Later On

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

Archive for November 28th, 2008


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I’ve bought a few sandwiches at the supermarket deli counter, and today it occurred to me that it would be much cheaper to make my own—and that I should set up my sandwich operation to mimic theirs: containers for sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, sliced cheese, sliced avocado, mayo, mustard, and lettuce leaves, and those containers in a plastic basket I have so I can easily bring out the whole sandwich mise en place. I also got some sliced sourdough rolls for the bread, a chuck cross-rib roast to cook for filling, and of course I have leftover capon.

And, speaking of the capon, it was delicious, but indistinguishable (to me) from plain old roast chicken. It was larger, of course, and it was tender and juicy, but so have the chickens been since I’ve been roasting with the punctured lemons in the cavity.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Institutional memory

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Everyone makes mistakes, and some learn from their mistakes. Others, mortified by error, put the mistake from their mind and learn nothing. Glenn Greenwald points out that the NY Times falls into the latter group. His column today begins:

The New York Times Editorial Page, today, on poor U.S./Latin American relations:

[T]he Bush administration did enormous damage to American credibility throughout much of the region when it blessed what turned out to be a failed coup against Mr. Chávez.

Indeed it did.  But what the Times fails to mention, and is apparently eager to erase, is that “the Bush administration” was far from alone in blessing that coup attempt:

The New York Times Editorial Page, April 13, 2002 — one day after the coup:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona. . . .

Early yesterday [Chávez] was compelled to resign by military commanders unwilling to order their troops to fire on fellow Venezuelans to keep him in power. He is being held at a military base and may face charges in Thursday’s killings.

New presidential elections should be held this year, perhaps at the same time the new Congress is chosen. Some time is needed for plausible national leaders to emerge and parties to reorganize. But Venezuela urgently needs a leader with a strong democratic mandate to clean up the mess, encourage entrepreneurial freedom and slim down and professionalize the bureaucracy.

That was one of the most Orwellian editorials written in the last decade.  The Times — in the very first line — mimicked the claim of the Bush administration that Chavez “resigned,” even though, several paragraphs later, they expressly acknowledged that Chavez “was compelled to resign by military commanders” (the definition of a “coup”).  Further mimicking the administration, the Times perversely celebrated the coup as safeguarding “Venezuelan democracy” (“Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator”), even though the coup deposed someone whom the Times Editorial itself said “was elected president in 1998″ and — again using the Times‘ own language — “handed power to” an unelected, pro-American “respected business leader, Pedro Carmona,” who quickly proceeded to dissolve the democratically elected National Assembly, the Supreme Court and other key institutions.

Worse still, the Times Editorial mindlessly spouted the administration’s claim that “Washington never publicly demonized Mr. Chávez” and “his removal was a purely Venezuelan affair.”  Yet less than a week later, the Times itself was compelled to report that the Bush administration “acknowledged today that a senior administration official [Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich] was in contact with Mr. Chávez’s successor on the very day he took over”‘ — a disclosure which, as the Times put it with great understatement, “raised questions as to whether Reich or other officials were stage-managing the takeover by Mr. Carmona.”

Four days after its pro-coup Editorial, the Times — once Chavez was returned to power in the wake of Carmona’s anti-democratic moves — returned to the topic of Venezuela, once again echoing the official line from Bush officials, who took to condemning the now-failed coup attempt.  The Times, while justifying pro-coup sentiments as understandable, proceeded to denounce that reaction without really apologizing for its own role in endorsing it:

In his three years in office, Mr. Chávez has been such a divisive and demagogic leader that his forced departure last week drew applause at home and in Washington. That reaction, which we shared, overlooked the undemocratic manner in which he was removed. Forcibly unseating a democratically elected leader, no matter how badly he has performed, is never something to cheer.

Despite that, the Times still expressed optimism about the coup, righteously intoning in the first paragraph:  “we hope Mr. Chávez will act as a more responsible and moderate leader now that he seems to realize the anger he stirred.”

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in Daily life, NY Times

A fun read from the Right

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Via Andrew Sullivan, this interesting post (dated 11 August 2008) on why Obama has no chance at all at getting elected.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

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More on Waitzkin

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I earlier blogged about Josh Waitzkin’s excellent book The Art of Learning. I just happened across an interview with Waitzkin that’s worth reading. It begins:

In this month’s issue of Psychology Today I critically examined the development of ability, the components of success, and the potential benefits of early delays (read article here). I mention different types of late bloomers. Sure, there is the classic late bloomer like Grandma Moses. But there are other types of late bloomers, such as the late-recognized bloomer, and the repeat bloomer.

Joshua Waitzkin is a unique example of the repeat bloomer. In 1993, Paramount Pictures released Searching for Bobby Fischer, which depicts Waitzkin’s early chess success as he embarks on a journey to win his first National chess championship. This movie had the effect of weakening his love for the game as well as the learning process. His passion for learning was rejuvenated, however, after years of meditation, and reading philosophy and psychology. With this rekindling of the learning process, Waitzkin took up the martial art Tai Chi Chuan at the age of 21 and made rapid progress, winning the 2004 push hands world championship at the age of 27. Compared to others in the field, this makes him a late bloomer in Tai Chi Chuan. What a transition–from child prodigy to late bloomer! Even though he may be thought of as a “late bloomer” in Tai Chi Chuan, he clearly didn’t bloom late.

After reading Joshua’s most recent book The Art of Learning, I thought of a million topics I wanted to discuss with him—topics such as being labelled a “child prodigy”, blooming, creativity, and the learning process. Thankfully, since I was profiling Waitzkin for my article I was fortunate enough to get a chance to have such a conversation with him. I hope you find this discussion just as provocative and illuminating as I did.

The Child Prodigy

Why did you leave chess at the top of your game?

This is a complicated question that I wrote about very openly in my book. In short, I had lost the love. My relationship to the game had become externalized—by pressures from the film about my life, by losing touch with my natural voice as an artist, by mistakes I made in the growth process. At the very core of my relationship to learning is the idea that we should be as organic as possible. We need to cultivate a deeply refined introspective sense, and build our relationship to learning around our nuance of character. I stopped doing this and fell into crisis from a sense of alienation from an art I had loved so deeply. This is when I left chess behind, started meditating, studying philosophy and psychology, and ultimately moved towards Tai Chi Chuan.

Do you think being a child prodigy hurt your chess career in any way?

I have never considered myself a prodigy. Others have used that term, but I never bought in to it. From a young age it was always about embracing the battle, loving the game, and overcoming adversity. Growing up as a competitor in Washington Square Park helped me avoid the perils of perfectionism—it was a school of hard knocks, and those guys always kept me on my toes for complacency. On this theme, I think losing my first National Chess Championship was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because it helped me avoid many of the psychological traps you are hinting at. That year, between ages 8 and 9 was one of the most formative periods of my life. I had felt my mortality, came back strong, and went on to dominate the scholastic chess scene over the next 8 years. On some fundamental level, the notion of success in my being was defined by overcoming adversity—and it still is.

The truth is that throughout my careers in both chess and the martial arts, I often knew that my rivals were more naturally gifted than me—either with their mental machines or their bodies. But I have believed in my training, my approach to learning, and my ability to rise to the challenge under pressure.

In general, do you see any disadvantages to being labeled a child prodigy?

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life

Another exceptional shave

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A really fine shave today: Yardley shaving soap, the Sabini brush, and the Apollo Mikron with (i believe) a Swedish Gillette blade. TOBS Shaving Shop is a good traditional aftershave for the finishing touch.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 9:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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