Later On

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

Archive for February 17th, 2021

Diet variety — I think I’m doing okay

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The Wife just read that one should eat 30 different plant foods (grain, vegetable, fruit, nuts/seeds) a week. I thought about what I’ve eat the past two days, and it is at least 33 different plant foods. (I may have forgotten some.)

brazil nut
daikon radish
kalamata olives
orange bell pepper
pinto beans
pumpkin seeds
red cabbage
tomatoes (cooked and raw)

Now that I know about it, I’ll be more conscious about getting variety. It certainly would be easy to include avocado green beans, wax beans, green kale, red kale, collards, dandelion greens, endive, arugula, leeks, bitter melon, turnips, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, jalapeños, Anaheim pepper, bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, celery, aguacate squash, butternut squash, kabocha squash, buttercup squash, delicata squash, yellow crookneck squash, oyster mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms, just to list some foods I enjoy and eat pretty regularly. That’s 28 more, and that’s just off the top of my head. Plus I eat black beans, Du Puy lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, soybeans, black quinoa, kidney beans, whole rye, hulled barley, and others..

I don’t see that eating a variety of food from plants will be a problem.

I just recalled the interesting produce I got at the supermarket with a lot of Chinese clientele — tung ho (chrysanthemum greens), banana flower, gai lan (a broccoli relative), pea shoots, and others I can’t recall. Tung ho in particular is tasty. I need to go there and so some shopping.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 6:39 pm

The dilemma presented when a deplorable creator produces an admirable creation

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Woody Allen of course springs to mind, but take a look at Patricia Highsmith, described in the New Criterion by Brooke Allen as she reviews Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires, a book by Richard Bradford. Her review begins:

It’s a well-known principle that if you admire certain writers’ work, maybe you’d be better off not meeting them in the flesh. Good writers are often surprisingly unpleasant people—no one can quite figure out why, but it’s true. And never has there been a writer I’m so glad not to have known (though I very much enjoy her fiction) as Patricia Highsmith (1921–95). To use a non-PC term—I think I can get away with it in these pages—she was a predatory lesbian, in addition to being a professional homebreaker; a nasty drunk; an emotional sadist; and an equal-opportunity bigot who seems to have detested every group except the American and European gratin. Arabs, Jews, the French, Catholics, evangelicals, Latinos, blacks, Koreans, Indians both dot and feather . . . the list goes on and on.

Richard Bradford, Highsmith’s most recent biographer, observes, in his book Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires, her carryings-on with a sort of horrified fascination.1 “Compared to Highsmith, the likes of Casanova, Errol Flynn and Lord Byron might be considered lethargic—even demure. She seemed to enjoy affairs with married women in particular, but breaking up lesbian couples was a close second.” “An insatiable appetite for things, and people, stolen from or denied to others, seemed to have become her modus operandi.” She had an urgent and insatiable need for high drama ending in ruined lives, and if a relationship did not provide her with such fodder she soon moved on.

The question of mental illness of course arises, though Highsmith was never diagnosed. Bradford cites a psychiatrist, unacquainted with the writer, who passed her in a hotel corridor and noted that her facial expression was one he had never witnessed outside of an insane asylum. She herself speculated that she might have been bipolar, but to me (amateur psychologist that I am) her behavior seems more in keeping with borderline personality disorder. But we will never know.

What makes all this interesting, aside from the reader’s prurience and the perverse fascination involved in watching a train wreck in progress? It is, Bradford demonstrates, that Highsmith’s personality is so closely interwoven with those of her characters, her pathologies so allied with theirs, that a knowledge of her life truly expands the imaginative exercise of reading the fiction—which is not always the case with biographies. But how much do we actually know, and how much of what she tells us can be trusted? From adolescence on she recorded her life, thoughts, and fantasies in a series of “cahiers,” now assembled in the Swiss Literary Archives at Bern. Bradford has clearly spent a long and frustrating time in those archives, trying to differentiate truth and fantasy, fact and fiction. He admits that the attempt was often vain—but that fact in itself tells us much about Highsmith’s odd psyche. “As well as writing books featuring invented characters,” he tells us, “she decided that her own life should become the equivalent of a novel, a legacy of lies, fantasies and authorial inventions.” She apparently did this for several reasons: to create a life she desired rather than the one she lived, shaping her own life as fiction; to transpose her own experiences imaginatively into those of her characters; and, mischievously, to confuse scholars and biographers, poor saps like Bradford who, she knew, would scrutinize her papers after her death.

Much of her childhood and early life can be ascertained, however. Was there anything there to have caused the extreme behaviors of later years? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 4:51 pm

Rapini sans oil

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I’ve decided to cut back on olive oil, so in making Greens today I used vegetable stock. This was done in the 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan.

• cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled, chopped small and set aside
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• 1 lemon, ends removed, diced (with peel)
• about 3/4 cup vegetable broth
• 1 bunch Italian parsley chopped (meant to use in ratatouille but forgot it — and it’s Greens)
• 1 bunch rapini, chopped
• 1/2 large orange bell pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons Fines Herbes (wanted Herbes de Provence but out)
• 4 dried chipotle peppers, whole
• 2 tablespoons Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce (sambal oelek)
• several dashes fish sauce

Chop garlic and set aside. Chop onion and dice lemon and add to sauté pan along with vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium low and let it simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 5-10 minutes. (That was when I prepared the remaining ingredients.)

Add the garlic and the remaining ingredients, stir to mix, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Check liquid level from time to time to be sure it doesn’t go dry. (It wasn’t a problem for me, and in fact I simmered the greens uncovered at the end to reduce the amount of liquid.)

Remove and discard the chipotles. They were just to provide flavor and presence. (Or you could destem them, chop, and return to the greens, raising the heat level a few notches.)

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 3:59 pm

The “For the People Act” would make the US a democracy

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Jon Schwarz writes in The Intercept:

SINCE THE 117TH Congress was convened on January 3, over 2,000 bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. But the very first legislation proposed by the Democratic Party majorities in both chambers — making it both H.R.1 and S.1 — is the “For the People Act” of 2021.

This is appropriate, because the For the People Act is plausibly the most important legislation considered by Congress in decades. It would change the basic structure of U.S. politics, making it far more small-d democratic. The bill makes illegal essentially all of the anti-enfranchisement tactics perfected by the right over the past decades. It then creates a new infrastructure to permanently bolster the influence of regular people.

The bill’s provisions largely fall into three categories: First, it makes it far easier to vote, both by eliminating barriers and enhancing basic outreach to citizens. Second, it makes everyone’s vote count more equally, especially by reducing gerrymandering. Third, it hugely amplifies the power of small political donors, allowing them to match and possibly swamp the power of big money.

Make Voting Simple

There’s a popular, weary American aphorism (often attributed to the anarchist Emma Goldman, although she apparently did not say it): “If voting could change anything, it would be made illegal.” The meaning is always taken to be that voting is pointless.

However, the past decades of U.S. politics demonstrate that this saying is accurate — but in fact its meaning is exactly the opposite. We can gauge how much voting can change important things by the lengths to which America’s conservatives have gone to make voting difficult for the wrong people.

The For the People Act would require states with voter ID requirements to allow people to vote without identification if they complete a sworn statement attesting that they are who they say they are. It would make it impossible for states to engage in bogus purging of voter rolls. States could no longer stop people with felony convictions from voting after they’ve served their time — and would be required to inform them in writing that they now can vote again.

The act would then create what the U.S. has never had: a functioning, modern voting infrastructure. America is almost alone in its bizarre, two-step process in which citizens must register to vote, and then vote. And only two-thirds of the U.S. voting age population is in fact registered. In comparable countries, voting registration is automatic: You don’t have to do anything first, you just show up and vote. The For the People Act would make voter registration near-automatic here too, and anyone who fell through the cracks would be able to register and vote on Election Day.

The bill would also require states to allow a minimum of two weeks of early voting, for a minimum of 10 hours a day. All eligible voters could vote by mail for any reason. And to ensure voters can be confident that elections are secure and that their votes will count, all states would be required to conduct elections via paper ballot.

Thanks to Republican success at creating gerrymandered congressional districts, Democrats can win the majority of the popular congressional vote in many states while only garnering a minority of the state’s seats in the House of Representatives. With the once-every-10-years redistricting coming, and the GOP’s 2020 success in state legislatures that control redistricting, the situation is set to become even more lopsided and fundamentally unfair. If nothing changes, it’s almost certain that Democrats will lose the House majority in the 2022 midterms, even if they get the most votes.

The For the People Act would head this off at the pass, requiring states to create independent commissions to conduct redistricting.

A New Strategy to Beat Big Money

While it’s forgotten now, Watergate was, among other things, a campaign finance scandal. The bill of particulars supporting President Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment mentioned the chair of the board of McDonald’s bribing his reelection campaign with $200,000, in return for permission to raise the price of the company’s Quarter Pounder cheeseburger.

Shortly after Nixon’s resignation, Congress passed extensive campaign finance reforms, which placed limits on contributions to campaigns as well as campaign expenditures. The Supreme Court struck down the limits on campaign expenditures in 1976. Then the Citizens United case in 2010 and related decisions made unlimited contributions possible to super PACs, as long as everyone pretended the super PACs and formal campaigns were separate and uncoordinated.

The For the People Act accepts that it will be difficult to reverse these decisions for the immediate future and addresses the problem from the opposite direction. Instead of placing limits on big money, it

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 2:47 pm

Stop using police for traffic stops

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Anna Kurien writes in The Appeal:

The goal of traffic enforcement is safety. To keep residents safe, cities should shift enforcement to a civilian agency and increase automated enforcement.

There are better ways to promote road safety: 

Police enforcement of traffic rules does more harm than good:

  • Policing turns routine traffic stops into deadly encounters. An NPR investigation into deaths of 135 unarmed Black people shot by police since 2015 found that “more than a quarter of the killings occurred during traffic stops.” New York Attorney General Leticia James recommended removing the New York Police Department from everyday traffic enforcement, pointing out that “the vast majority of traffic stops…do not involve criminal conduct, yet often end in violence.”
  • Racial disparities abound in traffic stops. Data consistently shows Black drivers are stopped and searched more often than white drivers, despite searches of white drivers more often turning up evidence of crimes.
  • Police spend a lot of time enforcing traffic rules. Non-police traffic enforcement would free up police resources, giving departments more officers and time to focus on solving homicides and other violent crimes.

Dive Deeper

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 2:30 pm

What would Republicans do without lies? A closer look at the lies being proffered during the Texas energy crisis.

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David Gilbert reports in Vice on a series of lies Republicans are spreading regarding the failure of the Texas energy grid. His article begins:

On Sunday night as a massive winter storm hit Texas, Luke Legate, a publicist for the fossil fuel industry, tweeted a picture of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine blade.

“A helicopter running on fossil fuel spraying a chemical made from fossil fuels onto a wind turbine made with fossils fuels during an ice storm is awesome,” Legate wrote.

There was just one problem: The picture Legate tweeted, and which has been shared tens of thousands of times, was not taken in Texas last weekend but rather in the Uljabuouda mountains in Arjeplog, Sweden, in 2014. That picture, and others like it, have been repeatedly recycled by climate deniers every time a cold snap has affected the power grid.

Over the past few days, millions of Texans have suffered through plunging temperatures and rolling blackouts. While the freezing air has caused some wind turbines to break down, the overwhelming majority of the energy shortfall in the state has come from a massive failure of natural gas production in the state.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

As the narrative that frozen wind turbines were the cause of Texas’ rolling blackouts gained traction on social media, conservative lawmakers in thrall to big oil and gas weighed in by spreading the same disinformation.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn shared the false narrative on Monday. Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw got involved on Tuesday. . .

Do read the whole thing. He includes several tweets and a video of Gov. Abbot lying with (unfortunately) no increase in the length of his nose.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 2:07 pm

The Gas Industry Is Paying Instagram Influencers to Gush Over Gas Stoves (not pictured: toxic fumes)

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Statistics, as well as common sense, shows that inhaling the products of combustion is a bad idea and harmful to your health. Rebecca Leber reports in Mother Jones:

Amber Kelley has a “super-cool way” to make fish tacos. “You’re going to start with the natural gas flame,” the teenage one-time Food Network Star Kids winner explained in a professionally produced video to her 6,700 Instagram followers, adding, “because the flames actually come up, you can heat and cook your tortilla.”

Kelley’s not the only Instagram influencer praising the flames of her stove.  Jenna Martin, a 20-something with cool-girl rainbow hair and 15,800 followers, posted, “Who’s up for some breakfast-for-dinner? Chef Jenna is bringing you some stovetop Huevos Rancheros this evening! Did you know natural gas provides better cooking results? Pretty nifty, huh?!” The Instagram account @kokoshanne, an “adventurous mama” with 131,000 followers, wrote in a post about easy weeknight dinners that natural gas “helps cook food faster.”

The gas cooking Instatrend is no accident. It’s the result of a carefully orchestrated campaign dreamed up by marketers for representatives with the American Gas Association and American Public Gas Association, two trade groups that draw their funding from a mix of investor- and publicly owned utilities. Since at least 2018, social media and wellness personalities have been hired to post more than 100 posts extolling the virtues of their stoves in sponsored posts. Documents from the fossil fuel watchdog Climate Investigations Center show that another trade group, the American Public Gas Association, intends to spend another $300,000 on its millennial-centric “Natural Gas Genius” campaign in 2020.

What the polished posts don’t mention is that those perfectly charred tacos and fast weeknight meals come at a steep price: Gas stoves expose tens of millions of people in the United States to levels of pollution so high that they would be considered illegal outdoors. Counting on the allure of Instagram stars to help fend off alternatives backed by environmentalists, the gas industry doesn’t want you to realize how much its paid marketing has influenced public thinking that gas stoves are stylish, innocuous, and necessary home appliances. To the contrary, lifestyle bloggers are building their healthy, clean-living brands on one of the most dangerous home appliances on the market.

Americans have a lot of feelings about their stovetops, and the prevailing opinion is that electric can’t hold a candle to gas ranges. Gas stoves, we’re told, fire up faster, work smoothly with cast iron cookware, and allows better control.

As it turns out, the industry has been working on convincing us of these supposed benefits of gas stoves for a long time—Instagram campaigns are just the latest twist in a 90-year-old advertising campaign. In the 1930s, groups like the American Gas Association needed to stave off competition from wood and electric stoves. An enterprising executive at AGA came up with the slogan to promote the superior experience of its product that has lasted over a century later: “Now you’re cooking with gas.”

And the industry has long used pop culture to spread its message. In the 1940s, . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, at the link are some Instagram posts from “influencers” who would never in a million years influence me.

Full disclosure: I cook on an induction burner, which works great with cast-iron and my All-Clad Stainless — plus it is highly efficient, since only the pan gets hot, not the room. And: no products of combustion to inhale. Before that, I used an electric range: not so efficient as an induction burner and harder to clean. I did grow up cooking on a gas range, but haven’t for decades.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 11:08 am

The high cost of not regulating power companies

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Texas doesn’t like the idea of “burdensome” regulations, so the Texas power grid is separate from the national power grid and Texas power companies are not required to meet many regulatory requirements imposed on power companies outside Texas. Thus Texas power companies are free to cut corners to improve profits, and most do that. (Businesses view regulations as “burdensome” precisely because those regulations requires businesses to do things that businesses would rather not do because doing them costs money — for example, maintaining a safe workplace requires training employees, purchasing and maintaining safety equipment and protective gear, and so on. The safety issue is why coal companies hate federal regulations and why, whenever they can, they ignore the regulations (and thus endanger worker lives).

Heather Cox Richardson writes this morning:

History was in the news today in three very different ways.

First up is the deep freeze in Texas, which overwhelmed the power grid and knocked out electricity for more than 3.5 million people, leaving them without heat. It has taken the lives of at least 23 people.

Most of Texas is on its own power grid, a decision made in the 1930s to keep it clear of federal regulation. This means both that it avoids federal regulation and that it cannot import more electricity during periods of high demand. Apparently, as temperatures began to drop, people turned up electric heaters and needed more power than engineers had been told to design for, just as the ice shut down gas-fired plants and wind turbines froze. Demand for natural gas spiked and created a shortage.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) told Sean Hannity that the disaster “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal” for the United States, but Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the organization in charge of the state’s power grid, told Bloomberg that the frozen wind turbines were the smallest factor in the crisis. They supply only about 10% of the state’s power in the winter.

Frozen instruments at gas, coal, and nuclear plants, as well as shortages of natural gas, were the major culprits. To keep electricity prices low, ERCOT had not prepared for such a crisis. El Paso, which is not part of ERCOT but is instead linked to a larger grid that includes other states and thus is regulated, did, in fact, weatherize their equipment. Its customers lost power only briefly.

With climate change expected to intensify extremes of weather, the crisis in Texas indicates that our infrastructure will need to be reinforced to meet conditions it was not designed for.

Second, . . .

She goes on to discuss other topics (worth reading).

Will Wade, Naureen S Malik, and Brian Eckhouse write in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Don’t point too many fingers at Texas wind turbines, because they’re not the main reason broad swaths of the state have been plunged into darkness. [Wind turbines the provide power to the Antarctic research station work fine in cold weather. Texas power companies just cut costs by not winterizing their equipment, something that “burdensome” regulations would require. – LG]

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said. “Natural gas pressure” in particular is one reason power is coming back slower than expected Tuesday, added Woodfin.

“We’ve had some issues with pretty much every kind of generating capacity in the course of this multi-day event,” he said.

The blackouts, which have spread from Texas across the Great Plains, have reignited the debate about the reliability of intermittent wind and solar power as the U.S. seeks to accelerate the shift to carbon-free renewable energy. Rolling outages in California last summer were blamed in part on the retirement of gas plants as the state pursued an aggressive clean-energy agenda.

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts — or less than 13% — of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind comprises only 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

While wind can sometimes produce as much as 60% of total electricity in Texas, the resource tends to ebb in the winter, so the grid operator typically assumes that the turbines will generate only about 19% to 43% of their maximum output.

Even so, wind generation has actually exceeded the grid operator’s daily forecast through the weekend. Solar power has been slightly below forecast Monday.

“The performance of wind and solar is way down the list among the smaller factors in the disaster that we’re facing,” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, said in an interview. Blaming renewables for the blackouts “is really a red herring.” . . .

Continue reading.

And for a good snapshot of the Texas view of the responsibility of government, let’s listen to Tim Boyd, the elected mayor of Colorado City, Texas, as reported by KTXS (update: I found the original text here.)

Full text from Tim Boyd’s original post

Let me hurt some feelings while I have a minute!!

No one owes you are [sic] your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout! If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal without and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family. If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your [sic] lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic]. Folks God has given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this. This is sadly a product of socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW will work and others will become dependent for handouts. Am I sorry that you have been dealing without electricity and water; yes! But I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves! We have lost sight of those in need and those that take advantage of the system and meshed them in to one group!! Bottom line quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!


Full text from second post

All, I have set back and watched all this escalating and have tried to keep my mouth shut! I won’t deny for one minute what I said in my post this morning. Believe me when I say that many of the things I said were taken out of context [Note that the above quotation includes the full context, so nothing there is “out of context.” – LG] and some of which were said without putting much thought in to it. I would never want to hurt the elderly or anyone that is in true need of help to be left to fend for themselves. I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout. I apologize for the wording and some of the phrases that were used! I had already turned in my resignation and had not signed up to run for mayor again on the deadline that was February 12th! I spoke some of this out of the anger that the city and county was catching for situations which were out of their control. Please understand if I had it to do over again I would have just kept my words to myself and if I did say them I would have used better wording and been more descriptive.

The anger and harassment you have caused my wife and family is so undeserved….my wife was laid off of her job based off the association people gave to her and the business she worked for. She’s a very good person and was only defending me! But her to have to get fired from her job over things I said out of context is so horrible. I admit, there are things that are said all the time that I don’t agree with; but I would never harass you or your family to the point that they would lose there livelihood such as a form of income.

I ask that you each understand I never meant to speak for the city of Colorado City or Mitchell county! I was speaking as a citizen as I am NOT THE MAYOR anymore. I apologize for the wording and ask that you please not harass myself or my family anymore!

Threatening our lives with comments and messages is a horrible thing to have to wonder about. I won’t share any of those messages from those names as I feel they know who they are and hope after they see this they will retract the hateful things they have said!

Thank you

Tim Boyd(citizen)

The “my remarks were taken out of context” in this instance simply does not apply, since his post was printed in full. I have observed, however, that some people use “my remarks were taken out of context” to mean “I wish you had not noticed that I said that.”

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 10:57 am

A honey of a shave — Sardinian honey, to be precise

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This morning my prep included Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-shave and then a very good lather from Mystic Water Sardinian Honey shaving soap. (You’ll note the little side-label I added so I can find the soap in a stack.) Phoenix Artisan’s Amber Aerolite 24mm brush did a very good job, as did their Ascension DOC razor. A small squirt of Arko shaving gel finished the job. The morning is very sunny but rain will later arrive.

Finn of just emailed me to say:

We have had a few requests now for the pre-shave products from Grooming Dept and we will definitely be looking to pick them up on our next order.

Please feel free to relay this information to your UK readers if you are ever asked about it again.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2021 at 9:46 am

Posted in Shaving

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