Archive for May 2011
I recall reading in a book of recollections about the Great Depression of one guy who said, “They asked me if we didn’t see it coming? Sure we saw it coming. What could we do about it?”
That’s the way I feel as I watch the GOP House throw the steering wheel out of the truck as it barrels toward the edge of the cliff. Read this for current status. It will be a nerve-wracking summer. Now I can watch what happens in Congress as well as what the summer crop is like, given climate change.
I’ve read some recent posts that support profiling. Here’s profiling in action.
First, I finished the Spanish final. I think I did okay but I run to careless mistakes, so who knows? I did realize that instead of “no me gusta mucho” I would have better written simply “odio,” but after beating myself up about that for a while, I realized that if I didn’t stop I would replay the whole final, line by line, and beat myself up over better answers I could have given — when asked what I liked, for example, I replied “perritos” and then, later, driving home, realized that of course I should have added “y vino y la luz de candelas y caminar por la playa en la luz de la luna” (and that is indeed what I could have written: that’s all in my working vocabulary, thanks to Anki).
So I decided I had to stop thinking about it and occupy myself otherwise. And on the way home I stopped by the library to pick up a book on hold: Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer, so I’ve started that. The book is mesmerizing—and to learn that such a complex, hard-learned set of skills and techniques was simply discarded… though of course Plato warned of something similar: that printed books will never engage the mind in the way that dialogue with another can. At any rate, Foer’s book is relevant to this language learning, interesting in itself, and suggests an on-going exercise in learning memory skills might be fun. And useful, of course.
It’s a tough statement, worth reading.
This is a very cute video, via Little Green Footballs—and what’s up with that? I thought LGF was a conservative site. In looking it over today, it seems like a liberal site.
Many have suspected that the GOP’s fight against abortion is only the first step: they don’t want birth control freely available, either. A Texas state representative admits it:
Joe, proprietor of the Italian Barber shaving store, has an excellent comment (with photos) of the process he follows, and he seconds Zach’s statement that the secret is in using a boar brush. Take a look.
UPDATE: Oops: Joe’s excellent post follows Tim Butterfield’s post (at the link), which is the one with the good photos. Joe confirms the method and gives more background—and explains why Italian barbers like boar brushes.
Well, the War itself won’t end in 72 hours (so far as I know—but remember I’m now out of the loop), but this organization is trying for 500,000 signatures within 72 hours. They now have mine as part of the current total of 437,382.
As you can see, they are close. Please add your signature if you believe that the War on Drugs has failed.
Generally speaking, the human-rights and civil-rights record of the Obama Administration is atrocious, including violation of laws (failure to launch an investigation of credible allegations of torture is a violation of law, for example). But there’s at least a modicum of good news: Justin Elliott reports in Salon on the DoJ crackdown on police abuses.
I urge you to read the article. It shows that the US still has a highly racist society, though certainly progress has been made. It also suggests that some of the opposition to Obama is indeed race-based, if that were not already obvious from the various emails exchanged among the GOP, some of which occasionally surface.
The Wife and I have some battery-powered LED lamps (power outages in the winter are common out here), but these look even better: no batteries required.
Maybe it’s the nearness of the final, but I found this recipe quite appealing. The ingredients:
2 cups chicken stock
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup long grain white rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
And I would serve with it Dandelion Greens with Double Garlic.
Perhaps we’ve taken the wrong approach to drugs. Here is a video made by a kindergarten teacher as two drug gangs have a shootout outside the school:
I should mention that many law enforcement officers oppose Prohibition—that is, making drugs illegal. By all means, offer treatment for drug addiction, but Prohibition is not working—and it didn’t work the last time, either.
Quite an interesting brief history of Memorial Day, aka Decoration Day. From the beginning:
At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.
Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when . . .
Take a look at this article, “The Bilingual Advantage.” Note that it’s not enough to know multiple languages: you must use multiple languages. In America’s heartland, that’s not so easy, though much easier now (with waves of immigration reaching far inland as people seek work). So step one is to learn another language, but the key then is to use it daily.
You can get some exercise of the language through foreign-language radio, TV, and movies, but what is probably important is two-way communication: you speaking so that someone else can understand, and then understanding what they say in response.
One option for those in lingually isolated communities is to form groups in which the target language is spoken. Naturally, Esperanto occurs to me: easily learned even without a trained instructor, and thus easy to bring up to speed so that the group can converse. Just a thought.
From The Eldest, a letter written by the chairman of the writing department at University of California Riverside:
Dear colleagues and students,
After a year and a half as Chair of the department, I am stepping down. Professor Andrew Winer will be taking my place, for which we should all be grateful.
As my last act as Chair, I would like to share with you my sense of the gravity of the situation we face. I spent most of my academic career doing what most of us do—teaching, writing, reading graduate applications and theses, having office hours, reading in my field, doing research. I didn’t pay much attention to the University and its administration. None of us have that luxury anymore. Budget cuts after budget cuts after budget cuts have left us all painfully aware of how the sausage is made, or not made.
Having served in administrative posts for most of the last five years, I have come to know the budget issues very well. We are now past the tipping point. We are on a rapid downhill slide that will have profound effects for our state, our families, our country, and our world.
In the space of less than a single lifetime, the University of California, Riverside went from being a small agricultural experiment station to being one of the top 100 universities in the world. An incredibly dense and elaborate web of specialists across all fields of scholarship, science, and the arts was developed, and it took enormous efforts by thousands of people over those years to make it happen. In less than the four years it used to take to graduate, it is being destroyed.
Today was my first deliberate attempt to create Creamy Lather™ with a non-triple-milled (and non-tallow based, I believe—that is, Otoko is definitely not tallow based, but I’m not sure that all the soaps previously tried were tallow based). It was a success. I forcibly restrained myself from trying one of the large-volume Omega Silvertips, which I believe should do a great job with this method, but then if it didn’t, I wouldn’t know whether the problem was the brush or the soap. So I stuck with a brush that has proven to work—the Sabini is more or less the same as the Rooney 2—and work it did: a wonderful, thick, creamy lather. How long has this been going on?
Otoko is a very nice soap, BTW, and if I were a guy with any sort of skin problem or sensitivity, I’d give it a go. It seems quite nice for normal skin as well. A look at the link explains why it works so well as skincare.
Someone asked me about the Goodfella razor sometime back, and I responded that I thought I had given it away. I hadn’t—I had just put it in the back of the drawer because the handle is not comfortable for me. I came across it a couple of days ago, so I’ve loaded it with a new Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade, and shaved with it today. The handle is still uncomfortable for me, though this time I did heed the advice I was given to grip it by the grooved section. Somehow the handle is too short, or the end is wrong, or something.
But I did get a fine shave, and (on reader request) used TOBS Mr. Sidney’s aftershave to try to identify the fragrance. I’m terrible at this. It smelled nice, okay? Like a barber shop. Very traditional sort of aftershave fragrance. Sorry I can’t say more. One of you guys who can identify fragrances and who has tried Mr. Sidney’s: what is it?
All in all, a fine shave, and tomorrow I’ll definitely try the Omega brush with this new method (which is simple: wet brush, hold soap bowl on its side, brush it vigorously and firmly, letting excess lather drain off, until you’ve more than worked up a good lather—at that point, the brush should be full of Creamy Lather).
I’ve finished looking through the text, and now I’m watching a very entertaining movie on Watch Instantly: Ladrón Que Roba A Ladrón. “Ladrón” means thief, burglar, robber. “Roba” is steal or rob. So: A Thief Who Robs a Thief. And I’m surprised at how much I’m catching. The movie itself is definitely worth a look. UPDATE: The movie’s better than that. It’s a comic-caper movie. I’m enjoying it a lot. I hope The Wife adds it to her queue.
And for sustenance I made a broccoli sort of soup again, but more intense:
3 crowns broccoli
1 small bunch red kale
1/2 bunch fresh spinach
1/2 large onion
5 cloves garlic
Several lashings of black pepper
Good squirt of sriracha sauce
Enough chicken stock to cover, about 1.5-2 qts
Bring to boil, cover, simmer 40 minutes. Blend with immersion blender. Mine turned out quite thick, which I like. I’m not much of a clear-soup man.
A fascinating article by Kyle Daly in the Washington Independent describes the backroom politicking to keep favorable findings on marijuana buried and secret. The citizens of the US are not to be treated as adults, apparently. The article begins:
In March, The American Independent was first to report that the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), had acknowledged the medicinal benefits of marijuana in its online treatment database. Newly obtained documents showing the development of NCI’s summary over months of emails and text revisions now reveal not only how NCI database contributors arrived at their March 17 summary of marijuana’s medical uses, but also the politicking that went into quickly scrubbing that summary of information regarding the drug’s potential tumor-fighting effects.
Phil Mocek, a civil liberties activist affiliated with the Cannabis Defense Coalition, obtained the documents as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he filed in March after reading The American Independent’s coverage of the NCI action. Mocek has made a portion of the hundreds of pages of at-times heated email exchanges and summary alterations available on MuckRock, a website devoted to FOIA requests and other government documents. The American Independent has obtained the remainder of the documents from Mocek.
As stated on NCI’s website, the treatment database is called the Physician Data Query (PDQ); the PDQ entry on marijuana (“cannabis and cannabinoids” are the terms NCI uses) is maintained by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Editorial Board. The lead reviewer of the marijuana summary statement is CAM board member Donald Abrams, the director of Integrative Oncology at the University of California-San Francisco cancer center.
Abrams is an advocate of the use of marijuana in cancer treatment, and his desire to provide a complete picture of its medical application becomes clear early in the documents. As the CAM board discussed the upcoming PDQ entry back in December, board director Jeffrey White asked for Abrams’ approval in including controversial results of an African study that some have claimed links marijuana use to cancer. Abrams came back with: . . .
Interesting article. Obviously, the smart thing is to learn Esperanto: easiest to learn, and you get the second-language protection against Alzheimer’s.
Of course, the difficulty might be the antidote, but still… Once you know Esperanto, you’re well positioned to learn a third foreign language.