Later On

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

Archive for August 4th, 2021

Trump found a good scam and gullible contributors

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: former president Trump has raised $102 million since he left office, but aside from a recent donation of $100,000 to his chosen candidate in a Texas race which is not yet in the public disclosures (she lost), has spent none of it on anything or anyone but himself. Since January, he has convinced donors to fund his challenge to Biden’s election and to fund Trump-like candidates in the midterm elections. But election filings and a release of donors to the Arizona “audit” show he has not put any money toward either. So far, about $8 million has gone to the former president’s legal fees, while funds have also gone to aides.

The second piece of news that is surprising and yet not surprising is an ABC story revealing that on December 28, 2020, the then-acting pro-Trump head of the civil division of the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Clark, tried to get then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue to sign a letter saying: “The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States. The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.”

It went on to say, “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.”

The letter then made the point clearer, saying the Georgia legislature could ignore the popular vote and appoint its own presidential electors.

This is classic Trump: try to salt the media with the idea of an “investigation,” and then wait for the following frenzy to convince voters that the election was fraudulent. Such a scheme was at the heart of Trump’s demand that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, and the discrediting of 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over an investigation into her use of a private email server.

In this case, Donoghue and Rosen wanted no part of this antidemocratic scheme. Donoghue told Clark that there was no evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election and wrote: “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this.” Rosen agreed, saying “I am not prepared to sign such a letter.”

The less obvious story today is the more interesting one.

Trump and his loyalists feed off Americans who . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 7:20 pm

Ella Fitzgerald – All The Things You Are

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Art, Jazz, Music, Video

The Collatz Conjecture

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Math, Video

A randomized controlled trial investigates diet and psychological well-being.

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 12:06 pm

Orban’s Hungary is the road map for American authoritarianism

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Jonathan Chait writes in New York:

In 1919, the progressive journalist Lincoln Steffens visited the nascent Soviet Union and declared, “I have seen the future and it works.” Tucker Carlson’s weeklong visit to Budapest, where he is using his Fox News show as an infomercial for Viktor Orban’s illiberal regime, is being conducted in much the same spirit. “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now,” Carlson gushed to his viewers.

Of course, “democracy” is not a category description any small-d democrat would apply to Hungary, a state that has “dropped any pretense of respecting democratic institutions” under Orban, according to Freedom House, which no longer categorizes it as a democracy at all.

These are not mere details, and Carlson is not overlooking them. He is laying down a marker in the highest profile way he can that Orban’s iron fist is the future the Republican party should want. The splashy imprimatur of a Fox News prime-time personality, who is probably the right’s most influential media figure, is an important milestone in the Republican Party’s long evolution into authoritarianism.

It is certainly not Hungary’s economy that has attracted a growing number of American right-wing admirers. Hungary has fallen behind its central European peers as Orban’s corruption and crude populism have spurred many of the nation’s wealthier citizens to leave. Nor is there much conservative inspiration to be mined from Orban’s pandemic management, which has been simultaneously more heavy-handed and less effective than other European governments’.

The Trump administration lavished Orban with praise. Trump has even likened the Hungarian strongman to himself, calling him a “tough man, but he is a respected man … probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s okay. You’ve done a good job, and you’ve kept your country safe.” Trump’s ambassador in Budapest confessed frankly that his boss envies Orban’s ability to bully and suppress his critics: “I can tell you, knowing the president for a good 25 or 30 years, that he would love to have the situation that Viktor Orbán has, but he doesn’t.”

The right’s entrancement with Orban has emerged fitfully over the last decade. One could find defenses of the Hungarian regime in places like the New York Postthe Federalist, the Heritage Foundation, and National Review. Yet, until recently, open support for Orban’s Hungary was an idiosyncratic minority position on the American right.

Orban’s regime has forged links with the conservative movement, including a lobbying campaign in Washington and a right-wing think tank in Budapest, where Carlson will deliver a speech Saturday. At this point, American conservatives who denounce Orban’s kleptocracy are now the minority.

What makes this alliance especially chilling is that Hungary is the model of democratic backsliding that has loomed largest in their imaginations of internationalist thinkers. Orban’s corruption of a former democracy occurred step by step. He gerrymandered the electoral map to give his supporters an overwhelming advantage, stacked the judiciary with supporters, leveraged state power to force large businesses to support his party, and installed supporters in charge of the country’s largest media organs. (Think about Trump’s efforts to bully Jeff Bezos into putting a leash on the Washington Post by denying Amazon a lucrative Pentagon contract, and you have a picture of the methods Orban has used, with more success.)

Hungary’s democratic backsliding was slow and gradual, without a single dramatic moment when its character flipped from democracy to dictatorship. Even now, it retains the surface trappings of a democracy without the liberal characteristics that make those processes meaningful. If America ceases to be a democracy, it will likely follow a path similar to Orban’s.

The broad lesson . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 11:32 am

Lack of exercise linked to increased risk of severe COVID-19

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This article showed up in my in-box this morning. It seems my renewed resolution regarding walking is well timed. (Stats from this morning: 3.911 miles, 1 hr 10 min, 3.36 mph, 7570 steps, 107.0 steps/minute. Goal is a walk of 8000 steps, which I aim to achieve within a week.)

Jane Thornton (Clinician Scientist, Canada Research Chair in Injury Prevention and Physical Activity for Health, Sport Medicine Physician, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University) and Jane Yuan (MSc Candidate, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Western University) write in The Conversation about the importance of exercise for good health — and I’ll note that one of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen is

Exercise — Once per day; 90 min. moderate or 40 min. vigorous

The article begins:

Recent research suggests that consistently meeting physical activity guidelines may reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes such as hospitalization, ICU admission and death. These findings should encourage physicians and other health care providers worldwide to talk to patients about physical activity — which has been a primary focus for our lab.

As promising as results from these and other similar studies are, an important question remains: Are we making life-saving physical activity accessible for the people who need it most?

Physical activity for all

Statistics Canada’s data on Canadian COVID-19 deaths in 2020 reported at least one comorbidity present in 90 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths (including younger age groups). A comorbidity is a disease or condition that a patient has at the same time as another illness. Many of the most common comorbid conditions on the list — including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes — are linked to physical inactivity.

The list of the most frequent comorbidities is a sign that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in our society. It is also an urgent call to change the story now to protect each other and build a healthier, more resilient Canada.

As a part of prevention and treatment of these comorbid conditions that put people at greater risk, access to physical activity for all must play a central part in this change. Physicians and other health care providers can play a part by prescribing physical activity, facilitating access and measuring outcomes.

Social determinants

The reality faced by so many — especially within disadvantaged populations — is that engaging in physical activity is not as simple as it sounds. To be successful, any push for widespread adoption of physical activity to treat and prevent disease must consider the context of individual lives and experiences.

Social determinants of health, specifically socio-economic status, dictate an individual’s ability to be physically active. High-income earners have the resources to lead more active lifestyles and reap the benefits of physical activity while lower-income earners do not.

A single mother working multiple low-wage jobs, for example, may not have the extra resources or leisure time to prioritize physical activity. Low-income neighbourhoods are often characterized by a lack of access to parks and green space. They may also have higher levels of crime, which may make people feel unsafe going outside to exercise.

Given the increased barriers and extra restrictions implemented during the pandemic, physical activity has become much more inaccessible for low-income communities. That may, in turn, place vulnerable populations at a higher risk of severe COVID-19-related complications.

Protecting everyone’s health means addressing barriers that contribute to the widening gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged, including systemic barriers affecting equity-deserving populations such as women, racialized and Indigenous peoples.

Addressing access

Habitual physical activity protects against adverse COVID-19 outcomes, but meeting the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s physical activity guidelines is unattainable for a large portion of the population. Now, more than ever, there is a need to address social inequalities and facilitate participation in physical activity through things like parks, access to facilities and active transport like walking and biking.

Policies, resources and support must consider the impact of socioeconomic factors that limit an individual’s opportunity to exercise. Interventions should aim to avoid exacerbating systemic inequalities, and promote health and well-being for all, including in low socioeconomic communities.

One example of supporting physical activity at the community level is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 10:16 am

A RazoRock shave all the way

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Zi’ Peppino has a delightful fragrance,  and the lather is not to be sneezed at. With the Keyhole brush, evoking the lather was easy, and the fragrance has enough presence that even my less-than-keen nose could enjoy it.

The Baby Smooth is a redoubtable razor. It’s every bit as good as the Dorco PL602 in comfort and performance, but much more attractive and substantial — particularly this stainless-steel version. Earlier I’ve commented on the blunted tips of the chequering on the handles of the Merkur 37G (not a grippy handle) and the Rockwell 6S (provides a fine grip). The tips of the chequering on this handle are much more distinct — not so sharp as to be uncomfortable, but you definitely know they’re not blunted. It’s an excellent handle that provides an excellent grip throughout the shave, including the pass against the grain.

In three passes the Baby Smooth delivered its usual stellar result: a face perfectly smooth and undamaged. This razor is a pleasure to use.

A splash of Zi’ Peppino aftershave, enhanced with a squirt of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel, and I’m on my smooth and fragrant way.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 8:03 am

Posted in Shaving

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