First a comment on the razor: it’s the iKon Shavecraft #102 slant, and it’s a loaner: iKon sent me a copy before the razor’s been released (and perhaps while they are still tinkering with production issues), and I will be returning it.
I will say it arrived very well packaged indeed: every part was in a separate plastic bag, mostly small zip-lock bags enclosed in bigger plastic bags.
But let’s start with my new Wickham shaving soap, the Garden Mint fragrance. This is a soft mint fragrance, rather than a sharp peppermint. The Wife said it reminded her of the fragrance of Butter Cream Mints. I ordered this from the UK, unaware at the time that BullgooseShaving.com carries Wickham shaving soap. The soap is relatively soft, and the large-diameter puck make loading my Rod Neep brush a breeze. (The brush is a one-off, and I had him embed in the base of the handle a coin minted in my birth year.) Shown in the photo is the very nice thank-you note that came with the order.
The lather was thick, creamy, luxurious, and fragrant. This is a top-drawer soap, and it sells at quite a modest price for a soap of this quality. Highly recommended.
I washed my beard with my mix of Dr. Bronner’s Rose Castile soap and emu oil, then applied the lather and picked up the Shavecraft slant, loaded with a new Personna Lab Blue blade. The handle is somewhat short, but this is a three-piece razor, so you can swap in a longer handle if you want. (BTW, those who complain that their hands cramp if the handle’s short: the problem is not the length of the handle but the tightness of the grip: if you grip too tightly, your hand will indeed cramp, whether you’re gripping a razor or a pencil (writer’s cramp) or the handle of a sword. My fencing instructor told us to hold the sword as we would hold a bird: firmly enough that it doesn’t escape, but not so firmly we would injure the bird. Same with razors.)
The iKon slant (the taller one shown in the photos below) twists the blade in two directions, and thus the alignment studs must allow a certain amount of play because the blade moves as it’s twisted. This means that you should load the razor carefully (as shown in this video) and also verify that the cutting edge is parallel to the cap’s edge.
The Shavecraft #102, however, bends the blade in the same way a regular straight-bar razor does: bending it over the hump in the baseplate to make it rigid (cf. how a metal tape measure has a bend to give it rigidity). Thus the alignment studs do not allow the same amount of play. The #102 is a humpback slant, like the Walbusch slant shown in these photos from an earlier SOTD. The humpback design means that the cap has a “right” and a “wrong” orientation, similar to the Merkur Progress, and like the Progress, one end of the cap and one end of the baseplate are marked: the two marks match in the correct orientation:
One effect of the “no-twist” blade mounting is that, unlike slants that twist the blade, the Shavecraft slants one direction on one side:
And in the opposite direction on the other side:
This is the same on the Walbusch already mentioned. Before I tried this kind of asymmetrical slant, I thought it would feel odd and perhaps make sideburn trimming difficult. Once again I learned that expectations are not a reliable guide: in fact, humpbacked razors work quite well and I cannot tell, as I shave, which direction the slant is going—and my sideburns are trimmed square.
As to the shave itself: perfection. Very smooth, very easy, no nicks, no burn, and I like the razor a lot. I’ll probably buy one later on. (Shameless plug of blog.) I also think I’ll probably use it with a different handle, somewhat longer, though the current handle was not a problem.
Fit, finish, and workmanship were excellent. The razor should become popular, especially if men heed my advice to get a slant for their second razor.
Three passes—WTG, XTG, ATG—a final rinse, dry, and a good splash of Saint Charles Shave’s Very V aftershave, one that I like a lot. It doesn’t have a heavy fragrance, but occasionally during the day you’ll catch a whiff of the fragrance: extremely pleasant.
This seems important. Don Hazen, Terrell Starr, Steven Rosenfeld, and Tana Ganeva of AlterNet report at AlteNet:
Ten days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by officer Darren Wilson, police and protestors continue to face off in the city of Ferguson. Last night’s protests broke into chaos  as riot police descended on the streets of the city in an attempt to disperse protestors.
On Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the National Guard, allegedly without alerting  the White House. The first Humvees have left the National Guard base, according to reports from the scene highlighted in the Guardian. 
As the tense situation on the ground quickly evolves, here are 10 things you should know:
1. National Guard trained in fighting protesters
The Missouri National Guard troops being sent into Ferguson are military police, which, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have studied the Occupy protests and demonstrations that followed George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. These soldiers are now trained to deal with “crowd control measures, understanding protester tactics, incident management, and operating inside an area contaminated with chemical and biological hazards,” FEMA said, in a chillingly bland report  on its website touting the anti-protester training that military police now receive.
“We serve as a force multiplier during a natural disaster or civil unrest,” a platoon leader and deputy sheriff who completed the training said. “We have experienced protest from the Occupy Movement and, most recently, from the Zimmerman trial. This training makes us all more proficient MP soldier[s] and helps us communicate more effectively with local law enforcement.”
The photos on FEMA’s site show the military police practicing with protesters who are sitting down in the street and shows MPs cutting through plastic pipes that some protesters have used to chain themselves to each other. One can only imagine how military police, whose main training is designed for overseas war zones, will fare in Ferguson, where the underlying issues are institutional racism and police brutality.
2. Autopsy report: Why so many bullets?
It’s not clear how many bullets were fired by Officer Darren Wilson, and whether he fired his gun while he was still in his car.
But according to a private autopsy report, Michael Brown was hit by six bullets. Four hit him on the right arm, and two hit him in the head. Some of the bullets created several entry points. . .
I for one am very glad that UN Observers will be on the ground in Ferguson to attempt to ensure that human rights are respected.
It’s not segregation in terms of housing, it’s how power and accountability are distributed. Well worth reading and note the conclusions.
Max Blumenthal reports for AlterNet:
As the five-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas took hold on August 15, residents of Shujaiya returned to the shattered remains of their homes. They pitched tents and erected signs asserting their claim to their property, sorting determinedly through the ruins of their lives.
Those who managed to survive the Israeli bombardment have come home to bedrooms obliterated by tank shells, kitchens pierced by Hellfire missiles, and boudoirs looted by soldiers who used their homes as bases of operations before embarking on a series of massacres. Once a solidly middle-class suburb of Gaza City comprised of multi-family apartments and stately homes, the neighborhood of Shujaiya was transformed into a gigantic crime scene.
The attack on Shujaiya began at 11pm on July 19, with a combined Israeli bombardment from F-16s, tanks and mortar launchers. It was a night of hell which more than 100 did not survive and that none have recovered from. Inside the ruins of what used to be homes, returning locals related stories of survival and selflessness, detailing a harrowing night of death and destruction.
Outside a barely intact four-level, multi-family home that was hardly distinguishable from the other mangled structures lining the dusty roads of Shujaiya, I met members of the Atash family reclining on mats beside a makeshift stove. Khalil Atash, the 63-year-old patriarch of the family, motioned to his son heating a teapot above a few logs and muttered, “They’ve set us back a hundred years. Look at us, we’re now burning wood to survive.”
Khalil Atash led me inside the home to see the damage. The walls of the second floor that was to have been home to two of his newly married children had been blown off by tank shells. All that was left of the bathroom were the hot and cold knobs on the shower. On the next floor, four small children scampered barefoot across shattered glass and jagged shards of concrete. A bunk bed and crib were badly singed in the attack. But the damage could have been far worse. . .
Continue reading. Photos at the link.
I do not believe that all those lives and homes destroyed were members of Hamas. Indeed, Israel doesn’t even pretend that they are. Israel calls these innocent people “human shields” and that apparently gives Israel then the right to kill them and destroy their homes, kill, orphan their children, and so on. To do what they’ve been doing—like shelling the four boys playing on the beach—whom were they shielding? Why were they killed?
I think Israel has now gone far enough that the scales are starting to drop from people’s eyes and the events of the last few weeks will be viewed in a new light: war crimes.
From a report by David Carr in the NY Times.For context, read the story to which this is a parenthesis:
(In one bit of irony in the aftermath of the events on Wednesday, President Obama said, “Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their job and report to the American people what they see on the ground.” This from an administration that has aggressively sought to block reporting and in some instances criminalize it.)
And you can see here how Twitter exploded.
And do read the story at that first link. It’s an important account of events that show how we’re headed.