Later On

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

Archive for June 10th, 2008

Bean equivalents

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Thanks to Google, I quickly found this useful information:

15-oz can beans = 1.5 cups cooked beans, drained
1 pound dry beans = 6 cups cooked beans, drained
1 pound dry beans = 2 cups dry beans
1 cup dry beans = 3 cups cooked beans, drained

And, in addition, I stumbled across this nice recipe from Bon Appétit, March 2004:

A dollop of yogurt adds a creamy richness and cuts the heat of the chiles.
Servings: Makes 6 main-course servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles*
7 cups hot water (or, better, 3 cups hot water, 4 cups hot broth)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours. Transfer 2 cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of yogurt into each bowl. Sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro and serve.

*Chipotle chiles canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets and many supermarkets.

Nutritional Information per serving: calories, 314; total fat, 4 g; saturated fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 1 mg; fiber, 18 g

UPDATE: I made the recipe and it’s superb. I mixed the chopped tomatoes and chopped cilantro into the yougurt, along with some chopped sweet onions. The combination of the yogurt mix and the chipotle beans is just wonderful. I also boiled a smoked ham shank separately, then took the meat from that and added it to the beans. Good addition.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 9:19 pm

GOP obstructionism

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That’s all they have to offer.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP

Non-guacamole avocado dips

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Kitchn has a good post on making avocado dips beyond the usual guacamole. Worth checking out the discussion of inventing such dips. And then they offered a few more ideas:

Or try the combination pictured [in the post]: Nigella’s Roquemole, from Flickr member daxiang stef, with avocados, Roquefort cheese, scallions, sour cream, and pickled jalapeños.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Take precautions against deer ticks: Lyme disease is spreading

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Deer ticks hang out in trees and on tall grass and bushes, and drop on their prey when they detect a warm-blooded animal passing beneath them or when the animal brushes against them. Ticks can’t jump.

My own idea is to stay indoors, but if you do go out in the woods, here are some sensible precautions to avoid getting tick-borne Lyme disease:

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat (protects head and neck)
  • Wear long sleeves.
  • Wear long pants.
  • Wear long socks, and tuck pants into socks (or boots)
  • Wear light-colored clothing so it’s easier to spot the little devils.
  • Stay on the path—don’t walk through high grass/brush or in marshy areas..
  • Use a good insect repellent on your clothing.
  • Inspect yourself and your children for ticks and tick bites.

A red swelling around a bite is a bad sign. The ticks themselves are hard to spot:

Inspect yourself and your children for clinging ticks after being outdoors. Deer ticks are hard to see, with nymphs being dot-sized and adults smaller than a sesame seed. If you discover a tick attached and feeding, don’t panic — studies indicate that an infected tick doesn’t usually transmit the Lyme organism during the first 24 hours. Remove the tick immediately using fine-tipped tweezers, and monitor your health closely after a bite, being alert for any signs and symptoms of a tick-borne illness. [Obviously, if you have dogs that run into the woods, they also require inspection. – LG]

In the first few days, a good antibiotic will kill Lyme disease readily, but if the disease establishes itself, it’s hard to treat. Daniel J. DeNoon presents this bad news in WebMD:

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical, Science

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High-fat diet disrupts sleep

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Interesting story by Charlene Laino in WebMD. And I know from experience that a high-fat dinner makes for uneasy sleep: I once went to dinner at a neighbor’s, who had been taking a cooking course. He served: butter-cheese pastry for appetizers; prime rib with yorkshire pudding, asparagus with hollandaise, and twice-cooked potatoes (with bacon, cheese, and butter) for the main course; and for dessert a bombe aux trois chocolats with whipped cream—and of that he served large wedges. Not only did I not sleep well, I had to get up in the middle of the night and throw up.

Add poor sleep to the long list of health complaints associated with eating a high-fat diet.

Brazilian researchers have found that the more fat you consume each day, the less likely you are to get a good night’s sleep.

Having a fat-laden cheeseburger and fries for dinner may be particularly disruptive to your sleep pattern, the small study suggests. [I’ll say! – LG]

Cibele Crispim, MS, of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, led the study. The findings were presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Studies in the sleep lab showed that overall, the more fat they ate each day:

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

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Peak oil?

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I read an article in the paper recently in which an “industry insider” said that oil reserves are much larger than estimated—twice as large. And yet production has been flat since 2005, just as one would expect that the peak. And, despite the reserves, if production begins to decline, it will be a clear sign that we’ve passed the peak. After all, when the peak is hit, the amount of oil still to come is roughly equal to the amount of oil used to date—it just gets harder and harder to produce.

His story is that oil companies are holding back production because they make lots of money with oil at $137/barrel (or more, as prices climb). And yet as the price of oil increases, the motivation and innovation to replace oil also increases: developing transportation that’s powered by electricity and/or fuels from biological sources (algae-produced gasoline and other biofuels), for example. I would think that oil companies would see that this direction is not in their long-term interests, regardless of short-term profits.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Bob Barr: “War on drugs is a failure”

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Read his full post at Huffington Post. A snippet:

when government attempts to solve our societal problems, it tends to create even more of them, often increasing the size and depth of the original problem. A perfect example of this is the federal War on Drugs.

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I’ll even argue that America’s drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, “War on Drugs,” in 1972.

America’s drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

The result of spending all of those taxpayer’s dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.

While it is clear the War on Drugs has been a failure, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that reality. We need to look for solutions that deal with the drug problem without costly and intrusive government agencies, and instead allow for private industry and organizations to put forward solutions that address the real problems.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Election

Fire rainbow

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I’ve never even heard of a fire rainbow, much less seen one.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Make a virtual kaleidoscope

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Pretty cool.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Daily life

Guantánamo destroying lives

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Even the lives of those who did nothing wrong. From Reuters:

Over two-thirds of the detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison are suffering from or at risk of mental problems because they are kept isolated in small cells with little light or fresh air, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a report entitled “Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo“, the group says 185 of the 270 detainees at the U.S. military prison for terrorism suspects are housed in facilities similar to “supermax” prisons.

They spend 22 hours alone in cramped cells, have very limited contact with other human beings and are given little more than the Koran to occupy themselves, said the report, which is based interviews with government officials and attorneys.

Detainees held in this manner include many that have not been charged with crimes and have already been cleared for release or transfer, according to the report.

Guantanamo detainees who have not even been charged with a crime are being warehoused in conditions that are in many ways harsher than those reserved for the most dangerous, convicted criminals in the United States,” said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch.

More than six years after the United States began sending terrorism suspects to the naval base in Cuba, not a single case has gone to trial.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 11:27 am

NY Times still buying the Administration line

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sigh. Will they never, ever reform? Glenn Greenwald points out how the NY Times is still acting as a mouthpiece for the Administration. It’s an important column: he tells how the Democrats in Congress are once again set to roll over and give the White House whatever it wants. Read the column; here’s an excerpt:

The New York Times‘ Eric Lichtblau has a long, prominent article today on the pending debate over FISA and telecom amnesty — headlined: “Return to Old Spy Rules Is Seen as Deadline Nears” — that features (and endorses) virtually every blatant falsehood that has distorted these spying issues from the beginning, and which is built on every shoddy journalistic practice that has made clear debate over these issues almost impossible. The article strongly suggests that a so-called “compromise” is imminent, a “compromise” which will deliver to the President virtually everything he seeks in the way of new warrantless eavesdropping powers and telecom amnesty.

… But this is what makes the Democrats in Congress so contemptible. As always, they claim that they are preparing to comply with the President’s demands because they are afraid of the political costs of not doing so:

As hard as the White House has pushed, Democrats may have even more at stake. They acknowledge not wanting to risk reaching their national convention in Denver in August without a deal, lest that create an opening for the Republicans and Senator John McCain, their presumptive presidential nominee, to portray themselves as tougher on national security — a tried-and-true attack method in the past — just as the Democrats are nominating Senator Barack Obama.

That is the hallmark of the Democratic Party leadership: they are afraid of looking weak, and the way they try to solve that problem is by being guided by their fears and allowing themselves to be bullied into complying with the President’s instructions. They actually still think that being bullied and always being afraid to take a stand will make them look strong. They have yet to figure out that it is that craven behavior which makes them look weak, and appropriately so, since it is weak.But even that ostensible political fear makes no sense whatsoever. Democrats control the agenda in Congress. They determine what bills are voted on. All they have to do is force a House and Senate vote on a bill that does two simple things: (a) exempt foreign-to-foreign calls from FISA’s warrant requirements and (b) extend the PAA surveillance orders by 6 or 9 months. When the GOP filibusters that bill, or when George Bush vetoes it, then that will obviously preclude the GOP from using the expiration of those PAA orders as a club to beat Democrats, since it will be as clear as day — so clear that even our national press corps can understand it — that it was the President and the GOP, not Congressional Democrats, which caused those orders to expire.

Whatever else happens, the excuse that will be offered by Democrats — that they were pressured and forced into accepting this “compromise” because they would be politically harmed if the PAA orders expired in August — is patently false. They could easily obviate that weapon by simply offering a bill to extend the orders. When they don’t do that, and instead agree to a “compromise” that gives the President virtually everything he has been demanding, it will not be because they were coerced or pressured into doing so, but rather, because they, too, favor warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 11:18 am

Staying calm in emergencies

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One notable characteristic of good leaders is that they remain calm, even in emergencies. A leader who panics or in some other way loses control loses leadership almost immediately. And what produces that calm? Here’s an interesting article from e! Science News that discusses this:

Should a sergeant sacrifice a wounded private on the battlefield in order to save the rest of his troops? Is euthanasia acceptable if it prevents needless suffering? Many of us will have to face some sort of extreme moral choice such as these at least once in our life. And we are also surrounded by less dramatic moral choices everyday: Do I buy the hybrid? Do I vote for a particular presidential candidate? Unfortunately, very little is known beyond philosophical speculation about how people understand morality and make decisions on moral issues. Past research suggests that moral dilemmas can evoke strong emotions in people and tend to override thoughtful deliberation and reasoning. However, more recent neuroimaging research has discovered that sometimes people are capable of voluntarily suppressing these emotional reactions, allowing for decisions based on reasoning and careful deliberation of the consequences of one’s actions.

A new study appearing in the June issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, appears to support this neuroimaging evidence. Adam Moore of Princeton University and his colleagues Brian Clark and Michael Kane of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro tested this notion by measuring individuals’ working memory capacity — essentially their ability to mentally juggle multiple pieces of information. The idea was that people who could best juggle information would be able to control their emotion and engage in “deliberative processing.”

The researchers then asked participants to make decisions in emotionally provocative situations. One example:

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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“Meme” is a meme

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Memes are interesting, and Mind Hacks points to two TED talks on them:

High-end talking shop, TED, has a couple of video lectures on ‘memes‘ – the supposedly self-contained units of information, ideas or actions that replicate through human culture and are selected by a process akin to natural selection.

The first is by philosopher Daniel Dennett from 2002, while the second is from earlier this year and was presented by psychologist Susan Blackmore who updates the idea by proposing that new technology is having a unique effect on the cultural transmission of ideas.

The concept of memes is controversial, not least because it’s hard to see exactly what empirical predictions follow from the theory. Rather than a set of specific hypothesis, it’s really a different framework with which we can re-interpret aspects of culture.

What particularly annoys the critics is the idea that cultural ideas are subject to a Darwinian-style process of selection and (presumably) evolution.

In an exchange with Dennett, philosopher Michael Ruse defended his Darwinian credentials by saying to Dennett “[I am] more hardline than you are, because I don’t buy into this meme bullshit but put everything… in the language of genes”.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Daily life

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Apps if you use a USB drive

leave a comment » has some good apps for those who use USB drives, but one app is missing: encryption. Since the USB drive is small and portable, one must assume that it will sooner or later be lost in transit, and one would sleep much better knowing that the contents were strongly encrypted.

Speaking of that, I am always annoyed when I read an account of yet another lost/stolen laptop with critical data and the account does include some critical information—for example, did the laptop use a strong password? Were the files encrypted? And, in each case, if not, why not?

Why is that information never provided. It would make everyone’s life easier if they knew whether to worry about the lost/theft or not. With good protection, all that is lost is a laptop.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

A new best blade: Treet Durasharp Hi-Tech Steel

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Treet Durasharp Hi-Tech Steel blades are carbon steel, like the Treet Blue Special, but steel colored instead of blue-black. And they’re very nice. I used the Tryphon Bay Rhum soap with the Plisson HMW 12 brush and got a very good lather indeed. The new Durasharp Hi-Tech blade in the Merkur 1904 shaved as smoothly, I think, as the Treet Blue Special. With the Hydrolast Cutting Balm oil pass, I have a superbly smooth shave, and the Royall Bay Rhum aftershave was a perfect finish.

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Shaving

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