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fatcook July 10 2014, 21:32

Adventures in food, part 2

This the recipe that My Husband wouldn't eat. The man eats deep fried scorpion for God's sake, and thinks Naga Jolokia is wimpy. *facepalm*

The conversation went like this:

Husband (poking at the bowl of food): What is is?

Me: Quinoa Mint Salad.

H: Looks like bug eggs.

Stepson: It's yummy! (holds out bowl for seconds, he's seventeen and in a growth phase)

H: Still looks like bug eggs.

M: You eat eggs, you eat caviar. Try it.

H: (takes small bite) Bug eggs.

M: You eat couscous!

H: It doesn't look like bug eggs!

M: (with eye roll) Go make yourself a sandwich.

S: Can I have his?

I like, my Stepson loves it and My Husband can't stand it. Go figure. But that means I will not be serving him quinoa, so all the salad is MINE!

Jeweled Cranberry Mint Quinoa Salad

1 med carrot, shredded

½ c cooked quinoa

¼ c dried cranberries

1 tsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp shelled pumpkin seeds or pepitas

1½ Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Pinch fresh lemon zest

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Combine carrots, quinoa, cranberries, mint, pumpkin seeds, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and chill for at least four hours, or overnight. Serves 3-4

Prep and cooking time: 15 minutes.
mizkit July 10 2014, 21:08

stolen phone

My phone was just stolen. And it turns out that although I had it insured, I did not, apparently, have it insured against theft or loss. I could have sworn I did, but it’s not in the policy I’ve got, so…fuck.

So, guys! Support my crowdfund! You get fudge and I get a new phone… :}

It had been such a nice day up until then, too. The worst part is I don’t have the photos on the phone set to automatically upload to the cloud and I’d been thinking literally yesterday that I needed to upload them and now, well. Fuck.

(eta: I called my local garda, who suggested I hie myself over to the station in the area it was stolen and report it, because they only keep CCTV for 48-72 hours. I had not thought of CCTV at all. Guess I know where I’m going tonight.

eta2: went to the garda, did everything we could, odds are poor that i’ll get the phone back, but we’ve tried.)

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

bruce_schneier July 10 2014, 19:58

How Google Glass Snoops Steal Your Passcode


Researchers are refining the techniques of surreptitiously videoing people as they type in their passwords.

Other hackers have shown it's possible to perform automated over-the-shoulder password stealing. But Fu notes that older video tools had to actually see the display, which often is impossible from a distance or from indirect angles. (See UMass's PIN-capturing footage taken by Glass in the GIF below.) His team's video recognition software can spot passcodes even when the screen is unreadable, based on its understanding of an iPad's geometry and the position of the user's fingers. It maps its image of the angled iPad onto a "reference" image of the device, then looks for the abrupt down and up movements of the dark crescents that represent the fingers' shadows.

Slashdot thread.

inthepipeline July 10 2014, 18:30

Biopharma Stock Events for the Rest of the Year


We've had some big biopharma market events so far this year, but if you're wondering what's coming in the next few months, here's a handy rundown from Adam Feuerstein of what may be the top 14. There are a few regulatory events on there, but most of the list are highly anticipated clinical trial results, which is where the action is, for sure. That's what makes the sector so attractive to both legitimate investors and to cult-like lunatics alike. These people, many of whom would cross the street to avoid each other in the real world, come together to make a market - and anyone with enough nerve and a little cash can join right in.

jhetley July 10 2014, 16:37

Thursday floral report

First Queen Anne's lace blooming, scentless chamomile, and the lime trees have taken over the task of suffocating those nasty oxygen-breathers.  The rest of the summer flowers continue unabated.

Roadkill consisted of a squashed goldfinch and a squashed gray squirrel.  Boring.  Did come across that raven family again, raiding a trash barrel.  Noisy birds.

Threaded my way through the siege works and escaped, biked, returned to the castle.  Humidity down, wind still a nuisance.  Ride takes me over 500 miles for the year.

15.30 miles, 1:15:53
ilcylic July 10 2014, 14:39

No subject

Getting to listen to the "industrial" Pandora station while getting an MRI is like getting newly remixed songs!


"And you bite! The hand! That feeds you!"


inthepipeline July 10 2014, 13:58

A Drug Candidate from NCATS


I've written several times about the NIH's NCATS program, their foray into "translational medicine". Now comes this press release that the first compound from this effort has been picked up for development by a biopharma company.

The company is AesRx (recently acquired by Baxter), and the compound is AES-103. This came from the rare-disease part of the initiative, and the compound is targeting sickle cell anemia - from what I've seen, it appears to have come out of a phenotypic screening effort to identify anti-sickling agents. It appears to work by stabilizing the mutant hemoglobin into a form where it can't polymerize, which is the molecular-level problem underlying the sickle-cell phenotype. For those who don't know the history behind it, Linus Pauling and co-workers were among the first to establish that a mutation in the hemoglobin protein was the key factor. Pauling coined the term "molecular disease" to describe it, and should be considered one of the founding fathers of molecular biology for that accomplishment, among others.

So what's AES-103? Well, you'll probably be surprised: it's hydroxymethyl furfural, which I would not have put high on my list of things to screen. That page says that the NIH screened "over 700 compounds" for this effort, which I hope is a typo, because that's an insanely small number. I would have thought that detecting the inhibition of sickling would be something that could be automated. If you were only screening 700 compounds, would this be one of them?

For those outside the business, I base that opinion on several things. Furans in general do not have a happy history in drug development. They're too electron-rich to play well in vivo, for the most part. This one does have an electron-withdrawing aldehyde on it, but aldehydes have their own problems. They're fairly reactive, and they tend to have poor pharmacokinetics. Aldehydes are, for example, well-known as protease inhibitors in vitro, but most attempts to develop them as drugs have ended in failure. And the only thing that's left on the molecule, that hydroxymethyl, is problematic, too. Having a group like that next to an aromatic ring has also traditionally been an invitation to trouble - they tend to get oxidized pretty quickly. So overall, no, I wouldn't have bet on this compound. There must be a story about why it was tested, and I'd certainly like to know what it is.

But for all I know, those very properties are what are making it work. It may well be reacting with some residue on hemoglobin and stabilizing its structure in that way. The compound went into Phase I in 2011, and into Phase II last year, so it does have real clinical data backing it up at this point, and real clinical data can shut me right up. The main worry I'd have at this point is idiosyncratic tox in Phase III, which is always a worry, and more so, I'd think, with a compound that looks like this. We'll see how it goes.

mizkit July 10 2014, 09:13

DB Jackson returns! Again!

I’m delighted to once more have my friend and fellow writer DB Jackson on the blog for a series of not-terribly-serious interview questions!

1. Let’s start with the obvious. Give me the ten-cent shake-down on A PLUNDER OF SOULS.

PlunderofSouls_hi_comp150 The Thieftaker Chronicles are historical urban fantasy, and the books tell the story of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker (the eighteenth century equivalent of a private detective) living in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Each book is a stand-alone mystery set against the backdrop of a particular historical event leading to the American Revolution. The historical events are real, as are many of the characters; I’ve inserted fictional murders into the historical narrative, along with a cast of characters who comprise Ethan’s social circle and clientele.

In A PLUNDER OF SOULS, the third book in the series, I bring back a character who is to Ethan something like what Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes. Nate Ramsey, first appeared in “A Spell of Vengeance,” a short story I published at Tor.Com in June 2012. Ramsey is a fun character, in kind of the way that Hannibal Lecter is a fun character. Like Ethan, he’s a powerful conjurer. He’s also brilliant, cruel, vengeful, and a bit mad. In the original short story, Ethan is hired to protect two merchants who have been threatened by Ramsey. Ethan does his best, but Ramsey gets the better of him, with tragic results, and then escapes Boston.

Now Ramsey is back. It’s the summer of 1769, and Boston is in the midst of an outbreak of smallpox (as it really was that summer). Ethan is hired to investigate a series of grave robberies, and soon discovers that corpses have been mutilated in grotesque ways, and that at least some of what has been done to them seems to be meant as a personal warning to him. What results is a little bit mystery, a little bit ghost story, and a whole lot of epic magical warfare. I won’t reveal more, except to say that Ramsey is an even more formidable foe for Ethan now than he was in 1763, when the short story took place.

2. I personally claim to never ‘cast’ my novels with actors, although there are instances where that is untrue. Do you ‘cast’ people for your characters? Anybody you want to confess to?

I’ll admit that there are times when I do this. I don’t like to because, as you have said to me in the past, it’s sometimes counterproductive to put such a specific image in the minds of our readers. But there have been characters who just lend themselves to this sort of thing. And the truth is, it can also be fun to imagine the movie versions of our books. So, that said, I can definitely see Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s beautiful and deadly rival in thieftaking, being played by Olivia Wilde. Wilde is gorgeous and alluring, but there is also something a bit edgy about her beauty. Hers is not a soft look, and with the right costuming and makeup she could totally make the role of Sephira come to life as I’ve written it.

For Nate Ramsey, I think that Michael Pitt would be a really good choice. He totally looks the part as I envision it, and the kid’s got chops.

Ethan is a much harder call. I would want a slightly older actor — Ethan is supposed to be in his early forties by this point in the series, and he has lived a hard life. Maybe Ewan McGregor or Clive Owen. Or Mark Wahlberg. I need to think about this one a bit more.

3. If you had one shot with a time machine, what one historical event, place, or person would you want to visit?

Wow. I’m not just saying this because of the Thieftaker books. Really. But I would have to choose the period right around the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. I have a Ph.D. in U.S. History, and while my doctoral dissertation dealt with twentieth century issues, I found the Revolutionary period fascinating. I guess that’s why, when I finally got around to blending my love of fantasy with my passion for history, this was the period in which I set my books.

It’s not just the events themselves that are so fraught with drama and intrigue. It’s also the personalities: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Brilliant minds; engaging speakers; willful, ego-driven politicians. And they were bandying about ideas from so many sources — Cato, Locke, Hobbes, Pitt, Hume, and others. It was a heady time intellectually as well as politically and militarily. That’s where I’d want to go.

4. I know you like jazz. Who’s one of your favourite artists, or what is a favourite album?

Yeah, I’m a huge jazz fan, and I listen to a lot of instrumental jazz when I work. I know that some authors can’t have any music at all going when they write, but I find that the improvisational quality of the music actually fuels my creativity. In particular, I’m a fan of “cool” jazz from the late 1950s. My favorite artist from this time — no surprise here — is Miles Davis, and my favorite albums of his are KIND OF BLUE, ‘ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT, and MILESTONES.

Among more recent jazz artists, I love the work of Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, and a relatively obscure, but truly excellent group called Sphere. All of them remain true to the spirit of that older jazz sound, placing a premium on melody, virtuosity, and improv. It’s great stuff, and as I say, listening to it actually helps me write.

5. When are you going to finish reading The Walker Papers so we can get started on that collaboration? (WHAT?! Nobody said my questions couldn’t be self-serving!)

[Laughing] Well, if you’d slow down with the writing a bit I could at least catch up with the series!! I’ve read the first two books in the series and am now reading COYOTE DREAMS, and loving it so far. My reading time these days is eaten up by books that I read as a beta reader for friends, or so that I might give a cover blurb. Time for pleasure reading is not always so easy to come by. It also didn’t help that I got totally sucked in to your Negotiator trilogy, which also took up some time. (I know that there are more Negotiator books now, but I have my fingers in my ears and I’m saying “la, la, la, la . . .” really loudly so that they don’t distract me.) In all seriousness, I am totally psyched to read the rest of The Walker Papers and get working on our story. It’s going to be a blast.

And by the way, HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second book in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson (forthcoming from Baen Books — book I, SPELL BLIND, comes out in January) is finished and turned in. So I’ll be sending a copy of the manuscript your way so that you can read it!

Ed: 1. Olivia Wilde & Clive Owen totally work for me for those characters. Or Sean Bean 10 years ago, for that matter.
2. I don’t know much jazz–far less than I should, because I love it–but my god, KIND OF BLUE. What an album.
What an album!
3. Technically there are only Old Races short story collections out now, not Negotiator books, but that’s being fussy. :)
4. For the readers: David’s got a new urban fantasy series coming out, I’ve already read book 1, we’re gonna be doing a Walker Papers/Fearsson Files crossover story, it’s gonna ROCK!

DBJacksonPubPhoto800 D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award­winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has recently been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

Find DB at:
his website
his blog

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

sandratayler July 10 2014, 04:44

At the End of a Day that Feels like it was Wasted

I wish the list of “things I did today” made me feel better about the list of “things I did not do today, but should have.” It isn’t that I wasted my time. I mean if I spend all day watching cat videos over and over again, then I would be justified in feeling like I should have done better at the end of the day. Instead I have a day where pretty much every moment was spent on something worthwhile, yet it all feels muddled and interrupted. I can very quickly point to the big failure of the day (a missed appointment) and I can’t point to anything that feels like a counter balancing success. The appointment wasn’t even particularly important. Yet the fact that I missed it is evidence of the normal summer muddle that our lives always fall into. Everyone wakes at different times. We eat on different schedules. The kids spend far too much time attached to computer screens, to the point that I feel like a bad parent. Yet to make them do otherwise would take energy which I then would not have available for the work that I need to do.

This was supposed to be the week when I dug in and wrote fiction every day. I was supposed to do that all through the month of June. I didn’t. I was supposed to have the challenge coin PDF completed. There’s a package I said I’d mail two days ago and I haven’t yet. I could keep going. The list is long. Here’s another should: I should focus on the things I did get done and not beat myself up for the things I didn’t. Also I shouldn’t assign myself so many “shoulds” and thus I spin myself into a recursion.

What did I do? Some laundry. Some dishes. I worked on the PDF of Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance, which we hope to put in our store as an ebook if I can get the file size small enough. 160MB seems really big and I’m worried that the store provider will hit us with bandwidth fees. I cooked some food as Howard and I are trying to shift our diets toward being more healthy. I helped Keliana write a contract. Listened to her as she bemoaned the challenges in setting up an etsy shop and having art under contract. She loves the art, but the business side was feeling burdensome today and she needed an ear. I read scripts for Howard. I took a shower. I read for writer’s group. I answered some email. I filled out extensive panelist forms for both Howard and I. There were two conventions and both had a field for “tell us why you’re qualified for this panel.” So I wrote a dozen little sales pitches which I hope will allow Howard and I to participate in programming. I attended writer’s group. I fed a fish.

It really seems like there ought to be more things to account for how I spent my time today. That doesn’t feel like enough things. Whether or not it is enough, the day is mostly gone. I will try again tomorrow.

Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.

kayre July 10 2014, 02:49


I occasionally watch one of my former pastor's services (at his new church) online. Recently he used quotations from commencement speeches as a starting point. He quoted Bill Gates at Harvard in 2007, urging graduates to 'choose one issue and become an expert in it.'

That struck a chord for me, as I feel a deep urge to give back, to make the world better somehow-- but have never found a focus. Sometimes a project will suck me in, but mostly every issue and project interests me and pulls at me, until I feel completely scattered and ineffective at anything. So I've been pondering the quotation, and considering which of those many tugs at my heart are strongest.

Environmental issues are dear to my heart, but I've come to realize they're actually in second place. The stories and occurrences about which I am most passionate always involve-- children. Specifically children with some kind of special challenge-- differently abled, poverty, etc. (Remember Peace Partners?)

So, while I'll continue to read and ponder any issue that catches my attention, I think that as I begin to build my life in the Albany area, I'll be especially looking for some way I can help children with special needs, and some environmental project to get involved with.
olegvolk July 9 2014, 23:46

The price of diffuse light

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Until recently, I used a 10ft x 20ft popup tent for getting softer light on sunny days. Bought for $1200, the tent lasted five years and was well worth the expense and the effort required to set it up. A couple of weeks ago, the tent was damaged by a storm and repairing it would take a while. That prompted me to try a more portable solution than the 90-pound pop-up.

In movie-making, the standard solution is silk stretched on a frame and raised on two stands. Due to the heavy-duty stands and sandbags required to keep it in place, the entire set of equipment is actually heavier than the tent, but individual components are much lighter and easier to move.

I just priced the 12ft x 12ft kit at B&H: $1520 with shipping. All that for one light modifier. If you ever wondered why professional photography is expensive, this is one of the reasons.

freetrav July 9 2014, 23:24

Jerking Around #9 - Dr Brown’s Cel-Ray

Cel-Ray is one of those completely off-the-wall flavors (celery) that turns out to be surprisingly good. It quite definitely fits into the same niche as ginger ale (not ginger beer), but doesn’t seem as sweet as most.

The flavor is principally from celery seed extract, and has a spiciness similar to that of the best ginger ales. It’s a lighter flavor, though, and (in my opinion) more refreshing. It can benefit from the addition of a small amount of lemon juice or lime juice, but far less than the 10% that I cut the Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer (from Jerking Around #4) with.

The color is best described as amber, lighter than most ginger ales, and in the LED light in my dining room (where I’ve set up the laptop I’m writing this on), there’s perhaps the faintest shading of the color toward a celery-stalk green.

Like most name-brand sodas, it’s more heavily carbonated than I find ideal. The carbonation is visible, with moderately-sized bubbles adhering to the inside of the glass, renewed as they break away and rise to the top. It doesn’t leave me with a burp bubble, though.

Most of the time, I drink this “stand-alone”, for refreshment. It’s not out of place with a potato knish (with mustard, mind you), a corned-beef sandwich on rye, or any number of other Jewish classics.

I routinely find this at many Jewish delis, including one on the Grand Central Food Court. I can sometimes find it in Stop-and-Shop, Fairway, or DeCicco supermarkets. If you’re in Brooklyn, NY, the iconic Junior’s Restaurant also serves it.

Sold in 12 oz (355 ml) cans (singly in delis and restaurants, six-packs in supermarkets).
11.67 Cal/fl oz (39.45kcal/100ml)
Sweetened with HFCS
Dr Brown’s

bruce_schneier July 9 2014, 18:49

NSA Spied on Prominent Muslim Americans


The latest story from the Snowden documents is about five prominent Muslim Americans who were spied on by the NSA and FBI. It's a good story, and I recommend reading it in its entirety. I have a few observations.

One, it's hard to assess the significance of this story without context. The source document is a single spreadsheet that lists 7,485 e-mail addresses monitored between 2002 and 2008.

The vast majority of individuals on the "FISA recap" spreadsheet are not named. Instead, only their email addresses are listed, making it impossible in most cases to ascertain their identities. Under the heading "Nationality," the list designates 202 email addresses as belonging to "U.S. persons," 1,782 as belonging to "non-U.S. persons," and 5,501 as "unknown" or simply blank. The Intercept identified the five Americans placed under surveillance from their email addresses.

Without knowing more about this list, we don't know whether this is good or bad. Is 202 a lot? A little? Were there FISA warrants that put these people on the list? Can we see them?

Two, the 2008 date is important. In July of that year, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act, which restricted what sorts of surveillance the NSA can do on Americans. So while this story tells us about what was happening before the FAA, we don't know what -- if anything -- changed with the passage of the FAA.

Three, another significant event at the time was the FBI's prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation on terrorism charges. This brought with it an overly broad investigation of Muslim Americans who were just associated with that charity, but that investigation came with approved warrants and all the due process it was supposed to have. How many of the Americans on this list are there as a result of this one case?

Four, this list was just the starting point for a much broader NSA surveillance effort. As Marcy Wheeler pointed out, these people were almost certainly associationally mapped. CAIR founder Nihad Awad is one of the NSA targets named in the story. CAIR is named in an EFF lawsuit against the NSA. If Awad had any contact with the EFF in 2008, then they were also being spied on -- that's one hop. Since I had lots of contact with the EFF in the affected time period, I was being spied on as well -- that's two hops. And if any of you e-mailed me around that time -- well, that's three hops. This isn't "just metadata"; this is full-take content that's stored forever. And, yes, the president instructed the NSA to only spy people up to two hops away this January, but that was just one program under one authority.

This is a hard story to analyze, because it's more anecdote than data. I much preferred last Saturday's story that tried to analyze broad trends about who the subjects of NSA surveillance are. But anecdotes are more persuasive than data, so this story might be more compelling to a mainstream audience.

Other commentary: EFF, Ben Wittes, the Director of National Intelligence. I'm curious to watch how this story unfolds in the media.

One final note: I just couldn't think of a headline more sensationalist than the descriptive one.

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