Later On

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

Archive for July 12th, 2012

Yet another two-greens, two-fish grub, with okra

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The 6-qt, wide-diameter pot, not overfilled this time (but pretty full)

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cioppilini onions, chopped
3 Serrano peppers, sliced thinly
salt, freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp smoked Spanish paprika (from Penzeys)

Sautéed a while, then added:

1/3 cup minced fresh garlic
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 medium diced yellow crookneck squash
1 wad slivered tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large handful okra, cap removed, sliced—about 1 cup
1 jewel yam, diced (remembered to get jewel this time: much oranger than the Garnet)
1 15-oz can S&W Pinquitos (pink beans, chili peppers, onion, cumin, and garlic, with the liquid)
8 oz frozen yellow corn kernels (half a 1-lb bag)
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar (using it up, little by little)
1/4 c sherry
3/4 c zinfandel
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Taste #5 umami paste—and I don’t think I’ll get it again: too expensive. I can get umami in cheaper ways.

After that simmered about 5-10 minutes, I added:

1 bunch collards, rinsed well, stems minced, leaves cut in strips then crosswise to chop
1 bunch red kale, rinsed well, stems minced, leaves cut across and then some cuts long ways

Both bunches of greens were good size, but not enormous. I let that simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with my wooden spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot, then added:

6 fresh sardines, filleted and cut into chunks across (.87 lb before cleaning)
1 sockeye salmon fillet, cut into chunks (.86 lb)

I stirred that in, simmered 10 minutes more, then turned off heat and let it sit to finish cooking the fish.

Sardines were prepared one by one: gut it, cut off its head, rinse under cold running water, and pull off fins. When all were ready, I filleted each by running my forefinger along the spine on one side, turned it over, and ran my forefinger along the spine on the other side, then discarded spine and tail. I easily cut the entire stack across into chunks.

The sockeye salmon required some pulling of bones (I got the front half of the fillet), but I have tweezers specifically for pulling fish bones and I’ve learned that a slow, steady pull works well: it took no time to speak of. I probably could have left the bones in—they are, in effect, edible, but I decided to take them out. Also included was the skin from the sockeye salmon fillet piece the woman ahead of me in line bought—she asked the fishmonger to cut the fillet off the skin, which she didn’t want, so I asked for the skin (omega-3) to be in with my order. I cut it into very thin chunks.

It’s now ready, but I’ll let it sit for a while.

UPDATE: Just had a bowl. Quite tasty, nicely filling.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 5:43 pm

Posted in Food, Grub

Financial firms on parade

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Take a look at this string of short reports at WallStreetOnParade.com. One does have to wonder why the Department of Justice under Eric Holder is so passive—playing the waiting game? Giving them enough rope? How much rope do they need? Let’s just look at the July 12 story:

A deeply troubling message for America is unfolding around Russell Wasendorf, Sr., owner of Peregrine Financial Group, who lies in a coma in an Iowa City hospital after an attempted suicide with a hose attached to the exhaust pipe of his car outside the corporate monument he built to his wealth and success; a monument he sustained with money stolen from his clients. According to regulators, Wasendorf’s commodities and futures firm is missing at least $200 million of customer funds.

The troubling message is this: from Bernie Madoff’s cell in North Carolina, to $1.6 billion of missing customers’ funds at MF Global, overseen by a former U.S. Senator and Governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, to the news last week that some of the largest banks in the world had created a culture where their traders felt free to email and instant message instructions to cheat and rig one of the most important interest rate benchmarks in the world, to the bankrupt giants of 2008 – we may be moving from the lost decade to the lost generation.  Exactly whom are today’s young people to look up to in the business world if everything is an illusion that eventually comes crashing down.

PFGBest, the trade name used by Peregrine, has an official company timeline on their web site  showing the milestones along the career of Wasendorf.  Two of the most noteworthy are honors the web site says were bestowed on the firm in 2011: the company won an Iowa Character Award from Character Counts in Iowa for organizations that “consistently demonstrate and promote the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.”  The web site says it was also ranked number 1 in forex customer service in a June 2011 Smart Money Magazine feature.  The magazine is a sophisticated publication that is owned by the Wall Street Journal.

According to records at the Iowa Secretary of State, Wasendorf owned five companies.  Under the umbrella of those parents, Wasendorf ran a brokerage firm, a futures merchant trading firm, an upscale Italian restaurant (My Verona), a day care center for children (Best Kids Learning Center), an organic farm, an online trading magazine called SFO, and Peregrine Charities.

My Verona featured dining in a wine cellar as well as the “Boardroom,” offering  “complete privacy for 12, decked out with wifi, phone communications, flat screens and more.”

The company published an employee newsletter showing children frolicking at the day care center and taking hay rides around the corporate grounds.  Marketing photos of the My Verona restaurant are infused with exotic dishes and the happy faces of children coloring.  Peregrine Charities focused on grants to services for children, distributing $1.3 million between 2005 to 2009, according to its federal tax filings.

In a luxurious cafeteria at the corporate headquarters, Wasendorf  provided free breakfast and lunch to employees.  Employees were also given a significant discount to dine at My Verona.

Now, it has all come crashing down.  The trading company has filed for bankruptcy; the restaurant is closed; a post on the web site of SFO magazine reads: “Rest in peace… PFGBEST implosion shuts us down too.”

After being so generous to his employees, they are now unemployed in an extremely challenging job market and everything they believed in was no more than a deeply cruel illusion.

Another interesting story:

How the New York Times Hides the Truth About Wall Street’s Catastrophic Misdeeds

Another:

Why a Criminal Case Against Goldman Sachs Matters and Why Charges Could Stick

The list is long; the DoJ is doing nothing. Why? Perhaps this is relevant:

As Criminal Probes of JPMorgan Expand, Documents Surface Showing JPMorgan Paid $190,000 Annually to Spouse of the Bank’s Top Regulator

It’s an amazing site (and sight): so much corruption, so many crimes, so little action. Why?

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 5:12 pm

Botched air raid in Honduras as DEA assists in land grab

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Sandra Cuffe and Karen Spring report for AlterNet:

A boat riddled with bullet impact marks sits docked at a landing along the bank of the Patuca River. A few feet from the boat, a small building on stilts has become a de facto temporary military outpost. Armed forces patrol the small community of Paptalaya, in the municipality of Ahuas, the heart of the Honduran Moskitia.

The boat is evidence from an anti-narcotics operation on May 11 involving the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Honduran police and private military contractors. Four indigenous Miskitu residents were killed in the operation. Despite a regional outcry from local indigenous communities and organizations, the region rich in natural resources continues to be heavily militarized. The May 11 raid brought the impacts of the drug war on local communities in Honduras into the global spotlight.

The presence of Honduran and US security forces has dramatically increased over the past several years and even more so since the June 2009 coup, particularly in communities along the Patuca River where recent DEA-led operations have occurred. The militarization of the region is being attributed to fighting drug smuggling, but local residents do not trust the authorities that justify the strong security presence in the name of the “war on drugs.”

“More than anything else, they’re militarizing because of the natural resources that are in the Moskitia, especially the strategic spots where there is oil,” says Norvin Goff Salinas, president of MASTA, an indigenous Miskitu federation.

Regardless of its purpose, indigenous residents have denounced the increasing militarization and its negative impacts on local communities in the department of Gracias a Dios, in the Moskitia.

“The effects are negative,” says Goff Salinas. “It has affected us, like the intimidation of the communities and the effects of the presence of armed forces and the transportation they use, the panic specifically in children and elders.”

Back in the Honduran capital, the embassy’s DEA attaché, James Kenney, told a North American human rights delegation a different story. He spoke with delegation participants on May 27, at a meeting coordinated by the embassy of the United States in Tegucigalpa. US embassy political counselor Silvia Eiriz was also in attendance.

“These people out in Gracias a Dios or other departments, they aren’t doing what they used to do. They aren’t growing corn, and piña or pineapple and other products,” Kenney told the North American human rights delegation. “They are waiting for a narcotics plane or boat to come in.”

“So they are waiting more now for when is the next airplane to come in – ‘When am I going to get another shot at this?’ – and unfortunately it is really destroying these communities out there,” said Kenney, seated in the Marriott hotel coffee shop, where the meeting took place.

MASTA secretary Reymundo Eude points out the conditions of poverty in which the majority of people are living in the Moskitia. Many houses and boats are handmade with local natural resources. People would live differently if they all had money because of drug trafficking, he told the North American delegation.

“If you look at the Landín, ask people there if they asked [the armed forces] to come. Who asked them, the military personnel, to come here?” asked Eude.

“They come by force. They invent, saying there is drug trafficking [in the Miskitu communities],” he said, asking the group to take a look around at the poverty in local communities in the Moskitia. “You can see how people are living. If there were drug trafficking, we would not be in these conditions. Ok. So this is a ploy on the part of the government just to get the funding.”

Before their identities were verified, those killed in the May 11 raid were immediately branded as criminal drug traffickers by Honduran authorities and Honduran and US media outlets and the operation was deemed a success. But indigenous witnesses and survivors shared testimonies of indiscriminate violence, terror and the loss of community members who were in no way linked to drug trafficking. They highlighted the fact that two of the dead were pregnant women.

US authorities claim that at approximately 2:30am on May 11, people on a boat on the Patuca River fired upon anti-narcotic operation agents who were also on the river at the time. The agents, in the process of pursuing and seizing a boat loaded with cocaine, returned fire. Helicopters monitoring the situation from the air fired as well. But local residents claim that a passenger boat carrying 16 people — men, women and children — had almost ended its 6-7 hour journey from a community downriver when helicopters suddenly appeared above them and opened fire on the boat. The surviving occupants of the passenger boat say they had no interaction with anyone, drug traffickers or security forces, prior to hearing and seeing the helicopters that opened fire on them.

In response to questions at a press briefing, the US State Department said that . . .

Continue reading. Does it seem to you that the War on Drugs is worth what it costs?

This particular incident stinks to high heaven.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 4:55 pm

Obama’s war on medical marijuana

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It turns out that Obama and Holder simply lied when they said the DoJ would not go after dispensaries and patients who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws: purely and simply lied. I have to say that I continue to lose respect for both of them. Here’s a report by Philip Smith of StopTheDrugWar.com:

Harborside Health Center, California’s largest and most well-known medical marijuana dispensary, has been targeted for closure by federal prosecutors. Workers at the dispensary’s home base in Oakland and at its second store in San Jose found complaints from US Attorney Melinda Haag’s office taped to their doors when they came to work Monday morning.

The complaints inform Harborside that federal prosecutors have filed lawsuits seeking to seize the properties where it operates under federal asset forfeiture laws.

In the past year, federal prosecutors in California have undertaken a concerted campaign against dispensaries, sending out more than 300 letters to dispensaries or landlords threatening asset forfeiture or criminal prosecution or both. More than 400 dispensaries have closed their doors during that same period, many of them because of the federal threats.

If Harborside is going to join that list, it won’t be without a fight.

“Harborside has nothing to hide or be ashamed of,” said executive director Steve DeAngelo in a prepared statement. “We will contest the DOJ action openly and in public, and through all legal means at our disposal. We look forward to our day in court, and are confident that justice is on our side.”

Harborside maintains that it has complied with all local and state laws and that it was not within 1,000 feet of a school, another rationale the Justice Department is using to target dispensaries even though state law is set at 600 feet.

Shutting down Harborside would be a major blow to Oakland. The dispensary employs over a hundred people there and is the city’s second largest retail tax payer. Of more than $3 million in combined taxes paid by Harborside last year, more than a million went to the city.

“The claim by the Obama Administration that it’s not undermining the laws of medical marijuana states like California is becoming less and less tenable,” said Don Duncan, California Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “The Attorney General and the president must be held accountable for actions by their U.S. Attorneys that are harming untold numbers of patients.”

Harborside and its supporters are gathering their forces for what promises to be a long and bruising battle with the Justice Department. This story is just getting underway

In the meantime, other nations are calling for an end to marijuana prohibition. Portugal’s experiment with drug decriminalization has demonstrated that the costs of decriminalizing drugs and treating addiction as a medical condition rather than a criminal offense greatly reduces costs to public (treatment and prevention are much cheaper than paramilitary operations which routinely kill innocent people) and also reduces drug activity and addiction. The roster of nations calling for an end to a futile endeavor continues to grow even as Obama and Holder resist any change to the war on drugs—and needless to say, the DEA is not about to make any sense on this issue, as we’ve seen in their clinging to the idea that growing industrial hemp must be illegal in the face of any reason or rationality.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 2:41 pm

Yahoo just lost 443,000 passwords and identifiers through poor security practices

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It’s becoming clear that companies don’t bother really protecting your account information (such as your password) because they suffer no sanctions if they lose the information: a little bad publicity, but nothing really happens. That’s why this sort of thing continually happens.

Here’s what to do.

Here’s why it keeps happening, on the technical side.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Business, Law, Technology

Skip the milk and see what happens

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Extremely interesting column by Mark Bittman:

Drinking milk is as American as Mom and apple pie. Until not long ago, Americans were encouraged not only by the lobbying group called the American Dairy Association but by parents, doctors and teachers to drink four 8-ounce glasses of milk, “nature’s perfect food,” every day. That’s two pounds! We don’t consume two pounds a day of anything else; even our per capita soda consumption is “only” a pound a day.

Today the Department of Agriculture’s recommendation for dairy is a mere three cups daily — still 1½ pounds by weight — for every man, woman and child over age 9. This in a country where as many as 50 million people are lactose intolerant, including 90 percent of all Asian-Americans and 75 percent of all African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Jews. The myplate.gov site helpfully suggests that those people drink lactose-free beverages. (To its credit, it now counts soy milk as “dairy.”)

There’s no mention of water, which is truly nature’s perfect beverage; the site simply encourages us to switch to low-fat milk. But, says Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Sugar — in the form of lactose — contributes about 55 percent of skim milk’s calories, giving it ounce for ounce the same calorie load as soda.”

O.K., dairy products contain nutrients, and for those who like them, a serving or two daily is probably fine. (Worth noting: they’re far more easily digested as yogurt or cheese than as fluid milk.) But in addition to intolerance, there’s a milk allergy — the second most common food allergy after peanuts, affecting an estimated 1.3 million children — that can be life-threatening.

Other conditions are not easily classified, and I have one of those. When I was growing up, drinking milk at every meal, I had a chronic upset stomach. (Channeling my inner Woody Allen, I’ll note that I was therefore treated as a neurotic, which, in fairness, I was anyway.) In adolescence, this became chronic heartburn, trendily known as GERD or acid reflux, and that led to a lifelong Tums habit (favorite flavor: wintergreen) and an adult dependence on Prevacid, a proton-pump inhibitor. Which, my gastroenterologist assured me, is benign. (Wrong.)Fortunately my long-term general practitioner, Sidney M. Baker, author of “Detoxification and Healing,” insisted that I make every attempt to break the Prevacid addiction.  Thus followed a seven-year period of trials of various “cures,” including licorice pills, lemon juice, antibiotics, famotidine (Pepcid) and almost anything else that might give my poor, sore esophagus some relief. At some point, Dr. Baker  suggested that despite my omnivorous diet I consider a “vacation” from various foods.

So, three months ago, I decided to give up dairy products as a test. Twenty-four hours later, my heartburn was gone. Never, it seems, to return. In fact, I can devour linguine puttanesca (with anchovies) and go to bed an hour later; fellow heartburn sufferers will be impressed. Perhaps equally impressive is that I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)

Conditions like mine are barely on the radar. Although treating heartburn is a business worth more than $10 billion a year, the solution may be as simple as laying off dairy. (Which, need I point out, is free.) What’s clear is that the widespread existence of lactose intolerance, says Dr. Baker, is “a pretty good sign that we’ve evolved to drink human milk when we’re babies but have no need for the milk of any animals. And no matter what you call a chronic dairy problem — milk allergy, milk intolerance, lactose intolerance — the action is the same: avoid all foods derived from milk for at least five days and see what happens.”

Adds Dr. Barnard, “It’s worth noting that milk and other dairy products are our biggest source of saturated fat, and there are very credible links between dairy consumption and both Type 1 diabetes and the most dangerous form of prostate cancer.” Then, of course, there are our 9 million dairy cows, most of whom live tortured, miserable lives while making a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.

But what about the bucolic cow on the family farm? What about bone density and osteoporosis? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 1:00 pm

Fragrance check: Dr. Selby is lavender

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A commenter asked me to identify the fragrance of Dr. Selby’s concentrated shave cream, and I—always eager for an excuse to use it again—shaved with it this morning and thought it smelled like lavender. Then it occurred to me just to look it up: yep, lavender. I’m pleased because my sense of smell is not all that discriminating. But clearly, from the catalog listing, it is indeed lavender.

And it made its usual luxurious lather with the Wee Scot—ample for more passes than I would ever do. Three passes with the Feather—which some call mild, but which to me seems to cut quite efficiently—and then a splash of Alt-Innsbruck.

This morning I must ready the apartment for cleaning. Blogging will resume later today.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2012 at 8:17 am

Posted in Shaving

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