Later On

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

Archive for September 17th, 2011

Chelsea’s Garden shaving soap

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Chelsea’s Garden seems to be a fairly big operation for a small vendor, selling all sorts of soap-making supplies as well as soap. They also offer shaving soap. Has anyone tried any of those?

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Business, Shaving

Pepper-Sauce Chronicles, Part LXIV

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New batch of pepper sauce. I can pretty much turn out a batch without thinking about it now. Here’s what I used:

ripe orangish Serrano peppers: a whole bunch
big green jalapeños: about 8-10
dried chipotles: about 16
dried chili de árbol peppers: about 12
1/4 c sea salt
1 glug Barbados molasses
1 glug blackstrap molasses
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c Meyers dark rum
enough white vinegar to make a quart

I blended the above (but only about 5 jalapeños) well, poured it into 2-qt saucepan, but thought it looked a little thin. So I took some of the liquid and about 5 more of the big fresh jalapeños and blended those, then stirred back into pot.

Brought to boil, simmered 25 minutes, now I’m letting it sit 30 minutes. Blend once more and bottle. I’ll let it age overnight since I won’t need it until breakfast.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Perils of partisan punditry

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Partisan punditry—in which the other party is always wrong, your own party always right—is risky business. Better to pundit from first principles, since both parties are prone to error—especially nowadays. Greenwald has a highly entertaining column of headlines that should embarrass James Carville:

Democratic strategist and CNN pundit James Carville has written an article declaring Obama’s political and policy approaches to be abject failures and advising several steps to correct course, such as: fire large numbers of his advisers, “make a case like a Democrat,” and “Panic.”  At the end of his list of serious grievances against the White House, he includes this paragraph to make clear that he’s still a Good Democrat and is offering the advice only because he wants to help the President win re-election:

As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation. I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.

Those first three adjectival accusations against the Republicans — “creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing” — are fair enough, but let’s look at the last four: . . .

Continue reading for the fun stuff. Greenwald concludes the column with this:

What Carville’s confused, contradictory screed highlights is the difficulty of trying to understand American political conflicts through an exclusively partisan prism of Democrats v. Republicans.  Some issues are properly assessed via that dichotomy, but many — a growing number — are not.  Nonetheless, confining oneself to Democrat v. Republican bickering is the admission price to establishment media access — that is the only prism they understand or permit — and most pundits thus happily cling to it; indeed, partisan pundits take the lead role in enforcing this orthodoxy and trying to marginalize anyone who deviates from it or resides outside of it.  Political issues insusceptible to this two-team mindset are deemed fringe and rendered invisible.  The result (by design) of this narrow, stultifying framework is that many — perhaps most — of the most consequential political developments are ignored.

* * * * *

Just as a few recent, illustrative examples of how the strictly partisan prism distorts rather than clarifies political realities, consider:

(1) this Washington Post Editorial lambasting the GOP presidential candidates for being insufficiently pro-war (less pro-war than the Obama administration);

(2) this New York Times article on how the bulk of Sarah Palin’s political message is hostile to GOP orthodoxy and the GOP itself, and even likely to appeal to liberals:

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private). . . .

Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.

Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.

Are there any prominent Democrats Party officials voicing that critique?

(3) this new report on the thousands — literally — of ex-Hill staffers who now work as lobbyists, and the hundreds of lobbyists who now work as Hill staffers; the lobbying firm with the greatest number of ex-Hill staffers is the Obama-connected Podesta Group, co-founded by former Clinton White House aide and current CAP Executive Director John Podesta and run by his brother (the Podesta Group spent years lobbying for the Mubarak regime to make sure the money and weapons kept flowing); in second place behind the Podesta Group is the GOP-allied Chamber of Commerce; and congratulations are in order for Jim Manley, Harry Reid’s long-time spokesman, who yesterday annonced he was joining the bipartisan lobbying firm of Quinn Gillespie;

(4) the Obama administration ran to the Washington Post Editors yesterday to assure them that they wouldn’t be violating Obama’s oft-stated pledge to remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 by leaving 3,000 troops there, but would instead . . . almost certainly leave far more in Iraq; and,

(5) this extraordinary and very insightful endorsement of Elizabeth Warren’s Senate candidacy from Rod Dreher, a long-time, hard-core conservative and former National Review writer (via Andrew Sullivan):

Unless Jeff Jacoby tells me something bad I don’t know about her — and what I don’t know about Elizabeth Warren is a lot — I’m rooting for her. I can understand her holding her fire (for now) against the Democrats, for tactical reasons, but if she wins — and I hope she does — then I hope she goes to DC with both barrels blazing, and with the understanding that the enemy of the financial interests of ordinary Americans is the capture of both parties by Wall Street and the banks. If she goes to DC and gets captured by Democratic partisans, it will be a colossal waste.

These are the vital truths that have nothing to do with — indeed, are continuously obscured by — the repetitive, shallow, cable-news-staple of R v. D punditry.  And it’s why partisans of both parties have the same interest — and work so hard together — to ensure that it is the only framework that is heard.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 12:08 pm

Eagerness aids accomplishment

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I came up with the above line in writing a letter to a friend as I summarized the various things that I have to do from which I have converted to sources of enjoyment: shaving, eating right, exercise (Pilates), writing letters (excellent stationery and good fountain pens and ink helps a lot—the chance to write italic is just the frosting on the cake), and so on. Once you fix up something you have to do (through finding appropriate tools, methods, skills, and the like) so that it is a source of enjoyment, you naturally are drawn to doing it. Being pulled toward a necessary task is much preferable to having to push yourself to do it.

Now how can I manage the same trick for housekeeping? Specifically, keeping things put away and organized?

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life

Oil and the future of the US

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Very interesting article in Salon by Michael Klare:

America and Oil. It’s like bacon and eggs, Batman and Robin. As the old song lyric went, you can’t have one without the other. Once upon a time, it was also a surefire formula for national greatness and global preeminence. Now, it’s a guarantee of a trip to hell in a hand basket. The Chinese know it. Does Washington?

America’s rise to economic and military supremacy was fueled in no small measure by its control over the world’s supply of oil. Oil powered the country’s first giant corporations, ensured success in World War II, and underlay the great economic boom of the postwar period. Even in an era of nuclear weapons, it was the global deployment of oil-powered ships, helicopters, planes, tanks, and missiles that sustained America’s superpower status during and after the Cold War. It should come as no surprise, then, that the country’s current economic and military decline coincides with the relative decline of oil as a major source of energy.

If you want proof of that economic decline, just check out the way America’s share of the world’s gross domestic product has been steadily dropping, while its once-powerhouse economy now appears incapable of generating forward momentum. In its place, robust upstarts like China and India are posting annual growth rates of 8 percent to 10 percent. When combined with the growing technological prowess of those countries, the present figures are surely just precursors to a continuing erosion of America’s global economic clout.

Militarily, the picture appears remarkably similar. Yes, a crack team of SEAL commandos did kill Osama bin Laden, but that single operation — greeted in the United States with a jubilation more appropriate to the ending of a major war — hardly made up for the military’s lackluster performance in two recent wars against ragtag insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, almost a decade after the Taliban was overthrown, it has experienced a remarkable resurgence even facing the full might of the U.S., while the assorted insurgent forces in Iraq appear to be holding their own. Meanwhile, Iran — that bête noire of American power in the Middle East — seem as powerful as ever. Al Qaeda may be on the run, but as recent developments in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and unstable Pakistan suggest, the United States wields far less clout and influence in the region now than it did before it invaded Iraq in 2003.

If American power is in decline, so is the relative status of oil in the global energy equation. In the 2000 edition of its International Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy confidently foresaw ever-expanding oil production in Africa, Alaska, the Persian Gulf area, and the Gulf of Mexico, among other areas. It predicted, in fact, that world oil output would reach 97 million barrels per day in 2010 and a staggering 115 million barrels in 2020. EIA number-crunchers concluded as well that oil would long retain its position as the world’s leading source of energy. Its 38 percent share of the global energy supply, they said, would remain unchanged.

What a difference a decade makes. By 2010, a new understanding about the natural limits of oil production had sunk in at the EIA and its experts were predicting a disappointingly modest petroleum future. In that year, world oil output had reached just . . .

Continue reading. It seems obvious to me that Peak Oil, like global warming, is here to stay. In the meantime our broken political system fights ever more fiercely over ever more trivial matters.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 9:08 am

Tryphon and Omega

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Finishing my glycerin-soap week with a winner, I picked one of Giovanni Arbate’s Tryphon shaving soaps—and next week I’ll do a shaving-cream week and open with a Tryphon shaving cream. While I’m pleased by Giovanni’s success in his career, getting promoted put paid to Razor & Brush, his on-line shaving shop that quite successfully shook up the razor blade scene in this country (and just in the nick of time: some old standbys from those days have totally vanished).

The Omega brush is a big, soft, puffy silvertip with a wonderful feel on the face and the exact opposite of the type of brush many call a “soap brush”. In their view, this Omega brush should not do a good job at all on shaving soap. Utter balderdash, of course, as a few minutes working up a lather would show. (It seems likely that such guys are blaming the brush for a hard-water problem.) I got loads of sumptuous lather—and I was surprised to note all the marks of Creamy Lather (extremely fine-grained, wet, dense, thick lather) despite this being a soft silvertip—OTOH, I did use the Zach technique of enthusiastic loading the brush for an extended time, and that’s probably what did it.

Three fine passes using a Gillette NEW holding a Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade. The blade was not quite optimal, but with a little polishing I got a fine shave—and removed the blade and put it in my blade safe at the end of the shave.

A splash of the Flying Bird Bay Rum—quite nice, and take a look at their other products.

My plan today is to finish reading Barry Eisler’s The Detachment, which I pre-ordered some months ago and was automatically delivered to my Kindle yesterday. The Kindle is pretty slick, especially for all-text books such as this. And Eisler is mining a very rich vein in his most recent novels: first Fault Line, then Inside Out, and now this one. These constitute a definite series, with characters continuing their lives through the sequence of novels. And a very interesting enfolding of recent US history and activities through the story lines. Well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 September 2011 at 9:07 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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