Later On

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

Archive for December 22nd, 2011

As predicted—but at least they’re accepting responsibility

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We were told repeatedly by the GOP that allowing gays to marry would threaten the marriages of heterosexuals (exact mechanism not clear), and now it has come to pass. Kevin Hoffman writes in CityPages:

The gay and lesbian community of Minnesota has issued a letter of apology to recently resigned Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch for ruining the institution of marriage and causing her to stray from her husband and engage in an “inappropriate relationship.”

“On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage,” reads the letter from John Medeiros. “We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.”

The letter comes on the heels of Koch’s own apology, released yesterday, in which she expressed her deep regret for “engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer.” Although the letter did not specify the identity of the other participant in the “inappropriate relationship,” it is widely rumored to be former communications chief Michael Brodkorb, who lost several positions with the GOP in the wake of the scandal.

Koch, Brodkorb, and their fellow Republicans campaigned this year to put a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman, thus forbidding gay marriage. Sadly, the amendment comes too late to prevent Koch from straying from her own marriage. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 December 2011 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Daily life

Swordfish sous-vide report

with 2 comments

First, I used a Hefty One-Zip Click 1-gallon plastic bag, the kind with a little zipper mechanism. This was perfect, as described below.

I used a good estate-bottled EVOO to coat both sides of the swordfish steak, then salted (kosher sea salt) and peppered both sides.

Side A: I sliced a whole Meyer lemon—a little guy, with very thin skin—into thin slices, and I used these to shingle one side of the swordfish steak, completely covering it. Good adherence due to oil. I carefully put the steak on my wide spatula, lemon side down.

Side B: On the up side, I first put crushed garlic on the swordfish, coating the side. Then I laid some fresh thyme atop that, and minced Kalamata olives over all.

I opened the gallon bag, laid it on its side, and used the spatula to place the fish at the bottom of the bag. I gently pressed the bag flat, then picked it up by the top, two-handed, and dipped it into the waiting beer cooler, filled with water at 132ºF. The fish was at the very bottom of a fairly deep bag, and its weight dragged the bottom down. The water pressure then completely collapsed the bag, driving the air upward. With almost all the air out of the bag, I zipped the top shut with a click. You can never do these things perfectly, and of course a tiny bit of air remained in the bag, but that turned out to be an advantage: it kept the top of the bag at the surface of the water, so that the swordfish could rest on the floor of the unit, well submerged and with the bag pressed closely to it.

In fact, when I removed the swordfish after about 2.5 hours (it was done long before, but it doesn’t hurt to sit there) and removed it from the bag, I found a little liquid in the bag, but conceivably from the lemon and/or the fish: not very much, at any rate. I dumped that, and scraped off the thyme to avoid twig-mouth. In the process I scraped off the olives, but I really just wanted those for flavor, and they did contribute.

The lemons were the most interesting: being cooked under pressure—even the mild water pressure at the bottom of a 24-qt beer cooler—had welded the lemon-slice shingles to the swordfish, which I though was great: I served that side up so that every bite had its own little lemon topping.

Extremely tasty, but somehow not so astonishingly good as the lamb. I think the lamb profits by a trick of association: when we remember the rich taste and unmistakeable mouth-feel of a perfectly done cut of meat, somewhere close by in associations are glowing coals, a grate, perhaps a few flames, smoke with a hint of hickory: all those constitute a kind of atmosphere of the taste—and then to get that same identical sense experience from a cut of meat you’ve pulled out of not especially hot water in a plastic bag… it’s astounding, is what it is.

But with the swordfish, one thinks, “Fish. Cooked. Water. Yeah.” It somehow all goes together, and while the swordfish tastes extremely good, it’s a taste in a familiar associational context, not the fish out of water (as it were) of the sous-vide lamb chop.

Anyway, I’m definitely sold. I wondered what my next obsession would be, and I think it’s arrived, like a train pulling into Paddington Station, clanging and hissing steam.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 December 2011 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Democrats behaving badly

with 2 comments

Certainly the GOP has no monopoly on bad behavior in politics and governing. Nick has pointed out in comments how the Democrats in the House and Senate all too often are eager to do the bidding of their corporate sponsors (I wish they would wear those little labels like race-car drivers), corrupted by association with moneyed power—much as union leaders over time became corrupted and stopped representing the interests of their members.

The GOP effort to prevent people from voting is despicable, but what the Democrats did in California is just as bad. Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson report for ProPublica:

This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible.

In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate.

The question facing House Democrats as they met to contemplate the state’s new realities was delicate: How could they influence an avowedly nonpartisan process? Alexis Marks, a House aide who invited members to the meeting, warned the representatives that secrecy was paramount. “Never say anything AT ALL about redistricting — no speculation, no predictions, NOTHING,” Marks wrote in an email. “Anything can come back to haunt you.”

In the weeks that followed, party leaders came up with a plan. Working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — a national arm of the party that provides money and support to Democratic candidates — members were told to begin “strategizing about potential future district lines,” according to another email.

The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.

When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.

In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map.

California’s Democratic representatives got much of what they wanted from the 2010 redistricting cycle, especially in the northern part of the state. “Every member of the Northern California Democratic Caucus has a ticket back to DC,” said one enthusiastic memo written as the process was winding down. “This is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region.” . . .

Continue reading—there’s a lot more.

I certainly agree that “this is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region” if by that he means that this is a despicable effort to undermine the foundations of democracy and deceive the public and the government. I hope the authors of this plan go to prison, which they richly deserve. They won’t. The US as a democracy is crumbling fast.

Here’s the reaction from the GOP, which is (naturally enough) displeased, though with apparently no recognition that the GOP is pursuing much the same course through their voter-disenfranchisement plant.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 December 2011 at 8:12 am

Cella, Vitos, Floïd, Feather — We had a great time!

with 8 comments

First, the pre-shave soap this morning was one suggested by NoHelmet and another shaver on Wicked_Edge: Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with tea-tree oil. Not bad at all, but I find I prefer a solid bar to a liquid soap.

I decided to use my Rod Neep Dreadnaught today, a brush with a massive mane. And someone asked whether Vitos Red Label was like Cella, so I thought I’d do a face-off (as it were). First pass-and-a-half with Vitos, rest with Cella.

Cella is pretty clearly superior to Vitos—and given the price differential, this is as it should be. Cella’s lather was thicker, more protective, and more fragrant. In fact, by the end of the shave I had moved Cella back onto the bathroom counter for more frequent use: it’s really quite a good soap that I have unaccountably overlooked.

The Feather premium with a much-used Feather blade did its usual superb job: three passes to perfect smoothness.

The blue Floîd was to t4et the fragrance, which one shaver’s wife recently characterized as “feminine.” Gender specificity in fragrances is tricky: the English have classically considered rose a manly fragrance—and I have to say that I like it a lot—but others might consider it feminine. I saw vanilla referred to as a feminine fragrance, but Paul Sebastian aftershave, a favorite, has a strong vanilla note.

In any event blue Floîd seemed plenty masculine enough for me, but I had forgotten the menthol content so hit an unexpected cold zone. That passed, I’m fine, and the shave is terrific.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 December 2011 at 8:02 am

Posted in Shaving

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