Later On

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

Archive for September 6th, 2011

Useful: Best-value steak cuts

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Beef, Food

Return to happy girl kitchen co

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While it may be true that you can’t go home again, it turns out that you can return to happy girl kitchen co (certified organic).

I picked up 6 jars of the dry-farmed tomatoes (they’re out on their Web site, but when they get more: order). I also got two jars of crushed heirloom tomatoes, a small jar of their horseradish, tempted by the olives, did buy a jar of the pickled garlic (spectacular!), more Chai Cola Light and pu-erh with Earl Grey. And I tasted their raspberry-lemon jam: to die for. And I got two jars of bread-and-butter pickles, one of cucumber and one of zucchini, a superb spicy tomato salsa, two jars of garden vegetables (useful when eating leftovers and I need a bit more volume).

I see that they have much more in the physical store than they show on-line, so if you ever come to Monterey, you should make it a point to stop by their store.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Food

‘People Don’t Realize How Fragile Democracy Really Is’

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James Fallows has a powerful post at the Atlantic:

Two days ago I mentioned the “Goodbye to All That” essay by Mike Lofgren, a respected (including by me) veteran Congressional staffer who had worked for Republican legislators on defense and budget issues for nearly 30 years.

If you have not read his essay yet, please read it now.  And then, please return!

Among the important aspects of his essay is that it goes beyond one now-conventional point of “the worse, the better” analysis: that the GOP’s main legislative goal is to thwart Obama, and if that includes blocking proposals that might revive the economy, so much the better for the Republicans next year.

More fundamentally, Lofgren argues that today’s Republicans believe they are better off if government as a whole is shown to fail, not just this Democratic Administration. Republican hard-liners might seem to have “lost” the debt-ceiling showdown, in that they wound up even less popular than the Democrats are. But in the long view, Lofgren says, unpopularity for anyone in Congress, including their party’s leaders, helps the Republicans: “Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy,” because it buildings a nihilistic suspicion of any public effort, from road-building to Medicare to schools. (Except defense.) As I say, read it for yourself.

When you’re done, consider this message I received today, from another former Congressional staffer whose tenure overlapped almost exactly with Lofgren’s. This too is worth reading carefully, for it advances an important complementary point:

>>Like Mike Lofgren, I am a retired Congressional staffer who worked for a House Member from 1985 until January of this year. Unlike Lofgren, I did not retire voluntarily; my boss, a moderate Democrat, lost his race for re-election last November. I found myself agreeing with virtually everything in Mike’s article and immediately forwarded it to a bunch of my friends, some of whom remain working on the Hill.

Privately, many of us who have worked in Congress since before the Clinton Administration have been complaining about the loss of the respect for the institution by the Members who were elected to serve their constituents through the institution. I don’t think people realize how fragile democracy really is. The 2012 campaign is currently looking to be the final nail in the coffin unless people start to understand what is going on.

One thing that especially resonated with me about Mike’s piece is the importance of “low information” voters. The mainstream media absolutely fails to understand how little attention average Americans really pay to what goes on in all forms of government. During our 2008 race, our pollster taught me (hard to believe it took me 24 years to learn this) that the average voter spends only 5 minutes thinking about for whom to vote for Congress. All the millions of dollars of TV ads, all the thousands of robo-calls and door-knocks, and it all comes down to having a message that will stick in the voters’ minds during the 5 minutes before they walk into the voting booth.

The media likes to call this group “independents,” which implies that they think so long and deeply about issues that they refuse to be constrained by the philosophy of either party. There may be a couple of people out there who fit that definition, but those are not the persuadable voters campaigns are trying to capture. Every campaign is trying to develop its candidate into an easy-to-remember slogan that makes him or her more appealing than the other guy. Actually, because negative campaigning is so effective, they are more often trying to portray the opponent as more objectionable (“I guess I’ll vote for the crook because at least he won’t slash my Medicare”).

I’m writing because now that I have been out of the Beltway Bubble, I have gained a little more perspective on how real people see the work of Washington, and I am scared that they are close to revolt. The debt ceiling debate in particular had me screaming at the TV on more than one occasion because both sides botched it so badly. I would like to hope that news outlets like yours could play a positive role in helping to educate people. But I’m feeling pretty pessimistic at the moment.<<

Further on the implications of this soon.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

More faulty arguments from global-warming denialists

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It baffles me that the media are all over non-events like snarky remarks in the hacked emails from climate researchers, but give a complete pass to errors, outright dishonesty, and conflicts of interest on the part of denialists, but it may be a by-product of corporate takeover of media and corporations that own the media working much more consistently to shape and select the content to support corporate agendas.

At any rate, in The Scientist Jef Akst reports:

An editorial published Friday (September 2) in the journal Remote Sensing points to “fundamental methodological errors” and “false claims” in a paper that challenged current estimates of climate change, published in the same journal just 6 weeks ago.

When the paper was first published, it was touted in the media as evidence that the global warming threat may be overblown. The authors used NASA satellite data to suggest that climate models overestimate the amount of heat the atmosphere retains, and thus misjudge the warming greenhouse effect. Climate researchers weren’t convinced, however.

The paper “essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents,” Wolfgang Wagner of Vienna University of Technology, the journal’s editor-in-chief, wrote in the editorial. “This…was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.”

“I don’t blame anybody in the publication,” Wagner told Science Insider, but he has decided to resign all the same. “Someone has to take responsibility. As editor-in-chief, I should be the one.”

The journal has not stated whether or not it plans to retract the paper, but Wagner hopes his resignation will signal that “Remote Sensing takes the review process very seriously.”

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 9:43 am

The Primal/Paleo Diet

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It occurs to me that the diet described in this post is very like what I’ve gradually settled on for myself. Differences:

Still eat grain as a starch, but only 1/3 cup (cooked) per meal, usually black rice. Not sure how to count oat bran, but that’s a grain product. And chia seed? It’s a seed, not a grain…

The only dairy I normally eat now is half a pat of butter with my egg, but once I reach goal, I’ll probably reintroduce yogurt and the occasional hit of Parmesan. But dairy is not a big part of my diet.

Legumes enter as tofu and tempeh. So sue me.

At any rate, the bulk of my diet seems to follow the Paleo guidelines.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 9:37 am

Posted in Fitness, Food

Our broken national politics

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It’s quite clear to those paying attention that the GOP has fallen into the hands of extremists. Their tactics and goals are clearly specified in this excellent piece by a retired GOP staffer.

The goal of the modern GOP really seems to be the destruction of the Federal government, which they view as an evil. Their negotiating strategy—with specific instances discussed in the column at the link—is to threaten grave harm to the nation unless their demands are met. We saw that clearly in the debt-ceiling negotiations, and we see it daily in their refusal to confirm appointments or allow Senate business to proceed unless they get everything they want. This is not negotiation: this is extortion.

What’s interesting to me is that we’ve seen this previously, and from the same region of the country (for the most part). The South was prepared to destroy the nation if they could not keep slavery, and by God, they did their best. The South initiated the Civil War, as we all know, by firing on Fort Sumpter. They insisted on war. If they could not get their way and continue to own slaves, they would destroy the union.

That same attitude, from that same region, is clearly visible today. The GOP does not care how much it damages the Federal government or the nation. As the guy quoted in the column at the link says, it’s a win for the GOP in any case: they don’t like the Federal government. So far as I can tell, the GOP favors direct corporate control of our society, and by God they are doing everything they can to see that it happens—no surprise, since they are funded by corporations and in effect work for corporations.

Still, it’s interesting to see the same attitude emerge from the same region. Very powerful thing, cultural continuity.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 9:27 am

Remaining sane in the face of terrorism

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The US has not done a good job here, thanks in part of politicians and public figures who work hard to pump up the fear. James Fallows has an excellent post on the topic:

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has written recently to criticize attempts by John Mueller and others to put terrorist attacks “into perspective.” Mueller has compared the number of people killed in bombings, hijackings, and similar deliberate terrorist assaults with, say, the number who drown in bathtubs each year. His point is to ask whether terrorism should be considered an “existential threat,” as many people argued after 9/11, and whether the “global war on terror” has justified the financial costs and the strains on Constitutional liberties we have seen in the past decade.

Jeff Goldberg points out, correctly, that not all risks or deaths are the same, and that there is a big difference between an accidental tragedy and a purposeful assault. Roughly as many Americans die from cancer every two days (~3000) as died from terrorism on September 11, 2001, but we rightly regard these tolls in very different ways. He then makes another point I agree with, but from which I draw a different conclusion from his own. He says:

>>Deaths caused by terrorism, on the other hand, can have a profound effect on society and the economy. The deaths of ten people in bathtub accidents won’t cause people to fear leaving their homes; but imagine the impact of 10 deaths in a terrorist bombing of a shopping mall, or a movie theater. And imagine if it happens more than once. The economic impact could be devastating; the impact on the emotional health of parents and children would be profound….

And consider the impact of terrorism on the Constitution, and on our collective self-conception as an open and free society. Just look at the stress placed on our constitutional freedoms by 9/11. …Terrorism’s capacity to affect the functioning of our society, and to fray the bonds that tie citizens together, and to cause mass-casualty events that would dwarf 9/11, makes it a unique and dangerous challenge.<<

It is precisely because people and societies can panic about terrorist threats — and often did ten years ago — that both the threats and the panic are worth doing everything possible to minimize. Anyone who has ever thought about the long-term effort against terrorism realizes that the threat of attacks will never completely go away. If a society is large, open, and diverse, that is simply impossible. It’s like “eliminating” crime, or evil. Or like eliminating the chance of another Columbine-style schoolyard shooting, which is “terrorism” in every way except the conventional name. All of these deserve the best possible preventive efforts, but “best possible” will never mean perfect.

Therefore the next step is to avoid magnifying the terrorizing effects of a murderous attack, and instead to do what we can to keep it in perspective. Parents send their children to school every day, even though we know that some day there will be “another Columbine” (or “another Virginia Tech” or, away from the schoolyard, “another Tucson”). School shootings are absolute evil, which we should take far more urgently than we do. But when they occur, the usual response is to try to dampen rather than intensify a reaction of generalized fearfulness and panic. That is how we should react to something called “terrorism” as well. Which is what Mueller was trying to do.

I think Jeffrey Goldberg agrees with this; but I wanted to spell out that what he presents as something terrorism “can” create is something worth doing our utmost to resist. It’s bad enough when people are hurt or killed for any reason — in car crashes, in random crime, or by someone who says he is waging a holy war. It’s worse in all of these cases if we needlessly compound the physical damage with panic and terror.

As an example of an attitude not to emulate, consider this report just now (with emphasis added):   . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2011 at 8:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Terrorism

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