Later On

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

Archive for October 29th, 2010

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:
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/surveillancereco/calea_foia_complaint…

For more on expanding surveillance law:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/10/eight-epic-failures-regulating-cry…

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 12:44 pm

National Review Online has article on the failure of the Drug War

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Conrad Black:

It is indicative of the failure of the current election to deal with real issues, apart from unease about deficits and curiosity about the endless military effort in the Near East, that, once again, almost nothing is asked or uttered about the proverbial War on Drugs, even as the virtual civil war it has caused in Mexico is amply publicized. Almost everyone agrees that hard drugs are a criminal problem, even if there is disagreement about how to fight them and dissatisfaction with the progress to date in doing so. But marijuana, cannabis, is an astonishing story of the hideously expensive and protracted failure of official policy.

There was an increase of 600 percent in the federal drug-control budget, from $1.5 billion to $18 billion, between 1981 and 2002, and it is almost certainly now over $25 billion, and yet cannabis as an industry is an almost perfect illustration of the unstoppable force of supply-side economics. Between 1990 and 2007, there was a 420 percent increase in cannabis seizures by drug-control authorities, to about 140,000 tons; a 150 percent increase in annual cannabis-related arrests, to about 900,000 people; a 145 percent increase in average potency of seized cannabis (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol content); and a 58 percent decline, inflation-adjusted, in the retail price of cannabis throughout the United States.

The laws governing cannabis growth, sale, and use, though under review in California, where it is the state’s largest cash crop, have not been proposed for serious amendment, although 42 percent of Americans acknowledge that they have used cannabis at one time or another. Despite the drug war’s official costs of over $2.5 trillion over about 40 years, comprehensive research by the authoritative International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), a Canadian organization, but with wide international expertise and collaboration, reveals that cannabis is almost universally accessible to twelfth-graders in all parts of the U.S., and that cannabis use by American twelfth-graders has increased from 27 percent to 32 percent between 1990 and 2008; and, furthermore, that among all Americans between the ages of 19 and 28, use increased in the same period from 26 percent to 29 percent. The argument has been made that growth of cannabis use would have been greater without the drug-war assault on it. But it is hard to credit that official discouragement is very closely related to drug use at all, since 900,000 annual arrests, about half leading to custodial sentences, and with very heavy sentences, of up to 40 years for large-scale production and sale, have failed to discourage cannabis use and traffic.

Extensive U.S. federal-government research indicates that the $1.4 billion National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has been completely ineffective and may even have incited increased drug use by needlessly publicizing it. Given the abundant evidence of the ineffectuality of efforts to restrict and reduce cannabis use, it is astonishing that there has been so little public discussion in the U.S. of alternative policy courses. The Netherlands, which has effectively legalized cannabis use, has roughly half the incidence of per capita use as the U.S. And the U.S. has approximately four times the per capita level of cocaine use of a broad selection of countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Spain, Israel, Lebanon, South Africa, China, Japan, Mexico, and Colombia. Differing regimes of cannabis decriminalization have been instituted by Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Portugal, which latter country, even nine years after decriminalization, has among the lowest cannabis-use levels in the European Union. There is a great range of policy options available, and observable in other countries, including restricting places of use, registering and rationing, increasing emphasis on treatment methods, and separating medical (use) from criminal (distribution outside official channels) aspects…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 9:40 am

Fitness

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I still have a ways to go, and I learned that my current contract with Healthy Way runs out at the end of February: 4 months to go, and (as of this morning) 44.7 lbs to go to get to my goal: 11.2 lbs per month to lose.

So I am getting more rigorous. I’ve resumed the Nordic Track as of a couple of days ago—the cold seems to have run its course—and I am gradually going to advance the time to 30 minutes. In addition, I start Pilates tomorrow.

I now have good control over the content and amount of the foods I eat, so the key to reaching my goal is regular daily exercise.

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 8:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Omega silvertip and AOS Lemon shaving soap

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A fine lather and a fine shave. The Omega silvertip is luxuriously soft but still creates a fine lather, this morning from Art of Shaving Lemon shaving soap. The English Gillette Aristocrat #22, newly plated in rhodium, provided a fine shave with a new Swedish Gillette blade, and a splash of Spanish Leather aftershave from Geo. F. Trumper set me on my way.

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2010 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

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