Later On

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

Archive for October 13th, 2014

More on the Mosuo

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Daily life

Thoughts on pudding

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I’m at the point in The Ionian Mission where the spotted dog pudding is served, and Jack Aubrey is saying that without good suet you could not have a good spotted dog, much less a drowned baby. So I googled and found:

Thoughts on Pudding, by Patrick O’Brian

(From the Patrick O’Brian Newsletter
September 1994; Volume 3: Issue 2)

The genus may be divided into three species, the first being the almost-obsolete dish called ball, or herb-pudding, a solid object made of flour and suet, with thyme, rosemary, marjoram and the like sprinkled through its substance, the whole being wrapped in a cloth and boiled for some hours before being brought to the table earlier than anything else, since its function was to take the edge off extreme appetite before the appearance of better and more costly things.

The second is made up of those which form the main substance of the meal, haggis, Burns’s great chieftain of the pudding race, being a good example — though there is also a great deal to be said for steak and kidney pudding, in which the obvious ingredients (and occasionally larks) are enclosed in an envelope of paste or dough made of flour, water and suet and then boiled, wrapped in a pudding-cloth, for a great while.

But the third, and for many the most delightful, is that which appears when the meat has been taken away — the end and the crown of a dinner, reaching its apotheosis at Christmas, when the plum-pudding, a wonderful mixture of dried currants, raisins, rum, candied peel, spices, small silver charms and of course the essential suet, comes to the table, blazing with brandy and topped with holly.

Second only to that of Christmas we find a series of others, all founded upon that happy marriage of flour (two parts), suet (one part) and sugar consummated in a cloth or basin surrounded by boiling water. In spotted dog, for example, the dough is liberally sprinkled with fine bold currants and the cloth is tied tight, so that when the pudding is turned out on the dish its exterior is firm and relatively dry; in the version known as drowned baby, on the other hand, the cloth is somewhat looser, so that the resultant surface is agreeably glutinous. Plum duff is much the same, but prunes, sultanas or even dates take the place of currants (when it is made with raisins it is knows as figgy-dowdy in the West of England). Then there is roly-poly, in which the dough or paste is rolled out, spread with jam and rolled up again before being put into its cloth and boiled; and to this day a square in Lisbon is called after it, because the elegant paving has much the same pattern.

Other sweet dishes sometimes reach the table at the end of the meal, and by extension they too are called puddings; but although there are respectable tarts, pies and preparations based on rice, most of the custards, sillabubs, flummeries and other kickshaws do not deserve the name at all, which should be reserved for nobler objects altogether, the true heroes’ delight.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Books, Food

A rational approach to a (local) medical marijuana dispensary

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I am particularly taken with the idea of a two-story structure, the upper story available at no cost to police department as a substation—and it’s directly across the street from the source of most of their police calls. So the police get an assist, the public gets an assist, and the marijuana dispensary gets terrific security. (In California, dispensaries tend to have lots of cash because banks don’t want to run afoul of Federal laws on laundering drug money. So security is indeed an issue, and I bet this approach is a very cost-effective solution.)

Here’s the story.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 1:47 pm

Wind Power Is Actually Cheaper Than Coal, Says Leaked Government Report

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Wow! That’s a game changer. I would bet the coal industry is sending pallets of money down to Washington to get that report killed. Look for US government-funded counter-studies within months if not weeks. (And the GOP will of course dismiss it out of hand: it’s European, and physics and chemistry and so on are very different over there…  metric and stuff.)

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 1:25 pm

James Risen’s new book sounds like one to read

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Murtaza Hussain reports at The Intercept:

James Risen’s new book on war-on-terror abuses comes out tomorrow, and if you want to find a copy it shouldn’t be hard to obtain. As natural as that seems, it almost wasn’t the case with the Risen’s last book, “State of War,” published in 2006. Not only did U.S. government officials object to the publication of the book on national security grounds, it turns out they pressured Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, to have it killed.

The campaign to stifle Risen’s national security reporting at the Times is already well-documented, but a 60 Minutes story last night provided a glimpse into how deeply these efforts extended into the publishing world, as well. After being blocked from reporting on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program for the paper of record, Risen looked into getting these revelations out through a book he was already under contract to write for Simon & Schuster, a book that would look at a wide range of intelligence missteps in the war on terror.

In response, it seems, the government once again went straight to the top in order to thwart him. As 60 Minutes reports: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 1:17 pm

Nice layman’s summary of Jean Ticole’s contributions

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I thought this little précis did a fine job.

And this piece too is informative.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 1:10 pm

Interesting variations in story of Russian gay teen

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Interesting how the urban-legend version of a relatively recent story diverges so markedly from reality.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

Outright corruption in the Pentagon

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Read this report in the Washington Post. From the report:

Court records filed by prosecutors allege that the Navy paid the auto mechanic — the brother of the directorate’s boss — $1.6 million for the silencers, even though they cost only $10,000 in parts and labor to manufacture.

The auto mechanic made the silences, then sold them fora 160,000% mark-up. I’m sure he and his brother made quite a bit from the sale.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 11:14 am

How rational legislators handle requirements and reporting for pension funds

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Dutch pension funds are in good shape because—get this—the Dutch insist on honesty in reporting. Revolutionary idea, eh? Probably doesn’t have a chance in the US. Mary Williams Walsh writes in the NY Times:

Imagine a place where pensions were not an ever-deepening quagmire, where the numbers told the whole story and where workers could count on a decent retirement.

Imagine a place where regulators existed to make sure everyone followed the rules.

That place might just be the Netherlands. And it could provide an example for America’s troubled cities, or for states like Illinois and New Jersey that have promised more in pension benefits than they can deliver.

“The rest of the world sort of laughs at the United States — how can a great country like the United States get so many things wrong?” said Keith Ambachtsheer, a Dutch pension specialist who works at the University of Toronto — specifically at its Rotman International Center for Pension Management, a global clearinghouse of information on how successful retirement systems work.

Going Dutch, however, can be painful. Dutch pensions are scrupulously funded, unlike many United States plans, and are required to tally their liabilities with brutal honesty, using a method that is common in the financial-services industry but rejected by American public pension funds.

The Dutch system rests on the idea that each generation should pay its own costs — and that the costs must be measured accurately if that is to happen. After the financial collapse of 2008, workers and retirees in the Netherlands took the bitter medicine needed to rebuild their collective nest eggs quickly, with higher contributions from workers and benefit cuts for pensioners.

The Dutch approach bears little resemblance to the American practice of shielding the current generation of workers, retirees and taxpayers while pushing costs and risks into the future, where they can metastasize unseen. The most recent data suggest that public funds in the United States are holding just 67 cents for every dollar they owe to current and future pensioners, and in some places the strain is palpable. The Netherlands, by contrast, have no Detroits (no cities going bankrupt because pension costs grew while the population shrank), no Puerto Ricos (territories awash in debt but with no access to bankruptcy court) and nothing like an Illinois or New Jersey, where elected officials kicked the can down the road so many times that it finally hit a dead end.

About 90 percent of Dutch workers earn real pensions at their jobs. Their benefits are intended to amount to about 70 percent of their lifetime average pay, as many financial planners recommend. For this and other reasons, the Netherlands has for years been at or near the top of global pension rankings compiled by Mercer, the consulting firm, and the Australian Center for Financial Studies, among others.

Accomplishing this feat — solid workplace pensions for most citizens — isn’t easy. For one thing, it’s expensive. Dutch workers typically sock away nearly 18 percent of their pay, most of it in diversified, professionally run pension funds. That compares with 16.4 percent for American workers, but most of that is for Social Security, which is intended to provide just 40 percent of a middle-class worker’s income in retirement. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 10:25 am

Where and to what degree marijuana is legal

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Very interesting interactive chart at Washington Post. Worth the click, and hover over chart entries for more info.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 10:19 am

Posted in Drug laws

Why voter-ID laws should be illegal

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Their only purpose is to keep people from voting, which is more or less the opposite of the primary principle of our government: one person, one vote. Brad Friedman highlights a stunning reversal on the part of Judge Richard Posner:

If you read just one top-to-bottom dismantling of every supposed premise in support of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions laws in your lifetime, let it be this one [PDF].

It is a dissent, released on Friday, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was the one who approved the first such Photo ID law in the country (Indiana’s) back in 2008, in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Posner’s ruling was affirmed.

If there was ever evidence that a jurist could change their mind upon review of additional subsequent evidence, this is it. If there was ever a concise and airtight case made against Photo ID laws and the threat they pose to our most basic right to vote, this is it. If there was ever a treatise revealing such laws for the blatantly partisan shell games that they are, this is it.

His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

Posner is, by far, the most widely cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to The Journal of Legal Studies. His opinions are closely read by the Supreme Court, where the battle over the legality and Constitutionality of Photo ID voting laws will almost certainly wind up at some point in the not too distant future. That’s just one of the reasons why this opinion is so important.

This opinion, written on behalf of five judges on the 7th Circuit, thoroughly disabuses such notions such as: these laws are meant to deal with a phantom voter fraud concern (“Out of 146 million registered voters, this is a ratio of one case of voter fraud for every 14.6 million eligible voters”); that evidence shows them to be little more than baldly partisan attempts to keep Democratic voters from voting (“conservative states try to make it difficult for people who are outside the mainstream…to vote”); that rightwing partisan outfits like True the Vote, which support such laws, present “evidence” of impersonation fraud that is “downright goofy, if not paranoid”; and the notion that even though there is virtually zero fraud that could even possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, the fact that the public thinks there is, is a lousy reason to disenfranchise voters since there is no evidence that such laws actually increase public confidence in elections and, as new studies now reveal, such laws have indeed served to suppress turnout in states where they have been enacted.

There is far too much in it to appropriately encapsulate here for now. You just really need to take some time to read it in full. But it was written, largely, in response to the Appellate Court ruling last week by rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook which contained one embarrassing falsehood and error after another, including the canards about Photo ID being required to board airplanes, open bank accounts, buy beer and guns, etc. We took apart just that one paragraph of Easterbrook’s ruling last week here, but Posner takes apart his colleague’s entire, error-riddled mess of a ruling in this response.

Amongst my favorite passages (and there are so many), this one [emphasis added] . . .

Continue reading. The next bit is particularly good.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 9:40 am

Posted in GOP, Government, Law

Better lather, fine shave

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SOTD 13 Oct 2014

I wanted to try the Queen Charlotte Soaps Vetiver again after the somewhat disappointing performance with my Omega boar brush, so today I used a badger brush, Mr Pomp. And indeed I did get a noticeably better lather. It may be that I loaded the brush better or that I find it easier to use this soap with badger than with boar.

My iKon Slant with a Personna Lab Blue blade did a terrific job. I did get two nicks: one was on my lower lip, and I got it as soon as I set the razor on my skin there—bad angle, obviously. Another was a small one from XTG on my upper lip. My Nik Is Sealed efficiently took care of both.

A splash of Stirling’s Vetiver aftershave, a witch hazel and aloe vera formula, and the week begins.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 9:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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