Later On

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

Archive for August 15th, 2007

Popcorn method

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I use a WhirleyPop popcorn maker. But the technique described by Simply Recipes should work there, too, and make it easier:

Mom’s method of making popcorn not only pops almost every kernel, it also prevents the kernels from burning. She took it off of a Jiffy Popcorn box, she thinks. Here’s how it goes:

3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
1 3-quart covered saucepan
2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
Salt to taste

1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.

3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it’s fun to do with kids.)

4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.

With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.

5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.

6 Salt to taste.

Makes 2 quarts, a nice amount for two people, or for one hungry one.

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 8:13 pm

The counter-terrorism loophole

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One fear that many had in grant broad powers to the government to use specifically in fighting terrorists is that those powers would then be turned against non-terrorists: regular citizens and regular criminals. In fact, as we know, the FBI has made extensive illegal use of their powers under the counter-terrorism mandate. And in other countries, similar laws are being used against legitimate social protest by treating that as terrorism. From FindLaw:

A disturbing trend is afoot. In the past couple of months, in two countries, governments have relied on broadly-worded terrorism laws to put down social protests.

Political demonstrators in El Salvador and London have found police deploying a new weapon against them: laws designed to prevent and punish terrorism. In the town of Suchitoto, El Salvador, during a mass demonstration in early July against a water decentralization plan, fourteen protesters were arrested and charged with terrorism.

At London’s Heathrow Airport this week, police have been relying on stop-and-search powers contained in a recent terrorism law to control a huge demonstration against global warming. A government document made public last Saturday warned that police would employ their counterterrorism powers to deal “robustly” with any illegal protests.

The demonstrators in El Salvador threw rocks at police and blocked roads, and some minority of participants in the ongoing Heathrow protest may also break the law. But the police already have plenty of legal authority to arrest demonstrators who disrupt flight schedules or damage property; their use of counterterrorism legislation is sheer opportunism.

Political protesters are not terrorists, as police and prosecutors well know. Yet it seems that the broad authorities granted under recent counterterrorism laws are too tempting to resist. Why would state officials respect normal criminal law rules when they can instead employ laws that offer sweeping powers, few procedural safeguards, and harsh penalties?

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Torture and its examination

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Via Glenn Greenwald, this post explains how the US tortured Jose Padilla using a KGB recipe. It starts with the following, but read the whole post.

KGB “interrogation” techniques were used to “break” Jose Padilla. Warren Richey writes for the Christian Science Monitor“.

And a post relating John Donne’s position on torture:

Recently I asked a clerical friend whether, considering the persistence of torture as a moral issue, he had thought of giving a sermon on the subject? He looked very uncomfortable and responded saying that his congregation was bipartisan and that he would be loathe to introduce a political issue as a sermon topic. It would fragment the congregation, he thought. Really?

I reject the notion that torture is a political issue of any sort. It is a great moral issue. And when those who have a clerical vocation fail to understand it and address it in those terms, they do their flock and themselves a great disservice.

Consider John Donne’s sermon of 1625.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 2:02 pm

Crime rate among immigrants

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It’s  low (PDF file). A commenter to an earlier post implied that immigrants have a high crime rate. Not so, in fact. From the article at the link:

Immigrant crime rat

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Resolution chart

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Gretchen Rubin gives an interesting tool: a resolution chart, based on an idea by Benjamin Franklin. And it’s quite timely, since I just read this set of instructions on making your body more healthy. (The post refers to a “secret,” but I didn’t spot anything that seemed like a secret—indeed, it all seems pretty well known. But it nicely organized and specific, so that’s a help, plus it fits exactly on two pages, with the background on the first page and the day-by-day on the second.)

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Pasta with shrimp ragù

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Mark Bittman has an easy recipe today—and there’s a video of it here. UPDATE: The Eldest suggests that, instead of marjoram or oregano, add some chopped fennel (including some of the fronds). She says that the fennel combines very nicely with the shrimp. I don’t have fennel on hand, but think I’ll crush some fennel seed and add that, along with some star anise in the water in which I boil the shrimp shells.

1 1/2 pounds medium-to-large shrimp, in their shells
Salt and ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium or 1 large chopped onion
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large or 3 plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 pound pasta, preferably fresh.

1. Shell shrimp; boil shells with just enough water to cover, a large pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Simmer 10 minutes, then drain, reserving liquid (discard shells). Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and salt it.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop about a third of the shrimp. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; a minute later add onion and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, herb and chopped shrimp, and cook, still over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add stock from shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is no longer soupy but still moist.

3. When sauce is almost done, cook pasta. When pasta has about 5 minutes to go, stir whole shrimp into sauce. Serve pasta with sauce and shrimp, garnished with a few leaves of marjoram or oregano.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

So I picked up some shrimp and will make it tonight—a smaller quantity, of course.

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Revolution tea

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I just got an email making me a free offer of Revolution Tea. I don’t do that, but you might want to check them out anyway…

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 11:03 am

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Gonzales and the death penalty

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The Patriot Act, latest version, give Alberto Gonzales the power to hasten executions. This is a bad idea, because Gonzales (and Bush) seem to love to have people executed. Read this.

And now Gonzales is given power he shouldn’t have. The LA Times:

The Justice Department is putting the final touches on regulations that could give Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales important new sway over death penalty cases in California and other states, including the power to shorten the time that death row inmates have to appeal convictions to federal courts.

The rules implement a little-noticed provision in last year’s reauthorization of the Patriot Act that gives the attorney general the power to decide whether individual states are providing adequate counsel for defendants in death penalty cases. The authority has been held by federal judges.

Under the rules now being prepared, if a state requested it and Gonzales agreed, prosecutors could use “fast track” procedures that could shave years off the time that a death row inmate has to appeal to the federal courts after conviction in a state court.

The move to shorten the appeals process and effectively speed up executions comes at a time of growing national concern about the fairness of the death penalty, underscored by the use of DNA testing to establish the innocence of more than a dozen death row inmates in recent years.

More at the link. And The Independent:

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 10:33 am

Bush: For healthcare, go to the emergency room.

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Paul Krugman, from 16 July. I wanted to post this because a commenter recently pointed out how crowded emergency rooms are with uninsured people seeking medical treatment. I reminded him that this was Bush’s suggestion.

Being without health insurance is no big deal. Just ask President Bush. “I mean, people have access to health care in America,” he said last week. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

This is what you might call callousness with consequences. The White House has announced that Mr. Bush will veto a bipartisan plan that would extend health insurance, and with it such essentials as regular checkups and preventive medical care, to an estimated 4.1 million currently uninsured children. After all, it’s not as if those kids really need insurance — they can just go to emergency rooms, right?

O.K., it’s not news that Mr. Bush has no empathy for people less fortunate than himself. But his willful ignorance here is part of a larger picture: by and large, opponents of universal health care paint a glowing portrait of the American system that bears as little resemblance to reality as the scare stories they tell about health care in France, Britain, and Canada.

The claim that the uninsured can get all the care they need in emergency rooms is just the beginning. Beyond that is the myth that Americans who are lucky enough to have insurance never face long waits for medical care.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 10:19 am

Astra Superior Platinum update

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I faxed at order to Barber Depot for 100 of the Astra Superior Platinum blades—$11.00. The fax went on 4 August, and I still hadn’t heard anything, so I just called them (877-292-0100, toll free) and apparently they didn’t get the fax. So I placed the order by phone. They’ll ship Priority Mail ($4.60), so by this weekend I can see if these are the same as the Astra Superior Platinum I have now.

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 9:55 am

Posted in Shaving

White House will write Petraeus’s report

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Sigh. ThinkProgress:

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gen. David Petraeus’ upcoming Sept. 15 report on Iraq will be authored by the White House:

Despite Bush’s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report’s data.

In other words, the Sept. 15 report promises to be much like the July mid-term report which purported to show “satisfactory performance on 8 of the 18 benchmarks.” A closer look into those claims revealed that the progress was purely White House spin. Yet, the report accomplished its primary objective of producing media reports which suggested that the overall picture in Iraq was “mixed.”

The White House has repeatedly employed Petraeus as a PR flack, using him to promote failing Iraq policies and the war czar nomination.

President Bush had previously said he would “respect the command structure” and not intercede in the Petraeus report:

I will repeat, as the Commander-in-Chief of a great military who has supported this military and will continue to support this military, not only with my — with insisting that we get resources to them, but with — by respecting the command structure, I’m going to wait for David to come back — David Petraeus to come back and give us the report on what he sees.

Apparently, Bush doesn’t plan to wait for a report; instead, he’ll have it drafted prior to Petraeus’ return.

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 9:25 am

Progress we didn’t think we’d have to make

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It’s odd when you see progress being made in a direction you didn’t think would be necessary in the US:

 The American Psychological Association, the world’s largest professional organization of psychologists, is poised to issue a formal condemnation of a raft of notorious interrogation tactics employed by U.S. authorities against detainees during the so-called war on terror, from simulated drowning to sensory deprivation. The move is expected during the APA’s annual convention in San Francisco this weekend.

The APA’s anti-torture resolution follows a string of revelations in recent months of the key role played by psychologists in the development of brutal interrogation regimes for the CIA and the military. And it comes just weeks after news that the White House may be calling on psychologists once again: On July 20, President Bush signed an executive order restarting a coercive CIA interrogation program at the agency’s “black sites.” Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has indicated that psychological techniques will be part of the revamped program, but that the interrogations would be subject to careful medical oversight. That oversight is likely to be performed by psychologists.

In fact, given what promises to be the continuing involvement of psychologists in coercive interrogation, there is intense infighting within the organization about whether simply condemning abusive tactics is enough. Some of the APA’s 148,000 members think the anti-torture resolution put forward by APA leadership is too weak, and they are putting intense pressure on the organization’s leadership to go a step further and ban psychologists from participating in detainee interrogations altogether. They have introduced their own resolution proposing a moratorium. “I and others think that a moratorium is essential to try to tell the government that psychologists are not going to participate in the interrogation of enemy combatants,” said Bernice Lott, a member of the Council of Representatives, the APA’s policy-making body. Others oppose the moratorium because they think psychologists must be involved in the interrogations to prevent abuse — and because the government may just choose to use non-APA members for its interrogations, as has already happened.

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Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 8:26 am

Geranium rose today

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Today I used QED‘s Geranium Rose shaving soap—I do really like the QED soaps. The Rooney Style 2 Finest produced copious lather, and I used a new Treet Black Beauty in one of the first of the TTO Gillette Aristocrats, when they had the open comb. That blade is lovely, and it sheared off all the stubble with no effort at all. A quick rinse in the 91% rubbing alcohol, to prevent rust, and then Royal Copenhagen as the aftershave. Exceptionally smooth face again.

Written by Leisureguy

15 August 2007 at 7:38 am

Posted in Shaving

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