Later On

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

Archive for November 25th, 2016

At Standing Rock and Beyond, What Is to Be Done?

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Eric Stone writes in the NY Times:

It was hard to disagree, especially the day after our encounter with the pipeline workers when the police pepper sprayed a Lakota prayer service and those of us surrounding it, arresting whom they could. What kind of machine produces violence to meet prayer, and prison in return for demanding resources to simply live? What kind of machine responds to those trying to protect their water by spraying them in subfreezing temperatures with water? Is it a machine overtaken with friction, or is the nexus of power between corporations and government that is trying to trample over the Lakota once again simply an unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise benevolent and worthy machine? How much oppression and theft is tolerable in order to keep the machine running? Where is our breaking point, at which we say that the benefits do not outweigh the human cost?

Thoreau’s claim was that citizens needed to become a “counter-friction” against injustice, that all people had a duty to disobey immoral laws and orders. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 4:54 pm

Police online privacy guide useful for everyone

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Joseph Cox writes in Motherboard:

Law enforcement members have a lot to worry about when it comes to their social media presences and online privacy. Criminals may scope out officers on Facebook or Twitter, and the email accounts of anyone at a police department are probably going to be of some worth to crooks.

With that in mind, one UK police organization recently published a guide for officers on how to enable the strongest privacy settings on social media, as well as more securely use various web browsers and mobile operating systems. And it turns out, everyone probably can learn something from this pretty decent guide.

“We live in the age of the digital, with information readily accessible to all who seek to find it, including those who we wish to keep it safe from. With every tweet, like or share, our digital footprint grows. It is our responsibility, as individuals, to keep our data safe,” Richard Berry, National Policing lead for Communications Data and Chair of the Data Communications Group writes in the report, “Stay Secure Online 2016.”

The report, dated July 2016, was issued by the UK National Police Chiefs’ Council, and produced by The Risk Management Group.

The guide starts with some general principles and reminders about the digital footprints that we leave everyday while using websites and social media networks. Geo-location data may be published online; email headers and other records may reveal your IP address; the contact information of who runs a website is often publicly available; and insecure networks, such as public WiFi hotspots, can leave your traffic exposed to interception.

Since the guide is geared towards law enforcement members and their families, it then spells out how a criminal might use all of this information and more. According to the guide, criminals may search LinkedIn for anyone with a job title such as “investigator,” then go on to find more info on personal websites, and then focus on family members.

In response to that threat, the guide lays out, in quite some detail, how to lock down your various social media accounts. Turn on Facebook login alerts so you receive a notification if a third party accesses your account; make sure that your account doesn’t appear in search engines outside of Facebook; don’t use your work email for LinkedIn and restrict which users can see your profile photo; and turn on Twitter’s two-factor-authentication and other login security settings, to name just a few.

And then . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 4:52 pm

A tweetstorm analysis of the voting patterns: Why Trump voters voted against their own interests

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JuanPa (@pbrammer) has an amazing tweetstorm. Extracting the content freed of the Twitter encrustations, he wrote on November 18:

So I’m a Mexican American from a poor, rural (mostly white) town in Oklahoma. Missing from this debate? How poor whites see themselves.

If you’re wondering how poor, exploited white people could vote for a dude with a golden elevator who will fuck them over, here’s how.

They don’t see themselves as poor. They don’t base their identity on it. They see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

The stigma against poverty is incredibly strong. It is shameful to be poor, to not have the comforts of the middle class. So they pretend–

That they aren’t poor. They are willing to lie to make it seem like they aren’t poor. They purchase things to make it seem like they’re not.

In my town, wealth wasn’t associated with greed, but with hard work and inherent goodness. You are blessed if you have material wealth.

When they see Trump, they don’t see an extortionist who is rich because of the very conditions that keep their own communities in poverty.

They see someone who worked hard and was justly rewarded with wealth. Most men, especially, think they too could be Trump were it not for

the unfair obstacles put in their way. White men who don’t consider themselves successful enough have so many excuses for their “failures.”

The idea that immigrants are the reason they are poor and not wealthy like Trump is so appealing. It takes all the shame and blame away.

And here we have a man who, they think, “tells it like it is” and is willing to name the things stealing prosperity out of their hands.

If these people saw themselves as an exploited class of people, if American culture didn’t stigmatize poverty so much, it might be different

But America has so entangled wealth with goodness and poverty with moral deficiency that they can’t build that identity. They won’t.

Trump is rich, and so according to American criteria, he is also:
1. Wise
2. Fair
3. Moral
4. Deserving
5. Strong
6. Clever He *has* to be.

Capitalism and the American Dream teach that poverty is a temporary state that can be transcended with hard work and cleverness.

To fail to transcend poverty, and to admit you are poor, is to admit you are neither hardworking or clever. It’s cultural brainwashing.

So if an exploited class of people don’t want to admit they’re exploited and they blame themselves for their oppression, what manifests?

Xenophobia. Hatred of anyone who is “different,” queer people, people of color. These people are eroding the “goodness” of America.

And if they would just stop ruining America, then the perfect design of America could work again and deliver prosperity.

I’m telling you, as someone who has spent almost his entire life in this environment, that if you think cities are a “bubble…” Good God.

But the reality is, of course, that these people are indeed exploited and they are victims, even while they victimize others. Victimize us.

Still, we need to understand the identity working class white people have built for themselves, one diametrically opposed to, well, reality.

Because Trump won’t make them rich. Even if he deports all the brown people. It won’t bring them what they’re hoping for.

Steven Denger had an interest esponse:

Steven Dengler ‏@Dracogen – @jpbrammer As I read this amazing tweet stream, and as I unpacked your many insights, this situation started seeming oddly familiar.

Steven Dengler ‏@Dracogen  – @jpbrammer Then finally I placed it: you are describing a Cargo Cult.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Daily life, Election

Newly-Released Documents Confirm Bureau of Prisons Visit to CIA Torture Site in Afghanistan

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Alex Emmons reports in The Intercept:

One of the many alarming facts that came to light with the release of the executive summary of the Senate Torture Report in 2014 was that the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons had sent a “delegation of several officers” to Afghanistan to conduct an assessment an infamous CIA detention site and concluded the CIA “did not mistreat the detainees.”

Senate investigators found that the bureau officers visited a detention site codenamed Cobalt north of Kabul in November 2002. That site — also known as the Salt Pit — has become infamous for the brutal torture inflicted on detainees there, including rectal exams conducted with “excessive force.” According to Senate investigators, the CIA’s own employees described the facility as “a dungeon,” where detainees “cowered” as interrogators opened the door and “looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

In April, the ACLU filed suit to obtain documents related to the visit, which the Bureau of Prisons initially claimed did not exist.

The bureau has now turned over several emails mentioning the visit — along with a written declaration by a senior Bureau of Prisons lawyer explaining the attempted cover-up. That declaration states that the officers were tasked orally, so that there was no record of their travel, and that the CIA forbade the two officers from producing records of or about the visit.

In a newly released 2011 email, one of the officers tells a supervisor that “we were not even allowed to speak with a supervisor about what was going on.”

The declaration says that due to the lack of records, searches for documents based on keywords like “CIA, Afghanistan, and COBALT,” initially turned up no documents. After the ACLU filed suit, the bureau conducted a more thorough search, identifying the individuals who traveled to Afghanistan, and searching their communications.

The declaration confirms that two Bureau of Prisons officers traveled to “an international location,” in November 2002 to provide “basic correctional practices training” to the CIA. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the report:

While BOP officers toured the facility, interrogators tortured detainee Gul Rahman to death. A CIA team dragged Rahman out of his cell, beat him, immersed him in cold water, and put him in an isolation cell, where he died of hypothermia overnight.

According to the Senate report, the Bureau of Prison officers remarked that “there is nothing like this in the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” but nonetheless concluded that the prison was “sanitary,” and “not inhumane.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 1:19 pm

Does this remind you of the later days of the Roman Empire? Bill Dean’s wild Georgetown party

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I have to say this incident sounds like the later days of the Roman Empire.  Michael Miller, Ian Shapira, and Peter Hermann report in the Washington Post:

On the Friday night before Halloween, beyond a front door guarded by bouncers, a few hundred costumed guests drank and danced at one of Georgetown’s most renowned annual parties. Topless models covered in body paint mingled with foreign policy experts and high-powered lawyers as music filled the historic $5 million home known as Dodge Mansion.

At the center of it all stood Bill Dean, the 51-year-old chief executive of M.C. Dean, one of the country’s biggest electrical contractors.

Dean was hosting the Halloween bash for the eleventh time. Past parties had featured go-go dancers, fire breathers and props from “Game of Thrones.” This year’s theme was the election. In a toupee and three-piece suit evoking John F. Kennedy on his Inauguration Day, Dean posed for photos with guests in front of a hand-painted backdrop of the Capitol.

“Whether you are for Her or whether you want to make America great again,” the party’s invitation promised, “Dodge Halloween will inspire.”

Instead, inspiration gave way to an allegation of rape and a police investigation.

About 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, after most guests had left, Stephanie Larimore, a model and former Playboy playmate, was on the main floor of the 5,500-square-foot home when she heard cries of distress upstairs, she said.

She hurried her way past a bouncer and followed the noise to a second-floor guest room.

“A girl was lying on the floor, naked, saying she needed clothes and she had been sexually assaulted,” Larimore recalled.

“I was screaming,” the 21-year-old alleged victim said in an interview with The Washington Post.

When Larimore and another woman tried to help her, the attacker allegedly burst into the room, threw the woman against a wall and bashed Larimore’s head on the floor, Larimore said. Larimore called the police. But by the time officers arrived, the man — a friend of Dean’s — was gone. . .

Continue reading. You’ll want to get the details of the cover-up.

How this plays out will give some idea how far gone we are. That is, have the wealthy become above the law that applies to us plebs?

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 11:17 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Very interesting David Brooks column on whether decision-making is important

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No, hear him out. He has quite a good column in today’s NY Times. I’ll get you started:

Danny Kahneman grew up Jewish in occupied France during World War II. Once in Paris, after curfew, he was nearly captured by an SS officer. His family traveled from town to town through rural France, hiding and hoping people wouldn’t recognize them as Jews. As Michael Lewis writes in his forthcoming book, “The Undoing Project,” Kahneman survived the Holocaust by keeping himself apart.

The family moved to Jerusalem. The army assigned him to a psychological evaluation unit and Kahneman became a psychologist.

Amos Tversky was born in Israel, to a mother who ignored him for long periods so she could serve the nation. He became a paratrooper in the war of 1956, and received one of the nation’s highest awards for bravery after he rescued a man who’d fainted on a torpedo just before it exploded.

Tversky was idiosyncratic. “Amos thought people paid an enormous price to avoid mild embarrassment, and he himself decided early on it was not worth it,” a friend told Lewis.

If he felt like going for a run, he stripped off his pants and went in his underpants. If a social situation bored him, he left. Tversky wasn’t sure how he drifted into psychology. “It’s hard to know how people select a course in life,” he once said. “The big choices we make are practically random.”

Kahneman and Tversky began to work together. They would lock themselves together and talk and laugh, year after year. If they were at a party, they would go off and talk to each other. “When they sat down to write, they nearly merged, physically, into a single form,” Lewis writes, hunched over a single typewriter.

“Their relationship was more intense than a marriage,” Tversky’s wife recalled. When they wrote a paper together they lost all track of who had contributed what. They scrambled for research topics that gave them an excuse to be together, and completed each other’s sentences.

“The way the creative process works is that you first say something and later, sometimes years later, you understand what you said,” Kahneman recalled. “And in our case it was foreshortened. I would say something and Amos understood it. It still gives me goose bumps.”

It was a mystical alchemy that revolutionized how we think about ourselves. Kahneman and Tversky are like a lot of the characters who appear in Michael Lewis’s books, like “Moneyball” and “The Big Short.” They are intellectual renegades who are fervently, almost obsessively, determined to see reality clearly, no matter how ferocious the resistance from everybody else.

While most economics models assumed people were basically rational, Kahneman and Tversky demonstrated that human decision-making is biased in systematic, predictable ways. Many of the biases they described have now become famous — loss aversion, endowment effect, hindsight bias, the anchoring effect, and were described in Kahneman’s brilliant book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” They are true giants who have revolutionized how we think about decision-making. Lewis makes academic life seem gripping, which believe it or not, is not easy to do.

My big question is: . . .

Continue reading.

If it’s behind a paywall for you, try googling the first couple of sentences. I think the column is syndicated and you may get a hit for a newspaper that has no paywall.

I included this in the “evolution” category because the systematic biases they discovered have an obvious explanation in evolutionary biology: the biases favor survival, and biases that didn’t were selected against and died out or became rare.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 10:55 am

What should Democrats do/have done?

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Paul Krugman has an interesting column today. From it:

Recently Bernie Sanders offered an answer: Democrats should “go beyond identity politics.” What’s needed, he said, are candidates who understand that working-class incomes are down, who will “stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

But is there any reason to believe that this would work? Let me offer some reasons for doubt.

First, a general point: Any claim that changed policy positions will win elections assumes that the public will hear about those positions. How is that supposed to happen, when most of the news media simply refuse to cover policy substance? Remember, over the course of the 2016 campaign, the three network news shows devoted a total of 35 minutes combined to policy issues — all policy issues. Meanwhile, they devoted 125 minutes to Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

Beyond this, the fact is that Democrats have already been pursuing policies that are much better for the white working class than anything the other party has to offer. Yet this has brought no political reward.

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 10:34 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Making mosaic tiles by hand

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Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 9:34 am

Posted in Daily life

Wickham Garden Mint, applied with Sabini brush, removed with Feather AS-D1

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SOTD 2016-11-25

I’m somehow liking summertime fragrances. The Sabini brush shown made a fine lather from Wickham’s Super Smooth Garden Mint soap, which has a wonderful spearmint fragrance.

Although some Feather AS-D1 razors were horribly inefficient (which is why we have the Feather AS-D2), mine is one of the good ones and is quite efficient as well as quite comfortable. I had no problems getting a BBS result.

A good splash of Phoenix Artisan Cavendish, and the day is launched.

I found on YouTube the 37-second video of the Rockwell Model T being field-stripped:

Compare that with the field stripping of a Fat Boy:

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2016 at 9:29 am

Posted in Shaving

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