Later On

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

Archive for January 6th, 2021

20 corporations, $16 million, and 138 Republicans trying to subvert democracy

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Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria write in Popular Information:

On Wednesday, dozens of Congressional Republicans will object to the certification of the Electoral College vote that made Joe Biden the next President of the United States. Their goal is to set aside millions of votes, ignore the clear will of the electorate, and install Trump for a second term.

The votes have been counted, recounted, and certified. The Electoral College met on December 14 and confirmed that Joe Biden was the winner. And it wasn’t particularly close. Biden won 306 Electoral College delegates and received over 7 million more votes than Trump.

Apparently, that isn’t enough. A group led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that “the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.” Although there have been many allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities, there has been no proof. Trump and his allies filed dozens of suits based on these allegations seeking to overturn the results of the election and lost.

The effort to overturn the results of the election has been widely derided as dangerous, anti-democratic, and unconstitutional. Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote a 21-page memo to her colleagues explaining why there was “no appropriate basis” to object to the certification of the election. An excerpt:

Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the President and bestowing it instead on Congress. This is directly at odds with the Constitution’s clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said the scheme “would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress.” The right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial board called it an “unconstitutional” effort to disenfranchise “81 million Americans who voted for Mr. Biden.”

The business community has also expressed its opposition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents most large businesses in the United States, said this effort “undermines our democracy and the rule of law.” A separate group of prominent business leaders calls it “counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”

But many of the members who are planning to object to the certification of the vote on Wednesday are generously supported by corporate America. A Popular Information analysis reveals . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 4:11 pm

Is success due to luck? or hard work?

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Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science, Video

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Tibetan Monks Use Meditation to Raise Their Peripheral Body Temperature 16-17 Degrees

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I can’t embed the 7-minute video, which leads an Open Culture article by Josh Jones, a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. (See also this article in Aeon.)

Tibetan monks in remote regions of the Himalayas have long claimed near miraculous powers through yogic practices that resemble nothing you’ll find offered at your local gym, though they may derive from some similar Indian sources. One such meditative practice, a breathing exercise known as tummotum-mo, or g-tummo, supposedly generates body heat and can raise one’s peripheral body temperature 16-17 degrees—a distinctly advantageous ability when sitting outside in the snow-capped mountains.

Perhaps a certain amount of skepticism is warranted, but in 1981, Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson was determined to take these ancient practices seriously, even though his first encounters with western practitioners of tummo produced results he deemed “fraudulent.” Not ready to toss centuries of wisdom, Benson decided instead to travel to the source after meeting the Dalai Lama and receiving permission to study tummo practitioners in Northern India.

Benson’s research became a 20-year project of studying tummo and other advanced techniques while he also taught at the Harvard Medical School and served as president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston, where he believes the study of meditation can “uncover capacities that will help us to better treat stress-related illnesses.” The claims of monks who practice tummo have been substantiated in Benson’s work, showing, he says, “what advanced forms of meditation can do to help the mind control physical processes once thought to be uncontrollable.”

In his own experimental settings, “Benson found that [Tibetan] monks possessed remarkable capacities for controlling their oxygen intake, body temperatures and even brainwaves,” notes Aeon. Another study undertaken in 2013 by Maria Kozhevnikov, cognitive neuroscientist at the National University of Singapore, “corroborated much of what Benson had observed, including practitioners’ ability to raise their body temperatures to feverish levels by combining visualization and specialized breathing.”

In the short documentary film above—actually a 7-minute trailer for Russ Pariseau’s feature-length film Advanced Tibetan Meditation: The Investigations of Herbert Benson MD—we get a brief introduction to tummo, a word that translates to “inner fire” and relates to the ferocity of a female deity. Benson explains the ideas behind the practice in concise terms that sum up a central premise of Tibetan Buddhism in general:

Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There’s another reality we can tap into that’s unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation. The heat they generate during the process is just a by-product of g Tum-mo meditation

Perhaps centuries-old non-European practices do not particularly need to be debunked, demystified, or validated by modern scientific medicine to keep working for their practitioners; but doctors have significantly benefited those in their care through an acceptance of the healing properties of, say, psilocybin or mindfulness, now serious subjects of study and clinical treatment in top Euro-American institutions. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 2:53 pm

What’s the ideal BMI?

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One should note that the BMI is a (good) rule of them for the typical person, though it can be misleading for the atypical. My readers who are NFL professional linebackers, for example, know already that the BMI does not work well for them. They are quite heavy in comparison to their height, but the weight is bone and muscle mass and the amount of fat on their frame is small — so, even though their BMI is quite high, they are not in fact obese.

But if by chance you are not a professional athlete, the BMI can be a good guide, and this brief video should be of interest. (You can find the transcript via the tab “View Transcript” on this page, just beneath the video).

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 2:01 pm

Beans for Life!

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I eat beans at each meal, and I’ve grown to like them a lot because of the variety. For example,

  • Cook, drain, chill, and use in salads or standalone — lentils (black belugua, Du Puy, brown, green), kidney beans, soybeans, black beans, and a jillion kinds of heritage beans (some favorites: Christmas Lima beans, black valentine beans (better than black turtle beans), flageolet beans, mortgage lifter beans (enormous), corona beans (a special favorite—sweet and creamy and hold their shape), scarlet runner beans, black rice beans (very small), and others. Good sources: Purcell Mountain Farms and Rancho Gordo and see the list in this post.
  • Make a soup — for example, Lentils Monastery Style is easy to make with ingredients you might already have on hand (and that in any case are easily found).  I also made a variation when I was active in WW, Lentils WW Style. Or try Senate Bean Soup.
  • Cook and mash to make hummus (chickpeas and tahini with lemon juice and olive oil) or a variation with a different kind of bean and perhaps a nut butter (almond butter, hazelnut butter) instead of tahini — see Hummus, Generalized and also browse this list for variants I’ve made. My stand-by standard recipe is what I make most often.
  • Cook and don’t mash to make some sort of bean salad or side-dish, such as Texas Caviar or Mark Bittman’s Bean Salad (with variations).

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 11:57 am

Janet Yellen’s Cash Haul of $7 Million Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg; She Failed to Report Her Wall Street Speaking Fees from JPMorgan and Others in 2018

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Democrats — like Republicans — should strive for ethical behavior and honesty. This attempted deception by Janet Yellen seems disqualifying to me. I hope Biden will look for integrity in those he picks. Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

On December 29 we needed a clarification from former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers about his opinion column against Congress issuing $2,000 stimulus checks. We sent him an email at 10:13 a.m. and received a very clear response from him directly at 12:51 p.m. that day — a span of a few hours.

Compare that timely response to Janet Yellen’s respect for the media’s obligation to report a full set of facts to the American people. Three days ago, we contacted Yellen at four different entities with which she is affiliated. Only the Brookings Institution responded, saying she was on leave. President-elect Joe Biden’s media team did not respond at all, nor did the Washington Speakers Bureau and University of California, Berkeley.

Yellen is Biden’s nominee for U.S. Treasury Secretary. In anticipation of her Senate confirmation hearing, she has released her financial disclosure forms which showed a windfall of more than $7 million in speaking fees since she left her position with the Federal Reserve. The bulk of that money came from Wall Street firms, which are variously regulated and bailed out by the Fed.

Our question for Yellen is an uncomfortable one: why did her financial disclosure form report her cash haul from Wall Street’s serially charged trading houses for just the years 2019 and 2020 when common sense suggests her biggest haul would have been in 2018, when her knowledge of the thinking at the Fed was most timely.

Yellen stepped down as Chair of the Federal Reserve on February 3, 2018 when President Trump failed to renominate her for the position of Chair. Yellen was a Fed Governor before becoming its Chair and that term didn’t expire until 2024. Yellen could have remained at the Fed and functioned as a public servant. Instead, in the very same month that she stepped down at the Fed, she signed an exclusive contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau.

Less than two months after stepping down from the Fed, Yellen was raking in huge fees for chumming around with, and delivering her bits of wisdom to, the mega trading houses on Wall Street: the very same folks who blew up the U.S. financial system in 2008 and received a super-secret $29 trillion bailout from the Fed. The details of the Fed’s obscene bailout were made public three years after the fact under a federal court decision and government audit.

Yellen’s first event on April 2, 2018 was reported by Reuters. Yellen was hosted by. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

We know that Yellen has not fully disclosed her financial entanglements with Wall Street because page 8 of her financial disclosure form asks her to list her “sources of compensation exceeding $5,000 in a year.” Under that heading, Yellen lists JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Carlyle Investment Management. And she states the source of the income from those firms resulted from her being a “speaker.” But Yellen has not included those firms and others in her details of income for 2019 or 2020, leaving the reader to assume that she was paid for speaking events at these firms in 2018, while failing to report the specific amounts of income from each.

It’s disgusting if Joe Biden puts up with this sort chicanery.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 10:50 am

Lenthéric and the iKon X3, with l’Occitane Cade EDT as aftershave

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Very  traditional this morning, I feel. The Rooney Victorian is a stately, elegant example of the badger brush in full glory, with a wonderful knot. The Lenthéric’s shaving soap, though made decades ago, still emanates a wonderful fragrance from the great lather it produces.

Prep complete. I put the iKon X3 to work. Here it’s mounted on the superb RazoRock Barber Pole handle, a handle that I like a lot. In fact, when they’re back in stock, I may buy another.

Three passes left my face completely, wonderfully smooth, and again I used an EDT as an aftershave, this time l’Occitane’s Cade. It has a spray top, so I do several sprays into the palm of my hand to get a “splash,” as it were, then rub hands together and then on face. It works well enough. Were it packaged as an aftershave, it would probably include some glycerin, but even just as an EDT it does the job as an occasional variation. Because of the lack of skin-nourishing/ehancing ingredients (like glycerin, for example), I probably would not use an EDT as my daily aftershave, but using it from time to time seems okay.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 10:13 am

Posted in Shaving

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