Later On

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

Archive for June 24th, 2022

A new tempeh-bacon recipe

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Tempeh accepts a variety of marinades with style and grace, and some marinades are used with thin slices of tempeh to push the taste in a bacon direction (sans saturated fat and nitrates). I’ve made a version of tempeh bacon previously, but on Facebook, I came across a post by Eat Clean Mate that linked to this tempeh-bacon recipe, whose ingredients are:

• 6 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari [I used tamari]
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1.5 Tbsp avocado oil [I imagine you could substitute canola oil, but I used avocado]
• 4 teaspoons maple syrup
• 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke [this is my addition]
• 8 ounces tempeh, sliced crosswise into thin (1/4-inch) strips

Whisk together the marinade, pour into a flat container and add tempeh strips, making sure to cover them. Then cover, put into the refrigerator, and marinate overnight or for two days.

The recipe continues:

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the tempeh strips from their marinade and arrange them on the baking sheet.

Bake the tempeh strips for 10 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until browning and crisp along the edges. Use in recipes or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.

I’m going to cook them in my compact convection oven (air fryer) at 400ºF for 12 minutes. I don’t think I’ll turn them over — airflow is good all round — but I might change my mind. We’ll see tomorrow. (I’ll update this post with a photo and a comment on the taste and mouthfeel.)

Update — Verdict: Failure

I found this recipe did not produce a pleasing result — taste and texture were both unsatisfactory. I like to try new dishes, but I recognize that some are going to be failures. This was one.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 5:31 pm

Manny Brot in The Case of the Missing Fractals

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Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Humor, Math, Video

Stranger Things: A Reading List of Unsolved Mysteries

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Lisa Bubert has an intriguing annotated list of articles about mysteries still unresolved. It begins:

The first novel I ever wrote had a mystery at its heart: a disappearance. It was never explained. It didn’t involve any kind of crime. The disappeared never reappeared. The mystery just … was. It was a storyline I was deeply committed to — and one that, as you may imagine, did not lead to a publishing contract.

Unsolved mysteries manage to be as irresistible as they are frustrating, stoking our imagination even while they tease our need for resolution. Faced with a story that refuses to tie everything into a neat bow, we chew on potential explanations until we find the one we like best — the one that satisfies all our biases, the one that allows us to bask in the knowledge that we (and only we) know what actually happened. A lack of answers may be maddening, but it also allows us to rewrite stories to our satisfaction.

As it turns out, not everyone feels that way. People reading my book maintained that the mystery simply couldn’t go unresolved, that there must be a why to the strange thing that had occurred. Was suspending disbelief suddenly something our brains couldn’t handle? Was it so impossible to believe that in this year of our Lord 2022, a mystery could persist?

In their minds, yes. After all, we have science. We have constant surveillance. We leave a digital self-portrait everywhere we go now, a mosaic sketched from location pings and security cameras and the constant tracking of our personal data. Infidelity in your family is no longer just a whispered theory; a DNA test proves it. So, in fiction especially, writing a story with an unsolved mystery often depends on a contrivance, some convenient loss of modern technology. (A character’s laptop died! A power surge took out the router! Someone threw their phone in the ocean!) Cause and effect skew, leaving the reader with a sinking feeling that things are happening because the writer needed them to happen that way — and nothing leaches the enjoyment from reading like awareness of the deus lurking in the machina.

Thankfully, in real life, unsolved mysteries still abound. Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart? What’s up with spontaneous human combustion? Who the heck was D.B. Cooper? Will anyone ever publish my book? (The world may never know!) From paranormal thrillers to fog-shrouded disasters to pedestrian oddities, let the modern mysteries chronicled herein bedevil your otherwise logical mind.

What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane (William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, July 2019)

The question of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has long been a source of fascination for me. Is it because . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

The Exorcisms of Latoya Ammons (Marisa Kwiatkowski, Indianapolis Star, January 2014)

Imagine The Exorcist, but set it in 2010s Gary, Indiana, and add the Department of Child Services. Latoya Ammons’ three children are fatigued, bruised, and frequently missing school. Child abuse? No. Demons? Perhaps. What sounds like a plot perfect for the silver screen unfolds in a daily issue of the Indianapolis Star — a ghost story that comes with receipts. Reported with  . . .

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

NASA’s early years: A death cult

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Eleanor Konik’s newsletter, Eleanor’s Iceberg, has a very interesting idea in the piece “A Good Host.” After the fiction section, she writes:

. . . Before, whenever I would read something about a “death cult,” I know I’m supposed to think of stuff like the Jonestown suicides, but my head usually goes to fantasy novels like The Black Company, in which a religious cult worships a death goddess by assassinating people bloodlessly. They’re known as “the stranglers” and based on Indian Thugee bands. The article about astronauts was the first time that I finally understood what people meant when they accused various groups of being a “modern death cult,” and gave me the emotional context to imagine how a Carthaginian “death cult” might have felt like in a way that doesn’t make ancient humans seem incomprehensibly alien.

. . . The idea of a death cult kind of has two versions; the version where people sacrifice themselves and their culture celebrates their sacrifice to the national glory (NASA), and the version where people murder outsiders as a sacrifice to their god (Thugees). Add in the angry-ex-wife motif and of course I’m going to start thinking of black widows, of sacrificing fathers for the survival of the brood, and of how that would look at a fancy dinner party if it were normalized…

And she then links to this PBS report:

They had people looking into the background of the men, [and] they also had people looking into the background of the wives because they didn’t want an oddball… it wasn’t discussed, it wasn’t written, but … you had better be in every sense of the word, the All American Family in everything you say and do! We kept it like ‘Leave it to Beaver.'”
— Susan Borman, wife of Apollo 8 commander Frank Borman

Faith and Pragmatism
The women who married fighter pilots or test pilots understood that their lives could be shattered in an instant. Implicitly, they understood that they had to have the faith in their husbands’ flying skills and go about the business of raising a family and running a household. “You worry about the custard and I’ll worry about the flying,” Frank would say to Susan Borman. But NASA was different. Wives of astronauts had to maintain that same composure for a worldwide audience at some of the most stressful moments in their lives. While their husbands were strapped to a giant rocket, television crews and newspapermen would crowd the front lawns, building temporary towers on suburban tracts to transmit the family’s reactions to the world.

In the Public Eye
“We were very much in the public eye and nobody had been trained for that. We weren’t trained for ticker-tape parades. Our children weren’t trained for the public view that became part of their lives,” Valerie Anders, wife of Apollo astronaut  Bill Aners, remembered. “The astronaut wives’ ‘right stuff’ mostly meant you stayed at home and took the responsibility away from your husband so that he could function in his world, which was a very competitive world. So we were there to do whatever was required. However, I was surprised at how many people thought that we had some kind of special help, because we didn’t. We were military wives, we formed a corps of wives; we were close to each other, but there was no psychological help; there was no one preparing us for this life.” And contrary to what many people thought, astronauts were not exorbitantly paid; they and their families lived on military or government salaries. When her mother asked her why she always wore the same dress on television, Anders had to tell her it was the only good outfit she had.

Public Relations
NASA arranged a contract with Life magazine early on that gave full access to the astronauts’ personal stories to that publication but excluded all others. The tradeoff benefited both sides, especially since Life paid a stipend to each family and also provided a life insurance policy — which insurers would not grant to anyone who listed “astronaut” as their profession. The weekly grind was difficult however, with the astronauts flying across the country visiting various contractors — and then in virtual isolation on Cape Canaveral for two months before a flight.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 2:49 pm

Don’t be stoic: Roman Stoicism’s origins show its perniciousness

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Henry Gruber, a historian and archaeologist currently pursuing a PhD at Harvard University, writes in Psyche:

Over the past decade, and especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more Americans have reoriented their lives in accordance with Stoicism. Stoicism sought what the Greeks called eudaimonia: wellness of being, or ‘the good life’. These philosophies taught that the good life was attainable through concrete exercises, performed in accordance with the correct philosophical worldview. The Stoics taught that, by practising their set of exercises, practitioners could learn to see the world from a universal perspective, understand their place in it, and freely and dispassionately assent to carry out the duties imposed upon them by fate. Stoic happiness comes from wisdom, justice, courage and moderation – all states of the individual soul or psyche, and therefore under our control. Everything else is neither good, nor bad. While these beliefs about daily life rested on a foundation of physical and metaphysical theory, the attraction of Stoicism was, and is, in the therapeutic element of its exercises: cognitive behavioural therapy, or Buddhism, for guys in togas.

Despite the benefits of Stoic spiritual exercise, you should not become a stoic. Stoic exercises, and the wise sayings that can be so appealing in moments of trouble, conceal a pernicious philosophy. Stoicism may seem a solution to many of our individual problems, but a society that is run by stoics, or filled with stoics, is a worse society for us to live in. While the stoic individual may feel less pain, that is because they have become dulled to, and accept, the injustices of the world.

The stoicism that has become popular today draws on Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, three men living during the Roman Empire, who were concerned with ethics – that is, how we go about our daily lives. Seneca, a wealthy courtier who wrote plays and moral treatises, was the tutor to an emperor (a bad one: Nero, whom legend has condemned for fiddling while Rome burned). Epictetus, born in Asia Minor, came to the imperial capital as a slave. He was educated by his wealthy owner and eventually freed. Epictetus became a teacher, first at Rome and then in Greece, and one of his students published his lecture notes. Aurelius – well, he was the Roman emperor. He is said to have ruled justly, and dealt with long, persistent wars against barbarian tribes and a long, persistent pandemic, which sapped the empire’s moral and demographic strength. A self-consciously philosophical emperor, he practised Stoic spiritual exercises, and his exercise book, known as the Meditations, survives.

Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius all lived centuries after the Stoic movement appeared. They represent a Stoicism that had been adopted as something like the official state philosophy of the Roman governing class. The flowering of Roman Stoicism corresponded with the period in which Rome’s nominally republican form of government (a senate, popular assemblies, elections, bribery scandals) ceded to a hereditary monarchy (rule by an emperor, capricious executions). As the republic collapsed, Stoicism became the philosophy of choice for Roman elites who had lost their roles in governing the republic and could govern only the ‘inner empire’ of their souls. Roman Stoicism, linked to the shift from a republic to monarchy, is in essence a philosophy of collaborators.

People say Seneca was Nero’s tutor, as if their relationship ended when the future emperor was just a boy. But Seneca worked for Nero long into his reign, and wrote speeches for him, including the one justifying the murder of Nero’s own mother. Ultimately, Seneca was accused (falsely, we think) of conspiracy. Ordered to take his own life, he demonstrated his ultimate ‘freedom’ by obeying. Seneca freely assented to his place in the world and embraced his fate. He was neither critic nor resistor. A Stoicism that glorifies Seneca glorifies the elite collaborator – willing to kill himself rather than rock the boat – rather than those who actually conspired to remove a dangerous leader.

Epictetus, unlike the wealthy but ultimately powerless Seneca, was not a displaced elite. He . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 2:33 pm

Beluga lentils and foxtail millet tempeh

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Black beluga lentils and unpolished foxtail millet

I just started a new batch of tempeh, going for a B&W theme: beluga lentils (black) and foxtail millet (whitish). The millet is unpolished, since I follow a whole-food diet — plus polished millet tends to be sticky and would not work so well in tempeh. In fact, I am somewhat trepidatious about this batch: it seems dense and closely packed.

I’ll know in 24 hours if we have liftoff. It is now in my tempeh incubator, and in preparing it I followed my usual method. I expect that this will be ready by Monday afternoon.

I think perhaps new I’ll try Du Puy lentils and one of the millets. 

At 24 hours

At 24 hours the mold was underway — see the moisture in the bag (click photo to enlarge) — but no white patches were visible, so I decided to leave it to continue developing in the incubator.

But an hour later, I noticed the temperature in the incubator was 95ºF (35ºC), quite a bit more than the optimal 88ºF (31ºC) — and since the warming mat in the incubator shuts off at the optimal temperature, the excess temperature was coming from Rhizopus at work. And it was too hot.

So I removed the raised rack from the incubator and put it on the table to let the batch continue at room temperature. The white of the mycelium will soon become visible in any event.

At 48 hours

After 48 hours

It will be done after 24 more hours, though timing is not critical and I might let it go a little longer. 

You can also view side-by-side the batch after 24 hours and after 48 hours.

The weather here has become rather hot, and some sporing may occur — there are signs of it already (the dark patches). That, however, affects appearance only and leaves the taste untouched.

What’s more worrisome is the strip at the top, where the mycelium seems reluctant to spread. This happened to a degree in the chana dal and barnyard millet batch, but not so much. In that case, the undergrown strip was fine.

After 72 hours

This is the finished slab, and the cross-section puts the best light on the outcome, showing the portion that developed well. In this post you can get a closer look at the cosmetic defects (which will be edible if unattractive). 

I need to figure out the cause of the problems.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 12:42 pm

A strongly fragranced shave — and a great iced tea

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Meißner Tremonia’s Black Beer No. 1 has a nose-gripping fragrance and a lather that’s hard to beat — and for that a special shout-out to RazoRock’s Keyhole shaving brush, a brush I like more every time I use it. Its quality is far above its price class ($10).

The razor this morning is an Edwin Jagger head (or close clone) on a bulldog handle, and it delivered a very smooth result with no effort and no problems.

A splash of an aftershave with a strong fragrance, Southern Witchcraft’s Valley of Ashes, and the end of the week is here. 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Assam Tippy Golden: “A dark, rich tea with full-bodied, malty flavour, with a hint of sweetness and a silk smooth finish. Assam teas are especially good where water conditions overpower more delicate teas, and are often enjoyed with milk.” No milk here, but as you see, I stayed with strength.

And another special shout-out, this time to Murchie’s Honeydew Mint, which makes an unparalleled iced tea. Wonderful stuff. And for me, who drink it in the afternoon and evening, it has the advantage of being caffeine-free.

Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 9:54 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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