Later On

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

Archive for April 23rd, 2020

The destruction of the US government proceeds apace

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Heather Cox Richardson writes in her column:

I’m going to start tonight with an important story that slipped under the radar on a day when one outrageous performance after another grabbed headlines.

On its surface, the story doesn’t seem terribly important. A number of congressional committees have asked the Office of Personnel Management for updates on how the OPM is handling working conditions for federal employees during the coronavirus crisis. OPM is declining to answer the requests. “It has always been difficult to get information from this administration, but the refusal to provide Congress with a basic briefing during a pandemic is especially egregious,” said a Democratic Senate aide to Politico reporter Daniel Lippman. “We’ve never been denied a briefing like this before.”

But the story is actually very significant. The OPM oversees the 2 million workers in the federal government. In mid-February, after Republican Senators acquitted him in his impeachment trial, Trump set out to purge the federal workforce of civil servants, whom he sees as “snakes,” and replace them with political appointees loyal to him.

To head the Presidential Personnel Office, which recruits candidates for the executive branch, Trump brought in John McEntee, who had been fired from a former position in the White House by former chief of staff John Kelly over a security clearance. On March 17, McEntee forced the director of the Office of Personnel Management, Dale Cabaniss, who had significant personnel experience, to resign. Michael Rigas, formerly of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, took his place. (Phew. I know… but this is going somewhere important.)

The change from Cabaniss to Rigas at the head of OPM transpired just as the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the nation hard.

Rigas has said he believes the 1883 Pendleton Act is unconstitutional. Congress passed the Pendleton Act, also known as the Civil Service Act, after a mentally-ill office seeker shot President James Garfield in 1881. Until then, government positions had been handed out to political loyalists, regardless of their capacity to do the job, but the assassination created a public outcry. Charles Guiteau shot Garfield with the expectation that, once elevated to the presidency, Garfield’s vice president would give Guiteau the position his delusions made him think he deserved. The assassination built momentum behind the idea that government should be non-partisan, and that positions should be filled by people actually equipped to do the job. This sentiment has ruled the nation ever since.

Non-partisan civil service has proved a blessing to the nation in two ways. First of all, over time, as more and more positions came under the act, the government got much more efficient. Second, a non-partisan corps of officials has kept the nation stable since they give their loyalty to the country’s government, rather than to any particular president. Administrations come and go, but government bureaucrats keep the nation on an even keel.

Now, Rigas, the man at the head of the federal government’s 2 million workers, wants to get rid of that system and make all employees of the executive branch political appointees, loyal not to the country but to Trump. Rigas is working with McEntee at the PPO. As of a few weeks ago, agencies now have to submit job openings to the PPO to see if they have anyone they want in the position before they can submit their own choice for it. PPO is filling positions with keen regard for their loyalty: recently it has hired four college seniors to become administration officials.

OPM is the office that is refusing to tell Congress what it’s up to.

Today offered some guesses. Dr. Rick Bright, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, claimed that he was let go from his job for crossing Trump. BARDA is charged with protecting us from pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases (EID) and Bright is a specialist in those areas. He headed the federal agency developing a coronavirus vaccine, and refused to use the agency’s significant budget to promote hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug Trump has been pushing as a treatment for the coronavirus. Bright was . . .

Continue reading.

And nothing is done. We’re watching it happen, and nothing is done to stop it — well, something was done: Trump was impeached. But the GOP refused to convict because the GOP wants him in office and the GOP, thanks to the Senate’s grossly disproportionate representation, can stop progress. And they do.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 4:42 pm

Former Labradoodle breeder tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force

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Aram Roston reports for Reuters:

On January 21, the day the first U.S. case of coronavirus was reported, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared on Fox News to report the latest on the disease as it ravaged China. Alex Azar, a 52-year-old lawyer and former drug industry executive, assured Americans the U.S. government was prepared.

“We developed a diagnostic test at the CDC, so we can confirm if somebody has this,” Azar said. “We will be spreading that diagnostic around the country so that we are able to do rapid testing on site.”

While coronavirus in Wuhan, China, was “potentially serious,” Azar assured viewers in America, it “was one for which we have a playbook.”

Azar’s initial comments misfired on two fronts. Like many U.S. officials, from President Donald Trump on down, he underestimated the pandemic’s severity. He also overestimated his agency’s preparedness.

As is now widely known, two agencies Azar oversaw as HHS secretary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, wouldn’t come up with viable tests for five and half weeks, even as other countries and the World Health Organization had already prepared their own.

Shortly after his televised comments, Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him “the dog breeder.”

Azar’s optimistic public pronouncement and choice of an inexperienced manager are emblematic of his agency’s oft-troubled response to the crisis. His HHS is a behemoth department, overseeing almost every federal public health agency in the country, with a $1.3 trillion budget that exceeds the gross national product of most countries.

Azar and his top deputies oversaw health agencies that were slow to alert the public to the magnitude of the crisis, to produce a test to tell patients if they were sick, and to provide protective masks to hospitals even as physicians pleaded for them.

The first test created by the CDC, meant to be used by other labs, was plagued by a glitch that rendered it useless and wasn’t fixed for weeks. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

The US Federal government is very badly broken.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 2:38 pm

A Precedent Overturned Reveals a Supreme Court in Crisis

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Linda Greenhouse writes in the NY Times:

The country wasn’t exactly holding its breath for the Supreme Court’s decision this week that the Constitution requires juror unanimity for a felony conviction in state court. The case promised little change. Unanimity has long been understood as constitutionally required in federal court as a matter of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury.

The only outlier among the states was Oregon. Louisiana, where the case originated in an appeal brought by a man convicted of murder in 2016 by a 10-to-2 vote, changed its rule two years later to require unanimity going forward. Six Supreme Court justices agreed this week that contrary to the outcome of a 1972 case, there is not one rule for the federal courts and another for the states: Conviction only by a unanimous jury verdict is now the rule for both.

That sounds almost too straightforward to be very interesting. Even people with more than a passing interest in the Supreme Court may well have thought, “Well, then that’s that,” before moving on to other cases, other concerns.

That would have been a mistake. This decision, Ramos v. Louisiana, is in fact one of the most fascinating Supreme Court products I’ve seen in a long time, and one of the most revealing. Below the surface of its 6-to-3 outcome lies a maelstrom of clashing agendas having little to do with the question ostensibly at hand and a great deal to do with the court’s future. Peek under the hood and see a Supreme Court in crisis.

Consider that it took nearly seven months from the argument last October for the justices to come up with something they were willing to send out into the world: five separate opinions, a total of 83 pages, to answer the straightforward question presented by Evangelisto Ramos’s petition: “Whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict.” (“Incorporates” refers to the ongoing process of applying the guarantees of the Bill of Rights — which by their terms apply only to Congress — to the states.)

Simple as that question appeared to be, this case meant trouble at the court from the start. The decision to grant review in the first place was a disputed one, or so we can infer from the fact that the justices considered Mr. Ramos’s petition at eight of their closed-door conferences, beginning in October 2018, before finally granting it in March of last year. Petitions are usually granted after one or two conferences, so such prolonged consideration indicates some kind of internal struggle as proponents search for the necessary four votes.

That there was a struggle was hardly surprising, because the grant of review marked a sharp and unexplained break with the recent past. On 10 previous occasions, including three times in the past three years, the court denied petitions from Louisiana and Oregon inmates appealing jury verdicts that were not unanimous. After Louisiana changed its law in 2018, leaving only Oregon, there would have seemed less reason to take up the issue of whether Apodaca v. Oregon, the 1972 ruling that let states keep their majority juries, should be overturned. In the most recent denial, in June 2018, the court turned down a petition filed by the same lawyer who represented Mr. Ramos. That petition, Magee v. Louisiana, presented precisely the same question, word for word. The court denied review after only one conference, with no noted dissent and without even requesting a response from the state.

So something changed between June 2018 and March 2019, when the court granted the Ramos case. I think the change is obvious: Justice Anthony Kennedy retired and Justice Brett Kavanaugh took his place.

I have no reason to think Justice Kavanaugh is particularly interested in jury unanimity. But I do remember his carefully chosen words to Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who supports abortion rights, words she found sufficiently reassuring to earn her vote for his bitterly contested confirmation. Roe v. Wade was “settled law,” he said, a statement of the obvious but sufficiently nuanced to take the relieved senator off the hook. Recalling that masterful locution, it comes as no surprise to find Justice Kavanaugh passionately interested in the nature and meaning of Supreme Court precedent. And on this court, in this case, he was not alone.

Was it Justice Kavanaugh’s vote to hear the Ramos case that broke the logjam and enabled the court to grant review? We may never know. But from the multiple opinions, including his, it’s clear that what this case was really about was precedent: when to honor it, when to discard it and how to shape public perceptions of doing the latter. Justice Kavanaugh’s 18-page concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, included a list of 30 of “the court’s most notable and consequential decisions” that overturned earlier rulings — a kind of “30 ways to leave your lover” inventory of decisions that occupied the ideological spectrum from Brown v. Board of Education to Citizens United.

“Indeed,” he observed, “in just the last few terms, every current member of this court has voted to overrule multiple constitutional precedents.” Hey, overturning precedent is so commonplace these days as to be virtually painless. Look, everyone does it. I can, too.

It was a noteworthy performance by the court’s junior justice, but not the most notable feature of the decision. The case left the court’s usual ideological alignment in shambles. The six justices who voted to require unanimous juries were, in addition to Justice Kavanaugh, . . .

Continue reading.

Things are breaking down…

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Law

Online exhibits from Stanford University Libraries

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It turns out that there are many online exhibits to peruse.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 1:45 pm

The Catastrophic American Response to the Coronavirus

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Isaac Chotiner interview Jeremy Sachs for the New Yorker:

In the early nineties, the economist Jeffrey Sachs was known as a “shock therapist,” for advising the Soviet Union on its controversial transition to a free-market economy. Since then, Sachs has shifted his focus to poverty alleviation and international development, becoming one of the most visible academics in the world. His book “The End of Poverty,” from 2005, imagined a globe free of the worst forms of destitution; Sachs also attributed misgovernment in much of Africa to poverty, rather than the other way around. (This thesis was much debated by other economists and development experts who were more skeptical about the impact of foreign aid.) From 2002 to 2016, Sachs was the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute; he is currently a professor at the university and an adviser to the United Nations. He endorsed Bernie Sanders for President in January and has occasionally advised the senator.

I recently spoke by phone with Sachs about the coronavirus and the challenges that the crisis poses to international coöperation and the world economy. His upcoming book is “The Ages of Globalization.” In our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed the root causes of American decline, why some poorer countries have so far avoided large outbreaks, and how Donald Trump has failed to meet even the low expectations that internationalists have for the United States.

One dominant theme in the coverage of the coronavirus has been the supposed trade-off between the economy and our health. In a short-term or a long-term sense, do you accept that premise?

The only way to have a viable economy and society is to control this epidemic. So it’s not really a trade-off. The question is how to be effective in controlling the epidemic and driving the transmission of the disease to very low levels. Simply letting the virus run through the society would be unacceptably costly, and that’s why essentially no country in the world is doing that. The real issue is to be effective in the response, and unfortunately the United States has not been effective so far.

Did any lessons you learned working in countries around the world inform your opinion of how to deal with this latest crisis?

There are many aspects of any major crisis that are similar in character, in that they require governments to assess the situation with sophistication, to identify options, to come up with strategies, and to implement them. Crisis management has a lot of common points. The nature of the crisis could be geopolitical. It could be a climate-related shock or a disease.

I would say the core issues are the capacity of political leaders and their inner team, and the capacity of the institutions of governance—agencies, departments, and ministries—to be able to process information in a timely way and to be able to harness expert advice and evidence in a timely way. We live in a complicated world. If you try to wing it, as Trump does, you end up with more than forty thousand deaths. If you want to solve a problem, you have to be systematic about it, and know whom to turn to and how to listen and amass evidence. For politicians, that doesn’t necessarily come naturally, and for our President it doesn’t come at all.

Is there some leader Trump reminds you of whom you’ve worked with?

Trump is the worst political leader I have experienced in all of my professional life, which is forty years of working with governments at a high level. I’ve never seen anything like the narcissism of this man, and here we are, a country so rich in expertise, in resources, in capacities, and yet we’re watching a complete failure of a political response—with a massive loss of life—in real time. It’s quite shocking, because Trump not only does not know how to approach this issue but he blocks those who do.

Something you’ve become known for is this idea that one of the reasons there are bad governments in the world is because of poverty, rather than looking at poverty as the result of bad governance. Is that a fair summary?

Yeah. That certainly is one part of it, absolutely. Politics comes in many shapes and forms, and I was arguing that in many poor places you have potentially high capacity to address problems, except that the resources aren’t there for that. So the argument was that helping poor countries could actually accomplish something, because what they most fundamentally lacked was resources.

You have just finished saying that Trump is the worst leader you’ve ever seen. And we are seeing leaders all around the world, even in rich countries, handling this pandemic disastrously. These are countries with immense wealth, with immense scientific knowledge, and immense resources, and the governance is still in many cases atrocious. So does that make you think at all differently about your theory?

Well, my point was that the quality of governance is not intrinsically linked to one’s G.D.P. per capita, and that a poor place, if it had more resources, could often accomplish a lot. And I’d say the converse is that a rich place that’s badly governed accomplishes very little. So it’s consistent with that idea that you don’t simply say rich means good governance and poor means bad governance. That actually was my point fifteen years ago. It remains my point today—that here we have rich countries but their political systems are failing the people.

Poor countries could have good responses, in fact, but often lack the means to carry them out. We don’t lack the means to carry out good responses in the United States; we lack the leadership to do so, and there are reasons for that. Basically, American politics has become deeply corrupt over decades, and it became so corrupt that normal governance already collapsed many years ago. And people with resources and knowledge know it, but they haven’t cared, because things have more or less gone on O.K., and the stock market has been booming, and even though in almost any private conversation Trump is viewed as a complete dolt and a complete incompetent, that was more or less laughed off as manageable because he wasn’t doing too much damage, either.

That’s the real situation. Nobody here has viewed government as actually very functional for a long time, and not because it couldn’t be. It has been increasingly designed to fail. Specifically, it’s been designed to respond to powerful lobbies that want deregulation or tax cuts or some special privileges rather than to function in a normal way. And powerful people shrug their shoulders at that, because for the élites that’s been O.K., but it obviously hasn’t really been O.K. for a long time. We’ve had rising death rates. We’ve had the deaths of despair. We’ve had the failure to come to grips with climate change. We’ve had widening inequalities and massive suffering. But it hasn’t mattered in such a visible way.

So what you were saying before was that these countries don’t have the resources to have good governance, but you’re saying now that if you do have the resources you still need all these other things that, in America, we either once had and don’t have anymore or have let go because of the way our ruling class has behaved?

Yeah. Let me explain, just to clarify. . .

Continue reading. There’s more. No paywall for this one, it seems.

There’s some very interesting discussion of the difference in the global public health initiatives of George W. Bush (good) and Barack Obama (poor).

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 1:19 pm

‘Sadness’ and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership

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Katrin Bennhold writes in the NY Times:

BERLIN — As images of America’s overwhelmed hospital wards and snaking jobless lines have flickered across the world, people on the European side of the Atlantic are looking at the richest and most powerful nation in the world with disbelief.

“When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” said Henrik Enderlein, president of the Berlin-based Hertie School, a university focused on public policy. “We are all stunned. Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million,” he added.

“I feel a desperate sadness,” said Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European history at Oxford University and a lifelong and ardent Atlanticist.

The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.

Today it is leading in a different way: More than 840,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and at least 46,784 have died from it, more than anywhere else in the world.

As the calamity unfolds, President Trump and state governors are not only arguing over what to do, but also over who has the authority to do it. Mr. Trump has fomented protests against the safety measures urged by scientific advisers, misrepresented facts about the virus and the government response nearly daily, and this week used the virus to cut off the issuing of green cards to people seeking to emigrate to the United States.

“America has not done badly, it has done exceptionally badly,” said Dominique Moïsi, a political scientist and senior adviser at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne.

The pandemic has exposed the strengths and weaknesses of just about every society, Mr. Moïsi noted. It has demonstrated the strength of, and suppression of information by, an authoritarian Chinese state as it imposed a lockdown in the city of Wuhan. It has shown the value of Germany’s deep well of public trust and collective spirit, even as it has underscored the country’s reluctance to step up forcefully and lead Europe.

And in the United States, it has exposed two great weaknesses that, in the eyes of many Europeans, have compounded one another: the erratic leadership of Mr. Trump, who has devalued expertise and often refused to follow the advice of his scientific advisers, and the absence of a robust public health care system and social safety net.

“America prepared for the wrong kind of war,” Mr. Moïsi said. “It prepared for a new 9/11, but instead a virus came.”

“It raises the question: Has America become the wrong kind of power with the wrong kind of priorities?” he asked.

Ever since Mr. Trump moved into the White House and turned America First into his administration’s guiding mantra, Europeans have had to get used to the president’s casual willingness to risk decades-old alliances and rip up international agreements. Early on, he called NATO “obsolete” and withdrew U.S. support from the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

But this is perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking to the United States for leadership.

In Berlin, Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has said as much. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

“There is not only no global leadership, there is no national and no federal leadership in the United States,” said Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Growth Lab at Harvard’s Center for International Development. “In some sense this is the failure of leadership of the U.S. in the U.S.”

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 1:10 pm

Europe’s Economy Was Hit Hard Too, But Jobs Didn’t Disappear As In The U.S.

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Jim Zarroli reports at NPR:

When the British economy ground to a halt a few weeks ago, Reda Maher suddenly found himself among the ranks of the unemployed, alongside untold millions of other people around the world.

But unlike many others, Maher can rest easy, knowing that money will keep flowing into his bank account until he’s called back to work.

“I woke up a couple of hours later than I normally would. I won’t lie,” Maher said one afternoon earlier this month. “I took a nice long masked and gloved walk. I’ve got a remote personal training like fitness session in about 20 minutes.”

The United Kingdom recently began paying 80% of the salaries of workers laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The government caps the pay at about $3,000 a month, but many employers, including the London-based video streaming service where Maher works, add to what the government hands out.

Maher also doesn’t need to worry about being left without health care coverage, thanks to Britain’s National Health Service.

Across Europe and in Canada, governments are easing the plight of workers idled because of the coronavirus pandemic by essentially paying part of their salaries, says Gabriel Zucman, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

“What it means is that people remain on the books. … They keep receiving their salaries,” Zucman says. “And when social distancing ends, they will just return to work, as if they had been on a long, government-paid leave.” [similar, it strikes me, to the paid administrative leave a US police officer gets for shooting someone – LG]

It’s much more humane than in the United States, where some 26 million workers have lost their jobs over the past five weeks, Zucman says. Under the American system, workers are typically fired. They file for unemployment benefits and have to look for new work, he says. Many risk losing their health insurance benefits altogether.

Even if they are eventually rehired — and there’s no guarantee of that — the experience is brutal and anxiety-ridden, Zucman and fellow Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez wrote in a recent op-ed in The New York Times.

The European systems are also less disruptive for businesses, who know that when the current crisis ends, they can simply call their employees back to work right away, picking up where they left off.

“It basically means we will survive and we will be able to keep the workforce on board. So that’s a pretty powerful tool actually for us,” says Alexander Kranki, who runs a software development company near Düsseldorf that employs 130 people.

Under Germany’s Kurzarbeit system, the government pays much of the salaries to laid-off workers for up to 12 months during economic crises. That means Kranki doesn’t have to worry that employees he’s recruited and trained over the years will defect to other companies.

In the United States, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 1:01 pm

More great jazz, with a focus on the East Bay Revival

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I exchanged emails with Dave Redlauer, the man behind Jazz Rhythms, and he pointed to the Stanford University Libraries online collection of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation. Dave was responsible for the section The East Bay Sound. (Full disclosure: The Wife works for Stanford Public Libraries.)

Watch, for example, The Great Revival, which gives a brief history of the Lu Watters and Turk Murphy story. I like the Turk Murphy band a lot and had quite a collection, and I particularly liked vocalist that sang briefly with him: Claire Austin. She was a walk-on — just asked if she could single a number with the band. She was really good, and her training, as I recall reading, was singing Billie Holiday songs while ironing. She eventually decided not to continue with the band — she lived in Sacramento, so it was quite a drive to be with the band in San Francisco — and returned to be a housewife.

But that apparently was not the end of the story. I was searching to see if one of her songs I particularly like, “Oh Daddy,” was available online, and I found that she has a few albums on Spotify, including that song. She’s also well represented on YouTube. This video is sorely lacking in credits in the notes, but this was recorded with the Turk Murphy (note tuba, for example).

Dave wrote:

Here’s a behind the scenes peek.  The website is way overdue for updating.  I’ve been building it out since before 2000, but in real earnest since about 2010.

The last few years most of my energy has been going into the articles I’m publishing at Syncopated Times, Dagogo and other publications both online and print — about 100 during the last decade.  Those narratives are based on some of my best programs and pages — oftentimes highlighted with audio clips from the relevant shows.

Then I recycle that writing back onto the webpages.  Most recently Ellington Live, James P. Johnson, Billie Holiday, Buddy Bolden, Bunny Berigan, Buck Clayton, Frank Goudie in Paris 1924-39, and so forth.  The web pages are more modular and non-linear, trying to catch the eye or ear with episodic chunks or features.  And the pages serve as a showcase for the complete radio programs.  But in the end pages are more compete and in-depth that the articles.

Keeping a website of this size is like tending a garden — seasonal weeding, pruning and nutrition; finding areas that need reorganization or overhaul.  Frankly, some of the writing goes back decades and is not up to my current standards, although all the radio programs are.

Most of the syndicated programs were produced between about 1998-2010 (excluding the vintage pre-syndication stuff from the local series on KALW).  They are still being broadcast on a handful of, mostly, low-power or online affiliates.   Even when I had NPR stations, it was no more than about a dozen at a time.

Lastly, the materials I’ve donated in a special collection at the Stanford Libraries archives [The Dave Radlauer Jazz Collection at Stanford Libraries — Braun Music Library – LG] cannot be referenced or accessed online . . . yet.  But I did contribute to Stanford’s public-facing interface for a related online collection of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation, the section and articles found under the heading The East Bay Sound.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Jazz

Hamlet as a vlogger

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This is fascinating. From Gary Cook’s description of his work: “An adaptation of Hamlet where Hamlet is a popular vlogger who frequently posts his breakdowns online”

He’s got several pieces up on Youtube. Here’s his (well-done and interesting) version of the soliloquy:

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 10:53 am

Posted in Art, Movies & TV, Video

Mindset and its detractors

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I found Carol Dweck’s book and research concerning the effect on one’s mindset on ease of learning to be convincing, and in fact include her book Mindset in my list of books that I find myself repeatedly recommending. However, as I looked around for the link to the old Mindset site, I discovered that Dweck’s mindset theory is not so strongly established as she presented — see this article.

Nevertheless, I do believe that it helps a student if s/he views difficulties in learning something new as promising rather than discouraging, as a sign that if you persist you achieve something of value, and that it’s good in those early stages to focus your attention on your progress (which typically in the early stages of learning is good) and not on the results (which typically in the early stages of learning are not so good).

Certainly I’ve found myself less discouraged when I view rough spots in learning new things as something that I can polish away through practice rather than as warnings to give up and turn back. Taking a positive attitude toward early difficulties does help one persist and damps down desperation.

This idea long predates Dweck, of course. Sales courses present customer objections as a good sign and work to train the sales staff to view objections as positive, for the obvious reasons that sales people will encounter objections, and if they quit when they do they’ll never make a sale — thus books such as The Sale Begins When the Customer Says No.

The idea of seeing early difficulties as a good sign is IMO a useful mental trick along the lines of a pool/billiars/snooker player being advised not to aim to hit the cue ball but to hit through the cue ball, as if aiming to strike a point on the far side of the ball — or a golfer being advised to focus on the follow-through, the part of the swing after the ball has already be struck and left the club. Those mindsets do have a positive effect on performance, and in the same way, one’s learning skills are helped by viewing early mistakes in learning something new as a promising signs that point out areas to improve.

See “Learning a New Skill Is a Struggle — Find Pleasure in It,” an article I posted in Medium.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 10:23 am

Another discovery in the link list: Jazz Rhythm

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As I continue my housekeeping chore of weeding the link list and updating descriptions of the link I’m keeping (links A-M now completed), I rediscover some excellent sites I’ve left fallow for too long. Jazz Rhythm is a terrific site with a great jazz collection, available as audio with commentary, well-organized and with good articles.

Try it out. Worth a bookmark.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 10:05 am

Rockwell 6S 3R and Star Jelly again

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I decided to try Phoenix Artisan’s Star Jelly once more, but after shaving with a different razor. My Simpson Duke 3 Best made a terrific lather from Alt-Eleven, which is the standard Phoenix Artisan soap rather than CK-6, and the Rockwell did indeed do a great job. I really like this razor for a number of reasons: I like the baseplate grips at the ends of the baseplate, I certainly like how it shaves, I like that it’s made of stainless steel, and I particularly like the feel of the handle.

Three passes, quite smooth, and a dab of Alt-Eleven Star Jelly — and lo!, the supple smooth skin presents itself.

I think it’s a combination of prep, soap formulation, razor, blade, aftershave, and luck.

Written by Leisureguy

23 April 2020 at 9:10 am

Posted in Shaving

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