Later On

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

Archive for January 11th, 2022

A determined effort to destroy the United States

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If this isn’t domestic terrorism and sedition, I don’t know what is. Heather Cox Richardson:

January 11, 2022 (Tuesday)

The United States came perilously close to losing its democracy in 2020, when an incumbent president refused to accept the results of an election he lost and worked with supporters to declare himself the winner and remain in power.

We are learning more about how that process happened.

Yesterday, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol revealed that it has been looking at attempts to overturn the election not just at the national level but also at the state level. It has gathered thousands of records and interviewed a number of witnesses to see what Trump and his loyalists did to overturn the 2020 election in the four crucial states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

In those states, officials generally tried to ignore the pressure from Trump and his loyalists to overturn the election. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, was uncomfortable enough with a call from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on the subject that he recorded a call in which Trump urged him to “find” the votes Trump needed to win the state.

In Pennsylvania, right-wing Republican Representative Scott Perry tried to throw out Pennsylvania’s votes for Biden and to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen (who took over when Attorney General William Barr resigned on December 23) with Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department lawyer who promised to challenge the election results.

But it turns out there was more. We knew that Trump supporters in Wisconsin had submitted fake election certificates to the National Archivist, but yesterday, public records requests by Politico revealed that Trump loyalists in Michigan and Arizona also submitted false certificates to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) declaring Trump the winner of Michigan’s and Arizona’s electoral votes. In Arizona, they actually affixed the state seal to their papers. NARA rejected the false certificates and alerted the secretaries of state. (Shout-out here to the NARA archivists and librarians, who are scrupulous in their roles as the keepers of our national history.)

Today, the committee issued more subpoenas, this time for documents and testimony from Andy Surabian, Arthur Schwartz, and Ross Worthington. Surabian and Schwartz were strategists communicating with Donald Trump, Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle about the rally on the Ellipse on January 6 before the crowd broke into the Capitol. Worthington helped to write the speech Trump gave at the rally.

The committee today also debunked a story circulating on right-wing media that government agencies rather than Trump loyalists were behind the January 6 insurrection. Arizona resident Ray Epps was captured on video in Washington on January 5 and 6, and Trump allies, including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have argued that he was a government agent trying to entrap Trump supporters. The committee says that it interviewed Epps and that he had told the members “he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any other time, and that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.”

“Sorry crazies, it ain’t true,” committee member Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted.

As the attack on our country has become clearer, the determination to restore our democracy has gained momentum.

Today, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took to the road to champion voting rights. They went to the district of the late Representative John Lewis, the Georgia congressman for whom one of the voting rights bills before the Senate is named.

Lewis was beaten by mobs and arrested 24 times in his quest to regain the vote for Black Americans. On March 7, 1965, as  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 9:53 pm

The Police Will Never Change In America. My experience in police academy.

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Using a temporary username, a person posted the following on Reddit:

Throwaway for obvious reasons. If you feel If i’m just bitter due to my dismissal please call me out on it as I need a wake up call.

Over the fall semester I was a police recruit at a Community Colleges Police Academy in a midwestern liberal city. I have always wanted to be a police officer, and I felt like I could help kickstart a change of new wave cops. I am passionate about community oriented policing, making connections with the youth in policing, and changing lives on a individual level. I knew police academy would be mentally and physically challenging, but boy oh boy does policing need to change.

Instructors taught us to view citizens as enemy combatants, and told us we needed a warrior mindset and that we were going into battle everyday. It felt like i was joining a cult. Instructors told us supporting our fellow police officers were more important than serving citizens. Instructors told us that we were joining a big bad gang of police officers and that protecting the thin blue line was sacred. Instructors told us George Floyd wasn’t a problem and was just one bad officer. I tried to push back on some of these ideas and posed to an instructor that 4 other officers watched Chauvin pin Floyd to the ground and did nothing, and perhaps they did nothing because they were trained in academy to never speak against a senior officer. I was told to “shut my fucking face, and that i had no idea what i was talking about.”

Sadly, Instructors on several occasions, and most shockingly in the first week asked every person who supported Black Lives Matter to raise their hands. I and about a third of the class did. They told us that we should seriously consider not being police officers if we supported anti-cop organizations. They told us BLM was a terrible organization and to get out if we supported them. Instructors repeatedly made anti-LGBT comments and transphobic comments.

Admittedly I was the most progressive and put a target on my back for challenging instructor viewpoints. This got me disciplined, yelled at, and made me not want to be a cop. We had very little training on de-escalation and community policing. We had no diversity or ethics training.

Despite all this I made it to the final day. I thought if I could just get through this I could get hired and make a difference in the community as a cop and not be subject to academy paramilitary crap. The police academy dismissed me on the final day because I failed a PT test that I had passed multiple times easily in the academy leading up to this day. I asked why I failed and they said my push up form was bad and they were being more strict now it was the final. I responded saying if you counted my pushups in the entrance and midterm tests than they should count now. I was dismissed on the final day of police academy and have to take a whole academy over again. I have no plan to retake the whole academy and I feel like quality police officers are dismissed because they don’t fit the instructors’ cookie-cutter image of a warrior police officer and the instructors can get rid of them with saying their form doesn’t count on a subjective sit up or push up tests. I was beyond tears and bitterly disappointed. Maybe policing is just that fucked in America.

The warrior-mindset (vs. the guardian-mindset) training is indeed prevalent, and specifically viewing every citizen as a potential hostile threat — see, for example, this article. And it is common for those who have power in a particular organizational culture will use that power to resist changes to the culture (which, they fear, will mean a reduction in their own power).

The comments to the post are worth reading — and see also this Harvard Law Review article on the problem of the warrior mindset and this article that advocates in favor of a warrior mindset.

BTW, I believe a warrior mindset is totally appropriate in soldiers in a shooting war, and totally inappropriate in an organization that is supposed to be a guardian of the public’s safety and Constitutional rights — and even the accused have rights, something many police disapprove of (because the public is the Enemy).

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 5:59 pm

Bottle-to-Bottle Honey Production | Contactless Beekeeping

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This is weird but interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Video

Apple Peels Put to the Test for Chronic Joint Pain

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Michael Greger has an interesting blog post, which begins:

Are the health benefits associated with apple consumption simply due to other healthy behaviors among apple-eaters?

Regular apple intake is associated with all sorts of benefits, such as living longer and, more specifically, a lower risk of dying from cancer. At 0:17 in my video Apple Peels Put to the Test for Chronic Joint Pain, you can see the survival curve of elderly women. Of those who do not eat an apple a day, nearly a quarter had died after 10 years and nearly half were gone after 15 years. In comparison, those who eat on average about half an apple a day don’t die as young, and those eating one daily apple—more than three and a half daily ounces, which is around a cup of apple slices—lived even longer. Is it possible that people who eat apples every day just happen to practice other healthy behaviors, like exercising more or not smoking, and that’s why they’re living longer? The study controlled for obesity, smoking status, poverty, diseases, exercise, and more, so the researchers really could compare apples to apples (so to speak). 

What they didn’t control for, however, was an otherwise more healthful diet. As you can see at 1:04 in my video, studies show that those who regularly eat apples not only have higher intakes of nutrients like fiber that are found in the fruit, but they’re also eating less added sugar and less saturated fat. In other words, they’re eating overall more healthful diets, so it’s no wonder apple-eaters live longer. But, is apple-eating just a marker for healthful eating, or is there something about the apples themselves that’s beneficial? You don’t know, until you put it to the test. 

Given that “athletes use a variety of common strategies to stimulate arousal, cognition, and performance before morning training,” subjects were randomly assigned to a caffeinated energy drink, black coffee, an apple, or nothing at all in the morning. Did the apple hold its weight? Yes, it appeared to work just as well as the caffeinated beverages. The problem with these kinds of studies, though, is that they’re not blinded. Those in the apple group knew they were eating an apple, so there may have been an expectation bias—a placebo effect—that made them unconsciously give that extra bit of effort in the testing and skew the results. You can’t just stuff a whole apple into a pill. 

That’s why researchers instead test specific extracted apple components, which allows them to perform a double-blind, placebo-controlled study where half the subjects get the fruit elements and the other half get a sugar pill, and you don’t know until the end who got which. The problem there, however, is that you’re no longer dealing with a whole food, removing the symphony of interactions between the thousands of phytonutrients in the whole apple.

Most of those special nutrients are concentrated in the peel, though. Instead of just dumping millions of pounds of nutrition in the trash, why couldn’t researchers just dry and powder the peels into opaque capsules to disguise them and then run blinded studies with those? Even just a “small amount could greatly increase phytochemical content and antioxidant activity…”

The meat industry got the memo. A study found that “dried apple peel powder decreases microbial expansion” in meat and protects against carcinogen production when it’s cooked. One of the carcinogens formed during the grilling of meat is a beta-carboline alkaloid—a neurotoxin that may be “a potential contributor to the development of neurological diseases including Parkinson’s disease.” Uncooked meat doesn’t have any. The neurotoxin is formed when meat is cooked, but you can cut the levels in half by first marinating it with dried apple peel powder, as you can see at 3:27 in my video.

Apple peel also . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Chicago Amazon Workers Lead First-Ever Multi-Warehouse Walkouts

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See this post from earlier today.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Daily life, Unions, Video

Butler Soy Curls roasted with homemade BBQ sauce

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Cast photo

I mentioned some ideas about this in an earlier post, but as always, some changes occur in production. I realize now that Butler Soy Curls are as close to a whole food as a prepared food gets: soybeans 

Our soybeans are grown in the USA on a family farm, certified Non-GMO and grown without chemical pesticides. We soak the beans in spring water (no chlorine). Then the beans are stirred while being cooked. Soy Curls™ are dried at low temperature thus ensuring the natural goodness of the whole soybean high in fiber and omega-3.

Soy Curls™ are one of the most pure, healthful products on the market containing no chemicals, additives, or preservatives

I have several bags of them, and I keep them in the produce drawer in the refrigerator.

Here is the BBQ sauce I ended up making:


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Homemade BBQ Sauce, V. 2

• 3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 
• 1 Meyer lemon, ends removed and halved and each half quartered
• 1/2 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke

Put that into the beaker for the immersion blender and blend well, then pour into a saucepan: Set aside.

Remove core and seeds from:

• 2 dried ancho chiles
• 2 dried guajillo chiles
• 3 dried chile de arbol

Heat a skillet, add chiles, toast briefly. Here I’m following the method shown starting at 0:50 in this video. 

After the chiles cool, put them into a spice and herb grinder and grind briefly. To get them to actually grind, you will have to tear them up (or cut them up with scissors).

Full disclosure: after watching the video at the link, I bought the Cuisinart SG-10 she uses, except in Canada the prevalent model is the SG-10C — same except for the color of the plastic cap. 

After the chiles have been ground, add to the grinder:

• 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
• 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt

After adding all that, grind the spices and herbs well, to a fine powder, and add that to the saucepan with the blended tomatoes, garlic, lemon, and liquid smoke. Then also add:

• 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
• 1 tablespoons tomato paste (from a tube works best)
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce (can substitute tamari or soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce)
• 1 tablespoon Huy Fong Sriracha

Stir to mix and simmer for five minutes or so. Taste for sweet/acid balance, and add some apple-cider vinegar (1-2 teaspoons) if more acid is needed. 


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I then follow the method shown by Derek Simnett at 11:50 in this video. I got a timing from another recipe: 380ºF in the preheated Cosori air fryer for 10 minutes total: 5 minutes, shake, 5 more minutes. With my Cosori, I just set it for 10 minutes and after 5 minutes it beeps to remind me to shake the basket.

The curls are soaking now. I’ll update this after I’ve cooked and tried them.


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Verdict — Excellent. I’ll experiment with the time — perhaps 12 minutes — but very tasty. Soy Curls have a neutral taste, so they contribute texture (and protein and fiber, etc.) while the flavor comes mostly from the sauce, and this recipe seems good: spicy but not too hot, and with good depth of flavor. Next time I might add:

• 1 square Baker’s unsweetened chocolate; or 1 packet Starbuck’s instant coffee.

There is sauce left over, so I might make this again.
 

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 2:01 pm

Why does experiencing ‘flow’ feel so good? A communication scientist explains

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Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who originated the idea of “flow,” is a favorite author (whose books appear in my list of repeatedly recommended books). In The Conversation, Richard Huskey, Assistant Professor of Communication and Cognitive Science, University of California, Davism, discusses the mental state of flow:

New years often come with new resolutions. Get back in shape. Read more. Make more time for friends and family. My list of resolutions might not look quite the same as yours, but each of our resolutions represents a plan for something new, or at least a little bit different. As you craft your 2022 resolutions, I hope that you will add one that is also on my list: feel more flow.

Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s research on flow started in the 1970s. He has called it the “secret to happiness.” Flow is a state of “optimal experience” that each of us can incorporate into our everyday lives. One characterized by immense joy that makes a life worth living.

In the years since, researchers have gained a vast store of knowledge about what it is like to be in flow and how experiencing it is important for our overall mental health and well-being. In short, we are completely absorbed in a highly rewarding activity – and not in our inner monologues – when we feel flow.

I am an assistant professor of communication and cognitive science, and I have been studying flow for the last 10 years. My research lab investigates what is happening in our brains when people experience flow. Our goal is to better understand how the experience happens and to make it easier for people to feel flow and its benefits.

What it is like to be in flow?

People often say flow is like “being in the zone.” Psychologists Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi describe it as something more. When people feel flow, they are in a state of intense concentration. Their thoughts are focused on an experience rather than on themselves. They lose a sense of time and feel as if there is a merging of their actions and their awareness. That they have control over the situation. That the experience is not physically or mentally taxing.

Most importantly, flow is what researchers call an autotelic experience. Autotelic derives from two Greek words: autos (self) and telos (end or goal). Autotelic experiences are things that are worth doing in and of themselves. Researchers sometimes call these intrinsically rewarding experiences. Flow experiences are intrinsically rewarding.

What causes flow?

Flow occurs when a task’s challenge is balanced with one’s skill. In fact, both the task challenge and skill level have to be high. I often tell my students that they will not feel flow when they are doing the dishes. Most people are highly skilled dishwashers, and washing dishes is not a very challenging task.

So when do people experience flow? Csíkszentmihályi’s research in the 1970s focused on people doing tasks they enjoyed. He studied swimmers, music composers, chess players, dancers, mountain climbers and other athletes. He went on to study how people can find flow in more everyday experiences. I am an avid snowboarder, and I regularly feel flow on the mountain. Other people feel it by practicing yoga – not me, unfortunately! – by riding their bike, cooking or going for a run. So long as that task’s challenge is high, and so are your skills, you should be able to achieve flow.

Researchers also know that people can experience flow by using interactive media, like playing a video game. In fact, Csíkszentmihályi said that “games are obvious flow activities, and play is the flow experience par excellence.” Video game developers are very familiar with the idea, and they think hard about how to design games so that players feel flow.

Flow occurs when a task’s challenge – and one’s skills at the task – are both high. Adapted from Nakamura/Csíkszentmihályi, CC BY-NC-ND

Why is it good to feel flow?

Earlier I said that Csíkszentmihályi called flow “the secret to happiness.” Why is that? For one thing, the experience can help people pursue their long-term goals. This is because research shows that taking a break to do something fun can help enhance one’s self-control, goal pursuit and well-being.

So next time you are feeling like a guilty couch potato for playing a video game, remind yourself that you are actually doing something that can help set you up for long-term success and well-being. Importantly, quality – and not necessarily quantity – matters. Research shows that spending a lot of time playing video games only has a very small influence on your overall well-being. Focus on finding games that help you feel flow, rather than on spending more time playing games.

A recent study also shows that flow helps . . .

Continue reading. There’s more. And Csíkszentmihályi’s books are also good.

BTW, that graph is somewhat misleading. Csíkszentmihályi notes that the difficulty of the task must not be too high, or you will experience anxiety, not flow. He suggests a task that requires about 85-90% of our capability — too little, and you become bored and eventually distracted; too much, and you become anxious and self-conscious. At the sweet spot you lose yourself in the task, like swimming in a calm pond.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 12:13 pm

Average citizens have no measurable impact on public policy

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Here’s an article by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, who also wrote the book Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It. An abstract of the article (which itself is worth reading — and see also the previous post):

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.



American Democracy?

Each of our four theoretical traditions (Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, Majoritarian Interest Group Pluralism, and Biased Pluralism) emphasizes different sets of actors as critical in determining U.S. policy outcomes, and each tradition has engendered a large empirical literature that seems to show a particular set of actors to be highly influential. Yet nearly all the empirical evidence has been essentially bivariate. Until very recently it has not been possible to test these theories against each other in a systematic, quantitative fashion.

By directly pitting the predictions of ideal-type theories against each other within a single statistical model (using a unique data set that includes imperfect but useful measures of the key independent variables for nearly two thousand policy issues), we have been able to produce some striking findings. One is the nearly total failure of “median voter” and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

Interest groups do have substantial independent impacts on policy, and a few groups (particularly labor unions) represent average citizens’ views reasonably well. But the interest group system as a whole does not. Over-all, net interest group alignments are not significantly related to the preferences of average citizens. The net alignments of the most influential, business oriented groups are negatively related to the average citizen’s wishes. So existing interest groups do not serve effectively as transmission belts for the wishes of the populace as a whole.

Furthermore, the preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically elite citizens who wield the actual influence.

What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

A possible objection to populistic democracy is that average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support.

But we tend to doubt it. We believe instead that – collectively – ordinary citizens generally know their own values and interests pretty well, and that their expressed policy preferences are worthy of respect. Moreover, we are not so sure about the informational advantages of elites. Yes, detailed policy knowledge tends to rise with income and status. Surely wealthy Americans and corporate executives tend to know a lot about tax and regulatory policies that directly affect them. But how much do they know about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance, none of which is likely to be crucial to their own well-being? Most important, we see no reason to think that informational expertise is always accompanied by an inclination to transcend one’s own interests or a determination to work for the common good.

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

As a comment by Don McCanne, MD points out:

Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page present historical data that show that average Americans, even when represented by majoritarian interest groups, have negligible influence in shaping public policy. In sharp contrast, the economic elites and their business-oriented interest groups wield tremendous influence in public policy.

Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez have shown that the flow of income to the top has resulted in a concentration of wealth that is not only self-sustaining but likely to perpetuate the transfer of more wealth to the wealthiest, at a cost to everyone else.

This combination – a concentration of wealth at the top with the domination of policymaking by the economic elite, does not bode well for new policies that would be established for the common good.

In health care reform, the common good would have been served by improving coverage through the removal of financial barriers to care and by expanding coverage to everyone. Instead, the interests of the economic elite were served by increasing the market for private insurance products that, for the majority, increased financial barriers to care and reduced choice of providers, while leaving tens of millions of the most vulnerable without any coverage. More wealth moves to the passive investors at the top, while the deterioration in coverage requires average Americans to spend more out-of-pocket through higher deductibles.

We desperately need a well-designed single payer system if we want everyone to have the health care that they should have. At this point it appears that the economic elites are not going to allow single payer, and we will have no say.

Even though our Constitution laid the plans for a democracy, by fiat we now have a plutarchy (plutocratic oligarchy). Although Gilens and Page have shown that our Majoritarian Electoral Democracy has “only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” perhaps the people can still change that. Although recent history demonstrates citizen inertia, that does not necessarily lock in the future. Think of Social Security, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Act.

A decade ago, in a book review for the NEJM on . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 12:04 pm

To wake from a dream and embrace reality — if only

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In Jacobin magazine:

In an essay penned shortly before his death, David Graeber argued that post-pandemic, we can’t slip back into a reality where the way our society is organized — to serve every whim of a small handful of rich people while debasing and degrading the vast majority of us — is seen as sensible or reasonable.

And then they post this essay that David Graeber wrote:

At some point in the next few months, the crisis will be declared over, and we will be able to return to our “nonessential” jobs. For many, this will be like waking from a dream.

The media and political classes will definitely encourage us to think of it this way. This is what happened after the 2008 financial crash. There was a brief moment of questioning. (What is “finance,” anyway? Isn’t it just other people’s debts? What is money? Is it just debt, too? What’s debt? Isn’t it just a promise? a If money and debt are just a collection of promises we make to each other, then couldn’t we just as easily make different ones?) The window was almost instantly shut by those insisting we shut up, stop thinking, and get back to work, or at least start looking for it.

Last time, most of us fell for it. This time, it is critical that we do not.

Because, in reality, the crisis we just experienced was waking from a dream, a confrontation with the actual reality of human life, which is that we are a collection of fragile beings taking care of one another, and that those who do the lion’s share of this care work that keeps us alive are overtaxed, underpaid, and daily humiliated, and that a very large proportion of the population don’t do anything at all but spin fantasies, extract rents, and generally get in the way of those who are making, fixing, moving, and transporting things, or tending to the needs of other living beings. It is imperative that we not slip back into a reality where all this makes some sort of inexplicable sense, the way senseless things so often do in dreams.

How about this: Why don’t we stop treating it as entirely normal that the more obviously one’s work benefits others, the less one is likely to be paid for it; or insisting that financial markets are the best way to direct long-term investment even as they are propelling us to destroy most life on Earth?

Why not instead, once the current emergency is declared over, actually remember what we’ve learned: that if “the economy” means anything, it is the way we provide each other with what we need to be alive (in every sense of the term), that what we call “the market” is largely just a way of tabulating the aggregate desires of rich people, most of whom are at least slightly pathological, and the most powerful of whom were already completing the designs for the bunkers they plan to escape to if we continue to be foolish enough to believe their minions’ lectures that we were all, collectively, too lacking in basic common sense do anything about oncoming catastrophes.

This time around, can we please just ignore them?

Most of the work we’re currently doing is dream-work. It exists only for its own sake, or to make rich people feel good about themselves, or to make poor people feel bad about themselves. And if we simply stopped, it might be possible to make ourselves a much more reasonable set of promises: for instance, to create an “economy” that lets us actually take care of the people who are taking care of us.

And in this connection, see the next post.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 12:03 pm

The Dead Sea and a good slant: Great start to the day

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The Dead Sea is a soap that truly enjoys a brush that’s almost dry, so I shook this RazoRock Italian-flag synthetic extremely well. As I loaded, I did once add a small driblet of water, and once my face was covered with lather, I worked in a little more water, but this soap — which smells wonderful — doesn’t need much at all.

Another slant today, the RazoRock German 37, whose head is a clone of the Merkur 37 but uses a three-piece design so I can swap handles if I want (an advantage, IMO). Slants deliver a very smooth shave, and my face this morning feels as though I had shaved a two-day stubble.

A splash of Chiseled Face’s Ghost Town Barber, with a squirt of Hydrating Gel, and the day is launched — rather late, but I’ve been busy.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 11:28 am

Posted in Shaving

Can a President do nothing illegal while in office?

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Trump and his loyalists/minions certainly seem to think that Trump cannot be held legally accountable for anything he did while in office. Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Today, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta held a hearing in Washington, D.C., to determine whether three lawsuits against former president Trump and a number of his loyalists should be permitted to go forward.

The lawsuits have been filed by Democratic members of the House and Capitol Police officers injured on January 6 against Trump, lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), and others. The plaintiffs are trying to hold Trump and his team liable in a civil suit for inciting the January 6 insurrection.

But the questions in these three cases mirror those being discussed by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and touch on whether the former president committed a crime by inciting insurrection or by standing back while the rioters stopped the official proceedings of Congress (which itself is a crime).

Most significantly, Judge Mehta grappled with the meaning of Trump’s refusal to call off the rioters for 187 crucial minutes during the insurrection as they stormed the Capitol. This is a key factor on which the January 6th committee is focused, and Mehta dug into it.

While Trump’s lawyer tried to argue that the president could not be in trouble for failing to do something—that is, for failing to call off the rioters—the judge wondered if Trump’s long silence indicated that he agreed with the insurrectionists inside the Capitol. “If my words had been misconstrued…and they led to violence, wouldn’t somebody, the reasonable person, just come out and say, wait a second, stop?” he asked.

The judge also tried to get at the answer to whether the actions of Trump and his loyalists at the rally were protected as official speech, or were part of campaign activities, which are not protected. Brooks told the judge that everything he did—including wearing body armor to tell the crowd to fight—was part of his official duties. The Department of Justice said this summer that it considered the rally a campaign event and would not defend Brooks for his part in it.

Trump’s lawyer, Jesse Binnall, argued that Trump is absolutely immune from any legal consequences for anything he said while president. “So the president, in your view, is both immune to inciting the riot and failing to stop it?” Mehta asked.

When Binnall suggested the judge was holding Trump to a different standard than he would hold a Democrat, Mehta called the charge “simply inappropriate.”

For all their bluster before the media, key figures in the events of January 6 appear to be increasingly uncomfortable. Last night, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined other Trump administration figures when he announced that he would not appear before the January 6th committee. It has asked him to testify voluntarily, since he has acknowledged that he spoke to Trump on January 6, and since the committee has at least one text from him appearing to embrace the theory that the election results could be overturned.

Jordan claimed that the committee has no legitimate legislative purpose, although a judge has said otherwise.

Observers today noted that Jordan is denying that he recognizes the authority of Congress, and pointed out that in 2015, then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, in fact, recognize that authority when she testified for 11 hours before ​​a Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Today, establishment Republicans showed some resistance to Trump’s attempt to remake the Republican Party as his own when they . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 3:17 am

How our ancestors used to sleep can help the sleep-deprived today

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Full disclosure: In retirement, I have found my sleeping pattern to often be biphasic a first sleep,. a period of being awake (like now, at 2:45am), generally lasting 60-90 minutes, and then a second sleep, with both the first and second sleep being quite sound. That is, I don’t get up because I am sleeping poorly and am restless. Instead, I have a good sound sleep, become awake and get up, then return to bed as I become sleepy again, usually in 55-65 minutes though sometimes a little longer (but seldom shorter).

When I was in high school, I think, I read a comment that if you awaken in the night and you’re awake for 20 minutes, it’s best to just get up and read until you’re sleepy again, and that’s the pattern I’ve followed. However, during my working life I mostly tried (successfully) to sleep through the night because I had to get up early to get ready to be at work at the specified time — and with a commute, that might mean getting up quite early.

This CNN article by Katie Hunt provides more information. It begins:

Like many people, historian A. Roger Ekirch thought that sleep was a biological constant — that eight hours of rest a night never really varied over time and place.

But while researching nocturnal life in preindustrial Europe and America, he discovered the first evidence that many humans used to sleep in segments — a first sleep and second sleep with a break of a few hours in between to have sex, pray, eat, chat and take medicine.

“Here was a pattern of sleep unknown to the modern world,” said Ekirch, a university distinguished professor in the department of history at Virginia Tech.

Ekirch’s subsequent book, “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past,” unearthed more than 500 references to what’s since been termed biphasic sleep. Ekirch has now found more than 2,000 references in a dozen languages and going back in time as far as ancient Greece. His 2004 book will be republished in April.

The practice of sleeping through the whole night didn’t really take hold until just a few hundred years ago, his work suggested. It only evolved thanks to the spread of electric lighting and the Industrial Revolution, with its capitalist belief that sleep was a waste of time that could be better spent working.

The history of sleep not only reveals fascinating details about everyday life in the past, but the work of Ekirch, and other historians and anthropologists, is helping sleep scientists gain fresh perspective on what constitutes a good night’s sleep. It also offers new ways to cope with and think about sleep problems.

There is value in knowing about this prior pattern of sleep in the Western world, said Ekirch. He’s convinced “a large number of people who today suffer from middle-of-the-night insomnia, the primary sleep disorder in the United States — and I dare say in most industrialized countries — rather than experiencing a quote unquote, disorder, are in fact, experiencing a very powerful remnant, or echo of this earlier pattern of sleep,” said Ekirch, who stressed he was speaking from a historical perspective and not as a medical doctor.

Adults need more than seven hours of sleep a night, but more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Myth of 8-hour sleep?

The first reference to biphasic sleep Ekirch found was in a 1697 legal document from a traveling “Assizes” court buried in a London record office. The deposition of a 9-year-old girl called Jane Rowth mentioned that her mother awoke after her “first sleep” to go out. The mother was later found dead.

“I had never heard the expression, and it was expressed in such a way that it seemed perfectly normal,” he said. “I then began to come across subsequent references in these legal depositions but also in other sources.”

Ekirch subsequently found multiple references to a “first” and “second” sleep in diaries, medical texts, works of literature and prayer books. A doctor’s manual from 16th century France advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day but “after the first sleep,” when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better.”

By the early 19th century, however, the first sleep had begun to expand at the expense of the second sleep, Ekirch found, and the intervening period of wakefulness. By the end of the century, the second sleep was little more than turning over in one’s bed for an extra 10 minutes of snoozing.

Ben Reiss, author of Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World and professor and chair of the English department at Emory University in Atlanta, blames the . . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 3:00 am

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