Later On

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Archive for July 15th, 2017

This savory whipped cream is damn good with salmon

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1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon snipped chives

Put cream in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until just barely thickened. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the mustard, the cayenne and the lemon zest. Beat again until soft peaks form, but don’t let the cream get too stiff. Fold in chives. Taste and adjust seasoning.

That’s from this recipe by David Tanis, and it’s very tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Why did Don Jr.’s emails surface? Because Robert Mueller is already changing Washington’s lying ways

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Harry Litman writes in the LA Times:

or more than a year, the most senior officials in the Trump administration have adamantly, even scornfully, denied that there was any contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The bombshell report earlier this week of Donald Trump Jr.’s efforts to secure dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russian officials — and his June 9, 2016, meeting with the supposed purveyor of that dirt as well as then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his father’s aide Jared Kushner — has put the lie to those denials.

Why has the truth emerged now? A careful parsing of the events of the last few days points to the importance of the federal criminal investigation overseen by a stalwart special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. His behind-the-scenes work already has changed the rules of the game for the White House and contributed to a more accurate public accounting.

The New York Times, which broke the story, reports that it was Kushner’s legal team that recently discovered the now-infamous email chain in which Trump Jr. was told that a senior Russian government official had documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” to which Trump Jr. quickly replied, “If it’s what you say I love it.”

And here is where Mueller’s investigation has rewritten the rule book for senior White House officials. To receive a security clearance, Kushner had to complete a form — the SF-86 — detailing, under penalty of perjury, every contact he had with foreign government officials in the last seven years. (I dealt with SF-86s as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice.)

Prosecutions for lying on an SF-86 are rare, but they happen, and Kushner already has one strike against him: He first signed and submitted his SF-86 without listing more than 100 applicable contacts with foreign leaders or officials. His lawyer said the questionnaire was submitted prematurely; it took two tries to fully supplement it. The Trump Jr. emails reportedly surfaced when Kushner was going through his records as part of that process.

In a pre-Mueller world, Kushner might have approached the matter casually and, if anyone asked, pleaded ignorance and a busy schedule. That approach, however, is no longer feasible. In the midst of a wide-ranging criminal investigation, with multiple targets, the threat of a perjury prosecution is the sort of offense zealous and sophisticated federal prosecutors — and there is no doubt that Mueller’s team fits that description — could bring to bear.

All of this would lead a good Washington counsel — and Kushner’s lawyers, Jamie Gorelick initially, and then suddenly on Friday, criminal defense specialist Abbe Lowell, are among the best — to conclude that Kushner needed to “get ahead of the story” and turn over the emails (a development the Times learned from people “familiar with” Kushner’s application, who requested anonymity because the questionnaire is not a public document).

Absent the special counsel investigation and the potential legal jeopardy for Kushner, the email chain very possibly would never have seen the light of day. Indeed, President Trump and Trump Jr. at first decided to provide a dishonest account of the June 2016 meeting, omitting the offer of dirt on the Clinton campaign. It was only after further reporting in the New York Times and finally its plan to publish the actual emails that Trump Jr. fessed up.

The threats represented by the Mueller investigation are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 5:40 pm

Belatedly, some guidance that would have helped President Trump

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Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 3:18 pm

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Lawyers

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From a very interesting article by Eilene Zimmerman in the NY Times.

. . .  One of the most comprehensive studies of lawyers and substance abuse was released just seven months after Peter died. That 2016 report, from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association, analyzed the responses of 12,825 licensed, practicing attorneys across 19 states.

Over all, the results showed that about 21 percent of lawyers qualify as problem drinkers, while 28 percent struggle with mild or more serious depression and 19 percent struggle with anxiety. Only 3,419 lawyers answered questions about drug use, and that itself is telling, said Patrick Krill, the study’s lead author and also a lawyer. “It’s left to speculation what motivated 75 percent of attorneys to skip over the section on drug use as if it wasn’t there.”

In Mr. Krill’s opinion, they were afraid to answer.

Of the lawyers that did answer those questions, 5.6 percent used cocaine, crack and stimulants; 5.6 percent used opioids; 10.2 percent used marijuana and hash; and nearly 16 percent used sedatives. Eighty-five percent of all the lawyers surveyed had used alcohol in the previous year. (For comparison sake, about 65 percent of the general population drinks alcohol.)

Nearly 21 percent of the lawyers that said they had used drugs in the previous year reported “intermediate” concern about their drug use. Three percent had “severe” concerns.

The results can be interpreted two ways, said Mr. Krill, who is also a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and whose consulting firm, Krill Strategies, works with law firms on drug abuse and mental health issues. “One is that a significantly smaller percentage of attorneys in the study are using drugs as compared to alcohol. We don’t think that’s true.” . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 11:56 am

Posted in Daily life

The Rise of the Thought Leader

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David Sessions writes in the New Republic:

Writing in one of Mussolini’s prisons in the 1930s, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci jotted down the fragments that would become his theory of intellectuals. New classes, like the European bourgeoisie after the Industrial Revolution, he proposed, brought with them their own set of thinkers, which he called “organic intellectuals”—theorists, technicians, and administrators, who became their “functionaries” in a new society. Unlike “traditional intellectuals” who held positions in the old class structure, organic intellectuals helped the bourgeoisie establish its ideas as the invisible, unquestioned conventional wisdom circulating in social institutions.

Today, Gramsci’s theory has been largely overlooked in the ongoing debate over the supposed decline of the “public intellectual” in America. Great minds, we are told, no longer captivate the public as they once did, because the university is too insular and academic thinking is too narrow. Such laments frequently cite Russell Jacoby’s The Last Intellectuals (1987), which complained about the post-1960s professionalization of academia and waxed nostalgic for the bohemian, “independent” intellectuals of the earlier twentieth century. Writers like the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof attribute this sorry state of affairs to the culture of Ph.D. programs, which, Kristof claims, have glorified “arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience.” If academics cannot bring their ideas to a wider readership, these familiar critiques imply, it is because of the academic mindset itself.

In his book The Ideas Industry, the political scientist and foreign policy blogger Daniel W. Drezner broadens the focus to include the conditions in which ideas are formed, funded, and expressed. Describing the public sphere in the language of markets, he argues that three major factors have altered the fortunes of today’s intellectuals: the evaporation of public trust in institutions, the polarization of American society, and growing economic inequality. He correctly identifies the last of these as the most important: the extraordinary rise of the American superrich, a class interested in supporting a particular genre of “ideas.”

The rich have, Drezner writes, empowered a new kind of thinker—the “thought leader”—at the expense of the much-fretted-over “public intellectual.” Whereas public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Martha Nussbaum are skeptical and analytical, thought leaders like Thomas Friedman and Sheryl Sandberg “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize that worldview to anyone within earshot.” While public intellectuals traffic in complexity and criticism, thought leaders burst with the evangelist’s desire to “change the world.” Many readers, Drezner observes, prefer the “big ideas” of the latter to the complexity of the former. In a marketplace of ideas awash in plutocrat cash, it has become “increasingly profitable for thought leaders to hawk their wares to both billionaires and a broader public,” to become “superstars with their own brands, sharing a space previously reserved for moguls, celebrities, and athletes.”

Drezner does his best to take an objective view of the thought leader as a new kind of intellectual who fulfills a function different from that of the public intellectual, though an equally legitimate one. “It is surely noteworthy,” he writes, optimistically, “that a strong demand has emerged for new ideas and vibrant ways of thinking about the world.” But he seems to portray this thirst for new ideas as a positive development even while conceding that the ideas currently thirsted for are at best shallow and banal, at worst deeply anti-democratic, and at times outright fraudulent.

The case against thought leaders, The Ideas Industry shows, is damning. As Drezner notes, some of the marquee names in thought leadership are distinguished by their facile thinking and transparent servility to the wealthy. The biggest idea in Thomas Friedman’s best-known book, The World Is Flat, is, Drezner summarizes, that “to thrive in the global economy, one needs to be ‘special,’ a unique brand like Michael Jordan.” It is more of a marketing principle than a philosophical insight. But “businessmen adore Friedman’s writings on how technology and globalization transform the global economy,” Drezner explains, because his message reinforces their worldview.

Like Friedman, thought leaders Parag and Ayesha Khanna proclaim the world-historical power of technological innovation, preaching that technology with a capital “T” is replacing economics and geopolitics as the engine of global change. As Evgeny Morozov has observed, Parag Khanna believes that “democracy might be incompatible with globalization and capitalism,” arguing that we should thus embrace authoritarian, Chinese-style capitalism. In his own review of Khanna’s Connectography, Drezner characterized his thinking as “globaloney” and likened his prose style to “a TED talk on a recursive loop.”

Drezner traces how the pursuit of money in the new corporate ideas industry—through television shows, high-dollar speeches, and lavish book advances—pushes thought leaders to bloat their expertise and hustle in so many markets that they end up selling fakes. The most notorious example is Fareed Zakaria, the CNN host and columnist who has been caught lifting passages from other writers to feed his multiplatform output. Similarly, the historian Niall Ferguson leapt headlong into brand-building: crafting books intended as scripts for TV series, giving lucrative speeches, and writing for a dizzying array of publications. Like other overstretched thought leaders, Ferguson landed in trouble when his Newsweek cover story on President Obama in 2012 turned out to be riddled with errors and misleading claims. Interviewed for The Ideas Industry, Ferguson is frank about his transformation from Oxford don to thought leader: “I did it all for the money.”

Despite Drezner’s impatience with the delusions of thought leaders, he shrinks from the darker implications of his evidence. When it comes time to render a verdict on whether the Ideas Industry is “working,” he conjures an economic metaphor: “For good and ill, the modern marketplace of ideas strongly resembles modern financial markets. Usually, the system works. On occasion, however, there can be asset bubbles.”

Nowhere is the inadequacy of this metaphor more evident than in his case study of the rise and fall of Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of “disruptive innovation.” Christensen proposed that “disrupters”—companies that upend their industries with new technologies and business models—gain a competitive advantage over companies that grow by gradually improving their product. Airbnb might be considered a disrupter in the hotel industry, for instance, since it has grown rapidly by attracting a large base of users who rent their homes to guests, instead of acquiring and operating hotels. The idea of “disruptive innovation” caught fire in Silicon Valley, Drezner argues, because it “conformed to a plutocratic worldview in which success favors the bold, risk-taking entrepreneur.” Atop this enthusiasm, Christensen built a lucrative brand, producing eight books and founding the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard, his own consulting company, and a boutique investment firm.

In 2014, however, nearly two decades after Christensen debuted disruptive innovation in the Harvard Business Review, historian Jill Lepore eviscerated the theory in a widely read essay in The New Yorker. Lepore found that Christensen’s case studies were ambiguous and overblown: Seagate Technology, a company that was supposed to have been “felled by disruption,” had in fact thrived, doubling its sales the year after Christensen ended his study. Disruptive companies whose successes he heralded had meanwhile gone out of business. Lepore’s essay prompted an even more damning critique of Christensen in MIT Sloan Management Review, and sparked a backlash in Silicon Valley. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 11:15 am

Pre-Vulfix Wee Scot, Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish, Baili BR171 (Victor), and Lenthéric Tweed

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After a comment from a reader that the current Wee Scot lacks lather capacity, I thought I should specifically mention that the (wonderful) Wee Scot I own was bought some years prior to the acquisition of Simpson by Vulfix. Apparently the quality of the Wee Scot is not what it once was.

My Wee Scot easily made a fine lather from Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish shaving soap, obviously selected to accompany the Wee Scot.

Three passes with the Baili BR171 (which they call the Victor) left my face totally smooth—it’s an excellent razor—and a splash of Lenthéric’s Tweed finished the job, getting the weekend off to a very nice start.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2017 at 9:47 am

Posted in Shaving

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