Later On

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

Archive for May 26th, 2021

There’s a hole at the bottom of math

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This is an excellent presentation of fascinating ideas (some of which I struggle with — the spectral gap, for instance), and enough is clearly presented to be pleasing and satisfying. Worth watching the entire 34 minutes.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Math, Memes, Philosophy, Science

Heather Cox Richardson discusses police reform, Trump grand jury, election audit, and more

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

A year ago today, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis as then–police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. As bystanders begged Chauvin to get up, a teenage girl walking by had the presence of mind to video what was happening. Thanks to that girl, Darnella Frazier, we all could hear Floyd telling Chauvin, “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s murder sparked more than 4700 protests across the nation that popularized both the idea that policing must be reformed and the concept that American systems, starting with law enforcement and moving to include housing, healthcare, education, and so on, are racially biased. In the past fourteen months, support for the Black Lives Matter movement among white people has jumped 5%, fueled mostly by younger people.

And yet, the rate of deaths at the hands of law enforcement officials has not changed, and Black people are three times more likely than white people to die at the hands of law enforcement even though they are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed.

In April, a jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He will be sentenced in June.

After the jury convicted Chauvin, President Joe Biden promised Floyd’s family that he would deliver a police reform bill. Today he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Floyd’s family privately in the Oval Office for more than an hour, but the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has not become law. The act bars the use of chokeholds and makes it easier to prosecute police officers, but lawmakers have been unable to compromise over so-called “qualified immunity,” a federal doctrine established in 1967 by the Supreme Court that protects officials—including law enforcement officers—from personal liability for much of their behavior while they execute their professional duties. Members of both parties, though, say a deal on the measure is in sight.

Today we learned that the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., has recently called together a special grand jury to hear a number of cases, including whether to indict former President Trump, other people in charge of running his company, or the Trump Organization itself. That a grand jury is considering whether a former president committed a crime is unprecedented.

It also suggests that Vance believes there is evidence of a crime. There appears to be a focus on whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of real estate to make it seem more valuable when trying to get loans against it, and less valuable when listing it for tax valuations. Investigators are also looking at compensation for Trump Organization executives.

Vance began to investigate in 2018 after Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to making hush-money payments for Trump and to lying to Congress.

The former president also responded today to a lawsuit filed by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who in March filed a lawsuit against Trump; Donald Trump, Jr.; Alabama Representative Mo Brooks; and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani for inciting the insurrection of January 6. Trump’s lawyers asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the president has “absolute immunity conveyed on the President by the Constitution as a key principle of separation of powers.” The memo is the usual political attack we have come to expect from Trump, but it’s interesting: his claim that he enjoys absolute immunity leaves the rest of the defendants out in the cold.

On January 22, just two days after President Biden took office, Lincoln Project founder George Conway published a piece in the Washington Post noting that Trump’s frantic efforts to stay in office might well have been “a desperate fear of criminal indictment.” Trump needed the protection of the presidency to avoid the fallout from his connections with Russia; the Ukraine scandal; and bank, insurance, and tax fraud. Conway noted that refusing to prosecute ex-presidents would undermine the rule of law because it would place them above the law: they could do whatever they wished as president—including trying to overthrow our democracy—knowing they would never answer for it.

Trump, of course, has refused to admit he lost the 2020 election. Today, he issued a statement suggesting that all potential prosecution of him would be political, saying that he was “far in the lead for the Republican Presidential Primary and the General Election in 2024.”

Trump’s memo also suggested he had a First Amendment right to say whatever he wished about the 2020 election, but in January, criminal law professor Joseph Kennedy of the University of North Carolina School of Law pointed out that while Trump’s speech might have been protected, he had a legal duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, a duty that meant he should have immediately told his supporters to stop what they were doing on January 6. His supporters breached the Capitol shortly after 2:00 p.m., and he did not ask them to leave until 4:17, in a video that was itself incendiary.

Meanwhile, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 6:34 pm

For the First Time, Big Oil Is Held Liable for Climate Change

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Paola Rosa-Aquino writes in New York:

A Dutch court on Wednesday ruled Royal Dutch Shell must dramatically reduce its carbon emissions because of its contributions to climate change, the first time a fossil-fuel company has been held legally liable for its role in heating up the planet. The landmark decision could set a precedent for similar cases against oil, gas, and coal industries.

The Hague District Court ruled that the energy giant has a “duty of care” to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and that its current reduction plans are not concrete enough. According to the court’s judgment, the company must slash its emissions by 45 percent by 2030, from 2019 levels, to meet global climate goals under the Paris Agreement — a much higher reduction than Shell’s current aim of lowering its emissions 20 percent in that same amount of time. The Paris Agreement “applies to the entire world, so also to Shell,” the judge said. “Royal Dutch Shell has to implement this decision at once.”

The lawsuit was filed in April 2019 by seven groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, on behalf of 17,200 Dutch citizens who say Shell is threatening human rights as it continues to invest billions in the production of fossil fuels. According to the Guardian, the court heard that Shell’s production and sale of oil are responsible for about 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions every year.

“This is a turning point in history,” Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, told the Guardian. “This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris climate agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”

Indeed, while only legally binding in the Netherlands, the ruling may have a ripple effect on other climate litigation seeking action to rein in emissions and hold oil companies financially liable. Most climate-lawsuit cases focus on claiming damages for past harm caused by climate change, such as the “Kid’s Climate Case” where plaintiffs argued the U.S. government violated their constitutional right to a stable climate, whereas the Shell case looks into the future. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 5:08 pm

Elsewhere in Victoria

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Today was a day of necessary chores so little blogging. But I did get out and continue to enjoy Victoria flora. The astrolabe-ish thing in the tree is weird but interesting. So far as I know, there is no QAnon connection. As always: click a photo to see these as a slide show, right-click a photo in the slide show to open in a new tab, where you can click it to enlarge it.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Daily life

Shipworm: A full-length audio “movie”

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I quote:

In this first of its kind feature-length audio movie, Wallace Conway wakes up to find he’s been implanted with an untraceable earpiece while sleeping. So long as he does everything the voice on the other end tells him, he and his family will live.

Listen here.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Art

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The Best Diet for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

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I found this interesting. I would like to avoid thyroid issues, and a protective diet seems a good approach.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 11:28 am

A dinner described

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The description occurs in Post Captain, the second book of Patrick O’Brian’s marvelous series of British naval novels of the Napoleonic era. (The first is Master and Commander, highly recommended.) O’Brian writes:

‘Dinner,’ said Captain Christy-Pallière, closing the file of Death Sentences, F-L. ‘I shall start with a glass of Banyuls and some anchovies, a handful of olives, black olives; then I believe I may look at Hébert’s fish soup, and follow it with a simple langouste in court-bouillon. Possibly his gigot en croûte: the lamb is exquisite now that the thyme is in flower. Then no more than cheese, strawberries, and some trifle with our coffee – a saucer of my English jam, for example. None of your architectural meals, Penhoët; my liver will not stand it in this heat, and we have a great deal of work to do if the Annibale is to be ready for sea by next week. There are all Dumanoir’s dossiers to deal with – how I wish he would come back. I should have interrogated the Maltese this morning. If we have a good dinner they risk to escape unshot . . .’

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 9:56 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Food, Military

Blue shave

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Tallow + Steel’s take on bay rum works out very well, and once again the lather was spectacular. I noticed that the aluminum Baby Smooth shown above does not have the acoustic chops of the stainless steel Baby Smooth I used yesterday: today’s shave was superb (as was yesterday’s) but very quiet — a ninja shave, if you will, though that might better describe a shave with my black Baby Smooth.

Three passes and then a splash of Grog aftershave. I do like a witch-hazel-based aftershave as a change of pace.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 8:48 am

Posted in Shaving

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