Later On

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

Archive for October 8th, 2013

I’d say lunch was in the 1-2 range

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A 25¢ package of ramen, noodles cooked as instructed for two minutes, but with:

grated fresh ginger
2 fresh shiitake mushroms, sliced
4 scallions, chopped (including all the green)
2 Tbsp Garlic Red Pepper Miso
2 Tbsp dried cute wakame flakes
2 tsp Blis fish sauce (the good stuff)
1 small glug homemade pepper sauce

Then, after the two minutes, when the powder goes in, I also added

1 raw egg, beaten with fork

I actually go some firm tofu for this sort of thing, but forgot I had it. However, I can put that in my own homemade miso soup—with rice noodles, come to think of it.

I would say that’s fairly low. Maybe a 3 because of the noodles—no idea what’s in them. But the powder has a heavy dose of monosodium glutamate, I’m betting.

The unadorned dish is interesting: lots of umami (my guess: MSG), some salt, so mouth-filling. Lots of hot water: tummy warm. A good wad of noodles: calories. It’s a simulacrum of an actual meal, but does fall short. Still, if you have 25¢ to spend and want a full meal, this is probably your best bet.

UPDATE: And to turn the dial lower, my afternoon snack will be part of:

1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces and steamed at some length

Mash above with fresh extra-virgin olive oil, juice of a Meyer lemon, and, I think, some cumin. And also a good glug of homemade hot sauce: When the cat’s away, the mouse will play!

UPDATE TO THAT: I added a good dash of 9-year-old sherry vinegar (probably aged in bourbon barrels—it’s made by Blis) and used my immersion blender to purée it. Did a pretty good job except for thicker leaves and central stalk, but that’s tender enough to chew. (You do eat that, don’t you? Not just throw it out?)

I forgot the cumin, but added salt. Pretty good all round. Taste/effort very high.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 2:27 pm

How to Give Better Talks – Link fixed.

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Good article for those who give technical talks.

UPDATE: Link now works. Sorry about that.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Education, Science

America’s police are looking more and more like the military

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The Guardian has an interesting story of the transformation of our civilian police departments into military outposts, with an uncomfortable feel of an occupying army. But I’m probably just over-sensitive on that score. Michael Shank and Elizabeth Beavers write:

America’s streets are looking more and more like a war zone. Last week, in a small county in upstate New York with a population of roughly 120,000 people, county legislators approved the receipt of a 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, donated by the US Defense Department to the county sheriff.

Between the Armored Personnel Carriers locking down main streets in major American cities – mimicking our MRAPs in Afghanistan – or Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) and Special Forces units canvassing our country, if we’re not careful, this militarization of our domestic policing will make-over America, and fast.

Here’s how it all happened. A little-known Pentagon program has been quietly militarizing American police forces for years. A total of $4.2bn worthof equipment has been distributed by the Defense Department to municipal law enforcement agencies, with a record $546m in 2012 alone.

In the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1997, the “1033 program” was born. It allows the Defense Department todonate surplus military equipment to local police forces.

Though the program’s existed since the 1990s, it has expanded greatly in recent years, due, in part, to post-9/11 fears and sequestration budget cuts. The expanse, however, seems unnecessary given that the Department of Homeland Security has already handed out $34bn in “terrorism grants” to local polices forces – without oversight mind you – to fund counter-terrorism efforts.

Additional militarization, then, deserves congressional attention as the program is harmful and must be scaled back for a number of reasons.

First, the program is transforming our police into a military. The results of such over-militarized law enforcement are apparent from the dispersion of Occupy protesters in Oakland to the city-wide lockdown in Boston. As retired police chief Norm Stamper stated to the Associated Press:

We make a serious mistake, I’m convinced, in equipping domestic law enforcement, particularly in smaller, rural communities, with this much military equipment.

Tanks, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and assault rifles are just a few of the items that have been transferred from military control to municipal police forces. Law enforcement agencies need only to arrange and pay for shipment in order to receive the items of their choice (pdf). One particularly egregious example is found in South Carolina, where Richland County’s sheriff acquired a tank with 360-degree rotating machine gun turrets. Sardonically, the vehicle has been named “the Peacemaker“.

Swat teams, furthermore, are no longer found only in large, high-crime areas. Instead, even small rural towns now have the equipment to arm their own paramilitary units. Investigative reporter Radley Balko estimates that around 150 Swat raids are performed every day in the United States.

Second, the program encourages waste. Never mind, for a moment, that neither the Defense Department nor the Homeland Security Department has been audited – the only two unaudited government departments incidentally. Any waste from the 1033 program, then, has gone unnoticed thus far.

Municipalities’ stockpiles have grown exponentially with billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry and equipment they simply do not need. This giveaway has created a shopping frenzy among law enforcement officials keen to scoop up equipment before someone else does.

Take a look at these examples. A small town in Georgia without a body of water acquired boats and scuba gear. The same town ordered a shipment of bayonets, which is now collecting dust. In Texas, a town of only 835 residents received more than $3m worth of equipment, including deep-fat fryers, televisions, and playground equipment. The stories abound.

Authorities often claim that the program assists local law enforcement without incurring costs for taxpayers. Yet the program requires that localities accept equipment “as is”, meaning that taxpayers foot the bill (pdf) for all repairs, storage, or maintenance of the growing stockpile. Thus, the arms race ignited by these policies is as wasteful and costly as it is dangerous.

Lastly, . . .

Continue reading.

And when you add in this trend, it does seem somewhat worrisome.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Business, Government, Law

Degrees of veganism

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People generally view a vegan diet as an “either/or” proposition: either you are vegan (no foods from animal sources) or you are not. That strikes ,e as too absolutist. Few people (indeed, I know of none) get all their nourishment from animal sources—most have a substantial part of their diet from plant sources.

Imagine a dial where “10” represents getting all nourishment from animal sources, and “0” represents getting all nourishment from plant and fungi sources. A “0,” for example, means no honey, eggs (even if not fertile), dairy, and the like.

Most people would, I imagine, come in around 7 or 8: mostly plant-based foods: some animal-based foods, but mostly not. (One can niggle around about whether the amounts are measured by volume (non-animal foods are generally bulkier than animal-sourced foods, so this results in a lower reading on the dial), by weight, or by calories (animal-based foods tend to be more caloric than plant foods (exceptions: oils, nuts), so this would push the dial number higher). But I’m just speaking roughly, to define a dietary continuum of sorts.

I would say that I’ve gone to about 1 or 2—say, 1.5—from about 7 or 8. I think that’s a good improvement, and that satisfies me. If I occasionally eat something from an animal source, I’m okay with that. Indeed, I have an egg a day, over-easy using butter. Other than those two things, on most days I ingest no other foods from animal sources. But to go to 0, I think, is (obviously) an extreme, and I truly do not see the harm of eating a little honey or butter or the occasional wild fish, low in the food chain. (I’m thinking sardines here.) (Going to 10 would also be an extreme, but I doubt that any human does that—but most predators do: cats, for example. But not bears.)

The point being that it’s easier to get someone to turn down the dial than it is to get them to flip the switch to “off.” And the dial, once turned, can little by little down the numbers.

Still, some see more danger is animal-based foods. See, for example, this video:

The context is provided here.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Rich People Just Care Less

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Interesting column in the NY Times by the psychologist Daniel Goleman (whose excellent book Vital Lies, Simple Truths I highly recommend):

Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them.

These metaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive. They suggest, to a surprisingly accurate extent, the social distance between those with greater power and those with less — a distance that goes beyond the realm of interpersonal interactions and may exacerbate the soaring inequality in the United States.

A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. Higher-status people are also more likely to express disregard, through facial expressions, and are more likely to take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker.

Bringing the micropolitics of interpersonal attention to the understanding of social power, researchers are suggesting, has implications for public policy.

Of course, in any society, social power is relative; any of us may be higher or lower in a given interaction, and the research shows the effect still prevails. Though the more powerful pay less attention to us than we do to them, in other situations we are relatively higher on the totem pole of status — and we, too, tend to pay less attention to those a rung or two down.

A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain. In 2008, social psychologists from the University of Amsterdam and the University of California, Berkeley, studied pairs of strangers telling one another about difficulties they had been through, like a divorce or death of a loved one. The researchers found that the differential expressed itself in the playing down of suffering. The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful.

Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at Berkeley, and Michael W. Kraus, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have done much of the research on social power and the attention deficit.

Mr. Keltner suggests that, in general, we focus the most on those we value most. While the wealthy can hire help, those with few material assets are more likely to value their social assets: like the neighbor who will keep an eye on your child from the time she gets home from school until the time you get home from work. The financial difference ends up creating a behavioral difference. Poor people are better attuned to interpersonal relations — with those of the same strata, and the more powerful — than the rich are, because they have to be.

While Mr. Keltner’s research finds that the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions, in general, those with the most power in society seem to pay particularly little attention to those with the least power. To be sure, high-status people do attend to those of equal rank — but not as well as those low of status do.

This has profound implications for societal behavior and government policy. Tuning in to the needs and feelings of another person is a prerequisite to empathy, which in turn can lead to understanding, concern and, if the circumstances are right, compassionate action.

In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them. The insistence by some House Republicans in Congress on cutting financing for food stamps and impeding the implementation of Obamacare, which would allow patients, including those with pre-existing health conditions, to obtain and pay for insurance coverage, may stem in part from the empathy gap. As political scientists have noted, redistricting and gerrymandering have led to the creation of more and more safe districts, in which elected officials don’t even have to encounter many voters from the rival party, much less empathize with them.

Social distance makes it all the easier to focus on small differences between groups and to put a negative spin on the ways of others and a positive spin on our own.

Freud called this “the narcissism of minor differences,” a theme repeated by . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 11:44 am

L’Arte di Mastro Livi: il rasoio prende vita dalle mani, mente, passione e cuore

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Da una barra di acciaio RWL-34 e un piccolo pezzo di legno di radica d’olivo nasce un prestigioso rasoio a mano libera: un capolavoro che prende vita dall’arte e dalla passione di Mastro Livi.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 10:20 am

Posted in Shaving, Technology

B. Netanyahu: “If Iranians were free they would wear blue jeans and listen to Western music.”

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Guess what.

Netanyahu seems more and more to be of a Tea-Party-like mindset.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 10:18 am

Posted in Mideast Conflict

Technical description of the new $100 bill

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Very interesting. They surely could have improved security even more by having, on front and back, small “Do not counterfeit” signs.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 10:15 am

Posted in Technology

BBS with Sodial and Floris No. 89

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SOTD 8 Oct 2013

No wonder James Bond like Floris No. 89 so much: great stuff. And I’ve read now that they have reformulated (again) and this time the reformulation is much better. (My tub dates from before the bad reformulation.)

The Ecotools Bamboo Finishing Kabuki did its usual superb job of making lather, and the Sodial with a relatively fresh Personna Lab Blue blade left my face BBS after 3 passes, without nick or burn.

A good splash of Floris No. 89 and the day begins.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 10:10 am

Posted in Shaving

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