Later On

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

Archive for January 9th, 2012

Monty Python and my life

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Via Netflix Watch Instantly I’ve been watching Monty Python: Almost the Truth about the members of the Monty Python ensemble. As it turns out, they are roughly my age—one or two years younger—so as they look back over their lives and career, I find much overlap in our encounters with history.

For example, they were the last generation that grew up with the radio as the prime home entertainment, encountering television only around age 16. Same here: radio was the medium.

They were obsessed by The Goon Show (with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers, Wallace Greenslade, Ray Ellington, Max Geldray, and all the others. Totally wonderful program. I discovered it in 1964 (being played on WSUI in Iowa City) and become an equally fanatical devotee. (I have an enormous collection of recorded shows on CD, and before that had a collection of LP records of the show.)

They were heavily influenced by Beyond the Fringe, and back in the day I had a Beyond the Fringe LP which I could recite. Wonderful, amazing comedy.

At any rate, for guys in our age group, the documentary reviewing their careers, with interviews with them today, is totally wonderful.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

Greatest jazz solo?

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Oh, the arguments that could ensue. 30sJazz.com nominates the Coleman Hawkins rendition of “Body and Soul”, with this note:

Upon his return to the United States, Coleman Hawkins recorded this two chorus performance of the pop standard “Body and Soul”, on October 11, 1939.

In late 1934, Coleman Hawkins had accepted an invitation to play with Jack Hylton’s band in London after which he toured Europe as a soloist until 1939. It was during this period (in 1937) that he worked with Django Reinhardt and Benny Carter in Paris.

This tune, which was recorded as an after thought at the session, would become a landmark recording of the Swing Era. This is due to the fact that Hawkins ignores the melody for much of the tune. It was and is held in high regard for its exploration of harmonic structure, considered by many to be the next evolutionary step in jazz recording, picking up from where Louis Armstrong’s 1928 recording of “West End Blues” leaves off.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Jazz

Transferring taxpayer money to private companies

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The GOP seems to be on a mission to divert as much taxpayer money as possible to private companies through various devices—the open-ended, no-bid, cost-plus contracts that Cheney loved to give to the company in which he held large amounts of stock, for example. Or the enormous numbers of X-ray machines being put in our airports regardless of the threat to public health simply in order to make a manufacturer wealthy.

The trick Bob Grant reports in The Scientist is cute: the taxpayer pays for research, but then the findings cannot be published except by private companies, who charge for access. The GOP loves this idea: giving money to big companies, that’s what the GOP is all about. The story:

US Representatives Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill into the House of Representatives in mid-December that would roll back the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which mandates that any published research that was funded by the federal science agency be submitted to the publically accessible digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication in journals. The bill, H.R. 3699, would also make it illegal for other federal agencies to adopt similar open-access policies.

The legislation, referred to as the Research Works Act, is being applauded by the Association of American Publishers, a book publishing industry trade organization that claims the NIH policy and others like it undercut the scientific publishing business, which seldom receives federal funds. “At a time when job retention, US exports, scholarly excellence, scientific integrity, and digital copyright protection are all priorities, the Research Works Act ensures the sustainability of this industry,” said Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers in a statement.

But taxpayer advocacy groups, such as the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, oppose the bill and are encouraging members of the public to do the same. “Supporters of public access need to speak out against this proposed legislation,” the Alliance wrote in a statement urging opposition of the bill. “Your support for public access to the published results of the research we pay for is critical – and appreciated!”

The Research Works Act is the latest push in a series of efforts to reverse the NIH’s open-access policy that started soon after the agency enacted it in 2008. The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 6845)—introduced by Issa and Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Tom Feeney (R-FL), and Robert Wexler (D-FL) in September 2008—languished in legislative purgatory in the House. Conyers resurrected the act (this time called H.R. 801), along with Issa, Wexler, Maloney, and Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), and Trent Franks (R-AZ) in February 2009, but that bill, an exact replica of its predecessor, still lingers in committee, according to Congressional records.

The current incarnation, referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which Issa is chair.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 10:03 am

Posted in Business, Congress, GOP, Law, Science

DEA’s odd priorities

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The DEA is quite aggressive against medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, breaking up their equipment and throwing them in jail for the crime of trying to ease pain and treat illness with a common plant. They continue this despite Obama’s and Holder’s pledges to the contrary. (Those pledges are worthless, as you see.)

OTOH, the BATF sees that loads of guns go to the drug cartels (though once the guns started being used to kill US Border Patrol agents, the BATF has cut back on the program and perhaps even ended it—they say they have, but we’ve learned now that they don’t hesitate to lie—to the public, to Congress, to anyone who will accept the lies), and now we find that DEA is making sure that the drug cartels can launder their money. Ginger Thompson reports in the NY Times:

American drug enforcement agents posing as money launderers secretly helped a powerful Mexican drug trafficker and his principal Colombian cocaine supplier move millions in drug proceeds around the world, as part of an effort to infiltrate and dismantle the criminal organizations wreaking havoc south of the border, according to newly obtained Mexican government documents.

The documents, part of an extradition order by the Mexican Foreign Ministry against the Colombian supplier, describe American counternarcotics agents, Mexican law enforcement officials and a Colombian informant working undercover together over several months in 2007. Together, they conducted numerous wire transfers of tens of thousands of dollars at a time, smuggled millions of dollars in bulk cash — and escorted at least one large shipment of cocaine from Ecuador to Dallas to Madrid.

The extradition order — obtained by the Mexican magazine emeequis and shared with The New York Times — includes testimony by a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent who oversaw a covert money laundering investigation against a Colombian trafficker named Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega, also known as “The Rabbit.” He is accused of having sent some 150 tons of cocaine to Mexico between 2000 and 2010. Much of that cocaine, the authorities said, was destined for the United States.

Last month, The Times reported that these kinds of operations had begun in Mexico as part of the drug agency’s expanding role in that country’s fight against organized crime. The newly obtained documents provide rare details of the extent of that cooperation and the ways that it blurs the lines between fighting and facilitating crime. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 9:58 am

Sous Vide Supreme

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I very much enjoyed my sous vide cooking, and I can see where having an actual sous vide appliance would help, provided (a) you do a fair amount of cooking of meat (which seems to be its strength, though the veg come out quite good as well) and (b) have the counter space for such a thing (which I really don’t).

Still, it’s good to see this detailed review and the identification of the Sous Vide Supreme as a Cool Tool. It is definitely an interesting way to cook, and the results were quite wonderful. From the review at the link (but there’s a lot more information, so click through):

At $400 the Sous Vide Supreme is pricey, but if it can prevent us from ordering out even once a week, it will literally pay for itself in four months. We used it five times in the first week.Time will tell if this is a novelty effect, but so far I’ve been overwhelmingly thrilled with the results. There’s been a lot of focus on 30-minute meals, but for a busy working parent or two, that can be an eternity. Pair the Sous Vide Supreme with a rice cooker with a timer and a microwave vegetable steamer and it becomes possible to get a completely freshly cooked dinner on the table with minimal work in less than ten minutes. Even without going to that extreme, it significantly cuts the amount of stove time required for a “regular” meal. It’s completely changed the way I look at preparing large portions of food in advance.

Read the entire review.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 8:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Technology

Shopping for new grub

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This kale and potato dish, with olive oil and garlic, quite won my heart, though 3 pounds of potatoes for one bunch of kale is, IMO, insane: mashed potatoes with flecks of … what is that? kale? or parsley? No, I want piles of kale with little bits of potato here and there.

So I immediately though: kale, fingerling or baby potatoes, garlic, leek (seems to fit), maybe scallions, too. I thought and somehow a green bell pepper seemed right, thinking about the color scheme, and all that paleness made me go for pork as the protein: a nice 8-10 oz boneless loin chop, but into chunks and those browned by themselves then added to the dish.

I wanted more veg to bulk it out, so I thought of Chanterelle mushrooms (which I’ve seen at the store) and a Granny Smith apple. Celery, of course, and a little cider vinegar or a Meyer lemon diced.

I think that would work. I may substitute converted rice for the potatoes, depending on what I find at the store. And I’ll look for shallots—sometimes they have tubs of already-peeled shallots, which would replace the scallions or the leek.

I’ll definitely use one of my olive oils for this one.

UPDATE: I got a very nice boneless pork loin chop, 11 oz, and some baby potatoes, leek, etc. I chopped the leek, four large shallots, a jalapeño, and the pork chop and sautéed those in 1 Tbsp EVOO—I just wanted olive oil for this—with a good sprinkling of Emeril’s Essence. After sautéing for a while, I added the chopped green bell pepper, a couple of handfuls of parsley, 6 Crimini mushrooms (no Chanterelles), a diced Golden Delicious apple (the Granny Smiths were covered with wax), one bunch red kale (and lots of stalks this time—chopped finely, as always), 1/2 cup water, a splash of vinegar, 8 oz little potatoes, and put the lid on to simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve in a bowl with 1 tsp Tres Osos Organic EVOO and sprinkle with Bac’Uns. Extremely tasty. I did buy Meyer lemons but in the end decided they didn’t belong.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 8:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Grub, Recipes

J.M. Fraser and Proraso

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I detected something of a culture clash between the J.M. Fraser shaving cream (polite, curiously effective,  summer-kitchen lemony frangrance: Canadian) and Proraso pre- and post-shave cream (brash, mentholated to a fare-thee-well, grabs your face: Italian).

The Proraso was added to the shave at the last minute by request, and I did use it as a pre- and post-shave. I rubbed it well into my beard after putting the Omega boar brush in the sink to soak while I showered, and left the Proraso in my beard as I showered.  Wicked_VD (sorry: it’s the handle he chose, for whatever reason—I try not to think about it) suggests applying the Proraso as a pre-shave cream, then placing a hot damp towel over it for a couple of minutes: very softening indeed.

But I ended the shower, washed my beard with MR GLO as usual—eager to quell the menthol somewhat—and worked up a good lather with the Omega brush. Normally I simply discard the stands, but this brush fits it stand so well that I continue using it.

I very much like J.M. Fraser: a wonderful shaving cream, and at an excellent price point. I did three passes with the Slant holding a Kai blade of several uses and achieved a particularly smooth finish—but of course this is a Slant on a two-day stubble. OTOH, I can’t deny that perhaps the Proraso helped. I will use it more now for the next few days to explore.

Excellent start to the week!

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2012 at 8:22 am

Posted in Shaving

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