Later On

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

Archive for May 29th, 2013

Another amazing graph: Cigarettes smoked in movies and TV shows

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What happened in 1999? Here’s the answer.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 2:02 pm

Benghazi talking-points villain: David Petraeus

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No real surprise: Petraeus is highly conscious of publicity and focuses a lot on managing media relations. Kevin Drum notes:

After reading through the Benghazi “talking points” emails and doing some additional reporting, Scott Wilson and Karen DeYoung confirm what’s been pretty obvious for a while now. The House committee that originally asked for the talking points wanted only some basic facts so that no one would mistakenly disclose classified information to the press, but CIA Director David Petraeus—“a master of the craft of media cultivation”—understood the reputational stakes immediately and acted accordingly:

A close reading of recently released government e-mails that were sent during the editing process, and interviews with senior officials from several government agencies, reveal Petraeus’s early role and ambitions in going well beyond the committee’s request, apparently to produce a set of talking points favorable to his image and his agency.

The information Petraeus ordered up when he returned to his Langley office that morning included far more than the minimalist version that Ruppersberger had requested. It included early classified intelligence assessments of who might be responsible for the attack and an account of prior CIA warnings — information that put Petraeus at odds with the State Department, the FBI and senior officials within his own agency.

This was especially galling to the other participants in the review process because (a) the Benghazi annex was a CIA installation and CIA was responsible for its security, (b) the talking points were supposed to be limited to what we knew about the attack, and (c) the whole point of producing the talking points was to avoid endangering the investigation by revealing classified information about suspects and methods.

In the end, as Wilson and Young point out, “The only government entity that did not object to the detailed talking points produced with Petraeus’s input was the White House, which played the role of mediator in the bureaucratic fight that at various points included the CIA’s top lawyer and the agency’s deputy director expressing opposition to what the director wanted.” This entire controversy has been much ado about nothing from the beginning, but if you absolutely insist on singling out a villain, the choice is now pretty obvious. David Petraeus was the Machiavellian manipulator of the narrative here, not Barack Obama.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 1:55 pm

The most embarrassing graph in American drug policy

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Here’s the graph:

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 1.49.39 PM

And here’s the story by Harold Pollack in the Washington Post:

When it comes to drugs, it’s all about prices.

The ability to raise prices is– at least is perceived to be–a critical function of drug control policy. Higher prices discourage young people from using. Higher prices encourage adult users to consume less, to quit sooner, or to seek treatment. (Though higher prices can bring short-term problems, too, as drug users turn to crime to finance their increasingly unaffordable habit.)

An enormous law enforcement effort seeks to raise prices at every point in the supply chain from farmers to end-users: Eradicating coca crops in source countries, hindering access to chemicals required for drug production, interdicting smuggling routes internationally and within our borders, street-level police actions against local dealers.

That’s why this may be the most embarrassing graph in the history of drug control policy. (I’m grateful to Peter Reuter, Jonathan Caulkins, and Sarah Chandler for their willingness to share this figure from their work.) Law enforcement strategies have utterly failed to even maintain street prices of the key illicit substances. Street drug prices in the below figure fell by roughly a factor of five between 1980 and 2008. Meanwhile the number of drug offenders locked up in our jails and prisons went from fewer than 42,000 in 1980 to a peak of 562,000 in 2007.

The second embarrassment may reflect policymakers desire to ask fewer questions that bring up the first. We have remarkably little evidence that the billions of dollars spent on supply-side interdiction have much impact. There’s surprisingly little demand in the policy community to collect such evidence, despite considerable investments at every level of American government.

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences concluded: “Neither the data systems nor the research infrastructure needed to assess the effectiveness of drug control enforcement policies now exists.”  That remains true today, 12 years and hundreds of billions of dollars later.

That’s not to say enforcement has zero effect.

Continue reading.

It’s totally astonishing to read such a reasonable article in a mainstream publication—and the Washington Post of all places!

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Exercise thought

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Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Fitness

Molly in the sun

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Molly on chair

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Visualized in a Computer Animation for Its 100th Anniversary

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Quite fascinating. Here’s the first part:

Part 2 and more information in this post by Colin Marshall at

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 11:34 am

Posted in Music, Video

“Gesture writing”

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Very interesting piece by Rachel Howard in the NY Times:

Five years ago, I walked into a third-floor art studio on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, climbed atop a wooden stage covered in stained padding and dropped my ratty yellow bathrobe. A panel of strangers asked me to pose, and then to freeze. I had never modeled for artists, and had no idea how I would feel standing naked as people I had just met stared at me. The idea held some bohemian appeal, but more urgently, I needed to supplement my income as a freelance writer while I worked on a novel.

I made the cut, and became a member of the Bay Area Models Guild. I had hoped this gig might earn me grocery money. I soon grew to love the freedom and strange relinquishment of status that comes from offering your nude presence to artists. What surprised me the most, though, was how profoundly it changed my writing life.

Soon I was sent out on bookings, mostly to introductory college drawing classes. The professor’s approach was always the same. I was asked to do many sets of active one- or two-minute poses.

“Find the gesture!” the instructor would shout, as the would-be artists sketched. “What is the essence of that pose? How does that pose feel to the model? The whole pose — quick, quick! No, not the arm or the leg. The line of the energy. What is that pose about? Step back and see it — really see it — whole.” And then, my timer beeped, I moved to a new pose and the students furiously flipped to a clean page.

This “gesture” idea was fundamental. In painting classes, where I held the same pose for three hours (with frequent five-minute breaks, thank God), the paintings that looked most alive were built on top of a good gesture sketch, a first-step, quick-and-dirty drawing in which many crucial decisions about placement, perspective and emphasis were made intuitively.

In a gesture drawing, a whole arm that didn’t matter much might be just a smudgy slash, while a line that captured the twist of a spine might stand in sharp, carefully observed relief. The “gesture” was the line of organic connection within the body, the trace of kinetic cause-and-effect that made the figure a live human being rather than a corpse of stitched-together parts. If you “found the gesture,” you found life.

I was, during those early days of art modeling, struggling to find the life in my stylistically choppy novel. At home alone, I heard the drawing instructors’ voices.

Find the gesture. Don’t worry about the details. What is the essence of that pose?

I left my laptop at my desk and moved to the other side of the room to sit on the floor with my notebook. I chose a scene that involved a woman and a man sitting at a table with a priest, going over the results of a premarital counseling questionnaire.

I knew what happened in the scene, and what each character said, but when I’d tried to write it on my computer, the results were clunky. I kept trying to make the scene better by adding more about the woman’s thoughts and tinkering with the dialogue.

Step back. See it whole. Sitting on the floor with my notebook, I didn’t worry about words, about sentences. I thought about how the woman and her fiancé were sitting next to each other at the table, how the priest was wearing a high-necked orange sweater, how the woman’s fiancé assumed the priest didn’t know about “intimacy” with a woman . . . click. Yes, it was so much more interesting from the husband-to-be’s point of view!

Where’s the line of energy? What is the essence of what you see? Quick! I wrote all over the page, a line of complete dialogue followed by a place-holder phrase of exposition, a one-word reminder of the next action followed by an arrow to the margin where I’d scribbled a description of a key image. The page looked a mess. But I had captured the movement of the scene, not one line of dialogue connected clunkily to the next action. There was thewhole. It made leaps. It had perspective. It had emphasis and connection. It had life.

Later, I could go back and do what artists call rendering — working the drawing, adding detail. But now I had a solid gesture sketch to work from. And this had happened in five minutes.

Perhaps this shouldn’t have been a revelation. According to “The Writer’s Notebook,” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 11:13 am

Posted in Writing

Charting a New Course on Illegal Drugs

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Jess Hunter-Bowman reports at

As Manuel, a Colombian farmer, showed me his peppercorn crops ravaged by the defoliant sprayed in a futile effort to kill his neighbor’s drug crops, he explained why the Drug War could never be won. No matter how much money or chemicals drug warriors threw at eradication efforts, he told me, the crops always reappeared.

After 40 years of failing to stem the drug trade, there’s a global conversation about new approaches. That debate is particularly vibrant south of the Rio Grande.

“Human rights abuses in the war on drugs are widespread and systematic,” wrote former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a recent New York Times op-ed. “A systemic problem demands systemic change…it is time for the human rights movement to take a leading role in calling for an end to the war on drugs.”

Even Guatemala’s hard-line president has called for regulating instead of outlawing drugs as an option to deal with the scourge of the drug trade. “The struggle against drugs, in the way it has been conducted, has failed,” saidOtto Pérez Molina, who served as the head of military intelligence during that country’s brutal civil war. “There is going to be a change away from the paradigm of prohibitionism and the war against drugs.”And that’s exactly what is happening across the hemisphere.

Uruguay is in the final stages of passing legislation that make way for a fully regulated and legal marijuana market. And even our government’s closest Drug War partners, Colombia and Mexico, have signaled their openness to new approaches.

The Organization of American States . . .

Continue reading. Apparently 40 years of appalling and expensive failure has started to capture people’s attention.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 11:00 am

Posted in Drug laws

Gillette British Aristocrat Jr. — and avocado

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SOTD 29 May 2013

BBS result, but I had to work a bit for it, so I replaced the Astra Superior Platinum blade immediately after the shave.

My Rooney butterscotch Emilion got a very good lather easily and quickly, thanks in large part to TOBS Avocado Shaving Cream, which lathers easily and who mild, gentle fragrance I like. Three passes with a fair amount of blade buffing following the last pass, then a dab of Saint Charles Shave Avocado Oil aftershave balm.

Face feels very nice.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2013 at 10:56 am

Posted in Shaving

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