Later On

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

Archive for August 22nd, 2022

When it rains, it pours: China faces a debt crisis in its high-speed railway system in addition to the housing debt crisis.

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This is quite an interesting video, just posted.

And there seem to be serious problems in China’s infrastructure, specifically bridges (both highway and railway):

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 9:58 pm

Can computer simulations help fix democracy by curtailing gerrymandering?

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Harry Stevens has a good article (gift link, no paywall) in the Washington Post on a good approach to help even mathematically illiterate judges — that is, the great majority of judges — to understand when gerrymandering has been done. The article begins:

After the release of the 2020 Census, legislatures across the country redrew their states’ congressional district maps, just like they do every decade. And, just like every decade, aggrieved citizens sued them for gerrymandering — the process whereby politicians craft district boundaries to ensure their own parties’ victory.

But this time around, something has changed. A technological revolution, decades in the making, has added a sharp new arrow to those citizens’ quiver of legal arguments. Known as algorithmic redistricting, the technology has persuaded judges to throw out gerrymandered maps in several states, including New York and Ohio. And it will be part of a case before the Supreme Court in October that could play a role in the 2024 election and the future of voting rights.

Here is how it works. . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

It’s a very good article, with interactive graphics to explain the approach clearly.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 9:36 pm

Soybean and Kamut tempeh done

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This batch turned out exceptionally well. The slab at the end — 3 days and 4 hours — was slightly warm, velvety smooth, and solid with good rigidity. Aove is a cross section, with the bigger pieces being soybeans and the smaller ones Kamut.

There as not a trace of sporing or any bad patches. Really this was a perfect batch. And I now have the timing down — today I used the last of the previous batch, and this new batch is ready for tomorrow. I didn’t really have to think about it: on Thursday as I looked at how much tempeh I had on hand, I thought, “I should start a new batch” and put 1.5 cups of soybeans in the pot to soak overnight. Friday morning I cooked those and, separately, 1.5 cups of Kamut and combined them to start this new batch.

I followed my usual method. You can take a look at the full post for this batch to see earlier stages.

Below is the batch at the end, in the Ziploc Fresh Produce bag on the left and lying unbagged on the cutting board on the right.

Below are photos of the batch at the end, bagged on the left, unbagged on the right.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 4:35 pm

A very bad sign: Alaska’s snow crabs have disappeared. Where they went is a mystery.

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Ominous news indeed. Laura Reiley reports (gift link, no paywall) in the Washington Post:

The theories are many. The crabs moved into Russian waters. They are dead because predators got them. They are dead because they ate each other. The crabs scuttled off the continental shelf and scientists just didn’t see them. Alien abduction.


Okay, not that last one. But everyone agrees on one point: The disappearance of Alaska’s snow crabs probably is connected to climate change. Marine biologists and those in the fishing industry fear the precipitous and unexpected crash of this luxury seafood item is a harbinger, a warning about how quickly a fishery can be wiped out in this new, volatile world.


Gabriel Prout and his brothers Sterling and Ashlan were blindsided. Harvests of Alaskan king crab — the bigger, craggier species that was the star of the television show “Deadliest Catch” — have been on a slow decline for over a decade. But in 2018 and 2019, scientists had seemingly great news about Alaska’s snow crabs: Record numbers of juvenile crabs were zooming around the ocean bottom, suggesting a massive haul for subsequent fishing seasons.

Prout, 32, and his brothers bought out their father’s partner, becoming part owners of the 116-foot Silver Spray. They took out loans and bought $4 million in rights to harvest a huge number of crabs. It was a year that many young commercial fishers in the Bering Sea bought into the fishery, going from deckhands to owners. Everyone was convinced the 2021 snow crab season was going to be huge.

And then they weren’t there.

Scientists, despite earlier optimistic signs, found that snow crab stocks were down 90 percent. The season opened and the total allowable harvest went from 45 million pounds to 5.5 million pounds. Commercial fishers couldn’t even catch that quantity.

In October 2021, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the king crab season entirely to harvesting, for the first time since the 1990s. . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Humans have for a few centuries used the ocean as a garbage dump, particularly since the Industrial Revolution. Now we suffer the consequences — though, to be fair, the actual cause of the snow crabs’ absence is still under investigation — but polluting the oceans certainly is no help. Nor is overfishing, for that matter. And I imagine climate change — treating the atmosphere as a garbage dump — may also play a role — and again, that pollution greatly increased with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 2:49 pm

China’s largest property develop starts to collapse

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I thought this video, released today, has an excellent summary of the situation and explains why this particular collapse is so bad.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 12:40 pm

The Only Woman in the Room

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Jessica Bennet posts on Wait, Really?:

It’s what’s known as the “Smurfette Principle” – the idea that, in works of art, but also in real life, there is often exactly one woman amongst an ensemble of men, despite the fact that women make up half the human race. The original Smurfette was the lone female in the comic book series (and, later, TV series) The Smurfs, who – amongst her little blue creature friends, each named according to an occupation or personal quality, such as “Carpenter Smurf” or “Fireman Smurf” was simply… the girl.

The reality of being a smurfette in real life is significant; research shows that it requires a certain number of women (about a third) to have an impact on a majority-male space – what’s called the point of “critical mass.” Without it, women speak up less, they have less influence, and people tend to think that because she’s speaking as a woman that she’s speaking on behalf of all women. No pressure, right?

In her new photo book, The Only Woman, the author Immy Humes gets at this idea through historical photos of lone women who have persisted throughout history: Politicians, athletes, artists, scientists, and even some criminals, all of them in a sea of men. A documentary filmmaker by trade, Humes didn’t set out to make a photo book. But she kept stumbling across these photos in her work (or her procrastination). “I felt like I was playing Where’s Waldo – or rather, Walda,” Humes writes. And yet, “Once you start to look for the Only Woman, she is easy to find.”

There is fascinating history behind the women she chosen to feature, many of whom I’d never heard of. Like Lucille Kallen, a comedy writer in 1950s New York, who once said she had to “stand up on the couch and wave a red kerchief” to get her male colleagues’ attention. Or the 1930s stickup artist Virginia Right – a “blonde gungirl,” as the New York Daily News dubbed her – pictured in a glamorous fur coat in her mug shot alongside 10 men.

There are women who were the “first” to do something, such as Jeannette Rankin, the first U.S. Congresswoman, pictured in a skinny black and white photo among hundreds of men. There are those whose jobs had simply brought them there (nurse, cook, servant, actress); those elevated by a husband or father (Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, for instance, was stepping into the family business) and those who, like the Smurfette, might have been perceived as tokens.

There are 100 photos in all, spanning 1862 to 2020. Here are five of them….

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 11:37 am

Interesting history: Why Republicans today oppose public education

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Heather Cox Richardson:

On August 21, 1831, enslaved American Nat Turner led about 70 of his enslaved and free Black neighbors in a rebellion to awaken his white neighbors to the inherent brutality of slaveholding and the dangers it presented to their own safety. Turner and his friends traveled from house to house in their neighborhood in Southampton County, Virginia, freeing enslaved people and murdering about 60 of the white men, women, and children they encountered. Their goal, Turner later told an interviewer, was “to carry terror and devastation wherever we went.”

State militia put down the rebellion in a couple of days, and both the legal system and white vigilantes killed at least 200 Black Virginians, many of whom were not involved in Turner’s bid to end enslavement. Turner himself was captured in October, tried in November, sentenced to death, and hanged.

But white Virginians, and white folks in neighboring southern states, remained frightened. Turner had been, in their minds, a well-treated, educated enslaved man, who knew his Bible well and seemed the very last sort of person they would have expected to revolt. And so they responded to the rebellion in two ways. They turned against the idea that enslavement was a bad thing and instead began to argue that human enslavement was a positive good.

And states across the South passed laws making it a crime to teach enslaved Americans to read and write.

Denying enslaved Black Americans access to education exiled them from a place in the nation. The Framers had quite explicitly organized the United States not on the principles of religion or tradition, but rather on the principles of the Enlightenment: the idea that, by applying knowledge and reasoning to the natural world, men could figure out the best way to order society. Someone excluded from access to education could not participate in that national project. Instead, that person was read out of society, doomed to be controlled by leaders who marshaled propaganda and religion to defend their dominance.

In 1858, South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond explained that society needed “a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill.”

But when they organized in the 1850s to push back against the efforts of elite enslavers like Hammond to take over the national government, members of the fledgling Republican Party recognized the importance of education. In 1859, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln explained that those who adhered to the “mud-sill” theory “assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible…. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious, and dangerous.”

Lincoln argued that workers were not simply drudges but rather were the heart of the economy. “The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land, for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him.” He tied the political vision of the Framers to this economic vision. In order to prosper, he argued, men needed “book-learning,” and he called for universal education. An educated community, he said, “will be alike independent of crowned-kings, money-kings, and land-kings.”

When they were in control of the federal government in the 1860s, Republicans passed the Land Grant College Act, funding public universities so that men without wealthy fathers might have access to higher education. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Republicans also tried to use the federal government to fund public schools for poor Black and white Americans, dividing money up according to illiteracy rates.

But President Andrew Johnson vetoed that bill on the grounds that the federal government had no business protecting Black education; that process, he said, belonged to the states—which for the next century denied Black and Brown people equal access to schools, excluding them from full participation in American society and condemning them to menial labor.

Then, in 1954, after decades of pressure from Black and Brown Americans for equal access to public schools, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former Republican governor of California, unanimously agreed that separate schools were inherently unequal, and thus unconstitutional. The federal government stepped in to make sure the states could not deny education to the children who lived within their boundaries.

And now, in 2022, we are in a new educational moment. Between . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 11:31 am

Merkur 37G and Declaration Grooming’s wonderful Milksteak formula

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I do love the Omega Pro 48. Every time I return to it, I think, “What a remarkable brush!” And today it made a superior lather from Declaration Grooming’s Cuir et Épices. I used the LABL method, and the lather was particularly thick and creamy (and fragrant).

The Merkur 37G is a reliable slant, a version of which Hoffritz once sold as their recommended razor. Three passes put paid to the stubble, and a splash of TOBS Bay Rum with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the job. I really like this bay rum, but haven’t used it lately because it got lost among the collection.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s CBC Radio Blend, named in honor (or, should I say, honour) of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio: “A blend of choice Ceylon and China black teas, Jasmine and other green teas with a touch of citrus.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2022 at 10:37 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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