Later On

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

Archive for June 25th, 2007

Nature’s Tears EyeMist

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It just arrived, and it’s not bad. The Web site is NSFW, unfortunately: a video promo starts playing immediately, and no way to turn it off, and it repeats and repeats and repeats. Bad site. However, this page has the info and is safe for work. Shipping was free when I ordered. And misting the eyes is MUCH better than putting in drops.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

An intense interest in shaving is perfectly natural

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At least, I think so. But I read this post:

Anyhow in regards to the original subject: I really can’t explain why I’m into shaving as I am. It really does strike me as a bizarre hobby.

Imagine if someone was really into vacuuming and they started collecting vacuums and dustbusters, mops, brooms, etc. And they started getting different air fresheners or trying floor polishes. To me, it’s similar.

“Ooh, tomorrow is Tuesday, I’m gonna use my Dirt Devil and Lemon Scented Glade.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Shaving

Hilzoy on a roll

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He has some excellent comments on the third in the Cheney series. Read them.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 3:41 pm

Undercover journalism confirms our suspicion

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Lobbyists will do anything for money. Read this.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Business, Government

Clues to internal struggles at WaPo

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Given the Washington Post‘s editorial board and its continuing support for Bush and his Administration, it’s surprising that the 4-part Cheney series was published—but note this, from War & Piece:

A veteran newspaper editor friend has some sharp observations about the Post Cheney piece:

A careful reading of the story of Cheney’s coup against a feeble executive reveals that paragraphs 7 through 10 were written and inserted in haste by a powerful editorial hand. The banging of colliding metaphors in an otherwise carefully written piece is evidence of last-minute interpolations by a bad editor whom no one has the power to rewrite.

(“Waxing or waning, [moon metaphor], Cheney hold his purchase [grasping image, a monkey?] on an unrivaled portfolio [business metaphor]….” A monkey with a gibbous face clutching a briefcase stuffed with investments?)

(Worse is this garble: “Cheney, they said. inhabits an operational world [?] in which means are matched with ends [is there any other way?] and some of the most important choices are made.” [Where’s the rest of the sentence? What does this pseudo-sentence even mean?])

That in turn suggests that this piece has been ready to run for some time. Insertions like the one about the veep’s office not being part of the executive branch and seriatim “softenings” show that jamming it into the paper at the end of June, when only cats and the homeless are around the read the paper, was made at the last minute.

Why? My guess is that this series ready to go during the debate over the supplemental funding of the Iraq war and that Downie or someone at the top held it back until Gellman and others started carrying snub-nose .38s to work under their seersuckers.

A key element of the coup is also ignored: the role of the press as revealed in the Libby scandal … : Note in particular paragraph seven the phrase that Cheney’s subversive roles “went undetected.” The correct verb is “unreported.”

This series is a landscape of an internal war. Parts of it are still smoking and some reputations are visibly dying—anonymously, for the moment. The journalistic graves registration people will go in later and tag the corpses.

Update: More hints that the Post series has been in the can for a few months now: its co-author Jo Becker has already moved to the NYT and published a long investigated enterprise piece now on the NYT‘s front page.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 3:19 pm

Skin benefits of traditional shaving

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A post on Badger & Blade:

About 2-3 weeks ago I went to a wedding in Richmond, VA that my entire family was invited to. So I greet my mom at the airport (they were flying in from Michigan) and she gives me a hug and squishes my cheeks the way moms tend to do when they see their sons for the first time in a while- then says to me, “Wow- What have you done to your face?!?” and I replied “What are you talking about?” (Somewhat alarmed)

She replies, “Your face…its the smoothest and softest its been since you were 5. What have you done? Can you tell your father to do the same?!?”

It’s interesting because- while I’m aware of the fact that wetshaving has vastly improved the health of my skin… its one of those things were the improvements have been slow and steady over time, and less perceptible on a day to day basis. My mom though, having not seen me in a few months- could detect the difference much more quickly- because she only had the last time she saw me to compare to (if that makes sense).

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 10:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

More on Cheney

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The blogosphere is bubbling with the revelations in the first two WaPo articles—with two more still to come. The Anonymous Liberal has a good post, which begins:

If you haven’t yet read the first two installments (1, 2) of the Washington Post’s four part series on Dick Cheney’s role in the Bush administration, go read them now. They’re incredible. Barton Gellman and Jo Becker do an excellent job telling the behind-the-scenes story of how the Bush administration’s various terrorism-related policies came into being. The articles confirm much of what has been suspected about Cheney’s role and fill in many of the gaps. It’s riveting stuff, and deeply disturbing.

There’s enough stuff in the first two installments alone to fill 100 blog posts, easily. But since I don’t have that kind of time, I want to focus on a few meta-observations.

(1) Conspicuously absent from nearly every important scene described in these articles is the President himself. Time and again we see the Vice President making decisions, attending meetings, and handling situations that really should be handled by the President personally. We also see the Vice President continually limiting or otherwise manipulating the information and advice that reaches the President’s ear. We see him secretly intercepting memos intended for other cabinet officials, keeping key officials out of the loop on important decisions, and using other officials to disguise the provenance of advice originating from his office. The portrait that emerges is of a man with utter disdain for process and an almost messianic certainty in his beliefs, a man who has used his immense knowledge of the workings of the executive bureaucracy and his close relationship with a pliant, inexperienced president to effectively control national policy on all issues related to the “war on terror” for the last six years. Cheney really is the man behind the curtain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 9:46 am

Cheney and his web

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Alert Reader has pointed to the series about Cheney and his organization within the government and the influence it wields, thanks to a weak and incurious President. I know the series, but it is so disheartening and sickening to read about how seriously our government and its principles have been undermined. Still, it’s worth reading. Two of the four parts are now published, and the other two parts will be published on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s ThinkProgress:

The Washington Post has posted the second in its four-part series on Dick Cheney. (Read part one here.) The most recent article develops in more detail the role of Alberto Gonzales as one of Cheney’s key enablers:

On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice “very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law,” the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president’s lawyer “in full Nurse Ratched mode,” a reference to the ward chief of a mental hospital in the 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

In another instance, the article recounts a meeting over the administration’s denial of due process to detainees. At the meeting, “Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against [Cheney lawyer David] Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney’s lawyer.”

UPDATE: More from Atrios and Laura Rozen.

And be sure to read Hilzoy’s post The Cheney Series: War Crimes. Extract:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 9:21 am

Digital humanities: the novel

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Very interesting approach to the study of the novel:

It’s an old stereotype: he who hates mathematics curls up with a book, and she who revels in numbers is bored by fiction. But Franco Moretti, an English professor at Stanford University, believes that a full understanding of literature requires mathematical tools. He is inventing a new school of literary history based on statistical analysis of data about novels rather than close readings of the texts themselves.

“When we study literature, we really study a tiny, tiny portion of the literature that was actually published—around one percent,” Moretti says. To understand literary trends as a whole, he asserts, “Close reading won’t help: even if we read a novel a day every day of the year, it would take a century to read all the novels published in Britain in the 19th century.”

For a wider understanding, Moretti believes, we need to approach literature as a science by applying quantitative methods that are widely used in other fields. “Potentially, it could redraw the whole map of literature,” he says.

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The number of new novels published each year in Britain increased rapidly during three different periods.
From Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees

Moretti has uncovered some surprises. Traditionally, professors have taught that the novel rose during a single period in history, moving smoothly from obscurity to prominence. But Moretti charted the number of novels published in Britain between 1720 and 1850, and he found three distinct upward surges, each followed by a relatively stable period.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 8:19 am

Posted in Books, Education, Science

The book’s now on Amazon

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I was a bit taken by surprise, but Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving: Shaving Made Enjoyable is now available for purchase on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Tell your friends.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 8:13 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

The abuses of Plato’s Republic

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Simon Blackburn is interviewed in today’s Salon.com, and it’s a good interview. Some extracts:

What’s the relevance of Plato and “The Republic,” especially for someone who is philosophically illiterate — like me?

It’s the first great text on political theory and moral theory, relating them, in the Western tradition. What Plato does is confront a variety of skeptics, people like Thrasymachus who say that morality is bunkum, that it’s all power, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, the weak go to the wall, the strong survive. Glaucon is another skeptic who says that, “Look, people are only moral because it costs them too much to be otherwise and if we could get away with it we’d all behave badly.”

Socrates seeks to show that these views are wrong, and he does this by drawing an elaborate analogy between the state of your soul and the state of the body politic, the city — the “polis,” as [the Greeks] called it. [He] says that a disordered soul is as bad for you as a disordered polis, a disordered city, and the kind of disorder represented by Thrasymachus or Glaucon would eventually lead to catastrophe. So there’s [a] utilitarian argument for virtue. And that’s the sort of overall thrust of the book. So it’s a connection between the health of the city and the health of the individual, but the health here includes, as it were, behaving well, good behavior.

What about in terms of his influence on contemporary politics?

I think Plato [has been] picked up and distorted in a couple of different ways. There were people who took what are undoubtedly fairly absolutist or totalitarian aspects of the state that he describes in “The Republic” and said, “Look, he’s nothing more than an apologist for the totalitarian state.” This is a famous attack, most vigorously and very ably prosecuted by Karl Popper in his famous book just after the Second World War, “The Open Society and Its Enemies.” Plato was No. 1 of all [Popper’s] enemies of the open society.

Another reading of him, which is I think even worse, is due to the American political theorist Leo Strauss, who saw him as in some sense endorsing the idea that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. This was kind of a covert message, Strauss thought, of [Plato’s] text. Strauss thought that this covert message or esoteric message was supposed to be perceived only by a number of people of special illumination, amongst which he included himself, of course. And that was the ideology that eventually became American neoconservatism, the view that the servants of the state are entitled to do anything — to lie, to manipulate, to foment war, to destabilize neighboring states, to disguise their actions under a hypocritical cloak of goodness. So it’s an extreme example of realpolitik, which I think is just a 180 degree misreading of what Plato is about. But it just shows that you can put down the clearest words on the page and it will be read saying the opposite.

I think that [Strauss’s reading] is very perverse. You have to ignore what seems to me the very obvious thrust of [“The Republic”]. The book is largely given over to Socrates, and Socrates was largely arguing against the kind of things that Strauss represents. So you have to really pick up little bits and corners and say, “Ah, that’s where Plato’s speaking in his own voice or that’s the message he wants us to take away.” I always find that kind of reading very perverse. You know, it’s not much better than finding the name of the beast in the order of the letters in the Talmud or something.

Read it all.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 8:04 am

Monday shave, feeling great

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But no shave stick this time, since I wanted to feature Mama Bear soaps and I neglected to order one of her shave sticks. So I grabbed the ebony-handled Sabini and whipped up a fragrant lather from the Lime & Vanilla shaving soap and brushed it thoroughly into the two-day beard. Put a made-in-England Wilkinson Sword blade that already had a couple of shaves on it into the gold Slant, which glided through the forest of stubble leaving a completely smooth face. Wonderful. And, of course, the Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes aftershave to complete the theme. What a wonderful morning! And slept like a log last night, thanks to the ceaseless toil of the little tribe of Thermocules that inhabit the blanket. I must give them a gift.

Written by Leisureguy

25 June 2007 at 7:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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