Later On

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

Archive for March 12th, 2019

Sweet vermouth recipe

leave a comment »

The above is from this post, which I found as I searched for sweet vermouth comparisons. I had been using Cinzano and just recently got a bottle of Martini & Rossi instead, and it struck me as much better. And I saw a long list of sweet vermouth ratings, including that above.

I have often gotten Antica Carpano Formula, and I think I will soon get another bottle. It really is excellent, but I have to say I’m impressed by the Martini & Rossi.

And I think I mentioned that the Sheringham Distillery’s first whisky, Red Fife (of which I have bottle #209), is wonderful: rich taste, extremely smooth. (It’s not yet on their website.)

Update: When The Eldest saw this, she immediately asked, “Where do you get wormwood?”

“Amazon,” I (correctly) guessed.

Update again. Whoa! Do a Google search on “Sweet vermouth recipes” (or, for that matter, on “Dry vermouth recipes“) and you find plenty that will keep you busy. I have to say, as a guy who makes his own pepper sauce and (occasionally) his own Worcestershire sauce and mayo, consuming your own version of what is commonly purchased is wonderfully satisfying.

My Worcestershire sauce as it was aging. (Second go.)

Update again: The Washington Post has a sweet vermouth recipe from just last September:

You will need a 5-quart jar with a lid and a clean, empty 750-ml bottle.

Serve over ice with an orange twist as an accompaniment to green olives, Marcona almonds and orange wedges.

To read the accompanying story, see: The best vermouth you can sip is the one you can make yourself.

Make Ahead: While it may be sipped straight away, vermouth takes a month to fully meld flavors. The bottles can be stored for up to 3 months. Once opened, refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Tested size: 25 servings; makes three 750-milliliter bottles

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seed (from the pods)
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 small piece of a whole nutmeg
  • A few saffron threads
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
  • 1 cup fino sherry
  • 2 bottles pinot grigio or vinho verde

Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of peel from the orange, leaving the white pith behind. (You can eat or juice the remaining orange.)

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Swirl the pan, do not stir, and keep constant watch. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes; the resulting syrup will begin to turn a light amber color. Add the strips of orange peel, continuing to cook and swirl the pan as the syrup gets richly caramel-colored, for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the brandy to the pan. The caramel syrup will seize, in what seems like a truly terrible moment. Return the pan to the stove top and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring with a sturdy spoon as the caramel melts into the brandy. Do not let the brandy come to a boil.

Pour the warm brandy mixture into the jar, then add the cloves, coriander and cardamom seeds, pink peppercorns, star anise, nutmeg, saffron and vanilla bean. Cover/seal the jar. Once the mixture is cooled completely, add the sherry and then close the jar again. Let this mixture steep overnight.

The next day, strain the infused brandy and sherry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Add the 2 bottles of wine, stir well, and, for efficiency, pour the DIY vermouth mixture back into the 2 empty wine bottles plus 1 additional empty bottle. Cork or twist the caps back on and place the bottles in a dark closet for 1 month.

 

 

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Drinks, Recipes

Math Duo Maps the Infinite Terrain of Minimal Surfaces

leave a comment »

Soap film on a spiral frame. Soap bubbles form sheets of minimum surface area when stretched between two points. Therefore, when stretched between straight metal wires they will form flat planes. with itself. The colors are caused by light waves interfering with each other in a process called optical interference. The different colors are caused by different thickness of the soap film.


Erica Klarreich has an amazing article in Quanta. Do read it. Illustration above is the caption graphic for the article.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Math

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 1000th century

leave a comment »

I played a couple of hours of snooker recently. I’m a rubbish player: not only lack of practice and experience, but also blurry vision and having really just one functioning eye (no depth perception). Plus all my adult cue experience was in 3-cushion billiards, and snooker balls are much smaller: snooker ball is 54mm in diameter, carom (and 3-cushion) billiards balls are 61mm. So my old stance put the cue way too high, which took a while to figure out. Aiming? Forget it. I did get one point.

The table seems much larger in person and the distance for a table-length diagonalish shot (not rare) is formidable.

At any rate, I’m very glad I did it because it brings a whole new dimension of experiential understanding when I watch this amazing video:

 

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Games, Video

Economic Dignity: Allowing people to lead dignified lives.

leave a comment »

Gene Sperling writes in Democracy Journal:

For all the things we find time for in the ongoing economic policy debates I have seen or been part of over the last 30 years, battles over policy, there seems to me too little reflection on the most basic economic question of all: What exactly is our ultimate economic goal in terms of increasing human happiness and well-being?

Indeed, in the absence of that more clear focus on an economic fixed star, it becomes too easy to start to see the economic targets, political strategies, and specific policy postures as if they were the end goals in themselves—as opposed to means to arrive at a higher end goal for lifting up human fulfillment. 

Over the years, I have found myself stepping outside of the normal metrics that define our national economic dialogue to ask myself: What would a person on his or her death bed say mattered most in his or her economic life? That is the question that guides this essay. It seeks neither to explore highly technical issues of economic measurement nor sort out competing theories of social justice. It is rather one policymakers’ attempt to go out of the comfort zone of numbers to delve into this larger question. 

At a moment when the very capacity of modern capitalism to avoid accelerating inequality, a hollowed-out middle class, structural poverty, and growing economic insecurity is being questioned—and even the role of work in a coming age of A.I. and robots is less certain—we should be stepping back to reflect on what is precisely the ultimate economic goal we aspire to. Simply put: If you live in times when major steps forward are needed, it is important to be clear on your destination—or at least to know the North Star that is guiding you.

My answer to the end goal question is what I will define as “economic dignity.” 

I. Defining Economic Dignity

Like values such as freedom or liberty, economic dignity is a concept that brings with it great intuitive power, but usually lacks a rigorous definition. There is no shortage of usages of the word “dignity”—from showing grace under difficult circumstances (“He handled the rebuke with great dignity.”), to the basic respect all people are due by virtue of their common humanity recognized in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the respect for autonomy of the individual that Supreme Court justices from William Brennan, Jr. to Anthony Kennedy have found embedded in the core of the Constitution. 

In the realm of economic policy, dignity is often invoked with power and eloquence to refer to a higher, more spiritual impact on individual integrity and self-worth beyond dollars and cents—especially related to work, retirement, and civil rights. Labor leaders from Mother Jones to Cesar Chavez, and civil rights icons like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin, made clear that beyond the higher wages or better benefits that came with unionization or new civil rights laws was the sense of dignity won through those gains. A person’s race, gender, or lack of labor market power could no longer be used to deny her the basic respect, autonomy, and agency she should possess by virtue of her effort and humanity. From Franklin Roosevelt’s creation of Social Security in the 1930s, to Ai-jen Poo’s advocacy for a revolution of care more than 80 years later, as the head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the notion of a “dignified retirement” has been invoked by countless political leaders. Former Vice President Joe Biden has, for decades, talked eloquently about the idea that a job is never about just a paycheck, but “your dignity,” while Senator Sherrod Brown frames many of his policies as promoting the “dignity of work”—as do job guarantee advocates like professor Darrick Hamilton. I identified “economic dignity” in 2005 in my book The Pro-Growth Progressive as the first of three progressive values by which we should guide and judge economic success.

This essay seeks to go beyond those invocations. It seeks to lay out three essential, interlocking pillars that define economic dignity and argue that it should be the singular end goal for economic policy and basis for policy prioritization. This definition of economic dignity is rooted in the best angels of the American character, helps substantially explain how we have navigated our relationship between market and government, and can serve as our economic North Star looking forward.

Pillar One: The capacity to care for family and experience its greatest joys 

An economic dignity compact must ensure that those who do their part are able to care and provide opportunity for family—and enjoy the greatest, most incalculable joys that come with that role. While complete economic equality will always be an unrealistic goal, what is both achievable and morally compelling is to protect the most natural equality: that while high income can make life easier, the greatest joys in life—the birth of one’s children, the companionship of a loving partner, the love of family and friends, and the fulfillment that comes from caring for and providing opportunity to these loved ones—must be available to all. And yet, while there is deep truth to the saying that “The best things in life are free,” the reality is that economic deprivation, discrimination, flaws in market rules, and gaping holes in the safety net deny tens of millions of Americans these familial joys.

Satisfaction of this first pillar no doubt means at least achieving affordable health security for all, a more secure retirement, and a dignified wage. Yet the extent of such provisions must be seen as evolving. Ensuring a quality higher education for one’s children has become more essential for economic security and mobility, so has ensuring such education for one’s children become a more essential component of economic dignity for parents—as it has become critical to the economic security and mobility of their children. While they were not components of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, support for child and elderly care and paid family leave should today be seen as essential to this first pillar—an ability for workers to bond with a new child or care for an elderly parent lies at the heart of economic dignity. 

Pillar Two: Pursuit of potential and purpose

Each American must have true first and second chances to pursue his or her potential. As Martha Nussbaum writes, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 12:35 pm

Unplanned obsolescence in autos

leave a comment »

A question on Quora: “If I turned my computer off for 100 years without touching it at all and protecting it in perfect condition would it work afterwards? If not, why?”

Franklin Veaux’s <answer

No.

As other people have said, corrosion, capacitor failure, and battery failure will likely destroy the computer. But there’s an additional factor as well.

Modern computers have SSDs instead of spinning rust hard drives, and the firmware is stored in flash memory.

Flash memory has a limited lifespan. It exploits a subtle quantum mechanics phenomenon called “electron tunneling” to record information as charges on floating gates in floating gate transistors. The same principles of quantum mechanics that allow flash memory to work, also guarantee that over time, the electrons will tunnel out of the gates and the information will be lost.

If you put flash memory on a shelf and forget about it, within five years enough tunneling will happen that the special error correction circuitry built into flash memory controllers needs to do significant work to recover the data. Within thirty years, the flash memory is effectively blank.

The firmware in your computer will evaporate.

This is not just a problem for desktop or laptop computers. I foresee it becoming a serious problem in ways a lot of folks aren’t yet thinking about. Like cars.

Car companies are starting to use flash memory in the computers that control the engine. Put a flash-equipped car in a garage for 20 or 30 years and no matter how good the car’s condition is mechanically, it won’t run.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 11:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Facebook took down, and then restored, Elizabeth Warren’s ad calling for Facebook’s breakup

leave a comment »

It strikes me that Facebook is out of control. Robb McLean reports at CNN Business:

Facebook removed — and then restored — an advertisement from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign that sharply criticized Facebook and other tech companies for “tilting the playing field” in their favor.

Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, wants to break up Facebook (FB), Google(GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN). She called them monopolies that abuse their dominant position in the marketplace.

The ad, part of a series posted by Warren’s presidential campaign, said the three tech companies have “bulldozed competition” and “used our private information for profit.” The ad’s removal was first reported by Politico.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said the company originally removed the ad because it violated Facebook’s prohibition against modifying its corporate logo. The ad includes Facebook’s “f” trademark surrounded by a comic-book dialog bubble. It also includes icons to represent Amazon and Google.

Facebook said it restored the ad for the sake of “robust debate.”<

It’s unclear whether the company’s artificial intelligence software or human content moderators took down the ad. Other Warren campaign ads on Facebook’s platform called for the breakup of Facebook and other big tech companies, but they did not include a modified Facebook logo. Facebook did not take those ads down. Facebook declined to comment on how the ad with the logo was removed.

Facebook polices millions of posts, videos, ads and other pieces of content each day with a combination of human and software intervention. It asks people to flag inappropriate content and Facebook hires contractors to moderate its platform. It also has developed software that automatically scrubs content it believes to have broken the company’s rules.

The AI software looks for telltale signs of misconduct, such as posts that include nudity, promote violence or violate copyrights. Facebook says it is also training AI to detect click-bait and misinformation. But AI remains in its infancy, and it is far from perfect. It cannot replace human judgment.

Facebook needs to use a combination of tools to combat its massive abuse problem on its platform. Human rights groups have slammed Facebook for its failure to crack down on hate speech and misinformation that fueled political division across the world, including violence in Myanmar. Facebook admitted it was “too slow” to act. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 8:44 am

The Tragedy of Baltimore

leave a comment »

Alec MacGillis reports in ProPublica:

On April 27, 2015, Shantay Guy was driving her 13-year-old son home across Baltimore from a doctor’s appointment when something — a rock, a brick, she wasn’t sure what — hit her car. Her phone was turned off, so she had not realized that protests and violence had broken out in the city that afternoon, following the funeral of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who drew national attention eight days earlier when he died after suffering injuries in police custody.

As she saw what was happening — fires being set, young people and police officers converging on the nearby vortex of the disorder — she pushed her son, Brandon, down in his seat and sped home. “Mom, are we home yet?” Brandon asked when they pulled up at their house just inside the city line, where they lived with Guy’s husband, her grown daughter and her husband’s late-teenage son, brother and sister-in-law.

“Yeah,” she told him.

“You’re still holding my head down,” he said.

Guy grew up in an impoverished, highly segregated part of West Baltimore near what was now the focal point of the street clashes, but she had long since climbed into a different stratum of the city’s society; she was working as an information-technology project manager for T. Rowe Price, the Baltimore-based mutual-fund giant. Seeing her old neighborhood erupt changed her life. After long discussions with her husband, who manages the office of a local trucking company, she quit her job and went to work for a community mediation organization. “It just felt like it was the work I was supposed to be doing,” she said.

In Baltimore, you can tell a lot about the politics of the person you’re talking with by the word he or she uses to describe the events of April 27, 2015. Some people, and most media outlets, call them the “riots”; some the “unrest.” Guy was among those who always referred to them as the “uprising,” a word that connoted something justifiable and positive: the first step, however tumultuous, toward a freer and fairer city. Policing in Baltimore, Guy and many other residents believed, was broken, with officers serving as an occupying army in enemy territory — harassing African-American residents without cause, breeding distrust and hostility.

In 2016, the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division concurred, releasing a report accusing the city’s Police Department of racial discrimination and excessive force. The city agreed to a “consent decree” with the federal government, a set of policing reforms that would be enforced by a federal judge. When an independent monitoring team was selected to oversee the decree, Guy was hired as its community liaison. This was where she wanted to be: at the forefront of the effort to make her city a better place.

But in the years that followed, Baltimore, by most standards, became a worse place. In 2017, it recorded 342 murders — its highest per-capita rate ever, more than double Chicago’s, far higher than any other city of 500,000 or more residents and, astonishingly, a larger absolute number of killings than in New York, a city 14 times as populous. Other elected officials, from the governor to the mayor to the state’s attorney, struggled to respond to the rise in disorder, leaving residents with the unsettling feeling that there was no one in charge. With every passing year, it was getting harder to see what gains, exactly, were delivered by the uprising.

One night last October, after Guy and her husband, Da’mon, had gone to bed, Da’mon’s brother banged on the bedroom door. “Yo, yo, get up!” he shouted.

It was around 11:30 p.m. Da’mon’s 21-year-old son, Da’mon Jr., whom Shantay had helped raise, would ordinarily have been home by then, after his bus ride across town from his evening shift working as a supply coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital. But he was nowhere to be seen. Da’mon Sr. rushed to the door and asked what was going on.

“Dame’s been shot,” his brother said.


Four months later, I met Guy and Da’mon Jr. at a cafe near my office in the center of the city. Da’mon had recently been released after spending 47 days in the hospital, with 20 surgical procedures. His inferior vena cava, which carries blood from the lower body to the heart, no longer functioned; he had to rely on collateral veins instead. He was trying to go back to work, but swelling in his legs and shortness of breath were making it hard.

Da’mon told me he had no idea who was behind the shooting, which he surmised was either an attempted robbery or a gang initiation. It was unnerving, he said, knowing the shooter was still out there somewhere. “I don’t like it when cars slow down to me or people are staring at me too long at stop signs,” he said. “Any one of y’all could be that person. You never know.”

But Guy, somehow, had come through the experience even more committed to the cause she had signed on for. “Our city needs restoration,” she told me.

t takes remarkable fortitude to remain an optimist about Baltimore today. I have lived in the city for 11 of the past 18 years, and for the last few I have struggled to describe its unraveling to friends and colleagues elsewhere. If you live in, say, New York or Boston, you are familiar with a certain story of urban America. Several decades ago, disorder and dysfunction were common across American cities. Then came the great urban rebirth: a wave of reinvestment coupled with a plunge in crime rates that has left many major cities to enjoy a sort of post-fear existence.

Until 2015, Baltimore seemed to be enjoying its own, more modest version of this upswing. Though it is often lumped in with Rust Belt economic casualties like Cleveland, St. Louis and Detroit, Baltimore in fact fared better than these postindustrial peers. Because of the Johns Hopkins biomedical empire, the city’s busy port and its proximity to Washington, metro Baltimore enjoyed higher levels of wealth and income — including among its black population — than many former manufacturing hubs.

The city still had its ills — its blight, suburban flight, segregation, drugs, racial inequality, concentrated poverty. But as recently as 2014, Baltimore’s population, which is 63 percent African-American, was increasing, up slightly to 623,000 after decades of decline. Office buildings downtown were being converted to apartments, and a new business-and-residential district was rising east of the Inner Harbor. The city was even attracting those ultimate imprimaturs of urban revival, a couple of food halls.

The subsequent regression has been swift and demoralizing. Redevelopment continues in some parts of town, but nearly four years after Freddie Gray’s death, the surge in crime has once again become the context of daily life in the city, as it was in the early 1990s. I have grown accustomed to scanning the briefs column in The Baltimore Sun in the morning for news of the latest homicides; to taking note of the location of the latest killings as I drive around town for my baseball coaching and volunteering obligations. In 2017, the church I attend started naming the victims of the violence at Sunday services and hanging a purple ribbon for each on a long cord outside. By year’s end, the ribbons crowded for space, like shirts on a tenement clothesline.

The violence and disorder have fed broader setbacks. Gov. Larry Hogan canceled a $2.9 billion rail transit line for West Baltimore, defending the disinvestment in the troubled neighborhood partly by noting that the state had spent $14 million responding to the riots. Target closed its store in West Baltimore, a blow to a part of town short of retail options. The civic compact has so frayed that one acquaintance admitted to me recently that he had stopped waiting at red lights when driving late at night. Why should he, he argued, when he saw young men on dirt bikes flying through intersections while police officers sat in cruisers doing nothing?

Explaining all this to people outside Baltimore is difficult, not only because the experience is alien to those even in cities just up or down the interstate from us (though a handful of cities elsewhere, like Chicago and St. Louis, have experienced their own waves of recent violence, albeit less dramatically than Baltimore). It’s also because the national political discourse lacks a vocabulary for the city’s ills. On right-wing talk radio, one of the few sectors of the media to take much interest in Baltimore’s crime surge, there are old tropes of urban mayhem — Trump’s “American carnage.” Typically lacking from these schadenfreude-laced discussions is any sense of the historical forces and societal abandonment that the city has for decades struggled to overcome.

On the left, in contrast, Baltimore’s recent woes have been largely overlooked, partly because they present a challenge to those who start from the assumption that policing is inherently suspect. The national progressive story of Baltimore during this era of criminal-justice reform has been the story of the police excesses that led to Gray’s death and the uprising, not the surge of violence that has overtaken the city ever since. As a result, Baltimore has been left mostly on its own to contend with what has been happening, which has amounted to nothing less than a failure of order and governance the likes of which few American cities have seen in years.


To understand how things in Baltimore have gotten so bad, you need to first understand how, not so long ago, they got better.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 March 2019 at 8:05 am

%d bloggers like this: