Later On

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

Archive for March 27th, 2012

Quick-and-simple grub

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This is grub that had to be quick, easy, and use what’s on hand, specifically including one large bunch of really gorgeous red kale, which I wanted to cook while it was fresh. So:

1/2 cup coverted rice — cook for 20 minutes, which is why this rather than black rice (30 minutes). This time I included 1 pinch of salt.

1 bunch kale, washed and chopped small, stalks minced, which I put into a 3-qt saucepan (it just barely fit), added the rest of the beef broth (about 1/4 cup—yay! all gone!) and then about 3/4 c water and 1 tsp Penzey’s chicken soup base. Brought liquid to boil, stirred pot a bit, then covered it and reduced heat to simmer and let it simmer 30 minutes. No salt save what’s in the soup base.

While that was going on, I prepared:

3-oz teriyaki tofu, cubed small
1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped small
1 jalapeño, minced (including seeds—just cut off the cap)
8 cloves garlic, minced

When the kale was done, I moved the saucepan to the back burner, set my 9″ nonstick French skillet on the hot burner, and added to it:

2 tsp EVOO
the chopped onion
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of salt
1 grinding of pepper

I let that sweat over medium heat until onions were well-softened, stirring occasionally—5-10 minutes, I guess. Then I added:

the minced garlic
the cubed tofu
the minced jalapeño

Sautéd those for 3-4 minutes, then added:

1-1 1/2 c of the cooked kale
1/2 c cooked rice
1-2 Tbsp Amontillado sherry

I cooked that over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it was well heated and boiling. Then I turned heat to low, put a lid on the skillet, and let it simmer 10 minutes. Then I removed the lid and squeezed a lemon over the grub to finish it. (Lemon zest would not have gone amiss.)

Quite good, actually. And plenty of kale and rice left for another meal. Indeed, this is so easy and quick, I might repeat.

And the variations practically type themselves—your choice of: various sauces and toppings (yogurt, sour cream, chopped avocado, Parmesan cheese, feta, Sriracha, ketchup, soy, tamari, garlic black bean, hoisin, oyster, Bac’Uns, whatever); different kinds of protein (tempeh, fish, chicken, pork, beans (if starch is a grain: completes the protein; or add cheese), etc.); different kinds of starch (cous cous, pasta, cooked black rice, cooked wheat or rye berries, cooked barley (hulled or pearled), etc.); different kinds of allium (leeks, shallots, spring onions, sweet onions, red onions, etc.—and always garlic (I’m trying black garlic now)); different kinds of greens (collards, chard, dandelion, mustard, spinach, cabbage (green, red, Savoy, Napa,etc.), etc.); different oils (butter, sesame, chili sesame, grapeseed, coconut, chicken fat, duck fat, etc.); and so on. Add nuts (pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, etc., and/or add olives, or raisins or currants. Many choices of vegetables: squash (summer or winter), green beans, corn, zucchini, bell peppers of various colors, fresh fennel, Roma tomatoes, Meyer lemons, celery (damn!, I always forget!), eggplant, carrots, turnips, mushrooms, beets (and their greens), broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, and so on: try new things.

PS: For newcomers: A meal must have: 2 tsp added oil (or less); 3-4 oz protein; 2/3 – 1 serving starch; leafy greens; and vegetables galore (allium always included, and peppers are good, too), along with appropriate herbs, spices, and always some acid.

UPDATE: I did indeed do a repeat for dinner, though with some variation:

no paprika
no jalapeño; sprinkling of crushed red pepper instead
3 large shallots, thinly sliced, instead of onion
regular firm tofu instead teriyaki tofu
1/2 Meyer lemon, diced
12 Kalamata olives, halved
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar added during cooking; no lemon juice at end

It was quite tasty, and I ate only about 2/3. To the 1/3 remaining, I’m adding some more kale and rice and tomorrow will heat it in the 9″ skillet and, when it’s hot, make a two-egg fritata (whipping the eggs together with some Parmesan). Nice grub.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Grub, Recipes

Rebuttal to Scott Turow on the future of publishing… (fight! fight!)

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This is quite interesting: the rebuttal by Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler (of the John Rain series of thrillers, which get better every time) to Scott Turow:

Scott Turow, President of the Big Publishers Club (aka the Authors Guild) just blogged about the Department of Justice lawsuit against legacy publishing’s agency pricing model. I talked about how unfair agency pricing was to Amazon and to authors two years ago. I think I was pretty prescient about the future of ebooks, and of publishing, even if my numbers weren’t nearly as optimistic as they could have been.

So now President Turow has written a call to arms, warning writers of the dangers of Amazon and the DoJ. I asked my buddy, bestselling novelist Barry Eisler, if he wanted to join me in commenting on the piece. Barry’s got a good bullshit detector and from time to time we’ve had fun dissecting and exposing obfuscation like Scott’s (see our thoughts on Hachette’s “We are Still Relevant” memo).

Scott’s original words are in italics; my and Barry’s reaction follow in plain text.

Here we go…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Books, Business, Government, Law

TSA admits their procedures cannot withstand scrutiny and criticism

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At least that’s the message I get from TSA preventing a knowledgeable critic of their procedures from testifying before Congress. (And am I weird to think that Congress knuckles under to a Federal agency? Doesn’t Congress realize that Congress is supposed to be in charge?)

This reveals some very bad things about TSA, and by implication about the Obama Administration. But of course this kind of silencing of critics is an important stage in the development of authoritarian government—and is not too far removed from police intolerance of being photographed, posted earlier today. As the government becomes more authoritarian, agencies get more power to keep secrets (by punishing whistleblowers severely, for example) and to silence critics (by preventing them from testifying to Congress, for example). This is part and parcel of the new trend for the US.

Elinor Mills reports for CNET:

Bruce Schneier, a vocal critic of security measures used by the Transportation Security Administration, was asked to testify before Congress about TSA’s security screening initiatives but then was “formally uninvited” after the agency complained.

“On Friday, at the request of the TSA, I was removed from the witness list,” Schneier wrote on his blog. “The excuse was that I am involved in alawsuit against the TSA, trying to get them to suspend their full-body scanner program. But it’s pretty clear that the TSA is afraid of public testimony on the topic, and especially of being challenged in front of Congress. They want to control the story, and it’s easier for them to do that if I’m not sitting next to them pointing out all the holes in their position. Unfortunately, the committee went along with them.”

A TSA spokeswoman told CNET she would look into the matter but did not immediately have comment this afternoon.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Report, which had invited Schneier a few weeks ago to testify at today’s hearing, told Schneier that committee staffers would try to invite him back for another hearing, he said. But Schneier said he was not sure that his busy schedule would permit him to appear and said it would have been much more effective for him to be able to ask the TSA questions directly during a hearing. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 11:29 am

More vitamin D studies underway

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I’ve been taking vitamin D supplements for a decade or more—ever since the initial findings on the various ways in which vitamin D benefits us, along with the low levels of vitamin D found in typical patients. Research continues to verify the benefits of the vitamin: Amy Maxmen has an article in The Scientist that’s worth reading:

Once a month for the next 5 years, 20,000 people across the United States will find a package containing 62 pills in their mailboxes.  As participants in a clinical trial, the recipients agreed to swallow two of the pills daily. But inevitably as the years pass, some pill packets will become buried under a stack of letters, or forgotten in a drawer.  After all, these pills contain only vitamin D, fish oil, or an inert placebo—a person doesn’t need them to make it through the day.  Plus, no one monitors who takes the pills daily and who does not.

In another study, 871 pregnant women swallow a vitamin D or a placebo pill every day for the duration of their pregnancy. Then every year for 3 years after they’ve given birth, clinicians will evaluate their children for signs of asthma, in search of clues about the relationship between the essential vitamin and the respiratory disorder. But the study is scheduled to last only 3 years, so it won’t include children who begin to wheeze at age 6, when childhood asthma most often strikes.

A better vitamin D trial might send health-care professionals out to personally deliver pills to each of the first trial’s 20,000 participants. It might also test various doses of supplements, because no one knows how much is best. The asthma trial might include more women, run for a longer period of time, and test childhood supplementation, too. But then they’d also cost millions more, and in contrast to many drug trials, Pharma isn’t footing the bill. Profits from vitamin sales pale in comparison to those of most drugs, and therefore a company would struggle to recoup the money it spent testing supplements. Unfortunately, prevention trials require large sample sizes and long-term follow-up, making them incredibly expensive. Indeed, the National Institutes of Health has granted about $32 million for these two trials alone.

But researchers aren’t giving up. With limited budgets, vitamin D investigators are working hard to keep costs down, while still giving the vitamin a fighting chance to prove itself. Deficiencies of vitamin D have been linked to cancer, diabetes, strokes, and other maladies, and at least 12 imperfect clinical trials on its preventive powers have been set in motion since 2008. And while some scientists worry their cost-trimming shortcuts will render the results useless, others remain optimistic. Perhaps this smorgasbord of trials will reveal unpredictable benefits of taking one’s vitamins. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Encouraging instant gratification

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Tony Shin pointed out this graphic provided by OnlineGraduatePrograms.com, which speaks to how our expectations have been shaped:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 10:43 am

Posted in Daily life

Diagramming sentences

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I don’t think schools teach diagramming sentences in any more—hell, they don’t even teach cursive handwriting. But diagramming sentences is a good way to grasp the structure of a sentence—more or less as outlining reveals the structure of a paper, article, or book. Outlining, however, we generally do as an aid to writing, whereas diagramming is done after the fact, as an aid to understanding.

I had no idea of the origin and history of diagramming so I was intrigued by Kitty Florey’s article in the NY Times. Now I want to buy Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Curious History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences.

In my Sophomore language tutorial in college, we did do a bit more of diagramming, and one assignment (from Mr. Darkey, a favorite tutor) was to diagram the sentence this sonnet comprises:

The Silken Tent

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

– by Robert Frost

Go ahead, give it a go. Diagramming that is better than Sudoku.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 10:36 am

What part of “It’s a free country” do the police not understand?

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The “free” part, obviously. TYD passes along a pointer to an all-too-common tactic of the more thuggish sort of police, written for Philly.com by Wendy Ruderman:

Ian Van Kuyk, a Temple University junior studying photojournalism, emerged from class earlier this month with a straightforward assignment: Take pictures at night.

Van Kuyk’s professor had armed him with a Nikon D40 digital camera and the knowledge that he had the legal right to snap photos anywhere within the public domain.

Van Kuyk, 24, ended up getting a crash course on what happens when police don’t want to be photographed, he said.

He and two of his Point Breeze neighbors say a police officer forced Van Kuyk to the ground, jamming his face into the sidewalk, and handcuffed and arrested him after he began photographing a March 14 traffic stop on his block.

“I was within my rights. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. The officer began pushing and shoving me,” Van Kuyk told the Daily News. “I told him, ‘I’m just taking a photo. I’m a photojournalism student.’ He got angry. And he just grabbed me and took me to the ground. He kept saying, ‘Shut up. Stop resisting.’ ”

Police say Van Kuyk’s arrest had nothing to do with his picture-taking. “The officers are fully aware of the First Amendment right to take photographs,” Lt. Ray Evers said Monday. [This is obviously complete bullshit. – LG]

The incident has incited the 7,000-member National Press Photographers Association and raised questions about whether all Philly cops are adhering to a memorandum, issued by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, saying that civilians have a right to record or photograph cops in a public space.

His memo followed a Daily News story in September about incidents in which cops wrongly arrested bystanders for using cellphones to record arrests.

“The only intent Ian [Van Kuyk] had was to take a picture,” said former photojournalist Mickey Osterreicher, an attorney representing the photographers’ association. “Did this officer miss the memo or something?”

According to Van Kuyk and two neighbors, here’s what happened about 7:45 p.m. March 14: . . .

Continue reading. So far as one can tell from the story, this is simply abuse of power and being a thug. The policeman in question should be fired and his supervisor be given a written warning, a copy of which is placed in his personnel file.

Do read the description of the incident. If this is not police overreach and overreaction, then I don’t know what is. I hope the two sue the police department—the misdemeanor charge for simply accepting the camera from the guy (so the camera would not be damaged) is revealing. Probably if you simply said, “Hello” to the officers at this time you would have been arrested: they were on a rampage, near as I can tell.

Bet: No disciplinary action will be taken against any of the police. The only hope is for Van Kuyk to initiate a lawsuit against the department.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 9:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Two excellent movies

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I just watched two movies, both excellent and recommended.

I’ve had Frost/Nixon in my queue forever. It got good reviews, but somehow I couldn’t really get interested in watching it—the title might as well have been Vulgarity/Obscenity. But it was in the queue and I’ve been flipping through movies pretty quickly—if they don’t grab me by the end of the first reel (as we used to say), then they are returned.

Finally Frost/Nixon showed up, and it sat around until I had watched and returned all the other movies and it was the only one here. So I started watching.

My God!, this is a good movie. It’s simply fascinating, and it’s a very human story: it’s not about events, it is about the people involved, and the depiction of those people and how each is driven by his or her own agenda, and how those interactions play out—I couldn’t put it down, as it were. Highly recommended. It’s not at all what you think.

Of course, the movie’s been out for a long time, so most of you have probably seen it. Once more I have a “duh” moment: taken by surprise that a highly praised movie with excellent reviews is quite good.

Although Frost/Nixon‘s been out for a long time, The Naked City has been out even longer, but I highly recommend it. Very interesting movie, which I viewed with Watch Instantly. It was released in March of 1948, thus written and shot in 1947 or before: very recently after WWII. Directed by Jules Dassin (of Never on Sunday fame, and that movie also is available on Watch Instantly), it’s shot in a semi-documentary mode and strikes me as remarkably innovative. The semi-documentary format with voice-over, for starters—and it functions almost as a portrait of New York, which (in 1948) was a city that fascinated people, and the movie goes to some lengths to do a profile of the city and those living there—lots of outdoor shots of daily activities, almost like a (good) travelogue, but always carry along the story, which is a straightforward police procedural: you can see that Dragnet is a direct offshoot of this movie.

It was shot entirely on location in New York, and one thing that I’ve never seen elsewhere: the initial screen credits are oral, not written. Ireallyliked that, and I’m surprised more movies haven’t done it. But of course it fit the format—the voiceover is used throughout—and nowadays screen credits have grown into monstrously long lists.

While I don’t care much for Barry Fitzgerald, I did like this movie a lot, and in any event it’s a movie of interest that anyone who likes movies should see.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 9:40 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Damn near perfect shave

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What a terrific shave! And this one is no surprise: I could tell as I went that it was exceptional.

First I washed my beard with the sink with Confiança Exfoliating Veleiro pre-shave soap, which uses coconut and algae. I’m not sure that this as a factor, but I will certainly use it tomorrow.

Then Speick shaving cream, worked into a fine lather with the Heritage Emilion butterscotch brush. I took my time, and Speick is an exceptional shaving cream. Tomorrow I’ll use a different shaving cream (and brush).

Finally, the Weber ARC-coated razor, holding an Astra Superior Platinum blade for the second shave. (Some blades show a second-shave phenomenon: the second shave is smoother and easier than the first, presumably because the first abraded off the coating covering the cutting edge—just a guess.) Three extremely smooth passes, and I could tell from the first that I was onto something with this shave. I’m suspecting it’s the Speick that made the difference, but I’ll be testing that.

Finally, a tiny dab of Primalan, which is all it takes.

The book that provides the background is fascinating and highly recommended. It’s about you, more or less.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2012 at 9:27 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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