Later On

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Archive for April 13th, 2008

Broiled eggplant rounds

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I finally got around to making this recipe (photo at the link):

Broiled Eggplant (given to my mom by her friend Halimah back sometime in the early 1970’s)

2 medium sized eggplants, sliced into half inch rounds
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (I use parchment paper because I imagine it is slightly more ecologically friendly than foil. I may be mistaken in this assumption, so don’t quote me here). Lay the eggplant circles out so they don’t overlap. Put into the hot over for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender. Spread each circle with a thin layer of mayo (if you don’t like mayonnaise I recommend that you try it anyway. Once the eggplant is broiled, you don’t taste it at all, it just adds moisture and a way to make the wheat germ and cheese stick). Sprinkle with the wheat germ, cheese, salt and pepper. Broil until browned. Eat as soon as you can because although it is good cold, it is transcendent warm.

Changes: I used a Silpat baking mat on the baking sheet. The finished eggplant is difficult to cut with a fork because of the skin’s toughness; next time, I’ll make shallow cuts the length of the eggplant all round before cutting it into cross-sections. Baking the eggplant rounds at 350º for 20 minutes wasn’t enough. I went to 25, and next time I’ll just bake for 30 minutes. The mayo, as said, sort of vanishes in the broiling. Next time I’ll use more. Very tasty, though I wouldn’t call it transcendent.

UPDATE: 30 minutes baking was the right idea. Shallow vertical cuts were a good idea. Thicker mayo was a good idea. I also tried olive oil instead of mayo on a few. Mayo is better.

Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Obama, some years ago

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This is from TalkingPointsMemo, and a very good find. Josh Marshall provides the background:

TPM Reader GB sent me in the video of a 2004 appearance by Barack Obama on the Charlie Rose show in which he talks about the same issue of rural and working class Americans and the Democratic party. It’s from November 23rd, 2004, so just after Obama was first elected to the senate but a couple months before he was sworn in.

It’s interesting to watch since it’s in a very non-campaign setting and almost four years ago. He makes exactly the same point, but explains it differently. Some of it is likely equally demagoguable, but shows up some of the tendentious misconstruals of what he said. I clipped out the three minutes or so of the hour segment where he addresses this issue …

UPDATE: From Balloon Juice, this counter-statement by Hillary Clinton, if you can stand to watch it:

Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 11:33 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Bill Cosby’s activism

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A very interesting article in the new Atlantic Monthly. It begins:

Last summer, in Detroit’s St. Paul Church of God in Christ, I watched Bill Cosby summon his inner Malcolm X. It was a hot July evening. Cosby was speaking to an audience of black men dressed in everything from Enyce T-shirts or polos to blazers and ties. Some were there with their sons. Some were there in wheelchairs. The audience was packed tight, rows of folding chairs extended beyond the wooden pews to capture the overflow. But the chairs were not enough, and late arrivals stood against the long shotgun walls, or out in the small lobby, where they hoped to catch a snatch of Cosby’s oratory. Clutching a cordless mic, Cosby paced the front of the church, shifting between prepared remarks and comic ad-libs. A row of old black men, community elders, sat behind him, nodding and grunting throaty affirmations. The rest of the church was in full call-and-response mode, punctuating Cosby’s punch lines with laughter, applause, or cries of “Teach, black man! Teach!”

He began with the story of a black girl who’d risen to become valedictorian of his old high school, despite having been abandoned by her father. “She spoke to the graduating class and her speech started like this,” Cosby said. “‘I was 5 years old. It was Saturday and I stood looking out the window, waiting for him.’ She never said what helped turn her around. She never mentioned her mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother.”

“Understand me,” Cosby said, his face contorted and clenched like a fist. “Men? Men? Men! Where are you, men?”

Audience: “Right here!”

Cosby had come to Detroit aiming to grab the city’s black men by their collars and shake them out of the torpor that has left so many of them—like so many of their peers across the country—undereducated, over-incarcerated, and underrepresented in the ranks of active fathers. No women were in the audience. No reporters were allowed, for fear that their presence might frighten off fathers behind on their child-support payments. But I was there, trading on race, gender, and a promise not to interview any of the allegedly skittish participants.

“Men, if you want to win, we can win,” Cosby said. “We are not a pitiful race of people. We are a bright race, who can move with the best. But we are in a new time, where people are behaving in abnormal ways and calling it normal … When they used to come into our neighborhoods, we put the kids in the basement, grabbed a rifle, and said, ‘By any means necessary.’

“I don’t want to talk about hatred of these people,” he continued. “I’m talking about a time when we protected our women and protected our children. Now I got people in wheelchairs, paralyzed. A little girl in Camden, jumping rope, shot through the mouth. Grandmother saw it out the window. And people are waiting around for Jesus to come, when Jesus is already within you.”

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Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 9:52 am

Posted in Daily life

The fog of war endures

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Phillip Carter has an excellent column in the Washington Post, “Intel Dump.” Here’s a recent column:

Military transformation is seductive. The idea that you might see through the fog of war to assess the terrain, friendly forces and enemy forces on a battlefield is a powerful intoxicant that can lead to fantastic, almost God-like visions of military power. Those visions, in turn, inspire dreams of how a nation might harness military force to reshape the globe.

It’s heady stuff. Unfortunately, as Fred Kaplan writes in his new book Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power, it’s also nearly entirely fiction. Innovations in battlefield surveillance, communications and computing do make a difference on the battlefield. But they are more evolutionary than revolutionary, at least as presently employed, and they do little to change the fundamentals of warfare that have remained constant for thousands of years. Further, these techno-centric systems have far less utility for counterinsurgencies and small wars than they do for conventional wars like Desert Storm — and so, they have had only a marginal impact on the post-combat efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kaplan explores the history behind these transformative ideas and technologies, and lays bare the reasons why they have not borne fruit. (Full disclosure: Fred is my colleague at Slate, and we have occasionally collaborated on articles.) His slim volume is smoothly written, in the style of several long New Yorker articles connected by a common narrative, and it should be of interest both to military intellectuals and laypersons. At the core of his book is a powerful critique of the Bush administration — which he labels a group of “daydream believers,” paraphrasing a quote from T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia — for its unwavering and irrational faith in American military power and omnipotence.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 9:48 am

A modern union

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Bradford Plumer has written a fascinating article about Andy Stern and his union work. Well worth reading. It begins:

With our interview winding down, Andy Stern leaps out of his chair to show me something. On the far wall of his Washington, D.C., office, the leader of the 1.9-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) keeps a little museum. “This stuff’s great,” he says, pointing to photos, memorabilia–and what he really wants me to see: the head of Gus Bevona.

As the leader of Local 32BJ in New York City during the 1980s and ’90s, the 300-pound Bevona was the epitome of union sleaze. His salary of $400,000 per year made him one of the highest-paid labor officials in the country. Like many locals of old, 32BJ never had much interest in organizing new workers or advancing a broader cause. Bevona was content to maintain high salaries for his dwindling flock of janitors and doormen, while reportedly using union funds to build himself a posh lower-Manhattan penthouse. “So he puts this bust in his dedication to the building,” Stern says, pointing to the brass head. “Kim Il Sung would’ve been proud. This building is dedicated to Gus Bevona, for his tireless efforts, blah, blah, blah.” After Stern became president of SEIU in 1996, Gus had to go. So did all of the old guard. Unions had become too “male, pale, and stale,” as Stern likes to put it. And organized labor was dying because of it.

Getting rid of Bevona was just the start. Over the past twelve years, Stern has pulled off a transformation of SEIU that is, by any metric, astounding. Today, SEIU is the most dynamic and powerful union in the country. At a time when organized labor was widely believed to be headed for extinction–in 1954, roughly one-third of the American workforce was unionized; today, that number is 12.1 percent–Stern’s union accomplished the seemingly impossible: It grew, and grew a lot. The past decade has seen SEIU add nearly one million workers, including janitors, nurses, and home-care providers–many of them women, minorities, and immigrants. Most of these workers have seen their wages rise. The union now runs one of the largest PACs in the country, with money to rival even Big Pharma’s lobbying arm. It’s a record of success that would have stunned even the great labor organizers of the New Deal era.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 9:44 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Observing the Milky Way’s Black-Hole Center

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Not directly, of course, but in the interactions between the black hole and the stars that orbit it. This article includes a video that shows some of the stars close to the black hole and how it influences them. One star almost seems to bounce back, but it has merely approach the black hole closely, so that its orbit curves tightly as its speed accelerates. The article begins with a description of a technique new to me:

From the summit of Mauna Kea, nearly 14,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the Milky Way tilts luminously across the night sky, an edge-on view of our galaxy. Parts of the great disk are obscured by dust, and beyond one of those dusty blots, near the teapot of the constellation Sagittarius, lies the center of the Milky Way. Hidden there is a deeply mysterious structure around which more than 200 billion stars revolve.

Behind me atop the craggy rocks of this dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii are the twin domes of the W. M. Keck Observatory. Each dome houses a telescope with a giant mirror that is almost 33 feet wide and, like a fly’s eye, is made of interlocking segments. The mirrors are among the world’s largest for gathering starlight, and one of the telescopes has been equipped with a dazzling new tool that greatly increases its power. Fewer than 100 people have seen this technology in action. I gaze at the nearest of the Milky Way’s graceful spiral arms as I wait for technicians to flip the switch.

Then, suddenly and with the faint click of a shutter sliding open, a golden-orange laser beam shoots into the sky from the open dome. The ray of light, 18 inches wide, appears to end inside one of the blackest spots in the Milky Way. It actually ends 55 miles above the surface of the earth. The signal it makes there allows the telescope to compensate for the blur of Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of jittery pictures smeared by the constantly shifting rivers of air over our heads, the telescope produces images as clear as any obtained by satellites in space. Keck was one of the first observatories to be outfitted with a laser guide; now half a dozen others are beginning to use them. The technology provides astronomers with a sharp view of the galaxy’s core, where stars are packed as tightly as a summer swarm of gnats and swirl around the darkest place of all: a giant black hole.

Without question, the Milky Way’s black hole is the strangest thing in our galaxy—a three-dimensional cavity in space just ten times the physical size of our sun but with four million times the mass, a virtual bottomless pit from which nothing can escape. Every major galaxy, it turns out, has a black hole at its core. Now, for the first time, scientists have the chance to study the havoc these mind-boggling entities wreak. For the next decade, Keck astronomers will track thousands of stars caught in the gravity of the Milky Way’s black hole. They will try to figure out how stars are born close to the black hole and how it distorts the fabric of space itself. “I find it amazing that we can see stars whipping around our galaxy’s black hole,” says Taft Armandroff, director of the Keck Observatory. “If you had told me as a graduate student that I’d see that during my career, I’d have said it was science fiction.”

To be sure, …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 9:33 am

Posted in Science

Saturday steps: 5009

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As predicted, I took an easy day on Saturday. Still, 5000 steps are many more than I used to get on a daily basis. I’m certainly feeling better these days: more energy, deeper sleep, etc.

Written by Leisureguy

13 April 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

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