is required. Having the government keep everything secret—lately even from the Congressional committees responsible for oversight—will lead to extremely serious problems. Inevitably, those in on the secrets start to think, “We’ve gotten away with all this. Why not more?” and authoritarianism starts to take over—how else to keep things secret when you have many secrets that must be kept? (The first thing they’ll try is to shut down Wikileaks, and of course they’re trying that already. They don’t want to fix the problem, they want the problem kept secret.)

Obama is terribly, terribly wrong. The American people must know what was done by their government, and people must be held to account—and not just the lowest ranking, either. Monica Goodling was sacrificed, but who believes that she did all that on her own?

Think about it: that video is just the tiniest tip of an enormous iceberg.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 4:09 pm

Sexual abuse in the Catholic church over time

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Interesting post by Andrew Sullivan:

A reader writes:

Searching Google Books using euphemistic keywords like +cleric +corrupt reveals a centuries long history of rape and abuse within the Church, a history often celebrated by the Church itself, but as a lesson of overcoming temptations of the flesh. For example, consider the 12th century Christina of Markyate, a “young girl or adolescent” who after taking a vow of chastity, fled from an arranged marriage and sought protection from the Archbishop of York. Her story is told in John of Tynemouth‘s 13th century Latin manuscript Sanctilogium Angliae:

The archbishop commended her to the charge of a certain cleric, a close friend of his, whose name, I am under obligation not to divulge. He was at once a religious and a man of position in the world: and relying on this twofold status Christina felt the more safe in staying with him. And certainly at the beginning they had no feelings about each other, except chaste and spiritual affection. But the devil, the enemy of chastity, not brooking this for long, took advantage of their close companionship and feeling of security to insinuate himself first stealthily and with guile, than later on, alas, to assault them more openly. And, loosing his fiery darts, he pressed his attacks so vigorously that he completely overcame the man’s resistance. But he could not wrest consent from the maiden …  Sometimes the wretched man, out of his senses with passion, came before her without any clothes on and behaved in so scandalous a manner that I cannot make it known, lest I pollute the wax by writing it, or the air by saying it.

This one story, 900 years old now, contains all the key elements of the scandal: abuse of trust, secrecy, and complicity of the hierarchy. As you have been writing, there are many more recorded accounts like it, and undoubtedly innumerable accounts never recorded.

As I thought about this, it occurred to me that perhaps one reason this problem continues so strongly to afflict the Catholic church is the Catholic view of human nature—actually, it’s the Christian view, but perhaps it’s more emphasized and understood within the Catholic church and its traditions. That view, of course, is that humanity’s current state is one of terrible corruption, brought about by the Fall, whether interpreted literally (eating a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil) or metaphorically (becoming a “hunter” of some sort in a social setting, not just a hunter of game). The corruption is so bad, in fact, that to balance it (somehow) God itself had to become one of us and suffer an execution, thereby providing a way out for those who accept, etc.

BUT: as I understand it, human nature remains corrupt, even after belief and baptism. This corruption, it’s taught, is the reason for all the human evil we see, and everyone is vulnerable to being corrupted. Thus one must maintain a more-or-less constant stream of protective acts (prayer, holy communion, confession—the last because even with all the protection one can get, one is still a sinner and weak, etc., and more or less constantly sins).

Having this outlook perhaps made the bishops and their subordinates a little too understanding: “a terrible thing to do, but of course we are all weak and he fell in a moment of temptation, look that he gets to confession, and now we have to handle the fallout and not scandalizing the church, for sure that is also a terrible sin. What happened to the children was awful, but kids get over things, and we can make them understand that they MUST NOT TELL.” That sort of thing.

At least it may have contributed.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 3:42 pm

Breast-Feeding and the Affordable Care Act

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Interesting post by Matt Yglesias:

Apparently we could do a lot of good if there was more breast-feeding happening:

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women fed their babies breast milk only for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.

Those startling results, published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are only an estimate. But several experts who reviewed the analysis said the methods and conclusions seem sound.

Monica Potts observes that breast-feeding is largely a class phenomenon and that the Affordable Care Act (conveniently!) has provisions that may help make it more widely accessible:

The study found that only about 12 percent of American women exclusively breast feed their children for the first six months of life, as recommended. College graduates are the most likely to breast feed; their rates are at 45 percent. The least likely are poor women and teenage mothers. There are reasons for this that go beyond education, of course.Non-college grads are more likely to have jobs where they’re unable to stay on maternity leave for a long time, and then more likely to go back to work in places where it is difficult to pump breast milk. So that makes this not just a public health issue, but a social justice one.

The health-care bill includes requirements for employers to start accommodating women who are breast feeding. The next step is to encourage doctors to encourage mothers to do it.

More robust family leave policies are going to have to be a key objective for the next wave of progressive social policy activism.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 2:38 pm

Obama really needs to get his act together and decide what he’s supporting

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Ed Brayton:

Forget about being for a policy before you were against it; the Obama administration is mastering the art of being for something while simultaneously being against it. The same administration that is now seeking to overturn the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in Congress is also defending that policy in court, using most of the same arguments used by their opponents in Congress. Here’s the brief the Obama administration just filed in one such case.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 12:47 pm

More popcorn toppings

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From the Kitchn [sic]:

We always toss the popcorn with melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil before adding any of the toppings. It helps the spices and herbs to stick to the individual kernels. In all cases, we use around a tablespoon of spice mix for a 6 cup batch of popped corn.

Herbes de ProvenceLight and savory, perfect for an afternoon snack
Chili Powder – We love the spicy smoky flavor with the popcorn
Lemon Zest and Cracked Pepper - The zest gets so fragrant!
Chinese 5-Spice PowderWarm spices make this a sweet treat
Furikake – This Japanese seasoning is full of umami goodness
Nutritional Yeast – Sounds strange, but this adds a cheesy flavor!
Powdered Sugar – A quick version of kettle-corn
Browned Butter and SaltNutty and caramel-sweet, like a cross between kettle and caramel corn

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Green is a bad color

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The Wife will be disappointed. Alice Rawsthorn in the NY Times:

As Kermit the Frog sang so wisely, it’s not easy being green. Think of Britain’s wannabe prime minister, David Cameron, cycling to Parliament followed by a limo carrying his papers. The “organic” products that are smothered by superfluous biodegradable packaging. And “caring” celebrities who blow their eco-cool by flying into environmental protests on private jets.

Even those deluded celebs don’t seem as daft as the 265 ton “iceberg” built by Chanel as the set for a recent fashion show in Paris. Made from ice and snow imported from Sweden, it was “recycled” afterward by being returned there in yet another gas-guzzling journey. Presumably it was meant to make me crave a new Chanel bag, but all I could think of were those heartbreaking photographs of polar bears marooned on melting ice caps.

Kermit was correct, being green really is tough, so tough that the color itself fails dismally. The cruel truth is that most forms of the color green, the most powerful symbol of sustainable design, aren’t ecologically responsible, and can be damaging to the environment.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” said Michael Braungart, the German chemist who co-wrote “Cradle to Cradle,” the best-selling sustainable design book, and co-founded the U.S. design consultancy McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. “The color green can never be green, because of the way it is made. It’s impossible to dye plastic green or to print green ink on paper without contaminating them.”

This means that green-colored plastic and paper cannot be recycled or composted safely, because they could contaminate everything else. The crux of the problem is that green is such a difficult color to manufacture that toxic substances are often used to stabilize it.

Take Pigment Green 7, the commonest shade of green used in plastics and paper. It is an organic pigment but contains chlorine, some forms of which can cause cancer and birth defects. Another popular shade, Pigment Green 36, includes potentially hazardous bromide atoms as well as chlorine; while inorganic Pigment Green 50 is a noxious cocktail of cobalt, titanium, nickel and zinc oxide.

If you look at the history of green, it has always been troublesome. Revered in Islamic culture for evoking the greenery of paradise, it has played an accident-prone role in Western art history. From the Italian Renaissance to 18th-century Romanticism, artists struggled over the centuries to mix precise shades of green paint, and to reproduce them accurately.

Even if they succeeded, the results often faded or discolored, as did green dyes. When the 19th-century British designer William Morris created wallpapers inspired by medieval tapestries, he copied the blue hues in the originals. But most of those “blues” were really greens, which had changed color over the years.

Green even has a toxic history…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 11:54 am

Inventor of wine-in-a-box dies at 92

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From the Herald Sun:

WINEMAKER and businessman John Angove remembers telling his father it was crazy to think anyone would buy wine sold in a plastic bag held inside a cardboard box.

Fortunately for consumers and perhaps the wine industry at large, Thomas Angove didn’t listen to his then 15-year-old son and pressed ahead with his idea to make wine cheaper.

The result was the early versions of the wine cask, a packaging concept that revolutionised wine marketing and has since spilled over into other sectors.

But Thomas Angove, 92, who passed away at his home in the Riverland town of Renmark yesterday, was much more than just the 1960s inventor of the wine cask.

He will also be remembered as the man who introduced significant wine grape varieties to the Riverland and as a leading figure in the Australian brandy industry for much of his life.

Industry experts admit no-one knew more about distilling brandy.

Thomas Angove was also the first winemaker in Australia to use stainless steel for the storage of wine in bulk, something which is now standard practice across the industry.

John Angove, now the managing director of Angove Wines, remembers being carted around by his father looking at land to plant vines and later playing in the wineries on the weekend while his father worked.

He also recalls his father’s knack with providing innovative solutions to problems that always seemed both effective and appropriate.

Hence the wine cask.

"I do remember when I was about 15 and he brought home a prototype and I said to him: ‘that’s ridiculous, nobody is going to buy wine out of a cardboard box and a plastic bag’," he said.

"But he persevered, didn’t listen to me and he was determined.

"He had a very broad vision." …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2010 at 11:51 am

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