Later On

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

Archive for August 4th, 2007

Question on Roma tomatoes

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The Wife did not know that Roma tomatoes thicken as they cook, which is why they’re good for tomato sauces. But then when I told her, I wondered whether I actually knew that. That is, was it one of those things that one knows but isn’t so? Is it just that Roma tomatoes are not so juicy as slicing tomatoes, and if one seeded the slicing tomatoes they would also thicken when cooked?

Does anyone have a good answer?

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Extremely interesting comment by Hillary on healthcare

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Kevin Drum:

 In the venture capital biz, running a business into the ground is no badge of shame. Venture capitalists know that 80% of their startups will fail, and they generally figure that someone who’s failed once probably learned something from the experience and will do better the next time. If you come back asking for money for a second startup, there’s a good chance you’ll get it.

In politics this is much less the case, despite the fact that a very high failure rate is to be expected there too. The reason I mention this is that one of the longtime knocks against Hillary Clinton has been the failure of her 1994 healthcare plan, for which she deservedly gets plenty of blame. But what does this mean? That she’s gun shy and won’t ever try again? Or that she learned something from the experience and will be better able to navigate the political currents next time? Well, it turns out that someone asked her exactly that at YearlyKos and Matt Yglesias claims that, in response, she “hit the ball out of the park.”

But what did she actually say? Unfortunately, I can’t find a transcript or a video, but Ezra Klein summarizes it this way:

  1. It’s not enough to have a plan, you need to have a political strategy, too.
  2. It’s imperative that as we go forward we put together a coalition of as many groups who’ll be affected — doctors nurses, hospital administrators, etc — as possible, and steel them to withstand the incredible blowback we’ll get from the drug companies and insurers. In other words, you need a proactive, sympathetic coalition able to create a counterweight to industry forces.
  3. I learned a lot about the tactical end of things. I don’t have the time in 90 seconds to tell you of all the mistakes I made, but being in the Senate has taught me an enormous amount about how to marry my proposal with the process. This will be my highest domestic priority.

Interesting! Her highest domestic priority. I’ll be waiting to see if she elaborates at some point when she has more than 90 seconds.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 3:01 pm

Tasty chicken with pasta

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Tasty chicken

Here’s what we having today. But one ingredient I’m quite suspicious of:

2 chicken drumsticks and 2 thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
8 ounces oyster mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 10-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (and juices), crushed by hand
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 pound torchio, campanelle or other torch or bell-shaped pasta
Grated pecorino Sardo, for garnish
Chopped fresh oregano, for garnish.

What’s with the 10-ounce can of tomatoes? I’ve never heard of canned tomatoes in that size. Is this a typo?

UPDATE: I asked, and got the answer that she used 1/2 of a 28-oz can of tomatoes, hence 10 ounces. (?) At any rate, I used an entire 28-oz can of tomatoes, since in making the thing there seemed to be not enough tomatoes with just 10 oz.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 2:26 pm

Voting machine companies don’t like criticism

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See for yourself:

Representatives from three voting machine companies expressed their criticisms against a California state-sponsored “top-to-bottom review” that found “very real” vulnerabilities in their products.

The study was lead by UC Davis professor Matt Bishop, who discussed the study at a hearing held by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, whose office is currently deciding whether or not to allow the machines’ use during the Feb. 5 presidential primary.

Under a contract with UC Davis and Bowen’s office, Bishop’s study examined machines from Diebold Election Systems, Hart Intercivic, and Sequoia Voting Systems. The conclusions, partially released last week, included findings that the voting systems posed difficulties for voters with disabilities and were vulnerable to intrusion. “It may be that all of [the vulnerabilities] can be protected against. It may be that some cannot,” said Bishop.  According to Secretary Bowen, a fourth company, Election Systems & Software, was also to be included in the review but was omitted because it was late in providing needed information to her office.

According to state law, Bowen has until Friday to set the rules for the upcoming primary election.  “I intend to go through a methodical process to determine what to do next,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 1:56 pm

When Intelligent Design went to court

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From the New Scientist:

IN A time of despair over social and political decay in the US, Gordy Slack’s The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything is a truly uplifting tale. It is the story of how community activists, concerned parents and passionately driven lawyers came together in Dover, Pennsylvania, to defend the constitution and keep religion out of science classrooms. It all happened less than two years ago, so this is history in the making. The American spirit is as alive and feisty as ever.

At stake in the Dover battle was whether intelligent design (ID) could be taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution. If you thought this was tedious, academic or even trivial, think again. Slack helps us realise there was an element of “What if the South had won?” or “What if the Nazis had won?” to the conflict. To contemplate “What if the intelligent designers had won?” is to glimpse the entire nation headed in an unsettling direction. The Dover trial had the potential to be as powerful in cultural dynamics and precedent setting as a reversal of Roe vs Wade.

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 1:54 pm

Free will—may it needs redefining?

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From New Scientist:

Redefine the concept of free will? Only a Nobel laureate would have the nerve. Last year, the Dutch physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft announced that the weird effects that spring from quantum mechanics arise from a deeper deterministic reality based on classical physics. People objected that his theory appeared to rob us of free will, and now ‘t Hooft has responded by moving the goalposts. No, we don’t have free will as it is commonly understood, he says – but that’s because the way it is commonly understood is wrong.

‘t Hooft, of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, shared a Nobel prize in 1999 for laying the mathematical foundations for the standard model of particle physics. Like Einstein, he was troubled by the indeterminism at the heart of quantum mechanics, according to which particles do not have clearly defined properties before you measure them, and you can never predict with certainty what the outcome of your measurements will be. So ‘t Hooft constructed a deterministic alternative which showed that fundamental states which exist on the smallest scales do start out with clearly defined properties. Information about these states gets blurred over time, until we are no longer able to tell how they initially arose – leading to their apparently probabilistic quantum nature, he says.

However, mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen at Princeton University showed that if ‘t Hooft’s theory is true, then people’s ability to make instantaneous, unpredictable choices on a whim is similarly constrained – we don’t have free will (New Scientist, 4 May 2006, p 8 ).

The revelation has been a stumbling block for his theory, ‘t Hooft admits. “It’s not the mathematics that loses other physicists,” he says. “It’s this metaphysical worry about free will. Why worry at all about a notion so flimsy as ‘free will’ in a theory of physics?”

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Hurricane frequency up over past century

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More evidence of global warming:

Here’s a conundrum. If global warming is indeed responsible for the increase in hurricane frequency in the North Atlantic, then how come we’ve had only one tropical storm and one sub-tropical storm so far this year? In 2005, there were four tropical storms and three hurricanes before the end of July.

Don’t be fooled. It’s not unusual for this time of year to be quiet, and most years July passes without a single tropical storm, says Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. However, we are about to enter the busiest part of the season: “Come 10 or 15 August, it all goes mad.”

Holland and colleague Peter Webster at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, see more busy seasons in the offing. From an analysis of North Atlantic records dating back to 1850, they conclude that climate change triggered three major shifts in the number of tropical storms during the 20th century. The first came in 1905, heralding a 25-year period with a seasonal average of six tropical storms or hurricanes. From 1931, that number jumped to 9.4 per year, and hovered at that level until 1994. The last big shift came in 1995, starting a 10-year period with an annual average of 14.8 storms. Last season was comparatively quiet, with only nine storms, but it would have been an average season a few decades ago (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2007.2083).

The two hikes are clear, say Holland and Webster – there is almost no variation between 1931 and 1994, then a rapid increase. The pair conclude that greenhouse warming is largely to blame, and point out that sea-surface temperatures in the North Atlantic increased around the same times that the storm frequency jumped.

This runs counter to some earlier studies, which found that storm counts rose and fell periodically, with 30 to 40 quiet years followed by 30 to 40 busy years, but no long-term change. “That was always a very, very weak case,” says Kerry Emanuel, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The fraction of storms that become major hurricanes does vary cyclically, and has shown no marked trend over the past century, but that in itself is no cause for complacency, Holland says. “The bad news is that we’re now seeing both an increase in the proportion of major hurricanes and in the overall number of storms.” With global warming raising storm frequencies above those dating back more than 150 years, he warns that “we are moving into territory that we don’t understand”.

Or are we? Chris Landsea at the US National Hurricane Center thinks the apparent long-term increase arises from the undercounting of storms before satellite observation records. He insists that storm numbers vary cyclically rather than with global warming.

Despite these doubts, concern over the issue is spreading. The US Congress has recently introduced bills to create a National Hurricane Research Initiative. Right now, more uncertainty awaits as we approach the peak of the North Atlantic hurricane season – from mid-August to mid-October.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 1:01 pm

Bill O’Reilly…

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Via AmericaBlog, which points out:

Best part: O’Reilly denying that he welcomed al Qaeda blowing up San Francisco. Dodd called him on it, and O’Reilly, as always, denied saying exactly what he actually said. Here is what O’Reilly actually said about al Qaeda and San Francisco:

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

You want to blow up the Coit Tower, go ahead? Imagine had any Democrat said such a thing. BMW and jetBlue would pull their relationships pronto. Yet BMW and jetBlue have no problem associating themselves with those who would welcome al Qaeda terrorism.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 11:34 am

Posted in GOP, Media

Greek olive oil

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My favorite Moroccan olive oil is no longer available—I used to buy it by the gallon—so I’ve been looking for a replacement. I just picked up a liter of Whole Foods’ Greek olive oil: $7/liter, less than $28/gallon. It’s quite tasty. I may pick up a few more bottles while it’s on sale. I like olive oils with a ripe taste of the fruit, rather than the peppery oil from young olives. This one fills the bill. They also have a Spanish olive oil, which I bet is the peppery variety.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 11:23 am

Posted in Food

Kitties up to no good

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One generally doesn’t think of kitties as making plans, particularly plans calling for coordination of a group, but that’s clearly what these are doing. Not only that, you can tell at once who’s the ringleader.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 11:13 am

Posted in Cats

J.M. Fraser’s shaving cream

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J.M. Fraser’s shaving cream is a Canadian product: inexpensive, unassuming, and magical in the way that it softens the beard. It has a light lemony fragrance that I really like—and I’m not alone. Great stuff, but hard to find—until now. Shaving Essentials LLC have decided to carry it, starting 10 August, and you can pre-order it here. I highly recommend that you give it a go.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 9:31 am

Posted in Shaving

Vegan brushes

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Omega Sintetico

Those who abjure animal products have a problem with shaving brushes, almost all made with animal hair and the best with hair of the Asian badger. So in the Guide I make note of synthetic brushes, and here’s a new entry from Omega:

Omega Brand Sintetico Brush
Vegan friendly badger-like synthetic fibers are the result of years in development and innovative technology. Resistance, elasticity and softness with tapered tips make this shaving brush the most effective alternative for making lather.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 8:54 am

Posted in Shaving

Economie today

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Today’s shave was a RazorandBrush production. First, I used the Tryphon Florida Water shaving soap, with a fragrance very like Murray & Lanman’s classic Florida Water:

Created in 1808, Florida Water was the first original American Eau De Cologne. It combines citrus essences, with clove, lavender and other herbal and floral scents and is a unique, refined and masculine Toilet Water. Still as distinctive and contemporary as it was in the 1800s!

The G.B. Kent BK4 did its usual soap magic, whipping up a lather in nothing flat. No need for scrubby and dense if you want lather from a soap: the Kent BK line has soap magic.

Then I used a Wilkinson Economie (made in the UK) in the EJ Lined Chatsworth. Again: an extremely smooth, extremely good shave. I’m skimming the cream from the RazorandBrush sampler pack, I believe. Sooner or later I’ll get to blades that are not so hot for me. But the Economie (30¢ per blade if you order 100) was excellent. In fact, I’m going to have to try the Economie back to back to back, as it were, with the Wilkinson  Sword UK and the Wilkinson Sword Germany and see which is best.

The alum block and then, as aftershave, I of course used Murry & Lanman Florida Water (menu item “Murray & Lanman”). A very fine shave indeed.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 8:49 am

Posted in Shaving

Microsoft Outlook craziness, etc.

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I emailed a large file to The Wife, and Outlook had one of its little fits: the email got stuck in the outbox, and copy after copy went out. So when I sent subsequent versions of the large file (the final version, the final complete corrected version, the absolutely final version with all corrections, the last for sure final version, etc.), I used MediaFire, which gets ever more polished and capable. That’s a great site when you want to get a large file to anyone else or to a group: upload it, send them the URL, and they can download. Free, easy, and quick.

But I’ve had it without Outlook 2003, and tonight I ordered Microsoft Office 2007—the Home and Student Version, which includes Note 2007, about which I’ve heard many good things. (I use Note 2003 a lot.) That of MS Office doesn’t include Outlook 2007, but lets you buy the two together at a savings. It does require XP Pro with Service Pack 2, but that’s fine: I have it. No need for Vista, thank goodness.

So next week, I’ll up to date. Again.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2007 at 2:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

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