Later On

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

Archive for September 5th, 2022

How the Right operates

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From a reference given in the Heather Cox Richardson column in the previous post:

Click the link and read the thread.

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 9:45 pm

One of Trump’s minions is working to protect him

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Heather Cox Richardson:

Today, on the federal holiday of Labor Day, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted former president Trump’s request for a special master to review the nearly 11,000 documents FBI agents seized in their search of the Trump Organization’s property at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.

The special master will examine the documents, some of which have the highest classification markings, to remove personal items or those covered by attorney-client privilege or those that might be covered by executive privilege (although President Joe Biden, who holds the presidency and thus should be able to determine that privilege, has waived it). The order temporarily stops the Department of Justice from reviewing or using the materials as part of their investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified information.

That is, a Trump-appointed judge, confirmed by the Senate on November 13, 2020, after Trump had lost the election, has stepped between the Department of Justice and the former president in the investigation of classified documents stolen from the government.

Legal analysts appear to be appalled by the poor quality of the opinion. Former U.S. acting solicitor general Neal Katyal called it “so bad it’s hard to know where to begin.” Law professor Stephen Vladeck told Charlie Savage of the New York Times that it was “an unprecedented intervention…into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation.” Paul Rosenzweig, a prosecutor in the independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton, told Savage it was “a genuinely unprecedented decision” and said stopping the criminal investigation was “simply untenable.” Duke University law professor Samuel Buell added: “To any lawyer with serious federal criminal court experience…, this ruling is laughably bad…. Trump is getting something no one else ever gets in federal court, he’s getting it for no good reason, and it will not in the slightest reduce the ongoing howls that he’s being persecuted, when he is being privileged.”

The judge justified her decision because she was “mindful of the need to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances presented.”

Energy and politics reporter David Roberts of Volts pointed out that this is a common pattern for MAGA Republicans. First, they spread lies and conspiracy theories, then they act based on the “appearance” that something is shady. “So this… judge says Trump deserves extraordinary, unprecedented latitude because of the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and the ‘swirling questions about bias.’ But her fellow reactionaries were the only ones raising questions of bias! It’s a perfectly sealed feedback loop,” and one the right wing has perfected over “voter fraud.”

As political scientist Brendan Nyhan points out, bad-faith attacks on our democratic processes open the door for changing those processes.

Something else jumps out about the judge’s construction, though: it makes . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 9:34 pm

China’s debt-trap strategy backfires

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I found the following video quite interesting — particularly the brief mention of Argentina as one of the countries that fell into the debt trap — but wanted to know just how reliable the information was. So I held off posting, but then found a second video that told much the same story (and is also worth watching if you’re interested in this).

Now both these channels — Casgains Academy (below) and Business Basics (at the link above) have very sparse and uninformative “About” pages, and both use the same style of title screen (what you see below before you watch the video). Still, much of the information is public, and I thought their explanation made sense, so I decided to post them. 

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 9:30 pm

“The Curious Hole in My Head Where the Left Temporal Lobe Should Be”: When you’re born with only part of a brain

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A scan of Helen Santoro’s bran

Helen Santoro has an interesting article (gift link, no paywall) in the NY Times:

I barreled into the world — a precipitous birth, the doctors called it — at a New York City hospital in the dead of night.

In my first few hours of life, after six bouts of halted breathing, the doctors rushed me to the neonatal intensive care unit. A medical intern stuck his pinky into my mouth to test the newborn reflex to suck. I didn’t suck hard enough. So they rolled my pink, 7-pound-11-ounce body into a brain scanner.

Lo and behold, there was a huge hole on the left side, just above my ear. I was missing the left temporal lobe, a region of the brain involved in a wide variety of behaviors, from memory to the recognition of emotions, and considered especially crucial for language.

My mother, exhausted from the labor, remembers waking up after sunrise to a neurologist, pediatrician and midwife standing at the foot of her bed. They explained that my brain had bled in her uterus, a condition called a perinatal stroke.

They told her I would never speak and would need to be institutionalized. The neurologist brought her arms up to her chest and contorted her wrists to illustrate the physical disability I would be likely to develop.

In those early days of my life, my parents wrung their hands wondering what my life, and theirs, would look like. Eager to find answers, they enrolled me in a research project at New York University tracking the developmental effects of perinatal strokes.

But month after month, I surprised the experts, meeting all of the typical milestones of children my age. I enrolled in regular schools, excelled in sports and academics. The language skills the doctors were most worried about at my birth — speaking, reading and writing — turned out to be my professional passions.

My case is highly unusual but not unique. Scientists estimate that thousands of people are, like me, living normal lives despite missing large chunks of our brains. Our myriad networks of neurons have managed to rewire themselves over time. But how?

My childhood memories are filled with researchers following me around with pens and clipboards. My brain was scanned several times a year, and I was tasked with various puzzles, word searches and picture-recognition tests. At the end of each day of testing, the researchers would give me a sticker, which I would keep in a tin container next to my bed.

When I was around 9 years old, researchers wanted to see how my brain would act when I was exhausted. I would sometimes stay up all night with my mom, eating Chinese food and watching Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy movies. The next day I would stumble into the clinic half-awake, and scientists would stick electrodes on my scalp. As long wires fell from my head like Medusa’s snakes, I was finally allowed to fall asleep, blissfully unaware that the researchers were searching for abnormalities in my brain waves.

Over the years, the scientists realized that I wasn’t like the other children in the study: I didn’t have any deficits to track over time. When I was around 15, my dad and I met in the cluttered Manhattan office of Dr. Ruth Nass, the pediatric neurologist leading the research. She questioned if I had actually had a perinatal stroke. In any case, she said frankly that my brain was so different from the others’ that I could no longer be in the study.

I didn’t mind. I had other things going on in my life, like the beginning of high school, cross-country practice and crushes. But I had also learned enough about neuroscience to become completely consumed by the topic. When I was 17 and entering my senior year in high school, I wrote to Dr. Nass and asked if I could do an internship in her lab. She readily agreed.

One day in the lab, I asked if she could show me my study files. We walked into a room filled with stacks of plastic bins, each one brimming with folders and loose papers. She grabbed a folder and read it quietly. Then, peering over a piece of paper, she said, “You were the worst participant because you were perfectly fine! You threw off all of my data.”

Dr. Nass . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 11:39 am

Rugby vs. American football

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It sure seems like Rugby is a better game — more vigorous and active, and played without body armor and helmets, and more of a team game. But what do I know? 

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 10:25 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Games

Solstice and the great razor

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I do love the Omega Pro 48 (10048), and I think everyone who makes lather from a shaving soap should have one. They have to be broken in. That’s a simple process of loading the new brush with soap, working up a lather in your cupped palm, then rinsing the brush (under the hot-water tap until the water is clean, then with cold water to finish), shaking it out, and letting it dry; then repeating that every morning for a week. After a week you can use the brush, and it will get noticeably better over the first two or three weeks of use. It has a wonderful feel on the face and hold loads of lather.

This morning it worked up a great lather from my Phoenix Artisan Solstice in their Kokum Butter formula. The Solstice fragrance is, for me, a truly wonderful fragrance, and the lather this morning seemed exceptional.

The vintage white bakelite Merkur slant is one of the best razors I own. Italian Barber found a stash of these in some warehouse in Europe some years back, and then, after that sold out, he found some more. But now the supply is exhausted and Merkur seems in no hurry to reprise the design — a shame, because it really is a superb razor.

Three passes left my face perfectly smooth, and then a splash of Solstice finished the job. 

The tea this morning is Mark T. Wendell Pu-erh Tua Cha: “Pu-erh teas are created by hand piling Yunnan black tea for lengthy periods, allowing a true internal fermentation of the leaf to occur. This process gives Pu-erh its unique earthy overtones.”

One of the little nest shapes makes 16 ounces of tea — and a very good tea it is.

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 8:34 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Boiled mushrooms — who knew? Gotta try

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Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2022 at 7:35 am

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