Later On

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

Archive for February 9th, 2019

A very nice single-malt from barley

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The Odd Society over on the mainland, in Vancouver, makes extremely good and intriguing spirits, and with snow on the ground and wind howling, knocking power out through treefalls in various locales, I decided that a little tot of single-malt whiskey on the rocks would not be amiss. In a way, I wish I still smoked a pipe (though since I quit I do get thank-you notes from my sinuses from time to time) and had a fireplace with a birch-log fire ablaze.

I hope your Saturday afternoon is as pleasant as mine.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Daily life

Beef shank stew with turnips: The first creation

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UPDATE: It’s in the oven. Revisions in boldface below. The recipe filled my 6-qt pot, though still with adequate room for cooking and stirring from time to time. /update

UPDATE 2: Delicious and satisfying on dark, cold, snowy day. I figure it’s 51 WW points total (9 duckfat, 8 olive oil, 34 beef shanks (after subtracting bones), and 5.5 qts = 22 1-cup serves = 3 points per serving, at most. /update

In Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, included in the list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending, he talks about the first creation of something (the plan, the blueprint, the recipe) and the second creation (implementing the plan, building the structure, preparing the food). Just as the first creation must precede the second, so too (he advises) you should define your life goals and direction early (the first creation) and then live it (the second). Without the first creation, the second lacks direction: you can’t tell when you’re off track if you don’t know the track.

I got to thinking about what I might make with some great beef shanks my butcher, Farm & Field, now has on hand:

I came up with my first creation, a recipe. (I just made this up. After I actually make and eat the dish, I’ll return and modify it where modification is required.)

2 tablespoon duck fat, divided (I have a tub of duck fat from that butcher, and I’m using it up)
2-3 good beef shanks, preferably thick (4 pounds, as it turned out, counting bones)
1/2 cup seasoned flour

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium leeks, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
large or 2 medium carrots, diced or rolling cut (cut off end of carrot at 45º, then roll carrot 1/4 turn after each cut)
4-5 small turnips, cut into small chunks (quartered, each quarter cut into 3 pieces)
1 cup celery, chopped
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 bunch parsley, chopped

28 oz canned diced tomatoes (1 large can or 2 14-oz cans)
juice of 2 lemons
3/4 lb mushrooms, either small or quartered
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
3 Tbsp horseradish (get it from the refrigerated section)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 star anise, 8 whole allspice, 6 whole cloves wrapped in cheesecloth or in herb bag
1/2 cup pot barley (I never knew about this until I moved to Canada; you can substitute hulled (whole-grain) barley (pot barley is basically steel-cut), but please, not pearled barley—have some respect)
1.5 cup red wine

2-4 tablespoons cognac

Cut shanks into smallish chunks, dredge in seasoned flour, and brown in duck fat. I browned the floured meat in two batches. Use 1 Tbsp duck fat for each of the two batches.

This in effect creates a roux, which will thicken the stew (though perhaps coals to Newcastle, given the barley, but I do like thick stews).

Remove browned meat to bowl, add olive oil, and cook leeks, carrots, celery, anchovy fillets, and parsley for 5-10 minutes

Add the bones from the shanks, along with the browned meat, tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs, spices, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, barley, and wine, cover, and cook all day in a 200ºF oven.

Just before serving stir in 2-4 tablespoons cognac

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Beef, Food, Low carb, Recipes

How the US Navy failed its sailors

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Robert Faturechi, Megan Rose, and T. Christian Miller report in ProPublica:

hen Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was elevated to lead the vaunted 7th Fleet in 2015, he expected it to be the pinnacle of his nearly four-decade Navy career. The fleet was the largest and most powerful in the world, and its role as one of America’s great protectors had new urgency. China was expanding into disputed waters. And Kim Jong-un was testing ballistic missiles in North Korea.

Aucoin was bred on such challenges. As a Navy aviator, he’d led the “Black Aces,” a squadron of F-14 Tomcats that in the late 1990s bombed targets in Kosovo.

But what he found with the 7th Fleet alarmed and angered him.

The fleet was short of sailors, and those it had were often poorly trained and worked to exhaustion. Its warships were falling apart, and a bruising, ceaseless pace of operations meant there was little chance to get necessary repairs done. The very top of the Navy was consumed with buying new, more sophisticated ships, even as its sailors struggled to master and hold together those they had. The Pentagon, half a world away, was signing off on requests for ships to carry out more and more missions.

The risks were obvious, and Aucoin repeatedly warned his superiors about them. During video conferences, he detailed his fleet’s pressing needs and the hazards of not addressing them. He compiled data showing that the unrelenting demands on his ships and sailors were unsustainable. He pleaded with his bosses to acknowledge the vulnerability of the 7th Fleet.

Aucoin recalled the response: “Crickets.” If he wasn’t ignored, he was put off — told to calm down and get the job done.

On June 17, 2017, shortly after 1:30 a.m., the USS Fitzgerald, a $1.8 billion destroyer belonging to the 7th Fleet, collided with a giant cargo ship off the coast of Japan. Seven sailors drowned in their sleeping quarters. It was the deadliest naval disaster in four decades.

Barely two months later, it happened again. The USS John S. McCain, its poorly trained crew fumbling with its controls, turned directly in front of a 30,000-ton oil tanker. Ten more sailors died.

The Navy, embarrassed and scrambling to explain to Congress and America’s allies how such seemingly inexplicable disasters could have happened, moved quickly to prosecute members of ship crews it declared all but incompetent and to strip senior officers of their commands.

But the swift, seemingly decisive action masked a much more damning story of failure by the Navy’s top command and the Pentagon. Aucoin had hardly been the only one detailing the once-proud 7th Fleet’s perilous condition. The alarms had been sounded up and down the chain of command, by young, overmatched sailors, by veteran captains and commanders, and by some of the most respected Navy officials in Washington.

Two three-star admirals told ProPublica they had explicitly notified superiors of the growing dangers. The two people who served successive terms as undersecretary of the Navy, the No. 2 position in the civilian command, said they had, too. They produced memos, reports and contemporaneous notes capturing their warnings and the silence or indifference with which they were met. Now, frustrated by what they regard as the Navy and Pentagon’s papering over of their culpability for the twin tragedies, these officials and others have broken with Navy custom and are speaking candidly, naming names and raising concern that the Navy could well repeat its mistakes. . .

Continue reading.

There’s much more.

This is the sort of thing that happens when you cut taxes, depriving government of the resources needed for its mission. I quite readily blame the GOP for this.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Congress, Military

The criminal justice system includes some criminal behavior

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Christian ShecklerSouth Bend Tribune and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, report in ProPublica:

This article was produced in partnership with the South Bend Tribune, a member of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in 2018.
A federal appeals court has overturned an attempted murder conviction in Elkhart, Indiana, saying a prosecutor concealed “explosive” evidence that the state’s sole eyewitness had been placed under hypnosis prior to trial, throwing into doubt the witness’s reliability.
The court’s opinion, issued 25 years after the defendant, Mack Sims, was convicted, is the latest rebuke of Elkhart’s criminal justice system, which has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica.
The prosecutor who failed to disclose the hypnosis, Charles C. Wicks, is now an Elkhart Superior Court judge, presiding over felony and misdemeanor cases.
Sims was arrested in November 1993 on suspicion of shooting Shane Carey, a security guard sitting in his car. Police said they found Sims about a half-hour after the shooting, crouching behind a nearby trash bin. In 1994, Sims was convicted in a jury trial of attempted murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison. He’s currently at Westville Correctional Facility, in the state’s northwest corner. No physical evidence linked Sims to the shooting. The state’s case hinged on Carey’s identification of Sims as the shooter.
Under a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors must disclose evidence that could be viewed as favorable to the defense. When Sims stood trial, Wicks, the case’s prosecutor, did not inform the defense that he had referred the victim to a hypnotist. The hypnotist was a physician’s assistant Wicks knew from the Kiwanis Club.
Courts generally frown on testimony from witnesses who have undergone hypnosis, because the practice often leads to an increase in false memories, alongside any legitimate improvements in a person’s recall. The Supreme Court has warned that a person under hypnosis is vulnerable to “confabulation,” filling gaps in the memory with fantasy, and to memory “hardening,” which increases a person’s confidence in both accurate and inaccurate recollections.
“Given the well-known problems that hypnosis poses for witnesses’ memories, we can be confident that Carey’s identification testimony would have been subjected to withering cross-examination,” the federal appeals court wrote in a 2-1 opinion. “The prosecution’s case against Sims depended completely on Carey’s credibility, which the suppressed hypnosis evidence would have severely undermined.”
Wicks declined to comment through an assistant Monday, saying that in his current position as a judge, he could not discuss how Sims’ prosecution had been handled.
In Sims’ case, the victim’s hypnosis was not publicly revealed until  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 1:47 pm

Barista milk—who knew?

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Rohini Chaki writes in Gastro Obscura:

IF THE HEART ON YOUR cappuccino foam looks extra-twirly, you might consider inquiring whether your favorite caffeine purveyor is using the newest tool in the coffee kit: barista milk. Specifically formulated for coffee shops, barista milk’s higher protein content helps create a more stable foam for latte art, and its creamy richness boosts the flavor of the roasted bean. For a global dairy industry that has seen dropping demand for conventional, liquid milk, this is a promising development.

“I think the specialty coffee industry has really upped the ante with the beans and roasting, and so the milk had to follow,” says Joanna Heart, an owner and barista at The Palm Coffee Bar in Burbank, California. “You’re working with this beautiful bean, it’s fair trade, it’s organic, and you’re putting all this effort into it, and then you’re just dumping whatever milk in it? I think baristas began to realize that milk is also something to be researched and played with as an artist.”

Don’t expect to find this milk for use at home. For now, barista milk, which is priced between 30 to 60 percent higher than conventional dairy milk, is exclusively sold to culinary professionals.

“Barista milk is crucial because of the way it behaves in tandem with good, flavorsome coffee to create an overall balance in the drink,” says Joe Towers, who handles the marketing and public relations for Brades Farm, his family’s dairy in Lancaster, England.

Barista milk is rich in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 12:32 pm

The Green New Deal Takes Its First Congressional Baby Step, as Pelosi Mocks “Green Dream or Whatever”

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Not only have battle lines been drawn, apparently the battle has begun. I’m against Nancy on this one, regardless of whatever deal the Dems have struck with the medical industry (nurses, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies—Democrats are to represent the interests of the public against those arrayed powers. It is supposed to be the Democratic party representing and defending the interests of the patients. Democrats are supposed to be serving the public: public servants. But I see many who are serving their own interests, not the interests of the public. Well, just look at Trump’s cabinet: industry lobbyists in charge of departments whose duties include regulating that very industry. I know how AOC would stand on this, and I’m pretty sure I can guess from certain subtle clues she’s dropped how Nancy Pelosi stands.

Kate Aronoff reports in the Intercept:

THE FIRST HAND of the Green New Deal has been dealt. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on Thursday unveiled a five-page, nonbinding resolution that frames a 10-year “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization” to confront the climate crisis.

The plan envisions the creation of millions of “good, high-wage jobs” and will serve to “counteract systemic injustices.”

The resolution sets a framework for legislation to be hashed out over the next two years, and gives Ocasio-Cortez, Markey, and climate groups something to organize around.

Their goal is to meet 100 percent of the demand for power in the U.S. with “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” in line with the scientific consensus on climate change, as well as to provide “all people of the United States” with clean air and water, “healthy and affordable food,” high-quality health care, “affordable, safe, and adequate housing,” and economic security.

As part and parcel of this transition, the resolution calls for a federal jobs guarantee, a massive infrastructure build-out, building efficiency upgrades and robust investment in public transit, to name just a few of the measures listed. It would ensure a dignified quality of life for workers and communities that rely on coal, oil, and natural gas jobs (“a fair and just transition”), and says that steps toward reaching zero-emissions — such as building new wind turbines — should not impose on indigenous peoples’ land rights or abuse the power of eminent domain. A full plan, the resolution states, will be developed “in transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses.”

The resolution provides the most detail yet of what Ocasio-Cortez and company mean by a Green New Deal, but it does not map out precisely what a Green New Deal will entail. If the House had created a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, per Ocasio-Cortez’s original resolution, that would have been the two-yearlong mandate of a team of policymakers and experts. In laying the groundwork for an eventual legislative package, the document will create pressure on the select panel created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in lieu of the one called for by Ocasio-Cortez. Dubbed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, it will be chaired by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

Pelosi on Thursday morning announced Ocasio-Cortez would not be on that select committee, though she was approached for a seat and declined to join. In a separate interview with Politico, Pelosi mocked the notion of a Green New Deal. “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” she said. “The green dream or whatever they call it — nobody knows what it is but they’re for it right?”

Ocasio-Cortez, at a press conference unveiling the resolution, was asked repeatedly about Pelosi’s dig, but . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 12:23 pm

Top Nancy Pelosi Aide Privately Tells Insurance Executives Not to Worry About Democrats Pushing “Medicare for All”

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This indicates that corporations and the wealthy maintain a firm grip on the US government and can easily bend it to their will. We really need more like AOC in Congress, who clearly are willing to fight for the public good against entrenched power. Many more, and soon.

The aptly named Ryan Grim reports in the Intercept:

LESS THAN A month after Democrats — many of them running on “Medicare for All” — won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and assured them that party leadership had strong reservations about single-payer health care and was more focused on lowering drug prices, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Pelosi adviser Wendell Primus detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care. Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing.

Primus, in a slide presentation obtained by The Intercept, criticized single payer on the basis of cost (“Monies are needed for other priorities”), opposition (“Stakeholders are against; Creates winners and losers”), and “implementation challenges.” We have recreated the slides for source protection purposes.

. . .

Democrats, Primus said, are united around the concept of universal coverage, but see strengthening the Affordable Care Act as the means to that end. He made his presentation to the Blue Cross executives on December 4. “We don’t discuss private meetings, if there was such a meeting,” said a BCBS spokesperson. Primus said that he did not discuss any kind of deal with the insurers. Henry Connelly, a spokesperson for Pelosi, said that the assessment of single payer was not related to any dealmaking with the industry. “We’re not going to barter lower prescription drug costs for inaction in the rest of the health care industry. The presentation was a broad look at the health care environment and some of House Democrats’ legislative priorities over the next two years in a period of GOP control of the Senate and White House,” Connelly said.

The debate over Medicare for All is playing out on a number of different levels, with no clear consensus over how the government-run, single-payer health plan ought to take shape. Presidential candidates are arguing over whose plan is stronger and gets to full Medicare for All faster, with a debate raging over whether private insurance should be banned outright or operate in addition to universal Medicare coverage.

In the House, even as the idea has picked up momentum with voters and members of the Democratic caucus, Democratic leadership has remained deeply skeptical. Pelosi’s consistent messaging, instead, has been around protecting the Affordable Care Act and lowering prescription drug prices.

“Speaker Pelosi has ensured that Medicare for All will have hearings in the House and tapped Congressman Brian Higgins to take the lead on Medicare buy-in legislation. For the first time, House committees will be seriously examining and tackling some of the questions and possible solutions raised by Medicare for All legislation,” said Connelly.

“The biggest obstacles facing Medicare for All right now are Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump,” he added.  “But in the near term, there is a window for Democrats to press Trump to help pass aggressive legislation to negotiate down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs.”

Primus concluded his presentation with a bullet point that summarized Pelosi’s mission on health care: “Lower your health care costs and prescription drug prices.” . . .

[another slide show – LG] . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. I can see why people feel powerless: Corporations and politicians divvy up the power and the loot. The public is the mine.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2019 at 12:14 pm

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