Later On

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

Archive for January 14th, 2015

The US in the 21st Century ≈ Great Britain in the 19th Century

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Just one of the letters quoted in James Fallows’s column in the Atlantic (and by all means read the entire column: it’s important):

I read your article “The Tragedy of the American Military” with interest.  I did a short stint in the largely peacetime Navy in the early 1990s, but my approach to your article was historical.

They say history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes, and I find that right now, the 21st Century is rhyming with the 19th. In our century, the US is playing the role Great Britain played in the 19th—namely dominant power.  I find the other parallels striking.

In both cases, the dominant power had a military organized to fight Over There, with large navies and relatively small, professional armies. In both cases, lip service is paid to the military (see Kipling’s “Tommy” for an example) but actual attention is not. At least, as long as the wars are Over There.

In your article, you expressed dismay that no US general was relieved of command in Iraq or Afghanistan for incompetence. In Victorian Britain, Raglan and Cardigan, the generals who bumbled their way into the Charge of the Light Brigade, weren’t cashiered but rather promoted. The Charge itself, rather than being seen as an epic screw-up, was lionized as a heroic effort. (Tennyson, the man doing the lionization and Poet Laureate, had no military experience, like many of the elite of his day.)

I would also like to comment on our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the need for a commission to examine them. I submit that no commission is needed. General Shinseski told Congress on the eve of Iraq that we would need around 250,000 troops to occupy Iraq. Since Afghanistan has roughly the same population, I would assume we would need the same number of troops there. Our highest troop count in either country was barely half of that.

I also submit that, if less than a year after 9/11 the idea of a draft is so toxic that nobody will seriously float the idea, the US will probably not be able (or more accurately, politically willing) to radically increase the size of our Army – certainly not to the level needed to support an occupation force of a quarter of a million. Therefore the simple lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan is either:

1) Don’t invade countries that will require an occupation force of over 100,000, or:

2) Make sure you have sufficient troops lined up from allies to cover the gap, or:

3) Plan on raising native auxiliaries, recognizing said auxiliaries are never as effective, loyal or efficient at US troops.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 3:50 pm

The zombie cookie that cannot be killed: Thanks, Verizon

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Julia Angwin and Mike Tigas report in ProPublica:

An online advertising clearinghouse relied on by Google, Yahoo and Facebook is using controversial cookies that come back from the dead to track the web surfing of Verizon customers.

The company, called Turn, is taking advantage of a hidden undeletable number that Verizon uses to monitor customers’ habits on their smartphones and tablets. Turn uses the Verizon number to respawn tracking cookies that users have deleted.

“We are trying to use the most persistent identifier that we can in order to do what we do,” Max Ochoa, Turn’s chief privacy officer, told ProPublica.

Turn’s zombie cookie comes amid a controversy about a new form of tracking the telecom industry has deployed to shadow mobile phone users. Last year, Verizon and AT&T users noticed their carriers were inserting a tracking number into all the Web traffic that transmits from a users’ phone – even if the user has tried to opt out.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 2:26 pm

This powerful Reddit thread reveals how the poor get by in America

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Here’s the Washington Post story which excerpts some of the thread. Full thread here. The Post story by Max Ehrenfreund begins:

The poor pay more for everything, from rolls of toilet paper to furniture. It’s not because they’re spendthrifts, either. If you’re denied a checking account, there’s no way for you to avoid paying a fee to cash a paycheck. If you need to buy a car to get to work, you’ll have to accept whatever higher interest rate you’re offered. If you don’t have a car, the bus fare might eat up the change you’d save shopping at a larger grocery store as opposed to the local corner store.

It’s easy to feel that “when you are poor, the ‘system’ is set up to keep you that way,” in the words of one Reddit user, “rugtoad.” That comment is at the top of an extraordinary thread full of devastating stories about what it’s like to get by with nothing in the United States of 2015.

“Growing up really poor means realizing in your twenties that Mommy was lying when she said she already ate,” wrote “deviant_devices,” another commenter.

You can buy only a single pack of paper towels at a time, rather than saving on a bundle of 10, as “Meepshesaid” noted: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Daily life

So much for free speech in France

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Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Government

NY Times still cannot quite grasp the lead/crime connection

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You’d think that the NY Times was capable of research, but I guess not. Their report barely mentions what seems pretty clearly to be the main cause of the rapid rise and equally rapid decline in violent crime. Kevin Drum responds with a nifty chart showing the story in Canada.

And for a more complete look, check out his article on the subject.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 10:44 am

BBS with the Gillette Toggle and the Brushguy.com brush compared to the Simpson Chubby 1

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SOTD 14 Jan 2015

A very fine shave. After using the brush shown with MWF and then comparing that with my Rooney Style 2 Finest brush used with the soap shown, I became suspicious that the Brushguy brushe’s loft might be a problem: as noted yesterday, the Rooney’s loft is substantially more.

But the Brushguy brush’s performance with Strop Shoppe’s Lemon Eucalyptus was much better than it performance with MWF—and why not? The Lemon Eucalyptus is a much better soap. I had zero problem in getting a very fine and slick lather, and the brush had plenty left by the end of the shave.

The shave itself was fine: three passes with the Gillette Toggle, a prototype of the Fat Boy, using a Voshod blade left a BBS result, and I continued the lemon theme in the aftershave.

It occurred to me that the Brushguy knot is not so much “stubby” as “chubby”—i.e., like the Simpson Chubby 1 Best that I have:

Chubby v Brushguy

The base of the knot is not quite lined up in the photo, the Chubby being a little higher. It looks to me as though the Brushguy knot were very much along the lines of the Chubby knot, and perhaps slightly greater diameter. Certainly ample for shaving, whatever one’s personal preferences may be. My own preference is for a somewhat greater loft, which is why the Chubby rarely makes an appearance in my morning shave. But certainly both knots work well for shaving, and those who like the Chubby will like the Brushguy.com brushes as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2015 at 9:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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