Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

This site tells the air quality at any US location

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Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2023 at 1:00 pm

New York City Goes Sepia-Toned, Fox News Tells Viewers to Breathe the Poisonous Air Anyway

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City buildings barely visible in an orangish sepia haze.

Parker Molloy writes at The Present Age (which offers a free newsletter worth getting, IMO):

Hello, dear readers. Parker here.

I’m going to try something new with today’s edition of the newsletter, which will be broken up into two sections (“The big story” and “The rest”). We’ll see if it sticks, but if you’ve got any feedback, I’m all ears… er, eyes? Anyway…

The big story: New York City turned into a real-life sepia filter yesterday as smoke from wildfires in Canada blanketed the east coast.

Here are a few photos I grabbed from Getty Images: … [photo above is from a set of 6 in the post – LG]

Okay, that last image wasn’t from yesterday. That’s a screenshot from the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049. You got me. Still, looking at the actual photos… it doesn’t seem great! I’m pretty sure the sky isn’t supposed to be that color, but hey, what do I know?

And in a bit of irony, yesterday was also Clean Air Day in Canada.

“Air pollution knows no boundaries,” reads a statement on the Canadian government’s website. “It can affect every area of Canada including urban and rural areas. That’s why this year’s theme is ‘Clean Air Everywhere.’”

The theme is pretty spot on. Not that there is “clean air everywhere,” but that there should be “clean air everywhere.” This highlights one of the major frustrations about climate change and pollution. Actions taken in one part of the world impact the entire planet, which is why efforts to address these issues on a global scale are so crucial (and challenging to achieve). It necessitates cooperation, a trait we humans often struggle with.

Yes, this has to do with climate change. Obviously. Anyone arguing otherwise is lying.

Climate change is real, and it’s making extreme weather events more frequent. Yes, the wildfires in Canada are related to climate change. Yes, climate change is fueling an increase in both the number and the power of hurricanes that occur each year. Yes, climate change is factoring into increased flooding like the kind Florida experienced this year (which has led insurance companies to dramatically raise rates or to stop providing coverage in some areas altogether). This is all happening right now.

Meanwhile, right-wing media outlets like Fox News and the New York Post are busy trying to tell you that you shouldn’t “fall for the propaganda that climate change is to blame.” *sigh*

Oh, also, Fox has, unsurprisingly, been telling its viewers that it is “insanity” to wear N95 masks to mitigate the harm caused by the smoke blanketing the east coast. In fact, that’s exactly what you should do if you must be outside where the air quality index is elevated (for reference, anything over 200 AQI is considered “very unhealthy,” and anything over 300 is “hazardous;” yesterday, the AQI in Manhattan was 352). Not great! . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2023 at 12:04 pm

Super-smooth with Cologne Russe and Ascension

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A large shaving bruh with an amber-colored handle and a black knot with gray tips stands next to a tub of shaving soap. The top label has a small black panel with the words "Cologne Russe" overlaying the profile of a bear with wide-open mouth and arms reach forward. The image was cut from a map with closely-spaced elevation lines. Next is an amber bottle with black cap and a white label that has "Cologne Russe" printed in black ornate script. In front is a double-open-comb razor lying on its side.

The brush is Phoenix Artisan’s Aerolite. I like the knot (though it is somewhat large for my taste), but I find the handle bulky. Still, it did a fine job developing a lather from Barrister & Mann’s excellent Cologne Russe shaving soap, superb in both lather and fragrance:

Based on one of the oldest forms of perfume, Cologne Russe is a throwback to a scent created by the House of Guerlain for the Russian royal family and discontinued in the early twentieth century.

We blend lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, and herbs with violet, rose, bay, and amber to produce a rich, beautifully fresh scent derived from the colognes of old. The scent is distinctly warmer than most other cologne-type fragrances, owing largely to its inclusion of castoreum, benzoin, and vanilla. Clean and elegant without the aloofness of some other scents, Cologne Russe is the perfect way to brighten your morning.

The fragrance really is exceptional. And the Phoenix Artisan Ascension, a double-open-comb razor, is not too shabby itself: it always delivers a very comfortable and very close shave — as it did today: three easy passes to perfection.

A splash of Cologne Russe aftershave renewed the pleasure of the fragrance. What a great way to start the day!

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Baker Street Blend: ” Lapsang Souchong, smooth Keemun, rich Ceylon, Gunpowder, and floral Jasmine.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2023 at 10:40 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

DIY box fan filters – Corsi-Rosenthal box

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Cleaning household air may well be increasingly important as climate change advances. Clean Air Crew has an excellent post for making an effective yet inexpensive air filtration device:

Also known as a Corsi-Rosenthal box, this DIY method of building your own air filter with MERV13 furnace filters and a box fan are an easy and cost-effective way to help clear indoor air from airborne virus particles, wildfire smoke, pollen, dust, and more!

If you can seal a box, you can build one (or 100!) of these!

Image / Video Gallery

This gallery includes photos of builds, creative modifications, instructional images, as well as videos. Click through tags below to load more. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2023 at 5:41 am

You get what you pay for: US Military and Civilian Budgets

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In the US, people work to support the military, not themselves — that’s based on the relative distribution of tax dollars spent on the military vs. social services, the social safety net, and civilian services and infrastructure. Judd Legum writes in Popular Information:

A new report from Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, shared exclusively with Popular Information, reveals how decades of enormous military spending have reshaped the federal government and the U.S. economy. Today, more than half of all discretionary spending is spent on defense, military personnel make up the majority of federal government employees, and private military contractors are a leading force in the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, “investments in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and emergency preparedness” have been crowded out.

The numbers are startling. There are about 3.5 million people who work for the federal government, including civilians and uniformed military personnel. 72% of all federal workers are “defense-related,” including Department of Defense civilians, uniformed military personnel, and the Department of Veterans Affairs staff. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services employs 4% of federal civilian workers. The State Department, tasked with using diplomacy to avert wars, employs 1%.

The Department of Defense has a budget of $849 billion in the current fiscal year, and more than half is funneled to military contractors. About 30% of this money goes to just five firms: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrup Grummond. Billions are awarded without competitive bidding. In 2020, for example, only 10% of Lockheed Martin’s contracts were subject to competition. Despite the massive sums of money involved, “we know surprisingly little about how they spend these funds, what kinds of jobs and pay are supported, which sub-contractors are paid and how much.” All five companies spend in excess of $10 million annually lobbying the federal government.

Today, “military contracts are distributed to every congressional district and nearly every county in the U.S.” According to the report, this isn’t an accident. Military contractors understand that “spreading out contracts means buying and gaining political support.” The strategy produces “more constituents and more politicians fighting to win or maintain those contracts for the sake of jobs.”

But military spending comes at a cost. Since 2015, the U.S. has added more than $300 billion to its annual defense spending. That is equivalent to the annual cost of providing universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year-olds, 2 years of free community college for high school graduates, and health insurance for uninsured Americans — combined.

The situation described in the report is likely to worsen following the recent passage of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which reduces most discretionary spending for two years while allowing defense spending to continue apace.

“U.S. taxpayers have gotten what they’ve paid for, which is an economy that is devoted to the military, both in terms of spending and in terms of jobs,” the author of the study, Dr. Heidi Peltier, concludes. The following is a transcript of Popular Information’s interview with Peltier, edited for length and clarity.

LEGUM: You describe in the report that, today, both the federal government and, to a certain extent, the economy overall, is dominated by military spending. When did this dynamic begin?

PELTIER: Until recently, [the defense budget] would go up during wartime and down during peacetime. And what we’re seeing in recent years is that it keeps going up even when we’re not at war. So with the exit from Afghanistan and the winding down of the Iraq war, we really should be seeing military spending going down. And yet we continue to see increased military budgets.  So that is something that I think has changed over the last 20 years in the post-9/11 era.

LEGUM: Many politicians and pundits argue that the United States is not spending enough on the military. One of the arguments that I see centers around purchasing power. The argument is that we spend more than the next 10 or 11 countries combined on our military, but that distorts reality because it’s much cheaper for the Chinese to pay for things. What would you say to that?

PELTIER: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2023 at 5:29 am

100 Years Ago, A Woman Told The World How Pointless Their Wars Were

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Jessica Wildfire writes at OK Doomer:

Is it necessary to feed the people of Europe… to get the wheat out of Russia? Then in heaven’s name, let us have warm water harbors in order to get that wheat out of Russia.

— Jane Addams, “The Revolt Against War,” 1915

More than a hundred years ago, an American woman traveled through war-torn Europe interviewing ordinary people about the first world war. She wasn’t just another journalist. She was a social worker and a nonprofit director. She didn’t take sides. She didn’t sell propaganda.

She just listened.

She learned a few things.

First, she figured out that every nation thinks they’re “fighting to preserve its own traditions and its own ideals from those who would come in and disturb and destroy those high traditions and those ideals.” Every nation believes they’re doing the right thing, even if they lie to justify it.

She also figured out that nobody really wants to fight. The soldiers sure as hell don’t want to be there. Only a tiny minority revels in the violence. Most of them are scared to death. They’re hiding their fear. They believe they have no choice but to fight. That’s what they’ve been told.

Finally, she figured out that countries don’t really fight over ideology. They don’t fight for democracy. They don’t fight over politics. They don’t fight over religion. Those aren’t the real reasons for wars.

They’re excuses.

This woman figured out that countries actually fight over resources. They want another country to share its ports, land, or raw materials. They feel excluded or threatened by each other. They struggle to meet the needs of their own people. So they either provoke a war, or they just invade. If these countries could sit down and discuss how to share their resources without letting their politics or religion get in the way, then the wars wouldn’t happen.

If nothing else, they wouldn’t last as long.

This woman became relatively famous for her humanitarian work and public speaking. But when she started talking about war, the press turned on her. They smeared her. They questioned her patriotism.

Organizations expelled her.

She became a pariah.

The world decided this woman was a moron just trying to cause trouble and make a name for herself. Instead, they decided it was a better idea to keep fighting. In the end, nobody really won that first war.

Nothing really changed.

Instead of giving up, this woman continued to serve humanity. She worked under the president, overseeing relief aid to “the women and children of enemy nations.” She published a book about it, Peace and Bread in a Time of War. About two decades later, the same conditions this woman talked about led to another, even more destructive war. This war centered around a genocide.

After the end of that war, the world finally came around to the idea that maybe nations should try to work together instead of constantly competing over resources and making threats. That idea worked for a little while, at least until rich countries decided to start building empires again.

Almost nobody remembers this woman, even though she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, just a couple of years before Hitler became chancellor of Germany. The committee seemed to realize the world was heading toward another war. Maybe they thought giving this woman an award would redeem her and get the nation’s leaders to listen. She died from cancer four years later.

She’s erased from most history textbooks now. Students never learn about her. At best, she’s a footnote—maybe a paragraph.

Instead, they learn that the assassination of some minor aristocrat catapulted Europe into war. They learn the excuses for the war, but not the reasons. Sometimes they learn the reasons for the second war, but mostly they learn that we beat some genocidal super villain.

If that’s what Americans have been learning for the last hundred years, it’s no wonder they can never see past their own excuses. They support one war after another, each time convinced they really are the good guys this time. They’re desperate to relive war stories that never even happened.

I often think about how different the world would look if . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2023 at 7:37 pm

US in Throes of Unexceptional Imperial Decline

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William J. Astore writes at Consortium News:

All around the U.S. things are falling apart. Collectively, Americans are experiencing national and imperial decline. Can America save itself? Is the country, as presently constituted, even worth saving?

For me, that last question is radical indeed. From my early years, I believed deeply in the idea of America. I knew this country wasn’t perfect, of course, not even close. Long before the 1619 Project, I was aware of the “original sin” of slavery and how central it was to our history. I also knew about the genocide of Native Americans. (As a teenager, my favorite movie — and so it remains — was Little Big Man, which pulled no punches when it came to the white man and his insatiably murderous greed.)

Nevertheless, America still promised much, or so I believed in the 1970s and 1980s. Life here was simply better, hands down, than in places like the Soviet Union and Mao Zedong’s China. That’s why we had to “contain” communism — to keep them over there, so they could never invade our country and extinguish our lamp of liberty.

And that’s why I joined America’s Cold War military, serving in the Air Force from the presidency of Ronald Reagan to that of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And believe me, it proved quite a ride. It taught this retired lieutenant colonel that the sky’s anything but the limit.

In the end, 20 years in the Air Force led me to turn away from empire, militarism and nationalism. I found myself seeking instead some antidote to the mainstream media’s celebrations of American exceptionalism and the exaggerated version of victory culture that went with it (long after victory itself was in short supply).

started writing against the empire and its disastrous wars and found likeminded people at TomDispatch — former imperial operatives turned incisive critics like Chalmers Johnson and Andrew Bacevich, along with sharp-eyed journalist Nick Turse and, of course, the irreplaceable Tom Engelhardt, the founder of those “tomgrams” meant to alert America and the world to the dangerous folly of repeated U.S. global military interventions.

But this isn’t a plug for TomDispatch. It’s a plug for Americans to free their minds as much as possible from the thoroughly militarized matrix that pervades America. That matrix drives imperialism, waste, war and global instability to the point where, in the context of the conflict in Ukraine, the risk of nuclear Armageddon could imaginably approach that of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

[Related: Lessons for Armistice Day 2022]

As wars — proxy or otherwise — continue, America’s global network of 750-odd military bases never seems to decline. Despite upcoming cuts to domestic spending, just about no one in Washington imagines Pentagon budgets doing anything but growing, even soaring toward the trillion-dollar level, with militarized programs accounting for 62 percent of federal discretionary spending in 2023.

An engorged Pentagon — its budget for 2024 is expected to rise to $886 billion in the bipartisan debt-ceiling deal reached by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — guarantees one thing: a speedier fall for the American empire. Chalmers Johnson predicted it; Andrew Bacevich analyzed it.

The biggest reason is simple enough: incessant, repetitive, disastrous . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2023 at 7:12 pm

The error of “There Are Never Any Consequences” or “I Am Waiting and Waiting for Some Accountability” vis-à-vis various Trump/GOP crimes

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Many people observe something for a short while, then draw (aka “jump to”) a conclusion and stop looking — so they never correct their first impression.

This has been particularly evident as some watch the wheels of justice grind through various crimes committed by Trump and his followers, very much including the January 6 insurrection.

Terry Kanefield offers this corrective:


  • “Given what I’ve seen the past few years, I don’t expect anything to ever happen.”
  • Republicans commit crimes because there are never any consequences!”

Please keep reading this for why people are still saying this even after Trump was indicted in Manhattan for 38 felony counts.

Here is a partial list of the criminal consequences faced by people in Trump’s inner circle since 2017:

It’s almost as if the Republican Party glorifies lawbreaking.

In 2018, Michael Shearer, writing for The Washington Post observed that “convictions are no longer a disqualification for the Republicans” and “even time spent in prison can be turned into a positive talking point, demonstrating a candidate’s battle scars in a broader fight against what he perceives as liberal corruption.”

After his 2019 indictment, Roger Stone received a standing ovation at a 2020 “Women for Trump” event.

One person in the comments said this: . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2023 at 12:13 pm

Incredible realism!

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Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2023 at 11:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Yaqi Flipside and Barrister & Mann Lavanille

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A shaving brush that has a dark-gray knot with light-gray tips and a handle whose top portion is a bulbous navy blue and bottom half an octagonal white stands next to a tube of shaving soap whose black label has the image of a horse constructed fro closely spaced gradient lines from a map. A small black label has "Lavanille" in large whitle block letters. Next is a dark-amber glass bottle with a while label that has "Lavanille" in black script. In front is a gunmetal-colored razor head on a stainless steel bulldog handle.

Phoenix Artisan’s Starcraft is a large brush, at least for me, but it does a good job, and I do like the knot (except for its size — 22mm IMO would have been better than the 24mm it is). The brush did an excellent job with Barrister & Mann’s Lavanilee shaving soap, and provided excellent glide for the Yaqi gunmetal-colored Flipside head (here mounted on a Maggard Razor MR8 bulldog handle).

Three passes did a good job, though I did pick up a nick on my chin. A quick dab of My Nik Is Sealed took care of that. I don’t get many nicks anymore, but when I do, I really like My Nik Is Sealed. The odd thing is that when I searched for it on Amazon, I got no hits. I found the link by searching with DuckDuckGo. (I actually got two hits, but the other seemed very much a counterfeit, an endemic problem on Amazon.) Nick Stick is not bad, but I found My Nik Is Sealed does a better job.

A splash of Lavanille aftershave finished the job. Other than the nick, a very fine shave.

The coffee this morning is Fantastico’s Carrizal: “A Combination of Milk Chocolate, Praline, and Caramel.”


Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2023 at 9:25 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Kale ‘n Stuff recipe

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A cutting board on which are two bunches of thick scallions, 7 large crimini mushrooms, a lemon, 7 garlic scapes, 1 bunch green kale, a metal cup holding ginger slices and fresh rosemary leaves, 3 pieces of homemade tempeh, 2 jalapeños, 1 poblano 1/2 red bell pepper, 8 peeled garlic cloves, 8 asparagus stalks.
Included in recipe but not shown: 1 San Marzano tomato

I thought I’d cook up the kale I had. I used my 4-qt sauté pan, into which I put:

• about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

I took the metal cup from my spice & herb grinder and put into it:

• leaves from three sprigs of rosemary
• thin slices from a 1″ knob of ginger root
• 8 garlic cloves

The metal cup is shown in the photo with the rosemary leaves and the thinly sliced fresh ginger root. I add the garlic cloves shown in the photo and ground them all together, which made a kind of paste. I let that sit (so the garlic could rest) while I prepped the remaining vegetables (and fungi), which I added to the sauté pan as I chopped them.

Update: The inclusion of rosemary, which I’ve not been routinely using, turns out to be a very good thing. I’ll now use rosemary much more often — and I do like grinding the leaves, either by themselves or, as here, with other things.

Three pieces of tempeh are shown in the photo, and I noticed that two of them — edge pieces — look like sausage (but they’re not).

soybean-rye tempeh, slabs halved to make thinner slabs and then diced
• 2 jalapeños, chopped
• 1 poblano, chopped
• 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
• 7 garlic scapes, chopped small (they’re wrapped around the lemon)
• 7 largish crimini mushrooms, halved then sliced thick
• 2 bunches thick scallions, chopped
• 1 lemon, diced
• 1 San Marzano tomato, chopped

At this point, added the paste from the grinder cup — garlic, ginger, rosemary — to the pan and turned the induction burner to “3.” I added:

• a splash of red-wine vinegar
• several good dashes fish sauce

As the pan heated, I finished the prep, occasionally using a spatula to stir and mix the veggies in the pan.

• 1 bunch kale, chopped fairly small (especially stems)
• 7 or so stalks of asparagus, tough end removed and then cut into 1″ sections.

A whole-food plant-based diet provides a good amount of fiber, and the fiber from asparagus and alliums is particularly beneficial.

A pan full of vegetable stew, most green but with bits of yellow (lemon), red (bell pepper), and white (tempeh). Pieces of mushrooms and asparagus and chopped kale leaves are visible

I had to add the kale a little at a time, carefully using the spatula to lift and mix it in with what was starting to cook. Halfway through adding the kale, I covered the pan and let the veggies cook for a few minutes so they would wilt down.

Finally I got in all the kale and then added the asparagus and a splash of water. I covered the pan again and turned the heat to 225ºF for 15 minutes. I did stir a couple of times before the timer sounded.

It looked good, so I stirred again, covered the pan, and let it cook at 225ºF for 15 more minutes. The little photo shows the finished result.

I have some cooked Kamut® (organically cultivated Khorasan wheat) in the fridge — intact whole-grain — and I think I’ll serve this over some of that. Obviously I have enough for a few meals.

In terms of the recipe checklist:

Beans (3) — tempeh (soybeans)
Whole Grain (3) — tempeh (rye), Kamut
Fruit Other Than Berries (3) — lemon, plus included in breakfast
Greens (2) — kale
Other Vegetables (2) — scallions, jalapeños, poblano, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, garlic scapes, tomato, asparagus
Cruciferous Vegetable (1) — kale
Berries (1) — breakfast
Flaxseed (1) — breakfast
Nuts & Seeds (1) — breakfast, though I’d eat this with some pumpkin seed if I had any
Herbs & Spices (1) — rosemary, ginger
Other — vinegar, fish sauce

Update and afterthought: It’s very tasty, with a light, fresh taste — the lemon helps. I might have added pitted Kalamata olives — I have them but didn’t think about it. I cut them in half, then add.

Second bowl — I found some redskin peanuts and included a few of those in the second bowl. This batch is really exceptionally tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 3:29 pm

Strange Numbers

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I found this video fascinating. The problem Derek Muller mentions — that p-adic systems based on composite numbers — non-primes — can result in zero being the product of two non-zero numbers — is something one encounters in abstract algebra. If two non-zero numbers have zero as a product, they are called divisors of zero and they mess up a system — that is, they introduce issues that don’t arise if the system has no zero-divisors. 

At any rate, here’s the video. It has some cute things.

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Math, Video

Sea temperatures are at a massive record high

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KevinDrump’s post (which includes a chart) indicates that climate change in the future will worsen faster because the oceans have now absorbed so much heat that they can no longer buffer the temperature rise.

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 12:00 pm

Strange bedfellows: RFKjr and his backers

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Radley Balko notes on Mastodon:

Musk, Shellenberger, Dorsey, Srinivasan, Sacks. All so-called moderates, all using their wealth, influence, and platform to mainstream an absolute nut who has pushed everything from autism-vaccine BS to 5G brainworm lunacy.

This is ominous, and deeply unhealthy.

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 10:07 am

Adding heft to a light razor: Filament head + Barber Pole handle

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A shaving brush with black synthetic knot, red octagonal handle rounded at bop and just before the black octagonal base stands next to a tub of shaving soap standing on its side to display a black top label with a drawing of plain lines showing a magenta trident sending with an ellipse halfway down the handle (as though the hand were surrounded by a circle seen from an angle). Next is a bottle shaving soap with a black cap and a label that seems to be a section of an engineering drawing of a machine. At the bottom is a black rectangle on which is printed in white block letters "Reserve Cool." In the foreground, lying on its side, is a slant razor with a clear plastic head and a stainless-steel handle with spiral knurling.

Barrister & Mann’s Reserve Lavender is an excellent shaving soap, and again I heeded their advice to use a brush with a synthetic knot — today, my RazoRock Amici, a fine little brush. I recently saw someone’s comment on a lavender shaving soap that he didn’t like the scent because “it’s an old lady’s scent.” 

It’s certainly true that fragrances are very much YMMV, and one person’s likes and dislikes may well not match another’s The commenter certainly knows his own likes and dislikes regarding fragrances, but he is simply wrong about lavender’s role as a fragrance: it may well be something elderly women like (cf. Lavender and Old Lace), but it is also a classic shaving soap fragrance, enjoyed for generations by men,  some of whom were doubtless stout-hearted men.

Similarly, one may or may not like the fragrance of a rose, but the fact is that rose also is a classic shaving fragrance, one I associate with the Cavaliers of the English Civil War. (My searches this morning were confounded by Derek Rose and his playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which I discover is a basketball team. Oddly, I could not find a Roundheads basketball team, though that seems a fitting name for a basketball team.)

Yesterday I shaved with my Phoenix Artisan Filament, and on Mastodon (where I cross-post my SOTD posts) LeroyR commented about the lightness of the Phoenix Artisan plastic razors. He has an El Fantasma, also plastic but better than the Filament in two respects: a) El Fantasma glows in the dark (scroll down at the link), and the Filament doesn’t; and b) El Fantasma is a double slant,  noticeably more slanted than the Filament. The greater slant produces greater efficiency. However, he would prefer the razor to have more heft.

I offered two suggestions: 

  1. The razor’s handle is hollow. Fill it with small lead fishing weights, then pour in some epoxy to seal that in place. The heavier handle adds heft, and increasing the weight of a razor’s handle in general works better than increasing the weight of its head: a heavier handle makes the razor feel more agile, a heavier head feels awkward and unbalanced. Moreover, by filling the handle with weights, the glow-in-the-dark capability is undiminished.
  2. El Fantasma is a three-piece razor, so the original handle can be replaced with a heavier handle, though that probably sacrifices the glow-in-the-dark capability. (One could, however, paint the handle with an appropriate paint.) 

So this morning I tried approach 2 (sans paint), using a stainless-steel RazoRock Barber Pole handle (and there are even heavier handles readily available). 

The shave went very well — it’s the same head, after all — and the heavier handle gave the razor a more familiar feel in the hand. That said, I personally rather like the change of pace a very light razor offers, and in particular a lightweight slant is a good reminder to use very light pressure.

Three passes produced the same ultra-smooth result as yesterday — same head — and a splash of Barrister & Mann Reserve Cool, augmented with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel, finished the job.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Library Blend: “a blend of Ceylon, Jasmine, Keemun, and Gunpowder tea.” Delicious!

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 9:54 am

Posted in Business, Shaving

Another Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Gang Member Admits The Department Has Plenty Of Gang Members

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In an earlier post, I wrote that police departments reflect and participate in the increasing authoritarian movement in the US, that police too often act as a hostile occupation force rather than guardians of our human and constitutional rights. In Techdirt, Tim Cushing provides additional evidence. He writes:

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have a great track record. In addition to the usual stuff expected from law enforcement agencies (biased policing, zero accountability, civil rights abuses, excessive force deployment), the LASD has been home to deputy gangs pretty much since its inception.

Its recent string of elected sheriffs hasn’t done anything to eliminate this problem. Sheriff Lee Baca ended his career facing federal criminal charges. Sheriff Alex Villanueva ran as a reformer but was run out of office after spending his tenure intimidating critics, threatening to sue local politicians, and continuing to deny the department was home to deputy gangs.

Now, it’s up to new sheriff Robert Luna to clean up the department. To his credit, Luna has not denied the department houses gang members. On the other hand, he hasn’t done much with the information he’s been given, including a report from the civilian oversight board that provides plenty of evidence of gang activity within the force.

More evidence is being compiled, thanks to ongoing litigation involving the department. The lawsuit giving rise to the newest revelations was filed by Deputy Larry Waldie, who claims he was targeted and demoted after he pushed back against one deputy gang’s control of the Compton station. Testimony being delivered in this case continues to peel the layers of secrecy off the LASD’s gang problem.

When he stepped up to the witness stand last week, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Jaime Juarez told the court about his first inking party — the day he got his Compton station tattoo. The intimate gathering was at a home somewhere in Pomona, and most of the people there were strangers.

But he knew the man who invited him, and knew that man sported the same ink Juarez was about to get — a design commonly linked to a suspected deputy gang known as the Executioners.

On Thursday afternoon, while testifying in a civil trial, Juarez pushed up a pant leg to reveal that tattoo: a helmet-wearing skeleton gripping a rifle.

Deputy Juarez isn’t the only witness offering up damning testimony. Others are breaking the code of silence to expose the most problematic elements of an extremely problematic agency.

Some witnesses offered the names of everyone they’d seen with the so-called Executioners tattoo. One provided pictures of a detective bureau desk decorated with the group’s symbol in several places.

Of course, the LASD is arguing Waldie’s demotion had nothing to do with the intimidation and influence of deputy gangs. The department claims Waldie simply was not qualified enough to be promoted. And it also alleges — in a move that tacitly admits the department has a gang problem — that Waldie was a member of another deputy gang known as the Gladiators.

Former sheriff Alex Villanueva also offered his own testimony. As is par for his particular course, it was steeped in denial and buttressed by admissions he spent his time in office doing absolutely nothing about a problem he could never hope to credibly deny.

[Villanueva] denied there were ever gangs inside the Sheriff’s Department and said he enacted an anti-gang policy only to address the “negative campaign” by the Board of Supervisors. He went on to tell the court that he’d never seen the skeleton tattoo until a photograph of it was published with a news article, and that he’d never conducted a study to determine which tattoos existed within the department.

It’s pretty easy to pretend a problem doesn’t exist when you actively take steps to avoid learning anything about it. The self-proclaimed “reformer” left office after reforming nothing and shielding the worst of his employees from internal and external criticism. Under his so-called leadership, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2023 at 9:40 pm

Being poor in the US

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I mentioned a post by Jessica Wildfire yesterday, and it occurs to me that it might be behind a paywall. (I subscribe, so I don’t know where the paywall hits.) It was a particularly good post, well worth reading in its entirety, but if you can read it, I thought you should at least see the conclusion:

And so, here we are.

There has been a systemic assault on poor people for the last four decades. The entire point is to drag us all the way back to the 1920s, when Americans worked all the time and spent all their money on gadgets, only to wind up poor and then blamed for it by the very architects of their desire. They probably wouldn’t mind if we rebooted public whippings of the unemployed, too.

They’d bring it back just for fun.

There’s a point to all of this. If we’re going to make progress on any progressive agendas, we’ll have to remove the social stigma from poverty. We’ll have to stop blaming poor people for their problems and bulldozing their camps, as if that makes the problem go away. (Affluent liberals do it, too.) We’ll have to admit that corporations do invest an enormous amount of energy encouraging consumption and marketing junk to poor people, then act like blameless victims when they tank the economy. We have to make it clear that there’s no shame in not having enough money, that it’s not a personal moral failure.

We’re going up against four centuries of social programming.

It’s not going to be easy.

Today, poor people are gaslit from every possible angle. They’re told to buy more to help the economy. They’re told to save. They’re told to invest. They’re told to work harder. They’re told to get more rest. They’re told to ask for a raise with confidence. They’re yelled at when they ask for a raise. They’re told money won’t make them happy. They’re told money will make them happy. They’re told to go to college. They’re told they shouldn’t have gone to college. They’re told to take out loans. They’re berated for taking out loans. They’re told to try to get good jobs. They’re told they should settle for lousy jobs. Their bank charges them fines for not having enough money. Bankers tell them there’s too much money floating around, so they have to raise interest rates and trigger mass layoffs.

They’re told they work too hard.

They’re called lazy.

They’re forced to deliver packages during tornadoes. They’re locked inside freezers. They drop dead on warehouse floors. They’re told to step over each other’s corpses to meet delivery deadlines. They’re told to pee inside bottles. They’re denied air conditioning. Their corporate bosses tell them to get on food stamps to save the company money. Their corporate bosses try to get them kicked off food stamps. On top of all that, they’re told to be grateful.

They’re not poor.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2023 at 8:38 pm

During Pride month, journalists should be ashamed

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Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch:

The front-page headline in the Washington Post proclaimed that “emboldened shoppers” are threatening Target workers for carrying Pride month merchandise — a trend that the article explained had had “engulfed” the chain “in culture wars.”

Those “emboldened shoppers” – in reality, retrograde bullies and bigots spewing the kind of hatred that had been increasingly confined to the dark corners of society before the Trump era – couldn’t have asked for better, more indulgent coverage.

Something terrible has changed in our society as the Republican Party has become a toxic stew of Christian nationalism, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and especially transphobia. It’s a sickness. It’s a gigantic step backwards.

But that’s not how the Washington Post sees it. Reporters Jaclyn Peiser and Jacob Bogage wrote in their nut graph:

Though Pride Month and other inclusivity initiatives have been around for years, they’ve increasingly become litmus tests for consumers, forcing companies to fully commit on social issues or yield to critics.

This kind of coverage is, sadly, typical. The furious reaction from phobic haters is repeatedly seen in the mainstream media as a marketing challenge rather than as an alarming sign of societal regression.

It’s bad enough that our elite newsrooms normalize book banning, teacher gagging, history erasing and other clear signs of incipient fascism. It’s bad enough they falsely equate hostages and hostage-takers.

What’s even worse is the calm and measured coverage of the ongoing assault on the personhood of a significant portion of the American population.

After decades of progress, there is now an all-out war on queerness. Where, any normal person must ask, is the outrage?

(There was a similar journalistic failure a year ago, after the Supreme Court declared a war on women.)

The short answer is that elite newsroom leaders feel that outrage about anything is unseemly – because it would appear to be “taking sides.”

Sustained outrage is even more unacceptable. To the people who consider unflappability the ultimate journalistic achievement, sustained outrage is a symptom of hysteria.

Case in point, some Times contributors earlier this year signed a letter calling out negative bias in the Times’s reporting about transgender, non⁠-⁠binary, and gender nonconforming people — in particular, raising serious concerns about derogatory coverage of gender-affirming care. The response from management was to breezily dismiss those concerns as coming from “activists”. Many of the most senior, established, and comfortable reporters in the Times newsroom responded even more unctuously, saying the original letter-writers suffered from “a fundamental misunderstanding of our responsibilities as journalists.”

Aiding and Abetting

As the Republican “culture war” has turned into a full-fledged battle against basic human rights, the political media’s continued insistence on covering it like just another political tactic is enabling it.

That’s right: Journalistic restraint is aiding and abetting the dehumanizing of gay and trans people by a bunch of evil fanatics.

Guardian media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote recently that “transgender individuals… are continually portrayed – including too often in the media — as some sort of dreaded societal problem about which something must be done.” And, she wrote, “The mainstream news media, far too often, plays along – running wide-eyed stories that fail to identify what’s really happening here.”

Kelly McBride, the lead ethicist at the Poynter Institute, likens this period to the civil rights movements of the past, urging journalists to avoid a “both sides” approach. “There are moments where people are asserting their equality at the same moment that the state is asserting their inequality, and that looks very different,” she told independent journalist Nora Neus.

Favorably covering Pride month hasn’t been remotely controversial for ages. This year, with gay and trans rights under attack, reality-based journalists should be leaning into it – using it to remind our audiences of the moral imperative to recognize, defend, and celebrate the humanity of all people.

Instead, the Associated Press concluded that Bud Light “fumbled its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with a transgender influencer” because “For some, the partnership went too far at a time when transgender issues — including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports — are a divisive topic in state legislatures.”

(Bud Light has included LGBTQ+ people in ads since the mid-1990s, including a 2016 trans-inclusive national TV ad, and supported Pride events for far longer than that.)

The New York Times dutifully noted that “conservatives” had expressed outrage at the Christian-right Chick-fil-A chain (of all places!) simply for adopting a policy on diversity, equity and inclusion. “The backlash,” reporter Jesus Jiménez wrote, “has made Chick-fil-A one of the latest companies to draw public condemnation over ‘culture war’ flash points.”

All of this attention on the “backlash” against humans for being human comes at the expense of a bigger, much more important story about how those humans are facing more and more threats to their safety.

A DHS document obtained by ABC News warned that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2023 at 6:46 pm

I’d love to have had a bike like this

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A bicycle with fat tires and a dark frame. No front sprocket, but a gearbox; no chain, but a toothed belt; no derailleur; disk brakes at the hub of each wheel.
The Priority 600

I just recently saw a post on Mastodon in which a guy was praising his bike for making hills easy — “13% grade at 50 miles.” I was curious, and ask I delved into the bike, a Priority 600, I became more and more impressed. I would love to have a copy of this bike.

I tend to like bikes that are unusual in a good way. I had a Moulton bicycle that I liked a lot. (I would get the Marathon today.) I came across it in the 1980s, when almost no bicycles had shock absorbers. Alexx Moulton was the guy who designed the suspension system for the Morris Minor, and when he set about to design a bicycle, he just assumed it should have a suspension system. He used a rubber system in the bike, as he had in the Morris Minor. 

He saw no need for large wheels, so the wheels are smaller than those for conventional bicycles, but with the gearing, there’s no drawback (and the smaller wheels are lighter). 

He also noted that energy is lost when the frame flexes, so he made the frame perfectly rigid, using struts. All the energy goes to the wheels, none to flexing the frame. And the frame’s rigidity makes the suspension especially important — without a suspension, any shock the frame encounters will be delivered directly to the saddle.

And he made it easy to take apart into two pieces so it can be readily transported. (It doesn’t fold, but it comes easily apart into two halves.)

That’s the spirit that makes me wish I had a Priority 600. 

Side view of a white Moulton bicycle: low frame, small wheels, a rack above the rear wheel with a pack on it. The bicycle is white.
The Moulton bike I once owned.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2023 at 5:22 pm

Rube Goldberg tribute

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Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2023 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

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