Later On

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

Archive for June 15th, 2010

Fitness project report

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On the diet side, things are going swimmingly. Though I may in time tire of it, cooking up tasty dishes to fit a fixed set of daily criteria fun and I’ve had some extremely nice meals. Tonight was a beef stir fry sort of thing:

1 tsp pepper sesame oil
1/2 chopped Vidalia onion
4 crushed/minced garlic cloves
4 oz lean beef (this was the last of a piece of London broil), cut into small strips

Heat the oil in large cast-iron skillet, add onions, and sauté until onions are transparent. Add garlic and beef and continue to sauté, occasional stirring/turning, until beef is close to done. Add:

1 bunch chopped asparagus (these were thin stalks, very young)
1 c cut-up green beans, steamed
1 c cooked kale

Continue to stir and sauté for a few minutes, then add

1/2 c beef broth
dash soy sauce
dash Chinese black vinegar
1 tsp turmeric (anti-inflammatory)

Bring to boil and simmer over high heat, stirring, until liquid evaporates.

That was tasty, with loads of veggies and the occasional bite of beef. I should have added some reconstituted dried mushrooms, come to think of it. Tomorrow.

As I ate it and thought about the sharp increase in food costs expected over the next 2 years—and what they will be when oil hits $200/barrel—and about the increasingly anomalous weather, I contemplated my plate. This sort of meal will soon be the rule: the meat as a condiment. And I bet within a decade young people will be uncomfortable eating with someone having a common meal of today: a big steak, with a baked potato (cheese, sour cream, chives, and bacon, no doubt) and string beans. The enormous cut of meat, sitting out alone on the plate, will seem somewhat obscene.

At any rate, the eating according to rules and the food journaling to prove it (with an independent review: it seems important somehow that someone check up)—my God, this is infantilism: it’s a grade-school format with little write-in workbooks. But, hey! if it works, which it’s doing at a good clip, I’m all for it.

On the exercise front, I realized that I now can give my trainer some guidance: I want to learn kettlebells and the basic kettlebell exercises, and get fit enough so that I can do them. Now we have a goal, a destination, so now the sessions can take a better structure and the assignments become more targeted. But I had to get started without knowing that, figuring that things would show up along the way, as they do.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Food

Movie notes

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I saw The Four Feathers the other night. It’s a Technicolor movie, though in my memory it was black and white—and indeed some scenes are lit rather flat. But it was the scenes of pulling the boats along the Nile that I recall being in black and white, along with the scenes in the prison. This effect—my memory of a color movie having it in black and white—has happened with other movies of this same era. Weird.

It’s actually a pretty good movie, though the tool for the big escape is silly: a file to get 50 or 60 men out of shackles and chains? Come on!

I’m now watching Cosi and enjoying it a lot. Very funny and causes some thinking to occur, not a bad thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies

Johnny Cash soundtrack to a video honoring Johnny Cash

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It’s a collaborative video in which every frame is drawn by an individual person, in honor of Johnny Cash. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

BP rejects help in oil spill clean-up

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Amazing. Reported at ThinkProgress by Brad Johnson:

BP has rejected the help of thousands of volunteers, many with expert training and experience in handling offshore oil disasters and oil spill cleanup. Yesterday, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd interviewed Don Abrams of OilSpillVolunteers.com, who collected the names of nearly 8,000 volunteers in the first weeks after BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, and tried repeatedly to contribute their expertise to mitigating this national disaster. Many of the volunteers Abrams had organized have certification in the federal government’s official Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER), and were ready and able to train others:

On May 13, we turned over a list of about a hundred highly qualified people to BP, including people with two to three decades of offshore oil experience, people with experience in spill clean ups, people who are HAZWOPER instructors. As of about two days ago, I contacted about half of those people, and none of them have been contacted by BP.

Watch it:

Abrams explained that he has turned over his list to state agencies and local non-profit organizations, after BP failed to respond. The Center for American Progress recommends that the government, not BP, run the volunteer hotlines and cleanup efforts. “People actually just want to be called to service,” Center for American Progress fellow Van Jones said on Sunday. “‘What are we supposed to do, Mr. President? And we will do it.’ That’s what’s missing.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 3:11 pm

Journalists, pundits, and the media in general

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Greenwald has a good column—as usual—and (also as usual) I detected no narcissism, but I did detect a quite obvious stench of stupidity issuing from David Gregory in this exchange included in the column:

. . . White House adviser David Axelrod was on Meet the Press this weekend and tried — with total futility — to explain to David Gregory the concept of holding someone accountable, which is ostensibly the crux of Gregory’s job.  Leave aside the obvious question of whether the White House is actually doing any of the things Axelrod claims they’re doing concerning BP; observe Gregory’s complete inability even to understand the concept of arms-length, verification-based accountability (h/t Stuart Zechman):

MR. GREGORY: You were quoted this week saying this isn’t a very sympathetic figure, Tony Hayward.

MR. AXELROD: Yes.

MR. GREGORY: Does the president trust this guy?

MR. AXELROD: Well, look, it’s not a matter of who — we, we — it’s not a matter of trust. We have to verify what they’re doing, we have to stay on them, and we have from the beginning. That’s why we want this escrow account. I’m not here to, to make judgments about any individual’s character, but we do know that they have pecuniary interests that may be in conflict with, with the interests of, of our interests, and we…

MR. GREGORY: But, but let –but…

MR. AXELROD: …need to make sure that the interests of people in the Gulf are protected. That is what our job is.

MR. GREGORY: But this is a straightforward question. If you are in partnership with somebody — and make no mistake, the government is in partnership with BP to get this problem solved — does the, does the president of the United States trust the man on the other end who is leading this operation?

MR. AXELROD: Our, our mission here is to hold them accountable in, in every appropriate way, and that is what we’re going to do. I, I’m not — I don’t consider them a, a, a partner, I don’t consider them — they’re not social friends, they’re not — I’m not looking to make judgments about their soul. I just want to make sure that they do what they’re required to do.

MR. GREGORY: Do you trust them to get the job done? Yes, no or maybe?

MR. AXELROD: We’re going to make sure they get the job done.

MR. GREGORY: But it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of faith there at the moment.

MR. AXELROD: Well, our job is to hold them accountable, David, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Axelrod is explaining exactly what the media is supposed to do concerning political officials if they are going to fulfill the function they like to pretend they have, and Gregory is simply incapable even of understanding what’s being explained.  It’s as though it’s a completely foreign concept that he’s never encountered or thought about before.  As Zechman put it in an email to me: . . .

Doesn’t it strike you that Gregory is an amazingly stupid person? Nice hair, of course, but still…

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Media

Blackwater in extremis?

with one comment

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Business, Military

Arab Israeli the most hated person in Israel

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Interesting story by Patrick Martin in the Globe and Mail:

Two weeks ago, she was virtually unknown. But after travelling aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the boat, Hanin Zoaby, a 41-year-old, first-term Knesset member, has become the most hated person in Israel.

As an Arab Israeli, she also has found herself at the centre of a new political force with which Israel will have to contend.

Accused of treason for supporting the Free-Gaza movement, forbidden by the courts to leave the country for 45 days, Ms. Zoaby was attacked, physically, when she spoke in the Knesset last week to explain her decision to join the flotilla of ships hoping to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. She said she viewed her action on behalf of 1.5 million “prisoners” in Gaza as a kind of “mitzvah,” a Hebrew term for a religious good deed. The reference only made her Jewish assailants angrier.

On Sunday, Israel proposed that a three-man internal inquiry probe its bloody attack on the flotilla two weeks ago, and that it be headed by a retired Israeli judge and two high-ranking foreign observers, including a Canadian.

Ms. Zoaby has been labelled an enemy, and a supporter of terrorists. Yet the unmarried, Western-dressed Muslim woman hails from one of Israel’s high-profile Arab families, one that has counted a high court judge, a mayor of Nazareth, a long-serving Knesset member and a deputy cabinet minister among its members.

To many in the Knesset today, Ms. Zoaby’s transgression, like that of the four other Arab Israelis who joined the flotilla, is unforgivable. A Knesset committee has recommended the removal of many of Ms. Zoaby’s parliamentary privileges, including her immunity from prosecution and her diplomatic passport. The Interior Minister, leader of Israel’s Ultra Orthodox Shas Party, has asked whether her Israeli citizenship can legally be revoked…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 1:33 pm

Apple IS Big Brother

with 15 comments

Apple controls the content that it allows on its machines, and Apple doesn’t like a lot of things:

Apple’s crusade to free all owners of iPhones and iPads from the terrible burden of seeing a nude figure is having some comically absurd results. There’s its insistence that a graphic-novel iPad app based on Ulysses remove some tame nudity – while remaining oblivious to the historical ironies. There’s the lampooning that some pranksters engaged in even as Steve Jobs was gushing over the iPhone 4 this week.

But the more examples I see of Apple’s capricious censoring, the less funny it is. Apple not only censored an iPad app based on Ulysses, it blacked out multiple panels in another graphic novel for the iPad based on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. The app’s apparent sin: images of two men kissing [a cartoon of two men kissing, for the love of God! – LG].

No, I won’t be buying one of those. Too much solicitous control, like an overprotective mom. I don’t feel that I need that. In fact, I don’t even want it.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 11:57 am

A casualty of the War on Drugs

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This is not what the "War on Drugs" is supposed to be doing. Jim Babka of Downsize DC:

Best-selling author Peter McWilliams died ten years ago today, June 14, 2000.

I remember when I heard the news. I can still feel the sickness and anger that I felt that day.

I didn’t know Peter personally, but I admired him. Some of my colleagues were good friends or acquaintances of his.

Peter was an eloquent champion of limited government and personal freedom. But his life was cut short by the War on Drugs. The federal government denied him the medication he needed to live and thrive.

What he went through, I wouldn’t wish on anyone, let alone my family and friends. But we have it in our power to prevent similar tragedies from happening to others. Please tell Congress to return to the Constitution, and end the insane War on Drugs.

You may copy or borrow from the following letter . . .

Today marks a cruel anniversary in the barbaric history of the War on Drugs. On this day, ten years ago, the federal government caused the death of the best-selling author Peter McWilliams.

Do you know his story?

* In 1996 Peter was diagnosed with cancer and AIDS
* The medications he needed to treat these diseases caused extreme vomiting, and he could not keep them down long enough for them to work
* That same year, Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana in California
* Under the recommendation of four physicians, Peter started using marijuana.
* The marijuana controlled his nausea, restored his appetite, and allowed his medications to work

Marijuana saved Peter’s life, for the moment. This led him to fund research into medical marijuana and to start a business supplying it to buyer’s cooperatives. The DEA took notice, raided and trashed his home, and even confiscated his computer, which contained the manuscript of his latest book.

Peter was charged with being a "drug kingpin!" And then, he was hamstrung, legally. The federal judge in the case took away his defense, barring any mention of . . .
* California’s medical marijuana law
* his terminal illness
* how medical marijuana allowed him to keep down his medication and prolong his life

While the legal process dragged on, the government prevented Peter from using the marijuana that controlled his nausea. Peter was required to pass drug tests. He complied, even though his life was at risk, because . . .
* Peter’s mother and brother had to put up their homes as collateral to post his bail
* If he failed the test, their homes would have been seized by the government

Peter’s health deteriorated until he died at the age of 50. The vomiting had taken a tremendous toll on his alimentary canal, as well as his heart, and even his teeth. Despite the suffering, he never lost his sense of humor. And the reason I most admired him was that he felt sympathy for his tormentors, rather than rage. [Read this post, which quotes Peter McWilliams. – LG.]

Marijuana saved Peter’s life, but the War on Drugs destroyed it.

Peter’s most noted book was "Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do." It promoted the idea that each person can do whatever they please with their own bodies and property, so long as they don’t interfere with the right of others to do the same. So let me ask you:

* What business is it of yours what people choose to do with their bodies and property?
* Where in the Constitution is the federal government empowered to deny people like Peter McWilliams the medicine they need?

Sadly, Peter wasn’t the only victim of your War on Drugs. He was just one victim among many. The long list of your victims includes . . .

* terminally ill patients for whom marijuana (or some other illegal drug) could ease pain and nausea
* people with psychological problems for whom now-illegal drugs could help calm them or clear their minds
* young people whose futures are ruined not because of drugs, but because of a "criminal" record
* innocent adults and children on our streets, in Mexico, and across the world caught in drug turf warfare
* innocent victims of no-knock SWAT raids and asset forfeiture
* young people who get hooked on drugs precisely because, unlike legal drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol, they’re available to be bought and sold on the streets and school grounds

The United States leads the world in incarceration rates, mostly because of non-violent, consensual crimes like drug possession. Apparently President Obama wants even more people in prison. He wants increased funding for interdiction, law enforcement, and the continuation of bloody drug wars across the border.

I suggest you do something else. Read and learn from Peter’s books – especially "Nobody’s Business." And then put an end to this stupid, immoral, and unconstitutional War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs is another disappointment from President Obama.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 11:15 am

How long can climate-change denialists stick to their guns?

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I guess until the ocean waves are moving up Broadway in NYC. Brad Johnson has this story in ThinkProgress:

Last week, 47 senators launched a failed assault on science, supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) resolution to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the public health and welfare. The EPA finding was based on decades of science, synthesized during the Bush administration by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. Global Change Program. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the leading denier in the Senate of the threat of climate change, justified his vote for the Murkowski resolution by claiming the science is just a United Nations conspiracy:

“We all know now that the IPCC, which is the United Nations, their science has all been debunked.” [Americans for Prosperity event, 6/9/10]

“The Climategate scandal forced open the inner sanctums of the IPCC, and the public finally saw the political science the body had produced.” [Senate floor, 6/11/10]

This weekend, catastrophic rainfall devastated Oklahoma with floods, leading “authorities to declare a state of emergency in 59 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties”:

Oklahoma City Micronet (OKCNET) reports that a rainfall observation of 10.21″ in OKC has exceeded the 1-in-500 year rainfall total for a 12 hour period. Moreover, the 9 inches that fell in 6 hours meets the requirements for a 1 in 500 year flood event.

Evacuations are under way in some Oklahoma City neighborhoods, Mayor Mick Cornett said Monday. People there are dealing with vicious flash-flooding and scattered power outages as more thunderstorms head their way. The National Weather Service said almost 10 inches of rain fell between 2 and 11 a.m.

The IPCC report, which Inhofe says is a sham, warned of the coming floods caused by the rise in global temperatures:

Over the 20th century, based on changes in sea surface temperatures, it is estimated that atmospheric water vapour increased by about 5% in the atmosphere over the oceans. Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapour stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events. Basic theory, climate model simulations and empirical evidence all confirm that warmer climates, owing to increased water vapour, lead to more intense precipitation events even when the total annual precipitation is reduced slightly, and with prospects for even stronger events when the overall precipitation amounts increase. The warmer climate therefore increases risks of both drought − where it is not raining − and floods − where it is − but at different times and/or places.

“Heavy downpours are now twice as frequent as they were a century ago,” the U.S. Global Change report states. “Projected changes in long-term climate and more frequent extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and heavy rainfall will affect many aspects of life in the Great Plains.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 11:07 am

New Martini information explains Bond’s preference

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I had always assumed that James Bond’s preference for a vodka Martini, “shaken, not stirred,” was Fleming’s way of showing how Bond flouts convention: vodka instead of gin, shaken instead of stirred. It seems that I was wrong: the shaking is because of the vodka. New Scientist explains:

In our quest to establish the difference between a shaken and a stirred martini, we published a reply from Anna Collins of Washington DC (8 May). She informed us that Bond ordered his martinis shaken so that the ice helped to dissipate any oil left over from the manufacture of vodka from potatoes – the base vegetable for many vodkas at the time Ian Fleming was writing the James Bond novels. Anna added that with the rise of higher-quality grain vodkas this method of preparation has become unnecessary. One reader decided to check out whether this really was the case – Ed

• Anna Collins is correct, according to our blind trial. We bought two bottles of vodka, one grain, the other potato-based. First we tasted the vodkas. In the blind trial all six people in our sample said the potato vodka was oily, and the grain vodka wasn’t. Then we made two vodka martinis using the potato vodka. One was stirred with ice, the other shaken with ice. The difference was quite distinct and in a blind tasting every one of the six drinkers characterised the shaken martini as being much less oily. But the martini had to be consumed quickly. If left to settle for 5 minutes or so, the shaken martini became oily again.

Peter Simmons, London, UK

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 11:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

Interesting approach: Specialist MDs "board-certifying" themselves

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This is intriguing. Joe Conason in Salon:

Libertarian ideology rejects most of the modern regulatory systems that protect consumers, because everyone should be responsible for determining whether the hamburger contains E. coli on his own. But does that do-it-yourself dogma apply to the regulation of medicine, too? If you’re Dr. Rand Paul, practicing ophthalmologist, the answer is emphatically yes.

According to an amusing story in today’s Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Republican Senate candidate bills himself as a "board-certified" physician even though he is not actually certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology — the only recognized body that certifies doctors in his specialty.

Paul’s only certification was provided instead by something called the National Board of Ophthalmology, which is very convenient because he operates that organization himself. As the Courier-Journal explains drily, the American Board of Ophthalmology, which maintains a fully staffed headquarters in Philadelphia, has existed for roughly a century and currently lists about 16,000 doctors on its rolls. (Most hospitals and insurance companies strongly prefer doctors who are board-certified because certification indicates that they have kept up with changes in technology, best practices and so on.) The National Board of Ophthalmology has existed since 1999, when Paul "founded" it, lists no more than seven doctors, and its address is a post-office box in Bowling Green, Ky. He had claimed to be certified by both boards, but Courier-Journal reporter Joseph Gerth quickly discovered that claim was false.

When Gerth tried to ask Paul why he claims to be board-certified when he isn’t and why he set up the National Board of Ophthalmology, the candidate stonewalled:

"I’m not going to go through all that right now," Paul said while at the Great Eastern National Gun Day Show and JAG Military Show, in Louisville. Asked when he would talk, Paul said: "Uh, you know, never … What does this have to do with our election?"

Gerth replied in his column in Sunday’s Courier-Journal, after Paul’s campaign manager said he would only answer questions in writing. His explanation is pithy and his questions seem almost too reasonable:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 10:50 am

The Gentlemens Refinery

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The Gentlemens Refinery makes some very nice products, and their Standard shaving cream is a high-class product: great softening lather and a mild fragrance. The Plisson Chinese Grey worked up the lather, and then the Gillette Fat Boy with a Swedish Gillette blade removed that and the stubble: three easy passes, a splash of Pashana, and I am ready for the day.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2010 at 10:47 am

Posted in Shaving

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