Later On

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

Archive for February 9th, 2018

Shrimp dinner tonight

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I put 1.5 Tbsp olive (6 WW points) in my big sauté pan. Once hot, I added two chopped shallots and a good pinch of salt and sautéed, stirring frequently, until shallots softened and just started to brown. I then added bag of cauliflower rice, stirred, and cooked for a while, then squeezed half a Meyer lemon over it. I put the lid on it and cooked it for 8 minutes, removing lid a couple of times to stir and then replacing it. The Wife tasted and when she said it was done, I used a spatula to remove it to a bowl.

Then I put another 1.5 Tbsp olive oil into the pan, and once it was hot added about 3-4 Tbsp finely chopped garlic. I sautéed that until the garlic was softened and cooked (and had flavored the oil). Then I added about a pound of large shrimp I had shelled and halved, along with a good pinch of salt and about 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper. I stirred and sautéed the shrimp for a few minutes, then squeezed the other half of the lemon over and covered briefly to steam them. I ate one to test, cooked them a minute more, and then removed from the heat.

To serve I put a couple of serving spoons of the cauliflower in two bowls, and then the shrimp on top.

I think I’ll make this again, but next time I’m going to use lime juice. And I might sauté some sliced cherry tomatoes and parsley with the shallots before adding the cauliflower rice.

Since we split the dish, we had 6 WW points each. I still have 7 points remaining for the day, which I won’t be using. And things are going well:

You’ll note there’s a lot of up and down in the graph (noise, in effect), but adding the trend line is calming since it shows the downs are winning over the ups overall. Without the trend line, the cyclic gains would be disheartening.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 8:12 pm

The ongoing criminalization of poverty in the US

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Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

This week, my colleagues on The Post’s editorial board took aim at Virginia’s ongoing problem with drivers license suspensions over unpaid court debts.

The problem with laws that link the suspension of driver’s licenses to the failure to pay court debt was spotlighted in a recent report examining the practice in Virginia. The Legal Aid Justice Center found that, as of December 2017, nearly 1 million Virginians (974,349) had their licenses suspended at least in part due to court debt, and nearly two-thirds of those (638,003) were suspended solely for that reason. That translates into about 1 in 6 drivers in the commonwealth. Payment plans were found to be ineffective, because the underlying issue is not drivers’ willingness to pay fines but the fact that they simply don’t have the money.

Virginia unfortunately is not alone in suspending or revoking licenses to punish people for failure to pay court debt. A state-by-state analysis by the Legal Aid Justice Center last fall found that 43 states and the District of Columbia suspend driver’s licenses because of unpaid debt. Only four states require a determination of the person’s ability to pay. Some, such as Virginia, make the suspensions mandatory, while others, including the District and Maryland, allow for discretion, albeit automated systems make its use rare. Virtually all states that suspend licenses for unpaid debt do so indefinitely, with rules that prevent reinstatement until full payment is made.

What results is a vicious cycle. You can’t afford to pay an initial court fine for a parking ticket or a shoplifting charge, so you lose your license. That means you can’t drive to work or hold a job that requires a license — which makes you even less able to pay your court debt. If you drive without a license, you may get into more serious trouble. Meanwhile, you can’t drive your children to school or to their medical appointments.

This problem has received a lot of national attention, going back to the uprising in Ferguson, Mo. Unfortunately, states and municipalities (more the latter than the former) have become too dependent on the revenue. The media attention has spurred reform in some places, and questionable reforms in others, such as outsourcing debt collection to private companies. But many states and municipalities have been reluctant to change at all. Here at The Watch, we’ve noted that in Louisiana, the funding for public defender offices comes primarily from court fees — and only those convicted are assessed those fees. Perversely, this means that every time a public defender wins a case, it means less funding for that attorney’s office.

In some cities, outstanding government debt not only means revocation of a driver’s license but also can make it impossible to obtain occupational licenses for jobs such as cutting hair or driving a cab. So because someone owes the city money, the city has made it impossible for that person to earn the money to pay the city back. A recent North Carolina study found that over the past 20 years, court fees in that state have risen by 400 percent, which is probably why about 1 in 5 inmatesat the county jail in Charlotte is incarcerated for failing to pay fines. In fact, since just 2010, nearly every state has raised or added court fees or fines.

Sadly, we’re now starting to see backlash against even the slow-moving and tepid reforms wrought by the reporting after Ferguson. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 5:00 pm

Rob Porter’s History of Domestic Abuse Wasn’t a Secret. It’s Just That No One Cared.

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Dahlia Lithwick (always good) writes in Slate:

As it turns out, the first #MeToo story to actually trip up the White House needed to be as graphic and violent as the accusations against Rob Porter. It needed to involve a Rhodes Scholar golden boy who had been married—married—to old-fashioned girls to even count. This, and indeed the entire situation, provides the perfect mirror to reflect all the ways in which systems, all systems, fail women.

Until Wednesday, Rob Porter was the White House staff secretary. Long before Wednesday, many of the people to whom he reported knew he had physically abused and assaulted both of his wives. Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, both told the FBI their marriages had ended because of a pattern of physical and emotional abuse. According to their accounts, supported by photos, contemporaneous reporting to others, and a blog post written by Willoughby last April, Porter kicked these women, he punched and choked one of these women, he blackened one of these women’s eyes. He berated and insulted these women. Police were called. But Rob Porter is also white, and the son of a prominent academic and thinker. He went to Harvard and Oxford, and he had a high-ranking job in the Oval Office, and was reportedly pressing for a higher one. He was dating Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes. So nobody did a thing about the allegations.

Right up until Tuesday night, Chief of Staff John Kelly was praising Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”

Willoughby’s blog post detailing her abuse did not name Porter, but it did use her own name.

It has been live since April 24, 2017. She wrote: “The first time he called me a ‘fucking bitch’ was on our honeymoon. (I found out years later he had kicked his first wife on theirs.)” Porter reportedly begged her to take it down because anyone who read it had to have known it was referencing Rob Porter, the guy at the White House. Another thing that is clear from the blog post is that the police knew: Willoughby filed for a protective order in Arlington, Virginia, in 2010, and she called them on at least one other occasion. Both women reported the abuse to elders in their church and to counselors. Holderness told her brother and his girlfriend. And then, as their mutual ex-husband was being cleared for his job in the White House last spring, both women told the FBI. They actually thought, at that point, somebody might care.

Please stop saying that women don’t tell. These women told. They told the stories of likely the most intimate and traumatic moments of their lives to family and church elders and friends and counselors and FBI officers, and they saw the following happen: Porter was not given full clearance. He was, however, given an interim security clearance. Senior staff in the White House knew why his clearance was snagged by the fall. According to PoliticoJohn Kelly, Donald Trump’s chief of staff and Porter’s boss, also knew of the 2010 protective order against Porter. Don McGahn, the White House counsel, also knew, according to Politico, because in recent weeks a third woman, an ex-girlfriend of Porter’s who also works in the Trump administration, told him that Porter had abused her and his two ex-wives.

But right up until 9:31 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, John Kelly was standing by Rob Porter. Even when others had distanced themselves, John Kelly reiterated his opinion that Porter had true integrity and honor.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R–Utah), for whom Porter had previously served as chief of staff, initially told the Daily Mail the allegations against Porter came from lying “character assassins.” His full comment:

It’s incredibly discouraging to see such a vile attack on such a decent man. Shame on any publication that would print this—and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name.

Hatch changed his statement on Wednesday, after learning the actual details leveled by the actual victims. His new statement read:

I am heartbroken by today’s allegations. In every interaction I’ve had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional, and respectful. My staff loved him and he was a trusted advisor. I do not know the details of Rob’s personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent. I am praying for Rob and those involved.

Apparently “I didn’t see it with my own eyes in the workplace,” is the new “thoughts and prayers.” Note that the central moral issue was no longer the scurrilous women who must have lied to a slanderous press, but Hatch’s own heartbreak. He didn’t apologize to the women he had maligned hours earlier, and it’s not entirely clear if they are part of the group of people for whom Hatch is praying.

John Kelly again evinced no concern for or even interest in these women in his statement Wednesday night:

I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.

It is not clear what the “new allegations” were, since there was nothing he knew at 9:31 p.m. Wednesday he hadn’t known earlier that day, save, perhaps, for the fact that there was a photo. The man we’ve all been feting as the “adult in the room” turns out to be just as adept at disappearing victims of domestic abuse as all the other adults, namely those in the FBI and the Mormon church, who had also known of the allegations against Porter and done nothing.

Today, in response to a question about whether he believes the women claiming Porter abused them, Sen. Hatch said,  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 1:56 pm

“How One Book Changed My Relationship With Money”

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Concepción de León writes in the NY Times:

Last spring I picked up “Your Money or Your Life” [link is to inexpensive secondhand copies – LG], by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, because I heard it had recently helped one man make a fortune. Originally published in 1992, the seminal personal finance book teaches a nine-step, systemic approach to money management that was created by Mr. Dominguez, who died in 1997. Since its publication, the book has been translated into 10 languages and sold more than one million copies, and a fourth edition will be released later this month.

“Your Money” turned out not to be a vehicle toward amassing money, as I expected. Instead, Ms. Robin encourages readers to work toward having “enough” — a quantifiable amount that would cover their needs and wants — rather than an ever-receding goal of “more.“ She proposes people live more frugally, naming consumerism and its trappings as the root of many Americans’ financial challenges.

The idea seemed antithetical to the wealth I’d always aspired to. I grew up with my dad, surrounded by family, sharing two or three bedroom apartments with my cousins and aunts. Like many immigrants and low-income Americans, they worked long hours and relied on one another to get by. My dad and his sisters provided child care for each other. We ate at home every day — big pots of chicken, beans and rice that, if cooked well, left concón: crunchy, flavorful grains stuck to the bottom of the pan that we scraped off with a metal spoon. My cousins and I often clamored around the stove to get some on our plates.

I realized later that concón, or semi-burnt rice, wasn’t meant to be eaten. In the Dominican Republic, where my father grew up with his parents and seven sisters, they ate concón out of necessity, because there wasn’t always enough food to go around. But in New York, they built their new lives around the same thriftiness and communal support they’d learned back home, and they banked on their sacrifice paying off — if not in the fulfillment of their dreams, then in that of their children, who might help lift them out of poverty. I always hoped to be that person for my family.

So Ms. Robin’s suggestion that I should live a life similar to the one my family lived, stretching dollars and counting pennies, was a radical departure, and the idea captivated me. I pored through the book, extending my commute to get through more pages. I kept reading even during my walk to the office, weaving through rush-hour foot traffic with a highlighter in hand, placing Post-its on pages I wanted to come back to.

The cornerstone of the program has echoes of the common adage “Time is money.” In an early chapter, readers learn to find their “real” hourly wage by factoring the hidden time and money spent on work-related expenditures into their pay.

If you are paid $25 per hour for a 40-hour workweek, for instance, but spend 30 additional hours commuting, decompressing or nursing stress-induced headaches, and $300 goes toward your business suits, your “real” hourly wage is $10 per hour. That means a $100 splurge at Sephora costs you 600 minutes of your life. You’re forced to ask, at every turn, “Was it worth it?“

“Your Money” redefines not only your relationship to money, but also to work itself.

Ms. Robin calls our jobs, what we do to put food on the table, “paid employment,” and argues that our collective definition of work should be expanded to include “any productive or purposeful activity,” such as caring for a child or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Money and “paid employment,” then, should help us live fuller lives, but not dominate them.

For the writers, this realization manifested in a commitment to early retirement — not from work as defined by Ms. Robin, but from the nine-to-five grind. They zoned in on how much they needed, saved aggressively and invested smartly and early; now, Ms. Robin lives off the income she earns from those investments. And she is working with Millennial Money blogger Grant Sabatier (the millionaire whose story originally piqued my interest in the book) to create an online community for “Your Money” devotees. Mr. Sabatier famously increased his bank account balance from $2.26 to $1 million in five years, and he credits the book for lighting a fire under him. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

Why the Disease Definition of Addiction Does Far More Harm Than Good

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Interesting article in Scientific American by Marc Lewis, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus in developmental psychology at the University of Toronto:

Over the past year and a half, Scientific American has published a number of fine articles arguing that addiction is not a disease, that drugs are not the cause of addiction, and that social and societal factors are fundamental contributors to opioid addiction in general and the overdose crisis in particular. The dominant view, that addiction is a disease resulting from drug use, is gradually being eroded by these and other incisive critiques. Yet the disease model and its corollaries still prevail in the domains of research, policy setting, knowledge dissemination and treatment delivery, more in the United States than in any other country in the developed world. You might wonder: what are we waiting for?

The disease model remains dominant in the U.S. because of its stakeholders. First, the rehab industry, worth an estimated $35 billion per year, uses the disease nomenclature in a vast majority of its ads and slogans. Despite consistently low success rates, that’s not likely to stop because it pulls in the cash. Second, as long as addiction is labeled a disease, medical insurance providers can be required to pay for it.

Of course they do so as cheaply as possible, to the detriment of service quality, but they at least save governments the true costs of dealing with addiction through education, social support, employment initiatives and anti-poverty mechanisms. Third, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funds roughly 90 percent of addiction research worldwide, is a medically oriented funder and policy setter, as are the American Society of Addiction Medicine and other similar bodies.

For these organizations to confess that addiction isn’t really a disease would be tantamount to admitting that they’re in no position to tackle it, which would be a form of institutional suicide. And finally, there are the families of addicts, many of whom welcome the idea that addiction is a disease because that implies that their loved ones are not bad people after all. More on that shortly.

My own role in the controversy has been to keep up a spate of arguments against the disease model of addiction, in books, the press and online, mostly on scientific grounds. As a neuroscientist, I’m able to show why brain change—either in general or specifically in the striatum, the motivational core—does not equal pathology or disease. And as a developmental psychologist (my other hat), I highlight the role of learning in brain change (or neuroplasticity) and reinterpret NIDA’s findings in terms of deeply ingrained habits of thought and action. Both arguments are presented in some detail here.

But why does the definition of addiction matter? Isn’t this just a word game? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 9:52 am

All-RazoRock shave: Italian flag synthetic, Zi’ Peppino, and the German 37 slant

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After yesterday’s shave with the Merkur 37G slant, I decided to go this morning with the RazoRock clone, the German 37. Unlike the 37C/G and the other Merkur slant clones, the German 37 is a three-piece razor, which offers two significant advantages: 1) you can swap handles if you want, and 2) you can buy the head by itself ($12) if you already have a handle.

First, of course, came the prep. After my shower and then washing my beard at the sink with MR GLO, I loaded the Italian flag synthetic (a 24mm knot) with Zi’ Peppino, which is a very nice soap indeed, in terms of both lather and fragrance. I took my time lathering my face before the first pass simply because I was enjoying the feel of the brush and the look and fragrance of the lather.

As I shaved with the German 37 I could not help comparing it to yesterday’s shave with the Merkur 37G. I was somewhat surprised that, at least this morning, the German 37 felt noticeably more comfortable (and was equally efficient). I’m not sure why that is. It could be, of course, that the German 37 head is more comfortable, but it also might be because yesterday’s shave was good practice for today’s shave, or because today’s prep was in some ways better—e.g., Zi’ Peppino lather works better for me than The Dead Se lather.

At any rate, I had a thoroughly enjoyable shave with no nicks or other problems, and it was comfortable throughout.

A good splash of Zi’ Peppino, and I’m look the weekend right in the eye.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2018 at 8:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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