Later On

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

Archive for March 6th, 2023

Stir-fry with broccoli, mushrooms, fava-bean tofu, …

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In a cast-iron skillet a stir-fry, the most visible ingredients being broccoli, mushrooms, and tofu cubes.

I bought two good-sized crowns of broccoli, very fresh, and decided to have them for dinner. I didn’t feel like steaming them, and I’ve been using my Field Company No. 10 skillet, now very well seasoned, so I decided to use that and make a stir-fry. I was thinking also that, since cast iron skillets cook by both radiated heat and conducted heat, it would do a nice job. (Stainless steel cooks only with conducted heat.) So I prepped:

• 2 broccoli crowns, chopped and allowed to rest 45 minutes
• about 10 cloves garlic, chopped small and allow to rest 15 minutes
• 10 good-sized domestic white mushrooms, halved and then sliced
• 2 Cambray onions, chopped
• about 3/4 cup celery, chopped
• 1 large jalapeño, chopped (including core and seeds: those hold the heat)
• 2 red Fresno peppers, chopped (including core and seeds)
• about 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 block of Big Mountain fava-bean tofu that I had pressed in TofuBud
• 1/2 cup of cooked hulled barley (ie, intact whole-grain barley)

Once all the prep was done, I put the skillet on the induction burner turned to “4” and waited several minutes for it to heat. Then I added

• about 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

and swirled the pan to coat the bottom. I dumped in everything but the tofu, and that filled the skillet to the brim. I figured it would cook down, especially as the mushrooms and veggies exuded their liquid as they cooked. I have an aftermarket glass lid that exactly fits the skillet, and I used that for most of the cooking.

I let it cook for a few minutes, removed the lid, stirred carefully with my silicone spatula, and replaced the lid for several minutes more. I repeated that a few times. and the veggies did wilt.

I then added the tofu and barley and continued cooking with the lid on, stirring from time to time. It cooked probably 20 minutes, all told — perhaps a little longer

I filled a bowl and topped it with the peanut miso sauce I had made while it cooked. Delicious.ʼ Just a little spicy — more warmth and presence than hot and spicy — and rich flavors.

Peanut Miso Sauce

• about 1 tablespoon Genmai miso (barley miso)
• about 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter (from For Good Measure)
• about 2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
• splash of tamari
• splash of rice vinegar
• splash of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
• about 1 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke
• about 1 tablespoon maple syrup

I mixed that with a whisk in a small bowl.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 6:26 pm

The three types of owls

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Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

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Solving the Moderator’s Trilemma with Federation

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Cory Doctorow has an interesting post on Medium. The classic trilemma is to pick any two:

• Fast
• Cheap
• Good

The Moderator’s Trilemma is to pick any two of these:

• Large, diverse userbase
• Centralized platform
• Don’t anger users

Doctorow explains the solution in his post. He writes:

The Moderator’s Trilemma is introduced in “Moderating the Fediverse: Content Moderation on Distributed Social Media,” a superb paper from Alan Rozenshtein of U of Minnesota Law, forthcoming in the journal Free Speech Law, available as a prepub on SSRN:

Rozenshtein proposes a solution (of sorts) to the Moderator’s Trilemma: federation. De-siloing social media, breaking it out of centralized walled gardens and recomposing it as a bunch of small servers run by a diversity of operators with a diversity of content moderation approaches. The Fediverse, in other words.

In Albert Hirschman’s classic treatise Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, stakeholders in an institution who are dissatisfied with its direction have two choices: voice (arguing for changes) or exit (going elsewhere). Rozenshtein argues that Fediverse users (especially users of Mastodon, the most popular part of the Fediverse) have more voice and more “freedom of exit”:,_Voice,_and_Loyalty

Large platforms — think Twitter, Facebook, etc — are very unresponsive to users. Most famously, Facebook polled its users on whether they wanted to be spied on. Faced with overwhelming opposition to commercial surveillance, Facebook ignored the poll result and cranked the surveillance dial up to a million: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 9:47 am

Big media is covering up Trump’s terrifying incoherence in a time of emergency

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Dan Froomkin writes in Press Watch:

Here is some of what Donald Trump had to say Wednesday evening at a briefing intended to inform and reassure the American public about a public-health emergency:

This will end. This will end. You look at flu season. I said 26,000 people. I never heard of a number like that: 26,000 people, going up to 69,000 people, doctor, you told me before. 69,000 people die every year — from 20 to 69 — every year from the flu. Think of that. That’s incredible. So far, the results of all of this that everybody is reading about — and part of the thing is, you want to keep it the way it is, you don’t want to see panic, because there’s no reason to be panicked about it — but when I mentioned the flu, I asked the various doctors, “Is this just like flu?” Because people die from the flu. And this is very unusual. And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher, but we have it so well under control, I mean, we really have done a very good job. [Watch video.]

Before and after knowledgeable public-health officials had made clear that a further spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable:

I don’t think it’s inevitable. It probably will. It possibly will. It could be at a very small level or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared. We have the best people in the world. You see that from the study. We have the best prepared people, the best people in the world. Congress is willing to give us much more than we’re even asking for. That’s nice for a change. But we are totally ready, willing, and able to — it’s a term that we use, it’s “ready, willing, and able.” It’s going to be very well under control. Now, it may get bigger. It may get a little bigger. It may not get bigger at all. We’ll see what happens. But regardless of what happens, we’re totally prepared. [Watch video.]

On the stock market declines:

I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage make fools out of themselves, and they say, “If we ever have a president like this” — and there’s always a possibility, it’s an election, you know, who knows what happens? I think we’re going to win, I think we’re going to win by a lot — but when they look at statements made by the people standing behind those podiums, I think that has a huge effect.

Reporter: You don’t you think it had to do with the coronavirus?

Well, I think it did, I think it did, but I think you can add quite a bit of selloff to what they’re seeing. Because they’re seeing the potential – you know, again, I think we’re going to win. I feel very confident of it. We’ve done everything – and much more — than I said we were going to do. You look at what we’ve done. What we’ve done is incredible, with the tax cuts and regulation cuts, and rebuilding our military, taking care of our vets and getting them choice and accountability. All of the things we’ve done. Protecting our Second Amendment. I mean, they view that, the Second Amendment, they’re going to destroy the Second Amendment. When people look at that, they say “this is not good.” So you add that in. I really believe that’s a factor. But, no, what we’re talking about is the virus. That’s what we’re talking about. I do believe that’s — I do believe in terms of CNBC and in terms of Fox Business, I do believe that’s a factor, yeah. And I think after I win the election, I think the stock market is going to boom like it’s never boomed before. Just like the last time I won the election. The day after the stock market went up like a rocket ship. [Watch video.]

On the Democrats, in between asking for their cooperation:

I think Speaker Pelosi is incompetent. She lost the Congress once. I think she’s going to lose it again. She lifted my poll numbers up 10 points I never thought that I would see that so quickly and so easily. I’m leading everybody. We’re doing great. I don’t want to do it that way. It’s almost unfair if you think about it. But I think she’s incompetent.

I think she is not thinking about the country and instead of making a statement like that where I have been beating her routinely at everything instead of making a statement like that she should be saying we have to work together because we have a big problem potential only and may be it’s going to be a very little problem. I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem but we have to work together. Instead she wants to do that same thing with crying Chuck Schumer. [Watch video.]

On his devastating budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 9:25 am

So-so shave

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A wasp-waist silvertip badger shaving brush with a white handle,next to a tub of shaving soap whose label is a painting of laundry hanging from a line between city buildings..Nex is a small bottle with a white pump top. It has a navy-blue label with white lettering that says "Aion Skincare Nourishing Balm." In front, lying on its side, is a DE razor, chrome, with a black lined handle.

After my Saturday confusion of brushes, I decided that I would use all my wasp-waist brushes, beginning with this Wet Shaving Products Monarch. This handle is plain white, lacking the grain of the handle I used Saturday and will use again tomorrow.

I thought I loaded the brush well with Grooming Dept Laundry II shaving soap, but for some reason the lather faded, and I had to reload prior to the third pass. That must be operator error; the soap is the regular Kairos (tallow) formula and normally works well.

I got a damn fine shave (DFS), but I did have to work at it a bit, so after the shave, I changed blades. The new black is a Rockwell, and tomorrow I’ll see how I like it since I am using this Edwin Jagger razor every day this week, reporting on the quality of the shave. A DFS is not quite a BBS, but (damn) close to it. 

A tiny squirt of Aion Skincare’s Nourishing Balm, also from Grooming Dept, served as an aftershave, and I am pleased as I feel my face now.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s London Afternoon: “Fragrant rose petals are interwoven with smoky Lapsang Souchong, sweetened with creamy vanilla and a touch of bright bergamot.” This really is a good tea.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 9:01 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

How to Grow Re-enchanted with the World: A Salve for the Sense of Existential Meaninglessness and Burnout

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An interesting (albeit for me overwritten) review of a book by Katherine May on re-awakening one’s sense of wonder and awe at the flow of life. Maria Popova writes in Marginalia:

There are seasons of being when a cloak of meaninglessness seems to slip over you, over everything, muffling the song of life. It is not depression exactly, though the two conditions make eager bedfellows. Rather, it is a great hollowing that empties you of that vital force necessary for moving through the world wonder-smitten by reality, that glint of gladness at the mundane miracle of existence. A disenchantment we may call by many names — burnout, apathy, alienation — but one that visits upon every life in one form or another, at one time or another, pulsating with the unmet longing for something elemental and ancient, with the yearning to see the world as beautiful again and feel its magic, to find sanctuary in it, to contact that “submerged sunrise of wonder.”

Katherine May explores what it takes to shed the cloak of meaninglessness and recover the sparkle of vitality in Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age (public library) — a shimmering chronicle of her own quest for “a better way to walk through this life,” a way that grants us “the ability to sense magic in the everyday, to channel it through our minds and bodies, to be sustained by it.”

May — who has written enchantingly about wintering, resilience, and the wisdom of sadness — reaches for the other side of that coma of the soul:

This life I have made is too small. It doesn’t allow enough in: enough ideas, enough beliefs, enough encounters with the exuberant magic of existence. I have been so keen to deny it, to veer deliberately towards the rational, to cling solely to the experiences that are directly observable by others. Only now, when everything is taken away, can I see what a folly this is. I don’t want that life anymore. I want what [the] ancients had: to be able to talk to god. Not in a personal sense, to a distant figure who is unfathomably wise, but to have a direct encounter with the flow of things, a communication without words. I want to let something break in me, some dam that has been shoring up this shamefully atavistic sense of the magic behind all things, the tingle of intelligence that was always waiting for me when I came to tap in. I want to feel that raw, elemental awe that my ancestors felt, rather than my tame, explained modern version. I want to prise open the confines of my skull and let in a flood of light and air and mystery… I want to retain what the quiet reveals, the small voices whose whispers can be heard only when everything falls silent.

To lodge herself out of this existential stupor, she turns to . . .

Continue reading.

This desire to escape an existential stupor may be for some what drives the desire to drink. (See previous post.)

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 7:27 am

A review of the alcohol debate

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From what I’ve read, the evidence strongly indicates that in terms of health, the ideal intake of alcohol is zero drinks per day, even though some guidelines say as many as four drinks a day are fine. (I think that recommendation must come from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.)

Peter Weber in The Week has a good summary of current knowledge:

o drink or not to drink, that is … actually not the question most healthy adults should be asking. There is, after all, general agreement that binge drinking and heavy drinking are bad for your health and life more generally. And few alcohol experts argue that abstaining from alcohol is bad for you. But there are very mixed messages, based on imperfect studies, about the health risks — or benefits — of moderate drinking. Public health guidance is veering toward temperance, but with some important caveats. So is it better to tipple or teetotal? Here’s what you should know.

What is ‘moderate’ drinking? And binge drinking?

Moderate drinking can mean anything from one to four drinks a day — a drink, in this case, being a 5-ounce glass of wine (12 percent alcohol by volume), a 12-ounce serving of beer (5 percent ABV, low for craft brews), 8 ounces of 7 percent ABV brew, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (40 percent ABV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Dietary Guidelines advise no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. 

Binge drinking, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women and five or more drinks in two hours for men. Heavy drinking is eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more drinks a week for men. 


To get the observed rewards of moderate alcohol consumption, “drinking 10 drinks Friday and Saturday nights does not convey the benefits of two or three drinks daily, even though your weekly totals would be the same,” Stanton Peele, an addiction/public health specialist, cautioned at Pacific Standard. “Frequent, heavy binge drinking is unhealthy.” If you have a history of alcoholism, one drink may be too many, and those with an alcoholic liver disease — alcoholic fatty liver, hepatitis, or cirrhosis — risk death when they drink.

Is it safe to drink any alcohol?

“Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but that nightly glass or two of wine is not improving your health,” Dana G. Smith writes at The New York Times. Decades of research “indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits,” the CDC says, but “recent studies show this may not be true.” The Global Burden of Diseases study, a sweeping global study published in 2018, suggested that no alcohol is good alcohol. 


The research looked at the effects of alcohol use in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016, analyzing disease risks but also driving accidents, self-harm, and other factors in alcohol-related deaths. The possible heart benefits of moderate drinking were assessed to be outweighed by cancer and other diseases. “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none,” the report said. “This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day.”

Some countries took note. New guidelines in Canada, unveiled by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in January, advise no more than two drinks a week, and less would be better. “The main message from this new guidance is that  . . .

Continue reading.

A can of Bllonde Lager de-alcoholized beer, showing stylized green mountains behind a blue lack with dark green everygreen trees in foreground, the beer brand in large yellow letters.

Full disclosure: Yesterday I bought a 12-pack of de-alcoholized beer. There are a number of brands I’ve seen recently in grocery stores — Sober Carpenter, for example, offers a variety of excellent full-tasting brews: Lager, IPA, Red Ale, and so on.

It turns out to be quite pleasant to enjoy a beer without getting slightly buzzed and dunderheaded. 

I’ll probably try some of the de-alcoholized wines as well since the beers have turned out to be so good.

I did not make a decision to stop drinking. I just drifted away, and then discovered I liked not feeling tipsy. As my life improved, I felt less like drinking — perhaps causation goes the other way.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 7:16 am

Inside the Suspicion Machine

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The subhead for the article in Wired by Eva Constantaras, Gabriel Geiger, Justin-casimir Braun, Dhruv Mehrotra, and Htet Aung:

Obscure government algorithms are making life-changing decisions about millions of people around the world. Here, for the first time, we reveal how one of these systems works.

The article begins:

EVERY YEAR, THE city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands gives some 30,000 people welfare benefits to help them make rent, buy food, and pay essential bills. And every year, thousands of those people are investigated under suspicion of committing benefits fraud. But in recent years, the way that people have been flagged as suspicious has changed.

In 2017, the city deployed a machine learning algorithm built by consulting firm Accenture. The algorithm, which generates a risk score for everyone on welfare, was trained to catch lawbreakers using data about individuals who had been investigated for fraud in the past. This risk score is dictated by attributes such as age, gender, and Dutch language ability. And rather than use this data to work out how much welfare aid people should receive, the city used it to work out who should be investigated for fraud.

When the Rotterdam system was deployed, Accenture hailed its “sophisticated data-driven approach” as an example to other cities. Rotterdam took over development of the algorithm in 2018. But in 2021, the city suspended use of the system after it received a critical external ethical review commissioned by the Dutch government, although Rotterdam continues to develop an alternative.

Lighthouse Reports and WIRED obtained Rotterdam’s welfare fraud algorithm and the data used to train it, giving unprecedented insight into how such systems work. This level of access, negotiated under freedom-of-information laws, enabled us to examine the personal data fed into the algorithm, the inner workings of the data processing, and the scores it generates. By reconstructing the system and testing how it works, we found that it discriminates based on ethnicity and gender. It also revealed evidence of fundamental flaws that made the system both inaccurate and unfair.

Rotterdam’s algorithm is best thought of as a suspicion machine. It judges people on many characteristics they cannot control (like gender and ethnicity). What might appear to a caseworker to be a vulnerability, such as a person showing signs of low self-esteem, is treated by the machine as grounds for suspicion when the caseworker enters a comment into the system. The data fed into the algorithm ranges from invasive (the length of someone’s last romantic relationship) and subjective (someone’s ability to convince and influence others) to banal (how many times someone has emailed the city) and seemingly irrelevant (whether someone plays sports). Despite the scale of data used to calculate risk scores, it performs little better than random selection.

Machine learning algorithms like Rotterdam’s are being used to make more and more decisions about people’s lives, including what schools their children attendwho gets interviewed for jobs, and which family gets a loan. Millions of people are being scored and ranked as they go about their daily lives, with profound implications. The spread of risk-scoring models is presented as progress, promising mathematical objectivity and fairness. Yet citizens have no real way to understand or question the decisions such systems make.

Governments typically refuse to provide any technical details to back up claims of accuracy and neutrality. In the rare cases where watchdogs have overcame official stonewalling, they’ve found the systems to be anything but unbiased. Reports have found discriminatory patterns in credit scoringcriminal justice, and hiring practices, among others.

Being flagged for investigation can ruin someone’s life, and the opacity of the system makes it nearly impossible to challenge being selected for an investigation, let alone stop one that’s already underway. One mother put under investigation in Rotterdam faced a raid from fraud controllers who rifled through her laundry, counted toothbrushes, and asked intimate questions about her life in front of her children. Her complaint against investigators was later substantiated by an official review.

But how did the algorithm decide who to investigate? And how did it make those decisions? To work this out, we created two hypothetical people, or archetypes: “Sara,” a single mother, and “Yusef,” who was born outside the Netherlands. Their characteristics and the way they interact with Rotterdam’s algorithm show how it discriminated when scoring real people. . .

Continue reading.

The situation was similar to dystopian science-fiction, where people’s lives are controlled by uncaring machines, indifferent at best, slightly hostile more likely. It’s like a weak version of Skynet.

And a big kudos to Rotterdam for recognizing the problem, fixing it, and allowing (indeed, encouraging) journalists to communicate the issues to the world at large. Many — most, I would say — organizations would hunker down and hide what they’re doing from fear or shame or to maintain a pretense of honor.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2023 at 6:44 am

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