CK Links--Friday March 27, 2015

Links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Fascinating article about the creator of Cheez Whiz, and how his creation slowly evolved into "pseudo-cheese." (National Post)

Seven quick low-carb breakfast ideas. (A Sweet Life)

Your vitamins... aren't really vitamins. From the Author of Vitamania. (Slate)

Soda taxes have no effect on consumption. (Washington Post)

If California voters don't want to be forced to buy cage free eggs, why in the world did they vote for a cage-free egg bill? Why is there such a gap between how people vote and how they shop? (Jayson Lusk)

Thoughts on heat intensity and cooking. (Beyond Salmon)

Should websites shut down comments? No way. (David Jaxon)

Related: Best Practices to Raise the Level of Discussion on Your Blog

Why markets are smarter than even the smartest, most high-integrity central planners. (Ben Casnocha)

China used more cement between 2011-2013 than the USA used across the entire 20th Century. (WonkBlog)

The life and death of blogs. (Early Retirement Extreme)





Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Simple Spicy Sausage and White Bean Cassoulet

This simplified cassoulet recipe is easy, hearty and incredibly delicious. And while it may not qualify for laughably cheap, it's still pretty darn inexpensive. Enjoy!

Simple Spicy Sausage and White Bean Cassoulet

Ingredients:
3-4 hot italian-style sausage links, cut in half
1 large onion, cut into smallish wedges
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
½ teaspoon ground thyme
A few shakes of hot red pepper flakes
A couple splashes of olive oil (maybe ⅛ of a cup in total)
A couple splashes of balsamic vinegar (a few Tablespoons, roughly)
Black pepper and salt (optional) to taste

2 14.5-ounce cans of white beans, drained and well-rinsed
A very generous 1/3 cup white wine

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 425F (220C).

2) In a large oven-safe pan or casserole dish, place the diced tomatoes, onion wedges and garlic. Then add the sausages, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and add the ground thyme, salt and pepper.

3) Cook uncovered at 425F/220C for 25-30 minutes, or until the sausages are fully cooked. Add the beans and white wine, combine well, and then place back in the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with an optional side of brown rice.

Serves 5-6.

Recipe Notes:
1) This is a low-risk recipe with all sorts of tolerances. It doesn't matter how you arrange the various ingredients in the casserole dish (although I do recommend setting the sausages on top so they can roast nicely in the oven's heat). The ingredients and quantities are flexible. Heck, you don't even really have to sweat the cooking time all that much--five or so minutes in either direction won't matter much. All in all, this dish is nearly un-screwup-able.

2) Sausages: Feel free to go fancy here and use delicatessen or butcher-grade sausages if you wish, but we merely just used normal Italian-style spicy sausages available in our local grocery store. And they were phenomenal.





How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday March 20, 2015

Links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Four easy recipes to start off this week:

Easy Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp Paella. (Alosha's Kitchen)

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Chicken Kebabs. (A Life of Spice)

Chicken Mole Chili. (My Humble Kitchen)

Serbian Potato Salad. (Bibberche)

Articles:
Did you know that a ban on fast food eateries enacted in South LA ...ended up making people in that community even fatter? (LA Times)

You get headaches from the sulfites in your wine? No, you don't. (Wall Street Journal)

Ending "Last Supper Syndrome." (Greatist, via 50 by 25)

It is ALL ridiculous. Your life, my life, and the lives of all of the people around us. (Mr. Money Mustache)

Striking post about rampant bias in social psychology. (Psychology Today)

Every day I walk the fine line between well oiled efficiency and letting patients take the time they need to tell their stories. (A Country Doctor Writes)

How to never forget a person's name. (Pick the Brain)

Book recommendation: Decisive by Dan Heath and Chip Heath. The best book I've read, ever, on decision making. Insightful, easy to read, with lots of practical advice for any life domain where you're facing difficult decisions. Extremely useful.





Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

The Consumer Must Be Protected At All Times

"The consumer must be protected at all times from his own indiscretion and vanity."
--Ralph Nader

Readers, what do you think of this quote? Do you find it condescending in any way? Does it suggest to you that Ralph Nader thinks we're too foolish to know what's good for us?

Or, on the contrary, do you agree with Nader's statement? Do you think consumers (okay, maybe not all consumers, and certainly not you, but definitely many consumers) really are basically kind of dumb--thus needing protection from themselves?

Think about your answer for a minute.

To me, this is one of the most astonishing quotes of 20th Century consumer advocacy. It's also quite revealing, in that it nakedly exposes Nader's mindset and worldview.

Yes, you can see in these words a man who sincerely cares about consumers. Unfortunately, you can also see he sees them as little more than sheeple, crying out for guidance and protection, incapable of knowing or understanding what's good for them. And because of this, he wants to anoint "protectors" (including himself) so these defenseless consumers don't get taken advantage of.

I find it interesting to think that there could be a class of elite protectors out there not subject at all to the base human qualities of vanity and indiscretion.

Now, for a little more context about this quote. It's from an article called The Safe Car You Can't Buy published in The Nation back in 1959. It was the article that put Nader on the map and kicked off his crusade against the auto industry. And within a few years he would make himself a household name with his book Unsafe At Any Speed.

It's quite a striking experience to read this article. It's well-written, extremely persuasive, and an exceptional example of polemic--and I use the word in the non-pejorative sense.

And yet, incredibly, Nader's first prescription for making automobiles less dangerous turned out to be exactly wrong. He encouraged the car's body to be strengthened so it wouldn't be distorted by a collision. Thanks to modern crash safety technology--which now produces cars safer than anything in Nader's wildest dreams--we now know that cars should be designed to crumple around the passenger, absorbing a collision's force and energy and transferring it into the form of severe damage to the car's frame and structure.

Which why you're now more likely than ever to survive a high speed collision. Interestingly, it's also is why a 15 mph collision leaves you stuck with a ginormous repair bill.

Let's be clear: this is not to criticize Nader's many other insightful safety ideas in the article. And of course a discussion of the ideological debate of to what extent consumers should be "protected" from themselves is beyond the scope of this blog post (and likely also beyond my expertise).

But what's striking here is how expert opinion can change, radically, about the best way to make cars safer. What experts "knew" then about the need for strength and rigidity of the external body of a car differs from what experts know now. It's quite sobering, even disturbing, to think that Nader's first and most prominent safety suggestion actually increases danger to passengers rather than reduces it.

Which takes me to the key point of this post. What happens when a self-styled expert, one who "knows" what's best for consumers and their safety, turns out to be wrong?

Nader obviously meant well with his crusade for consumer safety. Which is great. It's wonderful that he meant well, and I'll give him extra points for his heart being in exactly the right place. But this guy anointed himself as our protector, and he "knew" what was good for us, and yet he turned out to be wrong about what was good for us. To borrow a quote: Nader saw danger lurking everywhere but in his own directives.

So, when you're wrong about consumer safety, when you tell (or far worse, require) people to do things that later are found out to be less safe, does it matter whether you meant well?

Readers, what do you think?


For Further Reading:
1) The Safe Car You Can't Buy
Ralph Nader's landmark 1959 essay in The Nation. Masterful, highly persuasive, polemic, and containing advice later debunked by developments in crash safety technology.

2) Antifragile by Nicholas Taleb
A excellent book covering many interesting topics, but relevant here is Taleb's discussion of interventionist experts who lack "skin in game" in the very fields they regulate. See in particular Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

3) Nader's Glitter
A provocative essay by Thomas Sowell arguing that Nader's famous campaign against the Chevrolet Corvair was based on selective data and ignored significant tradeoffs.

4) The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell
Sowell was an early critic both of political correctness and of the presumed moral and intellectual superiority of policy makers. He addresses Ralph Nader in quite striking terms in Chapter 4 of this book.


Read Next: Oppositional Literature: The Key Tool For Achieving True Intellectual Honesty


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday March 13, 2015

Links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Striking: Americans now spend more money on food in restaurants than on food prepared at home. (Carpe Diem)

Have food labels gone too far? At what point do our food labels become misleading? (Prairie Californian)

Why we still litter. (CityLab)

When you're on a budget and out of something, it's a problem. (Frugal Healthy Simple)

Letting go of the notion of "haste while driving." (Ombailamos)

Fascinating article on seeking out genuinely thoughtful disagreement. (Institutional Investor)

Related: Oppositional Literature

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders." (Not Always On)

How "collaborative consumerism" will change our world. (Treehugger)

Cookbook recommendation: Fellow food blogger Rebecca Katz just published The Healthy Mind Cookbook, taking the latest research on improving cognition, mood and mental health, and translating it into delicious recipes that are great for the human mind. Have a look!




Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.