Later On

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

Archive for August 3rd, 2015

Looking at the LAPD

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Mark Horowitz reviews the book Blue in the NY Times:

Being fired in New York and moving to Los Angeles is usually a smart career move. For William Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, it was a no-brainer.

As Giuliani’s crime-fighting partner back in the ’90s, Bratton had performed a righteous miracle, calming an angry, frightened city. But he couldn’t get respect, not from the egomaniacal mayor who hired him and then forced him to resign; not from an ungrateful commentariat, which churlishly suggested that the reason crime in New York dropped so dramatically had nothing to do with Bratton’s reforms and everything to do with national economic and demographic shifts. Bratton wasn’t a genius, by their lights. He was the Forrest Gump of public safety, the fluky beneficiary of right-time, right-place dumb luck.

In 2002, Los Angeles gave him a second chance. The city was in even worse shape than New York, with crime that defied national trends and a police force renowned for corruption, racism and brutality. If he could replicate the results of his New York experiment there, then it wasn’t dumb luck after all: It was Bratton. Los Angeles, in other words, needed a savior, and William Bratton needed redemption. In “Blue,” Joe Domanick’s dramatic account of the Los Angeles Police Department’s recent fall and rise, both get what they wanted.

The timing is impeccable. Deadly encounters between young black men and the urban police in Ferguson, Baltimore and Staten Island have resurrected the urgent issue of reform, and race is at the center of “Blue.” Domanick, a Los Angeles journalist and longtime critic of the police force, was clearly drawn to Bratton because Bratton was willing to admit what other big-city police chiefs would not: “The flash point for racial tension in America’s cities for decades, Bratton believed, had been the police — and if they were ever to get the consent of the poor people of color they were policing, they’d have to stop being part of the problem.”

Domanick’s hero, however, doesn’t show up until very late in the story. This is largely a book about how bad things were in Los Angeles before Bratton got there. Crime in Los Angeles had been increasing at twice the national average. Between 1980 and 2000, there were 11,500 gang-related homicides in Los Angeles County. “L.A.’s gangs were not simply growing but metastasizing.”

The city’s incompetent and brutal police functioned like “an army of occupation that waged war on the residents of black South L.A., Mexican East L.A. and Central American Pico-Union in the name of crime suppression.” During one operation, in South Los Angeles, 25,000 were arrested, though relatively few were charged with any crime. “It seems astounding,” Domanick writes, “that such a plan of concentrated, indiscriminate mass arrests would be executed in a major, liberal American city a quarter of a century into the post-civil-rights era.” Even the police dogs were out of control, surely a metaphor of some kind. Between 1989 and 1992, they bit 900 people, resulting in countless lawsuits.

Domanick is steeped in his city’s rich history, its fraught racial and ethnic conflicts and the complex demographics that befuddle so many outsiders. I lived there in the ’80s and ’90s, during recessions, earthquakes, the Rodney King beating and the ’92 riots: Domanick gets everything right. His brief portrait of the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, for example, is a valuable corrective. O.J.’s lawyer Johnnie Cochran was no racial show boater, though the national media treated him like some sort of West Coast Al Sharpton. Cochran was a brilliant and highly respected local attorney who made his reputation trying police-abuse cases. “He knew what black jurors knew deep in their bones,” Domanick writes, “that racism, planting evidence, shading the truth and lying in court had been part of the Los Angeles Police Department’s modus operandi throughout its history.” The trial was always about the dysfunctional L.A.P.D., never O.J.

Validating Cochran, the decade climaxed with the infamous Rampart Division scandal. Officers were discovered to be routinely framing people, robbing and shooting them, planting evidence and stealing drugs. How long it had been going on or how many other units were involved, nobody ever knew. There was no in-depth probe. The department proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was incapable of policing itself.

Enter Bratton. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 6:51 pm

New printer cost less than the ink cartridges

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Sort of giving away the business plan: my HP Photosmart 6510 died—refused to feed paper without jamming it—so since printer repair is not a business, I went to Staples and got an HP Envy 5660, $70, and one set of cartridge plus one extra black cartridge, $88.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Technology

Updates on events in US law enforcement

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Just a few of Radley Balko’s lunchtime links:

  • Video emerges of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensingduring another tense traffic stop. Tensing is the officer recently indicted in the killing of Samuel Dubose.
  • Puppycide: A Georgia cop kills a dog while on the property of the dog’s owner. He was apparently there to investigate a trespasser even though the owner says the man was a friend. The cop then charged the owner for failing to have the dog on a leash. In addition to the owner, a neighbor has also disputed the cop’s version of the shooting.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 3:44 pm

Fragrances for men: Why do so many shaving products fail to measure up?

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Sharpologist is running a very interesting series of articles/posts on fragrances in shaving by Craig K, and I recommend it highly. Part 1 begins:

Many wet shavers start out liking the scents of shave soaps and then move on into fragrance. This can be a challenge on a variety of levels; “Why doesn’t anything smell only like limes?,” “Wait, sandalwood is supposed to smell like that?,” “That 3 ounce bottle of stuff costs how much?”


It’s not always easy to translate one’s expertise and knowledge from one field over into another. CEO’s can tell us this as they move from, say, running a financial firm to running a tech company. Formula One drivers attempting to compete in NASCAR can share their own tales of surprise and woe. As can governors and Senators who become President. As can Michael Jordan….

As mentioned above, shaving guys moving over into the world of male fragrances have some challenges and confusion to confront.  But a far more difficult odyssey awaits those who move in the opposite direction, starting out as fragrance fans / collectors (“fragheads”) and trying to duplicate that experience in shave soaps and creams. The price is right certainly, but it soon becomes obvious that the smells are…well, “dull” and “simple” are the words that come to mind.

Where is the clever mix of dirty and clean seen in Guerlain’s Vetiver, the completely odd blending of gasoline and violets from Dior’s Fahrenheit, the mysterious combination of tea, vanilla, and rubber tire from Bvlgari’s Black?

Instead, shavers get citrus, citrus, and more citrus scents, along with lavender, “woods”,  rose of one questionable variety or another, and mint, and even this limited palette is cast generally in simple soliflorecompositions (that is, where one note is dominant.)

Why are soaps and creams so comparatively dull and what can be done about it on the part of the more olfactory-adventurous shaver? This article series will focus on the first of these questions: why do shave soaps and creams smell so differently from what’s available in the world of male fragrances?

A Lack Of Chemistry

Or actually too much of it, to be precise. Most fragrances meant for perfume usage are suspended in alcohol. This is for a reason. The alcohol preserves the mix in a relatively inert suspension that is meant to do nothing else other than sit there and last for a while. A shave cream or soap by comparison needs to contain many other chemical elements by necessity.  See The Anatomy Of A Shaving Cream for more information.

The surfactants, emulsifiers, cleansing agents, humectants, lather stabilizers, epidermal soothers and moisturizers, etc. all have a job to do, and the interaction of all these agents with scent bearing molecules means that not every possible blend of scent emitting oils can be recreated in a cream or soap. Compromises have to be made:; no one wants a great smelling soap that shaves dreadfully or a fascinatingly complex cream that dries on the face in a minute.

Complexity Takes Time To Develop

Related to our first point, most fragrances in traditional perfumery have a scent pyramid, with three layers. First come the top notes, small light molecules of scent perceived in the first few seconds of exposure, as they rise quickly out of the mixture. Next come heart notes, the mid weights of the molecule mix, that develop after a few minutes and last for a half hour to several hours. Finally, the heavy hitters, the base notes, the heaviest molecules that anchor the scent and last for many hours after application.

How long does it take you to shave? It takes me roughly 20 minutes. That means assuming everything was structured as per the conventional scent pyramid given above, I would barely get to the heart notes of the pyramid, and the odds are good the top notes would be barely noticed by me as I focused on developing lather on my face. The perceived complexity of most perfumes comes from their development over time, and the contrasts between the layers of the pyramid. With only a very brief time to experience the scent of the soap or cream, the ability to work in transitions and contrasts is beyond the ability of many, if not all, formulas and their makers.

And the above assumes that . . .

Continue reading.

And then read Part 2, and Part 3.

FWIW, my vintage Lenthéric shaving soap has an exquisite and complex fragrance that contrasts sharply with the fragrance of the typical artisanal soaps I’ve used. Lenthéric was (is) a perfume house, and they brought that expertise to their shaving soap.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 11:34 am

Posted in Shaving

After 27 Years, Reporter Who Exposed ECHELON Finds Vindication in Snowden Archive

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Interesting report by Dan Froomkin in The Intercept:

Ever since legendary British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell told the world in a 1988 magazine article about ECHELON — a massive, automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites — Western intelligence officials have refused to acknowledge that it existed.

Despite sporadic continuing press reports, people who complained about the program — which, as Campbell disclosed, automatically searched text-based communications using a dictionary of keywords to flag suspicious content — were routinely dismissed as conspiracy theorists.

The only real conspiracy, it turns out, was a conspiracy of silence among the governments that benefited from the program.

As Campbell writes today, in a first-person article in The Intercept, the archive of top-secret documents provided to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contains a stunning 2005 document that not only confirms ECHELON’s existence as “a system targeting communications satellites”– it shows how the program was kept an official secret for so long.

It describes how in 2000, the European Parliament responded to increasingly authoritative reports that ECHELON was being used to indiscriminately survey non-military targets — including governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every corner of the world — by appointing a committee to investigate the program.

Members of the committee vowed to get the truth from the NSA. What happened, according to an article in the NSA’s own in-house “Foreign Affairs Digest” was this:

Corporate NSA (FAD, SID, OGC, PAO and Policy), ensured that our interests, and our SIGINT partners’ interests, were protected throughout the ordeal; and ironically, the final report of the EU Commission [link] reflected not only that NSA played by the rules, with congressional oversight, but that those characteristics were lacking when the Commission applied its investigatory criteria to other European nations.

The initials there stand for NSA’s Foreign Affairs Directorate, Signals Intelligence, Office of the General Counsel, and Public Affairs Office.

And then, in what is possibly one of the most memorable lines to come out of the Snowden archive, the author of the article, a “foreign affairs directorate special adviser,” concluded with this observation:

In the final analysis, the “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: “Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”

ECHELON was the precursor to today’s worldwide dragnet, which thanks to Snowden, we now know is carried out by tapping the massive fiber-optic cables that encircle the globe, in addition to the satellites that orbit it. It was the collect-it-all of its time.

As it happens, not every one of the ECHELON conspiracy theories turned out to be substantiated. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 11:25 am

Posted in Government, NSA

Chiseled Face and a totally wonderful shave to start the week

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SOTD 3 Aug 2015

Absolutely wonderful shave today: two-day stubble, good prep, and the #102 slant.

Someone this weekend mentioned Chiseled Face’s Summer Storm shaving soap and so reminded me that I have some. I brought it out, and the petrichor fragrance seemed much more present this time—stronger and more satisfying. I really like his shaving brush, so I put it to work again.

I am still using the pre-shave gel, and I suspect its benefits stem in large part from the glycerin in the ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Sodium Lactate, DL-Panthenol, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Sodium Chloride, Allantoin, Silk Amino Acids, Salix Nigra Bark Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Astaxanthin

I again applied some to my beard in the shower after wetting my beard, but at the sink I again wet my beard and applied some. On reading the instructions (belatedly, as I so frequently do), I think I’ll skip the shower application and apply it to my dry beard, since that’s what it says and is probably what will help the action be more detectable.

The lather this morning seemed exceptionally slick and nice—thick, but with terrific slide—and three passes with the #102 produced a flawless BBS result—indeed, after the second pass most of my face felt BBS when I rinsed.

A good splash of Easy Street and I’m ready for a good day and a good week.

In cooking notes, this recipe is terrific, but ignore the instructions to grate the tomatoes. What were they thinking? I just diced the tomatoes after one abortive attempt to grate them. And in slicing the zucchini and summer squash, a mandoline is a terrific help. I use this one: fast, easy, uniformly thin slices, and easy to clean (just rinse it well).

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2015 at 9:05 am

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