Later On

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

Archive for June 8th, 2020

Video timeline — constructed from many sources — of clearing the crowd for Trump’s photo-op

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 2:41 pm

Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale // LSO Chamber Ensemble & Malcolm Sinclair

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A brief musical interlude.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Music, Video

The Common Seaman in the Heroic Age of Sail 1740–1840

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Come Hell or High Water, by Stephen Taylor, seems a book useful to read in conjunction with Patrick O’Brian’s series of British Naval novels that begin with the trilogy:

Master and Commander
Post Captain
HMS Surprise.

Matthew Lyons reviews the book in Literary Review:

Early in the 19th century, there were some 260,000 of them across Britain’s naval and merchant fleets. People called them Jacks, but they are mostly nameless – or nameless to history. Even on surviving muster lists, seamen’s identities can be hidden behind pseudonyms. Some of these – George Million or Jacob Blackbeard, say – express a degree of wish fulfilment. Others are more whimsical: a Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar could be found on board the Calcutta-bound Tyger in 1757.

To join them was to enter another world, with its own laws (the thirty-six Articles of War, read to them every Sunday, besides whatever strictures a captain thought fit to apply), its own rituals and its own argot. ‘All seemed strange,’ one former ship’s boy recalled of his first days on board, ‘different language and strange expressions of tongue, that I thought myself always asleep, and never properly awake.’

There were, of course, distinctions among them. The lowest of the low were the waisters, comprised of old men, boys and the most inexperienced landsmen, good for nothing but drudgery. Then came the afterguard, consisting of ordinary seamen and more skilled landsmen, who trimmed the after yards and the sails. Above them were the forecastlemen, able seamen who handled the lower ropes and saw to weighing and anchoring. Princes over all of them were the topmen (or Foremast Jacks), who went aloft to bend or reef the sails, even in the highest of seas.

As Stephen Taylor argues in this enthralling new book, it was men like these who, in the great age of sail, made the British Empire possible. He tells the story of Britain’s rise to maritime supremacy in roughly the century from 1750 to 1850, using first-hand accounts of life on the lower decks, official records – ships’ logs, muster rolls, court martials and so on – and other contemporary sources.

Because of the immediacy of these sources, and Taylor’s deft, incisive use of them, it is the men, not the nation, to whom Sons of the Waves belongs. ‘Out of the King’s service they are in general citizens of the world,’ one officer wrote of them. Jacks might have made the British Empire possible, but they were only circumstantially loyal to it.

When their personal discontent became intolerable, they deserted in their tens of thousands. Nelson himself reckoned that 42,000 deserted between 1793 and 1802 alone, a figure Taylor believes may be on the low side. Their skills made them highly prized commodities and they were happy to sail under any flag, towards any compass point. The institution that valued that commodity least was the Royal Navy.

Perhaps the most resented British naval practice in this period was . . .

Continue reading.


Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Military

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Permanent Assumptions

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Morgan Housel writes at Collaborative Fund:

If you were told in January what April would look like, you wouldn’t have believed it. If you were told in April that in May we’d face a nationwide protest so important it would crowd out almost all Covid-19 news, you wouldn’t have believed it.

How do you analyze the world when everything feels broken?

And how do you even begin to make sense of the future when things change so fast?

Humbly, is the answer.

But humility doesn’t mean clueless.

Some things are always changing and can’t be known. There can also be a handful of things you have unshakable faith in – your permanent assumptions.

Realizing it’s not inconsistent to have no view about the future path of some things but unwavering views about the path of others is how you stay humble without giving up. And the good news when the world is a dark cloud of uncertainty is that those permanent assumptions tend to be what matter most over time.

Amazon is successful because it predicted how the world would change. But it’s been really successful because it bet heavily on what wouldn’t change – a permanent assumption. Jeff Bezos said:

You can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff I love Amazon, I just wish the prices were a little higher.” Or, “I love Amazon, I just wish you’d deliver a little slower.” Impossible.

So we know the energy we put into these things today will still be paying off dividends 10 years from now. When you have something you know is true, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.

When you have something you know is true, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it. That’s why permanent assumptions are important.

I have no idea what’s going to happen next in the economy or society. But I have a handful of permanent assumptions I’ve put a lot of energy and faith into that guide almost everything I think about business and investing.

Here are nine.

1. More people wake up every morning wanting to solve problems than wake up looking to cause harm. But people who cause harm get more attention than people who solve problems. So slow progress amid a drumbeat of bad news is the normal state of affairs.

2. The world breaks about once a decade. There are so few exceptions it’s astounding. It can be economic, political, military, social, or a mix. But it breaks all time, in ways few see coming. The breaks aren’t as scary if you have a permanent assumption that they’ll keep happening and don’t preclude long-term growth.

3. Stories are more powerful than statistics. And most statistics are incomplete props to justify a story. Stories are easier to remember, easier to relate to, and emotionally persuasive.

4. Nothing too good or too bad stays that way forever, because great times plant the seeds of their own destruction through complacency and leverage, and bad times plant the seeds of their own turnaround through opportunity and panic-driven problem-solving.

5. Knowing there will be a . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 2:07 pm

The direct method of teaching Esperanto via YouTube

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The direct method of teaching a language uses only that language, along with gesture, mimicry, drawings, diagrams, maps, calendar, clock, color charts, photos, articles of clothing, cookware and tableware, tools, household supplies and equipment, sports equipment, models (of trains, cars, planes, boats, and so on), and other props.

The direct method can be very effective because learners associate their new vocabulary directly with the objective referent rather than with words in another language. If someone holds up a hammer and says “martelo” several times, you associate “martelo” directly with that object rather than with the English word “hammer.”

Moreover, if the teacher is holding a hammer and says “martelo,” s/he can also then point to the various parts of the hammer and provide the names for those, and also use the hammer and provide the name for that action along with the word “najlo” (nail) and “tabulo” (board), all the while using only the target language.

Today, with the global reach of YouTube, the direct method comes into its own since it is independent of any native language. A direct method language course can be used equally well to teach speakers of any language at all.

The course can begin with a native-language Lesson 0 to explain (in the viewer’s native language) how the course works and what will happen. Then, from Lesson 1 on, only Esperanto is spoken. (This is what various graduate-level math textbooks have done: Chapter 0 sets out the basic premises and establishes the foundation of knowledge the course assumes, and then Chapter 1 begins the actual course.)

The benefit is that the points to cover in Lesson 0 can be provided (in Esperanto) as a text comment attached to Lesson 1, so that anyone so inclined can make a Lesson 0 in his or her native language, covering those points and include a link to Lesson 1 of the (Esperanto-only) direct-method course. Over time I would expect more and more Lesson 0 videos to emerge, in a wide variety of languages.

The benefit is that production time and effort can focus on the core course and let a thousand Lesson 0 videos bloom as they will.

Voilà! (or, more appropriately, Jen!) A universal course for the universal language.

I would expect that the core direct-method course would in time have direct-method supplements made by volunteers to teach (via direct method) particular aspects of their culture: local foods, local dress, local customs, music, occupational terms and knowledge for various occupations, and so on. If these are based on the core course, in time there would be a rich variety of offerings, with each video purely in Esperanto and thus available to all Esperanto speakers. And making these would be facilitated by the fact that the teachers could use the Esperanto taught in the core course and build upon that.

And such a course is now underway, though not (yet) so generalized as I describe. You can see my posts on Esperanto by doing a Subject Search at the right with the subject Esperanto.



Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Education, Esperanto, Video

Defund the police? Here’s what that really means.

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Christy E. Lopez, a professor at Georgetown Law School and a co-director of the school’s Innovative Policing Program, writes in the Washington Post:

Since George Floyd’s death, a long-simmering movement for police abolition has become part of the national conversation, recast slightly as a call to “defund the police.” For activists, this conversation is long overdue. But for casual observers, this new direction may seem a bit disorienting — or even alarming.

Be not afraid. “Defunding the police” is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need. During my 25 years dedicated to police reform, including in places such as Ferguson, Mo., New Orleans and Chicago, it has become clear to me that “reform” is not enough. Making sure that police follow the rule of law is not enough. Even changing the laws is not enough.

To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue.

Police themselves often complain about having to “do too much,” including handling social problems for which they are ill-equipped. Some have been vocal about the need to decriminalize social problems and take police out of the equation. It is clear that we must reimagine the role they play in public safety.

Defunding and abolition probably mean something different from what you are thinking. For most proponents, “defunding the police” does not mean zeroing out budgets for public safety, and police abolition does not mean that police will disappear overnight — or perhaps ever. Defunding the police means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need. It means investing more in mental-health care and housing, and expanding the use of community mediation and violence interruption programs.

Police abolition means reducing, with the vision of eventually eliminating, our reliance on policing to secure our public safety. It means recognizing that criminalizing addiction and poverty, making 10 million arrests per year and mass incarceration have not provided the public safety we want and never will. The “abolition” language is important because it reminds us that policing has been the primary vehicle for using violence to perpetuate the unjustified white control over the bodies and lives of black people that has been with us since slavery. That aspect of policing must be literally abolished.

Still, even as we try to shift resources from policing to programs that will better promote fairness and public safety, we must continue the work of police reform. We cannot stop regulating police conduct now because we hope someday to reduce or eliminate our reliance on policing. We must ban chokeholds and curb the use of no-knock warrants; we must train officers how to better respond to people in mental health crises, and we must teach officers to be guardians, not warriors, to intervene to prevent misconduct and to understand and appreciate the communities they serve.

Why must we work on parallel tracks? First, all police will not be defunded or abolished anytime soon, and we cannot wait to make changes that will save lives and reduce policing harm now. Experienced advocates know this. This is why, for example, Campaign Zero just launched the #8cantwait campaign, which urges law enforcement agencies to immediately adopt eight use of force reforms, even as it continues its divest/invest strategy to end police killings.

More fundamentally, we must continue with reforms because abolition doesn’t go far enough. Policing didn’t invent America’s institutionalized racism, social inequity or stereotyped masculinity: Policing harms are a product of these broader pathologies. If we were to get rid of policing tomorrow, those pathologies would remain. And they would continue to be deadly: Race bias in our health-care system has likely killed far more African Americans and Latinx via covid-19 than the police have this year. Successful police reforms help us learn how to identify and mitigate the harms of these structural features, even as we work to remake them.

In this moment, we have a chance   . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 12:00 pm

8 Reforms That Could Dramatically Reduce Police Violence

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Alex Shultz interviews DeRay Mckesson in GQ:

Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson is relieved that, after the murder of George Floyd and a new wave of protests against police brutality, there’s renewed momentum behind the idea of reducing funding for police departments. But Mckesson says that goal, as laudable as it is, can’t be the only focus of police reform. “Police are still going to be here tomorrow,” he points out. Hence #8Can’tWait, a set of proposals aimed at reducing the use of force by police unveiled by Mckesson and the team at Campaign Zero on Wednesday.

Campaign Zero was formed in 2015 by a group of activists and researchers with the goal of collecting and publicizing police department data and practices in order to understand how to significantly reduce police violence. The research that led to 8 Can’t Wait also began in 2015 with what soon became the Police Use of Force Project—a numbers-driven, reader-friendly examination of the violent tactics that police departments in America’s 100 largest cities employ. The idea is that, if police departments adopt eight reforms of when and how they use force, the ensuing data shows a significant drop in killings—as much as 72% if all eight are followed. The policies are as follows:

  • Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
  • Require de-escalation
  • Require warning before shooting
  • Exhaust all other means before shooting
  • Duty to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles
  • Require use-of-force continuum
  • Require comprehensive reporting each time an officer uses forces or threatens to do so

When Campaign Zero began its research, cops were not very willing to disclose what they are or are not allowed to do to citizens. Mckesson’s hope is that at this moment when national attention is once again focused on police violence, normally skittish and unresponsive local governments might be compelled to take action. When you plug in your city on the 8 Can’t Wait website, you’ll see how the local police department is handling the eight reforms, and you’re given the contact information of your mayor or sheriff.

In an interview with GQ, Mckesson expanded on what the 8 Can’t Wait data reveals, the separate discussion of shifting resources away from cops, and what he thinks of this round of protests.

GQ: What went into the process of collecting all this use-of-force data?

DeRay Mckesson: Police use-of-force documents are actually not public in many places. It took us a year to get them, either by FOIAing them, or fighting the department, or finding a lawyer who sued the department.

Here’s the thing: At the minimum, the rules by which officers can kill you should be public. You as a citizen deserve to at least know the rules, right? That was the philosophy by which we went about this at the beginning. We actually had no clue what we’d found, we just thought there might be something there. What we found surprised us.

It seems that police departments by and large aren’t following the use-of-force policies you recommend.

Exactly. And these are so simple. We don’t think there needs to be a whole lot of discussion about banning choke holds and strangleholds. We don’t think it’s a big ask to say, “We’re not going to shoot into moving vehicles.” These asks are simple, but not small. The impact is large.

Out of the eight policies listed, are there one or two that you’ve found police departments especially obstinate about changing?

The police never have an argument against any of the policies, because they’d sound absurd. There’s not really a good argument for why you wouldn’t ban chokeholds. They say it’s all symbolic, and police use their best judgment, and we should trust them. That’s only an argument against the theory of use of force.

When you originally proposed a use-of-force template a few years ago, what happened?

Since we’ve launched, many cities have changed their policies in some way. Some have changed one or two policies, some have changed more. There are only two cities in the top 100 that have satisfied all eight policies—Tucson and San Francisco—and San Francisco only has all eight because the federal government forced them to. One of the reasons there hasn’t been more movement is that, again, there hasn’t been data like this before, and also, there are a lot of supporters of police reform who feel like they’re not smart enough to understand policy—that policy is in this special realm that only people with PhDs can understand. That’s not true, and we want to normalize and demystify these policies. All of these policies are simple and clear enough for anyone to be an expert on.

Do you think the current protests might allow for more pressure and movement on enacting these policies?

Absolutely. There’s never been a push like this. We’re hopeful, we’re excited. I think people are hungry for action, hungry for something that’ll have an impact, and it’s clear these will have an impact and make communities safer. What’s powerful about these policies is the mayor or police chief have almost unilateral power to just enact them. They rarely require a vote or hearing. In most of the 100 largest cities, the mayor could just come out tomorrow and say, “We ban chokeholds.” Most of the other interventions we want—police union contracts, shifting resources away from police departments—the mechanism by which you do it is a little more complicated.

Have you found these nationwide protests different in any significant ways than protests of previous years? . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and at the link is an interesting video on why it’s so difficult to hold cops accountable.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 9:14 am

Sarah Cooper, aided by President Trump, shows how to Bible

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 8:35 am

Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress?

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Years ago Joseph Clark wrote one of the periodic condemnations of Congress in a book titled Congress, the Sapless Branch. Congress is only rarely able to function, and this is not one of those rare times. Bob Cusack and Rachel Bucchino write in The Hill:

During President Trump‘s impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Chief Justice John Roberts if he could make a brief announcement.

“In the morning, there will be a coronavirus briefing for all members at 10:30,” McConnell stated on Jan. 23, noting the Senate Health panel was taking the lead on it.

McConnell’s remarks represented the first time that the novel coronavirus was mentioned in the Congressional Record this year. At the time, there was one confirmed case in the United States.

In the next four-and-half months, more than 110,000 people in the United States would lose their lives to the virus, and the economy would be closed down — shutting businesses and forcing millions into unemployment. The pandemic, not impeachment, is certain to be the fundamental issue to voters as they go to the polls this fall.

This historic crisis has led to intense scrutiny of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic focused on the executive branch’s sluggish realization of how severely the global pandemic would hit the country.

The response of Congress, in contrast, has received much less attention or criticism.

The GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House had less power and resources to respond to the crisis than the executive branch. Yet Congress does have tremendous influence to oversee the response, and to push the president and his Cabinet to do more to protect American lives and the economy.

Legislators also are elected to solve problems and identify dark clouds on the horizon before the storm hits — a deep failure when it comes to the novel coronavirus.

The Hill has examined hundreds of statements and hours of congressional testimony to highlight which legislators were the first to raise red flags that the coronavirus presented an imminent danger to the United States.

The results show a number of lawmakers were asking the right questions early on in the crisis, and that members called attention to shortages of masks and other protective gear that would become a national outrage. The public record also shows that even when lawmakers were asking the right questions, they did not always get the right answers as the federal government, the media and the larger health community struggled to understand COVID-19.

Congress was ill-prepared to handle the pandemic, despite international and domestic scares with Ebola and SARS, and passage of pandemic legislation less than a year before the coronavirus hit the country. Turbocharged partisanship in the Trump era that has made it difficult for Congress to operate also contributed to a tardy response to the coronavirus, even as lawmakers in both parties underestimated the crisis.

First House hearings preview debates to come

The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation announced in late January it would hold a Feb. 5 hearing on “The Wuhan Coronavirus: Assessing the Outbreak, the Response, and Regional Implications.”

The title of the hearing was an early sign of the division over what to call the mysterious virus that most experts believe originated in China.

The name of the virus became a political football. Trump frequently labeled it the “China virus” in an attempt to point to its origins and blame Beijing for not doing more to stop it.

Democrats and other critics argued it was racist to label it the China virus, and Trump cut back on using the term after warnings that Asian Americans were coming under attack.

But it was a Democratic-controlled panel that labeled it the “Wuhan virus” at the initial hearing, held as the disease had already spread to 24 countries.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), a physician who chairs the subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, expressed regret later.

“In retrospect, we should have called it the novel coronavirus,” he told The Hill.

The first House hearing more importantly foreshadowed the partisan finger-pointing that would break out as the coronavirus news got worse and the initial lack of attention given to a crisis that would dramatically change American life just weeks later.

Bera invited the Trump administration to testify, but no one showed up. The panel instead heard testimony from three nongovernmental health experts.

The sparsely attended hearing included pleas for . . .

Continue reading. It’s an interesting account of a feckless body and its inability to respond constructively to a national emergency.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 8:34 am

Posted in Congress, Medical

Dark Chocolate to start the week

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Today I went for the fragrance. The soap itself, from Phoenix Artisan, is quite good, but my motivation (as actors say) was the fragrance. The dark chocolate notes over the day evolve in interesting ways. This is a fragrance that IMO should be more popular.

My little Vie-Long brush did a very nice job, and this original iKon stainless slant works quite well. The key, as with the Fine aluminum slant, is to keep the handle away from the face, which results in a good blade angle. I did have to struggle a bit to get a smooth finish — which should not happen with any razor, much less a slant — so after the shave I discarded the old blade (a Bolzano, I noted: not a brand I use all that often) and put in a new one (a Treet Platinum).

And, finally, a splash of the Dark Chocolate aftershave, and I’m ready for the week.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 June 2020 at 8:09 am

Posted in Shaving

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