Later On

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Archive for September 22nd, 2021

“Not Who We Are”? This Is All America Has Ever Been.

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This article from May 2020 that Natalie Baptiste wrote in Mother Jones is worth rereading:

A couple of days after the death of a 25-year-old Black man in Georgia named Ahmaud Arbery became widely known, a Mother Jones editor suggested to a group of reporters of color that we should publish something on the shocking video that was soon to go viral. It showed two white men chasing Arbery, who was jogging down a rural road in his own neighborhood, and gunning him down.

Our responses were identical: We were all so tired.

Is there anything new to be said about the killing of young Black men who are engaged in everyday activities until they attract the attention of white people who feel threatened and decide to kill them? How many times can we decry racism and beg to be seen as fully human? But while my colleagues and I felt exhausted, well-meaning people of all races littered my social media feeds with a rallying cry that is a variation on a theme as familiar as it is fundamentally empty. It boiled down to the old trope: “This is not who we are!”

Soon my exhaustion turned to frustration: In fact, this is who we are. And yet, by treating every single senseless death, every single racial profiling incident, every attack on Black people, every example of the disproportionate vulnerability of people of color to economic and now coronavirus devastation as some aberration, America is given a kind of absolution. Our racist society is off the hook.

First, consider what happened to Ahmaud Arbery. On February 23, Arbery, an avid runner, went for a jog in Satilla Shores, a majority white town in rural Georgia. He lived just two miles away with his mother. While he was jogging, several people called 911 to report that a Black man was running down the street. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis decided that a young Black man wearing shorts and running peacefully in their neighborhood must have been a burglary suspect. They chased him down and three shots are heard in the video, with the third fired at point-blank range. His death was caught on tape.

The case is now on its third prosecutor. The first one recused herself because she previously employed Gregory McMichael, who is a former investigator in the district attorney’s office. The second recused himself because his son works in the district attorney’s office that once employed Gregory McMichael. But before his recusal, he wrote a letter saying the father and son were innocent because of Georgia’s stand-your-ground laws and other laws that allow a private citizen to attempt an arrest if an offense is committed in his presence, or if he has immediate knowledge of it.

Eventually a video of the attack went viral, sparking a national outcry and demands for justice. Politicians across the ideological spectrum tweeted out statements decrying the killing of Arbery, and, naturally, vowing to fight for justice.  . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

The reason it came up today was this column by Michael Mechanic. In it, he writes:

. . . The sharing of Baptiste’s piece was occasioned by a CBS Mornings appearance in which White House press secretary Jen Psaki, confronted with images of Border Patrol agents on horseback riding down a group of Haitian migrants, declared, “This is not who we are. That’s not who the Biden-Harris administration is.”

I can’t speak for the administration, but it’s damn well who America is. We are a nation where many states today are enacting laws designed to make it harder for certain groups of people to vote, and, worse, laws that empower state officials to challenge election results they dislike. We are a nation that deploys Predator drones to Muslim nations, sometimes murdering innocent men, women, and children based on laughable intelligence—and lying about it until we are caught red-handed.

We may aspire to do right as a nation, but we cannot ever seem to agree on what that means. In the meantime, people—usually white people—tell themselves stories to avoid confronting our dreadful, racist past: Oh, but slavery ended so long ago. Listen, my grandparents came to America way later; my family wasn’t part of all that. Hey, nobody ever gave me a handout. We white Americans get uncomfortable when confronted by the idea that, regardless of whether we harbor racist intent, we have all benefitted from racism, socially and financially.

In a review of Clint Smith’s recent book about how America is dealing with its slavery legacy, I wrote about how a well-educated white acquaintance had expressed annoyance to me that Black Americans couldn’t just get over it. After the review ran, several readers tracked down my personal email to make their case for why slavery reparations were not in order. (I’d never explicitly said that they were.) Their arguments, though lengthy, had logical flaws, and lacked a full accounting of our past—which isn’t yet fully past. I didn’t have the time or the energy to engage, in part because I’m pessimistic that presenting a more comprehensive view of race in America—the sort of history some state legislatures are busy banning from school curriculums—would change these people’s minds. As James Baldwin wrote, “Someone once said to me that people in general cannot bear very much reality.”

And yet the rest are forced to live with the consequences.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 7:10 pm

Inside the Conservative Fever Swamp

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Michael A. Cohen (aka, the other Michael Cohen) has a good post on his site. It begins:

As a general rule, I usually don’t read the right-wing website, Breitbart. It is one of the by-products of having a functioning brain.

But I’m making an exception today because a recent piece on the site offers useful insight into the workings of the conservative mind — and the debilitating ideology of modern conservatism.

Last week Breitbart Editor-at-Large John Nolte penned a piece lamenting that conservatives are not getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He also touted the benefits of getting a shot. These days that kind of language on a right-wing website is to be applauded. But Nolte took his argument in a strange direction: he claims that Republicans are not getting vaccinated because of liberals.

According to Nolte, “leftists like (Howard) Stern and CNNLOL and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci are deliberately looking to manipulate Trump supporters into not getting vaccinated.”

How are they doing this?

“If I wanted to use reverse psychology to convince people not to get a life-saving vaccination, I would do exactly what Stern and the left are doing… I would bully and taunt and mock and ridicule you for not getting vaccinated, knowing the human response would be, Hey, fuck you, I’m never getting vaccinated!” “And why is that a perfectly human response? Because no one ever wants to feel like they are being bullied or ridiculed or mocked or pushed into doing anything.

It’s a helluva thing when a conservative writer takes the position that his fellow ideologues are like immature children who are so super sensitive and insecure that they will refuse to get a life-saving vaccine simply because their political opponents think they should. But that is Nolte’s argument.

It is, in fact, not a 100 percent normal human response to refuse vaccination in this circumstance — particularly if the alternative is death. Less normal is believing that Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, or Joe Biden are bullying, mocking, or ridiculing conservatives to purposely hasten their deaths. Far less normal is giving a rat’s ass about anything Howard Stern says. Nolte criticizes Stern for mocking anti-vaxxer conservative radio hosts who have died from COVID-19 — and rightfully so. It’s gross. But honestly, who cares? And who in their right mind makes a health care decision based on something that Howard Stern said? According to Nolte, conservatives do.

“No one wants to cave to a piece of shit like that, or a scumbag like Fauci, or any of the scumbags at CNNLOL, so we don’t. And what’s the result? They’re all vaccinated, and we’re not! And when you look at the numbers, the only numbers that matter, which is who’s dying, it’s overwhelmingly the unvaccinated who are dying, and they have just manipulated millions of their political enemies into the unvaccinated camp …

In another column this week, Nolte went a step further and argued that  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

The crazy never stops, and the stupid sinks ever lower.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 5:36 pm

Single Cells Evolve Large Multicellular Forms in Just Two Years

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It’s difficult to deny that evolution happens when it is demonstrated — difficult, but certainly not impossible as Ken Ham (no relation! at all!) will tell you. But it’s interesting to see the big step taken in a laboratory setting. Veronique Greenwood writes in Quanta:

To human eyes, the dominant form of life on Earth is multicellular. These cathedrals of flesh, cellulose or chitin usually take shape by following a sophisticated, endlessly iterated program of development: A single microscopic cell divides, then divides again, and again and again, with each cell taking its place in the emerging tissues, until there is an elephant or a redwood where there was none before.

At least 20 times in life’s history — and possibly several times as often — single-celled organisms have made the leap to multicellularity, evolving to make forms larger than those of their ancestors. In a handful of those instances, multicellularity has gone into overdrive, producing the elaborate organisms known as plants, animals, fungi and some forms of algae. In these life forms, cells have shaped themselves into tissues with different functions — cells of the heart muscle and cells of the bloodstream, cells that hold up the stalk of a wheat plant, cells that photosynthesize. Some cells pass their genes on to the next generation, the germline cells like eggs and sperm, and then there are all the rest, the somatic cells that support the germline in its quest to propagate itself.

But compared to the highly successful simplicity of single-celled life, with its mantra of “eat, divide, repeat,” multicellularity seems convoluted and full of perilous commitments. Questions about what circumstances could have enticed organisms to take this fork in the road millions of years ago on Earth — not once but many times — therefore tantalize scientists from game theorists and paleontologists to biologists tending single-celled organisms in the lab.

Now, the biologist William Ratcliff at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his colleagues report that over the course of nearly two years of evolution, they have induced unicellular yeasts to grow into multicellular clusters of immense size, going from microscopic to branching structures visible to the naked eye. The findings illustrate how such a transition can happen, and they imply intriguing future experiments to see whether these structures develop differentiation — whether cells start to play specialized roles in the drama of life lived together.

Incentives to Be Snowflakes

Nearly a decade ago, scientists who study multicellularity were set abuzz by an experiment performed by Ratcliff, Michael Travisano, and their colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Ratcliff, who was doing his doctoral thesis on cooperation and symbiosis in yeasts, had been chatting with Travisano about multicellularity, and they wondered whether it might be possible to evolve yeast into something multicellular. On a whim, they took tubes of yeast growing in culture, shook them, and selected the ones that settled to the bottom fastest to seed a new culture, over and over again for 60 days.

This simple procedure, as they later described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, rapidly caused the evolution of tiny clumps — yeasts that had evolved to stay attached to each other, the better to survive the selection pressure exerted by the scientists. The researchers subsequently determined that because of a single mutation in ACE2, a transcription factor, the cells did not break apart after they divided, which made them heavier and able to sink faster.

This change in the cells emerged quickly and repeatedly. In less than 30 transfers, one of the tubes exhibited this clumping; within 60 transfers, all of the tubes were doing it. The researchers dubbed the cells snowflake yeast, after the ramifying shapes they saw under the microscope.

Snowflake yeast started out as a side project, but it looked like a promising avenue to explore. “That’s been my life for 10 years since then,” Ratcliff said. The work garnered him collaborators like Eric Libby, a mathematical biologist at Umeå University in Sweden, and Matthew Herron, a research scientist at Georgia Tech, where Ratcliff is now a professor. He had joined the varied ecosystem of researchers trying to understand how multicellular life came about.

It’s easy for us, as the vast architectures of cells that we are, to take it for granted that multicellularity is an unqualified advantage. But as far as we can tell from fossils, life seems to have been cheerfully unicellular for its first billion years. And even today, there are far more unicellular organisms than multicellular ones on the planet. Staying together has serious downsides: A cell’s fate becomes tied to those of the cells around it, so if they die, it may die too. And if a cell does become part of a multicellular collective, it may end up as a somatic cell instead of a germ cell, meaning that it sacrifices the opportunity to pass on its genes directly through reproduction.

There are also questions of competition. “Cells of the same species tend to compete for resources,” said Guy Cooper, a theorist at the University of Oxford. “When you stick a bunch of them together, that competition for resources becomes even stronger. That’s a big cost … so you need a benefit that’s equal or greater on the far side for multicellularity to evolve.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, including videos.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 5:20 pm

This Is Why Cops Shouldn’t Handle All Domestic Violence Calls

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Melissa Jeitsen writes in New York:

Weeks before Gabby Petito, a #vanlife influencer on a cross-country road trip, was reported missing, and before her remains were discovered in a national forest in Wyoming, the 22-year-old found herself crying uncontrollably in the back of a police car. On August 12, she and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, had fought in front of a grocery store in Moab, Utah. A concerned bystander called 911 to report a domestic dispute after witnessing Laundrie strike Petito. According to the caller, “the gentleman was slapping the girl.” Another witness said it appeared Laundrie had taken her phone and locked her out of the van. He told police that he saw Petito hitting Laundrie as she fought to get back inside the van — her home at the time.

But when police pulled over the couple in the now-infamous white van to investigate further, they came to a very different conclusion about what had transpired. After separating and talking with both parties — one of whom was hyperventilating, and one of whom was calm and jovial — they made the determination that it was Petito who was the abuser and Laundrie the victim. Laundrie got a fist-bump from a police officer and was told he did nothing wrong before being driven to a hotel for a free night’s stay. Petito was left with the van and made to spend a night alone in an unfamiliar place while experiencing an apparent mental-health crisis.

The hour-plus body-camera footage of the incident, released by the Moab City Police Department, offers some insight into why the officers came to the determination they did and provides a striking lesson about how the legal mechanisms ostensibly put in place to protect domestic-violence victims over the past few decades can be used against them. Above all, it shows why police are not really the best people to be intervening in domestic-violence incidents in the first place.

Utah is one of 22 states with legislation that requires officers to arrest someone when responding to reports of domestic violence, as long as certain conditions are met. Mandatory arrest laws, as they’re called, first appeared in the 1980s, and were pushed by women’s rights advocates as a way to force law enforcement to take domestic violence seriously. “Absolutely nothing was being done when DV calls came in,” says Rita Smith, former head of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who has been working on this issue for more than 40 years. “They’d show up at the call, walk the guy around the block, cool them off, and walk away as soon as they could. It didn’t matter what they saw or what they heard.”

But mandating that officers make an arrest meant that law enforcement was also tasked with determining which person was causing harm, a fraught responsibility complicated by conflicting stories and biases around victim behavior. “You cannot determine who a primary aggressor is based on one incident,” Smith says. “It’s not what they see right in front of them. They’ve got to get some kind of a historical perspective of this interaction to know who really is in danger here.” As a result of mandatory arrest laws, she says, arrests of domestic violence survivors went up, as did dual arrests. When police cannot determine who the primary aggressor is, they may simply arrest both people. “That was not a good outcome and was not our intention as advocates,” she says.

The challenges of asking police to quickly determine which party is causing harm is evident in the video footage of Petito and Laundrie. When officers arrive on the scene, Petito is teary, unstable, apologizing, and blaming herself for the conflict. She explains that she was upset because Laundrie locked her outside the van and says he pushed her and grabbed her face. But she admits that she got physical too; she says she slapped him and hit his arm to get his attention when the police were driving behind them. Her fiancé, on the other hand, comes off as the more reliable narrator. In a friendly, relaxed tone, he tells police that he was only trying to get her to calm down. That’s why he took the keys — so that she’d take a walk and get some air. She scratched him while she was trying to get the keys back, he says. He only pushed her to get her off of him.

Faced with this evidence, the police officers discuss what they must do. As one cop explains to Laundrie, “one of the things that the state legislature doesn’t give us discretion on is charges when it comes to a domestic assault.” Because Laundrie is the one with visible injuries — the scratches — the officer concludes that he is the victim. Petito, then, is the aggressor.

The officers decide to separate the couple for the night. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the footage, one of the cops asks a domestic-violence advocate over the phone if it would be possible for Petito to spend the night at the shelter, even though she is the suspect in the incident. The answer is no.

“What the body-cam footage really reinforces is this binary that exists when we’re talking about intimate-partner violence,” says Leigh Goodmark, law professor and director of the Gender Violence Clinic at the University of Maryland. “There can only be an aggressor and a victim. And once you’ve been labeled the aggressor, police and prosecutors have no capacity to see that you have been victimized, either on that occasion or on any previous occasion.”

Ultimately, police declined to charge Petito with domestic battery, determining that she did not intend to cause physical harm. Still,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 2:57 pm

On making the most of life

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The Browser has an interview with Oliver Burkeman on making the most of life, presented as a video and as a transcript. They note:

Oliver Burkeman, author of the new book Four Thousand Weeks, on the finitude of life. “We have a short amount of time and not much ability to control how it unfolds. We have to drop back down into reality on these matters and to withstand some of the discomfort of that in order to do some things that matter instead of pursuing this futile dream of doing everything one day, but not yet.’

The video:

The transcript:

Uri Bram: I’m delighted to be here today with author and journalist Oliver Burkeman, who is the author of the wonderful book Four Thousand Weeks. We’re going to play this game called The Last Word, where we ask very smart people to answer difficult questions in a very specific number of words.

So, first up — Oliver, could you please tell us the whole idea of your book in exactly 20 words?

Oliver Burkeman: 20 words? [smiling] I’ve just got to dive into this, right?, there’s no point in planning out in advance. Which is actually part of the message of the book.

I’m counting down here: Life is very short. Can’t do everything. So it makes sense to give up that struggle and focus instead.

Uri Bram: That is phenomenal.

Oliver Burkeman: I had another 10 words that I wanted to say, I had to rewrite it in situ.

On Being A Productivity Geek

Uri Bram: Well, I’d love to start there because I feel like your book is in stark contrast to a lot of other productivity books and self-help books, and it does seem that that’s the core of your message and how it is different, so… can you tell us maybe a little bit about your background as a productivity geek, and how you’ve come away from that to this new perspective?

Oliver Burkeman: Yeah, totally. So, I wrote this column for the Guardian for a shocking number of years. And I’m really glad I did that, it was an amazing journey of self exploration and I got to meet and talk to an amazing variety of people. But I think by the end I had realized that in some ways it was maybe enabling a psychological hangup rather than helping, which is his thing I refer to — and others do too, but usually they mean it more positively — of being a productivity geek, this real fixation with the notion that if I got the right system or the right approach to task management or organizing my stuff or scheduling my day, that I’d finally break through to this feeling of being in perfect control of time.

And  the book recounts my stages of realizing that that wasn’t going to happen, and what lies on the other side of it. I don’t want people to think that this book is exclusively for people with that particular weirdness, although I think there are plenty of us. I think it’s just an example of a broader universal point I’m trying to get at, which is that an awful lot of what goes wrong in our relationship with our limited time is some version of the desire to feel like the master of it, to feel in control, in the driver’s seat, on top of things, that everything’s in working order. And there are various reasons — both to do with the human condition and also to do with the way we live now — that mean that this is an impossible quest, that you’re never going to achieve that kind of control.

And actually, more than that, lots of what goes wrong is not just that productivity geekery doesn’t work, it’s that it makes things worse, right? That a lot of these things — stress, impatience, distraction, feeling that we’re not spending our lives on the things that matter to us the most — that they all can be traced in some ways to this desire to avoid facing up to the truth of our situation, which is that we’re finite beings in a world of infinite obligations and possibilities.

Uri Bram: I have to say, reading your book felt, for me, like a personal stab in the chest — like, this is a personal indictment of my life, which is great, it was very enjoyable and very uncomfortable.

Oliver Burkeman: [laughing] I hope that after the stab there’s the follow-up care! . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 12:22 pm

A good way to compare an innovation to the status quo: Pretend they are reverse

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Seth Godwin describes a way to avoid common traps of lazy thinking when coming the advantages and drawbacks of something new with the status quo: Pretend the new thing is what we already have and that what is now the status quo is being proposed as an innovation.

This reminds me a useful tactic in project planning: assume that the project has failed, and list the most likely causes of failure.Assuming the failure opens one’s eyes to the risks.

Godwin writes:

The easy argument to make is that the thing we have now is better than the new thing that’s on offer.

All one has to do is take the thing we have now as a given (ignoring its real costs) and then challenge the defects and question the benefits of the new thing, while also maximizing the potential risk.

“A hand-written letter is more thoughtful, more likely to be a keepsake, and a more permanent record than a simple email.”

On the other hand, the technophile defending change simply has to list all the new features and ignore the benefits we’re used to.

“An email is far faster, cheaper and easier to track than a letter. It is more likely to be saved, and it can be sorted and searched. Not to mention copied and forwarded with no problem.”

What’s truly difficult is being a fair arbiter. I fall into this trap all the time. We begin to develop a point of view, usually around defending the status quo, but sometimes around overturning it, and then the arguments become more and more concrete. While we might pretend to be evenhanded, it’s very hard to do.

Sometimes, we end up simply arguing for or against a given status quo, instead of the issue that’s actually at hand.

And the danger is pretending you’re being fair, when you’re not. In this silly article from the Times, the author (and their editors) are wondering if oat milk and pea milk are a “scam.”

This is a classic case of defending the status quo. Here’s a simple way to tell if that’s what you’re doing: imagine for a second that milk was a new product, designed to take on existing beverages made from hemp, oats or nuts. Defending oat milk against the incursion of cow milk is pretty easy.

The author could point out the often horrific conditions used to create cow milk. “Wait, you’re going to do what to a cow?” [“Wait, you want us to drink mucus from a cow?” – LG] They could write about the biological difficulty many people have drinking it. Or they could focus on the significant environmental impact, not to mention how easily it spoils, etc.

Or imagine that solar power was everywhere, and someone invented kerosene, gasoline or whale oil. You get the idea…

There are endless arguments . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 11:24 am

The Long War: How Descendants of Confederate Ideas Still Work to Destroy US Democracy

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Heather Cox Richardson writes about the continuing fight against the Union:

Tonight, the House of Representatives passed a funding bill that would both keep the government from shutting down and prevent a default on the U.S. debt. The vote was 220 to 211, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against.

There are two financial deadlines looming. One is the need for Congress to fund the government. In late December 2020, Congress passed a huge bill that, among other things, funded the government through September 30. The new fiscal year starts on October 1, and if the government is not funded, it will have to shut down, ending all federal activities that are not considered imperative. This year, such activities would include a wide range of programs enacted to combat the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The second deadline is lifting the debt ceiling. That’s the amount of money Congress authorizes the government to borrow. Beginning in 1939, rather than approving individual issues of debt, Congress gave the government more flexibility in borrowing by simply agreeing to an upper limit that included all the different financial instruments the government uses. The debt ceiling is not connected directly to any individual bill, and it is not an appropriation for any specific program. It enables the government to borrow money to pay for programs in bills already passed. If the debt ceiling is not raised when necessary, the government will default on its debts, creating a financial catastrophe.

There is a long history behind our national funding systems. Until now, the U.S. has always protected its debt. After the Civil War, Democrats were determined to destroy the strong federal government the Republicans had built to fight the Confederacy. They tried to change the terms under which people had invested in wartime national bonds. Horrified at what would undermine confidence in the survival of the Union, the Republicans protected the debt in the Fourteenth Amendment.

The fourth section of that amendment reads: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

Former Confederates challenged the nation through financing once again, in 1879. In that year, in control of Congress for the first time since the Civil War, Democrats refused to pass appropriations bills unless those bills included their own policy priorities, especially the removal of the federal troops still in the South to protect black voting (it is a myth that federal troops left the South in 1877).

Republican leader and Union veteran James A. Garfield had fought the Confederates on the battlefields and recognized that destroying the government by starving it was no different from destroying it through arms. He urged President Rutherford B. Hayes to veto the Democrats’ appropriations bills, and Hayes did, five times. Democrats backed down, but not before voters turned against them. The next year, voters put Garfield into the White House.

In the modern era, shutdowns emerged as a policy tool after the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act moved control over budgeting from the executive branch to Congress. Disagreements over funding in President Jimmy Carter’s term had little effect on the country, since government systems continued during them under the assumption that funding would eventually materialize. That changed in the early 1980s, when legal opinions said it was illegal to spend money that hadn’t been appropriated.

Beginning in the 1980s, government shutdowns became a tool of Republicans determined to cut taxes and dismantle the active government in place since 1933. In November 1981, President Ronald Reagan furloughed more than 240,000 federal workers in a fight with Congress over budget cuts, but full-fledged government shutdowns began in earnest after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 1995 for the first time since 1954.

Demanding steep budget cuts in Medicare, public health, the environment, and education, House Speaker Newt Gingrich refused to compromise with Democratic president Bill Clinton, who opposed the cuts. Without funding, the federal government shut down all non-essential activity for a total of 28 days between November 1995 and January 1996: National parks shut down, government contracts ceased to operate, applications for visas and passports went unanswered. The crisis pushed Clinton’s poll numbers higher than they had been since his election.

In 2013, the government shut down again from October 1 to October 17 as Republicans tried to defund the Affordable Care Act. It shut down yet again for its longest stretch in . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 11:08 am

All the Biomass of Earth, in One Graphic

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At Visual Capitalist Iman Ghosh writes about an infographic created by Mark Belan:

All the Biomass of Earth, in One Graphic

Our planet supports approximately 8.7 million species, of which over a quarter live in water.

But humans can have a hard time comprehending numbers this big, so it can be difficult to really appreciate the breadth of this incredible diversity of life on Earth.

In order to fully grasp this scale, we draw from research by Bar-On et al. to break down the total composition of the living world, in terms of its biomass, and where we fit into this picture.

Why Carbon?

A “carbon-based life form” might sound like something out of science fiction, but that’s what we and all other living things are.

Carbon is used in complex molecules and compounds—making it an essential part of our biology. That’s why biomass, or the mass of organisms, is typically measured in terms of carbon makeup.

In our visualization, one cube represents 1 million metric tons of carbon, and every thousand of these cubes is equal to 1 Gigaton (Gt C).

Here’s how the numbers stack up in terms of biomass of life on Earth: . . .

There’s more, and here’s the infographic (click to see in new tab, and click that to enlarge the image): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 10:26 am

Sandalwood Rose and Rose Lemon

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I do like this brush. When I use it after an absence from it, it takes me by surprise with its knot — somewhat firm but very soft on the face. I like a 22mm knot, but you can get the knot in 24mm as well.

The brush did a excellent job with Mystic Water’s Sandalwood Rose shaving soap, and the fragrance is an interesting combination. Three passes with the truly excellent Above the Tie S1 smoothed my face, ad a small splash of Bulgarian Rose with Lemon from Saint Charles Shave finished the job. Bulgarian Rose is a very nice fragrance indeed.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2021 at 10:02 am

Posted in Shaving

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