Later On

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

Archive for September 6th, 2016

A day of accomplishment

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Bird feeder refilled with 5 lb birdseed.

Made Salmon in foil with tomatoes with a 3lb fillet of coho salmon: 6 salmon packets, 8 oz each.

Roasted 10 chicken thighs (with lemon juice, salt, and pepper).

Made mashed eggplant (see recipe below for my emendations).

Made Baked Greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta. Add sliced Kalamato olives and basil to recipe, used 8 oz feta and 1.85 lb fresh Gulf shrimp—extremely nice.

A productive day.

Mashed eggplant with capers, scallions, and parsley

With eggplant in season, this lemony, Turkish-style dip, spread on baguette toasts, “fits the bill beautifully.” If you can’t get bottled pomegranate molasses, you can find a simple recipe for it online.

  • 1/4 cup large capers, preferably salt-packed [Essential. – LG]
  • 2 lbs medium eggplant
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle on eggplant
  • 1 cup thinly slivered scallions, more for garnish
  • 1 cup chopped parsley, more for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil [not in original list, but in recipe – LG]
  • 2 tbsp yogurt [or sour cream – LG]
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • baguette toasts or pita bread

Put capers in a bowl and rinse off salt with lukewarm water. Soak in fresh lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse again, then blot dry. Chop roughly and set aside.

Heat oven to 400.

[Don’t]Peel eggplant — why bother? -LG]; cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss in a bowl with salt and pepper, drizzle with 3 tbsp oil, as you toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet in one layer and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. [Definitely 20 minutes for me, if not 25. – LG] Cool.

Put eggplant in a food processor [or in a saucepan and use immersion blender – LG]; pulse briefly. Add 2 tbsp oil, capers, and remaining vegetables and seasonings. Blend well and transfer to a bowl. Spread on toasts or pita and sprinkle with extra scallions and parsley [or serve in bowl]. Serves 4 to 6.

[I eat it from a bowl, and I stir in roasted salted pepitas. I think it would also be good to stir in crumbled feta. – LG]

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 8:19 pm

Technology, the two-edged sword: Hacking the election, open to all countries, political parties, individuals…

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Note that “countries” and “governments” are not equivalent: a given country may have an intelligence service actively working to control or disrupt the election, calling outcomes into doubt, to achieve (their) government goals—or, worse, their organizational goals, with intelligence service A competing with intelligence service B competing with law enforcement competing with the three branches of the military, but perhaps the military is now a more unified thing . Each of those organizations is quite free to take action on its own to achieve national goals in terms of adding power to the organization itself: a strong [organization] makes for a better government. You can use the name of any governmental (or indeed commercial) entity to see the dynamics and incentives. (To use US examples: CIA, BATF, FBI, NSA, DEA, plus various state, county, and city police departments.) But that same country—say, Russia—also has an active, organized, and technologically advanced criminal organization(s).

One can understand William F. Buckley, Jr. when he wrote, “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

David Goldstein reports in McClatchy:

Is it time to panic about Election Day?

Not about the choices for president, but about whether the votes that millions of Americans will cast Nov. 8 will be secure.

“My level of concern is pretty high,” said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan group created to develop guidelines following the disputed 2000 presidential election.

Experts are warning that in a year of unending political drama, still more might be in store, from Russian hackers to obsolete voting machines prone to breakdowns, all with the potential for causing considerable political chaos.

Consider these developments:

– The FBI issued a “flash” alert this summer to state election officials that foreign hackers had breached the election systems in two states, Arizona and Illinois. Arizona shut down its network for a week.

– Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson suggested that the nation’s election system, an uneven mosaic of 50 state-operated fiefdoms, should be viewed like the national power grid, part of the country’s “critical infrastructure.”

– Johnson volunteered his agency’s help by offering to inspect state election systems for holes hackers could crawl through. Several states have taken up his offer. Others – such as Georgia, which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996 but where polls now show the race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump tied – have spurned it.

Georgia uses older voting machines that don’t automatically produce ballot paper trails, which many election security experts think is a must-have feature.

In an email to the website NextGov, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp labeled Johnson’s offer “a vast federal overreach” and an effort toward “federalizing the election under the guise of security.” . . .

Continue reading.

It’s a fine kettle of fish, but it’s here, so we had better figure out how to handle it.

See also: “U.S. investigating potential covert Russian plan to disrupt November elections.” Hope they are also looking at North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, ISIS, and some guy in New Jersey who’s known only to his close neighbors, who consider him a very quiet guy.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 12:17 pm

Database Reveals U.S. as Financial House of Horrors Since Repeal of Glass-Steagall Act

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has set up an online database of financial horror stories that shows what happens when an average American interacts with one of the financial supermarkets (a/k/a universal banks) that grew out of the repeal of the investor protection legislation known as the Glass-Steagall Act. The complaints are concentrated against the biggest Wall Street banks.

If you are one of the lucky Americans who has not already been mugged in the shopping aisles of the financial supermarkets, you should carefully browse through the database to see what awaits the unwary. Just go to thecomplaint archive, and place the name of any bank you want to examine in the upper right-hand search box. Searching under the name Citibank (part of the Wall Street behemoth Citigroup) will bring up 29,000 rows of complaints. A search under Chase, part of the mega Wall Street bank, JPMorgan Chase, brings up 37,000 rows of complaints. After years of being charged by Federal regulators for abusing their customers and the public trust, both U.S. banks became felons on May 20 of last year when they admitted to felony charges related to rigging foreign currency markets.

Wall Street banks are intended to function as efficient allocators of capital to grow new businesses and industries in America. But since the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999 under pressure from Citigroup, Wall Street’s biggest banks increasingly function as legalized loan sharking operations – targeting the poor, minorities and financially unsophisticated. In what has become a highly efficient, wealth transfer mechanism, billions of dollars each month move from the pockets of those least able to protect themselves from financial abuse to the coffers of the one percent in America who sit in the executive offices of these banks.

Under the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, banks holding insured deposits were not allowed to be affiliated with Wall Street investment banks and brokerage firms — which have a storied history of stock frauds, abusing their customers, and blowing up. That protection was removed when President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act on November 12, 1999, the legislation that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. After protecting the nation for 66 years, it took just 9 years after its repeal for Wall Street to implode, taking the U.S. economy with it. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 11:47 am

Hard duty by tough cops: Spending $26,000 in a lap-dance club in a year-long investigation that led to nothing

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Apparently the Greenville County SC police wanted to make absolutely sure there was no prostitution at the club, so they had to keep going back, drinking and buying lap dances, just as a matter of due diligence. It’s a hard job, so to speak, but someone has to do it, amirite?

Here’s the full story in the Washington Post by Radley Balko.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 11:44 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

The Clinton Foundation and the Merchants of Doubt

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The Washington Post had a major story that was presented as a scandal, but it included (in the fifth paragraph of the story):

There is no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton, but the Baltimore-based company had much to gain from an association with a globally connected ex-president and, indirectly, the United States’ chief diplomat.

I added emphasis. The story is written as though the fact that Laureate received no special favors is diappoionting, and the story seems to be saying that even though nothing bad happened, it still might have happened, and that’s bad. In other words, it’s a story simply slinging mud on the basis of what it admits is “no evidence.”

And the the 26th paragraph:

Clinton’s contract with Laureate was approved by the State Department’s ethics office….An ethics official wrote that he saw “no conflict of interest with Laureate or any of their partners,” according to a letter recently released by the conservative group Citizens United, which received it through a public-records request.

So again: nothing wrong was done, but that doesn’t stop the Washington Post from ringing bells of alarm.

Compare the very mild treatment the Post gave Donald Trump’s relationship with the Florida Attorney General. Kevin Drum summarizes what happened in 2013:

Late August: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi calls Donald Trump to ask for a donation to her reelection campaign.

September 10: In an unusual show of interest in a down-ballot race in Florida, Ivanka Trump donates $500 to Bondi. Apparently that’s insultingly small.

September 13: Bondi tells the Orlando Sentinel that her office is “currently reviewing the allegations” that Trump University has defrauded its students.

September 17: The Trump Foundation makes a $25,000 contribution to a PAC backing Bondi.

October 15: The Florida Attorney General’s office backtracks, telling the Orlando Sentinel there was never any consideration of joining the lawsuit against Trump U because they had received only one complaint during the time Bondi was in office. This was untrue: the AG’s office had received a couple dozen complaints, but had weeded them out so they could say there was only one.

As Kevin Drum notes:

There have been an endless number of stories about “clouds” and “suspicions” and “questions raised” regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. So far, though, there’s nothing even close to a smoking gun. Quite the opposite: the evidence so far suggests very strongly that nobody ever got anything for contributing to the Foundation.

But here we have a case that’s a mere hair’s breadth away from a smoking gun. There’s only the slightest wiggle room for believing that the events in Florida are all just a big coincidence. Maybe they deserve a little bit more front-page attention?

So what’s going on? Nancy LeTourneau writes about this kind of action in the Washington Monthly:

Do you remember that time when Jim Inhofe brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in February as “proof” that climate change is a hoax? He was being what we might call a “merchant of doubt.” Never mind that the scientific community has been studying the rise in global temperatures for quite a while. One snowfall in Washington raises doubts about what they’ve found.

The truth is that when scientists study things like global temperatures, they don’t assume that they need to look at the temperature of every single location on the planet every single day. Instead, they do a statistical analysis based on the number of locations/dates that prove to be significant as a way to measure the phenomenon. This is common practice in the scientific community and applies to everything from the study of climate change to political polling.

It is interesting to use this same method to study what we’ve learned lately about the Clinton Foundation. Any scientific inquiry must start with a hypothesis to test or questions to answer. In his interview on Democracy Now, Paul Glastris identified what the two questions are in this inquiry.

  1. Did Clinton Foundation donors get special access to the Secretary of State because of their donations?
  2. If they got special access, did they get anything in return for their donation?

To answer those questions from the perspective of scientific inquiry, we don’t need access to every single piece of data that it is possible to collect about the 4 years Hillary Clinton spent as Secretary of State. What we need is a statistically significant portion of that data. Tallying what that number would be is impossible because we don’t know the actual number of data points that exist (i.e., the denominator). But we can be fairly certain that when it comes to meetings/phone calls and emails, we have now gotten access to considerably more than a statistically significant number of them via the 171 emails released by Judicial Watch (in addition to what has already been released) and the 84 foundation donors studied by the Associated Press.

As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, based on a review of all of that data, what we have seen is that in every single instance, Sec. of State Clinton and her staff have consistently made the right choice. And yet, even the New York Times editorial board still insist on writing this:

Does the new batch of previously undisclosed State Department emails prove that big-money donors to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation got special favors from Mrs. Clinton while she was secretary of state?

Not so far, but that the question arises yet again points to a need for major changes at the foundation now, before the November election.

Can I suggest that, much as the “question” about Benghazi continues in the fevered minds of some (after even multiple Republican Congressional inquiries have produced nothing), “the question that arises yet again” is as dispositive as Inhofe’s snowball in February. We are, at this point, dealing with nothing more than merchants of doubt.

Some will suggest that the issue here is the “appearance of corruption.” But once data has been presented to disprove that appearance, it is time to stop making that accusation and move on. As Matt Yglesias points out so well today, the reason this continues is more aptly described as the “assumption of corruption” when it comes to Hillary Clinton. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 11:13 am

Schick Krona goes to auction

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Krona side

This Schick Krona has just been listed on eBay. It’s in excellent condition and shaves similar to a Gillette Super Speed. Mild on the face but quite efficient with a sharp blade (e.g., a Feather).

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 9:32 am

Posted in Shaving

iKon 102 back as favorite, plus Creed GIT and a Rod Neep one-off

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SOTD 2016-09-06

A really splendid shave this morning. I used the Rod Neep brush shown. It’s a one-off, and a US nickel coin, minted the year I was born, is set in the bottom. A very nice brush, and I got a very nice lather from Creed’s Green Irish Tweed shaving soap, just about as good as the lather yesterday from Tcheon Fing Sung (which costs substantially less).

As I was shaving with the iKon 102, I thought to myself that no razor could be better than this. For me the 102 is extremely comfortable with absolutely no feeling that it might nick (like a family dog who will happily endure, with a wagging tail and an idiot smile, the toddler’s pushing him around, pulling on his ears, etc.). But on stubble, the 102 is like the family dog when an intruder threatens the toddler: stubble is just wiped away (though, in the case of the razor, without blood).

I do know that some have commented on their difficulties with the 102—clogging, hard-to-fine optimal angle, even nicks (hard for me to understand)—but for me the comfort and performance are unparalleled. I do recommend the iKon X3 more, and it is an excellent razor, just as good in feel and performance as the 102, and I read fewer complaints about it. But the 102 stole my heart some time ago, and this morning’s shave reminded me why.

A good several sprays of Creed GIT EDT into my palm to serve as a splash, and the shave is done. I took a moment to reflect a bit sadly on the millions who do this task daily and derive from it no enjoyment—not a tragedy, but definitely a missed opportunity for improving the quality of one’s life. Some go for quality of life improvements via (say) an extravagant family vacation once a year, or a fishing trip two or three times a year, but IMO the true improvement of the quality of one’s life lies in making day-to-day activities and tasks into sources of enjoyment.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 September 2016 at 9:19 am

Posted in Shaving

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