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Gender: Male
Hometown: DC
Home country: USA
Current location: Mumbai, India
Member since: Fri Apr 28, 2006, 11:13 PM
Number of posts: 43,116

About Me

UNIX nerd

Journal Archives

Same here

I was a sailor for a while. I just can't quite give up yet.

El Faro search still seeking survivors


The vessel is presumed sunk. There may still be survivors.

God be with the mariners and their families.

OMG... Magic Flute in Vienna

I... I am completely at a loss for words. We saw it last night at the Volksoper and I'm still reeling. My wife loves Italian opera but had never seen Flute before; I did my main undergrad conducting project on it. Somehow, she had never heard the Queen's aria... her jaw nearly hit the floor.

The Queen was amazing. Papageno was absolutely brilliant. The Volksoper is a brilliant space; both intimate and deep, which gave the art director plenty of room.

If you go to Vienna and have one night for Opera, skip the Staatsoper and do the Volksoper.

This chart shows one of humanity's greatest modern accomplishments


If you've ever doubted that 2015 is the best time to be alive in human history to date, take a look at this chart:

In the 19th century, extreme poverty — defined here as living on less than $1.25 a day* — was the norm. In 1820, 94.4 percent of humans were below that line. Only a tiny fraction of the world enjoyed standards of living that were remotely bearable. Progress was initially slow. By 1910, the share had only gotten down to 82.4 percent — a 12-point drop over 90 years. But things picked up after World War II, and 89 years after 1910, only 28.9 percent of people were in extreme poverty. To repeat: From 1820 to 1910, there was a 12-point drop. From 1910 to 1999, there was more than a 53-point drop. Progress in the 20th century was just dramatically faster, especially once China and India began growing quickly.

In 2011, the most recent year represented in the chart, the extreme poverty rate had been cut to half its 1999 level: 14.4 percent. There's still much work to be done: 14.4 percent of the world amounts to 1 billion people who still need to be lifted out of extreme poverty. And making sure everyone's making at least $1.25 a day isn't the end of the fight either. The world's median income is still only $3 to $4 a day. By comparison, the poverty line in the US for a family of four is $16.61 per person per day. Once under-$1.25-a-day poverty is eradicated, the world needs to set about eradicating under-$15-a-day poverty, which will be a substantially harder task.

* Adjusted for different purchasing power in different countries. So yes, it is taking into account the fact that things are often cheaper in poorer countries.

Steny Hoyer launches "Whip Watch" app

Source: Roll Call

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., announced Thursday his office has launched an app that details floor updates and provides insider information on the latest developments.

“Today, I’m proud to announce a new app called ‘Whip Watch’ that will be a great resource for our Members and staff, while also making the House of Representatives more open and accessible to the public,” Hoyer said in a statement.

“By downloading this app, any American interested in the day-to-day workings of the House Floor can receive the latest updates and news in real time,” Hoyer added “It is an important step in my efforts to make this institution more open and transparent, and I encourage Members, staff, the press, and public to download the new app today.”

The app is available for free on iTunes. According to its description, it pulls data from the internal website DemCom.house.gov, which is only visible to House Democratic staff, as well as the public site, DemocraticWhip.gov.

Read more: http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/floor-updates-theres-app/?dcz=

Looks like iOS only right now, unfortunately

How often do people imagine a US President makes a policy decision?

That's one disconnect I notice here; it's coming up about the TPP now but it applies more generally.

A President almost never makes a policy decision. 99% of a President's work is either administrative or ceremonial. The depressing fact is that, honestly, the only thing that matters is the letter after his or her name.

The President doesn't decide what does or doesn't go into a trade agreement, a third-level political appointee (the USTR) does (and for that matter, that's mostly his staff, who are probably careerists anyways). The President doesn't iron out deals among legislators, a third-level political appointee (a Legislative Aide) does. The President doesn't stand up to insurance companies requesting ACA premium increases, a third-level political appointee (some HHS undersecretary) does. The most practically important thing about a Presidency is which party's bag o' political hacks those third-level appointees come from, and Sanders doesn't have a different bag o' political hacks than Clinton, O'Malley, Webb, or Schweitzer (is he finally officially out of the race? That's a shame). You aren't just electing a President, you're electing a party apparatus that brings its entire inertia and baggage with it. It would be as true for Sanders as it was for Obama or W or Bill Clinton.

"Fight", "backbone", whatever: it's an Aaron Sorkin-fueled myth. Presidents allocate resources to executive agencies, and attend dinners. They find staff from the existing party infrastructure and turn them loose.

I'm not used to maple fretboards on acoustics

But it's a "Himalayan maple" that works great.

Fried chicken biscuits (recipe and pictures)

Sometimes, you really need fried chicken biscuits for breakfast.

Fried chicken can be found in India (there's even several KFC's), but "biscuits" in the American sense are pretty much unknown, so I have to make them if I want them. I experimented with the washes for the chicken, and came up with something pretty awesome I thought I would share.

(Note: in both cases you can replace the milk + white vinegar with buttermilk if you can get good buttermilk; the vinegar is just to clabber the milk anyways.)

The chicken:
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 pint milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Secret blend of herbs and spices (see below*)
4 eggs
1 cup half and half or evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
Oil for deep frying

Add the vinegar and pickle juice to the milk; wait 10 minutes to allow it to clabber; place the chicken in the milk. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

In one large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and herbs and spices. In different bowl, beat eggs with half & half.

Heat oil to about 350F (a small square of bread should take about 30 seconds to brown at that temperature). For each chicken thigh,
1. Remove from the milk
2. Dredge in the flour mixture
3. Dunk in the egg mixture
4. Dredge again in the flour mixture
5. Drop into the oil

Should take about 15 minutes or so to cook them thoroughly. Remove, drain/pat dry, and let cool.

* In terms of the spices, salt and black pepper are pretty much mandatory; everything else is up to you. This time I did Old Bay and smoked paprika, which worked really well.

The biscuits:
2 cups white flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, very cold
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
additional flour for handling dough

(This is my great-grandmother's recipe I learned years and years ago and is mostly muscle memory, so apologies if I leave out something that's obvious to me.)

Preheat oven to 450F.

Pour the vinegar into the milk and wait 10 minutes for it to clabber.

Mix the dry ingredients (sift, if you're anal -- I never bother). Grate / finely chop / food process the cold butter into the flour mixture. The resulting mix should clump into balls roughly the size of green peas. Gradually pour in the clabbered milk and quickly mix with a fork.

Once this has formed a dough, flour the work surface (you'll need more flour than you think) and your hands, and gently pat out the dough until it is very flat and wide. If you're new to biscuits, let me stress that you are not kneading. That's the last thing you want to do. You are very gently patting the dough out to flatten it. Under no circumstances use a rolling pin!!!

Once you have patted the dough out, fold it in half lengthwise and again the other-wise, so that it's 1 quarter of its original size. Pat out again. Repeat this 7 times (this is what gives your biscuit layers).

After the 7th patting-out, take a biscuit cutter and cut out biscuits -- I can usually get 8 from this quanitity. It is possible to re-combine and pat out again the scrap dough that's left over, but the biscuits are never as good from that. I usually save it for dumplings, or fry it up and give it to the dog.

Place the biscuit disks on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes (or until they're the color you like).

Combining these two into chicken biscuits:
Additionally required ingredients:
Pickle slices
2 Tablespoons or so of pickle juice
8 pieces of cheese of your choice (or not, if you don't like cheese on your chicken biscuits)

After the biscuits have cooled somewhat, open them (you shouldn't need a knife) and lay them out flat. Cut the fried chicken thighs in half. Put a half-thigh on one side of each biscuit. Garnish with pickle slices and optionally cheese. Pour about a half-teaspoon of pickle juice onto the empty half of each biscuit. Close the sandwiches up, and serve immediately.



Swarney of the Green party was on the ballot in Arkansas for Senate

Can anyone tell me how he did?

He must have won, right, facing as a true progressive two apparently indistinguishable candidates, as he did?

What was the extent of his victory?

We ended up getting a Lhasa Apso puppy (pics)

We were going to to market to get a pet rabbit but we got stuck in the crowd by one of the puppy breeders. He asked "would you like to hold one?" and, well, you know what happens then...

He's a very handsome dog:

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