Later On

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

Archive for December 2nd, 2013

Very interest take on the implications of comic-book superheroes

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Really interesting to those of us who grew up on comics.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, Politics

Feinstein and Rogers attempt to justify NSA’s overreach

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Juan Cole has an excellent post at Informed Comment:

It begins:

Senator Diane Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers took to the airwaves on Sunday to warn that Americans are less safe than two years ago and that al-Qaeda is growing and spreading and that the US is menaced by bombs that can’t be detected by metal detectors.

Call me cynical, but those two have been among the biggest detractors of the American citizen’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure of personal effects and papers. I think their attempt to resurrect Usama Bin Laden is out of the National Security Agency internal playbook, which specifically instructs spokesmen to play up the terrorist threat when explaining why they need to know who all 310 million Americans are calling on our phones every day.

CNN’s Candy Crowley interviews them

Now, obviously there are violent extremists in the world and the US like all other societies is likely to fall victim to further attacks by terrorists. But if they could not inflict significant damage on us with 9/11 (and economically and in every other way except the horrible death toll, they could not), then it is a little unlikely that this kind of threat is existential.

In fact the number of terrorist attacks in the US has vastly declined since the 1970s (as has violent crime over-all), as WaPo’s chart shows:

>> and now WordPress is refusing to upload media, but DO look at that chart: amazing that the US is still frightened of terrorists to the point where we give up our rights – LG <<

Read the whole thing.

And Natasha Lennard in Salon discusses the same issue:

You’ve been flippant, America. You forgot to be scared. Or, perhaps, you’ve been scared about your communications being swept into NSA spy dragnets. But you forgot to be scared of terrorists, silly America. You wanted Constitutional protections? Well, that’s because you’re not scared enough. But listen up, America, the chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have something to say: be afraid, be very afraid.

So went the playbook of intelligence committee chairs Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers in their Sunday morning talkshow appearances. Relying on undefined and overly broad definitions of terrorism, the pair worked to de facto defend the invasive and problematic work of U.S. intelligence agencies, invoking the reliable boogeyman of terrorism-on-the-rise.

“I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs. Trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.” You hear that, kids? Huge Malevolence! Bombs! Death! Oh My! And you wanted privacy? In the face of unnamed malevolence existentially threatening your nation, your home, your kids and your puppies and — don’t forget — your freedom. Malevolence hates your freedom.

What Feinstein and Rogers did not note, however, was that statistics showing an uptick in terrorism tell a more nuanced geopolitical story than their non-specific fear-mongering. For example, as Mike Masnick pointed out in TechDirt, “nearly all of the “terrorist” attacks in that original report that Feinstein is obviously relying on, appear to take place in areas that are considered war zones: Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And, um, I hate to bring this part up, but part of the reason why those are war zones is because, you know, the U.S. invaded both places.”

Feinstein and Rogers did not mention that anti-U.S. sentiment has been stoked in drone-struck Yemen and Pakistan. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) found that from June 2004 to September 2012 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone killed between 474 to 881 civilians, including 176 children. Last year, when Yemeni youth and human rights activist Baraa Shiban spoke to Congress about Yemenis responding to civilian deaths by U.S. drone fire, he said “What does the U.S. mean to these people now? A blasted car, and gruesome footage of dead families?” But in describing rage at the U.S. as “malevolence,” Feinstein tacitly rejects that the anger and radicalization may be grounded in responses to U.S. violence. It was Feinstein, after all, who erroneously claimed that civilian deaths by U.S. drone strikes each year were “typically been in the single digits.”

Feinstein and Rogers said nothing, either, about reports of U.S. special forces carrying out warcrimes — civilian murders and disappearances — in beleaguered Afghanistan. They didn’t bring up recent news of a drone strike in Afghanistan’s Kunar province which, according to locals, killed 14 civilians, most of them relatives. “There were pieces of my family all over the road,” said Miya Jan, a 28-year-old farmer.

Similarly, the intelligence chairs did not point out the terror attacks on U.S. soil have not seen an uptick in the wake of 9/11. Unless you follow the bogus logic of the government’s greenscare, which labeled animal rights and environmental activists as “terrorists” for attacks on property which not once hurt a person nor an animal.

“We’re not safer today,” said Rogers. Whatever truth resides in his remark owes much to the U.S.-led War on Terror. But it will — or at least should — take more than empty fear-mongering and threats of general “huge malevolence” to defend shadowy and vast surveillance operations and the government’s preemptive treatment of millions of Americans as potential terror threats. Feinstein and Rogers want you scared, America. It seems more appropriate to be furious.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 1:33 pm

Catholic hospitals refuse some medical care

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The Catholic church really wants nonbelievers to follow the dictates of Catholicism. For example, the Catholic church strenuously fights against contraception, a mortal sin, and whenever it has the chance, it makes contraceptives illegal. (For example, contraceptives for years were illegal in Connecticut.) The only reason is that the Catholic church doesn’t accept contraceptives, which is tough for Catholics but should be irrelevant for others. Jews and Muslims don’t make pork illegal: they don’t eat, but they do not insist that others refrain. The Catholic church might learn from them.

The problem is when the Catholic church owns a hospitals and requires all patients and all staff to work in accordance with Catholic doctrine. Sarah Kliff has an example in the Washington Post at

As pointed out by Randall Win in a comment to the article:

I was born and raised Catholic. It is beyond disgusting that the bishops want to buy hospitals to promote religion. Owning a hospital is a choice not a requirement of our religion and if the bishops think they cannot allow real medicine to be practiced there, then they should not own the hospital.

Kliff’s article begins:

Tamesha Means was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Means, then 27 and the mother of two, knew something was wrong. So she called a friend to take her to the one hospital within a half-hour’s drive, Mercy Health Partners.

During that trip to the hospital–and two return trips, one later that night and then again the next morning–Means says she was discharged with medication and instructions to wait for her pain to subside. According to her account, she was not offered the option to induce labor or terminate the pregnancy, options that could have ended her pain, nor was she told that the fetus was unlikely to survive.

“The pain was unbearable,” Means said in an interview from her home in Muskegon, Mich. “I told them, ‘I need you guys to help me.’ They told me there was nothing they could do.”

Three years later, Means’s treatment at Mercy, part of a Catholic health system, has become the centerpiece of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The suit, filed in late November, argues that the Catholic Bishops’ religious directives for hospitals–which generally bar discussion or performance of abortions–result in negligent care for patients such as Means.

Without being offered “the medically appropriate treatment option of terminating her pregnancy,” the case argues, Means “suffered severe, unnecessary, and foreseeable physical and emotional pain.”

The lawsuit comes in the midst of a wave of high-profile mergers between Catholic hospitals and secular systems. The partnerships have raised questions about how care will be delivered at institutions guided by religious directives, particularly in rural areas like Muskegon where patients have little choice of where to be seen.

“As the number of Catholic hospitals increases, we’re highlighting the way they can constrain care,” Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director, said. “The suit is significant in that it’s calling attention to what is happening at these hospitals. In some instances, the directives are governing care rather than medical guidelines.”

Mercy Health Partners declined to comment on the case through a spokeswoman, as did the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Much of the tension tends to center on reproductive health; 52 percent of obstetricians who work in Catholic hospitals say they have experienced a conflict over religious-based policies, according to a 2012 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

One obstetrician, according to a recent report published this summer in the American Journal of Bioethics Primary Researchfaced off with his Catholic hospital’s ethics committee when he wanted to terminate the pregnancy of a women newly-diagnosed with cancer, who needed to undergo chemotherapy.

Another doctor reported a conflict at her hospital that had been sold to a Catholic hospital chain three years prior. The ethics committee ruled that a doctor could not terminate a “molar pregnancy,” where the embryo begins to develop but, due to a tumor, will not survive.

“Some of the doctors have read them all and practice exactly according to the directives,” study author Lori Freedman, a medical sociologist at the University of California – San Francisco, said. “Some don’t quite remember what they signed on for, but they learn from colleagues what you need to get approval for. I do hear about at least some level of awareness.”

There are 630 Catholic hospitals in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association, accounting for 15 percent of all hospital beds in the country. One-third of Catholic hospitals are in rural areas and, according to the Catholic Hospital Association, one in six American patients are treated in a Catholic facility. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Business, Medical, Religion

Linking not working

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WordPress cannot accept embedded links: when I try to insert a link, the post is erased. I’ve tried on Chrome and on Firefox. But WordPress is free, so I can’t complain too much.

In the meantime, I’ll just put the links in the post.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 1:03 pm

Shaves with Nick’s Red Jacket

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SOTD 27 Nov 2013

First shave today. I like the fragrance, though I can’t quite put my finger on it—but very pleasant, nonetheless.

The lather faded fast on the boar brush: the second pass was sparse and I had to reload for the third pass. I was careful to load the brush fully, brushing at length, but the lather still was fairly bubbly and, as noted, it faded.

Still, I did get a good shave.

SOTD 29 Nov 2013

Real lather problems today. I loaded the brush well, but by the second pass, the lather in the brush was gone. I reloaded at length, and again the lather didn’t last. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’m having little luck with this soap. Still, with a freshly loaded brush, I can lather my beard for the current pass, and the glide and cushion are good for that pass. No cuts, nicks, or burn, pretty close shave.

SOTD 30 Nov 2013

Best shave and most enduring lather to date. I did get three passes from this loading, though the lather in the third pass was skimpy. For some reason, I’ve not gotten this soap to work well for me. Still, BBW with the Sodial.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Daily life

What a shave! And a great lather.

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SOTD 2 Dec 2012

A truly fine shave, but I tilted the playing field somewhat: a two-day stubble, for starters. Then the use of the Asses’ Milk shaving soap. And finally my bakelite slant holding a Kai blade.

I decided to use the Ecotools after reading about the problems proaso encountered when he used it. I understand his frustration: you read that a tool does extremely well (e.g., in Cool Tools), you buy it, and it doesn’t work well at all for you. But the Ecotools has worked so very well for me and others that I wanted to try to get to the bottom of it and also observe how I used it to see what I could learn.

First, of course: the Ecotools Bamboo Finishing Kabuki is sold as a make-up brush, so its use as a shaving brush is definitely off-label (though I will point out that some off-label uses of medications have good results). And it’s somewhat unusual. I tried four different make-up brushes (and I had high hopes for a goat-hair kabuki), but none of the others worked well at all. The goat-hair kabuki was a particular disappointment: wonderfully soft on the skin, it had a dense knot into which the soap and lather disappeared, never to emerge. But the Ecotools has been a stellar performer.

Second, proraso does have hard water at his current location: quite hard, apparently. I have relatively soft water—so, with all else equal (brush, soap, technique) the performance difference between his Ecotools use and mine would be due to the water.

I noticed when I used the brush this morning that I do load the brush at some length. I did get a terrific lather (asses’ milk is the best!), and when I finished the 3 passes of my shave, I applied lather for two more passes, rinsing instead of shaving after each application. There was still lather in the brush, and all applications had been generous, so the brush does not lack for capacity.

I suggested that perhaps a longer loading time might help, but proraso said that just one use was sufficient for him, so I don’t think he’ll do much playing around with it. I, however, am still curious, so tomorrow I’ll use it with an Arko shave stick, a soap that novices are likely to favor.

I think the Kai blade may be needing replacement: the cutting ease was not quite what I expected. Nonetheless, the shave went very well: almost BBS after two passes, and the third pass cleaned up every rough spot left.

A splash of Alt Innsbruck, and this morning I noticed the menthol particularly.

And now the week begins.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2013 at 9:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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