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

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

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 Comedy, 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

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