Later On

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

Archive for December 14th, 2012

Great grub tonight

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The grub melange I made tonight is simply superb. Protein is salmon fillet, mackerel fillet (I must go to the Asian Market in Marina every single week—also picked up Ponzu sauce, dired sliced Shiitake mushrooms, dried black-cloud ear mushrooms (all three of which are in the grub), and oysters. I also must go every week to the produce market, where I got the freshest, youngest, biggest bitter melon I ever did see, also in the melange, along with those cute little Indian eggplant, about the size of a hen’s egg. Other ingredients: onion, garlic, celery, zucchini, carrot, tomato paste, smoked paprika, red wine, vinegar, water, collards, frozen spinach, frozen corn kernels, gochujang sauce, 5th-Taste umami paste, and more. Totally wonderful melange. And enough for a few days.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Timely article: Ten arguments gun advocates make and why they’re wrong

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In the wake of the mass shooting of children in Connecticut, the issue of gun control will once again surface briefly before being shouted down. In  The American Prospect Paul Waldman offers a round-up of familiar arguments:

here has been yet another mass shooting, something that now seems to occur on a monthly basis. Every time another tragedy like this occurs, gun advocates make the same arguments about why we can’t possibly do anything to restrict the weaponization of our culture. Here’s a guide to what they’ll be saying in the coming days:

1. Now isn’t the time to talk about guns.
We’re going to hear this over and over, and not just from gun advocates; Jay Carney said it to White House reporters today. But if we’re not going to talk about it now, when are we going to talk about it? After Sandy hit the East Coast, no one said, “Now isn’t the time to talk about disaster preparedness; best leave that until it doesn’t seem so urgent.” When there’s a terrorist attack, no one says, “Now isn’t the time to talk about terrorism.” Now is exactly the time.

2. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Maybe, but people with guns kill many, many more people than they would if they didn’t have guns, and guns designed to kill as many people as possible. We don’t know if the murderer in Newtown was suffering from a suicidal depression, but many mass shooters in the past were. And guess what? People suffer from suicidal depression everywhere in the world. People get angry and upset everywhere in the world. But there aren’t mass shootings every few weeks in England or Costa Rica or Japan, and the reason is that people in those places who have these impulses don’t have an easy way to access lethal weapons and unlimited ammunition. But if you want to kill large numbers of people and you happen to be an American, you’ll find it easy to do.

3. If only everybody around was armed, an ordinary civilian could take out a mass killer before he got too far.
If that were true, then how come it never happens? The truth is that in a chaotic situation, even highly trained police officers often kill bystanders. The idea that some accountant who spent a few hours at the range would suddenly turn into Jason Bourne and take out the killer without doing more harm than good has no basis in reality.

4. We don’t need more laws, we just need to enforce the laws we have. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government, Law

Interesting: Bobby Jindal can sound like a liberal

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It’s hard to argue with the points he makes:

. . . Jindal wrote that Republicans have been “stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue,” while embracing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists call for over-the-counter sales and seeking to push the issue out of the “political arena.

Let’s ask the question: Why do women have to go see a doctor before they buy birth control? There are two answers. First, because big government says they should, even though requiring a doctor visit to get a drug that research shows is safe helps drive up health-care costs. Second, because big pharmaceutical companies benefit from it. They know that prices would be driven down if the companies had to compete in the marketplace once their contraceptives were sold over the counter. . .

UPDATE: OTOH, here’s a detailed critique of Jindal’s column by Irin Carmon in Salon.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Daily life

The GOP hates it when people try to help each other

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Andrew Rosenthal in the NY Times:

Republicans in Congress like to find ways to hold the economy, and ordinary Americans, hostage to their ideological agenda. Just as they are once again threatening another phony debt ceiling crisis that will jeopardize the nation’s credit rating, they are, once again, threatening to withhold vital funds for Hurricane Sandy relief unless the Democrats agree to unrelated spending cuts.

The White House has requested $60 billion in federal disaster relief to repair the damage caused by Sandy, but Republicans have balked. Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey  called disaster relief “wasteful spending.” And four other right-wing Republicans told The Hill that they would demand cuts in other programs to offset the expense.

Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said “We have these emergencies every year and we should prepare for that in our budget.” That’s reasonable, but rich. In Sept. 2011, Senate Democrats approved $6.9 billion to refill the disaster emergency fund and House Republicans cut that amount by nearly half. Not yet satisfied, they demanded $1 billion in offsetting cuts from a loan program to develop energy-efficient automobiles.

Only in the labyrinth of the right would it make sense to cut a long-term program to deal with the fact of climate change and its impact on the environment to pay for storm-related devastation that is one of the effects of global warming.

In the not-so distant past, . . .

Continue reading. It’s as if they don’t understand why we have a government.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 6:40 pm

Obama Administration coverup of US torture regime continues

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Obama deservedly earns a lot of disrespect for his decision to flout the law in order to protect torturers. Why does he do that? I suspect he’s simply fearful of Republicans, but that is not, IMO, an adequate reason to break the law, in particular in order to protect people who tortured prisoners, some perfectly innocent. Andrew Rosenthal comments in the NY Times:

In Strasbourg, France, a 17-judge panel of the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously on Thursday that U.S. intelligence did in fact kidnap a German citizen in Macedonia. The court said he was locked in a hotel room for 23 days, then handed over to a C.I.A. rendition team at an airport, where he was “severely beaten, sodomized, shackled and hooded.” Later he was sent to Afghanistan and illegally detained for months. The German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, had no connection to terrorism, unless you count the fact that U.S. officials were seeking an Al Qaeda operative with a similar name. The court ordered Macedonia to pay Mr. Masri $78,000 in damages.

Meanwhile, in Washington, officials still won’t acknowledge Mr. Masri’s kidnapping and torture, which was just one example of President George W. Bush’s “extraordinary rendition program.” He has been refused a day in American courts on flimsy claims of national secrets (that the names of the men who broke the law brutalizing him might be revealed).

No official has been held accountable for his illegal detention and torture – or for that matter for the similar beastly treatment of other prisoners.

On Thursday the Senate Intelligence Committee finally approved, by a 9-6 party-line vote, a 6,000-page report on C.I.A. detention and interrogation—but it remains classified. Among other things, the report reviews claims that tortured prisoners provided vital intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden – claims Republicans make to this day to justify the brutality they supported for years, but which virtually everyone else disputes, including those how actually conducted those interrogations.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the intelligence committee, has said that information obtained from torture victims did not play a major role in hunting down Mr. bin Laden, but she did not have much to say yesterday about the report—because it remains classified.

Republicans attacked the report as flawed and incomplete, like they do whenever a report makes their team look bad. Ms. Feinstein, however, said it covered every detainee held by the C.I.A., “the conditions under which they were detained, how they were interrogated, the intelligence they actually provided and the accuracy or inaccuracy of C.I.A. descriptions about the program to the White House, Department of Justice, Congress and others.”

The report has 35,000 footnotes and covers more than 6 million pages of records, Ms. Feinstein said. Sounds pretty thorough. She said it “uncovers startling details about the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight.”

How many of those startling conclusions will the public see? I’m guessing, not many. No decision was made yesterday about releasing the report and it will not be made until after the committee receives comments from the executive branch, Ms. Feinstein said, a euphemism for allowing the administration a chance to heavily censor the document.

Meanwhile, the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay remains open, an indelible stain on the American justice system. There is no plausible reason to keep the prison open.

In late November, Ms. Feinstein released a study by the Government Accountability Office that said . . .

Continue reading.

The US conduct in this matter is shameful and dishonorable.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 6:37 pm

Karl Rove can’t help lying

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Yet again. Andrew Rosenthal has a very good takedown in the NY Times, and Kim Barker reports for ProPublica:

In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS — the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election — told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy.

The group’s application for recognition as a social welfare nonprofit acknowledged that it would spend money to influence elections, but said “any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”

Political insiders and campaign-finance watchdogs have long questioned how Crossroads, the brainchild of GOP strategist Karl Rove, had characterized its intentions to the IRS.

Now, for the first time, ProPublica has obtained the group’s application for recognition of tax-exempt status, filed in September 2010. The IRS has not yet recognized Crossroads GPS as exempt, causing some tax experts to speculate that the agency is giving the application extra scrutiny. If Crossroads GPS is ultimately not recognized, it could be forced to reveal the identities of its donors.

The tax code allows groups like Crossroads to spend money on political campaigns — and to keep their donors private — as long as their primary purpose is enhancing social welfare.

Crossroads’ breakdown of planned activities said it would focus half its efforts on “public education,” 30 percent on “activity to influence legislation and policymaking” and 20 percent on “research,” including sponsoring “in-depth policy research on significant issues.”

This seems at odds with much of what the group has done since filing the application, experts said. Within two months of filing its application, Crossroads spent about $15.5 million on ads telling people to vote against Democrats or for Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections.

“That statement of proposed activities does not seem to align with what they actually did, which was to raise and spend hundreds of millions to influence candidate elections,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, who reviewed the group’s application at ProPublica’s request.

Officials with Crossroads GPS would not answer specific questions about the material in the application or whether the IRS had sent a response to it.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Business, Election, GOP, Law

Bad sign: When a country’s newspapers are afraid to cover the violence

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Stephen Engelberg reports for ProPublica:

Mexico’s regional newspapers are publishing more stories about murders linked to the drug trade, but they remain reluctant to write what they know about the organizations responsible for the killings.

A new study by our colleagues at Fundación MEPI, an investigative journalism center in Mexico City, reviewed daily coverage in 14 of 31 Mexican states. It found a significant increase in the number of stories on organized crime groups. But the study says that only two newspapers, El Norte in Monterrey and El Informador in Guadalajara “provided context to the violence, identified the victims and did follow-ups,” according to the review, which can be read in English here and in Spanish here.

Mexico has been convulsed in recent years by a brutal conflict between competing drug cartels and by the government’s efforts to curtail the drug trade.

In one notable instance, a soccer game in the Mexican city of Torreón was interrupted by sounds of a gun battle outside the stadium. Panicked spectators scrambled for cover and rushed on to the field which had been abandoned by the players. Here’s a video of that scene.

At El Siglo do Torreón, the local paper, editors debated whether to publish a story about the gun battle. The pictures of the cowering soccer fans were dramatic, but the study quotes the paper’s editor, Javier Garza, as saying he and his colleagues were worried they might become a target if they played the pictures big. The newspaper has been bombed and shot at twice since 2009, and its journalists routinely receive death threats from drug gangs.

Garza ultimately splashed the picture across the front page. But the accompanying story “did not try to explain why the attack took place, in line with editorial policies,” the report said. “Editors know that criminals read their pages to see how their organizations are portrayed and are careful not to provoke them.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Law, Media

The US must never discuss gun control, regardless of how many people are slaughtered

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There will be no discussion of gun control once more, and the shootings will continue. The situation is out of control. Here is the latest. Too many in the US prefer owning a gun to taking steps to end this kind of slaughter.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Five talented 3-D sidewalk artists

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Take a look. Astonishing. Here’s just one:

edgar-mueller-street-art-2-1

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 11:37 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Beautiful lather, beautiful shave

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DSC00263

The Whipped Dog silvertip worked up a stunningly good lather from the Ogallala Bay Rum & Sandalwood shave stick—incredibly good. I don’t remember that soap being so good, but I am definitely going to be using it more often. Luscious.

I picked the iKon high-polished open-comb—the version 2.0 iKon—to compare it with yesterday’s recent model satin-finish iKon. With a Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge I got a shave that struck me as more comfortable than yesterday’s with the new satin-finish open-comb—but then that shave was with a different blade, and it’s not unusual for a blade that works well in one razor not to work in another. So now I need to try the satin-edge with the SharpEdge blade: the life of a shave reviewer: endless experimentation.

A good splash of Captain’s Choice, which has a noticeably different fragrance from the experimental bay rum I used a few days ago. I want to use that one again now: it really did have a nice fragrance.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2012 at 11:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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