Later On

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

Archive for September 26th, 2022

Ribollita My Way

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After I had the Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup blogged earlier, I decided I could make a better (more nutritious and — who knows? — tastier) version of my own. And then I came across a Wikipedia article on ribolitta. That sounded like just the ticket, though I would do it my way (hence the title), which for one thing meant no bread (an essential ingredient in ribollita) — not a whole food. But oat groats certainly can thicken as well as any old bread and have the benefit of being a whole food (and a grain, to complement the beans).

When I start thinking up a recipe, I hope a TextEdit page and list ingredients. Here’s the list I came up with, after being modified slightly in the making — modifications in square brackets

• Black beans (have more nutrients than white beans — lentils would be even better)
• Kale — Lacinato kale, I think; seems appropriate
• Red cabbage, shredded and allow to rest 45 minutes
• Leek or spring onion or scallions; maybe red onion as a fallback [red onion it was]
• Some diced carrot — 1 medium regular carrot or 1/2 Nantes carrot [1/2 Nantes]
• Diced purple potato [used half of an enormous Stokes Purple potato]
• Tomatoes [6 Roma — the season for San Marzano seems over]
• 3/4 cup oat groats [next time 1 cup oat groats — or hulled barley — & cook before adding]
• 2 Red Habanero Pepper, seeded [should have worn gloves — fingers on fire]
• Garlic [4 cloves Russian red garlic — enormous cloves]
• [2 garlic scapes I found in the fridge]
• Ginger [I used only part of the root shown
• Turmeric + Black Pepper [4 turmeric roots, chopped fine]
• Dried Marjoram [about 2 tablespoons]
• Dried Thyme [about 1 tablespoon]
• Mexican oregano [about 3 tablespoons]
• Salt substitute [about 2 teaspoons]
• MSG [about 1 teaspoon]
• Water [enough; I used water from cooking beans and then a little more]

Half the Stokes Purple potato

I Evo-sprayed my 6-qt wide diameter pot well — probably 2 teaspoons (8 sprays) and prepared the vegetables, putting them in the pot as I went. 

I wanted to sauté some of the vegetables, so I held back on tomatoes, beans, and oat groats. Everything else went into the pot (except black pepper — wanted to add that after pot had liquid because pepper can burn). Because prep took a while, the garlic and red cabbage (which I did first) had some time to rest.

I sautéed what was in the pot for a few minutes, stirring frequently, then added the tomatoes, beans, oat groats, black pepper, and water — the water in which the beans were cooked and more water to boot. Here’s what it looked like (on the left, before cooking; on the right, after cooking — and you can click on any of these photos to enlarge):

I cooked it roughly an hour, all told. The “timer” in this case is the grain: once the oat groats are cooked, it’s ready. (The beans were cooked until not quite done in the expectation that they would finish cooking in the ribollita.) 

I just had a small bowl of the soup to test it. The habaneros are certainly present, but they are not overwhelming (probably because of the amount of soup and presence of potatoes, carrots, beans, and grain). The grain will probably open a bit more after it sits overnight in the fridge and then on being rewarmed.

Some observations after having a few small (“tasting”) bowls:

  1. The intensity of the habaneros quickly faded. Now the soup is just warm (in the spicy sense).
  2. I added some of Simnett’s vegan buffalo sauce on top — very nice.
  3. Encouraged by the buffalo sauce, I decided to have a small bowl of soup after putting in a spoonful of cashew butter. Also very nice.

I think this worked out really well, and I’m sure I’ll make it again. All the purple vegetables (red onion, red cabbage, purple potatoes) are full of nutrients — see this post.

I’d stack this up against regular ribollita any day, strictly on nutrient value. And next time I’ll use Du Puy lentils instead of black beans (already bought them), and that will take the nutrient value up a level.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 5:31 pm

The Milkmaid, by Johannes Vermeer

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Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, History, Video

The Problem Isn’t “Polarization” — It’s Right-Wing Radicalization

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Aurelien Mondon and Evan Smith write in Jacobin:

Joe Biden’s recent attacks on Donald Trump and “MAGA Republicans” have caused outrage on the US right. What should surprise us is not the strength of the attack — against what are, after all, blatantly antidemocratic forces — but the departure it represents from the approach mainstream political actors have generally taken: that is, one which has tended to euphemize the far-right threat and draw a false equivalence with the forces resisting it.

The concept of “polarization” is increasingly used in mainstream circles to lament the current state of politics. It is a liberal parallel to right-wing moral panics about cancel culture, “wokeness” — or what used to be called “political correctness gone mad.” Such moral panics are generally based on ridiculous nonevents that nonetheless seep into public discourse, often with the help of mainstream media. As Nathan Oseroff-Spicer has documented, the “woke” panic has spread to strip clubs, the military, corporations, medical education, and the British monarchy, among others. While the liberal center may see the right-wing “war on woke” as overblown, they insist on casting it as one side of a duopoly of extremism from both Left and Right. The Right may have indulged extremist and authoritarian tendencies, it argues, but so has the Left. Trumpists and Brexiteers are the flipside of antifa and overzealous woke students.

The solution, we are patronizingly told, lies in a more reasonable middle ground based on tolerance toward diverging viewpoints. Think, for example, of the proliferation of pieces about left-wing people refusing to kiss reactionaries or the need to “build bridges” or “dine across the divide.” Is this not what has allowed our societies to progress to this advanced state of democracy? Who was the great philosopher who once said “there are very fine people on both sides”?

This is nothing new, of course. It has long been central to abstract liberalism and has served well to protect against too radical a democratic change that would have challenged interests bound to the status quo. It is thus not altogether surprising to see its recent resurgence under such trite phrases as “the marketplace of ideas.” We are told that we should not be scared of ideas we may disagree with: if they are bad but confronted in a public setting, they will be defeated, and reason will prevail. That seems sensible — unless you have paid any attention to political developments in the past few decades and what is really at stake in modern politics.


It is easy to see how this positioning is appealing and reassuring to those in a comfortable position. As they see it, our freedom is currently under threat by those who argue certain ideas are out of bounds, whether on the Left or on the Right. This soft, grown-up, sensible middle-ground approach to politics could not appear more reasonable. If this status quo happens to benefit those who defend this position — well, that’s just an added bonus.

This is, however, reasonable only if . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 10:51 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Politics

Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright Conduct a Masterclass on the Banal Horror of U.S. Foreign Policy

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I wonder what it would be like if the US government tried — actually made an attempt — to stop lying. I imagine we’ll never know. Lies and the lying liars who tell them seem to be deeply embedded within the political system. In the Intercept Jon Schwarz takes a brief look at two of the most brazen of the liars and calls out their lies. He writes:

AT THE BEGINNING of a new “MasterClass” on diplomacy with Condoleezza Rice and the late Madeleine Albright, Rice explains that “some people have even said, ‘The diplomat lies for their country.’”

Soon afterward, Albright makes similar remarks: “There are some incredible definitions of diplomacy, which is, it gives you the capability to go and lie for your country.”

If this is in fact what diplomacy is all about — and presumably Rice and Albright would be in a position to know — this MasterClass shows that they are both incredibly committed diplomats.

Albright, who died earlier this year, was America’s first female secretary of state, serving during the Bill Clinton administration. Rice was the second, during the administration of George W. Bush.

It’s not all lies, of course. The entire Rice/Albright video lasts almost 3.5 hours, the same length as the extended DVD version of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Most of the time, the two emit a quiet murmur of mind-obliterating platitudes, accompanied by what seems to be the music from C-SPAN and stock footage of a chessboard. For instance, Albright tells us that “Americans didn’t recognize well enough how fragile democracy was, but at the same time how resilient democracy was,” which is somehow both banal and incomprehensible.

In fact, the lies are just as boring as the parts that are true. You might assume Rice and Albright would mislead viewers in cunning, complex ways that would require extensive effort to refute. Instead, they both just straightforwardly deny reality.

All in all, watching the languorous, dull-but-accurate parts is like being forced to eat eight gallons of stale banana pudding. Then the lies are like a batch of botulism mixed in. By the end, you will definitely feel ill, but you can only ascribe it to the entire experience, rather than being able to narrow it down to one specific cause.

Explicating all of Rice and Albright’s deceptions would require an article that would take longer to read than the running time of the MasterClass itself. So let’s just hit the highlights.

The cruelest segment of the video, as measured by the chasm between the promised content and what’s actually delivered, is called “Learning From Failed Decisions.” The text below this title claims that Rice will share “her mistakes on 9/11 and Iraq.”

However, it turns out the only mistake Rice made was believing her incompetent underlings. “I was in two situations,” she begins, “where the intelligence turned out in one case to be lacking, and in another case to be wrong.”

The first, of course, is the 9/11 attacks. On September 11, 2001, Rice was Bush’s national security adviser — i.e., arguably the person most responsible in the U.S. government for addressing any threats of terrorism. Here’s her explanation for how she and her colleagues missed what was going on:

All that the intelligence reports were saying … was, something big is going to happen. “There will be a wedding,” which was terrorist code for some kind of attack. But all of the intelligence actually pointed to something happening outside of the country.

When I heard Rice say this, my brain seized up and ground to a confused halt. My thought process went something like:

I —
where am i. have i slipped into an alternate universe where up is down & the sky is green & giraffes sing hit duets with taylor swift?

This was because — although it may be fading from living memory — the most famous moment of Condoleezza Rice’s life occurred in 2004, when she acknowledged in front of the 9/11 Commission that the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus warned Bush that an Al Qaeda attack might be imminent inside America. Here, watch it for yourself:

That’s right: The presidential daily brief delivered to Bush on August 6, 2001, one month before the 9/11 attacks, was headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” You can read the whole thing here. The very first sentence states, “Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S.” Later, the brief warns that “FBI information … indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.”

So here, Rice put essentially no effort into her deceit. But what she says next is somehow even worse:

We had a pretty bright wall between what the FBI could do and what the CIA could do. They didn’t talk to each other. So just to give an example — probably by now everybody knows the case of [Zacarias] Moussaoui, who was the flight student in Arizona who only wanted to learn to fly one way. That might have been a signal. He was known to the FBI. He was not known to the CIA.

Almost everything about this is inaccurate. Rice is correct that Moussaoui was a member of Al Qaeda who came to the U.S. and attended flight school, where he did behave in peculiar ways. However, he did not go to flight school in Arizona, as Rice says; it was in Oklahoma and Minnesota. It’s not the case that he “only wanted to fly one way.” (According a report by the Justice Department inspector general, “Media reports later incorrectly reported that Moussaoui had stated that he did not want to learn to take off or land a plane.”)

Most importantly, whatever wall prevented some information from passing between the FBI and the CIA, it did not stop Moussaoui from being caught. His . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 10:29 am

The Value of the Liberal Arts

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A friend pointed out this excellent essay by Hina Azam in Life & Letters, the official magazine for UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts. The essay begins:

Those of us who teach in liberal arts colleges are passionate about the value of a liberal arts education. But for those outside of academia – even for those who might have received a degree in UT’s College of Liberal Arts – the precise meaning of “liberal arts” can be murky.  What, exactly, is meant by the “liberal arts”? What is the history of the idea, and how does it translate into the educational concept we know as a “liberal-arts curriculum,” or, more broadly, a “liberal education”? What is the value of a liberal arts education to both individual and collective life? This essay presents a brief overview of the idea, history, purposes, and values of liberal arts education, so that you, our readers, may understand the passion that inspires our faculty’s teaching and scholarship, and be similarly inspired.

What are the Liberal Arts?

The idea of the liberal arts originates in ancient Greece and was further developed in medieval Europe. Classically understood, it combined the four studies of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music – known as the quadrivium – with the three additional studies of grammar, rhetoric, and logic – known as the trivium. These artes liberales were meant to teach both general knowledge and intellectual skills, and thus train the mind. This training of the mind as well as this foundational body of content knowledge and intellectual skills was regarded by scholars and educators as necessary for all human beings – and especially a society’s leaders – in order to live well, both individually and collectively.

These liberal arts were distinguished from vocational or clinical arts, such as law, medicine, engineering, and business. These latter were conceived as servile arts – i.e. arts that served concrete production or construction. These productive/constructive arts were also known as artes mechanicae, “mechanical arts,” which included crafts such as weaving, agriculture, masonry, warfare, trade, cooking, and metallurgy. In contrast to the vocational or mechanical arts, the liberal arts put greater weight on intellectual skills – the ability to think and communicate clearly, and to analyze and solve problems. But more distinctively, the liberal arts emphasized learning and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, independent of immediate application. The liberal arts taught not only bodies of knowledge, but – more dynamically – how to go about finding and creating knowledge – that is, how to learn. Finally, the liberal arts taught not only how to think and do, but also how to be – with others and with oneself, in the natural world and the social world. They were thus centrally concerned with ethics.

Notably, the term “liberal arts” has nothing to do with liberalism in the contemporary political or partisan sense; the opposite of “liberal” here is not “conservative.” Rather, the term goes back to the Latin root signifying “freedom,” as opposed to imprisonment or subjugation. Think here of the English word “liberty.” The liberal arts were historically connected to freedom in that they encompassed the types of knowledge and skills appropriate to free people, living in a free society. The term “art” in this phrase also must be understood correctly, for it does not refer to “art” as we use it today in its creative sense, to denote the fine and performing arts. Rather, from the Latin root ars, “art” is here used to refer to skill or craft. The “liberal arts,” then, may be thought of as liberating knowledges, or alternatively, the skills of being free.

What is a Liberal Arts Education?

A liberal (arts) education is a curriculum designed around imparting core knowledge and skills through engagement with a wide range of subjects and disciplines. This core knowledge is taught through general education courses typically drawn from the humanities, (creative) arts, natural sciences, and social sciences. The humanities include disciplines such as language, literature, poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, religion, history, law, geography, archaeology, anthropology, politics, and classics. Natural sciences include subjects such as geology, chemistry, physics, and life sciences such as biology. Social sciences comprise disciplines such as sociology, economics, linguistics, psychology, and education. Through a core curriculum or general education courses, students gain a basic knowledge of the physical and natural world as well as of human ideas, histories, and practices.

A liberal arts education comprises more than learning only content, but also honing skills and cultivating values. Intellectual and practical skills at the heart of the liberal arts are reading comprehension, inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, information and quantitative literacy, teamwork and problem-solving. Values that are central to liberal education are personal and social responsibility, civic knowledge and engagement, intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning and action, and lifelong learning.

Why a Liberal Education? Purposes and Values

Four overarching purposes anchor the idea of an education in the liberal arts. One of those is

Continue reading. Full disclosure: I was graduated from a small college whose sole focus was educating through the liberal arts.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 10:16 am

After the Rain and a blade change for the #102

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The Omega Pro 48 (10048) is always a good way to start the week, and today Declaration Grooming’s After the Rain, in their Milksteak formulation, provided the grist for its mill. Well-loaded, the brush easily formed a fine lather on my face, the stubble ready after their workout with a tiny smidge of Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave.

The iKon Shavecraft #102 is one of my favorite razors and, IMO, is a superb slant, but this morning during the first pass I was having to work a little too hard, so I paused to replace the blade, which made the second and third passes a pure pleasure. 

My perfectly smooth face, once rinsed and dried, was read for a splash of 4711 aftershave augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel. “4711” is the street address of the aftershave’s maker, which seems to be the pattern with numerically named aftershaves: Floris 89, TOBS No. 74, Alpa 378, et al.

A fine way to start the week, especially with the morning sunny and cool.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Royal Grey: “Currants and cream with a twist of bergamot, a modern take on the timeless Earl Grey.”

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 9:43 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

That shortage of home healthcare workers

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Kevin Drum has an excellent post that has two graphs. The first shows that the shortage is real, the second offers a possible reason for the shortage. Here’s the second:

His post is worth reading. In it, he notes:

The only way this gets better is if we pay home health care workers considerably more than we do now. But of course lots of people can’t afford that. And that’s why this is ultimately a Medicare problem: we desperately need to make long-term nursing care part of Medicare, and we need to pay workers more if we want to attract higher quality folks. This would be expensive, but it’s inevitable that it will happen someday. The sooner we accept that the better.

Written by Leisureguy

26 September 2022 at 8:03 am

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