Later On

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

Archive for December 25th, 2006

A successful Christmas dinner

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The best standing rib roast recipe method can count yet another terrific success, and the estimable horseradish sauce was again a fine accompaniment—though now I find that horseradish sauce too rich with the standing-rib (still good with smoked fish), and next time will use fresh horseradish, either grated or with thin julienne strips from the tender part.

We enjoyed an excellent California Zinfandel, and the cheese course was a fantastic idea—after a break and a nap, it served as dinner. The shallot confit was wonderful—and amazingly easy to prepare (as, indeed, was the entire dinner).

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Food

Orwell must have a wry smile

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Britain today—the rise of a police state?

It’s Saturday night in Middlesbrough, England, and drunken university students are celebrating the start of the school year, known as Freshers’ Week.

One picks up a traffic cone and runs down the street. Suddenly, a disembodied voice booms out from above:

“You in the black jacket! Yes, you! Put it back!” The confused student obeys as his friends look bewildered.

“People are shocked when they hear the cameras talk, but when they see everyone else looking at them, they feel a twinge of conscience and comply,” said Mike Clark, a spokesman for Middlesbrough Council who recounted the incident. The city has placed speakers in its cameras, allowing operators to chastise miscreants who drop coffee cups, ride bicycles too fast or fight outside bars.

Almost 70 years after George Orwell created the all-seeing dictator Big Brother in the novel 1984, Britons are being watched as never before. About 4.2 million spy cameras film each citizen 300 times a day, and police have built the world’s largest DNA database. Prime Minister Tony Blair said all Britons should carry biometric identification cards to help fight the war on terror.

“Nowhere else in the free world is this happening,” said Helena Kennedy, a human rights lawyer who also is a member of the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament. “The American public would find such inroads into civil liberties wholly unacceptable.”

During the past decade, the government has spent 500 million pounds ($1 billion) on spy cameras and now has one for every 14 citizens, according to a September report prepared for Information Commissioner Richard Thomas by the Surveillance Studies Network, a panel of U.K. academics.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:41 am

The sun from 5000km

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Our sun from 5000km

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:35 am

Posted in Science

The ten biggest mistakes of psychiatrists

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Quite interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:33 am

Posted in Medical, Mental Health

Fascinating story of Scientology’s attempted takeover of Clearwater

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NSFW: video with sound. But absolutely fascinating. Poor Katie Holmes. Hell, poor Tom Cruise.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:32 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

Mazes—LOTS of mazes

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Each maze can be printed from the PDF file, and each maze is followed by its solution (in the same file). Don’t look. The higher the maze number, the harder it is. The first ones are for the very young.

Posted as a service for Christmas afternoon downtime.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:25 am

Posted in Daily life

Things a man should know about fatherhood

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Good list:

1. Don’t worry, your dad didn’t know what he was doing, either.

2. No, no–not that Spock!

3. Second thought, maybe you should worry.

4. Never tell anybody that you and your wife are “trying.”

We really don’t need the visual, that’s why.

5. Never tell anybody where your child was conceived, how long it took, or what song was playing.

6. Do not name your baby after cities, geographical points of interest, features of the solar system, seasons, plants, animals, or current television stars.

7. Your child, at birth, already has a deeply complicated relationship with his mother, and, for the first year, you are only a curiosity.

For a couple of years after that, an amusement-park ride.

Then, a referee.

And finally, a bank.

8. If you want to subject your son to the unkindest cut, insist on a local anesthetic, since many pediatricians don’t bother to use one.

The anesthetic is for the kid.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:20 am

Posted in Daily life

25 best things ever said

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Daily Kos has this little compendium. I knew some, others were new to me.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 11:12 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

A little savings plan everyone can do

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Check out this easy savings plan. And then do it.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 10:47 am

Posted in Daily life

Very cool videos

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Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 10:44 am

Posted in Art, Science, Video

Peppermint ice cream

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The Younger Daughter got an ice-cream maker for Christmas, along with two silver ice-cream forks (from the days when silverware makers were vying to make special-purpose utensils). So now I sent her this recipe for peppermint ice cream. One note: always add crushed candies after the ice cream is solid. I once put in crushed peppermint candies at the beginning, and the candies dissolved, making a sugar solution that never would solidify.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 10:28 am

Posted in Recipes & Cooking

The Irresponsible GOP Administration

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The GOP Administration is fiscally irresponsible, much as it pains me to say it. They spend money like drunken celebrants, and they waste plenty as they spend:

The Defense Department paid two procurement operations at the Department of the Interior to arrange for Pentagon purchases totaling $1.7 billion that resulted in excessive fees and tens of millions of dollars in waste, documents show.

Defense turned to Interior, which manages federal lands and resources, in an effort to speed up its contracting. Interior is one of several government agencies allowed to manage contracts for other agencies in exchange for a fee.

But the arrangement between Interior and Defense “routinely violated rules designed to protect U.S. Government interests,” according to draft audit documents obtained by The Washington Post.

More than half of the contracts examined were awarded without competition or without checks to determine that the prices were reasonable, according to the audits by the inspectors general for Defense (DOD) and Interior (DOI). Ninety-two percent of the work reviewed was awarded without verifying that the contractors’ cost estimates were accurate; 96 percent was inadequately monitored.

In one instance, Interior officials bought armor to reinforce Army vehicles from a software maker. In another, Interior bought furniture for Defense from a company that apparently had not previously been in the furniture business. One contract worth $100 million, to lease office space for a top-secret intelligence unit in Northern Virginia, was awarded without competition. Defense auditors said that deal cost taxpayers millions more than necessary, and they have referred the matter for possible criminal investigation.

“These poor contracting practices have left DOD vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse and DOI vulnerable to sanctions and the loss of the public trust,” the Interior auditors concluded in their report.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 10:16 am

Megs the tunnel kitty

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Megs tunnel kitty

Megs, after months of ignoring the tunnels (so far as I can tell), has become a tunnel kitty. I see her there for nap after nap. The Wife points out that one of the pleasures of living with a cat is watching their preferences change as they go through one phase after another. Megs is in the tunnel phase right now.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 10:07 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Remember the poor

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Jesus of Nazareth was poor, and born into a poor family. He spent his life among the poor, helping as he could. This fact is glossed over in many wealthy Christian congregations, who are uncomfortable about the fact of poverty in our nation and world and ignore it to the extent possible. (I’m not thinking of George Bush in particular, but he’ll do as an example.)

Paul Krugman has an interesting comparison:

It’s the season for charitable giving. And far too many Americans, particularly children, need that charity.

Scenes of a devastated New Orleans reminded us that many of our fellow citizens remain poor, four decades after L.B.J. declared war on poverty. But I’m not sure whether people understand how little progress we’ve made. In 1969, fewer than one in every seven American children lived below the poverty line. Last year, although the country was far wealthier, more than one in every six American children were poor.

And there’s no excuse for our lack of progress. Just look at what the British government has accomplished over the last decade.

Although Tony Blair has been President Bush’s obedient manservant when it comes to Iraq, Mr. Blair’s domestic policies are nothing like Mr. Bush’s. Where Mr. Bush has sought to privatize the social safety net, Mr. Blair’s Labor government has defended and strengthened it. Where Mr. Bush and his allies accuse anyone who mentions income distribution of “class warfare,” the Blair government has made a major effort to reverse the surge in inequality and poverty that took place during the Thatcher years.

And Britain’s poverty rate, if measured American-style — that is, in terms of a fixed poverty line, not a moving target that rises as the nation grows richer — has been cut in half since Labor came to power in 1997.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 9:54 am

MediaFire is wonderful

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I’ve mentioned it before, but MediaFire continues to be a great file-hosting site. It shows the number of downloads for each file (I was pleased to see 69 downloads of the Robert Graves writing exercises, for example), and the tech support is extremely fast and helpful.

One interesting oddity: if you upload a file without being logged in, that file will not appear in the “My Files” list when you are logged in—but will appear in the “My Files” list if you are logged out (when you will see only the files uploaded when you weren’t logged in). So be sure to stay logged in so that your uploaded files will appear in the right list.

Great site, clean design, flawless operation, superb technical support—and free. What more could you ask?

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 9:02 am

Posted in Software

The Big Day

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Monday is always the Big Day: haven’t shaved for a day, and I use a shave stick. Extremely nice. This morning it was the QED Mocha-Java shave stick, and I used my gold Slant Bar which provided (once again) a perfect shave. I used the cute little Simpsons Classic Best Badger brush—small, but holds plenty of lather for multiple passes. Pinaud’s Vanilla aftershave.

And it’s Christmas! I hope you have a great holiday season and best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

—the LeisureGuy

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2006 at 8:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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