Later On

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

Archive for January 13th, 2023

Ominous initiative by Pittsburgh police

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It’s a bad sign when the police are no longer under control, when they decide that they are independent of the elected government.

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2023 at 8:50 pm

The Things You Are Getting Wrong About White Supremacists Is What Allows Them To Grow

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Speaking of denial, Gwen Frisbie-Fulton points out how most Americans practice denial about how widespread the White Supremacist movement is in the US:

Twelve years ago, I packed up a Uhaul and left the home my son was born in. I drove across the country with him in a car seat, singing hours of nursery rhymes to keep him entertained.

I loved that house — a big, collapsing, and beautiful Victorian farmhouse that my friends and I had sunk years of work into to make it a home. I loved that neighborhood; sweet neighbors who would holler at me to join them on their porch or come over late on New Year’s Eve with Jello shots and gossip. I loved that city — a big, heaving post-industrial city with greying art deco buildings from a more prosperous yesteryear. But it was time to go.

There were ten thousand personal reasons why I packed up that house and sold it, but there was also one troublesome thing that had been on my mind. A few years earlier the Vinlanders — a white power hate group — had set up a clubhouse only a few blocks away. They were disruptive, violent, and scary and they were recruiting the neighborhood’s poor white kids who they hoped had no other offers or chances in life. As a young, poor single mom of a white son, I knew he could eventually be a target.

I’ll take a lot of risks, but not that one.


Only days ago, a white mob marched from the White House to the Capitol building in order to break in and disrupt the Electoral College count. Some of the mob had zip ties to, apparently, take hostages. Some had guns and other weapons. Some chanted that they were going to kill the Vice President. Someone erected a platform with a noose. Five people died. The nation remains shocked. How did we get here? We each have asked. This is not us, we each have hoped.

Then, the day after the attack on the Capitol, the Indianapolis Star — the reputable, award-winning paper — ran a run-of-the-mill story including an interview with a man named Brien James. It was reported that James had joined about one hundred other Trump supporters and Proud Boys at the Indiana statehouse to oppose the Electoral College count and he spoke to the Star as the assault was occurring in Washington. The Star then also quoted James again the next day, documenting him as just another voice in this moment in history. It read like a benign human interest story: Some men, who you may or may not agree with politically, holding a protest at the statehouse — as we do and will continue to do in our American democracy.

But I know plenty about Brien James. He was my old neighbor.

Brien James was the founder of the Vinlanders Social Club — he is one of the ones I would see goosestepping outside the local bars in steel-toed boots ready to fight. He was the one who selected my neighborhood as a place for his hate group to target. It is documented that James created the Vinlanders after he was kicked out of the Outlaw Hammerskins for being too violent — he apparently nearly stomped someone to death for refusing to do a Sieg heil in the early 2000s. He later founded the Hoosier State Skinheads. For anyone who doesn’t know or doesn’t remember, “skins” are neo-Nazis. That’s not hyperbole, that’s what they call themselves.

The Vinlander house had a flag pole in the front yard and they flew Nazi and SS flags. They would blare Skrewdriver songs out the windows and sit up on the front porch drinking and glaring at passerbys. My neighbors and I regularly had to paint over swastikas that had been spray-painted on our garages and fences.

In 2007 and just a few blocks from where the Indianapolis Star interviewed James for their story this week, a gang of Vinlanders attacked a Black man in broad daylight, stomping him unconscious in the middle of a downtown street. Three Vinlanders went to prison for that attack. One later confessed to another murder and is serving that sentence, too. Plenty of Indianapolis residents remember the vile beating — when bystanders tried to call the police for help, they were attacked or threatened by the group.

Brien James continued to lead the Vinlanders even after many of his core members were in prison. Two years after the incident in downtown Indianapolis, another Vindlander (who was also a correctional officer) was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and their child and put on death row. Police found Hitler memorabilia all through the man’s house. Later that same year, two more Vinlanders were indicted for murdering a woman because she was dating a Black man.

Both Indianapolis Star articles this week failed to include any context about who Brien James is or about his movement’s extremely violent history. That context has become extremely important as this long legacy of community violence has once again turned into clear political violence and, for the first time in history, has targetted the symbolic center of our democracy — something prophesied in The Turner Diaries, the Bible of the racist right.

We, as a nation and as individuals, are very adept at ignoring white supremacy (it may be the communal skill we have excelled in most). Even though our country experiences white supremacist violence regularly, we still can barely name it when we see it. The FBI confirms that the vast majority of terror attacks in the United States are committed by far-right white supremacists, but we continue to have no national or community plan to stop this.

From Charleston to El Paso, white nationalist terror is often incorrectly described as “lone wolf” incidents, in contrast to the broad brush that we use when we see acts of property destruction or the rare acts of physical violence at Black Lives Matter protests. Seeing white nationalist terror as incidental, organic, or outside of having a sophisticated and strategic radicalization process is not only misguided; it’s very dangerous.

Most white Americans have a good instinct to distance themselves from white nationalism. However, to do so they often use incorrect shorthands and stereotypes to denounce the “other.” Since Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, I have seen the mob described as anything from “bubbas” to “hicks” to “uneducated trailer trash.” However, just today I saw a CEO, a district court judge’s son, a pharmacist, a mayor, and a woman who flew on a private jet to the rally all be doxxed on Twitter for their participation in the mob. Our rush to distance ourselves from unsavory racists and discounting their intelligence ends up framing the threat incorrectly. And it is allowing the white supremacists to get ahead.

It turns out that Brien James left that old neighborhood just like I did. However, unlike me, he didn’t move to another working-class neighborhood with make-do houses, he moved to the suburbs. Brien James did what lots of Nazis did about a decade ago: He rebranded.

Sure, the neighborhood where the Vinlanders set up and where I lived was a poor, white neighborhood in a decaying industrial city. I am sure that my neighbors and I probably meet most of the stereotypes people have of who is racist in America, at least by physical appearance and income level. But the tiki torches in Charlottesville were overwhelmingly carried by frat boys and orthodontists, and the Capitol was just vandalized by veterans and small business owners in MAGA hats, Phish teeshirts, and Columbia jackets. America needs to come to terms with the idea that some cleaned up Vinlanders might live next to you, too.

One Vinlander, Bryon Widner, who frequented the house in my neighborhood, left the Vinlanders in the late 2000s and had . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more. It seems increasingly as though the US is headed toward an ugly transformation.

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2023 at 8:11 pm

“We Convinced Our School to Bring Back Masks”

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The denial regarding Covid continues to astound me. In OK Boomer Jessica Wildfire writes about her own efforts to break through the denial around her:

My 4-year-old started preschool last year. A few weeks later, they dropped their mask policy. It made me nervous, but my spouse said it would probably be okay. “They spend most of their time outside.”

A week later, we all got Covid.

It hit me the hardest. I wound up spending at least three full days in bed. Toward the end, I was getting cold sweats. Later that fall, the kids got struck by viruses. Our daughter kept wearing a mask, but it wasn’t enough. She came home with the sniffles a couple of times. By then I was snorting Enovid every day, which is a controversial move since it’s not FDA-approved.

For a little while, I felt paranoid.

Nobody wanted to listen to me talk about Covid, not even my spouse. It was hard enough just to convince the school to accept air purifiers. Nobody wanted to hear about strep throat killing kids, or antibiotics shortages.

It felt lonely.

Finally, I decided I’d have to start gathering more evidence. So I made mega-lists of sources on everything from indoor air quality to “immunity debt.” I went out and found experts who were challenging the mainstream narrative, breaking down actual scientific studies and their implications.

Here’s my lists.

I started sharing these lists with people. I scheduled times with my spouse to talk about them in more depth.

He started to see.

I was persistent, even pushy. I said the uncomfortable things, that Covid was more like HIV than the flu, that Covid was never going away, that we shouldn’t have to keep tiptoeing around the normalcy fairytale. I referred to all the research showing that we would have to invest heavily in HEPA filtration, even upper room UVGI down the line if we wanted our daughter to stay in school.

As Kraken began spreading, I put my foot down and said if our school didn’t bring masks back, we would have to homeschool her. “Our daughter isn’t going to get Covid again,” I said. “She’s just not.” Finally, I told him neither one of us would ever be able to live with ourselves if she developed a chronic illness because we were too weak to stand up for her health.

He said, “Sometimes I worry if they think we’re overreacting.”

“What they think about us doesn’t matter.”

We sat quietly for a few minutes. I didn’t say anything else.

I let it sink in.

“Okay,” he said. “You’re right.” He said he knew it was serious, but he needed someone to lay the truth out in a way that was undeniable. He said he’d been clinging to hope, but that was going to hurt our daughter.

Next, we had to convince the school.

I was exhausted from getting him on board, so my spouse offered to do most of the talking. We made a list of points:

  1. Covid is not over.
  2. Covid is more like HIV than the flu.
  3. Mild cases don’t spare you.
  4. The less Covid, the better.
  5. Immunity debt is an urban legend.
  6. Masks don’t have to be permanent.
  7. Other cultures mask.
  8. Masks = caring.
  9. Caring is a valuable lesson for kids.

We made some practical arguments, too. We reminded the school that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2023 at 7:34 pm

Hearing aids: Cost, OTC, benefits

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Dr. Cliff’s videos on hearing aids are useful and interesting, particularly the reviews. In this video he takes a general look at the field and makes some good points.

Full disclosure: I have hearing aids that I got from an audiologist and they made an enormous difference. I was putting off getting them, but I saw an article from Johns Hopkins on how hearing loss is strongly associated with cognitive decline, and I immediately made an appointment. Once I had them, I realized how much my hearing had slipped — loss of hearing is generally so gradual that people unconsciously make adjustments to compensate, one adjustment being becoming less social because it’s hard to follow conversations. My step-father had hearing loss from working around power tools (back in the day when hearing protection was not a thing), and his adjustment to social conversation was a fixed smile. About the time I got my hearing aids, I realized I had adopted the same habit: isolated and smiling. Hearing aids are a godsend.

Update: I was just talking with The Wife (who right now is in Paris), and I told her about this post. She said that the difference in my behavior and demeanor before and after getting hearing aids was astonishing. She — like me — had not been fully aware of the change because it is gradual, but she said after I got the hearing aids, it was as if I had come to — that I was really present, instead of being somewhat withdrawn and in a private bubble. The problem with gradual change is that it is not noticed, particularly if you can adjust your behavior to accommodate the change, since such adjustments are almost always unconscious.

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2023 at 9:08 am

Make Kale Taste Delicious

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Useful and fun little video from Cook’s Illustrated:

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2023 at 8:28 am

Unconditional Surrender: great fragrance

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Shaving setup with a filter that adds highlight color to photo. First a boar shaving brush with a long knot and large chrome-colored handle, next to a tub of shaving soap whose label has a bison race rendered in polygonal planes, and finally a rectangular clearly glass bottle of aftershave whose label has a straight razor hovering above a fleu-de-lis. In front is a double-edge safety razor lying on its side, with a barberpole-etched handle.

The thing that struck me most about the shave today was the wonderful fragrance: “amber, tonka bean, amyris, cedarwood, agarwood, vetiver, cigar tobacco, black tea, jasmine, and geranium.” This soap is the Bison formula, but the soap is now made in the Milksteak formula. (I was surprised this morning to see the amazing range of Milksteak shaving soaps Declaration Grooming offers.) 

I used my Omega Pro 48 (10048) brush because I am still seeking to repeat the earlier lather experience, and I did indeed get a fine lather, but still not so stunning as Wednesday’s — but the fragrance more than made up for it.

This Above the Tie R (nowadays called the R1) has a fair amount of blade feel, but it’s still comfortable and highly efficient. I easily achieved a BBS result, and the wonderful Chatillon Lux aftershave toner reprised the fragrance and refreshed my skin. The ingredients:

Witch hazel, aloe vera, calendula extract, cat’s claw bark extract, shea oil, marula oil, polysorbate 20, meadowfoam seed oil, glycerin, fragrance, sodium lactate.

I notice that Chatillon Lux also offers some aftershaves with the current Declaration Grooming Milksteak line, but with a somewhat different formula:

Hammamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, SD Alcohol 40, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Vegetable Glycerine, Fragrance, Sodium Lactate, Allantoin, dL-panthenol, Menthol, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract

Both versions seem kind to the skin, though alcohol is pretty high on the ingredient list in the new formula and absent from the older formula.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Ode to Joy, which (being a Christmas special offering) is gone until December. “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

13 January 2023 at 8:13 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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