Later On

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

Archive for June 24th, 2019

Great opening to a serious problem in biological nomenclature

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Christie Wilcox writes in Quanta:

Carl Linnaeus was probably not the first scientist to realize the inherent connectedness of life on this planet. But he articulated and codified it. In the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae, published in 1758, he established a system of naming and organizing life that endures to this day — what we still call Linnaean taxonomy, although today’s system is somewhat different from the five-rank hierarchy he proposed. The principle is the same, though: Life is organized into nested ranks, with each higher tier representing a larger group of related organisms to which the species at the bottom belong.

This ranked taxonomy — domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species — is foundational to biology pedagogy. Every student learns it, often through a mnemonic like “Didn’t Know Popeyes Chicken Offered Free Gizzard Strips” or “Dear King Phillip Came Over For Great Spaghetti.”

But a growing number of researchers think it’s time for taxonomy to move away from these ranks, or even abandon them altogether. “When a student has to learn it, it also suggests to the student that there’s something special about these groups,” said Andreas Hejnol, a comparative developmental biologist at the University of Bergen in Norway. Yet there isn’t.

The problem that Hejnol sees with the whole system is that . . .

Continue reading. I know you can’t stop now…

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Evolution, Science

The opposite of whole foods: Who wants proper food when you can survive on powder?

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Jonathan Beckman writes in the Economist’s 1843:

It is rare these days to find yourself in a face-off with your lunch. There is probably still the occasional adventure-seeker who, ten days deep into the Amazon, finds himself in hand-to-paw combat with a capybara. But it’s impossible to walk through the centre of any major city at midday without being proffered kimchi doughnuts or sambal scotch eggs or dozens of equally irresistible dining options. Yet there I was in my kitchen, looking at a flask of Huel, and wondering whether I could bring myself to drink it. In one light, it looked like slurry from a limestone quarry; in another, it resembled an attempt to make a smoothie out of sawdust. It stared back at me with the implacable greyness of a dissatisfied bureaucrat. I looked longingly at the fridge, even though I knew it only contained a parmesan rind, some wilting spring onions and six types of mustard.

Huel is a meal-replacement powder, compounded of pea protein, oats, flax seeds and millenarian fervour. Five hundred grams, mixed into a shake with water, provides you with all the fat, carbs and protein the average human needs, along with a dizzying complement of vitamins and minerals. Never again will you endure riboflavin deficiencies! Pantothenic acid deprivation is a thing of the past! (Watch out, though, for a molybdenum overdose, since each daily portion contains 473% of the recommended amount.)

These food substitutes are wildly popular among time-pressed millennials who regard food as fuel and their guts as offally combustion engines. You might think it incongruous that the very same people who swig meal replacements also swoon on Instagram over pictures of quintuple fried chicken and burgers sweating molten cheese. Appreciation for food is shallower than it seems, as evidenced by the improbable apotheosis of the avocado. Texturally, it combines the qualities of floor polish and baby food; its sole virtue appears to be a photogenic greenness. Most telling of all, it’s impossible to cook.

There has always been a chasm between what people want to eat and what they’re capable of preparing themselves. Meal replacements allow you to mask incompetence with virtue. One person I met drank Huel each day for lunch in order to save the environment. The slaughter of his first-born would probably help the environment too. Every muscular twitch ultimately contributes to the entropic catastrophe of the universe. In the end, we’ve all got to live a little. At least part of the reason that the planet is worth saving is so we can enjoy ourselves on it.

Having tried Huel’s vanilla flavour, I would rather the Earth were smothered in barbeque smoke than be forced to march on that powder. It was the single most noxious thing I’ve ever tasted. My mouth subjected to a saccharine outrage. It was as though Rodgers and Hammerstein had decided to liquidise their favourite things rather than set them to music, if only the raindrops were syrup, the warm woollen mittens had been spun out of candy floss and the brown paper package contained half a pound of Tate & Lyle’s finest. I was incapable of drinking more than one sip at a time and the only way to consume a reasonable quantity was to dilute it in gallons of water to almost homeopathic levels. A similar approach is required with Ambronite, which combines an awful sweetness with undertones of sodden kelp. “Choose to become a savage in a world of weakness,” exhorts the package. I’d back myself with a knife and fork anytime. [“Huel” must be a play on “Hurl.” – LG]

The original meal replacement is Soylent. Its name 

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 7:32 pm

Berries for Inflammation and Osteoarthritis Treatment

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Full disclosure I eat a bowl of mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) almost every night. Today I had organic fresh strawberries:

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 7:21 pm

A conservative’s vision: Let’s make politics great again

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Jennifer Rubin has an interesting post in the Washington Post:

Peter Wehner, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a prominent Never Trump voice, is out with a new book, “The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump.” At a time when politicians are held in low regard and a moral retrograde sits in the White House, Wehner makes the counterintuitive argument that we must recognize politics as a noble endeavor. My conversation with him covered a lot of ground; it has been condensed for length and lightly edited for clarity.

You make the point that Trump simply lit the fuse but that the antecedents of the nasty, crude and rancorous politics had been underway for years. How did Republicans, who used to value civility, faith and respect, become the ones to most fall prey to this phenomenon?

It’s a question I’ve pondered a fair amount. Before turning to the GOP, it’s worth pointing out that the Republican Party hasn’t cornered the market on nasty politics. Ted Kennedy’s attacks on Robert Bork were an ugly inflection point in the history of the modern Supreme Court nomination process. The attacks in 2012 against Mitt Romney by Harry Reid and a super PAC supporting President Obama were dishonest and disgraceful. So were many of the attacks by Clinton supporters against Ken Starr and especially against women with whom Clinton had affairs. Vicious things were said about George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. So it’s not as if the hands of Democrats are clean here. All parties and all political ideologies have a lot to answer for. Because of the nature and stakes of politics, and the built-in flaws in human nature, politics is rarely as high-minded as we might wish.

Having said that, Donald Trump is in a category all his own when it comes to the politics of cruelty, crudity and dehumanization. He’s the face, voice and moral representative — or to be more precise, the immoral representative — of the Republican Party, and some large number of Republicans support him and his tactics that at times seems cult-like. So what happened?

My sense is that on the right there were dark, latent forces that were far more widespread than I imagined. Pre-Trump, they were kept more or less on the fringes of the Republican Party. Trump tapped into them, though — he has an almost preternatural ability to zero in on cultural and ethnic flashpoints, to activate the amygdala region of the brain — and mainstreamed them. One manifestation of that is Trump’s validation of Alex Jones, the conspiracy peddler whose show Trump appeared on during the 2016 campaign and was praised by Trump. But there are plenty of others.

Remember the issue that brought Donald Trump to national political prominence — it was a racist conspiracy theory alleging that Barack Obama wasn’t a U.S. citizen. I warned Republicans about him in 2011 — don’t play “footsie with peddlers of paranoia” and those who delight in making our public discourse more childish and freakish, I wrote — but I didn’t anticipate that the pathologies were so far-reaching.

What else do you think is going on?

On the right there have been rising feelings of resentment, grievances and rage. A lot of people on the right feel like they have been condescended to by the elite culture, disrespected and mocked for their beliefs, and there’s some merit in that. I did an event at Stanford shortly before the 2016 election with Arlie Hochschild, a sociologist who wrote an outstanding book, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.” She said to me prescient words. “What his rise is about,” she told me, “is lost honor and humiliation. Trump is a kind of anti-depressant to his supporters.”

This is combined with a “Flight 93” mindset — the sense that many are engaged in an existential struggle with the Left and that virtually any tactics, regardless of how ruthless, should be employed in order to prevail. I have friends who in their individual lives are deeply decent, and yet they have admitted to me that they want to figuratively slit the throat of liberals and those on the left, who they are convinced are comprised of malicious people who want to destroy America and destroy them. If that’s your outlook, it can lead you into some pretty dark alleyways.

There’s also fear many Trump supporters have about the rapid rate of social change, most especially in the area of sexual ethics, that has left them bewildered and fearful. In addition to that, we’re in the midst of massive economic changes. All of this has roiled our politics and allowed some ugly impulses to rise to the surface.

It’s true that so-called “social justice warriors” on the left are increasingly illiberal in some of their tendencies. We see that on college campuses, which are increasingly opposed to open inquiry and viewpoint diversity. But in politics it’s most pronounced these days on the right. The nomination, election and passionate enthusiasm for Donald Trump is evidence of that. In the areas we’re talking about, he’s made everything worse.

You note political polarization is a contributing factor to the rotten state of politics. How do we improve political discourse without tackling polarization, which was brought about by many political, social and cultural factors?

It might be helpful here to define polarization. James Q. Wilson, who was one of America’s outstanding social scientists, described it as not simply partisan disagreements alone, but rather an intense commitment to a candidate, a culture, or an ideology that sets people in one group definitively apart from people in another, rival group. “Such a condition is revealed when a candidate for public office is regarded by a competitor and his supporters not simply as wrong but as corrupt or wicked,” according to Wilson, “when one way of thinking about the world is assumed to be morally superior to any other way; when one set of political beliefs is considered to be entirely correct and a rival set wholly wrong.”

Part of the explanation for the acute state of political polarization is what the journalist Bill Bishop describes as “the big sort.” He’s shown how Americans have been sorting themselves into homogeneous communities. It’s referred to as a “way-of-life segregation.” We increasingly live with people who think, vote and pattern our lives like we do, who reinforce our beliefs. On one level that’s understandable, of course; on another, it’s harmful, since people we begin to view those who live differently than we do as aliens, hostile forces, and even existential threats to our way of life.

What I argue in “The Death of Politics” is that we have to rethink our attitudes toward one another and toward the pursuit of truth. It’s not simply recognizing that people who hold different views than we do aren’t by definition stupid, corrupt, wicked or malicious; it’s that we come to a place where we believe we might have something to learn — or at least something to consider — from those whose views and outlooks and life experiences are different than mine. That’s never easy to do, and it’s harder to do in this environment than any time I can recall.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

You bet. I describe in the book the friendship between the British philosopher and poet Owen Barfield and C.S. Lewis, the twentieth-century British medievalist, literary critic, author and apologist for the Christian faith. They were members of a literary group called The Inklings, and they exercised enormous influence on each other. But their friendship was not based on seeing the world in exactly the same way. In fact, they engaged in some fairly intense disagreements, including on the relationship between imagination and truth.

In his book “Surprised by Joy,” Lewis described what he called a “First Friend” and a “Second Friend.” The First Friend is your alter ego, the person who sees things as you do. You “join like raindrops on a window” is how Lewis put it.

The Second Friend is not your alter ego but your anti-self. He shares your interests but approaches them at a different angle. “He has read all the right books but has got the wrong thing out of every one,” Lewis wrote. “How can he be so nearly right and yet, invariably, just not right?” He went on to say this:

You go at it, hammer and tongs, far into the night, or walking through fine country that neither gives a glance to, each learning the weight of the other’s punches, and often more like mutually respectful enemies than friends. Actually (though it never seems so at the time) you modify one another’s thought; out of this perpetual dogfight a community of mind and deep affection emerge.

“In an argument,” Barfield said, “we always, both of us, were arguing for the truth, not for victory.”

That’s just a very different approach to dialogue and debate — engaging with others in order to refine our views, to widen the aperture of understanding, to see things we would otherwise be blind to. If each of us — pro- and anti-Trump, those on the right and those on the left and those in between — could move closer toward the spirit of the Lewis-Barfield model of dialogue and debate, we’d all be far better off. It would certainly help us think of our national politics as something other than a fight to the death.

It’s ironic that the people leading “Values Voters” contributed mightily to this problem. How does the evangelical community address the grotesque failure of moral and spiritual leadership?

Evangelicals themselves need to . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 4:10 pm

Hide the problem, don’t solve it: Government moves migrant kids after AP exposes bad treatment

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Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke report for AP:

The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there, caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Just 30 children remained at the facility near El Paso Monday, said Rep. Veronica Escobar after her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection.

Attorneys who visited the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, last week said older children were trying to take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first reported Thursday. They described a 4-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another. Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.

“How is it possible that you both were unaware of the inhumane conditions for children, especially tender-age children at the Clint Station?” asked Escobar in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting commissioner John Sanders and U.S. Border Patrol chief Carla Provost.

She asked to be informed by the end of this week what steps they’re taking to end “these humanitarian abuses.”

Lawmakers from both parties decried the situation last week.

Border Patrol officials have not responded to AP’s questions about the conditions at the Clint facility, but in an emailed statement Monday they said: “Our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.”

Although it’s unclear where all the children held at Clint have been moved, Escobar said some were sent to another facility on the north side of El Paso called Border Patrol Station 1. Escobar said it’s a temporary site with roll-out mattresses, showers, medical facilities and air conditioning.

But Clara Long, an attorney who interviewed children at Border Patrol Station 1 last week, said conditions were not necessarily better there.

“One boy I spoke with said his family didn’t get mattresses or blankets for the first two nights and he and his mom came down with a fever,” said Long, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. “He said there were no toothbrushes, and it was very, very cold.”

Vice President Mike Pence, asked about the unsafe, unsanitary conditions for the children on Meet The Press on Sunday, said “it’s totally unacceptable” adding that he hopes Congress will allocate more resources to border security. [I.e., “don’t blame us” – LG] . . .

Long and a group of lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families. The lawyers negotiated access to the facility with officials and say Border Patrol knew the dates of their visit three weeks in advance. . .

Continue reading.

The US now has concentration camps for children, who are treated poorly in the camps. The US today has become unrecognizable to me.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 4:00 pm

Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened

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

Just before sunset on Jan. 12, 2016, 10 American sailors strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a navigation error with potentially grave consequences. On their way to a spying mission, the Americans had set sail from Kuwait to Bahrain. It was a long-distance trek that some senior commanders in the Navy’s 5th Fleet had warned they were neither equipped nor trained to execute.

Surrounded by four boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. sailors, in two small gunboats, surrendered rather than opening fire. The officer in charge of the mission later said he understood that had a firefight erupted, it could well have provoked a wider conflict and scuttled the controversial nuclear deal the two countries were poised to implement in mere days.

The Navy dialed up an elaborate rescue mission to free the sailors from tiny Farsi Island involving fighter jets and a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. But the return of the sailors was ultimately secured peacefully. The nuclear deal went forward with the U.S. providing sanctions relief and unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in exchange for Tehran’s promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

President Donald Trump explicitly invoked the 2016 incident last week as he weighed actions against Iran amid rising tensions. Trump told Time magazine that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had mishandled the high-stakes confrontation, a mistake he would not make. “The only reason the sailors were let go is that we started making massive payments to them the following day,” Trump said. “Otherwise the sailors would still be there.”

But a ProPublica investigation makes clear that Trump’s repeated claims about the captured sailors – Obama’s weakness; that the money was improper – obscure the more troubling realities exposed by the Navy’s 2016 debacle in the Persian Gulf. The Farsi Island mission was a gross failure, involving issues that have plagued the Navy in recent years: inadequate training, poor leadership, and a disinclination to heed the warnings of its men and women about the true extent of its vulnerabilities.

Now, the Navy, and the 5th Fleet based in the Persian Gulf, are staring at the possibility of a military conflict, standing ready for a commander in chief who lacks a permanent secretary of defense and is thus more dependent on uniformed military leaders.

In the wake of the Farsi Island incident, the outlines of the Navy’s fumbles were widely reported. But ProPublica reconstructed the failed mission, and the Navy’s response to it, using hundreds of pages of previously unreported confidential Navy documents, including the accounts of sailors and officers up and down the chain of command. Those documents reveal that the 10 captured sailors were forced out on dangerous missions they were not prepared for. Their commanders repeatedly dismissed worries about deficiencies in manpower and expertise.

Prior to the mission, the sailors had received little training on their weapons, and the crew of one boat forgot to load the limited number of guns at their disposal during the transit. One sailor prepared to record the potentially hostile encounter with the helmet camera she’d been issued but couldn’t get it to work. So she filmed it on her personal iPhone 4. And when they were captured, a rescue seemed unlikely given that no one back at shore had yet realized they were off course.

The Farsi Island episode is consistent with ProPublica’s findings in its ongoing examination of the Navy’s state of combat readiness. ProPublica’s detailed review of the Navy’s two accidents in the Pacific in 2017, which killed 17 sailors from the 7th Fleet, shows that the most senior uniformed and civilian leaders mishandled years of warnings about degraded ships, undertrained and overworked crews, and the potentially fatal costs of tasking vulnerable sailors with an unceasing number of sometimes ill-conceived missions.

Immediately after the release of the Farsi Island sailors in early 2016, Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan launched an investigation that would divide the highest levels of the Navy over the question of who was to blame for the embarrassing incident. The findings of that investigation, completed in February 2016, did not spare the commanders and crew of the two riverine combat boats, or RCBs. They had violated fundamental Navy doctrines regarding navigation and leadership, the report found. Senior 5th Fleet commanders were also faulted and two were relieved of their commands.

Donegan’s investigators, though, dug deeper. They concluded that the riverine unit had not been properly manned or trained before being dispatched to the Persian Gulf. Riverine sailors had had to train themselves. The sailors had done most of their exercises on smaller patrol boats instead of the RCBs used in the Gulf. They had received a minimum amount of training on the latest navigation system. They had never conducted a lengthy training voyage in the open sea, something they would be asked to do routinely in the Gulf.

he investigation’s files included the personal plea of one of the enlisted men taken captive on Farsi Island, Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Diebold.

“I cannot, nor am I in a position to, determine the exact reasons why my crews were captured,” Diebold wrote. “This is something that should be discussed frankly and openly.”

The seeds of the mishap, Diebold wrote, did not “materialize on the 11th of January, nor do they end, neatly, on the morning of the 13th. It is my hope that the current investigation and the team’s findings are used not to punish 10 sailors, but educate and refocus a critical, if neglected force, if not our Navy as a total warfighting organization.”

The Navy ignored the sailor’s request. In internal Navy memos, commanders criticized parts of the investigation for being “deficient,” “incomplete” and “unsubstantiated” amid disputes over how much training has actually taken place. To address the differing views, the Navy ordered a second investigation and embraced its findings that pre-deployment training and manning for the RCB unit, in fact, had been adequate.

“Pre-deployment training and manning were not contributing factors to this incident,” the second investigation, which was released to the public, concluded.

The Navy’s top commander, John Richardson, signed off on the more reassuring set of findings.

“I’m not prepared to say that there’s a larger problem,” Richardson told reporters in 2016.

Over the weekend, the details of Iran’s downing of an unmanned American drone that further escalated the confrontation remained unclear, but it seemed possible the Navy had again mistakenly entered Iran’s territory. Iran insists the plane had penetrated its airspace; the United States says it was in international territory. Last week, The New York Times quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying Trump had pulled back in part because of emerging evidence that the Global Hawk drone or a second, manned U.S. spy plane may have indeed breached Iranian territory. Trump cited the high number of possible Iranian casualties.

In a written response to questions, the Navy said it had implemented reforms to improve the coastal riverine units. U.S. trainers now keep careful track of the instruction gunboats and their crews receive while deployed. New maintenance teams are ready to fly into deployed areas to make repairs. The RCB boats have been replaced by a newer gunboat known as the Mark VI.

Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, the Navy’s spokesman, said that many of the changes were still being implemented, but that the Navy’s most senior leaders were confident that “the Coastal Riverine Force is ready to carry out all missions assigned in any numbered fleet area of operations.”

Brown also said the Navy’s investigation was “conducted in an independent manner.”

“There were no instances of facts or opinions being silenced,” Brown wrote.

Brown also offered a broader defense of the Navy’s preparedness.

“No naval forces are deployed without ensuring full readiness,” he said. “There should be no doubt — U.S. Navy Forces deployed globally are ready in all respects.”

In an interview with ProPublica on Friday, Donegan, who stepped down as commander of the 5th Fleet in September 2017, said the margin for error is small in such extraordinary circumstances. Training matters. Mistakes can prove dire.

“My biggest concern is about miscalculation,” said Donegan, who now works as a security consultant. “When you have heightened tensions, no direct communications between the two sides and forces in close proximity, an event that one side thinks is low-level might compel the other side to respond in a way that leads to expanded conflict.” . . .

Chapter 1. “What Are We Doing Here?”

To some at the Navy’s outpost in Kuwait, the last-minute mission for which they were briefed on Jan. 11, 2016, seemed preposterous.

The RCBs would have to travel from Kuwait to Bahrain — a 260-mile trip, two times longer than any they’d ever done — carefully avoiding nearby territorial waters. Once there, the National Security Agency, as part of its intelligence operations, would load up their small boats with listening equipment and have them float along the Persian Gulf’s coastline. The mission was given a name: “Radio Creep.” It was unclear who they’d be spying on, but several officers took the order as urgent, and, given worsening weather conditions, one decided the sailors would have to launch within 24 hours.

The crew raised what seemed to be an essential problem: Only one of the three RCBs was currently operational.

They might be able to fix one of the two disabled boats, Gunner’s Mate Isaac Escobedo guessed, but it would be a rush job, he later told investigators.

The boats had been run 3,000 hours beyond the cut off for required overhauls.

Lt. Kenneth Rogers, the officer in charge of the RCB unit, also had concerns. The boats were needed for another mission; to make it to Bahrain, they’d have to refuel at sea, something they’d only done once before — while they were close enough to base to make it home if it didn’t go well; and the crew, if it scrambled to get at least one more boat ready, would be exhausted when it set out, Rogers argued.

Cmdr. Greg Meyer, Rogers’ boss, was sympathetic to Rogers’ concerns, records show, and took the case up the chain of command.

Kyle Moses, the commodore with ultimate authority over the RCB unit, didn’t want to hear any of it. He thought the worried officers were being “overly cautious.” Moses said he didn’t know why so many of his officers were concerned about the riverine command boats making this kind of trip, since “the RCB is a boat and boats float.”

“Navigation is navigation,” Moses, an explosives expert, later told investigators.

The Navy’s 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain and is responsible for about 2.5 million square miles of water and some 20 countries. The vast expanse includes three critical chokepoints at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandab at the southern tip of Yemen. The 5th Fleet has been a vital nerve center for American action and interests in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 5th Fleet, though, doesn’t have warships of its own and instead relies on vessels and aircraft rotated in from the enormous 7th Fleet in the Pacific as well as stateside fleets.

Riverine boats, if a modest segment of the Navy’s full arsenal of ships and aircraft, have nonetheless been a staple of operations for decades, typically deployed to patrol rivers and marshes, whether they be in Vietnam or Iraq. The RCBs were then the most recent incarnation of the gunboat: 53 feet long, holding crews of eight and loaded with heavy machine guns and high-tech navigation gear.

In the Persian Gulf, the RCBs for years mostly performed escort missions for  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 2:29 pm

My current breakfast template

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I have for quite a while used my 2-qt sauté pan to cook my breakfast, previously vegetables topped with a couple of eggs, now grain and beans and vegetables. In the egg days, it was breakfast; nowadays, half is breakfast and half is lunch. (“Cook once, eat twice” is a well-loved maxim.) I’ve mentioned how oddly satiating my whole-food plant-based diet has turned out to be. I had thought satiation was the result of fat and protein in the meal, but in my experience dietary fiber is even more satiating.

Here’s what goes into the pan:

1 large jalapeño, chopped (capsaicin helps diabetics)
1 bunch scallions (or spring onions when I can get them), chopped (including leaves)
2 large mushrooms or 3 medium mushrooms, cut thickly (or use oyster mushrooms, see below)
3/4 cup sliced mini San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup cooked grain (spelt, today – 2 WW points; sometimes 1/3 cup, depending on the grain)
1/2 cup cooked beans (adzuki, today)
2 tablespoons horseradish (from the refrigerated section—equals 2 servings of a cruciferous vegetable)
1 tablespoon dried mint (spearmint, specifically: adds a very nice taste plus lots of antioxidants)
1 tablespoon dried marjoram

The above is the core. I then add other cooked vegetables. Today:

1/2 cup cooked beets, diced
1/2 cup cooked chopped collards

But it might also be any of:

1/2 cup (or several spears) asparagus, cut into short lengths (often included, with 2 other veg)
3/4 cup oyster mushrooms instead of plain (source of an excellent antioxidant)
1/2 cup cooked kale or other greens (tong ho, for example)
1/2 cup roasted carrots
1/2 bell pepper (red, yellow orange), chopped
1/2 cup chopped zucchini or summer squash (e.g., yellow crookneck)
1 cup chopped baby bok choy or baby Shanghai bok choy or baby kale or other greens

I sauté the food for a while, then cover and let cook, often adding 2-3 tablespoons water. When it’s done, I stir in:

2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground – 2 WW points
2 tablespoons Red Star Savory Nutritional Yeast Flakes – 1 WW point

I also drink a pint of hot tea (unsweetened—this morning Murchie’s Storm Watcher) and 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (for arterial health – 2 WW points). [I discontinued the pomegranate juice after seeing this report, which finds that it benefits seriously ill cardiac patients but doesn’t really have any benefits for those at moderate risk for coronary disease.]

The total, according to, is 571 calories. It’s 5 WW points. [Both figures have been adjusted to account for eliminating the 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, which is 34 calories and 2 WW points.] It also provides more than my RDA of various micronutrients: iron, folate, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12.

Update: I had a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil in the recipe, but I’ve removed it and have decided to pretty much eliminated extra-virgin olive oil. I still get plenty of fats (I just had a snack of walnuts), but refined oils? I’m going to avoid processed foods because I’m going for a whole-food plant-based diet, and olive oil is definitely not a whole food. (I’ll still eat olives, of course.)


Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2019 at 12:59 pm

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