Later On

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

Archive for March 17th, 2012

Note on the day

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First, the swordfish recipe is fantastic, and I do endorse the addition of 12 pitted Kalamata olives, halved. Really excellent. I had it on wild rice for the starch, and tonight forsook the greens. BTW, I totally disagree with the advice to trim off and discard the skin (if any). I really like the skin a lot when it’s cooked, and I look for pieces with a good amount of skin.

Went through some of the (many) back issues of magazines. Caught up on The Week. Good thing to do on a rainy day.

Went to Staples with The Wife to get her a new printer—only now the common thing is to get an all-in one (printer, scanner, fax, wireless, whatever). Man, that field’s advanced since I last looked. I’m definitely replacing my old HP Deskjet (which now can print only one side) with an HP model like she got: $150, wireless, automatic double-sided printing, and so on. And with wireless I can finally print from this laptop without sending documents to the desktop to be printed. Maybe in a month or two.

One oddity: HP gave one very nice all-in-one printer “Envy” as the model name. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so naturally I immediately asked about other models… Hatred? Did they have Hatred? Disgust? No? How about Gluttony? or Greed? Usury? Probably not that one.

I cannot imagine saddling your product with a name so filled with negative connotations. And envy is such a cheapskate, mean-spirited sort of outlook: dog-in-the-manger-ish. Weak and destructive. Why would you give a product a name like that?

Of course, there is the Ford Probe…

Last night I watched a movie with an atrocious plot—though, really, it had no plot: it had a sequence of events shots that faked a story if you absolutely not for one second thought about it.

Nothing about the movie makes any sense at all. Once, early on, I had a faint hope that the protagonist’s uncanny ability to do exactly the right thing, the viewer knowing nothing of his background except that he was a common laborer whose father had died/been killed when he was young. As you watch him exhibit all sorts of skills, training, and control, you think, “Well, obviously, he knows more than he should, so there’s a back-story we’ve not been told and he’s working a complex plan: sort of a scifi caper movie.” But no: protagonist has no idea on earth what he’s doing, he just tries this and that impossible long shot and makes it, but does face off villains in a very poorly thought-out “game” and in the process prove he also has training as a top-notch assassin.

Only he doesn’t have any such training and there is no back-story—the movie just goes on until, weirdly, he somehow wins and brings down old society…

None of it makes the least bit of sense. In Time. Interesting, in a way: high-concept pitch not taken any further: from pitch to production, nothing intervening. Certainly no script.

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2012 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

First solo outing for a while

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The doctor said I could drive now, so this morning I went grocery shopping. My thought was to go early—8:30 or so—before people are about, but the car wouldn’t start. I figured it was just a matter of getting gasoline to the engine but without flooding. After turning it over multiple times, though, I started to think it may have lost enough of a charge. I came in, waiting about five minutes or so, then tried again, and it started—roughly at first, but smoothed out quickly.

So a late start, but it’s raining, so the streets were still pretty much deserted. Got there, bought a lot, and am home again. I did get swordfish, pignolas, Roma tomatoes, etc., for this dish, along with some pitted Kalamata olives that I’ll halve and add. (Halve so that I get more olive bites without so many calories, plus halving them detects any pits still remaining.)

No spinach, though, so I got some rainbow chard to cook separately, and rice will be the starch. I’ll also go with 1.5 Tbsp of olive oil instead of 3.

It’s very nice to have the kitchen stocked again. I just had a bowl of berries for the fruit snack.

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2012 at 10:35 am

Goldman Sachs developments

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Robert Reich points out that Goldman Sachs never did go in for “moral fiber”, and Alex Pareene has a terrific column on NYC Mayor Bloomberg rushing to Goldman Sachs to cheer them up after the mean things said about them: no doubt about Bloomberg’s loyalty to (and membership in) the 1%.

Reich’s column begins:

Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs vice president, resigned his post Wednesday with a stinging public rebuke of the firm on the op-ed page of the New York Times — accusing it of no longer putting its clients before its own pecuniary goals.

But if Mr. Smith believes his experience at Goldman is something new, he doesn’t know history. In 1928, Goldman Sachs and Company created the Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation, which promptly went on a speculative binge, luring innocent investors along the way. In the Great Crash of 1929, Goldman’s investors lost their shirts but Goldman kept its hefty fees.

If Mr. Smith believes such disregard of investors is unique to Goldman, he doesn’t know the rest of Wall Street. In the late 1920s, National City Bank, which eventually would become Citigroup, repackaged bad Latin American debt as new securities which it then sold to investors no less gullible than Goldman Sachs’s. After the Great Crash of 1929, National City’s top executives helped themselves to the bank’s remaining assets as interest-free loans while their investors and depositors were left with pieces of paper worth a tiny fraction of what they paid for them.

The problem isn’t excessive greed. If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement. The problem is endemic abuse of power and trust. When bubbles are forming, all but the most sophisticated investors can be easily duped into thinking they’ll get rich by putting their money into the hands of brand-named investment bankers.

Moreover, finance has become so complex that investors don’t even know when they’re being taken for a ride, and so can’t possibly hold a brand-name bank responsible for their losses – or for gains that are a fraction of what they might otherwise have been.

That’s why we have regulations. After millions of investors lost everything in 1929, the federal government stepped into the breach with the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 and the Banking Act of 1933, sponsored by Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall.

But starting in the 1970s and 1980s, Wall Street made sure these and the regulations issued under them were steadily watered down – which contributed to the junk-bond and insider trading scandals of the 1980s, the dot-com scams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Wall-Street enablers of Enron and other corporate looters, and the wild excesses that led to the crash of 2008.

Wall Street’s shenanigans have convinced a large portion of America that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2012 at 8:39 am

Posted in Business, Government, Law

Interesting polemic: “I killed the Internet”

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Via James Fallows’s Atlantic Monthly blog, this post at tnl.net:

I killed the internet.

It wasn’t some­thing I had planned but it was the net result of my actions. And I’m going to explain how it happened.

The Inter­net

There used to be a time when there were a lot of pri­vate net­works. That time, in the days prior to the rise of the Inter­net, meant that if you wanted to talk to users of a par­tic­u­lar online ser­vice, you had to have an account on that ser­vice. The dif­fer­ent ser­vices were oper­at­ing in their respec­tive silos and had devel­oped their own cul­ture: some were more busi­ness focused (eg. Com­puServe), oth­ers were more con­sumer focused (eg. AOL); Some were backed by large cor­po­ra­tions (eg. Prodigy), oth­ers by new upstarts in the com­puter world (eg.eWorld). But none of them were really talk­ing to each other.

Mean­while, a dif­fer­ent type of tech­nol­ogy and approach was slowly build­ing up. Born out of the cold-war fear that cen­tral­ized com­mu­ni­ca­tion could be destroyed if a nuclear bomb destroyed the servers that hosted the com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Inter­net tech­nol­ogy was built to cre­ate con­nec­tion between dif­fer­ent net­works, allow­ing to travel from one net­work to the other with­out hit­ting a wall (hence the term inter net, which means between the net­works). Along the way, though, it brought a dif­fer­ent ethos: in order to par­tic­i­pate in the net­work and have other net­works carry traf­fic to and from you, you had to agree to do the same for all the other net­works, with no dis­crim­i­na­tion as to where, when, and what the traf­fic that was run­ning on the net­work was.

The inter­net first grew as a mil­i­tary project but the research was done by pri­vate com­pa­nies in con­junc­tion with edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions. As such, those groups started inter­con­nect­ing in the late 1960s and engi­neers brought more and more tech­nol­ogy on top of the net­work that made it more and more use­ful, mov­ing from exchang­ing files to sup­port­ing email, dis­cus­sion groups and even­tu­ally, the web.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, he didn’t think of get­ting a patent for it but instead decided to share his inven­tion of http, the web browser, the web server, and HTML (pretty incred­i­ble that he invented and pre­sented all those parts in one pack­age) with the rest of the inter­net com­mu­nity. Over the years, the com­mu­nity made improve­ments on it, improve­ments that they, in turn, would share with the rest of the inter­net. Those that decided to build pro­pri­etary mod­els for their offer­ings were gen­er­ally shunned and those ideas failed to gain traction.

The golden years

With a graphic layer on top of it known as the world-wide web, the Inter­net started grow­ing at an accel­er­at­ing speed, forc­ing all the pre­vi­ous walled gar­dens to open up or die. Com­puserve was among the first to do so, fol­lowed by AOL and Prodigy. AOL’s ease of use made it pos­si­ble for mil­lions of peo­ple to now access inter­net resources while the more tech­ni­cally dif­fi­cult to use Com­puserve inter­face left it behind (to even­tu­ally be acquired by AOL) and the late entry of Prodigy in the inter­net world left it open to get acquired by Yahoo, which even­tu­ally shut­tered them.

The next two decades would turn the inter­net from a place only geeks hung out to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2012 at 8:31 am

Posted in Business, Technology

St. Patrick’s shave

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No green evident, though.

I really like this particular Omega boar brush, but I’m not sure why. Just feels good, plus it’s one of the few that seem suitable for a stand: it fits quite nicely in its stand.

After MR GLO, I worked up a very nice lather from the La Toja by the usual frenzied loading, which I enjoy. The resulting lather seemed rich and nicely thick.

The Feather Popular razor, shown above, runs around $15-20 and is, I’m told, the only commonly available DE razor in Japan. This one has a Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade and did quite a good job. The razor is lightweight and inexpensively manufactured, but it does the job with no problems.

I’m thinking that the next edition will include “Good, Better, Best” options in various categories. For a beginner razor, that list is shaping up as follows;

Good: Lord L6
Better: Feather Popular
Best: One of the Edwin Jagger DE8x series (or the Mühle equivalents)

I enjoyed yesterday’s Spanish Leather so much that I had to repeat it.

Fine shave. And I can drive, so off to Whole Foods to restock. Among other things, I’m thinking I’ll make this swordfish dish, though I’ll add a bunch of chopped fresh spinach (for the greens). I’ll serve over rice for the starch.

Written by Leisureguy

17 March 2012 at 8:21 am

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