Later On

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

Archive for November 12th, 2008

James Fallows recommends a book

leave a comment »


At its site here, the Center for Defense Information announces the imminent release of its new book “America’s Defense Meltdown.” Really this is a guide on how to think about, pay for, reconfigure, equip, deploy, withdraw, modernize, simplify, support, strengthen, lead, motivate, inspire, and in all other ways improve America’s military establishment.

I hardly need to mention why such a book is useful, at a time when the United States and its new Administration must figure out how to manage whatever comes next in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ongoing challenge of possible terrorism, America’s new financial realities, and on down a very long list.

What is most remarkable about the book is the array of authors who have joined to produce this anthologized volume. If I started listing a few, I would have to name them all (PDF of full list here.) They include the closest colleagues and collaborators of the late Air Force colonel John Boyd plus leading defense analysts and practitioners of the next generation. They have amply earned the right to be listened to. What I said in a blurb on the book’s jacket* is, if anything, not enthusiastic enough:

The talent, judgment, and insight collected in this book are phenomenal. Over the last generation, the authors have been more right, more often, about more issues of crucial importance to American security than any other group I can think of. It is a tremendous benefit to have their views collected in one place and concentrated on the next big choices facing a new Administration.  This really is a book that every serious-minded citizen should read.

For more about the book, from one of its organizers, Chet Richards, see this. Check it out.
* On blurbs: I have a bias in favor of giving blurbs for books, because in my experience most books deserve a better chance and a broader audience than they’re likely to receive. Obviously there are exceptions. But I try to be very precise about the aspects of a book I compliment and the kinds of readers I recommend it to. Thus this comment really does reflect my respect for the authors and their collective contribution.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 1:55 pm

Mushroom-Barley Soup

with 2 comments

This recipe sounds good:

Mushroom-Barley Soup
Yield 4 servings
Time 45 minutes

The soup becomes a light meal with bread or, even better, croutons — just brown slices of good bread on both sides in as much olive oil as you need. You can also make this soup into a stew by adding small chunks of any ingredient you like, including meat, while the soup is simmering. It will be done at about the same time as the barley.

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound shiitake or button mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Soak porcini in 3 cups very hot water. Put olive oil in a medium saucepan and turn heat to high. Add shiitakes and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add barley, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown; sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Remove the porcini from their soaking liquid, and reserve liquid. Sort through porcini and discard any hard bits.

2. Add porcini to pot and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add bay leaf, mushroom soaking water and 3 cups additional water (or stock, if you prefer). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer; cook until barley is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Add soy sauce, and taste. Add salt if necessary and plenty of pepper. Serve hot.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

A new-job orientation

leave a comment »

That, alas, rings quite true.

Go here and help unions happen.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

The fight to replace Dingell with Waxman

leave a comment »

As you know, Waxman is trying to unseat Dingell from the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce committee. Matt Stoller has a good summary of the issues:

The fight over the Energy and Commerce chairmanship is really the fight over the next Congress, and all their forces are gathered to protect John Dingell’s slow-walk stance on global warming.  The lobbying of the newly elected members if furious, on both sides.  Now, you’re going to hear a lot of polite talk about how Dingell has a respectable plan on climate change that is less aggressive than the progressive alternative on climate change, but that’s DC nonsense borne of a fear of the vindictive Dingell.  Dingell’s plan doesn’t even start capping carbon emissions until 2030.  It’s a non-starter.  It’s designed by the coal and auto industry, and its authors even want to preempt existing California mandates on carbon emissions.

But Dingell is good on health care.  Well, by good, I mean he has pushed ‘single-payer’ for literally decades, while preventing action on drug prices and appointing most of the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee that killed Clinton’s health care plan, because they were reliable pro-auto industry votes on other issues Dingell prioritized (there aren’t a lot of single payer pro-polluting members out there).  But health care is all Dingell has, so he’s emphasizing his willingness to work on health care with Obama in return for keeping his chairmanship of the enormously powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.  Obama has appointed Waxman’s former Chief of Staff Phil Schiliro as his Congressional liaison, and his EPA transition chief, Robert Sussman, is on record rejecting Dingell’s bill out of hand, even as a starting point.  Unlike the Lieberman fight, where Obama is putting his thumb on the scale for Lieberman, it’s not clear if Obama will meddle in the House, even though Waxman’s take on most E&C issues – including net neutrality and broadband – are far more in sync with the incoming administration than Dingell’s.

So it’s a caucus fight.  And in that sense, Waxman, like Pelosi, is simply more progressive on the merits of industrial policy, and that’s a very powerful incentive for what is an increasing progressive caucus.  Over 150 Democrats supported Waxman’s ‘principles’ for climate change by signing this letter which commits to four elements: reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming, build a clean energy economy, mitigate economic impacts of global warming legislation, and mitigate impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems.  This includes Dingell supporters like the immensely awful New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews, so these aren’t all Waxman votes.  But it’s a good floor to work from.

So far, Dingell has K Street behind him with a letter from chief of staff Michael Robbins to lobbyists:  …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 12:12 pm

Living with a wolf

leave a comment »

Thanks to Liz for the link to this article, which begins:

Brenin never lay down in the back of the Jeep. He always liked to see what was coming. Once, many years ago, we had driven from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, all the way to Miami – around 800 miles – and back again. And he stood every inch of the way: his hulking presence blocking out much of the sun and all of the rear traffic. But this time, on this short drive into Béziers, near the village where we were living in the Languedoc, he wouldn’t stand; couldn’t stand. It was then I knew he was gone. I was taking him to the place where he would die. I had told myself that if he stood up, even for part of the journey, I would give it another day; another 24 hours for a miracle to occur. But now I knew it was over. My friend of the past 11 years would be gone. And I didn’t know what sort of person he was going to leave behind.

The dark French midwinter could not have contrasted more starkly with that bright Alabama evening, in early May, when I first brought six-week-old Brenin into my house and into my world. Within two minutes of his arrival – and I am by no means exaggerating – he had pulled the curtains in the living-room (both sets) off their rails and on to the ground. Next, while I was trying to rehang the curtains, he found his way out into the garden and under the house. At the rear, the house was raised off the ground and you could access the area underneath by way of a door built into the brick wall – a door that I had obviously left ajar.

He made his way under the house and then proceeded – methodically, meticulously, but above all quickly – to rip down every single one of the soft, lagged pipes that directed the cold air from the air-conditioning unit up through various vents in the floor. That was Brenin’s trademark attitude to the new and unfamiliar. He liked to see what was coming. He would explore it; embrace it. Then he would trash it.

I was a couple of years into my first job – assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Daily life

Food movies: Waitress

leave a comment »

I enjoyed Waitress for various reasons, including the pies. My favorite:

I Don’t Want Earl’s Baby Pie

1 pie crust
4 Tbs. butter
3 slices ham
8 green onions
1 C. brie cheese
1 C. parmesan cheese, grated
4 eggs
2 C. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover pie crust with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more. Remove crust and reduce heat to 325 degrees.
2. Julienne ham. Chop green onions.
3. In skillet, saute ham until brown. Remove and set aside.
4. Saute onion until tender. Remove with slotted spoon and combine with ham.
5. Spread on bottom of pie crust. Spread brie over ham mixture and sprinkle with parmesan. Combine eggs, cream and nutmeg; pour over cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until set. Cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 8.

Other recipes from the movie here.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 11:58 am

Flu shot and pneumonia shot

leave a comment »

I just got them.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 November 2008 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Health

%d bloggers like this: