Later On

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

Archive for January 2020

100 Ways To Live Better

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Very interesting list. Some hit home, others missed me, but all are interesting. Jacob Falkovich writes at Putanumonit.com:

A couple of weeks ago Venkatesh challenged his followers to brainstorm at least 100 tweets on a topic via live responses. Since I’m not an expert on anything in particular, I decided to simply see if I can come up with 100 discrete pieces of life advice in a day.

This off-the-cuff game turned into perhaps the most successful creative project I’ve ever done. The thread was viewed by tens of thousands of people, received thousands of likes, and gained me hundreds of Twitter followers. I didn’t know there was such thirst for random life-advice, nor that I would be the one to tap the kegs. And now my blog readers get the expanded, edited, organized, and illustrated collection.

The good life is a frequent subject on Putanumonit. I aimed for this thread to be an inspiration to myself as well, writing down many things that I think I should do but haven’t gotten around to yet. I tried to steer a middle course between over-generalized Navalisms and too-specific tips on the particular brand of chapstick that will change your life. May these inspire you to live your best life or to mock me in funny ways in the comments.

Meta

1

Any life advice that isn’t given to you personally is not designed to be followed to the letter. Try to resonate with the philosophy that generates it instead. Remember that directional advice (e.g., “be more …”) may need to be reversed before consumption.

2

Collect feedback from everybody. Play games with close friends where you have to give each other constructive criticism and ways to improve. Collect anonymous feedback from internet strangers on Admonymous.

3

Stop lurking; write that comment. You know the saying about letting people suspect you’re dumb rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt? Fuck that. We know you’re dumb. You get less dumb by saying things and getting feedback.

4

Learn some improv, at least to get the basic gist of it. Take a class or read Impro. Improv mindset is a great way to approach many social situations including most interactions on the internet. A good comment/reply often starts with “yes, and”.

5

Don’t nitpick, that’s the opposite of good improv. You think that the categories in this post are arbitrary? A piece of advice doesn’t apply to your special situation? You’re probably right, but writing this in a comment will just make readers annoyed and make you frustrated when nobody responds.

Mind

6

There are more great podcasts than you’ll ever have the time to listen to. If it sucks after 10 minutes, skip half an hour ahead. Still boring? Delete and move on. Obviously, do the same for books.

7

Free will. The anthropic principle. Solipsism. The simulation hypothesis. Moral realism. They’re fun to argue about through the night but don’t judge anyone too much based on the positions they take and don’t treat any of them too seriously as guides to actually living your life. It should all add up to normalcy in the end.

8

Find a medium of expression and express yourself publicly every day for three months. If you’re good with words, write 100 Tweets. An artist — post 100 sketches on Instagram. Music/dance person — 100 TikToks.

9

Tell a bad joke or a pun as soon as you think of it, even if it’s just to your exasperated spouse or coworker. It takes 20 bad jokes to think of a single good one, and you only start making good jokes once you remove the unconscious filter stifling your generative brain.

10

If you can’t give it up completely, try to constrain the bandwidth of how much you hear about politics. Don’t start your day with the front page of the Times. Unfollow anyone whose posts are more than 20% about politics or the outrage du jour. And don’t jump into online arguments, it’s vice masquerading as virtue.

11

Binge a show/video game for a couple of weeks, then take a break from TV for a couple of weeks. Trying to limit yourself to an hour a day is less fun and more addictive.

12

Should you watch that movie / play that game / read that book? The formula is:

[# who rated it 5/5] + [# who rated it 1/5] – [# who rated it 3/5].

This doesn’t apply to everything, but it applies to many things, including media. There are too many options out there to waste time on mediocrity, and everything great will be divisive.

13

Unless one of them is your friend or boss, you should spend 100x less time thinking and talking about billionaires than you currently do.

14

Facebook is for event invites only, not for scrolling. The people you met offline are not going to be the people posting the best stuff online, so the timeline content is worse than what you’d get on Twitter/Reddit/blogs. And the algorithm is designed to fuck with your brain.

15

Don’t keep watching a bad TV show just because your friends are talking about it, it’s a terrible time trade-off. You can read a recap or even better — bring up richer topics of conversations.  And don’t pay money for bad movies just because “everyone is watching them”. Doing so is defecting against your friends since they’ll now have to watch it to not feel left out.

16

Habits are reinforced by your habitual environment. That’s a big part of why retreats work: they take you away from your usual surroundings and people. If you want to start meditating, doing pushups, intermittent fasting, etc, try starting on a vacation where the new circumstances make it easier to integrate new habits.

17 . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 3:56 pm

Skinny map of the Mississippi River

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Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Daily life

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Jesus is a Jew

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In Comment David Brooks provides the cultural context for the life and mission of Jesus:

This Year in Jerusalem

There are different lenses through which to see Jesus. I suppose there is a Florence Jesus—the pale, gentle, Caucasian Jesus of the Italian Renaissance paintings, with a scraggly blond beard and two fingers raised in blessing. There’s the Managua Jesus, the peasant revolutionary. There’s the Jesus of the American slaves, the suffering Christ bearing the burden of the oppressed. There’s the Oxford Jesus, the strong, elegant, protective Aslan for those who came to faith through C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Anglophilia. And then there’s the Jerusalem Jesus. This is the lens that sees Jesus the Jew.

This is the lens that tries to see through two thousand years of Christian anti-Semitism; that tries to see through two thousand years in which Jews and Christians have defined themselves against one another, magnifying their differences. This is the lens that tries to see Jesus in his original Jewish context, that tries to put his Israelite and Jewish experience in the foreground, and not in the background.

I’m always amazed by how many people who have dedicated their lives to Christ have never actually been to Israel. They have money to travel, and go off to Europe and such places, but they haven’t directly experienced the clashing confrontation of faiths, powers, and tribes that marks Jerusalem today and was just as present in Jesus’s own lifetime. They haven’t given themselves the chance to appreciate how misleading it is to associate the faith with the serenity of a church pew or the reasoned domesticity of a Bible study. The world Jesus inhabited was a world of fractious intensity. The Israel of Jesus, like the Israel of today, was a spiritual and literal battle zone. He was love in the most hostile environment imaginable.

The starting point of the Jerusalem view of Jesus is the fact that is everywhere acknowledged but rarely given sufficient weight. Jesus was Jewish. He presumably had the skin colour of modern Sephardic Jews. He wore tzitzit, or fringes, that modern Orthodox Jews wear and donned the phylacteries that Jewish men still put on. He and his disciples kept kosher. He argued with other Jews but within the context of Judaism. In Matthew he tells his disciples not to bother evangelizing among the Samarians and the gentiles. His ministry begins with lost sheep within the house of Israel itself, before it broadens to contain all the world. “Think not that I have come to abolish the Torah and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them,” he says in Matthew 5:17.

In my experience, many Jews today know very little about Jesus. But there have always been some Jews who read about him and recognize how completely Jewish he was. Martin Buber called Jesus a “brother.” Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, a leader of reform Judaism, once declared that if Jesus came back to earth today it would be at a Reformed synagogue where he would feel most at home. The Jewish writer Amy-Jill Levine says she doesn’t worship Jesus, because she’s a Jew, but “I also have to admit to a bit of pride in thinking about him—he’s one of ours.”

Rabbi Leo Baeck, who led German Jews during the horrors of the Holocaust, put it best: “We behold a man who is Jewish in every feature and trait of his character, manifesting in every particular what is pure and good in Judaism. This man could have developed as he came to be only on the soil of Judaism, and only on this soil, too, could he find disciples and followers as they were. Here alone in this Jewish sphere, in this Jewish atmosphere . . . could this man live his life and meet his death—a Jew among Jews.”

To be a Jew in Jesus’s day was not to embrace a “religion” or to practice a “faith.” They didn’t have these concepts yet because they did not yet have the concept of secularism. Judaism was an enveloping lifepath, total worldview, a covenantal relationship, a way of living out and searching for truth. It starts with the claim that of all the many peoples of this earth, God had chosen this one scraggly little band on the eastern edge of the Judean hill country to be his people and the recipient of his covenant. As N.T. Wright puts it, the sheer absurdity of this claim, from the standpoint of any other worldview, is staggering.

If you were within this covenant, it must have felt completely self-enclosing. The pressure must have been intense. We today have a sense that the world is filled with many diverse cultures and nations and their rivalries are just the normal stuff of politics.

The Jews, two thousand years ago, had a sense that Israel stood out from all the other nations and lived out its own unique destiny. They saw relations between nations not just as the normal jostling of peoples but as the running tally of divine judgment: Are we favoured or are we punished? Is the covenant betrayed or fulfilled? God shapes history to teach us hard lessons.

Welcome to the Apocalypse

Which leads to another pivotal reality that defined Judaism in Jesus’ day: foreign occupation. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Religion

Civilization & Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. I: The Structures of Everyday Life

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Alvaro de Menard writes in Fantastic Anachronism:

[Note: this was originally posted on reddit; people liked it so I’m reposting with some minor fixes]

I first discovered Fernand Braudel when Tyler Cowen answered the question: “whose entire body of work is worth reading?”, placing him next to people like Nietzsche and Hume. It was good advice.

Braudel starts working on his doctoral dissertation in 1923, at age 21, intending to concentrate on the policies of Philip II of Spain in the form of a conventional history. To support himself, he teaches at an Algerian high school for a decade, then at the university of Sao Paulo until 1937. During this period he keeps up with developments in France, especially Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre’s Annales School, which focuses on long-term history and statistical data.

In 1934, 11 years after he began, Braudel starts to find quantitative data. Population figures, ship cargoes, prices, arrivals and departures. These will form the basis of his novel, data-driven approach. Five years later, in 1939, he finally has an outline ready.

Then the Nazis capture him. He spends the next 5 years in a POW camp where he writes the first draft of La Méditerranée without access to any materials, mailing notebooks back to Paris. When the war ends, he becomes the de facto leader of the second generation of the Annales School. An additional four years after that, 26 years after he started working on it, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II is published.

The general argument of this work is that history moves at different speeds, and one must distinguish them: the short term (daily events as perceived by contemporaries), the medium term (‘economic systems, states, societies, civilisations’), and la longue durée – a perspective of centuries or millennia without which the shorter timeframes cannot be understood.

In the preface, Braudel declares: “I have always believed that history cannot be really understood unless it is extended to cover the entire human past.” Civilization and Capitalism is built on similar principles.

The initial seeds for C&C were planted in 1950, when Febvre asked Braudel to contribute to a volume for a series on world history. Braudel would simply provide a summary of existing work on the development of capitalism. But Febvre died before the volume could be completed, and Braudel took responsibility for what turned out to be a three-volume series on capitalism. The first volume came out 17 years after work began, in 1967. The final volume would not be published until 1979.

Reading Braudel one gets the impression of an infinite curiosity at work for decades, mining every source for the tiniest piece of data, and then magisterially combining everything together. Despite fairly brutal editing these notes are still way too long, and yet they struggle to capture even a tiny part of the detail and depth that the book contains.


Vol. I: The Structures of Everyday Life

A good starting point might be what is left out: politics, wars, dynasties, religion, ideology, peoples. The index of maps & graphs gives the reader a taste of what is to come: “Budget of a mason’s family in Berlin about 1800”; “Bread weights and grain prices in Venice at the end of the sixteenth century”; “French Merchants registered as living in Antwerp, 1450-1585”.

The first volume aims to illuminate every aspect of material life: agriculture, food, dress, housing, towns, cities, energy, metals, machines, animals, transportation, money. Braudel’s goal is not simply to examine each of these in isolation, but to show how all the elements of material life interact to form cultures, economies, systems of governance, power structures, long-term cycles or trends. He comes remarkably close to achieving this absurdly ambitious task. For people into worldbuilding this tome is pure gold. The first volume also has the greatest general appeal: unlike the other two which are somewhat esoteric, I think this is a book everyone will love.

In short, at the very deepest levels of material life, there is at work a complex order, to which the assumptions, tendencies and unconscious pressures of economies, societies and civilizations all contribute.

It is here that Braudel shows off his greatest skill, which is the combination of the microscopic with the panoramic. At the top level: Geography. Climate. Land. Crops. ZOOM IN. Trading routes. Piracy. Economy. Cities. Technology. And then zoom into details like the price of wheat relative to oats in 1351 Paris. He shifts effortlessly between the global, long-term perspective and minute, specific data and anecdotes, combining the two to form a coherent understanding.

The Weight of Numbers

Everything, both in the short and long term, and at the level of local events as well as on the grand scale of world affairs, is bound up with the numbers and fluctuations of the mass of people.

The predominant feature of the ancien régime is malthusianism. From the 16th century on, Europe was constantly on the brink of overpopulation. Epidemics and famines established balance, and occasional recessions in population created great wealth for the survivors. “Thus in Languedoc between 1350 and 1450, the peasant and his patriarchal family were masters of an abandoned countryside. Trees and wild animals overran fields that once had flourished.” France had 26 general famines just in the 11th century; 16 in the 18th.

Famine recurred so insistently for centuries on end that it became incorporated into man’s biological regime and built into his daily life. Dearth and penury were continual, and familiar even in Europe, despite its privileged position. […] Things were far worse in Asia, China and India. Famines there seemed like the end of the world. In China everything depended on rice from the southern provinces; in India, on providential rice from Bengal, and on wheat and millet from the northern provinces, but vast distances had to be crossed and this contribution only covered a fraction of the requirements.

Slowly, expansion and improvements in agricultural productivity doubled the global population, which Braudel calls “indubitably the basic fact in world history from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century”.

Almost all of these people lived in the countryside. “The towns the historian discovers in his journeys back into pre-nineteenth-century times are small; and the armies miniature.” The towns were also great population sinks, drawing in men from the countryside and killing them. Wild animals were everywhere, often a real threat. Even in Europe, which was full of wolves and bears.

A lapse in vigilance, an economic setback, a rough winter, and they multiplied. In 1420, packs entered Paris through a breach in the ramparts or unguarded gates. They were there again in September 1438, attacking people this time outside the town, between Montmartre and the Saint-Antoine gate. In 1640, wolves entered Besançon by crossing the Doubs near the mills of the town and ‘ate children along the roads’.

Braudel writes about . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 2:38 pm

Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker

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The BBC has this report from a slaughterhouse worker:

About 100 million animals are killed for meat in the UK every month – but very little is heard about the people doing the killing. Here, one former abattoir worker describes her job, and the effect it had on her mental health.

Warning: Some readers may find this story disturbing

When I was a child I dreamed of becoming a vet. I imagined myself playing with mischievous puppies, calming down frightened kittens, and – as I was a countryside kid – performing check-ups on the local farm animals if they felt under the weather.

It was a pretty idyllic life that I dreamt up for myself – but it’s not quite how things worked out. Instead, I ended up working in a slaughterhouse.

I was there for six years and, far from spending my days making poorly cows feel better, I was in charge of ensuring about 250 of them were killed every day.

Whether they eat meat or not, most people in the UK have never been inside an abattoir – and for good reason. They are filthy, dirty places. There’s animal faeces on the floor, you see and smell the guts, and the walls are covered in blood.

And the smell… It hits you like a wall when you first enter, and then hangs thick in the air around you. The odour of dying animals surrounds you like a vapour.

Why would anybody choose to visit, let alone work in a place like this?

For me, it was because I’d already spent a couple of decades working in the food industry – in ready-meal factories and the like. So when I got an offer from an abattoir to be a quality control manager, working directly with the slaughtermen, it felt like a fairly innocuous job move. I was in my 40s at the time.

On my first day, they gave me a tour of the premises, explained how everything worked and, most importantly, asked me pointedly and repeatedly if I was OK. It was quite common for people to faint during the tour, they explained, and the physical safety of visitors and new starters was very important to them. I was OK, I think. I felt sick, but I thought I’d get used to it.

Soon, though, I realised there was no point pretending that it was just another job. I’m sure not all abattoirs are the same but mine was a brutal, dangerous place to work. There were countless occasions when, despite following all of the procedures for stunning, slaughterers would get kicked by a massive, spasming cow as they hoisted it up to the machine for slaughter. Similarly, cows being brought in would get scared and panic, which was pretty terrifying for all of us too. You’ll know if you’ve ever stood next to one that they are huge animals.

Personally, I didn’t suffer physical injuries, but the place affected my mind.

As I spent day after day in that large, windowless box, my chest felt increasingly heavy and a grey fog descended over me. At night, my mind would taunt me with nightmares, replaying some of the horrors I’d witnessed throughout the day.

One skill that you master while working at an abattoir is disassociation. You learn to become numb to death and to suffering. Instead of thinking about cows as entire beings, you separate them into their saleable, edible body parts. It doesn’t just make the job easier – it’s necessary for survival.

There are things, though, that have the power to shatter the numbness. For me, it was the heads.

At the end of the slaughter line there was a huge skip, and it was filled with hundreds of cows’ heads. Each one of them had been flayed, with all of the saleable flesh removed. But one thing was still attached – their eyeballs.

Whenever I walked past that skip, I couldn’t help but feel like I had hundreds of pairs of eyes watching me. Some of them were accusing, knowing that I’d participated in their deaths. Others seemed to be pleading, as if there were some way I could go back in time and save them. It was disgusting, terrifying and heart-breaking, all at the same time. It made me feel guilty. The first time I saw those heads, it took all of my strength not to vomit.

I know things like this bothered the other workers, too. I’ll never forget the day, after I’d been at the abattoir for a few months, when one of the lads cut into a freshly killed cow to gut her – and out fell the foetus of a calf. She was pregnant. He immediately started shouting and throwing his arms about.

I took him into a meeting room to calm him down – and all he could say was, “It’s just not right, it’s not right,” over and over again. These were hard men, and they rarely showed any emotion. But I could see tears prickling his eyes.

Even worse than pregnant cows, though, were the young calves we sometimes had to kill.

A physically demanding role

On its website, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) says the UK meat industry has some of the highest standards of hygiene and welfare in the world.

Many of its members, it says, “are at the forefront of abattoir design with facilities designed to house the animals and help them move around the site with ease and without any pain, distress or suffering”.

Meat processing in the UK employs about 75,000 people of whom approximately 69% are from other European Union member states, the BMPA notes.

“The barrier to British people taking up roles in meat processing is an unwillingness to work in what is perceived to be a challenging environment,” it says. “Most people, while they eat meat, find it difficult to work in its production partly because of the obvious aversion to the slaughter process but also because it is a physically demanding role.”

At the height of the BSE and bovine tuberculosis crises in the 1990s, whole herds of animals had to be slaughtered. I worked at the slaughterhouse after 2010, so well after the BSE crisis, but if an animal tested positive for TB they would still bring the entire herd in to be culled – bulls, heifers and calves. I remember one day in particular, when I’d been there for about a year or so, when we had to slaughter five calves at the same time.

We tried to keep them within the rails of the pens, but they were so small and bony that they could easily skip out and trot around, slightly wobbly on their newly born legs. They sniffed us, like puppies, because they were young and curious. Some of the boys and I stroked them, and they suckled our fingers.

When the time came to kill them, it was tough, both emotionally and physically. Slaughterhouses are designed for slaughtering really large animals, so the stun boxes are normally just about the right size to hold a cow that weighs about a tonne. When we put the first calf in, it only came about a quarter of a way up the box, if that. We put all five calves in at once. Then we killed them. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

On the whole, I think a whole-food plant-based diet offers many health benefits, and I now see that we could add “mental-health benefits” to the list.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 2:29 pm

John Wheeler’s H-bomb blues: “It was here a minute ago…”

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Alex Wellerstein, assistant professor in science and technology studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and author of Restricted Data: Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, writes In Physics Today, undoubtedly excerpted from his book:

There may never be a good time to lose a secret, but some secrets are worse than others to lose, and some times are worse than others to lose them. For US physicist John Archibald Wheeler (see figure 1), January 1953 may have been the absolute worst time to lose the particular secret he lost. The nation was in a fever pitch about Communists, atomic spies, McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and the Korean War. And what Wheeler lost, under the most suspicious and improbable circumstances, was nothing less than the secret of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon of unimaginable power that had first been tested only a month before.

Wheeler is best remembered today for being an audaciously original thinker whose contributions span fields from the theory of nuclear fission through relativity and quantum theory and for coining several new pieces of physics vocabulary, including the now ubiquitous term “black hole.” Wheeler’s deep connections to the budding national security state, however, are less well known. He was a major scientist at the Hanford plutonium production site in Washington State during World War II, and from 1951 to 1953, he was the head of Project Matterhorn B, the H-bomb project centered at Princeton University.

It was his role at Matterhorn B that led Wheeler to take a fateful overnight train trip from his home in Princeton, New Jersey, to Washington, DC, in January 1953. He had with him a short but potent document that explained exactly how the US, at that time the only nation in the world with an H-bomb, had overcome the many obstacles to producing a multimegaton thermonuclear weapon. Somewhere on the train ride, that document went missing. Wheeler’s Federal Bureau of Investigation file, recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, has shed new light on the incident, the secrets that lay at its heart, and the massive search for the missing document. A multitude of consequences came out of that single event—a testimony to the power of secrecy during the Cold War and to the ways in which a few pages, improperly situated in spacetime, can set off an unexpected chain of events.1

A SPLIT PHYSICS COMMUNITY, A SECRET DESIGN

To understand how Wheeler came to be in such a troubling situation, we must know what the document in question was and why Wheeler, of all people, had it with him on a train in the first place. The H-bomb document was no ordinary technical report: It was a bureaucratic weapon aimed directly at its creators’ political enemies.

The detonation of the first Soviet atomic bomb in 1949 sent many US policymakers and scientists into a tailspin. Physicists Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence argued that the only sane response was a vigorous effort to build the next generation of nuclear weapon: the “Super,” or hydrogen, bomb. They found a receptive audience in Lewis Strauss, a member of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), who took up the cause with vigor.

Scientists had contemplated the idea of a bomb powered by nuclear fusion as early as 1942, and they had discussed it throughout World War II and even the postwar period. Any fusion reaction clearly would need to be powered by the energy from a fission bomb, and the technical difficulty of such a design, coupled with the US focus on building up an adequate supply of fission bombs, meant that little progress was made until 1949.

As the push by Teller, Lawrence, and Strauss gathered political converts, especially in Congress, it also caused a schism in the US physics community. For those who wanted the US to have an H-bomb, it was an inevitable next step. Opponents, however, questioned the H-bomb’s military necessity, morality, and feasibility. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the former head of Los Alamos during the war, strongly opposed it, as did Enrico Fermi, I. I. Rabi, James Conant, and other members of the AEC’s General Advisory Committee. Their argument rested on the fact that nobody had a good idea of how to make the “Super” in the first place, and it was not yet clear whether one could be built at all.

In January 1950 President Harry Truman concurred with the recommendations of his National Security Council and ordered the AEC “to continue with its work on all forms of atomic energy weapons, including the so-called hydrogen or super-bomb.”2 The H-bomb lobby appeared to have won, for the moment. But the win came at a cost: an increasingly bitter disagreement within the physics community. The H-bomb’s opponents saw its supporters as wanting weapons of genocide, whereas supporters saw their opponents as being dangerously naive about the safety of the nation and the world. And one of the most vigorous supporters of the H-bomb program was Wheeler.

B IS FOR BOMB

After his stint at Hanford during World War II, Wheeler returned to his academic post at Princeton, but after the Soviet detonation, he quickly volunteered to join the H-bomb work. He initially expected that he would move to the Los Alamos laboratory to work on the project, but difficulty in recruiting top scientific talent to New Mexico dictated a change of site. Wheeler would instead create an H-bomb project, which ultimately received the code name of Matterhorn B, at Princeton. The B stood for “Bomb.”

There was one small problem: Neither Wheeler nor anyone else had a good idea of how to make a working H-bomb in early 1950. The main idea Teller and others had pursued at Los Alamos, nicknamed the “Runaway Super,” increasingly seemed unworkable. But in March 1951, a collaboration between Teller and mathematician Stanislaw Ulam produced a new design that seemed like it might just work.

The key feature behind the so-called Teller–Ulam design was that it took the x-ray radiation from an exploding fission bomb and used it to compress a mass of fusionable material to a very high density before trying to heat it and begin thermonuclear fusion. In retrospect, that might seem straightforward, but at the time it was highly unintuitive to the weapons designers, who believed that the trick to making an H-bomb work was to discard the initial and seemingly useless burst of radiation.3

Considerably more details needed to be worked out, but scientists, including H-bomb skeptics like Oppenheimer, immediately recognized that the Teller–Ulam design’s application of radiation implosion was likely a workable approach. Its success was demonstrated at the “Mike” test of Operation Ivy in November 1952 (see figure 2). Mike exploded with the force of more than 10 million tons of TNT. That event inaugurated the megaton age with 700 times more energy than the first atomic bomb.

The Mike device, however, could not be easily converted into a military weapon. It required some 80 tons of cryogenic equipment to keep its hydrogen (deuterium) fuel in a liquid state—not exactly something that could be carried on an airborne bomber. As of late 1952, the US knew how to build an H-bomb but had none that it could actually use.

So 1953 was a precarious time for advocates of the H-bomb. A fission–fusion bomb had been shown to be feasible in concept but was not yet a true weapon. It was also on the cusp of what many in the US national security establishment dubbed “the year of maximum danger,” in which the Soviet Union for the first time would be in a position to deliver a surprise nuclear attack against the US homeland.

A SECRET HISTORY, A DARK VENDETTA

Even before the success of the Mike test, early supporters of the H-bomb program were feeling vindicated. Scientists such as Teller had argued that the H-bomb could be built in a relatively short amount of time, and they had turned out to be correct, though that did not bring them relief. They were still bitter about criticism from Oppenheimer and others, and they felt that US national security had been harmed by opposition to the H-bomb program. They began to wage a secret war against their opponents in the hope of removing them from power. The weapon they would use was history.

In early April 1952,  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 2:21 pm

The Story of a Baltimore Panhandler Murdering a Woman Made National News. The Truth Didn’t

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Gabe Fernandez writes how the public is willing to be deceived in support of its biases:

Keith Smith wanted the public to know that Jacquelyn Smith, his wife of four years, was killed for her kindness. According to Smith, it happened in the very first hours of December 2018, at an intersection in east Baltimore. The story he told went like this:

While driving back from a birthday celebration, the family stopped at a stop sign in their 2012 Audi A7. While they sat there, Jacquelyn saw a woman with a wrapped-up blanket holding a sign that read, “Help me feed my baby, God bless.” Jacquelyn told Keith to roll down the window on her side of the car so that she could give the woman some money. As Jacquelyn started handing over a $10 bill to the woman with the sign, another panhandler suddenly appeared. That second panhandler went up to the open window, thanked the couple for their kindness, and then began stabbing Jacquelyn before snatching a necklace off of her wounded body. As Keith and his 28-year-old daughter, who was in the car’s back seat at the time, tried to process what had just happened, the original woman who had garnered Jacquelyn’s sympathy snatched a purse from inside the car and ran off as well.

Keith called 911 to report the attack, then sped off to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, about a mile away. Despite his best efforts to get Jacquelyn there as quickly as possible, doctors were unable to save her, and she was pronounced dead just before 1 am.

When Smith’s story hit local news outlets, it unleashed a flood of previously repressed resentment towards the city’s panhandlers. Scores of angry people online seemed almost excited to hold this murder up as validation for their prejudiced views of the city, but angry people online are like that. Real institutions and powerful individuals with sway in the city and broader world rushed to get involved as well. It happened very fast, and then it just kept happening.

The trouble started with the Baltimore Police Department, as trouble in Baltimore often does. Then-interim police chief Gary Tuggle issued a warning to the public about giving out money to those begging for it on the streets, using Jacquelyn’s story as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in interactions with the city’s most desperate people. Opinion pieces in the Baltimore Sun echoed and amplified that message of suspicion and fear. One, written by a billionaire with real estate interests in the city, suggestedthat the failure of police to enforce the city’s panhandling laws infringed in turn on the “right for citizens not to be murdered in their cars waiting for a light to change.” Another, by a former county executive who was convicted for misconduct in office, called panhandling “a public safety hazard at all times.” But it was Oprah Winfrey, once a local television anchor in Baltimore, who launched the story into the national spotlight when she tweeted that, though she’s given money out to panhandlers a thousand times, she’d “think twice before ever doing [it] again.”

All of this played out perfectly for Keith Smith—or all of it, perhaps, except for Oprah elevating this story to the attention of a national audience, because in reality, the murderous panhandler who was supposedly responsible for killing his wife never existed. Under brighter lights, the story that institutional Baltimore had been quite content to believe swiftly showed signs of being a fabrication.

The story Keith didn’t tell was that he and his daughter, Valeria Smith, had planned to leave the country and go to Mexico without the third member of their family. They were unsuccessful in their escape, and U.S. marshals arrested them at the border down in Texas. The two were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder; prosecutors eventually dropped the murder case against Valeria Smith and later gave her an accessory charge in June.

As the story changed shape from a random act of violence in a troubled city to a more prosaic one of domestic violence, it became clear that the people who had driven the original narrative were more than ready to move on, and the public followed suit. The story of a bloodthirsty panhandler was so fantastical, and its public telling and re-telling by Keith Smith so heart-wrenching, that the size of the gap between it and reality seemed impossible to fill, or explain. And so the celebrity-endorsed warnings were never followed up with any apologies, and the institutional actors who sought to use the tragedy to advocate for what they wanted—harsher and more discriminatory policing, mostly—stayed quiet. The commissioner of the very same police department that had warned citizens about the dangers of panhandlers now bragged about his detectives always knowing that something seemed amiss in the investigation.

Odious as all of this is, it doesn’t quite qualify as surprising. The tragic-crime-that-wasn’t fit much more cleanly into the story powerful people wanted to tell than the truth did. That broader story is what Lisa Snowden-McCray has called the “Baltimore narrative” in the Washington Post; the short version is that every call to action on the city’s major problems has historically wound up harming the city’s most vulnerable people, while also propping up the unchecked power of the city’s supposed leaders.

When news broke of Keith Smith’s story being an outright fabrication, members of the police department, the state’s attorney’s office, and the mayor’s office took time to chastise Smith for bringing a bad name to a city that has endured so much in recent memory, as well they might have. But Smith’s lies weren’t told in a vacuum. They seemed, in a cynical and disquieting way, perfectly crafted to be heard and believed and retold in Baltimore. Smith’s tall tale flattered, in its way, every leader, institution and approach currently failing the city, in ways that those in charge had trained themselves to miss. While they all might have trouble recognizing the connection, others have not.

When Keith and Valeria Smith reached for a villain who might sell their story, it made a cynical sort of sense that they’d land on an unnamed but dangerous homeless man. The Maryland Interagency Council on Homelessness estimated last year that it provided services to more than 12,000 homeless people in Baltimore; the entire city has a population of a little more than 602,000. The city’s population has been shrinking for years. The homeless population has not.

Few events illuminate the relationship between the city’s power brokers and the homeless than what happened in January of last year. That’s when former mayor Catherine Pugh tried to have people removed from a homeless encampment underneath a nearby highway, a location near the local farmer’s market, which was about to reopen. City officials claimed the removal was carried out over health and sanitation concerns, and that the displaced people would be moved to and cared for at a nearby shelter. Pugh’s administration had been clearing encampments for years, but this was the largest dismantled during her tenure. Some men and women living at the site protested, marching all the way to City Hall.

Activist Zach Zwagil works with Baltimore Bloc, a grassroots activist group with a focus on social justice and police accountability in communities throughout the city. He was among those who didn’t buy the city’s defense of the mass removal.

“If it’s just about helping people out, why are [police officers] putting fencing up to prevent people from coming back?” he said. “Because it’s not about helping these people, it’s about clearing the area so that tourists and other folks coming in can go to the farmer’s market and other such things undisturbed.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 1:18 pm

Airbnb and the many scams it hosts

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Anna Merlan writes in Vice:

At the end of October, former VICE senior staff writer Allie Conti shared her story of a disastrous vacation to Chicago, where she tumbled into a nationwide scam run by a prolific grifter (or grifters), which exploited Airbnb’s loosely written rules and even looser enforcement.

Conti’s investigation revealed a platform with serious problems policing itself, and sought to uncover the people who’d figured out ways to profit from that disarray. She ultimately traced the nexus of her own scam experience back to a company that used fake profiles and reviews to conceal a variety of wrongs—from last-minute property switches, to units with sawdust on the floor and holes in the wall.

Hoping to get a better sense of the issue, we asked readers to tell us about their own experiences using Airbnb. In response, we got nearly 1,000 emails, many of them outlining similar tales of deception.

The stories quickly started to fall into easily discernible categories. Scammers all over the world, it seems, have figured how best to game the Airbnb platform: by engaging in bait and switches; charging guests for fake damages; persuading people to pay outside the Airbnb app; and, when all else fails, engaging in clumsy or threatening demands for five-star reviews to hide the evidence of what they’ve done. (Or, in some cases, a combination of several of these scams.)

In the aggregate, these emails paint a portrait of a platform whose creators are fundamentally unable to track what goes on within it, and point to easily exploitable loopholes that scammers have steamed their way through by the truckload. After Conti’s story, Airbnb promised to “verify” all 7 million listings on the site by December 2020. Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and co-founder, said at the DealBook conference that the verification process is part of a dawning realization that, as he put it, “we have to take more responsibility for stuff on our platform.”

“I think many of us in this industry … are going from a hands-off model, where the Internet’s an immune system, to realizing that’s not really enough, that we have to take more responsibility for the stuff on our platform,” he said. “And I think this has been a gradual, maybe too gradual, transition for our industry.” In part, Chesky suggested Airbnb would start asking more specific questions of guests upon checkout—relying on users, in other words, to help police what happens on the platform.

On Twitter, Chesky added, “Trust on the Internet begins with verifying the accuracy of the information on Internet platforms — this is an important step for our industry.” He also said the company would begin offering what he called the Airbnb Guest Guarantee: “[I]f a guest checks into a listing and it doesn’t meet our accuracy standards, we will rebook them into a listing that is just as nice — and if we can’t, they will get 100% of their money back.”

An Airbnb spokesperson provided VICE with some additional details about how the verification process will work. We will review listings for accuracy and quality and to confirm the identity of hosts,” the spokesperson said. They added:

We are working on the details, and intend to use a combination of community, agent and technological techniques, including: Agent reviews and algorithmic screening of the listing contents, pictures, etc, guest verifications of specific features of a listing, in-person inspections, and virtual walk-throughs. Hosts that pass our review will be identified clearly on the platform, but not all will pass initially. We will update our community in the coming months as we build out the specifics of our Verification Program.

If the emails we received are any metric to judge by, the process is long overdue. People said they’d found themselves defrauded, stranded on the street in an unfamiliar city, booked into staying in a shed with no running water (a real email we received), or locked in a bizarre, lengthy argument over alleged damages to an area rug. Here are the most common Airbnb scams worldwide, broken down by category.

As a note: We haven’t picked out emails to share that are the most inflammatory or most colorful. These are, in every case, representative of a far greater number of stories we did not include. These emails have been edited for clarity and readability, but their meaning has not been changed.

The Bait and Switch

One exceedingly common theme across hundreds of emails was the bait and switch: Airbnb users were promised one apartment and arrived to find something very different. Sometimes, the problem was deceptive photos that bore no resemblance to the place they arrived to find. Other times, they were persuaded by the host to switch apartments or houses entirely, only to find that the new location was filthy, unfurnished, or in a totally different part of town. (In a surprising number of stories, the new house was often full of a weird number of beds, laid out in bizarre configurations.)

The Apparent Plumbing Scam

One particular bait and switch seems popular: the plumbing scam. Dozens of people told us that they’d booked an apartment or a house, in cities both in the U.S. and abroad. Days or hours before the reservation was set to start, the host would abruptly tell them that the unit had developed a sudden and fatal plumbing issue.

I rented a place near Glass Beach and a few weeks prior to my trip when I reached out to confirm the booking, the lister told me she had a “septic problem” in the unit and she could see if she could put me up in a larger place nearby. That never materialized but she refused to cancel my booking, saying the first time that her computer wasn’t working and the next time, weeks later, that her father had just passed away. I had to complain to Airbnb that she refused to cancel the booking so they canceled it but I was unable to write a negative review. – California

The plumbing scam seems to rest on the idea that if the Airbnb is uninhabitable, hosts can’t be penalized for cancelling reservations. That’s explicitly mentioned in Airbnb’s rules for hosts: cancellation fees will be applied except in the case of an emergency or “unavoidable circumstance,” like the death of a host or immediate family member, government obligations like jury duty, or “unforeseen property damage, maintenance, and amenity issues.” Those damage or maintenance issues must be ones that would make it “unsafe” to host or disrupt basic amenities like running water.

Airbnb says it currently requires proof of all those circumstances to allow the cancellation without charging the host penalty fees. A spokesperson told us, “We hold hosts accountable for honoring their reservations, and we strongly support guests with rebookings or reimbursements when things don’t go according to plan. For a host to avoid cancellation penalties, we require the submission of supporting documentation. For instance, a host citing a plumbing issue would need to submit to Airbnb an invoice or receipt of services from a legitimate business.” He added that, in general, “If we see a host engaging in problematic behavior, including frequent last-minute cancellations, that host would be subject to suspension or removal from the platform.” (This might, of course, be cold comfort in the immediate present for someone who finds themselves stranded on the street without a place to stay.)

There are other versions of this scam; another common scenario is claiming that a party trashed the house and it’s now temporarily uninhabitable. In all cases, the aim seems to be either getting to rebook the Airbnb at a higher price to someone else, to get the guest to cancel without the host incurring penalties, or getting people to agree to move to a different, less-desirable Airbnb.

We had rented an apartment and got a notice a week before we were to go to Barcelona that the apartment was unavailable due to a family emergency. It turns out that the owner rents in advance at a low rate, then if they can get double the rate they dump the first person and rent to the next. – Barcelona

I saw the same property listing that was just cancelled on us, but with larger scale photos, additional buildings, and now it was listed for $999/night, and it was available for “our dates”!!! I was really unhappy and I wrote the host asking what it meant. 1) she was double listing the same property 2) she provided a non-equivalent property as a sub for her last-minute cancellation 3) she gave a very generic excuse about “maintenance work.” I demanded explanation and proof that the place was having work done, but in response the host reported me to Airbnb as a harasser. – Joshua Tree

Getting the guest to agree to move houses

The plumbing scam sometimes segues into this one, though it’s often unclear if hosts aim to get guests to switch houses because the original listing doesn’t exist or because they’ve found new renters who will pay more. In either case, we received multiple emails from people who said  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. My takeaway: never use Airbnb.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 12:59 pm

“Women to One Side, Men to the Other”: How the Border Patrol’s New Powers and Old Carelessness Separated a Family

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In ProPublica Dara Lind chronicles another aspect of the US that increasingly resembles a totalitarian police state:

Mirza had a sense of foreboding soon after she crossed into the U.S. with her two children and their father, David. A Border Patrol agent ordered the family from Honduras and the rest of their group to divide into two lines: “Women to one side, men to the other.”

Mirza held 19-month-old Lia and joined the women’s line. David took their 6-year-old son Sebastian and lined up with the men. An agent told them not to worry, everyone was going to the same place. A bus took them in two trips to a collection of tents and trailers where they would be processed.

They arrived a few hours apart, held separately in a large waiting area. Mirza grew more anxious as she spotted David and Sebastian across the room. She motioned for Sebastian to bring her a bottle of water. “Papi says to take care of yourself,” he told her.

The family did not come together again. And within days, an international border stood between them.

David and Sebastian were sent to Mexico to wait before being allowed to make an asylum claim in a U.S. court. Mirza was fitted with an ankle bracelet, and she and Lia were sent to San Jose, California.

In separate Border Patrol interviews, both Mirza and David said, they told agents they had come as a family of four. But they were never recorded that way in Border Patrol records. David’s marital status was listed as “single” — he and Mirza had been together for 12 years, but they had never formally married — while Mirza’s was listed as “unknown.”

Border Patrol policy is clear: Whenever possible, parents, married or not, should be kept together with their children.

David said he pleaded with agents. “Please, find out for me in the system where my wife is. I came with my wife and you separated me from her.”

The agents weren’t moved. “You’re going to Juarez,” David said one agent told him. “Deal with it.”

Border Patrol has long been criticized for carelessness in migrant processing. But under the Trump administration, agents have vastly expanded powers to decide migrants’ fates.

In previous administrations, the government’s options for asylum-seekers were to detain them in the U.S. or release them — and Border Patrol wasn’t in charge of making that choice.

The Trump administration has replaced that system, which it derisively called “catch and release.” In September, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced that “catch and release” had fully ended; Mirza and Lia were among the last Central American asylum-seekers to be allowed to stay in the U.S. without being detained by ICE.

The new strategy is what happened to David and Sebastian: Asylum-seekers are sent away from the U.S. as quickly as possible. Under a series of new programs, they can be sent to wait in Mexico, rapidly deported to their home country or sent to Guatemala to seek asylum there instead.

The results are what a lawsuit filed in December against the rapid-deportation programs calls “legal black holes,” where Border Patrol agents have almost complete discretion to decide who goes where.

Border Patrol agents “are not, in general, the right people to be making determinations in individual cases,” Scott Shuchart, a former official with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, told ProPublica. Letting agents determine who should be sent to what country “is an awful lot of power to be given to people who aren’t trained in how to use it.”

Outcomes can vary wildly even for migrants in similar situations. Parents arriving on different days have found themselves sent to different countries. One Mexican mother was rapidly deported, along with her children, while the father was detained in the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection, the agency that includes the Border Patrol, did not respond to requests to comment for this story. But a spokesperson did confirm some details of David and Mirza’s apprehension. The spokesperson also confirmed that their records contain no flags of suspected fraud or any other concerns; David and Mirza were simply never labeled part of the same family. (ProPublica is not publishing their family names to protect relatives still in Honduras.)

In a sense, David and Mirza’s family is luckier than some: They were ultimately allowed to stay and seek asylum in the U.S., a chance migrants who’ve entered more recently may never get. But the family’s well-being was threatened by their four-month split across an international border. Furthermore, the separation set off a chain of consequences that threaten their chances of ultimately winning asylum.

By the time El Paso, Texas-based lawyer Taylor Levy saw a Facebook message from a California attorney asking her to track down David and Sebastian, David’s family had been apart for six weeks. Photos of Sebastian back in Honduras show a chubby, smiling boy. But when Levy met with him, she was alarmed by his condition. He was “skin and bones,” Levy remembered. And “he wouldn’t make eye contact. He was almost catatonic.”

“I’ve worked with thousands of asylum-seeking families and hundreds of separated kids,” Levy said. “And he completely, completely just shocked me by how badly he was doing.”

On its face, the case of David and Mirza baffled Levy. The family crossed the border together and had fled the same violence and threats. But the more she thought about it, the clearer it became: Their predicament reflected the unaccountable, arbitrary system the Trump administration has created.

“This wasn’t just a mistake,” Levy said. “This was gross negligence.”


David had hoped to make a life with Mirza in Honduras. . .

Continue reading.

“The power to command frequently causes failure to think.” -Barbara Tuchman, author and historian (30 Jan 1912-1989)

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 9:10 am

Sandalwood redux and Mickey Lee’s excellent Italian Stallion

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I decided that the Friday-shave photo will be my chance to play a bit with the image — thus the above. The brush is a 22mm synthetic from Maggard Razors, and I used Art of Shaving Sandalwood, which seems to be a triple-milled soap (made, I hear, by Valobra) whose fragrance is much more robust than that of Geo. F. Trumper’s Sandalwood. The lather was excellent, and the Fendrihan Mk II — a first-rate stainless steel razor at a reasonable price — did a fine job. A splash of Mickey Lee’s Italian Stallion aftershave milk finished the job, and we’re almost now at the weekend and February.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2020 at 8:44 am

Posted in Shaving

Educated Fools: Why Democratic Leaders Still Misunderstand the Politics of Social Class

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Thomas Geoghegan, author of one of the books I repeatedly find myself recommending (namely,, Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back), writes in the New Republic:

Here’s a little thought experiment: What would happen if, by a snap of the fingers, white racism in America were to disappear? It might be that the black and Latino working class would be voting for Trump, too. Then we Democrats would have no chance in 2020. We often tell ourselves: “Oh, we lost just the white working class because of race.” But the truth might be something closer to this: “It’s only because of race that we have any part of the working class turning out for us at all.”

How many of us in the party’s new postgraduate leadership caste have even a single friendship, a real one, of two equals, with any man or woman who is just a high school graduate? It’s hard to imagine any Democrat in either House or Senate who did not go beyond a high school diploma. (And no, I am not talking about Harvard dropouts Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.)

Still, it’s unthinkable that the college-educated base of the party would trust a high school graduate without a four-year degree to run for or hold a serious office. We don’t trust them, and would never vote for one of them. Why should they trust or vote for one of us?

It used to be otherwise. Yes, in the 1940s and 1950s, many a Democrat in the House or Senate had no four-year diploma: Even a president, Harry S Truman, did not. What’s more, those who did frequently went to night law school, or a teachers’ college, and at least still lived, or had a social life, in neighborhoods where no one over a long stretch of city blocks had college B.A.s. This was true even for the profession now cited as a sort of polemic shorthand for rule by the knowledge elite—the “liberal media.” As late as 1970, my friend Steve Franklin joined a city paper and was surprised to learn that most of the editors had never been to college—and of course they lived in neighborhoods all over the city with people who had gone to the same high schools they had.

Back then, many of these people understood that they could trust the Democratic Party for the same reason they could trust the liberal media. The Democratic Party of the 1950s and 1960s was probably much more corrupt and inept than the Democratic Party of today—but back then it lived in the neighborhood, as it no longer does today. Now the Democratic Party relies on think tanks in elite universities to find out what people back in those neighborhoods are thinking.

In fact, the college graduates who are now the base of the party have moved working people out of the old neighborhoods. I think here of my own city—Chicago—where the members of the City Council whom columnists from Ben Hecht to Mike Royko used to mock now have more degrees than reporters of Hecht’s generation had. Here’s the finding of a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago: In 1970, one half of Chicago by census tract was “middle-income”—that is to say, the people who made up the old working-class machine vote, most of them without four-year college degrees. Now that “middle-income” group is just 16 percent. The bungalows in those formerly middle-income neighborhoods teeming with high school graduates now belong to high-tech entrepreneurs and investors in hedge funds.

I am a labor lawyer and should have known better, but when I ran for Congress in 2009 in my Chicago-area district and knocked on doors, the white working class I imagined to be around me was gone: They had disappeared like the Etruscans. Or they at least had gone somewhere way to the west of I-90 and I-94—the monster expressway known as the Kennedy, which divides the city the way the Mississippi divides America, well out of range of the higher-credentialed and better-capitalized parts of the city where it’s $15 for a glass of wine. We recently elected a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and the astonishing thing about her is not that she is female, or black, or gay—such things are routine in Chicago now—but that she is so totally from out of town: not born here, never went to high school or college here, or even in Illinois. She showed up for the first time in law school at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, which once did not count as Chicago at all.

This all fits the claim of the French geographer Christophe Guilluy about his own country in his 2016 book The Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France. Guilluy describes how the movement, if not the expulsion, of the working class from France’s most prosperous cities incubated the innovation and new modes of production that fuel the growth of the Knowledge Economy. The same thing is happening in places like Chicago and most of the other well-off and innovative capitals of information-age enterprise. Alexis de Tocque­ville blamed the French Revolution in part on the literal physical distance between an aristocracy pulled into Versailles and the rural France they left behind. Now those of us with postgraduate degrees and who are in the elite of the Democratic Party live in our own Versailles, and we don’t know any working-class people either—except perhaps the name of a barista at Starbucks or the woman who comes by at night to clean the office.

For those of us cut off from the white working class, it is easy to think the answer to inequality is: Imitate us. Why can’t they be like we are? I borrow this idea from The Light That Failed by Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev (2019), a book that explains why newly liberated ex-Communist countries turned away from liberal democracies to authoritarian or illiberal ones. Imitate us—be like we are—turns out to be one of the most grating forms of foreign policy on offer in a world of such great income inequality. But imitate us is also grating within a country with income inequality on the scale even of France’s, much less that of the United States. There are other geopolitical reasons beyond my ken for the rise of Vladimir Putin in Russia and Viktor Orbán in Hungary, but there is something about imitate us that helps account both for the rise of these forms of illiberal democracy and for the one that’s been hatched here.

The center left and progressive left—or the postgraduates who control both sides in the party’s debate—have a similar answer to inequality. Higher taxes? Yes. More welfare? Yes. And what else?

More college—a lot more college. What to do about lack of mobility? More college. What about competing in the global economy? More college.

Or if a few have started to detect the class snobbery here and added community college, it’s still … well, it’s still in the hope that the upward-striving student population will go on to obtain a four-year college degree. And yes, I know; we are . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and it’s good. And read his book, too

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2020 at 2:29 pm

Jail staff mocked a sick man and denied care as he begged for help, video shows. Days later, he was dead.

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The US is beginning to seem more and more like a backward nation.  Katie Mettler and Adriana Usero report in the Washington Post:

From an isolation cell in the Ottawa County Jail, Terral Ellis begged for someone to help him.

He could not feel his legs and he could not breathe, the 26-year-old told jail staff and the on-site nurse at the Miami, Okla., facility. It felt, he said, like his back was broken and he was bleeding internally.

“I think I’m dying,” he said just after 10 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2015.

Staff mocked him, laughed at a joke about the “boy who cried wolf,” and ignored him as he moaned. When nurse Theresa Horn arrived later that morning, she did not help either — instead threatening to chain Ellis to the ground if he continued to complain.

“I’m sick and tired of f—ing dealing with your ass!” she yelled. “Ain’t a damn thing nothing wrong with you!”

Hours later, Ellis was dead.

Video surveillance footage of Ellis’s 12 days in jail in 2015 became public for the first time last week as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit. The 18 clips taken from 16 cameras — which were edited down from the hundreds of hours of footage given to the Ellis family’s lawyers — show how jail staff repeatedly mocked Ellis and refused him adequate medical treatment.

On Oct. 10, 2015, Ellis took the advice of his grandfather and turned himself into the county jail on an outstanding warrant for an old DUI. On Oct. 22, he was rolled out on a paramedic’s stretcher — cold and unresponsive from septic shock brought on by pneumonia, a medical examiner later ruled.

Unlike most jail surveillance video from high-profile inmate death cases, these clips have audio. The attorneys representing the Ellis family in the suit said the videos show not just what was done, but what was said, throughout Ellis’s rapid decline.

“If you don’t have everything I have, this is just some kid who died in jail because he got sick,” said attorney Dan Smolen, who specializes in jail death cases across the country. “I want people to understand this is happening, every day, all day long, in jails across the United States. I think it has just been captured [here] in a really awful way.”

Nine have died in a month at a notorious Mississippi prison, and the governor has had enough

Immediately after Ellis’s death, his fellow inmates spoke out about his treatment, and in 2017 the man’s family filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma against the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, the emergency medical service, Horn and other jail staff, claiming their negligence and gross indifference led to his death.

Smolen’s legal team has pieced together witness accounts, staff reports, deposition interviews and now, the hundreds of hours of surveillance video from inside the Ottawa County Jail that show how a healthy young man trying to get right with the law died in government custody, court documents allege.

As of this week, nobody who interacted with Ellis during his time in jail has been criminally charged, nor was anyone formally disciplined, Smolen said, citing their investigation and depositions of those involved. The Ottawa County Sheriff, Jeremy Floyd, confirmed to The Washington Post that the two named detention officers in the suit, as well as Horn, were not disciplined or charged at the time. In the four years since Ellis’s death, all three have left as employees of the jail, Floyd said.

Floyd became sheriff more than a year after Ellis died. He is named in the suit in his official capacity, which is essentially the same thing as suing the sheriff’s office. Had he been in charge in 2015, Floyd said he would have asked the state to conduct an investigation of Ellis’s death and not allowed it to be done internally. . .

Continue reading.

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2020 at 2:11 pm

Cooking dried beans, updated

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I’ve updated (and revised) my post on cooking dried beans, and batch 2 is in the (225ºF) oven now. I used my 2.25-qt Staub round cocotte, and 1 lb of (black) beans with cooking liquid was a comfortable fit. “Cooking liquid” in this case is Campbell’s low-sodium vegetable broth. I will check it in an hour. One benefit of using bicarbonate of soda (2 teaspoons for 1 lb of beans) is that it shortens cooking time, but of course it will take a while — perhaps 20-30 minutes — for the pot to come to temperature. I’m in no hurry, and I’m happy to let it sit in the oven rather than having to check it frequently on the stovetop.

I’ll update this when it’s finished and I try them.

Update: Too much cooking liquid — should just barely cover the beans. I can add liquid if needed. I started at 215ºF and later raised it to 225ºF. I think next batch I might try at 235ºF.

Beans are very tender, not split open, and tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2020 at 2:01 pm

Geo. F. Trumper Sandalwood and the Parker Slant

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Phoenix Artisan’s Solar Flare is an attractive-looking brush, IMO, and it also performs quite well, creating a wonderfully thick, creamy, and fragrant lather from my vintage (pre-reformulation and outsourcing) Trumper Sandalwood shaving soap.

With the Parker Semi-Slant head riding on a Yaqi handle (shorter than the Parker handle), I got a perfectly smooth (and perfectly comfortable) result in three easy passes. A splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Sandalwood aftershave finished the job.

Thought for the day, from Wordsmith:

“The power to command frequently causes failure to think.” -Barbara Tuchman, author and historian (30 Jan 1912-1989)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2020 at 9:19 am

Posted in Shaving

A Communist LSD Trip: The Story of Czechoslovak Acid

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From Prezkroj, an article by Aleksander Kaczorowski:

The history of Czechoslovak LSD is one of the greatest phenomena of the second half of the 20th century. How come for almost a quarter of a century, in a communist state, thousands of people, including many popular artists such as Karel Gott, were able to use psychedelic drugs entirely legally?

Why was 1960s Czechoslovakia the leading manufacturer and exporter of LSD? And why could psychiatrists there, under the guardianship of the secret police and military intelligence, experiment freely with this substance long after it had been banned all over the world?

The most unbelievable thing about this story is that it originated long before the era of Flower Power, the counterculture movement and the 1968 Prague Spring, in a past as distant and gloomy as possible: during the first years of communist rule in Eastern Europe.

In the autumn of 1952 – at the exact moment when the paranoically suspicious USSR leader Joseph Stalin unleashed a purge among the Kremlin doctors, accusing them of conspiring to assassinate him and other leaders – several young psychiatrists in Prague ingested for the first time a mysterious substance that had been sent from a laboratory in Basel. This is how the Czechoslovak adventure with LSD began.

The substance arrived in Prague in an entirely legal way. A standard shipment from the pharmaceutical company Sandoz was sent to Dr Jiří Roubíček, an associate professor at the Faculty of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Prague. It contained ampoules with an oily, transparent substance described as ‘lysergic acid diethylamide’, a substance first synthesized in 1938 by the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann. Initially considered useless, LSD attracted the attention of the company owners after Hoffman accidentally tested its effects on himself on 19th April 1943. Four years later, the first study summarizing the results of LSD tests involving healthy volunteers and patients in psychiatric hospitals was released. The article was attached to the parcel that landed on Roubíček’s desk.

Doctors in their patients’ shoes

Roubíček was a well-regarded researcher of phenomena related to brainwave activity, and the author of pioneering research on the application of encephalography methods in psychiatry. He regularly received various parcels from the Swiss company, but this one was particularly interesting. The description stated that the mysterious substance evoked hallucinations characteristic of mental illnesses. After a series of tests on animals, Roubíček decided to administer the substance to a group of healthy volunteers and explore how LSD would affect the human brain.

The initial experiments were carried out at a psychiatric hospital in Prague’s Bohnice district. The participants were given minimal doses – doctors already knew that just one gram of the substance would be sufficient to induce hallucinations in 10,000 people. Each volunteer drank a glass of water mixed with the hallucinogen and was locked in a padded room equipped with a one-way mirror.

The doctors then began testing the substance on themselves. “I was one of the first people in Czechoslovakia who took LSD,” the eminent psychiatrist Professor Jan Srnec recalled 60 years later. “It was something unbelievable. First of all, it was extraordinary that such a small dose could cause a complete disintegration of the psyche. Second, LSD had an entirely different effect on different people. In my case, it was a state of pure euphoria, elation.”

Thanks to LSD, psychiatrists were able to put themselves in their patients’ shoes. They could experience, in a controlled environment, the conditions faced by people with incurable mental illnesses. Many orthopaedists have shared the experience of a patient with a broken arm or leg. But how can someone relate to the condition of a person with severe schizophrenic delusions if they themselves do not experience any mental health issues? How can a psychiatrist help such a patient? LSD was the door through which Czechoslovak doctors entered the world of delusions and psychoses, and they left it wide open for those willing to explore.

The first to take advantage of this opportunity were artists, especially painters and graphic designers. Roubíček had acquaintances in the circles of artistic bohemia. So, he came up with the idea to invite some of them to take part in the experiment. In return, they were to express through visual means what other volunteers could only talk about.

The effect surpassed all expectations. The artistic depictions of hallucinations and visions were extremely suggestive, and news of the extraordinary substance quickly spread among non-conformist Czechoslovak artists.

One of them was Vladimír Boudník, the creator of an innovative graphic technique known as ‘explosionism’. Since the mid-1950s, the legendary Gentle Barbarian – the eponymous character of Bohumil Hrabal’s 1973 novel – had been creating prints using filings randomly scattered on industrial sheet metal and imprinted in the graphic press. In this way, he obtained extraordinary visual effects reminiscent of drug-induced visions. Besides LSD administered under the supervision of psychiatrists from Bohnice, Boudník did not take any other drugs or hallucinogenic substances.

As a result, there were so many people keen to participate in the experiments that Roubíček and his colleagues decided to train a group of assistants. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

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Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2020 at 2:21 pm

Amy Klobuchar’s Hotdish Recipe

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Hotdish is a staple of Minnesotan get-togethers, particularly church suppers, and Amy Klobuchar has made it a staple of her campaign in Iowa. Kim Severson reports in the NY Times:

Hot dish [sic – see below. LG], the Minnesota-specific church-supper stalwart that cooks in other parts of the country might mistake for a casserole, is no stranger to hard work.

Early versions of the dish — traditionally a mix of protein, starch and vegetables held together with a creamy sauce baked until it bubbles — helped conserve meat during World War I and fed farm families during the Depression. Topped with Tater Tots or mixed with rice, more modern renditions offer working parents an inexpensive way to get dinner on the table after a long day.

Now, hot dish [sic] has been conscripted to help Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota, win the Democratic nomination for president.

In a series of events that began in New Hampshire last summer and continued this month in Iowa, Ms. Klobuchar has been feeding her recipe, blanketed in Tater Tots, to voters at gatherings the campaign calls Hotdish House Parties.

“Hotdish is a great unifier — just like Amy,” the campaign’s cheery invitations read.

The events are essentially small potlucks with campaign literature and a glass baking dish filled with Ms. Klobuchar’s Taconite Tater Tot Hotdish, named after a rock mined in the Iron Range of Minnesota.

The candidate herself has showed up at some, but last week she had to stay in Washington for the impeachment trial of President Trump. She sent her daughter, Abigail Bessler, 24, the legislative director for Keith Powers, a New York City councilman. Ms. Bessler grew up eating hotdish, and knows her mother’s recipe by heart.

Continue reading. See also this Wikipedia article on hotdish.

A “hot dish” is a dish that is hot; a “hotdish” is a specific type of casserole from Minnesota. The NY Times — or at least this reporter — is sadly out of touch but determined to show her superiority. Oddly some of the photo captions use the correct word.

Later the article (with some corrections by me) adds:

This is not hotdish’s first turn in the political barrel. Al Franken, the former Democratic senator from Minnesota, started a hotdish competition in 2011 as a way to bring together the state’s Congressional delegation. The recipe Ms. Klobuchar uses for her house parties won the inaugural competition.

“It’s always nice to put aside our differences and come together over some great hotdish,” Mr. Franken said in 2016, the year he entered his Land of 10,000 Calories hotdish, made with pork shoulder and Ritz crackers.

In 2017, Representative Collin Peterson, a Democrat, won with his Right to Bear Arms hotdish, built from bear meat. Representative Betty McCollum, a member of the same party, took the top award in 2019 with her Hotdish A-Hmong Friends, an amalgam of sautéed carrots, cabbage, and ground beef topped with fried egg-roll wrappers that paid homage to the large Hmong population in her district.

She had competition from Representative Jim Hagedorn, a Republican, who used eggs, sharp Cheddar, two pounds of bacon, and a pound of pork sausage for his Make’n Bacon Great Again hotdish, and Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, whose chickpea, chutney, and Tater Tot dish called Little Moga-Hotdishu was inspired by a Minnesota blogger’s samosa chaatdish.

The winner receives a trophy fashioned from a glass baking pan, the preferred vessel in which to bake hotdish. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2020 at 1:34 pm

Free Our Doctors, Engineers, Daycare Workers, Cheer Coaches, et al. from Fear

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Matt Stoller writes in Big:

I write a lot about the problem of concentration. Today I have something that you can actually *do* about it.

One thing I keep hearing over and over from people in different businesses is a sense of fear. Roughly 80% of the interviews I do start with ‘you’re not going to use my name, right?’ This is as true of conversations with cheer coaches as it is of tech engineers, printers, artists in Hollywood, office supply vendors, and software entrepreneurs. People are terrified of retaliation, and this fear is pervasive across the political economy.

Well today I’m going to explain one mechanism inducing this fear, and a way that you can actually push the Federal Trade Commission to block it. It’s known as a non-compete contract, and it’s a specific employment contract or clause in a contract that prohibits you from choosing to work for someone else in the same or a similar industry for a period of time. For the last six years, there’s been a debate over the nature and legality of these arrangements, and regulators and legislators are beginning to take action.

Now you can, as well.

I’m going to. And the reason is because, at its heart, a non-compete contract is a favorite toy of the Bobs.

The extent of non-competes is so extreme that it’s likely holding down wage growth and preventing the formation of new companies. The stories are endless. Doctors and nurses who are fired can’t tell their patients what happened, and they can’t open up practices near where they worked. Journalists can’t move to a different outlet. One scholar found that a high-end steakhouse prohibited employees from working at “any restaurant that featured steaks, chops, seafood or derived more than 25 percent of their revenue from the sale of beef.”

These agreements empower every mini-Napoleon in American life. Take this observation from Jane Flanagan the Chief of the Workplace Rights Bureau within the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

I remember speaking to one employee of a small spa and hair salon whose employer had enforced a non-compete against one former employee and would “brag” about that or sort of wave around the temporary restraining order she’d obtained to prevent other workers or dissuade other workers from looking for competitive offers. And, interestingly, those workers expressed that they felt this not only limited their outside options but it limited their ability to then complain about things like low wages or bad work schedules at that job that they felt stuck in.

These agreements are a big deal; roughly 20% of Americans in the workforce have a non-compete agreement, and 40% have signed a non-compete at some point in their careers. The argument for these contracts is that you may have some unique knowledge about a business, and you shouldn’t just be able to take that unique knowledge developed by someone else’s capital to a competitor. Traditionally these kinds of agreements bleed into trade secrets law, and were usually applied to top engineers with very specialized knowledge.

But today non-competes extend over huge swaths of the economy, everyone from camp counselors to check-cashing workers to hair stylists to cheer coaches to doctors. So that argument about trade secrets doesn’t hold. There are also serious problems with this theory on the merits; increasingly scholars are recognizing that California’s advantage in technology comes in part because it doesn’t allow non-competes to be enforced. As a result, engineers often their jobs to start or work at different companies, creating the weird ecosystem known as Silicon Valley.

This isn’t to say that employees leaving and going to a competitor can’t be a legal problem, such as when an employee is stealing customer lists or trade secrets. But non-competes aren’t solving for those problems, but for the problem of having to treat people with basic respect for fear they’ll leave the employment and get another job. Non-disclosure agreements and trade secret laws can handle such cases, we don’t need to have a legal regime verging on indentured servitude.

On a very basic level, non-competes strike me as obviously illegal. We have antitrust laws designed to foster competition, yet the literal nickname of these contracts is non-COMPETE. They remind me a bit of a time I was working on the financial crisis and someone said the ‘liar loans segments are defaulting at exceptionally high rates,’ and I asked, ‘wait there’s a segment of mortgages known in the industry as LIAR loans?!?’ (This is yet another example of antitrust and regulatory legal babble being divorced from reality.)

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to address this dynamic. The Federal Trade Commission has authority to ban “unfair methods of competition,” so it can just make these agreements illegal with a rule. Congress can also pass laws, and there are a bunch of bills co-sponsored by members of both parties. State attorneys general have some authority, and states can and do legislate against the practice.

Here’s how you can have an impact. Last month, finally, the FTC held a workshop on non-competes, and is considering taking action. And they are soliciting feedback from the public. If you want to weigh in, you can offer your views to the FTC here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FTC-2019-0093

It’s particularly useful if you’ve had experience with non-competes, but that’s not necessary. Here are some questions to answer when you send your feedback.

  • How did a non-compete affect your ability to look for work, accept a new job, or start a business?
  • Have you ever seen a useful application of a non-compete? What is the best way to distinguish between a useful application and a coercive one?
  • Did a non-compete ever prevent you from leaving an abusive, discriminatory, or unsafe work environment?
  • What, if any, ability and opportunity did you have to negotiate over your non-compete or the terms of it?

You can offer comments anonymously, or with your name attached. And the FTC really does take comments from the public seriously. I know it’s hard to believe this is the case, but it is. FTC staff and commissioners have  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2020 at 1:16 pm

Oh, that Otoko Organics!

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I do like Otoko Organics shaving “soap,” which is made from an odd formula by a colloidal chemist and has its fragrance from pear extract in the formula. It makes an interesting stiffish lather, and the keyhole brush had no problems with it at all.

Three passes with my increasingly valued Yaqi double-open-comb razor, and then a splash of the lovely Diplomat aftershave.

Went to Costco yesterday to get new glasses, my Zenni Optical glasses that I got five or six years ago finally giving up the ghost: a hinge, corroded no doubt from sweat (blogging is hard word), simply snapped. I did have a spare pair, also from ZO, that are not quite right, plus my prescription’s changed slightly, so I decided to get a new pair. To the surprise of no one who’s read my blog, I use progressive lenses, and Costco has a nice variant with a wider field of focus and less distortion. They’ll arrive sometime next wek.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2020 at 8:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Use a soroban — and teach your kids

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I used a soroban — a Japanese abacus — for some years, doing all my home bookkeeping on it. It really is quite fast and easy once you practice a bit and learn the basic movements.

The Japanese abacus has 1 bead above the central bar, this bead representing a vlue of 5, and 4 beads below the central bar, each representing a value of 1. Place value is assumed so the rightmost column represents units, and with all beads moved to the central bar, value 9 is represented (1 5-bead and 4 1-beads). The next column represents tends, and can prepresent a maximum of 90; the next column represents hundreds, and the maximum value is 900; and so on.

The Chinese abacus has two beads above the bar and five below, and the beads are ore rounded. Here’s a good soroban. Wooden beads are more pleasing than plastic (no surprise).

This instructional book is excellent, and you can also find YouTube tutorials. Just switching to the soroban in daily life will quickly produce profiency.

Full disclosure: I did learn and use the soroban long before spreadsheets were around. But I will say it’s enjoyable.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 January 2020 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Daily life, Math

Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency About Child Abuse. They lied.

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Of course, lying is pretty small potatoes compared to child rape and protecting child rapists, so no real surprise here. Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani, and Topher Sanders report in ProPublica:

It took 40 years and three bouts of cancer for Larry Giacalone to report his claim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Boston priest named Richard Donahue.

Giacalone sued Donahue in 2017, alleging the priest molested him in 1976, when Giacalone was 12 and Donahue was serving at Sacred Heart Parish. The lawsuit never went to trial, but a compensation program set up by the archdiocese concluded that Giacalone “suffered physical injuries and emotional injuries as a result of physical abuse” and directed the archdiocese to pay him $73,000.

Even after the claim was settled and the compensation paid in February 2019, however, the archdiocese didn’t publish Donahue’s name on its list of accused priests. Nor did it three months later when Giacalone’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, criticized the church publicly for not adding Donahue’s name to the list.

Church leaders finally added Donahue to the list last month after ProPublica asked why he hadn’t been included. But that, too, sowed confusion. Despite the determination that Giacalone was entitled to compensation, Donahue’s name was added to a portion of the list for priests accused in cases deemed “unsubstantiated” — where the archdiocese says it does not have sufficient evidence to determine whether the clergy member committed the alleged abuse.

“To award a victim a substantial amount of money, yet claim that the accused is not a pedophile, is an insult to one’s intelligence,” said Garabedian, who has handled hundreds of abuse cases over the last 25 years. “It’s a classic case of the archdiocese ducking, delaying and avoiding issues.”

Donahue, in an interview with ProPublica, denied the allegation by Giacalone.

Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests.

But even as bishops have dedicated these lists to abuse victims and depicted the disclosures as a public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, it has become clear that numerous alleged abusers have been omitted and that there is no standard for determining who each diocese considers credibly accused.

A spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese initially said Donahue wasn’t on its list of accused priests because he was still being investigated and subsequently called the delay an “oversight.”

Even when dioceses and religious orders identify credibly accused clergy members, the information they provide about those named varies widely. Some jurisdictions turn over far more specifics about problem priests — from where they worked to the number of their victims to the details of their wrongdoing — than others.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, or USCCB, has issued no instructions on disclosures related to credibly accused priests, leaving individual dioceses and religious orders to decide for themselves how much or how little to publish. The USCCB says it does not have the authority to order dioceses to release names or to resolve disputes over who should be on the lists, though in 2002 after a scandal in Boston, the conference did put in place new protocols intended to ensure alleged abuse by clergy was reported and tracked.

“Recognizing the authority of the local bishop, and the fact that state and local laws vary, the decision of whether and how to best release lists and comply with varying civil reporting laws have been the responsibility of individual dioceses,” said Chieko Noguchi, a USCCB spokeswoman.

While the USCCB can propose policies for church leaders in the U.S., the bishops themselves are appointed by the pope and answer to him.

ProPublica has collected the 178 lists released by U.S. dioceses and religious orders as of Jan. 20 and created a searchable database that allows users to look up clergy members by name, diocese or parish. This represents the first comprehensive picture of the information released publicly by bishops around the country. Some names appear multiple times. In many cases, that accounts for priests who were accused in more than one location. In other instances, dioceses have acknowledged when priests who served in their jurisdiction have been reported for abuse elsewhere.

Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI official who helped establish a new set of child protection protocols within the USCCB in the early 2000s, has urged bishops and religious orders for nearly two decades to create a comprehensive list of accused clergy. She said our database will allow the public to better track dioceses’ disclosures, rather than seeing each list in isolation.

“People don’t know where to look,” McChesney said. “The contribution of the one list will help a lot of people to perhaps identify someone that they believe abused them.”

Still, much crucial information remains missing. Despite . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

The Catholic church is an organization that lacks any moral vision or any serious commitment to moral behavior. I base that statement on its actions, not on its words, since its words are routinely contradicted by its actions.

See also:

The Catholic Church has not released a public list of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct or assault. However, over the last year and a half U.S. dioceses and religious orders serving most of the Catholics in the country have released lists of “credibly accused” abusers who have served in their ranks, using their own criteria for whom to include. ProPublica collected these lists to provide a central location to search across all reports. How we did this

Click this link to search the database.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 January 2020 at 1:27 pm

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