Later On

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

Archive for March 28th, 2020

A World Without Partisan Gerrymanders? Virginia Democrats Show the Way

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Note what Democrats do. Jesse Wegman writes in the NY Times:

Politicians rarely give up power voluntarily. They never give it up when they have free rein to lock it in for at least a decade, and exact long-overdue revenge against their political opponents.

But a group of Virginia Democrats did just that earlier this month, when they voted in favor of an amendment to the State Constitution stripping themselves of the power to redraw legislative district maps in 2021, after the decennial census.

Last fall, Democrats won majorities in both houses of the Virginia Legislature; with a Democratic governor already in office, they took full control of the state government for the first time in a generation. They had unlimited power to fashion the new maps in their favor, cementing their own grip on power just as Republicans around the country have done since the last redistricting cycle in 2011. Some Republican maps are so biased that they have given the G.O.P. legislative supermajorities even when the party loses the statewide popular vote, which happened in Wisconsin in 2018. So it’s entirely understandable for Democrats who regain power to want payback — now.

And yet nine Virginia Democrats agreed to put down their partisan swords and join Republicans to support the new amendment, which would require that the state’s district maps be drawn by a bipartisan commission made up of lawmakers and regular citizens. Voters must ratify the amendment in November before it will take effect.

The Democrats’ vote was a display of integrity and selflessness by members of a party with unified control of government. It placed long-term interest in the health of representative democracy over the shorter-term partisan benefits that both parties have been happy to exploit when they control redistricting.

The Virginia amendment’s passage is all the more important in the present moment, when voters everywhere have been left at the mercy of self-serving state lawmakers, thanks to the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene to stop even the most extreme partisan gerrymanders. The ruling last June, by a 5-to-4 vote, asserted that redistricting was a political matter to be resolved by the states, not the federal courts. The justices thus enshrined one of the most corrosive and anti-democratic practices in American politics.

Virginia’s new amendment would establish a 16-member commission, made up of eight lawmakers and eight citizens, divided evenly between the two major parties. A supermajority of both lawmaker and citizen commissioners would have to agree on a proposed map to send it to the Legislature and governor for approval. If they can’t, the job shifts to the State Supreme Court.

The amendment, which under the State Constitution had to pass the Legislature twice in a row before going to the voters, was first approved in 2019 by overwhelming bipartisan margins . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2020 at 8:57 pm

A Complete Guide To Actually Getting Somewhere With Meditation

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David at Raptitude has an interesting and useful introductory guide to meditation. It’s well worth reading. It begins:

It seems as though we’ve entered the “What do I do with myself?” phase of social distancing. Over the last week or two, several billion daily routines essentially evaporated, and now each of us has to make a new one. Indoors.

The wonderful comments from last week’s post offer a glimpse into the still-forming routines of more than 500 people. A major theme is getting back to things that ground us and keep us present: reading, arts and crafts, phoning old friends, yoga, baking, and meditation.

Basically, everyone’s trying to stay healthy, sane, connected, and as helpful as they can be from home. My hope is that we’ll come out of this experience changed in exactly those ways: some degree healthier, saner, more connected and more helpful.

Not everyone has more time these days, but with everything closed, we have fewer ways to spend it. So it’s a good time to dive into home-based pursuits that make us healthier and more resilient. As one person put it, “It’s bad time for many things, but it’s a good time to read the classics, bake bread, and learn to meditate.”

I can’t help anyone with their baking goals, but I can definitely help anyone who wants to use this time to become a meditator. Given my platform and my particular skills, perhaps the most useful thing I can do for our species right now is to help some of its members finally get somewhere with meditation.

After all, it can be learned without leaving the house, it requires no equipment, and its benefits are especially pertinent right now: the ability to cultivate calm, focus, and emotional resilience in the midst of uncertainty. It can help people work better from home, and sleep better at night.

Meditation is also something you can do now — today, despite all the current restrictions on normal life ­­– that will begin moving you towards a place of less anxiety and more clarity of mind.

Making Meditation Click

I say “get somewhere” with meditation because, while most aspiring meditators do experience some benefit, most probably don’t experience the life-changing level of calm and focus meditation is known for.

They may continue to do meditate a little, and get something out of it, but it never becomes transformative. It doesn’t have the profound quality-of-life benefits they probably hoped for when they started. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Note later in the post the free small course in Three-Minute Mindfulness.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2020 at 11:02 am

Kevin Drum has a whole series of good posts

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Take a look at them.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2020 at 11:00 am

Correction to food-handling video

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A video I posted earlier offered much bogus advice, as pointed out by a microbiologist in an interesting thread:

Read the whole thread.

And for a good video on food-handling watch the video in this post in Serious Eats — and read the post as well.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2020 at 10:21 am

Ah, the iKon 101 — what a pleasure!

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My Omega 20102 made a wonderful lather from LA Shaving Soap Company’s Vanilla/Eucalyptus/Mint shaving soap — and a fine soap it is, one of those standards everyone should try.

I’ve been told that the 101 is becoming scarce. It’s out of stock on the iKon site, and Maggard doesn’t have it. I suggest that if you come across one that’s for sale, snap it up. It’s a wonderful razor. (And perhaps iKon will replenish its supply post-pandemic.) The shave is extremely comfortable as well as extremely efficient — one of my favorite razors.

Three passes, smooth face, and a splash of Krampert’s Finest Acadian Bay Rum to complete the job.

The weekend begins on a very nice note. Hope yours is the same.

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2020 at 8:54 am

Posted in Shaving

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