Spy Game

I’ve got a lot of Spying On Americans links for you today. Between John Oliver and Ed Snowden simplifying the whole thing down to They have pictures of your genitals (haven’t seen it yet?) and the PATRIOT Act being up for renewal, there’s a lot of publicity. Like Hansel, it’s so hot right now.

So let’s start with this, since I’ve been linked to it multiple times in the last 24 hours: a nice overview of the major Spying On Americans initiatives.

About the argument of “but we need to collect this data, to prevent terrorist attacks. And stuff.” Turns out that didn’t work. Oh, right, and it’s probably illegal too.

The Snowden Revelations have done good. At least one program was shut down.

Spying On Americans doesn’t end with phone calls and emails. Oh no, they want to know where your car is, too. And they don’t want anybody questioning how they found it.

And come on folks, preventing people from using the phone in an emergency is such a bad idea I can’t even imagine why this is a thing.

In Closing: So let me get this right, leg extensions are bad for you, but plyo is good? Don’t get me wrong, I’m for squats and more squats but plyo isn’t for everyone; a few items on wages and employment and capitalism; seems the NYT kicked up a bit of a storm on higher education; limit your Facebook time; learned the hard way; many domestic abuse victims stay because of their pets; Cyndi Lauper, voice of reason; news with a side order of racism; huh, somebody noticed that the Baby Boomers who swore Social Security would be bankrupt by the time they could collect are, um, collecting; Gary Hart tells the truth. I will never be “Ready for Hillary.”

The Shorties Man

Federal Judge uses Common Sense: It is super effective.

Net Neutrality: It’s not dead yet.

Our waning privacy: The FBI is trying to scare Congress. The NSA might find themselves near the end of their leash (a girl can dream).

Strangest thing you’re likely to read today: I promise.

Ok, maybe it’s not a magic anti-aging pill after all: Resveratrol.

Women With Ballots: scary! Be sure to vote, ok?

The Pope: Look, he either speaks the words of God or he doesn’t.

Alcohol: Why doesn’t a bottle of liquor have calorie info on it?

Resume: Um, yeah.

I apologize: I mentioned this story last week, and I am sorry to have gotten pulled in to the hype.

Modern: World War I.

Music Monday: Manic

 

I was going to write something about Ebola, but the stupid out there is so strong it burns. Look I know that I’ve had a total of one course in Microbiology, but clearly I know more about the subject than 90% of Congress. Seriously, I hope I that Ron Paul, Joe Heck, and Howard Dean know more than me since they’re doctors.

In Closing: selective breeding; change; a couple diet items; a big turn-off; African Samurai; TPP sucks; fail; backdoor; a higher minimum wage is good for a small government.

Creative Accounting, or GO REBELS!

So Jeff Skilling got a new sentence handed down for his role in the financial shenanigans at Enron. Actually, it’s a reduction of the sentence he was given back in 2006 for stuff that happened throughout the 90s and caused the company’s collapse in 2004. In case you’ve forgotten:

Enron’s collapse put more than 5,000 people out of work, wiped out more than $2 billion in employee pensions and rendered worthless $60 billion in Enron stock. Its aftershocks were felt across the city and the U.S. energy industry.

That’s over and above defrauding local power companies and gouging “Grandma Millie.”

For years, Enron was able to make people think things were much better than they were. They were able to make people believe they were making money.

Which brings me to this item from ThinkProgress:

America’s colleges and universities used more than $2 billion in student fees — an average of more than $500 per student — to subsidize rapidly growing university athletic budgets, as Ohio University professor Richard Vedder wrote at BloombergView today. Those fees can top $1,000 a year at some schools, and as Vedder writes, reliance on them ends up making college more expensive for students and often places the burden on the poorest students. And most of the time, students don’t even know they’re paying the fees.

In addition to student fees, athletic programs are relying more on money from general university budgets, so taxpayers are also spending millions of dollars a year to cover shortfalls as athletic budgets continue to grow faster than academic budgets.

Now, I have long thought that the accepted wisdom of “sports brings in money and students so we have to fund it” was flawed. If sports are really profitable, why are students and taxpayers paying so much money to support them? I have suspected that the “accounting” used to make sports profitable would have made Jeff Skilling drool. How did they pay for the stadium? It would never have been built without wealthy donors who like having their names on buildings. What about the maintenance for that stadium? Oh, that’s a different budget. What about the scholarships for athletes? Another budget. The coaches? Oh, they’re faculty so that’s yet another budget. Security, ticket sales, advertising the big game? Three different budgets. So most of the expenses of a good athletic program are offloaded onto other areas, leaving only the juicy profits and the bragging rights.

The idea that the money for sports is — really, truly — being paid for by students rips back the curtain on the Great Oz. In an age where the cost of college is rising much faster than either inflation or the wages they can expect to earn, where a student loan crisis is on the horizon, how can any college justify these costs?

No wonder so many young adults don’t know how to handle money. Where would they have learned?

In case you didn’t get the title, University of Nevada Las Vegas’s sports teams are the Rebels. Enjoy this unintentionally hilarious radio ad. 

In Closing: a few items on the NSA, FBI, and the government spying on us including a petition you can sign; some stuff on food, obesity, additives, and whatnot; about time somebody used some freaking common sense; assorted nonsense about the latest attempt to make abortion so hard to get that it might as well be illegal; and corporate America running amok or returning from insanity.

Music Monday: What’s Going On

 

In Closing: the cat came back; the wages of austerity; aww rats; adventurous surrogate mother wanted; rubber duckies; well yeah, it looks silly when he does it; too redacted; Clouds! Pork Exercise! Mexico! Pass the word; backtrack; never occurred to them that’s not an option for everybody; locking up the dumb b**** for not knowing what’s good for her baby; dealing with climate change; some bosses think Jesus wants them to break laws they don’t like (I seem to remember a line about rendering unto Ceasar…); on math; on history; and a prototype of facebook.

Now see, this is what I was talking about

IMG_20130106_114706

Just the other day, I was mentioning that a weight loss diet should include avoiding most food that comes out of a box. I did not yet know that this abomination of a product existed. Now, pay special attention to the fact that this “Beef Stroganoff” includes a “creamy cheese sauce” that is “made with real cheese.” Let’s just leave aside for the moment the potential nastiness of cheese that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Here’s the ingredient list to Paula Deen’s Stroganoff recipe:

  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
  • House Seasoning, recipe follows
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles

Notice something? No cheese. The can of soup is suboptimal but alas almost standard in American casserole cooking. Oh look, here’s a similar recipe from the Campbell’s Soup Company!

Here’s what Betty Crocker thinks goes into Stroganoff:

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin steak, 1/2 inch thick
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (2 1/2 cups)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups Progresso® beef flavored broth (from 32-ounce carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 cups hot cooked egg noodles

Hmm, no cheese there either. Points to Betty for using broth as the base for the sauce.
Ok, what about Epicurious:
  • 1 2 1/2-pound piece beef tenderloin, well trimmed, meat cut into 2x1x1/2 inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 pound small button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup canned beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

Ok, crème fraîche instead of sour cream. Still, no cheese.

And just to round out the entries, a less Americanized version:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, sliced into thin 2-inch-long strips
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Pinch dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces white wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Hey, you know what’s missing from that recipe?? Paprika! Ok, just kidding the answer is cheese.

In fact, if you look at the Wikipedia article on Stroganoff, you’ll find sour cream mentioned 5 times and cheese mentioned zero times. Anybody who eats this boxed concoction and then orders the real thing in a restaurant is going to have a big surprise! Whatever this stuff in the box might be, the one thing I am sure it won’t be is Beef Stroganoff. Heck, I’m not really sure it’s food.

In Closing: assassination; special; chicken; payrolls; and FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH!

Diet Research? It must be January.

Yes indeed, it’s the first week of the year, and that means millions of Americans are trying to shed between 5 and 500 pounds. Some scientists were even willing to stick their necks out there and say fructose is a culprit in weight gain (a culprit not the culprit). Check the archives and you will find me many times saying that every weight loss diet that works requires drastically reducing if not altogether eliminating added sugars.

So Loyola University wants to help you out. They’ve got what they think are the top 4 reasons diets fail. Let me save you some reading:

  1. Underestimating calorie intake (e.g. eating too damn much)
  2. Overestimating activity and calories burned (e.g. imagining that an amble around the mall is just like a 5 mile run)
  3. Poor timing of meals (the dreaded “starvation mode“)
  4. Inadequate sleep (having a job and other responsibilities)

Really? I’m on board with reasons 1 and 2, although I see them as two sides of one coin. But do they really think that sleep is a bigger issue than unrealistic expectations in the first place, or diet plans that are for whatever reason unsustainable? Do they think that eating at the wrong time is truly a bigger issue than unsupportive friends and family who –subtly or openly — undermine the dieter’s efforts?

Want to lose weight without torturing yourself? Try eating reasonable portions of real food: plenty of veggies; adequate protein; no sweets, no crap that comes out of a box, no food-like chemistry sets. Hey, it’s no dumber than the other diets you’ve tried over the years.

In Closing: free classes; Downtown Vegas and F15; maybe now somebody will ask banks to follow the law pretty please?; Onnabugeisha; ha!; conform or be called a terrorist; Malala; why oh why did Texas give him a second term?; more employment data than you probably want; somebody inform Scalia that 24 is not a documentary; the estate tax is not a wealth tax, it’s a wealth moving into the hands of someone who didn’t actually earn it tax; it turns out you need facts before you can figure out what to think about them; well that’s gonna have conservative panties in a wad; the Romney Loophole; is anybody surprised by this?; and I think Brent may have been playing Black Ops 2.

Music Monday: Happy New Year

 

In Closing: My new favorite blog; disgraceful; AC saves lives; damned if he doesn’t sound reasonable; no deal may well be better than a bad deal, but it doesn’t matter because there will be no vote tonight; yeah, that does sound kinda dumb when you put it that way; Baby Boomer Nuns; they wouldn’t be there if they could farm it legally; we never had a chance; even a broken clock is right twice a day; and somebody must write a sci-fi epic based on this picture.

Time’s Wasting

Congress is officially out for the year. It’s the earliest departure in over 50 years, and the least productive Congress since World War 2. But there’s no point in beating your head against a wall to do nothing. Besides, by adjourning early, Harry Reid gave Scott Brown no excuse to miss his debate with Elizabeth Warren!

However, I must point out that Congress left a number of things undone before leaving town. Sure, maybe they’ll have better luck in the new Congress come January but I doubt it. Here’s just a few things:

  • They refused to vote on a bipartisan compromise farm bill that would have reformed agricultural subsidies and “food stamps.” Now we revert back to a bill from 1949.
  • They didn’t do anything about the massive looming cuts in public health and science.
  • They may yet find a way to weasel off the “fiscal cliff” by delaying it. And of course it’s easy to delay it again. And again….
  • They saved trade with Russia for later.
  • They haven’t passed a long overdue transportation bill.
  • They didn’t pass a budget, despite the fact that the new fiscal year starts a week from Monday
  • They have yet to do the will of the people and completely drive a stake through the heart of SOPA.
  • They have not extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act — one of the good pieces of legislation to come through on GW’s watch.
  • And as they say on the infomercial, many many more.

Remember Come November. Register to vote NOW.

In Closing: radical Islamic cleric almost foils FBI terrorist sting; way to report “news,” CNN; didn’t Jesus say something removing the plank from your own eye first?; hope she got the job; 30 years of emoticons; now he says it; ha, if they had a clue I would still be driving their cars; and desert blooms.