Later On

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

Archive for November 9th, 2021

Aaron Rodgers Didn’t Just Lie

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a powerful post that begins:

Professional athletes have come so far from the dark days when the public saw them as perpetually partying adolescents, mean-spirited bullies, and worse: dim-wits one step above tackling dummies on the evolutionary scale. Today, many players are eloquent spokespersons as well as admirable athletes. This hard-fought change occurred gradually over decades as more and more athletes proved themselves to be passionate and articulate advocates for a better, more inclusive society.

This shift in public perception is especially important when we understand how impactful athletes are in influencing our children. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, children 10-17 years old admire famous athletes second (73 percent) only to their parents (92 percent). That’s a sacred trust not to be abused. Unfortunately, the pandemic has revealed several athletes who abuse their position and responsibility, not just to the public, but to other professional athletes’ livelihood.

That latest egregious abuser is Green Bay quarterback and three-time MVP Aaron Rodgers who directly and deliberately lied to fans and the public when he assured everyone he was “immunized,” knowing that word would be interpreted as his being vaccinated. He wasn’t vaccinated. And he got COVID-19. And he went maskless during in-person press conferences, which not only violated NFL rules, but put everyone else’s health at risk.

Instead of consulting immunologists, he consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus. If he ever requires open-heart surgery will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart? While many who came into contact with him thought he was vaccinated, Rodgers had embarked on his own regimen to boost his “natural immunity.” He failed, as any scientist could have told him—and as they have been publicly telling us for over a year. University of Michigan microbiologist Ariangela Kozik explained that achieving “natural immunity” through these homeopathic methods is a non-starter because vaccines inform our immune system what the virus looks like so the body can build its own protection.

Rodgers compounded his lie by adding another lie. While being interviewed about the backlash on the Pat McAfee Show, he claimed that a league doctor told him “it would be impossible for a vaccinated person to catch or spread COVID.” However, the NFL responded by saying no doctor from the league or consultants from the NFL-NFLPA communicated with the players. And if they had, they wouldn’t have given such clear misinformation, which anyone who’s read a newspaper or watched a legitimate news show would already know. No medical expert claimed the vaccine prevents getting or transmitting the virus, only that their chances of spreading it to others or developing severe symptoms themselves are significantly reduced.

What’s especially bothersome is that . . .

Continue reading. It is a great post.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 7:51 pm

The mystery of the “same sky” postcards

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Local tie (Victoria BC).

The notes at the YouTube listing are worth looking at. Here are some:

Darkroom is a history and photography series that anchors each episode around a single image. Analyzing what the photo shows (or doesn’t show) provides context that helps unravel a wider story. Watch previous episodes here:… Explore James’s full postcard collection online here:… Bill Burton’s online magazine Postcard History: Read up on Dexter Press and all things postcard on MetroPostcard:… Original Dexter Press postcards at Queen of Chrome’s eBay store:…

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Daily life, Media, Memes

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David Graeber’s Possible Worlds

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David Graeber in 1977. Photo: Estate of David Graeber

This article struck home for me. Back in the mid-70’s I entered a circle of friends who would plan and do joint activities — dinners, trips, and son — with no one in charge. At that time, I couldn’t imagine such a thing. “Who makes the decisions?” I would ask my friend, and she would answer, “Well, we all do. We come to agreement.” 

I was so immersed in conventional hierarchical structures — of business, and when I worked in a college — that I could not imagine such a thing. Someone had to be in charge, I (wrongly) thought. 

My experience shows me now how tightly one’s learned culture can control their outlook and limit their sense of what is possible. Cultural reality becomes mistaken for objective reality, and culture restricts the range of the possible.

Molly Fischer writes in New Yorker:

ately it has seemed possible that everything must change. Basic fixtures of American life, rules and institutions that had come to feel inevitable — in 2020 and 2021, they felt less inevitable than before. They felt perhaps untenable. Things like the cost of health care and the cost of child care. Offices, prisons, and police. Fossil fuel, the filibuster, Facebook. The pursuit of happiness via nonstop work. The monthly payments on a student loan. Every month the rent was due — unless it wasn’t anymore.

To David Graeber, it was a matter of plain fact that things did not have to be the way they were. Graeber was an anthropologist, which meant it was his job to study other ways of living. “I’m interested in anthropology because I’m interested in human possibilities,” he once explained. Graeber was also an anarchist, “and in a way,” he went on, “there’s always been an affinity between anthropology and anarchism, simply because anthropologists know that a society without a state is possible. There’s been plenty of them.” A better world was not assured, but it was possible — and anyway, as Graeber put it in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology“since one cannot know a radically better world is not possible, are we not betraying everyone by insisting on continuing to justify and reproduce the mess we have today?”

Graeber died unexpectedly a year ago this September, at the age of 59, and though he’d never sought to be a leader, he left behind a multitude of followers and fans, from artists to economists to Kurdish revolutionaries. They were people whose imaginations he had captured as a scholar and a teacher, as the public intellectual of the Occupy movement, and as the best-selling author of Debt and Bullshit Jobs, books that swept across eras and disciplines to offer scholarly provocation in layperson’s terms. After his death, friends and acolytes from around the world — from Brazil, Japan, and New Zealand — submitted video tributes for an online celebration of his life. A year later, his widow, the artist Nika Dubrovsky, still hasn’t managed to make her way through all the footage she received.

Graeber also left behind the staggeringly large project he finished three weeks before he died: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of HumanityWritten in collaboration with the archaeologist David Wengrow, the book draws on new research to challenge received wisdom on civilization’s course. The story of humanity, as it is typically told, proceeds along a linear path. It passes in distinct stages from foraging bands and tribes on to agriculture, cities, and kings. But, surveying the historic and archaeological record, Graeber and Wengrow saw a wealth of other stories, taking humanity on varied and unpredictable routes. There were societies that farmed without really committing to it, for example. There were societies whose authority figures’ power applied only during certain parts of the year. Cities coalesced without any apparent centralized government; brutal hierarchies took shape among people who later reversed their course. The book’s 704 pages teem with possibilities. They are a testament, in the authors’ view, to human agency and invention — a capacity for conscious political decision-making that conventional history ignores. “We are projects of collective self-creation,” write Graeber and Wengrow. “What if we approached human history that way? What if we treat people, from the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such?”

Lauren Leve, an anthropologist at UNC-Chapel Hill who was Graeber’s girlfriend for many years and, later, his friend, remembers his crackling enthusiasm for his work on The Dawn of Everything. “We would be on the phone, and I could just hear him sort of wringing his hands and grinning with excitement and a sense of mischief — ‘This is going to mess things up!’” she recalls. He’d laugh as he described the discoveries he and Wengrow were making, the revelations they planned to unleash. People are just going to go crazy, he would tell her, but it’s true!

In 1975, David Graeber arrived at Phillips Academy Andover as a tenth-grader — a “lower,” in the boarding school’s parlance. He was 14 and a stranger to Wasp aristocracy, a child of proudly working-class New York. His mother, . . .

Continue reading. There’s more and it’s interesting.

Later in the article:

What Graeber came to realize, during his time with the Malagasy, was that their daily lives carried on effectively outside state control. They weren’t paying taxes, they weren’t calling police, and, rather than relying on hierarchical structures of authority, they were making decisions collectively. The Malagasy didn’t call attention to this state of affairs. They just went about their business, behaving — as anarchist principles would have it — as if they were already free. Graeber had considered himself an anarchist since he was a teen, but now he could see how anarchism worked. “The way I always put it is: Most people don’t think anarchism is a bad idea; they think it’s insane,” he told one interviewer. “I come from a family where that was not assumed.” Still, before Madagascar, “I never actually lived in a place without state authority,” Graeber explained. “I got to observe firsthand how people can actually organize things without top-down structures of command.”

The quotidian anarchism Graeber saw in his fieldwork was an epiphany he would later work to translate for a wider audience. Anarchism was a matter of “having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions,” he wrote in an essay called “Are You an Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You!” He explained that when people waited politely in line to board a bus — waited, that is, even though nobody was making them — they were acting like anarchists.

The whole thing is interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 11:42 am

Republicans embrace extreme politics

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Heather Cox Richardson comments on yesterday’s news:

The big news of the day is the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to combat international terrorism and lawlessness through cybersecurity and international cooperation.

Today the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the Treasury Department together announced indictments against two foreign actors for cyberattacks on U.S. companies last August. They announced sanctions against the men, one of whom has been arrested in Poland; they seized $6.1 million in assets from the other. The State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information about other cybercriminals associated with the attack. Treasury noted that ransomware attacks cost the U.S. almost $600 million in the first six months of 2021, and disrupt business and public safety.

The U.S. has also sent Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman to Ethiopia and neighboring Kenya to urge an end to the deadly civil war in Ethiopia, where rebel forces are close to toppling the government. A horrific humanitarian crisis is in the making there. The U.S. is interested in stopping the fighting not only because of that, but also because the Ethiopian government has lately tended to stabilize the fragile Somali government. Without that stabilization, Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, and terrorists could extort the global shipping industry.

Meanwhile, it appears that Biden’s big win on Friday, marshaling a bipartisan infrastructure bill through Congress, has made Republicans almost frantic to win back the national narrative. The National Republican Congressional Committee has released an early ad for the 2022 midterm elections titled “Chaos,” which features images of the protests from Trump’s term and falsely suggests they are scenes from Biden’s America.

As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other Republican leaders today attacked the popular Sesame Street character Big Bird today for backing vaccinations—Big Bird has publicly supported vaccines since 1972—they revealed how fully they have become the party of Trump.

Excerpts from a new book by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl say that Trump was so mad that the party did not fight harder to keep him in office that on January 20, just after he boarded Air Force One to leave Washington, he took a phone call from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, and told her that he was quitting the Republicans to start his own political party.

McDaniel told him that if he did that, the Republicans “would lose forever.” Trump responded: “Exactly.” A witness said he wanted to punish the officials for their refusal to fight harder to overturn the election.

Four days later, Trump relented after the RNC made it clear it would stop paying his legal bills and would stop letting him rent out the email list of his 40 million supporters, a list officials believed was worth about $100 million.

Instead of leaving the party, he is rebuilding it in his own image.

In Florida, Trump loyalist Roger Stone is threatening to run against Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022 to siphon votes from his reelection bid unless DeSantis promises he won’t challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024.

A long piece in the Washington Post by Michael Kranish today explored how, over the course of his career, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has singlemindedly pursued power, switching his stated principles to their opposites whenever it helped his climb to the top of the Senate. Eventually, in the hope of keeping power, he embraced Trump, even acquitting him for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection.

The former president is endorsing primary candidates to oust Republicans he thinks were insufficiently loyal. In Georgia, he has backed Herschel Walker, whose ex-wife got a protective order against him after he allegedly threatened to shoot her. In Pennsylvania, Trump has endorsed Sean Parnell, whose wife testified that he choked her and abused their children physically and emotionally.

Although such picks could hurt the Republicans in a general election with the women they desperately need to attract (hence the focus on schools), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL), did not feel comfortable today bucking Trump to comment on whether Parnell was the right candidate to back. Scott said he would focus on whoever won the primary.

The cost of the party’s link to Trumpism is not just potential 2022 voters. In the New York Times today, David Leonhardt outlined how deaths from the novel coronavirus did not reflect politics until after the Republicans made the vaccines political. A death gap between Democrats and Republicans emerged quickly as Republicans shunned the vaccine.

Now, only about 10% of Democrats eligible for the vaccine have refused it, while almost 40% of Republicans have. In October, while about 7.8 people per 100,000 died in counties that voted strongly for Biden, 25 out of every 100,000 died in counties that went the other way. Leonhardt held out hope that both numbers would drop as more people develop immunities and as new antiviral drugs lower death rates everywhere.

And yet, Republicans continue to . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Emphasis added. David Leonhardt’s column is worth reading. It shows that the cost of following Republican dogma has serious real-world consequences. The link to his column is a gift link: no paywall.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 11:27 am

U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder

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Data unavailable for Alaska and Washington, D.C.Credit…Source: New York Times database, Edison Research

David Leonhardt points out the consequences of blindly following ideology and ignoring science. (Gift link; no paywall)

As 2020 wound down, there were good reasons to believe that the death toll during the pandemic’s first year might have been worse in red America. There were also good reasons to think it might have been worse in blue America.

Conservative areas tend to be older, less prosperous and more hostile to mask wearing, all of which can exacerbate the spread or severity of Covid-19. Liberal areas, for their part, are home both to more busy international airports and more Americans who suffer the health consequences of racial discrimination.

But it turned out that these differences largely offset each other in 2020 — or maybe they didn’t matter as much as some people assumed. Either way, the per capita death toll in blue America and red America was similar by the final weeks of 2020.

It was only a few percentage points higher in counties where Donald Trump had won at least 60 percent of the vote than in counties where Joe Biden crossed that threshold. In counties where neither candidate won 60 percent, the death toll was higher than in either Trump or Biden counties. There simply was not a strong partisan pattern to Covid during the first year that it was circulating in the U.S.

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

Continue reading. (Gift link; no paywall.)

Data unavailable for Alaska and Washington, D.C.Credit…Source: New York Times database, Edison Research

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 10:36 am

Cologne Russe and the Gillette 1940s Aristocrat

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A highly satisfying albeit somewhat tardy shave this morning. I was up extremely early, then back to bed for a second sleep, awakened after a few hours by a scam call.

But the shave has perked me up. Barrister & Mann created (or perhaps replicated) a wonderful fragrance for Cologne Russe, and it stands out in soap as well as aftershave. My Aerolite synthetic from Phoenix Artisan seemed just the ticket, and the lather really was exceptional. Perhaps synthetics simply do the best job. I’ll try another example of this soap tomorrow but use a natural bristle and compare.

Three passes with Gillette’s Aristocrat from more than 50 years ago, and my face was perfectly smooth and absolutely undamaged. I think some of the pleasure of this shave came from using Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave — this razor does not always strike me as so marvellous as it did today.

A good splash of Cologne Russe aftershave, balmified with a squirt of Grooming Dept Hydratig Gel, and I’m read for the day — which, immediately after I took that photo, turned very grey and dark.

Written by Leisureguy

9 November 2021 at 10:28 am

Posted in Shaving

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