Later On

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

Archive for July 25th, 2010

Celebratory dinner

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Today I dug out my pedometer and took a walk. (So far today: 3576 steps.) The article Steve of Kafeneio pointed out—exercise outside the gym—pushed me to it. And, although I’ve not lost any weight over the past several days, I’ve not gained any: 235.0 lbs, day after day.

So tonight I decided what the heck, and I’m making this shrimp dish:

  • just a hair less than 1.5 tsp coconut oil
  • zest of a lime
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced including all the green part
  • 1 Tbsp Wellshire Farms bacon bits (real bacon)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric to take care of the coconut oil’s inflammatory properties

Heat the above in a skillet, and sauté briefly. Add:

  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • fresh tarragon leaves, minced — probably about 1 tsp.
  • diced celery and/or green bell pepper would be good here, but I didn’t think of them in time.

Continue to sauté and press the tomato halves has they cook so they release more juice. Add:

  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • dash of homemade habanero sauce

Now I’m letting that sit and the flavors meld. When dinnertime arrives, I’ll add:

  • 6 largish shrimp, total weight 6.25 oz, peeled

Sauté those in the sauce until pink and opaque. Then add:

  • 1/3 c. quinoa cooked in homemade chicken broth

Stir until heated through, then serve with a pony of Korbel California “champagne”. Except for the wine, the dinner is firmly within limits of my diet.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 4:11 pm

Extremely cute.

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Though I don’t know the singer, I did like this.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

Funny guy

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I’m getting a lot of laughs from Jake Johannsen: I Love You, available on Watch Instantly.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Humor, Movies & TV

Martin Wolf on our financial future under the GOP

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A good article in Financial Times:

The future of fiscal policy was intensely debated in the FT last week. In this Exchange, I want to examine what is going on in the US and, in particular, what is going on inside the Republican party. This matters for the US and, because the US remains the world’s most important economy, it also matters greatly for the world.

My reading of contemporary Republican thinking is that there is no chance of any attempt to arrest adverse long-term fiscal trends should they return to power. Moreover, since the Republicans have no interest in doing anything sensible, the Democrats will gain nothing from trying to do much either. That is the lesson Democrats have to draw from the Clinton era’s successful frugality, which merely gave George W. Bush the opportunity to make massive (irresponsible and unsustainable) tax cuts. In practice, then, nothing will be done.

Indeed, nothing may be done even if a genuine fiscal crisis were to emerge. According to my friend, Bruce Bartlett, a highly informed, if jaundiced, observer, some “conservatives” (in truth, extreme radicals) think a federal default would be an effective way to bring public spending they detest under control. It should be noted, in passing, that a federal default would surely create the biggest financial crisis in world economic history.

To understand modern Republican thinking on fiscal policy, we need to go back to perhaps the most politically brilliant (albeit economically unconvincing) idea in the history of fiscal policy: “supply-side economics”. Supply-side economics liberated conservatives from any need to insist on fiscal rectitude and balanced budgets. Supply-side economics said that one could cut taxes and balance budgets, because incentive effects would generate new activity and so higher revenue.

The political genius of this idea is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

How did supply-side economics bring these benefits? First, it allowed conservatives to ignore deficits. They could argue that, whatever the impact of the tax cuts in the short run, they would bring the budget back into balance, in the longer run. Second, the theory gave an economic justification – the argument from incentives – for lowering taxes on politically important supporters. Finally, if deficits did not, in fact, disappear, conservatives could fall back on the “starve the beast” theory: deficits would create a fiscal crisis that would force the government to cut spending and even destroy the hated welfare state.

In this way, the Republicans were transformed from a balanced-budget party to a tax-cutting party. This innovative stance proved highly politically effective, consistently putting the Democrats at a political disadvantage. It also made the Republicans de facto Keynesians in a de facto Keynesian nation. Whatever the rhetoric, I have long considered the US the advanced world’s most Keynesian nation – the one in which government (including the Federal Reserve) is most expected to generate healthy demand at all times, largely because jobs are, in the US, the only safety net for those of working age.

True, the theory that cuts would pay for themselves has proved altogether wrong. That this might well be the case was evident: cutting tax rates from, say, 30 per cent to zero would unambiguously reduce revenue to zero. This is not to argue there were no incentive effects. But they were not large enough to offset the fiscal impact of the cuts (see, on this, Wikipedia and a nice chart from Paul Krugman).

Indeed, Greg Mankiw, no less, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, has responded to the view that broad-based tax cuts would pay for themselves, as follows: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 1:39 pm

Coconut and other oils

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Since Chris brought it up in comments, I’ve been reading about coconut oil and learning quite a bit. Coconut oil is mostly a saturated oil and is thus quite stable (it does not oxidize readily at all, unlike polyunsaturated oils). In my reading, it seems that people who consume mostly saturated fats (animal fats, coconut oil) and monounsaturated oils (olive oil) in preference to polyunsaturated oils (canola/rapeseed, corn, soybean, safflower, etc.) age more slowly and fall prey to fewer diseases that stem for the oxidation of oils (e.g., cancer).

It occurred to me that I look pretty young (in terms of my skin), and that a contributing factor could be that I stopped using all polyunsaturated oils years ago because of their bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratios. And I never ate margarine—my mother stuck with butter and thus so did I. Plus margarine tastes like axle grease.

In summary, I am going to start doing some cooking with coconut oil—and my first recipe that I’m still turning around in my mind will involve shrimp and scallions and tarragon. Update: And tiny organic tomatoes and a little garlic, perhaps the juice of a lime. Served on quinoa.

I think the use of coconut oil is worth exploring. It does promote inflammation, according to the USDA database, but OTOH the figure the database gives for the inflammation factor (-1798) was based on using 1 cup of the oil. For a teaspoon, the inflammation factor is –37, which easily can be counterbalanced by other foods—a teaspoon of olive oil, for example, has an inflammation factor of 24, which cancels out most of that.

Plus I take 1/2 tsp turmeric daily, an inflammation factor of 226, “strongly anti-inflammatory.”

Interesting stuff, food.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

DEA violates Federal policy

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Or maybe it’s just Obama going back on another promise—we’ll know once we see his reaction. Mike Meno at the MPP blog:

After word spread of DEA raids on medical marijuana collectives in San Diego and Mendocino County last week, many are left wondering if federal agents deliberately violated the Obama administration’s instructions to not interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Under the Department of Justice policy announced in an October memo, federal agents are no longer supposed to target or prosecute medical marijuana patients or providers who operate in “clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law.”

Yet, according to local accounts, the sites raided last week were legal under state law. From the Press Democrat:

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman confirmed Friday that the [raided] property owner had the proper paperwork and the marijuana was legal in the eyes of the county.

“This was a federal operation and had nothing to do with local law enforcement,” he said. “The federal government made a decision to go ahead and eradicate it.”

Steve Elliott has more in Alternet:

A multi-agency federal task force descended on the property of Joy Greenfield, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1,050 application fee under the ordinance, which allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with certain regulations.

Greenfield had applied in the name of her collective, “Light The Way,” which opened in San Diego earlier this year. Her property had passed a preliminary inspection by the Mendo sheriff’s deputies shortly before the raid, and she had bought the sheriff’s “zip-ties” intended to designate her cannabis plants as legal.

In the days before the raid, Greenfield had seen a helicopter hovering over her property; she inquired with the sheriff, who told her the copter belonged to the DEA and wasn’t under his control.

The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective’s 99 plants and took Greenfield’s computer and cash.

Joy was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge. When she told [him] she was a legal grower under the sheriff’s program, the agent replied, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.”

The DEA has not yet released any statement explaining their actions, which all reports indicate violated their DOJ-issued guidelines.

With the number of state medical marijuana laws at 14 and growing, there is an urgent need for the federal government to ensure that its policy on state medical marijuana laws is made “clear and unambiguous” to its enforcers as well. The DOJ guidelines issued in October should have done just that, but apparently the DEA in California didn’t get the memo.

Whoever in the DEA who was responsible should no longer have a job. The government can quickly fire people (see Shirley Sherrod, for example). No excuse not to fire this person.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 11:01 am

Good column by Friedman

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Tom Friedman writes in the NY Times:

When I first heard on Thursday that Senate Democrats were abandoning the effort to pass an energy/climate bill that would begin to cap greenhouse gases that cause global warming and promote renewable energy that could diminish our addiction to oil, I remembered something that Joe Romm, the blogger, once said: The best thing about improvements in health care is that all the climate-change deniers are now going to live long enough to see how wrong they were.

Alas, so are the rest of us. I could blame Republicans for the fact that not one G.O.P. senator indicated a willingness to vote for a bill that would put the slightest price on carbon. I could blame the Democratic senators who were also waffling. I could blame President Obama for his disappearing act on energy and spending more time reading the polls than changing the polls. I could blame the Chamber of Commerce and the fossil-fuel lobby for spending bags of money to subvert this bill. But the truth is, the public, confused and stressed by the last two years, never got mobilized to press for this legislation. We will regret it.

We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.

Since I don’t have anything else to say, I will just fill out this column with a few news stories and e-mails that came across my desk in the past few days:

Just as the U.S. Senate was abandoning plans for a U.S. cap-and-trade system, this article ran in The China Daily: “BEIJING — The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission … Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said.”

As we East Coasters know, it’s been extremely hot here this summer, with records broken. But, hey, you could be living in Russia, where ABC News recently reported that a “heat wave, which has lasted for weeks, has Russia suffering its worst drought in 130 years. In some parts of the country, temperatures have reached 105 degrees.” Moscow’s high the other day was 93 degrees. The average temperature in July for the city is 76 degrees. The BBC reported that to keep cool “at lakes and rivers around Moscow, groups of revelers can be seen knocking back vodka and then plunging into the water. The result is predictable — 233 people have drowned in the last week alone.”

A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. “If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,” said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.)

Making our country more energy efficient is not some green feel-good thing. Retired Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, who was Gen. David Petraeus’s senior logistician in Iraq, e-mailed to say that “over 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan hauling fuel to air-condition tents and buildings. If our military would simply insulate their structures, it would save billions of dollars and, more importantly, save lives of truck drivers and escorts. … And will take lots of big fuel trucks (a k a Taliban Targets) off the road, expediting the end of the conflict.”

The last word goes to the contrarian hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, who in his July letter to investors, noted: “Conspiracy theorists claim to believe that global warming is a carefully constructed hoax driven by scientists desperate for … what? Being needled by nonscientific newspaper reports, by blogs and by right-wing politicians and think tanks? I have a much simpler but plausible ‘conspiracy theory’: the fossil energy companies, driven by the need to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of profits, encourage obfuscation of the inconvenient scientific results. I, for one, admire them for their P.R. skills, while wondering, as always: “Have they no grandchildren?”

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 10:58 am

GOP prefers investigating to governing. (It’s easier.)

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Steve Benen:

The political world may not fully appreciate just how ugly it might be next year.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a plan for what the Republicans should do if they win control of the House of Representatives: Spend all their time investigating the Obama administration.

"Oh, I think that’s all we should do," Bachmann told the Three Fingers of Politics website. "I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another, and expose all the nonsense that has gone on."

To be sure, it was farcical on the Hill in the mid- to late-’90s. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana and his House committee on administrative oversight launched pointless investigations into every wild-eyed Clinton-related accusation unhinged activists could manufacture.

And I mean "every" quite literally. In one instance, Burton held hearings — for 10 days — on the Clintons’ Christmas card list. In another, Burton fired a bullet into a "head-like object" — reportedly a melon — in his backyard to test his conspiracy theories about Vince Foster. Over the last six years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Burton’s committee unilaterally issued 1,052 subpoenas — that’s not a typo — to investigate baseless allegations of misconduct. That translates to an average of a politically-inspired subpoena every other day for six consecutive years, including weekends, holidays, and congressional recesses.

A Republican House majority in the next Congress would likely take this even further. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has already made clear that he intends to make Burton look like a meek, submissive toady, leaving "corporate America" alone, so he can attack the White House relentlessly.

For that matter, let’s also not forget that some Republicans, including two members of Congress, have raised the specter of presidential impeachment once there’s a GOP majority. One of them is Bachmann — who thinks "all" Republicans should do in the next Congress is launch witch hunts.

As Paul Krugman noted recently, "[W]e’ll be having hearings over accusations of corruption on the part of Michelle Obama’s hairdresser, janitors at the Treasury, and Larry Summers’s doctor’s dog."

If this seems like a joke, now would be a good time to adjust your expectations.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 10:55 am

Catch-22: Credit scores and finding a job

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Interesting post:

The previous post arose from things I came across while failing to find what I was looking for. I was trying to find concrete data on the reportedly increasing use of credit "scoring" by prospective employers and its relation to the disturbing trend of very long-term unemployment.

Because the two trends seem to me to be related — like the two sides of a vise.

MSN Money’s Liz Pulliam Weston says a survey of HR managers found the use of credit-checks in hiring had increased from 25 percent in 1998 to 43 percent in 2006. Weston also describes the elegantly nasty conundrum this creates for those who lost their jobs in the global financial crisis:

Many Americans these days are discovering the Catch-22 of unemployment. And that is: You might fall behind on your bills because you’ve lost your job, and you might not be able to land a new job because you’ve fallen behind on your bills.

[Update: Three grafs snipped here from original post. See below.*]

This is cruelly Kafkaesque. It’s also bad for employers, arbitrarily reducing the size of their pool of qualified potential employees. And it’s hindering economic recovery, prolonging the revenue-loss and the expense of unemployment, hobbling economic growth and therefore, yep, reducing the overall number of new employees being hired.

The credit agencies claim that this service they’re selling of credit-checks on job applicants can reduce employee fraud and workplace violence.

Asked to provide evidence of this claim, they repeat the assertion in a much louder voice and remind us that fraud and workplace violence are undesirable.

Which is to say they have no evidence for this claim and that there is no evidence for this claim. It’s just something that Transunion, Equifax and Experian hope that their corporate clients will come to believe if they repeat it often enough.

Andrew Martin of The New York Times pursued this point back in April, producing a dark comedy of twisting evasions from representatives of the credit agencies. (See: "As a Hiring Filter, Credit Checks Draw Questions.")

So why, then, is something cruel, self-defeating and broadly destructive becoming more widespread?

A big reason, I suspect, is …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 10:52 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Does the Senate even care anymore?

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Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and co-producer of Food, Inc. writes in the NY Times:

EVERY day, about 200,000 Americans are sickened by contaminated food. Every year, about 325,000 are hospitalized by a food-borne illness. And the number who are killed annually by something they ate is roughly the same as the number of Americans who’ve been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

Those estimates, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest the scale of the problem. But they fail to convey the human toll. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems face an elevated risk from food-borne pathogens like listeria, campylobacter and salmonella. By far the most vulnerable group, however, are children under the age of 4. Our food will never be perfectly safe — and yet if the Senate fails to pass the food safety legislation now awaiting a vote, tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill.

Almost one year ago, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act with bipartisan support. A similar bill, the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization Act, was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in November. This legislation would grant the Food and Drug Administration, which has oversight over 80 percent of the nation’s food, the authority to test widely for dangerous pathogens and improve the agency’s ability to trace outbreaks back to their source. Most important, it would finally give the agency the power to order the recall of contaminated foods — and to punish companies that knowingly sell them.

This bill is supported by an unusual set of advocacy groups: the American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, among others. Last week, a poll for Consumers Union found that 80 percent of Americans want Congress to empower the F.D.A. to recall tainted foods.

You’d think that a bill with such broad support, on a public health issue of such fundamental importance, would easily reach the floor of the Senate for a vote. But it has been languishing, stuck in some legislative limbo. If it fails to gain passage by the end of this session, Congress will have to start from scratch again next year.

Food processors reluctant to oppose the bill openly will be delighted if it dies a quiet death. That’s because, right now, very few cases of food poisoning are ever actually linked to what the person ate, and companies that sell contaminated products routinely avoid liability. The economic cost is instead imposed on society. And it’s a huge cost. According to a recent study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the annual health-related cost of food-borne illness in the United States is about $152 billion…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 10:44 am

Very cool (and apparently safe) flying car

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This one can land in crosswinds. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 9:41 am

Trusting business: Massey Energy division

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Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post:

If Don Blankenship had any sense of shame, he’d crawl into a mine and hide.

As CEO of Massey Energy, he has presided over a coal company that had thousands of violations in recent years, leading up to the April explosion that killed 29 of his miners. The company now faces a federal criminal investigation into what the government has called negligent and reckless practices.

But Blankenship must have no sense of shame, because he visited the National Press Club last week to complain about "knee-jerk political reactions" to mine deaths and to demand that the Obama administration lighten regulations on his dirty and dangerous company. "We need to let businesses function as businesses," an indignant Blankenship proclaimed. "Corporate business is what built America, in my opinion, and we need to let it thrive by, in a sense, leaving it alone."

The CEO was asked what he could have done to prevent the deadly explosion. "I probably should’ve sued MSHA" — that’s the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration — "rather than waiting" until now, he said. In the future, he added, "you’ll see not only coal companies but many companies resist the efforts of EPA and others that are impeding their ability to pursue their careers, or their happiness."

Poor CEO Blankenship. That mean federal government is not allowing him to pursue his happiness, just because his employees are dead. It brings to mind the sad plight of the BP CEO, Tony Hayward, who visited the Gulf Coast that his company has wrecked and complained that "I’d like my life back." Happily, Hayward got his wish and returned to yachting.

It’s easy to paint Blankenship as a villain, with his moustache, double chin and rough edges (he twice lamented the "abstract poverty" in the world). But his theme — and his complete absence of corporate responsibility — is very much the message corporate America has adopted in this mid-term campaign year: If you’ve got a problem, blame the government.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 8:23 am

"No to Oligarchy"

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) writes in The Nation:

The American people are hurting. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes, life savings and their ability to get a higher education. Today, some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and millions more have become dependent on food stamps for their food.

And while the Great Wall Street Recession has devastated the middle class, the truth is that working families have been experiencing a decline for decades. During the Bush years alone, from 2000-2008, median family income dropped by nearly $2,200 and millions lost their health insurance. Today, because of stagnating wages and higher costs for basic necessities, the average two-wage-earner family has less disposable income than a one-wage-earner family did a generation ago. The average American today is underpaid, overworked and stressed out as to what the future will bring for his or her children. For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.

But, not everybody is hurting. While the middle class disappears and poverty increases the wealthiest people in our country are not only doing extremely well, they are using their wealth and political power to protect and expand their very privileged status at the expense of everyone else. This upper-crust of extremely wealthy families are hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle-class which has made the United States the envy of the world. In its place they are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country.

The 400 richest families in America, who saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion during the Bush years, have now accumulated $1.27 trillion in wealth. Four hundred families! During the last fifteen years, while these enormously rich people became much richer their effective tax rates were slashed almost in half. While the highest-paid 400 Americans had an average income of $345 million in 2007, as a result of Bush tax policy they now pay an effective tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest on record.

Last year, the top twenty-five hedge fund managers made a combined $25 billion but because of tax policy their lobbyists helped write, they pay a lower effective tax rate than many teachers, nurses and police officers. As a result of tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere, the wealthy and large corporations are evading some $100 billion a year in U.S. taxes. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people on earth, has often commented that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.

But it’s not just wealthy individuals who grotesquely manipulate the system for their benefit…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 8:05 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

The US as a plutocratic plantation

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We’re mostly just workers, developing wealth for the wealthy, with the GOP providing their power. Take a look:

Income inequality

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 7:48 am

Posted in Daily life

Hating the gym and getting good exercise

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From Steve of Kafeneio comes a link to this article:

From the 15th floor windows of my New York City apartment, I have a clear view of a big and many windowed "health center," (aka a four-story gym complex). September is one of the gym’s busiest months. Right after Labor Day, active women, who I hope are incorporating daily outdoor activities with a seasonal summer flavor into their daily routines, flock indoors to the gym and an artificial routine of treadmills, exercise bikes and medieval torture devices. I see them sweating early mornings and late at night from my windows. I see them going and coming from my daily walk as I pass the gym.

It is a sign of the times — but also our American culture — that many women seem to have only two modes: sitting or spinning. They’re either avoiding even the slightest heart rate increase (like those women in my apartment building who take the elevator to the second floor) or they’re sentencing themselves to hours at the gym as punishment for their indulgences throughout the day. So often I see the begrudging look on women’s faces and hear the phrase, "I don’t want to go to the gym, but I have to."Pourquoi? If you are eating mindfully, and eating the correct portion sizes, you don’t have to torture yourself on those metal contraptions or run a marathon to stay trim. French women reject the notion of "no pain, no gain," opting for a more pleasurable notion of mild, sustained exertion. We prefer all-day movement, what I like to call "the slow burn," and we practice it as second nature instead of attacking it like boot camp.

You don’t have to torture yourself on those metal contraptions or run a marathon to stay trim. French women reject the notion of ‘no pain, no gain.’

Exercise requires the same sense of balance we require in other aspects of our life. We know by now that most dieting has a yo-yo effect and fails; we must recognize that too little and too much exercise meet the same fate. Overexertion at the gym may actually sabotage your weight loss goals. Too many women I know go overboard on the treadmill, and then eat more as either mental or hunger compensation. Eating a protein bar loaded with chemicals and calories just to burn them off seems silly. Or is it just to moi? The overheated workout also often leads to defeatism (I give up!). My window survey confirms those overcrowded gyms in January are half as crowded in February and March. Those New Year’s resolutions may provide us with the motivation, but after a few weeks of killing ourselves on the elliptical, we burn out.

French women see exertion as an integral part of the day. I encourage you to look at everyday movement (what you do in street clothes, not spandex) as essential to your overall wellness, and not to see exertion as something assigned to the gym. Here are a few French tips on how to stay fit without ever setting foot in la gym. 

1.) Don’t save your steps, multiply them! . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 7:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

What happens after you’ve read Getting Things Done?

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Very interesting post by Trent Hamm:

After reading through my recent series on Getting Things Done, Calvin took action and then had a few questions:

I picked up the book, read it twice, and set aside a weekend to get started. It really works! I feel like I’m getting so much done now that it’s crazy.

I guess my question now is what comes next? If I’ve learned anything over the past couple of years it’s that everything in life is a journey and there is no end point. Where did you go after discovering Getting Things Done in terms of your time management?

I thought long and hard over the last couple of weeks about Calvin’s email. What comes next after you get GTD and have started to incorporate the ideas into your life?

My first big realization was that Getting Things Done is somewhat akin to getting a set of really good tools. In itself, Getting Things Done doesn’t solve any of the problems in your life, just like a pile of tools won’t create a armoire or fix a bicycle. What it does do, however, is give you the tools to really start that journey. That journey is going to be quite different for everyone because we all have different circumstances, dreams, and goals. A woodworker is going to use a hammer differently than a homemaker will, for example, but it’s a valuable tool for both of them.

I tried to isolate some of the key ideas and directions I went in after really understanding Getting Things Done for the first time. Here are what I consider to be five of the most important ones, things that everyone can take up for further reading and ideas…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 7:35 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Why you can’t lose that last 10 lbs

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I have been stuck at 235 lbs for over a week now. Fortunately, I’m seeing an experienced diet counselor, who told me on Friday that if I’m still stuck on Monday they’ll haul out one of the "plateau buster" tricks. In the meantime, The Wife pointed out this article by Stephen Perrine and Heather Hurlock:

On May 11, the White House announced it was targeting a new threat to America’s health and security. It wasn’t some rogue nation or terrorist organization, or a newfound disease or environmental threat. It was a class of chemicals that are making Americans fat. They’re called endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs. And chances are you’re eating or drinking them right now.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity released a report called "Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation." In the report they list endocrine-disrupting chemicals as a possible reason for increased obesity in the country and describe how scientists have coined a new term for these chemicals — "obesogens" — because they "may promote weight gain and obesity."

What does this mean for you? It means that weight gain is not just about calories-in versus calories-out.

No, America’s obesity crisis can’t entirely be blamed on too much fast food and too little exercise. We have to consider a third factor: the obesogens. They’re natural and synthetic compounds, and many of these chemicals work by mimicking estrogen — the very hormone that doctors DON’T want women taking anymore (as a large clinical trial linked hormone therapy to increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and abnormal mammograms).

Why traditional diets don’t work anymore

Because high school biology was likely a while back, here’s a quick refresher: The endocrine system is made up of all the glands and cells that produce the hormones that regulate our bodies. Growth and development, sexual function, reproductive processes, mood, sleep, hunger, stress, metabolism and the way our bodies use food — it’s all controlled by hormones. So whether you’re tall or short, lean or heavy — that’s all determined in a big way by your endocrine system.

But your endocrine system is a finely tuned instrument that can easily be thrown off-kilter. "Obesogens are thought to act by hijacking the regulatory systems that control body weight," says Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., curators’ professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. That’s why endocrine disruptors are so good at making us fat — and that’s why diet advice doesn’t always work — because even strictly following the smartest traditional advice won’t lower your obesogen exposure. See, an apple a day may have kept the doctor away 250 years ago when Benjamin Franklin included the phrase in his almanac. But if that apple comes loaded with obesity-promoting chemicals — nine of the ten most commonly used pesticides are obesogens, and apples are one of the most pesticide-laden foods out there — then Ben’s advice is way out of date.

The obesogen effect is the reason why traditional diet advice — choose chicken over beef, eat more fish, load up on fruits and vegetables — may not work anymore. This is why we’re calling for a New American Diet.

See, while digging up all of this research on obesogens we’ve discovered some good news: There’s no reason why all of our favorite foods — from steak to burgers, from pasta to ice cream — can’t be part of a reasonable weight-loss program. We just need to get rid of old thinking. We can reverse the obesogen effect if we simply adopt these four simple laws of leanness:

Leanness Law No. 1: Know When to Go Organic
The average American is exposed to 10 to 13 different pesticides through food, beverages and drinking water every day and nine of the ten most common pesticides are EDCs. But according to a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, eating an organic diet for just five days can reduce circulating pesticide EDCs to non-detectable or near non-detectable levels.

Of course, organic foods can be expensive. But not all organics are created equal—many foods have such low levels of pesticides that buying organic just isn’t worth it. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) calculated that you can reduce your pesticide exposure nearly 80 percent simply by choosing organic for the 12 fruits and vegetables shown in their tests to contain the highest levels of pesticides. They call them "The Dirty Dozen," and (starting with the worst) they are celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries (domestic), nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale/collard greens, cherries, potatoes and grapes (imported). And you can feel good about buying the following 15 conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that the EWG dubbed "The Clean Fifteen," because they were shown to have little pesticide residue: onions, avocado, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mango, sweet peas (frozen), asparagus, kiwi fruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes and honeydew melon.

Leanness Law No. 2: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 7:32 am

Trusting business: BP edition (ctd.)

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Nina Bhattacharya at ThinkProgress:

In a deal negotiated last month, President Obama and BP officials agreed the company would pay $5 billion annually over the next four years into an escrow account for damage its oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused. Ken Feinberg, who was appointed to administer oil spill claims out of the escrow fund, has said he “hasn’t been able to start writing claims checks” because BP PLC has failed to deposit any money into the $20 billion fund it promised to create:

Feinberg, who was appointed to administer oil spill claims out of the fund, said he doesn’t have the authority to force BP to deposit the money, but his hands are tied until it does. “I don’t want the checks to bounce,” he said.

The day after the escrow account’s establishment in June, BP CEO Tony Hayward told Congress that BP is “unwavering in our commitment to fulfill all our responsibilities” and the company “won’t stop spending until the job is done.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2010 at 7:27 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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