Later On

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

Archive for March 1st, 2008

The occasional snack with crackers

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I’ve made this a couple of times recently.

In the small KitchenAid food processor bowl, put:

1 shallot, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of 2-3 lemons
2-3 Tbsp tahini
1/4 c. pitted Saracena olives
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
a little olive oil
a little vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
a few grindings of hot pepper (Aji Limon for me)

Process until smooth.

Very tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Far-out technology: this month

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Take a look. Amazing.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Bacon cups

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Look yummy:

bacon cups

How to make.

UPDATE: A reader wrote to say that bacon baskets are great to hold a freshly cooked cheese omelet. Brilliant! A cheese soufflé spooned out into a bacon basket, overflowing and spilling down the sides, would also work, I think.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 11:43 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

High-dynamic-range imaging

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 11:41 am

Posted in Daily life

Break shopping momentum

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“Shopping momentum” is an observed effect. The key is to avoid buying that first item, which triggers the effect. More from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business:

 Have you ever walked into a store intending to pick up socks and come out with three bags full of splurges? So what’s the matter? Are you just a shopaholic with no self-control? Or could it be that you’re the victim of forces beyond your conscious awareness?

When such savvy marketing researchers as Uzma Khan of Stanford, Ravi Dhar of Yale, and Joel Huber of Duke noticed that shopping sometimes proceeded unchecked even in their own private domains, they decided to get to the bottom of things. Setting up a series of tests of purchasing behavior, they found that for most people buying that fateful first––and often innocent––item seems to open the purchasing floodgates. This realization, they say, has important implications for how stores are laid out as well as for understanding individual behavior.

In one of the field tests, student subjects were given the opportunity to buy some discounted items from the researchers as compensation for their participation. Some students initially were offered a light bulb, while others received something more relevant to their needs––an educational CD. The idea was to vary how likely people were to buy the first item. Naturally, those who received a light bulb were less likely to buy it compared to those who received the CD. All students then had the chance to buy a second item––a keychain.

Those who received the CD—the more relevant item—were much more likely also to buy the keychain. “That was the case even though the second item was completely unrelated to the first,” says Khan, assistant professor of marketing at the Business School. “It’s not like we offered chips followed by soda, which would naturally go together.”

Shopping is a two-stage process, say the researchers. In the first stage, people deliberate about a purchase, weighing cost and benefits, the degree to which they need the item, and so forth. But once the deliberation phase ends and the buying phase takes over, a subtle psychological mechanism comes into play. “People in this transition go from thinking from their mind to thinking from their cart. The cart takes over,” says Khan. “Once that happens, a roller coaster of shopping can begin.”

The purchase of an initial item creates what Khan and her associates call “shopping momentum.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 11:23 am

Posted in Daily life

More on ultra-capacitors—and it’s good

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Good news:

Popular Science has just gotten a scoop that I’ve been waiting for ages to see. Ultracapacitors, which are completely shunned by most auto companies, have been quietly continuing development at small companies and in universities all over the world. The reason they’ve been so largely ignored is that they hold so much less energy than batteries. The best commercially available ultracaps have about 5% of the energy density of batteries.

Yet they also have tremendous advantages. You can charge them all the way up and all the way down without damaging them (lithium ion batteries stop functioning when charged all the way down.) They contain no chemical reagents and so are thermally stable under all conditions. And they can charge and discharge much faster than batteries.

Popular Science was recently able to visit a lab at MIT working on advanced vehicle technologies. One of these technologies is a nano-tube ultracapacitor that could potentially hold half the charge of a lithium ion battery. And while this alone doesn’t sound all that exciting, it’s a lot cooler when you realize that most batteries in hybrid cars hardly ever use more than 20% of their charge in order to extend the batteries life.

That’s right, 80% of the battery just sits there and never discharges. Ultracapacitors could discharge completely, over and over again, and never need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, after two years of work, the nano-tube capacitors still haven’t hit their theoretical capacity. And while it might not take long for them to make capacitors that have competitive energy levels, it will certainly take years, if not decades, to scale the technology up to industrial level.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 11:12 am

Amazing shadow puppetry

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Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life

GOP to blame

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This is bizarre:

Two weeks ago, the hastily-passed Protect America Act (PAA) expired after the Bush administration and its supporters refused to approve a 21-day extension of the law. Since then, President Bush and his allies in Congress have engaged in a fear campaign to pressure the House into passing a Senate-approved update of the PAA that includes retroactive immunity for telecoms.

President Bush continued the fear-mongering in his press conference yesterday, bellowing that “no renewal of…the Protect America Act is dangerous for the security of the country, just dangerous.”

Challenging Bush and the GOP to hold true to their rhetoric, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a bill today to extend the PAA for 30 days while negotiations between the House and Senate proceed:

As we move forward, there is no reason not to extend the Protect America Act to ensure that there are no gaps in our intelligence gathering capabilities. Even Admiral McConnell, the Director of national Intelligence, has testified that such an extension would be valuable. But the President threatens to veto an extension, and our Republican colleagues continue, inexplicably, to oppose it.

Predictably, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) objected to Reid’s unanimous consent motion, effectively rejecting the extension. Watch it.

Despite their claims that “America is at risk” without the Protect America Act, the White House and congressional conservatives have been unwilling to take actions that would lead to its extension. As Reid noted today, the House and Senate have been working since the passage of the Senate bill to reconcile difference between the two chambers, but “Republicans have instructed their staff not to participate in these negotiations.”

If Bush and his congressional cronies truly believed that America is “open to attack” without the PAA, they’d support a temporary extension and engage in good faith negotiations. Since they haven’t, it’s clear they’re more interested in playing political games than working to protect Americans.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 10:01 am

Duke Ellington

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Duke Ellington, 1899-1974, is without a doubt among the greats of music, not simply of jazz. Probably the most prolific composer of the 20th century, he also kept his band going long after most jazz bands had folded because of the changing musical scene. He was also technically advanced—not just in music, but in recording technology. He studied and experimented and knew more about microphone placement than many sound engineers. (This is one reason his early recordings sound so much better in audio terms than those recorded by others.) He also was able to visualize (audialize?) unusual ways of matching musical timbres, the first version of Mood Indigo being a prime example. And he was a masterful pianist—try to score a CD of his solo tracks.

Your library will surely have a great selection of his music, and you owe it to yourself to listen to a lot of it, over and over. Following is just a sampling.

Satin Doll

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Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 10:00 am

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

The politicization of the DoJ

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Blatant and obvious use of the Department of Justice for political reasons:

Don Siegelman, a popular Democratic governor of Alabama, a Republican state, was framed in a crooked trial, convicted on June 29, 2006, and sent to Federal prison by the corrupt and immoral Bush administration.

The frame-up of Siegelman and businessman Richard Scrushy is so crystal clear and blatant that 52 former state attorneys general from across America, both Republicans and Democrats, have urged the US Congress to investigate the Bush administration’s use of the US Department of Justice to rid themselves of a Democratic governor whom “they could not beat fair and square,” according to Grant Woods, former Republican Attorney General of Arizona and co-chair of the McCain for President Leadership Committee. Woods says that he has never seen a case with so “many red flags pointing to injustice.” [A Republican former AG says Gov. Don Siegelman’s case raised red flags, Birmingham News, February 25, 2008]

The abuse of American justice by the Bush administration in order to ruin Siegelman is so crystal clear that even the corporate media organization CBS allowed 60 Minutes to broadcast, on February 24, a damning indictment of the railroading of Siegelman. The 60 Minutes segment is so compelling that the Republican-owned CBS affiliate in Alabama, WHNT, blacked out the broadcast, offering a lame excuse of technical problems that CBS in New York denied. The Republican-owned news media in Alabama worked hand in glove with the political prosecution to ruin Siegelman.

The injustice done by the US Department of Justice [sic] to Siegelman is so crystal clear that a participant in Karl Rove’s plan to destroy Siegelman can’t live with her conscience. Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who did opposition research for Rove, testified to the House Judiciary Committee and went public on 60 Minutes. Simpson said she was told by Bill Canary, the chief GOP political operative in Alabama, that “my girls can take care of Siegelman.” Canary’s “girls” are two US attorneys in Alabama, both appointed by President Bush. One is Bill Canary’s wife, Leura Canary. The other is Alice Martin. According to Harper’s Scott Horton, Martin is known for her abusive and wrongful prosecutions.

What was the “crime” for which Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted? You will not believe this.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 9:58 am

Immunity for lawlessness

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Andrew P. Napolitano is a former superior court judge in New Jersey, senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel, and author, most recently, of A Nation of Sheep. He writes in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

President Bush addressed the nation in December 2005, a day after The New York Times revealed that for several years he had been authorizing illegal wire taps on the telephones and computers of thousands of Americans believed to be communicating with foreigners who might wish us ill. Bush’s attempted justification, however, was as legally baseless as President Richard M. Nixon’s when he similarly was caught. Asked, years after his resignation, to justify his actions, Nixon crudely stated, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

In his address, Bush said he had “authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al-Qaida and related terrorist organizations.” Sadly, the president was wrong.

There was and is no U.S. law, and there is nothing in the Constitution, that authorizes warrantless wiretaps on Americans in the United States, no matter with whom they speak or e-mail. In fact, both the law and the Constitution prohibit such surveillance without a search warrant.

The governing law in 2005 was and still is today the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Enacted in 1978 in response to Nixon’s use of the FBI and the CIA to spy on Americans, FISA makes it clear that no surveillance of any American in this country may be authorized or conducted by anyone in the government for any reason at any time under any circumstances, except in accordance with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. And the Fourth Amendment requires that no surveillance of an American may occur without a warrant issued by a judge after the judge has found probable cause that a crime has been committed.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 9:50 am

Wrongful deaths in the drug war

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Read. Some of these are heartbreaking and show that the War on Drugs was used as a pretext. Stop the insanity.

Donald Scott
Age 62 at the time of his death at his home in Malibu, CA. on October 2, 1992.

Scott and his wife, Frances Plante, were awakened by violent pounding at the door on the morning of October 2, 1992. As Frances attempted to open the door, a narcotics task force from the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. burst into the home, weapons in hand.

Frances was pushed forcefully from the door at gun point. She cried out, “Don’t shoot me, don’t kill me!” With a gun aimed at her head, Frances looked to her right and saw Donald charging into the room, waving a revolver above his head. She heard a deputy shout, “Put the gun down! Put the gun down! Put the gun down!” As Scott was doing so, Frances heard three gun shots ring out, apparently from two sources.

Her husband was killed instantly.

Scott was a millionaire who owned 250 acres of breathtakingly beautiful land that was adjacent to federal park lands. Attempts had been made by the feds to buy the property, but Scott was not interested in selling. Claims that there might be pot growing on the land, made by agents who did aerial surveillance, were used to get a search warrant.

An official inquiry suggested that agents had hoped this raid would lead to asset forfeiture of the property Scott would not sell. The coroner’s report listed the cause of death as a homicide. No marijuana was found. Scott did not even smoke it. In January, 2000, the Scott family won a $5 million wrongful death settlement from the government over the shooting.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 9:40 am

The Inspectors General problem

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Good report:

Today’s Washington Post notes a new report from the Project on Government Oversight detailing the problems faced by Inspectors General, the chief auditing officers against government waste and corruption. As I noted in a piece three weeks ago, a troubling number of IG’s face political meddling from agency heads and lack sufficient staff and money to carry out investigations.

The Post piece on IG troubles is misleading, though, as its “news” is a problem that’s been around for 20 years. That’s the division between Inspectors General appointed by the President and those appointed by agency heads. A 1988 amendment to the 1978 Inspectors General Act said that the President should appoint and the Senate must confirm IG’s for larger agencies, like the State Dept. and Dept. of Defense. Smaller agencies, however, like the Consumer Product Commission, internally appoint IG’s.

The amendment’s supposed result is that presidentially appointed IG’s have great staff, professional independence and legal representation while agency appointed IG’s have no budget and are too close to the bosses they investigate. But while this division is indeed a crucial one, the problem with IG’s is much more complicated to classify.

As Kenneth Gold, the director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, told me, “If you’ve met one IG, you’ve met one IG- they’re all over the map.” Indeed, some Presidential appointed IG’s do exceptional work such as the Interior Department’s Earl Deveney. Deveney’s exposes into park police literally falling asleep on the job has made front-page news. On the other hand, recent State Dept. IG Howard “Cookie” Krongard and Defense Department IG Joseph Schmitz both resigned after accusations they were stonewalling investigations and a little too cozy with Pentagon and State contractor Blackwater.

But the problems aren’t limited to presidentially appointed IG’s that don’t do their job. President Bush named John Helgerson CIA Inspector General. Yet the President took no action when CIA Director Michael Hayden turned the tables and started investigating Helgerson. Nor has he denounced Hayden’s unprecedented move of getting an omsbudsman to check over Helgerson’s work.

The woes of IG’s at places like the Smithsonian and National Archives are certainly important and should be belatedly remedied. But the Post misses the more alarming news- IG’s at the government biggest national security agencies are often not investigating U.S. national security.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 9:37 am

Posted in Congress, Government

Kimchee purée = Korean ketchup

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Interesting idea, eh? And used in a very interesting way: to cook barley.

Lamb neck

I wanted to be able to capture the essence of kimchee’s complex flavor in dishes without having to chop leaves or pick cooked cabbage out of dishes.  I was searching for a seamless integration of flavor.  Previously we have made a kimchee consomme which was delicious although I felt it lacked the oomph, the character, the brash attention getting characteristics of kimchee.

Clearly I have been on a kimchee kick with our Dr. Pepper and kimchee roasted pork shoulder acting as the catalyst.  A stop by Momofuku a few weeks back triggered an even stronger yearning to cook with kimchee as each table is adorned with bottles of kimchee puree rather than the usual ketchup.  (Speaking of ketchup, our version is coming soon and what makes it exciting is the unlimited number of uses for ketchup, one of which is spiking it with kimchee.)

My mind works through associations.  As I saw bottles of Korean ketchup (kimchee puree)  on the tables and knowing that I often reach for ketchup as a cooking medium, I made a simple extrapolation.  What would happen if we used a kimchee puree as a cooking medium?  Only one way to find out.  I pureed kimchee in the blender until it was smooth and fluid.  I strained the puree to remove any fibers and large particles.  I tasted the puree.  It was a bit too intense for my purposes.  I needed to thin it a bit without taking away from its inherent flavors.  I wanted to use the spicy liquid to cook barley.  I knew that if the puree was too intense the barley would be inedible.  A cup of water seemed to bring the aggressive flavors into balance.

I added hulled barley and the kimchee broth to the pressure cooker. Twenty minutes on high pressure yielded toothsome barley with a nice snap, reminiscent of farro, and flavored throughout with kimchee.  I am still smiling a day later.  The marriage of the kimchee and barley is wonderful.  The success of this first use of kimchee broth now opens up many new possibilities.  I foresee shrimp poached in kimchee broth and buttery grits enriched with these deep, spicy flavors.  A kimchee brine is certainly around the corner for roasted chicken or pork loin, as is a more intense kimchee paste to marinate steak.

This barley cooked with kimchee proved to be a great foil for our braised lamb neck.  The tarragon and screwpine puree spiked the dish with herbal notes and a condiment of radish and preserved lemon zest refreshed the palate.  While this application was certainly delicious, I may try a bowl full of the barley topped with a hot spring egg and some Chinese sausage for breakfast tomorrow. It’s one of the benefits of having leftovers.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 9:32 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Bay Rum morning

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This morning I used Tryphon Bay Rhum shaving soap—exceptionally good, both fragrance and lather, which I worked up with the Rooney Style 3 Size 1 Super shaving brush.

The Edwin Jagger Lined Chatsworth with a PolSilver blade provided a smooth and easy shave, and then I used the Gessato shaving oil for the Oil Pass. I’m liking that it’s totally fragrance-free as well as light.

Finally, TOBS Bay Rum aftershave, and I’m ready for Speak Like A Pirate Day, whenever it arrives.

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2008 at 8:50 am

Posted in Shaving

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