Later On

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

Archive for January 3rd, 2023

Room tone

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Room tone is the sound of a room that is silent — not perfectly silent, but no one talking, no music playing, no clattering of dishes or movement of books: it’s the room noise you get when two people, say, are sitting quietly and just thinking. It’s not a dead silence, but it is quiet.

When an interview, say, is recorded, then after the interview is finished the camera and audio recorder continue to run while the people sit silently. This is to record the room tone for use in post-production, so that the editor has a baseline and can use snippets as needed without having any undesired contrast in the room tone between the room tone during the interview and room tone of any inserted audio.

A montage was created using these moments of deliberate silence at the end of an interview. Here it is.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

This is disappointing: The truffle industry is a big scam. Not just truffle oil, everything

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Matt Babich writes in Taste Atlas:

You probably already know that “truffle-flavored oil” is not made from truffles. It is a cheap oil with added synthetic truffle flavor.

There are several reasons why this is terrible. Synthetic garbage sold as a luxury gourmet item gives customers the idea that truffles have an intense gas-like aroma.

It is a scam because it deceives customers; that is, it falsely represents a product that has nothing to do with truffles and puts all restaurateurs who try to work honestly in an unfavorable position: if you don’t flavor truffle dishes with added aromas and flavors that the guests are used to, the naive guests will think you’re being cheap and trying to save on their meal.

What you don’t know is that almost everything else named “truffles” is a lie: we don’t just mean truffle-flavored chips, ketchup, or chocolate (you can surely taste the artificial aroma), but also tartufata, jar packaged truffles, cheese, and truffle sausages, as well as the vast majority of pasta and “truffle” frittatas in restaurants.

Quimet & Quimet is one of the tourists’ favorite tapas bars in Barcelona. Their secret? “Truffle” honey on almost everything. Machneyuda is the biggest hit restaurant in Jerusalem. Their secret: truffle oil in polenta. Every metropolis is packed with stalls selling burgers “with truffles.” Many well-respected pizzerias serve pizzas “with truffles.”

Almost all the restaurants in Croatian Istria serve dishes with a fake truffle aroma, though they shave the decorative truffles on top. Even the otherwise fantastic Eataly offers products “with truffles.” But all that flavor doesn’t come from truffles.

There is no shame in not knowing that. As the best truffles are extremely difficult to find, most chefs and journalists are unaware of this. Even the “experts” hand out awards for this aromatized garbage with only bits of decorative truffles. Almost everything with the truffle label that is available in stores or served in restaurants is a lie and a fraud.

If you think you know what truffles taste like because you had them at restaurants, or you may have prepared something with the products you bought at specialty food stores, you almost certainly still don’t know the authentic truffle flavor. The flavor you are familiar with is the added aroma found in all the products labeled as containing “truffles.”

There is a good joke: because of sanctions against Russia, the price of tartufata will increase. I may not be objective about the quality of the joke, as I invented it, but the fact is: what is sold as truffle flavor is 2,4-dithiapentane, an organosulfur compound that is naturally found in truffles, and though it is practically impossible to extract it from truffles, it can be extracted from oil.

Liters of this petroleum-derived product, the colorless 2,4-dithiapentane liquid, are sourced for a few euros from Italy, Germany, or China, and then they end on your plates and refrigerators, in pasta, tartufata, oils, cheeses, and sausages, but also in expensive delicacies with a prostituted label “truffles.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 9:24 pm

Collective narcissism

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Craig Harper has an interesting article in Psychology Today that begins:


  • Modern societies are increasingly polarized along ideological lines.
  • Collective narcissism may help to explain how ideological groups are becoming increasingly extreme.
  • Contemplating and reflecting on our narcissistic tendencies may help us to heal some of our divides.

Modern democratic societies have seen intergroup relations crumble over the past half century, and psychologists have been attempting to study this phenomenon for decades. Although many psychologists have looked at the cognitive and motivational differences between ideological groups, these studies do not always recognize how those on the extremes of the political spectrum can often look more similar than they do differently. Looking at the extent to which people are invested in their ideology, and how this affects polarization, may be a more fruitful pathway to understanding our current predicament.

A Collective Sense of Righteousness

Collective narcissism is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to the narcissistic tendencies of a group or collective. It is characterized by the group’s belief in its own superiority and special status, as well as its need for admiration and attention from others. Collective narcissism is different from individual narcissism, which refers to a personality trait characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration from others. There is often a focus on the differences observed between ingroup and outgroup members among those high in collective narcissism, with a tendency to see threats from outgroups in a more acute manner.

While individual narcissism is a personality trait that is specific to an individual, collective narcissism is a trait that is shared among members of a group or collective. It is often seen in groups that are highly cohesive, where members have a strong sense of belonging and identification with the group. These groups may include nationalist or ethnic groups, religious groups, or political organizations, but ostensibly less important group identities (sports teams) may also be liable to succumbing to narcissistic beliefs, too. Collective narcissism can also be seen in groups that are defined by a shared ideology or belief system, such as social movements or activist groups.

It is here that we see links to modern social movements, particularly in the US (where political partisans favoring candidates from either the Democrats or Republicans focus more on maligning the other side than presenting a positive vision of how their ideology could improve American society) and the UK (where debates and disagreements about Brexit continue to divide the population).

Effects of Collective Narcissism

Collective narcissism is often fueled by  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 8:55 pm

The safest place in the world to live is across the ocean: This country ranks most peaceful

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Clare Mulroy has an interesting report in USA Today that offers another data point on US failure to protect its citizens. The report begins:

  • Iceland is the world’s most peaceful country, making it a top option for the safest place to live.
  • The Woodlands, just outside of Houston, Texas, is ranked the best city to live in America.
  • New England states dominate the charts of the safest states to live in the United States.

Choosing a place to live is a carefully crafted, and often difficult decision. Prospective residents take school districts, affordability and weather into consideration for a new city or state. One of the most important factors, particularly for those living alone or with young children, is how safe a certain place is.

As news of mass shootings, climate disasters and outbreaks of war dominate headlines, safety is a priority and a privilege that many take for granted.

So what country ranks as the safest to live in? Where is the safest place in the United States to live? Discover more below. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 8:11 pm

Emmy Noether and the conservation of momentum

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Emmy Noether is a big name in mathematics (e.g., Noetherian rings), so that title of a post by Kevin Drum caught my eye. Drum writes:

Yesterday I asked why there’s no name for a unit of momentum. Today I have answers. Plus, if you read all the way to the end, I have a genuinely constructive suggestion.

First things first, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about. In the metric system—officially known as SI—there are three basic quantities: the meter, the kilogram, and the second.¹ Everything else is derived from those three. For example, force = mass * acceleration, so:

F = ma

a = distance / seconds²

Therefore, F = mass * distance / seconds²

One unit of force = 1 kg * 1 meter / 1 second²

This quantity is called a newton, named after Isaac Newton. Lots of other things have names too: ohm, watt, lumen, joule, and so forth. Click here for a list.

Momentum is a critically important quantity, equal to mass * velocity. So why wasn’t it ever given a name? I did several minutes of research on this question, and the most authoritative sounding answer came from a commenter at Stack Exchange called Conifold. He or she explains that there were two waves of standardization and naming:

The second wave, started in the 1860s and formalized by the 1880s in both SI and its competitor CGS, was meant to catch up with developments in thermodynamics and electromagnetism, and gave us ohms, volts, farads, watts, etc. Kilograve was renamed into kilogram and became the unit of mass. The unit of force was named dyne in CGS (from Greek dynamis — force) and newton in SI.

….The unit for power, watt, was suggested even before joule, by Siemens in 1882, to replace Watt’s own horsepower used to measure the output of steam engines. Siemens was an electric engineer. Joule himself was honored by a unit name for determining the mechanical equivalent of heat. Momentum was out of luck.

In other words, momentum has no name because no one ever bothered to give it one. However, another commenter, jkien, tells us that it was given a name in the CGS system

In 1887 . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Math, Memes, Science

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites

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The Wife is about to take a long flight, and I’m making a batch of these for a good in-flight snack.

They’re easy to make, they’re tasty, and they are a nutritious plant-based whole food.

I got the recipe from this collection of whole-food plant-based recipes.

If you manufacture food and your primary goal is to increase profits (cf. capitalism), then deliciousness is a design goal and satiation is a design flaw.

Another goal of a capitalist food manufacturer is to lower or (ideally) remove any barriers that stand in the way of the customer’s consuming the food because the sooner the food is consumed, the sooner another purchase is possible.

Ready-to-heat foods remove the barriers of measuring and mixing. Ready-to-eat foods remove the barrier of cooking. Eat-from-the-bag foods remove the barriers of using and later washing bowls and plates and flatware.

The best food for increasing profits is a food that is tasty, unsatisfying, and can be eaten immediately with no dishes to clean afterward — Doritos, for example.

The oatmeal cookie dough bites are delicious, but they are also satiating. After eating one or two, you don’t feel the urge to eat more, even though they are delicious, because they are satisfying. I imagine that is one reason you don’t find these in stores and have to make them yourself.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 4:18 pm

Chickpea & Rye Tempeh

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Plastic bag in which you can see a mix of chickpeas and rye grain.

I’ve run out of tempeh, but on Friday this new batch should be ready. I’m following my usual procedure, except that instead of 1.5 cups of beans/lentils and 1.5 cups of intact whole grain (measured before cooking and cooked separately), I used 2 cups of chickpeas and 1 cup of whole-grain rye. The reason is that the chickpeas came in a 1-pint container. I did not want to deal with 1/2 cup of uncooked chickpea, so I just cooked the lot and cut back on the rye. I could have gone with 2 cups of rye as well, I suppose.

Lesson learned: use a little less water when cooking the rye so that the grains don’t burst open so much. When they do, they are sticky and tend to mass together. With less water, they will be cooked but intact.

I again used the starter culture from TopCultures. Last time that seemed to provide a vigorous start. I used 1/2 teaspoon, along with 3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar, and added the starter gradually, mixing well after each addition to ensure even distribution.

Above you see it ready for the incubator, in a Ziploc Fresh Produce bag, nicely perforated and ideal for tempeh growth.

After 24 hours

Chickpeas and rye in plastic bag mut mold covering them enough so that they are difficult to distinguish. Looks like white haze with dots stick through here and there

The mold has taken hold very well, but clearly more time is needed. At this point, the developing slab is removed from the incubator and put on the table to continue at room temperature (low 70s F). 

I have to say that the starter from TopCultures seems quite vigorous. This was a free sample, but when it runs out, I’ll buy my replacement from them.

Click the photo to see an enlargement in a new tab. 

After 48 hours

Tempeh in plastic bag: white with speckles of brain and tan where beans and grain poke through.

I probably could stop fermentation at this point, but as usual I want more mycelium — it’s like cowbell, you always want more — so I’ll go for another 24 hours.

The slab is rigid and strong at this point, but that will increase over the next 24 hours. Some slight signs of sporing on the other side, which is why I turned it over. The sporing areas are a light gray. In previous batches, putting the sporing areas on the bottom resulted in the sporing ceasing or being overgrown.

Yeah — after I turned it over and several hours had passed, the sporing was no longer visible.

After 72 hours — it’s done!

Click image above to enlarge. On the left, is a photo of the batch still in its Ziploc Fresh Produce bag. On the right, the slab is cut free of the bag, with the first cross-section cut made as I break it down to fit storage containers. With the full 72 hours, the mycelium is nicely developed and the white coating is velvety smooth. The interstices between chickpeas and grains of rye are packed with mycelium.

I find that the starter culture from produces vigorous growth of mycelium. I like it a lot.

I’ll use this tempeh for the Daily Dozen beans and grain checkboxes. 

Update: A summary of nutritional research on chickpea tempeh. The article mentions separating the hulls from the chickpeas (Indonesian style) as well as leaving them in place (Malaysian style). I follow the Malaysian style because it’s easier and Rhizopus doesn’t seem to mind.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 4:00 pm

Beets & Garlic ferment

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I just got a recipe I’m eager to try. Cynthia on Facebook provided it. It’s not so different from my Beets & Leeks ferment, but I can more readily make this recipe — good long leeks are hard to find.

3-4 beets, pleeled and chopped into 1/4” cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pint filtered water
4 tsp unrefined salt
1 wide mouth quart jar

Put veg in a bowl and tossed them, then put them in a jar and poured the brine over them. Let them ferment for 2 weeks.

No starter is shown, but she used some whey from yogurt as a starter. I’ll use my usual starter.

She used a leaf on top in addition to a fermentation weight because the small cubes float up around the weight. Using a leaf that way is a good idea. I’ll use a leaf of red cabbage since I usually have that on hand. So: beets, garlic, culture, and brine; then top with a red cabbage leaf; then put the fermentation weight on that.

I weigh the beets (I’ll go for enough to fill a 1.5-liter jar) and add 2.5% of that weight as the amount of sea salt, and I’ll use a 2.5% brine.

I’m eager to make this, but first I need to eat enough of the current ferments to empty a jar.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 12:14 pm

The obesity epidemic is not a mystery

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David Katz (MD, MPH; CEO, DietID; President, True Health Initiative. Founding Director, Yale-Griffin PRC (1998-2019). Health Journalist) writes at LinkedIn:

There is no more mystery to why so many of us are fat in the modern world — and yes, stated bluntly, so, so many of us are — than there is to why humans drown if under water too long. In both cases, placing ourselves where we are ill-adapted to be leads ineluctably to mayhem.

We might argue, in both cases, that the problem is genetic. Humans caught under water for too long drown. This is genetic, if we invoke the want of genes coding for human gills during our embryological origami. But this is a bit absurd in its own right, and invites only further absurdities. Death by gunshot wound to the chest is genetic — because we lack genes to make us bullet proof. And so on, into a labyrinth of the ludicrous.

Accordingly, I would contend that pandemic obesity is no more genetic than the propensity to drown. Humans are not adapted to drift daily up to our eyeballs in willfully engineered, hyperpalatable, energy-dense Frankenfoods and labor-displacing technologies. Calling the consequences “genetic” is a bridge too far for me.

There is another argument against a “genetic cause.” The “effect” of interest has shifted staggeringly over the past century, during which time human genes have shifted trivially if at all. If we contend that “A” causes “B,” and “B” changes monumentally, we must look to a corresponding change in “A.” Absent that, something else is responsible for the change in “B.”

The final word on that topic might issue from migration studies. Such studies show that humans become prone to obesity and chronic disease when living in the places where these prevail, even if not prone to the same in their places of origin. That humans take their genes with them when they relocate should not require attestation.

We can also know, and for closely related reasons, that pandemic obesity is not for want of self-control, will-power, or personal responsibility. We have neither cause to believe, nor evidence to suggest, that the native human endowment of these attributes has suddenly plummeted in tandem with burgeoning obesity. We certainly have no cause to think the current crop of 7, 8, or 9-year-olds is less personally responsible than every prior crop, yet they are stunningly more prone to obesity and its consequences. As with genes, we may expect that the exercise of personal responsibility travels with its human hosts- whereas the exercise of exercise, and eating well, do not.

Quite simply, neither genes, nor individual victims, are “to blame” for pandemic obesity. So what is? . . .

Continue reading.

I think Dr. Katz is wrong to call obesity a “pandemic” because many regions in which endemic hunger and near-starvation are common. Obesity is an epidemic in the US and in some other (but not all) developed nations, but it doesn’t seem to be a pandemic — but perhaps I’m wrong about that. Montreal Steve pointed out that China’s obesity rate has climbed from 9% to 15% in 10 years, and “Whereas obesity in higher-income nations has been plateauing since the mid-2000s, it has been quickly increasing in LMICs, especially in numerous African countries, during the same time period (5). Obesity is common in Ethiopia, with 30% in Addis Ababa (6) and 28.5% in Hawasa, according to community-based surveys.” (That’s from this paper.)

On Mastodon I posted a recipe for Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites because I’m about to make a batch of them. The Wife has a long flight, and these will serve as a snack en route. Someone commented that they sound delicious, and I responded that they were tasty but also satisfying — you eat one, maybe two, and you feel satisfied and don’t want another right then.

This is in contrast to manufactured foods like (say) Doritos and others of that ilk. Manufacturers of such foods do not want their customers to feel satisfied after one or two chips and stop eating, so they design their foods specifically to be unsatisfying, so you will keep eating until the bag is gone — so that you will buy more.

The drive to grow profits is the business reason why manufactured foods are not so satiating as whole foods.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 11:42 am

I love the RazoRock BBS — also, a good cuppa

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Shaving setup with brush — white handle, cream-colored synthetic bristles with gray tip, sitting next to a tub of Chiseled Face Summer Storm shaving soap, the label showing a dark, lightning-laced sky above a dark-green field. At right is a transparent glass bottle of Summer Storm aftershave with a white cap. In front, a deep blue double-edge razor with a ribbed handle lying on its side.

I brought my other Plisson brush out to play this morning, with Summer Storm shaving soap — wishful thinking at this point, but the petrichor fragrance is a refreshing reminder of weather to come. Chiseled Face makes excellent shaving soaps, and this one is a long-time favorite, and not merely for its fragrance: the lather is superb.[

My RazoRock BBS razor lived up to its name once more, though I know from a reader that it is not a razor for everyone. But for me (and for many) it is a delight, partly because of the way the head puts an extreme curvature on the blade and partly because of the precision of manufacture, being CNC-machined from an aircraft aluminum alloy. Mine, as you see, is anodized a deep blue, and that I find pleasing.

Three passes left my face smooth, and I applied a drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum and a good splash of Summer Storm aftershave. This aftershave, like yesterday’s Sherlock aftershave, carries quite a bit of menthol, but the sudden sharp chill of menthol seems fitting in Summer Storm (and out of place in Sherlock). 

Overall, a very satisfying shave — and the sun is briefly out.

The tea today is my mix of equal parts of three Murchie’s varietals: Assam Tippy Golden, Ceylon Kenilworth, and Keemun Extra Superior. I like the mix, but I think I’m going to buy some of their Lapsang Souchong and include that, and perhaps a touch of Jasmine as well. (Blue Jasmine looks intriguing, but the presence of butterfly pea flowers indicates that this should probably be brewed by itself to give full rein to the blue color — and brewed in a transparent teapot and served in white cups. Otherwise, the blue is wasted.)

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 11:06 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

E-bikes could be a more affordable way to reduce emissions

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Adam Bearne has an interesting report at NPR, with audio and a transcript at the link. The transcript begins:

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:  Electric cars are seen as one way for Americans to reduce emissions. But these days, the average price of a new electric car is more than $60,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. Is there a more affordable way to ditch your fossil-fueled car? NPR’s Adam Bearne has been trying to find out if electric bikes might be a better option.

ADAM BEARNE, BYLINE: Lelac Almagor is on a mission to get out of the car.

LELAC ALMAGOR: I just really hate driving. The sitting and the being stuck and the waiting is just really not for me.

BEARNE: Public transportation here in Washington, D.C., used to be an option. But she’s discovered its limitations now she has children.

ALMAGOR: I used to metro a lot and take the bus a lot. And then when I had kids, it just became a little bit too complicated to get to where we were going with the kids and the stuff that the kids have. It wasn’t working well for me. I wasn’t happy.

BEARNE: She’s thought about commuting on a regular bike, but…

ALMAGOR: I think in my 20s was a repeatedly failed bike commuter. I’m just really not that spandex cyclist type of person. That’s just really not me. I really hate biking up hills.

BEARNE: Then she tried out an electric bike. E-bikes use a battery and an electric motor to boost the rider’s input, or the motor can just totally take over.

ALMAGOR: It was one of those orange JUMP bikes that they had around for a while. And I remember it was just amazing. I was going down to meet a friend at Eastern Market, which is further than I would typically be able to walk. And I got on the bike, and I just – I got there so quickly, and it was so much freaking fun. Like, I just – I felt like a child.

BEARNE: But to carry her kids and all their stuff, she needed something bigger than the average e-bike. So she settled on an e-cargo bike. It’s actually a trike with two wheels at the front, one at the back and a big box in front of the rider that’s got plenty of room for passengers. Almagor can carry her entire family in this bike. She proved it by taking me along for a ride with her 3-year-old son, Oren, strapped in next to me and her infant daughter, Tamar, snugly secured in a car seat, clutching a tambourine. For Almagor, this is way better than driving.

ALMAGOR: All of those . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 January 2023 at 1:48 am

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