Later On

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

Archive for July 31st, 2022

Extra-heavy mayo

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Since this great mayo comes in a 1-gallon container, you would want to buy it with a few friends — or use it to fill 4 one-quart jars, with three as gifts to mayo-loving friends. When I use mayo, I make my own, and this does suggest that using more egg yolks might be a good idea.  But since I started following a whole-food plant-based diet, I’ve used no mayo (because eggs). Still, this stuff looks good.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Trump Just Told Us His Master Plan

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I hope voters in the US are paying attention. David Frum reports in the Atlantic:

Yesterday, an ex-president who had tried to overturn a democratic election by violence returned to Washington, D.C., to call for law and order. Again and again, the speech reversed reality. The ex-president who had spread an actual big lie against the legitimacy of the 2020 election tried to appropriate the phrase big lie to use against his opponents. The ex-president who had fired an acting FBI director days before that official’s pension was due to be vested lamented that police officers might lose their pension for doing their job.

Yet scrape aside the audacity, the self-pity, and the self-aggrandizement, and there was indeed an idea in Donald Trump’s speech at a conference hosted by the America First Policy Institute: a sinister idea, but one to take seriously.

Trump sketched out a vision that a new Republican Congress could enact sweeping new emergency powers for the next Republican president. The president would be empowered to disregard state jurisdiction over criminal law. The president would be allowed to push aside a “weak, foolish, and stupid governor,” and to fire “radical and racist prosecutors”—racist here meaning “anti-white.” The president could federalize state National Guards for law-enforcement duties, stop and frisk suspects for illegal weapons, and impose death sentences on drug dealers after expedited trials.

Much of this may be hot air. All of it would require huge legal changes, and some of it would require the 6–3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court to overturn established precedents. You should listen to Trump’s speech less as an agenda of things to be done, and more as an indication of the direction of Trump’s thought.

The Trump Republican Party faces a strategic problem and a constitutional opportunity. The problem is that under Trump, the Republican Party is a minority force in American life. The opportunity is that an ever more unbalanced federal structure can enable a minority party based in many small states to control the majority population that lives in fewer big states. Abortion rights are one area where Republicans can use this opportunity, but that is not an area that especially interests Donald Trump.

Instead, and as always, the opportunity that most fascinates Trump is the opportunity to use the law as a weapon: a weapon to shield his own wrongdoing, a weapon to wield against his political opponents.

Trump’s first term was  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 4:27 pm

The power of zooming

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Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 1:02 pm

Finding a book you want to read

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Check out You can discover a book by reading a page, or by browsing covers, or by a straightforward search, or by browsing other readers’ bookshelves of saved titles. You can save titles to your own bookshelf, which can be public or private, as you prefer. And you can suggest books to be included.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 8:39 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Software

The lasting anguish of moral injury

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Constance Summer writes in Knowledge magazine:

On a Sunday evening in September 1994, David Peters drove to a church service in Beckley, West Virginia, as the sun set over the horizon. He was 19 years old, just back from Marine Corps boot camp. He hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car all summer.

The road curved, and Peters misjudged the turn. Rays from the dipping sun blinded him. The car hit the median and headed straight at an oncoming motorcycle. And then, Peters says, “Everything went crash.”

His friend, sitting in the passenger seat, seemed fine. Peters got out of the car. The driver of the motorcycle was alive, but the woman who’d been riding behind him was now laid out on the pavement. Peters quickly realized she was dead.

Now an Episcopal priest in Pflugerville, Texas, outside Austin, Peters says there have been periods during the last 28 years when he’s found the knowledge that he killed someone almost unbearable. “I felt like I wasn’t good anymore,” he says. At times, he even wished he were dead. Years after the accident, he purchased a motorcycle, thinking “that’d be sort of justice if I died on a motorcycle.”

Moral injury results from “the way that humans make meaning out of the violence that they have either experienced or that they have inflicted,” says Janet McIntosh, an anthropologist at Brandeis University who wrote about the psychic wounds resulting from how we use language when talking about war in the 2021 Annual Review of Anthropology.

Although research on moral injury began with the experiences of veterans and active-duty military, it has expanded in recent years to include civilians. The pandemic — with its heavy moral burdens on health care workers and its fraught decisions over gathering in groups, masking and vaccinating — intensified scientific interest in how widespread moral injury might be. “What’s innovative about moral injury is its recognition that our ethical foundations are essential to our sense of self, to our society, to others, to our professions,” says Daniel Rothenberg, who codirects the Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University.

Yet moral injury remains a concept under construction. It is not an official diagnosis in psychiatry’s authoritative guide, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). And until the recent publication of a major study on the subject, researchers and clinicians lacked well-defined criteria they could use to determine if someone has moral injury, says Brett Litz, a clinical psychologist at VA Boston Health Care System and Boston University. “The prevalence of moral injury is utterly unknown, because we haven’t had a gold standard measure of it,” he says.

‘It starts working on your head’

Moral injury was first described by Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist in Boston, who defined it as  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 7:56 am

Two toddler tools: car seat and high chair

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Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 6:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Revealed: untold story of the CIA/Stasi double agent abandoned after 22 years of service

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A fascinating article by leni Braat, Associate professor of international history, Utrecht University, and Ben de Jong, Research Fellow, Leiden University, that was published in The Conversation:

I was naked, tied to a hard chair with handcuffs. Three or four burly fellows in uniform are standing around me, one of them behind me with a truncheon… ‘Sie sind ein Verräter! [You are a traitor!],’ they snap.

These are the words of double agent “M”, who operated for the Dutch security service and the CIA against the East German Stasi for 22 years. In early 1985, it appeared that the Stasi may have uncovered his deception – and his true loyalty to the west. He was in East Berlin at the time and the men had rudely awoken M around 4am. Still in pyjamas, he was taken from the safe house where he was staying for debriefing sessions with his Stasi handlers to a van with darkened windows that transported him, under armed guard, to a prison.

They told him he was in the Untersuchungshaftanstalt (pre-trial detention center) Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, a notorious site during the cold war under the control of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi). M was forced to undergo a degrading and extremely painful cavity inspection, before being taken – still naked – to an interrogation room.

His captors intimidated him by pouring cold water over him from a bucket until the afternoon. They taunted him constantly, saying things like “You betrayed Marxism-Leninism” and “You are a CIA agent”. Yet M said he felt strangely reassured because these accusations were not specific – they were meant to provoke him. In other words, his interrogators seemed to lack proof.

We interviewed M extensively between 2019 and 2021 about his career as a spy during the cold war. He told us about his life as a “double agent” and how, in the end, he was abandoned by the masters he had served. We checked and cross-referenced his account and our research has been peer-reviewed and published in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. But it is hard to know the full truth when it comes to the secretive world of espionage, so we have tried to highlight those areas which are impossible to verify.

It’s important to underline just how rare it is for a former secret service agent to open up and talk on the record about their experiences. M gave us a truly unique insight into the secret workings of three different intelligence agencies. He spoke about issues he hadn’t even told his wife about.

M’s spying career began in the second half of the 1960s when the Dutch security service, the BVD (Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst) – the predecessor of the present-day AIVD (Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst) – recruited him. He was working for a Dutch multinational that we have agreed not to name. That career would go on to provide excellent cover for his clandestine work, as it involved a lot of international travel.

M worked for the Dutch service for many years and subsequently for the CIA. The Americans were keen to use him when they learned he had also been recruited by the foreign intelligence arm of the Stasi – the renowned Hauptverwaltung (Chief Administration) A, known by its acronym HVA.

Over a period of more than 20 years, from the late 1960s until the end of the cold war, the HVA considered M their agent and he gave the East Germans information – much of it acquired through the multinational he worked for. But throughout this time, his primary loyalty was to the Dutch service and the CIA. From the perspective of the East Germans, M was indeed a traitor. After seeing the evidence he provided to us, we believe his account of working against the Stasi is credible.

A double-cross?

M’s motive in sharing his story stems from his desire to learn more about certain episodes from his spying career. He wants to find out, in particular, why his East German handlers, whom he had managed to deceive so successfully for so many years, suddenly seemed to turn against him in the mid-1980s.

It transpired that the humiliating interrogation was in fact a mock arrest led by Stasi handlers to test his mettle. But the episode planted a seed of doubt in M’s mind about whether the Stasi was on to him. A seed that would grow over the years to become an obsession. He would go on to believe that he had been betrayed.

According to M, only “treason” within the CIA could explain it – that a mole within the American intelligence service had betrayed him as a double agent to the Soviet KGB. During the cold war, the KGB, of course, worked very closely with the Stasi. On several occasions, M discussed the possibility that someone like Aldrich Ames, a notorious KGB mole inside the CIA between 1985 and 1994, was responsible for betraying him.

In all six of our interviews, M emphasised the distinctive nature of his relationships with the three different services he dealt with. His two long-time Stasi handlers were . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 5:55 am

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