Bad Clearance Sale Merchandise...

wtf?

Yikes... whomever designed these (Victoria's Secret) should be fired.

An image of a half-high-heel, half-snowboot... a ridiculous shoe!

EFF: Sham Recount Process on Diebold E-voting Machines

elections, reform, news, politics, berkeley, litigation, friends, research, policy

This is remarkable.

"California law guarantees every voter the right to a recount and requires election officials to produce for public review all materials relevant to that recount," said Gregory Luke, attorney at the Santa Monica firm of Strumwasser & Woocher, which represents the plaintiffs Americans for Safe Access, and three individual Berkeley voters. "Because the Diebold machines purchased by Alameda County do not retain any ballots for the purpose of a recount, election officials must, at the very least, look at the information produced by the system's existing security features to give voters some circumstantial evidence that the machines performed properly and that vote data was not damaged or altered. Alameda County's refusal to allow the public to examine the audit logs and redundant memory renders the so-called 'recount' they conducted utterly meaningless." [...]

"Recounts are one of the most important ways we detect vote fraud and error," said Matt Zimmerman, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is consulting on the case. "Even after Californians have voter-verified paper trails in 2006, it will be important to ensure that audit logs, redundant memory, and other security measures are checked during a recount, along with the paper trails. Banks and credit card issuers use these measures to make sure our financial transactions are safe. Our votes deserve at least as much protection."

Something that I've heard that will likely come out in litigation is that Alameda Co. took absentee ballots that were unreadable by their optical scan machines and had election workers fill out new ballots attempting to decipher how each voter had voted. Not only that, but, on information and belief, they then threw away the original ballots and mixed in the copied ballots with the larger pool of absentee ballots.

If this is true and the amount of unreadible ballots is close to the margin of victory, this litigation could result in the election being redone. With all the complexity and angles of attack (intentional or misfunctional) it's truly amazing sometimes that we can trust the results of any given election, not just these close ones.

Who Supports Spyware?

privacy, research

Check out Ben Edelman's table of investments and investors into spyware companies:

Full story »

More on Huygens Descent

space, astronomy, astrophysics, research

Link: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/SEMXYGQ3K3E_0.html

(a follow-up to my previous Huygens post)

ESA has posted a neat timeline of Huygens' descent activity, "Huygens descent timeline" for 14 January. Note that the first event listed corresponds to 1:51 PST (10:51 CET). It will be covered live on NASA TV/Webcast. Note the last entry; we don't expect data to reach Earth until 7:42 PST (16:42 CET).

Classic Pizza Dough

recipe, food

So, here is a great pizza dough recipe that I use. This is an adaptation of Peter Reinhart's "Neo-Neapolitan Dough" from American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza. (Every pizza maker should own that book. Note: I list other pizza tips here.)

[Adapted] Neo-Neapolitan Dough

Makes 3 doughballs (for 14" thinnish-crust pies)

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups high-gluten or bread flour (Good AP flour, like King Arthur, works well also)

  • 1 tbsp. sugar

  • 2 tsp. salt

  • 1.25 tsp. active dry yeast

  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil (plus extra)

  • 1.75 cups water

Directions:

  1. First, put one cup of water in a pyrex (or other microwave-able dish) and zap for about 45 seconds. The water should be warm to lukewarm. Add yeast and sugar to this water and stir to dissolve. Set this aside. Within minutes, this yeast mixture should start to foam (if it doesn't you've got bad yeast for some reason.).

  2. Measure the flour and salt (you can also add a small amount of dried herbs for fun here) into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. With a hand whisk, mix the dry ingredients slightly.

  3. Add the oil to the yeast mixture and quickly poor yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 cup of water into bowl of flour. Mix initially with a spoon for about 30 seconds. If you are using an electric mixer, attach dough hook now. Mix until it forms a course ball of dough. (If it is too dry (wet), add water (flour) by the tbsp. It's better to err on the side of wet here.) Let the dough rest for a few minutes (you might want to loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap or whatever... we don't want to form crust yet!).

  4. Mix for another couple minutes or until a cohesive doughball pulls away from the wall of the bowl. Touch the dough first with a couple of fingers, it should be slightly sticky but not overly sticky. If it's not sticky, it's too dry and you'll want to mix in another tbsp. or two of water. (If it's overly sticky at this point, don't worry too much as we'll still hand knead which inevitably adds flour.) You'll want to do what Reinhart refers to as the window-pane test: pinch off a small piece of the dough and, pressing it flat and working it in a turning, center-to-edge motion, attempt to stretch the dough as thin as a window-pane. If you can do this, your dough isn't too dry. Let the dough rest for a minute.

  5. Even after a bowl mixing (hand or electric), you can never beat a couple passes at hand kneading. Flour a clean surface like a countertop (and your hands). Put the doughball on the floured surface. Taking the side of the dough farthest from you, pull it up and over (fold the doughball) and press it on the side of the dough nearest you. Immediately take the heals of your hands and press the doughball from above repeatedly. After pressing all of the doughball, refold from back to front and do again. Be careful to just add enough flour to the surface and your hands to keep it from sticking... we want as wet of a doughball as we can get. When the dough feels satiny and well-incorporated (a minute or two of kneading), you're done making the doughball.

  6. Cut the dough into three equal portions. Pick up each portion and form a doughball (It's not easy to describe how to form a doughball. You basically pull the dough over itself while turning... and pinch edges all at one point to close.). Have a soup bowl handy and poor a little olive oil in it. Put each doughball in the bowl and turn until it's covered in oil. Place each oiled doughball in a gallon-sized ziplock bag.

  7. Now, you've got two choices. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator or you can plan to make the pizzas later in the day (this assumes you started by noon).

    Rising Overnight: (This is by far the recommended way to rise dough. Why? Well as covered by me elsewhere it's important to keep the yeast fermentation reaction going slow for maximal taste (if it goes too fast, all the complex sugars are fermented away, which is most of the crust's flavor).) Let the oiled doughballs sit at room temperature (in their sealed ziplocks) for 15 minutes. Then place in the refrigerator (or freezer for pizza a few days in the future) overnight. Make sure that you take frozen doughballs out of the freezer and into the refrigerator at least 24 hours before you plan on cooking them. Remove doughballs from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan on making your pizzas (this will give the yeast a kick in the pants and allow the dough to warm up a bit... don't try and shape cold dough!)

    Rising Same-day: Let the doughballs rise in their bags at room temp. for one hour (or a little more if they don't seem to have risen). Remove them from their bags, knead once or twice on a very lightly floured surface, reform them into doughballs (they should be oh-so supple), re-oil the balls and return to their bags. Allow to rise further in the refrigerator for at least two hours and for 7-8 hours ideally. Remember to remove from the fridge two hours before you want to form the balls into pies.

  8. Remove the balls two hours before forming pies. Make sure that your oven is preheating for at least one hour at 500 F. When you remove the doughballs, one at a time, from their bags, you'll want to place them on a lightly floured surface large enough in diameter for your pie (14" is good for this size of doughball). First, press the ball down until it's about one-inch thick and roughly circular. With a floured hand, press the pointer and middle fingers of your dominant hand near the edge of the ball (not at the edge but about 1/4 of an inch from it) and press down. Turn the doughball and repeat (you're making a slightly elevated edge). When you get around once, press the middle outwards while turning. Eventually, you want a circular crust, with a slightly raised edge and a uniform thickness middle.

  9. You can get fancy here and experiment with taking the dough on the backs of your knuckles and stretching it, and if you're adventurous, throwing the crust in the air so that the centrifugal force stretches the dough outwards from the center. You could also just keep the dough on a floured surface and continue turning and pressing with a flat hand (this is how it's done in Italy, no throwing of food!). When you've got the crust ready, fold it quickly in half and transfer to a wooden baker's or pizza peel (or a cookie sheet without edges) that has been covered with cornmeal. The crust should move on the peel. Unfold the crust (it's easier to move crust when it is folded, believe me). Now, it's time to construct the pizza.

  10. Something at this point that really improves pizza is conditioning the dough. You'll want to make a quick mixture of one clove garlic (pressed), 2 tbsp. of extra light olive oil and about 1/2 tsp. of sugar (enough to condition two crusts). Brush or spread some of this on to the crust before putting any toppings on it (be careful not to put too much oil on it!). You want the oil mixture to cover every inch of the exposed top-side of the crust. (Conditioning the dough does two things, mainly: 1) it allows for two distinct layers of toppings and crust instead of the toppings making the dough too soggy and; 2) the sugar kills the spiciness of the raw garlic and causes the crust to brown nicely and taste heavenly).

  11. Put whatever the hell you want on top... as a good crust is 80% of a good pizza, you could put mediocre stuff on this crust and it would taste good. You should have fun with it.

Note that this may sound like a lot of work but it's really not, especially after you get the hang of it and especially considering the amazing pizza you can make with it (and cinnamon rolls!).

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