Later On

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

Archive for November 2016

Odd that employers are exempt from illegal immigration punishment

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Read this post by Kevin Drum. It begins:

Controlling illegal immigration has never seemed all that hard to me. The vast majority of those who are in the United States illegally—either by crossing the border or overstaying their visas—are here to find jobs. So if you want to reduce illegal immigration, you need to make it hard for employers to hire anyone who’s not authorized to work. But in the LA Times today, Wayne Cornelius says that’s not in the cards:

There has never been much public or congressional appetite for a harsh crackdown on employers,especially the small businesses that depend most heavily on workers in the U.S. illegally. They are pillars of their communities and campaign contributors. Besides, immigration agents have had higher enforcement priorities — tracking down immigrants who committed serious crimes or pose national security threats.

President-elect Trump has called for full implementation of an electronic employment eligibility verification system called E-Verify….E-Verify, however, is no panacea. It does not prevent immigrants who are ineligible to work from getting jobs by providing valid information pertaining to other people (borrowed documents). And as long as penalties are weak, requiring employers to use E-Verify will not significantly reduce violations.

Will Congress approve crippling fines or even prison sentences for business owners who ignore E-Verify rules? Will lawmakers direct the Justice Department to make these scofflaws a top priority? Unless and until that happens, many employers will continue to view hiring those in the U.S. illegally as a low-risk, high-reward crime. In 2014, the probability that one of the nation’s 6 million employers would be investigated for violating immigration laws was 0.03%.

I don’t personally care all that much about the level of illegal immigration. The current numbers strike me as reasonable. But obviously a lot of people do care, and most of them are Republicans. They talk tough, they build walls and fences, and they promise to hire lots of border enforcement agents. But this all a sham. If the economic incentives continue to exist, so will illegal immigration. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2016 at 8:33 pm

Are You Sure You’re Not Racist?

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Jodi Picoult writes in Time magazine:

When my son was 4, we were crossing the Dartmouth campus when we passed an African-American student. “Mommy,” Kyle asked, “Who is the tan man?” He said this loud enough for the young man to overhear. I turned 10 different shades of red, and fell all over myself trying to diffuse the awkwardness. I told my son that although people came in different shades, we’re all the same. I told him I was colorblind, and he should be too. I was sure this was the right response.

I was wrong.

But then, I was wrong about a lot when it came to race, and it took 48 years of my life to start to figure it out.

A few years before that encounter on the Dartmouth Green, I had tried to write about racism. I had been working in NYC and was deeply moved by a news story of a black undercover cop on the subway who was shot four times in the back by his white colleague. Whenever I’m troubled by a topic, I start a novel — it’s how I process difficult issues and hopefully get my readers to do the same. But this time, after I started writing, I struggled daily. I just couldn’t find manage to find authenticity, and eventually I shelved the manuscript. I wondered if maybe my difficulty was because I had no right to write about racism — after all, I am not African American. Then, I’d play devil’s advocate with myself: I’d written multiple books from the points of view of people I was not — Holocaust survivors, rape victims, school shooters, men. Why was it so hard for me to write from the point of view of someone black?

Because race is different. Racism is different. It’s hard to discuss without offending people. As a result, we often choose not to discuss it at all. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article (but read the whole thing):

. . . Here is the grievous mistake I had made for the majority of my life: I assumed that racism is synonymous with bias. Yet you could take every white supremacist and ship him off to Mars and you’d still have racism in the world. That’s because racism is systemic and institutional, but it is both perpetuated and dismantled in individual acts. Racism is the white lady standing in line at the bus stop who moves her purse to the opposite side when a black man comes to wait beside her. It’s the fact that if you’re black and convicted of a crime, justice may not be so just: although African Americans are not even 13% of the U.S. population they are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses; black drug defendants are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than white defendants. It’s the realization that although people of color can likely name three shampoos that white people use, the reverse is rarely true.

It’s easy to see the headwinds of racism — the obstacles that make it harder for people of color to achieve success. It’s more challenging to see the tailwinds of racism — the ways that being white makes it easier to achieve success. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2016 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life

An overview of physics today

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Very interesting video:

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2016 at 11:17 am

Posted in Science, Video

Mr Pomp, Asses’ Milk shaving soap, iKon 102, and Chiseled Face Summer Storm

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SOTD 2016-11-30

Mr Pomp is quite a good brush, and the lather from the asses’s milk shaving soap The Wife brought me from Paris is excellent. I was thinking as I lathered that I wish I had known in high school how to shave properly. If I had, I probably would never have grown a beard.

So it goes. No beard today, by God. Three passes with the iKon 102 left my face perfectly smooth without even the threat of a nick. And a good splash of Chiseled Face Summer Storm was a great finish—petrichor is a fragrance that I think most must find attractive.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2016 at 11:06 am

Posted in Shaving

Kevin Drum shows Trump’s swamp-draining scorecard

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And it seems pretty damn accurate. Here’s some of it:

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-09-53-pm

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2016 at 4:11 pm

How the NY Times prepared for Castro’s death

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Jason Kottke has a great post on the trials and tribulations of the obit department.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2016 at 4:07 pm

Posted in NY Times

Fighting authoritarianism: 20 lessons from the 20th century

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Jason Kottke has a good post. I think I’ll copy the whole thing. The more copies are out there, the better.

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder took to Facebook to share some lessons from 20th century about how to protect our liberal democracy from fascism and authoritarianism. Snyder has given his permission to republish the list, so I’ve reproduced it in its entirety here in case something happens to the original.

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by V’aclav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

A great thought-provoking list. “Corporeal politics”…I like that phrase. And I’ve seen many references to Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism in recent weeks.

See also Five Steps to Tyranny and The 14 Features of Eternal Fascism.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2016 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

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