Later On

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

Archive for December 23rd, 2022

The years the world’s borders were defined (by border)

leave a comment »

A map of the world, with each border between countries marked with the year the border was defined.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 7:59 pm

Christmas ferment in the fridge

leave a comment »

I started a new ferment a fortnight ago, which I called the Christmas ferment because of its timing and color scheme. I just put it into the refrigerator after removing the fermentation weights and spooning off excess liquid. Tomorrow I’ll have a full bowl. The little taste I took was good.

The appeal of fermenting one’s own selection of vegetables, apart from benefits to one’s health and microbiome, is the opportunity to pick the combination of vegetables that will go into the ferment. This one included:

• 1 piece of ginger root – sliced thinly, mostly 1mm thick on mandoline
• 5 Medjool dates – removed seeds, chopped
• 3 smallish red beets – grated
• 2 small heads of red cabbage – used one, thinly sliced on mandoline; other not needed
• 1 bunch curly-leaf green kale – thinly sliced; a very nice bunch, firm and fresh
• 1 Cosmic Crisp apple – thinly (1mm) sliced on mandoline
• 1 red onion – halved, sliced across, and then pole-to-pole to make 3 sections of each half
• 5 cloves garlic, peeled – Russian red garlic, thus large cloves; cut into thickish slices
• 4 hot red Fresno peppers – cap removed, then sliced thinly by hand

My new Beets & Leeks ferment has another week before it, too, goes into the refrigerator. And I have 4 1/2 liters of fermented vegetables to eat before I start the next batch.

Update 24 Dec: Had a bowl of it. Very tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 6:42 pm

Lawfare: “The Jan. 6 Report: A Summary with Some Analysis”

leave a comment »

A very fine summary of the voluminous report (845 pages) from the House Jan. 6 Select Committee. It begins:

‘Twas three nights before Christmas
And all through the House,
Not a creature was stirring

Except the staff of the Jan. 6 Committee, which was frantically trying to release their final report and many hundreds of accompanying documents before they all turned into pumpkins when control of Congress turned over.

They made mistakes in their frenzied late-stage push. The date on the front cover of the report reads, “December 00, 2022.” The report is numbered 117-000, which cannot possibly be correct. The FBI is called, at one point, the “Federal Bureau of Intelligence”—which is not, well, an intelligent error.

There were some unfortunate factual distortions on important issues.

And, of course, there were the endless news stories about the infighting between the committee members and the staff, and between Liz Cheney and other members.

And yet, the committee’s final report, finally released Thursday evening, is the most comprehensive account of the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021 anyone has yet produced. While it mostly reprises and elaborates on information released during the committee’s spree of hearings over the summer, it contains a lot of new details. Perhaps more importantly, it brings together all of the committee’s work in a single narrative, carefully documented and put together in an accessible fashion.

As with the 9/11 Commission report two decades ago, people will argue about the committee’s recommendations. Reasonable minds will disagree about its criminal referrals. But as with the 9/11 Commission report, this document’s impact lies in the story it tells. For it is a story no other entity could have told. It required the power of government, the ability to compel testimony and force the production of documents. Yet it also required the ability to tell a story, an ability generally off limits to prosecutors outside of the context of indictmentment.

It is, typos and flaws and errors and inadequacies and all, an essential document for accountability in the post-Trump era.

No individual has yet read, much less digested, all 845 pages of it yet. But we collectively divided it up and formulated some initial thoughts on it. What follows is a high-altitude, chapter-by-chapter overview. It excludes the executive summary, which we discussed in several pieces this week.

We will have more granular analysis over the coming days and weeks regarding different parts of the report.

Chapter I: The Big Lie (p.195)

The report’s first chapter alleges and seeks to establish that former President Trump was aware that he had lost the 2020 presidential election, yet continued to perpetuate “The Big Lie” that he had won nonetheless.

Trump was repeatedly made aware of evidence and data that showed he had lost, as well as evidence that his claims of election fraud were bogus.

Notably, the report shows that the Big Lie was not only false but also premeditated well in advance of Election Day. The report cites public comments made by Trump adviser Steve Bannnon that if Trump lost the election “He’s just gonna say he’s a winner,” as well as from longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, who politely told associates that in the event of unfavorable results, “the key thing to do is claim victory…. No, we won. Fuck you.”

The report also details the efforts of Trump associate Tom Fitton to encourage Trump to “pre-emptively declare victory” in a speech on Election Night while in-person and mail-in ballots were still being counted. Fitton wrote that counting ballots anytime after Election Day is “part of an effort by partisans to overturn the election results.”

The report outlines the numerous attempts of White House staff and other political confidants—including those who promoted Trump’s lies in public—to inform the former president that the election results were not disputable. Rather than listening to his staff, however, Trump hired a new legal team—referred to by former Attorney General William Barr as the “clown car”—to carry out his election fraud claims in court. The report goes on to detail numerous unsuccessful lawsuits, all but one of which confirmed the results of the election and dismissed Trump’s claims.

The crux of this section is the committee’s accounts of several case studies, in which Trump was specifically informed that his voter fraud allegation stories were false, but stuck with them anyway. The report focuses in particular on two conspiracy theories that Trump advanced.

The first of these was Trump’s repeated attacks on Dominion voting machines. According to the committee, Trump and his “clown car” of allies spread malicious lies and conspiracies about the legitimacy of the machines, including that their software was somehow connected to deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, China, Cuba, and “communist money.”

Trump was informed in an internal Trump campaign memo and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency that Dominion machines were accurate, reliable, and definitely not connected to foreign adversaries. Nevertheless, the president chose to lie.

In one of the more damning passages in the chapter, the committee suggests that Trump himself did not believe his own claim, reporting a phone call with lawyer Sidney Powell, who, according to the report, described a conspiracy theory similar to the one Trump himself promulgated about Dominion. In response to Powell, Trump muted his telephone, laughed, and told others in the room: “This does sound crazy, doesn’t it?”

The other Trump-pushed conspiracy theory on which the report focuses is Trump’s false claims about election fraud in Fulton County, Georgia. This stemmed from “selectively edited” video footage from a ballot counting center. Rudy Giuliani reportedly sent multiple state legislators edited footage that he claimed showed election workers repeatedly scanning fraudulent ballots that were hidden in suitcases under tables. They were, in fact, bins that are normally used to store ballots.

The committee notes that, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 6:33 pm

What One Black Judge’s Family History Can Teach Us About Justice

leave a comment »

Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

At present, Black judges make up 12.77 percent of the federal bench. This is actually, finally, starting to approach adequate representation for Black people in this country, in no small part because President Joe Biden has put forward the most racially diverse set of judicial nominations in history. But for decades and indeed centuries, diversity on the bench has not been anywhere close to where it should be. Donald Trump’s judicial appointees were, recall, 84 percent white.

Diversity matters on the federal and state judiciaries for a whole host of reasons, chief among them that such diversity determines whose stories are told in court and how. As former head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, put it in the New York Review of Books last week, in describing Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s questions at oral arguments in October over the future of affirmative action: “It has been a long time since a Black justice on the Court has spoken with such depth and experience about the many ways in which race can be deeply entwined with identity and self-expression.” As Ifill further detailed:

This oral argument mattered, in tone and substance. Its importance may have been underestimated by a benumbed Supreme Court press, understandably focused on what is likely to be the Court’s decision. Something was different here, whether it was Justice Jackson’s stunningly clear interventions; or [Solicitor General Elizabeth] Prelogar pointing out to the justices that only two women are arguing before the Court this term (would it be reasonable, she asked, for women to see that disparity and ask “is that a path that’s open to me?”); or Justice Kagan asking whether judges can consider race in hiring clerks—a question surely targeted at Justice Kavanaugh, who has spoken in the past about, and even earned praise for, hiring diverse law clerks. These moments seemed to pull the Court itself into the charged national debate about racial equality, closing the distance between the justices and our country’s ongoing struggle to build a fair and equitable democracy.

It is not, nor should it be, in dispute that “justice” often lies in the eye of the beholder. Jackson has made it abundantly clear in her short time on the Supreme Court that she will be a voice for a broader and more diverse notion of racial equality, and dignity as guaranteed in the Constitution. These interventions are important, as Ifill noted, if only because they remind us that the constitutional history of racial justice is too often written by those who have benefited most from a constitutional history of racial injustice.

I had been thinking about all of this when I contemplated the recent portrait ceremony of Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Wilkins was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2014, where he sat alongside then-Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. On Oct. 14, his official portrait was hung at the court in a ceremony typically representing one of the highlights of a judge’s tenure on the bench.

Wilkins was born on Oct. 2, 1963, in Muncie, Indiana, to Joyce Hayes Wilkins and John Wilkins. After he earned his J.D. from Harvard in 1989, he spent over a decade at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia—first as a staff attorney, and later as special litigation chief. He left the practice of law to work full time to help establish and create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2016, Wilkins authored Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100-Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

What struck me most about Wilkins’ speech was that he used it to detail a sometimes submerged narrative about the complicated meaning of freedom: He told the story of his own family’s long journey through U.S. constitutional history, a very different encounter with the Framers’ ideas about freedom and justice.

Excerpts from his remarks at that event are reprinted, with Wilkins’ permission, below.


My maternal grandmother, Marcella Hayes, was with us during my investiture to become a District Court Judge. She has . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 5:42 pm

There’s no room for COVID complacency in 2023

leave a comment »

An editorial from Nature today:

In many places, life took on a semblance of pre‑COVID normality in 2022, as countries shed pandemic-control measures. Governments ended lockdowns, reopened schools and scaled back or abandoned mask-wearing mandates. International travel resumed.

There were optimistic proclamations, too. In January, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declared that SARS‑CoV-2 no longer poses a threat to society. In September, US President Joe Biden remarked during an interview that the pandemic was over. Even Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), has expressed hope that COVID-19’s designation as a global emergency will end in 2023.

This belies the devastation that the disease continues to cause. The starkest example is in China, one of the last countries to ease pandemic-control measures in the face of the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Scenes emerging from Chinese hospitals now are reminiscent of the havoc that Omicron wrought in Hong Kong nearly a year ago. China might have seen widespread transmission regardless of whether President Xi Jinping had dropped the zero-COVID policy in December. But models suggest that the country faces the prospect of up to one million deaths over the next year, not to mention widespread workplace absences and disruptions to the Chinese — and global — economy.

Most people in China are immunologically unprepared for Omicron, the dominant strain now in circulation. They have had no exposure to any SARS-CoV-2 variant and, if vaccinated, have received vaccines only against the virus’s original strain. China is likely to discover what other countries with limited previous exposure to the virus have found over the past year: that there won’t be a single ‘exit’ wave to mark the lifting of pandemic restrictions. Further waves of infection and death are likely to follow, either from new variants that arise in the population, or from variants imported as the country opens its borders to visitors.

Renewed responses needed

Elsewhere, repeated surges in infection and death are giving way to a constant thrum of loss, as well as debilitation caused by long COVID. A focus on COVID-19 has also affected the fights against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Although precise counts are difficult to obtain, overall death rates in many countries remain higher than before COVID-19 hit.

COVID-19 vaccination rates have stalled in many nations. In some, the uptake of boosters has been dismal, even though these substantially reduce death and severe illness.

One path to renewing vaccination efforts lies with . . .

Continue reading.

In some provinces here in Canada, the government seems to have taken the attitude of the just letting Covid rip through the populace: no masking mandates, even though hospitals are getting crowded.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 4:52 pm

Changing my password manager

leave a comment »

For years and years, I have used the free version of LastPass as my password manager. Lately, however, LastPass has suffered some security breaches. Last night on Mastodon I read a strongly worded post that more or less demanded that people stop using LastPass. He strongly recommended 1Password, though he also listed some alternatives.

I was convinced and immediately downloaded and installed the 1Password plug-in on my browser (Vivaldi). It turns out that it is extremely easy to export all your LastPass data and import it into 1Password. At that link is a video along with instructions.

Once I had done that, I tried using 1Password. It didn’t work initially, but I had been warned that I would need to remove the LastPass plugin from my browser. (Low risk: if anything went wrong, I could just reinstall the LastPass plugin.) I first tried turning off the LastPass plugin, but that was not enough. I did have to remove it.

Once it was removed, everything worked well. I first tried a few low-risk sites — a clothing store, for example. I signed in — a snap. I changed the password — easy-peasy.

I then went to my Bank of America account. Sign-in was again a snap. Changing the password was trickier because BofA’s change-password routine doesn’t accept auto-fill. But I managed it, and in the process gummed it up, so after I signed out and tried to sign in, the password I had didn’t work.

So I went through the “forgot my password” routine, which involved a text message and answering a security question, but quickly got to where I entered a new password. I just entered the one 1Password had, and it was done.

I will say that I do like 1Password’s password suggestions, and in fact the entire user interface is a big step up from LastPass.

I changed passwords at a few accounts (my Canadian bank, Amazon, and a couple of others), and I will alter passwords going forward. All in all, the switchover was easy, and this morning I totally deleted my LastPass account.

Finally, read this very good thread.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 3:08 pm

Who is Honinbo Jowa? The Story of One of the Strongest Meijin in Japanese Go History

leave a comment »

I don’t post much Go stuff, but this video seems exceptionally clear — especially if you’ve seen (say) The Surrounding Game, an excellent documentary that explains Go very well. I believe the movie is available in the US on Prime Video. The first half gives a history of the game to provide a context for the second half. It’s well worth watching, and if you do watch it, this brief video will be more accessible even if you are not yet a Go player.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Games, Go/Baduk, Video

Cavendish for a late start

leave a comment »

Shaving setup in tones of brown: a shaving brush with an ovoid handle with a windmill printed on the handle, a tub of soap with the silhouette of a man with hat and Van Dyke smoking a pipe, above the word "Cavendish." To the right a bottle of aftershave with the same label. In front a DE razor with a barberpole handle, lying on its side.

This is the sort of day — snow-covered ground, freezing rain — that it would be good to sit by the fireplace and smoke a pipe. Failing that, the fragrance of a good pipe tobacco is appealing, and so the choice for today’s shave. I was thinking that this tub of Cavendish was the Kokum Butter version, and as I loaded the brush, I thought, “Wow. Kokum Butter really is an excellent soap — better than I thought.” Then I checked, and I saw I had the CK-6 formula. I had had the Kokum Butter version, but had replaced it with a tub of CK-6.

The razor is the Above the Tie slant — mine is the S model, but now that’s called the S1, since they offer a slant with a comb guard, the S2. The head has a barely perceptible slant. This razor truly deserves the “semi-slant” monicker that Parker gave their slant (which in fact slants the ordinary amount). The razor does shave very well, but very like the Above the Tie R model (now R1) that I own. This is a slant for a person who doesn’t really want a slant.

Still, the razor is quite good as a razor, and with the excellent prep (which started with Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave), the shave itself was a pleasure. Three passes later, my face was stripped of stubble. I rubbed in a drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum and applied a splash of Cavendish aftershave/cologne, and now I sit warmly inside watching a cold day go by.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 22 Blend: “a superb blend of green Gunpowder and Jasmine, as well as Keemun and Ceylon black teas.”

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2022 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

%d bloggers like this: