Later On

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

Archive for May 6th, 2014

Encrypt What You Can

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Encryption becomes more important when police are free to look through your smartphone if they want, no warrant required. (Isn’t the Roberts Court wonderful?) From a very informative article by Julia Angwin in ProPublica:

Encrypt your smartphone’s hard drive. Yes — your smartphone has a hard drive much like your computer has. In fact, your phone probably contains as much — or more — sensitive information about you as your computer does. Apple doesn’t let you encrypt your smart phone’s hard drive or the files on it, though it allows encryption of your phone’s backup files on iTunes or iCloud. You can also use Find my iPhone to remotely “wipe,” or delete the data on your iPhone or iPad if it is lost or stolen. Google’s Android operating system lets you encrypt your phone hard drive.

Read the whole thing. It describes many other steps you can take.

Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2014 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Government, Technology

A dozen words for ‘misunderstood’

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Graeme Wood has an interesting article on linguistics in Pacific Standard:

Few fields of study suffer from a more complete public misunderstanding than linguistics. It isn’t uncommon for a linguist to be asked, on meeting a non-linguist, how many languages he or she speaks, or to hear the exclamation, “Oh dear, I must watch my grammar!” Linguists study languages and their structures, but speaking many of them isn’t a job requirement, nor is being a professional grammar scold. A slightly rarer misimpression is usually held by those with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. These people think they flatter a linguist when they say how important linguistics is, “because what we think depends on the words we use to think it.”

This last belief is the bugbear that’s been eating John McWhorter’s trash, and that he hopes to kill off once and for all with his latest book, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language. McWhorter’s writing appears frequently in the liberal New Republic and the conservative City Journal, often on the subject of race and politics. (McWhorter subscribes to a number of political heterodoxies.) But before he went into punditry, McWhorter trained as a linguist and contributed to the study of creolization, the process by which two or more languages coalesce into a full-featured third language.

The belief in question—that the languages we speak shape the thoughts we think—is known in linguistics as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and among the linguistic establishment, Whorfianism has fallen on very bad times indeed. The hypothesis’ namesakes, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, have been dead for 70 years, and in my own linguistics classes I rarely heard them invoked except to be ridiculed, like biologists of yore who thought maggots grew spontaneously from rotting meat, or historians who thought the world began 6,000 years ago. What Whorfianism claims, in its strongest form, is that our thoughts are limited and shaped by the specific words and grammar we use. Mayans don’t just speak Mayan; they think Mayan, and therefore they think differently from English speakers. According to Sapir-Whorf, a person’s view of the world is refracted through her language, like a pair of spectacles (not necessarily well-prescribed) superglued to his face.

Whorf came up with his version of the hypothesis through his study of the language of the Hopi Indians. Hopi, he believed, lacks tense markers, like the “-ed” in “I walked to the store,” or words meaning “before” and “after.” In English we can’t say a sentence about walking to the store without saying when the walking happened. Whorf turned out to be wrong about Hopi time-words and tense-markers, McWhorter notes: Hopi has them. But Whorf viewed Hopi’s supposed lack of them as a sign that the Hopi see the world with less reference to time than we do, and that they are a culturally “timeless” people, living in communion with eternity while we English speakers are slaves to tense markers and clocks.

Perhaps the most famous invocation of Sapir-Whorf is the claim that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2014 at 8:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Excellent Parker razor and a fine shave

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SOTD 6 May 2014

The Parker 26C open-comb razor is an absolutely terrific razor. I thank Ryan very much for suggesting it in a comment. But let’s take the shave in order.

I used the pre-shave soap shown, another RazoRock/HTGAM collaboration. I have to say that I prefer the non-mentholated version, but this did a good job. However, I don’t see either of the soaps at the HTGAM store. Maybe it’s been discontinued. If one is brought back, I suggest the non-mentholated version, which is quite a good pre-shave.

My Omega R&B brush is now well broken in, and it had no trouble making a great lather from HTGAM’s Meta-Nectar shaving soap. Excellent lather, nice fragrance.

And now the Parker 26C. When I unpacked the razor, the first thing I noticed is the heft: a nice substantial weight. And it is very well balanced: comfortable to hold. Part of the comfort is the handle: it is chequered, but the chequering is fine, so although the handle is quite grippy, it’s also comfortable to hold. The teeth of the open comb are interest: the teeth are basically extensions of the baseplate, so they are thick and sturdy, and they are finished smoothly and well-rounded so they are quite comfortable as well as quite strong. Fit and finish is excellent.

I loaded the razor with a Super Max Titanium blade, and had an excellent shave: enjoyable, comfortable, and BBS result.

I’ve had a somewhat jaundiced view of Parker, but this razor completely changes the game. I will be strongly recommending this razor, especially given the exceptional quality and the modest price point: $29. I really am very impressed.

I think I need to get some more of the new Parkers. This one really opened my eyes—more than the 92R, which itself is quite good. But this one is in a new league.


Written by Leisureguy

6 May 2014 at 8:27 am

Posted in Shaving

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