Later On

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

Archive for September 29th, 2016

Good point: Had Donald Trump switched genders

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Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Umbrian Chicken Alla Cacciatora

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I just made this recipe from the NY Times: Umbrian Chicken Alla Cacciatora. It was extremely tasty and quite easy. I will note that 5 good-size chicken breasts weight right about 2.5 lbs, but you could easily make six, given a large enough skillet. (I made 5, and 6 would have been crowded.)

The recipe at the link seems to have one step—returning the chicken to the skillet—totally out of place. Since I use Paprika Recipe Manager, I can easily download and edit the recipe, and here is my edited version. (PRM exports files in HTML.)

Umbrian-Style Chicken Alla Cacciatora


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces, or use bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumsticks: 5 good-sized thighs
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good-quality brine-cured olives, black or green, withOUT pits
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 handful sage leaves
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Add at end:

  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add chicken pieces and sear over medium heat until golden on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer chicken thighs to a bowl or plate.

Turn heat to low and add onions and stir frequently until the onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add minced garlic, capers, olives, rosemary sprig, and sage leaves. Season with just a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.

After a couple of minutes, when everything smells fragrant, add wine. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer very slowly until the chicken is tender and cooked through (165 degrees). Start checking the temperature of the chicken after 15 minutes to avoid overcooking. Add some water if the sauce gets too dry while simmering.

When ready to serve, reheat if necessary, then add lemon juice and zest and balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more lemon if desired. Remove the rosemary sprig and serve.

The intro to the recipe notes:

Chicken alla cacciatora, or hunter’s style, is found all over Italy — but for a long time, tomatoes were not. Most American know the southern Italian version, with tomatoes, but this one is from Umbria, in the country’s center, and it’s made savory with lemon, vinegar, olives and rosemary instead of tomatoes. . .

Featured in: Umbria, Italy’s Best Kept Culinary Secret, Is Budding.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 7:33 pm

Powerful Coalition is Building Pressure on Feds to Think Again on Kratom Ban

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I think the DEA is suffering from severe anxiety because of the changing attitudes toward the War on Drugs, which has turned out to be enormously expensive, extremely destructive of civil and human rights (not to mention the governments of Mexico, Colombia, and other countries), totally ineffective, and seems to do much more harm than would be done if drugs were legalized and addiction treated medically instead of criminally. (BTW, a very interesting drug-war movie showing some outcomes of the War on Drugs is available now on Amazon Prime: Sicario, with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin: very well done.) The DEA’s anxiety is played out in its absolute refusal to face facts (e.g., saying that marijuana has no medical use, when in fact it does and has helped in pain management and PTSD without the drawbacks of severe opioid addiction that results from opioid painkillers).

Philip Smith reports in the Drug War Chronicles:

In a last ditch bid to stop the DEA from criminalizing an herb widely hailed for its ability to treat pain, depression, and anxiety, and help people wean themselves from more dangerous opioid pain relievers, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to the agency Monday asking it to reconsider its decision to place kratom on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Kratom is a southeast Asian herb made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciose, a tree related to the coffee plant. In small doses, it has a mild stimulant effect, but in larger doses, it acts like a mild opioid. To be precise, the DEA has moved to criminalize not the herb itself, but two alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxmitragynine, which activate opioid receptors in the brain.

Last month, the DEA exercised its emergency scheduling powersin announcing that it was moving kratom to Schedule I, effective at the end of this week. The drug agency said kratom poses “an imminent hazard to public safety,” citing only press reports of some 15 deaths linked to kratom use. But in at least 14 of those cases, the victims were also using other drugs or had pre-existing life-threatening conditions. (Meanwhile, some 25,000 people died of prescription drug overdoses last year.)

Kratom users, who could number in the millions, immediately raised the alarm, organizing campaigns to undo the decision and lobbying Congress for help. That’s what sparked Monday’s letter from 51 lawmakers, including 22 Republicans.

“This significant regulatory action was done without any opportunity for public comment from researchers, consumers, and other stakeholders,” reads the letter, drafted by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ). “This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement.”

Given the ongoing high level of heroin and prescription opioid use and the associated overdose deaths, he DEA was hypocritical in mounting a campaign against kratom, the lawmakers said.

“The DEA’s decision to place kratom as a Schedule I substance will put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions — a significant public health threat,” they wrote.

The lawmakers called on DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the emergency scheduling and instead “engage consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders, in keeping with well-established protocol for such matters.”

Since first emerging in the US a few years ago, kratom has been unregulated at the federal level, although the Food & Drug Administration began seizing shipments of it in 2014. At the state level, a half dozen states have entertained moves to ban it, but such efforts failed in all except Alabama. In other states, kratom advocates have managed to turn bans into regulation, with age restrictions and similar limits.

A ban on kratom would be disastrous, said Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association. Ash said she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2006 and ended up essentially disabled under the weight of 13 different prescriptions, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines (to counter the opioids and the benzos). She became addicted to the opioids and finally tried kratom as a last resort.

“I didn’t really want to have anything to do with a plant, but I decided to try it, and it worked day and night,” she said Tuesday. “Within two weeks, I went from home bound to starting this organization.”

With the kratom ban looming, her members are facing “our darkest hour,” Ash said. “Our average member is a middle-aged woman, about 40% of whom have experienced addition, and tens of thousands of them are using it as an alternative to pharmaceutical medications because they believe it is safer and more natural. Now, people are saying they are going to lose their quality of life, that they will be re-disabled. People are terrified. What we need is regulation, not prohibition.”

“Despite the moral, political, and scientific consensus that drug use and addiction are best treated as public health issues, the DEA wants to subject people with kratom to prison sentences,” said Jag Davies, director of communications strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which is also fighting the ban. “The DEA’s move would also effectively halt promising scientific investigations into the plant’s uses and medicinal benefits, including helping many people struggling with opioid addiction.”

The scientific studies are promising indeed. Researchers at Columbia University just published a study on kratom alkaloids and found that they activate opioid receptors in a way that doesn’t trigger respiratory depression, the lethal side effect of most opioids. Such research could lead to the “holy grail” of narcotic analgesics, a painkiller that doesn’t kill users and doesn’t get them addicted. . .

Continue reading.

The DEA has never shown the slightest interest in scientific findings. They operate purely from a power-based outlook: if they have the power to do something, they feel that justifies doing it.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 10:49 am

Drumbeat of mysterious deaths of JPMorgan employees continues

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

Last Thursday, September 22, 2016, the body of Ann Korkki, a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Wealth Management division of JPMorgan Chase in Denver, Colorado was found with the body of her sister, Robin Korkki, inside their luxury vacation villa at the Maia Resort on Seychelles, an island in the Indian Ocean off the East African coast. Ann Korkki was 37; her sister Robin was 42.

According to the local Seychelles newspaper, there was no sign of violence on the bodies of the women who were on a one week vacation at the resort. The mother and brother of the sisters are currently in Seychelles “pressing U.S. and local officials for details” and making arrangements to bring the sisters back to the U.S. according to a news report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which covered the story because the sisters had attended high school in the area.

This latest unusual death of a JPMorgan Chase employee adds to a stunning roster of bizarre deaths since 2014 – a period which has also seen three felony counts leveled against the firm by the U.S. Justice Department and billions of dollars in fines for wide-ranging charges of wrongdoing.

News reports on the bizarre deaths began with Gabriel Magee, a JPMorgan Vice President who worked in computer infrastructure. Magee, 39, is alleged to have leaped from the rooftop of the 33-story JPMorgan European headquarters building at 25 Bank Street on the evening of January 27, 2014 or the morning of January 28, 2014. London tabloids initially reported that Magee’s jump was observed by “thousands of commuters” and JPMorgan colleagues. But after an official inquest, no eyewitnesses could be produced who had actually seen Magee jump. The coroner ruled that Magee’s death was a suicide.

Three weeks after Magee’s alleged leap from the bank’s skyscraper in London, a JPMorgan employee in Hong Kong, 33-year old Dennis Li (Junjie), is said to have leaped to this death on February 18, 2014 from the 30-story Chater House office building in Hong Kong where JPMorgan occupied the top floors. At the time of the death, Wall Street On Parade received elusive answers from the communication team at JPMorgan Chase as to the young man’s job function at the bank. The South China Morning Post newspaper called Li an “investment banker”;  the Standard newspaper in Hong Kong wrote that Li was an accounting major who worked in the finance department at JPMorgan. The China Times wrote that Li was a “Forex trader.” On May 20 of last year, JPMorgan Chase pleaded guilty to a felony count by the U.S. Justice Department for its role in rigging foreign currency exchange trading.

Also in February 2014 came news reports that JPMorgan Executive Director, Ryan Crane, age 37, had died suddenly at his home in Stamford, Connecticut on February 3, 2014. After approximately three months, the Connecticut Medical Examiner released the cause of death, calling it ethanol toxicity/accident.

One month after Crane’s death, on March 12, 2014, yet another alleged building leap occurred, this time in Manhattan by a former JPMorgan analyst, Kenneth Bellando, age 28. Bellando’s body was discovered outside his six-story apartment building on the East Side of Manhattan, by no means a height reliably sufficient to ensure a death outcome.

Bellando was the brother of John Bellando, a JPMorgan employee who had figured in the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report on how JPMorgan had hid losses and lied to regulators in the London Whale derivatives trading scandal that resulted in depositor losses of at least $6.2 billion in the FDIC-insured bank of JPMorgan Chase. The bank paid a total of $1.2 billion in fines to U.S. and U.K. regulators. The Justice Department brought criminal charges against two of its traders involved in the scheme. 

Two months after Bellando’s death, on May 7, 2014, Thomas James Schenkman, age 42, died suddenly in Connecticut. Schenkman was Managing Director of Global Infrastructure Engineering for JPMorgan Chase. Schenkman began his technology career with Microsoft, where he worked for 11 years. He had also previously worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. Schenkman’s tenure at JPMorgan stretched from 2008 to the time of his death. The cause of death was eventually assigned to “atherosclerotic coronary artery disease” by the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Another death by a JPMorgan worker that went initially unnoticed outside of Wall Street On Parade was that of Jason Alan Salais, age 34. The death of Salais came just six weeks before Magee’s alleged leap from the JPMorgan skyscraper in London. Salais was standing outside a Walgreens drugstore on the evening of December 15, 2013 and died of a sudden heart attack according to a family member. Salais had joined JPMorgan in 2008 with a strong background in computer technology, having previously worked as a Client Software Technician at SunGard and a UNIX Systems Analyst at Logix Communications.

Then there were the unfathomable murder-suicides in New Jersey where . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 10:09 am

Senators issue report that reveals the special interests driving opposition to Obama’s climate plan

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A press release from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Edward Markey (D-MA) released a report today entitled, “The Brief No One Filed,” highlighting the real forces behind the legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The report – which is structured as an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief but was not filed with the court – demonstrates that the state officials, trade associations, front groups, and industry-funded scientists participating in the challenge actually represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry.  The Senators explain that the report is designed to “share their knowledge and understanding of the connection between the fossil fuel industry’s political spending (both open and in secret) and political blockade of any measures to address climate change.”

“The American public is aware of and alarmed by the massive influx of special interest money and considers this a top problem with elected officials in Washington,” the Senators write.  “More than 80% of Americans believe the government cannot be trusted to do what is right most of the time.  As active legislators and national leaders, [we] have a strong interest in restoring the faith of the people in our government and political system.  This starts with limiting the ability of massive dirty energy companies, either directly or through their armada of front groups, to stop anything that doesn’t serve the fossil fuel industry’s financial interests.”

The report contains substantial detail on the complex network connecting the opponents of the Clean Power Plan and the fossil fuel companies that support their effort.  The Senators note, “The briefs opposing the Clean Power Plan that some Members of Congress, state politicians, and outside organizations filed in this case may be seen as another expression of this climate denial apparatus.  In aggregate, the politician authors of these briefs have received over $107 million from the fossil fuel industry, and while they are ostensibly elected to represent the interests of their constituents, we regularly see them taking positions that are opposed to conclusions drawn about the effects of climate change by institutions and academics in their own states.”

While issuing the report to inform the public on issues surrounding the case, the Senators underscore that they “fully and enthusiastically support the brief submitted on March 31, 2016, with current and former members of Congress in support of the respondents” in the case, including the Environmental Protection Agency.  All signatories to the report released today are also signed on to that brief.

The challenge to the Clean Power Plan, West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is slated for oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia tomorrow.

The full report can be accessed here.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 9:36 am

Duchamp’s Spinning Optical Experiments

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Marcel Duchamp’s creative explorations of art and its boundaries produced much good and interesting work (and doubtless many good and sometimes heated discussions). I didn’t even know about his spinning optical experiments, but they are worth looking at. Notice had some seem three-dimensional once they are in motion.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 9:29 am

Posted in Art

A blissful shave: LA Shaving Soap Co. Black Fern, WSP Prince, and the estimable Dorco PL-602

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SOtD 2016-09-29

I hacked my face up yesterday (i.e., 4 good nicks) using the Phoenix Artisans black Bakelite slant, and I’m not sure why. The blade is a natural suspect. I got quite a good shave from the white Bakelite slant (different blade), but I doubt that the color has anything to do with it. Perhaps it was prep and a sudden loss of skill (skill aphasia).

At any rate, I wanted to ensure that today’s shave would be a pleasant experience to right the balance of my personal universe. Some time ago a kind reader sent me the tiny tub of LA Shaving Soap Company’s Black Fern shaving soap, so I decided to give that a go. I used my fingertip to remove about a third of the tub and smeared that (the soap is soft) across the bottom of the bowl shown. I looked at it, decided it was more than I needed, and put back some, so I had about a quarter of the tiny tub remaining in the bowl.

Wet Shaving Products shaving brushes have proved their excellence in many shaves, and today was no different. The Prince is a stalwart little brush, and it easily worked up a fine lather as I loaded it with Black Fern. The soap is quite interesting and has a very nice fragrance. The vendor notes (at the link above):

Using the new black shaving soap formula introduced with The Black Rose, which includes activated charcoal and bentonite clay and provides lots of rich slick lather, Blackfern is our take on a floral fougere.

The scent (made, as always, with natural plant essential oils and extracts) has notes of floral lavender and geranium rounded out with patchouli and labdanum, with hints of clove and eucalyptus and orange and peppermint, which results in a very pleasant scent just in time for Spring.

This is something pretty special.

Ingredients: Vegetable Stearic Acid, Distilled Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Vegetable Glycerin, Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Lavender Essential Oil, Patchouli Essential Oil, Geranium Essential Oil, Bergamot Essential Oil, Labdanum Absolute (in Sunflower Oil), Peppermint Extract, Clove Bud Essential Oil, Orange Extract, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Vetiver Essential Oil.

The fragrance is pleasant and even tantalizing, and the lather was superb—and even with the little I put into the bowl, I have enough remaining for at least two more shaves.

The Dorco PL-602 has never yet given me a nick or anything less than a BBS shave. It’s really a remarkably good razor, and those who write it off without trying it (because it’s inexpensive or because it’s made of plastic) are missing out on some very good shaves.

Three passes, BBS result, and a good splash of Champs de Lavande from Chatillon Lux, and I’m ready for a fine day.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 September 2016 at 9:04 am

Posted in Shaving

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