Later On

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

Archive for September 15th, 2016

Apple’s heralded customer support is pretty thin veneer: iPhone 6 owners, listen up!

leave a comment »

Jason Koebler has a very interesting article at Motherboard about a design flaw in the iPhone 6 that kills the touchscreen. Apple is in denial that the problem exists because they don’t have a fix. A class-action lawsuit emerges. Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Business, Law, Technology

Why Donald Trump makes no charitable contributions (none): He doesn’t need to because he pays no tax.

leave a comment »

Basically, he doesn’t contribute because he doesn’t need the deduction, so why give money away? You know the Donald. He wouldn’t. And he hasn’t and doesn’t.

Read the article by John Cassidy in the New Yorker.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Business, Election, GOP, Law

This Chewing Stingray Sheds Light on the Evolution of How Animals Eat

with one comment

Fascinating article in Motherboard by Kate Lunau.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Evolution, Science

Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly-Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters

leave a comment »

David Dayen reports in The Intercept:

Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.

On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown.

The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FBI typically doesn’t release investigative details about cases that DOJ chooses not to pursue, but Warren pointed out that in releasing information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in July, he had pretty much shattered that precedent, and set a new one.

“You explained these actions by noting your view that ‘the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest,’” Warren wrote to Comey. “If Secretary Clinton’s email server was of sufficient ‘interest’ to establish a new FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be subject to the same level of transparency.”

In other words, if Comey can spend hours relating FBI decision-making about State Department emails, he can do the same for the activity that made millions jobless and homeless.

The FCIC’s criminal referrals, which were sent to the Justice Department in October 2010, have never been made public. But Warren’s staff reviewed thousands of other documents released in March by the National Archives, including hearings and testimony, witness interviews, internal deliberations, and memoranda, and found descriptions and records of them.

They detail potential violations of securities laws by 14 different financial institutions: most of America’s largest banks — Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan), and Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) — along with foreign banking giants UBS, Credit Suisse, and Société Generale, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, credit rating agency Moody’s, insurance company AIG, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The FCIC presented DOJ with evidence that these institutions gave false representations about the loan quality inside mortgage-backed securities; misled credit ratings agencies; overstated assets and earnings in financial disclosures; failed to disclose credit downgrades, subprime exposure and the financial health of their operations to shareholders; and suffered breakdowns in internal company controls. All of these were tied to specific violations of federal law.

And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae, CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG, CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch, and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup.

None of the 14 financial firms listed in the referrals were criminally indicted or brought to trial, Warren writes. Only five of the 14 even paid fines in civil settlements. None of the nine named individuals were criminally prosecuted, and only one – Crittenden, of Citigroup – had to pay so much as a personal fine, for a mere $100,000. . .

Continue reading.

And see also this Wall Street on Parade column by Pam Martens and Russ Martens. It begins:

While Elizabeth Warren attempted to deliver her keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in July, which included an unabashed endorsement of Hillary Clinton after Warren had failed to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders during the critical primary campaign, chants of “we trusted you” could be heard reverberating through the cavernous hall in Philadelphia.

Warren rose to fame challenging the corrupt practices on Wall Street. She was now aligned with a Presidential candidate who was using Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains from the customers they had fleeced to finance her path to the Oval Office. There is no doubt that this has caused significant cognitive dissonance among Warren’s constituents in Massachusetts’ – the landing site of the Pilgrims and one of the original 13 colonies.

This bit of background might help to explain why, with less than two months before the November 8 election – and Hillary Clinton running for a third Obama term, promising to continue in his footsteps – Elizabeth Warren issued two letters that draw a sharp focus on the failures of Obama’s Justice Department and FBI to prosecute the myriad criminal acts on Wall Street that led to the 2008 financial collapse.  (Warren’s letters were embargoed until midnight last evening, promising a full run of the news cycle today.)

In a 20-page letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael E. Horowitz, Senator Warren asked for an investigation into why the DOJ had failed to indict any of the Wall Street executives that had been referred to it for potential criminal prosecution by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC). In a separate letter, Warren asked FBI Director James Comey for his related files.

The FCIC released thousands of documents in March of this year, showing that it had made multiple criminal referrals to the DOJ. Warren wrote in her letter:

A review of these documents conducted by my staff has identified 11 separate FCIC referrals of individuals or corporations to DOJ in cases where the FCIC found ‘serious indications of violations[s]’ of federal securities or other laws. Nine individuals were implicated in these referrals (two were implicated twice). The DOJ has not filed any criminal prosecutions against any of the nine individuals. Not one of the nine has gone to prison or been convicted of a criminal offense. Not a single one has even been indicted or brought to trial. Only one individual was fined, in the amount of $100,000, and that was to settle a civil case brought by the SEC.

This particular paragraph is a Pandora’s Box by a factor of $2.5 trillion. The two individuals Warren refers to who were “implicated twice” in the FCIC’s criminal referrals are Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary in the administration of Bill Clinton, who in the lead up to the crash of Citigroup in 2008 served as Executive Committee Chair of Citigroup’s Board of Directors. (After advocating for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed Citigroup to own both an insured depository bank, an investment bank and brokerage firm, Rubin went straight from his post as Treasury Secretary to the Board of Citigroup, where he collected $126 million in compensation over the next decade.)

The other individual whose name appears twice is . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 12:28 pm

Tesla cars have a secret “crash-cam” function that captures the moments before a crash

leave a comment »

And apparently customers did not know. Guess it was a corporate trump card to catch malicious claims of malfunction?

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 12:16 pm

Merkur 34G goes to auction

leave a comment »

34C side

I’ve had this one for a long time. You can see it here on eBay.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 11:44 am

Posted in Shaving

Susan Blackmore gives a TED talk on Memes and “Temes”

leave a comment »

TED’s blurb:

Susan Blackmore studies memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology — and invents ways to keep itself alive

There’s an interactive transcript for those who (like me) prefer to read rather than watch; that begins:

Cultural evolution is a dangerous child for any species to let loose on its planet. By the time you realize what’s happening, the child is a toddler, up and causing havoc, and it’s too late to put it back. We humans are Earth’s Pandoran species. We’re the ones who let the second replicator out of its box, and we can’t push it back in. We’re seeing the consequences all around us.

0:41 Now that, I suggest, is the view that comes out of taking memetics seriously. And it gives us a new way of thinking about not only what’s going on on our planet, but what might be going on elsewhere in the cosmos. So first of all, I’d like to say something about memetics and the theory of memes, and secondly, how this might answer questions about who’s out there, if indeed anyone is.

1:07 So, memetics: memetics is founded on the principle of Universal Darwinism. Darwin had this amazing idea. Indeed, some people say it’s the best idea anybody ever had. Isn’t that a wonderful thought, that there could be such a thing as a best idea anybody ever had? Do you think there could? Audience: No. (Laughter) Susan Blackmore: Someone says no, very loudly, from over there. Well, I say yes, and if there is, I give the prize to Darwin.

1:36 Why? Because the idea was so simple, and yet it explains all design in the universe. I would say not just biological design, but all of the design that we think of as human design. It’s all just the same thing happening. What did Darwin say? I know you know the idea, natural selection, but let me just paraphrase “The Origin of Species,” 1859, in a few sentences.

2:04 What Darwin said was something like this: if you have creatures that vary, and that can’t be doubted — I’ve been to the Galapagos, and I’ve measured the size of the beaks and the size of the turtle shells and so on, and so on. And 100 pages later. (Laughter) And if there is a struggle for life, such that nearly all of these creatures die — and this can’t be doubted, I’ve read Malthus and I’ve calculated how long it would take for elephants to cover the whole world if they bred unrestricted, and so on and so on. And another 100 pages later. And if the very few that survive pass onto their offspring whatever it was that helped them survive, then those offspring must be better adapted to the circumstances in which all this happened than their parents were.

2:54 You see the idea? If, if, if, then. He had no concept of the idea of an algorithm, but that’s what he described in that book, and this is what we now know as the evolutionary algorithm. The principle is you just need those three things — variation, selection and heredity. And as Dan Dennett puts it, if you have those, then you must get evolution. Or design out of chaos, without the aid of mind.

3:24 There’s one word I love on that slide. . . .

For those who prefer to watch and listen, here’s the talk:

One interesting consequence of memetic adherence to Darwin’s algorithm: sooner or later random variation will result in the emergence of a “survival instinct”: a pattern of behavior such that the entity, if threatened with death, will go to great lengths to defend its life and its progeny. Such a characteristic clearly has strong survival advantages vs. the “don’t care” strategy, and it quickly become established in all populations since entities that have the characteristic will quickly displace similar entities that lack it.

So in memes nowadays (after at least trillions of “generations” of meme evolution, memeplex entities have a highly developed immune system. It can be pretty drastic: cf. the French Revolution, North Korea, religious wars such as between Sunni and Shiite. All those are memeplexes whose immune systems strike pretty hard to eliminate competing memes, generally by killing the human hosts.

Susan Blackmore trigger the immune response of some memeplexes recently, which she describes in this post.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 10:22 am

Posted in Books, Memes, Video

Fine shave with Van Der Hagen/Weishi/Micro One Touch

with 5 comments

SOTD 2016-09-15

Despite my recommendation against the razor shown, I got a perfectly fine shave today using it, though I think it would have been difficult if I had a thicker beard. My beard, though, is well within the normal range, and after good prep and with an Astra Superior Platinum blade, I did get a very good final result.

It’s odd, because I still don’t like the razor all that much: the corners of the head tend to poke my face, and of course there’s no swapping of handles. And, to a degree, it feels flimsy.But certainly a good result is possible.

I used Van Yulay’s Puros de Habana again, and though the last thing on earth that I need is more shaving soap, I’m tempted to get a tub. It really does nail the fragrance of a humidor filled with fine cigars. (In college, I favored H. Uppmann cigars, but that was long before the Cuban embargo.)

The lather is excellent in performance as well as in fragrance, and the Wee Scot held plenty of lather for the shave. Three passes with the Van Der Hagen, a final rinse and dry, and then a good splash of Cavendish to carry on the tobacco theme.

I’ll have to moderate my tone somewhat regarding this razors. But it still will not make my list of recommended razors.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2016 at 9:31 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: