Later On

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

Archive for December 28th, 2007

Adagio tea

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I just go my first batch of tea from Adagio tea, and I must say that they package the tea nicely: it’s in tins, with a hinged clear-plastic top that is fastened by a snap-lever so that the top is tightly sealed. The clear plastic means that you can see the tea through the top. The label gives the name of the tea along with the proper brewing temperature and time. And tonight I used my digital thermometer to figure out exactly the setting on my utiliTEA kettle for 180º.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Condi’s State Department

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From TPMmuckraker:

Back to our Afghanistan-contractors document for a minute. How could it be that the State Department could effectively lose $28 million worth of cars, guns, radios, computers, generators, and other not-easy-to-lose items? Probably because State doesn’t devote people to making sure the stuff is where the contractors say it is, in violation of federal regulations. From the State Department Inspector General:

[Federal Acquisition Regulation] assigns certain responsibilities, such as reviewing contractors’ property control systems and approving the type and frequency of physical inventories, to the [contracting officer] or “the representative assigned the responsibility as a property administrator.” However, the Department had not appointed a property administrator for these contracts, and Department officials indicated that it was not the Department’s practice to do so. …As of September 30, 2006, according to the Department, contractors held capitalized government property with a total cost of about $144 million and a net book value of almost $49 million. Although the Department has not appointed property administrators in the past, [the Office of the Inspector General] concluded that contractor-held property has reached such a level that the amount of oversight necessary cannot be met effectively by the Department’s existing property administration structure and recommends the following.

The federal government uses many acronyms. Unfortunately, WTF isn’t one of them.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 7:27 pm

Resolutions on clutter (with a guide)

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This will be very useful, at least for me. If I do it.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Daily life

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How it happens

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Creeping authoritarianism:

“There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater…Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later….”These are the words of Sebastian Haffner (pen name for Raimund Pretzel), who as a young lawyer in Berlin during the 1930s experienced the Nazi takeover and wrote a first-hand account. His children found the manuscript when he died in 1999 and published it the following year as Geschichte eines Deutschen (The Story of a German). The book became an immediate bestseller and has been translated into 20 languages – in English as Defying Hitler.I recently learned from his daughter Sarah, an artist in Berlin, that today is the 100th anniversary of Haffner’s birth. She had seen an earlier article in which I quoted her father and emailed to ask me to “write some more about the book and the comparison to Bush’s America…this is almost unbelievable.”More about Haffner below. Let’s set the stage first by recapping some of what has been going on that may have resonance for readers familiar with the Nazi ascendancy, noting how “odd” it is that the frontal attack on our Constitutional rights is met with such “calm, superior indifference.”

Goebbels Would be Proud

It has been two years since top New York Times officials decided to let the rest of us in on the fact that the George W. Bush administration had been eavesdropping on American citizens without the court warrants required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. The Times had learned of this well before the election in 2004 and acquiesced to White House entreaties to suppress the damaging information.

In late fall 2005 when Times correspondent James Risen’s book, State of War: the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, revealing the warrantless eavesdropping was being printed, Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., recognized that he could procrastinate no longer. It would simply be too embarrassing to have Risen’s book on the street, with Sulzberger and his associates pretending that this explosive eavesdropping story did not fit Adolph Ochs’ trademark criterion: “All The News That’s Fit To Print.” (The Times‘ own ombudsman, Public Editor Byron Calame, branded the newspaper’s explanation for the long delay in publishing this story “woefully inadequate.”)

When Sulzberger told his friends in the White House that he could no longer hold off on publishing in the newspaper, he was summoned to the Oval Office for a counseling session with the president on Dec. 5, 2005. Bush tried in vain to talk him out of putting the story in the Times. The truth would come out; part of it, at least.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 1:04 pm

Funneling taxpayer money to Big Business

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Boeing edition:

Boeing business

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 12:55 pm

Interesting images

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Take a look. (You can click images to enlarge.)

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 11:56 am

Posted in Daily life

“Public” meeting excludes the public

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What we’re coming to:

In a remarkable symbol of the injustices of post-Katrina reconstruction, hundreds of people were locked out of a public New Orleans City Council meeting addressing demolition of 4500 public housing apartments. Some were tasered, many pepper sprayed and a dozen arrested.

Outside the chambers, iron gates were chained and padlocked even before the scheduled start.

The scene looked like one of those countries on TV that is undergoing a people’s revolution – and the similarities were only beginning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 11:18 am

Redundancy

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I saw a headline recently about the need for a “fast-acting cyanide antidote.” Doesn’t that strike you as redundant?

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 9:49 am

Posted in Daily life

Obsessions

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I don’t know where they come from. They’re always unexpected, and it’s hard for me to predict when one will hit or what the topic will be. I can now at least recognize that one has formed in the early stages. Of course, I continue to pursue it: it’s an obsession, after all. And in the process I do learn a lot, but probably also get a bit boring as I process all the fascinating details. (Eye-rolling from  The Wife at this point.) Still, great stuff, miso.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Miso recipe

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The Eldest sends this, with the note:

I’ve made this recipe, and it is very forgiving to adaptation (using leftover grilled eggplant, using other veggies, etc.). I like to make it spicy! 🙂

I use a lot less water than the recipe calls for – not sure why it’s a good idea to add all that water and then spend the time to boil it all off!

I also add green onions and garlic, and add ginger in the cooking process.

You can view the complete recipe.

SPICY EGGPLANT

1 1/2 pounds Asian or other small eggplants (each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

Garnish: julienne strips of peeled fresh ginger root, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, and radish sprouts

Cut eggplants crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds. In a 5-quart heavy kettle heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown cut sides of eggplant in 2 batches (adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil before second batch), turning eggplant occasionally with tongs.

In kettle combine eggplant and remaining ingredients. Simmer mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon carefully transfer eggplant to a bowl. Boil liquid remaining in kettle, skimming froth, until reduced to about 1/2 cup and add sauce to eggplant.

Serve eggplant warm or at room temperature with some sauce and garnished with ginger root, cilantro, and sprouts.

UPDATE: More recipes here. Thanks to The Eldest for the pointer.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 9:35 am

Miso obsession

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I don’t know whether it’s evident, but I’m in the grip of a new interest/obsession: miso. The book from the library, a couple of used books on miso, a miso cookbook (early birthday present), shopping around for refrigerated (i.e., not pasteurized; i.e., living culture) miso of various types, making my own dashi today:

Kombu, Shiitake & Bonito Flake Dashi (Japanese Noodle Broth)
Serves 4 | Prep Time 0:02 | Cook Time 0:05

1 piece Kombu, 4 inches long
1/4 cup Bonito Flakes
4 cups water
1/4 cup dried Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms

Place the kombu and water in a medium saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the flame and add the bonito flakes. Let sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Strain our the kombu and bonito flakes and return the liquid to the saucepan. Add the shiitake, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

The dashi is now ready to season with any Soy Sauce or any Miso. After seasoning, the broth is delicious served over any Udon or Soba.

Nutritional Info: per serving: 7 Calories, 0g Fat (0% calories from fat), 2g Protein, 5g Carbohydrate, 0g Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 55mg Sodium

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 9:24 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Drug Policy Alliance

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Email from Ethan Nadelmann:

The Drug Policy Alliance is an ambitious organization, as are our supporters. We won’t settle for anything less than a wholesale end to the war on drugs. I need you to stay with us as a financial contributor until we get there. And now is a great time to give, as a major donor has made a special challenge. Through December 31, she will match dollar-for-dollar all increases in gifts over last year and all gifts from new donors.

Donate Button 90x32

Your donation will be put to immediate use on both our long term vision and short term objectives.

We must focus on our long term vision–reducing as much as possible the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with drugs and the people who use them. That’s why it’s important for us to stir up debates about drug prohibition, like the widespread debate sparked by my recent cover story in Foreign Policy magazine, or the keynote appearance by the United Nations’ drug czar at the recent DPA-hosted International Drug Policy Reform Conference, where we challenged him on some of the key assumptions of global drug prohibition.

But where we spend most of our money is on the small steps–syringe availability in New Jersey and Los Angeles, the medical marijuana distribution system in New Mexico, and treatment instead of incarceration in California, just to name a few examples–because these incremental reforms help people now, and they also legitimize our broader message.

We advocate for these and other reforms while working in the media, in the courts and through public education to oppose new drug war initiatives and promote in their place alternatives based on science, compassion, health and human rights. This work is about changing hearts and minds. If you already believe in our mission, then take the next step and support this work with a gift today.

It’s a great time to make a donation. If you renew by December 31 and increase your donation over last year’s, a major donor has agreed to match the amount of your increase dollar-for-dollar. If you’ve never given a donation before, then your first-time gift will be doubled.

Your gift will be put to work immediately to end the war on drugs and replace it with compassionate and just policies. I’m excited about the prospects for big reform in 2008, and I’ll report back to you on how your gift is used throughout the year.

Thank you for considering my request. Please give today!

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 9:18 am

Posted in Drug laws

Great shave today

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I used the Marke Gold-Dachs-Rasierseife “Rivivage” shaving soap: “A Guaranteed Better Shave”. And, for whatever reason, I did have a better shave. And at $9 per puck, it’s not a bad price.

The Rooney Style 1 Size 1 Super Silvertip worked with a creamy smooth lather, thick and wet, and the Edwin Jagger Ivory-Handled Chatsworth held an Astra Superior Platinum blade that made short work of the stubble: 3 quick passes, a splash of Pashana aftershave, and I’m ready to prepare for the cleaning ladies.

Written by Leisureguy

28 December 2007 at 8:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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