Later On

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

Archive for November 28th, 2014

U.S. shootings by police, prison conditions trouble U.N.

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Too bad they don’t trouble the US. Here’s the story.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 5:14 pm

Kevin Drum shows why petroleum prices are plunging

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Illuminating post.

UPDATE: And here’s Chris Mooney’s take on it.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 12:49 pm

Ray Rice suspension overturned in arbitration

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Here’s the story. My first thought is that this is probably good: we do not want to turn over to private corporations the administration of criminal justice. Rice should be indicted if that can be done; if not, then he has not had due process and the corporation is thus deciding its own sentence, using whatever it wants: there are no rules of evidence in corporations, there is but a morbid preoccupation with the rate of profit increase. Everything else is subordinate to that. So the sentences meted out are definitely skewed by profit considerations, to the extent that it amounts to buying justice: valuable properties get slaps on the wrist (cf. FSU).

And it occurs to me that is exactly what corporations are doing when they deliberately take over the criminal justice function: they do it precisely because they can apply a profit cast to judicial/punishment decisions, whereas in the government-run criminal justice system it is (at least theoretically) a rule of law that applies to all equally as all are citizens—and those decisions, made purely on the basis of law and evidence, can absolutely wreck a balance sheet. Thus the move of the venue, as it were.

UPDATE: This story is more to the point: The judge found that Goodell’s story was a lie.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 12:46 pm

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means: Bill Cosby edition

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Cosby: “I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos.”

Wow. Give that man a dictionary. “Innuendo” doesn’t touch it.

But perhaps it just shows how far removed he is from consensual reality, wrapped in a bubble of self-regard. Certainly a man who does the sort of things of which Cosby is accused would have to have an enormously powerful self-regard to avoid seeing what he does in any way dishonors him. And add in his doing a comedy routine about drugging and raping women, more or less taunting the public by stating openly what he apparently was actually doing.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Daily life

My Anova sous vide appliance just arrived

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I can’t wait to use it. I bought some double-ziplock “storage” (i.e., freezer) bags: heavy duty, tight seal. I’m making this tri-tip (only cooking it sous vide, of course, and then searing it after it’s done) and using this beef rub. The coffee I’m using is Illy dark roast: a fine, powdery grind that will work well in the rub (and also makes a nice cup of coffee, which I’m having now).

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 11:41 am

Tiny house split into seven levels

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Pretty cool.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 11:00 am

Posted in Daily life

Governments finding a free press a hindrance, so are shutting it down

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Little by little, like Obama and Holder’s vicious persecution of the reporter James Risen—a clear warning to other reports—and their vindictive treatment of whistleblowers like Thomas Drake. Though the claim is always to protect our security, in fact it is obvious that what is being protected is government incompetence, overreaching, and malfeasance: governments that do bad things really hate a free press, and our government is joining that crowd.

Indeed, Australia and New Zealand are somewhat ahead of us, closing down their open society in favor of an authoritarian national-security state, a step on the way to totalitarianism. And totalitarian governments do happen, as we well know.

Raymond Bronner writes in the NY Times:

Australia and New Zealand are not among the usual suspects when it comes to state suppression of civil liberties. But both countries, stung by Edward J. Snowden’s revelations last year about their intelligence-gathering efforts, have been cracking down on the press: Australia has passed sweeping secrecy laws, while police officers in New Zealand recently raided the home of a reporter who had published information regarding a government scandal.

There has been little international outcry, and Washington is hardly likely to be upset: The two countries harbor the only major intelligence gathering facilities for the National Security Agency in the Southern Hemisphere, and, along with Britain, Canada and the United States, are members of the intelligence-sharing arrangement known as the “Five Eyes.”

In New Zealand, the journalist targeted in the raid is the country’s top investigative reporter, Nicky Hager, who has been working with Mr. Snowden and the journalist Glenn Greenwald. Mr. Hager has “long been a pain in the establishment’s neck,” a former prime minister of New Zealand, David Lange, once said, admiringly.

In 1996 Mr. Hager published his book “Secret Power,” which revealed the relationship between the N.S.A. and New Zealand. Mr. Lange said that he learned more about what the N.S.A. was doing in his country from reading Mr. Hager’s reporting than he did as prime minister.

Across the Tasman Sea, the Australian government recently amended the country’s national security laws so that journalists and whistle-blowers who publish details of “special intelligence operations” may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The measures are part of a groundswell of terrorism hysteria. September brought the largest counterterrorism raids in Australian history, in which some 800 state and federal police officers raided homes in several Sydney suburbs with large Muslim populations, acting on what officials said was an intercepted phone call about possible activity by allies of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

For all the forces deployed in the raids, only one person was arrested and charged with a terrorism-related crime; in a court appearance in mid-November, his lawyer said the telephone conversation had been mistranslated.

The press has added to the hysteria, spreading a story that Islamic State followers were plotting a public beheading in a square in downtown Sydney — a claim no public official has made, and a claim for which there is virtually no evidence.

A week after the raids, the ruling center-right Liberal Party proposed the national security amendments aimed at the press and leaks; the opposition Labor Party supported them, and the changes passed with little debate. . .

Continue reading.

And your privacy? It is to laugh. Read this Wall Street Journal story about how the US government is going to get around encryption so it can continue to be able to read all you digital history if it wants, including phone calls. From that story:

. . . Historically, prosecutors generally used search warrants to require companies to unlock phones. Apple displays required language for such warrants on its website and offers a fax number to more easily serve them. Sample search warrants directed at Google for Android-powered phones are easy to find online.

But Apple and Google complicated that process this fall by including new encryption schemes in their latest operating systems that the companies say they can’t unlock. If an iPhone user sets a password for the device, the data is encrypted when the phone is locked. The only way to decrypt it – even if police ship it to Apple – is to know the password, which Apple says it doesn’t record.

That technological shift prompted tense private meetings this fall between Apple and Justice Department lawyers, as detailed in a recent Page One story in The Wall Street Journal.

Amid that standoff, the government on Oct. 10 obtained a search warrant to examine the contents of the phone in the credit-card case. The phone was locked, so prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein to order the manufacturer to unlock it. They cited the All Writs Act, originally part of a 1789 law that gives courts broad authority to carry out their duties.

Judge Gorenstein agreed. “It is appropriate to order the manufacturer here to attempt to unlock the cellphone so that the warrant may be executed as originally contemplated,” he wrote on Oct. 31. The judge gave the manufacturer, referred to only as “[XXX], Inc.,” five business days after receiving the order to protest.

Much remains unknown, including the maker of the phone, and what happened next. The language of the opinion suggests it could apply to a company like Apple. The order is directed at the “manufacturer of the cellphone,” and Apple is one of the few companies that produce both the phone itself and the software that would manage the encryption. . .

Read the whole thing.

Some encourage calm acceptance of the direction. They advise, “So long as you don’t anything that displeases someone in government, then you don’t have to worry about a thing.” The problem is that some bureaucrats are very easy to displease, so giving them loads of unchecked power is not a good idea.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 10:48 am

Some good Muck Reads

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Good muck reads. Just three from that link:

Two dollars spent on safety training. A South Korean ferry named Sewol sunk in April, killing 304 passengers – mostly high school students. The company that ran the ferry was one of 70 owned by tycoon Yoo Byung-eun. And despite the millions and millions of dollars that pass through his companies to him and his family, he spent just $2 last year on crew safety training. Even that money only went to buy a paper copy of a certificate, the New York Times reports. — The New York Times, July 2014

The FAA backed off of safety improvements for small planes. In 1990, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed updated regulations on equipment and designs that could prevent airplane fires that have since claimed at least 600 lives. “But facing opposition from airplane manufacturers, the FAA withdrew its proposal, saying it wasn’t worth the extra expense,” reports USA Today. Placing the value of a human life at $1 million helped to undermine these proposals. As noted by the FAA, “If the value of life were $2 million rather than $1 million, the benefit-to-cost ratio would be twice as great.”— USA Today, October 2014

“What Would Court Do?” A decade before GM’s ignition debacle, which has been linked to 30 deaths, a safety inspector named Courtland Kelley brought up safety issue after safety issue. His outspokenness didn’t end in recall, though. It ended with him getting pushed from position to position. As a result, his successor was too afraid to speak up. — BusinessWeek, June 2014

It seems clear that our institutions and organizations are failing us badly. The third example shows why: good performance draws severe punishment.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 10:34 am

Perfect smoothness with a little help from razor and lather

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SOTD 28 Nov 2014

Absolutely perfect result today. It began with the Simpson Duke 2 Best and my artisanal organic-asses’-milk shaving soap. You’ll note that the tin is filled to the very brim with soap, but lathering was neither messy nor a problem: a bit of gentle brushing with a wetter-than-damp-but-not-dripping brush, and then a pleasant time working the lather up on my beard, adding one good driblet of water to the center of the brush and working that in.

The Stealth is a Personna Lab Blue blade (for me) is close to a perfect razor. I decided to use mine this morning because we’ve had a bunch of guys finally able to buy one on ItalianBarber.com: the availability seems to be increasing somewhat, just in time for the holidays.

Three passes, no nicks, BBS result. And now that it’s winter, moisturizing aftershaves are in more demand. Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum is a moisturizing splash. It’s a “shake before each use” aftershave, and I like it a lot.

Kevin Drum explains where the phrase “Black Friday” originated: Philadelphia, but long after Ben Franklin.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2014 at 9:16 am

Posted in Shaving

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