Later On

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

Archive for October 1st, 2018

Quiet day and reflections on a new culture

leave a comment »

I did finally get out for a walk, despite morning rain, and I have to say my Nordic walking poles slip a lot on wet pavement, particularly if leaves are present. But I did the walk and feel better for it.

We went to the Moss Street Farmers Market on Saturday morning and I bought a number of things. From some, I made a most excellent soup. I still lack the automatic impulse to photograph, so I’m afraid I have no pictures, but let me describe what we got and what I did.

I had purchased a couple of chicken breasts and I had some of Farm & Field’s bone broth available, so I was thinking of a soup: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, chicken (of course), and…. cabbage! (An inspiration)

So at the market I bought several items:

  • onions: sort of ellipsoidal and attractive—perhaps a kind of spring onion, but no greens.
  • scallions: long healthy-looking green leaves
  • hard-stem Russian red garlic with large cloves (many varieties of garlic available)
  • lion’s mane mushrooms: got one just to cook because it was so strange looking: like a furry white stone
  • carrots: the homegrown kind, thick and crooked and 4″-5″ long
  • a bundle of beans. There were purple beans, but when I was told they turn green when cooked, I went with the yellow/pale green beans.
  • cabbage: I wanted a cabbage, but my God! the prices. I paid CDN$12, but it was a very large, very solid, very fresh, and very tender cabbage—a cabbage you would be proud to have as a family member
  • gin: one of the things I like about Vancouver Island is that there seems to be a singular determination to use local ingredients. I got a bottle of Stillhead London Dry Gin, “Our family owned and operated craft distillery is located on Vancouver Island, where we ferment and distill batch spirits by hand using only fruits and grains grown in British Columbia, Canada. Using a German copper still, we distill malted wheat spirit to 95% ABV, carefully cutting it to create an exceptionally smooth spirit. We then redistill it with Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Cardamon, Cubeb, Cassia, Star Anise, Lemon and Lime zest, creating a Juniper forward style gin with citrus, spice, and floral notes. Versatile for any cocktail, but designed to stand alone.” (Robert Benchley’s friend, observing him drinking straight gin, said, “Bob, that’s slow poison, you know.” Benchley replied, “I’m in no hurry.”)

They had celery with a lot of leaves (which are very tasty) but for some reason I did not buy a bunch. Mistake.

The lion’s mane mushroom I sautéed in butter after cutting it into slabs. Meh. Gave off a lot of liquid, and not all that striking a taste.

The soup was superb. In my large soup pot I put:

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
the 2 ellipsoidal onions, chopped
the very fresh and crisp greens from the scallions chopped
4 anchovy fillets, chopped fine
good pinch of salt

I sauteed that for a while, then added

4 red Russian garlic cloves, minced: a lot

After sautéing that for a minute or two, I added:

1/4 head of cabbage, chopped—a wonderful cabbage
the little bunch of yellow beans, cut into 1″ segments
about 1/2 cup chopped celery (here’s where the celery leaves would be good)
the carrots I bought, diced—again, very fresh, very tender
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
freshly ground pepper

I sautéed that for a while, then added:

1.5 qt bone broth from Farm & Field
good-sized pinch of saffron
juice of a lemon
good dash of tamari

I simmered that for 30 minutes. It was wonderful. And only 1-2 points per serving.

Update: And tonight’s dinner just before it goes into the oven:

Two very good-sized pieces of (farmed) steelhead fillet (actually it was a single fillet until halved), with a total of 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil on them (2 WW points per piece, the steelhead and lemons being 0 WW points), a good pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, and thinly sliced lemons.

This will go into a 300ºF oven for 15-17 minutes. Although steelhead is a farmed fish, it seems to be one of the okay ones.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

1 October 2018 at 5:00 pm

After Budget Cuts, the IRS’ Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing “Collapse”

leave a comment »

Leona Helmsley famous said, “Only the little people pay taxes,” and the GOP has steadily worked to make that true but cutting the IRS budget, stopping random audits (which give an indication of the amount of uncollected taxes), and cutting investigation and enforcement budgets. Jesse Eisinger and Paul Kiel report in ProPublic:

Tax evasion is at the center of the criminal cases against two associates of the president, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. The sheer scale of their efforts to avoid paying the government has given rise to a head-scratching question: How were they able to cheat the Internal Revenue Service for so many years?

The answer, researchers and former government auditors say, is simple. The IRS pursues fewer cases of tax evasion than it did less than 10 years ago. Provided you’re not a close associate of President Donald Trump, there may never be a better time to be a tax cheat.

Last year, the IRS’s criminal division brought 795 cases in which tax fraud was the primary crime, a decline of almost a quarter since 2010. “That is a startling number,” Don Fort, the chief of criminal investigations for the IRS, acknowledged at an NYU tax conference in June.

Bringing cases against people who evade taxes on legal income is central to the revenue service’s mission. In addition to recouping lost revenue, such cases are supposed “to influence taxpayer behavior for the hundreds of millions of American citizens filing tax returns,” Fort said. With fewer cases, experts fear, Americans will get the message that it’s all right to break the law.

Starting in 2011, Republicans in Congress repeatedly cut the IRS’s budget, forcing the agency to reduce its enforcement staff by a third. But that drop doesn’t entirely explain the reduction in tax fraud cases.

Over time, crimes only tangentially related to taxes, such as drug trafficking and money laundering, have come to account for most of the agency’s cases.

“Due to budget cuts, attrition and a shift in focus, there’s been a collapse in the commitment to take on tax fraud,” said Chuck Pine, who used to be the third-ranking criminal enforcement officer at the IRS and is now a managing director at BDO Consulting. “I believe there are thousands of individuals who have U.S. tax obligations and are not complying with U.S. tax laws.”

The result is huge losses for the government. Business owners don’t pay $125 billion in taxes each year that they owe, according to IRS estimates. That’s enough to finance the departments of State, Energy and Homeland Security, with NASA tossed in for good measure. Unlike wage earners who have their income separately reported to the IRS, business owners are often on the honor system.

The IRS declined to comment on its enforcement efforts.

Cohen’s and Manafort’s cases illustrate different but common types of tax cheating, and how the IRS has struggled to enforce the law. Cohen failed to report income from domestic businesses. Manafort used exotic foreign locales and shell corporations to hide his money.

Cohen’s tax evasion schemes were straightforward. Besides paying off a pornographic movie star and a former Playboy model in violation of campaign finance laws, he pleaded guilty to lying on his tax return. Whether it was income from his business owning taxi medallions, millions of dollars in interest payments on a loan he’d made to another taxi operator or the $30,000 he made by brokering the sale of a luxury handbag, Mr. Cohen simply hid the money from his accountant and the government. Over five years, he didn’t disclose $4.1 million, saving himself $1.5 million in taxes.

The IRS typically catches such evasion by auditing taxpayers. Theoretically, evidence picked up in audits can be used to start criminal cases.

But the rate at which the agency audits tax returns has plummeted by 42 percent since the budget cuts started. Criminal referrals were always rare and are becoming rarer still, dropping from 589 referrals in 2012 to 328 in 2016. With the government conducting 1.2 million audits in 2016, that’s one criminal referral for roughly every 3,600 audits.

“The focus of auditors and tax collectors is not to identify fraud, it’s to collect tax,” said a special agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Management has set other priorities, he says. “So by default, the employees are not doing it.”

In addition, current and former IRS agents say that audits are not as intensive as they used to be. Because the IRS pushes agents to close audits more quickly, they make fewer requests for records and interviews. . .

Continue reading.

The decline of America continues, aided and abetted by the GOP.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 October 2018 at 1:33 pm

Today is mattress-flip day

leave a comment »

For those who have a traditional, two-sided mattress, January 1 and July 1 are rotate days, and April 1 and October 1 are flip days. This gives the mattress an opportunity to recover its shape (from, for example, the sleeper sitting on one edge). Our mattress has a lot of wool in it, and wool will recover nicely given the chance: it’s a springy fiber.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 October 2018 at 9:02 am

Posted in Daily life

Fine’s slant and the perfect shave

leave a comment »

I enjoy my shave every morning, but I admit I get some extra pleasure in removing a two-day stubble. My Fiine aluminum slant requires a very light touch, and in addition to that this morning I used a shaving cream, which seems to me to provide a bit more cushion. I particularly like I Coloniali shaving cream with rhubarb, though I fear it is no longer available.

The lather was perfect, thanks in part to my Copper Kettle silvertip, and the Fine slant, lightly applied, did a perfect job: totally smooth face, no nicks or weepers at all.

A small splash of The Shave Den’s Patchouli Rose aftershave, and the day begins—and here, the rains have set in. This will be the third day with no walk.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 October 2018 at 8:20 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: