30 June 2013

The People Have Spoken: Gun Violence Report

In the post about Gun Facts from a couple days ago Reader Kelly asks:
Were there any stats for accidental death by guns?
Good question. I did a quick scan of the report but couldn't find how they parsed their data. It's probably in there but it's 125 pages and I don't have time to read through it all right now. I'll do that over the course of the week (fun 4th of July activity!) and get back to you.

The report is easy enough to follow that I recommend anyone with a passing interest give it a read or at least a quick scan. The subject is near and dear to my (cold/dead/empty) heart so I'll give it a thorough review.

You can download your own copy if you give the National Academy of Sciences your email address or view a shared version on google drive.

Let's Do This: Brioche and Challah Bread Pudding

Long-time readers know that I like to make (and eat) desserts. I indulge this hobby by taking the occasional baking class down at the local fancy baking place. Super fun. So far I've taken Basic Breads, Biscuits and Scones, and most recently, How to Make Challah and Brioche and Related Breads and Rolls that are Made from Challah and Brioche Doughs.*

I tried to take a Chocolate Breads class for the past three months but it's only offered once a month and no one enrolled besides me. At any point. In three months. Apparently I'm the only person in the greater Newport Beach area that likes to do cool shit. Since Chocolate Breads probably won't happen until I get enough people to sign up (which I'm working on) I opted to take what I could get.

How can I make this more fattening?
The class was awesome. Great instructor, learned a ton, made a big pile of enormous breadstuffs. Like, a big pile: kaiser rolls, challah, brioche cinnamon roll, brioche bun thing, and a take-home bundle of challah dough which I threw away because ugh, so much bread. Fresh made from scratch means that it starts to go stale right away. Great for eating, not so great for storing.

Fortunately, stale bread is a key ingredient in one of my all-time favorite desserts: bread pudding. I love ice cream, custards (e.g. pies), puddings of all types, egg nog, french toast (bread pudding for breakfast!), arroz con leche (a particular favorite), chocolate milk, whatever you can put milk, sugar and eggs in and serve hot, cold, or room temperature: I'll eat it. And probably quite a lot of it, if we're being honest. So, big pile of rapidly-becoming-stale ultra premium handmade breads/rolls and a few free minutes the afternoon - what to do?

Holy shit let's get this party started! First things first, always put on some pumping jams to keep you company while you're cooking. Turn that shit up and get ready to get down. Then assemble your ingredients.

I Could Eat This With A Spoon; Instead I Used My Hands
The fun thing about bread pudding is that you just mix up your ratio of milk/cream and eggs with your other stuff and put it all in a bowl. It's super easy. I opted to add golden raisins and some chocolate chips to mine. I felt like they balanced out the egg, milk and cream quite nicely. Mix all that up with bread that already has so much butter in it that if you ever made it you would never, ever eat it ever again and leave it sit for a few hours. Then you slop it into a casserole pan and put it in the oven for a good long while.

Bake it up for a really long time and eventually you get this:

Sent this photo to my Mom and she said, "Don't make yourself sick."

Et voila! That's a big tub of delicious right there.

As per usual with these things I'll package it up and give most of it away tomorrow. I can't have it in the house. There's no one around to restart my heart when my aorta clogs. It's not shippable or I would be boxing it up for y'all tonight.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go make myself sick eat some dessert. 

* Possibly not the actual class title.

25 June 2013

The Facts: Gun Data

The following is cribbed direct from Slate, so I'm probably in violation of their copyright, but we're not making any money over here so hopefully they won't mind. Go there and view the full post with all the advertising for more information.

My main beef with the data is that they include suicides in their findings of 'gun violence', which skews the numbers quite dramatically. Aside from that I don't disagree with the conclusions outlined by Mr. Saletan below. I'll dig into the report more carefully later on (look forward to that), but this is a decent summary.

The gun control debate is certainly worth reopening. But if we’re going to reopen it, let’s not just rethink the politics. Let’s take another look at the facts. Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the existing research on gun violence and recommend future studies. That report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, is now complete. Its findings won’t entirely please the Obama administration or the NRA, but all of us should consider them. Here’s a list of the 10 most salient or surprising takeaways

1. The United States has an indisputable gun violence problem. According to the report, “the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.”

2. Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse. “Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,” the report notes. “Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.” Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

3. We have 300 million firearms, but only 100 million are handguns. According to the report, “In 2007, one estimate placed the total number of firearms in the country at 294 million: ‘106 million handguns, 105 million rifles, and 83 million shotguns.’ ” This translates to nearly nine guns for every 10 people, a per capita ownership rate nearly 50 percent higher than the next most armed country. But American gun ownership is concentrated, not universal: In a December 2012 Gallup poll, “43 percent of those surveyed reported having a gun in the home.”

4. Handguns are the problem. Despite being outnumbered by long guns, “Handguns are used in more than 87 percent of violent crimes,” the report notes. In 2011, “handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents.” Why do criminals prefer handguns? One reason, according to surveys of felons, is that they’re “easily concealable.”

5. Mass shootings aren’t the problem. “The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,” says the report. “Since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons.” Compare that with the 335,000 gun deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone.

6. Gun suicide is a bigger killer than gun homicide. From 2000 to 2010, “firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States,” says the report. Firearm sales are often a warning: Two studies found that “a small but significant fraction of gun suicides are committed within days to weeks after the purchase of a handgun, and both also indicate that gun purchasers have an elevated risk of suicide for many years after the purchase of the gun.”

7. Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was 'used' by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

8. Carrying guns for self-defense is an arms race. The prevalence of firearm violence near “drug markets … could be a consequence of drug dealers carrying guns for self-defense against thieves or other adversaries who are likely to be armed,” says the report. In these communities, “individuals not involved in the drug markets have similar incentives for possessing guns.” According to a Pew Foundation report, “the vast majority of gun owners say that having a gun makes them feel safer. And far more today than in 1999 cite protection—rather than hunting or other activities—as the major reason for why they own guns.”

9. Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives. “Two-thirds of homicides of ex- and current spouses were committed [with] firearms,” the report observes. “In locations where individuals under restraining orders to stay away from current or ex-partners are prohibited from access to firearms, female partner homicide is reduced by 7 percent.”

10. It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.” However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.

REPEAT OFFENDER: Feel the Love by Rudimental feat. John Newman

Bringing this back.
No reason, except it's special to me and I wanted to move that other post off the top of the page.
If you want a new/old song from the Library o' Cheese, then try this.

24 June 2013

Handstands are Good for You

100% Paleo, 10% of the Time
Sometimes at the gym we do handstand push ups. I don't remember when this picture was taken but I remember that the backs of my shoes kept sticking to the whiteboard, which sucked. That was the last time I did handstand push ups against the whiteboard. Never again.

Using the mat is kind of cheat-y; usually the turf and my afro are advantage enough. 

Shirts are optional. So is the sun, apparently, because the whiteboard and I share a remarkably similar hue.

23 June 2013

SRV: Life by the Drop

First heard this song what feels like a lifetime ago. Revisited it today and it's still great. It's a departure from recent musical posts, but whatever. Maybe the people that can't stand the dance jamz will dig on this. Or at least not hate it as much.

SRV was mostly known as a guitar player but his singing in this is what makes it so good. Two and a half minutes of genius.

See you out there.

20 June 2013

Back to Back Bears

You know what's better than an AR-15? An AR-15 with Pedobear on the rail. It's almost as good as the guy that wrote "No Pew" next to where it says SAFE, and "PEW PEW PEW" where it says FIRE.

I laughed.

Bonus: iron sights. Keeping it real! 

17 June 2013

Whatcha doin up there?

Hey, whatcha' doin? Got any snacks?

No, it's cool I'll come up. No, really, I don't mind.


No snacks?? You sure? Oh.


The People Have Spoken!

Feedback on the feedback...

Sorry for the short window on cookies. I haven't shipped cookies in a long time, mostly because it's an expensive, time-consuming pain in the ass. It's fun to make them and the dough is delicious but it doesn't take long for them to become an albatross. It'll be a while before I do it again, mainly because I need to get back on the program after the binge. I feel fat, is what I mean. But cookies are soooo gooood.

Speaking of fat, you know what's worse than a bloated whale? A bloated sunburned whale. My fresh to death sunburn was annoying shortly after it happened but it has blossomed into a sleep-interrupting misery. It doesn't look like much but wow is it uncomfortable. Enh, it looks bad but I would expect it to look worse given how annoying/painful it is. Let's go eat some ibuprofen! Is that funny? Only if it is happening to someone else.


The new XBox One (aka Xbone) promises to be a piece of sweet, sweet gaming goodness. Unfortunately the shitbricks over at microsoft know that the die hard xbox owners (like me) will buy a new xbox when it comes out, even if it costs more than I would prefer to spend.

When confronted with this cost, the head of Xbox Don Mattrick said he was 'over delivering on value', and while I don't agree with 'over delivering', it does deliver value. I pay $500 once, pay $12 a month for the live service, buy some games, and get hundreds or thousands of hours of entertainment out of it. Plus I get to talk to my friends while I play, which is sweet. Even with the fixed costs (internet connection, live service, new games), it's still good value for money. If you have a multiple users you get even more value for money.

What's ridiculous is that Mattrick is claiming they are adding value in areas that have absolutely no value to me whatsoever. He mentions Twitch streaming, Skype, SmartGlass and Kinect. It's a very good list of things I don't care that my gaming console can do: stream video of other people playing games (twitch), talk on the phone (skype), SmartGlass (whatever that is), and watch me wave my arms around (kinect). I want it to play games and stream videos. That's all. But that doesn't grow the business so I get a good core system wrapped up in bullshit. Reminds me of something Microsoft is well known for, but I can't quite put my finger on it... 

16 June 2013

Some People Never Learn

I am sun-sensitive. I am also an idiot, so now I have a sunburn.

Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to go to the park and read for a bit. I took precautions, put sunscreen everywhere I could reach. The breakdown was when I opted to sit in a way that exposed the part I can't reach (my back) to the noon sun for an extended period (40 minutes, if we're counting).

My thinking, if you can call it that, was that I would sit in such a way that my back wouldn't get much sun, just my shoulders. You could charitably call my choices 'optimistic', but I think 'stupid' is probably more accurate. It was too much sun for much too long.

No doubt you would love a picture but there isn't much to see. Imagine the last time you had an uncomfortable sunburn on your back - it's exactly like that. Ugh.

Unrelated: True Blood is on HBO tonight. Good thing I have an iPad and a friend's HBOgo account information. Har.

11 June 2013

The People Have Spoken (again)

Updates from the readership!

Regarding that deliciously over the top AVB remix post, Big Cheese says:

you can its tell AVB from the first baseline. Wow. hard driving cheese, in the most outsanding way. pretty sure PVD would rock this out too.

I am literally chuckling and smiling ear to ear with the awesome cheese as I type this. and the guitar come in.

lol. wow. thank for sharing

// Yesss don't even try and fight the sweet sweetness of that jam. It is so over the top.  Very glad you liked it. Even the structure of the song acknowledges that it only has one role to play: intro, build, build, build, mega cheese breakdown, outro. There is like 2:30 of outro. Why so much? Well, why not? You already got to the good part and you should be mixing into another song already. Who needs an ending once you're done with the middle? 

Re: my superb experience at the ball park years ago with himself and Future Mrs. Newbs, Ze Newbs says: 

Ahhhhh, those were the days. Sneaking warm, frothy beers into the yard. I'm not sure why I stopped that practice. While I do make more than $600/year now, it isn't like I can afford $10.25 a beer. Unrelated: I've got tickets for the [date redacted]. Consider yourself invited. Seats are closer to the field but beers won't be any colder/less frothy. 

//How did we sneak the beers in? Didn't we give them to Future Mrs. Newbs to carry in her handbag? IIRC they were too big to stuff into our pockets because they were tallboys. Maybe I gave my beers to her and you had yours in your pockets with a sweatshirt or jacket tied at the waist for stealth? Memory is faulty at best. I remember at least 16 oz of warm, foamy goodness per can. So good. Except not really good. Yet still somehow good.

Thanks for reading.

10 June 2013

No Takers?

Not Paleo
UPDATE: Occasional reader and regular baseball fan Ze Newbs has decided to take advantage of the limited time offer. So cookies are gone, for now. I'll let you know when I do it again.

Apparently my mini-contest didn't set the world on fire. The readership isn't interested in guessing games. Which I can understand.

Here's the thing: I need to get these g-damn fat cakes the fuck out of my house. I am sick with dough bloat. You want some cookies? Email me your shipping address. They go out tomorrow (Tuesday, 11 June).

Not sure how many it'll be. Figure a dozen or thereabouts. Depends how many I stuff in my face before I get them boxed up.

Don't forget that one of my favorite breakfasts is a cookie in the bottom of a bowl of Crispix. You usually always run out of cookie before you run out of cereal so best practice is to just slide another cookie under the floating cereal layer and carry on. I average four cookies per bowl. It really gets the day (and your diabetes) started.

This was the first batch of cookies in my current apartment. No I didn't move, I just never baked anything here. You care. The best part was that as I was in the middle of putting it together I noticed I was missing some key hardware. Had to cycle over to Jefe's house to borrow.

You probably think I didn't have a baking sheet or mixer or something. Ahh, no. I have a wide selection of premium baking implements, tools and appliances; I was missing the teaspoons I need to scoop the dough.* Why no teaspoons? Because the dinnerware got jettisoned a couple moves ago and I never re-bought because the Girl and I were going to move in together. We know how that worked out. :: sad faces ::

Jefe and his Mrs. came through so no bigs. I delivered them a generous portion of dough by way of thanks. Now they're sick with dough bloat too! Synergy!

* I imagine it is possible, in theory, to bake cookies without using teaspoons to scoop the dough but I've never done it in my many, many efforts. So F that noise.

09 June 2013

What Are You Looking At?

Guess Which One is Butterball McFatty and I Will Send You Cookies (SRSLY)
Wrote a different post to accompany this photo but after I read it I took it down. Mainly because it sucked.

Saved the picture though, which is good, because...

Bumped into a girl from the gym at the farmers market today and was talking about, what else, the gym.* I mentioned that she was featured on the gym website in a photo, asked how she felt about it. She said she didn't love the picture, but at least her "calves looked good".

I was too confused to laugh at first (Wait, what? Calves? Back up - were they even IN the picture?) but after a couple beats I had a good chuckle and she thought I was making fun of her. I wasn't, at least not intentionally. I was laughing about the disconnect between what we see from the inside vs. what other people see from the outside.

By way of example, in the photo above I see a lazy slob that didn't finish his workout on Friday and needs to work harder, maybe cut back on the desserts a little (maybe - I love desserts). You probably just see a bunch of people getting exercise. And you're not wrong. But neither am I.

*First rule of crossfit: you always have to talk about crossfit. Which is kind of silly because it's true of everything. What do you think the people in my yoga classes talk about? The shit they do in their free time, which: yoga.  **

** I miss talking about yoga with someone from class. It's a good way to digest the experience.

07 June 2013

The Worst

I hate those backpack blower things that the landscape maintenance guys use to push leaves / grass / dust around. HATE. They are more annoying than a piece of junk Hardly Dangerous motorcycle drive by, which is saying something. At least those things leave (eventually). The blower's constantly changing pitch and location is too loud to ignore, and too varied to numb out. It's specially designed to invade your ears. Ugh.

Planes? Fly that shit. Cars? Whatevs. Motorcycles? At least it's got two wheels. Music? Rock out. Loud 2-stroke motor blowing air? Fuck you.

06 June 2013

Repeat Offender - CUE IT UP AGAIN

Oh did you want that again, in a mashup? Because I got that for you right here. Guitars? Check. Strings? Check. Extra long build and breakdown? Check and check! This is some next-level shit, a music type designed for a narrow subset of people. But it is an exemplary example of its type. So.

Bring the Noise, with a Side of Cheese

My list of saccharine-sweet white-guy-music guilty pleasures has, at varying times, included some pretty damn suspect bands. Like, really suspect. I once paid good green American money for a Nickelback record. Which, in terms of discriminating taste, is equivalent to eating at a Taco Bell inside a Wal-Mart that shares a parking lot with McDonalds. There are numerous other dated examples.

I have a strong feeling that this remix is one of those tracks I will look back on and say, man, how did I listen to that shit? Because it's classic white-guy-music mixed with some mega-cheese synth trance? What the fuck?

But then I listen to it and it's great. So here we are. Judge all you want; I'll be over in the corner, getting my dance on.


04 June 2013

Things that I have seen: A Sunset at Pac Bell Park

We Were a Bit Further Down the Line (towards the fair pole)
Long time readers know how I feel about baseball (hint: I don't much care for it). But in Jonah Keri's rankings of the best ballpark experiences I was reminded of how great it can be to go to a baseball game.

Many years ago Ze Newbs dragged me to a ball game at the then Pac Bell Park. Future Mrs. Newbs was also in attendance; she's a fan, and it was good she was there to chaperone us in case we overindulged (probability of which was fixed at 100%).

We still joke about it because the Giants got spanked, I think by the Blue Jays, and although the score was something like 10-3 going into the 8th His Nibs refused to let us leave early. He's like that. The Jays tacked on a few more runs and we stuck around for the desultory, inevitable conclusion.

Our seats were in the way, way tippy top along the right-field line. Literally, we were in the very top row. It was a bit of a hike but we had a commanding view of the field and a panoramic view across the bay.

Downside was the beers we smuggled in were a bit frothy from the climb and when I cracked one open in the second inning my sneaky ankle-level opening technique (to avoid the hawkeyed septuagenarian security personnel) was directly behind the neck of the poor gentleman sitting in front of me. He caught some a considerable amount of the overspray on his neck/collar, which sucked for everyone, but mostly for him. It wasn't cool but what can you do? BEERS.

Another highlight of our vantage was that on a temperate early Fall night in the park you can watch the landscape directly in front of you cascade through a series of beautiful colors as the sun goes down. If you're very lucky it will be clear enough for the windows across the bay to reflect pinpoints of light as the sun sets way off to your left. Imagine a golden landscape with highlights of reflecting windows and the (otherwise hideous) Bay Bridge shimmering across the water. It was impossibly, absurdly beautiful, and I will never forget it.

There are no bad seats in Pac Bell AT&T Park but if you can get a ticket high on the right-field line then you are in for a treat. It helps to have awesome peeps to keep you company. Also the Giants will do baseball, if you're into that.

01 June 2013

It's good to have goals: Falcao

I invite you to watch this (annoyingly obscured around the edges) video of Radamel Falcao scoring unbelievable goals and tell me if he's right- or left-footed.

After watching it I think I have an idea but I'm not certain. There's no way to know.