Later On

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

Archive for October 2010

Weight-loss projection

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I started this regimen on 6/7/2010, 20.86 weeks ago, and I’ve lost to date 32 lbs. That comes out to just over 1.5 lbs/week. Assuming that the best predictor of future behavior is past performance, I would guess that the 4 months (17.14 weeks) to come I’ll lose 26 lbs, more or less. That would be 192 lbs, 17 lbs short of goal. That won’t be too bad, and of course I might lose more than 1.5 lbs in some weeks.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Fighting drug legalization with bullshit

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Mark Kleiman:

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police have produced a document called “Speak Out Against Drug Legalization.” It demonstrates that the drug warriors, like the Bourbons at their Restoration, have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. A couple of quotes will illustrate.

In opposition to the idea that legalization would help stop the carnage in Mexico, the document says:

    • Criminals won’t stop being criminals if we make drugs legal. Individuals who have chosen to pursue a life of crime and violence aren’t likely to change course, get legitimate jobs, and become honest, tax-paying citizens just because we legalize drugs. The individuals and organizations that smuggle drugs don’t do so because they enjoy the challenge of “making a sale.” They sell drugs because that’s what makes them the most money.
    • The violence in Mexico is a reflection of a larger battle as to whether Mexico will be governed under the rule of law, or the rule of the gun. We should take steps to reduce the killings by the drug cartels in Mexico and along our Southwest border, but suggesting that legalizing dope is going to make a difference in this effort makes no sense. The fight in Mexico is over money, and not just money generated by drugs, but for any illegal activity where profits can be made.
    • Drug-related violence in Mexico is not a fight over market access or distribution chains in the United States, but the result of major Mexican drug trafficking organizations vying for control of both the drug smuggling routes leading into and out of Mexico, and transportation corridors along the border.

That is, handing criminals a multi-billion-dollar market doesn’t do anything to increase their criminal activity. R-i-i-i-i-i-ight. And of course some people are born “criminals,” and the structure of economic opportunity has nothing to do with their choices. Again, r-i-i-i-i-i-ight.

On the medical uses of cannabis, the report says:

    • Scientific studies have never established that marijuana can be used safely and effectively for the treatment of any disease or condition.

Of course it’s true that no one has yet submitted to the FDA two well-controlled clinical trials showing that a specific cannabis product grown and blended under Good Manufacturing Practice is safe and effective; otherwise that particular product would be a Schedule II prescription drug. But since the DEA has forbidden anyone interested in carrying on such studies from producing the product that then might be tested, and since the one facility allowed to produce cannabis for research has no interest in developing medical products, it’s not really surprising that those studies haven’t been done. But equally of course there are good studies showing safety and efficacy for, among others, the spasm that accompanies MS, neuropathic pain, and appetite loss.

The report notes that the chief active agent in cannabis, Δ9-THC, is an approved medicine, orally administered, under the trade name Marinol. If Marinol is effective, then high-THC cannabis must be effective. The report doesn’t note that oral administration is a lousy way to take this particular drug, since absorption through the gut is slow and unpredictable as to timing and amount, while absorption through the lung is quick and reliable, allowing not only speedy relief but also patient titration. Nor does it mention the fact – otherwise beloved of the drug warriors – that a product high in THC and low in (or in this case, entirely lacking) cannabidiol is puts the user at increased risk of dysphoria and panic attacks. The report doesn’t even mention Sativex, the extract of whole cannabis now approved as medicine (in oral-spray form) in Canada and the UK, or the prospect that vaporization can deliver all of the active agents in natural cannabis to the lung without adding the mixture of hot gasses, particulates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that comes from smoking.

One slightly encouraging feature of the document is the full-throated attack on the currently licit drugs alcohol and nicotine. The report doesn’t quite go so far as proposing to do anything about the problem – for example, by drastically increasing alcohol taxation or banning alcohol sales to people convicted of alcohol-related crimes – perhaps because that might suggest that complete prohibition is not the only approach to controlling drug abuse. But at least it represents progress compared to the old drug-warrior position that legal drugs aren’t really, y’know, drugs.

Footnote If the Tea Partiers and their tame politicians were genuinely against nanny-state big government and for states’ rights, wouldn’t they favor repeal of the Controlled Substances Act? Under the theories they espouse, wouldn’t hey regard it as unconstitutional? Just askin’.

Opposition to drug legalization relies heavily on ignorance and stupidity.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Everything you need to write successfully, according to Stephen King

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Stephen King reveals the secrets:

I. The First Introduction

THAT’S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers’ school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn. It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

II. The Story, or, How Stephen King Learned to Write

When I was a sophomore in high school, I did a sophomoric thing which got me in a pot of fairly hot water, as sophomoric didoes often do. I wrote and published a small satiric newspaper called The Village Vomit. In this little paper I lampooned a number of teachers at Lisbon (Maine) High School, where I was under instruction. These were not very gentle lampoons; they ranged from the scatological to the downright cruel.

Eventually, a copy of this little newspaper found its way into the hands of a faculty member, and since I had been unwise enough to put my name on it (a fault, some critics argue, of which I have still not been entirely cured), I was brought into the office. The sophisticated satirist had by that time reverted to what he really was: a fourteen-year-old kid who was shaking in his boots and wondering if he was going to get a suspension … what we called “a three-day vacation” in those dim days of 1964.

I wasn’t suspended. I was forced to make a number of apologies – they were warranted, but they still tasted like dog-dirt in my mouth – and spent a week in detention hall. And the guidance counselor arranged what he no doubt thought of as a more constructive channel for my talents. This was a job – contingent upon the editor’s approval – writing sports for the Lisbon Enterprise, a twelve-page weekly of the sort with which any small-town resident will be familiar. This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in ten minutes. His name was John Gould – not the famed New England humorist or the novelist who wrote The Greenleaf Fires, but a relative of both, I believe.

He told me he needed a sports writer and we could “try each other out” if I wanted.

I told him I knew more about advanced algebra than I did sports.

Gould nodded and said, “You’ll learn.”

I said I would at least try to learn. Gould gave me a huge roll of yellow paper and promised me a wage of 1/2¢ per word. The first two pieces I wrote had to do with a high school basketball game in which a member of my school team broke the Lisbon High scoring record. One of these pieces was straight reportage. The second was a feature article.

I brought them to Gould the day after the game, so he’d have them for the paper, which came out Fridays. He read the straight piece, made two minor corrections, and spiked it. Then he started in on the feature piece with a large black pen and taught me all I ever needed to know about my craft. I wish I still had the piece – it deserves to be framed, editorial corrections and all – but I can remember pretty well how it looked when he had finished with it. Here’s an example:

(note: this is before the edit marks indicated on King’s original copy)

Last night, in the well-loved gymnasium of Lisbon High School, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom, known as “Bullet” Bob for both his size and accuracy, scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his knight-like quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon thinclads since 1953….

(after edit marks)

Last night, in the Lisbon High School gymnasium, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon’s basketball team since 1953…. 

When Gould finished marking up my copy in the manner I have indicated above, he looked up and must have seen something on my face. I think he must have thought it was horror, but it was not: it was revelation.

“I only took out the bad parts, you know,” he said. “Most of it’s pretty good.”

“I know,” I said, meaning both things: yes, most of it was good, and yes, he had only taken out the bad parts. “I won’t do it again.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “you’ll never have to work again. You can do this for a living.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

And he was right; I am doing this for a living, and as long as I can keep on, I don’t expect ever to have to work again.

III. The Second Introduction

All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen – really listen – to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he’s talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

So here it is, with all the bark stripped off. It’ll take ten minutes to read, and you can apply it right away … if you listen.

IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Writing

10 biggest money savers from The Simple Dollar

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Interesting list by Trent Hamm. The first 5 in the list (which he says is in no particular order):

I have, quite literally, received hundreds of nearly free books in the mail thanks to this service. Considering that I’m an avid book reader, devouring three books a week when I’m really rolling, that’s a tremendous savings compared to my earlier habit of buying piles of books at Borders and from Amazon.

PaperBackSwap is really simple. You sign up, list ten books you own that you don’t want, and pledge to send them out to any member that requests them. This earns you two “credits” on the site. For a credit, you can request that any book on the site be sent to you (and there are millions of them). You can earn more credits by fulfilling the requests of others who ask you to mail them a book that you’ve listed – it costs about $2 to send one via Media Mail. That’s it – you’re basically getting access to an enormous used book library for $2.

The library
I love my local library. It’s that simple.

Most people see the word “library” and think “books.” Books merely scratch the surface of the free stuff available there: magazines, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, children’s programs, adult discussion groups, community messageboards, meeting rooms … the list goes on and on. All of this stuff is just sitting there waiting for you to use it.

Learning to cook well at home
Once upon a time, my wife and I ate out several times a week. Why? In our minds, it gave us an opportunity to talk while someone was making a meal for us.

After my financial meltdown, we started making more and more food at home. At first, it was a money saving tactic, but at some point, we realized that we were making some really good meals at home. Plus, we weren’t really missing out on the conversation, since we were often making the meals together and talking while we were doing it.

Keeping a pocket notebook
How can this be a big money saver? Easy. I use it to jot down prices on items for comparison shopping. I use it to note sales. I use it to note gift ideas that people mention. I use it for shopping lists.

I also use such a notebook to earn more money, too. I use it to record ideas. I use it to make very rough outlines of posts. I use it to make note of important things I need to get done in my own life.

I use it for so many things that have a positive effect on my finances (and my broader life) that I could scarcely live without it.

On Tuesday, we’re losing our cable box. The biggest reason, honestly, is Netflix.

Why? For $9 a month (way cheaper than our cable bill), we get a giant mountain of commercial-free entertainment that we can watch on our television. We choose what we want, wait three seconds, and it’s showing. Plus, we get new movie releases in the mail.

It’s drastically cheaper than the $60 a month or so that our cable bill is and we don’t feel like we’re missing out on much, especially in conjunction with over-the-air signals…

Read ’em all.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 11:07 am

Posted in Daily life

Superfood list

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Superfood lists are always fun, especially since they inevitably include some foods that are the very worst thing ever in the view of some foodies. (Canola oil, anyone?) Here’s a list by Karen Ansel that appeared in Woman’s Day. From the full list of 52 (I assume that the initial idea was a deck of superfood playing cards), the top 25:

1. Eggs Each egg has 6 grams of protein but just 72 calories. No wonder researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that eating eggs for breakfast (as part of a low-cal diet) helps you slim down.

2. Tomato sauce It’s loaded with lycopene, which makes your skin look younger and keeps your heart healthy. In fact, a Harvard study found that women with the most lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of a heart attack by 34%. [Watermelon has much more available lycopene. – LG]

3. Dried plums (prunes) They’re packed with polyphenols, plant chemicals that have been shown to boost bone density by stimulating your bone-building cells.

4. Walnuts Just 14 walnut halves provide more than twice your daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that’s been shown to improve memory and coordination.

5. Brussels sprouts They have more glucosinolates (compounds that combat cancer and detoxify our bodies) than any other vegetable. For a side dish that will make you wonder why you’ve been avoiding them, slice each one into quarters, then sauté in olive oil with chopped sweet Vidalia onions.

6. Acai juice A glass or two of this anthocyanin-rich berry juice can dramatically boost the amount of antioxidants in your blood, say Texas A&M University researchers.

7. Apples They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of lung cancer.

8. Bok choy This calcium-rich veggie can protect your bones and may even ward off PMS symptoms.

9. Steel-cut oats Because they’re less processed than traditional oats, they’re digested more slowly—keeping you full all morning long. [And so it follows that oat groats—whole-grain oats, not cut or processed—would be even better. And they are. – LG]

10. Salmon You’ll get all the heart-smart omega-3s you need in a day from just 3 oz.

11. Avocados Their healthy fat keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients. For a new u twist, brush a halved avocado (pit removed) with olive oil and grill 1 minute. Serve with red onion, sliced grapefruit and balsamic vinegar.

12. Spinach A half-cup provides more than five times your daily dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot and builds strong bones.

13. Canned pumpkin It’s filled with natural cancer fighters alpha- and beta-carotene.

14. Cauliflower White foods can be good for you! This one is packed with cancer-fighting glucosinolates.

15. Scallops A 3-oz serving has 14 grams of protein but just 75 calories.

16. Collard greens They’re exploding with nutrients like vitamin A, zeaxanthin and lutein, which keep your eyes healthy.

17. Olives They deliver the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat you get in olive oil, but for just 7 calories per jumbo olive!

18. Brown rice It’s a top source of magnesium, a mineral your body uses for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy).

19. Oysters These keep your immune system strong. A 3-oz serving (about 6 oysters) dishes up a quarter of your daily iron, plus nearly twice the zinc and all the selenium you need in a day.

20. Edamame One cup has a whopping 22 grams of plant protein, as well as lots of fiber, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

21. Strawberries They’re loaded with ellagitannins, phytochemicals that may halt the growth of cervical and colon cancers.

22. Lentils A great source of meat-free protein, a half-cup of cooked lentils also gives you nearly half your daily folate, a B vitamin that protects a woman’s unborn baby from neural tube defects.

23. Bran flakes Their whole grains keep your heart in tip-top shape by reducing inflammation and melting away belly fat.

24. Kiwi Italian researchers found that it reduces asthma-related wheezing, thanks to its high vitamin C content (one kiwi has 110% of your daily requirement).

25. Black beans They’re loaded with protein, fiber, and flavonoids—antioxidants that help your arteries stay relaxed and pliable.

Read the entire list.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 11:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

What motivates us

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I’m reading with great interest and enjoyment Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I got interested in the book when I watched this brief video animation of a talk by Pink. Worth viewing, and the book is quite intriguing.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich?

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Check out these. For example:

The Sergeant Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut in small pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold seltzer water (club soda)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Pepper Jack cheese
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Cheddar cheese

Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add butter and cauliflower; sauté on high until brown, stirring so cauliflower doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper; remove to plate lined with paper towels; drain.

For batter: Whisk together flours, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in cold seltzer water until smooth. (Water MUST be cold for tempura-type batter.) Store batter in the refrigerator until ready to fry.

Heat 3-4 inches vegetable oil to 350ºF in fryer or deep pan. Dip onion slices into the batter to cover and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper-towel-lined plates and season with salt and pepper.

Heat grill over medium. Drizzle one side of each slice of bread with a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil; place 4 slices, oil-side down, on grill (or use Panini press). Top each slice with Pepper Jack, cauliflower, fried onions, and a slice of Cheddar, in that order. Place remaining 4 bread slices on top of sandwiches, oil-side up. Grill, turning once, until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.

No. of Servings: 4

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 10:35 am

Kitty plays Duck Hunt

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Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 10:13 am

Posted in Cats, Video

Audiobooks for free

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Commuters (and exercisers), take note.

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 10:10 am

Posted in Books

Top 100 science-fiction and fantasy list

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Useful for sf/fantasy fans. The top 15:

1. A Game Of Thrones, by George R R Martin

2. The Lord of the Rings, by J R R Tolkien

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold

5. Dune, by Frank Herbert

6. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

7. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

8. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

9. The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

10. A Clash Of Kings, by George R R Martin

11. Lord Of Light, by Roger Zelazny

12. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J R R Tolkien

13. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

14. The Power That Preserves, by Stephen Donaldson

15. Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 10:09 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Cat doesn’t much like snowfall

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Written by Leisureguy

31 October 2010 at 8:09 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

The devastating mix of politics and crime policy

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Radley Balko at

Last year the U.S. prison population declined for the first time in a generation. That’s good news, but it doesn’t begin to offset the damage done by a 30-year incarceration binge that has made America far and away the democratic world’s leader in putting people behind bars.

The numbers are staggering. In 1970 one in 400American adults was behind bars or on parole.As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it’s one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. According to the King’s College World Prison Population List (PDF), the U.S. is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly a fourth of its prisoners. Judging by these official numbers, America’s incarceration rate leads the developed world by a large margin, although it’s doubtful that authoritarian regimes such as China’s are providing accurate data, especially about political prisoners. But among liberal democracies, the competition isn’t even close: As of 2008, the U.S. incarceration rate was 756 per 100,000 people, compared to 288 for Latvia, 153 for England and Wales, 96 for France, and 63 for Denmark.

America’s soaring prison population has spawned much debate over issues such as the wisdom of mandatory minimum sentences, the financial burden that prisons impose on states struggling with budget shortfalls, and the degree to which incarceration explains the dramatic drop in crime during the last 20 years. But the United States has never had such a high percentage of its citizens behind bars, and we really have no idea what long-term effects the tough-on-crime policies of the last few decades will have. During the next decade, for example, we will start to see the release of nonviolent drug offenders hit with the draconian prison sentences Congress established in the 1980s. It isn’t hard to see how locking a drug offender up with violent criminals for two decades and then releasing him into the population as a convicted felon might portend some bad results.

There are other problems. We have a record number of women behind bars, many of them pregnant or mothers of small children. This is a trend state governments aren’t handling well. The prison population is aging, a problem made worse by policies like abolishing parole. Since Virginia lawmakers abolished parole in 1995, The Washington Post reported in September, the number of prisoners over 50 in the state’s correctional system has increased fourfold. If our prison habit is expensive now, just wait until taxpayers are covering medical care as the front end of the prison boom enters its golden years. (Interestingly, prison doesn’t seem to significantly shorten life spans; black men actually live longer in prison than they do outside.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

First Pilates session completed

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Interesting. I’m taking a couple of aspirin tonight. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

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This Mark Bittman recipe sounds extremely tasty, though I plan to make it with roasted kabocha squash instead of sweet potato.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Here is another potato-vinaigrette combo: The red pepper dressing is tart, sweet, and spicy, with a touch of cumin. This is best served warm or at room temperature, though of course you can refrigerate and serve it up to a day later, as long as you take it out of the refrigerator beforehand to take the chill off. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

4 large sweet potatoes [or 1 kabocha squash but into bite-sized chunks – LG]
1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and ­ quartered
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1/2 cup minced fresh mint or parsley leaves
1 or 2 fresh minced chiles (jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero), or to taste
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. [If you’re using the squash, you can try peeling it. I don’t bother: the peel softens as you roast it. – LG] Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to dress.

2. Make the dressing while the potatoes cook. Put the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a blender, along with the vinegar, bell pepper, cumin, and zest if you’re using it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Purée until smooth.

3. Toss the warm potatoes with the scallion, mint, chiles, and raisins if you’re using them. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to coat, adding more if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 2:17 pm

24 hours of flights

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Fascinating video.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:51 am

The Sistine Chapel in super high-res

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Check it out.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:50 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Cool experiment for The Grandsons

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Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Science, Video

iKon plus Pashana

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An excellent lather from the D.R. Harris Almond stick, thanks to the Plisson Chinese Grey. And then my gold (plated) iKon smoothed away the stubble most comfortably, thanks to the Swedish Gillette blade it carried. A splash of Pashana and The Wife and I are off to Santa Cruz.

Written by Leisureguy

30 October 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

My new favorite winter squash: Kabocha

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Man, Kabocha squash is good. I just cooked one.

They are tough to cut open. I managed to cut this one in half, scraped out seeds and pulp, and then cut it into chunks. I tossed those with a little olive oil, then spread them (skin side down) on a foil-covered baking sheet, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and roasted them at 400ºF for 20 minutes. They probably could have gone 25. I turned the oven off, but left the door closed with the squash inside.

I don’t bother peeling them. As with other winter squash, the peeling softens as you roast them.

Winter squash counts as a starch. One serving is 1/2 cup.

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 12:48 pm

Government Withholds Records on Need for Expanded Surveillance Law

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The US government has become more and more obsessed with keeping things secret. When caught, the secret-keepers turn pathetic, but so long as they have secrets in the bank, they can be bullies. (It was interesting to watch the gyrations with the big Wikileaks document release: government and military officials simultaneously saying, "It’s nothing new; all this has been reported; old news," and also, "This is a terrible threat to our nation’s security." How can well-known facts be such a threat to national security?

Here is the EFF forcing the government to say, "Trust us" after clearly demonstrating it is not to be trusted:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against three agencies of the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding records about problems or limitations that hamper electronic surveillance and potentially justify or undermine the Administration’s new calls for expanded surveillance powers.

The issue has been in the headlines for more than a month, kicked off by a New York Times report that the government was seeking to require "back doors" in all communications systems — from email and webmail to Skype, Facebook and even Xboxes — to ease its ability to spy on Americans. The head of the FBI publicly claimed that these "back doors" are needed because advances in technology are eroding agents’ ability to intercept information. EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the DOJ Criminal Division to see if that claim is backed up by specific incidents where these agencies encountered obstacles in conducting electronic surveillance.

"The sweeping changes the government is proposing, to require ‘back doors’ into all private communications technologies, would have enormous privacy and security ramifications for American Internet users," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "Any meaningful debate must be based on the information we’re seeking in the FOIA requests, so the government’s failure to comply in a timely manner is troubling."

EFF also requested records on communications that DOJ agencies had with technology companies, trade organizations and Congress about potential expansion of surveillance laws. The FBI has already agreed that the records should be disclosed quickly due to the urgency to inform the public about this issue. However, neither it nor the other DOJ agencies released documents within the time limit set by Congress to respond to a FOIA request, forcing today’s lawsuit.

"A mandate requiring an easy-to-open ‘back door’ to electronic communications is an idea that was proposed and rejected over fifteen years ago because it would be ineffective, cause security vulnerabilities, and hurt American business — on top of the damage it would do to Americans’ privacy and free speech rights," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Any attempt to require the same mandate today should start with a concrete and realistic evaluation of how often the government investigations are stymied by the lack of a ‘back door.’ Anything less than that is asking the public to blindly rubber stamp a flawed plan at a very high cost to Americans and American business."

For the full complaint:…

For more on expanding surveillance law:…

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 12:44 pm

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