Later On

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

Archive for January 19th, 2021

The January 6 insurrection was planned and supported by Trump’s people

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Heather Cox Richardson’s entire column for yesterday is well worth reading, but I want to extract just one part:

In the last days of his term, the area of Washington, D.C., around our government buildings has been locked down to guard against further terrorism. Our tradition of a peaceful transition of power, established in 1800, has been broken. There is a 7-foot black fence around the Capitol and 15,000 National Guard soldiers on duty in a bitterly cold Washington January. There are checkpoints and road closures near the center of the city, and 10,000 more troops are authorized if necessary. Another 4,000 are on duty in their states, protecting key buildings and infrastructure sites.

In the past two days, there have been more indications that members of the Trump administration were behind the January 6 coup attempt. Yesterday, Richard Lardner and Michelle R. Smith of the Associated Press broke the story that, far from being a grassroots rally, the event of January 6 that led to the storming of the Capitol was organized and staffed by members of Trump’s presidential campaign team. These staffers have since tried to distance themselves from it, deleting their social media accounts and refusing to answer questions from reporters.

A number of the arrested insurrectionists have claimed that they were storming the Capitol because the president told them to. According to lawyers Teri Kanefield and Mark Reichel, writing in the Washington Post, this is known as the “public authority” defense, meaning that if someone in authority tells you it’s okay to break a law, that advice is a defense when you are arrested. It doesn’t mean you won’t be punished, but it is a defense. It also means that the person offering you that instruction is more likely to be prosecuted.

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 2:45 pm

“Sense of Entitlement”: Rioters Faced No Consequences Invading State Capitols. No Wonder They Turned to the U.S. Capitol Next.

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Economics has the term “moral hazard,” which refers to a lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from its consequences, e.g. by a bail-out. This issue was discussed a lot in the 2008 bailout of big banks, and indeed since the banks were protected from the consequences of their actions, they quickly returned to their old (and profitable) ways.

It strikes me that the lack of consequences for various offenses against the government (starting with, say, the 2014 Bundy armed refusal to stand down) has over time resulted in the insurrection in DC — and indeed many of the particcipants think they should not in any way face consequences for their actions.

Jeremy Kohler reports in ProPublica:

The gallery in the Idaho House was restricted to limited seating on the first day of a special session in late August. Lawmakers wanted space to socially distance as they considered issues related to the pandemic and the November election.

But maskless protesters shoved their way past Idaho State Police troopers and security guards, broke through a glass door and demanded entry. They were confronted by House Speaker Scott Bedke, a Republican. He decided to let them in and fill the gallery.

“You guys are going to police yourselves up there, and you’re going to act like good citizens,” he told the invaders, according to a YouTube video of the incident.

“I just thought that, on balance, it would be better to let them go in and defuse it … rather than risk anyone getting hurt or risk tearing up anything else,” Bedke said of the protesters in an interview last week. He said he talked to cooler heads in the crowd “who saw that it was a situation that had gotten out of control, and I think on some level they were very apologetic.”

That late-summer showdown inside the Statehouse in Boise on Aug. 24 showed supporters of President Donald Trump how they could storm into a seat of government to intimidate lawmakers with few if any repercussions. The state police would say later that they could not have arrested people without escalating the potential for violence and that they were investigating whether crimes were committed. No charges have been filed. The next day, anti-government activist Ammon Bundy and two others were arrested when they refused to leave an auditorium in the Statehouse and another man was arrested when he refused to leave a press area.

In a year in which state governments around the country have become flashpoints for conservative anger about the coronavirus lockdown and Trump’s electoral defeat, it was right-wing activists — some of them armed, nearly all of them white — who forced their way into state capitols in Idaho, Michigan and Oregon. Each instance was an opportunity for local and national law enforcement officials to school themselves in ways to prevent angry mobs from threatening the nation’s lawmakers.

But it was Trump supporters who did the learning. That it was possible — even easy — to breach the seats of government to intimidate lawmakers. That police would not meet them with the same level of force they deployed against Black Lives Matter protesters. That they could find sympathizers on the inside who might help them.

And they learned that criminal charges, as well as efforts to make the buildings more secure, were unlikely to follow their incursions. In the three cases, police made only a handful of arrests.

The failure to stop state capitol invasions is especially chilling after the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, which left five dead, including a police officer, as lawmakers met to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

Experts and elected officials said the lack of action by lawmakers and police created an environment that encouraged political violence. The FBI has warned of armed protests occurring in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to the inauguration on Wednesday. Authorities in both Washington and state capitols have dramatically strengthened security.

“Eventually, you get to the point of entitlement where you can get away with anything and there will never be any accountability,” the Idaho House minority leader, Ilana Rubel, a Democrat, said. “I don’t know that (Bedke) was wrong under the circumstances, but it adds up to creating a sense of entitlement.”

Bedke said he saw no correlation between the events in Boise and Washington. But domestic terror experts said in interviews that the statehouse invasions likely created a sense of impunity among right-wing activists. The feeling grew throughout the year as Trump praised gun-carrying activists at state capitols as “very good people” and emboldened the insurrectionists in Washington.

Amy Cooter, a Vanderbilt University sociologist and expert in the militia movement, said the U.S. Capitol attack may have been less likely to occur if the violence in state capitols had been met with harsher punishment.

What’s more, she said that authorities who failed to take action against protesters earlier may find it difficult to do so now.

While many Trump supporters already see their First Amendment rights as being under attack, they may see efforts to block them from state capitols as an attack on their Second Amendment rights, she said, further legitimizing their need to stand up to what they perceive as tyranny.

When officials acquiesce to demands, “it typically makes these folks feel like those are ‘constitutional’ officials who support their general aims, which can then embolden them against officials they believe to be the opposite, that is, officials they believe to be betraying their oaths to the people,” Cooter said.

If extremist groups “believe they have been given allowances in the past and are not moving forward, this can further reinforce that notion of officials who are derelict in their duty, officials who should be removed and, depending on what group we’re talking about, possibly officials who should be confronted with force.”

Days after Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” protesters taking part in an “American Patriot Rally” outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on April 30 swarmed into the building demanding an end to the stay-at-home order put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, which numbered in the hundreds, included several heavily armed men. Few wore face coverings or observed social distancing. A line of state police troopers and other Capitol employees held the mob back from entering the House floor.

“We had hundreds of individuals storm our Capitol building,” state Rep. Sarah Anthony said in an interview. “No, lives were not lost, blood was not shed, property was not damaged, but I think they saw how easy it was to get into our building and they could get away with that type of behavior and there would be little to no consequences.”

Some armed invaders entered the Senate gallery. While none of the protesters faced charges, two of the men seen in a photo posted by state Sen. Dayna Polehanki looking down on lawmakers would be among the 14 people charged months later in a plot to kidnap Whitmer and bomb the state Capitol.

“It made national and international . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more — other statehouses, for example.

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 12:55 pm

Why Does Forest Bathing Boost Immune System Function?

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Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 12:37 pm

Book repair and restoration — short video

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Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Video

Clean the Tiles, Not the Floor

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David at Raptitude offers some useful thoughts on how to make tasks more enjoyable. He writes:

One advantage to having stark checkerboard floor tiles in your bathroom is that it makes the floor much easier to clean.

I pondered this midway though a home-based silent retreat, as I attempted to clean my bathroom like a monk would – intentionally, without the aid of podcasts, or even daydreams.

I was lying on my side, getting to the trickier tiles beneath the clawfoot tub and its small maze of exposed pipes. Gently contorting myself to get my arm in there, I was surprised at how the task wasn’t even a fraction as unpleasant as I had imagined.  

All I ever had to do was choose a tile and wipe it down, which is always easy. Then do the same with an adjacent tile.

As long as zeroed in on the current tile, rather than think about the dozens of tiles I had yet to clean, there was minimal discomfort and no tedium. Whenever my mind started to drift that way, I remembered my elegant strategy: look at a tile, and clean that tile. As far as I could tell, nothing more was required.

I continued this pattern to the end. The expected tedium and displeasure — which seem intrinsic to the task of cleaning this particular bathroom — never arrived.

It occurred to me that there is a qualitative difference between cleaning the tiles and cleaning the floor. Cleaning the tiles is much easier, even though it looks the same from the outside, and the outcome is the same.

And that means I don’t ever have to clean the floor. I can just clean the tiles instead.

“Clean the tiles, not the floor” is not equivalent to “attack the corners” or “break the job into bits.” It isn’t just the same experience divided into more digestible pieces. Rather, something is circumvented completely. The floor gets just as clean, but the difficulty never rises beyond that of the trivially easy task of clean this tile. As I move through the tiles in this way, I never encounter one containing the tedium and struggle I feel when I even think about cleaning under the tub.

And that’s a major clue. The real pain of many tasks is psychological, arising from the way the mind processes them, not so much from the actions that constitute the tasks themselves. It really matters whether the goal is to clean the tiles or clean the floor.

The general rule seems to be this: the more abstract we make an event – that is, the more we see it in terms of its meaning to the mind, rather than how it feels to the senses – the greater the psychological pain that is created. The more we can zoom into the direct experience, and refrain from engaging with the story around it, the less of a pain in the ass it is.

I stumbled across this principle years ago, while working in a  . . .

Continue reading.

I would add that it helps if you give focused attention to what your doing and what results. If you really observe the tile — the dirt and discoloration on it — and what happens as you work on it, you will find that your awareness will keep you present in the moment and lead to a state of flow, in which you become absorbed in the task and lose track of time. (For more details on the phenomenon, I highly recommend Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s excellent book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.)

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 11:29 am

Posted in Daily life

I love a good shave — and I picked a good razor

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This shave was good all the way through — starting with the brush, Phoenix Artisan’s Starcraft. Although the 24mm knot is a bit larger than my ideal, it’s quite usable and very comfortable, both in the hand (the grip is good) and on the face (soft yet resilient). I loaded it well with Meißner Tremonia’s Black Beer No. 1, and thoroughly enjoyed the lather.

I will note for Canadian readers that Top of the Chain carries an excellent line of US-made products, including the Starcraft, Phoenix Artisan CK-6 soaps, Declaration Grooming Milksteak soaps (and aftershaves), and so on. Worth bookmarking.

The razor was of particular interest to me this morning. Last month I gave a secret Santa gift to a man newly arrived in Victoria, and naturally I thought of a shaving set-up would be the ideal gift:

Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way
• MR GLO (actually, Ach. Brito Glyce Lime Oil soap, which is the same thing except for brand name)
• Synthetic shaving brush
• 2 shaving soaps
• Baili 171 razor (like the one above)
• 6 brands of blades, in packs of 5 blades per brand
• My Nik Is Sealed
• an aftershave

That, in my view, constitutes a complete set-up for a novice DE shaver. (I in fact keep a few of those razors on hand exactly for gifts to novices.)

So today when I shaved I focused on trying to feel how this razor would likely work for someone unaccustomed to using a DE razor. I think it would work well. It’s a remarkably comfortable razor — totally non-threatening in its feel on the face and a handle that’s comfortable in the hand. It also (to my eye) looks good. Moreover, it is also quite efficient. Despite the mild feel on the face, it easily and efficiently strips off the stubble, and this morning it effortlessly left my face perfectly smooth — one of those extra-smooth shave that lead to faceturbation.

So I imagine he’s now enjoying his morning shave.

I finished my shave with a little of The Shave Den’s aftershave milk, this one being Coconut Lime Verbena, and quite nice it is, too.

In closing, I’ll point out Sharpologist’s review this morning of an intriguing shaving soap: Grooming Department’s Chypre Peach.  (I didn’t know what “chypre” meant — or how to pronounce it. But now I do.)

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2021 at 10:36 am

Posted in Shaving

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