Later On

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

Archive for October 16th, 2020

Tempeh success again at last

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The main cause of the problem of my tempeh failures was almost certainly adding a little (1/2 teaspoon per 1 cup of dried beans) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the water when I cooked the beans. That does definitely shorten cooking time and produce tender (but alkaline) beans, which are unfortunately  toxic to the tempeh mold.

This latest batch I cooked without the baking soda — and it did take considerably longer for the beans to be cooked tender — and the tempeh culture thrived.

This photo shows the top of the open-dish tempeh (covered during incubation with a clean dishtowel) and the bagged tempeh (in a Ziploc produce bag). As you see, the open-dish tempeh has moved to sporing, thus the grey — but it’s perfectly edible. I learned that the sporing is probably due to the tempeh becoming too dry, so next time I will cover an open dish with foil with a few holes, or just put the container into a Ziploc produce bag.

And here’s the bottom of the open-dish tempeh. As you see, it’s lovely, and I’ll use this tomorrow to make some tempeh breakfast sausage. For the record, this is just short of 48 hours.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 6:30 pm

Facebook’s totalitarian mindset

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From an email from Facebook:

The Wall Street Journal today published a big story about the inner workings of Facebook’s approach to political news coverage on its site. It includes this bit:

In late 2017, when Facebook tweaked its newsfeed algorithm to minimize the presence of political news, policy executives were concerned about the outsize impact of the changes on the right, including the Daily Wire, people familiar with the matter said. Engineers redesigned their intended changes so that left-leaning sites like Mother Jones were affected more than previously planned, the people said. Mr. Zuckerberg approved the plans. “We did not make changes with the intent of impacting individual publishers,” a Facebook spokesman said.

To say this is frustrating is an understatement, both for us as an organization and for me personally. I joined Mother Jones in 2013 to lead our social media efforts and was the architect of our Facebook strategy. It was incredibly successful; we saw our readership skyrocket and our social team grow. With expanded resources, we’ve been able to invest in other platforms and mediums, but Facebook was the beachhead and our work on the platform was considered a big win for us, to reach more people and achieve this magazine’s ultimate goal: having an impact.

In late 2017 and early 2018, I had multiple meetings with Facebook executives about algorithmic changes. They were making adjustments, they said, and all publishers should expect traffic and engagement to go down a bit, but not in a way that favored or disfavored any single publication or class of publisher (unless that organization engaged in various bad behaviors).

Here is a line I wrote in an internal memo describing one of the meetings: “In general, I don’t think this is the nuclear bomb everyone sort of assumed a few weeks ago.”

Well, I was very wrong. Our reach plummeted. You can read about some of the real consequences of this in a column my bosses, Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, wrote last year.

“What did these changes in algorithm mean to Mother Jones?” Clara tweeted today. “Something like $400,000 to $600,000 a year. That’s big for a news org our size.”

Working in social media is a weird job. I am amazingly lucky to get to work with three of the best and most thoughtful and creative social media editors on earth, Jackie Mogensen, Inae Oh, and Sam Van Pykeren. One thing that makes them good is that they really care. They want people to read the stories. They want to make a difference. And a lot of times, it doesn’t work and that’s just life, but when it doesn’t work at all, it is very frustrating. Because you feel like you’ve let down not only your audience but your colleagues. It feels difficult and frustrating to keep running into walls. So to learn that the walls were placed there intentionally, so my colleagues and I would be stopped as we tried to promote our magazine’s work, makes me livid.

I reached out to Facebook for comment this afternoon and was told the same thing they told the Wall Street Journal:

We did not make changes with the intent of impacting individual publishers. We only made updates after they were reviewed by many different teams across many disciplines to ensure the rationale was clear and consistent and could be explained to all publishers.

I have no secret information about the Journal story and its reporting. I don’t know who they spoke to. But it’s a pretty good newspaper with wonderful journalists and they wouldn’t publish this without having confidence in it. And perhaps the most telling fact check here is what happened: Ben Shapiro and conservative sites did indeed win from those algorithmic changes, and Mother Jones and progressive sites did indeed lose.

Internally at Mother Jones I have always been Facebook’s biggest advocate and have always given it the benefit of the doubt, because the people I’ve personally worked with and known there are unfailingly nice and decent people. I’ve never met their bosses. I recognize mistakes they’ve made, but whereas many people attribute them to malevolence, I’ve always thought it more likely folly.

Here’s another line from that memo I wrote: “It seems like they really aren’t sure what it will mean.”

Maybe that was true. Maybe the Journal report is wrong. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the top posts on the site are now all from conservative publishers. “What men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do.” But maybe not.

Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Maybe what maters is the results.

So, help me, won’t you? Every day on Facebook conservatives dominate the most shared stories. Let’s change that, even if for only one day.

Please share this post, and please share Monika’s article from 2019, aptly titled “How Facebook Screwed Us All.”

And if you can, please join your fellow readers and support our nonprofit journalism! Thank you! We couldn’t exist without your support!

—Ben Dreyfuss

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 5:28 pm

The Best Anthony Trollope Books

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An entertaining interview from Five Books with Francesa Simon, a major Anthony Trollope fan. (For those with ebook readers, I’ll point out that free (and well-edited) copies of three of his books can be downloaded from StandardEbooks.org. One hopes more will soon be available.)

The interview begins:

October 2020 is ‘Pick up a Trollope’ month. Bestselling children’s author and Trollope enthusiast Francesca Simon is one of nine notable fans championing the campaign, which includes a vote for the world’s favourite Trollope novel and an online read of the winning book in November. Here, she explains her fascination with Anthony Trollope and recommends some of her favourite books by the Victorian novelist.

Before we get to the books by Anthony Trollope you’re recommending, how did you get into him?

First of all, I should declare that I am passionate about Trollope and I’m also madly in love with him. He’s like my husband from another century. That’s Anthony [points at photo on her desk]. He sits on my desk. Look at him! So now that you know this fact…

Is it true that you’ve never read a Trollope?

Yes, it’s true.

[Big intake of breath]. Sorry, I need to compose myself, but just the shock of this news.

What happened was that I came to Oxford to do a second degree and someone that I was staying with, a family friend, mentioned Trollope. As a keen reader, I always had this policy that if someone mentioned an author I’d never heard of, I would read them. So, I picked one up and found it like a ‘guide for the perplexed’ about everything to do with British society.

Trollope is brilliant on class and money and the nuances of these things. I was very puzzled about the role of lawyers and doctors and how the whole class system worked. It was very, very confusing to me, but he was just great on social niceties.

The other thing is that he’s unbelievably pertinent, I think, especially to women. One of his big things is single women trying to get married and the marriage market in all its facets, where people are very blatantly trying to measure up: ‘Who could I get? How much money do they have? What’s their social status? What can I trade for that?’ I think that’s still relevant today, people do still weigh those things up, they measure social status, it’s just not so blatant. ‘I went to Yale. Oh, you went to Connecticut College? Hmmm. I see.’

He’s also brilliantly funny because he’s amused by these things. His sense of detail is great. Also, as a writer, I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s got this very warm relationship with his audience. He often will refer to ‘my reader’.

The other point about Trollope is that, even though the books are long, they’re brilliant if you are looking after small children, because like many Victorian novels, he’s really great at saying, ‘The reader will recall that last time we met Lady Carbury she was debating two offers of marriage’ and you go, ‘Yeah, right, I completely forgot that because it’s been a month since I’ve been able to pick up a book.’ So, they’re really good if you have to read in short snatches of time.

So, are Trollope’s books not hugely plot-driven then, if you can dip in and out of what Lady Carbury has been up to?

They are plot-driven, but they’re not suspenseful, in that sense. In fact, I tried to get my son to read a Trollope and he was just outraged. For one, that there was no map (he likes fantasy), and two, he felt there was no plot. He described it as ‘the Reverend Obadiah Slope gives a sermon that no one likes, 50 pages pass while everyone discusses this.’ That’s not entirely true, but it is more character-driven. It’s about how people make decisions. Tolstoy was supposedly a fan of Trollope and that doesn’t surprise me, because Tolstoy is also brilliant about how people make decisions and the back-and-forth of decision-making. Trollope is just incredible at getting inside people’s heads with all their vicissitudes. He’s a lot of fun. His set pieces are so witty and alert.

I’ll give you an example. In one of the books, Miss Mackenzie, Miss Mackenzie is trying to decide between three suitors and one suitor, sadly, is wearing bright yellow kid gloves. It’s a lapse of taste. What it says to her is that he’s not quite a gentleman. Trollope is great on those details.

The other thing it’s important to remember about Trollope is his absolute fixation on money. He was the first cousin of a baronet but grew up in the most precarious financial situation. His mother, Fanny Trollope, was a writer and supported the family because his father was useless. Trollope is brilliant at the small humiliations of not having enough money—while trying to maintain your position. That’s what we don’t see in Pride and Prejudice with the Bennett family. If Pride and Prejudice opened with Mr. Bennet’s death: that’s a Trollope novel. What happens to those girls in that family having to live on the charity of relatives, having to turn their gloves inside out? Which tradesmen do you pay? He’s very alert to that kind of fine detail of life.

I’m intrigued that you found Trollope useful as an American coming into 20th century Britain. You don’t just like Trollope’s books as novels evoking the Victorian age he was writing in?

Absolutely not. I was thinking about this today with the first book I chose, The American Senator.

Yes, let’s start looking at the books by Trollope you’re recommending, starting with The American Senator (1876).

The plot of The American Senator is about one of my favourite Trollope characters, Arabella Trefoil. Apparently, Edith Wharton based The House of Mirth’s Lily Bart on her. Arabella Trefoil is the impecunious niece of a duke and has been on the marriage market for 12 years. She’s been struggling to find someone appropriate. She’s tied to her mother who she hates. They’re always going to stay with people and way outstaying their welcome because they have no money. It’s just dreadful.

Then, at the end, when she does marry, she says, “She need never again seem to be gay in order that men might be attracted.” That made me think of that line in When Harry Met Sally when Marie—Carrie Fisher—says, “Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again.” It’s the exact same thing.

Of course, contemporary resonances are not all the same. Women had more limited options, but Trollope has got incredible empathy with this woman who is clever but has to make the social rounds to try to get some guy to marry her because he’s got money and her value is dropping in the marriage market.

Trollope is also very interesting on the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the industrial class. Should the poor daughter of an aristocrat marry someone who’s coming up from the working class?

Which writer is he most like? Is he like Thackeray with Vanity Fair: are Trollope’s heroines more anti-heroines?

They’re complex heroines. I’ve seen Arabella Trefoil compared to Becky Sharp. But, in a way, Arabella’s position is a lot more precarious. Who is Trollope like? Probably he is like Thackeray, because he does have a great sense of humour. He’s really, really funny.

I was reading on the Trollope Society website that Queen Victoria thought he was absolutely hilarious—he made her laugh till she cried—but she also found him “rather wicked”.

He is wicked. He’s bitchy, that’s what Trollope is. All of his characters—or a lot of them—are always trying to get one up on each other but pretending to be polite. That was the other thing I found hard to understand about British people, as an American. They would say things like, ‘We must get together again sometime’, which is British for ‘I hope I never see you again’, but the first time someone said that to me, I pulled my diary out. It was like, ‘Oh my God, what did I just do wrong?’ Trying to understand what people are actually saying, that back and forth, Trollope helps with that.

But one of the things that’s really great about Trollope as a writer is that he’s unexpected in his characters. So, most of the plot of The American Senator is about Arabella Trefoil deciding that she is going to try to snare Lord Rufford by pretending that he has proposed to her—because he kisses her in a carriage. Lord Rufford is only interested in smoking cigars and hunting and tries to extricate himself from this very difficult position because he doesn’t want to humiliate her but, on the other hand, he doesn’t want to marry her. But Trollope has these marvellous paragraphs where Lord Rufford goes, ‘Maybe I should marry her. She wouldn’t get in my way. I could go hunting. I could smoke my cigars.’ And, at the end, he marries someone who very firmly stops him from smoking his cigars, stops him hunting. He gets fat and is a little sorry that he didn’t marry Arabella, who would have just left him alone. I think that’s absolute genius. Trollope captures that, ‘How dare you do this to me? There’s no way I’m going to marry you! You’ve been on the market forever’ to ‘Maybe should I? Shouldn’t I? Maybe it would be a good thing to do. I’m going to have to get married. Would it be so terrible to be married to someone who would leave me alone?’ It’s cynical, but it’s funny. All his books have those unexpected moments, where a character does something that you don’t expect, and that’s my moment in The American Senator.

He’s trying to convey our deepest, darkest thoughts, the things we wouldn’t want to articulate publicly.

Absolutely and—unlike Jane Austen writing about two men alone—he writes about women alone all the time. He has no problem with that.

Trollope himself had the experience of someone trying to trap him into marriage. A landlady pushed her daughter in his way, hoping that she could burst in and compromise him and say, ‘Right, you’re engaged.’ Lord Rufford talks about himself as being hunted. He says, “one sometimes feels oneself like a carcass in the midst of vultures.” He kind of is. The other thing I really like about Trollope, as an American, is that these people have such a horror of commerce. And, yet, all they do is engage in commerce—except the goods they’re selling are their children.

But yes, Trollope does get inside what people are saying and thinking privately. It’s like a soap opera—in the best possible way—because the characters are incredible and their situations give huge importance to smaller things. In some ways, I always think of Trollope as a very feminine writer, he’s very involved with the domestic.

Is there anything more to say to about The American Senator?

I should say that the top plot of The American Senator is really dreary. It’s about an American senator coming over and getting involved in some legal case, to do with hunting. I can never remember what that plot is, because it’s just so inconsequential. There’s often two or even three plots going on in Trollope—it’s like an episode of Seinfeld.

So it’s not that you particularly appreciate the American senator’s perspective as the outsider’s view?

Trollope does do that. His American characters are always spirits of misrule, really. They turn up at inopportune moments and recall engagements that shouldn’t have happened. They’re normally financiers.

But it’s the subplot, the Arabella Trefoil plot, that’s just fantastic. She turns down a lot of people, in the assumption that there’s always someone better. The truth is, there isn’t always someone better. That’s another lesson of the book. It’s not a guarantee that if you turn down five proposals, the sixth one will be better than the previous five and, in her case, they start getting worse. The prey, the field, gets smaller.

As I said, Arabella Trefoil is probably my favourite Trollope heroine. It’s Trollope’s empathy with her, even though she’s supposed to be a fortune-hunter and an adventuress.

Let’s move on to the next Trollope book you’ve recommended: The Way We Live Now (1875), which I believe is his longest novel. Is it a real doorstopper?

This is the one I’ve read the most. I can show . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

Around and Around Rotterdam

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Rotterdam has the largest harbor in Europe. A few days ago I posted a 10-minute time-lapse video of travel by water from Rotterdam to Amsterdam — quite a pleasant trip — and here’s a shorter video that remains in Rotterdam.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Unions

Beyond “I Don’t See Color.”

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Saying “I don’t think about what color a person is, I just relate to them as who they are” is very like say “I don’t think about the price of something but only about its quality.” The first statement is made by those who are privileged by virtue of their race — in the US and Canada, that would be Whites — and the second statement comes from those who are privileged economically.

Not considering race is not an option for those who do not belong to the privileged race, just as not considering price is not an option for those who are not well-to-do.

Crawford Killan writes in The Tyee:

It’s been a few days now since John Horgan said what many white British Columbians declare with pride. That he doesn’t “see colour.”

The fact that he has apologized more than once since may confuse those who heard in Horgan’s statement only a noble rejection of conscious racism.

Responding to a debate question about white privilege, Horgan described his youth playing sports with Indigenous and South Asian kids, saying, “I did not see colour.”

Isn’t it a good thing to have been raised not to see colour? Doesn’t that mean you have escaped the trap of judging people by the shade of their skin? Is it not enough to simply want a society that rewards merit without discrimination?

That’s what I used to tell myself, too. Then I came to learn what Horgan is being made aware of now. That to claim to not see colour is to imply you are blind to systemic racism and therefore can’t be counted on to work to remove its structural barriers. As Indo-Canadian journalist Sunny Dhillon tweeted: “If you don’t see colour, you don’t see us.”

Horgan, like me, remains a white liberal person caught in a racist system. The sinister beauty of a system is that it seems perfectly natural to the people it benefits — just the way the world is. And the ugliness of a system is that it easily stymies attempts to change it.

So when I was a kid, we played cowboys and Indians, re-enacting the violent expropriation of Indigenous peoples and then sentimentalizing our defeated enemies. But real Indigenous people were out of sight except in movies. Black people were a visible presence and an ongoing “problem” for whites. Even in the 1940s and ’50s, whites debated that problem indirectly: “negro” was used by segregationists and white supremacists, and “Negro” by liberals, giving Black people the empty courtesy of a capital letter.

Accepted liberal opinion then was that we should be “colour blind,” that we shouldn’t “see colour” but look to the human beneath it. That opinion was reinforced by movies which portrayed impossibly virtuous Black people being hard done by until they were rescued by a white saviour — a white teacher in Blackboard Jungle, a white FBI agent in Mississippi Burning, a white journalist in Cry Freedom.

We scarcely noticed that such movies were really about good white guys, and the Black people were just a plot gimmick that sets events in motion.

Implicit in “colour blindness,” as in racism itself, is the assumption that “colour” carries a stigma. It’s a disability, like a lost limb or a congenital condition, and the test for white people is to find the “proper” attitude to that. The system permits responses from contempt to pity to sentimentality, but no more than that. And the system rewards the white person’s response by absolving them of the fact that they benefit in myriad ways from the structural inequalities that persist despite their high mindedness.

The system has survived many challenges since I was a boy, and overcome them all until very recently. “Identity politics” is a challenge unlike others, however. As it first began to emerge in the 1990s, I was skeptical of it: it seemed to accept racial differences just like the white supremacists, and colour blindness insisted on no differences at all. But identity politics has made an enormous difference, not only in racial issues but also in gender and class issues.

John Horgan’s not seeing colour made me realize that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Memes, Politics

“They didn’t see me as innocent”

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In Vox Klana Moore recounts the initial encounter with police in the US of 9 people of color. She writes:

Can you remember your first experience with the police? For these 9 Black and brown people, the encounters would shape their sense of safety forever.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon in late May when a friend mentioned he was organizing a Black Lives Matter march near my home in San Francisco. Like many, I hadn’t left the house in weeks; the city was in lockdown, and Covid-19 was well underway. But despite my fears of getting sick, something told me I needed to go — that I needed to show up for my community. So I decided to go alone.

We walked on Market Street, circling the Embarcadero twice in a peaceful protest of the deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and so many more of my fallen brothers and sisters. We had been marching for two hours and were just about to start a third loop, when suddenly, an unmarked white van approached us, blocking our path. A slew of other unmarked vehicles followed. Several heavily armed police officers flooded the sidewalk, forming a line around the building we had just passed.

Immediately, as if by instinct, all the people of color stepped into the street, away from the police, just as two white protesters stepped forward. They got into the officers’ faces, screaming and yelling, calling them pigs. One of them moved even closer, till it looked like it might escalate into something physical. A short Black woman with dreads and a loudspeaker screamed for them to step back. “This isn’t helping!” she yelled.

But they didn’t stop.

In fact, one of them continued walking up and down the line, eyeing the officers. Unafraid and untouched.

Their audacity shocked me. I was struck by the deep divide between how those with less melanin reacted to the police, compared to those with more — and how young I and so many others were when we were forced to learn to be cautious with those sworn to protect us.

I thought about my first interaction with law enforcement, when I was just 10 years old. I thought about how traumatic it was, and how that experience shaped me into the person I am today: someone who knows that law enforcement isn’t always right, and who speaks up when she sees injustice. And I thought about how different it must have been from the experiences of those two protesters, who felt they could yell at a line of officers without deadly consequences.

I also thought that if people, allies or not, could hear our stories, maybe they would finally listen and would understand why we are marching for change. Why we need change. Since our march, with the killings of Rayshard Brooks, David McAtee, and so many others at the hands of police and the National Guard, our calls have only felt more urgent.

After that day, I started talking to people. I posted a callout on social media asking them to share their first, most impactful experience with the police — good or bad. The post spread. I began to get countless messages and texts from people I knew, and many I did not. Most of their stories were unpleasant and abusive. Of the dozens of people I spoke with, almost everyone struggled to come up with a positive experience. I opened up my old scars, and those of the people brave enough to share their stories with me — stories of hurt, disdain, aggression, privilege, corruption, occasional kindness, and very little understanding.

These are just a few of these stories, told over several conversations and edited for length and clarity. Each is unique, and a different lens on the complex relationship between citizen and officer.

Rabi Basir, age 15, Cleveland

Now: 46

I was 15 years old, and I had just gotten off from work. I was planning to meet some friends at a party, so I took the bus to my cousin’s house to change clothes.

I walked in, and everyone was in the living room watching the BET Awards. My cousin had a couple friends over, her kids were there. I said hi and went straight to the bathroom to get ready. I couldn’t have been in the house more than 15 minutes when I heard a huge bang, so loud that it literally felt like it shook the house. Before I had time to think, I heard people running up the stairs and kicking in doors. The kids all started screaming. Then I heard the cops say, “Freeze! Everybody get on the floor!”

I started thinking to myself, Oh, crap. Do I stay where I’m at, or do I open this door? I don’t want to surprise them, and if I open the door too quickly they might think I’m a threat, and I don’t want them to shoot me. But before I can figure out what to do, they kick in the door and put their shotguns in my face. I was so scared. I was just frozen there for a moment, because I wanted to seem as nonthreatening as possible. I move slowly, I have my hands up, and I get on the floor. I look up and I see that they all have on these vests that say SWAT.

Then a female officer steps in and says, “I’m going to need to pat you down.” I have on a skirt, and she tells me that she needs me to take down my underwear. I was a child, alone in the bathroom with someone I didn’t know, who made me disrobe so she could search me. Again, they didn’t call my mother for consent or anything. I was a minor.

Out in the living room, they’re lining everyone up on the floor. They’re pulling people aside, asking them questions about drugs and all this other stuff. After searching me, they bring me to the living room, too, and one of the guys says to the other one, “Yeah, this one was in here flushing the dope down the toilet.” And I’m thinking to myself, “The hell is going on? What dope?” But then another officer says, “No, I think she just got here, because I saw her when she got off the bus and walked down the street.” So they were aware that I didn’t have anything to do with this operation, and they still made me take off my underwear and bend over so that officer could search me.

After a while, they realized they were in the wrong house. My cousin lived on the top floor of a duplex. They were supposed to search the house on the first floor. They didn’t find any drugs or anything illegal, but they needed to justify what they had done, so they said they were taking a few of us to jail. They pointed out the ones that they wanted to get in the van. I happened to be one of them, because I was “outside after curfew.” They also took my cousin’s friend, and then another girl, who was actually younger than me. I think she was, like, 13 years old.

It is traumatic as a teenager getting carted off to jail for not doing anything. It’s embarrassing. It’s demeaning. You feel like a second-class citizen. Everyone in the neighborhood sees you get loaded up in that van. Everyone gets to see them cart you off, like a criminal. Like my grandmother used to say, in the perp walk.

I was at the precinct for roughly an hour. My mother had to come and get me, and she came in the door cursing them out.

The next day, I went back to my cousin’s house to check on her, and one of her friends — the one who got arrested — comes up to me. She’s like, “You need to mind your business. The police told me that you told them I was selling drugs or something.”

Luckily, my cousin jumped in and was like, “Does that even make any sense? Why would she come here the next day if she had snitched?” I don’t think the cops realize, in the Black community, when they try to label people as a snitch, how far people will take that information. People get hurt! I don’t know what would have happened if my cousin didn’t step in for me.

It made me look at the police differently. I never thought they would lie about me. When they kicked that door in and put those shotguns in my face, I can’t even explain to you how that felt. How do you prepare a person for a situation like that? I mean, I literally felt like I was about to die.

Police officers have in their mind exactly how they’re going to perceive us, whether we say or do anything wrong or not. Even if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’re going to find a way to justify it. Even if it isn’t true or right. Even if it’s the wrong house. They think to themselves, “They’re a bunch of animals and savages.” And so they prepare themselves to deal with animals and savages.

R. Gippeto, age 19, Atlanta

Now: 33

I’m a US citizen, but I grew up in the Caribbean, around mostly Black and Latino people. Also, my mother was a police officer. But not just any police officer: She worked for internal affairs. She policed the police. So when I moved to Georgia at 18, my understanding of the police force was that only the good officers stayed; the bad ones were fired. But all that changed after I moved here.

So I was 19, my laptop was broken, and I needed to finish a job application. All of my friends were busy, and I couldn’t borrow their laptops, so I went to the library. At the time, I had just started my locs and I hadn’t had a haircut for a couple of weeks, so I put on a durag to cover up my hair and threw on a hoodie because it was kind of chilly.

As I was walking along the side of the library, no more than a block away from the entrance, a police officer patrolling the parking lot said, “Hey, take that durag off.” I’m outside, just walking by myself, so I didn’t pay him any attention. Then he repeats, “Hey, take that durag off and pull your hoodie off your head.” I looked at him and said, “Sir, I don’t have my hair cut and my hair’s not bothering you, so you have a good day.”

I turned and continued walking to the library, but then the cop sped up, hopped out of his car, and blocked me off. Then he put his hand on the library wall, pinned me to the side of the building, and moved an inch away from my face. His other hand was now on his gun. He repeated, “Look here, boy. I told you to take that durag and that hoodie off your head. Now.”

Up until that moment, I still didn’t think he was being for real. I’m just thinking to myself, “Are you serious?” My face was clearly visible — my hoodie wasn’t over my face. So I asked him again, “Why do I have to take it off?” And he said, . . .

Continue reading. Read all their stories. It helps to see where Black Lives Matter is coming from and where the movement gets its energy.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 11:08 am

CK-6, a terrific soap — and ATT’s R1

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Another G.B. Kent brush — the Infinity, their synthetic — with the WWBT design, though less extreme than the Kent BK-4 (or 8 or whatever). This is quite a nice little brush — good resilience without being scrubby, and much more present to the face than the Plissoft knots, which feel softer.

I tried loading the (well shaken-out) brush heavily with the CK-6 soap, applying it, and then adding a little water to the brush to bring up the lather a bit more. It worked well enough, but I was just playing around. This soap is (as you see) the Orange Doppelgänger, the homage to Chaps, byRalph Lauren. As I noted last week, the Doppelgänger gang line up like this:

Black Label = Sauvage by Christian Dior
Oxblood Label = Sartorial by Penhaligan’s
Orange Label = Chaps by Ralph Lauren
Grey Label = Creed Aventus

In the title I identify my Above the Tie as an R1, but in fact it’s an R, since I bought it prior to the advent of the R2 (the open-comb equivalent) and so the “1” was redundant at the time. And though I find their S1 slant to be superb, the S2 was too harsh for me. I can’t recall whether I have any experience with the R2. (Above the Tie’s 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee makes the decision just to try one of their razors much easier — and in fact I used that guarantee with zero problems with the S2.)

The shave was exceptionally nice: great shaving soap, fine lather, excellent razor, good brand of blade for me, and, of course, a certain level of skill gained through daily practice. (I wonder: if I grew a beard again — stopped shaving — for six months, when I resumed shaving, would my skill have gotten rusty so that nicks would be frequent? We’ll never know.)

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2020 at 10:21 am

Posted in Shaving

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