Later On

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

Archive for February 6th, 2011

Roasted asparagus for afternoon treat

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I’m making this recipe, but instead of 2 Tbsp (!!!) olive oil, I’m using 2 tsp. I like the bag idea: put dry asparagus in plastic bag with the oil and massage it until all asparagus is coated. I like the recipe because it also uses garlic, lemon juice, etc.

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 2:08 pm

Interesting article on the flaws in America’s realpolitik

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Realpolitik seems to work well in the short run, while in the long run alienating entire populations who tend to judge by actions rather than by (high-flown) words. It also alienates some of the domestic population, which would prefer a government that works to realize (and honor) its values rather than consistently taking the expedient and easy course. But: most politicians seem to be close to terminally stupid, so far as I can tell. So we can expect the practice to continue.

Scott Shane discusses the issue in the NY Times:

If the United States is, as so many presidents have said in so many speeches, the world’s pre-eminent champion of democracy, then why does the drama unfolding in Cairo seem so familiar?

A Washington-friendly dictator, propped up for decades by lavish American aid as he oversees a regime noted for brutality, corruption and stagnation, finally faces the wrath of his people. An American administration struggles over what to say, what to do and what to expect if the strongman is toppled.

The agony of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt raises again the question of whether such a pattern can ever be broken. More than mere misjudgment or duplicity is behind it; the embrace of dictators has been so frequent over the last half-century that it obviously results from hard-headed calculation.

Every country has both values and interests. Sometimes they coincide — for example, promoting human rights can help combat terrorism — and sometimes they conflict. What makes the United States stand out, perhaps, is how frequently American officials proclaim their values to the world, setting themselves up for charges of hypocrisy when a policy is expedient rather than idealistic.

Supporting Egypt’s military-led regime over four decades, first under Anwar el-Sadat and then Mr. Mubarak, offered strategic benefits to seven American presidents. They got a staunch ally against Soviet expansionism, a critical peace with Israel, a bulwark against Islamic radicalism, and a trade- and tourist-friendly Egypt. What they did not get was a functioning Egyptian democracy. The apocryphal comment about a foreign strongman often attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt sums it up nicely: he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.

History is rich with precedents. In 1959, there was Fulgencio Batista of Cuba, darling of American corporations and organized crime, fleeing with an ill-gotten fortune of $300 million as Fidel Castro’s troops reached Havana.

In 1979, it was Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, abandoning the throne in the face of a revolt two years after President Jimmy Carter toasted his country as “an island of stability.”

In 1986, the turn came for

Continue reading. And check out the other links in the article sidebar:

In particular, look at this graphic and note how many of the harsh, oppressive, corrupt, torture-prone governments are US allies—and of course, the US turns to them for torture. (Although Barack Obama has promised that the US itself will no longer torture, there are problems: 1) Barack Obama has frequently made promises that he promptly broke (beginning, I think, with his solemn promise to vote against telecomm immunity); and 2) I would be a large amount that the US continues to ship kidnap victims and other captives to such countries to be tortured.)

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 1:59 pm

By-gone technology: Still here

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Interesting, and you can download a podcast at the link:

Kevin Kelly should know better, but boldly, brassily, (and totally incorrectly, I’m sure), he said this on NPR:

“I say there is no species of technology that have ever gone globally extinct on this planet.”

What does that mean? I asked him. (Kevin, among other things, is founding editor of Wired Magazine and runs a very popular blog, called Cool Tools, that reviews new gadgets.)

That means, he said, “I can’t find any [invention, tool, technology] that has disappeared completely from Earth.”

Nothing? I asked. Brass helmets? Detachable shirt collars? Chariot wheels?

Nothing, he said.

Can’t be, I told him. Tools do hang around, but some must go extinct.

If only because of the hubris — the absolute nature of the claim — I told him it would take me a half hour to find a tool, an invention that is no longer being made anywhere by anybody.

Go ahead, he said. Try.

If you listen to our Morning Edition debate, I tried carbon paper (still being made), steam powered car engine parts (still being made), Paleolithic hammers (still being made), 6 pages of agricultural tools from an 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue (every one of them still being made), and to my utter astonishment, I couldn’t find a provable example of an technology that has disappeared completely.

And Kevin continues to insist he is right. In his new book What Technology Wants, he says: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Running ever so late

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I don’t watch football, but I saw something on-line that makes me believe that the Big Game is today. (Sports offers a limitless supply of Big Games, all of which seem to me extremely similar.) But I have a lot to do even without a TV: more Spanish, clean up the apartment, shop for more one-pot meals (this week I am trying eggplant and will use miso in some of them), take out garbage, bring up recycling, count out meds, etc. Busy day, busy day. No time to fix dessert. Fortunately, I don’t eat dessert.

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 10:36 am

Posted in Daily life

¡Aha! Spanish diacritics on the Mac

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Found it at last:

To get accents on the Mac, hold down the Option key, and while holding it down, type the letter e; then release those keys and type the letter that you want the accent to appear on:

  • á = Opt + e, then a
  • é = Opt + e, then e
  • í = Opt + e, then i
  • ó = Opt + e, then o
  • ú = Opt + e, then u

For the ñ, hold down the Option key while you type the n; release and type n again.

  • ñ = Opt + n, then n

To place the diaeresis over the u, hold down the Option key while pressing the u key; release and type u again.

  • ü = Opt + u, then u

The inverted punctuation marks are achieved as follows:

  • ¡ = Opt + 1
  • ¿ Opt + shift + ?

UPDATE: Here‘s what seems to be the complete story on OS X (is that pronounced “oh-ess-ex” or “oh-ess-ten”?) and foreign-language alphabets. Weird that Esperanto is not included. It has only six diacritics, which I think would be easy to include. Bad move, Apple.

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 7:31 am

And, of course, I can now blog from the living room

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This is nice: sitting comfortably in my chair, a large (1 US pint) mug of hot tea (Barry’s Gold) beside me, writing a post. My morning routine is now pretty well fixed: I get up, weigh (192.2 lbs currently), make tea and get breakfast going (oat groats with some turmeric, put on the range with cold water over low heat and leave it alone for 45 minutes to heat up and simmer), and then sit in my chair with my lap desk and write a letter or two.

Then the bell goes off, so I go in and add one or two chopped hard-boiled eggs and a splash of pepper sauce to the oats (which are cooked with turmeric, BTW), and eat that while I (now) read the news on my new notebook. (Frank Rich has a good column today in the NY times on how what we know of the world gets censored by corporate decisions rather than government actions, but starting today mostly I struggle with Then I resume writing my letter(s). Once that’s done, on the Nordic Track for 30 minutes. I’m still listening to Don Quixote, now on disk 14 (of 35). Then shower, shave, and meet the day.

You can see why getting up at 5:00 a.m. is helpful.

Written by Leisureguy

6 February 2011 at 6:57 am

Posted in Daily life

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