Later On

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

Archive for November 1st, 2007

Here’s what I’ve been having for dinner

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Put some dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and pour boiling water over. Let that sit for about 30 minutes. (You can skip this if you have fresh shiitakes.)

Turn on oven to 350º.

Put a small sauté pan with about 2 tsp olive oil on medium heat.

Take one chicken thigh, peel off skin [after browning—see update], and generously sprinkle with lemon pepper on both sides. Put into hot sauté pan.

UPDATE: The Eldest passes along a tip from Cook’s Illustrated: Brown the thigh with the skin in place, and remove the skin after browning: better flavor, little change in fat.

Chop one small onion (or 1/2 large onion) and mince 6-8 cloves garlic. Measure out 1/3 cup whole wheat orzo and pour 3/4 cup chicken stock into measuring cup. (Splash of dry vermouth or white wine into cup as well: optional.)

Turn over chicken thigh. Add onion and garlic and let that sauté a bit. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and oregano.

After the onion and garlic seems to be sautéed, add the orzo, stir it up, and add the chicken broth, using your wooden spatula to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add one handful of pitted calamata olives, juice of a lemon, chopped shiitake mushrooms, and thin slices of lemon. Stir it nicely.

Put a lid on it and put it into the oven for 45 minutes.

Spoon into a bowl and eat.

It’s very tasty and filling and sort of comfort food.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Good review of Krugman’s book

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It’s worth reading—the review, I mean. And the book as well.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Books

The future of the car

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Good article in the New Yorker. Read it all at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Tagged with ,

Good news: better fuel cell

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This helps:

Many obstacles stand in the way of ditching the internal combustion engine in favor of electric motors feeding off hydrogen fuel cells. Such a change would require new infrastructure for the delivery, storage, and distribution of hydrogen, either in a low-temperature, liquid state, or at high pressure, as a room-temperature gas. And standard hydrogen fuel cells are expensive, requiring as much as 100 grams of platinum at a cost of thousands of dollars.

A new type of fuel cell could solve both problems at once. The technology, proposed by engineers at Daihatsu, a unit of Toyota, in Ryuo, Japan, uses a fuel called hydrazine hydrate, instead of hydrogen.

Hydrazine hydrate—a compound of nitrogen, hydrogen, and water—is liquid, which makes it easier to store and deliver than gas. And it contains no carbon, so cars using it would still be environment-friendly. But perhaps the main advantage of the new fuel cell is simply that it’s cheaper.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Science, Technology

Tagged with

New & better test for cervical cancer

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Here’s some good news: a better test than the Pap test:

For more than 50 years, doctors have used Papanicolaou tests—better known as Pap smears—to screen women for cervical cancer. But researchers now report that a newer test gives a more accurate diagnosis.

In a Pap smear, cells scraped from the cervix are analyzed under a microscope for physical abnormalities. Tests developed in the past decade, however, can detect the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical cells. This sexually transmitted disease is the primary cause of cervical cancer.

In two studies in the Oct. 18 New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report that HPV tests caught many more cases of cervical cancer than Pap smears did.

“When something is visible in the microscope, that’s when the Pap test is positive. But the HPV test can go far before that and give us a window of safety,” explains Eduardo Franco of McGill University in Montreal, who led a study of more than 10,000 Canadian women.

Participants in the study got both a Pap smear and an HPV test. Women with abnormal results in either test, along with a random sampling of those with normal results, had cervical biopsies, a surefire way of diagnosing cancer. Franco’s team found that the HPV tests detected almost 95 percent of the cancers, whereas the Pap smear caught only 55 percent.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Medical, Science

Doing my bit

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I just called Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office pleading that she vote against moving forward on Judge Mukasey’s nomination, given that Mukasey doesn’t seem to have any serious problems with torture—waterboarding in particular. I was told that Senator Feinstein firmly believes that waterboarding is torture—and also that she is undecided about her vote in Committee on Mukasey. I said that I hoped she would stop doing “Lieberman votes” and take a stand with the Democratic Party for a change. We’ll see. Next Tuesday is the vote. Her number: (202) 224-3841.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Congress, Democrats

Tagged with ,

Who will be the next Torturer-In-Chief?

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Many candidates seem eager to embrace the idea of torture as a standard US practice:

George W. Bush has shoved American politics into the dark realm of the lunatic right, zipping past Joe McCarthy into territory previously covered by historical accounts of Germany in the 1940s. We’ve lost our right to see an attorney, to confront our accusers, even to get a fair trial. Government agents have kidnapped thousands of people, many of whom have never been heard from again. Bush even signed an edict claiming the right to assassinate anyone, including you and me, based solely on his whims. Torture, the ultimate sign that civilized society has been replaced by a police state, was repeatedly authorized by government officials who smirked the few times reporters had the temerity to ask them about it.

The 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections have been and will prove to be decisive moments in American history. In each case the American people were offered a stark choice between a future of freedom and one under tyranny.

We must elect—by an overwhelming, theft-proof majority—a candidate who promises to renounce Bush and all his works. A reform-minded president’s first act should be to sign a law that reads as follows: “The federal government of the United States having been illegitimate and illegal since January 20, 2001, all laws, regulations, executive orders, and acts of commission or omission enacted between that infamous day and 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2009 are hereby declared invalid and without effect.” Guantánamo, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, spying on Americans’ phone calls and emails, and “legal” torture would be erased. Our troops should immediately pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia; we should apologize to our victims and offer to compensate them and their survivors. Bush should never appear on any list of American presidents. When he dies, his carcass shouldn’t receive a state funeral. It ought to be thrown in the trash.

Unfortunately, no one like that is running for president. To the contrary, most of the major presidential candidates want to accelerate America’s slide into outright moral bankruptcy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 2:07 pm

And, speaking of that, why even have an Air Force?

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The Air Force is problematic in many ways. Here’s a good discussion about whether it should not simply be folded into the Navy, Marines, Army, and Coast Guard and not have that branch of the service at all:

Rob Farley discusses his case for abolishing the Air Force with David Axe of War is Boring, Jason Sigger of Armchair Generalist, John of OP-FOR, Noah Shachtman of Danger Room, Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, and Sharon Weinberger of Danger Room.

Because the discussion is rather lengthy, here’s a “table of contents” to guide readers through the roundtable:

David Axe: There’s nothing the Air Force does that the other services don’t do better.
Jason Sigger: Transform the Air Force, don’t abolish it.
John of OP-FOR: The Air Force does need to change, but not that much.
Robert Farley: On collateral damage and restructuring.
Michael Goldfarb: The Air Force hasn’t outlived its usefulness yet.
Robert Farley: On bureaucracies, and the use of air power in “the Surge.”
Sharon Weinberger: What about the Air Force’s assets?
Robert Farley: The Navy can handle it.
Jason Sigger: Allocate military funds on a priority, need-based approach? Ain’t gonna happen.
Robert Farley: Optimistic about the Navy’s capabilities.
David Axe: Re: Optimistic about the Navy’s capabilities.
Jason Sigger: The Navy does not want to be the Air Force.
John of OP-FOR: The role of ICBMs.
Michael Goldfarb: Who would provide the best oversight of big-ticket weapons?
Robert Farley: On Apaches, ICBMs, and the procurement question.
Jason Sigger: On sharing joint cargo aircraft.
John of OP-FOR: JCA is a reason to ditch Key West, not the Air Force.
Michael Goldfarb: But what will tomorrow’s wars look like?
Robert Farley: If China is your problem, then you should be more, not less, willing to close the doors on the Air Force.
Noah Shachtman: The bottom line: The Air Force has an identity crisis.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Military

Remember those nuclear-tipped missiles?

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The report from the Air Force seems not to be adequate:

“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.”
—Pentagon official

There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force’s official report on the Aug-29-30 “bent spear” incident that saw six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana—a report that attributed the whole thing to a “mistake.”

According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon on the B-52’s wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling. Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)

The problem with this explanation for the first reported case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear warheads in the US stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized transport or removal from bunkers by electronic antitheft systems—automated alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached without authorization.

While the Air Force report doesn’t mention any of this, what it means is that if weapons in a storage bunker are protected against unauthorized removal, someone—and actually at least two people, since it’s long been a basic part of nuclear security that every action involving a nuclear weapon has to be done by two people working in tandem—had to deliberately and consciously disable those alarms.

Since the Air Force report does not explain how this hurdle to unauthorized removal of the six nukes could have been surmounted by “mistake,” the report has to be considered a whitewash, at best, or a cover-up.

That leaves us speculating about what actually happened, and about who might have authorized the removal of those nukes from storage, and why the Defense Department would be covering up the true story. We know that the loading of nuclear-armed missiles or bombs onto an American bomber has been barred since 1991, even for practice and training purposes. We know also that the carrying of nuclear weapons by bombers flying over US airspace has been banned for 40 years. So if the evidence suggests strongly that the removal of the nukes from the bunker was done intentionally and with some kind of authorization from higher authorities, then the loading of nukes onto the plane, and the flight of those nukes to Barksdale have to also be assumed to have been authorized.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 1:56 pm

Maybe it’s because I’m not organized

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Self has a 30-day get-organized makeover for your home. I’m going to give it a go: a tip a day for 30 days. How bad can it be?

First 3 tips:

  1. Make your bed
    Keeping your sheets and covers neat takes two measly minutes and makes the entire room look pulled together. ….Read more on
  2. Follow the 20-minute rule
    Restore order to your world in short, doable spurts of time—just 20 minutes a day. ….Read more on
  3. Use reverse psychology on your closet
    If you yearn for more space, this trick will create it (no contractor required!). …. Read more on

You can find out more here.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Daily life

A more positive tone

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I’ve been looking for posts from the news that would provide a more positive tone, but the direction things are going seems to work against that. Sorry. I’ll keep looking.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 11:28 am

Bad times for Labor in the US

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It’s obvious that times are bad simply from the stagnant pay that workers take home as prices rise. And now a formal complaint has been made by the AFL-CIO to the International Labor Organization:

When labor union leaders in countries like Guatemala and Colombia face death squads and draconian legal restrictions on workers’ rights, they often turn to the Geneva-based International Labor Organization of the United Nations for help.

So it was a sign of real frustration, even desperation, that in mid-October the AFL-CIO protested to the ILO that a “sustained assault on workers’ rights in the United States” was occurring at the hands of the very agency mandated to enforce this nation’s labor laws–the National Labor Relations Board.

For the past six years the Bush-appointed majority of the NLRB has steadily reversed legal precedents and eroded the rights of workers in favor of management–limiting who can form a union, strengthening management power to harass pro-union workers, and refusing effective action against management abuses of worker rights.

One of the most significant attacks came in early October. The Board threw new roadblocks in the path of one of the labor movement’s most productive strategies for organizing new workers–securing union recognition as soon as a majority of employees sign union membership cards.

“It’s worse than a bad decision,” says AFL-CIO organizing director Stewart Acuff. “It’s further evidence of ideological bias of the Bush Board. It’s incontrovertible evidence that this Board is determined to impede collective bargaining, not encourage collective bargaining, as the preamble of the [National Labor Relations] Act says.”

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Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 10:17 am

Relaxing reading

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I was in the mood for some relaxing and entertaining reading, so naturally I turned to Rafael Sabatini, as so many have before, though perhaps not so many as of late. He’s the author of one of my all-time favorites, Scaramouche (and its unreadable sequel, Scaramouche the Kingmaker). Other particularly good examples of his craft are The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, Captain Blood Returns, and the one I’m now reading, Bellarion the Fortunate. I also remember enjoying Mistress Wilding. Sabatini was immensely popular in his day, and you can readily find his novels at your library and at Recommended.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 9:46 am

Posted in Books

Old-fashioned shave

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This morning I went with Tryphon American Barbershop, which does indeed have an old-timey fragrance—and produces a good lather with the Simpsons Chubby 1 Best. And then the Edwin Jagger Georgian with a Sputnik blade, twice-used, easily produced a 9.4 shave. I think the Sputnik blades are pretty good—at least for me.

I used TOBS Shave Shop as an appropriate aftershave, but just realized that Pinaud Clubman would have been a perhaps more fitting choice.

At any rate: a fine shave, a good start, and coffee.

Written by Leisureguy

1 November 2007 at 8:55 am

Posted in Shaving

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