Later On

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

Archive for January 9th, 2021

The riot/insurrection that was planned in plain sight

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Logan Jaffee writes in a ProPublica newsletter:

Hi there,

My name is Logan Jaffe. I’m a reporter at ProPublica. To be frank, I am struggling to even type right now, as I am watching a nightmare unfold in the U.S. Capitol. It’s midday on Wednesday, Jan. 6. A door of the Senate chamber has been barricaded with heavy furniture. Elected officials have been evacuated. A PBS reporter is crouched behind something to keep her safe, still broadcasting, somehow. The halls of the Capitol have been overtaken by a group of people that CNN’s Jake Tapper just suggested we call terrorists. President-elect Joe Biden called this an insurrection. Many Americans may feel surprised by this violent attempted coup. I am not one of them.

For years, I’ve been following far-right and white nationalist movements, both online and in person. In January 2017, I stood outside of a gun store in rural Virginia as hundreds of neo-Confederates raised a gigantic Confederate battle flag in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Almost four years later, on the morning of the Capitol insurrection, the same group who organized the flag-raising tweeted: “Friends. We didn’t lose our Republic last night. We lost it in 1865. It’s just taken 155 years to fully reap the whirlwind #TheSouthWasRight.” Someone replied: “Amen to that. Was good to see the battle flag in the Capitol.”

While reporting in the sundown town of Anna, Illinois, in 2019, I had a lengthy conversation in the Walmart parking lot with a man who warned me a civil war was coming to this country. At the start of the pandemic in April 2020, I reported on how lockdowns were triggering discussions in some Illinois counties about seceding, or kicking Chicago out of the state. Of course, it is all still unlikely — Illinois secession and a national civil war — but the rhetoric is not meaningless because it is an expression of the violence that became a reality this Wednesday.

In the weeks leading up to the election certification on Wednesday, talk of violence at the nation’s Capitol — and state capitols, too — was not hard to find. It was out in the open, just as it has been for years. Sometimes, it is explicit. One commenter on MyMilitia.com wrote on Dec. 12: “If this does not change, then I advocate, Revolution and adherence to the rules of war. … I say, take the hill or die trying.”

It would be nearly impossible to quantify the rhetoric from President Donald Trump’s supporters on social media platforms that calls for uprising, to defend the Constitution, to defend America, to defend and defend and defend. Trump himself has repeatedly told his followers he will not back down. And though the people who dared to riot, pillage and trespass their way into the nation’s Capitol did not succeed at their goal of “stopping the steal” of an election that has not been stolen, they came far too close. What that means, perhaps, is that those whose job it is to safeguard the Capitol, the citadel of democracy, did not believe in the reality of the threat as much as insurrectionists believed in their own delusion.

To many Americans, what happened at the Capitol on Wednesday was a nightmare. Five people died. To some Americans, it was a dream come true.

In a story I wrote this week with my colleagues Lydia DePillis, Isaac Arnsdorf and David McSwane, we report on the widespread talk of violence on social media and the unpreparedness of Capitol Police to meet the moment. We’ll be reporting more on this in the coming weeks. If you have information or other thoughts you’d like to share with me, you can reply directly to this email. I hope to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

Until next week …

—Logan Jaffe, ProPublica

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 11:21 pm

TV series on Netflix that I like a lot, with viewing advice

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The Korean series Stranger, whose first two seasons are on Netflix, is excellent: well-drawn characters, complex but intelligible plot, and interesting cultural differences.

It is sub-titled in English, and for most in the US the names are unusual and difficult to remember (like, say, the Russian names in War and Peace), so I recommend in the first few episodes pausing the action to write down a character’s name when the character is introduced. This will help a lot later, when the character is mentioned in some conversation. I did this when reading War and Peace — writing down name and a brief description of who it was — and it helped immensely.

Because the plot is intricate and the dialogue sometimes swift, I made good use of the 10-second rewind and in fact I watched one episode twice. On the second viewing, everything was clear even though after the first viewing I was a bit confused.

I hope and expecct a third season will eventually become available. The second season is from 2020, so it may be a few months from now.

Some of the cultural differences are obvious — for example, the routine bowing and the extreme deference given to superiors (it must be an extremely hierarchical society). Others may be an artifact of drama, such as when a character in an office context shouts and shows overt anger. I get the idea this is done as a show of strength and to intimidate, whereas in US/Canadian culture that would be interpreted as (character) weakness demonstrating that the person is immature and lacks self control. (The same pattern of shouting and overt anger occurs in Japanese modern-day dramas as well.)

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Report from a toxic work culture: “How I Managed My Mental Illness as a Career Military Officer”

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Stephen Chamberlin writes in Medium:

Zero Defect? Really? Really.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 2:51 pm

The doctor whom Carl Sagan warned us about

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Jonathan Jarry writes in The Conversation:

Predictions made by psychics and astrologers tend to quickly fade from memory because of how wrong they often turn out to be, but one prediction made by Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist and famous science communicator, is so unfortunately on the money that it continues to outlive him. He spelled it out in the second chapter of his last book, The Demon-Haunted World: “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

Superstitions did not disappear in the modern age, but with the COVID-19 pandemic driving people to spend more and more time online, anxiously searching for and simultaneously being bombarded by anything that looks like information, this prophesied crystal-clutching and horoscope-consulting is all the more evident. And there are misenlightened gurus who epitomize Sagan’s dire warning, chief among them Dr. Christiane Northrup.

An obstetrician-gynecologist by training, Northrup rose to fame as a New York Times bestselling author of books like Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. She was platformed by Oprah Winfrey on many occasions and was named by Reader’s Digest in 2013 as one of the 100 most trusted people in America. Her online fanbase is considerable: 149,000 followers on Instagram and over half a million fans on her Facebook page. For a medical doctor’s star to shine so brightly during a pandemic should be a boon, but Dr. Northrup is no ordinary doctor. Every night, she addresses tens of thousands of followers in ten-minute videos that deny the reality of the pandemic, promote every magical belief under the sun, and weave a grand Dungeons-and-Dragons-style narrative about the Age of Aquarius and Northrup’s Warriors of the Radical Light.

As Carl Sagan wrote in The Demon-Haunted World, “sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

“Hello, warriors”

I watched a month’s worth of her solo videos to better understand the world in which she lives. In this parallel universe, there are Indigo childrentime travellers from the future, and geomancers performing acupuncture on Mother Earth by moving rocks around. She constantly tells her viewers, whom she calls “sleeping lions” and “warriors,” that they need to take action. That is when the supernatural forces of Providence will magically come in and take care of the rest, like the reinforcements who show up at the end of an action film just in the nick of time.

Her views on the COVID-19 pandemic, shaped by her mantra that “it doesn’t make sense,” are unscientific, reckless and asinine. Rarely have I witnessed such a smorgasbord of gobbledygook from someone who once had an active medical license. She does not believe . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 1:46 pm

Wi-Fi’s biggest upgrade in decades is starting to arrive

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Wi-Fi is about to get a lot better. Many of this year’s new phones, laptops, TVs, routers, and more will come with support for Wi-Fi 6E, a new upgrade to Wi-Fi that’s essentially like expanding your wireless connection from a two-lane road to an eight-lane highway. It’s the biggest upgrade to Wi-Fi in 20 years, and connections should be faster and a lot more reliable because of it.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry-wide group that oversees Wi-Fi, is now starting to certify the first wave of products with support for Wi-Fi 6E. Phones, PCs, and laptops with support should start hitting the market in the first months of 2021, according to the IDC research group, and TVs and VR devices with support are expected to arrive by the middle of the year.

Some of the first devices are likely to be announced over the next week. During CES, which kicks off on January 11th, router companies will preview what they have coming up for the year. Samsung is also planning to announce its next flagship phones, the Galaxy S21 series, and some if not all of them are likely to have support for Wi-Fi 6E thanks to the Snapdragon 888 processor. Because the chip includes support for it, Wi-Fi 6E should be present in many of this year’s top Android phones.

Wi-Fi 6E is such a big upgrade because it relies on a huge expansion of the wireless airwaves available to consumer devices. In April 2020, the Federal Communications Commission opened up this wide new swath of spectrum in the United States, but new hardware was required in order to make use of it. Nearly a year on, we’re finally starting to see devices with those capabilities.

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Later in the article:

It’ll be some time before most new devices are shipping with Wi-Fi 6E, though. Not all new gadgets are even shipping with standard Wi-Fi 6 yet, and that version of Wi-Fi started rolling out about two years ago. By the start of 2022, IDC only expects 20 percent of shipping Wi-Fi 6 products to also support Wi-Fi 6E.

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

Brush problem resolved, with Rose of Phrygia as test case

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No problem at all using a badger brush with Dr. Jon’s Vol 3 today, the exemplar being Rose of Phrygia: “Dark, sweet spices over vetiver and tobacco with top notes of two different rose accords.” I took care to load the brush well, and I noted that today I did have to add a little water during loading, something that the synthetic brush used yesterday did not require (probably because synthetic brushes tend to retain a lot of water). I think the problem from two days ago was insufficient loading due to insufficient water available during loading.

With an excellent lather (whose fragrance is admirable), I went to work with the Rimei and easily obtained a smooth finish. The hit of menthol in the aftershave is still unwelcome, and I’ll post a warning note in the Guide update section and also suggest to Dr. Jon that the presence of menthol be explicitly noted in the aftershave description (in boldface), rather than buried in the list of ingredients. Since people can purchase menthol crystals to add their own menthol if they want it, I think a soap’s regular matching aftershave should be menthol free.

But overall a fine shave, and we have a sunny morning for the weekend opening.

Written by Leisureguy

9 January 2021 at 11:35 am

Posted in Shaving

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