Later On

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

Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Pepper sauce thoughts

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I’m getting it down now. For one thing, I noticed that my blender jar has measurements marked on the side, so I can measure as I add to make just a little over a quart to fill four 8-oz jars. Next batch (No. 5) will be something like this, to make  just over a quart:

12 fresh red Fresno peppers
4 small habanero peppers
6 dried chipotle peppers
2 dried ancho peppers
1 ripe mango, pitted and peeled
1/2 cup Meyer’s Rum (Jamaican dark rum)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup sea salt
White wine vinegar—enough to bring total volume to just over a quart

“Ah,” you say, seeing the mango, “But do you, Leisureguy, have a mango pitter?” And the answer is “Yes,” thanks to The Eldest who gave me one so I’d stop swallowing the pits.

More when I make this batch (probably tomorrow). The mango notion came from TYD, who has a pepper-sauce-making friend (the best kind of friend to have).

UPDATE: The recipe above has been revised slightly. What’s there is the final version.

UPDATE: Just made the above except: a) no mango; b) about 1.5″ of fresh ginger chopped up and then blended into the sauce; and c) about 2 Tbs dark brown suger added. Otherwise, same as above.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 12:49 pm

Filibustering the recovery

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The GOP is the party of "no" to everything. Steve Benen:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) recently said his Republican caucus would not filibuster an economic stimulus package. McConnell, alas, appears to have it backwards.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said he is prepared to filibuster the proposed economic stimulus bill, but fears enough Republicans will side with Senate Democrats to override any attempt to block the bill’s passage.

Shelby’s remarks came during a county meeting Monday morning at the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center in Dothan.

The Senate is expected to debate a proposed $900 billion stimulus bill this week. A similar measure passed the House last week. Shelby said the plan will not provide the quick boost the economy needs.

"Are we prepared to filibuster? Hope so," Shelby said. "But I’m afraid we may have two or three (Republicans) that might jump ship."

It’s not just Shelby. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told NPR the other day that he expects a Republican filibuster on the stimulus package; Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said he sees a filibuster as "possible"; and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), asked if he would support a filibuster, said, "I would be a part of it."

So, Senate Republicans not only want to oppose a rescue package in the midst of a serious recession, they want to prevent the chamber from even voting on it. This is their strategy, despite the severity of the crisis, despite the tax cuts in the plan, despite the calls from Republican governors, despite Obama’s outreach, despite the endorsements from economists and the business community, and despite the fact that so much is at stake.

Got it.

Update: Looks like Elana Schor had the Shelby story first.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 11:51 am

Is oversight considered bad now?

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Some people take strange positions. Marcy Wheeler examines one such:

The WaPo is joining Crazy Pete Hoekstra in his opposition to having whistleblower protection in the stimulus bill. To oppose whistleblower protection, they’re reduced to poo-pooing the notion that it’s sort of important to have oversight when you give $800 billion in government funds out.

The $800 billion stimulus package making its way through Congress is supposed to include measures to jump-start the economy — extension of unemployment benefits and food stamps, infrastructure programs to create jobs. But whistleblower protections? 

[snip]

But attaching the bill to the stimulus package under the pretext that stronger whistleblower protections will enhance fiscal accountability is disingenuous.

Uh, yeah. The last eight years of widespread fraud really proves that protecting whistleblowers before you give away billions and billions is just a "pretext."

Right.

But what the WaPo is really worried about is the same thing Crazy Pete is worried about: if you give whistleblower protection to federal employees, that means …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 11:35 am

Posted in Congress, Government, Media

The off-label scam for prescription drugs

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Kevin Drum has a good post. It begins:

As the sun was setting on the final days of the Bush administration, they left us with one final gift: a new rule that made it easier for drug manufacturers to promote "off-label" prescription drug uses. The pharmaceutical industry loves this, of course, and they spend millions of dollars promoting their latest narrowly targeted wonder drugs to a wider audience while pretending they’re doing no such thing. Blue Girl explains:

The problem is, the system has become corrupted and drug companies do their own "research," get it published, and then promote the off-label uses that their "research" showed was effective. A really common one is to prescribe antidepressants for …

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2 February 2009 at 11:31 am

Killing civilians, losing the war

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Excellent post on Firedoglake by Siun. It begins:

While the western media narrative is filled with voting in Iraq and attempts to sort out what Obama’s Afghanistan policy will look like after another 30,000 troops—an increase that is described in an AP report as “a finger in the dike while Obama recalibrates a chaotic mishmash of military and development objectives”—there’s little notice of the continued killing of Afghan civilians by US forces.

Three recent U.S. Special Forces operations killed 50 people—the vast majority civilians, Afghan officials say—raising the ire of villagers and President Hamid Karzai, who set a one-month deadline for his demand that Afghan soldiers play a bigger role in military operations.

“If these operations are again conducted in our area, all of our people are ready to carry out jihad. We cannot tolerate seeing the dead bodies of our children and women anymore,” said Malik Malekazratullah, the Afghan who ranted at the Americans. “I’ve already told President Karzai we are out of patience.”

Afghan officials say an overnight raid Jan. 7 in the village of Masmoot in Laghman killed 19 civilians. A raid in Kapisa on Jan. 19 killed 15 people, mostly civilians. And a second Laghman raid Jan. 23, in Guloch village, killed 16, they say.

In addition to the 50 listed above, three more civilians were killed by US forces Saturday, including two children in Helmand and a tribal elder in Paktia.

After each such incident, …

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2 February 2009 at 11:28 am

Greencastle houses

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Small houses built well with an eye toward energy efficiency. Take a look. From the site:

Greencastle, Inc. is a Southwest Florida custom home builder focusing on hurricane-resistant, super energy efficient, Green building practices. We strongly encourage the use of Energy Star appliances, Impact resistant glass, sustainable construction methods, recyclable products, and especially I.C.F. (Insulating Concrete Forms) exterior wall construction. The end result – A house that uses a fraction of the energy of a conventionally built house, offers unsurpassed security, and comfort that speaks for itself, quietly.

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2 February 2009 at 11:24 am

Minimally invasive education

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Fascinating post by Peter Gray. It begins:

Ten years ago, on January 29, 1999, Sugata Mitra–who then was science director of NIIT, an information technology firm with headquarters in New Delhi–initiated a fascinating set of studies of children’s self-directed learning.

On that day, Mitra turned on a computer that he had installed in an outside wall of the NIIT building, a wall that faced one of the poorest slums in New Delhi, a community where most children do not go to school, are illiterate, and had never previously seen a computer. He simply turned the computer on, left it there, told the crowd of children that they could play with it, and used a video camera to monitor activity around it.

Children–mostly in the age range of 6 to 13–immediately approached and began to explore this odd installment, which looked to them like some kind of television set. They touched some of the parts and, apparently by accident, discovered that they could move a pointer on the screen by moving their finger across the touch pad. This led to a series of further exciting discoveries. The pointer turned to a hand when it was moved to certain parts of the screen. By pushing (clicking) on the touch pad when the pointer was a hand, they could get the screen to change. They eagerly sought out their friends to tell them about this fascinating machine. Each new discovery, made by one child or a group, was shared with others. Within days, …

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Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 11:09 am

Barney Frank explains

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2 February 2009 at 10:53 am

Posted in Congress, Democrats

David Sirota on Wall Street greed

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Good point, I thought:

Another snippet for the I Shit You Not File: In the New York Times, a head hunter for banks defends the $18 billion in taxpayer-subsidized bonus payouts to Wall Street executives and traders by insisting that those executives and traders can’t be expected to live on $150,000 to $180,000 a year – I shit you not:

"Without a doubt, $18 billion is a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the bucket on Wall Street," said Gustavo Dolfino, president of the WhiteRock Group, a headhunter for the banks. "These bonuses are down, and the salaries are not enough for these people. They can’t live on $150 to $180,000, so they haven’t saved any money. They put it on credit lines and at bonus time, they thought they’d pay it off."

The median household income in the United States is about $49,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and that’s for full, multi-person households. But Wall Street would have believe that individual executives and traders "can’t live on $150,000 to $180,000 a year," and so the same taxpayers whose median household income is $49,000 a year must subsidize their bonuses.

Welcome to the kleptocracy.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Part 6 of Inside an Afghan battle gone wrong

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It’s now available: Inside an Afghan battle gone wrong (VI): How the Army handled the matter, by Tom Ricks.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 10:26 am

Posted in Afghanistan War

Making the best possible coffee

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I follow the advice here, but it’s always worth repeating for new coffee drinkers.

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2 February 2009 at 9:45 am

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Protective eyewear

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This is amazing:

More info here.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Video

A very bad sign indeed

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The military is supposed to stay out of politics. Lately, they’ve been getting more and more involved, supported in part by the Bush Administration’s free use of military photo-ops. This latest development augers some serious realignment and reeducation is needed. Thanks to Constant Reader for passing it along.

CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn’t convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Obama’s decision to override Petraeus’s recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including Gen. Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilising public opinion against Obama’s decision.

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, “Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama.”

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement signed envisioned re-categorising large numbers of combat troops as support troops. That subterfuge was by the United States last November while ostensibly allowing Obama to deliver on his campaign promise.

Gates and Mullen had discussed the relabeling scheme with Obama as part of the Petraeus-Odierno plan for withdrawal they had presented to him in mid-December, according to a Dec. 18 New York Times story.

Obama decided against making any public reference to his order to the military to draft a detailed 16-month combat troop withdrawal policy, apparently so that he can announce his decision only after consulting with his field commanders and the Pentagon.

The first clear indication of the intention of Petraeus, Odierno and their allies to try to get Obama to amend his decision came on…

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2 February 2009 at 9:20 am

Good mystery series

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I do love a good mystery, and The Eldest pointed out the series by James R. Benn. I’m just about a third through the first, but the writing is quite nice from time to time when Benn pulls out the stops. The series so far in order:

Billy Boyle: a World War II Mystery (2006)

The First Wave: a Billy Boyle World War II Mystery (2007)

Blood Alone: a Billy Boyle World War II Mystery (2008 )

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2 February 2009 at 9:15 am

Posted in Books

Tagged with

Our Iraq misadventure

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From the Center on American Progress:

Today, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) Stuart Bowen will release a book, published by the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting, that "concludes that the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq was a failure, largely because there was no overall strategy behind it," the Washington Post reports. The book, called "Hard Lessons," portrays "in colorful detail" the internal Bush administration fights over responsibility for reconstruction, detailing "an argument between Rumsfeld and Rice in the fall of 2003 during which each said the other was in charge of supervising the Coalition Provisional Authority." There are now 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, bid rigging, and theft from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The book is hardly the first reporting of the massive waste in Iraq funding: In 2007, a SIGIR report found $5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq’s reconstruction were charged without any documentation, and a Government Accountability Office report cited another $10 billion in wasteful or poorly tracked spending. Last year, the GAO Comptroller testified that a "significant" amount of U.S. funds were being funneled to Sunni and Shi’ite militias. Bowen said that many of the same mistakes will likely happen in Afghanistan. "None of the substantive changes in oversight, contracting and reconstruction planning or personnel assignments that Congress, auditors and outside experts proposed as the Iraq debacle unfolded has been implemented in Afghanistan," the Post reports.

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2 February 2009 at 8:47 am

Dry rub for pork

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Just spotted this at the blog Food & Fire, a good blog for those who love the grill. I know I have at least one Big Green Egg fan in the readership. Here’s the recipe:

4 tablespoon brown or turbinado sugar
4 tablespoon Smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoon cumin seed, ground
2 tablespoon chile powder
2 tablespoon black pepper, fresh cracked
1 tablespoon sage, ground
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme

Combine all ingredients together and transfer to an air tight container. Makes about 1 cup.

Instructions are to rub it generously into the pork the day before cooking.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 8:20 am

Zucchini-garlic soup

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The Kitchn [sic] has a beautiful photo for this recipe:

Zucchini Garlic Soup
1 1/2 quarts

4 tablespoons butter
1 white onion, sliced
8-9 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
4 medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 pounds
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. When it foams, add the sliced garlic and onions and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Keep the heat low enough that the garlic doesn’t brown; you want everything to sweat.

When the onions are soft, add the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender until creamy, or transfer to a standing blender to puree. Be very careful if you use the latter; only fill the blender half full with each batch, and hold the lid down tightly with a towel.

Taste and season with ginger, salt and pepper. Like most soups, this is significantly better after a night in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 8:15 am

Streaming high-quality music

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I’m listening to some good jazz via filtermusic, which MakeUseOf reviews here.

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2 February 2009 at 8:09 am

Posted in Jazz, Music, Technology

Maybe Daschle should quietly steal away

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Glenn Greenwald summarizes the case against Daschle, and includes this quotation from a blog post by Matt Taibbi:

I know several reporters who are either officially or unofficially on "Whore Factor" duty, watching the rapidly kaleidoscoping transition picture and keeping track of the number of known whores and ghouls who for some reason have been invited to befoul the atmosphere of the next administration.

Obviously there has been some dire news on that front already. When Obama picked Tom Daschle to be the HHS Secretary, I nearly shit my pants. In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle. Tom Daschle would suck off a corpse for a cheeseburger. True, he is probably only the second-biggest whore for the health care industry in American politics — the biggest being doctor/cat-torturer Bill Frist, whose visit to South Dakota on behalf of John Thune in 2004 was one of the factors in ending Daschle’s tenure in the Senate.

But in picking Daschle — who as an adviser to the K Street law firm Alston and Bird has spent the last four years burning up the sheets with the nation’s fattest insurance and pharmaceutical interests — Obama is essentially announcing that he has no intention of seriously reforming the health care industry. . . .

Regarding Daschle, remember, we’re talking about a guy who not only was a consultant for one of the top health-care law firms in the country, but a board member of the Mayo Clinic (a major recipient of NIH grants) and the husband of one of America’s biggest defense lobbyists — wife Linda Hall lobbies for Lockheed-Martin and Boeing. Does anyone really think that this person is going to come up with a health care proposal that in any way cuts into the profits of the major health care companies?

Read the entire column.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 8:04 am

Miss Megs on her carpet

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Megs plays the cute card

Megs plays the cute card

Miss Megs last night, lolling about on her little carpet.

Written by Leisureguy

2 February 2009 at 7:46 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

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