Later On

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

Archive for June 2011

Goal reached

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In a post early this month, I noted that I expected to reach goal this month. It’s the last of the month, and my weight this morning is 173.6 lbs, 1.4 lbs below my goal weight: a reasonable safety margin. The scale gave my body fat as 19.9%, but I don’t know how accurate that is. BMI is 23.5, comfortably below 24. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

30 June 2011 at 8:40 am

Posted in Fitness

Ginger’s Garden & the Pils

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I took my new Thäter brush for a spin this morning: extremely nice feel and good lather from Ginger’s Garden Almond Cream shaving soap—nice soap with muted fragrance and good lather.

I haven’t used the Pils lately, but this morning I once again realized why I like it so much: it does a superb job of shaving. This is the stainless model, which I then had plated in gold. The Swedish Gillette blade is previously used but still did a smooth job.

Three smooth passes, a splash of Acqua di Parma, and we’re off a day’s adventures.

Written by Leisureguy

30 June 2011 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

5 of 65 US nuclear plants prepared for disaster

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Not bad, eh? The other 60… well, what did you expect? The US nuclear industry more or less runs the regulatory agencies, who see their role as “helping” the nuclear industry be profitable. I’m surprised that 5 were okay. If they were. Here’s the story, by John Sullivan for ProPublica. Note in his report how the agency still was trying to cover up the problems.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 3:07 pm

Obsession: Pocket protector

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Now that I’m carrying fountain pens again, I am definitely going with a pocket protector: I already have an indelible ink spot on one shirt (thankfully, on the inside wall of the pocket (and my T-shirt beneath), but not on the visible side. But a wink is a good as a nod, so I’m started a search. that 5 different styles, including a “stealth” model (which I’m wearing now), but on receiving it, it turns out to be .5″ too narrow and 1.2″ too shallow to actually fit my pocket. I looked around, but “custom pocket protectors” refers only to the printing on the protector: the size is standard.

Instructables has DIY projects to make a pocket protector, so I’ll go that route.

It’s not simply to protect against ink, of course: the weight of the pens drags the pocket out of shape, and a protector will protect not only the fabric but the shape. Also, with the several pens in the protector, moving from shirt to shirt is much simpler.

I do like the banner under which marches:

You’re bold, practical, self-confident, and you don’t give a hoot what other people think about you… you wear a pocket protector!

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Little illuminations

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The nice thing about learning a language is the frequently stumbling upon a new and deeper understanding. Just now, I suddenly had an insight: I was struggling to remember a short word: tras meaning after or behind. I have trouble with some little words, and tras, tan, and tal have been bugging me—particularly tras.

This morning it came up again in my Anki deck, and once more I didn’t get it right—but as I stared at the card, I suddenly realized that detrás and detrás de (the first an adverb meaning “behind” and the second a preposition meaning “behind”). Aha! that’s were the tras comes in: de-tras, just like a-dĂłnde in the interrogative “ÂżAdĂłnde?“: “Where to?”—a means “to” and donde means “where”. Seeing such connections is not only helpful, it’s part of what makes learning a language fun.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 9:58 am

Posted in Daily life

Policing the Police: How to effectively record police misbehavior

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Here (via the invaluable Ed Brayton) is an Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal on effective technology that could one day keep you out of prison (as the private prison industry sponsors more sweeps to arrest citizens and jail them: gotta grow profits—the invisible hand of the market demands that).

After the recent Vancouver riots, it became clear that the world is surveiling itself at an unprecedented scale. Angry citizens gave police one million photos and 1,000 hours of video footage to help them track down the rioters. If we aren’t living in a surveillance state run by the government, we’re certainly conducting a huge surveillance experiment on each other.

Which is what makes two new apps, CopRecorder and OpenWatch, and their Web component,, so interesting. They are the brainchildren of Rich Jones, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate who describes himself as “pretty much a hacker to the core.” Flush with cash and time from a few successful forays into the app market, nine months ago Jones decided to devote some of his time to developing what he calls “a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures.”

CopRecorder can record audio without indicating that it’s doing so like the Voice Memos app does. It comes with a built-in uploader to OpenWatch, so that Jones can do “analysis” of the recording and scrub any personally identifying data before posting the audio. He said he receives between 50 and 100 submissions per day, with a really interesting encounter with an authority figure coming in about every day and a half.

To me, something like OpenWatch could help solve a major problem for investigative reporting in an age when newsrooms are shrinking. We’ve still got plenty of people who can bulldog an issue once it’s been flagged, but there are fewer and fewer reporters with deep sourcing in a community, fewer and fewer reporters who have the time to look into a bunch of different things knowing that only one out of a hundred might turn into a big investigation. Perhaps providing better conduits for citizens to flag their own problems can drive down the cost of hard-hitting journalism and be part of the solution for keeping governments honest.

At first, the app did not have grand aspirations. Jones built it for some friends who’d gotten into some trouble with the law and who could have been aided by a recording of their interaction with law enforcement. But Jones’ worldview began to seep into the project. Informed by Julian Assange’s conception of “scientific journalism,” Jones wanted to start collecting datapoints at the interface of citizens and authority figures.

“It’s a new kind of journalism. When people think citizen media, right now they think amateur journalism … I don’t think that’s revolutionary,” Jones told me. “I don’t think that’s what the ’90s cyberutopianists were dreaming of. I think the real value of citizen media will be collecting data.”

Already, CopRecorder is in the hands of 50,000 users, who’ve just happened to stumble on the app one way or another. Jones hopes that they’ll upload their encounters with authority figures so that he can start to build a database of what citizens’ encounters are like in different places. Then, he figures, patterns will emerge and he’ll be able to point out to the world exactly where the powerful are abusing their authority. . .

Continue reading. It’s an important article, and it includes a audio.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 8:30 am

The lessons of Christianity

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Christianity teaches that one should love others, even one’s enemies, and if struck simply offer the other cheek. This is a high standard, and people inevitably sometimes fail. What’s worrisome is when the failure becomes institutionalized so that Christian churches go astray from the Christian beliefs.

For example, on the issue of interracial marriage—two people who are in love and wish to join in holy matrimony, but are of different races—the Christian position (one would think) is to celebrate such love. But in fact evangelical Christians don’t agree. By a significantly higher percentage than other groups, evangelical Christians oppose interracial marriages. Why? Who knows? Fear most likely. It surely is not from love.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 8:22 am

Posted in Religion

The invisible hand of the market, pushing you into prison

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The market’s invisible hand works much damage—as anyone who as tried to eat a Florida synthetic “tomato” knows. (See: How industrial farming ‘destroyed’ the tasty tomato—fascinating program. Did you know that in Florida they continue to use slave labor to grow tomatoes? That is literally true.) In this case, the invisible hand gathers up Americans—preferably powerless Americans, without political clout or power—and locks them up for a long time so that the private prison industry can grow its profits.

Ed Brayton has a good column on that topic, quoting this report, which begins:

Over the past 15 years, the number of people held in all prisons in the United States has increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations have increased by 353.7 percent, according to recent federal statistics. Meanwhile, in 2010 alone, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, had combined revenues of $2.9 billion. According to a report released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), not only have private prison companies benefitted from this increased incarceration, but they have helped fuel it.

Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies, examines how private prison companies are able to wield influence over legislators and criminal justice policy, ultimately resulting in harsher criminal justice policies and the incarceration of more people. The report notes a “triangle of influence” built on campaign contributions, lobbying and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. Through this strategy, private prison companies have gained access to local, state, and federal policymakers and have back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations and generates tremendous profits at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

“For-profit companies exercise their political influence to protect their market share, which in the case of corporations like GEO Group and CCA primarily means the number of people locked up behind bars,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “We need to take a hard look at what the cost of this influence is, both to taxpayers and to the community as a whole, in terms of the policies being lobbied for and the outcomes for people put in private prisons. That their lobbying and political contributions is funded by taxpayers, through their profits on government contracts, makes it all the more important that people understand the role of private prisons in our political system.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 8:17 am

Which is the bigger failure: the War on Drugs or Abstinence-Only Sex Ed?

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A difficult question—as Eugene McCarthy said in another context (choosing between Nixon and Humphrey in that presidential election), “It’s like having to choose between obscenity and vulgarity.” (McCarthy, whom I once met, was good with a quip, a political handicap that doubtless kept Adlai Stevenson out of the White House. When George Romney (Mitt’s father) was running for president (a Romney family tradition for the men), he tried to backwalk an incautious comment (another Romney family tradition for the men) by saying he had been “brainwashed” before making the comment, and McCarthy offered the observation that, in Romney case, a light rinse would probably be sufficient.

One more: When flying about the country on his own presidential campaign of 1976, one of his opponents who was getting many headlines at the time was Jimmy Carter, who introduced the phrase “born again” into American presidential politics. As Carter construed it, having been born a second time was a significant advantage for a president to have, and he offered up his own success in this area. McCarthy was seated in a plane and the flight attendant asked if he would like a drink. He replied, “If I’m born again, may I have two drinks?”)

I fear I lost the thread of the post, but I’m of an age where I feel free to let my conversation wander where it will. Still, it’s a serious question. Ed Brayton has an excellent post on a study that reveals the complete, utter, and total waste of money and the great harm that abstinence-only sex education has wrought. Take a look. Just one quotation from the study he discusses:

A rigorous published review of 28 sexuality education programs in the United States and Canada aimed at reducing teen pregnancy and STIs (including HIV) found that none of the three abstinence-only programs that met the inclusion criteria for review demonstrated efficacy for delaying sexual debut. Furthermore, these three programs did not reduce the frequency of sex or the number of partners among those students who had ever had sex. This same review found that nine abstinence-plus programs showed efficacy in delaying sexual debut, as well as reducing the frequency of intercourse and increasing condom use once sex had been initiated.

The bottom line: the abstinence-only sex ed programs DO NOT WORK, just like the War on Drugs. Why do we continue to fund such wastes of money? Don’t people even glance at the results and outcomes?

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 8:09 am

A nightmare made real

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This story is a horror story that, just barely, has an okay ending. It’s worth reading, but it can make you uneasy.

Part 1: Accused of unspeakable acts

Part 2: Unexpected turn in the case

I’ve been watching A Touch of Frost and this seems very much like one of those episodes.


Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:47 am

Posted in Daily life, Law

When the government wants to seize your computer or smartphone

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The US government has lately shown an intense interest in the content of the smartphones and computers held by citizens—so much so that the government has begun to regularly seize such items from their owners and keep them indefinitely. The US Constitution protects us against this (the 4th Amendment requires that any search or seizure must be based on reasonable grounds—thus the traditional requirement for a warrant issued by a judge), but nowadays the Constitution’s provisions (unlike the Constitution as a totem) have frequently been ignored by state and federal officials and even by courts.

Still, when faced with such a situation—and they crop up unexpectedly: in airports, for example, while you’re thinking about the trip you’re taking—it’s important to know your rights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a Q&A on your rights, and also has two PDF documents available:

Know Your Rights Whitepaper (pdf)
EFF Police Tips (pdf)

Hanni Fakhoury , the EFF staff attorney, offers the Q&A here. It begins:

Your computer, your phone, and your other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This is sensitive data that’s worth protecting from prying eyes – including those of the government.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from unreasonable government searches and seizures, and this protection extends to your computer and portable devices. But how does this work in the real world? What should you do if the police or other law enforcement officers show up at your door and want to search your computer?

EFF has designed this guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else.

Because anything you say can be used against you in a criminal or civil case, before speaking to any law enforcement official, you should consult with an attorney.

Can the police enter my home to search my computer or portable device, like a laptop or cell phone?

A: No, in most instances, unless they have a warrant. But there are two major exceptions: (1) you consent to the search;1 or (2) the police have probable cause to believe there is incriminating evidence on the computer that is under immediate threat of destruction.2

Q: What if the police have a search warrant to enter my home, but not to search my computer? Can they search it then?

A: No, typically, because a search warrant only allows the police to search the area or items described in the warrant.3 But if the warrant authorizes the police to search for evidence of a particular crime, and such evidence is likely to be found on your computer, some courts have allowed the police to search the computer without a warrant.4 Additionally, while the police are searching your home, if they observe something in plain view on the computer that is suspicious or incriminating, they may take it for further examination and can rely on their observations to later get a search warrant.5 And of course, if you consent, any search of your computer is permissible.

Q: Can my roommate/guest/spouse/partner allow the police access to my computer? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Geoffrey Stone on our untransparent president

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Geoffrey Stone has a good op-ed in the NY Times about another significant and important weakness in the president we elected.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:28 am

Call to arms re: Marijuana legalization (and regulation and taxation)

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The War on Drugs has been, on the whole, an enormously destructive and wasteful effort. It has not come close to its objective—ending access to illegal drugs—but it has made drug suppliers wealthy and powerful, it has empowered police departments to steal enormous amounts of property under the rubric of “asset forfeiture”, it has led to the creation of domestic paramilitary units who regularly kill or terrorize innocent people in their eagerness to go into action and use all the expensive toys our tax dollars have bought, it has sent millions of citizens to prison on tenuous grounds (no harm done to self or others), it has empowered the private prison industry to work to increase the prison population and thus profits, and it has failed on every constructive measure.

It’s often observed that a sign of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly, each time expecting a different outcome. The War on Drugs has had 40 years of bad outcomes. Why should we continue pouring money into such an operation when the results are so bad? Ans: We should not. We should legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, exactly as we do alcohol (which is MUCH more harmful than marijuana, but we manage, right?).

And the harder drugs should also be legalized and regulated, and addiction treated as a medical problem, not a criminal offense. Obviously, if an addict were to steal, that is indeed a criminal problem—but it’s the theft, not the addiction, that is criminal. And if we don’t want addicts stealing, we could spend the money now wasted in the War on Drugs on offering treatment programs—and the addict, able to secure a legal supply, is less driven to crime to support a habit.

Moreover, much addiction is due to dealers trying to move customers along into harder (and higher-profit) drugs from the harmless marijuana they also sell. If marijuana were available legally (regulated and taxed), its dealers would be unlikely to be pushing harder drugs onto their customers for fear of losing their license.

All this is by way of introduction to this communique I received today from the Marijuana Policy Project:

ALERT: Marijuana Legalization Bill in Congress!
Marijuana Legalization in Congress!

Take Action!

The first Congressional marijuana legalization bill is now in Congress — please support it!

H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or interstate smuggling. States would be able to legalize and regulate marijuana, or to continue to prohibit it, as they individually choose.

Please use our web form to contact your US Representative and your two US Senators in support of this historic bill. Please follow-up by calling their offices too — if you don’t know their numbers (or aren’t sure who they are), you can reach them by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. And please use our tell-a-friend form to spread the word.

Visit this page for more information on this bill, and sign up for our email list or paste

into your RSS reader to follow the news about marijuana policy.

Thank you for taking action!

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:24 am

Posted in Congress, Drug laws

Very cool watch for <$30

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I really like the watch worn by James Fallows, Lawrence Lessig, and other such luminaries. If I used a watch with an analog readout, I’d definitely go for it. But I’ve gradually come to prefer a digital readout—no translating of the angles of the hands into the time, but the time displayed directly. Plus I really do like having a watch that automatically resets itself nightly to synchronize with the atomic clock. And, the beauty part, the face is a solar cell so I never have to change batteries: the watch in effect runs forever—well, until insufficient light is available. Plus I do like having the other functions (alarm clock, stopwatch, etc.).

Still, for an analog, day/date/time watch, the Fallows choice is hard to beat.

My watch is a Casio G-Shock. They churn models constantly, but they undoubtedly still offer many with the characteristics listed above.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:07 am

Posted in Daily life, Techie toys

A new soap, and back to the Semogue 2000

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If you look closely, you’ll see the new bar of soap I just got. I ordered my MĂĽhle R41 from in Ireland (site has been down the last couple of days). Given the shipping, I looked around for something else to order, saw a bar of Italian shaving soap—it sounded good, favored by barbers, etc. And it was only $20, which for a shaving soap is definitely in the ballpark. (Floris London shaving soap runs more than $30 just for the refill puck, not in the bowl, for example. TOBS is a more reasonable $14 for refill alone, but $20 didn’t seem unreasonable.)

I didn’t think about it at the time, but photographs of things are generally much smaller than the things themselves. I thought I was getting a regular-sized bar of the soap, like the bars of Virgilio Valobra, another Italian soft soap that’s quite good and highly recommended. It’s the consistency of putty or soft clay, so you take the bar and mash it into your shaving bowl. Great stuff and the bitter almond fragrance is (to me) quite wonderful. Plus it makes terrific lather.

But, as you see, it turned out that the “bar” I ordered, while having the same proportions as the Virgilio Valobra shaving soap, was gargantuan in comparison: 1000g vs. 150g: almost 7 times the size.

Withal, it is an extremely good soap: same bitter almond fragrance was Virgilio Valobra and Figaro and Cella and doubtless countless other Italian soft soaps. And it also is like putty in my hands: I tugged a chunk off one end, mashed it into the shaving bowl shown, and was ready to go.

Someone commented about having read how good the soap was, so after I had it here, I read up on it. (I bought it just based on the catalog description. I know, I know.) It turns out that I was fortunate to buy the red diamond extra super Vitos instead of the green diamond super version. Both are tallow-based, which tends to produce very good soaps, but the red Extra version also has glycerin added. It really does produce quite a luxurious lather, and at this price, you can afford to be generous. I’ve already tore off a good-sized wad for my friend David, who arrives later today. (Light blogging next couple of days, I expect.)

This is my second Semogue 2000. I sold the first when I couldn’t understand boar brushes. What was I thinking? I’m really enjoying this one, but it won’t be fully broken in for at least a month. Still, I got a good Creamy Lather today, and the comfort of the iKon Bulldog open-comb was a godsend after the harsh aggressiveness of the new-model MĂĽhle 41 (my reaction, YMMV).

Three smooth passes, with the brush revisiting the soap for the last pass. Then a splash of the Myrsol that I got from, and I’m ready to continue frantically cleaning and organizing the apartment.

Written by Leisureguy

29 June 2011 at 7:00 am

Posted in Shaving

What Technology Wants

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Here is an interesting review of Kevin Kelly’s new book, but the reviewer seems to have problems with technology “wanting” anything. I don’t see the problem. Humanity has given rise to an emergent phenomenon, the study of which is called mimetics. Memes are idea entities, expressed in physical creations (buildings, machines, weapons, etc.) or foods (selection and preparation) or words or music or dance—basically, memes are cultural units that people can learn and mimic.

What happens then is familiar: faithful reproduction with some random variation, with all memes struggling for the limited available resources they need to “live”—from the memes’ point of view, these resources are human mindshare and human effort and time. When you have that situation—reproduction with some variation and limited resources—we know from evolution (another example of such a situation) what happens: variations that better exploit the resources available prosper, and those less efficient are driven to the wall and eventually drop out.

In other words, memes evolve. They evolve in a way that makes them more appealing and/or important to humans—technology memes tend to evolve in the direction of being more important, and memes in the arts in the direction of being more appealing. The collection of memes that are most in use for a particular people is their “culture”, and the collection all memes is “human culture.”

The evolution of memes is evident and on-going, to the point now that a human can be considered  combination of the animal part and the meme part—the cultural part. Not only is it hard to consider someone who lacks all culture and memes as “human” (no language, no tools, no clothes, no music, no cultivation… nothing beyond what, say, a wolf or orangutan has), but in fact human evolution has for thousands of millennia been shaped by memes.

I was thinking the other night about how difficult it is to look at a human as we look, say, at a dog or a cat: simply as an animal. When you look at the dog or cat, you see simply the animal. And perhaps, in cage fighting, the two opponents look at each other and see only the animal in the cage with them. But generally when we look at a person, we focus only on the memes—the cultural artifacts. Even if we dress an animal in human clothing—a chimpanzee, for example—we still see it as an animal, and even if we strip the human of clothing, we still view him or her through a lens of culture.

When we see a person, we pick up (see, or look for) information from the attire—quality, cut, age, cleanliness, fit, appropriateness to social context along various dimensions (including time of day, ritual being observed, relative social importance or significance of the event/situation, social class, economic class, and so on).

We see the actual person beyond the attire, of course, but look how much information we get from the attire (which of course could be specialized clothing or uniforms, all of which convey even more information—indeed, uniforms are often designed to carry cultural information such as rank, experience, specialty, and the like).

But even when we look at a person apart from the clothing, we look for and take in cultural (meme) information: grooming and grooming choices (cut and length of hair, the treatment of male facial hair, tattoos, piercings, condition and treatment of nails (finger and toe) and teeth, perfumes, oils, and unguents, and so on. All of those are cultural artifacts and convey information.

The actual person-animal at the core of the cultural overburden—the sub-cultural animal core—is almost insignificant compared to the totality of what we look for and see. Our focus is on the memes the person uses/carries/references, and we look mostly at the cultural rather than the animal aspects. (Try this yourself: look at a random photograph and see how much you get from cultural memes vs. the physical person—and, of course, the photograph and how it is posed and composed, etc., is also shaped by memes and thus carries mimetic information.)

Even when we look at the actual physical person—the animal core, apart from acquired social signifiers mentioned above (the treatment of nails, piercings and tattoos, perfumes, and the like), we find cultural information in the body itself: the condition of the teeth and muscles, any callosities, the posture and bearing, the weathering of the skin—all these are shaped by culture and thus convey cultural meaning. These are the physical results of memes. In fact, looking for such memes is a familiar part of crime dramas in which detectives examine an anonymous body: the culture significance and meaning of the body’s location and dress, and so on. CSI spends a lot of time sifting cultural artifacts and reasoning from the information thus conveyed.

To take a simple example, look at how Sherlock Holmes deduces so much about a stranger from the cultural clues—the memes the stranger has adopted or under whose influence he has grown.

The emergence prior to memes was the emergence of life. At the outset, life wasn’t all that impressive, but evolution combined with a few billion years makes an enormous difference. Memes are not yet conscious, but some are already starting to show signs of intelligence (theorem proving-programs, for example, and various expert systems that can now do a better job than human experts in the field).

Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2011 at 11:12 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

People in general cannot be as stupid as they seem. Can they?

with 15 comments

I sure hope not. But then you read things like this article—and read it all. It’s astonishing to me, but then I am more willing than most to try something new if it seems to make sense—and I’ll certainly admit that sometimes the innovation does not pan out. But surprisingly often, improvements really are improvements. And this one, in the article, supported by multiple findings…? And people rejecting it on what seems to amount to fashion…?

I don’t get it. But I’ve long struggled to understand people (which, I suppose, is why I’m always trying to figure out why people do things).

I do note the instant reaction of searching for reasons to reject a change, rather than looking also for reasons to adopt the change and weighing the two.

Maybe it’s in part the fear of change that so frequently is evident.

Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2011 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

America’s Failed Public Defender System

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The American criminal-justice system is, as Ed Brayton says, a disgrace from top to bottom. Every single aspect is broken, and it’s failing in every way. What does it take to get the legislatures (at the state and federal level) to focus on this problem?

The answer, based on what seems to drive legislative action, is money. Legislation is more and more a pay-for-play enterprise, with legislators seemingly more interested in making money than in public service. Until a lobbying group with deep pockets of ready cash will back reform of the criminal justice system, American legislators are, by and large, uninterested. “Public service,” “the common good” — these increasingly seem to be obsolete in American politics. Sarah Palin is the paradigm of the new approach: Go into politics to cash in.

Read this post by Ed Brayton, and then follow the link to the article. In the country as I would have it, a report on these abuses and problems would galvanize legislators into action. But in real life, they don’t care. No money in it for them.

Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2011 at 10:16 am

Invitation to post-hoc reasoning?

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I’m running through the morning vocabulary drill, and I note that the definition for luego is that is an adverb meaning “later (on), afterwards, then, next” and it’s also a conjunction meaning “therefore”.

It strikes me as dangerous to use the same word for “after” and “therefore”—in fact, it strikes me as a glaring example of (and invitation to) post-hoc reasoning. Post hoc (full expression: post hoc ergo propter hoc: “after this therefore because of this”) leads to all sorts of errors: “X happened, and then Y happened, so Y must have been caused by X” is not a reliable formula. And to use the same word for “afterwards” and “therefore” not only invites such fallacies, it practically demands them.

Perhaps it is only a lexicographer’s error. When I look up (using the same on-line dictionary the meaning in Spanish of the English word “therefore”, I see that apparently Spanish lacks a word meaning therefore (Latin: ergo). They do offer a couple of workarounds: “por tanto”, “por eso”. But no actual word for therefore—except, of course, for “afterwards”.

I am dissatisfied.


Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2011 at 9:54 am

A MĂĽhle shave

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MĂĽhle brush, razor, and shaving cream—Klassik because I didn’t have a MĂĽhle aftershave and wanted to maintain the German theme.

I began, as always, with MR GLO, and I tried an idea posted at SimplyShaving by Dirty Texan (no other name provided): Wash your beard using MR GLO with a brush, rather than with a washcloth or your hands. He fully understands that MR GLO is a pre-shave soap, not a shaving soap, but suggested that this method of washing would do a more thorough job of cleaning and exfoliating. As I thought about it, it seemed right, provided one used a scrubbier brush than badger—and indeed I have a row of boar brushes requiring more break-in. So this morning I gave it a go, letting the boar brush soak while I showered, then working it on the MR GLO and then scrubbing my beard.

I can see why some guys get the mistaken idea that MR GLO is a shaving soap: you actually do get a sort of lather as you scrub your beard, but I doubt that it would last and in any event it’s not the Creamy Lather I sought. But it sure did a good job of scrubbing my beard—and that brush is a little further along toward breaking in.

Moving on to the next step in the process, I found the MĂĽhle brush to be quite nice, with quite a hefty handle—the sort that makes you immediately think, “Must not drop this on my toe”—and a big silvertip knot that felt soft on the face. (Some guys see “soft” and think “not good on soap”: this is an error, and I’ll soon use this guy on soap, I expect no problems whatsoever—it reminds me, in fact, of the luxurious feel of the big Omega silvertips.)

I thought I had ordered a soap, but it turned out to be a shaving cream, and quite nice withal. The sea buckthorn fragrance, if that is what it is, has a bracing sort of herbal aspect which I like—not perfumy—and it creates a very nice lather.

The razor is the new MĂĽhle R41 open-comb, released 22 June. I ordered a copy from Ireland. Yowza! Is this guy aggressive! It’s very unlike the earlier MĂĽhle R89 R41 [the new razor uses the same model number as the old, a wretched practice, but thanks to Anonymous who pointed out my mistake in comments. – LG]. The earlier model was quite comfortable, though not in the same league as the iKon Bulldog open-comb. This guy is much more like the Joris open-comb, if you’ve used one of those—and I think they are also a German company. [Phil of says that Joris is a French company, but the heads for the open-comb Joris and MĂĽhle are both made in Italy: the EU in action. – LG]

Bottom line: too aggressive for me. It’s just not a comfortable shave. I don’t know whether it’s the angle, gap, exposure, or what, but I didn’t enjoy the experience so much as I like.

Still: a close shave with no nicks (which surprised me, given the number of times the edge seemed to catch). I used an alum bar at the end, prompted by this post at SimplyShaving, and then, after a brief wait during which I cleaned up the bathroom counter and put stuff away, I rinsed and dried my face and applied a hearty splash of Klar Seifen Klassik, which made everything right again.

Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2011 at 9:10 am

Posted in Shaving

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