Later On

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

Archive for January 6th, 2022

Cloth masks not enough as Omicron spreads

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Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 10:16 pm

‘Feeling & Knowing’ explores the origin and evolution of consciousness

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In Science News J.P. O’Malley interviews Antonio Damasio about his lates book:

Feeling & Knowing
Antonio Damasio
Pantheon, $26

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio believes that the link between brain and body is the key to understanding consciousness. In his latest book, Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious, he explains why.

Consciousness is what gives an individual a sense of self; it helps one stay in the present, remember the past and plan for the future. Many scientists have argued that consciousness is created by vast networks of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. While it’s clear that the brain plays a major role in conscious experiences, it doesn’t act alone, argues Damasio, director of the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

Instead, he argues, consciousness is generated by a variety of structures within an organism, some neural, some not. What’s more, feelings — mental experiences of body states — help connect the brain to the rest of the body. “The  feelings that we have of, say, hunger or thirst, or pain, or well-being, or desire, etc. — these are the foundation of our mind,” Damasio says. In his view, feelings have played a central role in the life-regulating processes of animals throughout the history of life.

In Feeling & Knowing, Damasio suggests that consciousness evolved as a way to keep essential bodily systems steady. This concept is also known as homeostasis, a self-regulating process that maintains stability amid ever-changing conditions. Consciousness emerged as an extension of homeostasis, Damasio argues, allowing for flexibility and planning in complex and unpredictable environments.

Science News spoke with Damasio about why feelings are crucial to understanding consciousness, why consciousness is not exclusive to humans and whether it’s something a computer could ever have. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

SN: Why is understanding homeostasis so crucial to understanding consciousness?

Damasio: Homeostasis is central to the entire operation. It’s why we developed consciousness. Once we access feeling, we can then get a mental picture of how the state of life really is in our organism. So, we can get a warning that things are going wrong, and we get suffering. Or, we get a signal that things are reasonably OK, and we can afford to do other things, which is what happens with positive feelings. So I can afford to have this conversation with you because I’m not having a fever; I’m not terribly thirsty, hungry, or I’m not in pain.

SNHow do feelings help an organism manage life?

Damasio: Feelings are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 7:28 pm

A poem on Twitter: “There’s a ghost on the corner of 3rd and Broadway”

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Read it all. It begins:

There’s a ghost on the corner of 3rd and Broadway

I noticed him the other day, as I made a left turn at the light.

He wasn’t there a week ago.

He must be new.

Nobody I recognize, but then again, his face is blurry and indistinct.

I look at him now, and I drive past. 1/  . . .

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Writing

Learning something as a language

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I have long found that the metaphor of “learning x as a language” to be useful. To me it means that you have learned so well all the essential rudiments of x and how those are used and combined, and what they mean alone and in combination, that you no longer think of them but instead focus on the thoughts you express through them. That is, in Timothy Wilson’s terms, the lessons have been learned by your adaptive unconscious.

Language: To learn a language as a language means that you have mastered vocabulary and grammar and idiom and convention and the common literature of that language to the point that those are available to your mind without effort when you need them to express a thought — and in fact they do not even consciously come to mind while still providing reliable guidance (as in grammatical rules and word choice). Thus, you don’t think about the rules but simply express your thought “naturally.” You don’t think of words but ideas, and the appropriate words for those simply appear in your mind, and as you think, appropriate allusions to works in the language are ready at hand.

Fencing: To learn fencing as a language means that you have mastered stance and movement and the various guards (six in sabre fencing) and their use, strengths, and weaknesses, along with various sequences of guards and attacks, so that you simply are thinking the actions directly: you think, and your body moves to express the thought. Two skilled fencers are conversing.

Chess, cooking, playing a musical instrument — all those can be learned as a language, so that you no longer have to consciously think about the basics but instead can focus on your ideas and on expressing your ideas in that medium.

Typing: On a much lower level, once you master touch typing, you don’t think about your fingers or the keys or which key is which letter. You just think of your thought, and as you think, the words appear on thee screen or page. Your conscious mind is busy with the thoughts, not with the typing. (The same, of course, applies to handwriting, once mastered.)

This came to mind on reading this passage which I highlighted in The Hand, by Frank R. Wilson:

While I was in San Diego in 1973 I ran into Ursula Bellugi, a psycholinguist whom I had met before. She took me to her lab, where there were some deaf people signing. While I watched, she translated into English what they were saying. It took me some time to absorb what she had shown me; Ursula explained that sign language is not a code on English—she said, “It seems to be a language. There are rules for making up words and rules for making sentences out of the words, but the rules have to do with space and shape—it’s an entirely different way of doing language.” I was really stunned. It was like being told there’s another ocean that you had never heard of. After a few days of looking into it and digesting it, I began to realize that this meant that language was not about speaking and hearing, which had always been my assumption. It meant that the brain had the capacity for language, and if you can’t put it out through the mouth, you put it out through the hands. (Location 3,555)

That highlighted passage was brought to my attention via an email from Readwise, a useful service for those who use a Kindle as an ebook reader. This is from The Ionian Mission, by Patrick O’Brian:

…his mind drifted back to the days when he too had belonged on the forecastle, when he too had danced to the fiddle and fife, his upper half grave and still, his lower flying – heel and toe, the double Harman, the cut-and-come-again, the Kentish knock, the Bob’s a-dying and its variations in quick succession and (if the weather was reasonably calm) in perfect time. To be sure there was a golden haze over those times and some of the gold was no doubt false, mere pinchbeck at the best; but even so they had an irreplaceable quality of their own – perfect, unthinking health, good company upon the whole, no responsibility apart from the immediate task in hand – and he was thinking of the rare, noisy, strenuous, good-natured fun they had had when hands were piped to mischief as he fell asleep, smiling still. (Location 2,411)

Learning something as a language means that the knowledge has become a part of the person and is used as an expression of the person, a part of the person’s identity.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 6:47 pm

New evidence strongly suggests COVID is natural, not from a lab leak

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Ethan Siegel writes at Big Think:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Although most scientists have compelling reasons to favor a natural origin for SARS-CoV-2, a few prominent biologists have suggested a lab-leak origin for the pandemic.
  • No definitive origin has yet been found, but the discovery of three new strains of coronavirus in bats in Laos strongly suggest a natural origin for the disease, not a lab leak.
  • While it’s not yet possible to rule out the idea of a lab leak entirely, the latest clues strongly point to a natural origin as the most likely scenario.

For approximately the past two years, humanity has suffered beneath the heel of a simple but world-changing organism: the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Since its emergence in humans late in 2019, this virus, and the disease it causes in humans, COVID-19, has ravaged the globe, leading to hundreds of millions of infections, tens of millions of those suffering long-term effects, and millions of deaths.

In addition, human society itself has seen dramatic and polarizing changes. Scientifically, we know that the most effective public health interventions include:

  • avoiding large, crowded, indoor gatherings
  • wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between yourself and those who aren’t members of your household
  • minimizing your contact time with those outside your household
  • giving people the resources they need to stay safely at home when infection rates soar
  • fully vaccinating your body against the virus

However, one question has preoccupied the minds of many: Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? This coronavirus is unlike any other, and this one question has led to two main ideas. One is that the virus occurred naturally and spilled over into humans from human-animal contact. The other is that the virus first emerged in humans from a lab leak, originating from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As 2021 reaches its end, here’s what we know so far about COVID-19’s origins.

The natural origin hypothesis

For decades, humans have been studying how pandemics occur, with an eye toward prevention and countermeasures. Many different fields come together in this endeavor, including virology, immunology, epidemiology, disease ecology, and evolutionary biology, as each group of experts brings its own unique knowledge set. Although it’s oversimplifying matters quite a bit, the basic recipe for pandemic origins goes as follows:

  1. Human civilization, particularly over the past century, expands into previously wild territories.
  2. Habitat . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 6:11 pm

Mishaps in the service of advertising

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Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 5:15 pm

52 Things Jason Kottke Learned in 2021

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Jason Kottke posts some things he learned ln 2021:

For the last few years, I’ve been a fan of Tom Whitwell’s annual list of 52 things he learned during the past year — here’s his list for 2021. This year, I kept track of my own list, presented here in no particular order:

  1. “In Fargo, Carl says ‘30 minutes, Jerry, we wrap this thing up’ when there are exactly 30 minutes of the movie remaining.”
  2. There’s a Boeing 727 cargo plane that’s used exclusively for horse transportation nicknamed Air Horse One.
  3. In March 2020, the Covid-19 testing capacity for all of NYC was 120 tests per day.
  4. “The last time ships got stuck in the Suez Canal [in 1967], they were there for eight years and developed a separate society with its own Olympic Games.”
  5. The pronunciation of the last name of the man who lent his name to Mount Everest (over his objections) is different than the pronunciation of the mountain.
  6. While recording the audiobook version of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White needed 17 takes to read Charlotte’s death scene because he kept crying.
  7. America’s anti-democratic Senate, in one number. “Once Warnock and Ossoff take their seats, the Democratic half of the Senate will represent 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half.”
  8. The first rap video shown on MTV was Rapture by Blondie.
  9. As of 2019, only 54% of Americans accept the theory of evolution. [which is as well established, time-tested, and proven as any scientific theory — plus it can be observed; this statistic shows the prevalence of committed ignorance. – LG]
  10. When CBD is taken orally (as in a pill, food, or beverage), as little as 5% of it enters your bloodstream. “If you’re at the coffee shop and like ‘oh, yeah, give me a CBD,’ you’re just wasting $3.”
  11. The size of FedEx boxes is proprietary. “The size of an official FedEx box, not just its design, is proprietary; it is a volume of space which is a property exclusive to FedEx.”
  12. In golf, finishing four strokes under par on a single hole is called a condor.
  13. A commemorative press plate is given to authors and photographers who have made the front page of the NY Times for the first time.
  14. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good idea: Abolish the USDA, a business lobby that’s a department of the Exective Branch

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Gabriel N. Rosenberg and Jan Dutkiewicz write in the New Republic:

In late April of 2020, many Americans were shocked by the Trump administration’s executive order to keep the nation’s meatpacking plants humming: Covid-19 was tearing through the plants where workers labored, crammed shoulder to shoulder, sickening them and helping to spread the virus in their communities. The companies who owned the plants publicly insisted that shuttering plants would spark a meat shortage and imperil the country’s food supply. Behind the scenes, they used their access with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to shape the executive order and USDA policy, keeping a steady supply of meat flowing to both American supermarkets and lucrative foreign markets. Over the next year, meatpacking plants would lead to 334,000 Covid-19 infections. The mere presence of a beef or pork plant in a community, according to one study, doubled the community’s infection rate.

It’s easy to dismiss this sad saga as another example of malfeasance and mismanagement by the Trump administration. But the truth is that Big Meat has just as much pull with Joe Biden’s USDA. Current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack previously served as the head of the USDA during both of Obama’s terms. Then, after enthusiastically handing the baton to Perdue, he sauntered through the revolving door into the CEO position at the U.S. Dairy Export Council before promptly trotting back to his old cabinet seat with the Democratic victory. At the recent COP26 climate summit, despite the fact that animal agriculture contributes 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, he told reporters, “I do not think we have to reduce the amount of meat or livestock produced in the U.S.” This is just one example of the department’s support for a dysfunctional status quo. Since the start of Joe Biden’s term, the USDA has supported increasing already back-breaking line speeds at slaughterhouses, failed to address racial disparity in loans and grants, and, instead of working to actually reduce American agriculture’s climate footprint, backed bandaid-technofixes like methane bio digesters on factory farms and agricultural carbon offsets.

The USDA, at this point, is so thoroughly captured by big agribusiness that it barely matters which party picks the secretary; whoever serves will ultimately serve mega-corporations and rich farmers. That’s partly because our political system over-represents rural voters and monied interests. But it’s also the product of more banal dysfunctions: poor institutional design, inertia, and mission-drift at an agency built for a different country and a different time.

The USDA was designed for a United States in which a majority of people made their livelihoods, directly or indirectly, from agriculture. That country is long gone. It is replaced by one where very few people—and very few, very large corporations—control food production and distribution to the detriment of American consumers, taxpayers, and workers. If we are to have any hope of fixing what ails the American food system, we need a drastic approach: We need to abolish the USDA. In its place, we need an institution that will prioritize the public interest, including the interests of laborers and eaters, as well as public health and the environment. We need a Department of Food.


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To understand why the USDA is so ill-suited for the present moment, you have to understand its current structure. With a budget of $146 billion and about 100,000 employees, the USDA is a mammoth agency.  It runs three different forms of direct assistance to farmers: commodity support programs, crop insurance, and “conservation” funding, which pays farmers to keep fields fallow or to implement emissions-mitigation programs on their farms. Off the farm, the USDA administers forests through the Forest Service, food safety regulation and oversight through the Food Safety and Inspection Service, rural development initiatives like high-speed broadband through the Rural Utilities Service, agribusiness research and development both directly and through grants, and the promotion and sale of U.S. agricultural commodities in foreign markets. It also administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program, now known as “SNAP”) and other nutrition programs, which together make up just under 80 percent of the agency’s budget. All of this is funded through the sprawling Farm Bills that substantively define U.S. agricultural policy and the USDA’s operations every five years.

There are two big problems here. On the one hand, the USDA is charged with the oxymoronic double mandate of both promoting and regulating all of American agriculture—two disparate tasks that, when combined, effectively put the fox in charge of the henhouse. On the other hand, the department remains focused on the needs of agricultural producers despite the broad social, environmental, and economic impacts of agriculture. In practice, this means that the USDA’s budget and policies must satisfy large farming interests, who demand and often get something in exchange for agreeing to the USDA’s other policies.

These policies also show up in the administration and funding of SNAP, the nation’s biggest—if imperfect—policy solution to food insecurity. Through the Farm Bill, funding for SNAP has been . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 4:46 pm

Three kinetic sculptures by David Roy

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These three sculptures by David C. Roy will be coming to auction soon, but I imagine bidding will be dominated by the ultra-wealthy. Here they are.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 4:07 pm

Cultural Relativism: Do Cultural Norms Make Actions Right and Wrong?

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Cross-cultural moral judgments are always tricky, and certainly Kant labored to produce some axioms of culture-free morality, the main fruit of which was his Categorical Imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” When I searched 1000-Word Philosophy on “categorical imperative,” I found quite a few articles that seem intriguing.

My thought is to condemn, in general, actions that harm oneself or others, though an obvious example is the treatment of those who deliberately, consciously, and with malicious aforethought harm others. They violate the rule about harming others — that is, they do not accept such a rule — so they can scarcely object to punishment that harms them (e.g., financially, loss of liberty, and the like).

The author of the article in 1000-Word Philosophy is Nathan Nobis, and the site notes:

Nathan Nobis is a Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA. He is co-author of Thinking Critically About Abortion, author of Animals & Ethics 101, and the author and co-author of many other writings and materials in philosophy and ethics. NathanNobis.com

He writes:

1. Understanding Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism proposes that what is ethical is relative to, or depends on, cultural attitudes:

  • if a culture disapproves of people doing an action, then it is wrong for people in that culture to do that action;
  • if a culture approves of people doing an action, then it is not wrong for people in that culture to do that action.[4]

Cultural relativism is not the empirical observation, accepted as true by everyone, that different cultures sometimes have different ethical views, or that what people believethink, or feel about the morality of an action is sometimes “relative” to the culture they are in.

Cultural relativism is a theory of what makes actions right and wrong. The “don’t judge!” and “be tolerant!” reactions above might be based on it and reasoning like this:

“People in other cultures aren’t doing anything wrong because ethics is determined by cultural attitudes: so they shouldn’t be judged; they should be tolerated.”

2. Cultural Relativism’s Implications

We can better understand cultural relativism by thinking about what follows from it:[5]

if cultural relativism were true or correct, then:

1. the majority view on any moral issue is always correct;

relativism identifies the majority view with what’s ethically correct in that culture, so the majority view is always correct, no matter what;

2. people who criticize majority views and advocate for change are always wrong:

since according to relativism, majority views are always correct, anyone who critiques them must be mistaken;

3. what’s ethical is identified by opinion polls;

according to relativism, to find out whether an action is ethical or not, we survey the population to find the majority view: research, reflection, and wise guidance aren’t needed;

4. there is only cultural change, never progress or improvement:

according to relativism, if, e.g., a culture approved of slavery then slavery was not wrong in that culture at that time; if that culture came to reject slavery, then slavery would become wrong in that culture; this, however, was not moral improvement or progress since slavery earlier was not wrong according to relativism: there was merely a change of views.

Many people think these implications show that relativism is a false theory since the majority isn’t always right, cultural critics are sometimes correct, opinion polls don’t tell us what is really ethical, and cultural views really can improve and, unfortunately, decline.

3. Arguments For Cultural Relativism

What can be said for cultural relativism? What’s appealing about it?

3.1. Tolerance

Some people argue

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 2:33 pm

Capitol Rioter Admits False Statements to FBI, but Prosecutors Haven’t Charged Him With a Felony

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The reason, I imagine, is that the FBI is strongly conservative and so has considerable sympathy for the “patriots” who attacked the Capitol. Certainly, Muslims who lie to the FBI get no slack.

Trevor Aaronson reports in the Intercept:

IT WASN’T HARD for the FBI to identify Jeff Grace as one of the rioters in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. A 61-year-old long-haul truck driver from Washington state, Grace was in the background of one of the most ridiculous and iconic photographs from that day: the shot of a man in a red, white, and blue Trump hat waving to the camera while carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern through the rotunda. Grace’s bald head was visible in the background.

“You know the guy carrying the lectern out?” Grace would later ask a Texas police officer, in a video Grace recorded and posted online during a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border while he was on pretrial release.

“Yes, sir,” the officer responded.

“Look at the old man behind him,” Grace boasted. “That’s me.”

FBI agents arrested Grace at his home in Battle Ground, Washington, near the Oregon border, about three weeks after the Capitol riot.

According to a review of court records by The Intercept in collaboration with the Prosecution Project, Grace is one of 707 Americans charged in federal court in the District of Columbia with crimes related to the January 6 riot, during which five people died. As with 316 of those criminal defendants, or 45 percent of the total, Grace faces only misdemeanor charges for his part in a violent mob that overran barricades and killed and injured police officers at the Capitol as part of an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president

After his arrest, Grace told FBI agents that he had lost track of his son, Jeremy, with whom he had traveled from Washington state, during the melee and that he entered the U.S. Capitol without him. He also denied to federal agents that he was a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right militant group that has been responsible for violence throughout the United States.

According to The Intercept’s analysis of federal court records, the Justice Department has charged at least 47 alleged members and affiliates of the Proud Boys with crimes related to the Capitol riot, including some with conspiring to obstruct a congressional proceeding. The Proud Boys represented the largest militant-group contingent during the insurrection; the far-right Oath Keepers made up the second-largest contingent, with 29 alleged Oath Keepers charged for their roles in the insurrection. The FBI appeared to be concerned in advance about possible violence from the Proud Boys on January 6, 2021, with at least one informant providing firsthand details about the group’s activities to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors allege that Grace made two false statements to FBI agents: when he said he wasn’t with his son in the Capitol and when he said he wasn’t a member of the Proud Boys. Grace’s son has since also been charged with misdemeanors related to the January 6 riot, after investigators found videos among deleted files on Grace’s phone showing father and son together inside the Capitol.

Months after Grace pleaded not guilty to the federal misdemeanor charges, Justice Department prosecutors alleged in court that he engaged in armed clashes in Texas and Oregon. Prosecutors asked a judge to force Grace to relinquish his guns while he awaits trial. “Grace’s recent escalation in which he twice brought a firearm to pre-planned confrontations with others and vowed to continue doing so establishes that the proposed amendment is reasonably necessary to protect the safety of the community,” Mona Sedky, a federal prosecutor, wrote in a court filing.

A judge agreed and ordered Grace to turn over his guns to local police in Washington state. But the Justice Department has not brought additional charges for Grace’s false statements to the FBI, which would transform Grace’s case into a far more serious prosecution. Making false statements to FBI agents is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and in international terrorism cases, prosecutors commonly file the charge. More than 150 defendants with alleged links to foreign terror groups have been charged with making false statements since 9/11, often for alleged offenses similar to Grace’s: misleading statements about their involvement in extremist groups or about people with whom they’re associated.

Grace has complained in videos he’s posted to YouTube that the Justice Department is treating him unfairly. “How do you feel free thinking that I don’t deserve to carry my firearms?” Grace asked in one video.

But Grace is in fact benefiting from a long-running double standard in how the Justice Department prosecutes violent domestic extremists compared with extremists associated with international groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Since 9/11, for example, Muslims involved in bombing cases are often charged with using weapons of mass destruction, an anti-terrorism charge that comes with decades in prison, while anti-abortion extremists who’ve bombed reproductive health clinics have faced lesser explosives charges for similar crimes.

“There is no question that the FBI and federal prosecutors have treated white supremacist and far-right violence far more leniently than Muslims they accuse of supporting terrorism and even more leniently than nonviolent protesters opposing racism and police violence,” said Michael German, a former FBI undercover agent who investigated domestic extremists and is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

The felony charge of making false statements to federal agents is particularly emblematic of the double standard. The Justice Department gave Grace a pass on the charge, but federal prosecutors have not been as generous in similar cases involving alleged Islamist extremists.

A few months after prosecutors charged Grace for his role in the Capitol riot, for example, they . . ..

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 2:13 pm

January 6th was part of something larger — that we must confront now

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David Troy writes in Medium:

In 2009, Peter Thiel said, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” There exists today a coordinated effort to eliminate democracy, driven by libertarian billionaires like Thiel, a global network of anti-tax advocates, white supremacists, oil interests, and organized crime, all aligned in common purpose. This is incompatible with this country’s founding principles and must be countered forcefully.

The January 6th insurrection was an attack on American democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. A broader view of history reveals that this was just one facet of a much larger effort by the fossil fuel industry to destroy governments in its way using psychological warfare (including movement infiltrationtargeting lawmakers with sophisticated influence campaigns, and fake front groups), and pushing for changes in monetary policy.

We are at a crossroads. The global fossil fuel industry thinks in terms of decades and centuries. American democracy operates on two and four year cycles. The two are simply no match. Oil revenues can purchase influence and astroturfing cheaply, totally overwhelming our democracy. And once American democracy falls, others are not far behind.

We must, before it’s too late, bring the influence of the carbon fuel industry under control, and curb cryptocurrencies through strong regulation and taxation. As weather disasters become increasingly dire, we must confront the fact that attacks on democracy and monetary policy are in fact attacks on the planet. And we must stand up against the international fascist network seeking to use America’s collapse as a blueprint.

The current assault is a culmination of about 100 years of effort. In 1933, a network associated with the National Association of Manufacturers and the petroleum industry attempted to recruit Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler to overthrow the government, leading an army of “500,000 veteran super-soldiers” to capture or kill FDR, and reinstate the gold standard he had abandoned to fund the New Deal. They studied emerging fascism in Italy and France to plan their attack; Butler turned the plotters in to Congress.

The far right Council for National Policy, one network whose members planned and executed the January 6th attack, was created in 1981 with funding from the Hunt Brothers — oil billionaires whose net worth was sufficiently threatened by inflation that they attempted to corner the global silver market the year before. The idea of “sound money,” out of reach of central banks like the Federal Reserve, has long been a fixation of oil barons.

Koch Industries, through its network of affiliates such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, ALEC and the Federalist Society, has funded multiple efforts to obstruct the transition from carbon fuels, including the 5–4 capture of the Supreme Court. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has documented this Koch operation in a series of 10 speeches on the Senate Floor.

Today’s GOP agenda has been so overtaken by the Koch brand of libertarianism, powered by Austrian-school economics and funding from the Mercer, Scaife, Bradley, and Olin families, as to be indistinguishable from the 1980 libertarian party platform in which Vice Presidential candidate David Koch proposed nothing less than the dismantling of the administrative state — a concept later echoed by Steve Bannon and his Council for National Policy (CNP) counterparts.

Dr. Robert Brulle, a visiting scholar at Brown University, found that in recent decades, the oil and gas industry has increasingly shifted its focus from funding relatively ineffective and inexpensive “climate denial science” to spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year on population-centered psychological warfare and influence campaigns focused on “climate obstruction.”

Another key front in the effort to obstruct climate regulation is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 1:56 pm

Late start, good shave, blade observations

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The brush today has a very pleasant loft. This is my $35 silvertip from Whipped Dog, and I purchased it at a time when the prevailing idea was to seat the knot at a greater depth than standard (thus making the knot less soft by reducing volume, tilting it toward the scrubby). I went with the standard depth because I like a fluffy, gentle knot that has generous lather capacity, and the brush is quite pleasing (as well as quite a bargain). 

You can still get a silvertip 22mm knot with a standard handle for $35 ($8 handle, $27 knot), though I don’t see this octagonal handle, which I especially like. I’ve not been to the website for some time, and he has spruced it up quite a bit. Note that ther\e is also a “high mountain” knot — also a silvertip, but two-band instead of three. The high mountain knot might be more resilient than the (three-band) silvertip knot.

I do like this little brush a lot, and it loaded easily from Ariana & Evans Tertius shaving soap, which boasts a fine fragrance and a luxurious lather. 

The RazoRock Game Changer .68-P is a very nice razor, but getting a smooth result this morning took more time and effort than it should, and so I realized that it was time to change the blade (just as you know it’s time to sharpen the knife when it does not easily slice a tomato). Some brands of blades will go crazy at the end and start nicking furiously (“Do not go gentle into that good night”), while others, like old soldiers, quietly fade away. The Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge that was in the razor was of the latter persuasion, and sighed its way to a quiet passing. I replaced it following the shave with a new Astra Keramik Platinum, a gift from a generous reader.

A splash of Alt Innsbruck ended the shave, and the menthol seemed excessive this morning. I did try to tame it with two squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel, but it still had quite an effect. 

But that is over, and now I’m making a mug of Murchie’s excellent Hatley Castle tea. I like it so much I wanted to know what was in it so I could look for similar teas, so I emailed Murchies. They replied:

Hatley Castle Tea is a green-black blend and is about 92% black tea (mostly Ceylon), and 8% green tea (jasmine and keemun). If you would like to try a black tea with a similar strength, please take a look at our Ceylon Uva Highland or our 1894 Select Orange Pekoe. Or, if you are looking into a green-black blend, the CBC Radio Blend is really great.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Shaving

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