Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts of the day

This New Yorker article has been recommended in several places as the go-to media-based reference on the Ebola crisis. I haven't read it yet. Although the soldiers who deployed to Africa to help with Ebola treatment logistics but not treated Ebola patients will be subjected to a 21-day quarantine, President Obama is against a similar quarantine for returning civilian medical volunteers who have directly engaged Ebola patients. The legal question of quarantine is addressed here (LI), here (VC), and here (JT). Here is the CDC's Ebola information page.

14-year-old Jaylen Fryberg appeared to be a scion who was a well-integrated boy with a large close-knit family in a close-knit community with good friends. Well-loved. Solidly middle-class, even wealthy, in terms of material needs and wants. Raised with traditional values and proud of his culture, he seemed to check all the boxes for a well-rounded upbringing of a young man. More than that, he was clearly a leader among his peers. He didn’t fall through the cracks. He was not alienated. He was a high-riser, somebody who, even at his age, appeared firmly on track to be a star of his family and community, and a man who could choose his life, but who would make sure his life was rooted in family and community. Yet he executed and tried to murder his closest friends before killing himself. What happened?

Another apparently schizophrenic black-swan shooter wounded 3 people after midnight at his alma mater's campus library, Florida State University Strozier Library (impressively open 24 hours a day during the study week), before being killed by responding police. What stands out about 31-year-old Myron May is that he was a successful, young-veteran lawyer, socially engaged, well-liked, civic-minded, and conscientious with a typical successful lawyer's all-star background. Supposedly, he was a proud alumnus of FSU where he had a fulfilling experience as an undergraduate. He was a well-regarded assistant district attorney before he quit abruptly last month. Once again, the black-swan shooter had little or no criminal history nor even a violent background before changing. Whatever happened to his mind seemed to evolve quickly over the past 3 months. It's remarkable how many black-swan shooters have had profiles that mark them as valuable members, even exemplars, of their community. What is driving them to spree killing?

The University of North Carolina is a highly regarded academic institution, yet hosted a large long-lasting academic fraud perpetrated by administrators and faculty.

For insight on the sensational Rolling Stone UVa-rape story that turned out to be categorically false and unethically reported, I suggest the reaction at the Community of the Wrongly Accused blog and this database of lawsuits by falsely accused college students. Add: Janet Bloomfield's case studies of 13 Women Who Lied About Being Raped And Why They Did It.

The CJ Chivers round-up: I missed the window to comment at his initial article in order to set the record straight on OIF. I tried to catch up at his update, where most of my comments were not approved, and editor's blog here and here. I also commented under related posts at Blackfive, at Ace of Spades, at Victor Davis Hanson's rebuttal here and here, at MSNBC, at Slate here and here, at Mother Jones, at National Review, at Dallas News, at The New American Magazine, at New Republic, at Madison Journal Today, and at The Atlantic.

Sunnis who fought side by side with the Americans in the Sunni Awakening have been slaughtered by ISIS. It's not only that we left Iraq prematurely in 2011. It's that we refused to go back thereafter even as it became clearly evident Iraq urgently needed our help 2 years ago and last year with the danger emerging from Syria. Even now we're providing insufficient help in an urgent situation. It's infuriating. It's a gross betrayal.

On TMZ, an audio recording of Amanda Bynes fantasizing about killing her parents. Her mind is racing.

So Right, the funny JR Smith song.

World Series Game 7 was a good game - taut and tense from first pitch to last pitch. I enjoyed that the World Series emphasized pitching, defense, fundamentals, situational hitting, and was played inside the park. The battle of the bullpens added to the drama. At that level, a hot fastball isn't enough to get outs as Giants reliever Hunter Strickland learned. Pitchers need to pitch precisely and intelligently to get outs against batters who are hyper-focused. Giants-Royals was just good baseball. I'll take post-season great Bumgarner over post-season collapse Kershaw.

A fine 3-hour Christmas song collection on youtube. The poster has good taste.

Godzilla (2014) is a waste of time with a nothing story. I looked forward to the movie and I was disappointed everywhere with it. It was pointless. I fell asleep which is a sure indicator of a bad movie.

Deliver US from Evil (2014) is schlock, The Raven (2012) delivers on its gimmick premise but no better, and The Quiet Ones (2014) has charismatic leads. The Thing (2011) is a decent prequel to the classic John Carpenter film that should have retained its practical effects and committed fully to the homage; it was okay. Director's commentary in a 2nd viewing adds sausage-making perspective and depth of appreciation for the director's storytelling and his take on his story.

Food, Inc. (2009) is endorsed by Keoni Galt. The Orozco family (dad, mom, 2 daughters) spent $11.48 on the dollar menu at Burger King for 1 family meal, yet mom claimed they can't afford groceries at the supermarket for home-cooked meals. I don't think they're budgeting right. My experience is groceries are cheaper in the long run than eating out. $11.48 is enough to buy groceries for a decent homecooked meal for a family of 4. Their older daughter is cute and feminine, but with her mom, I wouldn't trust her homemaking skills.

The Great Gatbsy (2013) is a straightforward telling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald American literary classic in Baz Luhrmann's signature sumptuous style. It's an incomplete translation, shallow, and it's not insightful, but the movie hits the major plot points and is competently presented, which is the minimum standard to be expected from the veteran cast and crew. I empathize with Jay Gatsby's romantic idealism. I wish I had his ambitious drive and intelligence. He knew who he was and what he aspired to be. While he deserved better than Daisy, if he's like me, then he needed her guiding star for the organizing principle of his dreams. Although he says he was ambitious and driven before giving himself to love, Daisy's inspiration seemed to add rocket fuel to Gatbsy's pursuit of his dreams. Gatsby: "See, I felt married to her." Nick: "It was all for her - the house, the parties, everything." Yeah, me, too. Gatsby was out of sync socially, too.

Golden Years (1991) features a youthful Felicity Huffman who can't stay in character. Linsanity (2013) provides a look inside Lin's life, personality, family, and the Linsanity streak with the Knicks. King Corn (2007) is in the same genre as the later Food, Inc., though the former is more documentary and the latter is more advocacy. The one advocacy point of King Corn is that excess corn syrup is unhealthy and corn syrup is used in many products.

American Blackout (2013) made me motion sick and I'm skeptical about the scene where yuppie douchebag Andrew wounded himself while trying to open a can of peaches by hacking wildly at it with a large knife. I find it hard to believe that even a spoiled yuppie couple would be completely bereft of practical sense and at least a multi-tool on hand. People like Andrew usually have some outdoors and other practical experience. America:Imagine the World Without Her (2014) doesn't answer its introductory question about what the world would be like without America but makes welcome points about context with some nicely done scenes and nifty effects.

NatGeo's Life Below Zero has been policed up on youtube, so I've started watching Animal Planet's Ice Lake Rebels. Stephan Hervieux looks and acts like a Scott Thompson character from Kids in the Hall. Add: There is an explosion of Alaska-based shows on youtube. Just how many camera crews are running around Alaska right now? Also, what does the trend say about our zeitgeist right now? There seems to be a rejection of modern society. What does it mean and what opportunities does it present? Add: Apparently, Ice Lake Rebels is based on a kernel of truth, but it's mostly a fictionalized reality show. The factual part of its premise are there are houseboats on Great Slave Lake, which is not a tax-paying part of the Yellowknife municipality since it doesn't receive basic services like electricity, water, and sewage removal. Technically, its residents are off the grid. The weather in northern Canada is harsh and the challenges of maintaining a houseboat in the wide-ranging seasonal changes are difficult. However, the lake is neither isolated nor lawless. The lake itself abuts a fair-sized modern and expensive city. Four members of the cast are actual resident houseboaters. The majority of the lake's actual residents work in the city.

On season 4 episode 4, The Harvest, of Life Below Zero, Andy Bassich said an axiom that I like: "It's the same old story. Experience is knowledge. Knowledge is confidence. Confidence is a job well done." He later says about training his dogs, "The only way to build confidence is to get them a lot of experience. ... They really excel at what they're doing once they have confidence, and that's the key. You got to get the confidence or you don't get the performance." Andy repeats the theme of building experience for knowledge and confidence. He doesn't mind repetition and failing because learning is a process. Even knowledgeable, confident people get beaten down and fail. Take the criticism and judgement from self and others. Absorb the shame, humiliation, self-loathing, and frustration. Once processed, it's a constructive experience if you learn from the experience. The whole episode, featuring the Hailstones, the Bassiches, Glenn, and Sue, is a medley of applied mastery learning orientation. It's a healthy mindset to eagerly, shamelessly seek out failures as building blocks in a constructive learning process. To be resilient enough to put yourself out in front of others and be wrong, to be embarrassed and humbled, and tough enough to absorb humiliation and losing face in payment for the lesson. There's nothing you don't know. There's only what you haven't experienced and learned yet.

The Veterans Day Parade was halting so much for cross-street traffic and perhaps other reasons that, despite the good feeling of being around soldiers and veterans, I gave up spectating after about an hour. I felt bad for the marching and, more so, the performing participants. I don't recall the flow stopping so much when I marched in the parade.

37-seed Stuy beat 28-seed Townsend Harris in a play-in round and then was eliminated by 2-seed Susan Wagner in the reseeded 1st round. I advised Coach Wu to approach the Susan Wagner match as a rare opportunity for his boys to learn up close from one of the top teams in the city in play-off mode on their home lanes. Update: Susan Wagner won the PSAL championship.

I attended this Postsecret event. In his intro, Frank Warren asked who had sent in a postsecret. I raised my hand and when he asked me how it felt, I shrugged and said, "not much". He then called me up to the stage and handed me a copy of the newest Postsecret book. I'm a fan of the content on Postsecret, but I was disquieted by the live presentation of the event. It's too canned, like a slick sales seminar. Postsecrets are confessional windows that reveal a glimpse of private lives. The postsecrets are not the essential meaning unto themselves. However, the Postsecret event characterized postsecrets with a collective overarching superficial social meaning rather than as distinct windows into individual lives. I don't like how the event reduced serious private issues to packaged new-age pablum.

I was in the jury pool for a civil case in which one of my law school instructors is the plaintiff. He's suing the NYC Department of Sanitation for personal injury and property damage, apparently from an accident in New Jersey. During voir dire, I informed the attorneys of my prior relationship with the plaintiff. Not surprisingly, I wasn't selected for the jury. After that, I was released from jury duty. $40 for the day isn't bad. For the pay, I wouldn't have minded a day or two more of jury duty or even serving longer as a juror for a trial.

Continuing the theme of the future is here, or science fiction becomes science fact, along with cell phones, tablets, and wireless internet: Automotion Parking.

There are various kinds of plastic clothes hangers, wooden hangers, wire hangers, rubber-coated wire hangers, paper-covered wire hangers, and cardboard-covered wire hangers. Watch out for wire hangers that rust.

To save rags or paper towels on a rough wipe job, use newspapers. Circulars work just as well. Newspapers don't absorb like rags and paper towels, so they won't finish the job, the ink may run and they're not hygienic, so they're no good for cleaning, but there is usually a free pile of it laying around.

I used the stomp method to hand wash (or foot wash) some laundry in a plastic storage box. It seems to work.

My internet is too expensive. I should look into options for cheap internet.

There was a light tan, I believe from appearance, sac spider on the ceiling edge directly over my bed. I like that sac spiders hunt small insects, but I captured it with some regret since sac spiders are venomous. If it was not venomous I would have left it alone. I hope it was alone and there isn't an infestation.

I've been waking up dizzy lately. Symptom of what? Maybe onset of diabetes? I don't think so but my incipient hypochondria wonders.

I've considered 14.75-ounce canned salmon to be an exotic treat with a sale price of $2.50-3.00 per can. For protein staples, I've bought pork pernil shoulder and chicken thighs on sale for 99¢ per pound and a dozen eggs on sale for $1.67. For more regular piscifare, I've opted for 15-ounce canned mackerel with a sale price of $1.25 per can. Canned salmon tastes significantly better than canned mackerel. Pork and chicken weight includes bones, whereas canned salmon and mackerel weight includes water. In June, I discovered a local supermarket selling canned salmon with a sale price of $1.99. I bought 1 can of salmon in June, 26 cans of salmon in July, and 5 cans of salmon in October, which adds up to 32 cans of salmon. At the end of October, I have 16 cans of salmon remaining in the stack, which means I've consumed 16 of 32 cans. If I discount the can I bought and presumably ate in June, I consumed 15 of 31 cans of salmon over 17 weeks for a use rate of .88/week. That's not as gluttonous as my impression, but it's still a large leap from a luxury to near-staple level of consumption. I ought to compare my canned mackerel and salmon purchase and consumption numbers over the same period. At $1.99 per 14.75-oz can, salmon is the most expensive protein in my diet. It confirms that when I buy more of a tasty luxury food with the expectation my consumption rate will not change, my habit is to eat more of it faster, instead. Salmon tastes good out of the can, and it's easier and faster to cut open a can than to defrost, season, and cook a piece of pork or chicken.

I cooked a 1/2-inch pernil chop on the toaster setting for 10 minutes. It cooked faster and turned out well, like broiling on both sides. It spit more grease than usual. I didn't flip the chop at 5 minutes, though. Next time I will flip it halfway through because the 2 sides weren't cooked evenly.

A 10.5-oz can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, which I've bought on sale for 75¢, doesn't work as a bachelor stew base, unlike larger cans of Progresso or Chunky soup. It's passable for the Salton pot, but doesn't have enough stuff for the Mirro and 3-quart bowl.

I tried again to make a bachelor stew without an oily meat or fish base. The experiment was whether an increase in vinegar would compensate on the flavor since vinegar works as an additional tangy flavor in a supporting role. The ingredients were rice, angel hair pasta, 1/3 banana, 1 diced carrot, cut okra, onions, garlic, ginger, 1 beaten egg, vinegar, salt, and seasoned salt. The egg didn't add noticeable flavor. I variously added hot sauce, pasta sauce, sour cream, and chunky peanut butter as condiments. The peanut butter made a difference. I conceded with my last bowl with a side dish of canned salmon. My conclusion is bachelor stew needs a stronger flavor base than a vinegar boost can provide. Update: However, a scaled-down meal with pasta shells and some rice boiled with onions, some ginger and garlic, vinegar, and salt in the Salton was decent with condiments tomato puree, sour cream, some salmon for flavor, and seasoned salt.

A good bannock sandwich: Bannock made with flour, baking soda, and vinegar, baked medium-thin on toaster setting for 15 minutes on an oiled pan. The bannock was crunchy. 1 beaten extra-large egg fried in the Salton pot with cut okra, onions, and pernil slices. Garnished with sour cream, TuttoRosso crushed tomatoes, raw collard green leaf, raw ginger, raw garlic, raw onions, and seasoned salt. I've also eaten good bannock sandwiches with turkey and salmon.

Red Pack tomato puree is similar to the ketchup-like Goya tomato sauce. TuttoRosso tomato puree tastes better.

Associated chunky peanut butter is softer than Best Yet chunky peanut butter. Associated peanut butter is made with sugar and molasses and no corn syrup whereas Best Yet peanut butter is made with corn syrup but no sugar and molasses.

Condensed milk is made of milk and sugar and costs more than evaporated milk. It's sweet and tastes good, but it doesn't add as much extra kick to my brownies as I expected, perhaps because brownie sweetness is already stronger than condensed milk sweetness. I ate half the can of condensed milk like pudding.

Mrs. Smith's 27-ounce, 8" pies are on sale for 2 for $4. I purchased the classic pumpkin pie and classic apple pie. I tried their classic sweet potato pie before when it was on sale for 2 for $5. Like the sweet potato pie, the pumpkin pie was okay. I ate the whole thing in 2 sittings: dinner, then breakfast. The flavor was correct, but mild, which is to be expected from a factory-processed version of a dish that should be made from scratch in a home, restaurant, or baker's kitchen. The best part was the thick-enough flaky crust, though it was obviously like that due to shortening. I got the unpleasant off after-feeling I typically get from indulging in junk food. The aluminum pan from the sweet potato pie has been fairly useful, but it's torn and beat up now. Now, I have 1 new Mrs. Smith's aluminum pie pan with 1 more 8" pie pan to clean of apple pie. Update: I ate the whole Mrs. Smith's apple pie in 1 sitting. It tasted basically correct, but it wasn't a deep, rich flavor, and the spice apple flavor seemed to diminish after the first few bites. There was less apple than I expected. Again, the shortening-flaked crust was the best part of the pie. My verdict is Mrs. Smith's classic pies are okay but there's just less there in terms of flavor and density than the 1st impression.

I bought a 15-oz jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate Creamy on sale for $2. It's compared to Nutella on the label with the claim of 60% less sugar per serving. It may as well have said 60% less flavor than Nutella. It was disappointingly slight on both peanut butter and chocolate flavor.

I left oranges in a produce plastic bag on my window sill. The last time I did that, one orange molded up on the bag and window side, with the bag opening on the other side. It happened again. This time, I had cut holes in the bag to release moisture, but one orange molded up anyway. The mold was thick, green, and powdery. I didn't try to save the orange. Some of the mold got on the other oranges. I cut off some pieces, rinsed them off, and ate the 2 oranges that I cut off pieces. I hope I didn't spread the mold spores in my kitchen.


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