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Thursday links

  • Shining a light on law enforcement use of facial recognition. Half of all Americans are now in facial-recognition databases and potentially in the resulting “virtual lineups” of criminal suspects.
  • And here I thought Pamela Anderson was just another blonde actress with big boobs. Nope. Also a smart lady with guts to hold her own against the disapproval of SJWs.
  • How black markets helped establish Spain as an an artisanal cheese-making powerhouse.
  • Steve Forbes: Republicans forgot the basic concept of cutting taxes.
  • Lottery winners using food stamps.
  • Nooz you can use: Daunted by the price of real vanilla extract? You can make your own. (H/T MJ)
  • You can also make your own hexayurt. (Ditto.)


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 7, 2017 7:30 am

    Home made vanilla extract. Great idea, but not so simple. And not so inexpensive. I tried it once and was very disappointed. The “beans” are seriously expensive, and those I got from Amazon had almost no vanilla smell! They were not dried out or otherwise spoiled, far as I could see. Just inert sticks. Very expensive inert sticks…

    I put some of them in an alcohol solution, canning jar, and left them for more than a month. No particular vanilla smell or flavor. I had already returned the “beans” for a refund. Still have the jar of stuff, now more than a year later. Still has only faint vanilla smell or taste.

    I use quite a bit of vanilla. The “immitation” works fairly well for my purposes. I’ve tried the expensive extracts from the store, and the flavor of those is disappointing too. I’d sure love to be able to make my own, but it just didn’t work for me.

  2. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 7, 2017 10:56 am

    My family started making our own vanilla a year or two ago now, and our experience is nearly the total opposite of yours, ML. Makes me wonder if it was a case of bad beans maybe?

    The beans are indeed shockingly expensive (at least up here), but on the flip side we seem to have had good luck using them far beyond the parameters the article suggests. Which seems to have become a bit of a leitmotif for a number of the DIY practices we’ve picked up over the last decade or so: viewed merely as a hobby or experiment, getting started can seem intimidating; but in most of the cases we’ve invested in the idea, the harder we lean on it the more promising the long-term outcomes seem to be, both on the health side and the cost side.

    And that has had its own sort of ironic turnabout: having now been successful at a fair number of these simple practices–and being extremely confident in my wife’s grain-from-chaff analytical skills–I am far more likely, now, to try something new (er…old) than I ever have been.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X December 7, 2017 11:33 am

    The republicans forgot the basic concept of cutting because we have two branches of the same party which comes from different direction; that party is the Bigger government party. One branch who pretends to be conservative and the other branch pretends to be liberal but they both are really about one thing; bigger and better government.

    “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” Thomas Jefferson

    IMHO so what is happening is only natural in it’s progression in this republic founded on liberty coming to an complete end.

  4. ellendra
    ellendra December 7, 2017 12:57 pm

    Some family friends go to the Dominican every year, and we always ask them to bring back a bottle of vanilla. There is a brand of vanilla sold there that is just amazing! It’s thick and dark like molasses, and has such a strong vanilla flavor that it overpowers a dish easily.

    I usually save it for recipes where the vanilla can really shine through. Otherwise, I have to cut the amount by 1/8 so it doesn’t outshine the other flavors.

  5. Shel
    Shel December 7, 2017 1:35 pm

    I’m consistently stunned by quotes from the Founders, Jefferson in particular, that I haven’t happened to have heard before. They so understood absolutely everything.

  6. chad
    chad December 8, 2017 4:50 am

    I noticed some time ago that all the towns in my area, while no longer ticketing drivers with evidence from red-light cameras, have kept the cameras up. These cameras have been re-positioned to only face cars head on…none are able to capture license tags. Naturally my paranoia suggested they had been re-purposed for facial recognition.
    I have no facts to back that up…only my suspicions.

  7. Jim Brook
    Jim Brook December 8, 2017 8:55 am

    The articles on food stamps for lottery winners, and ineffective tax cuts, have a common thread – the expansion of government. The government wants to claim as many people as possible living in poverty, so it can expand its programs which induce dependency. I was driving through Boise a week ago, listening to the Nate Shelman show. He made a whopper of a claim, that 36% of Idahoans live in poverty. I called in, and disputed that. I told him that according to Robert Rector, average Americans under the federal poverty line have more than average (not poor) Europeans in places like Vienna, Munich, etc. He responded that his “nationalism is kicking in, and he doesn’t care about those Europeans, and that Americans have defined poverty where it is” and hung up. So naturally, being me, I composed a careful email response which I just sent. It bears heavily on the story of food stamps. Here is what I said:
    You seem to understand many other issues pretty well, so it surprises me that you would so unquestioningly believe what the U.S. government says about poverty. You swallowed their definition hook, line, and sinker. I am the guy that called a week ago, and disputed that over a third of Idahoans are impoverished. You said that “the American people” have set the definition where it is. No, the U.S. government set the definition that you are using, in a way that enormously inflates the numbers. They have incentive to do so, as it allows them to expand their control over people through their “war on poverty.” Increasing numbers of Americans have become dependent on the federal government. Most Americans would agree with the definition of poverty from, which is “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.” Contrast that with the average American that meets the government definition. 41% of “poor” households own their own homes, the average of which having 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. Over ¾ of a million “poor” own homes worth over $150,000, and nearly 200,000 own homes worth over $300,000. 70% own a car, 27% or more own 2 or more cars. They are not malnourished. “Poor” Americans are more likely to be overweight than other Americans. 84% of “poor” Americans report that they have enough food to eat. “Poor” American children on average consume more meat than other American children. These figures are from Robert Rector from 1998, but they are probably even more dramatic today. Then in Idaho, poverty figures are much more inflated, because of the much lower cost of living than in states like California and Massachusetts. Poverty is defined by the government by a certain income, the same nationwide. In Idaho we can buy a lot more with a dollar than we could in many other states. It is really not true to say that over a third of Idahoans are impoverished. Idaho is not that bad of a place. It is a wonderful place to live. We truly live in a blessed country. You spurred my nationalism to kick in, so I wanted to respond. When describing Americans, much more relevant than the terms “rich” and “poor,” are the terms “wealthy” and less wealthy.” To learn more about “that amazing engine of prosperity that we call the United States of America,” read The High Price of Socialized Medicine, especially the chapter “The Reason for Our Prosperity Is Freedom,” written by yours truly.
    Jim Brook
    caller from 12/1/17

  8. fred
    fred December 8, 2017 4:28 pm

    I renewed my drivers license in California a few months ago.I was behind the camera (looking across the room) and watching the digital camera adding markers to the persons face.She takes it,and computer says no,so she does another one.This time even more markers went on the persons face.

    Looked like facial recognition to me.

    We go to the Real ID stuff in a couple months.666 and all that IMO.

    WOW,2.50 for the cheapest vanilla bean? Still,I want to try it,hope I get a nice oily bean order.

  9. fred
    fred December 8, 2017 4:38 pm

    Dr Jim,when I grew up in our neighborhood was Dr Beck.His office was his converted garage.A visit was 5 dollars,and an injection was 3 or 5 dollars,cant remember for sure.This was the mid 1960’s

    Cash at time of care,an office in a middle/middle class neighborhood,and a Dr that didnt have a recreational beach home with exotic sports cars in his garage,just another guy.

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