Later On

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

Archive for November 27th, 2020

Guilt? or just say, “What?”

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Hearing a noise from the other room, The Wife investigated. She writes, “Molly was digging in the bag of food to find something she likes better than what’s on her plate.” This is the look Molly gave her.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly

How to Reconnect Rural and Urban America

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James Fallows has an excellent post on constructive steps to help unite the US again. Read the post, and let me quote the second of the (sensible, doable) steps he recommends:

. . . 2) Reducing Polarization by Modernizing Rural Policy: The political and cultural ramifications of a rural-urban divide are hot topics journalistically. “Rural policy,” not so much. But in a new report for Brookings (available here), Anthony Pipa and Nathalie Geismar argue that straightening out the rat’s-nest of programs intended to help rural America could make a big difference.

Rat’s nest? Take a look at this organization chart included in the Brookings report:

Do read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 12:58 pm

Any-Fruit Biscuit Cobbler: A recipe by The Niece

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This looks totally delicious. Step-by-step recipe with photos.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 10:54 am

Tech Can’t Handle Criticism: A Conversation with Anna Wiener and Jessica Powell

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Medium’s OneZero notes:

Continue reading.

With that as introduction, here is Brian Merchant’s conversation with Anna Wiener and Jessica Powell:

OneZero: Let’s talk about how both of you first came to Silicon Valley. What drew your interest to the field?

Once you arrived in Silicon Valley, it seems as if some of the broader structural cultural issues become apparent pretty quickly. Anna, there’s a great line in your book about how it became clear that so much of the tech culture is built by young white men from “the soft suburbs.” And then that is being exported.

OneZero: And that often results in what Jessica details in her book — institutional sexism. In Jessica’s book, it’s very explicit: The engineers are building internal hookup apps to keep the engineers happy. The message is pretty clear that the company culture in a lot of these places is serving a very narrow interest, which is the interest of the men working there. Jessica, can you talk about what in your experience inside Silicon Valley led you to register that critique?

Continue reading. There’s much more. It occurs to me that “tech can’t handle criticism” because tech is dominated by men and most men can’t handle criticism because of a self-image of rugged individualism.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 10:35 am

The Big Disruption

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A Totally Fictional But Essentially True Silicon Valley Story.

Jessica Powell has a book that you can read online. It begins:

Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.
Carl Sagan

Prologue

he only animal left standing was a one-eyed sea lion named Fred.

The northwest wall of the Palo Alto Sea Park shark tank broke at four a.m. on a hot August night, releasing into the park 780,000 gallons of water and fourteen angry sharks. They rode the wave in one sharp-toothed tsunami, penetrating the dolphin tank with open mouths, chasing the dolphins into new parts of the park.

Down came the manatee tank, the penguin’s pen, and the piglet squid viewing room. The flamingo hut and the snake house withstood the pressure but flooded with water, the animals’ terrestrial enclosures suddenly transformed into muddy aquariums. Noah’s ark was now subject to a Darwinian reorganization in which for a few breathless seconds, snakes became exotic fish, tails dropping vertically like flutes bobbing in the water until they finally sank to the floor. Nearby, the flamingos honked in terror, their pink necks popping up above the waves like unfastened hooks, tangling in each other until they dropped below the surface.

As the water from the tanks expanded to the edges of the park, the depths once housing the sea’s greatest creatures were now reduced to mere puddles. Fish were left flapping against the asphalt; the beluga whale flattened seahorses and starfish as it barreled its way through the park in search of arctic water. No longer traveling forward with carnivorous glee, the sharks came to a stop near the snack bar and began rolling about on their dolphin-stuffed bellies, emitting wimpy cries that would have delighted fish lower on the totem pole were they too not gasping in their newly parched environment. Within minutes, self-pity transformed to anger, and in their final moments, the sharks turned on each other in a cannibalistic bloodbath.

It all happened so quickly that by the time the rescue crews arrived, there was little left to salvage. The crew moved swiftly from one section of the park to the next, their faces increasingly grim. The manta rays spread flat like leathery carpets, the snakes roping above them in a bloated tangle. Colorful fish lay on their sides, mouths gaping, scales shifting like crystals in the slowly rising sun.

Word quickly spread of the catastrophe, and television news helicopters soon circled above. Everyone was looking for Belbo, Palo Alto’s beloved walrus and official mascot. The rescue crew finally discovered the aquarium’s prized pinniped underneath one of the felled walls, her death exacted by a slab of heavy concrete.

As the leader of the rescue crew turned to declare the end of their efforts, a loud croak bellowed from the northwest corner of the park. The crew ran toward the sound, which now repeated, like a foghorn, over and over. It was coming from the marine-themed jungle gym, one of the few structures that had survived the flood, thanks to its distance from the shark and dolphin tanks. As the crew approached, they saw a gray mass swaying atop the slide, partially blocking the sun. The rescuers shielded their eyes for a better view, and soon its form grew clearer. It was a one-eyed sea lion with a patch on its left eye.

At the sight of the rescue team, the sea lion barked again and clapped its hands. It balanced a ball on its nose, then put its weight on its front flippers and lifted its tail up behind its head. Without thinking, the rescue crew laughed and clapped.

Then the sea lion jumped onto its belly and sailed down the slide, landing on its stomach, flappers out to its side and a smile on its face. The crew rushed to hug the sea lion, to applaud its survival skills, to hail the new mascot of Palo Alto. The animal clapped its hands again and croaked three times, and across Silicon Valley, the sea lion’s bark dried the tears of the children watching the live news broadcasts. The sea lion showed them hope amid this sea of destruction.

One of the newscasters named it Fred.

A few months later, when the ground had finally dried and the bitter memories of the lost aquarium had faded for all but lawyers and insurance companies, the lot was purchased by a young internet company called Anahata. The founder of the company demanded that Fred be included as part of the property deal.

Fred was given his own  . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more — enough to fill a book, in fact.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 10:21 am

The Fatal Flaw at the Heart of Our Civilization

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umair haque writes at Medium:

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 10:09 am

Ward Farnsworth’s “Predator at the Chessboard: A Field Guide to Chess Tactics” — very good and totally free

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With the (excellent) Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” based on the novel by Walter Tevis (who also wrote The Hustler, The Color of Money, and The Man Who Fell to Earth), being popular and with pandemic isolation, chess is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, particularly since (like Go) online play is easy to find.

Ward Farnsworth has made his guide to tactics freely available. He writes:

Chess tactics explained.

This site teaches chess in words. It has two parts.

1. The first part is a book that explains chess tactics (that is, how to make winning moves). It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. Everything is explained progressively and in plain English. You can read it by clicking anyplace in the table of contents below. The headings can be expanded one at a time by clicking on the [+] signs, or click here to expand all of them at once. (And then you can click here to collapse them all at once.) There are 20 chapters, about 200 topics within them, and over 1,000 positions discussed.

2. The second part is a trainer: a set of puzzles shown without solutions that you can use to practice. Click here  to use it. You can try a random position from the book or one that involves a particular topic. The trainer allows you to ask for a hint if you’re stuck, and to see the answer when you are done.

You can always come back here by clicking the “contents” button in the upper right corner of every page. If you arrived by a different route, the best address for returning is http://www.chesstactics.org. This whole site has now been made much friendlier for mobile devices thanks to the help of a kind and ingenious reader.

Book versions of this site are available: over 700 pages in total in a two-volume set. Here are links to book one and book two. You can check out other books by the author about philosophy here, language here, metaphor here, and law here and here.

1.Introductory Matters.
[+]1.1.A Short Guide to the Site.
[+]1.2.Rationale for the Project.
[+]1.3.The Elements of Tactics: A Primer.
[+]1.4.Notation; Jargon; the Look of the Site; Hard Copies.
[+]1.5.Acknowledgments and Bibliography.
[+]1.6.Chess in Literature.

2.The Double Attack.
[+]2.1.The Knight Fork.
[+]2.2.The Queen Fork.
[+]2.3.The Bishop Fork.
[+]2.4.The Rook Fork.
[+]2.5.The Pawn Fork.

3.The Discovered Attack.
[+]3.1.Bishop Discoveries.
[+]3.2.Rook Discoveries.
[+]3.3.Knight Discoveries.
[+]3.4.Pawn Discoveries.

4.The Pin and the Skewer.
[+]4.1.Arranging a Pin.
[+]4.2.Exploiting a Pin.
[+]4.3.Other Patterns and Applications.
[+]4.4.The Relative Pin.
[+]4.5.The Skewer.

5.Removing the Guard.
[+]5.1.Capturing the Guard.
[+]5.2.Distracting the Guard (The Overworked Piece).
[+]5.3.Attacking the Guard.
[+]5.4.Blocking the Guard (Interference).

6.Mating Patterns.
[+]6.1.The Back Rank Mate.
[+]6.2.Other Classic Mating Ideas.

At the link, the TOC shown above consists of links to the pages of the book. Clicking a [+] displays the relevant pages for the heading. For example, clicking the [+] for “5.3 Attacking the Guard” displays:

5.3.1.Introduction.
5.3.2.Checks to Drive the King Away from Guard Duty.
5.3.3.Flush Checks (the Decoy).
5.3.4.Decoys on the Diagonal: Bishop Check Sacrifices.
5.3.5.Driving Off the Queen with a Threat.
5.3.6.Using the Priority of Check.
5.3.7.Attacks on the Queen to Loosen a Mating Square.
5.3.8.Flush Attacks Against the Queen.
5.3.9.Threats Against Rooks and Minor Pieces.
5.3.10.Forking the Guard and Another Piece.
5.3.11.Using Pawns to Threaten the Guard.

Each of those is also a link to the study page.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 9:47 am

Posted in Books, Chess

How One of the Reddest States Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market

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Paul Demco has a lengthy and interesting article in Politico:

WELLSTON, Oklahoma—One day in the early fall of 2018, while scrutinizing the finances of his thriving Colorado garden supply business, Chip Baker noticed a curious development: transportation costs had spiked fivefold. The surge, he quickly determined, was due to huge shipments of cultivation supplies—potting soil, grow lights, dehumidifiers, fertilizer, water filters—to Oklahoma.

Baker, who has been growing weed since he was 13 in Georgia, has cultivated crops in some of the world’s most notorious marijuana hotspots, from the forests of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle to the lake region of Switzerland to the mountains of Colorado. Oklahoma was not exactly on his radar. So one weekend in October, Baker and his wife Jessica decided to take a drive to see where all their products were ending up.

Voters in the staunchly conservative state had just four months earlier authorized a medical marijuana program and sales were just beginning. The Bakers immediately saw the potential for the fledgling market. With no limits on marijuana business licenses, scant restrictions on who can obtain a medical card, and cheap land, energy and building materials, they believed Oklahoma could become a free-market weed utopia and they wanted in.

Within two weeks, they found a house to rent in Broken Bow and by February had secured a lease on an empty Oklahoma City strip mall. Eventually they purchased a 110-acre plot of land down a red dirt road about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City that had previously been a breeding ground for fighting cocks and started growing high-grade strains of cannabis with names like Purple Punch, Cookies and Cream and Miracle Alien.

“This is exactly like Humboldt County was in the late 90s,” Baker says, as a trio of workers chop down marijuana plants that survived a recent ice storm. “The effect this is going to have on the cannabis nation is going to be incredible.”

Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans—nearly 10 percent of the state’s population—have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion.

To meet that demand, Oklahoma has  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much, much more.

One thing that struck me was how elected representatives worked hard to frustrate and foil the will of the public they claim to represent. In fact, the attitude of officials seems to have been in many cases outright hostile to the public and to the public interest. From later in the article:

No one embodies the transformation of Oklahoma from drug war battlefield to marijuana mecca better than Robert Cox.

Cox opened the Friendly Market in downtown Norman in October 2014. The 67-year-old grandfather of seven was nearing retirement and wanted to upgrade the image of the stereotypical seedy head shop. Eight years earlier, Cox had rediscovered a love of marijuana after a 29-year hiatus from using the drug. “It was like a transformational awakening,” he says.

But from the outset, Cox was warned by the Norman police that if he sold anything that they deemed to be drug paraphernalia—including glass pipes—they would come after him. At first, he heeded their warnings and stopped selling smoking devices. But after seeking legal advice, Cox decided to fight.

In December 2015, barely three months after sales resumed, the police twice raided The Friendly Market. Cox and the store’s manager, Stephen Holman, a member of the Norman City Council, were each hit with 13 criminal charges, including one felony count of “obtaining proceeds of drug activity.” Two other workers were each charged with one misdemeanor count. In addition, the cops seized most of the shop’s merchandise, forcing The Friendly Market to shut down.

Cox refused to back down. Over the course of two years, they fought the charges, culminating in a six-day jury trial for Cox and Holman. Ultimately, the owner and employees prevailed every criminal charge.

But even after they triumphed in court, the local authorities refused to return The Friendly Market’s merchandise, continuing to claim it was illegal drug paraphernalia. The case went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, with Cox once again prevailing. The store’s seized merchandise was finally returned, and Cox reopened for business in October 2017.

“We all smiled for weeks,” Cox recalls. “We were ecstatic.”

A year later, medical marijuana sales began in Oklahoma. . .

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 9:01 am

A brush with a light touch, Pink Grapefruit, and Dominica Bay Rum, with German 37 in the razor role

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That brush with the snakewood handle has a long loft that more fluffy than dense, the result being that the brush brings a light, gentle touch. It’s a bit beyond a soft knot, since a fairly resilient knot with soft tips (a badger brush with hooked tips, like my Rooney Victorian and Emilion) is soft but feels firm on the face instead of having an airy aspect.

At first I didn’t like the extremely light touch — I felt that it didn’t give me anything to work with — but then I decided to enjoy it for what it was instead of insisting it be what it is not, and with that decision I grew to enjoy these brushes a lot. Over the next several shaves I’ll work my way through the group that live here.

This brush I got some years back from the Strop Shoppe in Norman, Oklahoma (and see the next post for an interesting report on Oklahoma’s booming cannabis market). I loaded it well ith Meißner Tremonia’s Pink Grapefruit (and eucalyptus) shaving paste — an easy job despite the gentleness of the brush. Brute force is not required to load a brush; gentle persuasin works fine.

With the brush well loaded, I lathered the stubble and worked in a little more water, then used RazoRock’s excellent German 37 to whisk away the whiskers.

The Dominica Bay Rum’s cork cap broke so I used a lever-action soda-bottle stopper, which stuck firmly (perhaps affected by the alcohol). I was able to wrench it free and enjoy the splash of bay rum. The fragrance is somehow less rounded than the TOBS Bay Rum but is still quite refreshing and tropical.

A good shave to end the week. I noticed that this week I alternated slants and conventional razors, using a slant MWF.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 8:49 am

Posted in Shaving

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