Later On

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

Archive for July 27th, 2022

GOP hurts veterans out of spite

leave a comment »

Heather Cox Richardson has a good post, from which I’ll quote just a paragraph (though the entire post is well worth reading:

Tonight, Senate Republicans unexpectedly killed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which would have provided medical benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins during their military service. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 84 to 14 in June and had been sent back to that body for a procedural cleanup after the House passed it with the expectation that it would repass easily. Tonight’s vote is being widely interpreted as revenge for the resurrection of the reconciliation package.

As Richardson notes:

Attacking our veterans out of spite might not be a winning move

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 10:36 pm

Taiwan Cauliflower & Bitter Melon

leave a comment »

Shown above are the basics. Clockwise from bottom:

• 2 green onions
• small knob fresh ginger root
• 1 jalapeño pepper
• 1/2 red onion
• bitter melon
• garlic scapes
• 1 more jalapeño 
• and, in the center, a Taiwan cauliflower

As shown in the photo of the label at the right, it really is called a Taiwan cauliflower, though the real name seems to be Taishan cauliflower. Whatever it’s called, it’s very tasty and I like it a lot — see my earlier versions (scroll down at link).

Bitter melon is very good, presuming you have a taste for the bitter (a useful taste to have, in today’s political climate). Seeds are edible, but in this one the seeds seem past their prime, so I scooped them out. Bitter melon has a short shelf life. I have a Chinese bitter melon (the topmost melon in the photo at the link). Indian bitter melons are spiky instead of having a smooth knobby appearance.

Not shown in the photo:

• a pinch of salt (I usually don’t use salt, but thought I’d go with it today)
• a pinch of MSG (which is fine to use)
• a dash of Red Boat fish sauce

I used my Stargazer 12″ cast-iron skillet, which I Evo-sprayed with extra-virgin olive oil. After I chopped all the veggies, I put them into the skillet and cooked them about 25-30 minutes, mostly covered, stirring occasionally. 

I think I’ll have these with a dash of tamari. Update: Second bowl with a little rice vinegar, a dash of shoyu sauce, and 1 Evo-spray of toasted sesame oil. Extremely tasty.

It occurs to me that a little of my chipotle-garlic paste may have been good in cooking this. 

The finished dish:

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 4:49 pm

Norman Lear: “On My 100th Birthday, Reflections on Archie Bunker and Donald Trump”

leave a comment »

Norman Lear writes in the NY Times (gift link, no paywall):

Well, I made it. I am 100 years old today. I wake up every morning grateful to be alive.

Reaching my own personal centennial is cause for a bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the next century will bring for the people and country I love. To be honest, I’m a bit worried that I may be in better shape than our democracy is.

I was deeply troubled by the attack on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — by supporters of former President Donald Trump attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Those concerns have only grown with every revelation about just how far Mr. Trump was willing to go to stay in office after being rejected by voters — and about his ongoing efforts to install loyalists in positions with the power to sway future elections.

I don’t take the threat of authoritarianism lightly. As a young man, I dropped out of college when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. I flew more than 50 missions in a B-17 bomber to defeat fascism consuming Europe. I am a flag-waving believer in truth, justice and the American way, and I don’t understand how so many people who call themselves patriots can support efforts to undermine our democracy and our Constitution. It is alarming.

At the same time, I have been moved by the courage of the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, lawyers and former White House staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying. They give me hope that Americans can find unexpected common ground with friends and family whose politics differ but who are not willing to sacrifice core democratic principles.

Encouraging that kind of conversation was a goal of mine when we began broadcasting “All in the Family” in 1971. The kinds of topics Archie Bunker and his family argued about — issues that were dividing Americans from one another, such as racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War, and Watergate — were certainly being talked about in homes and families. They just weren’t being acknowledged on television.

For all his faults, Archie loved his country and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been around 50 years later, he probably would have watched Fox News. He probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.

It is remarkable to consider that  . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 12:43 pm

Duolingo uses weird sentences because surprise assists learning

leave a comment »

Via The Eldest, this interesting article in Slate by Jane C. Hu:

In November 2020, the usual dark wet of fall settled into Seattle—and with the pandemic raging and outdoor gatherings less appealing, my social life took a nosedive. To fill my evenings, I decided to take on those things I always said I’d do if only I had more time, like practicing my Chinese. While I grew up speaking Mandarin, I’d never mastered reading or writing characters, so I fired up my long-neglected Duolingo account and committed to doing at least a lesson a day.

Whether you’ve already got some language proficiency under your belt or are starting out as a complete beginner, Duolingo doesn’t teach languages the way you might have learned them in school, with lists of vocabulary and verb conjugations. Instead, it makes you jump right in and start matching words with their meanings or translating sentences. My lessons started out simply enough with new vocabulary and phrases to practice grammar—and occasionally, there was a sentence that made me chuckle, like, “He is handsome but not a good person,” or “There are too many people here.” Then there were some that made me unexpectedly emotional in the context of the pandemic. There was “This year I cannot celebrate Chinese New Year with my family,” and this simple but terrifying question: “Are you happy?” Soon enough, though, my lessons veered into the absurd. I could imagine very specific scenarios in which I’d need to know how to say “he drank three bottles of Baijiu and he is sleeping now” or “I have 1,500 cat photos on my phone,” but they hardly seemed like the kind of sentences I’d need to know how to write in the long term.

A quick Google showed I was not the only one curious about these weird sentences. No internet phenomenon is complete without a dedicated Tumblr and Twitter accounts to document it; users submitted their own nonsensical sentences, like “The bride is a woman and the groom is a hedgehog,” or “The man eats ice cream with mustard.” Others conveyed existential angst, like “I am eating bread and crying on the floor” and “Today I will gaze into the distance and cry as well,” both nominated by Duolingo users as the “most 2020 phrases.” Clearly, these goofy sentences were some kind of strategy—but what, exactly, is Duolingo trying to accomplish with them?

To find out, I went straight to the source. Cindy Blanco, a learning scientist at Duolingo, explained that the company’s content is generated by language-specific teams, each of which has their own quirks. Lessons in Norwegian and Swedish, for instance, often include references to ’90s grunge music. Some teams have always enjoyed sneaking in weird or funny sayings, but over time, course creators made an explicit decision to include them on the theory that weird sentences have the potential to boost learning. I asked how, exactly, that would work, and Blanco explained that people often learn best when there’s a mismatch between what they expect and what they actually encounter. “When there’s a conflict between your expectation and the reality, that triggers responses in the brain,” said Blanco. “It forces you to attend more carefully to what you’re seeing.” For example, when you see a sentence like, “The bride is a woman and the groom is a …,” your brain has likely filled in the word man, so the actual word Duolingo uses—hedgehog—is a surprise. Voila, you have been forced to pay extra attention. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

. . . Predictable sentences—say, “The bride was a woman and the groom was a man”—are commonplace and unremarkable. Wildly erratic sentences (what linguists would call “semantically unpredictable sentences”) are usually just absurd, like “The table walked through the blue truth.” But something in the middle is where humor lies, Vergut speculates. “The bride is a woman and the groom is a hedgehog” is a perfect example of that sweet spot in between rote and nonsensical.

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 10:04 am

Webb v. Hubble

leave a comment »

A slider-comparison of 4 images from Webb vs. the same 4 from Hubble.

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 8:54 am

Posted in Science, Technology

Coffee this morning (but only in the shave)

with 2 comments

Although I see coffee’s fragrance cropping up often in shaving soaps and aftershaves, tea doesn’t seem to show up nearly so often. 

Strop Shoppe did have Russian Tea, a spice-fragranced shaving soap. Dapper Dragon had a Green Tea & Bergamot, though green tea generally seems to be used as an ingredient rather than a fragrance. “Tea tree” is not tea at all, of course, but smells rather of camphor.

Perhaps it’s just that coffee has a stronger fragrance with tea, while sharing many of the same positive associations. Coffee also tends to be more strongly connected to “morning beverage” than tea (at least in the US and Canada).

Resuming my shave, Mystic Water’s Cuppa Joe produced a good coffee-scented lather with my Plisson European Grey, and the Rockwell T2 TTO adjustable did a fine job. I verified my impression that, though this razor is comfortable, it is not so comfortable as the Adjust (which is substantially cheaper). So far as efficiency is concerned, the two are pretty much a match.

And with that efficiency, three passes left my face very smooth — and I continue to note the benefits of Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave. If you’ve not tried that, I highly recommend it. I get nothing from the company (other than the excellent products I purchase as a retail customer), so that’s not an affiliate link. It’s just an excellent product that I like a lot, and I’m sharing my discovery with you. (When I went to the site to get the link, I noticed that, with three exceptions, the entire batch of new shaving soaps is now sold out. When Grooming Dept releases a new shaving soap, you must act quickly if you hope to get a tub.)

A splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Spring-Heeled Jack (with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel) and the day begins quite nicely.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Anniversary Blend: “a combination of Assam, Keemun, Ceylon, Yunnan, and Gunpowder single origin teas.”

Update: Coffee note.


Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 8:23 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

%d bloggers like this: