Later On

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

Archive for January 29th, 2009

Food note

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I discovered that steamed mashed cauliflower (in my case, with a little salt and pepper and olive oil, though sesame oil could be substituted) serves well as the rice layer under a bunch of stir-fry. I stir-fried some garlic, grated ginger, chopped scallions, shiitake mushrooms, and shrimp in sesame oil and a dash of my pepper sauce, then at end I added chopped cilantro and the juice of a lime.

The whole thing was tasty, but the cauliflower is a good idea. Or, it occurs to me, a layer of chopped and steamed cabbage, drizzled with hot pepper sesame oil.

Also: I have an idea for another pepper sauce: fresh Fresno peppers, dried ancho chiles, dried chipotles, salt, and a whole Meyer lemon, peel and all. Blend that, simmer in vinegar (and I think I’ll use apple cider vinegar and cut back some on the amount of vinegar), blend again, and bottle. Without the habaneros, it will have less heat, but the chipotles will give it some kick. Good for when you want to use a lot of pepper sauce, for the taste of pepper. Still sure whether to include a tablespoon of dark brown sugar or not.

I just ordered two more cases of 8 oz clear glass Boston rounds from SunburstBottle.com.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 4:19 pm

The “liberal” news media

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As anyone with a lick of sense knows, the media tilts conservative. This from ThinkProgress demonstrates that clearly:

As Media Matters has documented, during the Bush administration, the media consistently allowed conservatives to dominate their shows, booking them as guests far more often than progressives. The rationale was that Republicans were “in power.”

It appears that old habits die hard. Even though President Obama and his team are in control of the executive branch and Democrats are in the majority in Congress, the cable networks are still turning more often to Republicans and allowing them to set the agenda on major issues, most recently on the debate over the economic recovery package.

On Sunday, conservatives began an all-out assault on President Obama’s economic recovery plan, with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) both announcing that they would vote against the plan as it stood. Despite Obama’s efforts at good faith outreach, congressional conservatives have continued to attack the stimulus plan with a series of false and disingenuous arguments.

The media have been aiding their efforts. In a new analysis, ThinkProgress has found that the five cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNBC — have hosted more Republican lawmakers to discuss the plan than Democrats by a 2 to 1 ratio this week:

graph_corrected

In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks have hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times. Surprisingly, Fox News came the closest to offering balance, hosting 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats. CNN had only one Democrat compared to 7 Republicans.

The drastically imbalanced coverage isn’t the first time that the news networks have effectively supported attacks on the recovery plans. As ThinkProgress reported on Monday, the cable networks, the Sunday shows and the network newscasts promoted a controversial CBO non-report 81 times before the actual CBO analysis of the stimulus plan was released.

Update: Digby has more on the Republican domination of the stimulus debate on TV.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 1:44 pm

Posted in GOP, Media

Obama’s mistakes—already

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I think Dan Froomkin makes a good case that Obama is going in a wrong direction, prompted by some wrong picks of advisers, though he does have a post showing some signs of a correction. And Glenn Greenwald points out the futility of expecting bipartisanship from the GOP.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 1:32 pm

PGF (pretty good football)

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UPDATE: It’s faked: computer graphics. Sorry. Looked really cool and amazed me (who watches no football).

Via James Fallows:

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games, Video

Back from dentist

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We got to talking, and it turned out that my hygienist was unfamiliar with this poem.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Daily life

Morning Report

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I watch my movies using headphones: 1) I live in an apartment building, and 2) the headphones provide much greater fidelity and clarity than the mediocre speakers in the TV set. But I keep tripping over the headphone wire, and last night finally put paid to the 1/8” headphone jack in the TV set: I could hear only one channel. The TV is cleverly designed so one cannot simply unscrew the jack and install a replacement. But the TV does have audio out (female RCA jacks), so I went to Radio Shack and got an adapter: male RCA jacks on one end, female 1/8” stereo headphone jack on the other. It works, after a fashion: I have to turn up the volume considerably more, and I had to put a jack adapter (1/4” female with 1/8” male stereo adapter) in the headphone jack on the TV to turn off the speakers, but that did work. And I put a throw rug over the wires in the pathway. So it’s a fix, after a fashion.

I also bought shrimp and cilantro to make the stir-fry recipe I posted (I already have the scallions), and saw some nice-looking Anjou pears, whereupon the idea of poaching them in red wine and spices (cinnamon stick, whole cloves, whole allspice, a few coins of fresh ginger) and then serving them with vanilla nonfat yogurt. Sounds good, eh? We’ll see.

I stopped by the UPS store to get a box to mail a fry pan. Empty box: $7. Wow. No more: I’m saving boxes now.

Now to the dentist at noon for a cleaning.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 11:27 am

Sichuan shrimp stir-fry

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This looks excellent—and since it’s from Mark Bittman, it’s easy:

Sichuan Shrimp and Scallion Stir-fry

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes

Feel free to experiment with add-ins, but keep it simple. The ingredients I’ve played with — soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, sesame oil, wine — all detracted from the beauty of the dish. In the end I added only a clove of raw garlic to the scallion purée for a little sharpness.

  • Salt
  • 4 bunches scallions, trimmed
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, or neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Meanwhile cut three bunches of scallions into 3- or 4-inch lengths; roughly chop remaining bunch, and set it aside. Place long scallion pieces in boiling water, and cook until bright green, about 1 minute, then drain, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Plunge scallions into a bowl of ice water, then drain again, and purée with garlic clove, using a little reserved cooking liquid to make mixture smooth.

2. Put oil in a large skillet, and turn heat to high. A minute later add shrimp and a large pinch of salt, and cook, stirring only occasionally, until shrimp are uniformly pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, and add chopped scallions and cilantro. Stir, then stir in scallion purée. Taste and adjust seasoning, and serve immediately.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 9:52 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Bushonomics and how the GOP loves it

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From an email sent by the Center for American Progress:

Yesterday, in a 244-to-188 vote, the House approved an $819 billion economic recovery plan written by House Democrats and supported by President Obama. Despite Obama’s aggressive outreach efforts, the entire Republican caucus, along with 11 Democrats, voted against the plan. Afraid of crossing Obama’s high approval ratings, conservatives are claiming that they are enthusiastic to work with him. “We’ve made it clear that we will continue to work with the president to develop a plan that will work,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who led his caucus in opposition to Obama’s plan. “We just don’t think it’s going to work.”

Instead, Boehner and his colleagues pushed for a return to Bushonomics. “We have said let’s do tax cuts, let’s let the American people make the decisions on how they’ll spend the money,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), on CNBC earlier this week.”That will stimulate the economy more than bringing all that money to Washington and then distributing it out in all sorts of government programs.” The alternative proposed by House Republicans yesterday, which was defeated 266-170, was composed almost entirely of tax cuts. “These are the same people who told us the Bush tax cuts were going to lead to nirvana,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in response to the conservative focus on tax cuts. On MSNBC yesterday, one of the most prominent proponents of the tax-cut-only approach, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), complained that the Democrats’ recovery plan would take “America in a new direction.” Though conservatives might be happy to be free from the “burden” of President Bush, they still seem to be longing for his failed economic policies.

SAME OLD ARGUMENTS: In 2001 and 2003, Bush pushed massive tax cuts through Congress, claiming that they were “vital” to boosting the economy and creating jobs. Though Bush initially sold his 2001 tax cut by insisting “that the federal government was running an excessive budget surplus,” he quickly changed his argument as the economy worsened, claiming they would be “a form of demand-side economic stimulus.” “The economy has slowed down, in which case we need to accelerate tax cuts,” Bush said in a March 2001 radio address. “You see, tax relief will put money in people’s pockets, which will help give the economy a second wind.” “By ensuring that Americans have more to spend, to save and to invest, this legislation is adding fuel to an economic recovery,” announced Bush in 2003, as he signed his tax cut legislation. “We have taken aggressive action to strengthen the foundation of our economy so that every American who wants to work will be able to find a job.”

BUSH’S TAX CUTS DIDN’T WORK: Before he left office this past month, Bush told he U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that “when people take a look back at this moment in our economic history, they’ll recognize tax cuts work.” But the fact is that they didn’t. As Center for American Progress Senior Fellows Christian Weller and John Halpin noted in 2006, the outcome of the 2001 tax cuts was “the weakest employment growth in decades.” The 2003 tax cuts didn’t fare much better, resulting in job creation that was “well below historical averages.” When Bush’s White House proposed the 2003 cuts, they promised that it would add 5.5 million new jobs between June 2003 and the end of 2004. But “by the end of 2004, there were only 2.6 million more jobs than in June 2003.” As Paul Krugman has pointed out, the belief that Bush’s tax cuts successfully stimulated the economy is a form of mythology. CAP’s Michael Ettlinger and John Irons wrote in September, “Economic growth as measured by real U.S. gross domestic product was stronger following the tax increases of 1993 than in the two supply-side eras” that followed Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts and Bush’s 2001 tax cuts. Indeed, employment growth was much stronger post-1993 than post-2001. The average annual employment growth was 2.5 percent after 1993 and just 0.6 percent after 2001. Unfortunately, the supply-side myth that tax cuts cure all still lives on today, as conservatives complain about progressive approaches to fixing the mess left by Bush.

TAX CUTS ARE INEFFECTIVE STIMULUS: The underlying folly of the conservative push for an all-tax cuts approach is the simple fact that tax cuts are ineffective stimulus. Mark Zandi, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign and the chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com, has argued for months that the “fiscal bang for the buck” of tax cuts is significantly inferior to spending increases. According to Zandi’s research, a corporate tax cut delivers $0.30 in real GDP growth for every $1 invested. In comparison, infrastructure spending delivers $1.59 in GDP for every $1 spent. Zandi isn’t alone in this belief: the Congressional Budget Office “deemed last year that corporate tax cuts are ‘not a particularly cost-effective method of stimulating business spending.'” Despite these economic facts, conservatives like Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) continue promoting corporate tax cuts as the solution. “If we could lower the corporate tax rate, that would be one of the best things that we could do to make American business more competitive in the world and actually help stimulate the economy,” Ensign claimed this week.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 8:50 am

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP

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Bad sign in the military

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ThinkProgress:

Defense officials say suicide among U.S. soldiers increased again last year, hitting a nearly three-decade high. The Army told the AP "that at least 128 soldiers killed themselves last year” and “the final count will likely be considerably higher." Officials say "troops are under unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush really ruined the military. It was like two 15-year-olds getting the keys to a car and driving madly until they wreck it.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 8:46 am

Posted in Military

Keep your eye on Cass Sunstein

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Rena Steinzor at the Center for Progressive Reform explains why:

Thursday’s big news on the regulatory front was that President-elect Obama plans to nominate Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein to be the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – the so-called “regulatory czar” of the federal government. The appointment means that those of us expecting a revival of the protector agencies—EPA, FDA, OSHA, CPSC, and NHTSA—have reason to worry that “yes, we can” will become “no, we won’t.”

The reason for the pre-Russian Revolution appellation is that over the past quarter century, OIRA has become a choke point for federal regulation. Since Ronald Reagan, regulations with any significant impact have had to pass through OIRA’s doors, and while there, many a protective regulation has come to grief. During the Bush years, now a mere 11 days away from ending, OIRA ably accomplished the objective that the Administration plainly had in mind for it: watering down protective regulations or drowning them altogether. In fact, many wise observers came to think of OIRA as the true architect of the Administration’s policy on public health protections, drug safety, workplace safety, consumer product safety, and the preservation of natural resources, not to mention climate change.

How will Cass Sunstein fit into the storyline? Unfortunately, Sunstein’s views on cost-benefit analysis – the principal tool used to dismantle and derail regulation – are not much different from those reflected in the record compiled by John Graham, who served for six years as George W. Bush’s regulatory czar. Sunstein embraces cost-benefit analysis enthusiastically.

Defenders of cost-benefit analysis argue that we should reduce the societal costs and benefits of regulation to absolute dollar figures, no matter how ephemeral the numbers’ relationship to reality may be. Indeed, when it comes right down to it, they’re willing to tolerate the failure of cost-benefit analysts to come up with dollar figures for a good many benefits, effectively zeroing out or drastically understating some benefits of protective regulations.

Moreover, cost-benefit analysis focuses solely on…

Continue reading. Additional pertinent information here. Cass Sunstein looks to be a bad pick, so he should be watched closely.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 8:34 am

Book note

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The Lulu sales rank for Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving is currently at 322. It’s nice being in the top 400 titles, but the long-term goal, of course, is to break into the top 100. That will take a while, unless, say, Brad Pitt goes on Leno and says that he’s abandoned the scruffy look because he suddenly enjoys shaving, “Because of this book—can the camera get a close-up of the cover?” 🙂 I wish.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 8:25 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

Chili peppers: the hot new thing

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Chili peppers

Chili peppers: I love them. McClatchy reports:

A nation on the rebound from its long affair with comfort food has a hot new love: chili pepper.

Once worshipped by Incas and Olmecs, chili now is revered by surging numbers of Americans with heat-seeking palates and by food marketers who are keen to stimulate them.

Together, they’ve made chili the second-most-craved flavor in the United States after chocolate, according to Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist who’s studied the appeals of both foods.

Rozin calls the chili pepper craving "benign masochism," a harmless way to stimulate pain sensors.

"I like the excitement that chili pepper adds to food," said Vidal Jarqun, 72, a retired State Department employee, pausing before the jalapeños at a local Whole Foods store. "And, yes, I’ve been using more as I’ve gotten older."

"We’re seeing increased demand for anything with increased heat," said Diane McElroy, consumer affairs manager at Tone’s Spices of Ankeny, Iowa, the second-biggest U.S. supplier and blender of herbs and spices.

That’s a startling change for millions of consumers who a generation ago couldn’t have spelled or defined chipotle, the smoky-flavored richly hot pepper.

Indeed, chili products — fresh, dried, ground or otherwise — are so popular these days that …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 8:04 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Israel destroys school that militants hate

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Weird:

When President George W. Bush visited the West Bank a year ago, Palestinian militants in Gaza vented their anger by ransacking the American International School here, smashing windows, stealing computers and torching a small fleet of buses.

It was just the latest episode in a decade-long string of bombings, kidnappings and lootings at the elite private school, which isn’t connected to the U.S. government but has an American-style curriculum and coed, English-only classrooms, which have made it a favorite target of Islamic extremists.

On Jan. 3, the school finally was destroyed, but not by Islamist extremists. An Israeli airstrike flattened the two-story building and sprayed shards of steel and stone over the manicured lawns and soccer field. The night watchman was killed. Books, computers, science equipment and art supplies were crushed beneath the wreckage.

Within moments, Gaza’s perhaps most pro-Western institution — a symbol of possibility in a sealed-off, war-torn land — was gone.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 7:58 am

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Tagged with

Piña Colada

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Continuing the food/drink series, Honeybee Spa’s Piña colada this morning—a wonderful fragrance. The Plisson China Grey brush made a fine lather quickly. I like how this brush has such a distinctly different feel than the silvertips. Both are nice.

The Apollo Mikron did a good job, though I think I’ll now replace the blade. And the Swiss Pitralon was a fine finish. Someone has asked about this fragrance, and it’s very hard for me to describe. Definitely not floral or sweet, but I can’t go much further than that.

Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 7:52 am

Posted in Shaving

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