Later On

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

Archive for September 14th, 2022

He Called 911 Because His Car Was Stuck. The Cops Killed Him.

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I have to say that much of the news I read from the US is disheartening, and police in particular seem at war with citizens. Read this report.

Update. That police attitude may change. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2022 at 5:25 pm

The Smartest Book About Our Digital Age Was Published in 1929

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Back in 2017 Ted Gioia wrote a very interesting column in Daily Beast that begins:

I first read José Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses more than thirty years ago. I still remember how disappointed I was by this cantankerous book. I’d read other works by Ortega (1883-1955), and been impressed by the Spanish philosopher’s intelligence and insight. But this 1929 study of the modern world, his most famous book, struck me as hopelessly nostalgic and elitist.

Yet I recently read The Revolt of the Masses again, and with a completely different response. The same ideas I dismissed as old-fashioned and out-of-date back in the 20th century now reveal an uncanny ability to explain the most peculiar happenings of the digital age.

Are you, like me, puzzled to learn that Popular Science magazine recently shut down comments on its website, declaring that they were bad for science? Are you amazed, like me, that Duck Dynasty is the most-watched nonfiction cable show in TV history? Are you dismayed, like me, that crappy Hollywood films about comic book heroes and defunct TV shows have taken over every movie theater? Are you depressed, like me, that symphony orchestras are declaring bankruptcy, but Justin Bieber earned $58 million last year?

If so, you need to read The Revolt of the Masses. You’ve got questions. Ortega’s got answers.

First, let me tell you what you won’t find in this book. Despite a title that promises political analysis, The Revolt of the Masses has almost nothing to say about conventional party ideologies and alignments. Ortega shows little interest in fascism or capitalism or Marxism, and this troubled me when I first read the book. (Although, in retrospect, the philosopher’s passing comments on these matters proved remarkably prescient—for example his smug dismissal of Russian communism as destined to failure in the West, and his prediction of the rise of a European union.) Above all, he hardly acknowledges the existence of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in political debates.

Ortega’s brilliant insight came in understanding that the battle between ‘up’ and ‘down’ could be as important in spurring social and cultural change as the conflict between ‘left’ and ‘right’. This is not an economic distinction in Ortega’s mind. The new conflict, he insists, is not between “hierarchically superior and inferior classes…. upper classes or lower classes.” A millionaire could be a member of the masses, according to Ortega’s surprising schema. And a pauper might represent the elite.

The key driver of change, as Ortega sees it, comes from  a shocking attitude characteristic of the modern age—or, at least, Ortega was shocked. Put simply, the masses hate experts. If forced to choose between the advice of the learned and the vague impressions of other people just like themselves, the masses invariably turn to the latter. The upper elite still try to pronounce judgments and lead, but fewer and fewer of those down below pay attention.

Above all, the favorite source of wisdom for the masses, in Ortega’s schema, is their own strident opinions. “Why should he listen, when he has all the answers, everything he needs to know?” Ortega writes. “It is no longer the season to listen, but on the contrary, a time to pass judgment, to pronounce sentence, to issue proclamations.”

Ortega couldn’t have foreseen digital age culture, but he is describing it with precision. He would recognize the angry, assertive tone of comments on web articles as the exact same tendency he identified in 1929. He would understand why Yelp reviews have more influence than the considered judgments of restaurant reviewers. He would know why Amazon customer comments have more clout than critics in The New Yorker. He would attend an angry town hall meeting or listen to talk radio, and recognize the same tendencies he described in his book. . .

Continue reading.

I have to say that I also have observed the dismissal by ignorant, uninformed people of the opinions and judgments of those who have studied the topic and know what they’re talking about. That dismissing of actual knowledge is also, for some reason, done with anger, as if the person rejecting expertise has somehow been insulted.

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2022 at 11:23 am

Restricted airways, scarred lung tissue found among vapers

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I confess I never understood the appeal of vaping, and an article in the Harvard Gazette by Diego Cervo makes their use downright repulsive. He writes:

Chronic use of e-cigarettes, commonly known as vaping, can result in small airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms, according to researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

In the first study to microscopically evaluate the pulmonary tissue of e-cigarette users for chronic disease, the team found in a small sample of patients fibrosis and damage in the small airways, similar to the chemical inhalation damage to the lungs typically seen in soldiers returning from overseas conflicts who had inhaled mustard or similar types of noxious gases. The study was published in New England Journal of Medicine Evidence.

“All four individuals we studied had injury localized to the same anatomic location within the lung, manifesting as small airway-centered fibrosis with constrictive bronchiolitis, which was attributed to vaping after thorough clinical evaluations excluded other possible causes,” says lead author Lida Hariri, an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and a pathologist and physician investigator at MGH. “We also observed that when patients ceased vaping, they had a partial reversal of the condition over one to four years, though not complete due to residual scarring in the lung tissue.”

A huge increase in vaping, particularly among young adults and adolescents, has occurred in the United States, with studies showing about 9 percent of the population and nearly 28 percent of high school students are e-cigarette users. Unlike cigarette smoking, however, the long-term health risks of chronic vaping are largely unknown.

In order to determine the underlying pathophysiology of vaping-related symptoms, the MGH team examined a cohort of four patients, each with a three- to eight-year history of e-cigarette use and chronic lung disease. All patients underwent . . .

Continue reading.

It is not totally surprising that drawing smoke or chemical vapor deep into your lungs is not a good idea.

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2022 at 10:29 am

Palmolive shave stick and TOBS Shaving Shop for that old-time feeling

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Palmolive does not brand their shave stick in any way — I’d very much like a word with the marketing director — but I know it from the green color. They should identify the brand, because it’s a very good shave stick and today delivered a totally satisfactory lather that, along with the trace of Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave I used — and, of course the razor and blade — resulted in a wonderful shave.

The razor is the Parker semi-slant — actually, a plain old slant, but “semi” seems to be a marketing director’s idea to make the razor less intimidating. It’s a slant much along the lines of the iKon Shavecraft X3: very comfortable and quite efficient. I didn’t much like the original handle, and since it is a three-piece design, it’s easy to swap handles — thus the Yaqi handle that you see in the photo, taken from another razor.

I really did get an exceptionally good shave for a 1-day stubble, and I finished with a splash of Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Shop (“A SUPERB GENTLEMAN’S AFTERSHAVE,” as the label shouts at us, drowning out the name of the aftershave — and, speaking as a superb gentleman, it is a ver satisfying aftershave). 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Storm Watcher, which I am drinking even without a storm to watch: “Black tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2022 at 9:51 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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