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Comparing GOP priorities with the priority of the people of the US

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The NBC/WSJ poll found that the American public had these priorities for the new Congress (in order):

  1.   Access to lower cost student loans–80% support.
  2.   Increase spending on infrastructure–75%
  3.   Raising the minimum wage–65%
  4.   Emergency funding for fighting Ebola in Africa–60%
  5.   Addressing climate change/reducing carbon emissions–59%
  6.   Building Keystone Pipeline–54%

The GOP, which will control both houses of Congress, has listed its own priorities:

  1.   Authorize Keystone Pipeline.
  2.   Repeal ACA (“Obamacare”)
  3.   Pass the “Hire More Heroes” (veterans) Act.
  4.   Pass Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Asia.
  5.   Lower corporate taxes.
  6.   Thwarting Obama on Immigration Executive Action.
  7.   Reign in the EPA and roll back environmental regulations.

Elections have consequences, and not voting is a dumb choice.

More information in this Daily Kos post.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 4:18 pm

ProPublica‘s Muck Reads

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Here they are. A couple of examples from the link:

“Penn State was no surprise. Abuse like this has been going on forever.” Outside magazine examines the legacy of sexual abuse in competitive U.S. swimming. The problem is so pervasive that in 2010, USA Swimming took the unusual step of creating a public list of coaches and officials banned for code of conduct violations, including sexual advances or contact with athletes. The list includes 106 members, 73 of whom were banned for sexual misconduct — punishment experts say is the exception in “the only country without a national government agency for these children.” — Outside via @amzam

That wasn’t a piece of meat with eyes, that was a human being.” It was 24-year-old Dennis Munson Jr.’s first kickboxing fight. The first round went OK. The third round didn’t. Within five hours, he was dead. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found that kickboxing – unlike mixed martial arts – isn’t regulated by the state. This leaves promoters to oversee their own matches. A “cascade of errors” identified by the Sentinel and fight experts during the course of Munson’s fight, as well as dangerous weight cutting in lead up – all areas that are regulated in some other states – may have cost him his life. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via @john_diedrich

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

How to season cast-iron cookware: Use flaxseed oil

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I found this post quite interesting, and I am definitely going to try reseasoning my Griswold skillets.

She mentions cleaning out the old seasoning (and grease build-up) in a cast-iron skillet by using oven cleaner. If you have a self-cleaning oven, it’s even easier: just leave the skillet in the oven for a cleaning cycle. When the cleaning cycle is done, the skillet will be covered with gray dust, easily rinsed away.

And then… flaxseed oil. Who knew?

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 11:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Recipes, Science

Has our country become mean-spirited: Denying food to children

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In ThinkProgress, Bryce Cover has a summary report of what strikes me as a new and mean-spirited attitude:

First grader Xavier says that when the lunch lady at his Snohomish County School District school was recently handing out bagged lunches to all the students, she told him, “Guess what, you can’t have a lunch.”

His father says Xavier is on the school lunch program, but he was sent home without eating and with a slip saying he had a negative lunch balance.

A school spokesperson told Q13 Fox News that if a student’s account goes $20 or more into the red, he should still get a cheese sandwich, a drink, and unlimited fruits and vegetables. But Xavier says he didn’t get anything to eat, and his father argues that this shouldn’t apply to his son anyway since he gets federally funded lunches. “My question was never answered as to why he was denied,” he said.

“It happened to me as a child and I can still feel that hurt and I can only imagine what he went through,” Xavier’s dad said. “It made me feel really bad for him. That’s not right. That’s like saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have your book bag so you can’t have your education.’ You can’t do that. Feed them. They need to eat. They need to concentrate. They can’t concentrate without eating. I just don’t want this to happen to any other kid. It’s hurtful.”

But these kinds of incidents are not uncommon. A school in Utah threw out about 40 elementary students’ lunches because their parents were behind on payments. [Threw out the food rather than have the children eat it! I thought Utah was religious. – LG] A school in Texas threw out a student’s breakfast because his account was 30 cents short. [Again: better to destroy food than allow children to eat it. - LG] Those who get free lunches have also been humiliated, as students in a Colorado school who had their hands stamped in front of better off classmates. A Congressman even floated the idea that students who get free meals should be made to earn them by sweeping school floors.

Some school districts are taking a different approach that could do away with hunger problems, public shaming, and fights over account balances altogether. They’re participating in a federal program that allows them to give all students in the district free breakfast and lunch, regardless of income. So far districts in Boston, Chicago,Dallas, Indianapolis, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina have signed up, and New York City has explored the idea. The change reduces paperwork for parents and for schools, which reduces costs, while it also helps parents who had originally fallen just outside income eligibility limits.

It also addresses the hunger crisis in America’s schools. Three-quarters of the country’s teachers say they have students regularly showing up to class hungry. More than one in five children live in a food insecure household. Hunger has a particular impact on the young, as it can hamper their cognitive and social development and puts them at greater risk of mental illness. If more students got free breakfast, it would mean a significant boost to test scores and graduation rates and a drop in absences.

In districts that haven’t enrolled in the federal meals program, however, some private citizens have stepped in. A man in Texas paid off students’ balances so they could keep eating full meals. A first grade teacher in New Mexico started a program to send students home with backpacks full of food.

There is something seriously wrong with the attitude reflected in these stories.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 November 2014 at 10:04 am

The U-curve of happiness: What underlies the mid-life crisis

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 November 2014 at 6:06 pm

Chicken alla Cacciatora tonight: A new variation

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I started with my 6-qt, 10″-diameter stainless pot and this recipe, which I revised as follows:

Cut 6 pieces not especially thick pepper bacon into squares, sauté until browned and crisp. Remove cooked bacon pieces with slotted spoon.

Add some olive oil (probably 3-4 Tbsp) and brown the chicken, which for me was 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks and shaken in a plastic bag with 1/2 cup flower, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper.

I browned the chicken in batches, and by the second and third batch I had to add a little oil. As soon as I removed the chicken, I deglazed the pan with about 1/3 c red wine, then added the chopped vegetables. In addition to those in the recipe, I added:

3 ancho chiles, seeded and cut into thin strips – [These didn't go well with other flavors. Omit. - LG]
6-8 domestic white mushrooms, chopped
6-8 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

I skipped the bay leaf, and I used fresh rosemary, stripped from twig and chopped fine.

After sauteing the vegetables, I added about 1/3 c red wine and reduced it somewhat, then added the sauteed chicken, the bacon, and the following:

26.46 oz carton of chopped Roma tomatoes
3 large fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c pignolas (maybe about 1-2 Tbsp more)
3/4 c pitted Kalamata olives

I cook it covered, and I’m giving it 45 minutes with occasional stirring and scraping of bottom of pot.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 November 2014 at 3:41 pm

European science’s great leap backward

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Michael Specter writes at the New Yorker:

Since 2012, the distinguished Scottish biologist Anne Glover has served as chief scientific adviser to the President of the European Commission. When José Manuel Barroso, who was then President, appointed her to the post, he described the job as one that should “provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation.”

Last week, Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who has just succeeded Barroso, announced that he would not reappoint Glover. In fact, Juncker, the former Prime Minster of Luxembourg, abolished the position of chief scientific adviser entirely. The decision was a clear victory for Greenpeace and its hidebound allies, who had long sought Glover’s dismissal.

The complaint against Glover was simple: when providing scientific advice to the commission on a range of issues, from nanotechnology to G.M.O.s, she invoked data rather than rely on politics or whim. Last year, at a conference in Scotland, for example, she said that there was “not a single piece of scientific evidence” to support critics’ claims that food produced from G.M.O.s was less safe than food grown in any other way. “No other foodstuff has been so thoroughly investigated as G.M.,” Glover said, and described the opposition as “a form of madness.”

This kind of talk from a public scientist was too much for European activists to bear. In July, several groups, led by Greenpeace, expressed their displeasure with Glover in a letter to Juncker: “The current CSA presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety.… We hope that you as the incoming Commission President will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser.” Score one for the Luddites.

When commenting on Glover’s dismissal, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said, “President Juncker believes in independent scientific advice. He has not yet decided how to institutionalize this independent scientific advice.” This sentiment would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. When politicians reject verifiable data and reputable research and rely instead on politics or desire, the results can be devastating. To cite a particularly painful example, Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa and an AIDSdenier, refused to recognize Western pharmaceutical solutions to the H.I.V. epidemic. In urging the use of home remedies like beetroot and garlic instead of anti-retroviral drugs, Mbeki hastened the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Glover has been dismissed at a time when there has never been a broader scientific consensus about the safety of agricultural biotechnology or better data to support that consensus. Recently, for example, researchers at the University of Göttingen published a comprehensive analysis of studies that have assessed the impact of G.M. crops. It found that the agronomic and economic benefits, not only in the United States but in the developing world, have been significant: “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.”

The World Heath Organization has repeatedly weighed in on the safety of genetically engineered products, proclaiming, “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of G.M. foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.” Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine has come to the same conclusion: “Foods derived from G.M. crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than fifteen years with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health) despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries the U.S.A.” In addition to the W.H.O. and the Royal Society, scientific organizations from around the world, including the European Commission and, in the United States, the National Academy of Sciences, have strongly endorsed the safety of G.M. foods. (It should be noted that the U.S. can claim no superiority in our approach to evidence-based science, as demonstrated by the fact that nearly half of the country rejects the “theory” of evolution, and that vaccination rates in the fancier precincts of Los Angeles are comparable to those in Sudan.)

Scientific leaders were outraged by Juncker’s action. . .

Continue reading.

Greenpeace is drunk on righteousness.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 November 2014 at 11:07 am


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