Later On

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

Archive for September 12th, 2008

Blizzard of lies

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Paul Krugman:

Did you hear about how Barack Obama wants to have sex education in kindergarten, and called Sarah Palin a pig? Did you hear about how Ms. Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” when it wanted to buy Alaska a Bridge to Nowhere?

These stories have two things in common: they’re all claims recently made by the McCain campaign — and they’re all out-and-out lies.

Dishonesty is nothing new in politics. I spent much of 2000 — my first year at The Times — trying to alert readers to the blatant dishonesty of the Bush campaign’s claims about taxes, spending and Social Security.

But I can’t think of any precedent, at least in America, for the blizzard of lies since the Republican convention. The Bush campaign’s lies in 2000 were artful — you needed some grasp of arithmetic to realize that you were being conned. This year, however, the McCain campaign keeps making assertions that anyone with an Internet connection can disprove in a minute, and repeating these assertions over and over again.

Take the case of …

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 9:55 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Debt & Relationships

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Good article, which begins:

When companies face financial hardship, they are often tempted to merge, splitting their costs and combining their customers. Couples do the opposite. The weight of unpaid bills and overdue loans can break a relationship: the unspoken vow that haunts many marriages is “till debt us do part”.

But a demerger makes little economic sense. Ever since Gary Becker of the University of Chicago published “A Treatise on the Family” in 1981, economists have thought of the family as a factory, combining inputs of money and time to produce domestic bliss. This marital enterprise has obvious advantages over its competitor, the single-person household, just as the factory can outdo the lone artisan. Couples enjoy economies of scale–sharing a bed, a kitchen and perhaps a car–and can benefit from a division of labour between them.

It will surprise no one to learn that men devote more hours to paid employment, women to housework. But contrary to popular belief, these two contributions balance out, on average, in most rich countries. In America, according to a report by Michael Burda of the Humboldt University of Berlin and others, men do 313 minutes a day of market work and 163 minutes of housework (liberally defined as anything you could pay someone else to do for you), whereas women do 201 and 271 minutes, respectively. The great exception is Italy, where men, in the words of the novelist Ian McEwan, “expect their wives to replace their mothers, and iron their shirts and fret about their underwear”.

The economic gains from coupledom are substantial. For middle-aged women, the cost of living in a married couple is 30% less than the cost of living alone, according to calculations by Arthur Lewbel of Boston College and Krishna Pendakur of Simon Fraser University, using Canadian prices. For men, it is about 20% less. Marriage, it seems, is a bargain.

But how do couples divide these spoils? …

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 9:50 am

Posted in Daily life

Pot roast

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After years of trying, I’m finally cooking pot roasts that I like—namely, the kind of pot roasts that Betty Spaeth cooked years ago. They are tender, juicy, and falling apart.

My problem, I now see, was that I was using too much braising liquid. For a regular boneless chuck roast—the flat kind—I now use this method:

Put the large sauté pan on a burner set at medium high and let it heat.

Salt (kosher salt works best) and pepper and season both sides of the pot roast. (Today I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor, a mix of shallots, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, basil, coriander, lemon peel, citric acid, black pepper, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, and orange peel, but you might instead use crushed garlic or granulated garlic.)

Once the pan is hot, sprinkle the pan with kosher salt, then put the roast in. It should sizzle a bit, otherwise the pan wasn’t hot enough.

While the first side browns, peel a medium-to-large onion and cut it into chunks. Cut one or two carrots into chunks, as well.

Turn the roast over and let the other side brown. Then add the chunks of onion and carrot around the roast, pour in 1/4 cup of red wine [I decided that no extra liquid is needed at all – LG], splash Worcestershire sauce all over the top of the roast, cover the pan, and put it into a 200º oven. Let it cook around 10 hours or so.

Quite tasty. There will be liquid: from the onions and probably from the roast. Sometimes I add a few dried mushrooms to the liquid halfway through the cooking. If you use fresh mushrooms, don’t use too many: they contain a fair amount of liquid. You can also put some small potatoes in at the beginning, if you want.

You’ll recognize that this temperature is the same as a slow cooker/crockpot set on “low.” In this case my roast was too big for a crockpot. If you do use a crockpot, you still have to use a pan to brown the roast. My thought is that a self-cleaning oven is well insulated and doesn’t use all that much electricity at 200º.

Put this on first thing in the morning and it will be ready for dinner just fine.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 9:29 am

Too confident by half

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John Cole:

Dan Drezner, after watching the Palin interview, asks a question:

Question to other GOP policy wonks: is it possible to support a candidate that campaigns on the notion that expertise is simply irrelevant?

The depressing thing is that this has been the GOP platform for years now. Expertise is overrated. Gut instincts, being “tough,” and being “decisive,” and not “blinking” are all far more important than actually knowing things.

Look at the thorough disdain for science the GOP has displayed for the past few years. Amorphous morals trump reason and science, and then those morals are conveniently discarded or altered when it becomes inconvenient for the GOP (see: family values, David Vitter).

The funny thing about all this is that the new savior of the GOP, Sarah Palin, is the one who is finally waking everyone up to what the Republican party really is all about. They are not serious about foreign policy (Fallows is just brutal). They are not serious (or honest) about scientific policy. They are not serious about economic policy (other than cutting taxes). They are not serious about an energy policy (just drill, baby, drill).

They just are not serious about, well, anything.

And Sarah Palin is the distilled essence of wingnut. She has it all. She is dishonest. She is a religious nut. She is incurious. She is anti-science. She is inexperienced. She abuses her authority. She hides behind executive privilege. She is a big spender. She works from the gut and places a greater value on instinct than knowledge.

And most dangerous of all, she is supremely self-confident to the point of not recognizing how ill-equipped she is to lead the country. This from last night stood out for me:

Charles Gibson, the interviewer, asked her if she didn’t hesitate and question whether she was experienced enough.“I didn’t hesitate, no,” she said.

He asked if that didn’t that take some hubris.

“I answered him yes,” Ms. Palin said, “because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

George Bush in a dress. The Palin interview should be a gut-check for Republicans and conservatives who think the last eight years has been a perversion of conservative principles. I am betting most of them will not even put down their pom-poms, though.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 9:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Faking it

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James Fallows:

It is embarrassing to have to spell this out, but for the record let me explain why Gov. Palin’s answer to the “Bush Doctrine” question — the only part of the recent interview I have yet seen over here in China — implies a disqualifying lack of preparation for the job.

Not the mundane job of vice president, of course, which many people could handle. Rather the job of potential Commander in Chief and most powerful individual on earth. …

Each of us has areas we care about, and areas we don’t. If we are interested in a topic, we follow its development over the years. And because we have followed its development, we’re able to talk and think about it in a “rounded” way. We can say: Most people think X, but I really think Y. Or: most people used to think P, but now they think Q. Or: the point most people miss is Z. Or: the question I’d really like to hear answered is A.

Here’s the most obvious example in daily life: Sports Talk radio.

Mention a name or theme — Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong’s comeback, Venus and Serena — and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.

People who don’t like sports can’t do that. It’s not so much that they can’t identify the names — they’ve heard of Armstrong — but they’ve never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports — and politics and tech and other topics — so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics — fashion, antique furniture,  the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera — I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion.  So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.

What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.

Two details in Charles Gibson’s posing of the question were particularly telling. One was the potentially confusing way in which he first asked it. On the page, “the Bush Doctrine” looks different from “the Bush doctrine.” But when hearing the question Palin might not have known whether Gibson was referring to the general sweep of Administration policy — doctrine with small d — or the rationale that connected 9/11 with the need to invade Iraq, the capital-D Doctrine. So initial confusion would be understandable — as if a sports host asked about Favre’s chances and you weren’t sure if he meant previously with the Packers or with the Jets. Once Gibson clarified the question, a person familiar with the issue would have said, “Oh, if we’re talking about the strategy that the President and Condoleezza Rice began laying out in 2002….”  There was no such flash of recognition.

The other was …

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 9:11 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Kinetic sculptures of Theo Jansen

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 8:54 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Craig Ferguson on the campaign

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 7:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Election

Gentlemens Refinery

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Gentlemens Refinery standard shaving cream (rather than the Black Ice). Both those shaving creams make exceptionally good lather, and this morning, using the Rooney Style 3 Size 1 Super, was no exception. The Gillette 1940’s Aristocrat with a Treet Classic blade delivered a smooth shave, and TOBS Shave Shop aftershave finished the ritual.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 7:56 am

Posted in Shaving

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