Link Roundup, 11/27/2017

From The Atlantic: The New York Times published one of those ‘Trump Whisperer’ pieces last week that crossed a line. It was a soft-focused profile of an actual Nazi, with a focus on his day-to-day cares and worries, and the public’s response was (finally) scathing. The Atlantic posted two very interesting responses.

First, this one which was originally subtitled A Nazi Cooks Pasta.

Then a second response, titled The Banality of White Nationalism.

From Quartz: A look at the ways that emerging AI technologies might enhance workers’ productivity. Think, Siri, but with more personality.

From Vox: All the risks of climate change in a single graphic.

From The Awl: A gem. I found a spirited defense of my favorite spice blend, Tony Chachere’s. We used to return to Chicago from our trips to SE Texas weighted down with this stuff, in the days before it was available up here.


  1. Hey y’all! Back in the land of the (mostly, so far) free. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all.

    As you likely know, I cook as an avocation, and on a note far less serious than the posts here to date, I’d like to ring in on spice mixes.

    Tony’s is OK. I guess so is Zatarains. But listen: No real NOLA restaurant uses commercial spice mixes. Prudhomme, (GRHS, ;-)), had a talent for proportion in spices, (especially black, white and red pepper), that was, well, preternatural. None of the dishes from his classic work Louisiana Kitchen would work with Tony’s or Zatarains. They are all different, and it makes a big difference. Even when he went commercial with his spice mixes, they were a. quite varied, and b. a compromise.

    Try cooking from the original recipe, (not that I do that much any more), and you will absolutely taste the difference. Making Mr. B’s barbecued shrimp? Don’t even attempt it with a commercial blend. Trust me – it’s worth the extra time and effort.

    As in most things, there just is no ‘universal solution’.

    1. Fifty – You’re right about NOLA restaurants but there are few So. LA kitchens that I’ve visited that didn’t have Tony Chachere’s seasoning in the pantry! Cajun families were into making you sweat, not the subtleties of fine dining….Yet and still, there was some mighty fine food served at kitchen tables. When you eat boiled crawfish at a table with a hole cut in the center for the garbage can below, you aren’t into subtle…just good and expedient!

      1. Mime – Sadly, the restaurant to which you refer is long gone. The hole in the table was an expedient to getting crawfish into the hole in my belly as quickly as possible!

        I guess I was talking about doing the very best you can with spices. The ‘average’ coonass kitchen probably isn’t a great example of that any more than anywhere else. It’s just that they have so many fantastic ingredients at their disposal, it tends to blow people away. And a culture that values good eating.

        But since we’re back from the Great White North, we’ve got Rose’s in Kemah, and the swamp dogs ain’t got nothin’ on us!

        Eat hearty, my friend!

  2. So I see the puppet tyrant just got a quick return on investment. Timothy Kelly, appointed by the tyrant in June, has ruled that Mulvaney stays and gets to wreak havoc. Who needs to worry about actual laws when you have the judges in your back pocket.

    This will be the lasting legacy of the puppet tyrant and his regime. Unless every appointment is rolled back (and there is no mechanism outside of impeachment in the case of lifelong judicial appointments), the country is faced with decades of “judgements” like this. And there is no way democracy will survive 10 more years of this, let alone decades with some right-wing crony who is only 48 years old.

    And people wonder why I look to alternative methods…….

  3. I saw this article in AP regarding the VA elections….our local election boards are using last millennium technology and can’t conduct a simple off year election. This article frightens me by proving how fragile the basis of our democracy has truly become. Can’t we vote and assume our ballots are correct anymore? A lady dies in the 28th district so no one can figure out why 147 voters were given the wrong ballot.,-Virginia-House-still-in-dispute

    1. This is all about bending the results to make it fit the end the GOP needs in VA….Republicans have been suppressing votes with great success, but evidently never saw this one coming. Sheer numbers – driven by women and black voters. Now, they’re “stuck” and trying to finesse the recounts just as they screwed up the precinct ballots….who knows what to believe? Honest error? More voter suppression? Or, why let the people you don’t want to vote, go to the polls at all? If you haven’t read this article, now is the time.

      1. Thank you Mary,
        that article was helpful in understanding how a simple and reasonable exercise can turn into disenfranchisement. Was it Will Rogers who joked “if voting really mattered they wouldn’t let us do it”.

      2. This lifelong Republican, @Zathras3, wrote something on this topic:

        Important story hints at an under-reported aspect of race relations in the United States. The Republican Party & its allies have developed a vast infrastructure dedicated to making sure its candidates win elections.

        There is an increasingly bitter argument brewing over the seemingly mundane task of keeping accurate lists of U.S. voters

        2. Dependent for continued funding on demonstrated progress, the GOP’s electioneering infrastructure has a strong stake in limiting turnout by groups of voters more likely to vote Democratic.
        Reply 1 Retweet Like Direct message

        3. Purging voter registration rolls, ostensibly to combat voter fraud, can be one way to do this. The initial motivation is strictly practical, not ideological.
        1 reply 0 retweets 0 likes
        Reply 1 Retweet Like Direct message

        4. If African-Americans (or for that matter Hispanic Americans) typically voted by 2-1 margins for Republicans, GOP-allied groups could use the same logic to make it easier for them to vote.

        5. The effect, however, is the same as if the motive for vote-suppression measures were overtly racist. Steps taken to give Republican candidates an advantage in the all important election campaign process….

        6…have the effect of alienating the Republican Party from black and Hispanic voters, forcing its candidates to appeal more to the white racial resentment symbolized by Trump.

        7. Other GOP vote suppression tactics, like curtailing early voting, have a similar effect with respect to younger voters. The electioneering machinery is the caboose driving the GOP train here. The message it forces the Party to send:…

        8…Americans who don’t vote for us are the enemy, not the opposition. It’s a message toxic to our politics, and in the long run fatal for the Republican Party.

        He also had this quip that I think the Texans here would like:

    2. Daniel, regarding your post: I agree with pretty much all that it details, except for this part “and in the long run fatal for the Republican Party”

      Why? It has worked beautifully for them so far.

      Yes, they have rigged the system to install a psychotic and a huge amount of like-minded psychotics into power. But the rigging system itself worked. The fact that the party was co-opted by right-wing extremists was independent of the system that works to wipe out the enemy, specifically voters that chose the democrats.

      Bottom line, those that suggest that democracy is working in the U.S. are in the throes of wishful thinking.

    3. In general the effort at voter suppression on the part of the GOP has been occurring for years. However, they have continually become more sophisticated in their tactics.

      Remember the 2000 election. Florida as well as several other states engaged in a massive effort to remove felons from the voter rolls. This effort ended up disenfranchising numerous other people. It is mentioned in the NY Times article referenced above. That combined with the use of paid demonstrators to shut down the recount in Florida, and the SCOTUS decision resulted in the GOP stealing the 2000 election. Very possibly the so called riot in Florida was one of the factors that influenced the SCOTUS decision. The decision was so flawed that even SCOTUS realized it was flawed, so they inserted a clause into the decision saying it could not be used as a precedent. I was in The Philippines at the time and even the Filipino press realized it was a bad decision.

      When the new voting machines were purchased and commissioned, there were numerous opinions that they were not secure, but the GOP establishment ignored those opinions.

      These are but two examples. There are many more.

      Following the 2012 election the RNC had an election analysis performed. One of the criticisms was that the GOP had to open itself up and attract more minority votes. A link to the summary in The Atlantic is below. However, there was a significant faction within the Party that felt by doubling down on the tactics of gerrymandering and voter suppression they could win one more election. They felt if they could do that they could stack the cards sufficiently, to extend their dominance indefinitely. The Bannon-Trump wing followed that strategy. Now there is a significant effort to rig future elections. They would like to disenfranchise as many voters as possible, deport as many as possible, suppress the votes of the remainder, continue gerrymandering and otherwise rig the elections. There has even been talk of repealing the 14th Amendment.

      The Atlantic link:

  4. The VOX graph is hard. I am a good canary in the mine for this kind of data representation as I am terrible with diagrams. Not completely useless just challenged when data is shared using graphs. I didn’t get it. That said I visited my buddy in Queens after hurricane Sandy and I do grasp the problem of rising ocean levels.

    1. There are several mapping tools that show the effects of sea level change. Though I am no expert on the subject, I did a quick Google search and found three, which I quickly reviewed and looked at. One can enter a location of interest and a sea level rise and get a result showing the new coast line for that level. The links are below:
      1. NOAA (my favorite):
      3. Climate Central:

      One needs to bear in mind, that the risks of sea level rise are not just limited to the coastal areas. Rivers will not drain as well and so the flooding resulting from storms will be far worse. The actual storms will be far more intense – 500 year events will become 100, 50, 25 and even 5 year events. Existing water infrastructure, supply, drainage, sewers, etc. will be overwhelmed. Tidal surges will be far worse. The catastrophe will be overwhelming.

      Prudent organizations throughout the nation are concerned. Mary’s example of the Pentagon is not the only one. Many municipalities are concerned. Those include Miami and vicinity.

      Even here in Seattle, which is hilly there is a problem. The largest wastewater treatment plant in Seattle was shut down for several days last winter and partially disabled for 2-3 months due to a major storm event. Huge quantities of untreated sewage were diverted into Puget Sound. Some of the tunnels were flooded because the effluent pumping system failed. There were some design errors made during the last major upgrade and some systems were not maintained correctly. But nevertheless, the storm event caused record quantities of combined stormwater and sewage flows to occur. Also high storm surges helped to overstress the effluent pumping system. These record quantities were no doubt due to the increasing intensity of rain and additional runoff due to continuing development.

      This is just one example of the disasters that rising sea levels, rising temperatures, etc. will create. Those of you on the Gulf Coast and Florida experienced these impacts first hand recently. These will become common events in fairly soon, if we do get serious about global warming. However a large portion of our Federal Government remains in deep denial.

  5. Re: Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning – Know something ’bout dat! It was right up there on my counter next to my favorite Cajun cookbook: “Who’s Your Mama; Are You Catholic: Can You Make a Roux!” (by Marcelle Bienvenu).

    Like most people who have lived in a region of LA called “Acadiana”, when we leave, we miss the food and the seasoning the area is noted for. I was so happy when Hebert’s Specialty Meats opened a couple of locations in the Houston Metropolitan area….They carry all the Cajun prepared foods and the seasonings I needed to introduce my TX friends to Cajun cooking. I have many special memories growing up in LA where family and friends routinely gathered around food for entertainment – the spicier the better! I really can’t tell you what was more special – the food or the Cajun stories which were non-stop.

    Everyone thought of themselves as a natural Cajun story-teller, but there was one who really stood out: Cyprienne Robespierre (aka “Bud Fletcher”). Bud was a neighbor and he worked in the oil field (day job) and made the rounds in the evenings to share his Cajun stories. He spoke in a heavy Cajun accent (which was not his regular voice), but he was always better known as a Cajun comedian than an oil field salesman. His “outhouse” recordings are still available on you tube…

  6. I have to admit, I fear that Vox graph is not the best representation of how screwed we are with global warming. The graph is way too complex for anyone who is not truly engaged to understand. I can’t remember the precise term for when humans face some utterly overwhelming existential crisis, and the mind just shuts it out as opposed to try dealing with it, but that graph would not help that situation.

    I would think that the simplest part of the slow-moving disaster to get into people’s heads is how much sea levels will rise when the Greenland ice sheet melts into the oceans. If one tries to explain the positive feedback loop of the permafrost melting and releasing all that methane, people’s eyes just glaze over.

    So someone needs to do an ad campaign showing the before and after of the major cities of the planet after a 2 foot and 5 foot rise in sea levels. And let’s forget about showing a 10 foot rise, because no layman can comprehend that. I am sure the climate scientists are buying land about 15 miles inland these days though.

    Florida, Louisiana, big chunks of Jersey, NY, Venice, Bangladesh, London, among others, well, guess the scientists are not buying land there at all.

  7. Regarding the Quartz article about robotic personal assistants — I’m not the most social person, so I would appreciate a robot who (which?) could visit with the salespeople who swing by the office and take customers out to dinner and the topless bars, and if they’re from out of town take them to Katy Mills Mall. All that mundane stuff.

      1. Also, to fix the problem of people who ignore my detailed, instructive SOP-based emails … I would like a robot to be the authority figure I could never hope to be and convince these people to take my emails seriously.

        I hereby christen my personal bot TUTTABOTTA, who would do all the things I I don’t have the talent or the patience for.

      2. I was thinking our bots could also be our stand-in recipients of sexual harassment. That’s when I realized this overall transfer of bad stuff from us to bots is just plain cruel, and a sign of cowardice on our part. Human nature, when all is said and done.

      3. I also cringed at the sight of Spot being kicked but that’s just human nature, seeing bots as kindly animals. This is too weird. I think I will pass on bots. I say we have a choice. Just say no, before it’s too late.

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