Later On

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

Archive for January 12th, 2023

The potato ferment: Progress report after 5 days

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I started this ferment of raw potatoes on December 7. If you click the link, you will see how much the vegetables have collapsed. I observed the same thing when I fermented giardiniera (and an earlier batch collapsed even more, but I failed to get a photo).

I also saw the same sort of collapse when I fermented mushrooms.

The first time I fermented (raw) potatoes, I do not recall much collapse, but I followed (mostly) the instructions, which said to end fermentation after two days. (I actually went for 52 hours, but that’s close.) That fermentation did not use a starter. This time, I used some of the active fermentation liquid from my beet ferment that I had started the previous day, which was quite active. That took hold after 24 hours, producing a good string of bubbles when the jar was tilted.

The bubbles are not so active as that now, but they still appear, so fermentation continues. My plan this time is to continue the fermentation for two weeks (until January 21). In the meantime, I was just curious to see the potato pile collapse so much.

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Food, Non-animal diet, Recipes & Cooking

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Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream

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I learned about the 30-minute documentary included below from a post by James Fallows, a post very much worth reading: “Wins, Bravery, and a Loss: Stories about visionary leaders, effective institutions, the toll of struggles.”

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 5:58 pm

Surveillance Footage of Tesla Crash on SF’s Bay Bridge Hours After Elon Musk Announces “self-driving” Feature

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Highway tunnel with a group of crashed cars on left. One on top of others has the trunk lid open and in the foreground is an unoccupied baby stroller.
An eight-car pileup on Nov. 24, 2022, on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.
 Photo: California Highway Patrol

Elon Musk seems to have acquired a reverse Midas touch — what a long-ago friend Julian P. Doran called being a member of the E-I-Triple T-S club (“everything I touch turns to shit”). First was Twitter — well, that was the first public reverse Midas touch. I’m sure there were many private examples prior to that. You don’t have that level of skill just out of the gate.

Now it’s Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability, which, based on the videos in the news report, is the autocorrect of driving. (Those who have experienced autocorrect will rightly shudder.)

Ken Klipperstein reports in The Intercept:

HIGHWAY SURVEILLANCE FOOTAGE from Thanksgiving Day shows a Tesla Model S vehicle changing lanes and then abruptly braking in the far-left lane of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, resulting in an eight-vehicle crash. The crash injured nine people, including a 2-year-old child, and blocked traffic on the bridge for over an hour.

The video and new photographs of the crash, which were obtained by The Intercept via a California Public Records Act request, provides the first direct look at what happened on November 24, confirming witness accounts at the time. The driver told police that he had been using Tesla’s new “Full Self-Driving” feature, the report notes, before the Tesla’s “left signal activated” and its “brakes activated,” and it moved into the left lane, “slowing to a stop directly in [the second vehicle’s] path of travel.”

Just hours before the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had triumphantly announced that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” capability was available in North America, congratulating Tesla employees on a “major milestone.” By the end of last year, Tesla had rolled out the feature to over 285,000 people in North America, according to the company.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has said that it is launching an investigation into the incident. Tesla vehicles using its “Autopilot” driver assistance system — “Full Self-Driving” mode has an expanded set of features atop “Autopilot” — were involved in 273 known crashes from July 2021 to June of last year, according to NHTSA data. Teslas accounted for almost 70 percent of 329 crashes in which advanced driver assistance systems were involved, as well as a majority of fatalities and serious injuries associated with them, the data shows. Since 2016, the federal agency has investigated a total of 35 crashes in which Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” or “Autopilot” systems were likely in use. Together, these accidents have killed 19 people.

In recent months, a surge of reports have emerged in which Tesla drivers complained of sudden “phantom braking,” causing the vehicle to slam on its brakes at high speeds. More than 100 such complaints were filed with NHTSA in a three-month period, according to the Washington Post.

The child injured in the crash was a 2-year-old who suffered an abrasion to the rear left side of his head as well as a bruise, according to the incident detail report obtained by The Intercept. In one photograph of the crash, a stroller is parked in front of the car in which the child was injured.

As traditional car manufacturers enter the electric vehicle market, Tesla is increasingly under pressure to differentiate itself. Last year, Musk said that “Full Self-Driving” was an “essential” feature for Tesla to develop, going as far as saying, “It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero.” . . .

Continue reading. Videos at the link — one from in front of the crash pile-up, one from in back.

So Musk is saying Tesla is worth basically zero. That’s two companies down. Will he go for the hat trick?

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 1:37 pm

Lather comparison surprise

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Shaving setup: A boar shaving brush with a long loft and wooden handle next to a tub of soap that has a blue label with the face of a bison rendered as a network of white lines, labeled "Declaration Grooming" and "After The Rain." That is next to a dark brown or black bottle of aftershave whose tan label has a skull in profile. In front is a stainless steel double-edge razor lying on its side.

I wanted to compare the lather from Declaration Grooming’s Milksteak formula (today) with their Bison formula (yesterday). I thus used the same brush, my Omega 20102 boar brush.

To my surprise, this morning it seemed that yesterday’s lather was better. This is so unexpected that I will be repeating the experiment down the line. Both lathers were quite good, but yesterday’s had a better consistency. Of course, it may be that today I simply used a bit too much water, or perhaps loaded the bruh not quite long enough. Future experiments will elucidate.

The RazoRack Mamba, here in stainless steel, is a fine little razor, and it did a terrific job. The aftershave, Southern Witchcrafts’ Valley of Ashes, is another aftershave that requires no skincare assistance, andmy skin feels remarkably smooth and pampered.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 10 Blend: “

John Murchie’s unconventional tea blending ideas resulted in one of Murchie’s most famous blends, one that has been a best seller for decades. Murchie’s No. 10 Blend is a mild, sweet combination of Gunpowder and Jasmine greens and Keemun and Ceylon black teas, perfect for any time of day.”

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

New Omicron Subvariant Is ‘Crazy Infectious,’ COVID Expert Warns

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Ralph Ellis writes in Medscape:

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The newest subvariant of Omicron, XBB.1.5, is so transmissible that everybody is at risk of catching it, even if they’ve already been infected and are fully vaccinated, a health expert told  USA Today .

“It’s crazy infectious,” said Paula Cannon, PhD., a virologist at the University of Southern California. “All the things that have protected you for the past couple of years, I don’t think are going to protect you against this new crop of variants.” 

XBB.1.5 is spreading quickly in the United States. It accounted for 27.6% of cases in the country last week, up from about 1% of cases at one point in December, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s especially prevalent in the Northeast, now accounting for more than 70% of the cases in that region.

It’s spreading across the globe, too. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD., technical lead of the World Health Organization, has called XBB.1.5 is “the most transmissible subvariant that has been detected yet.” 

Ashish Jha, MD, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, tweeted a few days ago that the spread of XBB.1.5 is “stunning” but cautioned that it’s unclear if the symptoms of infection will be more severe than for previous variants. . .

Continue reading. Regarding that last statement: what worries me are not the symptoms but the damage. The symptoms will go away (unless, of course, the infection proves fatal), but for some, the damage will endure. For example, it seems now that post-covid the immune system takes quite a while to recover.

Be careful out there. I stay in a lot, and if I am indoors in public, I wear an N95 mask and I keep my distance and I cut my time there as short as possible — and if the place is crowded, I don’t go in at all.

I am shocked by the number of people I see in stores who do not wear a mask. Given the damage done by a Covid infection — to the immune system, to the circulatory system, to the organs — I think they are foolhardy. 

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 8:11 am

M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie”

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Some books change over time — or they seem to. It’s as when you are on a hike through a forest and view a mountain through the trees. As you continue your course, the next day you again glimpse that mountain, and its appearance has changed. The mountain, of course, has remained the same, but you now view it from a different angle.

That happens with books: what you pick up from a book are those aspects that resonate with your experience. When you read the book later, with a greater range of experience, you’ll see different things. For me, this was vividly brought home by my readings of Madame Bovary. When I read the book in high school, it was so boring I could not finish it. When I read it for a seminar as an upperclassman in college, it was more interesting but still a bit of a slog. But when I was 40 and read it again, I could not put it down. It was totally gripping. The book had not changed; it was simply written for adults, whose life experience is greater than a schoolboy’s.

Another book that seemed to change completely from one reading to the next was J.F. Powers’s Morte d’Urban, which the second reading revealed to be much more interesting, though even after the first reading I liked the book a lot (thus the second reading).

Ford K. Brown, a tutor at my alma mater St. John’s College in Annapolis, told of a business executive he knew whose schedule was so crowded that he had only enough time to read a single book each year, and every year he read Don Quixote, which, like the mountain, presents different aspects as you journey through life, provide you look closely at it.

The above is a specific example of a more general situation: when a fixed thing looks very different to person A than it does to person B. In the above, A and B are the same person, but A is the person when younger and B when older, with the fixed thing a book. But A and B can also be different people who view the fixed thing with their difference in background making a difference in perspective, so that they thus find different things in it. A (relatively) famous example is a review of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover originally published in Field & Streamin which the reviewer’s background gives a view of the novel that most people would not see.

Although written many years ago, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has just been reissued by the Grove Press, and this fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper.

Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion this book cannot take the place of J.R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeping.

(Ed Zern, Field & Stream, November 1959, p. 142)

The phenomenon is also observed when A and B are from different cultures; an example of that is found in the previous post.

Another example — when A and B are from the same general culture but have different spheres of knowledge and experience and thus belong to different subcultures — can be found in Post-Captain, the second volume of the trilogy — Master and Commander (1969), Post-Captain (1972), and HMS Surprise (1973) — that begins Patrick O’Brian’s wonderful series of British naval novels about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. It begins with a scene at a party, with young Cecilia Williams eager to move about but temporarily in the company Mrs. Williams and Jack Aubrey:

‘Mama says they mean to go and look at the Magdalene. That is what Dr Maaturin is pointing at.’

‘Yes? Oh, yes. Certainly. A Guido, I believe?’ [said Aubrey.]

‘No, Sir,’ said Mrs Williams, who understood these things better than other people. ‘It is an oil painting, a very valuable oil painting, though not quite in the modern taste.’

A bit later, Jack Aubrey and Diana Villiers take a look at the painting.

It was clear that the Magdalene had not yet repented: she was standing on a quay with blue ruins in the background – a blue that swept with varying intensities through her robe to the sea – with gold plates, ewers and basins heaped up on a crimson cloth, and an expression of mild complacency on her face. Her blue dress had blown off – a fresh double-reef topsail breeze – and so had a filmy white garment, exposing handsome limbs and a firm, though opulent bosom. Jack had been a long time at sea, and this drew his attention; however, he shifted his gaze after a moment, surveyed the rest of the picture and sought for something appropriate, perhaps even witty, to say. He longed to produce a subtle and ingenious remark, but he longed in vain – perhaps the day had been too full – and he was obliged to fall back on ‘Very fine – such a blue.’ Then a small vessel in the lower left-hand corner caught his eye, something in the nature of a pink; she was beating up for the harbour, but it was obvious from the direction of the lady’s clothes that the pink would be taken aback the moment she rounded the headland. ‘As soon as she catches the land-breeze she will be in trouble,’ he said. ‘She will never stay, not with those unhandy lateens, and there is no room to wear; so there she is on a lee-shore. Poor fellows. I am afraid there is no hope for them.’

‘That is exactly what Maturin told me you would say,’ cried Diana, squeezing his arm. ‘How well he knows you, Aubrey.’

‘Well, a man don’t have to be a Nostradamus to tell what a sailor will say, when he sees an infernal tub like that laid by the lee. But Stephen is a very deep old file, to be sure,’ he added, his good humour returning. ‘And a great cognoscento, I make no doubt. For my part I know nothing about painting at all.’

With that as prologue: I was much impressed decades ago when around age 40 I read M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. I went on to read The People of the Lie but was not so pleased by that. But I want to read it again, for with more knowledge and experience, I now see active in the public sphere many whom I would have to say are people of the lie. George Santos is an obvious example — but those who readily accept and support him, like Kevin McCarthy, must also count as people of the lie, people who will embrace and use the lie.

Kevin Drum points out an egregiously false and misleading column by Marc Thiessen. Thiessen is an intelligent and well-educated person, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and he undoubtedly knows that what he wrote is false and misleading. His decision to write those words marks him as one of the people of the lie.

I must read again The People of the Lie. I think this time it will seem a very different book, for I have traveled farther along life’s course and seen more.

Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2023 at 7:32 am

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