Later On

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

Archive for December 22nd, 2006

Media Matters matters

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Read just these two articles:

Jamison Foser’s response to media critics of the blogosphere; and

The 10 Most Outrageous Comments of 2006

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Government, Media

Microsoft Vista: Longest suicide note in history?

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Interesting post. It begins:

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it’s not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista’s content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Business, Software

Chocolate cake—for those who like chocolate

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From The Wednesday Chef:

Bake this up when you’ve got a free hour or so, all the rest is in the chilling and unchilling, as it were. The French family from whom the recipe originated (of course) baked the cake in a loaf pan, which I plan to do next time (just think, a pale plate with a pool of raspberry sauce, perhaps, and a slice of this delectable chocolate loaf lying on top – gorgeous, no?).

It’s not an entirely flourless cake, so it has a nice crumb, for those of us who love old-fashioned chocolate cakes. But the structure of the cake also allows for a dangerously creamy center that flirts with decadence. Topped with a vanilla-scented dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream, it’s a show-stopper, it really is. Not too intense, and not too light: just right.

And now for one bit of sentimentality, dear readers. You’ve made this year a glorious one for me and I can’t thank you enough. For reading every day, for cheering me on when I needed it most, for being so enthusiastic, and for showing me that the world inside my computer screen is a rich and wonderful one, indeed. I hope you all have peaceful holidays, wherever you may celebrate them. See you in the New Year!

Azo Family Chocolate Cake
Yields 10 servings

8½ ounces (2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (50 percent or higher cocoa), chopped
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Whipped cream for serving

1. Place rack in top third of oven and heat to 400 degrees. (For best results, use a separate oven thermometer.) Butter a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. In a double boiler or microwave oven, melt together 8½ ounces butter and the chocolate. Stir to blend.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together egg yolks and sugar. Stir in flour. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into chocolate mixture just until blended. Pour into cake pan.

3. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 1 hour. Wrap with foil and refrigerate until cake is firm and cold, at least 2 hours. Two hours before serving, remove cake from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Slice (center of cake will be fudgy) and serve, if desired, with whipped cream.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Recipes & Cooking

Osso buco recipe

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I do love osso buco, and in fact have a couple of recipes of my own invention for it. But this one, from Simply Recipes, looks particularly good. Pancetta is the secret ingredient in this one, so search it out. Photos at the link.

If you get your veal shanks in a pre-wrapped package, beware: the butcher often orients the shank sections so that it looks as though the bone contains a lot of marrow, but when you turn it over, it’s just solid bone. I suggest you ask the butcher to either open the package or simply sell you some veal shanks that are marrow bone straight through.

Osso Buco” means “hole of bone” because this marrow provides the rich flavor to the sauce. A marrow spoon, one of those long skinny spoons found in old sterling silverware sets, would come in handy with this dish, as the succulent shank marrow can be tricky to extract (I used the skinny end of a teaspoon). The gremolata (parsley, lemon zest and garlic) is an important garnish for this dish, don’t skip.

1/4 pound pancetta, diced 1/4 inch cubes (do not substitute bacon)
2-1/2 to 3 pounds veal shanks (4 to 6 pieces 2-3 inches thick)
1/2 cup diced carrot (1/4 inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch cubes)
1 medium onion, diced 1/4 inch pieces
2 Tbsp (about 4 cloves) chopped garlic
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 cup dry white wine
1-2 cups chicken or veal stock
Flour for dusting the meat before browning
Salt and Pepper

Gremolata
2 Tbsp Minced flat (Italian) parsley
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 Preheat oven to 325°F.

2 Heat a dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat for about five minutes. Add pancetta to pan, cook, stirring occasionally. When the pancetta is crisp and most of the fat has rendered (about 5 minutes of cooking), remove the pancetta to a plate covered with some paper towel and set aside. If necessary, drain off all but two tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

3 Season the veal shank well with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal shanks through some flour, shake off any excess, and add the meat to the hot fat in the pan. Increase the heat to medium high and cook the meat on each side until well browned (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the shanks to a plate, set aside.

4 Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the dutch oven. Cook the onion mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent (about five minutes) and toss in the garlic and thyme. Continue cooking until the vegetables just begin to brown (about 10 minutes).

5 Add the shanks and the pancetta back to the pan. Pour in the wine, and then add enough stock to come a little more than half way up the side of the shanks. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and put it in the oven to cook until the meat is tender, about an hour to an hour and a half.

6 Combine the gremolata ingredients, place in a separate small serving dish.

Serves 4 to 6, depending on how many shanks you have, one shank per person. Serve on top of risotto or polenta (for low carb version, skip the risotto or polenta). Sprinkle with gremolata.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Happy kettles make for a happy cook

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Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 10:15 am

Posted in Daily life

More on the glycemic index

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Note this article (my emphases):

One fundamental assumption about foods with a low glycemic index is they release glucose into your blood more slowly, mainly because of a slower rate of digestion. This, in turn, is supposed to minimize the release of insulin.

Although it might sound like an elegant idea, the reality is far more complex.

The profit of a business, for example, depends not only on how much money a company is making, but also on how much it’s spending. In much the same way, blood sugar levels depend on the rate at which glucose appears in the blood, as well as the rate at which it’s cleared.

The speed at which glucose is removed from the blood depends mainly on the hormone insulin. In other words, a food can have a low glycemic index because the glucose is released into your bloodstream more slowly, or because it’s cleared more quickly.

A good example of this comes from a study published in the October 2003 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin compared two breakfast cereals — Kellogg’s All-Bran Original and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Both cereals contained 50 grams of available carbohydrate (available carbohydrate is the total amount of carbohydrate minus fiber).

The glycemic index (measured over a three-hour period) of the Corn Flakes was more than twice that of the All-Bran (131.5 compared with 54.5).

However, there were no significant differences in the rate at which sugar appeared in the blood. This might come as a surprise to some people, especially when you consider the large amount of fiber (38.5 grams) in the All-Bran.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 10:02 am

Posted in Food, Health

Man in prison tracks down actual killer

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This is amazing:

A convicted murderer proved his innocence by investigating his own case from behind bars at a maximum-security prison and identifying the real killer. Roy Brown appeared before a judge last night to ask for a pardon after 16 years in jail for a crime he had proved conclusively that he did not commit.

Brown had always protested his innocence, denying that he stabbed and strangled a female social worker to death at a farmhouse in upstate New York in 1991, and he managed to investigate and solve the crime from his prison cell. Five days after he wrote a letter to the local fireman he had identified as the real murderer, the man killed himself by lying in front of an oncoming train.

“Witnesses can commit perjury, judges can be fooled and juries can make mistakes,” wrote Brown. “When it comes to DNA testing, there’s no mistakes. DNA is God’s creation and God makes no mistakes.”

Yesterday he petitioned a judge for his freedom after DNA taken from bite marks on the victim’s night shirt confirmed his theory of the crime.

The judge, Peter Corning, who presided over the original trial and retires on December 31, last night delayed his decision until a full hearing on January 22.

Lawyers from the Innocence Project, a university-based law centre that argued his case, were pushing for his immediate release. He is suffering from a liver disease and awaiting a transplant.

“Roy wrote to us, like thousands do every year,” said Eric Ferrero, of the Innocence Project, which has overturned 188 convictions with DNA evidence. “What is unusual is somebody sitting in his prison cell solving the case. This is the first time we have seen that.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 8:29 am

Posted in Government

Direct action against marijuana laws

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This is surprising, but it certainly is legal—first amendment and all that:

A one-time Texas drug agent described by his former boss as perhaps the best narcotics officer in the country plans to market a how-to video on concealing drugs and fooling police.

Barry Cooper, who has worked for small police departments in East Texas, plans to launch a Web site next week where he will sell his video, “Never Get Busted Again,” the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported in its online edition Thursday.

A promotional video says Cooper will show viewers how to “conceal their stash,” “avoid narcotics profiling” and “fool canines every time.”

Cooper, who said he favors the legalization of marijuana, made the video in part because he believes the nation’s fight against drugs is a waste of resources. Busting marijuana users fills up prisons with nonviolent offenders, he said.

“My main motivation in all of this is to teach Americans their civil liberties and what drives me in this is injustice and unfairness in our system,” Cooper told the newspaper.

Cooper said his Web site should be operating by Tuesday.

As a drug officer, Cooper said, he made more than 800 drug arrests and seized more than 50 vehicles and $500,000 in cash and assets.

“He was even better than he says he was,” said Tom Finley, Cooper’s former boss on a West Texas drug task force and now a private investigator in Midland. “He was probably the best narcotics officer in the state and maybe the country during his time with the task force.”

News of the video has angered authorities, including Richard Sanders, an agent with the Tyler Drug Enforcement Agency. Sanders said he plans to investigate whether the video violates any laws.

“It outrages me personally as I’m sure it does any officer that has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this state, and nation,” Sanders said. “It is clear that his whole deal is to make money and he has found some sort of scheme, but for him to go to the dark side and do this is infuriating.”

Smith County Deputy Constable Mark Waters, a narcotics officer, said the video is insulting to law enforcement officials.

“This is a slap in the face to all that we do to uphold the laws and keep the public safe,” he said.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 8:24 am

Posted in Drug laws

50 greatest cartoons

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Oh, my—there goes the day: the 50 best movie cartoons and a link to an on-line video of each.

Update: Hmmm, quite a few are “no longer available,” though the Warner Brothers cartoons are there—including one of my all-time favorites, “One Froggy Evening.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 8:13 am

Posted in Humor, Movies & TV

More weird and interesting

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Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 7:35 am

Posted in Daily life

The GOP: an endless morass of immorality

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Although this one is pretty funny: Todd Schriber, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., solicited two hackers to hack into his college records system and upgrade his GPA. The GPA must be pretty low, because Todd Schriber is palpably an idiot. Here’s the report, which includes a link to the correspondence.

TalkingPointsMemo has more, including this little gem:

It pretty much goes down hill from there, with the highlight probably being the request for pictures. The ‘hackers’ ask for pictures of the campus with squirrels and pigeons to make sure he’s ‘legit’. He says he doesn’t live near campus anymore. Remember, he lives in DC, not Texas. So they tell him any picture of a pigeon or squirrel will do. Don’t ask. You’ve got to read it to believe it.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 7:05 am

Posted in GOP, Humor, Technology

Megs in her tunnel

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Megs in tunnel Megs brighteyes

I don’t see Megs in her tunnels much, but she may use them a lot more than I know. I snapped the first photo, which made her look around for the second. It’s cold and rainy here today, a very good day for sleeping in a furry tunnel.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 7:01 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Oil welfare

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Kevin Drum notes:

An Interior Department report completed last year concluded that federal incentives for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (a) funnel tens of billions of dollars to oil companies, (b) don’t produce very much additional oil, and (c) the oil they do produce is more expensive than just buying the stuff on the open market. At least, that’s what the report would have concluded a year ago if the Bush administration had been willing to release it:

After repeated requests, the department provided a copy to The New York Times with a “note to readers” that said the report did not show the “actual effects” of incentives. Indeed, Interior officials contended that the cost of the incentives would turn out to be far less than the study concluded.

They also said that the nation benefits from even small amounts of additional domestic fossil fuels.

But industry analysts who compare oil policies around the world said the United States was much more generous to oil companies than most other countries, demanding a smaller share of revenues than others that let private companies drill on public lands and in public waters. In addition, they said, the United States has sweetened some of its incentives in recent years, while dozens of other countries demanded a bigger share of revenue.

Goodness. I’m shocked that a Republican administration didn’t want this information to become public. Just shocked.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 6:57 am

Krugman on the deficit and what we should do

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Paul Krugman points out that the Democrats should not directly address the deficit:

Now that the Democrats have regained some power, they have to decide what to do. One of the biggest questions is whether the party should return to Rubinomics — the doctrine, associated with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, that placed a very high priority on reducing the budget deficit.

The answer, I believe, is no. Mr. Rubin was one of the ablest Treasury secretaries in American history. But it’s now clear that while Rubinomics made sense in terms of pure economics, it failed to take account of the ugly realities of contemporary American politics.

And the lesson of the last six years is that the Democrats shouldn’t spend political capital trying to bring the deficit down. They should refrain from actions that make the deficit worse. But given a choice between cutting the deficit and spending more on good things like health care reform, they should choose the spending.

In a saner political environment, the economic logic behind Rubinomics would have been compelling. Basic fiscal principles tell us that the government should run budget deficits only when it faces unusually high expenses, mainly during wartime. In other periods it should try to run a surplus, paying down its debt.

Since the 1990s were an era of peace, prosperity and favorable demographics (the baby boomers were still in the work force, not collecting Social Security and Medicare), it should have been a good time to put the federal budget in the black. And under Mr. Rubin, the huge deficits of the Reagan-Bush years were transformed into an impressive surplus.

But the realities of American politics ensured that it was all for naught. The second President Bush quickly squandered the surplus on tax cuts that heavily favored the wealthy, then plunged the budget deep into deficit by cutting taxes on dividends and capital gains even as he took the country into a disastrous war. And you can even argue that Mr. Rubin’s surplus was a bad thing, because it greased the rails for Mr. Bush’s irresponsibility.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 6:53 am

Gays in the military

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One of the standard arguments against allowing gays in the military is that it would make the men uncomfortable to share barracks, shower, etc., with gays.

This strikes me as an extremely odd argument. Generally speaking, military decisions are not made with an eye to the comfort of the troops. I imagined a scene:

The lieutenant steps into the captain’s tent and salutes. “You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Ah, there you are, lieutenant,” the captain says. He gestures the lieutenant forward, to a table on which is laid a large map of the area. The captain points to an intersection some way outside the city. “I want you and your men to set up a checkpoint there, 24/7. Keep an eye on everything that goes by.”

The lieutenant looks attentively at the map. “Yes, sir,” he says. He clears his throat. “One thing…”

“Yes?”

“I’ve seen that crossroads. It’s pretty bleak there—a little sand, but mostly hard-packed dirt and rocks.”

“So?”

“And, well, sir, it gets cold at night in the desert, demned cold. I fear that the men may not be—well, comfortable, sir.”

“Hmmm.” The captain thinks. “Good point, lieutenant. I hadn’t thought of that.” He stares at the map.

The lieutenant says, “If I may, sir?” The captain nods. The lieutenant taps the map, indicating a building toward the interior of the city. “This hotel, sir? It still has running water—and hot water, sir.”

“Ah.” The captain nods. “And what about the chef and the kitchen staff?”

“Still on board, sir.”

The captain nods affirmatively. “Well, that’s just the ticket then. Sounds as though it will be quite comfortable. Have your men take the hotel and bivouac there for now.”

“Yes, sir!” says the lieutenant, saluting smartly.

“Can’t have the men feeling uncomfortable, can we?” the captain says, chuckling.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 6:28 am

Posted in Military

Morning report

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The Valobra shave stick worked fine, producing a great lather with the Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super Badger. I used the Gillette Fat Boy adjustable and got an extremely smooth shave today, no nicks. Taylor of Old Bond Street Bay Rum aftershave.

And, since I weigh in tomorrow, I did a little preview, and the news this Friday is quite good. Unless something untoward happens, the Saturday morning weigh-in should be highly satisfying. Since today’s calories are planned at 1476 (by calorie: carbs 54%, fat 24%, protein 22%, with 41g fiber), nothing untoward seems likely.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2006 at 6:20 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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