Later On

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Archive for June 15th, 2013

Tasty lunch

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Cook some rice: 1 part rice, 2 parts water, simmer till done, which is about 20 minutes or so for white, 40 or so for wild, and 50 or so for brown. I add a pinch of sugar and a little olive oil. If you’re making 1 cup of rice, use just a little less than 2 cups water.

Then the topping, and I’ll simply describe what I did: feel free to substitute and add.

In my All-Clad Stainless non-stick 9″ French skillet, I put:

about 2 tsp olive oil
1 chopped spring onion, including all the green (or use 1 bunch scallions)
1 stalk green garlic, sliced thinly (including all the green (or use 3 cloves garlic, minced)
1/2 c celery, sliced then and then chopped a little (nowadays I just slice across the bunch)
1 Meyer lemon, diced
pinch salt
several grindings black pepper
you could add 2 Tbsp pine nuts, 2 Tbsp dried currants if you like
maybe 1 tomato, diced, as well
a dash of Tabasco would be good

Sauté that for around 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are wilted and cooked. Then add:

1 Tbsp good soy sauce

Turn off burner, place a chicken leg (tibia and femur, including kneecap) on the vegetables, brush the leg with a little olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt, freshly ground pepper, and other seasoning of your choice (e.g., Penzey’s Old World Seasoning, or Old Bay Seasoning, or garlic powder, or whatever.

Put into 375ºF oven for 45 minutes.

Remove, let cool for 10 minutes, then serve over some of the rice: rice, topped with veg, topped with chicken.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 2:34 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Definition of a quiet day

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The big event so far: got an OS X update.

But I like a quiet day, and my roasted chicken leg is ready.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Daily life

National Security Should Never Be a For-Profit Industry

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Quite a few enterprises perform badly as profit-making enterprises: For-profit hospitals, have higher charges and lower-quality services (in order to maximize profit, which is their goal). For-profit prisons have companies lobbying state legislators for things that will increase prison occupancy (and thus profits): mandatory minimum sentences (with the minimums set as high as the lobbyist can push) and “three-strikes” laws which provide many more service lifetime sentences (even though the third offense has been something like stealing a pizza). And so on: going for a profit is corrupting to other values.

Thom Hartmann writes at AlterNet:

t’s time to completely end the privatization of national security.

Business Week recently pointed out [3] that 99 percent of Booze Allen Hamilton’s revenues come from government contracts.

Why would we pay a CEO millions, stockholders tens of millions, and workers a small fortune when the same work could and should be done by civil servants?

Even worse, our privatized national security apparatus isn’t just wasteful; it’s contrary to the founding principles of our democratic republic.

Governments can be made accountable, transparent, and responsive to “We the People.”  In fact, that’s the core idea of our Constitution.

On the other hand corporations, by and large, are accountable only to profits.They’re opaque, and don’t give a damn about “We the People,” except for the people who run them.

There once was a time, before Reagan put us on a privatization binge, when our national security was run by our government and answerable to “We the People.”

However, ever since the Reagan Revolution, our political class has been obsessed with the idea that since government can’t do anything right, private companies should take  over most of our commons, even, in this case, the commons of our national security.

And that’s created an entire industry of companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, where NSA leaker Edward Snowden worked, reaping millions in profits every year to manage and lobby for an ever-expanding and ever-more-profitable national security industry.

Privatization enthusiasts praise contractors as efficient and responsible purveyors of public service, but corporations, by virtue of being corporations, are incompatible with the functions of representative government.

At its core, a republic requires accountability.

We entrust to our public officials the power to act in our interest.

If they violate that trust, we expect them to either face punishment or resign from their duties.

After all, they serve us, not stockholders or CEOs.

And accountability in a democratic republican society, in turn, requires transparency.

How can the public judge the crimes of its representatives without knowing about them?

As the Roman poet Juneval famously wrote about 2000 years ago, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”—Who will watch the watchers?

Our Founders answered that question quite simply in the Fourth Amendment and repeatedly throughout the Constitution:  We, the People, will watch the watchers.  They are answerable to us.

That’s also why they enshrined freedom of the press in the Constitution and gave Congress (the branch most directly answerable to the People by elections every two years) the power to investigate and correct the abuses of the executive and legislative branches of government.

But corporations are not governments; they don’t even resembledemocratic republics.

By their very nature they are non-transparent, and only care about public concerns to the extent they affect their profitability.

Corporations are functionally kingdoms, with the CEO and Board of Directors as the King and main Lords, senior executives as Minor Lords, and all other employees as serfs.

And “national security” corporations have a specific carve-out from FOIA laws and whistleblower laws; they don’t generally have to disclose secrets or wrongdoings like government agencies do, and are additionally protected from doing so by privacy and trade secrecy laws. So you can’t just directly send a FOIA request to Booz Allen’s McLean, Virginia headquarters demanding information on its intelligence operations. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 12:20 pm

The Real War on Reality

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Peter Ludlow has a thoughtful piece in the NY Times:

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

The revelations about the National Security Agency’s PRISM data collection program have raised awareness — and understandably, concern and fears — among American and those abroad, about the reach and power of secret intelligence gatherers operating behind the facades of government and business.

Surveillance and deception are not just fodder for the next “Matrix” movie, but a real sort of epistemic warfare.

But those revelations, captivating as they are, have been partial —they primarily focus on one government agency and on the surveillance end of intelligence work, purportedly done in the interest of national security. What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.

The realm of secrecy and deception among shadowy yet powerful forces may sound like the province of investigative reporters, thriller novelists and Hollywood moviemakers — and it is — but it is also a matter for philosophers. More accurately, understanding deception and and how it can be exposed has been a principle project of philosophy for the last 2500 years. And it is a place where the work of journalists, philosophers and other truth-seekers can meet.

In one of the most referenced allegories in the Western intellectual tradition, Plato describes a group of individuals shackled inside a cave with a fire behind them. They are able to see only shadows cast upon a wall by the people walking behind them. They mistake shadows for reality. To see things as they truly are, they need to be unshackled and make their way outside the cave. Reporting on the world as it truly is outside the cave is one of the foundational duties of philosophers.

In a more contemporary sense, we should also think of the efforts to operate in total secrecy and engage in the creation of false impressions and realities as a problem area in epistemology — the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge. And philosophers interested in optimizing our knowledge should consider such surveillance and deception not just fodder for the next “Matrix” movie, but as real sort of epistemic warfare.

To get some perspective on the manipulative role that private intelligence agencies play in our society, it is worth examining information that has been revealed by some significant hacks in the past few years of previously secret data.

Important insight into the world these companies came from a 2010 hack by a group best known as LulzSec  (at the time the group was called Internet Feds), which targeted the private intelligence firm HBGary Federal.  That hack yielded 75,000 e-mails.  It revealed, for example, that Bank of America approached the Department of Justice over concerns about information that WikiLeaks had about it.  The Department of Justice in turn referred Bank of America to the lobbying firm Hunton and Willliams, which in turn connected the bank with a group of information security firms collectively known as Team Themis. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 11:45 am

Is Your Town in Transition?

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Jessica Stein has an interesting article at

When I set out to investigate the appeal of Transition, a sustainability movement that has spread to 1,105 towns in 43 countries over the past eight years, I started with what I thought was a basic question: What are “Transition Towns” transitioning to?

“Resilience,” I was told. “What does that mean?” I asked, thinking vaguely of steel. “The ability to absorb shocks to a system!” was the reply. Well, yes, but …? Pressed for details, Nina Winn, who runs a Transition initiative at the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago, said, “I don’t think there’s a conclusion. Like when a person’s trying to self-improve, it’s a constant growth. Our communities would grow to be a lot more intimate. We wouldn’t be hesitant to ask for that cup of sugar or tomato. The streets would be narrower instead of expanding; there would be fresh produce on every corner that was grown just down the street. You would see people on the street because of that—because where there’s food, there’s people.”

Such bucolic but fuzzy visions are typical of Transition, which is more about shifting paradigms than prescribing solutions. With an it’ll-take-shape-as-we-go ethos, most Transition Town websites sport a “cheerful disclaimer”: “Just in case you were under the impression that Transition is a process defined by people who have all the answers, you need to be aware of a key fact. … Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.”

On a basic level, however, the experiment seeks to address what founder Rob Hopkins sees as a source of frustration in the environmental movement: Personal action feels like a drop in the bucket, while governments often move at a glacial pace.

“Until now, there’s been the things you can do at home on your own—changing your lightbulbs and sharing your lofts and things—and then there’s everything else that someone else is meant to do: the sort of mythical ‘they,’” says Hopkins. “Transition is what’s in the middle, what you can do with the people on your street.”

The seed for Transition came in 2004 when . . .

Continue reading. It’s a lengthy article with much in it.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 11:36 am

Bullies in various spheres

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Alternet has an excerpt from Jesse Klein’s new book:

The following is an excerpt from Jessie Klein’s new book “The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools,” (New York University Press, 2013).

Schools are microcosms of American society where students are told that  financial wealth and superficial gender markers are compulsory for social acceptance. They learn these lessons from each other but also from grown-ups—parents, teachers,  and the wider culture  they inhabit. As they prepare to enter the adult workforce and social life, children come to understand that being perceived as the richest or prettiest, or the most powerful or confident, could  dramatically  enhance their futures—and that without  these marks of American success they may become lifelong outcasts. They also learn to see life as a zero-sum game, where they can win only if someone else loses, rise only by ensuring  that  someone else falls. These values are at the core of bullying behavior, and they are also the foundation upon which much of the economic, political, and social life of our nation is built.

Not all cultures are so obsessively focused on winning. In the Southwest, for instance, coaches say that teams of Hopi Indians want to win but that they often try not to win because they don’t want to embarrass their opponents. In some traditional cultures, the game isn’t over until the two sides are tied. They work hard to make sure no one loses. Even in Europe, as T. R. Reid writes in “The European Social Model,” some core human needs  are seen as everyone’s birthright rather  than  as something to be “won” through competition with one’s compatriots. “To Americans,” Reid writes, “it is simply a matter  of common sense that rich families get better medical care and education than the poor; the rich can afford the doctors at the fancy clinics and the tutors  to get their kids into Harvard.  But this piece of common sense does not apply in most of Europe. The corporate executive in the back seat of the limo, her chauffeur up front, and the guy who pumps the gas for them all go to the same doctor  and the same hospitals and send their children to the same (largely free) universities.”

In the United States, however, hardcore competition and striving to be the best are generally considered vital to keeping people motivated  and functioning at optimal  levels. Harsh  inequalities  are considered, at best, an  unfortunate consequence. Yet gender  pressures—and especially the expectation to embrace  hypermasculine values and  behaviors—are  seldom examined in the context of the larger socioeconomic forces that shape them.

In one of my criminal justice classes, I asked students to tell me what words they associated  with capitalism.  What  qualities do you need to be successful in our society? The board filled up quickly: competitive, aggressive,and powerfulwere some of the first suggestions. At that point, we were discussing white-collar crime and the unprincipled behavior that had produced both the Enron scandal and the economic meltdown of recent years. Later in the course we discussed  school shootings  and their  relationship to gender, and I asked my students to list some words they associated with masculinity. The same list emerged—competitive,aggressive,and powerful. Without intending to, my students had highlighted  the link between  the values of masculinity and capitalism.The school shooters,  for the most  part, grew up in the 1980s or later. The rise in school shootings  roughly coincides with the Reagan administration’s restructuring of the American  economic,  political, and cultural landscape—a period that glorified unrestrained capitalism and reemphasized an “up by your own bootstraps” ethos. Following a landslide reelection in 1984, Reagan promised  an America  rich with freedom,  individualism,  and  financial reward for  those  who  skillfully met  the  standard, coupled  with a lower degree of support for those  who did not. Increasingly, success was defined in terms  of power, economic  attainment, and social status—the same barometers increasingly used, at the high school level, to assess masculinity.

Capitalism  is hardly new to the United States, nor is the system’s relationship  to core American  values. But as former  labor secretary  Robert Reich observed in his book Supercapitalism, in recent decades the power of unregulated, unrestrained capital has increased  to such an extent  that it has outstripped democracy as a primary foundation of our society. According  to Reich, Americans  became identified  more as investors  and consumers and less as citizens and members of a community.

Further,  in this same period, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 11:28 am

Secret laws and secret interpretations of laws have no place in a democracy

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The whole idea of a secret law makes no sense: how can people obey a law if they are deliberately kept ignorant of it. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” doesn’t seem to apply if the government has deliberately kept the law secret—with penalties for those who reveal the law.

I’m glad to see some in Congress take a stance against secret laws, as recounted by Kate Irby in McClatchy:

Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is cosponsoring a bill that would end secret interpretations of the Patriot Act, which enabled the National Security Agency to collect billions of phone records from Americans.

The Democratic senator reflects others’ views in Alaska’s Washington delegation: Lawmakers are demanding more transparency and congressional oversight on government surveillance, though they won’t say the programs need to be shut down or that Congress should repeal the Patriot Act.

“I have repeatedly called for a better balance between protecting our safety and protecting our constitutional rights – that’s why I’ve cosponsored a bill to end secret law and to bring greater transparency and accountability in our government,” Begich said.

The bill would require the attorney general to declassify significant opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which can secretly authorize surveillance requests both in and outside the United States. The bill wouldn’t require all opinions to be declassified, but any sweeping legal implications of the court’s decisions would have to be disclosed to the public.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s surveillance policies, but expressed concern with the measure.

“While I appreciate and understand the reason for the legislation, when you take a long-term view the prospects are worrisome,” she said. “Much of these classified documents would need to be redacted, so all the black blots will only heighten the public’s distrust.” . . .

Continue reading.

Sen. Murkowski makes no sense: how is the public reassured if the entire law is kept secret? I think she simply doesn’t want people questioning things—people (in her view) should simply accept what the authorities decide to tell them. That is not a prescription for a democracy. Maybe—just maybe—too much stuff is being classified, and most of the secrecy is to cover up government mistakes and wrong-doing.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 11:05 am

Big government databases are fallible

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Gail Collins reminds us of how the FBI can misuse its database when it gets excited about terrorism:

The deck is always stacked when we debate keeping the nation safe.

Recently, we discovered that the National Security Agency is keeping an enormous file of our phone calls. In the N.S.A.’s defense, its chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, said “dozens” of potential terrorist attacks had been thwarted by that kind of effort. The director of the F.B.I., Robert Mueller, suggested it might prevent “the next Boston.”

How do you argue with that? True, the N.S.A. program had been up and running for years without being able to prevent the first Boston. And Alexander declined to identify the thwarted attacks, arguing that might aid potential terrorists.

But most Americans were sold. The words “terrorist attack” conjured up terrible, vivid pictures. On the other side was just a humongous computer bank full of numbers. If you didn’t do anything wrong, what was the problem?

Today, let’s try putting a face on it in the form of Brandon Mayfield.

A Kansas native, Mayfield went to college and law school, served in the Army, married, had three children and moved to Portland, Ore., to practice law.

His story begins with — yes! — an enormous federal database, in this case the one that collected fingerprints of Americans who served in the military.

In 2004, after terrorists bombed commuter trains in Madrid, Spanish officials found a suspicious fingerprint on a plastic bag at the scene. The F.B.I. ran it through its files and decided, erroneously, that it matched Mayfield’s. Further investigation revealed that Mayfield had married an Egyptian immigrant and converted to Islam — information the authorities apparently found far more compelling than the fact that he had never been to Spain.

Peculiar things then began to happen in the Mayfield house. His wife, Mona, returned home to find unlocked doors mysteriously bolted. Their daughter, Sharia, then 12, noticed that someone had been fooling around with her computer. “I had a desktop monitor, and it looked like some of the screws had been taken out and not put back in all the way,” she said in a phone interview. “And the hard drive was sticking out.”

Later, the family would learn that agents had broken into their home and Mayfield’s law office repeatedly, taking DNA swabs from the bathroom, nail clippings and cigarette butts, along with images of all the computer hard drives. . .

Continue reading. I do not trust the government to operate in secrecy, and I do not trust the greatly expanded powers they seek.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 10:42 am

After Man Was Beaten into Coma by Border Patrol, His Wife Stops His Deportation from Hospital

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The US Border Patrol seems to have a high proportion of thugs who routinely use excessive force, including lethal force. The number of reported incidents has been rising and is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Democracy Now! has a report of one incident (video at the link):

As the Senate begins its debate on the immigration reform bill, we speak to Shena Gutierrez, whose husband was nearly killed in an encounter with Border Patrol agents. While still unconscious in the hospital, he was threatened with deportation. She explains what happened. We also speak with Andrea Guerrero, co-chair of Southern Border Communities Coalition and executive director of Alliance San Diego.

See our related immigration and border patrol coverage.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As the immigration reform bill makes its way through the mark-up process in the House and Senate, we turn now to the growing push to add harsher border security measures in order for the bill to pass. This week a key member of the so-called bipartisan Gang of Eight working on the bill, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, said he himself may vote against the bill unless it includes an amendment that calls for full control of the border and 90 percent apprehension of illegal border crossings before immigrants can apply for legal status. The amendment would also require what it calls “situational awareness” of each one-mile segment of the southern border.

For more, we turn to two people working to introduce measures that protect human rights and civil liberties and to the bill, as well. Andrea Guerrero is the co-chair of Southern Border Communities Coalition and executive director of Alliance San Diego. Joining her is Shena Gutierrez, volunteer with Southern [Border Communities] Coalition. She has a very personal experience related to the border: her husband nearly killed in an encounter with Border Patrol agents. While still unconscious in the hospital, he was threatened with deportation. Andrea and Shena live in California but join us from Washington, D.C., where they’ve been meeting with members of Congress.

Let’s go to Andrea Guerrero. If you can talk for a moment about what the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill is and what you are calling for?

ANDREA GUERRERO: Certainly, Amy. The Gang of Eight in the Senate introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a Title I that is all about border enforcement. Overall, we think that the bill is, on balance, a good bill. We think that the Title I that treats—deals with border enforcement is, overall, a good title. And we have been working to improve that title. In the mark-up process, we were able to advance some significant amendments that improve the quality of life in the border region, protect the civil liberties of those living in the border region. We are concerned that the rhetoric around the border continues to dominate the conversation around immigration reform. And many who speak of the border have never been to the border or don’t know anyone from the border. So we are here in Washington, D.C., to carry a message of what the border is like. It’s not a barren wasteland. There are 15 million people living in the border region. We have lives. We have businesses. We have families. And we want to make sure that Border Patrol, which has become the largest law enforcement agency in the country concentrated in the border region, is respecting our civil liberties, our civil rights and those of those who are crossing into the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Shena Gutierrez, can you tell us what happened to your husband?

SHENA GUTIERREZ: Sure. Two years ago, March 30th—he was deported to Mexico March 21st. And, you know, he was desperate. You know, we have two young children. At the time, our son was two and a half; our daughter was only four months old. And our daughter was in the hospital. And he was deported, and he was just trying to figure out how to get back to us. March 30th, he attempted to cross back, and I lost contact with him that day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday go by. By Saturday, I’m completely going insane, not knowing what happened, where he’s at, if he’s alive, if he’s OK. I mean, it just wasn’t like him to not call me and let me know what was going on.

I get a call from the consulate in Arizona asking me, you know, “Is this Shena, who’s his wife?” I said, “Yes.” And I will never forget those words. She says, “Well, we have to inform you that there’s been an accident.” I had no idea what kind of accident she meant. After numerous phone calls, hours later, I find out he’s in Phoenix, and they tell me he’s unconscious. I get to the hospital, and in my mind I’m thinking, you know, “Unconscious: He’s laying in a bed with maybe an IV in his arm, and that’s it, at the most.” And when I turn the corner and I see the two agents—because he was being protected, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by agents at the door—they stand up, and I notice gun on one side and taser on the other side. And I just kind of peek into his room, and I fall, because he had staples ear to ear, black and blue all over his body. He had machines all over him. And he was in a straight-up coma.

I wasn’t told immediately what happened, but eventually I was told that he became combative. And I didn’t believe it. I know my husband. They told me he fell back and hit his head on a rock. Now, by looking at him, black and blue and staples—and five parts of his skull were removed. But it was brain—his brain was so swollen from the hemorrhaging. I just knew it was not from a fall to a rock. Border Patrol changed their story with me three times. They gave me three different versions of what had happened. They—it just kept changing and changing. So I started calling, you know, all these organizations and media and trying to get some kind of help. I didn’t know what to do, really. I didn’t know. Their—the hospital started telling me, “We’re going to deport him.” He was in a coma. He was on life support. And I said, “You can’t do this to him. This happened here. This needs to be taken care of here.” I don’t even know what’s really going on. I never got a report. I never got any answers. I never got anything. It was hear—you know, he said, she said, that type of thing.

So, we almost lost him a few times. He was in a coma for four weeks. And it was so difficult, so difficult, because I—you know, I’m away from my children for a whole month, and I’m trying to deal with the hospital. My husband’s almost dying, and they want to deport him. And hospital’s blaming Border Patrol; Border Patrol’s blaming them. And finally, he got, after two weeks, a—he got granted a stay from the Ninth Circuit. And they told me, “We’re going to deport him anyways.” And so, here’s my proof. I’m showing them he can stay. He can stay here. You know, I’m excited about it. But they’re saying, “No.” They told me, “He’s illegal. He’s a criminal. He has no room to be here. He can’t pay his medical bills. He needs to go. He’s a criminal.” That’s all they kept telling me. “He’s a criminal. He’s a criminal.” So, he, all the while, is still in a coma. And, thank God, you know, they stopped it. He was able to stay. The agents were gone, finally, from the door, because he was being protected 24 hours a day. And, I mean, after three weeks, he started waking up from the coma. But there was a lot of complications with his trach tube, so they had to put him back into a medically induced coma, off and on.

Finally, he wakes up, and I’m able to bring him back to Los Angeles with me, which is—was the whole plan, to get him out of Arizona. They wanted him out, but they kept telling me, “He can’t go home. He needs to go to Mexico.” Finally, I brought him home, and, you know, it was rough. It was three months in a hospital. Finally, the swelling started coming down from his brain, and he had indentions in his head. I mean, it was just skin on brain. That’s it. It was horrifying. It was horrifying to see that. They did this to him. He went from being perfectly healthy—never been hospitalized, never even had the flu—to your head, your skull is missing, and seizures are happening, and all these complications, pneumonia. And it was—it was very scary, very, very scary.



AMY GOODMAN: What happened then?

SHENA GUTIERREZ: Well, once we got back to Los Angeles, . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 10:32 am

A modest proposal: Sell early access to the jobs report

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In the Washington Post Neil Irwin makes an amusing suggestion: Sell an early look at the government’s jobs report:

We hereby present a modest proposal to cut the budget deficit without having to either raise taxes or slash any government programs. On the first Friday of every month, the Labor Department releases a report packed with data about how the U.S. job market fared the previous month. Financial markets often make big jumps on that news, with valuations of stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities sometimes moving by trillions of dollars.

When markets want instant information, they're willing to pay.  (Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

When markets want instant information, they’re willing to pay. (Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

So the plan is simple: The Labor Department can release the report to the public as it always does on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. But traders who want it five minutes early can write Uncle Sam a $25,000 check for the privilege. Of course, getting the information even earlier than that could be worth more. The White House and Federal Reserve get the report the evening before, so why not extend the privilege to some friendly neighborhood hedge funds for a mere, oh I don’t know, $10 million. And maybe you could have an auction to give some high frequency trading firm the very first crack at the report, offering it up the afternoon before release to the highest bidder. They might pay hundreds of millions of dollars!

This thought experiment is of course triggered by the revelation this week that Thomson Reuters, which distributes the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index, makes the information available to paying subscribers five minutes before the masses and hands it to select high frequency tradering firms two seconds before that, for even more money.

The revelation raises a knotty and uncomfortable set of issues for anyone in the information business — and exposes a touchy paradox in providing any kind of news or information that affects markets.

The idea of the Labor Department auctioning an early look at the jobs numbers is, of course, absurd. But why? Two reasons: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 10:20 am

Posted in Business, Government

Smooth and easy

with 3 comments

SOTD 15 June 2013

A very fine shave today. I did use my Jlocke98 preshave beard wash, and then the Omega Pro 29 (Model 10029), the “Baby Pro,” did a fine job of creating lather from Prairie Creations Spiced Rum tallow + lanolin shaving soap. I put the ingredients label where you can read it if you enlarge the photo. Prairie Creations has a wide product line, including custom shaving soaps. Take a look at her regular tallow + lanolin shaving soaps. Well worth trying. Here’s more information from her site:

This shaving soap is NOT a croap which is a very soft shaving soap. When it’s freshly made it is a little soft, but not so soft that it can’t be used when it arrives but as it ages it becomes rock hard as the excess liquid evaporates out.

Even though it technically is an artisan shaving soap it does NOT preform like most other artisan shaving soaps which are more of a glorified bath soap recipe. They believe if you add more castor oil and clay it makes it magically turn into shaving soap. I have formulated mine to preform like the commercial brands you may be familiar with that have excellent ratings. It will give you the dense lather needed to provide cushion and glide without dissipating during your shave. These are very important qualities. This shaving soap will require the use of a badger, boar or synthetic shaving brush to work this soap into the lather you desire.

This shaving soap is tallow based for you gentlemen (and ladies) that prefer that in your shaving soap. It also contains lanolin, unrefined shea butter and jojoba for extra moisturizing properties.

While other shaving soaps are made with water as the liquid I give you the choice between aloe vera (juice) or Blue Moon Beer as the liquid for your having soap. Other than the liquid used the rest of the recipe is exactly the same.

Aloe vera juice is the liquid form of aloe vera gel without the added ingredient that makes it a gel. It’s the pure form of what comes out of the aloe vera plant leaves. I don’t think I need to go into the benefits of what aloe can do for the skin as its well-known for its properties.

The beer I have selected to use is Blue Moon Beer! I wish I could make shaving soap with everyone’s favorite beer but it’s just not practical for me at this time. Some say that beer adds to the lather properties of the soap and I have to agree with that theory. Even my husband agrees as he prefers the shaving soaps made with beer. While the finished product doesn’t smell like beer you do need to know that it does have its own earthy type scent that which can morph some scents that are added into it. Shaving soap made with beer does have a natural brown color.

Ingredients listed in alphabetical order. The oils in this shaving soap are saponified by both sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.

Liquids Used : Aloe Vera Juice OR Blue Moon Beer (one or the other)
Oils Used : Castor Oil, Jojoba, Lanolin, Tallow, Unrefined Shea butter
Other Ingredients Used : Glycerin, Kaolin Clay, Raw Silk Fibers, Sodium Lactate, Stearic Acid, Sugar, Tocopherols
Fragrance : Optional

I did three very nice passes with the DLC Weber head riding on a UFO handle. A good splash of Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum, and the weekend beckons.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 June 2013 at 10:12 am

Posted in Shaving

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