Archive for December, 2013


December 31, 2013

So, being lazy, last week I just pointed to a recipe for Verylongnameinvolvingeggnog oatmeal. That wasn’t very helpful to those of us without steel-cut oats, or whose medications contraindicate any breakfast preparations involving heavy equipment. So, herewith, a recipe based on two weeks of experimentation, which I was going to call Verylongnameinvolvingeggnogandrolled oatmeal, but which I just decided to call OatNog.

I won’t go into a blow-by-blow description of the discovery process. It would be like Edison publishing a book titled “Nine Thousand More Ways Not To Make A Light Bulb“. What I found was, the thick nog didn’t absorb very fast, so the rolled oats didn’t cook properly if one just dumped eggnog and water into the pan. I was up to fifteen minutes, and the oats were still as flat as if they’d been run over with a metal cylinder. As with last week’s recipe, you have to let it sit overnight. You don’t need to slow cook it, but you do need to long-soak it. There’s also an issue with balancing the nog/water ratio. Once the nog has been absorbed, you are a little short on water for the cooking process. A little, not a lot.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, half a cup of eggnog, half a cup of water, plus a couple of tablespoons for makeup, fat three-finger pinch of dried, sweetened, cranberries, salt. Mix all the ingredients the night before. In the morning, top off with a tablespoon of water, if you think it needs it. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Warning: you have to stay close and stir often, as this recipe will thicken fast and stick to the bottom of your non-stick pot.

Results: Very good. Rich and creamy.* Festive.

Rating: *****

*Note: It isn’t necessary with this recipe, but I found that one way to make the rather thin eggnog you buy in the store a little richer is to add a shot of flavored non-dairy creamer to the glass. I use Nestles Italian Sweet Cream.

Other People’s Oatmeal

December 25, 2013

Being lazy in these pre-post-Christmas/Boxing Day hours, and since we don’t have any dustbinmen to gift, I’m linking to a recipe what I found on the web. Haven’t tried it yet*, but I’ll say this, I’ve never seen so many modifiers in a recipe title.

Herewith, Overnight, Slow Cooker, Eggnog Cranberry Steel-Cut Oatmeal…. (Burritos? Lasagna? Help me out here).

If I posted this at my usual time, you wouldn’t be able to have it ready for the Boxing Day Hunt Breakfast, so I’m scheduling it for early Christmas evening, when you’re wondering what to do with all the leftovers. This will help, but you’ll still need to find a use for the turkey.

*I am a little reluctant to use my only slow-cooker for a recipe that says you have to grease the pot, otherwise “You’ll need a hammer and chisel to get the slow cooker clean”. I mean, this is breakfast, not Igor Bars. Plus, I don’t have any steel-cut oats.

How many plots has NSA foiled?

December 23, 2013

TechDirt reports that both Judge Richard Leon, and the The President’s Review Group appear stunned at the lack of evidence for the “54 plots” that NSA has been telling us for half a year now that they have prevented.

As I’ve said before, I’m not stunned. I’m just surprised they didn’t go whole hog and shoot for a higher number.*


*Sorry about the quality. Best I could find.


December 23, 2013

Headline-mongering websites are all yelling about how NSA paid RSA to install a backdoor into their products. There’s less here, and more, than meets the eye.

The news broke when Reuters published an article on how NSA had paid RSA $10million to make the NSA-developed Dual Elliptic Curve algorithm the default random number generator in their BSafe crypto tool. The article does not say, but this was presumably in 2005 or 2006.

In response, the various Internet news sites began running headlines along the lines of RSA took NSA money to put a backdoor in BSafe. Headlines like this gain lots of hits, but are somewhat misleading.

RSA responded by saying:

RSA, as a security company, never divulges details of customer engagements, but we also categorically state that we have never entered into any contract or engaged in any project with the intention of weakening RSA’s products, or introducing potential ‘backdoors’ into our products for anyone’s use.

This is as careful a case of lawyerly wording as you will see until NSA issues its next denial. Notice the “never divulges details of customer engagements” statement. This is a reasonable policy for a security company, but it shouts that they did take the money. But also notice the “with the intention of weakening” statement. Nothing they did was intended to weaken their product.

My take, which is only alluded to in the various reports, is that NSA, at the time a trusted player in the crypto field — after all one of their missions is Information Assurance, and they regularly provide advice to the private sector — approached RSA management and said they felt strongly enough about secure communications in these post-9/11 days that they’d gladly provide an additional business reason to use the algorithm. So NIST supports the algorithm. NSA is pushing it. And RSA already (they say) made the decision to use it back in 2004. That $10million is just found money.

In other contexts, this is called social engineering. You convince the target that the action you want them to take is the action they want to take. No, not in other contexts. In exactly this context: an evil-doer wants to exploit the gullibility of a trusting person in order to get them to install malware to their system. So, the headlines should say: NSA dupes RSA into installing malware. Or something like that.

By the way, this isn’t the first time that NSA has been under fire for having too much influence on commercial crypto security. Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, before Osama scared us all over a cliff, people were already questioning their actions. RSA will likely take a major business hit because of this, and neither they nor any other security products firm will be free of the taint of NSA manipulation for years to come.

A Tuna Oatmeal Christmas

December 19, 2013

We had open-face tuna salad sandwiches the other day, just the fare for cold winter lunches. As chance would have it, there was some of the tuna salad mix left over. We make a very simple salad: canned tuna, mayonnaise, sweet dill pickle chunks. None of this  “lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers…” stuff for us. I did the usual baseline oatmeal (using plain water) then added a fat teaspoon of tuna salad.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of water, teaspoon of tuna salad, no extra salt, no potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the tuna at the very end.

Results: Very good. Very tuna-y. Needed more pickle. Think of it as hamburger helper for tuna.

Rating: *****

Girls und Panzer – The DVD

December 18, 2013

My full collection of commentary on GaruPan can be found in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, A Study in Command, Girls und Feminism, and the DVD

UPDATE: I thought I’d enhance the value of this entry by listing the three Garupan DVDs I’m aware of. None of them is perfect.

1. Cheap Malyasian copy that claims 12 episodes (and numbers them that way) but really is just the first ten episodes from Japan, plus the two fillers (5.5 and 10.5) renumbered. CON: Episodes 11 and 12 are missing. PRO: It’s the only one with Katyusha.

2. Cheap Malaysian copy of all 12 regular episodes, as aired in the US. CON: the Katyusha minute has been cut out.

3. Official US release of all 12 episodes, with better subtitles and corrected animation. CON: Katyusha has been replaced by a minute of generic music. This is the one I describe below.

So, here’s our penultimate antepenultimate Garupan entry (bit of social commentary to follow, and I’m still waiting for the OVA). I got the full-up US version of the DVD from Amazon last week, and just now marathoned it. As you might expect, it’s very close to the Crunchyroll streamed version, but there are some interesting differences in the details. There’s no great narrative flow here, so I’ll just give you an unsorted list.

Visually, it looks a lot better on the bigger TV screen than on my monitor. One drawback to this is, the CG-ness of the tanks is more obvious (particularly when anime figures are integrated), but after a while, you don’t notice. Other effects are enhanced — the snow explosions look better, as does the snow kicked up by the tracks. Small animation errors have been corrected. The national match is now the 63rd both times you see it (instead of 63rd one place and 74th the other). After the match with Saunders, one of the Rabbit Team was left out of one of the shots in the streaming version, but appeared in the following close-up. She’s in both shots now, but not very well done.

The sound is about the same, although in spots it seems more subdued. That might be because I’ve been listening to the full symphonic soundtrack so much.

Translator’s notes have been added, and I was right about the “any old iron” call in Episode 10. Also in Episode 10, they explain that katsu (カツ, cutlet = fried, breaded chicken/pork/etc) has the same pronunciation as katsu (かつ, to win), which is why all the chicken puns for the Student Council, and why everybody’s eating fried, breaded something.

Translator’s fluffs: In Episode 11, the STuG III is told to aim at the Lange next, the Lange looking like a bigger Hetzer. Actually, what the Japanese says is onii-chan, or “it looks like Hetzer’s older brother”. Interestingly, the English dub gets it right. In Episode 10, when the hall monitors are preparing their poster, it doesn’t just say “how to support your team“, as the DVD would have it. A Japanese friend of mine gave me some of the translation I mentioned in an earlier entry. It also says: “no booing, no flash [cameras], no costumes” — more like what you’d expect the hall monitors to write.

The Katyusha kerfullfle: As I mentioned in an earlier essay, the original program broadcast in Japan included a one-minute segment of the Pravda team singing Katyusha as they drove into battle. That minute was cut out of the Chrunchyroll stream because of the idiotic copyright status of the song in the US, which is different from the rest of the world. They haven’t solved the copyright issues yet, but the DVD version makes a valiant attempt to patch the hole. They include the edited minute, but with generic moujik music. They even went so far as to edit the characters so that their mouths didn’t move, because there’s no singing. This makes for a creepy ten or fifteen seconds of motionless facetime. I guess that’s the best they could do under the circumstances.

Extras: Nothing much. Clean openings and endings. Japanese trailers and ads.

Pulled Oats

December 5, 2013

MJ made a large batch of pulled pork, which we’ve been grazing on for the last few days. It’s a little spicy, but it tastes good over rice or an english muffin half, so why not over oatmeal? Some of the sauce was pooled in the low spots, so I scooped up a bunch of that, plus whatever shards came along with it, and dumped it in my morning oatmeal. Recognizing, of course, that this kindof undermines the whole low cholesterol, healthy fibre reason for eating the stuff in the first place.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, large glop of pulled pork sauce, with associated meat fragments, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: I’d eat it again. It needed the salt. I didn’t overdo it on the meat, so it wasn’t very noticeable. The spices came through just fine.

Rating: *****