Don't be afraid of polenta

recipe, food

Man, I love polenta (which is the glorified Italian version of the South's grits). It's essentially medium-ground corn meal cooked to a porridge state -- for soft polenta -- and sometimes cooled -- for the hard version of polenta. Many people also love polenta but are afraid to make it themselves. That's just hogwash.

If you think that cooking polenta requires 45 minutes of stirring a cornmeal goo... you'd be right... if you're talking about the traditional method of cooking polenta. I'm a big fan of tradition where its results are superior; however, in the case of polenta, screw tradition.

Here's a wonderful polenta meal. The following is a good soft polenta with mushroom sauce and a companion salad. It should take about 1.5 hours (start by making the salad up to adding dressing and then start polenta). (Note: you can let the polenta cool for hours in a baking dish or in muffin pans to get hard polenta pieces for broiling, etc.)

Read on for recipes for "Polenta with Portabello Mushroom Sauce" and "Arugula, Tomato and Black Olive Salad"...

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recipe, food
The best grilled shrimp

We had a great Memorial Day BBQ. With grilled potatoes, corn, shrimp, onions, turkey sausage and veggie doggers. You can see more over at Flickr.

The grilled shrimp I did were especially good. The best I've ever done and the best I've ever had. Here's a shot at a recipe:

Read on for a recipe for "Grilled Shrimp"...

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Buttermilk Pecan Pralines

recipe, family, food

From my stepmom, Sherrie. These are divine, buttery, sugary and nutty. You'll need a thermometer, and you'll probably want one with a temperature timer so that you can set it to go off at a specific temperature.

Read on for a recipe for "Buttermilk Pecan Pralines"...

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AT&T does bad redaction in EFF case

hacks, secrecy, friends, legal

Declan has an interesting article where he notes that AT&T improperly redacted a legal filing yesterday ("AT&T leaks sensitive info in NSA suit"):

Lawyers for AT&T accidentally released sensitive information while defending a lawsuit that accuses the company of facilitating a government wiretapping program, CNET has learned.

AT&T's attorneys this week filed a 25-page legal brief striped with thick black lines that were intended to obscure portions of three pages and render them unreadable.

But the obscured text nevertheless can be copied and pasted inside some PDF readers, including Preview under Apple's OS X and the xpdf utility used with X11.

New Research Forthcoming on Racial Gap in Voting Technology

elections, accessibility, problems, research, policy, usability

I was recently reviewing the upcoming Brennan Center report on the extensive threat modeling of voting systems that they've done. I saw this in the text (this is reprinted in this blog with the permission of the Brennan Center):

Central Count Optical Scanners have been shown to lose far more votes than [Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)]. In precincts with over 30% African American voters, for example, the lost or "residual" vote rate for Central Count Optical Scanners has been shown to be as high as 4.1% as compared with 0.9% for PCOS. The lack of over/undervote protection on Central Count Optical Scanners may be the reason for this difference.

I figured the citation to support this data would be to the Tomz and Van Houweling paper1 from 2003. However, it appears to be new research from David Kimball; it's cited like this:

Critical Perspectives on Voting Technology, Usability (forthcoming June 2006) (original research by Prof. David Kimball).


Incidentally, I would maintain that this difference betwwen the technologies is likely due to the lack of feedback about whether or not a ballot is well-formed before it is cast. I'm not sure the phrase above about "protection" fully encompasses that idea. I'm uncertain as to whether this Critical Perspectives on Voting Technology book will include the threat modeling report as a chapter or whether it will be separately released. I guess I'll have to wait until the research is released!

1 Michael Tomz and Robert P. Van Houweling, How Does Voting Equipment Affect the Racial Gap in Voided Ballots? 47 AM. J. OF POL. SCI. 46 (2003), available at:

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