Later On

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

Archive for October 22nd, 2018

The simple pleasures of life

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I’m pretty happy here with some simple pleasures. First, I cooked up a big tub of mussels from Costco (well, PEI) in olive oil, chopped onion, minced garlic, butter—well, basically this recipe, except no cream and no parsley and certainly no crusty bread.

They were just delicious. There was a little of the Pinot Gris left after cooking the mussels, so I had a glass. It is a BC wine, and it’s really very nice.

I did notice that, when you eat a whole lot of mussels in a row, you realize that you are eating a kind of worm that evolved to grow a shell. Certainly they are worms in gross morphology. And the shells are oddly beautiful and delicate and nicely colored. But—they’re still worms. It’s just that it’s okay to eat worms that grow shells.

I admit I tried a spoonful of the broth: exquisite—and, however, very rich. I get the point of the crusty bread now, the crust just slightly softened by being dipped int he broth: it moderates the richness of the broth…  yeah, I can see that. But no, I don’t want the bread.

Then I cleaned up the kitchen—I have a new regimen: I always leave it exactly the way I found it, including having one of my chef’s knives on the prep station at a precise angle. I vary the knife, rotating among my favorites (the Bob Kramer knife is next up), but if you took photos of the kitchen from the same vantage point, then—except when I’m cooking or cleaning—it’s always the same …. except the chef knife changes….

With the kitchen photo-identical to the way I found it, I made myself a local Martini:

Imperative Dry Vermouth (from a little ways up-island)
Oaken Gin by Victoria Distillers right here in town
Dash of Twisted & Bitter Orange Bitters, also made by Victoria Distillers

I made it on the rocks, and for my olives (I use 4 (four)), I tried out something we got at Costco: double-stuffed Queen size olives, with jalapeño and garlic.  Interesting. I got to thinking I would prefer Spanish dried chorizo and, say, blue cheese. (I know they can do blue cheese: I have blue-cheese-stuffed Queen-size olives.) Or better yet, a sliver of Parmigiano Reggiano. But then I thought of duck breast and crystallized ginger and realized that you can go too far. But I did have an interesting tofu idea shaping up…

But there it is: the simple pleasures. A tasty dinner of… well, worms. A glass of wine. And a local Martini that is actually excellent. And I easily got my 5000 steps in, and at a pace of 108.3 steps/minute, which is not bad at all—certainly well over the minimum requirement, as was the walk duration (33.5 minutes > 30 minutes). And not even a twinge from the knee. Still: 5000 steps goal the rest of the week, then 6000 for two weeks, 7000 for two weeks, 8000 flat for two weeks, and then 8000 old (hilly) route, and all of those done 6 days a week.

I like the idea of measuring out the rate of increase of steps/day: creates a sense of progress.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 7:57 pm

Texas GOP’s final pitch: Voter fraud could steal elections

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Jesus, they will stoop to anything, and they don’t care how it damages our nation. They just don’t care about that, only about winning. To the victors go the spoils (see previous post). Andrea Druesch reports in McClatchy:

Top Texas Republicans are now telling supporters that widespread fraudulent voting — an issue their base cares deeply about but officials have long been unable to prove — could tip this November’s election contests to Democrats.

The warning comes as Republicans worry their party faces a massive enthusiasm gap compared to Democrats in the final weeks before the election.

Local Texas Republican officials told supporters this week the party lacks volunteers who typically help with the voting process — needed to oversee polling places already swamped with lines in the first days of early voting.

“We are short of election judges, we are short of election clerks, we are short of poll watchers,” Fort Worth GOP Chair Darl Easton told a gathering of the NE Tarrant Tea Party recently. “We have 38 voting location precincts without a Republican judge or a clerk… so our next line of stop is to get a poll watcher to watch those poll locations.”

Referring to the arrest of four Tarrant County residents suspected of voting fraud earlier this month, Easton said: “[Voter fraud perpetrators] did the mail-in ballots, and they’ll try to do at their location if they’re unwatched.” . . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: “In targeting a migrant caravan, President Trump escalated a G.O.P. effort to stoke fears about race and immigration ahead of the Nov. 6 vote.”

He is targeting people who are seeking asylum. That is perfectly legal and perfectly legitimate, and we owe it to Central America after thoroughly fucking over and up their governments, peace, and daily life. Death squads? Trained by the US? Funded by the US (thanks, Reagan)?

There is nothing so low that the GOP will not use it.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 7:27 pm

Jared, I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think this is a crime.

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Several crimes in fact.

I don’t know whether Trump can spell “corruption,” but he certainly embraces the idea.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 5:53 pm

The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture

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Margaret Talbot writes in the New Yorker:

Mark Abbe was ambushed by color in 2000, while working on an archeological dig in the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, in present-day Turkey. At the time, he was a graduate student at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and, like most people, he thought of Greek and Roman statues as objects of pure white marble. The gods, heroes, and nymphs displayed in museums look that way, as do neoclassical monuments and statuary, from the Jefferson Memorial to the Caesar perched outside his palace in Las Vegas.

Aphrodisias was home to a thriving cadre of high-end artists until the seventh century A.D., when an earthquake caused it to fall into ruin. In 1961, archeologists began systematically excavating the city, storing thousands of sculptural fragments in depots. When Abbe arrived there, several decades later, he started poking around the depots and was astonished to find that many statues had flecks of color: red pigment on lips, black pigment on coils of hair, mirrorlike gilding on limbs. For centuries, archeologists and museum curators had been scrubbing away these traces of color before presenting statues and architectural reliefs to the public. “Imagine you’ve got an intact lower body of a nude male statue lying there on the depot floor, covered in dust,” Abbe said. “You look at it up close, and you realize the whole thing is covered in bits of gold leaf. Oh, my God! The visual appearance of these things was just totallydifferent from what I’d seen in the standard textbooks—which had only black-and-white plates, in any case.” For Abbe, who is now a professor of ancient art at the University of Georgia, the idea that the ancients disdained bright color “is the most common misconception about Western aesthetics in the history of Western art.” It is, he said, “a lie we all hold dear.”

In the early nineteen-eighties, Vinzenz Brinkmann had a similar epiphany while pursuing a master’s degree in classics and archeology from Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich. As part of an effort to determine what kinds of tool marks could be found on Greek marble sculpture, he devised a special lamp that shines obliquely on an object, highlighting its surface relief. When he began scrutinizing sculptures with the lamp, he told me, he “quite immediately understood” that, while there was little sign of tool marks on the statues, there was significant evidence of polychromy—all-over color. He, too, was taken aback by the knowledge that a fundamental aspect of Greek statuary “had been so excluded” from study. He said, “It started as an obsession for me that has never ended.”

Brinkmann soon realized that his discovery hardly required a special lamp: if you were looking at an ancient Greek or Roman sculpture up close, some of the pigment “was easy to see, even with the naked eye.” Westerners had been engaged in an act of collective blindness. “It turns out that vision is heavily subjective,” he told me. “You need to transform your eye into an objective tool in order to overcome this powerful imprint”—a tendency to equate whiteness with beauty, taste, and classical ideals, and to see color as alien, sensual, and garish.

One afternoon this summer, Marco Leona, who runs the scientific-research department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gave me a tour of the Greek and Roman galleries. He pointed out a Greek vase, from the third century B.C., that depicts an artist painting a statue. Leona said, of polychromy, “It’s like the best-kept secret that’s not even a secret.” Jan Stubbe Østergaard, a former curator at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum, in Copenhagen, and the founder of an international research network on polychromy, told me, “Saying you’ve seen these sculptures when you’ve seen only the white marble is comparable to somebody coming from the beach and saying they’ve seen a whale because there was a skeleton on the beach.”

In the nineteen-nineties, Brinkmann and his wife, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, who is an art historian and an archeologist, began re-creating Greek and Roman sculptures in plaster, painted with an approximation of their original colors. Palettes were determined by identifying specks of remaining pigment, and by studying “shadows”—minute surface variations that betray the type of paint applied to the stone. The result of this effort was a touring exhibition called “Gods in Color.” Versions of the show, which was launched in 2003, have been seen by three million museumgoers in twenty-eight cities, including Istanbul and Athens.

The replicas often deliver a shock. A Trojan archer, from approximately 500 B.C., wears tight pants with a harlequin pattern that is as boldly colored as Missoni leggings. A lion that once stood guard over a tomb in Corinth, in the sixth century B.C., has an azurite mane and an ochre body, calling to mind Mayan or Aztec artifacts. There are also reconstructions of naked figures in bronze, which have a disarming fleshiness: copper lips and nipples, luxuriant black beards, wiry swirls of dark pubic hair. (Classical bronze figures were often blinged out with gemstones for the eyes and with contrasting metals that highlighted anatomical details or dripping wounds.) Throughout the exhibition, the colored replicas are juxtaposed with white plaster casts of marble pieces—fakes that look like what we think of as the real thing.

For many people, the colors are jarring because their tones seem too gaudy or opaque. In 2008, Fabio Barry, an art historian who is now at Stanford, complained that a boldly colored re-creation of a statue of the Emperor Augustus at the Vatican Museum looked “like a cross-dresser trying to hail a taxi.” Barry told me, in an e-mail, that he still found the colors unduly lurid: “The various scholars reconstructing the polychromy of statuary always seemed to resort to the most saturated hue of the color they had detected, and I suspected that they even took a sort of iconoclastic pride in this—that the traditional idea of all-whiteness was so cherished that they were going to really make their point that it was colorful.”

But some of the disorientation among viewers comes from seeing polychromy at all. Østergaard, who put on two exhibitions at the Glyptotek which featured painted reconstructions, said that, to many visitors, the objects “look tasteless.” He went on, “But it’s too late for that! The challenge is for us to try and understand the ancient Greeks and Romans—not to tell them they got it wrong.”

Lately, this obscure academic debate about ancient sculpture has taken on an unexpected moral and political urgency. Last year, a University of Iowa classics professor, Sarah Bond, published two essays, one in the online arts journal Hyperallergic and one in Forbes, arguing that it was time we all accepted that ancient sculpture was not pure white—and neither were the people of the ancient world. One false notion, she said, had reinforced the other. For classical scholars, it is a given that the Roman Empire—which, at its height, stretched from North Africa to Scotland—was ethnically diverse. In the Forbes essay, Bond notes, “Although Romans generally differentiated people on their cultural and ethnic background rather than the color of their skin, ancient sources do occasionally mention skin tone and artists tried to convey the color of their flesh.” Depictions of darker skin can be seen on ancient vases, in small terra-cotta figures, and in the Fayum portraits, a remarkable trove of naturalistic paintings from the imperial Roman province of Egypt, which are among the few paintings on wood that survive from that period. These near-life-size portraits, which were painted on funerary objects, present their subjects with an array of skin tones, from olive green to deep brown, testifying to a complex intermingling of Greek, Roman, and local Egyptian populations. (The Fayum portraits have been widely dispersed among museums.)

Bond told me that she’d been moved to write her essays when a racist group, Identity Evropa, started putting up posters on college campuses, including Iowa’s, that presented classical white marble statues as emblems of white nationalism. After the publication of her essays, she received a stream of hate messages online.She is not the only classicist who has been targeted by the so-called alt-right. Some white supremacists have been drawn to classical studies out of a desire to affirm what they imagine to be an unblemished lineage of white Western culture extending back to ancient Greece. When they are told that their understanding of classical history is flawed, they often get testy. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

See also the Pharos website at Vassar College, mentioned later in the article.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 4:10 pm

Inside a Trump Project that Failed. Spoiler: The Trumps Still Won.

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Peter Elkind reports in ProPublica:

In November 2007, The Wall Street Journal infuriated Donald Trump with an article that dissected his recent real estate setbacks. Headlined “Stalled Condo Projects Tarnish Trump’s Name,” the report raised doubt about what the mogul treasured — and banked on — most in business: the value of his personal brand.

Trump responded with a 512-word letter to the editor. Calling the story “one of the most ridiculous I have read in many years,” he complained that it ignored his “tremendous successes with massive projects” and instead focused on “small jobs” in the Florida cities of Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. He dismissed both as licensing deals “for which I am not responsible for development.”

Trump’s reaction offers another capsule of his habit of twisting the truth regarding his real estate deals — one of the patterns revealed in a recent ProPublica and WNYC investigation, “Pump and Trump,” which focused on a deal in Panama. That article concluded that, contrary to the Trumps’ longtime claims that they merely licensed their name, they were deeply involved in their deals.

A trove of until-now unreported emails from inside the Trump Organization, unearthed during a lawsuit against the company filed after the Tampa project collapsed — the building was never constructed — sheds light not only on a U.S. Trump project, but also provides a rare glimpse inside the organization. (The suit, filed by people who had paid deposits in advance to buy condo units, was eventually settled, with the buyers receiving partial refunds of their deposits.) The documents provide copious detail on one of the “small jobs” that Trump would later claim he had merely lent his name to. And they reveal the same patterns of behavior seen in “Pump and Trump.”

The patterns include the Trump Organization’s decision to team with an inexperienced group of developers — led by a former professional wrestler, in this instance — who planned to construct a 52-story tower on a parcel that they belatedly discovered couldn’t support such a structure without millions of dollars in extra work. The patterns also involved false statements by Trump claiming he had an ownership stake in the development. And they included Trump’s claims that the project was sold out — which were contradicted by a letter in which he notified the developers that they were in violation of their licensing agreementbecause they had sold less than 70 percent of the units. Finally, there were hefty potential fees for Trump, a beneficial insider deal for his son and plenty of evidence that the Trump Organization’s involvement — including failed efforts to rescue the development — extended far beyond the use of the Trump name.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a detailed list of questions provided to it, nor did a White House spokesperson.

In an interview, the lead Tampa developer, Jody Simon, said of Trump, “I don’t blame Donald for the demise of the project.” He attributed its eventual failure to weakness in the real estate market at the time. Still, Simon said of the Trumps: “If everything’s going good, everybody wants a piece of it. If it goes bad, they don’t know anything.”

The Tampa project began, as did many Trump endeavors, with improbable partners: five Tampa-area businessmen eager to develop a 1.5-acre downtown site they owned. The group’s managing partner was Simon, a burly retired professional wrestler with a shaved head who had brawled under the name Joe Malenko and drove a Rolls-Royce. After retiring from the ring, Simon had launched, and sold, a successful medical-education company with his partner Frank Dagostino, a second member of the developer group. The three others were a local builder and a dentist who’d partnered with a real estate broker. The five men incorporated as SimDag/Robel LLC. Collectively, they’d developed some strip shopping centers and condo projects. None had ever built anything approaching a 600-foot office tower.

A New Jersey real estate broker named Roman Osadchuk introduced them to executives at the Trump Organization in May 2004. From there, things moved rapidly.

As they did in such deals, Trump’s team negotiated upfront fees in return for licensing his name. The final terms: $4 million (to be paid in monthly installments), as an advance against 50 percent of all project profits.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 12:57 pm

Trump invites Russia, China into Central America

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In effect:President Trump stated the United States will begin cutting off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador because some people from those countries are seekign asylum in the US. Of course, with less US support, the situation in those countries will worsen (and given the role of the US in destabilizing the countries to begin with, it seems that the US has a moral obligation to fix things, though “moral obligations” seem not touch President Trump). But of course there are other countries eager to acquire influence globally, so it may well be that China (already very active in Africa) and Russia may step in to offer aid—maybe even Saudi Arabia…

Zachary Basu reports in Axios:

In a string of Monday morning tweets about the caravan of Honduran migrants currently in Mexico, President Trump stated the United States will begin cutting off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws! … Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”

The big picture: Trump has amplified his warnings about illegal immigration in recent days as part of a last-minute push to energize his base before next month’s midterm elections. In addition to declaring that the caravan was instigated by Democrats, Trump has now claimed — also without evidence — that “Middle Easterners are mixed in” with the Central American migrants.

Critics argue Trump’s approach would over the long-term actually increase immigration from the three countries, which are struggling with high rates of poverty and violent crime. Incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has suggested a U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement to invest in Central America in order to address the root causes of immigration. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 7:35 am

The Monday Shave: Always with a slant, always good

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Since I have resumed skipping the Sunday shave, Monday mornings always are pleasant: not only do I get to resume shaving, I have the pleasure of removing from my face a two-day stubble.

This morning I used the small Omega silvertip and Nancy Boy’s Signature Shave Cream to do the prep, and if you’ve not tried that shave cream, you should. Its lavender, rosemary, and peppermint fragrance is as excellent as the creamy lather it produces. (I have known some men insecure enough in their masculinity that the name prevents them from using this shave cream. I did suggest to the maker that he package the same shave cream under the label “Macho Badass” to reach that market. No response to date.)

Beard satisfactorily prepped, I picked up my Above the Tie S1 slant (by the UFO handle on which it is mounted) and easily striped off the stubble. A splash of Diplomat (made in the Czech Republic) finished the job.

The week already seems good. This is my last week of the 5000-step goal. Then I have two weeks at 6000 steps and two weeks at 7000 steps before resuming my 8000 steps/day goal, along with my old walking route. Until then, I continue to walk on level ground. I am going to pick up the pace a little, though.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2018 at 7:26 am

Posted in Shaving

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