Later On

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

Archive for November 23rd, 2013

Potatoes

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Potatoes

These are the tiny-baby potatoes I got as they went into the oven, tossed in duck fat and sprinkled with minced garlic and salt. They were very tasty indeed, but the skins toughen. I think it’s the duck fat, so now I’m roasting another batch in olive oil to test that.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

“Private enterprise can do better than the government”

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People are aghast at the development disaster of Healthcare.gov. Even though that development was managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the government, the bulk of the development work has been done by CGI Federal, a private company.

If only, people say, the government would have let a private company—so much more efficient than government employees—do all the development work. Like, say, Oracle, which was given the task of implementing Oregon’s healthcare-insurance exchange.

Or maybe not: zero people signed up to date. Bupkis. Nada.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 9:14 am

Gmail users: Note Postbox

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Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 9:03 am

Posted in Software

“Marijuana today has a higher concetration of THC!!!”

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The title refers to a common “objection” to legalizing marijuana. It’s not a valid objection, however. In rebuttal, consider this:  wine glasses are smaller than beer glasses and larger than shot glasses. If a drug is concentrated, people use less. People don’t drink bourbon from beer glasses.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 8:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Drug laws

Is it all pattern-recognition?

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I’ve been thinking about the capability of the human mind (and animal minds, for that matter) to recognize patterns. Humans seem particularly good at picking up patterns—in conversation, in art, in nature, in society, and so on. Recognizing words and faces involves strong pattern-recognition capabilities.

I’m wondering whether pattern-recognition is the engine driving most/all of our intellectual/cultural accomplishments. (Pattern creation is simply applied pattern-recognition: you do things (e.g., apply paint to canvas) in order to make something that you recognize as a pattern you want.)

In other words, we’re basically a one-trick pony, though the trick (pattern recognition) is very powerful and adaptable to many situations. But so far as what we are: it’s pattern recognition all the way down. (Cf. this well-known story:

After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady.

“Your theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system, and the earth is a ball which rotates around it has a very convincing ring to it, Mr. James, but it’s wrong. I’ve got a better theory,” said the little old lady.

“And what is that, madam?” Inquired James politely.

“That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle,”

Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of her position.

“If your theory is correct, madam,” he asked, “what does this turtle stand on?”

“You’re a very clever man, Mr. James, and that’s a very good question,” replied the little old lady, “but I have an answer to it. And it is this: The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him.”

“But what does this second turtle stand on?” Persisted James patiently.

To this the little old lady crowed triumphantly. “It’s no use, Mr. James—it’s turtles all the way down.”

—J. R. Ross, Constraints on Variables in Syntax 1967

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 8:38 am

Posted in Daily life

The US maintains its silence and refusal to respond

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This story shows why the US finds its reputation and influence steadily declining—and also shows signs of serious moral rot at the core of our government. Robert Worth and Scott Shane write in the NY Times:

Now he stood face to face with Representative Adam B. Schiff — a California Democrat who had carved out 20 minutes between two votes on natural gas policy — to tell his story: how he watched in horror last year as drone-fired missiles incinerated his nephew and brother-in-law in a remote Yemeni village.

Neither of the victims was a member of Al Qaeda. In fact, the opposite was true. They were meeting with three Qaeda members in hopes of changing the militants’ views.

“It really puts a human face on the term ‘collateral damage,’ ” said Mr. Schiff, looking awed after listening to Mr. Jaber.

A gaunt civil engineer with a white mustache, Mr. Jaber spent the past week struggling to pierce the veil of secrecy and anonymity over the Obama administration’s drone strike program, which targets militants in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. He did not have much luck.

He met at length with a half-dozen members of Congress, as well as officials from the National Security Council and the State Department. Everywhere, he received heartfelt condolences. But no one has been able to explain why his relatives were killed, or why the administration is not willing to acknowledge its mistake.

It was an error with unusual resonance. Mr. Jaber’s brother-in-law was a cleric who had spoken out against Al Qaeda shortly before the drone killed him. The nephew was a local policeman who had gone along in part to offer protection. The strike, in August 2012, drew widespread indignation in Yemen, and wasdocumented in The New York Times and later by human rights groups, along with a number of other strikes that accidentally killed innocent people.

A Yemeni counterterrorism official called Mr. Jaber hours after the strike to apologize for the mistake. Mr. Jaber wrote an open letter to President Obama, but received no answer. The same is true of a Pakistani family who lost a grandmother in a drone strike and visited Washington briefly late last month, in what appears to be the first such visit to Congress.

In May, Mr. Obama responded to rising criticism of the targeted killing program and acknowledged in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington that some innocent people had been killed. The president promised greater transparency, but the administration still refuses to discuss specific strikes or to apologize or pay compensation for strikes that went wrong. When American officials have offered estimates of civilian casualties in drone strikes, their numbers have been far lower than those given by research groups and journalists.

Mr. Jaber’s visit — and that of the Pakistani family — comes as a congressional effort is building to force the administration’s hand. Early this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee added to the annual intelligence policy bill a requirement for an annual report giving the number of “combatants” and “noncombatant civilians” killed or injured in the previous year in drone strikes outside conventional wars. The report would give only total numbers, not details of each strike or the names of those killed.

Mr. Schiff, who met Mr. Jaber on Wednesday, plans to sponsor a similar bill in the House.

Mr. Jaber’s visit was sponsored by the peace group Code Pink, which organized an accompanying protest in front of the White House last week, and Reprieve, a human rights group based in London.

Unlike some of the activists who embraced him and apologized to him wherever he went, Mr. Jaber strikes a very humble and unassuming attitude about his family’s tragedy. He says he does not presume to pass judgment on the drone strike program itself, but wants acknowledgment and an apology.

“I learned two things,” he said when asked to sum up his week in Washington. “First, the American people and their organizations are very kind and well meaning, and the Congress members also were very sympathetic. But on the other side, there are politicians who seem to be trying to keep everything secret.”

Mr. Jaber offers a harrowing account of the drone strike. It was the day after his son’s wedding in his native village, Khashamir, and he was eating dinner at home with several relatives when they heard a whirring from the sky. Looking out the window, he and his relatives saw a flash, and then heard a series of terrific crashes, “as if the whole mountain had exploded.” The village erupted in panic.

Mr. Jaber’s daughter, who was very close to the strike, was so traumatized that she did not get out of bed for three weeks, he said. The mother of one of the dead men went into a coma after she heard the news and died a month later.

When Mr. Jaber arrived on the scene that night, less than a mile from his house, he found bits of charred human flesh spread on the ground, he said. It was not until two hours later, through the accounts of witnesses, that the identities of the dead men and what had happened to them became clear.

Mr. Jaber’s brother-in-law, the imam, had been approached earlier that evening by three Qaeda militants who were angry about a speech the imam had delivered condemning terrorism. The imam reluctantly agreed to talk to the men, but just in case he was accompanied by Mr. Jaber’s nephew, the policeman. The volley of missiles killed all five men.

Like most Yemenis, Mr. Jaber deplores the influence of Al Qaeda in his country, which is one of the world’s poorest. He fears that the drone strikes are fostering greater militancy and anger at America. But above all, he finds the administration’s silence baffling. . .

Continue reading. This administration has taken secrecy and refusal to acknowledge errors and harm to a new and much higher level.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 8:28 am

Great shave with Schick Krona

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SOTD 23 Nov 2013

I decided to use the Pumpkin Pie shaving soap from HowToGrowAMoustache.com, a favorite soap, and I had the inspiration to choose a pumpkin-colored brush, my Rooney Emilion.

An immediate great lather resulted, and I went at my beard with my new Schick Krona, which I purchased on eBay, coincidentally from a blog reader. With a Kai blade I got a very smooth shave indeed: three passes to BBS.

A splash of Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather aftershave, and I’m starting the weekend.

Douglas Smythe, proprietor of HTGAM, comments on the ingredients of this soap:

A note on the new formulation: Here is a breakdown on the new ingredients included in Pumpk’n 3.14 as well as all our soaps now:

Chaulmoogra Oil  – Used for shield and protection of skin.Contains antimicrobial properties effective to treat eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, sprains, bruises and skin inflammations. Studies have shown Chaulmoogra oil to be an effective treatment for leprosy!

Neem Oil – Used to lubricate and moisturize. Neem oil is rich in essential fatty acids, like those found in sea buckthorn oil, that nourish and balance problem skin. The natural oils and glycerides quickly and easily penetrate outer layers of skin to soothe even chronically dry, itchy or flaking areas like psoriasis and eczema. Neem oil is the next big “it” in skin care and for preventing the signs of aging. Many consumers are aware of the importance of essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants for the health benefits internally and externally. Neem oil contains both potent anti-oxidants and is rich in essential fatty acids; Neem is the perfect skin cocktail for soothing wrinkles and fine lines while helping to prevent the signs of aging when used regularly. It has been traditionally used to even out skin tone irregularities, helping to balance and restore proper skin pigmentation for issues such as vitiligo or age spots. Neem is an ideal herb for acne-prone skin because it can help to soothe irritation and inflammation, clear up pimples and remove un-desired levels of bacteria on the skin that can cause more break-outs. Neem is the ideal plant for mature skin, oily skin, dry or acne-prone conditions. Few plants are considered to be as important a panacea or “cure all” for many skin conditions. Neem is fondly referred to as the village pharmacy for this reason.

Pumpkin-Seed Oil – Added to lubricate, shield and moisturize. Skin Benefits: Antioxidant properties It appears that the biggest skin benefits of pumpkin-seed oil are that it possesses very high levels of the natural antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin-seed oil is especially high in the gamma-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.

Aloe Vera – A powerful moisturizer. Aloe plants have their own way of being beneficial when applied to skin. Aloe both soothes tired skin and has antibacterial properties. It’s a product used to heal the skin from damaging effects caused by over-exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Once applied, it releases natural vitamins and enzymes into the skin to produce a deep moisturizing effect that restores its balance.

Yellow Dock Root – Provides skin food and adds slick much like clay. Topically, yellow dock can come in quite handy; it may be used to reduce swelling in the event of an injury. The Native Americans used the bruised leaves to draw pus from wounds. The powder has also been use on insect stings and bites to relieve the pain, swelling and irritation. It is a natural astringent that much like alum can stop minor weepers.

Maca Root – Provides skin food and slick much like clay. Recently, it was shown that Maca root nourishes and softens the skin. Laboratory studies have shown that Maca root stimulates proliferation of fibroblasts in vitro, resulting in younger looking skin. Research showed that Maca root extract stimulates adhesion. The extract from Maca root, (Macaderm) has been tested in vitro, on keratinocytes, which are responsible of the synthesis of extracellular constituents. Cells reside in a protein network, moulded by extracellular matrix constituents. The most important constituents of cell adhesion are integrin and collagen type IV. While integrins interact with extracellular matrix and mediate various cell signals, collagen type IV promotes cell attachment and proliferation. It was shown that in anti-aging skin care formulations, Maca extract enhances keratinocyte production, giving the basement membrane a better network structure. So by increasing keratinocyte production, Maca may increase collagen synthesis, improving the integrity of the skin’s structural matrix.

And some of our classic standard ingredients:

Kokum Butter – For glide and moisturizing benefits. Well known for it’s emollient, and regenerative, properties making it one of the best choices for damaged skin preparations. One of the most useful butters for inflamed skin preparation and enhanced barrier formation. ATTRIBUTES nurtures damaged skin soothes inflammed skin provides a supple skin feel improved barrier for natural hydration

Mango Butter – Adds moisture and glide. Contains a wealth of healthy properties with multiple skin-nourishing benefits that can really do your wonders for your skin. For centuries, Mango Butter has been traditionally used in the rain forests and tropics for its skin softening, soothing, moisturizing and protective properties. It is rich in powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to reduce the degeneration of skin cells, restore elasticity and offer a protective effect from the sun’s UV radiation. Mango Butter works as an anti-ageing ingredient; fighting free-radicals and plumping up lines and wrinkles (dermatologists often recommend Mango Butter for the treatment of lines and wrinkles, as most people who use it will notice decreased signs of aging within 4 to 6 weeks of daily use).

Cocoa Butter – Provides moisture & shield. Cocoa butter is among the best moisturizers as it penetrates through the outer layer of the skin to reach the skin layer below and moisturizes and repairs the skin effectively leaving your face soft, supple and glowing. Presence of antioxidants and vitamins: Cocoa butter has very strong antioxidants that help in fighting free radicals that are the major cause of aging. The major antioxidants found in cocoa butter are known as flavonols which are very strong antioxidants. The presence of vitamins in cocoa butter, with vitamin E being very abundant in cocoa butter makes it very beneficial on skin as it protects skin that is irritated and sunburned. Beneficial for dry skin problems: Cocoa butter being an excellent emollient and moisturizer, it is very suitable for people suffering from dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis which are characterized by itchy, scaly and dry skin. Reduces stress and bring relief: Applying cocoa butter on face has been considered a good way of easing tension from the body and also reducing stress. The antioxidants present in cocoa butter also help in easing away stress related tension.

Avocado Oil – Lubricates & heals the skin. Avocado oil applied topically helps relieve dry and itchy skin. Once applied, avocado oil is deeply absorbed by the skin, thus making it an ideal moisturizer and skin care agent. Increase Collagen Production. When applied, avocado oil increases the production of collagen, which helps keep the skin plump and decreases the effects of aging. Treat Skin Conditions. Avocado oil is useful in the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. Others. Avocado oil facilitates the healing of wounds and burns to the skin.

And that’s just some of our ingredients…sorry to bore you, just thought due to a recent influx of emails, some want to know why we use what we use! Happy Shaving! Douglas

Written by LeisureGuy

23 November 2013 at 8:18 am

Posted in Shaving

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