Later On

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

Archive for November 15th, 2009

Turkey meatloaves cooked in muffin pan

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I just made the recipe, and they are very tasty indeed. For myself, I might cook the onion and garlic in habanero oil, but nothing wrong with the recipe as is. Well, with small changes:

I did use 1 c. dried cranberries.

I did not use Worcestershire sauce (because it has high-fructose corn syrup), but rather about 1.5 Tbs minced anchovies, which I sautéed with the onion and garlic, and a small dash of soy sauce. (The idea is to give a umami boost.)

The recipe called for 1/4 tsp thyme for 2 lbs of ground turkey. That is to laugh. I used about 1 Tbsp.

Although the recipe suggests doing fewer (and thus larger) meatloaves, I used all 12 muffin cups and made 12 of the cute tasty little guys.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Teaching object-oriented programming to kids

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Very interesting post:

Alice is one of the coolest programs that teach computer programming to kids. What is Alice? It’s an important tool schools and families can use to turn computer programming into a game-like experience to teach basic object-oriented programming to kids.

One of the coolest memories I have as a kid is when my brother and I would copy BASIC programs from the computer magazines of the day (1980’s) into the old Franklin 64 desktop computer with one floppy drive and a whopping 64k of RAM. I’ll never forget when we finished typing the last line of that first program and then entered the command to RUN – how the screen started flashing characters and the miniature speaker beeped through a pathetic rendition of “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.”  Pure magic.  I was only 9 years old, but at that moment I was hooked on computers for life.

For anyone who has never created an application, it’s hard to describe the feeling of creating something from nothing. Programming is a lot like any other form of art in that way, except instead of the canvas we’ve got the computer screen, and instead of the paint brushes we have the various programming platforms.

Here at MakeUseOf, we believe in the importance of simple learning tools that can teach complex skills, such as computer programming. For example, Guy covered how you can learn to write a program with SmallBasic, and he also covered a cool application called Scratch that can teach kids how to program. Today, I’d like to cover another innovative software application called Alice that can teach kids how to program in object oriented languages.

Alice 3D Programming – What It Is & What It Isn’t

Alice 3D is a programming environment offered by Carnegie Mellon University. It’s provided for free as a public service, through the funding of various programming  and computer giants, such as Electronic Arts, Sun Microsystems, the National Science Foundation and other major organizations.

Alice is not a scripting tutorial where students will learn about the correct syntax used in various programming languages. It isn’t about developing the best structured For Loop. Instead, Alice provides students with a virtual world – a 3D modeling environment where students can learn how putting together various components, which each individually have their own properties, can create a larger, working project. The 3D environment is meant to show students, in a simple way, how the concept of object-oriented programming works…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:55 pm

A prison all ready for terrorists

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Steve Benen at Political Animal:

There’s a near-empty prison in rural Illinois, in a town called Thomson. The federal government is reportedly eyeing the facility as "a leading option" to house suspected terrorists from Guantanamo Bay

Locals seem to think it’s a good idea

News that the federal government seems interested in transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Thomson Correctional Center was greeted warmly in this small, rural farm town along the Iowa border.

After holding out hope that the sprawling $145 million prison might improve the economic conditions in this remote area of the state, residents say any prisoners would be a welcomed sight.

…but a couple of Illinois Republican congressman have embraced the usual nonsense.

[Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.)] acknowledged "extraordinary unemployment" in northwestern Illinois–he put the rate at 17 percent — but added: "The issue is: ‘Are you going to exchange the promise of jobs for national security?’ National security trumps everything. That’s the safety of the people.

The lawmaker, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was concerned that "al-Qaida would follow al-Qaida" to northwestern Illinois if Thomson became the prison to replace Guantanamo Bay, which he believes is perfectly adequate. […]

House Republican Mark Kirk of Northbrook, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, is circulating a sharply worded letter among the state’s congressional delegation and state officials, urging the White House not to transfer suspected terrorists to the prison.

"If your administration brings al-Qaida terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago metropolitan area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization," Kirk, a five-term congressman, wrote in the letter to President Barack Obama.

This is sheer idiocy. Maybe Manzullo and Kirk know better and want to create a panic for political reasons; or maybe they’re just cluelessly popping off. Either way, there’s really no excuse for federal lawmakers to be this wrong.

It’s hard not to wonder if these guys are even listening to themselves. Locking up terrorists is bad for security? Federal prisons are "ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots"? It’s like listening to children.

Let’s try to put this in a way that even Reps. Manzullo and Kirk could understand: the United States has already tried and convicted literally hundreds of terrorists. They’re held in federal detention on American soil. The prisons have not become magnets for terrorism; there have been no escapes; there have been no attempted escapes; and there have been no efforts at breaking anyone out of any of the facilities. It’s not an academic exercise — it’s reality.

[T]he apocalyptic rhetoric rarely addresses this: Thirty-three international terrorists, many with ties to al-Qaeda, reside in a single federal prison in Florence, Colo., with little public notice.

According to data provided by Traci L. Billingsley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, "federal facilities on American soil currently house 216 international terrorists and 139 domestic terrorists. Some of these miscreants have been locked up here since the early 1990s. None of them has escaped."

A certain amount of political cowardice is to expected, but Manzullo and Kirk are just embarrassing themselves.

Does anyone understand why the GOP is so terrified of terrorists in prisons? And what is so special about "American soil" that, if terrorists step on it, they are suddenly able to destroy our national security?

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:51 pm

Fantastic movie post at Open Culture

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Read the entire post, which begins:

Where to watch free movies online? Let’s get you started. First, we have listed dozens of free, high quality films that you can watch online. Then, below, you can find movie sites that feature free movie collections. Classics, international, film noir, documentaries, indies — they’re all here, waiting to be watched…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

The most important healthcare provision you don’t know about

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Donny Shaw at Open Congress:

Most of the coverage of Congress’ health care reform process has been focused on the public option. From it’s arrival as a compromise for single-payer to its slow and painful neutering in each successive iteration of health care legislation in Congress, the public option has been the health care politics story to watch. But all of Congress’ health care bills have been more than 1500 pages long— there’s a lot more to them than just the public option.

For months, Bruce Webb has been tracking a provision in the House’s health care bills that has flown mostly under the radar. He calls it the “most important and most overlooked” aspect of the bills, and he may be right.

The provision in question is entitled “Ensuring Value and Lower Premiums.” In all of Congress’s health care bills it reads more or less like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:42 pm

Sarah Palin’s idea of the way the court system should work

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Forget trials—declare them guilty and mete out punishment. I guess she thinks that will save time. Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress:

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the five individuals accused of conspiring to commit the 9/11 attacks — including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — will be prosecuted in U.S. federal court. “I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years,” said Holder. “The alleged 9/11 conspirators will stand trial in our justice system before an impartial jury under long-established rules and procedures.”

But the U.S. justice system apparently isn’t good enough for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (who believes that the White House has a “Department of Law“). Last night she went on Facebook and posted a message calling the Obama administration’s decision “atrocious”:

Horrible decision, absolutely horrible. It is devastating for so many of us to hear that the Obama Administration decided that the 9/11 terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be given a criminal trial in New York. This is an atrocious decision. […]

Criminal defense attorneys will now enter into delaying tactics and other methods in the hope of securing some kind of win for their “clients.” The trial will afford Mohammed the opportunity to grandstand and make use of his time in front of the world media to rally his disgusting terrorist cohorts. It will also be an insult to the victims of 9/11, as Mohammed will no doubt use the opportunity to spew his hateful rhetoric in the same neighborhood in which he ruthlessly cut down the lives of so many Americans. […]

If we are stuck with this terrible Obama Administration decision, I, like most Americans, hope that Mohammed and his co-conspirators are convicted. Hang ‘em high.

Palin further insulted the U.S. legal system by lamenting that a “hung jury” or “court room technicalities” may allow the defendants to walk away from this trial without receiving just punishment.” But the decision to make terrorists face the U.S. court system isn’t just an idea dreamed up by the Obama administration; there’s a strong precedent for it in this country. The U.S. has already successfully prosecuted 145 terrorism cases in federal court,including shoe bomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui.

In fact, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani praised the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers:

-– “‘It should show that our legal system is the most mature legal system in the history of the world,’ he [Giuliani] said, ‘that it works well, that that is the place to seek vindication if you feel your rights have been violated.’” [The New York Times, 3/5/94]

-– “[M]any who were bruised by the traumatic event were certain that no verdict by a jury or punishment by a judge will exorcise the pain and terror that remain. … Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani declared that the verdict ‘demonstrates that New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon — the law.’” [The New York Times, 3/5/94]

-– “I think it shows you put terrorism on one side, you put our legal system on the other, and our legal system comes out ahead,” said Giuliani. [CBS Evening News, 3/5/94]

Even in the weeks after Sept. 11, Giuliani “framed the attacks in the language of crime, describing the hijackers as ‘insane murderers’ and calling for restoration of the ‘rule of law.’” As CAP’s Ken Gude explains, Holder’s decision is a “victory for the rule of law and the American system of justice.”

No wonder the GOP gets so little respect these days.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:40 pm

Quite a story

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Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times:

Any time anyone tells you that a dream is impossible, any time you’re discouraged by impossible challenges, just mutter this mantra:Tererai Trent.

Of all the people earning university degrees this year, perhaps the most remarkable story belongs to Tererai (pronounced TEH-reh-rye), a middle-aged woman who is one of my heroes. She is celebrating a personal triumph, but she’s also a monument to the aid organizations and individuals who helped her. When you hear that foreign-aid groups just squander money or build dependency, remember that by all odds Tererai should be an illiterate, battered cattle-herd in Zimbabwe and instead — ah, but I’m getting ahead of my story.

Tererai was born in a village in rural Zimbabwe, probably sometime in 1965, and attended elementary school for less than one year. Her father married her off when she was about 11 to a man who beat her regularly. She seemed destined to be one more squandered African asset.

A dozen years passed. Jo Luck, the head of an aid group called Heifer International, passed through the village and told the women there that they should stand up, nurture dreams, change their lives.

Inspired, Tererai scribbled down four absurd goals based on accomplishments she had vaguely heard of among famous Africans. She wrote that she wanted to study abroad, and to earn a B.A., a master’s and a doctorate.

Tererai began to work for Heifer and several Christian organizations as a community organizer. She used the income to take correspondence courses, while saving every penny she could.

In 1998 she was accepted to Oklahoma State University, but she insisted on taking all five of her children with her rather than leave them with her husband. “I couldn’t abandon my kids,” she recalled. “I knew that they might end up getting married off.” …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Daily life

A serious water rocket

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You can read more about it in this Lifehacker post.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Daily life

"Dollar Bill" Jefferson sentenced to 13 years

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He’s a Democrat, he did wrong, and he’s going to serve time. I think this is an excellent step—just as it was an excellent step for the Republican "Duke" Cunningham (who actually had a price list of his services), who got 8 years. Here’s the story by Dave Cook in the Christian Science Monitor:

A federal judge sentenced former Rep. William Jefferson, (D) of Louisiana, to 13 years in prison for his conviction on corruption charges that famously included hiding cash in his home freezer.

Prosecutors had asked for a term of 27 to 33 years under federal sentencing guidelines. The request was significantly longer than for other congressmen in recent scandals. Defense lawyers had sought a term of less than 10 years. The 13 year sentence, which Jefferson’s lawyers have 10 days to appeal, is believed to be the longest ever given to a former member of Congress.

Jefferson, who represented part of New Orleans, was convicted in August on 11 of 16 federal charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. He was also the first sitting member of Congress to be charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Jefferson tried to bribe the then-vice president of Nigeria. Some $90,000 of that bribe was found in Jefferson’s freezer when federal agents raided his home.

In imposing the sentence Friday afternoon in a courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, Judge T.S. Ellis III said Jefferson’s conduct was “a cancer on the body politic.”

On the advice of his attorney, Jefferson declined the opportunity to make a statement at his sentencing, and he remained silent because he plans to appeal his conviction.

In sentencing documents, federal prosecutors accused Jefferson of a “stunning betrayal of public trust” and sought a sentence that could amount to life for the 62 year-old former member of Congress.

“The defendant betrayed the public’s trust time after time by using his congressional office as a criminal enterprise to further a pattern of racketeering acts of corruption and self-enrichment,” prosecutors wrote. They noted that Jefferson had participated in “no fewer than eleven distinct bribe schemes.” …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 11:56 am

The perfect sauce

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Yesterday I cooked greens for The Wife: 3 pieces of thick bacon cut into little squares, browned in the large sauté pan, then half a large onion chopped added to that. As the onion cooked to transparency, I added one bunch of collards, washed and chopped. The collards didn’t look like all that much in the pan, so I quickly washed and chopped a bunch of rainbow chard (red chard, green chard, Swiss chard, etc.). After cooking that a little, I added about half a cup of chicken stock, covered it, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. At the end of that time, I put the cooked greens in a container, with a little juice left in the sauté pan.

So last night after cutting a few strips from the chicken thigh, I figured I should cook the rest of thigh for me. The juice left in the sauté pan looked good, so I figured I’d "sauté" it in that. I put the heat on medium-high and added the thigh. It was cooking well, but the juice was boiling off and was clearly going to be gone before the thigh was done. I didn’t want a burned taste, so I added a small splash of habanero oil, thinking that would calm things down in the pan, but it continued to cook too fast.

I keep a 1.5-liter bottle of red wine on the counter, pressurized with nitrogen so the wine doesn’t go off, so I quickly hit the spigot for about half a cup of red wine and pour that  in the pan, where it boiled up immediately—oh, the heat was still on medium high. I turned the heat off, stirred what liquid remained, turned the thigh, and put the lid on, thinking it would cook with the residual heat. (The thigh, being boneless, was fairly thin.) I went back and watched my movie (Up, an excellent movie and a new direction for Disney, thanks to Pixar.)

When I went back, the thigh was done and what remained was a very dark—almost black—thick liquid. I tasted it. OMG! It was delicious! Intense-tasting, rich (not from fat, but from taste), perfect amount of salt, complex, and altogether wonderful.

It was like a miracle: an accident that I probably could not duplicate on purpose (though of course a professional chef would now experiment and replicate until s/he perfected the sauce). So here I was with this fantastic creation that no one else would ever truly know—if only there were a way to blog tastes.

That’s what I like about cooking: the occasional miraculous accident.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 10:41 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

The Megs Food Transition, cont’d

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Megs seems quite happy now with her Evo 95% Duck canned food: 1/2 a 5.5-oz can in the morning, the other half for dinner. She seems to start each meal by eating about somewhere between a third and half the food, then wandering away for a nap or other activity and returning later for more.

So I thought it was time to start the transition to homemade food. I bought a single skinless, boneless chicken thigh at Whole Foods (the guy was surprised that I was buying just one), and last night I cut from it three or four very thin strips, then cut those cross-ways into little tiny chunks.

Then I buried two of the chunks in the dinner duck and squeeze her dinner treat of one capsule of wild-salmon oil over the top. I put it down, and she dug in.

I was working on other stuff in the kitchen, but I heard her start chewing and chewing: clearly she hit one of the chunks. When I finally left the kitchen, she was gone, and most of her dinner was left. Uh-oh. I figured that one chunk might have been okay, but when she hit the second chunk, she figured the whole batch was bad. Oh, well. Back to plain duck for a few days.

But this morning I discovered her food bowl was completely empty—almost as if she had licked it after finishing the food. I guess a little bit of chunked chicken will be okay. 🙂 I’m keeping it as a dinner treat, though, at least for now.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 10:27 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Food

Booster aftershave sampler

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I like Booster aftershaves a lot, and at one time there was a sampler: nine small (airline-legal) bottles of the nine Booster fragrances. These were a fantastic gift item for a shaver, and of course a nice purchase for an airline traveler. The whole set was only US$9.98—a great bargain and, it appears, too much of a bargain: the sampler doesn’t seem to be around any more. I checked the primary Booster dealers (ShavingEssentials.biz in the US, Fendrihan.com in Canada) and neither has it.

My thought is that the sampler is sufficiently valuable in itself that it should be a permanent offering—perhaps at double the price to make it profitable for maker and dealer: US$19.98. At that price it’s not such a bargain, but it is still a great gift at a reasonable price—and a good way for any shave to sample the Booster delights.

If you think this is a good idea, please let the two dealers know.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, the Booster sampler is still available—and at a very good price. At Shaving Essentials, look under the menu item “Samplers.” I was looking under “Aftershaves” (and, truthfully, I think it should be listed there as well).

UPDATE 2: Shoebox Shaveshop sells a LOT of Boosters, but they currently do not offer a sampler. Check back later.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2009 at 9:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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