Later On

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

Archive for December 22nd, 2022

Good summary of some of the January 6 Select Committee’s findings

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Heather Cox Richardson has a very good column tonight:

Already there are revelations from the documents being released this week.

Among the transcripts released by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S Capitol is one from Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. In it, Hutchinson tells the interviewers that what she calls “Trump world” set her up with her first attorney, Stefan Passantino. He refused to tell her who was paying the bills—it was Trump’s political action committee—and she worried that “they will ruin my life… if I do anything that they don’t want me to do.”

Emphasizing repeated references to “loyalty,” and “Trump world,” Hutchinson told the committee that Passantino urged her not to tell what she knew, prodding her to say she didn’t recall events she clearly did. “If you don’t 100 percent recall something, even if you don’t recall a date or somebody who may or may not have been in the room, that’s an entirely fine answer, and we want you to use that response as much as you deem necessary.” “Look,” he told her, “the goal with you is to get you in and out. Keep your answers short, sweet, and simple, seven words or less. The less the committee thinks you know, the better, the quicker it’s going to go. It’s going to be painless. And then you’re going to be taken care of.”

“We just want to focus on protecting the President,” Passantino said. “We’re gonna get you a really good job in Trump world. You don’t need to apply to other places. We’re gonna get you taken care of. We want to keep you in the family.” Hutchinson told of being scared of what they could do to her. “I’d seen how vicious they can be. And part of that’s politics, but…I think some of it is unique to Trump world, the level they’ll go to to tear somebody else down. And I was scared of that.”

Mark Meadows, too, sent Hutchinson a message through a mutual friend saying “he knows you’re loyal and he knows…you’re going to protect him and the boss. You know, he knows that we’re all on the same team and we’re a family.” She also received notice that Trump was aware of her testimony.

After two interviews with the committee, Hutchinson reached out to a former White House colleague, Alyssa Farah, to become a back channel to the January 6 committee to clear her conscience of testimony she felt was not fully truthful. In a third interview, committee members asked questions that clearly shocked Passantino, who kept asking how they knew what to ask. When, afterward, he insisted on talking both to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and his Trump world law partners against Hutchinson’s wishes, she realized that he was working for Trump, not her. When he suggested she should risk a charge of contempt of Congress, along with jail time, she cut ties with him and began working with new lawyers.

In her newer, clean testimony to the committee, Hutchinson recounted a number of conversations in which it was clear Trump knew he had lost the election, as well as some conversations that suggested the planning for January 6 was well underway weeks ahead of time. On December 12, for example, when Trump tried to cancel a trip to the Army-Navy game, Meadows told Hutchinson, “He can’t do that. He’s gonna tick off the military, and then he’s gonna be ticked off at me in a few weeks when the military’s ticked off at him….” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) asked Hutchinson what she thought that exchange meant, and she answered: “Looking back now, I can speculate.”

The transcript is not just a damning portrait of the Trump loyalists, it is a window into the struggles of a clearly very bright young woman who was under enormous financial and emotional pressure to please her former boss and yet could not accept the erasure of her moral values. After two sessions with the committee in which she felt she had not been forthcoming, she realized she had to “pass the mirror test.”

She told the committee: “[Y]ou know, I did . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 10:27 pm

The physical intelligence of ant and robot collectives

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Leah Burrows’s article for the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences sure did remind me of the science-fiction novel by Daniel Suarez titled Kill Decision. (Great novel.)

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 7:56 pm

I Ain’t Got Nothing But Time: The mostly true legend of Hank Williams

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David Ramsey writes in Oxford American:


It seems fitting to begin at the end. The final recording session Hank Williams had was banged out over a couple hours in a studio in Nashville on September 23, 1952. Four songs, four classics—including “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” That’s just how it was for Hank, even then, at the tail end of drinking himself to death. A little more than three months later, he died in the backseat of a baby blue Cadillac. He was in a bad way on booze and pills and injections, but the circumstances of his death, like his life, remain murky. We’ll get to that.

Hank’s second wife swore “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was about his first wife; his first wife swore he had written it about himself. It hardly matters.

On the one hand, we can say heartbreak is an essentially generic topic for a song, and the lament of the cuckold is a rather sour brand of the form. Still: Just listen. The lilt and longing in Hank’s voice. The freakish adrenaline in his delivery. His rubbery tenor, the way the tune yo-yos up and down like something about to snap. It is just one of those songs: Slinks up as lazily as a python; before you know it, you’re smothered. Sometimes I think it’s the meanest lullaby ever written.

The brief career of Hank Williams became such a definitional anchor for what was then mostly known as hillbilly music and is now known as country that you can catch yourself wondering if the whole genre might have had slightly different preoccupations if Hank wasn’t so fixated on cheating and drinking. There’s a tear in my beer, and so on and on. But he was a medium. He knew what the people wanted.

“If you’re gonna sing,” Hank said, “sing ’em something they can understand.”

After he died, a Wisconsin woman wrote in to a newspaper in Montgomery: “We have listened to Hank Williams on disc jockey shows so often that we felt he was a friend of ours; someone we had known for a long time.”

Hank called it folk music, before that term took on another connotation. Songs for the people. Drinking and cheating are familiar troubles, but they are also proxies, let’s say. There are so many ways to feel cheated, so many longings and lacks. There are so many troubles. I’m not here to tell you what country music is, but that’s what it is to me. You’ll cry and cry, and try to sleep.

They called him the Hillbilly Shakespeare, but that almost seems to miss the point. There is no meter to a certain sort of sorrow. Sometimes all we can do is howl. When the light fades to dusk, when the night is quiet and our mind is not, when the medicine wears off, when the road is long, when time is short. I got a feeling called the blues.


He was born outside of Georgiana, Alabama, to Lon and Lillie Williams. His first name, according to state records, was Hiriam. They meant to give him the Old Testament name Hiram, but there was a mix-up on the birth certificate. As a boy, he went by “Harm” or “Herky” or “Skeets.”

His mother ran a boarding house that may or may not have doubled as a brothel. She was a large, intimidating woman who eventually worked the door when he played shows. “There ain’t nobody I’d rather have alongside me in a fight,” her son was heard to say, “than my mama with a broken bottle in her hand.”

His father sustained a serious head injury during his service in World War I, which may or may not have happened in a fight with another soldier over a French girl. Later, Lon had either an aneurysm or something like shellshock, and he left for the VA hospital when the boy was six years old. Likely in part due to Lillie’s efforts, he was mostly . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, Music, Video

The Book of Leaves

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This is the complete leaf sequence used in the accompanying short film LeafPresser. While collecting leaves, I conceived that the leaf shape every single plant type I could find would fit somewhere into a continuous animated sequence of leaves if that sequence were expansive enough. If I didn’t have the perfect shape, it meant I just had to collect more leaves.

Music: Slyungda by jm france
Images: Brett Foxwell

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Walnut-Lentil Pâté ready for Xmas

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A brownish-green pâté in a round glass storage container, small pieces of cilantro leaf visible mixed in.

I wanted to make this today so that the flavors would have time to meld. I mainly followed the recipe, except where it call for two tablespoons of lemon juice, I used two tablespoons of lemon pulp (peeled and blended the lemons), which is closer to a whole food and includes the nutritional benefits of the pulp. I also think a pinch of MSG would not be amiss to boost the umami a bit. (MSG is okay.)

I cut a disk of parchment paper and put that in the bottom of the storage container pictured above. When the day comes, I can just run a knife around the sides of the container, unmold the pâté onto a plate, and peel off the paper. 

It already tastes pretty good, but it will taste better in a couple of days. In the photo, you can see part of the chopped cilantro that’s mixed in after processing the other ingredients.

Ho, ho, ho.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 2:26 pm

Organism 46-B and Ode to Joy

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Shaving setup sunlit from the side. A brush whose bristles are gray with white tips has a handle that's round and navy blue on the top half, white and faceted on the bottom, next to a tub of soap. The soap's label is a dull red with bluish-gray background, showing a jagged octopus-like creature and the name Oranism 46-B. To the right is a bottle of aftershave with the same label. In front, a black double-edge razor with a ribbed handle, lying on its side.

The day is clear but continued cold, and I awakened late after a long winter’s nap, so that by photo time the morning sun was slanting through the winder to illuminate the shaving setup.

Phoenix Artisan does not currently stock Organism 46-B, but I have my supply, another Kokum Butter soap. It has an alluring fragrance, which the beast doubtless uses to draw in its prey: “burnt sugar – bitter orange – brandy – Hedione – tobacco absolute – benzoin resin – ambergris.”

The lather seemed exceptionally good, and perhaps that was due to PA’s Starcraft shaving brush with its “Roswell grey” knot of very nice synthetic fibers.

Three passes with my RazoRock BBS razor easily cleared the stubble. For me, this is a particularly good razor. It uses an extreme bend of the blade to gain both comfort and efficiency.

A drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum massaged into my face set me up for a splash of the 47-B aftershave. A great if late start to the day.

The tea this morning is a Murchie’s Christmas special, Ode to Joy: “A merry blend of aromatic jasmine and apricot makes an enchanting green-black tea. The fruit and floral notes enhance those naturally detected in black and green teas. Ingredients: Black tea, jasmine green tea, calendula flowers, elderflowers, natural and artificial flavouring.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 11:38 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

SBF actually described crypto as a Ponzi scheme

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Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 2:10 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law, Video

Ten COVID Facts Health Officials Dangerously Downplay

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Andrew Nikiforuk writes in the Tyee:

As the pandemic evolves, the failure of current public health policies now shines clearer than a midnight star. The assumption that hybrid immunity — vaccines combined with infections — would end COVID’s relentless evolution has fed the pandemic, not starved it.

If getting infected, vaxxed, or vaxxed-plus-infected actually made us safe as COVID circulates, Canada wouldn’t be recording its highest death rate of nearly 20,000 this year.

Yes, COVID has vanquished more Canadians this year than in 2020 or 2021. And the virus has sent more Canadians to the hospital this year than in previous ones, too.

If hybrid immunity was the solution our children’s hospitals wouldn’t be in crisis, with young patients on ventilators battling co-infections of the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID.

There is much alarm about the fact that children are getting walloped, but little consensus on why.

One misleading explanation is that because kids were shielded from other infections due to COVID protocols, they’ve incurred an “immunity debt” that now has come due. For the record there is no such thing as immunity debt.

And until we have a better understanding of what is going on, we can’t rule out another thesis — that repeated exposures to COVID may have weakened children’s immunity to other infections. A recent not-yet-peer-reviewed preprint study found, for example, that children who had been infected by COVID had a much higher incidence of RSV infection than children not infected by the virus. Research also shows that respiratory infections can lead to surges in invasive bacterial infections.

In any case, there is no mystery to what we should be doing to protect ourselves and our kids.

Do not listen to powers that be who pretend that getting infected with COVID multiple times is now no big deal. They’re asking you to lower your guard for a nasty virus that can invade the brain, disregulate the immune system and damage the vascular system.

This strategy has led to predictable results — more direct deaths, more excess deaths, more disease and some 1.4 million Canadians reporting some form of long COVID over the last two years.

Dawn Bowdish, professor of medicine and Canada Research Chair in Aging and Immunity, recently spelled out the consequences to the Toronto Star in terms the politicians dare not speak. “Canadians collectively are going to be less healthy and live shorter lives than we did in the pre-COVID world.”

She bases her view on hard facts. Given that 4.5 per cent of people infected with Omicron go on to develop long COVID, a chronic and debilitating condition that can last years, we can expect declining health in the population as the new normal.

Unless, of course we reject the fantasy that we can end a pandemic by pretending it is over without changing a single behaviour or condition of living.

Brendan Crabb, an infectious disease expert, immunologist and director of Australia’s prestigious Burnet Institute bluntly tells the truth. “It is never OK to get infected with a pathogen as a part of a strategy to not get infected by that pathogen.”

So what should we be doing instead?

The solutions are not hard or onerous. They do not involve lockdowns.  Or even major rule changes.

The key is to simply and systematically reduce viral transmission with clear messages that get the job done to protect the general health of our citizens, children and elders.

Everywhere. All the time.

Providing schools and work places with good ventilation and filtration is doable and even cheap, given that Canada has spent $9 billion on COVID hospitalization costs alone this year.

Why isn’t it happening?

Putting on a N95 mask or a respirator in public spaces radically reduces transmission and protects everyone.

Why isn’t the government providing N95 masks for free to encourage their widespread use?

Isolating when sick, an old-fashioned courtesy, reduces the spread of disease.

Why did we abandon this basic communal kindness?

Providing access to testing gives everyone information about viral movement and prevalence. It also invites proper treatment or respectful isolation.

Why have we retreated from medical accountability?

Public health officials have a duty to advance health and serve the common good. They abandon that responsibility when they kowtow to the short-term needs of cowardly politicians with an eye only on election cycles and disease of power.

Why, then, aren’t we being consistently reminded by health officials that the pandemic poses real risks to our health and the quality of lives?

In particular why aren’t officials daily reminding people of these critical 10 points?

1. COVID is airborne and travels like smoke.

Many public health officials still refuse to acknowledge this glaring fact. Until government makes a major investment in ventilation and air filtration in public schools, we risk kids getting COVID more than once a year.

As I noted earlier, we don’t know what impact repeated infections will have on children’s immune systems and vulnerability to other kinds of infections, but it could be damaging. In fact, the stakes could be enormous. As a writer for The Gauntlet website put it: “The idea that a child born today could contract COVID 40 times before college and live a normal, healthy lifespan, is completely unsupported by what we know about this disease.”

A responsible society cares for its young; a failing one does not.

2. COVID is a disease of the vascular system.

It inflames the lining of blood vessels in both the young and old and can cause blood clotting.

This explains why COVID infection can leave in its wake a variety of cardiovascular injuries including stroke, restricted blood flow, inflamed hearts, and blood clots in the heart and lungs.

It also explains why COVID in different people affects different organs. The infection travels by the vascular system to the brain, the gut, the heart, the lymph glands and the kidneys. It was never, as hubris has alleged, a cold or “just the flu.”

3. COVID alters and . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 December 2022 at 1:17 am

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