Later On

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

Archive for September 10th, 2008


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I love beans, especially dried beans: cooking a tasty food from what amounts to pebbles is like magic. I have bought many packages of beans from Rancho Gordo, and that source is featured in today’s Washington Post Food section. The key links:

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Apple and Sausage Pie

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This sounds like a terrific main dish. From Simply Recipes:

Apple and Sausage Pie Recipe

  • 1 basic pie dough recipe, rolled out and lining a 9 or 10-inch pie dish, or 8×8 baking dish, chilled (or one frozen pie crust)
  • 2 large tart Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about half a cup)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded fontina, provolone, and or asiago cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 Preheat oven to 425°F. Line the inside of a pie shell with heavy aluminum foil, pressing the dough against the side. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil, poke the bottom of the pie crust with the tines of a fork to create air vents. Return crust to oven, bake for an additional 4 minutes, or until the crust just begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

2 Melt butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the apples, onions, and sugar, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. In the last 30 seconds or so, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Transfer mixture to a separate bowl. Increase the heat to medium high and in the same skillet add the Italian sausage. Cook, stirring only infrequently, until sausage is browned on all sides and is cooked through. Remove from heat. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat.

3 In medium sized bowl, mix together the cheeses and beaten eggs.

4 Place sausage on bottom of pre-baked pie crust. Add the cooked apple onion mixture over the sausage. Pour the cheese egg mixture over the apple mixture and spread it so it evenly covers the pie.

5 Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 3:11 pm

The Bush Administration in action

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Charlie Savage reporting in the NY Times today:

As Congress prepares to debate expansion of drilling in taxpayer-owned coastal waters, the Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a wide-ranging ethics scandal — including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.

In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.

“A culture of ethical failure” besets the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo.

The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.

The highest-ranking official criticized in the reports was Lucy Q. Denett, the former associate director of minerals revenue management, who retired earlier this year as the inquiry was progressing.

The investigations are the latest installment in a series of scathing probes of the troubled program’s management and competence in recent years. While previous reports have focused on problems the agency has had in collecting millions of dollars owed to the Treasury, the new set of reports raises questions about the integrity and behavior of the agency’s officials.

In one of the new reports, investigators conclude that a key supervisor at the agency’s minerals revenue management office …

Continue reading for more on the sex and drugs. Rock and roll was not mentioned in this story.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 1:33 pm

New education post by Peter Gray

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Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Book artists

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I own several works by a highly talented book artist, Terry Braunstein, who in recent years has turned to public art. Here’s a little collection of ten different book artists—take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Art, Books


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Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Daily life

Obama responds

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Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 12:51 pm

Creationism v. Evolution

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Scientific American has a good collection of articles on the weird Creationism v. Evolution issue—for example, “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.”

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Religion, Science

CBS News comment on latest McCain attack

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Posted by Brian Montopoli:

The McCain campaign has released a new ad, “Education,” that suggests Barack Obama favors teaching sex education to kindergartners. A McCain aide tells CBS News the ad will air on Fox News and in select markets in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Education Week says Obama ‘hasn’t made a significant mark on education,'” an announcer says as the spot opens. “That he’s ‘elusive’ on accountability. A ‘staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly.'”

The announcer continues: “Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”

Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs told CBS News the legislation Obama supported provided information to children on what to watch for when with an adult they don’t know, such as inappropriate advances or touching.

“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. “Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

McCain has lost it

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Andrew Sullivan, a conservative columnist, feels that it’s game over for McCain and his honor:

For me, this surreal moment – like the entire surrealism of the past ten days – is not really about Sarah Palin or Barack Obama or pigs or fish or lipstick. It’s about John McCain. The one thing I always thought I knew about him is that he is a decent and honest person. When he knows, as every sane person must, that Obama did not in any conceivable sense mean that Sarah Palin is a pig, what did he do? Did he come out and say so and end this charade? Or did he acquiesce in and thereby enable the mindless Rovianism that is now the core feature of his campaign?

So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil. When he knew that George W. Bush’s war in Iraq was a fiasco and catastrophe, and before Donald Rumsfeld quit, McCain endorsed George W. Bush against his fellow Vietnam vet, John Kerry in 2004. By that decision, McCain lost any credibility that he can ever put country first. He put party first and his own career first ahead of what he knew was best for the country.

And when the Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to condemn and end the torture regime of Bush and Cheney in 2006, McCain again had a clear choice between good and evil, and chose evil.

He capitulated and enshrined torture as the policy of the United States, by allowing the CIA to use techniques as bad as and worse than the torture inflicted on him in Vietnam. He gave the war criminals in the White House retroactive immunity against the prosecution they so richly deserve. The enormity of this moral betrayal, this betrayal of his country’s honor, has yet to sink in. But for my part, it now makes much more sense. He is not the man I thought he was.

And when he had the chance to engage in a real and substantive debate against the most talented politician of the next generation in a fall campaign where vital issues are at stake, what did McCain do? He began his general campaign with a series of grotesque, trivial and absurd MTV-style attacks on Obama’s virtues and implied disgusting things about his opponent’s patriotism.

And then, because he could see he was going to lose, ten days ago, he threw caution to the wind and with no vetting whatsoever, picked a woman who, by her decision to endure her own eight-month pregnancy of a Down Syndrome child in public, that he was going to reignite the culture war as a last stand against Obama. That’s all that is happening right now: a massive bump in the enthusiasm of the Christianist base. This is pure Rove.

Yes, McCain made a decision that revealed many appalling things about him. In the end, his final concern is not national security. No one who cares about national security would pick as vice-president someone who knows nothing about it as his replacement. No one who cares about this country’s safety would gamble the security of the world on a total unknown because she polled well with the Christianist base. No person who truly believed that the surge was integral to this country’s national security would pick as his veep candidate a woman who, so far as we can tell anything, opposed it at the time.

McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States. And that is why it is more important than ever to ensure that Barack Obama is the next president. The alternative is now unthinkable. And McCain – no one else – has proved it.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 12:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Where’s the press?

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James Fallows has a very good post:

Twice in the last six months we’ve had the spectacle of a candidate clinging to a provably false personal narrative. Each tale was meant to show something admirable and significant about the candidate’s character. But in each case the press had the goods to show that the tale was too tall to be believed.

One, of course, was Hillary Clinton’s “hail of bullets” account of her arrival at the airport in Bosnia.

The other is Sarah Palin’s “thanks but no thanks” claim to have opposed funding for the “bridge to nowhere.”

In Senator Clinton’s case, the more often she repeated the story, the more relentlessly the press said the story was not true. All parts of the press did this: right, left, middle. They didn’t say that there was a “controversy” about her story. They said it was false. And eventually she bowed to the inevitable and stopped telling the story any more.

In Governor Palin’s case, the more often she has repeated the story, the more abashed the press has seemed about pointing out its falsity. The accurate version would be more like: “I said ‘Yes, please!’ until the Congress said ‘Sorry, no.'” As best I can tell (from my distance in China), the right-wing press has played no part in this truth-squadding. The mainstream press has seemed to treat it as a “controversy” rather than a falsehood. And there is no evidence of Palin hesitating to use the story again and again.

There can’t be any difference in gender or race bias in treatment of these two cases: they both both involve successful, married white female politicians. There is no essential difference in the falseness of their claims, though there was a greater comic potential in the film footage of Sen. Clinton’s “harrowing” arrival. The major remaining difference is that one case involves a Democrat (though the more conservative of the primary-campaign finalists) and one a Republican.

So here are the controlled-experiment questions:

1) At any point will the right-wing press join the effort to hold Palin accountable for her false claim, as all of the press held Clinton responsible?

2)  If Palin keeps making the claim, will press critics redouble their debunking, as they did with Clinton, or taper off for fear of seeming biased or boring?

3) At any point will Palin herself — or, far more significant, McCain — acknowledge that there are such things as fact and fantasy, and stop making a demonstrably false claim?

I pose it as a set of questions rather than an assumed conclusion. For now.

And ThinkProgress notes:

Today at a rally with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in Virginia, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) once again repeated the lie that she opposed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska:

I championed earmark reform also to help Congress stop wasting money on those things that do not serve the public interest. I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.” If we wanted that bridge, we’d build it ourselves.

Watch it.

ThinkProgress has been keeping track of how many times the McCain campaign is repeating this lie. Palin’s comments today bring the number to 27 lies. [Well, really, the same lie told 27 different times. – LG]

And Steven Benen has a post that clearly shows the press failing:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:57 am

Posted in GOP, Media

When a city is design for pedestrians and bikes…

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Apparently, it doesn’t work now: people still use their cars. But it’s an interesting post by Kevin Drum.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life

Old English, parvus sed potens

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Very interesting post on the Old English content of modern-day English. For example, the post quotes this statement:

Reflect on the fact that 50% of the words we’re using here were stolen from other languages and the other 50% were invented by Shakespeare to plug the gaps.

So: no real contribution from Old English. Yet, if we remove the Old English words from the sentence, we get:


Read the whole post and enjoy.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:30 am

Posted in Daily life

Psychoactive drug use: why not permit it?

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I blogged yesterday about the puzzle of why some want to outlaw sativa, a plant that is (so far as one can tell) totally harmless—no evidence to date of any problems. The Cato Institute broadens the question. The article begins:

Psychoactive drugs are everywhere. Any discussion of drug use needs to take this into account. The broad category of “psychoactive drugs” consists of natural and synthetic substances that alter a person’s thoughts or feelings. There exist hundreds of plants, which, if eaten, smoked, snorted, or injected, will affect the mind—whether acting as a stimulant, depressant, or psychedelic. Thousands of known chemicals will do the same. Used recreationally, medicinally, or for work, some are illegal and others not: They include coffee, wine, and tobacco; prescription pain medications, sleep aids, and antidepressants; as well as cannabis, LSD, and heroin. Psychoactives are in the kitchen, in the hardware store, in the greenhouse, in home medicine cabinets, and in fuel tanks across the country.

Everyone uses them. Would you believe that nearly 90% of 45-year-olds in the United States have tried an illegal drug in their lifetime?[1] As of 2006, more than 35 million Americans had taken an illicit drug in the previous year.[2] Monitoring the Future (MTF), the best current survey about illegal drug use in the United States,[3] reports that one in five college students used an illicit drug in the past month. Nearly all adults in the U.S. have tried alcohol, while over 80% use caffeine daily.[4] Last year there were over 180 million prescriptions written for opiates alone,[5] and a diverse assortment of psychoactives are increasingly used by older Americans from coast to coast.[6]

They are not going away. Humans have used psychoactive substances for as long as we have records[7] and some of the largest corporations in the world are actively developing new ones for the future. There is no magic bullet that will suddenly make these compounds disappear from our society. If there were, the past century of ever-increasing penalties for possession and sale of recreationally used drugs, along with massive anti-drug “education” campaigns, would have reduced use. But they have not.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:22 am

Goodbye, fish

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More on the human destruction of the planet, this time destruction of ocean life. The article by Peter Alsop begins:

A mile or two off the coast of Cape Cod, just east of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Ted Ligenza shoves a hand across the ignition switch of the Reina Marie, and his 31-foot boat sputters into silence and drifts to a stop. It is not yet dawn on a cold day in January. A five-foot swell lifts and lowers the boat in the semi-darkness while Ligenza stands at the wheel staring intently at his sonar. When he spots a flicker of color on the screen, he crams the rest of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into his mouth and ducks into the hold. The Reina Marie, pilotless, begins to drift westward, pushed by the waves and the wind.

Ligenza, 54, is a square-built man, broad everywhere around—an impression only heightened by several layers of thick flannel underneath the billowing orange overalls he wears on his boat. He moves nimbly, pulling tackle out of boxes, returning to the helm every few moments to check the sonar. On his third or fourth pass by the wheel, a dark look flashes across his face. The flicker on the screen is gone. “This isn’t good,” he says. “There should be fish here.”

On the radio navigation system, a pair of numbers is blinking—two coordinates that mark a spot on the ocean where cod, drawn by geography or temperature or instinct, have been known to converge. Ligenza, a commercial fisherman for 35 years, lives by such numbers. They create a kind of map of the sea, a catalogue of possible fishing sites. Beside the wheel of the Reina Marie, a tattered notebook lists pages upon pages of coordinates, collected over decades on the water. Others are scribbled in haste on the walls and ceiling of the wheelhouse. Ligenza consults his book for a second time and confirms the numbers. Then he worries aloud about the cost of fuel for the hour-and-a-half trip, and considers the unhappy possibility that he will only break even on the day, or take a loss.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:18 am

What drives men toward gourmet shaving?

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I’ve always thought that my own main motivation—I thrilled that I now actually enjoy shaving—was sufficient, but Kafeneio thinks a little more deeply about what the psychological drivers might be.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:13 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

McCain campaign loses its mind

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The McCain campaign seems to be relying on straight-up lies, with no substance. It has turned quite a few former admirers against him, since he seems to have abandoned any notion at all of “honor.” Here are a few looks at what he’s doing now:

Steve Benen on McCain and Obama and Future Combat Systems.

Steve Benen on lipstick on a pig (a cliché used by both Obama and McCain and countless other politicians).

Joe Klein on lipstick on a pig.

Josh Marshall hears from readers (there’s more at the link, including video):

We’re still talking about honor with this guy? Face it. This guy is running the sleaziest presidential campaign of our lifetimes. McCain and Palin are out their lying their heads off. Liars have no honor.

Late Update: BL has an idea too …

I know responding to a scurrilous attack with a “he did it to” defense doesn’t help knock down the original falsehood, but why isn’t someone bringing up McCain’s past with women? The Chelsea Clinton – Janet Reno ugly joke? How about the gorilla rape joke? Leaving his crippled wife for a beauty queen? Dating exotic dancers – per Fred Thompson?This man not only has no honor. He has no shame. He’s the prohibitionist who rails against the drink in public but gets wasted every night in private.

Normally it might not be appropriate for the press to dig into McCain’s ugly past with women. But when he’s out there like a preening fraud tossing out phony charges of sexism they really have no choice.

Late Update: Let’s remember, this is the same John S. McCain who had a good belly laugh with a supporter and called it a “good question” when the supporter called Hillary Clinton a “bitch.”

Steve Benen on the sleazy attack on sex education for youngsters.

There’s much more, but it’s all indicative of what the GOP campaign has become: total dishonesty with McCain doing whatever his handlers ask.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:11 am

Posted in GOP

McCain and the aircraft lobby

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Matthew Blake has a very good article in the Washington Independent. You really should read the entire thing. From that article:

… It raises questions about whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican presidential nominee, is the crusader against Washington corruption that he claims to be.

In 2001, the Air Force handed the tanker contract to Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world. But in 2005, the Air Force terminated the deal after McCain led a three-year investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee that unearthed potentially illegal conduct by Air Force and Boeing officials. At the time, the media hailed McCain as a heroic, lonely crusader who had saved taxpayers millions of dollars.

But there may have been another side to McCain’s investigation — one that may undercut a central premise of his presidential campaign: that he will be a reformer as president.

Here’s the issue. The Associated Press revealed in March that five registered lobbyists for EADS were working for McCain’s presidential campaign, including Tom Loeffler, who served as the campaign’s co-chairman. Also, in 2006, McCain wrote two strongly worded, and likely influential, letters to the Pentagon, arguing that EADS acceptance of European Union subsidies should not be factored into who gets the tanker contract.

A top McCain Senate aide, Chris Paul, has said the Arizona senator wrote the letters without lobbyist’s help and that they reflect his interest in “full and open competition.”

But McCain’s presidential campaign rarely details the Boeing investigation as evidence of his reformer bona fides. Instead, it has been mostly Democrats, with Boeing employees as constituents, who bring up the case. They highlight a different side of McCain — his campaign’s continued ties to current and former lobbyists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 11:01 am

Posted in Business, Election, GOP, Military

TaskTome: an interesting little To-Do List manager

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Lifehacker has a good review of TaskTome. Take a look. It’s free, but Windows only.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 10:47 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Another argument for legalizing medical marijuana

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Of course, medical marijuana is already legal in 12 states, though the Federal government doesn’t recognize it yet. Still, its time seems to have come. And perhaps this is a reason: pain management in cancer is not being handled well by the medical profession, so for patients to have access to their own treatments for pain and other effects becomes more important. The full report:

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of cancer patients, yet many of them do not receive adequate therapy for the pain caused by their disease or treatments, according to a study in the September 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. For cancer patients, pain can come from the cancer itself, chronic inflammatory changes or infections. Standard cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can also cause pain, but despite its common occurrence, pain is a frequent source of patient anxiety due to improper management.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Radiation Oncology in Philadelphia and the Radiation Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., sought to determine the main reasons that patients fail to receive optimal pain therapy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2008 at 10:45 am

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