Later On

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

Archive for November 6th, 2021

(Pseudo)Socialism in the US

leave a comment »

Actual socialism in the US has never been an issue or a threat, but the US is, basically, a sucker. Heather Cox Richardson explains:

As soon as the Democrats in the House of Representatives, marshaled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) by a bipartisan vote of 228–206 last night, Republicans began to say that the Democrats were ushering in “socialism.”

When Republicans warn of socialism, they are not talking about actual socialism, which is an economic system in which the means of production, that is, the factories and industries, are owned by the people. In practical terms, that means they are owned by the government.

True socialism has never been popular in America, and virtually no one is talking about it here today. The best it has ever done in a national election was in 1912, when labor organizer Eugene V. Debs, running for president as a Socialist, won a whopping 6% of the vote, coming in behind Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. True socialism isn’t a real threat in America.

What politicians mean when they cry “socialism” in America today is something entirely different. It is a product of the years immediately after the Civil War, when Black men first got the right to vote.

Eager to join the free labor system from which they had previously been excluded, these men joined poor white men to vote for leaders who promised to rebuild the South, provide schools and hospitals (as well as desperately needed prosthetics for veterans), and develop the economy with railroads to provide an equal opportunity for all men to work hard and rise.

Former Confederates loathed the idea of Black men voting. But their opposition to Black voting on racial grounds ran headlong into the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which, after it was ratified in 1870, gave the U.S. government the power to make sure that no state denied any man the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When white former Confederates nonetheless tried to force their Black neighbors from the polls, Congress in 1870 created the Department of Justice, which began to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan members who had been terrorizing the South.

With racial discrimination now prohibited by the federal government, elite white southerners changed their approach. They insisted that they objected to Black voting not on racial grounds, but because Black men were voting for programs that redistributed wealth from hardworking white people to Black people, since hospitals and roads would cost tax dollars and white people were the only ones with taxable property in the Reconstruction South. Poor Black voters were instituting, one popular magazine wrote, “Socialism in South Carolina.”

This idea that it was dangerous for poor working men to have a say in the government caught on in the North as immigrants moved into growing cities to work in the new factories. Like their counterparts in the South, they voted for roads and schools, and northern men of wealth too insisted these programs meant a redistribution of wealth through tax dollars.

They got more concerned still when  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2021 at 9:38 pm

Silent night: how we used to sleep

leave a comment »

I’ve noticed that I often am up for one to two hours in the middle of the night these days. If I come awake — really awake — I don’t try to fight it. I just get up and read, then when I feel sleepy again, return to bed for the second sleep.

Eve Webster writes in Engelsberg Ideas:

The idea of cities that never sleep seems inseparable with flashing modernity. The constant illumination brought about by electric lighting leads us to imagine that prior to industrialisation, the night was a time of total stagnation; quiet until sunrise.

In fact, prior to mass-electrification, the night was a time of considerable activity, with people generally sleeping in two distinct chunks between nightfall and dawn. In the middle of these two, roughly four-hour-long blocks of sleep, people would get up to all sorts, from visiting neighbours to household chores, from smoking to praying, for about two hours, usually between 1am and 3am, and then return to bed for what was known in English as ‘the second sleep,’ or often ‘the dead sleep’ or ‘the morning sleep.’

Clues indicating this was the norm are littered across a variety of sources. For instance, a sixteenth-century French physician, Laurent Joubert, advises couples looking to conceive to have sex between the first and second sleep as they ‘have more enjoyment’ and ‘do it better.’ Medical references to this period of night-time activity are not usually so exciting; another doctor of the era advised their patients to sleep on their right side during the ‘the fyrste sleep’ and then ‘… turne on the lefte side for this change doth greatly ease the body.’ Another suggested students ought to literally burn the midnight oil between sleeps so that they might be at least ‘in some measure refreshed’ – by their studies, one assumes. Off-the-cuff references to a first and second sleep crop up across literary works, from Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge and Bleak House, to the Odyssey and Chaucer’s The Summoner’s Tale. Writing to Johann Choler Dutch philosopher Erasmus explains that he translated Classical tragedies ‘sometimes in bed, while waiting for the second sleep.’ A number of court documents, diaries, letters and prayer manuals also contain references to first and second sleeps, and the period of activity between them. Historian Roger Ekirch, author of At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, notes that not only the frequency and variety of the references to first and second sleeps shows it to be standard practice, but also cites the blasé way authors mention what is now a fairly foreign idea writing: ‘It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge.’

Ekrich emphasises that although there may be some variances across societies and time periods, the idea of uninterrupted sleep is a relatively modern phenomenon, one which emerged amongst the upper-classes of northern Europe in the late seventeenth-century. From this period onwards, references to first and second sleeps gradually disappeared. Paradoxically, Ekrich attributes this to an increase in more vigorous night-time activity facilitated by street lighting, improved lighting in homes, and the increasing prevalence of late-opening coffee shops in towns and cities. As people retired to bed later, and as a consequence got up later, they increasingly found themselves sleeping through the night, until rising in the middle of the night largely fell out of practice, and eventually our collective memory.

Despite this, scientific findings show that a short spurt of nocturnal activity is likely to still be the default setting of humans’ circadian rhythm, a rhythm continually overridden by our artificial sixteen-hour long photoperiod; that is, the length of time we are exposed to light. In the early 1990s, chronobiologist Thomas Wehr exposed seven subjects to ten hours of light and fourteen hours of darkness — which roughly resembles the amount of light Londoners or New Yorkers would naturally receive in the late autumn. Within four weeks, all of the subjects’ sleep patterns . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2021 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, History, Science

How two BBC journalists risked their jobs to reveal the truth about Jimmy Savile

leave a comment »

Poppy Sebag-Montefiore reports in the Guardian:

On Saturday 29 October 2011, the day the entertainer Jimmy Savile died aged 84, a couple of comments were posted on the Duncroft School page of the networking site Friends Reunited. Duncroft was designated as an “approved school” by the Home Office, and offered residential care for “intelligent but emotionally disturbed girls”. “He died today, RIP no RIH yes rot in hell,” read one message. “Perhaps some closure for the childhoods that were ruined by this animal.” Over the next few days a handful more messages appeared: “You child molester – you were no better than all the other pervs who have been banged up … only your celebrity status saved you.” Someone else wrote how she would never recover from what “JS” did to her.

Across the news bulletins and weekend front pages, Savile was being given a sendoff fitting for someone who had achieved national treasure status. As BBC Radio 1 DJ, and co-presenter of the BBC’s flagship music programme Top of the Pops, Savile became a personality in the pop music scene in the 60s and 70s; his oddness and mannerisms enhanced his celebrity. As the host of the long-running Saturday evening TV show Jim’ll Fix It, he played godfather, granting the wishes to children who wrote in. On the Monday after his death, during the news editors’ 9.15 morning meeting at BBC headquarters in west London, those present were asked to take coverage of Savile’s funeral seriously. The concern was that the news editors might sneer at Savile; they were reminded that, to much of the audience, Savile was a northern hero. He had started out working in the mines, going on to earn a knighthood and befriend royalty through his television shows and charity work.

Meanwhile, George Entwistle, the BBC’s head of television, was trying to work out how BBC light entertainment would mark the death of one of its biggest stars. Entwistle was informed that there was no obituary ready to run on Savile – unusual for someone who had made such a contribution to British public life. The decision had been made by successive controllers, a colleague told him by email. Savile had a “dark side”, which meant it was “impossible to make an honest film to be shown so close to death”, his colleague said.

Entwistle emailed his team: the best way forward was to avoid making anything new about Savile. Someone suggested making a Fix It Christmas special hosted by a new BBC star. All agreed. Problem solved. It’d be “a real Christmas treat”, said the BBC1 controller in an email.

Rumours about Savile being a sexual predator and a paedophile had persisted for decades. In his trademark brightly coloured shell suits, scant shorts and string vests, Savile had performed his perversions almost as much as he’d hidden them. His manner almost dared people to challenge him. Because of the UK’s punitive libel laws, no one ever had. On the Monday morning after Savile’s death, in the Newsnight office at BBC Television Centre, social affairs correspondent Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones began to investigate Savile’s history.

Jones had a personal connection to the story: his aunt ran the Duncroft School. Over three years in the early 1970s, when he was in his mid-teens, Jones visited Duncroft on weekends with his parents and his sister. They would often see Savile’s white Rolls-Royce parked outside. His parents were concerned about Savile taking the girls off site. Jones met Savile there a few times, always finding it curious how he seemed to speak in catchphrases that created what Jones described as “a screen between him and people around him”.

In 1988, Jones became a journalist at the BBC. It soon became one of the stories he wanted to get a purchase on. Once social media arrived, he would search sites for references to Savile and Duncroft. In 2010, he found a memoir published online by a former Duncroft pupil, detailing abuse by a celebrity “JS”. Jones had spoken to MacKean at different times about pursuing the story, but they were at a disadvantage legally. Savile was part of the establishment, a leading charity fundraiser, and some of the Duncroft girls were offenders. Some had been abused from a young age, and had run away from care homes. No one would believe them against him. “Any witness would be destroyed in court so we’d never get it past the lawyers,” Jones told me. “It’s exactly why he targeted places like that.”

MacKean, then 46, from Hampshire, had two children and worked at Newsnight part-time. As a journalist she was drawn to people on the margins – people who’d been wronged and couldn’t get justice. “She was a lucky person, highly attuned to the unlucky and the unfair,” MacKean’s friend Amelia Bullmore wrote to me.

Within a few weeks of Savile’s death, MacKean had collected on-the-record testimony from 10 women who had been at Duncroft. Seven had been . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2021 at 6:52 pm

Beets & Leeks and Thai red chiles

leave a comment »

Beets & Leeks (and Thai red chiles)

First batch features a recipe I made up:

• 1 large leek, white section, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
• 1 medium-large red beet, grated
• 9 Thai red chiles, stem removed, chopped (with seeds)

I got about 2 full cups (i.e., a little more) of sliced leeks and the same of beets. I put them in a large bowl, added the chopped chiles, and stirred well to mix. I then packed the mixture into a 1-litre wide-mouth jar.

• 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
• about 1/2 packet Cutting Edge Culture

I put the salt into about 1 1/2 cups water, stirred to dissolve, then poured that over the vegetables in the jar. I added just a little more water, then tested the fermentation weight. That brought the water level a little too close to the rim, so I poured some out. 

I pressed veg back down, sprinkled the culture over the top, replaced the fermentation weight, and screwed on the lid with the silicone fermentation airlock in place of the regular cap. I added a masking tape label with the date to remind me when I started it.

I’ll check after three days.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2021 at 3:16 pm

Rockwell’s Model T2 with Declaration Grooming Cuir et Épices

leave a comment »

Lovely shave today, though running a bit late. The Yaqi Target Shot synthetic worked up an admirable lather from Declaration Grooming’s Milksteak formula, and the Rockwell T2 did a great job. A splash of Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather with a squirt of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel to balmify it finished the job.

I am late because the idea of fermenting vegetables has quite captured me, and I worked on this basic reference post for quite a while, along with reading various articles. Soon I’ll go out and pick up carrots, apples, and dates and start a couple of litres of the recipe at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2021 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: