Later On

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

Archive for January 25th, 2021

Pretty good piano playing for a 5-year-old

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Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Music, Video

Wow! Watch this Instagram

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Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

What a great story!

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From a Faccebook post quoting a book:

Marcel Sternberger was a methodical man of nearly 50, with bushy white hair, guileless brown eyes, and the bouncing enthusiasm of a czardas dancer of his native Hungary. He always took the 9:09 Long Island Railroad train from his suburban home to Woodside, N.Y.., where he caught a subway into the city.
On the morning of January 10, 1948, Sternberger boarded the 9:09 as usual. En route, he suddenly decided to visit Laszlo Victor, a Hungarian friend who lived in Brooklyn and was ill.

Accordingly, at Ozone Park, Sternberger changed to the subway for Brooklyn, went to his friend’s house, and stayed until midafternoon. He then boarded a Manhattan-bound subway for his Fifth Avenue office.

Here is Marcel’s incredible story:

The car was crowded, and there seemed to be no chance of a seat. But just as I entered, a man sitting by the door suddenly jumped up to leave, and I slipped into the empty place. I’ve been living in New York long enough not to start conversations with strangers. But being a photographer, I have the peculiar habit of analyzing people’s faces, and I was struck by the features of the passenger on my left. He was probably in his late 30s, and when he glanced up, his eyes seemed to have a hurt expression in them. He was reading a Hungarian-language newspaper, and something prompted me to say in Hungarian, “I hope you don’t mind if I glance at your paper.”

The man seemed surprised to be addressed in his native language. But he answered politely, “You may read it now. I’ll have time later on.”

During the half-hour ride to town, we had quite a conversation. He said his name was Bela Paskin. A law student when World War II started, he had been put into a German labor battalion and sent to the Ukraine. Later he was captured by the Russians and put to work burying the German dead. After the war, he covered hundreds of miles on foot until he reached his home in Debrecen, a large city in eastern Hungary.

I myself knew Debrecen quite well, and we talked about it for a while. Then he told me the rest of his story. When he went to the apartment once occupied by his father, mother, brothers and sisters, he found strangers living there. Then he went upstairs to the apartment that he and his wife once had. It also was occupied by strangers. None of them had ever heard of his family.

As he was leaving, full of sadness, a boy ran after him, calling “Paskin bacsi! Paskin bacsi!” That means “Uncle Paskin.” The child was the son of some old neighbors of his. He went to the boy’s home and talked to his parents. “Your whole family is dead,” they told him. “The Nazis took them and your wife to Auschwitz.”

Auschwitz was one of the worst Nazi concentration camps. Paskin gave up all hope. A few days later, too heartsick to remain any longer in Hungary, he set out again on foot, stealing across border after border until he reached Paris. He managed to immigrate to the United States in October 1947, just three months before I met him.

All the time he had been talking, I kept thinking that somehow his story seemed familiar. A young woman whom I had met recently at the home of friends had also been from Debrecen; she had been sent to Auschwitz; from there she had been transferred to work in a German munitions factory. Her relatives had been killed in the gas chambers. Later she was liberated by the Americans and was brought here in the first boatload of displaced persons in 1946.

Her story had moved me so much that I had written down her address and phone number, intending to invite her to meet my family and thus help relieve the terrible emptiness in her life.

It seemed impossible that there could be any connection between these two people, but as I neared my station, I fumbled anxiously in my address book. I asked in what I hoped was a casual voice, “Was your wife’s name Marya?”

He turned pale. “Yes!” he answered. “How did you know?”

He looked as if he were about to faint.

I said, “Let’s get off the train.” I took him by the arm at the next station and led him to a phone booth. He stood there like a man in a trance while I dialed her phone number.

It seemed hours before Marya Paskin answered. (Later I learned her room was alongside the telephone, but she was in the habit of never answering it because she had so few friends and the calls were always for someone else. This time, however, there was no one else at home and, after letting it ring for a while, she responded.)

When I heard her voice at last, I told her who I was and asked her to describe her husband. She seemed surprised at the question, but gave me a description. Then I asked her where she had lived in Debrecen, and she told me the address.

Asking her to hold the line, I turned to Paskin and said, “Did you and your wife live on such-and-such a street?”

“Yes!” Bela exclaimed. He was white as a sheet and trembling.

“Try to be calm,” I urged him. “Something miraculous is about to happen to you. Here, take this telephone and talk to your wife!”

He nodded his head in mute bewilderment, his eyes bright with tears. He took the receiver, listened a moment to his wife’s voice, then suddenly cried, “This is Bela! This is Bela!” and he began to mumble hysterically. Seeing that the poor fellow was so excited he couldn’t talk coherently, I took the receiver from his shaking hands.

“Stay where you are,” I told Marya, who also sounded hysterical. “I am sending your husband to you. We will be there in a few minutes.”

Bela was crying like a baby and saying over and over again. “It is my wife. I go to my wife!”
At first I thought I had better accompany Paskin, lest the man should faint from excitement, but I decided that this was a moment in which no strangers should intrude. Putting Paskin into a taxicab, I directed the driver to take him to Marya’s address, paid the fare, and said goodbye.

Bela Paskin’s reunion with his wife was a moment so poignant, so electric with suddenly released emotion, that afterward neither he nor Marya could recall much about it.

“I remember only that when I left the phone, I walked to the mirror like in a dream to see if maybe my hair had turned gray,” she said later. “The next thing I know, a taxi stops in front of the house, and it is my husband who comes toward me. Details I cannot remember; only this I know—that I was happy for the first time in many years…..

“Even now it is difficult to believe that it happened. We have both suffered so much; I have almost lost the capability to not be afraid. Each time my husband goes from the house, I say to myself, “Will anything happen to take him from me again?”

Her husband is confident that no horrible misfortune will ever again befall the. “Providence has brought us together,” he says simply. “It was meant to be.”

Skeptical persons will no doubt attribute the events of that memorable afternoon to mere chance. But was it chance that made Marcel Sternberger suddenly decide to visit his sick friend and hence take a subway line that he had never ridden before? Was it chance that caused the man sitting by the door of the car to rush out just as Sternberger came in? Was it chance that caused Bela Paskin to be sitting beside Sternberger, reading a Hungarian newspaper’

Paul Deutschman, Great Stories Remembered, edited and compiled by Joe L. Wheeler

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

The Climate Crisis Is Worse Than You Can Imagine. Here’s What Happens If You Try.

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Elizabeth Weil reports in ProPublica:

Peter Kalmus, out of his mind, stumbled back toward the car. It was all happening. All the stuff he’d been trying to get others to see, and failing to get others to see — it was all here. The day before, when his family started their Labor Day backpacking trip along the oak-lined dry creek bed in Romero Canyon, in the mountains east of Santa Barbara, the temperature had been 105 degrees. Now it was 110 degrees, and under his backpack, his “large mammalian self,” as Peter called his body, was more than just overheating. He was melting down. Everything felt wrong. His brain felt wrong and the planet felt wrong, and everything that lived on the planet felt wrong, off-kilter, in the wrong place.

Nearing the trailhead, Peter’s mind death-spiralled: What’s next summer going to bring? How hot will it be in 10 years? Yes, the data showed that the temperature would only rise annually by a few tenths of a degree Celsius. But those tenths would add up and the extreme temperatures would rise even faster, and while Peter’s big mammal body could handle 100 degrees, sort of, 110 drove him crazy. That was just not a friendly climate for a human. 110 degrees was hostile, an alien planet.

Lizards fried, right there on the rocks. Elsewhere, songbirds fell out of the sky. There was more human conflict, just as the researchers promised. Not outright violence, not here, not yet. But Peter’s kids were pissed and his wife was pissed and the salience that he’d so desperately wanted others to feel — “salience” being the term of choice in the climate community for the gut-level understanding that climate change isn’t going to be a problem in the future, it is a crisis now — that salience was here. The full catastrophe was here (both in the planetary and the Zorba the Greek sense: “Wife. Children. House. Everything. The full catastrophe”). To cool down, Peter, a climate scientist who studied coral reefs, had stood in a stream for an hour, like a man might stand at a morgue waiting to identify a loved one’s body, irritated by his powerlessness, massively depressed. He found no thrill in the fact that he’d been right.

Sharon Kunde, Peter’s wife, found no thrill in the situation either, though her body felt fine. It was just hot … OK, very hot. Her husband was decompensating. The trip sucked.

“I was losing it,” Peter later recalled as we sat on their front porch on a far-too-warm November afternoon in Altadena, California, just below the San Gabriel Mountains.

“Yeah,” Sharon said.

“Losing my grip.”

“Yeah.”

“Poor Sharon is the closest person to me, and I share everything with her.”

Sometimes everything is both too much and not enough. George Marshall opened his book, “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change,” with the parable of Jan Karski, a young Polish resistance fighter who, in 1943, met in person with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, who was both a Jew and widely regarded as one of the great minds of his generation. Karski briefed the justice on what he’d seen firsthand: the pillage of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Belzec death camp. Afterward, Frankfurter said, “I do not believe you.”

The Polish ambassador, who had arranged the meeting on the recommendation of President Franklin Roosevelt, interrupted to defend Karski’s account.

“I did not say that he is lying,” Frankfurter explained. “I said that I didn’t believe him. It’s a different thing. My mind, my heart — they are made in such a way that I cannot accept. No no no.”

Sharon, too, possessed a self-protective mind and heart. A high school English teacher and practiced stoic from her Midwestern German Lutheran childhood, she didn’t believe in saying things you were not yet prepared to act upon. “We find it difficult to understand each other on this topic,” Sharon, 46, said of her husband’s climate fixation.

Yet while Sharon was preternaturally contained, Peter was a yard sale, whole self out in the open. At 47, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, studying which reefs might survive the longest as the oceans warm. He had more twinkle in his eye that one might expect for a man possessed by planetary demise. But he often held his head in his hands like a 50-pound kettlebell. Every time he heard a plane fly overhead, he muttered, “Fossil fuel noise.”

For years, in articles in Yes! magazine, in op-eds in the Los Angeles Times, in his book “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution,” on social media, Peter had been pleading, begging for people to pay attention to the global emergency. “Is this my personal hell?” he tweeted this past fall. “That I have to spend my entire life desperately trying to convince everyone NOT TO DESTROY THE FUCKING EARTH?”

His pain was transfixing, a case study in  . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

This is  another example of something I mentioned in a post earlier today: how the public simply ignore what knowledgeable experts tell them — about Covid, about vaccines, about the heavy use of antibiotics in animals in farming, ….  It’s a long list. And it will result in the death of many.

For example, the Covid death toll in the US today is over 420,000 — compare that to the number of combat deaths in the worst American wars (American Civil War combat deaths in chart includes both Union and Confederate forces). Just to save you the effort, the total number of combat deaths from WW II, WW I, Vietnam, and Korean war combined is 426,069. US Covid deaths will blow past that by the end of the month.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 4:54 pm

She Resisted Getting Her Kids The Usual Vaccines. Then The Pandemic Hit

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The Eldest posted the story below on Facebook, and one comment was from a pediatric nurse:

I can tell you from personal experience as a pediatric nurse, that vaccine hesitant parents can be reached, but only with personal engagement. I would tell parents about the pre-vaccine world that I grew up on. My sister had polio, another sister lost hearing in one ear after measles, our next door neighbor caught rubella during the rubella outbreak 1962-63 and her child was born deaf and blind. Please vaccinate your children. Don’t help create a pre-vaccine world and have your children or grandchildren be victims of preventable diseases. This approach was more convincing than telling them to stay off the internet and shaming them as anti-vaxxers. Compassion and personal interaction is the key.

Steve Mullis, Rachel Martin, and Bo Hamby have this report at NPR (and there is audio at the link):

“I just remember being very scared.”

That’s how Lydia, a 39-year-old mother of three in Canada, describes feeling when she was pregnant in 2008 with her daughter and had questions about vaccinating. She worried it might cause more harm than good.

“I remember feeling some trepidation and saying to my husband, ‘We can’t undo this once we do it,’ ” she says. NPR is not using Lydia’s full name because she’s worried about backlash from a community she once believed in — people opposed to vaccines.

The record-speed development of the COVID-19 vaccine has some asking questions about it as well as about the safety of all vaccines. It’s something that’s taken root and grown because there’s a natural incubator inside the broader movement opposed to vaccines.

“We have been seeing an increase in vaccine-hesitant conversations online,” says Kolina Koltai, a misinformation researcher at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. “Vaccine-opposed communities online saw a growth in membership, and it has become easier to be exposed to vaccine-opposed content.”

One survey finds 71% of people say they’d likely get the COVID-19 vaccine, but still medical experts have been working hard to combat the perception that the rapid creation of the COVID-19 vaccine makes it less safe.

“The speed is really a reflection of the scientific advances that have allowed us to do things in a matter of months that would have formerly taken years,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR in December. “That isn’t reckless speed; that’s sufficient speed based on scientific advances.”

For Lydia, the pandemic is what ended up leading her out of the movement among those opposed to vaccines.

But getting there was a years-long search for answers.

A decision to vaccinate questioned

Lydia didn’t always question vaccines. She’d worked in a pharmaceutical plant as a quality control chemist. She even got vaccinated for the flu while pregnant.

Having a baby in 2008 made the decision more complicated for her. She voiced her concerns to her husband, but in the end they went ahead. She made an appointment, and the pediatrician gave her 8-week-old daughter three vaccinations. A few hours later her daughter was crying a lot, what she describes a high-pitched squeal. It was a type of cry she’d never heard before.

“It was quite traumatic. She screamed and cried,” she says. “I felt horrible.”

That horrible feeling didn’t go away when a public health nurse she called tried to assure her that these reactions were normal. It still didn’t sit right. Lydia says she felt brushed off, her concerns minimized by the nurse.

Her daughter was fine, but at the time, Lydia wasn’t convinced and took her questions to an online forum for new moms. It was there that she read a lot of frightening information about alleged and unfounded harm vaccines can cause. They described terrifying symptoms — such as high-pitched screaming. She began questioning her decision to vaccinate.

“So then you start thinking, did I just hurt my child?” she says. “They give you an answer that the other people couldn’t give you or didn’t give you. And so now you don’t have any trust.”

Lydia began going deeper into these forums where people shared what she thought were convincing studies that made claims about the damage vaccines can cause, studies she now realizes were false. But back then, it was proof enough for her not to finish her daughter’s vaccine cycle.

“I think sometimes doing nothing is easier because you don’t feel as responsible for the outcome,” she says. “If you give your child a vaccine and they suffer a consequence, that’s your fault. A parent would say, ‘I did this to my child.’ So I think that there’s an appeal to inaction that makes it easy for a lot of parents to not vaccinate their child.”

”Out of my echo chamber”

Lydia had a second child eight years later, a third a few years after that. She wasn’t planning on vaccinating them either until the pandemic hit last year. She saw the news of people hoarding toilet paper and other supplies and read apocalyptic speculation about the collapse of health care systems and sanitation. She was worried about diseases coming back that she had not vaccinated her kids against and went looking for answers again on the Internet. But this time it was different.

“I got out of my echo chamber,” she says.

One of the myths Lydia had believed is what many of these groups believe about the blood-brain barrier. In short, their theory is that the membrane protecting the brain is not mature enough at birth, and therefore ingredients in vaccines can leak into the brain and cause harm. Studies have shown this is not true.

Lydia found some of these studies and realized she was wrong. And that moment became a bit of a revelation.

“That really was the catalyst to just keep going with the research and consider for a moment that maybe I’m wrong, even if it is embarrassing, even if it is uncomfortable, that I could be wrong about more things,” she says. “And that was hard. That is hard.”

Finding reassurance

Lydia says it was difficult confronting something that had been a part of her identity and beliefs for more than a decade. It was a reality she had built up for herself and her family, one that she thought was keeping them safe.

“It’s almost like thinking like you have this cheat code to keep your kids healthy from disease and allergies,” she says. “You feel like you’ve got a way to game the system to avoid all that. It does kind of become a large part of who you are.”

Koltai, the misinformation researcher, says this attachment to identity is a consistent throughline she’s seen in her research on misinformation and groups opposed to vaccines.

“If you subscribe to the ideology that . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, including a link to a useful TikTok video.

This seems consistent with the idea that our identity is constructed from the memes that we adopt, some involuntarily (our native language and most customs) and some voluntarily (deciding to accept some meme).

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 4:24 pm

The crazy is still intense: QAnon Believes Trump Will Become President Again on March 4

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David Gilbert has a report in Vice that includes two brief videos of astounding (albeit insane) claims calmly made by two women (see earlier post on women’s roles in extremist groups). It’s definitely worth clicking the link and watching the videos just to see how weird and extreme some people have become. (And their ignorance is amazing — in the second video, the woman explains that the Bill of Rights is the first 10 (“or so” — no, it’s exactly 10) “articles of the Constitution” (no, they are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution). But it is evident that they are not only comfortable in their ignorance, they seem almost proud of it.

The report begins:

Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States on March 4, 2021.

This is the latest conspiracy that QAnon followers have embraced in the wake of President Joe Biden’s inauguration last week, and extremist experts are worried that it highlights the way QAnon adherents are beginning to merge their beliefs — about the world being run by an elite cabal of cannibalistic satanist pedophiles —with even more extreme ideologies.

The latest claims being made by QAnon supporters echo those of the sovereign citizen movement, a group of people who believe they are not governed by the same laws as everyone else. That belief has led to violent confrontations with law enforcement have viewed them among the top domestic extremist threats facing the country.

“There was some crossover between QAnon and the sovereign citizen movement before, but I’ve seen sovereign citizen ideas about the United States being a ‘corporation’ become more popular within QAnon and beyond in January,” Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher, told VICE News.

“It’s concerning because it means QAnon is borrowing ideas from more-established extremism movements.”

Sovereign citizens believe that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the U.S. into a corporation and did away with the American government of the founding fathers. The group also believes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt sold U.S. citizens out in 1933 when he ended the gold standard and replaced it by offering citizens as collateral to a group of shadowy foreign investors.

Sovereigns use indecipherable legal filings based on arcane texts to separate themselves from the legal entities the government has supposedly created in their name in order to sell to investors.

When that doesn’t work, followers of the sovereign citizen movement have reacted violently. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through Arkansas.

Now, QAnon followers have latched on to the theory and adapted it to suit their needs. . .

Read the whole thing. And watch those videos. I’ve included one above (it’s at the link in the tweet).

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 4:11 pm

The quest for delicious decaf coffee

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Thomas Merritt, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Laurentian University, has an interesting article on coffee beans that do not produce caffeine, so that you can brew full-flavored coffee without the addictive chemical. (I know it’s addictive: I once worked at ACT, which provided free coffee, and I would swill the stuff all day. Then on the weekends I was so lethargic I could barely move until someone suggested that it was because I didn’t drink coffee on the weekends. I tried drinking weekend coffee, and the lethargy left. That made me uneasy, so I quit coffee. Man! the headaches! For about 4 or 5 days it was like my head was being chiseled open. I have switched to tea, with an occasional coffee — like one a month.)

At any rate, it’s an intriguing possibility. From the article:

Decaffeinated coffee is coffee with almost all of the caffeine removed; decaf coffee drinkers report less anxiety and improved sleep. But decaf is comparatively unpopular, representing only 10 per cent of the global coffee market.

. . . the issue is taste. Commercial decaf coffee has been around for 100 years, but has tasted terrible, possibly due to the benzene, the powerful solvent that was used in extraction.

. . . Right now, there are two main routes to naturally decaffeinated — actually caffeine-free — coffee: find genetic variation in the wild or create it in the laboratory. In either case, the coffee grows without producing caffeine, eliminating the need for a decaffeination process and preserving the natural taste, and chemistry, of the bean.

. . . Cross-breeding caffeine-free species with Arabica or Robusta hasn’t, yet, yielded any coffee to market. There are also strains of the Arabica coffee that have a naturally occurring mutation that makes them caffeine-free, and work is ongoing to breed these with commercial varieties of Arabica.

Interestingly, while these plants don’t produce caffeine, they do produce theobromine, a close relative of caffeine and the stimulant more commonly found in chocolate. Coffee from these beans may still perk you up, although less than your typical cup, but these beans have also not yet made it to market.

There’s much more. Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 1:46 pm

Republicans plan new restrictions on voting after Biden’s win

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Republicans know that they are unpopular and that their chances of being defeated increases as more people vote, so Republicans work continually to restrict voting, creating as many impediments as they can to discourage people from voting — and, in addition, gerrymandering voting districts to lessen the impact of non-Republican votes.

Reid Wilson reports in The Hill on how Republican state legislatures are leaping into action to make sure that in the next voting cycle it will be more difficult for people to vote. He writes:

Republican state legislators are advancing a rush of new bills aimed at limiting voting access, and especially access to voting by mail, in the wake of President Biden’s victory last year in the highest-turnout election in American history.

The proposals come after months of pressure from former President Trump, who with the help of Republican allies spread false claims and conspiracy theories related to the election, including that widespread voter fraud cost him a victory.

In many states, Republicans have used those claims to cite unspecified concerns about the integrity of their own elections, despite elections officials who show proof that counts were fair and accurate.

Democrats and voting rights advocates counter that the proposals are thinly veiled attempts to restrict access to the polls.

“In the last 10 years, we have seen some politicians try to enact changes to the rules of the game so that some people can participate and some people can’t,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Voting Rights and Elections Program. “Rather than competing for voters, there are some politicians that instead would prefer to lock people out of the process.”

In some states, the new bills would roll back emergency voting provisions put in place during the pandemic. In others, the proposals go so far as to repeal long-standing practices implemented more than a decade ago with bipartisan support.

Arizona state Rep. Kevin Payne (R) has filed legislation to eliminate a permanent early voting list, one that automatically sends absentee ballots to 3.2 million voters — three-quarters of the state’s registered voters. The permanent early voting list was created in 2007 at the behest of both Republican and Democratic county elections officials.

Payne has also introduced a bill to require a notary’s signature on any mail-in ballot, in a state in which the vast majority of voters cast their ballots by mail.

Payne did not respond to a request for comment. But state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R), who heads the Government and Elections Committee, told The Hill last month she intended to address some voting reforms too, including the permanent early voting list. . .

Continue reading. The Republican Party is the bad-faith party.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 1:09 pm

The Capitol mob wasn’t just angry men – there were angry women as well

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Jakana Thomas, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, writes in The Conversaton:

The terror inflicted on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 laid bare America’s problem with violent extremism.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have begun to piece together the events of that day, while attempting to thwart any impending attacks. Scores of people have been arrested and charged over the attack – the vast majority being men.

In the wake of these events, there were stories attributing the violence and destruction to “white male rage” “violent male rage” and “angry white men.”

To distill the violent insurrection into a tale of angry male rage is to overlook the threat that women in the mob posed to congressional officials, law enforcement and U.S. democracy that day.

Long history of women’s involvement

Several women have been identified as alleged participants in the events of Jan. 6. Among those women are a former school occupational therapistan employee of a county sheriff’s office, a real estate broker and a former mayoral candidate.

At least one woman is being investigated for her role in organizing the attack with fellow members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia movement. And Ashli Babbit, a female veteran, was shot dead by police while attempting to breach the Senate floor.

The women who took part in the siege of the Capitol are part of a long history of women’s participation in extremist violence, both in the United States and abroad.

Women have buoyed American far-right organizations and causes for centuries. In her recent book on women at the forefront of contemporary white nationalism, author Seyward Darby writes that women are not “incidental to white nationalism, they are a sustaining feature.”

Since the late 1800s, women have supported and enabled the terrorist white supremacist organization the Ku Klux Klan, while hundreds of thousands joined its female affiliate, Women of the Ku Klux Klan, and its predecessors.

Women helped establish the Klan’s culture, bolstered its recruitment efforts and manufactured its propaganda. Despite its hyper-masculine ideology, which identifies white men as the primary arbiters of political power, women have also held leadership positions within the modern-day Klan.

More recently, women have joined the far-right Proud Boys movement, which has openly recruited female foot soldiers. In December, a growing rift between male and female Proud Boys was reported. After experiencing intense sexist backlash from men in the organization, women led by MMA fighter Tara LaRosa began their own group, the Proud Girls USA.

To leave one extremist organization in order to form another suggests a deep commitment to the far-right cause.

Discounting is dangerous

A 2005 study noted a disconnect between the rise in women within American right-wing terrorist organizations and the attention it received from law enforcement.

Despite a marked increase in women’s engagement in acts of terror against the state and racial minorities, security officials have largely failed to publicize, search and interrogate women operatives in these organizations, even after they become known to law enforcement.

There is also evidence that American far-right women have drawn inspiration and tactical knowledge from women engaged in extremist violence abroad.

Evidence from the global war on terror points to the potential dangers of ignoring the growth of violent extremism among women. In Iraq, for example, female terrorists carried out large numbers of deadly suicide attacks against American assets during the U.S. occupation.

The rest of the world has since been forced to grapple with the reality of violent women after female terrorists staged lethal attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, the Philippines, Indonesia and France.

Recent terror attacks in American cities such as San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas that featured women among the perpetrators confirm violent women have already inflicted damage on U.S. soil.

Gender bias can be deadly

In fact, my research suggests that attacks by female terrorists are often more destructive than those executed by their male counterparts.

In an analysis of over 2,500 global suicide attacks, I show disparities in the severity of male and female attacks are greatest where gender stereotypes suggest that women are neither violent nor political. Such tropes can blind security officials and civilians to the threat posed by women terrorists, causing them to overlook the potential for female complicity.

Female terrorists, including in Iraq, Israel and Nigeria, have been able to deflect suspicion because they were women. My research shows that gender bias can become deadly when it stops effective counterterrorism policies, such as surveillance, searches and interrogations, from being implemented.

Additionally, since ordinary citizens played . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 1:01 pm

The other pandemic: Once-treatable diseases are growing resistant to antibiotics

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Those boring scientists keep warning that the use of antibiotics in farming will encourage the evolution of antibiotic-resistant pathogens and diseases, but of course we all know that scientists (and other experts) are to be ignored until the predicted disaster strikes, whereupon they are to be condemned…  That sounds a little bitter, doesn’t it. Possibly it’s due to the large number of fully foreseen disasters that continue to strike us.

(Right now I’m thinking of the DHS report on the dangers presented by white supremacists and other right-wing extremists, a report requested by the George W. Bush administration that, once completed, was released by Janet Napolitano, who headed the DHS under the new Barack Obama administration. There were two reports prepared: dangers from left-wing extremists and dangers from right-wing extremists. Republicans in Congress were outraged by the latter and demanded that it be withdrawn and Napolitano fired. The report was withdrawn, but Napolitano kept her job. And of course we now see that the report was indeed warning of actual dangers. More information here. — Question: Was the captain of the Titanic a Republican?)

Martin Chenal, PhD student in biology (microbiology), National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS), writes in The Conversation:

Ten million deaths per year by 2050 related to antimicrobial resistance — that’s what a large British study, conducted in 2014, predicts if the current trend continues. Despite the strong efforts deployed in recent years, these figures are unfortunately still valid.

In contrast to the new viral pandemics that regularly make headlines, this resistance plague does not concern a single pathogen but rather a multitude of viruses, parasites, fungi and especially bacteria.

Antimicrobials are substances that kill or slow the growth of microorganisms, including viruses (antivirals), parasites (antiparasites), fungi (antifungals) and bacteria (antibiotics). Antibiotics are a class of antimicrobials that are specific against bacteria.

Since the commercialization of penicillin in the 1940s, the development of new antibiotics has been followed closely by the discovery of bacteria resistant to them.

While the development of new molecules has become slower and slower, the development of antibacterial resistance is on the contrary increasingly rapid. It’s a real race against time. Ultimately, this problem could lead us into a post-antibiotic era, where the slightest injury or surgery would constitute a significant risk of dangerous infection.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Canada. (Council of Canadian Academies, 2019)

A global priority

The scientific world has been warning us about the magnitude of the problem of antimicrobial resistance for several decades. As with climate change, it has unfortunately taken a long time to make governments and the general public aware of the seriousness of the situation.

The World Health Organization (WHO), a key player in this field, identified antimicrobial resistance in 2019 as one of the 10 greatest public health threats facing humanity. More recently, the WHO has also published a list of critical health challenges for the next 10 years, including not only the eradication of infectious diseases but also the preservation of antimicrobial drugs.

The fight against antimicrobial resistance concerns all microorganisms. However, a few bacteria alone are responsible for many of the problems caused by this resistance. The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently identified the most problematic bacteria in order to focus efforts to combat this scourge.

Continue reading. There’s much more, including more charts.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 12:55 pm

Armillary sphere rings

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Jessica Stewart, a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian, has an interesting article in My Modern Met:

What if you could wear the entire universe on your finger?

Since ancient times, astronomers around the world have used models of the sky to make calculations. With the advent of the armillary sphere, stargazers were given a physical model to better visualize the lines of celestial longitude and latitude. Created independently in ancient Greece and ancient China, these armillary spheres consisted of spherical rings centered on either the Earth or the Sun. During the 16th and 17th centuries, these astronomy tools were sized down to become fashionable finger rings that moved just like regular armillary spheres.

The British Museum has a collection of several armillary sphere rings that are incredibly well-crafted and detailed. When closed, they look like any other ring, but as the different bands are fanned out, the rings take on a unique quality. Built with anywhere between two to eight moving bands, these intricate pieces of jewelry would need to have been executed by skilled craftsmen.

While the rings were sometimes plain, others had inscriptions or signs of the zodiac placed in enamel around the bands.  According to the jewelers at Black Adept, . . ..

Continue reading. There’s more, including more photos of such rings. And note:

If you are fascinated by these foldable rings and want your own mini-armillary sphere, Brooklyn-based Black Adept offers both 3-band and 4-band armillary rings in a variety of materials.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 11:46 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Science

Brexit chickens come home to roost, while the UK encourages emergence of vaccine-resistant strains of Covid

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Umair Haque writes in Medium:

Continue reading for the story of how Britains approach to Covid not has backfired but promises worse to come.

In the Guardian, Andrew Rawnsley’s article “The bill for Boris Johnson’s Brexit is coming in and it’s punishingly steep” is also worth reading, and you can look at their overall Brexit coverage.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 9:58 am

Big brush, little puck, slant razor, great shave

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Because the Klar Seifen puck is so small, I was curious to see how well it would work with a large brush. (I often use the Wee Scot with this soap.) The Omega Pro 48 (10048) is the largest brush I own, so I brought it down from the shelf, wet the knot well under the hot-water tap, and let it sit while I showered.

It loaded quite easily, as it turned out. Brushing the puck vigorously with the damp brush quickly put enough soap in the knot for a very nice lather indeed. I even added a little work as I worked up the lather on my face, and then set to work with the Parker Semi-Slant (which is just a slant with a less intimidating name), here mounted on a Yaqi handle.

Three passes later, my face was so smooth you could skate on it. A splash of Klar Seifen’s Classic aftershave — the only aftershave for which I have received a compliment from a casual encounter — and the week begins.

A couple of shaves ago, I mentioned that I inquired to find where one could buy an authentic Edwin Jagger razor head — i.e., not a clone. Today I got the answer.

Written by Leisureguy

25 January 2021 at 9:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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