Later On

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

Archive for April 17th, 2009

Susan Boyle: "Cry Me a River"

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From the YouTube site:

From a charity cd made in 1999 of which only 1000 copies were made.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

Rationalizing our food-safety system

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Marion Nestle at Food Politics:

The New York Times, in an editorial “Food safety, one pistachio at a time,” says “it is time to think seriously about establishing one federal agency to coordinate and enforce food-safety regulations.”  And Michael Taylor and Stephanie David of the George Washington University Department of Health Policy provide a major position paper arguing that food safety must be a joint effort among federal, state, and local health agencies to address risks across “the farm-to-table spectrum of food production, processing, distribution, retailing, and home preparation.”  Let’s hope Congress is listening as it ponders the various bills introduced to fix the FDA or fix the entire food safety system.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 11:20 am

Beurre Manié

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Good article in the Kitchn [sic] on how to make and use a beurre manié.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 11:18 am

Mushroom veggie burger

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Via Slashfood:

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 11:14 am

Responsible disposal of compact fluorescent bulbs

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Carol, a commenter, pointed out the E-Lampinator as the current best recycling technique for fluorescents. It would be nice if these devices could be found at any store that sells fluorescents: take in the old for recycling when you buy the new.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 11:08 am

Very good cheap pens

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Interesting article by Frank Greve in McClatchy on the technology of today’s ballpoint and rollerball pens, which write so much better than the early attempts:


Disposable pens used to be things you wanted to dispose of by throwing them across the room.

They skipped. They had to be muscled across the page. They leaked sticky ink that smeared good words — and shirt cuffs if the writer was left-handed.

Sometimes America progresses, however, and it has, thanks to generations of Japanese engineers driven by dreams of better pens.

“It’s getting so that all of the pens that I get leave a very nice, deep, black line with instant starting and no globs or drips left behind,” reports Dave Bengston, the founder of the Web site “Cheap Pen Review.”

Among retractable pens, he lauds Pilot’s G2 and the uni-ball 207 for writing ease; among capped pens, the uni-ball Vision Needle. In multi-packs, all cost less than $2 each.

The Vision even gets grudgingly good reviews from Chuck Edwards, the pen doctor at Fahrney’s Pens in Washington, an emporium that is to high-end fountain pens what Tiffany is to diamonds.

“They write well, they hold a lot of ink, and they don’t cost a lot,” Edwards conceded.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Tasty sandwich

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The recipe comes via the Kitchn [sic], which also has photos:

World’s Greatest Sandwich
from Thomas Keller
makes 1 sandwich

3-4 slices of bacon
2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
2 slices of toasted rustic country loaf (pain de campagne)
1 tbsp of mayo
4 tomato slices
2 leaves of butter lettuce (yes, it’s called butter lettuce)
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg

1. Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels

2. Place slices of cheese on one side of toasted bread. Place in toaster oven or under broiler to melt.

3. Spread mayo on other slice of bread top with bacon, sliced tomato, and lettuce

4. On non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Fry egg, turning over briefly when the bottom is set (keep yolk runny)

5. Slide finished egg on top of lettuce, top with other slice of bread (cheese-side down genius)

6. Place sandwich on plate and slice in half, letting yolk run down sandwich

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:51 am

Interesting variable-temperature electric kettle

with 2 comments


The above is intriguing, but does have some drawbacks, which you might find to be show-stoppers. Read the review here. The Adagio UtiliTEA is a good alternative at 1/3 the price.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:48 am

Making the most of miso

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I like miso and have several jars of different varieties. Cynthia Lair has suggestions for using it:

Miso is a savory, salty soybean paste made by combining soybeans with a fermented rice culture called koji. Koji is made from a lactic-acid-producing bacteria, a grain, and aspergillus oryzae.

The soybean/koji mixture undergoes an intricate fermentation and aging process for six months to two years. Miso-making is considered a fine craft in traditional Japanese culture, and miso itself has been a staple of Japanese cooking for 2500 years. It is thought to promote long life and good health and has also been touted as neutralizing some of the negative effects of smoking, air pollution, and radiation sickness.

I had one teacher who referred to “salty seasoning” in cooking, not assuming that salt is the only choice. There are actually a few things that one can use to “salt” a food: Tamari (soy sauce), anchovy paste, ume plum vinegar (salty and sour!), fish sauce, and of course miso.

When you use miso to salt a soup you get some added bells and whistles: The fermentation process gives miso beneficial enzymes that aid digestion — like yogurt — making it a “live” food. Buy unpasteurized miso and cook it as little as possible to preserve the beneficial enzymes. Miso also adds an extra dimension of flavor. You can taste the fermented-ness, plus the soybean and other grains used in the process add to the mix.

You don’t want to …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:44 am

Interesting celery-root suggestion

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I’ve become quite fond of celeriac (celery root), and this column suggests more ideas. I’m thinking I’ll cut a celery root and a few purple potatoes into little chunks and then toss with olive oil and roast (375º for 45 minutes is what I use). I’ll include a few quartered small onions and domestic white mushrooms as well. After tossing them and spreading them out in the roasting pan, I sprinkle with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:40 am

When a supposed strength turns out not to exist

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Interesting article by Elanor in The Ethicurean:

Couched deep within the earth-mother rhetoric of a recent Monsanto ad (which you can also see on the back cover of the current New Yorker issue, a $100K-plus ad buy) is a bold claim:

Providing abundant and accessible food means putting the latest science-based tools in farmers’ hands, including advanced hybrid and biotech seeds. Monsanto’s advanced seeds not only significantly increase crop yields, they use fewer key resources — like land and fuel — to do it. That’s a win-win for people, and the earth itself.

Oh, really?

I’m not here to challenge their cheery scenario, though I could. And I’m not going to dig into the claim about using fewer resources. Nope, today I’m just tackling the assertion that “Monsanto’s advanced seeds… significantly increase crop yields.” Luckily, I have a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists to help me.

Released yesterday, the report, “Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops,” was authored by Doug Gurian-Sherman, a plant pathology and molecular biology PhD (who, it should be noted, works for a progressive nonprofit). Gurian-Sherman took two decades of peer-reviewed research on GE crops and analyzed how much the technology has actually increased yields over time. Then he compared those gains to the yield improvements that scientists have achieved using traditional crop breeding and other non-GE techniques.  The two dozen GE crop studies he analyzed, which covered herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans and Bt corn (which is engineered to be resistant to pests) showed pretty stunning results.

And by “stunning,” I mean stunningly lame.

The studies found that the engineering of herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans has not increased yields at all for these crops. The yields of Bt corn, meanwhile, have increased by 3-4% over the 13 years the crop has been on the market, or between 0.2% and 0.3% per year.

I suppose you could look Bt’s record and call it a “significant increase in crop yields,” but only if you were living in a GE vacuum. When you compare Bt corn’s record to the yield increases that we’ve seen in corn that has not been genetically engineered, things start looking a little different. Since the 1930s, …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:35 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Compare and contrast

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Hilzoy’s excellent composition question: Compare and contrast the following:

OLC memo of August 1, 2002, signed by Jay Bybee:

“You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. (…) As we understand it, you plan to inform Zubaydah that you are going to place a stinging insect into the box, but you will actually place a harmless insect in the box, such as a caterpillar. If you do so, to ensure you are outside the predicate death requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain. If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so, you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death.”

George Orwell, 1984:

“‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

“The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.’In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.'”

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:24 am

Campaign contributions up despite economy

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Industry lobbyists and others are quickly getting money to their members of Congress. I imagine it’s hell breaking in a new member. Better to keep the ones already trained in their place.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:21 am

Posted in Business, Congress, Election

More info on the flight controller talking the non-pilot into a landing

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James Fallows has a very interesting post with an actual flight controller commenting on comments to his original post on the Air King situation.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:19 am

Posted in Daily life

EPA takes direct action on global warming

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Interesting story by Juliet Eilperin in the WaPo:

The Environmental Protection Agency today plans to propose regulating greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that these pollutants pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare, according to several sources who asked not to be identified.

The move, coming almost exactly two years after the Supreme Court ordered the agency to examine whether emissions linked to climate change should be curbed under the Clean Air Act, would mark a major shift in the federal government’s approach to global warming.

Former President George W. Bush and his deputies opposed putting mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for years on the grounds that it would harm the economy; Congress is considering legislation that would do so but it remains unclear whether it can pass the proposal and enact it into law in the near future.

Late last month EPA sent the White House a formal finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare; the Office of Management and Budget signed off on the determination Monday.

When reached this morning, EPA spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure declined to comment on the matter…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 9:12 am

"We shall not prosecute" vs. the law

Glenn Greenwald:

Can anyone reconcile these?:

Barack Obama, yesterday:

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

Eric Holder, yesterday:

It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.

Convention Against Torture — signed by Reagan in 1988, ratified in 1994 by Senate:

Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law (Article 4) . . . . The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . . An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Geneva Conventions, Article 146:

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.

Charter of the International Tribunal at Nuremberg, Article 8:

The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.

U.S. Constitution, Article VI:

[A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.

I agree entirely that it is the DOJ lawyers who purported to legalize torture and the high-level Bush officials ordering it who are the prime culprits and criminals, as compared to, say, CIA agents who were proverbially just following orders and were told by the DOJ that what they were doing was legal.  But leave aside the question of whether prosecutions would produce good or bad outcomes.  After all, the notion that the law can and should be ignored whenever we think doing so would produce good results or would constitute good policy was the engine that drove Bush lawlessness.  If, as Barack Obama proclaimed yesterday, “the United States is a nation of laws” and his “Administration will always act in accordance with those laws,” isn’t it the obligation of those opposing prosecution to justify that position in light of these legal mandates and long-standing principles of Western justice?  How can they be reconciled?

UPDATE:  Greenwald also has some high praise for Obama and his decision to release the memos with little redaction.

UPDATE 2: Bruce Fein, a former Reagan Dept of Justice official, has a column in The Daily Beast making arguments similar to those above.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 8:37 am


with one comment

Yesterday, you may have noticed, I become progressively more cranky. The Wife suggests that I take a day off from blogging politics, which I believe is a good idea. There are a few posts that I want to blog, but for the most part I’ll today direct my attention elsewhere.

What led to the crankiness was contemplating Congress and the degree to which it’s become a money machine for its members, who often seem less interested in governing and in the good of the country than they are in lining their pockets and getting re-elected. Entirely too many members have simply been bought by various interests, and when something is on the table that affects those wealthy interests, many members of Congress do their bidding.

Not all members of Congress fall into the "bought" category, but an unfortunately high percentage do—and it’s often the most powerful that are most beholden to lobbyists and industry.

So today I’ll avert my gaze, mostly.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 8:36 am

Posted in Daily life

Arko & TOBS

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This morning the cycle of gold razors results in this Gillette NEW, a very good razor, IMHO. Arko shave stick and Harvard 3 Best produced an excellent lather, the NEW did its job flawlessly, and TOBS Mr. Taylor’s aftershave was refreshing. Now for some tea.

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2009 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

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