Later On

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

Archive for October 3rd, 2020

Trump is a sociopath

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Kevin Drum makes an excellent point.

Donald Trump has spent months trying to convince everyone that COVID-19 isn’t that big a deal, and that’s bad enough on its own. But the more we learn about the precise events of the past few days the more mind-boggling they become. The White House, as usual, is being cagey with definitive information, but here’s how it seems to have played out:

Tuesday evening: At the Trump-Biden debate, the Republican side of the aisle, as usual, insists on going maskless. During the debate, Trump mocks Biden for always wearing a mask.

Wednesday morning: Based on later reports from Saturday,¹ it appears that this is when Trump tested positive for coronavirus. He doesn’t bother informing the Biden campaign. Nor does he tell the American public.

Wednesday afternoon: Trump attends an indoor fundraiser in Minneapolis. No one there is informed that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Wednesday night: Trump attends a rally in Duluth. No one there is informed that he has tested positive for coronavirus. On the flight home, Hope Hicks quarantines herself because she is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

Thursday morning: Trump is informed that Hicks has tested positive for coronavirus.

Thursday afternoon: Trump attends an indoor fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club. No one there is informed that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Thursday evening: A reporter discovers that Hope Hicks has contracted COVID-19.

A little after midnight Thursday: Trump finally tweets that he has tested positive. It’s unclear if the American public would ever have been told if no one had discovered that Hicks was infected.

Friday: No tweets all day. Trump releases a video that has all the energy of a hostage video. Doctors tell Trump that if he wants to walk to Marine One under his own power for the trip to Walter Reed medical center, he should go now.

Saturday morning: Trump’s physician says Trump was diagnosed “72 hours ago,” meaning Wednesday morning.¹ Another physician says Trump began Regeneron treatments “48 hours ago,” meaning Thursday morning. The White House later claims they misspoke. You may decide for yourself if you believe this, but given both Trump’s past record and the weaselly White House statements about the Thursday test “confirming” Trump’s diagnosis, I sure don’t. In the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary, I think they’re lying.

If Trump really was diagnosed on Wednesday morning, his conduct since then has been reckless beyond belief. And even if the diagnosis happened Thursday night, it was reckless of him to continue attending fundraisers after learning that Hope Hicks was positive. Trump and Hicks spend a lot of unmasked time together, and her positive diagnosis, along with COVID-19 symptoms, was plainly a serious danger signal.

Trump’s eight months of COVID denial has . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 9:49 pm

100 reasons to vote for Biden

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Posted on Facebook by David Feree:

I have heard from people that they want a reason to vote FOR Biden beyond that he’s not Trump. Okay, I respect that, so I went on his website, poured through his policies, and came up with 100 reasons to vote for #JoeBiden that don’t mention Trump.

1.) $15.00 federal minimum wage
2.) Reinstate DACA – allowing new applicants to apply
3.) 12 Weeks federal paid family leave
4.) Universal Pre-Kindergarten/Childcare for ages 3 and 4
5.) Tuition free college for those with household income less than $125,000.00
6.) Allow student loans to be relieved in bankruptcy
7.) LGBTQ+ Equality Act in the first 100 days in office
8.) Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords
9.) Decriminalize cannabis use and expunge convictions
10.) Eliminate cash bail system
11.) Eliminate mandatory inimum sentences
12.) Outlaw all online firearm and munition sales
13.) Restore the voting rights act
14.) Create a new $20 billion competitive grant program to spur states to shift from incarceration to prevention.
15.) He’ll triple funding for Title I Programs
16.) Appoint the first Black Woman to the Supreme Court of the United States
17.) Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
18.) Ensure the US achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050
19.) Protecting Biodiversity, slowing extinction rates and helping leverage natural climate solutions
20.) Develop a plan to ensure that America has the cleanest, safest and fastest rail system in the world, for both passengers and freight
21.) Expand the safety net for survivors
22.) Confront online harassment, abuse and stalking
23.) End the rape kit backlog
24.) Address the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence
25.) Change the culture that enables domestic violence
26.) Support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women
27.) Protect and empower immigrant women
28.) Lead the global effort to end gender-based violence
29.) End capital punishment
30.) End federal private prisons
31.) End all incarceration for drug use alone and divert individuals to drug courts and treatment
32.) Invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel
33.) Expand and use the power of the US Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices
34.) Reform qualified immunity for officers
35.) Ban choke-holds/neck restraints by police
36.) Launch a national police oversight commission
37.) Stop transferring weapons of war to police force
38.) Free access to testing for all with national testing board
39.) Double drive through testing sites
40.) 100,000 contact tracing workforce
41.) Guarantee first responders have priority access to PPE
42.) Emergency paid leave for anyone who gets COVID or needs to take care of a loved one
43.) Free housing for health care workers to quarantine
44.) Ramp up large scale manufacturing of as many vaccine candidates as necessary
45.) Nationwide vaccination campaign to guarantee fair distribution
46.) Ask every American to wear a mask
47.) End the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border
48.) Surge humanitarian resources to the border and foster public-private initiatives
49.) End prolonged detention and reinvest in a case management program
50.) Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as “Muslim bans.”
51.) Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster
52.) Ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment.
53.) Revitalize the Task Force on New Americans and boost our economy by prioritizing integration, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement.
54.) Convene a regional meeting of leaders, including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to address the factors driving migration and to propose a regional resettlement solution
55.) Raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.
56.) Requiring a true minimum tax on ALL foreign earnings of United States companies located overseas so that we do our part to put an end to the global race to the bottom that rewards global tax havens. This will be 21% — TWICE the rate of the Trump offshoring tax rate and will apply to all income.
57.) Imposing a tax penalty on corporations that ship jobs overseas in order to sell products back to America.
58.) Imposing a 15% minimum tax on book income so that no corporation gets away with paying no taxes.
59.) Raising the top individual income rate back to 39.6 percent.
60.) Asking those making more than $1 million to pay the same rate on investment income that they do on their wages.
61.) Tackle the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
62.) Ensure tribal nations will have a strong voice and role in the federal government
63.) Restore Tribal lands and safeguard natural and cultural resources
64.) Joe will dramatically increase funding for both public schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
65.) Invest $70 billion in Tribal Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
66.) Ensure full inclusion of people with disabilities in policy development and aggressively enforce the civil rights of people with disabilities.
67.) Guarantee access to high-quality, affordable health care, including mental health care, and expand access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs and based on self-determination.
68.) Expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
69.) Protect and strengthen economic security for people with disabilities.
70.) Ensure that students with disabilities have access to educational programs and support they need to succeed, from early interventions to post-secondary education.
71.) Expand access to accessible, integrated, and affordable housing, transportation, and assistive technologies and protect people with disabilities in emergencies.
72.) Advance global disability rights
73.) Double the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in our schools so our kids get the mental health care they need
74.) Invest in our schools to eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white districts, and rich and poor districts
75.) Improve teacher diversity
76.) Support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve.
77.) Invest in resources for our schools so students grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults, and educators can focus on teaching.
78.) Ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
79.) Provide every middle and high school student a path to a successful career.
80.) Start investing in our children at birth.
81.) Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
82.) Expand the New Markets Tax Credit, make the program permanent, and double Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funding
83.) Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support African American-owned businesses.
84.) Increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget.
85.) Make sure economic relief because of COVID-19 reaches the African American businesses that need it most
86.) Reserve half of all the new PPP funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less
87.) Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000
88.) Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights.
89.) Establishing a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing
90.) Fully implement Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Plan to help all individuals living in persistently impoverished communities
91.) Expand access to $100 billion in low-interest business loans by funding state, local, tribal, and non-profit lending programs in Latino communities and other communities of color and strengthening Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs
92.) Expand broadband access to every American.
93.) Protect and build on the Affordable Care Act to improve access to quality health care in rural communities.
94.) Expand access to high-quality education in rural schools.
95.) Transform our crumbling transportation infrastructure – including roads and bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways.
96.) Expand bio-based manufacturing to bring cutting-edge manufacturing jobs back to rural America.
97.) Strengthen antitrust enforcement
98.) Introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections
99.) End dark money groups
100.) Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby

Again: This is all from his website. I literally copy pasted the bullet points from his website. If you go on his website, click Joe’s Vision, he has different themes. “Criminal justice reform, helping America’s farmers, etc.” I clicked through a bunch of those, and tried to get the quickest bullet points from his website.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 1:11 pm

Mexico’s Master Guitar Makers

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Laura Fraser has a fascinating — and profusely illustrated — article in Craftsmanship magazine, which begins:

High in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, the region’s vast groves of avocado trees give way to thick pine forests. Heading up a windy road pitted by torrential rains, past an indigenous Purépecha village lined by rough wooden chairs for sale, the town of Paracho comes into view. At the entrance, an enormous brass guitar statue towers over modest two-story buildings. On the front, the guitar is painted white, adorned with black filigree and Day of the Dead skulls—just like the lavishly-ornamented instrument featured in the Disney movie “Coco,” about a young Mexican boy who loves music, which struck a chord with millions of people in Mexico and the U.S.

German Vazquez Rubio, the luthier who made the real “Coco” guitar that the movie animators copied, now resides in Los Angeles, but he is from Paracho. Long before people went loco for “Coco,” and Mexicans began selling knock-off white guitars in souvenir shops, Paracho was steadily making musical instruments. In fact, the indigenous artisans in the town, already accomplished woodworkers, began making instruments in the mid-16th century when Spanish missionaries taught them the techniques. The first bishop of Michoacán, Vasco de Quiroga, famously assigned crafts to different pueblos surrounding the central town of Patzcuaro, which continue to be known for their fine copper, ceramic, weaving, and other arts. Paracho, with its stands of pine trees, became a wood-working town, and soon after the invention of the modern guitar, it specialized in lutherie.

What makes Paracho unique is that it not only has a tradition of guitar making–the entire town is involved in the business. Today, locals estimate that 90% of the people who work in Paracho make guitars or guitar parts (the population is about 35,000), producing some one million instruments per year. Most of the instruments are made in factories, but a small portion is entirely crafted by hand, by people many consider the finest luthiers in the New World (most connoisseurs say the best in the entire world reside in Spain).

Like so many guitarists before him who have made the trek to Paracho, my husband Peter has come to find the one instrument that speaks to him.

Many guitarists, particularly middle-aged ones, develop, along with callouses on their fingers, something called “GAS”–Guitar Acquisition Syndrome–and Peter is no exception. While Peter already has several guitars with different functions (the jazz guitar, the electric, the travel version), he doesn’t have one to play bossa nova; and for that, apparently, you need a classical, nylon-stringed guitar—preferably one made by hand. He could have purchased a Paracho guitar through one of the luthier’s websites or Facebook pages (see the Resources sidebar at the end of this story), but the only way to know how the guitar would sound–and each one’s sound is as unique as a snowflake—is to play it in person. So we braved the Mexican roads and spent a fretful night in Uruapan—a city with a lovely waterfall park and an unfortunate recent history as a center for heroin trafficking and cartel violence—before arriving in Paracho, a peaceful town 45 minutes away that is adorned with the region’s signature adobe white houses and red-tiled roofs. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 10:07 am

Posted in Art, Music, Technology

Stunning decider in World Snooker Championship Semifinal 2020, Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Mark Selby

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O’Sullivan and Selby tied at 16 frames each in this match. Here’s the 33rd and deciding frame. It’s a nail-biter.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 10:00 am

Posted in Games, Video

People familiar with stuttering explain why Biden’s debate performance was extraordinary

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This entire post is worth reading, but let me quote just a part of it, which struck me forcibly:

Joe Biden is a stutterer. Like many others, he has overcome the disability by understanding it and exercising extraordinary perseverance and discipline. If you know and love a stutterer and you watched the presidential debate last night, within minutes it became obvious what was going on. Abusive tone of voice, rapid fire interruptions, zigzagging change of topic, personal insult and humiliation, and family pain are all tripwires that scramble a stutterer’s ability to speak. There was nothing unplanned or spontaneous in the President’s strategy. The bastards did not prep him to attack Joe. They prepped him to attack Joe’s disability hoping that by triggering his stuttering they might deceive an audience unfamiliar with the disability into thinking that Joe was stupid, weak, uncertain, confused, or lost to dementia.

If you have ever gotten in the face of a bully on the playground protecting a stutterer that you love, the game being played last night was nakedly and painfully obvious. If you watched with glee while it happened, then you haven’t made much progress since the playground.

However, the stutterer that I love taught me early on that he did not so much need my protection. He fought back by owning and integrating his disability into who he is. He learned how to stand his ground as master of perseverance, knowledge, and empathy. Without his example, I would not have recognized the game that was being played last night. I would not have been able to recognize the subtle but intense struggle against the disability that Joe was winning at the same time he was struggling to advance his positions on the issues in the midst of a rhetorical shit storm.

But, like the stutterer that I know, Joe didn’t need any help on the playground. I was proud of him.

The President flushed his family fortune down a gold-plated toilet and somehow wants us to believe that he is the poor victim of mean people. Then he tries, and fails, to beat up a kid with a disability on the playground. I’m done with this, guys. I want my country back. Thanks, Joe.

There’s quite a bit more in the post, so do read it.

To change Donald Trump into a decent person would be more difficult than (though in several respects similar to) cleaning the Augean stables.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 9:49 am

Meißner Tremonia and Il Lupo

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One characteristic of Meißner Tremonia shaving soaps and pastes is that their fragrance is strongly present, and for those whose sense of smell is weak, this is an advantage. For those who do not like fragrances in the morning, MT is a brand to avoid.

I’m of the former group, and I greatly enjoyed the strong almond + cedar fragrance of this morning’s Woody Almond shaving paste and the little Omega Mixed Midget was a pleasure to use.

The Lupo is a very nice razor, and if you enjoy a comfortable (and efficient) razor that still has a lot of blade feel, this is a razor you should consider. Three passes, total smoothness with no damage, and then a small dab of Antica Barbieria Colla’s aftershave balm.

The weekend begins. I’m making this garlic soup for a very small retirement dinner party for The Wife.

Written by Leisureguy

3 October 2020 at 9:27 am

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