Later On

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

Archive for May 5th, 2021

Kushner Companies Violated Multiple Laws in Massive Tenant Dispute, Judge Rules

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It turns out that Jared Kushner is exactly what he seemed to be. Alex MacGillis reports in ProPublica:

It’s been six years since Dionne Mont first saw her apartment at Fontana Village, a rental housing complex just east of Baltimore. She was aghast that day to find the front door coming off its hinges, the kitchen cabinet doors stuck to their frames, mouse droppings under the kitchen sink, mold in the refrigerator, the toilet barely functioning and water stains on every upstairs ceiling, among other problems. But she had already signed the lease and paid the deposit.

Mont insisted that management make repairs, but that took several months, during which time she paid her $865 monthly rent and lived elsewhere. She was hit with constant late fees and so-called “court” fees, because the management company required tenants to pay rent at a Walmart or a check-cashing outlet, and she often couldn’t get there from her job as a bus driver before the 4:30 p.m. cutoff. She moved out in 2017.

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 6:41 pm

When will the revolution in architecture begin?

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Nathan J. Robinson has a fascinating (and well-illustrated) article in Current Affairs that begins:

Something is terribly wrong with architecture. Nearly everything being built is boring, joyless, and/or ugly, even though there is no reason it has to be. The architectural profession rewards work that is pretentious and bland. The cities we build are not wondrous.

I’ve documented it at length before, but the problem can be seen at a glance.

Here is a classic work of Islamic architecture: . ..

Continue reading. And look at those photos!

In a way, one could say that the architecture revolution is here, since the modern buildings pictured in the article are indeed revolting.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 6:07 pm

Republicans have lost their grip on reality

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5 May 2021 at 5:36 pm

Human health benefits of cultivated meat: Food safety

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5 May 2021 at 5:18 pm

I don’t think I will try this

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5 May 2021 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Daily life, Toys, Video

How to be excellent

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Benjamin Studebaker, a graduate teaching assistant in politics and international studies at the University of Cambridge and a teaching associate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, writes in Psyche:

So you want to be excellent at something? You don’t just want to be OK at it, to be able to get by or make a living. It’s not even enough to be rich and famous. Nickelback is a big Canadian band and they’ve made a ton of money, but most people don’t think their music is excellent. They are undeniably successful – but excellent? Excellence is a whole different thing.

Most of the advice out there is either about how to survive, or how to be successful. It’s also pretty two-dimensional. On one side, there are the people who tell you to work hard and be productive. Then there’s the other side, the people who tell you to ‘practise self-care’ to avoid burnout. Many self-help writers have made a lot of money from taking one of these sides and trashing the other.

Those writers are successful, but the advice they’re giving people isn’t excellent. It’s obvious that if we spend all our time just trying to get through the day, we won’t grow. But it’s also obvious that if we become obsessed with perfect ideals, we’ll burn out. You need a sustainable balance, a workable distribution of your time and energy. But distributing your time effectively is just the first step. The second step is to use your time in a way that leads to excellence rather than mere success.

Plato and Aristotle can help you with this. The Greek philosophers were wealthy aristocrats who didn’t have regular jobs. Because they had plenty of time and plenty of money, they could spend their whole lives thinking about what excellence really means. They didn’t have to worry about survival, because they were born with an income. They weren’t interested in success because, when you’re born rich, it’s not hard to be successful. They wanted to pursue the highest good, and they wanted that pursuit to be the object of everything they did. Even though you’re likely not a wealthy Greek aristocrat, you still have much to learn from them about excellence.

The first thing they noticed about being human is that even rich people are not gods. Everyone has a body, and our bodies have needs. Plato tells a story about this in one of his dialogues called the Phaedrus. He imagines the human being as a flying chariot, pulled by winged horses. The chariot has three parts. There is the rider, interested in truth, goodness and beauty. He wants to fly the chariot high into the sky, above the clouds, where these ideals can be discovered. But the rider has no wings. To get to the heavens, he relies on two horses – one light, and one dark. The light horse wants to be well regarded, prizing honour and status above all things. It responds to blame and praise. The dark horse wants to enjoy the pleasures of the world. It wants food, sex, sleep and every kind of luxury. The dark horse has no shame, but it fears the rider’s whip. For just as the dark horse values pleasure, it fears pain.

The rider can come to know excellence only if he can get these horses to fly the chariot up above the clouds, but the horses have no deep interest in what’s up there. The rider must motivate them by giving the horses enough of what they want to get them to cooperate, but not so much as to allow them to become too strong and drag the chariot wherever they wish. Ignore the horses outright, and they grow weak and disobedient. Cater to the horses too much, and they run the show. To achieve a type of excellence that gets at genuine value, we have to go beyond pleasure and status, but we can’t leave pleasure and status behind entirely. This type of excellence incorporates our physical and social needs, but goes beyond them, approaching value itself as an abstract ideal. To get there, a balance is needed, but what does that balance look like?

Think it through

Find a good social environment

Bringing balance to the chariot is a big challenge for a person. But it’s not a challenge we face alone. For Plato, the community we live in helps us take care of our horses. We don’t all grow our own food, make our own shelter, and provide our own entertainment. Other people help us meet the needs of the dark horse. And how can the light horse be satisfied without other people to make us feel valued and worthy? Plato argues that some social roles help us fly the chariot better than others. He even tries to make a list and put them all in order. Some roles barely give us enough to survive, much less thrive. Others give us comfort but aren’t respected. Some are respected but give us little comfort. A few yield comforts and respect but leave us without enough time to properly strive for excellence. When you’re choosing your work, your friends and your relationships, you have to keep all three things in mind. Miss comfort, and you’ll find yourself controlled by the need to be comfortable. Miss respect, and you’ll be controlled by the need to be respected. If you don’t leave time to strive, all you’ll do is survive.

Distribute your time well

How do we manage to obtain all three things in just one life? In the Politics, Aristotle distinguishes between ‘leisure’ and ‘play’. For him, leisure is time we spend learning and contemplating, trying to achieve excellence. Play is about rest and recovery. It might help you to think of Aristotle’s leisure as ‘growth’ and Aristotle’s play as ‘recovery’. So, for Aristotle, we spend our days doing three things – work, growth and recovery. The difficult thing is that both work and growth cost time and energy. Growing is at least as energy-intensive as working. We need time to recover from both activities.

When the eight-hour workday was first achieved, there was a slogan that went along with it: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 4:40 pm

Trump’s inner circle terrified that the Feds will come for them next

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Bess Levin writes in Vanity Fair:

f you haven’t been keeping up with the legal affairs of Donald Trump of late, what you should know is that the guy is very likely f–ked. With the ex-president facing no fewer than 29 lawsuits and three criminal investigations, his tax returns are currently in the hands of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose team is also working to flip the Trump Organization employee who knows where all the bodies are buried and has both (1) cooperated with prosecutors in the past and (2) made some rather interesting comments about the company’s legal dealings. At the same time Rudy Giuliani had his home and office raided by the feds last week, a turn of events that former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara has said is very, very bad news for the NYC mayor turned Trump lawyer/cautionary tale. All of which reportedly has the rest of the 45th president’s inner circle extremely concerned about their own legal exposure.

CNN reports that the raids on Giuliani’s Madison Avenue apartment and Park Avenue office have “left allies of the former president feeling uneasy about what could come next,” according to sources close to Trump. “This was a show of force that sent a strong message to a lot of people in Trump’s world that other things may be coming down the pipeline,” one adviser told CNN. According to that person, the seizing of Giuliani’s electronic devices has “ignited a sense of fear” inside Trump’s orbit “that Justice Department officials may be more willing to pursue investigations of the 45th president or his inner circle than many Trump allies had previously believed.” The same person opined to CNN that they couldn’t believe “you would need to send seven FBI agents to go and collect a cell phone and laptop,” calling the raid “overkill.”

Of course Giuliani and the rest of Trump’s allies may still be operating under the false sense of security provided by the last administration’s Justice Department, run by Bill Barr, wherein alleged criminals were shielded from consequences thanks to their proximity to the equally shady president. As The New York Times reported last week, political appointees at the DOJ blocked prosecutors from obtaining the Giuliani warrants last summer and again after the election. (They were only granted once Merrick Garland took over, which, as Bharara noted, was a delay that could have accidentally cost Giuliani a Trump pardon.)

And speaking of Trump’s inner circle, last week his former “fixer,” Michael Cohen, claimed that Giuliani would ultimately turn on Trump to save himself. And not just Trump, but the entire family. “There’s no doubt that [Giuliani is] nervous…. And it’s rightfully so that he’s nervous, because he knows the power of the SDNY is unlimited, and they use that power,” Cohen said. Noting that Giuliani presumably “has no interest in going to prison and spending the golden years of his life behind bars,” Cohen said, “Do I think Rudy will give up Donald in a heartbeat? Absolutely. He certainly doesn’t want to follow my path down into a 36-month sentence.” He added: “What’s ironic here is the fact that these tactics of the Southern District of New York, in terms of bullying you into a plea deal, were created by Rudy Giuliani going back 30 years ago. And it’s just ironic that the tactics that he created for that office are now going to be employed against him, in terms of making him plead guilty and, certainly, at the least, turning over information about Jared, Ivanka, about Don Jr., about Donald himself, about all of these individuals in that garbage can orbit of Donald Trump.” A person close to the 45th president concurred that Giuliani would end up cooperating with prosecutors, telling CNN: “Even the most loyal people have their breaking point,” adding that Giuliani flipping “wouldn’t shock me at all.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 4:29 pm

People expect their post-pandemic routines will differ from what they did pre-pandemic

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5 May 2021 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

Price of lithium-ion batteries

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The price of lithium-ion batteries has fallen 97% since 1991. That may have something to do with the burst of interest in electric cars.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 3:49 pm

New documentary shows how “whiteness” is used to define power

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Jon Schwarz reports in The Intercept:

IN THE FINAL episode of Raoul Peck’s HBO documentary, “Exterminate All the Brutes,” Peck says in a voice-over, “The very existence of this film is a miracle.”

That is 100 percent true. Before this moment in history, it would have been impossible to imagine that one of the world’s largest corporations — AT&T, owner of HBO, with a current market cap of $220 billion — would have funded and broadcast a film like this. The fact that it somehow squeezed through the cracks and onto our TVs and laptop screens demonstrates that something profound about the world is changing. Decades, centuries of people fighting and dying were required both to widen the cracks and mold someone like Peck, the right human at the right time, to step through.

“Exterminate All the Brutes” is a sprawling disquisition — four episodes, each an hour long —into the invention and consequences of 500 years of “white” supremacy, presented via a high-gloss pastiche of old footage, newly filmed dramatizations, and clips from Hollywood movies. “White” needs scare quotes because the film makes clear that whiteness is not something that exists in reality — like, say, the moon — that is right there whether we believe in it or not. Instead, it’s something imaginary that we’ve somehow all agreed on, like pieces of paper having value. [That is, “whiteness” is a meme, a culturally defined idea. – LG]

These two made-up concepts meet in the $100 bill via the man on its face, Benjamin Franklin. In 1751, Franklin wrote an essay that makes clear that anyone can be classified as “white” or read out of the white race, depending on the needs of the moment.

Franklin was desperate to keep the British colonies “white,” but by white, he didn’t mean European. For Franklin, only the English and Saxons counted. Germans, Swedes, Russians, and the French were hilariously “swarthy,” and thus “will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.”

At the same time, as the miniseries illustrates, the English were colonizing Ireland and demoting its nearly translucent inhabitants to nonwhite. A famous British clergyman named Charles Kingsley, extremely liberal by the standards of the day, wrote home from a trip to Sligo that the people somehow had skin “as white as ours” but nevertheless were subhuman “chimpanzees.” In the U.S., the Irish were the standard by which nonwhiteness was measured, to the extent that African Americans were sometimes referred to as “smoked Irish.”

Of course, America eventually promoted the Irish to white, on the condition that they would be team players. Across the world in South Africa, the apartheid regime decided that Japanese immigrants were loyal enough to be “honorary whites.” The sorting process can even be seen in real time in a 1949 Atlantic article by a friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt about his trip to the newly born Israel. The country, he explained, could be useful as “the best guarantee” for Western interests in the area. Jewish people, who had previously been “moth-eaten” and “grease-spotted,” now possessed “physical beauty, healthy vitality, politeness, good nature” and were comparable to Thomas Jefferson. Arab people were in the way but “about as dangerous as so many North American Indians,” and therefore nonwhite and “foul, diseased, smelling, rotting, and pullulating with vermin.”

Peck may be only the filmmaker who would want to take on this gigantic subject and then manage to present it as is, simultaneously terrifying and preposterous. Born in Haiti — i.e., the western half of Hispaniola, the island where Columbus landed in the “New” World — Peck has lived all over the planet and has a humanistic sympathy for all people, both at their best and their absolute worst. He’s made several dozen films, many documentaries, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2017 for “I Am Not Your Negro,” about James Baldwin.

At the outset, Peck says, “This is  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and it’s worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 2:10 pm

Snapchat Can Be Sued Over Role In Fatal Car Crash, Court Rules

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As a joke, I sometimes would suggest that sharp curves on roads should be posted with a sign giving the highest speed to date someone has traversed the curve. I meant it as a service for those competing for a Darwin award. It was a joke.

But Snapchat seemed to have liked the idea in general. Bobby Allyn reports for NPR:

Three young men got into a car in Walworth County, Wis., in May 2017. They were set on driving at rapid speeds down a long, cornfield-lined road — and sharing their escapade on social media.

As the 17-year-old behind the wheel accelerated to 123 miles per hour, one of the passengers opened Snapchat.

His parents say their son wanted to capture the experience using an app feature — the controversial “speed filter” — that documents real-life speed, hoping for engagement and attention from followers on the messaging app.

It was one of the last things the trio did before the vehicle ran off the road and crashed into a tree, killing all of them.

Was Snapchat partially to blame? The boys’ parents think so. And, in a surprise decision on Tuesday, a federal appeals court ordered that the parents should have the right to sue Snap Inc.

The ruling, from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has set off intense debate among legal watchers about the future of a decades-old law that has shielded tech companies from civil lawsuits.

The boys’ parents sued Snap Inc., the maker of Snapchat, after the tragedy. They alleged that the company “knowingly created a dangerous game” through its filter and bore some responsibility.

The district court responded how courts usually do when a tech platform is sued in a civil lawsuit: by dismissing the case. The judge cited the sweeping immunity that social media companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The law provides legal immunity to tech companies from libel and other civil suits for what people post on sites, regardless of how harmful it may be.

But the appeals court’s reversal paves a way around the all-powerful law, saying it doesn’t apply because this case is not about what someone posted to Snapchat, but rather the design of the app itself.

Continue reading. There are more details of the decision, and they are interesting — partly because different courts have given different decisions in similar cases. Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 10:39 am

A good question (on a T-shirt)

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5 May 2021 at 9:17 am

The Dead Sea, Lupo, and the end of Paul Sebastian

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! I notice that the celebration in Victoria BC is muted compared to the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Monterey, but I will have some guacamole later.

The shave was extremely good. That “cashmere” brush from Yaqi has a very soft feel on the face. It was easy to load, and now that I know that The Dead Sea requires a brush barely damp, I have no problems at all in loading. I greatly enjoy this lather, for fragrance and performance.

The Lupo has a fair amount of blade feel, but is quite comfortable and not inclined to nick. It left an extremely smooth face, and I enjoyed this last splash of Paul Sebastian. I do like that aftershave, but I feel foolish replacing the bottle given that I have a cabinet well-stocked with a good variety of aftershaves. I’ll remember it with fondness. The fact that I ran out shows how much I like it.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2021 at 9:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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