Later On

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

Archive for September 23rd, 2011

Temptation…

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Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

White gazpacho

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This recipe sounds terrific. The ingredients:

1/2 standard-sized baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups ice water, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups blanched almonds (reserve a few to garnish finished soup)
2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups green grapes
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or to taste
1/3 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
chopped green onions (for garnish)

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Fascinating story in the NY Times about corruption in the NYPD, including infiltration of the Internal Affairs Unit. An interesting note to the story is this throwaway: “Internal Affairs, a unit that is still reviled in the department because of its focus on fellow officers.”

The police believe that they should have untrammeled powers and be able to do what they please with no investigation or punishment. They will protect each other. Those police with this view are simply an armed gang that wear uniforms. The idea that they should be free from investigation, when there’s a lengthy track record of misdeeds and corruption, is breathtaking.

We need a completely independent unit that will focus only on the police force, but be outside its reach. Until then.. well, read the story.

The NYPD does, however, seem to be much more disciplined and professional on the whole than the LAPD, and certainly than the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Check out the story at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Coloring/dyeing/tinting one’s hair to hide gray

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Full disclosure: I do not color my hair, and some gray is visible in certain lighting situations.

This article in the SF Examiner by Samantha Smithstein explores the issue and has some surprising findings:

Going gray: it happens to all of us.  As we age (as dictated by our genetics), we stop producing pigmentation in our hair and what used to be blond, brown, red, black, or some combination, turns white, sliver, or gray.  It’s a challenge to figure out exactly how many women color their hair to cover that gray – but if you look around at all of the women you know who are ages 40 and above, you can get a pretty clear sense that it is more common than not.

Why do women color their hair?  The most common reason is that they don’t think having gray hair is attractive… but why is that?  Most would say it’s because gray hair is associated with aging, and aging in the US is considered to be unattractive.  Additionally, it has become so common for women to dye their hair that women with gray hair are considered to be unconventional or even counter-culture.  Women into their 80s and 90s color their hair more often than not.

Anne Kremer, author of Going Gray, writes that “most baby-boomer women have held on to the hedonistic forever-young part of their Woodstock dreams a lot more tenaciously than to the open-and-honest part.  And in doing so, they have presided over a narrowing of the range of acceptable looks for women.”  However, when she decided to let her hair go to its natural gray at the age of 48, she researched just how much having gray hair actually affected her attractiveness or her appearance of age.  When she posted her profile on a conventional dating site, she discovered that the profile of herself as a natural gray received three times more responses than the profile of herself with colored hair.  Furthermore, when she created a large-scale survey asking people to estimate the age of men and women, some with gray hair and some with not, people estimated those with gray hair to be only 2 years older than their actual age.  So does gray hair actually effect attractiveness or how old a person looks?

There has been, over the past few years, a slow but steady movement towards women allowing their hair to change naturally.  The website Going Gray, Looking Great boasts 200,000 page views a month by visitors from 126 countries, and has a photo gallery of models, politicians, actresses, singers, and professionals who are all naturally gray.  The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article recently about a local newscaster, Dana King, who had decided stop coloring her hair after covering a story about postmenopausal women in Ghana and feeling she was contributing to our society’s negative views about aging.

That same article, however, ends on a negative note. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life

Humans alone v. Humans in Society

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I recently published a link to three books by men who elected to live utterly alone, like Robinson Crusoe in the pre-Friday era. Though that lifestyle has a romantic appeal, it is lonely (we are a social animal) and it is dangerous (an illness or accident that would be no big deal in town can be fatal if you’re alone in the wilderness).

Indeed, I believe that one of the great benefits of living in society is that we can help each other, both directly (“Need a hand?”) and indirectly (I can purchase with little money items that I could never dream of making on my own—delivered to me by hordes of dispersed people working in diverse specialties, their pooled knowledge and effort embodied in, for example, the razor I used this morning.

Helping one another is the hallmark of civilized societies. We’re losing that, as Paul Krugman points out in his NY Times column today:

This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit. And Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare.”

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it’s people like Mr. Ryan, who want to exempt the very rich from bearing any of the burden of making our finances sustainable, who are waging class war.

As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?

To be fair, there is argument about the extent to which government policy was responsible for the spectacular disparity in income growth. What we know for sure, however, is that policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class.

Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes.

The budget office’s numbers show that the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes, which itself runs counter to the rhetoric you hear from the usual suspects. But that burden has fallen much more, as a percentage of income, for the wealthy. Partly this reflects big cuts in top income tax rates, but, beyond that, there has been a major shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work: tax rates on corporate profits, capital gains and dividends have all fallen, while the payroll tax — the main tax paid by most workers — has gone up.

And one consequence of the shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work is . . .

Continue reading. I would say our social contract is the US is fraying and headed toward failure, due primarily to vigorous work on the part of the GOP and its supporters. Here’s an example. Here’s another, about how serious work is being done to keep citizens from voting. This activity seems aimed at destroying the country and the principles it has until recently embraced, even if merely in lip service. That’s fading fast.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 12:21 pm

A feel-good post: Caboodle Ranch

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The name is from Kit ‘n’ Caboodle. Take a look, it will make you feel good. That feeling is important, I think, especially nowadays.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 10:50 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

Interesting developments in the UK re: drug laws

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The Liberal Democrats seem to be taking a fresh look at the rationality and effectiveness of current drug laws and thinking of substantial improvements:

Members of Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party overwhelmingly adopted a resolution Sunday supporting the decriminalization of drug possession and the regulated distribution of marijuana and calling for an “impact assessment” of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that would provide a venue for considering decriminalization and controlled marijuana sales.

The resolution calls for an independent panel “to properly evaluate, economically and scientifically, the present legal framework for dealing with drugs in the United Kingdom.” Citing the Portuguese decriminalization model, the resolution called for consideration of reforms so that “possession of any controlled drug for personal use would not be a criminal offense” or that “possession would be prohibited but should cause police officers to issue citations for individuals to appear before panels tasked with determining appropriate education, health or social interventions.”

The resolution also calls for the review to consider “alternative, potential frameworks for a strictly controlled and regulated cannabis market and the potential impacts of such regulation on organized crime, and the health and safety of the public, especially children.”

The resolution includes a call for “widespread provision of the highest quality evidence-based medical, psychological and social services for those affected by drugs problems,” including the widespread use of heroin maintenance clinics for hard-core addicts.

The resolution also offers support for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), whose scientific integrity has been under attack first by the former Labor government, which resulted in a number of high profile resignations, and then by the Conservatives, who have put forth a plan to no longer require a certain number of scientists to sit on the council. The council should “retain a majority of independent scientific and social scientific experts in its membership,” and no changes to the drug laws should take place without its advice, the resolution said.

The Liberal Democrats are the junior partner in Britain’s coalition government, having brokered a deal with Conservatives after the last parliamentary elections. The resolution will put the party in conflict with the Conservatives, who are opposed to any liberalization of Britain’s drug laws.

It also puts them at odds with Labor, which after a brief dalliance with downgrading marijuana offenses in 2004, overrode the advice of the ACMD to restore the old, harsher penalties the following year. The Liberal Democrats can continue to boast of having the most progressive drug policy position of any of Britain’s major parties. . .

Continue reading. Chances of a rational approach in the US: zero, I would say.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 September 2011 at 10:47 am

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