Later On

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

Archive for December 3rd, 2013

Current good recipe: Casamiento

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Read the full backstory and original recipe here. I’m blogging it because we both like it a lot. I don’t want to use chili powder with it because then it would seem like a weird chili. Following is my version:

Casamiento (Black Beans and Rice)

• 1 (15 ounce) can organic black beans, undrained
• 2 cups cooked black rice – I measure out 1 c and cook that, which makes about 2 c after it’s cooked
• 1 sweet onion, chopped (you can use leeks or shallots instead)
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
• 1 yellow crookneck squash, cut into small dice
• 1 red bell pepper, diced about the same size
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin (very important)
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Put the 2 Tbsp olive oil in large-diameter pot (I use my 4-qt sauté pan), add chopped onions and cook until they start to brown, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, cook 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, squash, bell pepper, salt, cumin, and pepper.

Sauté 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, then stir in the beans with their liquid and the cooked rice. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.

I top it with shredded cheese or yogurt or crème fraîche, freshly sautéed bacon bits optional, but their suggestion of warm tortillas and sliced avocado sounds good, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

The GOP has lost its collective mind—or at least misplaced its moral compass

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This amounts to fraud. Read and think about what this reveals about the GOP. And let’s wait for the news stories that will be coming out just about this time next year, when every heart-tugging talk show segment in the land will feature stories of 20-somethings whose lives have been ruined because they were convinced not to get health insurance, that going uninsured would be a good idea. “And now, here I am…” <breaks down in sobs>

Talk shows won’t be able to resist because those stories will resonate with the audience, particularly with those able to pat themselves on the back for being smart enough to have healthcare insurance.

But read at the link. Unfortunately, believable.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 3:08 pm

Posted in GOP, Healthcare

Very slow to catch on: Superheroes

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I am very slow. It struck me only now why superheroes generally discover their special power in adolescence. Duh.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Daily life

BIG cost savings: Close Guantánamo Bay

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Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Congress

The Pope vs. the Bishops

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Very interesting story in Salon by Vinnie Rotondaro:

In under a year, Pope Francis has managed to rouse and inspire Catholics across the world with his calls of a “church for the poor.” He has done this without making any changes to Church doctrine.

Last week, Francis continued his populist charge, releasing a powerful papal exhortation titled Evangelii Gaudium. The document decries economic inequality as “the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation,” ideologies, like trickle down economics, which, “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.”

“A new tyranny is thus born,” the pope wrote, “invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

Again and again, by virtue of his tone and contextual aim, Francis wins over many (including much of the mainstream press). Even non-believers and the disaffected have taken notice. But while much of his popularity can be attributed to his populist charm, there also seems to be an element of surprise in the public’s reaction to his papacy, as if the Pope’s simple, Christ-like message of love and inclusion has come as a shock to the system – as something new, unexpected.

Why? Take a look at the agenda items addressed earlier last month by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their annual meeting in Baltimore. The bishops of the richest, most powerful and increasingly unequal nation in the world, convening in a city wracked by generational poverty, talked about pornography, they discussed contraception and gay marriage, and addressed questions of minor liturgical importance. Poverty was not on the agenda.

The image offered up was that of a place where the old-guard rules, where reactionary tsk-tskers inveigh on what people can and cannot do in their personal lives, where “liberal” political concerns are mentioned while “conservative” causes are crusaded over.

And if the whispers that some bishops “appear willing to wait out this pope,” or the election of the conference’s new chair, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, a “smiling conservative” who signed the Manhattan Declaration and cannot seriously be seen as a reformer, are any indication, it doesn’t look likely this image will change anytime soon.

Why does Pope Francis surprise us? He surprises us because he seems unlike so much the hierarchy he represents.

But let’s not jump the gun. A quick spin through history shows it’s not so much Francis who is unlike his Church, but his Church which is unlike its past, and in attempting to bring Catholicism back-to-the-future, as it were, it’s conceivable that the pope could trigger a significant political shift here in the U.S.A.

Throughout most of the 20th century, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 1:22 pm

More drawbacks from police in the schools

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Students get a rap sheet instead of being sent to the principal’s office. Lizette Alvarez reports in the NY Times:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses.

Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County’s public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.

The Florida district, the sixth largest in the nation, was far from an outlier. In the past two decades, schools around the country have seen suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor nonviolent offenses climb together with the number of police officers stationed at schools. The policy, called zero tolerance, first grew out of the war on drugs in the 1990s and became more aggressive in the wake of school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

But in November, Broward veered in a different direction, joining other large school districts, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver, in backing away from the get-tough approach.

Rather than push children out of school, districts like Broward are now doing the opposite: choosing to keep lawbreaking students in school, away from trouble on the streets, and offering them counseling and other assistance aimed at changing behavior.

These alternative efforts are increasingly supported, sometimes even led, by state juvenile justice directors, judges and police officers.

In Broward, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, the school district entered into a wide-ranging agreement last month with local law enforcement, the juvenile justice department and civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P. to overhaul its disciplinary policies and de-emphasize punishment.

Some states, prodded by parents and student groups, are similarly moving to change the laws; in 2009, Florida amended its laws to allow school administrators greater discretion in disciplining students. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Education, Law

Interesting comment from David Brooks

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From his column today:

Then there are those who look to politics for identity. They treat their partisan affiliation as a form of ethnicity. These people drive a lot of talk radio and television. Not long ago, most intelligent television talk was not about politics. Shows would put interesting people together, like Woody Allen with Billy Graham (check it out on YouTube), and they’d discuss anything under the sun.

Now most TV and radio talk is minute political analysis, while talk of culture has shriveled. This change is driven by people who, absent other attachments, have fallen upon partisanship to give them a sense of righteousness and belonging.

This emotional addiction can lead to auto-hysteria.

Hmmm. Am I guilty? I certainly find politics enthralling, as some are reported to find baseball. And, like baseball, you follow not only the games (the legislation and court decisions), but also the players, the prospects, the trade-offs, and so on. I think the difference is that politics, through enacting and enforcing the laws and regulations that so shape our lives.

His point on TV talk shows is interesting. We do not have cultural talk shows—all our talk shows seem to be some variant of the news: politics, sports, business, actual news. Nothing that is of this moment. Little to provide intellectual context to what we witness.

UPDATE: It strikes me that this NY Times Op-Ed by Gary Gutting is directly relevant—and in fact also relevant to the minimum-wage discussion:

Crisis” and “decline” are the words of the day in discussions of the humanities. A primary stimulus for the concern is a startling factoid: only 8 percent of undergraduates major in humanities. But this figure is misleading. It does not include majors in closely related fields such as history, journalism and some of the social sciences. Nor does it take account of the many required and elective humanities courses students take outside their majors. Most important, the 8 percent includes only those with a serious academic interest in literature, music and art, not those devoted to producing the artistic works that humanists study.

Once we recognize that deeply caring about the humanities (including the arts) does not require majoring in philosophy, English or foreign languages, it’s not at all obvious that there is a crisis of interest in the humanities, at least in our universities.Is the crisis rather one of harsh economic reality? Humanities majors on average start earning $31,000 per year and move to an average of $50,000 in their middle years. (The figures for writers and performing artists are much lower.) By contrast, business majors start with salaries 26 percent higher than humanities majors and move to salaries 51 percent higher.

But this data does not show that business majors earn more because they majored in business. Business majors may well be more interested in earning money and so accept jobs that pay well even if they are not otherwise fulfilling, whereas people interested in the humanities and the arts may be willing to take more fulfilling but lower-paying jobs. College professors, for example, often know that they could have made far more if they had gone to law school or gotten an M.B.A., but are willing to accept significantly lower pay to teach a subject they love.

This talk of “a subject they love” brings us to the real crisis, which is both economic and cultural (or even moral). The point of work should not be just to provide the material goods we need to survive. Since work typically takes the largest part of our time, it should also be an important part of what gives our life meaning. Our economic system works well for those who find meaning in economic competition and the material rewards it brings. To a lesser but still significant extent, our system provides meaningful work in service professions (like health and social work) for those fulfilled by helping people in great need. But for those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

Or rather, it has a great deal to offer but only for a privileged elite (the cultural parallel to our economic upper class) who have had the ability and luck to reach the highest levels of humanistic achievement. If you have (in Pierre Bourdieu’s useful term) the “cultural capital” to gain a tenured professorship at a university, play regularly in a major symphony orchestra or write mega best sellers, you can earn an excellent living doing what you love. Short of that, you must pursue your passion on the side.Teaching should be an obvious solution for many humanities majors. But . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 12:41 pm

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