Later On

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

Archive for November 11th, 2012

Two really excellent things

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One is the movie Rango, which I just watched again. It is chock full of tidbits for movie fans, with fleeting references to dozens of films.

UPDATE: I should add that the animation is stunning, with a certain number of shots made (I think) to display virtuosity: wind in feathers/hair, refraction through water, and so on. And the vocal characterizations are top notch, and no wonder: Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, and so on.

The other is the Melange I made this evening: really spectacular.

First, cook 1 c hulled barley in 2 c water until done (about 45 min). No water should remain.

In the 6-qt pot:

3-4 Tbsp olive oil (2 of them were olive oil from the bottle of anchovies)
2 medium-large Spanish onions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauté until onion is softening and starting to caramelize. Add:

1 can hickory-smoked Spam, diced
8 oz hickory-smoked tempeh, diced

Sauté for a while, then add:

12-15 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chopped celery
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 enormous zucchini, diced
1 bitter melon, diced
3 Japanese eggplant, diced
good dollop (~4 Tbsp) gochujang (from the Asian market trip)
1 bunch fresh enoki mushrooms, chopped

Sauté that for a while, then add

the cooked whole-grain barley
5 largish Roma tomatoes, diced
1 large Meyer lemon, diced whole
large handful dried black cloud ear mushrooms, chopped (I actually used shears)
5-6 large pieces wakame dried seaweed, chopped (shears here as well)
1 large bunch collards, stems minced, leaves chopped
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 c Amontillado sherry

Cover and simmer 30 minutes, then add:

2 thawed mackerel fillets, bones removed (with my special tweezers) but skin left on, and cut into large chunks (another prize from the Asian market)

Stir those in, cover, and simmer 5 minutes, turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

I think that’s everything, but I’ll update if I remember anything I forgot.

Wonderfully delicious with wonderful textures. The mackerel is a VERY big winner.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 6:56 pm

Kitchen Compendium

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I wrote a Kitchen Compendium (PDF) a while back. It is undoubtedly by now suffering from severe link rot, and some preferences have changed. For example, I now strongly prefer the old West Bend Triple Timer, which uses standard batteries—no longer made, but still available on eBay. (Only 8 available now, but they’ll undoubtedly re-emerge from time to time.)

Anyway, you can download a free copy from the link above.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 5:51 pm

Daily walk

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It’s clear that typing is insufficient as exercise, so today I went for my walk. Not quite 45 minutes, but tomorrow I’ll extend it by a couple of blocks and that should do it. I’m in chapter 9 of the second part of Don Quixote, so he hasn’t quite set out on the third sally.

The secret for me seems to be to go for the walk at a specific time: when the clock hits the time, I hit the door, stopping whatever I’m doing and making the walk the top priority. That is how I get it done.

I also need to add some mat exercises, but I’ll stick with just the walk for a week.

What I saw on the walk—and next time I take my camera: First, in someone’s yard they had planted an artichoke and let it go ahead and flower. Very striking: an intensely blue giant thistle.

Second, as I walked up the street I disturbed one of the small (almost tiny) deer that make Pacific Grove their home. This was a buck, with a very nice set of antlers. As I approached, on the same side of the street, he abandoned his nibbling of the shrubbery and walked slowly into the middle of the street and turned to watch me.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

2016 Democratic candidate

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I would expect Hillary Clinton to run and to win. God knows she’s in a strong position than ever: her work as Secretary of State has given her immense depth on foreign policy, and she already knew well domestic programs. She also could shepherd along improvements to the Affordable Care Act, including the addition of a single-payer option. Plus I think Democrats, already proud of electing and re-electing our first African-American president would leap at the chance to elect the first woman president, even though the US is rather late to the game of having a woman leading the nation (Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, and many others: it’s not exactly a breathtaking novelty). And, of course, women voters outnumber men voters and more women are now in the Senate and House.

Moreover, in looking around casually, she would be the strongest candidate, so far as I can see. I see her as a stronger candidate than Joe Biden, for example. And though I have to say I like better the politics of Elizabeth Warren, I think she would not be nearly so electable as Hillary Clinton. And, of course, Hillary will have both Obama and Bill Clinton campaigning on her behalf, so I think she might well win. Who will the GOP nominate? Newt Gingrich? Mitch McConnell? Paul Ryan? Eric Cantor?

Well, we’ll know better in a couple of years, though a quiet campaign will probably begin right now.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 11:13 am

Posted in Politics

Fascinating history of China’s efforts toward a liberal society

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Paul Monk has an article in the Atlantic that is really worth reading:

Speaking in 1988, a leading adviser to then-Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, Yan Jiaqi, declared that China had inherited a “dragon culture” from its long imperial past. If it was to become a free, cosmopolitan and peaceful society, Yan argued, China had to leave that dragon culture behind it. Yan fled China in 1989, after the Communist Party’s bloody suppression of democracy advocates in Tiananmen Square. He has lived in exile in the United States ever since, but the time has come for the dragon culture to be laid to rest at last. That is the task confronting China’s incoming leaders, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, in this decade.

Ever since 1989, there has been a running debate outside China about whether or how to press for political reform and human rights in that country. Its economic growth has led many interested parties to brush aside such calls as pointless, superfluous or presumptuous. The Communist Party has rejected them as efforts to weaken China. Since 2008, such rebuffs have even assumed a haughty tone at times, as if the apparently broken Western system of politics and economics had nothing to offer China in conducting its own affairs. In other words, the “dragon culture” remains ideologically ascendant: a political and geopolitical culture of repressive, grim authoritarianism that sees itself as above the law and superior to the barbarians.

But beneath the surface, tensions have been growing relentlessly in China. Early this year, sitting premier Wen Jiabao himself issued a startling warning that China faced a tragic social upheaval on the scale of the Cultural Revolution unless it embarked on serious political reform; astonishing words from the official head of state of a dictatorship that has relentlessly suppressed calls for political liberalization for 23 years. It officially derives legitimacy from Mao’s seizure of power in 1949, but he was the man who caused the Cultural Revolution in the first place, not to mention the “Great Leap Forward” famine in which at least 30 million Chinese starved to death.

The Party magazine Qiushi proclaimed recently that the incoming leadership “must choose between bold political and social reform and driving China into a dead end.” Qiushi means “seeking truth.Seeking truth is always and everywhere an arduous undertaking, especially under Communist dictatorships. But this call should be carefully noted. It means that political reform is on the agenda in China. The question is: after Hu and Wen, what and how?

The Party has created the most formidable system of surveillance and repression in the world. The budget for its internal security apparatus has grown even faster than its ballooning military budget and now totals about $110 billion. This funds the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Supervision, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Politics and Law Commission, the sinister 610 Office; the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Yet many responsible voices are pointing to the urgent need for reform. As social scientist Yu Jianrong, in Beijing, has said, in the name of “stability” the party has “suppressed the livelihood of the people, suppressed human rights, suppressed the rule of law, suppressed reform,” but it has “not suppressed corruption, nor has it suppressed mining tragedies, nor has it suppressed illegal property demolitions and seizures.” All it has done, as Chinese scholar Guo Xuezhi points out, is build the “biggest security state in the world.” Now, Seeking Truth declares that this looks like a “dead end.”

Respected liberal economist Mao Yushi remarked recently that the Arab Spring . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2012 at 8:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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