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Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

vegan sweet potato pie

This is a make-ahead type recipe. The pie needs to sit in the fridge overnight to set properly. Or you could eat it with a spoon in a bowl, i guess.

Single Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp water

  • 1 1/2 tsp non-dairy milk

  • 6 T vegan butter, cut into small cubes (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tsp white flour

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tsp white whole wheat flour*

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • Yield: 1 9-inch pie crust

*This can be made entirely with all-purpose flour, but because of the lack of egg, vegan crusts tend to be a bit pale. The addition of white wheat flour gives it a nicer color and texture, imo.

Mix the water and milk together and place in the freezer to chill. Place the cubed butter in the freezer, as well.

In a food processor, mix the flours, sugar, and salt together. Add half of the butter (3 T) and process until the butter is well incorporated. The mixture will start looking a little clumpy. Add the milk mixture and blend well.

Add the remaining butter, pulsing in short bursts just until the dough starts to form a ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl a bit. Do not over-mix. There should still be small bits of butter visible.

Flatten into a disc, place in a covered container, and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted

  • 1 T molasses

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 3/4 cup creamer (we like Organic Valley soy creamer)

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Steam until tender (~20 minutes) making sure the water in the pot is no closer than 2 inches to the potatoes. Allow to cool slightly so that they're not hot.

Preheat the oven to 350degF.

In a food processor, blend the potatoes, sugar, cornstarch, molasses, sour cream, and creamer until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well.

Roll out the pie crust dough and trim to fit your pie dish. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the prepared crust. Loosely cover the edges with foil and bake for 30 minutes while making the streusel topping.

Note: I always bake my pies on a baking sheet. First, because it's hard to maneuver a hot pie dish. Second, because bits of crust might fall off or, with a fruit pie, there's always leakage. Having the baking sheet underneath the pie dish means i don't have to clean out burned gunk from the bottom of my oven.

Streusel Topping Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar**

  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

  • 2 T vegan butter (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

**I don't bother keeping brown sugar in the house. I just add molasses to regular sugar whenever i need brown sugar. I'm one of those annoying people who don't always measure, so i don't have precise directions. Just add a small dollop of molasses and mash it into your sugar with a spoon. Look at the color and if it's as dark as you want your brown sugar to be, call it done.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and spices. Cut the butter in, reserving the nuts.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325degF. Remove the foil and sprinkle this mixture over the top of the pie after you've baked it for the initial 30 minutes. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

While that's happening, heat up a pan and toss the pecans in there to toast them. Stir constantly so that you don't burn the bottoms. They should be done after 3 minutes or so. You'll start to smell a faint toastiness when they're done. Be careful not to cook the nuts for too long else they'll burn - they go from perfectly toasted to burned in about 10 seconds because nuts are jerks like that. Sprinkle over the streusel when the pie is done baking

Alternatively, you could sprinkle the nuts over the pie for the last 15 minutes of baking and let them toast that way.

Leave the pie in the cooling oven before removing to finish cooling on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

By min | November 27, 2015, 12:14 PM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

Amsterdam Apple Pie

aka Winkel pie or Dutch apple pie. Made this for my family's Thanksgiving.

I veganized and modified this recipe. It came out really pretty, so you get a picture. But you don't get a recipe until i've modded it more. Based on the descriptions i read online, i was expecting the crust to be more cakey. Instead, it was a super rich, super sweet shortbread. So i'm going to mod the recipe some more the next time i make it and see what happens. Until then, look at the pretty dessert.

By min | November 27, 2015, 11:50 AM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

Gobble Gobble

vegan chocolate cake with raspberry and chocolate ganache filling
Happy Thanksgiving!

By min | November 26, 2015, 11:10 AM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

The Proper Way to Eat a Mango

I'm posting this here so that i will forever be able to find this comic.

Although, i prefer to stand over the sink in case of drippage. And it's a good idea to roll up your sleeves first.

By min | November 20, 2015, 10:20 AM | Comics & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Three words that are perfect together

Living Butter Lettuce

By fnord12 | November 19, 2015, 6:48 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Yeah, But Can They Make Spider Silk?

Why are scientists mad? Link

China's western Shaanxi Province is known for rugged windswept terrain and its coal and wool, but not necessarily its science. Yet at the Shaanxi Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Shaanbei Cashmere Goats, scientists have just created a new kind of goat, with bigger muscles and longer hair than normal. The goats were made not by breeding but by directly manipulating animal DNA--a sign of how rapidly China has embraced a global gene-changing revolution.
CRISPR uses enzymes to precisely locate and snip out segments of DNA, much like a word-processor finding and deleting a given phrase--a process known as "gene-editing." Although it is not the first tool scientists have used to tweak DNA, it is by far more precise and cheaper than past technologies. The apparent ease of this powerful method now raises both tantalizing possibilities and pressing ethical questions.

Once the goat team began to deploy CRISPR, their progress was rapid. In September Qu and 25 other collaborating scientists in China published the details of their research in Nature's Scientific Reports. In early-stage goat embryos they had successfully deleted two genes that suppressed both hair and muscle growth. The result was 10 goat kids exhibiting both larger muscles and longer fur--designer livestock--that, so far, show no other abnormalities. "We believed gene-modified livestock will be commercialized after we demonstrate [that it] is safe," predicts Qu, who envisions this work as a simple way to boost the sale of goat meat and cashmere sweaters from Shaanxi.

I don't think there's anything safe about extra strong, hairy goats. Have none of you heard of Dr. Moreau?? And his island?? His experimentation with animals didn't go so well, did it? Do you people learn nothing from literature??? I hate mad scientists. China's going to be overrun with sheep o'death now.

Spider goats

By min | November 19, 2015, 1:41 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

Eliminating the West's "Grayzone"

From the ever cheery Intercept:

IN A STATEMENT PUBLISHED in its online magazine, Dabiq, this February, the militant group the Islamic State warned that "Muslims in the West will soon find themselves between one of two choices." Weeks earlier, a massacre had occurred at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The attack stunned French society, while bringing to the surface already latent tensions between French Muslims and their fellow citizens.

While ISIS initially endorsed the killings on purely religious grounds, calling the murdered cartoonists blasphemers, in Dabiq the group offered another, more chilling rationale for its support.

The attack had "further [brought] division to the world," the group said, boasting that it had polarized society and "eliminated the grayzone," representing coexistence between religious groups. As a result, it said, Muslims living in the West would soon no longer be welcome in their own societies. Treated with increasing suspicion, distrust and hostility by their fellow citizens as a result of the deadly shooting, Western Muslims would soon be forced to "either apostatize ... or they [migrate] to the Islamic State, and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens," the group stated, while threatening of more attacks to come.


It is tempting to view such violence as senseless and nihilistic. However, taking into account the Islamic State's history, it is clear that such a determination would be a mistake. By launching increasingly shocking attacks against Western targets, the Islamic State is pursuing a specific goal -- generating hostility between domestic Muslim populations and the broader societies that they live in.

Despite its dire connotations, such a strategy is achievable for the group. In fact, some group members have successfully implemented it before, in Iraq, when the Islamic State's predecessor organization, al Qaeda in Iraq, purposely provoked a sectarian civil war in that country following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

And it's working. Plenty of our governors are saying their states will refuse refugees (don't even look at Facebook comments). And France immediately upped their bombing campaign.

Following the deliberately shocking attacks in Paris, some nativist politicians in both Europe and the United States have already responded with calls to collectively punish Muslims en masse through discriminatory migration policies, restrictions on religious freedoms, and blanket surveillance by law enforcement.

Even though it's just perpetuating a vicious cycle.

While politically popular among some, such measures, effectively holding Muslims collectively to blame for the atrocities in Paris, would be self-defeating. Islamic State is deeply unpopular among Muslims. Like their non-Muslim compatriots, French Muslims recoiled with disgust at the recent atrocities in Paris. Indeed, several of them were killed in the attacks.

As such, it would be both perverse and counterproductive to lump them together with IS and blame them for the group's actions. Similarly, it would be absurd to treat refugees, many of whom are fleeing Islamic State's draconian rule in Iraq and Syria, as though they too are responsible for the crimes of the group. Doing so would grant Islamic State a propaganda coup, implicitly endorsing the group's narrative of Muslims and Westerners collectively at war with one another.

Instead, in response to an attack intended to sow xenophobia, Western countries should reaffirm unity for their own Muslim populations and honor their best values by continuing to accept refugees without religious discrimination. Simultaneously, they should also recommit to the military effort against Islamic State's enclaves in Iraq and Syria, making clear that there is contradiction to embracing Muslims at home while fighting terrorists abroad. Such an approach would show resilience in the face of violence, while fatally undermining IS's Manichean narrative of "a world divided into two camps."

I don't actually have enough faith in human beings to believe there's any chance xenophobia won't win out. Never rely on the "better self" to make an appearance. That way, you can be pleasantly surprised on the rare occasions it happens.

By min | November 18, 2015, 9:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Cornel West drops the Jane Austen bomb


By fnord12 | November 16, 2015, 11:38 AM | Boooooks & Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Tooting My Own Horn

A friend asked me to make a quarter sheet cake for his wife's birthday and instead of saying "no" like a right thinking person who's never made a sheet cake ever, the part of my brain that thought "Hey! A Challenge!" took over and "yes" came out of my mouth.

Happily, my first foray into the world of cake decorating came out pretty. And i finally used those decorating tips a friend gave me a decade ago. Woot.

Chocolate cake w/chocolate ganache and raspberry filling; chocolate buttercream frosting on the outside

One might think the decorating tip that's designed to create flower shapes just by squeezing frosting out of it would have been foolproof. But no. That just produced those cute pom-pom things that don't look anything like what they're supposed to. Clearly, making freehand roses is the way to go.

Special thanks to our D&D group for consuming my test cake.

By min | November 14, 2015, 11:29 AM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

Marvel Sales


One thing i thought was interesting was the "A-Force Presents" trade, which will feature a single issue by each of several female-led Marvel titles each month. Everyone knows that i'm not a fan of anthology books because of the way i organize my collection, but it's interesting to see Marvel trying out that format.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2015, 1:46 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link


When i first went vegan, you could have tofu, you could have tempeh, or you could shut up. Nowadays you can buy three varieties of vegan egg nog. And of course we bought all three.

They might be using the word 'original' a little liberally.

I never even had eggnog before i went vegan.

By fnord12 | November 8, 2015, 2:24 PM | My stupid life & Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

Ben Carson: Civ fan

Ben Carson is getting a lot of flak for a 1998 speech where he put forth the theory that the Egyptian pyramids were used to store grain. It's pretty obvious that that's wrong; they were clearly used to store mummies. But what i haven't seen mentioned yet is that in the early versions of the great game Sid Meier's Civilization (versions 1-3, i believe), building the Pyramids put a granary in all of your cities. I was never sure why that was the case, but clearly there's something out there that dovetails with Carson's theory. Carson seems to be going by an interpretation of the story of Joseph in the Bible (he was sold into slavery in Egypt and later helped them avoid a famine). And given the way the pyramids work in Civ, i'd bet that it's not as unique a theory as it seems to be. Doesn't mean it's right, of course, but i'll take any excuse to blog about Civ.

'Obsoleted by'?

By fnord12 | November 5, 2015, 12:52 PM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games | Comments (7) | Link

Recap 70

Ice Tooth Mountain: The Drake Anhangare Tribe

By min | November 5, 2015, 10:58 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

Unhatchable Eggs


The bugs to be released were not genetically modified. But they were not exactly garden-variety mosquitoes, either. The male mosquitoes were raised in a laboratory where they were infected with Wolbachia, a natural bacterium that would effectively sterilize them. When the males are released into people's backyards and mate with wild females, the resulting eggs--for reasons not yet fully understood--simply will not hatch, leading to fewer mosquitoes.
The problematic wild mosquitoes, also known as Asian tiger mosquitoes, were first introduced into the area as stowaways in shipments of bamboo from China and subsequently spread across the state. Unlike other California mosquitoes, they are potential carriers of dengue and chikungunya, two painful diseases that can be transmitted from human to human via mosquito bites.

We have these Asian tiger mosquitoes (i'm having "Africanized bees" flashbacks) in Jersey. They show up at work, too, as in inside the building. They bite me through my damned pants, the little fuckers. So, i hope they start releasing these infected male mosquitoes in my neighborhood soon. Unless instead of eggs that don't hatch, they end up producing mutant mosquitoes. That would be bad. Don't do that.

By min | November 3, 2015, 1:49 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

Halloween Recap

Horror movies watched in the past two weeks
Sorted from best to worst (with some protest from fnord, who would move Howling 2 higher up):

  • Addams Family
  • Son of Dracula (1943)
  • Dracula's Daughter (1936)
  • Gremlins
  • To the Devil a Daughter*
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch**
  • The Howling
  • The Howling 2: Your Sister's a Werewolf*

*Featuring Christopher Lee
**Featuring Christopher Lee holding a giant genetically engineered soybean pod

It might not be a soy bean, but shut up.

Best lines from kids

  • Winner, from a young kid to fnord (and fnord was NOT wearing a costume): "I watch you on TV every day."
  • Runner up, in response to being handed a piece of candy: "I already GOT this one."
  • Honorable mention: Projectile Coughing Elmo

Lessons learned

  • Halloween being on a Saturday doesn't really mean that you need to buy more candy.
  • You should always subtract 2 years from a bag of candy's expiration date. So if a bag of Peanut Chews says it expires in April 2016, the candy is probably already as hard as a rock.
  • The mom in the original Gremlins movie is clearly ex-CIA, and she should get her own movie.

By fnord12 | November 1, 2015, 10:00 AM | Movies & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link


Kirby vs.Jack Kirby
Kirby Jack Kirby

By fnord12 | October 29, 2015, 12:56 PM | Comics & Video Games & Whoodwin | Comments (6) | Link

Bernie mini-roundup

I've been silently grinding my teeth about Hillary Clinton's sexism charge against Bernie Sanders, but i liked the way Brent Budowsky talked about it and the larger topic of gun control, so i figured i would drop the link.

I also think this John Wagner article gets to the heart of why Sanders has been as successful as he has been. I think the way the economic downturn and anemic recovery has affected younger people is something that's been under-reported and i think a lot of the Democratic party isn't getting it.

Finally, if you support Bernie and want to get involved in the Bernie campaign, here is a link for that. Just put in your zipcode and see what events are happening in your area. Or create one and see if anyone signs up.

By fnord12 | October 27, 2015, 6:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

No Surprise - Exxon Always Knew

Not unlike the tobacco companies, Exxon had done its own research and knew burning fossil fuels would contribute to climate change and what that would mean for the planet, so they actively worked to keep it from the public.


In their eight-month-long investigation, reporters at InsideClimate News interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists and federal officials and analyzed hundreds of pages of internal documents. They found that the company's knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. "In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black told Exxon's management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees--a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today. He continued to warn that "present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical." In other words, Exxon needed to act.
[I]n June 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen told a congressional hearing that the planet was already warming, Exxon remained publicly convinced that the science was still controversial. Furthermore, experts agree that Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion. By 1989 the company had helped create the Global Climate Coalition (disbanded in 2002) to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change. It also helped to prevent the U.S. from signing the international treaty on climate known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 to control greenhouse gases. Exxon's tactic not only worked on the U.S. but also stopped other countries, such as China and India, from signing the treaty. At that point, "a lot of things unraveled," Oreskes says.

Our governments went along with their corporate buddies instead of doing what was best for the people they should be representing. And the general public is once again the chump.

By min | October 27, 2015, 8:48 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1) | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Ms. Marvel #19 - This may be my last Speed Review. We'll definitely be getting Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther in some format, and we may very well pick up some other Marvel comics in trade form, but as i mentioned a while ago, we're using Secret Wars as a jumping off point at least in terms of buying books in realtime. And that will probably be the case for my project as well (if i even make it that far). Although i'm still not 100% clear if the post-Secret Wars situation counts as a reboot or not. In any event, it seems like these Last Days issues work really well as an end to the Marvel universe, with the fade to white. As for this issue in particular, i don't have a lot to say that i haven't been saying all along, which is that i like this series a lot, to the point where it's the book that lasted the longest with me. This issue gives us some nice closure with Bruno and with Kamala's mom. A downtime issue, with the end of the world as a backdrop. I'm glad that the book will continue in some way even after my personal break with the Marvel universe, and it's one that i'll probably keep up with in trade form.

By fnord12 | October 26, 2015, 4:17 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

Who are you talking to?

I've seen multiple articles with political commentators wondering if Larry David's impression of Bernie Sanders will help him win votes. This is so strange to me. It feels like a conversation between political analysts, discussing how this or that action will play with the voters. But presumably CNN and the Christian Science Monitor (which is a real mainstream news source, despite its weird name) have a few actual voters in their audiences. Or maybe that's not the case. Maybe everyone who reads the news already has fully formed opinions of the candidates, and we're all only interested in how people who don't read the news but do watch Saturday Night Live will react. We're all insiders now.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2015, 8:23 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

I Guess the CIA Doesn't Watch FOX News

How else do you explain a guy being able to claim since 2002, ON TV, that he was a former CIA agent and has only now been arrested for it?


Wayne Simmons, a 62-year-old who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, was arrested by federal authorities following his indictment by a federal grand jury for allegedly committing major fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government. Simmons claims to have worked for the CIA from 1973 to 2000, and "used that false claim in an attempt to obtain government security clearances and work as a defense contractor, including at one point successfully getting deployed overseas as an intelligence advisor to senior military personnel," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Good job, CIA. Way to prove your competence.

Fox wants you to know he was only a "guest" and was never paid, so it's totally ok that they didn't do any sort of vetting before trotting him out as a former CIA operative.

By min | October 16, 2015, 9:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

North and South: a Summary of the Bullet Points

The mini-series is terrible and the book is worse because there's more Margaret Hale time. In the mini-series, she's like a fish. Other characters try to converse with her, and she just stares at them with her mouth slightly open. In the book, she's better at the whole talking thing, but there's more time to show her in all her snobby and selfish glory. So annoying.

This, however, is fantastic, and sums up the novel rather accurately.


you smell of new money and PAVED STREETS
you look as if you have sold something to a shop recently
you look as if your father had a JOB
get out of here at once, you disgusting lump of coal

BESSY: halloo thar miss

MARGARET: ah that's much better
you're just poor, I'm perfectly comfortable around regular old poor people

BESSY: ai'm also dyin', miss

MARGARET: better and better
that's very proper, that you should be poor and dying
not like SOME people
not like some people who go to an OFFICE and then try to talk to LADIES with their OFFICE MOUTHS and their NEWSPAPER HANDS and their FACTORY EYELIDS
we are going to be best friends, Bessy

BESSY: [coughs]

MARGARET: I love you too, Bess


MRS. THORNTON: and how did you find Miss Hale

MR. THORNTON: I do not think she likes me very much, Mother

MRS. THORNTON: then I will set her on fire

MR. THORNTON: please do not set her on fire

MRS. THORNTON: I KNEW you were in love with her

MR. THORNTON: I don't want you to set anyone on fire
that doesn't mean I'm in love with everyone

MRS. THORNTON: but she is in love with you

MR. THORNTON: what makes you say that?

MRS. THORNTON: she didn't let all those strikers murder you
what stronger proof do you need of her sluttery

MR. THORNTON: I don't think that means she loves m-

MRS. THORNTON: I watch people get murdered in front of me every day
and I never do a damn thing about it

By min | October 16, 2015, 9:25 AM | Boooooks & TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link

Best and worst of the debate

"I went to Wall Street in 2007 and told them, 'Hey guys, cut that out!'." - Hillary Clinton

"Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress." - Bernie Sanders

(The quotes above are paraphrased, but not by much.)

By fnord12 | October 14, 2015, 12:22 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

The Face of Galactus

From issue #4 of the first Hercules miniseries, in 1982, by Bob Layton (story, pencils, and inks).

This story took place in an alternate future, so it wasn't necessarily canon, but Ron Marz and Ron Lim used this depiction of Galactus without his helmet in 1991's Silver Surfer #51.

By fnord12 | October 9, 2015, 7:33 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Vinegar Juice

My friend wnkr mentioned how her daughter had noticed all these "vinegar drinks" at the Asian supermarket over the weekend. Immediately, my attention was caught. Vinegar drinks? Tell me more. You see, i love (LOVE) drinking Chinese red vinegar. My mouth literally starts salivating at the thought of drinking some. So, clearly, i am going to be interested in vinegar drinks.

Fnord12 tried to convince me to get the grape flavored ones, but blech. I hate grape drinks.

There doesn't seem to be any attempt on the packaging to justify the addition of vinegar to fruit juice. Fnord12 says they didn't need to justify it. After hearing about it, i packed him up into a car and drove through rush hour traffic to get some. There's clearly a market.

I was pretty apprehensive with the first sip. I imagined it would be similar to apple cider vinegar (which smells like feet and is not something i would want to drink straight up), which would be terrible and then what would i do with the other 11 pouches? To my surprise, all i really tasted was fruit juice with a slight tang that i only detected if i tried really hard. Fnord12 refused to even take a sip. He said it stunk like vinegar and that was enough of a taste for him. My olfactory system seems to have a vinegar filter because i can't smell it at all.

Next time, i'm going to try pineapple. And i think i'm going to ask my aunt to get me some red vinegar for Christmas!

By min | October 5, 2015, 8:15 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | October 2, 2015, 2:15 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

How to cover political races

Yesterday during my daily obsessive searching the news for Bernie Sanders articles, i noticed a bunch of headlines along the lines of Bernie Sanders' Supreme Court litmus test: Overturn Citizens United. Odd, i thought. That's been his position since he announced. Why is it getting headlines now? The answer seems to be that he's doing better in the polls and he mentioned it in his speech to Chicago university yesterday (as he always does). But it's still odd to see it reported as "news". Not that i mind articles getting Sanders' positions out, at all.

Today, David Weigel, the political reporter at the Washington Post assigned to Bernie's campaign (who i have no complaints about), notices the same thing, but explains what's going on. When you have consistent policies and a consistent stump speech, there really isn't any new "news" to report about a candidate, except the horserace "he's up, he's down in the polls" stuff. This is really a problem for any candidate. Every supporter complains that their candidate gets bad coverage, whether it's no coverage, or just coverage exclusively about gaffs, scandals, and horse race stuff. What we really want is to see our candidates' issues getting publicized. And i think that's a public service of real value that the media should provide. But unless someone flip-flops, it's not really "news" once the candidate has already come out with a platform (although, as Weigel points out, Sanders has been rolling out new proposals since his campaign got started, to little media interest).

For websites, that's not really a problem. They should have sections devoted to the issues of each candidate. But for the daily news format (televison and newspapers), it's a little odd to just have an article out about something the candidate has been saying for months. On the other hand, people that weren't paying any attention at all to Bernie Sanders in June may be interested now in reading in their morning paper what his positions are. And again in February before the primary season actually starts and people really start paying attention. So even though it had me scratching my head, maybe this approach is the right one.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2015, 1:36 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

The World Will Be Watching and So Will NSA!

A super long article that boils down to the NSA got the Greek government to secretly agree to the installation of bugging malware on their phone systems ostensibly to protect against "terrorism" during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. When the Olympics were over, the NSA didn't remove their equipment and also turned it back on so that they could listen in on Greek government officials. To hush it up, they may have also been responsible for the death of a Vodafone employee.

A decade later, Costas' death is caught up in an investigation into what now appears to have been a U.S. covert operation in Greece. Last February, Greek authorities took the extraordinary step of issuing an international arrest warrant for a CIA official the Greeks believe was a key figure in the operation while based in Athens. Unnoticed by the U.S. press, the warrant was a nearly unprecedented action by an allied country. The intelligence official, identified as William George Basil, was accused of espionage and eavesdropping. But by then he had already left the country, and the U.S. government, as it has done for the past 10 years, continues to stonewall Greek authorities on the agency's involvement.
According to a former senior U.S. intelligence official involved with the operation, there was close cooperation between NSA and the Greek government. "The Greeks identified terrorist nets, so NSA put these devices in there and they told the Greeks, OK, when it's done we'll turn it off," said the source. "They put them in the Athens communications system, with the knowledge and approval of the Greek government. This was to help with security during the Olympics."

The Olympic Games ran smoothly -- there were no serious terrorist threats and Greece had its best medal tally in more than a century. On August 29, 16 days after the games began, closing ceremonies were held at the Athens Olympic Stadium. As 70,000 people watched, Greek performers displayed traditional dances, a symbolic lantern was lit with the Olympic Flame, and Dr. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympics Committee, gave a short speech and then officially closed the games.

Two weeks later, the Paralympics ended, and at that point, keeping their promise to the Greek government, the NSA employees should have quietly disconnected their hardware and deleted their software from the local telecommunications systems, packed up their bugging equipment, and boarded a plane for Fort Meade. The problem was, they didn't. Instead, they secretly kept the spying operation active, but instead of terrorists, they targeted top Greek officials. According to the former U.S. intelligence official involved with the operation, the NSA began conducting the operation secretly, without the approval or authorization of the CIA chief of station in Athens, the U.S. ambassador, or the Greek government.

"We had a huge problem right after the Greek Olympics," the source said. "They [NSA] said when the Olympics is over, we'll turn it off and take it away. And after the Olympics they turned it off but they didn't take it away and they turned it back on and the Greeks discovered it. They triangulated some signals, anonymous signals, and it all pointed back to the embassy."

At that point, the source said, someone from the Greek government called Richard Eric Pound, the CIA chief of station at the embassy in Athens and the person officially responsible for all intelligence operations in the country. Pound had arrived in May 2004, replacing Michael F. Walker, the agency's former deputy director of the paramilitary Special Activities Division, as chief of station in Athens. Describing himself as "a small town boy from Indiana who set off to see the world," Pound had joined the agency in 1976. Hefty and mustachioed, he was a veteran of the agency's backwater posts in Africa.

Pound, according to the source, knew nothing about the operation having been turned back on, so he called his boss at CIA headquarters to ask about it. "He says, 'What in God's name is this all about?'" said the source (Pound declined to speak to The Intercept). Pound's boss then immediately called his NSA counterpart. "Oh, yeah, we were going to tell you about that," the NSA official told Pound's CIA boss, according to the source. "They didn't take it out and they turned it back on."

When the eavesdropping was made public, the Greek citizens were obviously not happy. However, Greece and the U.S. governments wanted to maintain good relations and staged some public lunches to show that.

For some, however, the cozy relations only seemed to increase the anger. In May, a Greek terrorist organization, "Revolutionary Struggle," attempted to assassinate Voulgarakis with a remote-controlled bomb. Pointing to the wiretapping scandal and weakening Greek sovereignty as a key reason for the attack, the group said it opposed state-sponsored "terrorism of mass surveillance." At the U.S. Embassy, the deputy chief of mission sent a classified cable to Washington, released by WikiLeaks, with a warning. "This group is to be taken seriously," he said. "While there is no mention thus far of targeting foreign 'capitalist-imperialists,' it would not be a leap of faith for RS to focus its attention on the U.S. presence in Greece." Ten months later, the group fired a rocket at the embassy.

After 10 years, an arrest warrant has been issued for the CIA agent linked to the operation.

It is extremely unlikely the Obama administration will ever allow Basil, or any other intelligence official, to be extradited. Nor is it likely that Basil will return to Greece voluntarily with an arrest warrant waiting for him.
As for the NSA, a classified review of the Greek Olympics asked the now ironic question, "After this year's gold medal performance, what comes next?" Next will certainly be the Olympics scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next summer. According to a previously published top-secret NSA slide, the agency has already planted malware throughout the country's telecommunications system. And, if history is any guide, in the weeks leading up to the start of the games, teams from the SCS, SSO, TAO, and other organizations will arrive once again to begin 24/7 eavesdropping. And as in Greece, they may just happen to leave some of their monitoring equipment behind.

By min | September 29, 2015, 9:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

Guardians - Russian Superhero Movie

No release date announced and please please please let there be an English subtitled version.

It looks awesome, right? The story's got to be awesome, too. I hope it's awesome. I have hopes now. Don't dash them, unknown Russian filmmakers! This is all Wikipedia has to say about it.

How am i supposed to remember to look for this when it eventually becomes available? Gah!

By min | September 27, 2015, 9:32 PM | Movies | Comments (3) | Link

Another Gift Idea for Min

My sister sent this lovely link, rightly declaring she must have it. Clearly, so must i.

By min | September 27, 2015, 9:18 PM | Boooooks & Cute Things | Comments (1) | Link

Cute Animal Picture

By fnord12 | September 25, 2015, 6:23 PM | Cute Things & Godzilla & My stupid life | Comments (4) | Link

Accepting Gifts from Lobbyists is Freedom of Speech

It's a banner day for me and the Intercept.


In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Republican Kentucky state Sen. John Schickel, along with two Libertarian political candidates, are suing to overturn state ethics laws, claiming that the campaign contribution limit of $1,000 and a ban on gifts from lobbyists and their employers are a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit notes that lobbyists and the employers of lobbyists are prohibited by Kentucky law from inviting legislators to parties, offering gifts, or paying for food for legislators. "This infringes on the legislator's, lobbyist's, and employer of lobbyist's right to freedom of association, and freedom of speech," Schickel claims in the suit.

Happy Friday. If you're lucky, fnord12 will post some cute animal pictures later today.

By min | September 25, 2015, 9:23 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

From Torture in Gitmo to Torture in a Moroccan Prison

I just can't imagine why anyone would be angry with the United States.

Two more prisoners have left Guantanamo Bay in the last week, a sign of the Obama administration's piecemeal efforts to empty the prison before the end of his presidency.

But one of those men, a 47-year-old named Younous Chekkouri, has not received a warm welcome in his native Morocco. On arrival he was detained by Moroccan authorities and now may face terrorism-related charges. Last night, Chekkouri's lawyers learned he had been moved to Salé prison, a facility that has been singled out by human rights groups for torture of detainees.


In federal habeas corpus proceedings, the government ended up withdrawing many of its claims against Chekkouri, and in 2010, an interagency review recommended him for transfer out of Guantanamo. But much of the material from the habeas proceedings is still secret, under seal in the District Court in Washington D.C.

"What my client is now potentially facing is some kind of Groundhog Day from hell," said Crider. "He faces a 'trial' in Morocco on the basis of the selfsame allegations that, when tested in federal court in his Gitmo habeas case, collapsed."

In an emergency motion filed today, Reprieve asked the federal district court to order the government to immediately release three pleadings and produce another seven by October 1st. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment on the motion.


By min | September 25, 2015, 9:18 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

You Can Try to Put Cops on Wall St.

But they'll just find a way to replace them with their own people.

We just saw Elizabeth Warren on Colbert's new show. One of her solutions to keeping big business and the super wealthy in check is regulatory agencies that watch over them. It doesn't work so well if the people in charge of regulating things don't really want the watchdogs doing a good job.


The battle over an obscure yet important regulatory agency heated up on Wednesday as the progressive activist organization Credo demanded that SEC Chair Mary Jo White recuse herself from selecting the next head of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

The oversight board was created after the Enron debacle, and charged with policing the big accounting firms whose audits are supposed to keep public companies honest. Its current chair, James Doty, has turned into one of the most persistent regulatory reformers in Washington.

White is considering ousting Doty in favor of someone more amenable to corporate sensibilities. White's husband, John White, a partner with the corporate law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, sits on the PCAOB's Standing Advisory Group. And Credo says that he and his Wall Street clients may be influencing her decision-making.

The PCAOB regulates auditors, who are supposed to independently assess whether public companies are delivering accurate financial information to investors -- or cooking their books. Timely auditing can ferret out financial fraud, protecting investors and the broader economy.

But just four firms -- Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG -- control virtually all the auditing of public companies in the United States. And they often have lucrative business consulting relationships with the firms they audit. With only self-policing, auditors have every incentive to put their future profits ahead of the truth.

After Enron -- when its auditor, the now-defunct Arthur Andersen firm, was convicted and driven out of business for shredding audit documents -- Congress believed that the watchmen had to be watched as well. They passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which inaugurated the PCAOB, a non-profit corporation that sets auditing standards. Its five-member board gets appointed by the five SEC commissioners.

The worst part is this article says the SEC's Chief Accountant office is constantly undermining the PCAOB out of petty jealousy. Grow up. Do your job.

Here's a link to Credo's petition for those interested in signing it.

By min | September 25, 2015, 8:16 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

One step behind

I've complained before about ads where a Hulk obviously drawn to be the green Hulk was colored grey because that's how he was appearing at the time. Here's the opposite scenario. By the time this ad was running, the Hulk was green again (albeit in his merged form), but this is clearly the grey Hulk from his trip to Madripoor. Can't fool me!

By fnord12 | September 24, 2015, 1:00 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

Recap 69

The Hospitality of Nilbog

By min | September 24, 2015, 12:37 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

Is U.S. Foreign Policy Just Colonialism By Another Name?

This is for fnord12 and Banana Larry and the rest of you people who actually paid attention in history and civics class.

And what Francis is saying is that capitalism and our growing environmental disasters are rooted in an even older, larger problem: centuries of European colonialism. Moreover, he suggests this colonialism has never really ended, but merely changed forms -- and much of U.S. foreign policy that's purportedly about terrorism, or drugs, or corruption, or "free trade," is actually colonialism in disguise.

That's a perspective that no one in Congress -- from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders or anyone in between -- is going to get behind.

The Pope's most extensive denunciation of colonialism is probably his speech last June at the World Meeting of Popular Movements (an event nurtured by the Vatican at the Pope's initiative) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It's genuinely startling. Read this and try to imagine what would happen if it were spoken at the U.S. Capitol:

The Earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called "the dung of the devil." ... Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women ...

Let us always have at heart the Virgin Mary, a humble girl from small people lost on the fringes of a great empire. ... Mary is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. ...

[W]e see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice. ... The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain "free trade" treaties, and the imposition of measures of "austerity" which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor. ... At other times, under the noble guise of battling corruption, the narcotics trade and terrorism -- grave evils of our time which call for coordinated international action -- we see states being saddled with measures which have little to do with the resolution of these problems and which not infrequently worsen matters.


More recently, in a faint echo of Potosí, the International Monetary Fund tried to force the Bolivian city of Cochabamba to lease its water system to a consortium of international investors. Enormous, successful protests helped make then-Congressman Evo Morales famous -- enough so that he went on to become Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president.

And whether white people are ready to hear it or not, Bolivia's experience is the norm across the planet, not the exception. It's why President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina said what happened to Morales' plane was "the vestiges of a colonialism that we thought was completely overcome." Or why most of the world sees the Israel-Palestine conflict as not about democracy vs. terrorism, but about colonialism. Or why it sees the Trans-Pacific Partership as not about free trade vs. protectionism, but about colonialism. Or why it saw the invasion of Iraq as not about weapons of mass destruction, but colonialism.

Based on the current presidential race, I'd estimate that the U.S. political system will have the maturity and grace to hear this in maybe 300 years. And if the Pope brings any of this up at the Capitol, it's safe to say he's not going to be invited back.

By min | September 24, 2015, 8:38 AM | | Comments (2) | Link

The Day After

Rough night for the Wookies, who we found face down on the floor this morning. And no wonder, after all the partying they'd been doing. Plus Maru Maru was still recovering from being repeatedly elbow slammed by a two year old.

At least they didn't mess up the puzzle we put together.

Click to jumbo-size.

Confirmed today that it is Patty Cockrum art, and that it is Tamara Rahn standing next to Namor, and not Her/Kismet.

By fnord12 | September 20, 2015, 3:21 PM | Comics & My stupid life & Star Wars | Comments (7) | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Daredevil #18 - Nice wrap-up to a great run. I'm disappointed that the Shroud turned out to be really psychotic and not just faking it. And maybe Foggy's "Yay, complete remission!" is a bit pat, although it's not like a later writer couldn't bring his cancer back if they wanted to. But the resolution to the Kingpin story was done well and the ending, showing Daredevil's human side and acknowledging that he's a character that makes bad decisions, was great.

Ms. Marvel #18 - I said last issue that from the point of view of the Carol Danvers that i know, her appearance here seemed a little generic. But in this issue especially, from Kamala's perspective it worked perfectly. Her hero shows up and accepts her as part of the Ms. Marvel legacy. The fact that it was done in the bleak backdrop of Carol thinking that the current crisis isn't going to go away kept it from being too sappy. The situation with Kamala's brother was also fun, with the tender moment quickly getting replaced by normal sibling friction. And looking forward to what i assume is the final issue i'll be getting, after the ending here with mom saying that she knows that Kamala is Ms. Marvel.

By fnord12 | September 18, 2015, 12:26 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

Past Time to Get Off Facebook?


It's well established that joining a social network means trading privacy for information. Your Facebook friends, for example, get to see that picture of you looking like you might be stoned, and you get to "like" their posts celebrating the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. Or, perhaps you simply post about your 50th birthday party or celebrating Ramadan. Potential employers get to see all that stuff too, depending on your privacy settings, and there is evidence that some of them discriminate on the basis of age and against Muslims. Facebook, meanwhile, gets to target ads at you.

What's not as well appreciated, but becoming increasingly clear, is that users of social networks in general, and of social networking kingpin Facebook in particular, are ill-equipped to evaluate the price they're paying in this trade -- to determine just how much privacy they'll lose over time in exchange for status updates from their friends, and what that loss will eventually mean for themselves and their loved ones.


Facebook's data hoard is being mined in ever more inventive ways. To take just a few examples: information uploaded to Facebook was sought by the Manhattan DA in a recent social security fraud case; Facebook earlier this year announced research on new techniques for performing facial recognition on partial digital images; and the company last month defended a patent acquired while purchasing a company that could be used to evaluate a person's loan application based on the credit of his or her friends.

I started off on FB to manage the band's page. Then friends and family found me so now that the band's defunct, i'm on it so that i can pretend to keep in touch with said friends and family without actually doing so. I don't post pictures of myself, but i have been tagged, so i might as well have put them up.

Fnord12's always admonishing me for being paranoid about posting pics of us on the blog and such. "What are they going to do with your picture?", he says to me. Apparently, they're going to use it to decide if I qualify for a loan. O.o

In today's world of social media, blogging, and the internet, it's pretty much impossible not to have an online presence, so i should prolly not waste energy being paranoid because, really, what can you do? Even if you avoid social media, your friends are on it, posting pictures you're in. And email. How can we live without email, even though i know right now Microsoft is prolly mining everything it can from my account (NO! i'm not using your stupid cloud services for saving photos! stop telling me about them every time i log in!!!).

I vacillate between being completely paranoid and considering encryptying everything to being too lazy to actually implement anything the Electronic Frontier Foundation might suggest to "protect my data". Mostly, i swing to the "too lazy" side. It's just in my nature.

But, while i might not be able to give up email or this blog, i do think FB is a horrible hell hole that sucks you in and devours your time and energy, so mebbe i should quit it altogether. Find some other way to pretend i care what's going on in the lives of people i don't see on a daily/weekly basis, bring back the tradition of mailing of Christmas cards that include the obligatory write-up of "what happened in the last year that i can complain about". Who doesn't love getting those?

Of course, people can always leave Facebook. But you don't even have to be on Facebook to be on Facebook. When I entered Doctorow's name into Facebook's search engine, I got a page that included a neatly formatted teaser link to his Wikipedia entry, plus a section titled, "Photos of my friends and Cory Doctorow." He turns up in two pictures, uploaded and tagged by people who I'm friends with on the platform. At the bottom it reads, "This Page is automatically generated based on what Facebook users are interested in, and not affiliated with or endorsed by anyone associated with the topic."

By min | September 18, 2015, 9:24 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.