Later On

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

Archive for November 27th, 2015

Terrorist attack at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs

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Another terrorist attack. So far no reported killed. (Since the guy is white, the media will refuse to label it as a terrorist act; terrorists can only be from the Middle East, so far as US media are concerned. But this is quite clearly an ideology-driven attack aimed at innocent people.)

UPDATE: The terrorist in Colorado Springs killed three people, including one police officer.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Terrorism

Interesting (and excellent) DE shaving starter kit

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Here’s the kit.

Full disclosure: I did make recommendations for the kit contents, but I have no affiliation with the vendor nor do I receive any consideration (complimentary product, discounts, money, etc.) for my mention. I point out the kit not only because it includes an excellent (IMO) basic kit of brush, soap, razor, and blade sampler, but also the soap, Otoko Organics shave soap, has not previously been available in the US. (I have used the soap, which I like a lot, but I had to order it from Australia—and I totally understand the issue Australians have with shipping costs.)

Just in time for the holidays.

UPDATE: I posted this on Wicked Edge and there is what amounts to some uproar over the pricing. The razor ($29), brush (just under $10), and blade sampler pack probably run to about $45, compared to other stores. So the soap in effect costs $19. That seems reasonable to me in comparison to what it would cost you to order it from Australia, if you live in the US. As noted, the shipping costs are high. The soap sells for around US$15 in Australia, and you cannot ship a tub of soap to the US for $4.

However, my main point was to comment on the excellent (IMO) choice of items. I was not commenting on the price. I figure the potential customer will decide for himself whether or not he wants to buy it.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Shaving

How to Prosecute Abusive Prosecutors

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We repeatedly discover just how bad prosecutors can be: deliberately sending an innocent man to death row, for example, or hiding evidence that would exonerate a defendant. And prosecutors enjoy some immunity from lawsuits. But Brandon Buskey describes some recourse:

WHEN it comes to poor people arrested for felonies in Scott County, Miss., Judge Marcus D. Gordon doesn’t bother with the Constitution. He refuses to appoint counsel until arrestees have been formally charged by an indictment, which means they must languish in jail without legal representation for as long as a year.

Judge Gordon has robbed countless individuals of their freedom, locking them away from their loved ones and livelihoods for months on end. (I am the lead lawyer in a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Scott County and Judge Gordon.) In a recent interview, the judge, who sits on the Mississippi State Circuit Court, was unapologetic about his regime of indefinite detention: “The criminal system is a system of criminals. Sure, their rights are violated.” But, he added, “That’s the hardship of the criminal system.”

There are many words to describe the judge’s blunt disregard of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Callous. Appalling. Cruel. Here’s another possibility: criminal — liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, prison time.

If this notion seems radical, it shouldn’t. Federal law already provides a mechanism to prosecute judges and district attorneys as criminals when they willfully deprive people of their civil rights: Title 18, Section 242, of the federal code.

This isn’t some dusty, rarely used legal tool. The Department of Justice typically wields Section 242 against police and correctional officers accused of physical or sexual violence. But Section 242 applies with equal force to those who prosecute and sentence, the state officials whose deliberate skirting of civil rights can be most devastating.

At least, that’s how it is on paper. The federal government has not in recent memory pursued a judge under Section 242, and it has only rarely enforced this law against prosecutors.

It is absolutely essential to bring rogue law enforcement officers to justice, particularly in a post-Ferguson world in which violations of constitutional rights have come under intense scrutiny. However, the government’s focus on abuses by law enforcement officials leaves the burden of curbing abuse by judges and prosecutors to private individuals.

This is a responsibility few lawyers are willing to accept, in large part because the United States Supreme Court has made pursuing a civil case against a prosecutor or judge practically impossible.

Consider the case of John Thompson, who spent 14 years on death row for a murder he didn’t commit because the New Orleans Parish district attorney’s office intentionally concealed forensic evidence establishing his innocence. After his exoneration, Mr. Thompson sued the office under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, landmark legislation intended to provide a federal forum to those deprived of their civil rights by state officials.

Though Mr. Thompson won a $14 million jury award, the Supreme Court set aside the verdict on appeal. Notwithstanding the fact that the New Orleans prosecutors had similarly withheld evidence in at least four other cases, or the fact that several prosecutors suppressed the evidence in Mr. Thompson’s own case, the court said that Mr. Thompson had failed to demonstrate a pattern of wrongdoing by the district attorney’s office, which it held was required by Section 1983. The court’s decision illustrates just one of a host of protections it has given to prosecutors and judges to shield them from liability. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 10:54 am

Belgian Physicists Calculate that Both Turkey and Russia Are Lying About the Downed Russian Jet

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A very interesting analysis is reported in Motherboard by Alejandro Tauber:

It’s rare to see physics being used as an effective tool to comment on current events, but astrophysicists Tom van Doorsslaere and Giovanni Lapenta of the Belgian KU Leuven used some simple Newtonian mechanics to show that both the Russian and Turkish accounts of what happened with the downed jet can’t be right.

Using video of the incident and the maps provided by Turkish and Russian officials, they show in a post on a blog run by KU Leuven that what went down couldn’t possibly have happened as both parties present it.

First, the “facts.” The downed jet was shot down by the Turkish military Tuesday because the pilot reportedly ignored several warnings about entering Turkish airspace. Turkish officials say the military warned the jets ten times in a period of five minutes. When these warnings went unheeded, the Turkish prime minister himself gave the command to take the jets down, according to several reports. Both jet fighters were in Turkish airspace for just 17 seconds, Turkish officials say.

And now, the science. In the video of the incident, which was posted online, it can be seen that one of the two jets got hit and starts crashing to the ground. The jet takes approximately 30 seconds to hit the ground. “Because the vertical movement is only dependent on gravity (g=9.81m/s², z=gt²/2), we can calculate that the plane was moving at a height of at least 4500 meters,” the phisicists write in their blog. “That number is consistent with the Turkish statement of the jets being at an altitude of 19,000 feet (5800 meters).”

On the map provided by Turkish officials, it can be seen that the plane crashed eight kilometers from the place it was hit. The jet traveled those eight kilometers from the time it was hit until the time it crashed. A simple division gives an initial speed of 980 km/h, a perfectly acceptable speed for an aircraft travling at that altitude. So far, so good.

Then, the physicists take that speed and compare it to the distance the jets traveled in Turkish airspace according to the Turkish map, around 2 kilometers. When flying at a speed of 980 km/h, an object would cover that distance in seven seconds, instead of the 17 seconds according to Turkish reports. To cross that distance in 17 seconds, the plane should have been traveling at a meager 420 km/h. The video shows this simply could not be true, if the crash site is accurate. Physics 1, Turkey 0.

The Turkish airforce says it warned the fighter jets ten times in five minutes. In five minutes, an aeroplane traveling at 980 km/h would cross a distance of about 80 kilometers. From these facts, the professors conclude: “How could the Turkish airforce predict that the Russian jets were about to enter Turkish airspace? Military jets are very agile, and in theory the Russian jets could have turned at the last moment to avoid Turkish airspace. The warnings issued to the Russian pilots were mere speculation at the moment they were made.”

According to those facts, the warnings couldn’t possibly have been issued in the time the jets were in Turkish territory. Unless Turkish air controllers can speak impossibly fast, issuing ten warnings in seven seconds seems kinda improbable. Physics 2, Turkey 0.

In issues like these, there’s never one party to blame. This is international geopolitics, a discipline in which the truth is as malleable as Play-Doh. . .

Continue reading.

Video in the article.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 10:28 am

Posted in Government, Military

Tighter Lid on Records Threatens to Weaken Government Watchdogs

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One aspect of group loyalty is for members of a group to resist strongly (for reasons of loyalty) any investigation of the group and, when an investigation is launched, to attempt to conceal problems and wrong-doing from “outsiders.” We see this in how the Chicago Police Department lied about what happened and destroyed evidence in order to protect the murderer James Van Dyke, a member of the department. And now, we see it in US government agencies, as described in this NY Times story Eric Lichtblau:

Justice Department watchdogs ran into an unexpected roadblock last year when they began examining the role of federal drug agents in the fatal shootings of unarmed civilians during raids in Honduras.

The Drug Enforcement Administration balked at turning over emails from senior officials tied to the raids, according to the department’s inspector general. It took nearly a year of wrangling before the D.E.A. was willing to turn over all its records in a case that the inspector general said raised “serious questions” about agents’ use of deadly force.

The continuing Honduran inquiry is one of at least 20 investigations across the government that have been slowed, stymied or sometimes closed because of a long-simmering dispute between the Obama administration and its own watchdogs over the shrinking access of inspectors general to confidential records, according to records and interviews.

The impasse has hampered investigations into an array of programs and abuse reports — from allegations of sexual assaults in the Peace Corps to the F.B.I.’s terrorism powers, officials said. And it has threatened to roll back more than three decades of policy giving the watchdogs unfettered access to “all records” in their investigations.

“The bottom line is that we’re no longer independent,” Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, said in an interview.

The restrictions reflect a broader effort by the Obama administration to prevent unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information — at the expense, some watchdogs insist, of government oversight.

Justice Department lawyers concluded in a legal opinion this summer that some protected records, like grand jury transcripts, wiretap intercepts and financial credit reports, could be kept off limits to government investigators. The administration insists there is no intention of curtailing investigations, but both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed alarm and are promising to restore full access to the watchdogs.

The new restrictions grew out of a five-year-old dispute within the Justice Department. After a series of scathing reports by Glenn Fine, then the Justice Department inspector general, on F.B.I. abuses in counterterrorism programs, F.B.I. lawyers began asserting in 2010 that he could no longer have access to certain confidential records because they were legally protected.

That led to a series of high-level Justice Department reviews, a new procedure for reviewing records requests and, ultimately, a formal opinion in July from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. That opinion, which applies to federal agencies across the government, concluded that the 1978 law giving an inspector general access to “all records” in investigations did not necessarily mean all records when it came to material like wiretap intercepts and grand jury reports. [That is, “all records” means “only some records.” This goes against the clear statement: “all records,” as most would clearly see, means “all records.” – LG]

The inspector-general system was created in 1978 in the wake of Watergate as an independent check on government abuse, and it has grown to include watchdogs at 72 federal agencies. Their investigations have produced thousands of often searing public reports on everything from secret terrorism programs and disaster responses to boondoggles like a lavish government conference in Las Vegas in 2010 that featured a clown and a mind reader.

Not surprisingly, tensions are common between the watchdogs and the officials they investigate. President Ronald Reagan, in fact, fired 15 inspectors general in 1981. But a number of scholars and investigators said the restrictions imposed by the Obama administration reflect a new level of acrimony.

“This is by far the most aggressive assault on the inspector general concept since the beginning,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who has studied the system. “It’s the complete evisceration of the concept. You might as well fold them down. They’ve become defanged.”

While President Obama has boasted of running “the most transparent administration in history,” some watchdogs say the clampdown has scaled back scrutiny of government programs. [Indeed, the Obama administration consistently denies or delays FOIA requests, or provides materials so redacted as to be useless. The Obama administration is far from being transparent—it regularly refuses to cooperate with compensating victims of our undeclared warfare, such as those innocents tortured, or those killed in drone attacks. – LG]

“This runs against transparency,” said the Peace Corps inspector general, Kathy Buller.

At the Peace Corps, her office began running into problems two years ago in an investigation into the agency’s handling of allegations of sexual assaults against overseas volunteers. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 10:13 am

Beginning the slant/nonslant test: Above the Tie R1 and S1

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SOTD 27 Nov 2015

Some men cannot detect differences apparent to others—colors, tastes, DE blades, and razors. The slant razor, for example, cuts more easily than a regular razor because the shearing cut of a slanted blade encounters less cutting resistance than the chop of a regular blade. This is well known—with a regular blade the Gillette slide, which presents the blade at an angle, is a common technique favored by men with thick bears and regular razors. (You can see the Gillette slide demonstrated in a video by Mantic59.)

Although the Gillette slide works well in some circumstances, there’s a reason it’s always shown being done on the cheek. Trying it on the neck—with, across, or against the grain—is more challenging. The slant razor, by slanting the blade, in effect packages the Gillette slide into the razor itself, so that in using the razor in the usual manner reaps the benefits of the Gillette slide without requiring any new skills or techniques, and the slant razor works easily wherever a regular razor works: neck, point of chin, upper lip, whatever.

Since the slant overcomes cutting resistance, its advantage increases along with the cutting resistance of the beard. Men with thick, tough, wiry, coarse beards very much appreciate the slant, particularly if they have sensitive skin (since a good slant is very gentle on the skin when used with light pressure). Men with beards that do not offer much resistance to cutting doubtless do not find much advantage. My own beard is in the normal range, though, and I can detect easier cutting and also find I more easily/frequently get a BBS result with a slant.

Of course, one’s own experience is so vivid that it is difficult for some to believe that someone else may have a different experience. Thus those who cannot detect a difference in the performance of a slant compared to a regular razor often go to some lengths to attempt to establish that there is no difference: that those who detect the difference are “wrong”: deluded, perhaps, by confirmation bias. (Similarly, I suppose, those who experience no differences between different brands of blades might believe that everyone is pretending that such differences exist; or a person who finds Brand X wonderful (or bad) might dismiss the experience of someone who finds Brand X bad (or wonderful). “YMMV” is easy to say but hard to internalize, despite quite clear evidence that YMMV holds in many areas: cilantro, for example, tastes wonderful to me and awful to my daughter (“like soap!”).

So those who can’t tell the difference between a slant and a regular razor argue mightily that, since they cannot detect the difference, it must exist and those who do detect it are being fooled somehow. They often will admit that the Gillette slide cuts more easily, but cannot believe that a slant also benefits from a slanted cutting angle.

So I decided to run a test, alternately using a slant and a regular razor for the next week or so. I’ll try to match the two in terms of overall format—e.g., the Above the Tie R1 (regular) and the S1 (slant); or the Merkur 34C (regular) and the 37C (slant). Initially I’ll try using the razors on alternate days, but I may switch to using both razors in a single shave to get a better feel for the differences.

Today I’m using the Above the Tie S1 slant, and tomorrow I’ll use the ATT R1 regular razor. Both are pictured above, both on UFO handles. you’ll note the degree of the slant slant is not very great. I’m running this little test to reconfirm to myself that I can feel a real difference between the two razors.

This morning I used my silvertip badger brush from the Copper Hat, which has a Delrin® handle of a pleasant shape, and Tim’s Soaps Greek Peach shaving soap. The soap makes a fine and fragrant lather. I did add a couple of driblets of water as I loaded the brush and had no problems at all in lather quality or quantity.

Three easy passes with the S1 left me with a BBS result, though I was not especially trying for that. A good splash of Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet finished the job.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2015 at 9:54 am

Posted in Shaving

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