Later On

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

Archive for April 15th, 2020

Map of Treasure Island based on Point Lobos

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I mentioned in an earlier post that “some say” Robert Louis Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island was based on Point Lobos. Then I remembered to use Google: here’s the story.

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Anki, a first-rate free flashcard app

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I downloaded the current version of Anki, a really good flashcard program. As the site notes:

Anki is a program that makes remembering things easy. Because it’s a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn. [or both – LG]

Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), the possibilities are endless.
For example:

• Learning a language
• Studying for medical and law exams
• Memorizing people’s names and faces
• Brushing up on geography
• Mastering long poems
• Even practicing guitar chords!

I will note that Anki’s own documentation is terrible  — see this post for a good description of how to make a deck.

Anki uses both active recall (you have to come up with the answer) and spaced repetition and reinforcement — that is, things harder to recall show up more frequently and things easier to recall not so often (but still do show up at intervals).

It’s worth noting that Anki works on iPhone and Android, so you can review and study wherever you are.

I did find some things about it puzzling at first, but I worked them out. Here’s what I wish I had known at the start. I highly recommend that you read that post and watch the video it contains.

Anki has a ton of shared decks of information ready to go:

AnkiWeb is a free companion to the computer version of Anki. AnkiWeb can be used to review online when you don’t have access to your home computer, and can be used to keep your cards synchronized across multiple machines.

AnkiWeb is intended to be used in conjunction with the computer version of Anki. While it is possible to create basic text-only cards and review them using only AnkiWeb, to download shared decks, take advantage of multimedia features and so on, you will need to use the free computer version as well. If you have not used Anki before, please start with the computer version.

And after you install the computer version, your first action is to click on “Sync” in the top-line menu to link your computer-resident Anki with your on-line Anki account so — as it says just above — you can keep your decks in synch regardless of where you reviewed the cards. Moreover, if the author of a deck updates it, you will automatically get the udated version.

Here are examples of ready-to-go decks:

Languages
ArabicChineseEnglish, Esperanto, FrenchGermanHebrewJapaneseKoreanRussianSpanish

Art, sciences, and trivia
AnatomyBiologyChemistryGeographyHistoryLawMathMusicPathologyPhysics

Anki is really an excellent program. Let me draw you attention to some decks that assist with learning Esperanto vocabulary. On the page that lists all Esperanto shared decks, note the columns at the right, particularly the number of notes (i.e., deck size) and shows where audio and/or images are included.

Esperanto 101 – based on recommendations from the editors of Kontakto
Esperanto Affixes  – excellent coverage of the set of Esperanto prefixes and suffixes
Lernu Esperanto Course Vocabulary
Esperanto Duolingo Words
Duolingo Esperanto, Checkpoint 0-1
Duolingo Esperanto, Checkpoint 1-2
Duolingo Esperanto, Checkpoint 2-3, V2

And note especially Esperanto to English ordered by Wikipedia Usage Frequency (61,907 notes!). Quite comprehensive — and keep in mind you can edit the cards in your own copy of the deck as you see fit. This deck strikes me as particularly valuable.

It’s a good idea to create your own deck for personal use, adding to it the words you run across that you didn’t know. In time this deck will become invaluable. Make sure that the deck uses a card form that will use both sides as prompts — that is, showing you the Esperanto word for you to provide the English definition, and separately showing you the English definition for you to provide the Esperanto word.

The can be useful for you who are studying languages at home with your children.

More information on Esperanto, including why it works so well.

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 4:55 pm

My idea of a treat

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The Wife’s idea of a treat tends toward carrot cake and chocolate, but my own taste is for the savory, like the nice lunch-time treat that I just made (and ate).

In a small bowl (like the bowl I used, shown at the right, post-treat) mix:

about 1/2 cup black-eyed peas
about 1/3 cup hulled barley
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/4 cup pickled peppers, minced
1/2 avocado, chopped small
about 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
good dash Frank’s Hot Sauce

I mixed that well, stirring with the spoon. The black-eyed peas had been cooked with a teaspoon of baking soda, so they were very tender. The hulled barley (cooked separately, natch) had also turned out well — tender with grains not clumped together.

It was a tasty treat — nutritious, healthful, and satisfying.

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 1:54 pm

The predictability of Trump when facing a crisis

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Graeme Wood in The Atlantic: “The move is simple. When Trump is ensnared in controversy, when he is being asked straightforward, damning questions and his inquisitors do not stop asking them, he says or does something outrageous to change the subject. It works every time. It is working now.”

I mentioned in the previous post the word “despicable.” It does seem to apply. President Trump is the head of state for the US government.

President Donald Trump announced yesterday evening that he will withdraw funding for the World Health Organization, on the grounds that it helped China cover up the origin and extent of its coronavirus outbreak. The United States pays for the largest fraction (in recent years, about 17 percent) of the WHO’s budget. The WHO, in turn, funds the COVID-19 responses of dozens of countries around the planet, some of which are extremely vulnerable to the disease.

At about this point in the analysis, the expected move might be to explain why hobbling the WHO is unwise—how doing so will make us all less healthy and less safe; how it will be remembered as a moment when the U.S. chose to hasten its decline as a superpower; how funding the WHO gives the U.S. power over the group, and China will step in to seize the control the U.S. has ceded.

All these points are true—but only a sucker would focus on them. Defunding the WHO (or at least threatening to do so) is yet another instance of Trump’s signature move, one that I described just weeks ago, when he insisted on calling SARS-CoV-2 “the Chinese virus,” and for a few days journalists and social-media scolds obediently modified their criticisms to fit his latest outrage. The move is simple. When Trump is ensnared in controversy, when he is being asked straightforward, damning questions and his inquisitors do not stop asking them, he says or does something outrageous to change the subject. It works every time. It is working now.

At some point, it is hard not to admire his ability to deploy this move, transparently, over and over, and have it serve its purpose. It is like watching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook, or Lionel Messi’s nimble dribbling; everyone has seen him do it hundreds and hundreds of times and has had ample time to practice a defense against it. But the execution is perfect, and as his opponents helplessly watch the points rack up, they should acknowledge that they are in the presence of rare talent.

The trick, as with the “Chinese virus,” is to choose a plausible enemy, one whose misdeeds are not only undeniable but vital to acknowledge. It is, of course, true that COVID-19 originated in China, and anyone who suggests otherwise should not be trusted. As for the WHO, its errors were serious and unforced. Its delegation to Wuhan helped China underplay the severity of the outbreak, costing the rest of the world precious weeks. It denied that COVID-19 was contagious among humans as late as January 14, in an infamous tweet. At that point, when the disease may have already been spreading silently in the United States, people who trusted the WHO for medical advice would reasonably have believed that they were safe as long as they skipped the bat carpaccio. Then Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official, appeared to suffer a neurological glitch on television when the presenter uttered the word Taiwan, a term forbidden by mainland China. Aylward had led the WHO delegation to Wuhan in February, and his aphasic reply to the presenter’s question suggested not only that the WHO had understated the outbreak and overpraised China’s response, but that the delegation had been brainwashed during its stay. These are all good reasons to criticize the WHO.

But to weigh these reasons, good and bad—the WHO’s sins against its virtues—is to go back to playing the sucker’s game, and to have an excellent view of Abdul-Jabbar’s armpit as the basketball hurtles overhead toward the hoop. Cutting off money to the WHO is not about policy. It is misdirection: Look here, not there, because you are calling attention to something you are not welcome to see. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 12:31 pm

As U.S. discouraged mask use for public, White House team raced to secure face coverings from Taiwan for senior staff

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The Trump administration in one word: despicable. Carol D. Leonnig, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and John Hudson report in the Washington Post:

In mid-March, a National Security Council team rushed to fix what they saw as a threat to the U.S. government’s ability to function amid the advancing pandemic: a lack of masks to protect enough staff on the White House complex.

Alarmed by the small cache and the growing signs of an acute shortage of protective gear in the United States, a senior NSC official turned to a foreign government for help, according to people familiar with the situation.

The outreach resulted in a donation of hundreds of thousands of surgical masks from Taiwan, which had plentiful domestic production and had sharply curtailed the spread of the coronavirus on the island.

While the bulk of Taiwan’s goodwill shipment went to the Strategic National Stockpile, 3,600 were set aside for White House staff and officials, administration officials said.

“While the administration had detailed pandemic response plans, somehow those did not include maintaining a supply of masks for White House personnel,” said an administration official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. “That was a lesson learned. We did look at buying some, but couldn’t find available supply.”

A White House spokesman disputed the notion that the complex did not have a sufficient supply of masks, but declined to say how many were on hand or why the NSC turned to a foreign government for a donation.

The urgent appeal to Taiwan on March 14 highlights a stark conflict between the Trump administration’s stance then on the use of masks and the race behind the scenes to obtain them for key White House personnel. At the time, the U.S. government was discouraging the public from wearing masks, saying that healthy people didn’t need them and that the gear should be saved for front-line medical workers most at risk of infection.

Because of that guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House was not issuing masks to its staff, according to two officials. But inside the NSC, a top deputy was convinced that face coverings should be used more broadly to protect both his team and the public at large.

The resulting arrangement he struck with Taipei made thousands of masks available for White House staff use two weeks before the administration reversed policy and advised that citizens should broadly begin wearing cloth face coverings in public.

[New face mask guidance comes after battle between White House and CDC]

The episode reveals how some top White House officials were pushing for a wider embrace of masks early on to help slow the infection’s spread.

President Trump resisted endorsing such guidance, the subject of sharp debate between his advisers and government health experts, and even after doing so, declared that he would not personally wear one. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 12:04 pm

Another unexpected but welcome extra-soft shave result

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Once again my shave was exceptional in the final result: skin extremely smooth and feeling quite soft. The Vie-Long horsehair brush certainly did a fine job, and Declaration Grooming’s bison-tallow soap is indeed quite nice:

Stearic Acid, Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Avocado Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Bison Tallow, Mango Seed Butter, Castor Oil, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide, Lanolin, Bentonite Clay, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid

Note that this is their old formulation. The new one, which I’ve not yet tried but about which I’ve heard good things:

Stearic Acid, Water, Castor Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Vegetable Glycerin, Bison Tallow, Mango Butter, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Sodium Hydroxide, Lanolin, Bentonite Clay, Yogurt, Buttermilk, Egg Whites, Coconut Milk, Goat’s Milk, Tocopheryl Acetate, Maltodextrin, Milk Protein, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract,  Arctium lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Silk Amino Acids

I must try that at some point.

Credit must go to my Feather AS-D1 (one of the good ones — some were flawed and remarkably inefficient, thus the AS-D2), which for me has always done an excellent job.

But perhaps the decide factor is Chatillon Lux’s aftershave. As I note in this earlier post, this aftershave feels very pleasant on the face, and it undoubtedly contributed to the soft skin feel. Ingredients:

Denatured alcohol, chamomile extract, calendula extract, witch hazel, aloe vera, cat’s claw bark extract, polysorbate 20, fragrance, vegetable glycerin, menthol

Written by Leisureguy

15 April 2020 at 8:52 am

Posted in Shaving

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