Apr 28, 2014

How Far Fitness Has Fallen | The Fit List | OutsideOnline.com

 you were to cross paths with one of your farming ancestors (circa 7,500 to 2,000 B.C.), he'd shove you to the ground, kick sand in your face, and jog off into the sunset with your mate slung over his shoulder. And even with somebody else’s partner slung over his other shoulder, you’d probably never catch up to him. Such has been our musculoskeletal decline in only a handful of millennia.
“Even our most highly trained athletes pale in comparison to these ancestors of ours,” says Dr. Colin Shaw of Cambridge University’s Phenotypic Adaptability, Variation and Evolution Research Group. “We’re certainly weaker than we used to be.”

Alison Macintosh, one of Shaw’s PAVE colleagues, thinks so, too. She’s the one whose recent paper, “From athletes to couch potatoes: Humans through 6,000 years of farming,” claims that, when Central Europeans made the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural ones, men’s lower limb strength and overall mobility decreased (even more so than among women).
Macintosh, a Cambridge Ph.D. candidate, compared laser-scanned femurs and tibia of skeletons from around 5300 B.C. to A.D. 850 She then cross-checked her findings with Shaw’s study of bone rigidity among modern Cambridge undergraduates, and found that the ability among male farmers to move about their environment 7,300 years ago was, on average, at a level near that of today’s student cross-country runners.
Our overall strength declined because, as technologies improved and men’s and women’s tasks diversified, people became less active. The result: today’s man is not only more sedentary than ever before, but compared to men of yon, we’re practically enfeebled. “We do much, much less than our ancestors,” says Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution, “and our skeletons reflect this decrease in activity.”

This decline in physical activity and bone strength has led to osteoporosis, decrease in fitness, obesity, and myriad other problems and diseases. Ironically, “We have an overabundance of nutrition and we train better,” says Shaw, “but we’re overweight and we’re not challenging our bodies like we used to.”
 
“The average U.S. citizen is considerably less fit than the average hunter-gatherer or forager,” says Dr. Loren Cordain, professor emeritus of health and exercise science at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet. “The lesson to be learned is not from early farmers and their dietary and exercise patterns, but rather from our hunter-gatherer ancestors and their dietary and exercise patterns. These examples represent the norms for our species and the environmental experiences which conditioned our genome.” 
 
Indeed the hunter-gatherers of 30,000 to 150,00 years ago traveled extremely long distances while hauling all kinds of weight. “They were much stronger than the long-distance runners of today,” says Shaw. In a study he published earlier this year, he concluded that “the people back then were monsters by comparison. What you see today is quite pathetic.”
 
Cordain, for one, thinks we should eat and live like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, whose meat-heavy diets gave them more muscle mass and enhanced their athletic abilities and performance. Wolf would add in weight training, stretching, and, in particular, cross-country running, because it challenges our bodies in the same ways hunter-gatherers had to navigate uneven terrain and the up-and-down of hills—all of which increased their physical robustness.
 
Do all that and you can reclaim your ancient potential, advises Wolff. “If folks train hard they can achieve remarkable levels of physical development.” 

Woodenboat Philosophy - linseed oil impregnation

Linseed oil impregnation

Why should anyone impregnate a boat with any kind of oil?
The biggest problem of wooden boats is that wood is a living material and it expands and contracts with the moisture. To minimize this, the boatbuilder has to find means to keep the wood as stable as possible.
To diminish the contracting and expanding of the wood, boatbuilder replaces water with oil and unlike water, the oil does not dry out and the timber remains more stable. Even if all of the wood material is not impregnated, the oily surface of the wood considerably slows down the water movements inside the wood, keeping water content down and dimensional changes at a minimum.
Here is the whole point in impregnating the boat: Since nothing can be used as an absolutely reliable barrier to stop water entering the wood, the wood should be filled with something else that repels water. That is why different kinds of oils from whale oil to soy and linseed oil and tar have been used to impregnate old wooden boats. I'm not saying that the oils are "the newest word of the modern science" what comes to modern boatbuilding, but that approach has worked for at least a few thousands of years and it still does. Oils don't work everywhere, but on traditional classic boatbuilding they offer the best, most economical and environmental approach.  
One word of caution though: The use of oxidizing nature oils (linseed, hemp oil, whale oil, seal tran etc.) and on the other hand, pine tar and turpentine have been used for thousands of years in the Scandinavia and Northern Europe. They have been used with the local boatbuilding timbers pine, spruce and oak. Linseed oil impregnation has been used very successfully in Scandinavia with mahogany to keep the water content down and it definitely helps minimizing damages when wood freezes on wintertime. The world is definitely larger and the materials endless, so I would be quite careful to use the same ideas in warmer climates, different oils and woods. The people around you should know better; just find a boat builder who is old enough to have forgotten how to spell "polyester resin" and you should be on the right tracks. Or then not.
Technique
The whole idea of impregnating a boat is in getting the oil as deep in the wood as possible. It is said that no surface treatment will soak any deeper then a few cells in the wood. Sadly, that's very true, but linseed oil impregnation isn't a surface treatment. Think of a leaky diesel engine in your boat: diesel oil seeps through the planking in an alarming speed. Just as well thin linseed oil can be soaked through the planking, if necessary.
New rowboats can be impregnated through the board so that you pour a few gallons of oil in the boat and spread the oil to the insides as long as it starts to come through the planking on the outside. Then you still put a couple of dozen coats on the outside, let the oil set for a while and varnish, paint or usually around here, tar the boat. On bigger boats it's not so easy to get the oil through the board but you still apply the oil as long as the wood soaks. For a new rowboat that can be 2-4 days, for a big sailboat you could have to apply a coat every now and then for a few weeks.
We impregnated a 13-metre traditional Finnish lapstrake gaffer a few years ago. Records show that the boat got 50-60 coats of oil all over. It's a quick job doing it once, but this took a while. Later we drilled a drain hole on the bottom and found out that the lowest board, about 30 mm (1 1/4") thick was impregnated with oil and tar all the way through.
A problem with linseed oil is that you should allow it to dry for at least week and a half before even thinking of painting. With some paints and varnishes you are able to start the paint job straight over a freshly oiled surface wet-to-wet, but as this doesn't work with many paints I wouldn't encourage doing it that way. If you are not ready to wait a couple of weeks, you'll have to use boiled linseed oil to seal the surface before painting. Even with boiled linseed oil you still have the problem of turpentine trying to evaporate through the finish, which may cause the paint lifting off.
Again, there are some known boatbuilders, who start painting or varnishing straight to a wet oiled surface. Some paints work, some don't. Usually a natural oil based paint or varnish should be safe, but try it first somewhere, some paints are a complete disaster over undried oil.
Some urethane and practically all of the polyurethane paints don't stick to the impregnated surface. Oil based traditional paints and oil based spar varnishes are the safest. If the paint or varnish is linseed oil - tung oil based, it will dry as an integral part of the impregnation. Other paints don't necessarily mix as well although there are many good exceptions.
You have as many recipes as for distilling moonshine.
Straight linseed oil itself is yummy to mold and mildew and if you use it straight the surface will get dirty and spotty in a short time. Pine turpentine helps a bit to prevent mildew, but not too much if you live in a hot and humid area.
The best way to avoid mould is to add a dash of a clear wood preservative to the mixture. Preservative should be just white spirits with a rot toxic (as a zinc or copper naphtenate, tolyle fluanide etc.) added on. 10-15% will be enough. If you are going to impregnate the whole boat, even more can be used.

In Finland the basic recipe tends to be close to 1/3 of raw linseed, 1/3 pine turpentine and 1/3 of clear wood preservative for killing rot and mildew.
If it's being used for a boat that's supposed to be tarred (or inside of an open boat with no other surface treatment) one would use less wood preservative (or none at all) and add more and more tar as the impregnation goes on until the tar content would be perhaps 1/4-1/3. Yes, it gets black in years and yes, you should use less tar to get a lighter surface. A tenth or two of tar in a small boat makes a difference. A spoonful in a quart is sissy.
In Sweden they tend to use much less turps and wood preservative for the basic recipe (with usually 2/3 or more linseed oil) and for tarred boats 1/3 oil, 1/3 turps and 1/3 tar.
If you are going to paint or varnish the boat, as usual, leave the tar out altogether. Some people use a dash of tar under varnish for a beautiful tint in the wood but as it doesn't work well with all varnishes it's safest to leave tar out unless you know that the combination actually works.
If the wood is soft (like pine, spruce etc.) you can use more oil and less turps because it soaks in anyway. With oak or mahogany you have to dilute the oil a bit more. If it's cold the mixture has to be thinner. Basically you try to get as much linseed in as possible and dilute it only as much as is necessary to get it there. If the surface stops absorbing oil, you can use a few layers of straight turpentine to open the surface and go on with oil.
Boiled linseed oil is less prone to catch spots so you can substitute that for raw linseed oil, at least for the last applications. It doesn't penetrate as deeply to the wood as raw. It also creates some sort of a surface when straight linseed oil just soaks in. Hence you can use boiled linseed oil or even thinned tung oil varnish for the last applications.
Adding a drier (japan drier, siccative) helps against mould because the dessicants usually are toxic metal salts and the germs don't like that. However when using a siccative the surface may set too early before the oil soaks in properly. I've done well without it treating a few dozen boats but your mileage may vary.
Linseed oil on plywood
Plywood isn't a particularly good candidate for linseed oil impregnation, since the oil doesn't go any further than to the outermost ply. Benefits of a combination of oil and a soft oil-based paint is to let a massive piece of wood live and breathe, but plywood can be finished with a tougher paint system.
If the boat stays out of water most of the time, you will be OK by using oil and an oil-based enamel paint. Pay special attention to the plywood edges: use the oil liberally and apply several layers of 50/50 thinned paint to them before starting with the whole hull.
I'm a bloody traditionalist anyway, but plywood is about the only place where I would suggest using epoxy as a finish. Thousands of plywood boats have been built without it, but it definitely has its advantages on plywood.
© Pekka Huhta

This fiscal folly is more than we can stanza | Henry Ergas

Illustration: Eric LobbeckeIllustration: Eric Lobbecke Source: TheAustralian
THE nation’s mood was grim that day,
Australians all were doomed to pay.
With NDIS fast coming due, PPL and Gonski too,
One question strained on every lip,
“Can Joe budge it?”
It rarely brings much merriment
To state a truth self-evident:
The more prolonged the spending spree,
The harsher the collapse must be.
As export prices, heading for the rocks,
Pushed the budget into hock,
Renewing the nation’s fiscal insurance
Would test Hockey’s courage and endurance.
Had the Treasurer the strengths
To take savings to those lengths?
Would the audit report inform
A bold strategy of reform?
Social spending was far too slack,
Bloated bureaucracies deserved the sack,
Healthcare outlays should feel the lash,
While salary packages got the axe.
Green rorts we couldn’t afford,
Should be put to the sword,
And pensions needed to be contained,
Though reducing them went against the grain.
But would Talbragar, Wagga and Taree
Accept such fiscal misery?
Wouldn’t the party’s polling suffer
From making life that much tougher?
To dangers of that kind,
The partyroom was scarcely blind.
Could habits long rehearsed
Suddenly be reversed?
“Yes,” called some, “let’s not be idle:
But nor wilfully suicidal.
To restore the public purse
Isn’t worth an electoral curse.”
Critics sneered, cynics sniggered,
Would it all end in a whimper?
Had Joe trimmed his silhouette,
To succumb to fiscal wets?
Wayne, after all, had been sly,
Crafting budgets to deceive the eye,
The only arrows in his quiver,
Showman’s tricks that didn’t deliver.
As every day brought new endeavours,
Paid for in the never never,
Purely imaginary revenue surges
Fuelled Labor’s spending urges.
Profligacy’s icy slopes dazzle
But fiscal sins cast long shadows,
The bequests hard and bitter
of false promises’ false glitter.
Dulce et decorum non est”,
if “vectigalia pergrandia pendere” is the rest:
Neither sweet nor fitting is the cost
of taxes borne for yesterday’s loss.
As Canberra nights, now growing cold,
Drive each rat to its budget hole,
We finish, dear readers, in suspense,
About Joe and his task immense.
For those that render melancholic,
This thought closes our fiscal frolic.
In 30 years we will not get
Fairer, richer or out of debt,
If it remains spending more
That governments are elected for.
So may the Treasurer dispense
A dose of Liberal common sense.
Let a dawn of enlightenment
end the age of entitlement.

Super fund fees strip 20pc of payouts | The Australian

SUPERANNUATION funds are charging fees at least three times higher than similar funds overseas, stripping more than 20 per cent from average superannuation fund payouts.
A report by the Grattan Institute shows the MySuper system of default funds introduced by the previous Labor government has failed to have any impact on the level of fees and says the right to run default schemes should be put out to competitive tender.
The report shows that average superannuation fees have only fallen slightly in the past decade, from 1.4 per cent of funds under management to 1.2 per cent, despite the total funds under management soaring from $600 billion to $1.7 trillion in that time.
“A larger system of larger funds should have incurred lower costs and charge lower fees, because big funds have lower costs,” the report says.
Whereas the increase in size should have brought a 20 per cent fall in costs, in fact the cost of managing a superannuation fund has risen by 20 per cent in the past decade, after allowing for inflation.
The report says that most fund members and most employers do not focus on the level of fees, however their effect is cumulative.
“For someone aged 45 in 2010, fees of 1.2 per cent per year can be expected to reduce their balances at retirement by around $80,000 in 2010 dollars, or 20 per cent,’’ it says.
“For someone entering the workforce at 25 in 2010, fees of 1.2 per cent per year can be ­expected to reduce their retirement balances by over $250,000 or 27 per cent.”
The study found that Australia’s fees were far in excess of other systems around the world.
“Australian funds charge fees that are three times the median OECD rate, on average,’’ it says. “Many countries have superannuation pools much smaller than Australia’s, yet their funds charge customers much less.”
The Chilean system, which most closely resembles Australia’s, being run by private institutions with defined contributions, operates with average fees on ­default products of only 0.2 per cent of funds under management, or less than a quarter of a similar Australian fund.
The study says that Chile, Mexico and New Zealand have all managed to slash fees by putting the right to manage default funds out to tender and argues that Australia should follow suit.
“The government should select a small number of default funds every few years with a tender based on fees,’’ it says. “Unless they opt out, all new job starters would pay into these funds.”
The study finds that, far from higher fees bringing superior performance, the reverse is the case. The lowest-fee funds are the best performing, achieving returns that are 0.8 per cent a year better than the average fund.
A survey of employers commissioned by the Australian Taxation Office found that only 30 per cent had ever compared the fees of their default fund with other funds, and only 7 per cent had switched their default fund.
The Grattan Institute study follows submissions by the RBA and Treasury to the government’s financial system inquiry.

Apr 27, 2014

Making Sauerkraut | Wild Fermentation :: Wild Fermentation

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)



Special Equipment:



Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater

Plate that fits inside crock or bucket

One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)

Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):



5 pounds cabbage

3 tablespoons sea salt

Process:





  1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. I love to mix green and red cabbage to end up with bright pink kraut. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.
  3. Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables I’ve added include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.
  4. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  5. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
  6. Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  7. Leave the crock to ferment. I generally store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
  8. Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. Many books refer to this mold as “scum,” but I prefer to think of it as a bloom. Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. In the cool temperatures of a cellar in winter, kraut can keep improving for months and months. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant.
  9. Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks. Try the sauerkraut juice that will be left in the bowl after the kraut is eaten. Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic. Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully. Make sure the kraut is packed tight in the crock, the surface is level, and the cover and weight are clean. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary. Some people preserve kraut by canning and heat-processing it. This can be done; but so much of the power of sauerkraut is its aliveness that I wonder: Why kill it?
  10. Develop a rhythm. I try to start a new batch before the previous batch runs out. I remove the remaining kraut from the crock, repack it with fresh salted cabbage, then pour the old kraut and its juices over the new kraut. This gives the new batch a boost with an active culture starter

Making Sauerkraut | Wild Fermentation :: Wild Fermentation

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)



Special Equipment:



Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater

Plate that fits inside crock or bucket

One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)

Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):



5 pounds cabbage

3 tablespoons sea salt

Process:





  1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. I love to mix green and red cabbage to end up with bright pink kraut. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.
  3. Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables I’ve added include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.
  4. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  5. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
  6. Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  7. Leave the crock to ferment. I generally store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
  8. Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. Many books refer to this mold as “scum,” but I prefer to think of it as a bloom. Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. In the cool temperatures of a cellar in winter, kraut can keep improving for months and months. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant.
  9. Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks. Try the sauerkraut juice that will be left in the bowl after the kraut is eaten. Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic. Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully. Make sure the kraut is packed tight in the crock, the surface is level, and the cover and weight are clean. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary. Some people preserve kraut by canning and heat-processing it. This can be done; but so much of the power of sauerkraut is its aliveness that I wonder: Why kill it?
  10. Develop a rhythm. I try to start a new batch before the previous batch runs out. I remove the remaining kraut from the crock, repack it with fresh salted cabbage, then pour the old kraut and its juices over the new kraut. This gives the new batch a boost with an active culture starter

Making Sauerkraut | Wild Fermentation :: Wild Fermentation

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)



Special Equipment:



Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater

Plate that fits inside crock or bucket

One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)

Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):



5 pounds cabbage

3 tablespoons sea salt

Process:





  1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. I love to mix green and red cabbage to end up with bright pink kraut. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.
  3. Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables I’ve added include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.
  4. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  5. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
  6. Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  7. Leave the crock to ferment. I generally store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
  8. Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. Many books refer to this mold as “scum,” but I prefer to think of it as a bloom. Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. In the cool temperatures of a cellar in winter, kraut can keep improving for months and months. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant.
  9. Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks. Try the sauerkraut juice that will be left in the bowl after the kraut is eaten. Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic. Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully. Make sure the kraut is packed tight in the crock, the surface is level, and the cover and weight are clean. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary. Some people preserve kraut by canning and heat-processing it. This can be done; but so much of the power of sauerkraut is its aliveness that I wonder: Why kill it?
  10. Develop a rhythm. I try to start a new batch before the previous batch runs out. I remove the remaining kraut from the crock, repack it with fresh salted cabbage, then pour the old kraut and its juices over the new kraut. This gives the new batch a boost with an active culture starter

Apr 26, 2014

Black Hat: Top 20 hack-attack tools - Network World

Black Hat: Top 20 hack-attack tools

Upcoming Black Hat conference is a goldmine of tips for hacking just about anything.

By , Network World
July 19, 2013 03:18 PM ET
Network World - Turn someone else’s phone into an audio/video bug. Check.
Use Dropbox as a backdoor into corporate networks. Check.
Suck information out of pacemakers. Check.
The Black Hat conference convening in Las Vegas next week offers hacker tools for all of those plus more.
Intended to provide good-guy researchers with tools to test the security of networks and devices, the free tools distributed at the conference can also be used by the bad guys to break into networks, steal data and thwart defenses designed to expose malware halt attacks.
Over the course of two days white-hat hackers from consultancies, universities and vendors will present more than 100 briefings on vulnerabilities and exploits they have discovered, and in many cases releasing tools that would be useful to hackers.
Many of the specific exploits they expose in specific commercial products have been reported to the vendors and been patched already, but other tools can be more widely applied.
Here are some of the hacker tips promised as part of the Black Hat briefing agenda:
= A tool called BREACH will be released that pulls encrypted secrets from HTTPS streams. During the same session, speakers from Salesforce.com and Square will use BREACH to demonstrate an exploit against “a major enterprise product” that retrieves session identifiers, CSRF tokens, email addresses and the like in under 30 seconds from an HTTPS channel.
= An attack tool that its authors say can defeat commercial products designed to mitigate DDoS attacks will be made freely available. Proof that it works will be supplied by testing results against specific products as implemented on Web sites known to employ them. Bloodspear Research Group will present a new DDoS defense that thwarts BloodSpear’s own attack tool.
= A tool to automate information gathering that can be used to make spear phishing messages more convincing by mimicking how individuals interact with others, with whom they interact and the vocabulary and phrasing they use. This tool from researchers at Trustwave’s Spider Labs grabs the data from publicly available sites using both APIs and screen scraping. It then analyzes the data to show frequency of use of verbs, adjectives and nouns, average sentence length, hobbies, networks of friends and upcoming trips planned by target individuals.
= Bluebox will explain how to exploit a vulnerability that tricks the Android mobile operating system into accepting malicious applications hiding behind the signatures of legitimate, cryptographically-verified apps. While patches have been written to address the problem, deploying them depends largely on device manufacturers and service providers, so when and if they will be patched is up in the air.
= Michael Shaulov and Daniel Brodie of Lacoon Mobile Security will show how to bypass mobile malware-detection and mobile device management features such as encryption to install surveillance tools that gather text messages, email location information as well as hijack the phone to record what’s being said in its vicinity.

Apr 25, 2014

Fatah, Hamas unity hurts | The Australian

Palestinians in Gaza City march outside the home of Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s Hamas Prime Mi
Palestinians in Gaza City march outside the home of Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister, in support of the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah. Source: AFP
RIVAL Palestinian factions have announced plans for a unity government in a move that casts new doubts over struggling Middle East peace talks.
After a bitter seven-year split, Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, announced yesterday that they had agreed on ­reunification.
The US expressed “disappointment” and Israel reacted angrily, immediately cancelling a round of peace talks with the Palestinians.
However, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said there was no contradiction between Palestinian reconciliation and continued negotiations.
The peace talks were already close to collapse after Israel reneged three weeks ago on an agreement to release 26 Palestinian prisoners.
In response, Mr Abbas has ­approached 15 international org­anisations seeking membership — something Israel has insisted he not do while negotiations were under way.
From the Palestinian side, the unity agreement was seen as an acknowledgment by its leadership that the nine-month effort by US Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue a two-state solution had failed.
From the Israeli side, it was seen as a way of the Palestinians avoiding any peace deal.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Abu Mazen (Mr Abbas) needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and which both the US and the European Union define as a terrorist organisation.”
The Palestinians’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, replied: “No, Mr Netanyahu, it is not a case of either peace with Hamas or with Israel. It is either your continuation of settlement activity, colonisation and apartheid, or two sovereign and democratic states living side by side, in peace and security on the 1967 border.”
Senior Palestinian Authority official Jibril Rajoub told Israelis the unity government would ­recognise Israel and accept the conditions of the international community.
Speaking on Army Radio, he said: “The government of ­national consensus that will be established, headed by Abu Mazen, will declare clearly and unequivocally it accepts (Middle East) Quartet’s conditions.”
However, the move appeared to catch Washington by surprise — the official period for Mr Kerry’s peace talks finishes next Tuesday and the US is unsure whether talks will continue beyond then.
“It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not recognise its right to exist,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “The Palestinian recognition deal raises concerns and could complicate the efforts to extend peace talks.
“The ball is in the Palestinian court to answer questions about how the government announcement affects peace talks.”
Mr Abbas said: “There is no ­incompatibility between reconciliation and the talks, especially since we are committed to a just peace on the basis of a two-state solution in accordance with the resolutions of international law.
“This move, supported by the Arab world and internationally, will strengthen the ability of the Palestinian negotiators to realise the two-state solution”.
Under the deal, Mr Abbas has five weeks to announce a “unity government” then elections should be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip within six months.
A joint statement said Hamas and Fatah reaffirmed their commitment to the reconciliation principles agreed upon in 2011 in the Cairo Agreement.
At the time of that agreement, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, acknowledged for the first time that any Palestinian state would be alongside Israel, based on the borders that existed before 1967.
He said: “We need to achieve the common goal: a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, no settlers, and we will not give up the right of return.”
Following that agreement, which was never implemented, Mr Abbas made clear any unity government would not include any minister who had had a previous affiliation with Hamas.
Instead, he said he would seek a cabinet of “technocrats” — a clear attempt to ensure that Washington’s aid to the Palestinian Authority was not cut off.
Since 1997, Hamas has been listed by the US as a terrorist ­organisation and therefore it is ­illegal for any US funding to be given to Hamas or any organisation with which it is affiliated.
Hamas and Fatah had a vio­lent split in 2007, after Hamas ­defeated Fatah in an election in Gaza. Fighting broke out between the two, and Hamas forced Fatah from Gaza.
Since, Fatah, through the Palestinian Authority, has detained hundreds of Hamas figures.
Periodically, Hamas fires rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. However, more often than not the rockets are fired by Islamic Jihad or one of the five Salafist groups who do not acknowledge Hamas’s right to rule Gaza.
Israel’s policy is to respond to any rockets from Gaza, regardless of who fires them. Within hours of the latest ­announcement, Is­raeli jets launched an air strike on Gaza. Israel said this was in response to rockets fired from Gaza. ADDITIONAL REPORTING: AGENCIES

Apr 24, 2014

De facto couples have differences to married counterparts, judge says | The Australian

De facto ‘different’ to being married
The judge ruled the 13-year relationship could not be described as “marriage-like”. Source: Supplied
DE FACTO couples - even those who have a child and live together - have significant social, financial and emotional “differences” to married couples, according to a Federal Circuit Court judge.
Judge Joe Harman has ruled a man and woman who had a child, bought a home together, and lived in it for 13 years were not in a de facto relationship and had had sex out of “need”, not love.
This meant the court had no jurisdiction to divide up their property under family law.
The woman, “Ms Benedict’’, argued the couple were in a relationship and lived together from 1992 to 2010.
Ms Benedict told the court they’d been sharing a bed and were in a marriage-like relationship, even though she had been claiming Centrelink benefits and filing her tax returns as a single parent.
However, her alleged partner, “Mr Peake”, said they’d never been in a de facto relationship and simply lived together with their daughter for convenience, in separate bedrooms.
Assessing whether they were in a relationship, Judge Harman said Mr Peake mostly “attended to his own needs”.
“This included attending to his washing at laundromats or at other premises, making his own meals (or more often than not taking meals outside of the home or buying takeaway) and by and large living and maintaining his own life and lifestyle,” Judge Harman said.
He said the pair had not maintained a relationship that could be described “in normative terms” as marriage like.
“Indeed, a de facto relationship may be described as ‘marriage like’ but it is not a marriage and has significant differences socially, financially and emotionally,” he said.
But Forte Family Lawyers partner Jacky Campbell said many married couples stayed together for years for the same reasons Mr Peake and Ms Benedict lived under one roof: for financial reasons and the benefit of children.
“The Family Law Act has been changing over many years to give de facto couples the same rights and responsibilities with respect to parenting and financial matters as married couples,” she said.
“Judge Harman seems to be saying that de facto relationships are different. I don’t know what these differences are. His comments appear to be contrary to the law and the general views of society.”
The judge accepted Mr Peake’s evidence the pair had not held themselves out to others as being a couple and said their sexual relationship was “brief, sporadic and far from reflective of mutual commitment”.
“In all probability for these parties and especially Mr Peake, engaging in sex with each other has met a need and has not imported or implied anything else be it emotion or commitment,” he said.
The pair lived different hours: Mr Peake usually worked through the night and went to bed in the morning, and Ms Benedict woke usually in the morning and slept at night.
They were largely financially independent, but Mr Peake had taken care of the mortgage.
Ms Benedict paid some of the bills, helped to maintain and improve the home and had cared for their daughter.
They had also been involved in a business together and took overseas trips with their daughter.
However, Ms Benedict had failed to register Mr Peake’s name on her daughter’s birth certificate.
Ms Benedict argued this was an oversight that occurred while she was heavily sedated following her daughter’s caesarean delivery. However, the judge found this was “substantially and significantly inconsistent with Ms Benedict’s evidence and assertions as to the level of closeness, joint purpose and intent and mutual commitment to relationship”.