Later On

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Archive for February 15th, 2009

Halibut on mixed greens with bacon

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Tonight’s dinner was typically delicious, and since I took a photo, I thought I might as well blog it. The photo is for a letter to the Grandsons, to show them how I’m using their Christmas present of paprika.

3 rashers thick bacon
8 oz halibut
olive oil
vinegar (I used cherry wood aged organic white balsamic)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch beet greens (from the beets used in yesterday’s salad), chopped
1/2 bunch of bok choy (I figure I had already used half), chopped
1 slug homemade pepper sauce
1 splash mirin
1 splash Eden Organic Imported Shoyu Sauce (I buy it by the case)
salt
pepper
paprika

Put the bacon in a large (4-qt) sauté pan over Low heat. Sauté bacon, turning frequently, until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels and set aside.

Pour off all bacon fat from pan, add a splash of olive oil, and sauté onion until transparent. Add a splash of vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add the greens, pepper sauce, pepper sauce, mirin, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes over medium heat, then cover and let simmer briskly for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Put halibut atop the greens, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika, and cover again, simmering briskly for 12 minutes.

Remove cover, chop the bacon into squares, and sprinkle over the halibut and greens. (I took the photo just before this step.)

This makes two good-sized meals for me. When it comes time for dinner, spread shredded cheese over what’s left, cover, and heat until cheese melts. You can also sprinkle the cheese with crushed red pepper.

That’s the recipe. Light on carbs, but for dessert for lunch I had several clementines, and for dinner two red pears, perfectly ripe, with goat cheddar: superb!

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 7:14 pm

Did you know? 2.0

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More info here.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

Entertainment industry in for drastic reshaping

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Fascinating article by Michael Hirschorn in the Atlantic, which begins:

Around the same time NBC announced that Jay Leno, instead of decamping to do late-night comedy for ABC, would remain at NBC and move to a 10p.m., Monday-through-Friday slot, the creator of the network’s fading hit series Heroes took a public swan dive into hard concrete.

Speaking at a screenwriter expo in Los Angeles, Tim Kring struggled to defend his sci-fi-tinged show, which has endured two seasons of faltering ratings. Heroes is presented in a serialized format, meaning that stories “arc” over the course of an entire season rather than conclude at the end of each episode, as in a sitcom, or a police procedural such as CSI or Law & Order. The serialized format is “a very flawed way of telling stories on network television right now,” a blogger quoted Kring as saying, “because of the advent of the DVR and online streaming. The engine that drove [serialized TV] was, you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on-air.”

Then, in a fit of pique for which he is still apologizing, he said: “So on-air is [relegated] to the saps and the dipshits who can’t figure out how to watch it in a superior way.”

Kring later claimed that his quote had been “slightly mangled,” but the damage was done. He was blasted by fans and critics (“Try, you know, not sucking,” Time’s television blogger, James Poniewozik, bloggishly advised him), and certainly there was something gloriously self-destructive about a 50-something show creator, at the apex of his career after decades of slogging through hack work, publicly attacking the very people who are keeping him in business. But his profane evisceration of his own viewers is of a piece with NBC’s decision to sully the sanctum sanctorum of prime time with a talk show: both are signs of an old television order dying and a new one starting to come into focus. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Media

HFCS on the wane?

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Marion Nestle in Food Politics:

The bad press about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is having an effect.  According to figures assembled by Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, sales of products bearing “HFCS-Free” labels almost reached a billion dollars last year.  Fruit drinks are the biggest HFCS-free category, but HFCS-free yogurts, vegetable juices, and breads are the fastest growing. Lempert doesn’t say what companies are using instead of HFCS.  If it’s sucrose, it won’t be much of an improvement.  But no wonder the Corn Refiners think they need a hefty public relations campaign.

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15 February 2009 at 5:46 pm

Surprisingly good: Desperate Hours

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I just finished watching Desperate Hours and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Fine job.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Preserving Rock

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Overwritten, but interesting and damned enjoyable. And will other skills be preserved in a like manner? And how about something like this for language training, for example?

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 1:44 pm

Tell Congress you want single-payer healthcare

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From an email from Democrats.com:

Tell Congress We Want Single Payer Health Care

We congratulate President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to start the difficult process of reviving our economy.

Sadly, Republicans are taking their marching orders from Rush Limbaugh, who declared "I hope [Obama] fails." Just three Republicans supported the recovery bill; the rest want big tax cuts for the rich.

It’s time for Democrats to enact the big changes that Americans voted for, and ignore Republican obstructionism.

The first big change should be Single Payer Health Care .

The latest poll shows Americans prefer government health insurance to private insurance by 59%-32%. That’s because private insurance has failed.

There are nearly 50 million US citizens with no health coverage at all, and at least 18,000 of them die unnecessarily each year as a result. Millions more have inadequate insurance coverage.

Rep. John Conyers is leading the fight for Single Payer Health Care for decades with H.R. 676, the "Medicare For All" Bill . Democrats.com is joining the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care (LCGHC) to support H.R. 676.

Please urge your Representatives and Senators to support H.R. 676.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 11:59 am

A great tune for New Orleans style jazz

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 11:54 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Cool heart

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Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 11:25 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Which programming language should you learn?

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It of course depends on the nature of the task you’re facing. Here’s an interesting take, though Forth is not mentioned except in a comment.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 11:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

How the Crash Will Reshape America

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Interesting article in the Atlantic. It begins:

My father was a child of the Great Depression. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1921 to Italian immigrant parents, he experienced the economic crisis head-on. He took a job working in an eyeglass factory in the city’s Ironbound section in 1934, at age 13, combining his wages with those of his father, mother, and six siblings to make a single-family income. When I was growing up, he spoke often of his memories of breadlines, tent cities, and government-issued clothing. At Christmas, he would tell my brother and me how his parents, unable to afford new toys, had wrapped the same toy steam shovel, year after year, and placed it for him under the tree. In my extended family, my uncles occupied a pecking order based on who had grown up in the roughest economic circumstances. My Uncle Walter, who went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering and eventually became a senior executive at Colgate-Palmolive, came out on top—not because of his academic or career achievements, but because he grew up with the hardest lot.

My father’s experiences were broadly shared throughout the country. Although times were perhaps worst in the declining rural areas of the Dust Bowl, every region suffered, and the residents of small towns and big cities alike breathed in the same uncertainty and distress. The Great Depression was a national crisis—and in many ways a nationalizing event. The entire country, it seemed, tuned in to President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.

The current economic crisis is unlikely to result in the same kind of shared experience. To be sure, the economic contraction is causing pain just about everywhere. In October, less than a month after the financial markets began to melt down, Moody’s Investor Services published an assessment of recent economic activity within 381 U.S. metropolitan areas. Three hundred and two were already in deep recession, and 64 more were at risk. Only 15 areas were still expanding. Notable among them were the oil- and natural-resource-rich regions of Texas and Oklahoma, buoyed by energy prices that have since fallen; and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, where government bailouts, the nationalization of financial companies, and fiscal expansion are creating work for lawyers, lobbyists, political scientists, and government contractors.

No place in the United States is likely to escape a long and deep recession. Nonetheless, as the crisis continues to spread outward from New York, through industrial centers like Detroit, and into the Sun Belt, it will undoubtedly settle much more heavily on some places than on others.

Continue reading.

Also see:

An interactive map of America’s new geography.

Urban theorist Richard Florida explains why recession is the mother of invention.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 9:33 am

Posted in Daily life

Julia Child on making an omelette

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Illustrated instructions for your Monday morning breakfast.

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15 February 2009 at 9:22 am

US in Afghanistan: echoes of Soviet occupation?

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McClatchy Newspapers:

Twenty years to the day after the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, Dastagir Arizad ticked off grievances against President Hamid Karzai and the United States that are disturbingly reminiscent of Moscow’s humiliating defeat.

"Day by day, we see the Karzai government failing. The Americans are also failing," said Arizad, 40, as he huddled against the cold in the stall where he sells ropes and plastic hoses. "People are not feeling safe. Their lives are not secure. Their daughters are not safe. Their land is not secure. The Karzai government is corrupt."

"The problems we are having are made by the Americans. The Americans should review their policies," he said Saturday. "They should not support the people who are in power."

As Arizad spoke, Pres. Barack Obama’s special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, was holding his first talks with Karzai in the presidential palace nearby amid mounting U.S.-Afghan tensions fueled by mutual recriminations over the growing Taliban insurgency.

Some Afghan experts are worried that the United States and its NATO allies are making some of the same mistakes that helped the Taliban’s forerunners defeat the Soviet Union after a decade-long occupation that bled the Kremlin treasury, demoralized Moscow’s military and contributed to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Among the mistakes, these experts said, are …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 9:11 am

"A rose by any other name…"

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Only sort of the opposite: Blackwater Worldwide is changing its name to Xe. But it will be the same terrible company. From the story:

The attempt to rebrand itself comes as six former employees face manslaughter charges for a shooting that killed 17 civilians in Baghdad. The company has also faced intense scrutiny since four of its employees were massacred and two of them hung from a bridge in Fallujah in 2004.

In January, the Iraqi government denied Blackwater a license to operate there, and its workers are expected to leave the country this spring.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 9:08 am

Posted in Business

FDR and the New Deal

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Excellent post by James K. Galbraith:

Rauchway’s book is an exceptionally valuable pocket summary of the major actions of the New Deal. It solves a big problem for those with small pockets: how to keep enough facts at close hand to answer, with authority, all the anti-Roosevelt nonsense and disinformation in circulation these days.

But Rauchway is also very good on Hoover. He is especially good on the illusions and self-delusions of the Depression’s first years. Chief among these was the optimism, the ritual statements that things would soon get better, that prosperity is "just around the corner." This false optimism we don’t hear expressed so much today; President Obama knows to avoid it.

But false optimism is, nevertheless, still present. It has become a mental habit. It is institutionalized and embedded in the professional economic forecasts, notably the official baselines of the Congressional Budget Office. These cannot admit the possibility that we are at the start of a new Depression, because there is no similar experience in the statistical record on which they draw. It will take time, grim experience, and determined argument, before the President and Congress come to grips with this.

A second feature of the Hoover years was his desire to revive credit, lending and the operations of the banks. There was a touching faith in the institutions that had brought so much prosperity in the 1920s. And the people who had enabled the boom were in no position, mentally or politically, to admit their errors and change their views.

So it is today, obviously. The new Treasury, like the old one, remains in a Hoover mind-set, fixed on the chance of a top-down solution that would, in a phrase we hear constantly, "get credit flowing again." The idea is to stuff the banks with money, in the hope that they will burst and the manna will rain down.

But banks are not moneylenders! They do not need money, in order to lend! Banks create money. And they do it, when they want to. They lend, in other words, when there is a reason to lend. And not otherwise. The testimony of the bank chiefs yesterday made this very clear.

Or to put it another way, credit is not a flow. It is a contract. It requires a borrower as well as a lender. And the borrower must be both optimistic and solvent. These are the conditions that are not met today, and that cannot be met by stuffing money into the banks.

FDR realized two things. First, that the banks were bust. They had to be closed, reorganized and rebuilt. And second, …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 9:02 am

Posted in Business, Government

Tagged with

Joe Arpaio at last headed for a fall

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bmaz posts at Emptywheel:

You have probably heard of the shamelessly self professed "Toughest Sheriff in America", Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. For years he has been making a PR spectacle of himself, all the while running an unconstitutionally deplorable jail system, letting inmates die under tortuous conditions, and violating the civil rights and liberties of everybody in sight, especially minorities. Today, the House Judiciary Committee made public a critical and public step to rein in the Most Abusive Sheriff In America.

From the HJC press release:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), and Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Crime Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) called on Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate allegations of misconduct by Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Arpaio has repeatedly demonstrated disregard for the rights of Hispanics in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Under the guise of immigration enforcement, his staff has conducted raids in residential neighborhoods in a manner condemned by the community as racial profiling. On February 4, 2009, Arpaio invited the media to view the transfer of immigrant detainees to a segregated area of his "tent city" jail, subjecting the detainees to public display and "ritual humiliation." Persistent actions such as these have resulted in numerous lawsuits; while Arpaio spends time and energy on publicity and his reality television show, "Smile… You’re Under Arrest!", Maricopa County has paid millions of dollars in settlements involving dead or injured inmates.

It is time for the federal government to step in and uphold the rule of law in this country, even in Maricopa County."

"Law enforcement is not a game or a reality show, it is a public trust," said Scott. "There is no excuse for callous indifference to the rights of the residents of Arizona, whether in their neighborhoods or as pretrial detainees."

The full official text of the letter to Napolitano and Holder is here.

It is high time that somebody on the national scene notice, and the Federal government take action on, the egregious and violative conduct of Joe Arpaio.

Joe Arpaio is a two bit carnival barker and huckster, not a dedicated law enforcement official. The opportunistic man came into office running against a fellow Republican and incumbent Maricopa County Sheriff, Tom Agnos, by bad mouthing Agnos and arguing that the entire Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department needed to be cleaned up. In fact, Arpaio’s winning campaign was predicated upon his willingness to mock the very department he was running to lead and promise to expose the dirty laundry of Agnos and the Sheriff’s Department for its involvement in the infamous Buddhist Temple Murder case (link is a fascinating three part story), a seminal case in textbooks on coerced confessions (from the fact that four separate coerced false confessions were obtained to a single crime). Arpaio promised to restore honor to the department, and also swore he would serve only one term in office. Five terms and seventeen years later, Arpaio has failed miserably on both promises.

The upshot of the House Judiciary Committee’s missive to Attorney General Holder and DHS Secretary Napolitano is that Arpaio’s: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 8:58 am

Enjoyable movie: High Heels and Low Lifes

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Last night I watched High Heels and Low Lifes, a British caper comedy with Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack. Nothing extraordinary, but a fun movie with some good laughs.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 8:07 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Why are Washington & the Punditocracy so out of touch?

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This question seems to be getting a lot of play. Frank Rich has an excellent column today on the topic, and Glenn Greenwald has an exceptionally good column exploring the Beltway Breakdown. As Jay Rosen notes (quoted in the column):

The narrative that we aren’t getting is that the political class cannot solve the problems it created. And that some outside force is needed. People from outside, ideas from outside, as well as the anger and sort of mobilized feeling of Americans themselves.

Greenwald links to a Billmon post in which he captures the essence of the situation with two quotations from the same newspaper on the same day:

Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation [at government-subsidized banks] appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.
Lawmakers’ Goal to Cap Executive Pay Meets Resistance
Washington Post
February 12, 2009

It’s hard enough to lose a job. But for a growing proportion of U.S. workers, the troubles really set in when they apply for unemployment benefits.

More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.
Employers Fighting Unemployment Benefits
Washington Post
February 12, 2009

And Steve Benen has a post on the same general topic. If you read all the posts at the links, you’ll see just how out of touch DC has managed to become. We’re reaching a tipping point as the economic conditions worsen and DC and the media remain out of touch and defensive of their privilege.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 8:00 am

Why is Obama tinkering with Social Security?

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Social Security is in great shape for the next 40 years, so why would the current administration be tinkering with it? Dean Baker wonders, too:

Word has it that President Obama intends to appoint a task force the week after next which will be charged with "reforming" Social Security. According to inside gossip, the task force will be led entirely by economists who were not able to see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which is giving the country its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

This effort is bizarre for several reasons. First, the economy is sinking rapidly. While President Obama’s stimulus package is a good first step towards counteracting the decline, there is probably not a single economists in the country who believes that is adequate to the task. President Obama would be advised to focus his attention on getting the economy back in order instead of attacking the country’s most important social program.

The second reason why this task force is strange is that Social Security doesn’t need reforming. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it can pay all scheduled benefits for the next 40 years with no changes whatsoever.

The third reason that this effort is pernicious is

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 7:21 am

Ambidextrous appliances

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Manufacturers generally, I think, try to avoid making products that work well only in a right-hand or left-hand situation. Example: at one time, refrigerator doors were firmly fixed so that they either opened from the left or from the right, and you ordered the version that fit your current kitchen. If you moved, you had a 50-50 chance that your current refrigerator wouldn’t fit well the arrangement of a new kitchen: it might be against a wall with the handle on the wall side.

Then refrigerators began to be made with switchable doors—you could move the hinges so that the door could be opened the other way, if needed. And then we saw refrigerators with two doors that open in the middle (and some with a bin for the freezer at the bottom that rolled straight out), which completely solves/avoids the right-left problem.

So why don’t headphone makers make headphones so that you can move the cord from one earpiece to the other? I have a very nice pair of Sennheiser microphones with the cable coming from the left earpiece, which was fine. But now that I’m running the TV through the stereo, the cable needs to come from the right earpiece. I have a workaround: I switched the audio jacks I plugged into the TV (plugging left into right and vice versa) and now wear the headphones reversed, with the earpiece marked "left" on my right ear, so that the cord is running to the right. But the headphones were designed and made with a strong front-rear difference so they’re not entirely comfortable. It would all have been avoided if the cord could have been removed from the left earpiece and attached to the right, with some sort of screw-secured jack.

Just a little rant about inadequate design.

Written by Leisureguy

15 February 2009 at 7:17 am

Posted in Daily life

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