Later On

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

Archive for February 12th, 2021

Grilled spiral sausage with Basil-Garlic Mayo

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Two videos that go together.

Details (amounts, ingredients) here.

Details here.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 10:45 pm

Is Biden the “Reagan of the Left”?

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Noah Smith has a very interesting column. It begins:

Stephen Skowronek, a political scientist at Yale, has a pretty wild theory of American Presidents. He calls it a theory of “political time”, arguing that America elects its chief executives according to a very specific cycle. Here’s a summary from a 2016 interview in The Nation:

[Skowronek] claims all of presidential history follows a distinct pattern: “Reconstructive” presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan (to take only the last two cycles) transform American politics in their own image, clearing the field of viable competition and setting the terms of political debate. They are followed by hand-picked successors (Harry S. Truman and George H.W. Bush) who continue their predecessors’ policies and do little more than articulate an updated version of their ideas. They are usually succeeded in turn by presidents whom Skowronek calls “pre-emptive”—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton—who represent the opposite party but adopt the basic framework of the reigning orthodoxy. Next comes another faithful servant of that orthodoxy (John F. Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson; George W. Bush), followed by another preemptive opposition leader (Richard Nixon, Barack Obama) who again fails to overturn it. The final step in the sequence is a “disjunctive” president—usually somebody with little allegiance to the orthodoxy who is unable to hold it together in the face of the escalating crises it created and to which it has no response. The last disjunctive president, in Skowronek’s schema, was Jimmy Carter.

Any social scientist will immediately recognize that this theory is hilariously overfit. For the non-social scientists among you, overfitting is when you use a very complex explanation to try to explain every little zig and zag of the data, and end up not being able to make accurate predictions:

Skowronek’s theory purports to predict the exact sequence in which different types of U.S. Presidents are elected. A single interruption in the pattern, and the theory fails. Since there must be some randomness in the system, his theory is obviously only going to be right if it gets very, very lucky.

And yet, it looks like Skowronek might get very, very lucky! In defiance of all expectations, Joe Biden (!!!) looks like he might become the next transformative — or in Skowronek’s terms, “reconstructive” — President, setting the nation durably on a leftward course for the next few decades.

The Biden Blitz

Like most people, I expected Joe Biden to be a cautious, status-quo-biased, reformist sort of guy. After all, this is the guy who opposed busing, supported the 1994 crime bill, and was VP during the notably incrementalist Obama administration. Furthermore, he was almost universally perceived as one of the most moderate of the Democratic primary candidates in 2020, offering up reformist alternatives to Bernie Sanders’ plans. Nor was he perceived as being particularly “woke” on cultural issues. The general expectation was for him to reverse Trump’s more well-known policies like the Muslim Ban and family separation of asylum seekers, putter around the edges of policy with incremental fixes to health care and the welfare state, and appoint more competent people than Trump had done. To Americans exhausted after four years of what will likely go down as the worst presidency in the nation’s history, that might have felt like enough.

Yet despite the fact that he only took office 23 days ago, Biden has unleashed an absolute torrent of executive orders and legislative proposals that go far beyond anything I expected. Here’s Mehdi Hasan, a Biden skeptic aligned with the Bernie movement: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more and it’s quite intriguing.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 9:52 pm

Interesting difference in blood pressure recommendations between US and UK/Canada

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The American Heart Association (US) recommends that blood pressure be less than 120/80.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (UK) recommends that blood pressure be less than 135/85 (PDF).

That seems like a big difference to me. Some of it might be because NICE is looking at norms (i.e., averages) and not at the optimal. Example: In the US, the normal BMI for adult men — the norm — is 26.6, whereas the ideal is around 22.

Update: See also this brief video. FWIW, after I switched to a whole-food plant-only diet and was Nordic walking an hour a day six days a week and was close to my minimum post-middle-age weight, my blood pressure was 115 over 71 — with no medication.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 9:43 pm

In the first six months of health care professionals replacing police officers, no one they encountered was arrested

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The police chief likes the program because it frees officers to fight crime. David Sachs reports in Denverite:

A young program that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months, according to a progress report.

Since June 1, 2020, a mental health clinician and a paramedic have traveled around the city in a white van handling low-level incidents, like trespassing and mental health episodes, that would have otherwise fallen to patrol officers with badges and guns. In its first six months, the Support Team Assisted Response program, or STAR, has responded to 748 incidents. None required police or led to arrests or jail time.

The civilian team handled close to six incidents a day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, in high-demand neighborhoods. STAR does not yet have enough people or vans to respond to every nonviolent incident, but about 3 percent of calls for DPD service, or over 2,500 incidents, were worthy of the alternative approach, according to the report.

STAR represents a more empathetic approach to policing that keeps people out of an often-cyclical criminal justice system by connecting people with services like shelter, food aid, counseling, and medication. The program also deliberately cuts down on encounters between uniformed officers and civilians.

“This is good stuff, it’s a great program, and basically, the report tells us what we believed,” said Chief of Police Paul Pazen. Pazen added that he doesn’t want to sound flippant, but the approach was somewhat of a known quantity because he’s been talking about it with advocates for mental health and criminal justice reform for years. Denver just so happened to launch the program in the middle of a movement against police violence.

Pazen’s goal is to fill out the alternative program so that every neighborhood can use its services at all hours, instead of just weekdays during normal business hours. Nearly $3 million for more social workers and more vans should help Denver move toward that “North Star” this year, Pazen said. The money is expected to come from the city budget and a grant from Denver’s sales-tax-funded mental health fund.

Carleigh Sailon, one of two civilian social workers on the team, said more vans — and more food and blankets to go with them — as well as weekend and after-hour shifts will do big things for the program.

“We run an unbelievable amount of calls for such a limited pilot program and have had some really good outcomes on those calls,” Sailon said.

The policing alternative empowers behavioral health experts to call the shots, even when police officers are around.

Sailon said she remembers a call last year in which a woman was experiencing mental health symptoms at a 7-Eleven. The clerk had called the police — the woman was technically trespassing — but when the police arrived, they called Sailon.

“We got there and told police they could leave,” Sailon said. “We didn’t need them there.”

The woman, who was unhoused, was upset about some issues she was having on her prepaid Social Security card. Sailon helped her into the van where the two “game-planned” a solution before the STAR crew drove her to a day shelter for some food, she said.

“So we were sort of able to solve those problems in the moment for her and got the police back in service, dealing with a law enforcement call,” Sailon said.

The fact that the police officers even called the STAR team tells Dr. Matthew Lunn, who is in charge of DPD’s strategic initiatives, that the program is working (Lunn has a PhD but is not a medical doctor). About 35 percent of calls to STAR personnel come from police officers, according to the report. . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, iincluding more charts.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 1:51 pm

Two officers who helped fight the Capitol mob died by suicide. Many more are hurting.

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I referred in the previous post to Peter Hermann’s report in the Washington Post, which begins:

Engulfed in the crush of rioters storming the Capitol, D.C. police officer Jeffrey Smith sent his wife a text that spoke to the futility and fears of his mission.

“London has fallen,” the 35-year-old tapped on his phone at 2:38 p.m. on Jan. 6, knowing his wife would understand he was referencing a movie by that name about a plan to assassinate world leaders attending a funeral in Britain.

The text confirmed the frightening images Erin Smith was watching on live stream from the couple’s home in Virginia: The Capitol had been overrun.

Six minutes after Smith sent that text, a Capitol Police officer inside the building shot and killed a woman as she climbed through a smashed window next to the House chamber.

Smith, also inside the Capitol, didn’t hear the gunshot, but he did hear the frantic “shots fired” call over his police radio. He later told Erin he panicked, afraid rioters had opened fire on police, and wondered whether he would die.

Around 5:35 p.m., Smith was still fighting to defend the building when a metal pole thrown by rioters struck his helmet and face shield. After working into the night, he visited the police medical clinic, was put on sick leave and, according to his wife, was sent home with pain medication.

In the days that followed, Erin said, her husband seemed in constant pain, unable to turn his head. He did not leave the house, even to walk their dog. He refused to talk to other people or watch television. She sometimes woke during the night to find him sitting up in bed or pacing.

“He wasn’t the same Jeff that left on the sixth. . . . I just tried to comfort him and let him know that I loved him,” she said. “I told him I’d be there if he needed anything, that no matter what we’ll get through it. I tried to do the best I could.”

Smith returned to the police clinic for a follow-up appointment Jan. 14 and was ordered back to work, a decision his wife now questions. After a sleepless night, he set off the next afternoon for an overnight shift, taking the ham-and-turkey sandwiches, trail mix and cookies Erin had packed.

On his way to the District, Smith shot himself in the head.

[How D.C. police made a stand against Capitol mob]

Police found him in his cherished Ford Mustang, which had rolled over and down an embankment along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, near a scenic overlook on the Potomac River.

He was the second police officer who had been at the riot to take his own life.

For days, Smith’s wife in Virginia and his family in Illinois grieved privately.

That changed Jan. 26, when acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III testified behind closed doors to a congressional committee, telling lawmakers about the “service and sacrifices” of officers who died after having been at the siege.

Contee named three officers. One was Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who collapsed after engaging rioters and later died. Another was Howard Liebengood, 51, a Capitol officer who took his own life three days after the riot.

The third was Smith.

That two police officers had died by suicide after confronting rioters thrust the most private of acts into the national spotlight and made clear that the pain of Jan. 6 continued long after the day’s events had concluded, its impact reverberating through the lives removed from the Capitol grounds. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 11:17 am

“I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”: Riot Squad Cops Open Up About Disastrous Response to Capitol Insurrection

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It’s worth noting that, in the aftermath of the Trump-encouraged insurrection, two Capitol police officers have committed suicide. Here’s the report on one. Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan report in ProPubllica:

The riot squad defending the embattled entrance to the west side of the U.S. Capitol was surrounded by violence. Rioters had clambered up the scaffolding by the stage erected for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. They hurled everything they could get their hands on at the cops beneath: rebar, plywood, power tools, even cans of food they had frozen for extra damage.

In front of the cops, a mob was mounting a frontal assault. Its members hit officers with fists and baseball bats. They grabbed at weapons slung from the officers’ waists. They unleashed a barrage of M-80 firecrackers. Soaked in never-ending streams of bright orange bear spray, the officers choked on plumes of acrid smoke that singed their nostrils and obscured their vision.

One officer in the middle of the scrum, a combat veteran, thought the rioters were so vicious, so relentless, that they seemed fueled by methamphetamine. To his left, he watched a chunk of steel strike a fellow officer above the eye, setting off a geyser of blood. A pepper ball tore through the air over his shoulder and exploded against the jaw of a man in front of him. The round, filled with chemical irritant, ripped the rioter’s face open. His teeth were now visible through a hole in his cheek. Blood poured out, puddling on the pavement surrounding the building. But the man kept coming.

The combat veteran was hit with bear spray eight times. His experience overseas “was nothing like this,” he said. “Nothing at all.”

Over the last several weeks, ProPublica has interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. Following on the dramatic video of officers defending the building that House lawmakers showed during the first day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the interviews provide the most detailed account to date of a most extraordinary battle.

The enemies on Jan. 6 were Americans: thousands of people from across the country who had descended on the Capitol, intent on stopping Congress from certifying an election they believed was stolen from Trump. They had been urged to attend by Trump himself, with extremist right-wing and militia leaders calling for violence.

Many of the officers were speaking to reporters for the first time about the day’s events, almost all anonymously for fear of retribution. That they spoke at all is an indication of the depth of their frustration over the botched response. ProPublica also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents.

Combined, the information makes clear how failures of leadership, communication and tactics put the lives of hundreds of officers at risk and allowed rioters to come dangerously close to realizing their threats against members of Congress.

In response to questions for this story, the Capitol Police sent a one-sentence email: “There is a multi-jurisdictional investigation underway and in order to protect that process, we are unfortunately unable to provide any comment at this time.”

The interviews also revealed officers’ concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police — even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

“We had intel that nothing was going to happen — literally nothing,” said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. “The response was, ‘We don’t trust the intel.’”

By contrast, for much of the force, Jan. 6 began like any other day.

“We normally have pretty good information regarding where these people are and how far they are from the Capitol,” said Keith McFaden, a former Capitol Police officer and union leader who retired from the force following the riot. “We heard nothing that day.”

For the members of the riot squad who formed the first line of defense on the Capitol’s lower west terrace on Jan. 6, the lack of information could not have come with higher stakes.

Thrust into the most intense battle of the insurrection, the roughly two dozen officers bought lawmakers crucial time to scramble for safety. For about 100 heart-pounding minutes, they slipped and skidded across a stone surface slick with blood and bear spray, attempting to hold their ground against a rampaging mass of thousands.

To many of them, it felt like no one was in charge of the Capitol’s defense. All they could hear on the police radio were desperate cries for help.

At one point, the combat veteran was forced to stumble back from the line, his face so covered in bear spray he could barely see or breathe.

When he came to, a surge spilled over to his south. The crowd pushed over several bike racks. He realized the unfathomable had happened. His squad had lost the line; the mob could now enter the Capitol. There was no choice but to fall back. The officers stumbled over blood and debris until they were pressed against a limestone wall at the rear of the terrace. The mob had them cornered.

The officers, drained from their standoff, found a narrow staircase leading to an entrance of the building. But it could fit only one officer at a time. So they took turns climbing it as the crowd closed in, screaming obscenities and threatening murder.

“You fucking faggots!” one shouted. “You’re not even American!”

Waiting to climb the stairs, the combat veteran feared the worst. “This is where they’ll find my body,” he thought. . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more — and right now it looks very much as though Republicans will vote against any accountability. (Republicans claim they are the party of “personal responsibility.” They are the opposite.)

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 10:55 am

Thought I’d give Lavender a try this morning

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It seemed time to use a Lavender shaving soap, and Meißner Tremonia’s Lavender de Luxe is excellent — as the photo shows, a blend of lavender, geranium, and cypress, a combination that has good depth. T

he Omega Pro 48 (100048) did its usual superb job, with loading taking a tad longer because the soap contains clay and the brush’s knot is large, but once loaded, the knot made plentiful and excellent lather, providing pleasure through feel and fragrance. I noticed that I did not have to add any water during loading. I presume that the knot is so large that, once well-soaked, it contains ample water even after excess water is shaken out.

RazoRock’s Old Type is an exceptionally good razor, despite its modest price, and three passes left my face perfectly smooth. A splash of Hâttric finished the job and left me ready for the day.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2021 at 8:55 am

Posted in Shaving

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