Later On

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

Archive for March 25th, 2015

Let’s talk about lemon-rosemary-garlic chicken thighs with shallots—should I add anchovies?

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Here’s the recipe, and following are the ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon (1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped [I used 4, of course – LG]
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • > LG addition: 4 anchovies! <
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Marinate thighs in that, then cook as follows (see recipe at link—and when you brown the chicken thighs, 4 minutes is plenty):

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6 pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 or more shallots, peeled, halved

Take a look at the recipe at the link, and see what you think. I’m making one recipe without the anchovies, then I’ll make a recipe with the anchovies, then another recipe without….  🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 8:33 pm

Life is getting extremely weird: Real Life Katamari Ball Tests the Limits of 3D Printing

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I think we have seriously underestimated how weird daily life is becoming—though “we” clearly does not include William Gibson. Check out this article in Motherboard by Emanuel Maiberg:

Katamari Damacy took the gaming world by storm in 2004 with a simple concept. You roll a ball into objects that stick to it and make the ball bigger, which then allows you to roll into and gather bigger objects, making the ball even bigger, and so on. You start by rolling up loose change on the floor and before you know you’re rolling into trucks and buildings. The challenge was to see how big of a Katamari ball you could make before the timer runs out.

Kata​mari Roll, a new project by Arian Croft, uses the same idea to hopefully test the limits of 3D printing.

Croft, who’s known for his 3D-printed board game Pock​et-Tactics, got the idea for the project when he spotted a 3D model of a Katam​ari Ball on Th​ingiverse, 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot’s repository of models that users can share and print. “I noticed that it both hadn’t been printed yet, and that, though left in a repository full of random objects, it had yet to be used to gather a mound of objects,” he said.

Like the game that inspired it, Katamari Roll has a simple concept. Take the Katamari Ball, add a random 3D model to it, print it out, and pass it along. With 12 iterations so far, it’s off to a good start.

“It took off on the first day, and the clump has gotten bigger and bigger since,” Croft said. “It’s slowed down a bit, though as I document and more people catch on, it’ll grow, until, I guess, it can’t be printed anymore?”

Croft said that there are definitely limitations to how big the ball can get—Makerbot’s . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 7:53 pm

Army Apologizes for Handling of Chemical Weapon Exposure Cases

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And yet no officer will suffer any sort of accountability, I am sure. C.J. Chivers reports in the NY Times:

The under secretary of the Army on Wednesday apologized for the military’s treatment of American service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards.

Under Secretary Brad R. Carson acknowledged that the military had not followed its own policies for caring for troops exposed to old and abandoned chemical munitions that had been scattered around Iraq, and vowed improvement. He also said that the Army had reversed a previous decision and approved a Purple Heart medal for a soldier burned by sulfur mustard agent, and that he expected more medals would be issued to other veterans after further review.

“To me the scandal is that we had protocols in place and the medical community knew what they were, and yet we failed in some cases to implement this across the theater,” he said. “That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. I apologize for past actions and am going to fix it going forward.”

Mr. Carson was appointed last fall by Chuck Hagel, then the defense secretary, to lead a Pentagon working group to identify service members who had been exposed to chemical weapons and offer them medical screening and other support. The effort was in response to an investigation in The New York Times that revealed that the American military had secretly recovered thousands of old and often discarded chemical munitions in Iraq.

The report found that insurgents had used some of the weapons in roadside bombs, that most of the episodes had never been publicly acknowledged and that many troops who had been wounded by the blister or nerve agents had received substandard medical care and denied military awards.

Mr. Carson said the working group’s new instructions, which were distributed to the military services in recent days, would ensure that hundreds of veterans identified by the services, or who have called a hotline set up at Mr. Hagel’s order, would be screened and properly treated. The steps, Mr. Carson said, would also cover troops exposed to chlorine, which insurgents repeatedly used as a makeshift chemical weapon.

“My ambition, and what I am committed to, is to make sure that any person who was exposed to a weaponized chemical or a chemical weapon is addressed through this process,” he said. . . .

Continue reading.

Bottom line: The Army did everything in its power to cover up the problem and to let the victims simply suffer on their own, offering no help, but when the story began to get out, the Army (VERY belatedly) responded and said it would help. This is what the military means by “honor”: cover up problems and let the troops suffer, but if you’re about to get caught apologize. No one will be punished.

Related coverage, with links in the sidebar of the main article.

The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons   OCT. 14, 2014

More Than 600 Reported Chemical Exposure in Iraq, Pentagon Acknowledges  NOV. 6, 2014

A Veteran’s Chemical Burns Expanded Military Doctors’ Knowledge, but His Care Faltered  DEC. 30, 2014

Thousands of Iraq Chemical Weapons Destroyed in Open Air, Watchdog Says   NOV. 22, 2014

Reporters’ Notebook: Examining a Rare Nerve-Agent Shell That Wounded American Troops in Iraq   DEC. 4, 2014

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons FEB. 15, 2015

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Army, Medical, Military

Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted By Secret Nsa Documents

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Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman report:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vehemently denied aWall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

Israel’s claim is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world. Indeed, so concerted and aggressive are Israeli efforts against the U.S. that some key U.S. Government documents – including the top secret 2013 intelligence budget – list Israel among the U.S.’s most threatening cyber-adversaries and as a “hostile” foreign intelligence service.

One top secret 2008 document features an interview with the NSA’s Global Capabilities Manager for Countering Foreign Intelligence, entitled “Which Foreign Intelligence Service Is the Biggest Threat to the US?” He repeatedly names Israel as one of the key threats.

While noting that Russia and China do the most effective spying on U.S., he says that “Israel also targets us.” He explains that “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked [Israel] as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.” While praising the surveillance relationship with Israel as highly valuable, he added: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel.” Specifically, the Israelis “target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems.”

Screen-Shot-2015-03-25-at-11.53.05-AM-540x56Other NSA documents voice the grievance that Israel gets far more out of the intelligence-sharing relationship than the U.S. does. One top secret 2007 document, entitled “History of the US – Israel SIGINT Relationship, post 1992,” describes the cooperation that takes place as highly productive and valuable, and, indeed, top secret documents previously reported by the Intercept and the Guardian leave no doubt about the very active intelligence-sharing relationship that takes place between the two countries. Yet that same document complains that the relationship even after 9/11 was almost entirely one-sided in favor of serving Israeli rather than U.S. interests: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 2:31 pm

Latest Assault On Net Neutrality Launched At Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank

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Lee Fang reports in The Intercept:

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week addressed the Free State Foundation to announce his new plan to undermine recently enacted net neutrality rules by going after the funding of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency behind the decision.

The FCC’s approach to net neutrality represents “potential untenable rules and regulatory overreach that will hurt consumers,” said Walden, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, speaking at the foundation’s annual Telecom Policy Conference. Walden outlined a plan to limit FCC appropriations, cap its other revenue sources, and change the hiring process for the FCC’s inspector general.

David Segal, co-founder of Demand Progress, a pro-net neutrality group, said Walden’s remarks “underscore his allegiance to corporate interests.”

Walden’s choice of venue is telling. According to tax filings by two cable and wireless trade associations, the Free State Foundation has received nearly half a million dollars from the trade associations over the last five years. CTIA-The Wireless Association — representing Verizon, AT&T and Motorola, among others — gave the foundation $213,750. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the trade group for Comcast and other major cable companies, provided $280,000 to the foundation. The two trade groups intend to file a lawsuit to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

The Free State Foundation raised $797,500 total in 2012 but is not legally required to disclose its donors and, unlike many think tanks, does not do so voluntarily on its website. PCWorld gave the foundation an “F” rating for donor transparency. As of publication, the Free State Foundation has not responded to questions about its funders.

The Free State Foundation, founded by Randolph May, a former telecommunications attorney in Washington, D.C., describes itself as . . .

Continue reading.

Perhaps there’s always this sort of struggle between the greedy and those interested in the common welfare, but lately the power has swung heavily in favor of the greedy, and we’re all the worse off for it.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 1:58 pm

Did Neurons Evolve Twice?

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If something is a good solution, evolution tends to close in on it, and separate evolutionary paths thus reach quite similar good solutions: the eye, for example, has evolved independently 50 to 100 times. But the eye is a late-comer, evolutionarily speaking, whereas neurons are really basic—i.e., evolved very early, before much branching had been done. But, as it turns out, after some branching, so that we have different sorts of neurons. Emily Singer reports in Quanta:

When Leonid Moroz, a neuroscientist at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine, Fla., first began studying comb jellies, he was puzzled. He knew the primitive sea creatures had nerve cells — responsible, among other things, for orchestrating the darting of their tentacles and the beat of their iridescent cilia. But those neurons appeared to be invisible. The dyes that scientists typically use to stain and study those cells simply didn’t work. The comb jellies’ neural anatomy was like nothing else he had ever encountered.

After years of study, he thinks he knows why. According to traditional evolutionary biology, neurons evolved just once, hundreds of millions of years ago, likely after sea sponges branched off the evolutionary tree. But Moroz thinks it happened twice — once in ancestors of comb jellies, which split off at around the same time as sea sponges, and once in the animals that gave rise to jellyfish and all subsequent animals, including us. He cites as evidence the fact that comb jellies have a relatively alien neural system, employing different chemicals and architecture from our own. “When we look at the genome and other information, we see not only different grammar but a different alphabet,” Moroz said.

When Moroz proposed his theory, evolutionary biologists were skeptical. Neurons are the most complex cell type in existence, critics argued, capable of capturing information, making computations and executing decisions. Because they are so complicated, they are unlikely to have evolved twice.

But new support for Moroz’s idea comes from recent genetic work suggesting that comb jellies are ancient — the first group to branch off the animal family tree. If true, that would bolster the chance that they evolved neurons on their own.

The debate has generated intense interest among evolutionary biologists. Moroz’s work does not only call into question the origins of the brain and the evolutionary history of animals. It also challenges the deeply entrenched idea that evolution progresses steadily forward, building up complexity over time.

The First Split

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 540 million years ago, the ocean was poised for an explosion of animal life. The common ancestor of all animals roamed the seas, ready to diversify into the rich panoply of fauna we see today.

Scientists have long assumed that sponges were the first to branch off the main trunk of the animal family tree. They’re one of the simplest classes of animals, lacking specialized structures, such as nerves or a digestive system. Most rely on the ambient flow of water to collect food and remove waste.

Later, as is generally believed, the rest of the animal lineage split into comb jellies, also known as ctenophores (pronounced TEN-oh-fours); cnidarians (jellyfish, corals and anemones); very simple multicellular animals called placozoa; and eventually bilaterians, the branch that led to insects, humans and everything in between.

But sorting out the exact order in which the early animal branches split has been a notoriously thorny problem. We have little sense of what animals looked like so many millions of years ago because their soft bodies left little tangible evidence in rocks. “The fossil record is spotty,” said Linda Holland, an evolutionary biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

To make up for our inability to see into the past, scientists use the morphology (structure) and genetics of living animals to try to reconstruct the relationships of ancient ones. But in the case of comb jellies, the study of living animals presents serious challenges.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Evolution, Science

Federal court rejects Third Amendment claim against police officers

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Very interesting article in the Washington Post by Ilya Somin:

Back in 2013, a lot of attention focused on a Third Amendment claim against Henderson, Nevada police officers. I wrote about the case here. The Third Amendment, which forbids the “quartering” of “soldiers” in private homes without the owner’s consent, is often the butt of jokes because it is so rarely litigated. But in this case, a Nevada family claimed that local police had violated the Amendment by forcibly occupying their home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” against suspected criminals in the neighboring house.

In this recent ruling, federal district court Judge Andrew Gordon dismissed the Third Amendment claim [HT: VC reader Sean Flaim]. Although it occurred several weeks ago, the ruling seems to have gotten very little attention from either the media or legal commentators outside Nevada. That is unfortunate, because the ruling raises important issues about the scope of the Third Amendment, and its applicability against state and local governments. Here are the key passages from the opinion: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 11:28 am

Good news from San Diego on effects of police body-cameras

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They seem to be working, though as Radley Balko points out, there are a few policies yet to be defined—specifically, when and under what conditions a body-camera video will be made public. The police, naturally, say that they and they alone should decide (with the possibility of releasing videos that exonerate cops, keeping secret those that implicate cops). It seems likely that public release will have to be decided by an independent party, and the prosecutor/DA is not one of those.

Truthfully, this seems to be a win-win situation: it reduces violence against cops (and prevents lies about police abuse/harassment) and it reduces violence against citizens. Everyone wins.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 11:09 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Wife of Pi

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Also from the Johnnie Quote page:

Wife of Pi

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 10:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Math

Epictetus provides a thought for the day

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Epictetus

“Johnnie Quote” is not celeb or a rock band. “Johnnie” is what St. John’s College students now call themselves, as back in the day we called ourselves “St. Johnnies.”

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 10:50 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Banned again: Shave Nook this time

with 48 comments

[Update below. -LG]

I really don’t get it, but so it goes:

Your forum account is currently banned.
Ban Reason: unauthorized promotional activity
Ban will be lifted: Never

What I did: I had decided to disengage somewhat from Wicked Edge, and join in the conversation at Shave Nook. I wanted more discussion, less drama. Also, now that Wicked Edge has well over 70,000 subscribers, new posts just plummet out of sight, pushed down by even newer posts, which makes it difficult to have an on-going discussion of a topic. As we like to say, it’s not like it was in the old days. 🙂

I posted a couple of things—a post on using the two dimensions of comfort and efficiency to describe razor feel and performance, and yesterday a post about Ginger’s Garden aftershave, since it was new to me and impressive.

I found a post about how, with the weak Euro, the Plisson Synthetic with an acetate handle could be ordered directly from Plisson for €33, a bargain, and the post included a link. So I ordered one, now on the way. (Their web site has an English-language option right up to check out, then it’s French all the way.)

To return the favor, I thought I would tell about Shaver Heaven, my own recent discovery. I described the soap and the lather quality, quoted the ingredients and noted it was vegan, and provided links to sources: first Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, where I had discovered it, and then also to Shave Revolution (US) and Italian Barber (Canada), both of which also carry it. (I figured that since some don’t want to buy from PAA, I would provide a US alternative.)

The post was immediately pulled because it was deemed by the mods to be “advertising,” and the mod sending it thanked me for understanding—a thanks that was premature, since I didn’t understand at all.

I asked why my post was “advertising.” Since I linked to multiple vendors, I clearly wasn’t advertising a vendor, and I made the post in the first place to point out an excellent soap, and I thought part of the idea of the forum was to discuss new product discoveries: describe them, say where they could be found, etc.

I got a reply that emphasized that the decision of the mods is final, and that the rule I violated is that a post can have only one link to a vendor. I did read the rules for posting, and that rule is definitely not included—and it seems an odd rule. If I am talking about some great product, providing three links (US, Canada, and UK) seems totally reasonable to me, but that would violate this secret rule. Also I broke another rule: you cannot link to a banned vendor—but since there is no list of banned vendors, I have no idea how you’re to follow that rule even if you know the rule exists. I did not know that PAA was a banned vendor, and I did not know that one could not link to banned vendors since that rule also is not in the published list of rules. So I violated a second secret rule.

This made no sense to me, so I sent a private message to a mod who had welcomed me back, asking for some guidance. I was uneasy about sudden new (and unpublished) rules springing out of the woodwork, and feared that I was violating some other secret rule simply in trying to understand what the rules are.

Apparently I did. A lifetime ban for one post in which I expressed my enthusiasm for a new soap I discovered, and unfortunately provided the reader with links to a choice of vendors.

I truly do not get it, and I am surprised that secret (unpublished and unmentioned) rules can be used so drastically.

So it goes. And, of course, I never received a response to my private message sent in an effort to understand what was required. I did mention a couple of other vendors I might link to and ask whether they were banned (and how was I to know whether a vendor was banned or not?), and I also asked whether it is okay to name several vendors of a product, providing that I linked to only one (because of the US/Canada/UK situation). And whether a banned vendor could be named or whether that, too, was not allowed.

Now I see (in the ban message quoted above) that I could have somehow secured authorization to mention products (I assume that’s what is meant by “promotional activity”), but how I would know that such authorization is needed, much less how to secure it, is completely unclear to me.

I was a little shocked to see the ban message when I went to check my private messages for a response from Johnny, and I will never know whether I got one.

On the whole, a board that is so hair-trigger to impose lifetime bans (after welcoming my new participation), particularly for breaking rules that they keep a secret, is probably better avoided in any event. But I am saddened a bit. I had thought Shave Nook would be a place for drama-free discussion. Obviously not.

I thought I would document this since when I mentioned I am banned for life from B&B people want to know why. Well, I’m now banned for life from Shave Nook for one post that violated rules that were never published (and thus secret) and that, to my mind, don’t make much sense.

Weird.

UPDATE: I heard from Phil Huntsinger of Bullgoose Shaving, and Shave Nook is essentially the forum supported by Bullgoose Shaving, though Phil is not involved in the day-to-day operations—and understandably so: he has a business to run. So he does not know any details of my being banned—or even, I gather, that I had been banned. However, he doesn’t believe that I could be banned for links in a post. He speculated that it might have been for arguing with moderators or administrators, which can get you banned, and wondered whether I was cooperative when I was sent PMs.

A few thoughts: First, the reason giving for banning was not “Arguing with a moderator” but rather “Unauthorized promotional activity.” So arguing with a moderator is not a reason for the ban.

Second, I did not argue with a moderator (as I understand “argument”). I did ask questions and point out that the site rules did not include the rules I was told I had violated. I was asking a question—not arguing.

Third, the rules do not include a rule against arguing with (or asking questions of) moderators. If asking questions of a moderator is a banning offense (with no warning or appeal), then it seems to me that rule should be prominently displayed: the punishment is severe, so the warning should be clear.

Finally, because the moderators do not share their reasons or their reasoning, one is left in the dark. The messages I got were about having links to three vendors in one post, with the notification that the moderators considered that quite clearly as “advertising.” The stated reason for the banning was “Unauthorized promotional activity”, and the only thing that was communicated to me was the notification that my post was being deleted for violating (unpublished) rules. So that’s why I can only assume that the three-links-in-one-post offense was the reason for the lifetime ban.

Judges issue opinions to show their reasoning and how their decisions are consistent with and based upon precedents. Moderators simply act—without warning in this case—and use rules that are not communicated to members. (Interesting reading in this connection.) But I am happy to offer the moderators a chance to explain their reasons and clarify their decision, and if I receive a response, I’ll add it to this post here:

Response from moderators: [to be posted when received]

UPDATE again: After ruminating on this for a while, I can see how moderators might move in this direction if they want to make decisions and not have to explain their reasons and reasoning: remove a post and if the person posting says anything, ban him for life. Then you don’t have to deal with it. Indeed, any time someone raises an issue that you don’t want to deal with, ban him for life. (I’m reminded of the Red Queen in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and her hair-trigger, “Off with his head!”).

We know of that power tends to corrupt, and that power without any accountability, with no need to explain actions—that is, absolute power—is probably even more corrupting. Lacking accountability and with absolute power, the temptation to issue a lifetime ban to squelch any dissent—especially since anyone who objects can also be banned for life—is irresistible and (it seems) becomes a habit, an accepted way of dealing with the members. On the whole, I don’t think that’s a good direction, but it does make for a very docile and orderly forum.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 9:54 am

Posted in Shaving

Another Ginger’s Garden aftershave, another Shaver Heaven, and the RazoRock Baby Smooth

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SOTD 25 Mar 2015

A very nice shave indeed: BBS from a very comfortable razor.

Again Shaver Heaven made a fine lather, this time with the l’Occitane Plisson synthetic. Synthetics seem to harbor more water than natural bristles, or they release more readily the water they contain, and I have found that a good shake or two before loading is helpful. I didn’t use a hard enough shake today, and the water rushed into the tub as soon as I started to load, so I gave it a good shake again, drained the water from the tub, and finished loading. The resulting lather was quite pleasant. The fragrance was good but not spectacular.

Three passes using the RR Baby Smooth and all stubble fell away. Michael Freedberg called this razor “mild,” referring to his comfort, but it’s also highly efficient, and thus in that sense “aggressive.” The blade was a Personna Lab Blue, the shave was enjoyable, the result total smoothness with no nicks or burn.

A rinse, dry, and good splash of Ginger’s Garden Havana Cognac, and the day is launched.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 9:23 am

Posted in Shaving

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