Later On

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

Archive for January 2nd, 2023

White people in Richmond refused state jobs to demolish Confederate statues

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Some people say racism is not a problem in the US. Read this post and see what you think.

Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government, History, Politics

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2023 — A Year of Conflict and Chaos?

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We live in frightening times, and in the Washington Spectator Dave Troy points out some of the threats:

When the 118th Congress commences in January, we will be facing several important issues simultaneously. The United States will be dangerously close to reaching its debt ceiling, and Congress will need to pass legislation raising it. Presumptive House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said he intends to use the debt limit as a weapon to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which Democrats fiercely oppose. Many expect this to play out in typical DC fashion — with a series of threats and attendant compromises.

We see a more menacing scenario forming: the actual possibility of debt default. Given the long-standing conflict over monetary policy, there is a non-zero chance McCarthy will do what he only threatened to do in 2011: actually shoot the hostage. In that last episode, he brought the US close enough to default that the US actually lost its AAA credit rating, costing billions in borrowing fees. A member of the Tea Party Caucus, which was closely aligned with the Ron Paul “End the Fed” movement, McCarthy may finally be ready to have the showdown long-anticipated by goldbugs and their sympathizers. And more extreme members of the right are calling now for “total war”, giving him cover.

The theory goes (as it always does) that too much monetary stimulus leads to inflation, and that efforts by central bankers to rein it in will lead to collapse of the financial markets, which will in turn lead to more stimulus and more inflation — creating a vicious cycle which will ultimately lead to hyperinflation along the lines of what was observed in Weimar Germany in the 1920’s. The only way out of this cycle, according to the monetary moralists, is through a final reckoning, when fiat currency and central banks will be banished forever and replaced with good and upstanding hard currency, backed by gold or other assets.

It is a kind of financial eschatology — a final end-times battle between good and evil — and the last time we immanentized this conflict and its associated anti-Semitic mythology, we ended up with World War II. We seem poised now to repeat this conflict in what is shaping up to be a long and slow-burning World War III.

Far from the unwinnable, avoid-at-all-costs nuclear holocaust envisioned by popular culture, this new war is shaping up to be a grinding metaphysical conflict backed by the constant threat of nuclear force. Witness the bizarre war-on-reality rampages of Kanye West and Elon Musk in recent months. There is a purpose to their actions: to shift (or break permanently) our Overton windows and frame of reference and to usher in their own new frame. The constant drumbeat of anti-Semitism helps drive the anti-bank narratives underlying an incipient fiat vs. gold showdown.

The presumptive incoming House majority whip, Rep. Tom Emmer (R, Minn. 6th), is a major cryptocurrency advocate, and advocates the same “hard currency” policy favored by McCarthy and his “End the Fed” friends, suggesting this will likely be an ongoing focus for the House. Given that Musk is taking Twitter to increasingly dark places daily, it seems likely that McCarthy, Emmer, Musk, and other members of the chorus will be pulling in the same direction in January. The domestic right information environment is likely to become heavily anti-Semitic, anti-bank, pro-crypto, and anti-Ukraine.

The economist Zoltan Pozsar proposed another alarming “black swan” possibility: that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 6:38 pm

Journalists’ blind spot

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Some years back Daniel Goleman write a book, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, on the causes of self-deception. It’s a fascinating book (included in the list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending), and it came to mind as I thought about a column by Julia Doubleday in The Gauntlet on journalism’s blind spots:

The day after the 2022 Midterms, I heard almost every possible interpretation of the surprising results. The Democrats had done much better than expected and feared, and youth voter turnout was unusually high. On cable news and twitter, data analysts and pundits picked apart dozens of explanations and contributing factors, from the ultimately-flat Crime Wave narrative to the nationwide gratitude for student debt forgiveness. There was, however, one word I didn’t hear on CNN or twitter: COVID-19.

COVID has killed 1.1 million Americans in roughly 1,000 days, or an average of 1,100 Americans dying daily for 2 years and 10 months. Of those 1,100 daily average deaths, 93.2% were among people over the age of 50. Older Americans are well known for the high voter turnout, as well as their conservative bent.

It’s glaringly obvious that an extra 1,000 deaths of individuals over 50 every single day for nearly 3 years would have an effect on the electorate- but not a single analysis even mentioned pandemic deaths. This is frankly, very odd. I’ve worked in campaign data, and political statisticians tend to want to take every possible variable into account; from voters’ shopping preferences, to their racial background, to their likelihood to listen to K-pop, to their hair color and first car model. Yet here we have a very, very large variable, receiving no attention or weight whatsoever.

Even assuming an ideological commitment to pretending COVID ended, no mention of 2020 or 2021 deaths? No mention of, arguably, the biggest historical tragedy of modern times? COVID deaths weren’t considered as a possible cause of the shifting electorate, then dismissed after statistical analysis; they were quite simply erased from collective memory.

Coverage that pointedly omitted mention of an ongoing mass death event had an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind feel to it, as pundits debated the efficacy of Republican messaging without mentioning their years-long anti-vaccination stance that led to disproportionate death among their voters. Blonde women on TV laughed and argued with guest pundits nitpicking any and every factor that played into the electoral results without touching the dreaded p*nd*m*c third rail. Even when “lockdowns” were brought into the conversation about DeSantis in Florida, no one seemed to recall what those lockdowns had been in relation to.

This pandemic erasure is hardly an anomaly; it can be seen in reporting about hospitals, travel, illness, schools, celebrity deaths; just about everything.

Over the past week, we were all treated to  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 4:50 pm

Why the speed of light is a limit

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A couple of videos:

Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Twitter v. Mastodon v. Post v. Other Possibilities

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Teri Kanefield takes a good and analytical look at three platforms. Worth reading. Post seems to me to be clearly problematic.

Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 1:46 pm

Seniors Are More Conservative Because the Poor Don’t Survive to Become Seniors

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Ed Kilgore wrote in New York in 2018, on what was once Memorial Day (May 31):

One of the abiding realities of our political era is a major generational split anchored on the right by disproportionately conservative seniors and on the left by disproportionately progressive millennials and post-millennials. This is often thought of as a perfectly natural, even inevitable, phenomenon: Young people are adventurous, open to new ways of thinking, and not terribly invested in the status quo, while old folks have time-tested views, assets they want to protect, and a growing fear of the unknown and unfamiliar.

There is some truth in those stereotypes, though different cohorts of young people in the past have been far more conservative than today’s, and on non-cultural matters, seniors have sometimes been as or even more progressive than their children or grandchildren (e.g., the so-called Greatest Generation, which mostly came of age during the Great Depression, was persistently Democratic-leaning politically).

But it is important to note that some generational disjunctions in political behavior are driven by demography. It’s well understood that millennials are significantly more diverse than prior generations. But there is something else driving the relative homogeneity of seniors: Poorer people are often hobbled by chronic illness, and succumb to premature death. A new academic study featured at the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog explains:

Political participation of the poor is overall lower because of poverty, bad health and many other factors, but millions of impoverished Americans across the country also die prematurely. For instance, in 2015, research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration revealed that, since 1990, among the bottom quarter of Americans with the least education, life expectancy has either stagnated or decreased. That’s for well over 40 million people.

Add to this negative trend the fact that mortality among the poor increases during middle age — which is when citizens generally get more involved in politics. The premature disappearance of the poor, then, occurs precisely at the moment when they would be expected to reach their “participatory peak” in society. But they don’t live long enough to achieve that milestone.

Since white people suffer proportionately less from poverty than nonwhite people, they do tend to live longer, and in better health, which is conducive to political and other civic activism. The most politically left-bent demographic racial group, African-Americans, has made progress recently in reducing the gap in life expectancy with white peers, but still lags in both lifespans and health, as a 2017 CDC study showed: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 12:58 pm

The wonderful double-slant and a possible mod

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A shaving set up with a silvertip badger brush that has a horn handle staning next to a tub of Chiseled Face's Sherlock shaving sop and to the right of that a bottle of Sherlock aftershave. In front, lying on its side, is a blue plastic razor with a markedly slanted head.

The soap this morning is Sherlock, by Chiseled Face. It has a distinct smoke fragrance — “a warm tobacco-based scent blended with toasted caramel, black pepper, moist dirt, and finished with a touch of leather, moss, mandarin, honey, and rose.” I do easily detect the moist dirt as well. It’s an interesting and pleasant fragrance, and the lather that it makes is first-rate. Note the ingredients on the label. The formula of my soap differs somewhat from the formula used for the current soap.

That Plisson HMW 12 is a terrific brush. It somehow took me a while to realize how much I like it — perhaps it did do some breaking-in along the way, though usually badger brushes require very little break-in. It’s a largish knot, but very comfortable and also effective.

I normally would not repeat a razor so soon, but it’s a Monday shave and I’m still bowled over by the quality of shave this little razor delivers. It’s plastic — a modern plastic, not so brittle as bakelite — and so is quite lightweight. However, the handle is hollow and open at the bottom, so it occurred to me that I could fill the handle with small round lead finishing weights or lead pellets for a pellet gun and then plug the base with putty (or pour epoxy over the pieces of lead until the handle’s full), and that would give the razor a nice heft. I might do that. In the meantime, I’m going to order a spare. (I already ordered one for my son.)

Three passes to a smooth result, and a splash of Sherlock aftershave (which contains menthol, something I don’t much care for) finished the job. I took the curse off the menthol with a drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 10 Blend: “a mild, sweet combination of Gunpowder and Jasmine greens and Keemun and Ceylon black teas, perfect for any time of day.”


Written by Leisureguy

2 January 2023 at 11:49 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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