Later On

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

The Six Steps to Cosmic Consciousness: A Pioneering Theory of Transcendence by the 19th-Century Psychiatrist and Adventurer Maurice Bucke

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Photograph from the late 19th century of Maurice Bucke when he was elderly with a full and flowing white beard and moustache. It is a three-quarter view of his face, and he is gazing intently to the right.

Maria Popova writes in The Marginalian:

“Our normal waking consciousness,” William James wrote in 1902, “is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”

A year earlier, the Canadian psychiatrist and adventurer Maurice Bucke (March 18, 1837–February 19, 1902) published a stunning personal account and psychological study of a dazzling form of consciousness that lies just on the other side of that filmiest of screens, accessible to all. Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (public library) went on to influence generations of thinkers as diverse as Albert Einstein, Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Alan Watts, and Steve Jobs.

By his own account, Bucke was “born of good middle class English stock,” but grew up almost entirely without education, working tirelessly on his parents’ farm in the backwoods of Canada — tending cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs, working in the hay field, driving oxen and horses, and running various errands from the earliest age. He learned to read when he was still a small child and soon began devouring novels and poetry. He remembers that, like Emily Dickinson, he “never, even as a child, accepted the doctrines of the Christian church” — a disposition utterly countercultural in that era of extreme religiosity.

Although his mother died when he was very young and his father shortly thereafter, Bucke recalls being often overcome by “a sort of ecstasy of curiosity and hope.” (What a lovely phrase.) At sixteen, he left the farm “to live or die as might happen,” trekking from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from Ohio to San Francisco, working on farms and railroads and steamboats, narrowly escaping death by illness, starvation, and battle on several occasions. In his twentieth year, he heard of the first major discovery of silver ore in America and joined a mining party, of which he was the only survivor, and barely: On his way to California, while crossing the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, he suffered frostbite so severe that one foot and a few toes on the remaining foot had to be amputated.

When he finally made it to the Pacific Coast, Bucke used a moderate inheritance from his mother to give himself a proper college education. He devoured ideas from books as wide-ranging as On the Origin of Species and Shelley’s poems. After graduating, he taught himself French so that he could read Auguste Comte and German so that he could read Goethe. At thirty, he discovered and became instantly besotted with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which he felt contained vaster truth and richer meaning than any book he had previously encountered. It was Whitman who catalyzed Bucke’s transcendent experience.

More than a century before Michael Pollan insisted in his masterly inquiry into the science of psychedelics that “the Beyond, whatever it consists of, might not be nearly as far away or inaccessible as we think,” Bucke suggests that it might be just a poem away. Writing in the third person, as was customary for “the writer” in the nineteenth century, he recounts his transformative illumination:

It was in the early spring, at the beginning of his thirty-sixth year. He and two friends had spent the evening reading Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Browning, and especially Whitman. They parted at midnight, and he had a long drive in a hansom (it was in an English city). His mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images and emotions called up by the reading and talk of the evening, was calm and peaceful. He was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment. All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame-colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next, he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary lightning-flash of the Brahmic Splendor which has ever since lightened his life; upon his heart fell one drop of Brahmic Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an aftertaste of heaven. Among other things he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain.

Although the illumination only lasted a moment, Burke felt that he learned more in those few seconds than in all his years of study, more even than what could ever possibly be taught by the standard modes of scholarship. (“The transformation of the heart is a wondrous thing, no matter how you land there,” Patti Smith would write a century later.) In that instant, as “the secret of Whitman’s transcendent greatness was revealed,” he experienced something he could never forget, which he called “cosmic consciousness” — a term he borrowed from the English philosopher and poet Edward Carpenter, who was among the first Western thinkers to popularize the ancient teachings of the Eastern philosophical and spiritual traditions.

Continue reading.

A color illustration of a naked man standing on the shore of a calm sea, his back to the viewer, and his arms open with his hands resting on his head, facing a brilliant sun on the horizon.
Art by Margaret C. Cook from a rare 1913 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. (Available as a print.)

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 6:42 pm

The Future Is Handmade

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Craftsmanship Quarterly has an interesting article with a video. Todd Oppenheimer writes:

One day in December, 2003, when he was a young archaeology student, Maikel Kuijpers was attending a workshop at the Netherlands’ National Museum of Antiquities, and was handed a sword made during the Bronze Age. The workmanship of the ancient weapon immediately captured him. “The lines, the details, the fine balance when holding it,” he recalls. “The attention put into its making was still resonating three thousand years later.”

Kuijpers realized that this ancient weapon posed enough questions about the nature of knowledge—how it’s produced over time, and why knowledge matters—that it could inspire a long-term program of study. Over the next 15 years, as he developed a master’s thesis on metalworking technology, Kuijpers thought about almost nothing else. His journey took him from excavation sites and artisans’ studios to the heights of academia, eventually earning him a Ph.D. in Archaeology from Cambridge University.

The dissertation for that Ph.D. turned into a 318-page addition to the annals of academic research on the nature of craft and skill. Kuijpers’ case study for this inquiry was “Bronze Age Metalworking in the Netherlands”, which became a book entitled “An Archaeology of Skill” (Routledge, 2017). Along the way, with help from the Netherlands’ Centre for Global Heritage and Development, Kuijpers also produced a remarkable documentary, called “The Future is Handmade.” Running just over 12 minutes, the documentary features interviews with several of the world’s leading experts on craftsmanship, played over scenes of various master artisans at work. The cast includes a tailor, a violin maker, a ceramicist, a winemaker, and a barber. The resulting film, brief as it is, is nothing short of a tour de force—both intellectually and emotionally.


During his explorations, Kuijpers was continually surprised by what he saw in the workshops he visited. “When you watch artisans at work,” he told me, “in a strange way it’s very calming.” Time after time, Kuijpers noticed a lack of stress in these workshops. One reason, he concluded, is that when people are working with their hands, quality can’t be rushed; nor can it be faked. “Masters don’t need to say they’re the masters—it’s obvious in the work.”

He also noticed an atmosphere of order, which seemed to arise from a shared sense of the hierarchy in these workshops. “I’m Dutch,” he says, “and we pride ourselves in having a very egalitarian society, so we don’t generally see hierarchy as a good thing.” Much of that view, he believes, comes from the very different atmosphere that tends to dominate white-collar offices, where there is often confusion about whether the boss really deserves to be in charge. “In an artisan’s workshop, it’s perfectly clear who the master is, and where everyone else stands on the hierarchy of skill.”

The power structure that hierarchy created inside artisan workshops left Kuijpers feeling surprisingly impressed, and hopeful that we can somehow find a way to spread its virtues. “It’s more stable, more easily accepted,” he told me. “It’s very clear, and it exists outside of social influences.”


Throughout Kuijpers’ film, one expert after another talks about . . .

Continue reading.

Update: This account seems relevant.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 6:09 pm

The TikTok Hearing Revealed That Congress Is the Problem

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Dell Cameron reports in Wired:

IN ONE SENSE, today’s US congressional hearing on TikTok was a big success: It revealed, over five hours, how desperately the United States needs national data-privacy protections—and how lawmakers believe, somehow, that taking swipes at China is a suitable alternative.

For some, the job on Thursday was casting the hearing’s only witness, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, as a stand-in for the Chinese government—in some cases, for communism itself—and then belting him like a side of beef. More than a few of the questions lawmakers put to Chew were vague, speculative, and immaterial to the allegations against his company. But the members of Congress asking those questions feigned little interest in Chew’s responses anyway.

Attempts by Chew, a 40-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker, to elaborate on TikTok’s business practices were frequently interrupted, and his requests to remark on matters supposedly of considerable interest to members of Congress were blocked and occasionally ignored. These opportunities to get the CEO on record, while under oath, were repeatedly blown in the name of expediency and for mostly theatrical reasons. Chew, in contrast, was the portrait of patience, even when he was being talked over. Even when some lawmakers began asking and, without pause, answering their own questions.

The hearing might’ve been a flop, had lawmakers planned to dig up new dirt on TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, or even hash out what the company could do next to allay their concerns. But that wasn’t the aim. The House Energy and Commerce Committee was gathered, it said, to investigate “how Congress can safeguard American data privacy and protect children from online harms.” And on that, the hearing revealed plenty.

For one thing, it’s clear that the attempts to isolate TikTok from its competitors—to treat it differently than dozens of other companies with atrocious records of endangering kids and abusing private data—is a pointless exercise. Asking about TikTok’s propensity for surveilling its own users, Chicago congresswoman Jan Schakowsky warned Chew against using legal, typical industry practices as a defense against these wrongs. “You might say, ‘not more than other companies,’” she said, adding that she preferred not to “go by that standard.”

OK. But why not?

The truth is that if TikTok were to vanish tomorrow, its users would simply flock to any number of other apps that have no qualms about surveilling the most private moments of their lives and amassing, manipulating, and selling off sensitive information about them. Excluding the most serious but largely unsubstantiated allegations leveled at TikTok—that it is acting or will act in coordination with Chinese intelligence services—there wasn’t a concern about privacy raised by lawmakers Thursday that couldn’t be addressed by existing legislation supporting a national privacy law

Ensuring that companies and the data brokers they enrich face swift reprisals for blatantly abusing user trust would have the benefit of addressing not only the accusations levied against TikTok, but deceitful practices common across the entire social media industry.

The irony of US lawmakers pursuing a solution to a problem that’s already been solved by draft legislation—but not actually fixed due to its own inaction—wasn’t entirely lost on the members. While primarily focused on a single company, the hearing, Florida congresswoman Kathy Castor said, should really serve as a broader call to action. “From surveillance, tracking, personal data gathering, and addictive algorithmic operations that serve up harmful content and have a corrosive effect on our kids’ mental and physical well-being,” she said, Americans deserve protection, no matter the source.

This issue, Castor added, goes far beyond TikTok and China. “There are other malign actors across the world who gather data, who use it as an element of social control, influence peddling, and worse,” she said. “Big Tech platforms profit immensely from keeping children addicted … They are the modern-day tobacco and cigarette companies.”

The conflation of data privacy concerns—that is, the surveillant threat posed by Beijing—and the ways in which TikTok fails its underaged users was a theme throughout the hearing, with both topics puzzlingly discussed interchangeably. In reality, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 5:52 pm

Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) Stew

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A cutting board heaped with the stew's ingredients: 5 Cambray onions, a pile of 10 large domestic white mushrooms, 2 lemons, 2 turmeric roots, 1 large ginger root, 1 bunch of thin asparagus, a 2-cup bowl of cooked hulled barley, a block of tofu, a pile of 18-20 small garlic cloves, 4 large red Fresno peppers, and a large bunch of rapini. In the background are Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, a jar of dried marjoram,, a tin of smoked Spanish paprika, a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce, a bottle of Marukan rice vinegar, and a bottle of Pagoda 8-year-old Shaoxing wine.
Not shown: No-salt-added vegetable broth, turmeric paste, and red cabbage (to be shredded and stirred in raw once the stew is done)

Just from looking at the photo, you can tell that this recipe calls for my 6-qt wide diameter pot. I got a nice bunch of rapini (aka broccoli rabe) the other day and last night I thought up this recipe:

• 5 Cambray onions, sliced including leaves
• 10 or so medium-large mushrooms (all I had on hand), halved & sliced thick
• 2 cups cooked hulled barley (cooked yesterday, refrigerated overnight)
• 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed overnight in TofuBud, diced medium-large
• 2 seedless lemons, diced
• 2 tumeric roots, minced (+ 2 tsp Georgia Gold turmeric paste)
• 1 large section ginger root, minced
• 18-20 smallish garlic cloves, chopped small
• 4 large red Fresno peppers, sliced

I added about 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to the pot, and I added the above to the pot as I prepped it. That filled the pot pretty well, so I turned the induction burner on to “4” and started cooking it to get more room by wilting the vegetables. I used my wooden spatula to mix the veg and then again to stir them occasionally as they cooked.

When I detected a little sticking (the barley, I imagine), I added:

• about 1/3 cup Pagoda 8-year-old Shaoxing wine (haven’t had this for a while)
• about 3 tablespoons Marukan rice vinegar
• about 2 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
• about 1/4 cup veggie broth

I stirred to mix — and also deglaze the bottom — then covered the pan and cooked at 225ºF for 5 minutes. That reduced the volume in the pan. I then added

• 1 large bunch rapini, rinsed and chopped
• 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
• about 1/4 cup dried marjoram
• about 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (for turmeric) 

I cooked that for a while, stirring frequently, and then covered the pan and cooked at 225ºF for 10 minutes. I then added:

• 1 bunch asparagus, chopped in 1″ sections

I stirred to mix that in, then covered the pot and cooked at 225ºF for 7 more minutes. Then I turned off the heat and stirred in:

• about 2 cups shredded raw red cabbage.
• 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

A green stew with yellow tones. Visible are rapini, diced tofu, purple cabbage pumpkin seeds, red Fresno pepper, sections of asparagus, and other vegetables.

I’m having a bowl now, and it’s tasty — somewhat spicy, due mainly (I think) to the black pepper.

The dish measures up pretty well to Greger’s Daily Dozen:

• Beans – tofu
• Whole Grain – hulled barley (an intact whole grain)
• Cruciferous Vegetable — rapini, red cabbage
• Greens — rapini, red cabbage
• Other Vegetables — onions, garlic, asparagus
• Herbs & Spices — paprika, majoram, ginger, pepper
• Fruit — lemons
• Nuts & Seeds — pumpkin seeds

Not included: Flaxseeds — but I add 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed to the bowl I had. Mushrooms might be put in “Other Vegeables” even though a mushroom is not even in the plant family, much less a vegetable.

This will be meals for a few days.

The first bowl I ate plain and liked it, but I also like a little sauce, so I used a small whisk to mix together in a small bowl:

Amano Mugi Miso (barley)
Soom Tahini
• Smooth peanut butter from For Good Measure (peanuts and nothing else)
• Maple syrup
• Marukan rice vinegar
Smak Dab Beer Chipotle Mustard
• Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 3:19 pm

“Fact-checking” is a feeble, inadequate way to respond to racist, antisemitic incitement

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Dan Froomkin writes in Press Watch:

I’m not sure there has ever been a major-media “fact check” that more completely, ludicrously, and appallingly missed the point than the one the New York Times published on Thursday about the vile, scurrilous, racist, antisemitic Republican claims aimed at demonizing and linking a Black district attorney and a prominent Jewish funder.

Appearing under the headline “Explaining the Ties Between Alvin Bragg and George Soros,” the “fact check” by Linda Qiu addressed whether there were, in fact, any links between the Manhattan DA who may be on the verge of indicting Trump for fraud and campaign-finance violations,  and the left-wing philanthropist and noted target of antisemitic slander.

There are, strictly speaking, some things you could call links between the two men. But they are inconsequential.

Concluding that “These claims are exaggerated” is to entirely miss the actual meaning of the claims. It minimizes them. It whitewashes them. It virtually endorses them.

The journalistic issue should not be whether there is some factual basis in there somewhere, but that Trump and congressional Republicans are engaging in deceitful racist incitement.

The article’s acknowledgment that Soros is “a boogeyman on the right” and that attacks on him “often veer into antisemitic tropes” is a criminal understatement. Soros has become well known right-wing shorthand for Jewish cabal.

In a social media missive Friday that elite political reporters utterly failed to explain amounted to incitement and extortion, Trump also referred to Bragg as a “Soros backed animal.”

It’s beyond disgusting.

So here is how a journalist should respond: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 12:19 pm

The US and Argentina

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The US has a long, sordid, and disgraceful history of overthrowing democratically elected governments abroad (and, of course, recently the same thing was attempted domestically in an effort that is still ongoing). The US in general gives lip service to the idea of democracy but has proven to be quite ready to chuck that out the window in favor of more brutal methods, as it did in Argentina in the early 1970s.

Three years ago Ernesto Londoño reported in the NY Times about US support in installing, training, and otherwise helping military dictatorships. 

The United States provided varying degrees of support to military juntas that came to power in Latin America during the Cold War. Latin American military officials received training on harsh counterinsurgency techniques at the United States Army School of the Americas as Washington leaned on allied governments to stem the appeal of communism in the region.

“Harsh counterinsurgency techniques” is a euphemism for torture and murder. The US not only condoned the practice, it trained people in how to do it “better” — that is, inflict more pain, get away with more murder.

Londoño’s article is well worth reading (especially if you see through the euphemisms), but the article I particularly want to point out is the article in the Guardian by Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires, which begins

An old, boxy twin-engine propellor plan sits on a white runway under a lowering sky, in a dismal black-and-white photograph.
Skyvan PA-51 was used to ‘disappear’ perceived enemies of Argentina’s dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s. Photograph: Giancarlo Ceraudo

On the night of 14 December 1977, the three pilots flew their turboprop aeroplane for more than an hour out over the Atlantic Ocean. The technical log they had completed on takeoff registered no passengers, but that was a lie: on the cabin floor behind them lay eight women and four men, tortured, drugged and barely conscious.

Two of the flight crew stripped the victims naked and opened the ramp door at the rear of the plane. Then they pushed their victims out, to fall thousands of feet into the South Atlantic.

Though such “death flights” by which thousands perished were routine during Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship, many of their details remain unknown.

After an astounding series of events, however, not only have the pilots of this particular flight been identified and convicted, but the plane itself, a Belfast-built Short SC.7 Skyvan, has been located in the US and will soon be returned to Argentina, where it will be put on display in Buenos Aires at the Museum of Memory set up in the former Argentinianmilitary death camp that it once served.

Cecilia De Vincenti, whose mother, Azucena Villaflor, perished on the flight, said the plane’s return will provide concrete proof against Argentina’s rising tide of dictatorship denialism.

“It will render history tangible: they were alive until 14 December, when they were thrown from this plane, and no one will be able to deny that now,” she said.

Unlike Brazil and Uruguay, where wide-ranging amnesties were passed for crimes committed during their dictatorships, Argentina has tried and convicted about 1,000 former military officers for human rights abuses under military rule. But that consensus shattered under former president Mauricio Macri, who may run again in this year’s elections – and who this week dismissed the issue as “the human rights scam of what happened 40 years ago”.

It is hoped the plane will return to Argentina by 30 April, the anniversary of the first time the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo marched in front of the presidential palace in 1977, demanding news of their children who had been forcibly disappeared by state forces.

The 12 people thrown from the Skyvan on the night of 14 December belonged to the Group of the Church of the Holy Cross, named after the Irish community church where they met. They included three members of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, including Villaflor, three other relatives of missing people, two French nuns and four young activists who helped the relatives in their search for their loved ones.

I knew most of them because they came regularly to the Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language daily where I worked that was one of the few outlets to report on the disappearances. After we published their stories, the activists tried to persuade me to join their group, and the Mothers sometimes returned if only to hold my hand in silence for 15 minutes.

Two were taken from the Comet bar near the Herald offices where we had been scheduled to meet on 8 December. Had I been at the table that day I might also have ended up tumbling from that Skyvan.

The aircraft used for that flight was located thanks to . . .

Of course, you might say, that was not in the US. The US might help dictatorships, but the US itself is not a dictatorship. Not yet — but it is heading in that direction.

And in that connection, Emptywheel has an interesting list of the lawyers who have assisted Donald Trump in his efforts to overthrow democracy in the US. Read the full post, but here’s the list:

  1. Michael Cohen (hush payment): convicted felon whose phones were seized April 9, 2018
  2. Rudolph Giuliani (Ukraine, hush payment, Georgia, coup attempt): phones seized in Ukraine investigation April 28, 2021, received subpoena for billing records in fundraising investigation around December 2022
  3. John Eastman (Georgia, coup attempt): communications deemed crime-fraud excepted March 28, 2022; phone seized June 22, 2022
  4. Boris Epshteyn (stolen documents, coup attempt, Georgia): testified in Georgia grand jury; phone seized in September after which he retroactively claimed to have been doing lawyer stuff
  5. Sidney Powell (fraud, coup attempt, Georgia): Subpoenas sent in fraud investigation starting in September 2021; testified before Georgia grand jury; appeared in November subpoena
  6. Jeffrey Clark (coup attempt): May 26 warrant for cloud accounts and phone seized June 22, 2022
  7. Ken Klukowski (coup attempt): May 26 warrant for cloud accounts
  8. Victoria Toensing (Ukraine, coup attempt): Phone seized in Ukraine investigation April 28, 2021, on June and November subpoenas
  9. Brad Carver (Georgia and fake elector): phone contents seized June 22
  10. Jenna Ellis (coup attempt and Georgia): Rudy’s sidekick, censured by CO Bar for lying serial misrepresentations, on June and November subpoenas
  11. Kenneth Cheesbro (fake elector, Georgia): included in June and November subpoenas
  12. Evan Corcoran (stolen documents): testified before grand jury in January, testifies under crime-fraud exception on March 24
  13. Christina Bobb (coup attempt, Georgia, stolen documents): interviewed in October 2022 and appeared before grand jury in January, belatedly asked for testimony in Georgia
  14. Stefan Passantino (coup attempt obstruction and financial): included in November subpoenas, alleged to have discouraged full testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson
  15. Tim Parlatore (stolen documents): appeared before grand jury in December 2022
  16. Jennifer Little (Georgia and stolen documents): ordered to testify under crime-fraud exception
  17. Alina Habba (stolen documents, NYS tax fraud): testified before grand jury in January
  18. Bruce Marks (coup attempt): included in November subpoena
  19. Cleta Mitchell (coup attempt and Georgia): included in November subpoenas
  20. Joshua Findlay (coup attempt): included in June subpoenas
  21. Kurt Olsen (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
  22. William Olson (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
  23. Lin Wood (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas
  24. Alex Cannon (coup attempt, financial, stolen documents)
  25. Eric Herschmann (coup attempt, Georgia, financial, stolen documents)
  26. Justin Clark (coup attempt and financial): included June and November subpoenas
  27. Joe DiGenova (coup attempt): included in June and November subpoenas
  28. Greg Jacob (coup attempt): grand jury appearances, including with Executive Privilege waiver
  29. Pat Cipollone (coup attempt): grand jury appearances in summer and — with Executive Privilege waiver — December 2
  30. Pat Philbin (coup attempt and stolen documents): grand jury appearances in summer and — with Executive Privilege waiver — December 2
  31. Matthew Morgan (coup attempt): included in November subpoenas

Tim Parlatore is the latest addition to this list, based  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 12:14 pm

Planet Java Hive and Progress

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A stylized photo that shows a shaving brush that has a white knot with gray tips and a white handle with a red base next to a tub of shaving soap whose label has a yellow background, the lower portion of which looks to be a honeycomb. In the foreground is the helmet of a purple spacesuit with "Planet Java Hive" in yellow just below the faceplate, which reflects a bee hovering above a sea of java under a turquoise sky. Next is a transparent rectangular glass bottle with a black cap and a label like the one on the soap. In fron is a gold DE razor, a Merkur Progress, the adjustment set at "3."

The Fine Classic brush immediately brought forth a great and fragrant lather — CK-6 FTW — from my tub of Planet Java Hive, whose coffee+honey fragrance I find very appealing. My Merkur Progress, set at #3″ as shown in the photo, easily wiped away all stubble, and a splash of Planet Java Hive aftershave/cologne finished the job. The shave was truly excellent and a great way to step onto the threshold of the weekend.

The caffeine this morning is another cup of my Assam-Ceylon-Keemun blend I made yesterday. Not bad at all, but of course, I was working with Murchie’s excellent teas.

Written by Leisureguy

24 March 2023 at 10:22 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Biden Plan to Cut Billions in Medicare Fraud Ignites Lobbying Frenzy

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As Dan Froomkin notes, “Health insurers are spending millions to protect their ability to overbill billions to the government. Doesn’t that make you angry?”  Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NY Times:

“How’s the knee?” one bowler asked another across the lanes. Their conversation in a Super Bowl ad focused on a Biden administration proposal that one bowler warned another would “cut Medicare Advantage.”

“Somebody in Washington is smarter than that,” the friend responded, before a narrator urged viewers to call the White House to voice their displeasure.

The multimillion dollar ad buy is part of an aggressive campaign by the health insurance industry and its allies to stop the Biden proposal. It would significantly lower payments — by billions of dollars a year — to Medicare Advantage, the private plans that now cover about half of the government’s health program for older Americans.

The change in payment formulas is an effort, Biden administration officials say, to tackle widespread abuses and fraud in the increasingly popular private program. In the last decade, reams of evidence uncovered in lawsuits and audits revealed systematic overbilling of the government. A final decision on the payments is expected shortly, and is one of a series of tough new rules aimed at reining in the industry. The changes fit into a broader effort by the White House to shore up the Medicare trust fund.

Without reforms, taxpayers will spend about $25 billion next year in “excess” payments to the private plans, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a nonpartisan research group that advises Congress.

The proposed changes have unleashed an extensive and noisy opposition front, with lobbyists and insurance executives flooding Capitol Hill to engage in their fiercest fight in years. The largest insurers, including UnitedHealth Group and Humana, are among the most vocal, according to congressional staff, with UnitedHealth’s chief executive pressing his company’s case in person. Doctors’ groups, including the American Medical Association, have also voiced their opposition.

“They are pouring buckets of money into this,” said Mark Miller, the former executive director of MedPAC, who is now the executive vice president of health care at Arnold Ventures, a research and advocacy group. Supporters of the restrictions have begun spending money to counter the objections. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 11:15 am

Media coverage of Trump indictment should stick to the (highly incriminating) facts

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Dan Froomkin writes at Press Watch:

There appears to be ample evidence that Donald Trump violated a number of state laws when he told attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to a porn star days before the 2016 election, then wrote the expense off as “legal fees”.

We also know that Trump was “Individual-1,” the unindicted co-conspirator in the successful federal criminal prosecution of Cohen for violating campaign finance laws. Ample documentation proved that “Individual-1” directed Cohen to make the illegal payments.

Trump’s protestations of a “witch hunt” and his at times racist attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg do not constitute a defense, and are immaterial to the central issue of Trump’s criminality.

So what is his defense? Trump’s attorneys don’t contest that he had Cohen pay off the porn star, Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet. They don’t contest that Trump reimbursed Cohen by paying him for “legal services.”

His actual “defense” appears to be primarily that he would have paid off Daniels regardless of his political campaign, simply to avoid embarrassment, so it was all just a personal matter.

That’s a laughable defense.

So those are the facts of the case: the evidence of a crime and the defense.

But the facts of the case has not been the focus of the coverage by the elite corporate media. Its coverage is seemingly about everything else, most monotonously an endless litany of articles about imagined legal hurdles and the “political firestorm” surrounding the case.

It’s certainly true that Trump could get off due to a legal technicality. But the coverage of that one factor is disproportionate and only feeds into the false but dominant media narrative that this is a tough decision for the prosecutor that should be made with a view toward the political implications.

That is a toxic view that makes a mockery of the rule of law.

As Protect Democracy’s Aaron Baird recently wrote to me in an email, the . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:39 am

The love-child of Edwin Jagger and iKon #101

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A shaving brush with black knot and base and red handle next to a tin of shaving soap labeled "Savannah Sunrise," with a peach as a rising sun. Next is a brown glass bottle of Savannah Sunrise aftershave with the same overal design but with a logo "Dr. Jon's" show a moustachioed man with a top hat and glasses. In front is a DE razor with a stainless handle and a brown head.

We have at last arrived at mild days — I did yesterday’s walk (2.33 miles) without a jacket (but still long sleeves) — so Dr. Jon’s Savannah Sunrise came to mind: “Orange Blossom, Peach, Gardenia, Jasmine, and Honeysuckle.” The link is to the Vol. 3 version of the soap; mine is the earlier formulation, which still produced an excellent (and exquisitely fragranced) lather, thanks in part to my RazoRock Amici brush, a cute little number that does a good job.

A double-edge safety razor lying on its side and shown view up toward the baseplate. The base of the knurled stainless steel handle shows a maple leaf, and the razor's head has a comb guard on one side and a bar guard on the other.

As the post title indicates, the razor I used has characteristics of both the Edwin Jagger and the iKon Shavecraft #101. As you see in the photo at the right, showing the bottom of the baseplate, the razor is asymmetric in style — comb guard on one side, bar guard on the other — though not in feel and performance: both are quite symmetric, so I use the razor as though it were symmetric. This is the #101 resemblance.

The EJ resemblance is in the drainage design. The #101 has large troughs for the lather to collect and drain, but this one works in that regard more like the EJ, plus there’s an EJ look to the bottom of the baseplate, which in the #101 is concave rather than convex. In fact, if you look at the razor head in profile, facing one end of the head, it looks exactly like the EJ head.

I thought this must be either a Maggard or a Yaqi head. (Some Maggard heads have a similar finish.) It turns out to be a Yaqi head (and an incredible bargain at that price). Despite the illustration at the link, there are no markings on the head to indicate its origin, a violation of the first rule of marketing. (You’ll note that the handle I used is clearly marked to show its Maggard origin — it’s the MR-11.)

Full disclosure: I got to looking at the Yaqi heads and I’m ordering a few. The prices are extremely good, and my experience with Yaqi heads has been very positive. They have a couple of slants I want to try.

The razor has much the feel of the #101: comfortable and efficient — unobtrusive but does an exceptionally good job. This is a keeper and goes now into my regular rotation.

Three passes left a BBS result (some credit to the Personna Lab Blue blade). A good splash of Savannah Sunrise aftershave (a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel), and the day begins. 

The caffeine this morning is a blend. I put two tablespoons each of three Murchie teas — Assam Tippy Golden, Ceylon Kenilworth, and Keemun Extra Superior — into an empty tin and stirred and shook it well to mix, then used some of that to make my morning cup. It’s very tasty. I’ll call this Leisureguy’s Blend.

Written by Leisureguy

23 March 2023 at 10:15 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

The Iraq War: A Personal Remembrance of Dissent

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David Corn has a newsletter article in Our Land that brings back memories:

Twenty years ago, it was a lonely time in Washington. That is, lonely for anyone—particularly a journalist—who questioned the Bush-Cheney’s administration rush to war in Iraq. I was one such person, doing so in columns and media appearances. In the months prior to the US invasion of Iraq, as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their comrades in and out of government beat the drums for war, only a few reporters and pundits in the capital challenged their argument that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction; was tied to al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the horrific 9/11 attack; and posed a direct and immediate threat to the United States that could only be neutralized by full-scale war. In the aftermath of September 11, with patriotism rampant and fear affecting much of the land, few denizens of the commentariat wanted to buck the consensus for war.

I was then the Washington editor for The Nation magazine and no expert on the Middle East. But it was clear that many of the folks pushing the country to war were also no experts on the Middle East and likely would not wage war wisely or manage post-invasion Iraq competently. Consequently, it seemed obvious that an all-out attack on Iraq ought to have been a true last resort. First, the UN weapons inspection teams searching for WMDs should have been permitted to complete their mission. Then, if military action was deemed necessary, limited options or strikes ought to have been considered before a full conquest of Iraq was green-lighted. Short-circuiting the inspections, which had unearthed no significant WMDs or weapons programs, seemed foolish. Moreover, many of the administration’s claims that Saddam was loaded to the gills with WMDs and working covertly with al Qaeda were disputed by experts within and outside the federal government. Even worse, Bush and his crew talked little of their post-invasion plans. One did not have to be an experienced foreign policy professional or military strategist to fret that the war—predicated on contested accusations—could be a disaster.

Yet in post-9/11 Washington, not many pundits or politicians wanted to get in the way of the stampede toward war. (About half of the Democrats in the House and Senate voted for a measure granting Bush the authority to invade Iraq. And many prominent leaders of the liberal intelligentsia were on the side of war.) Most aggravating was that support for the coming war was often based on uncritical acceptance of the administration’s prevailing spin. At one dinner party, a close friend (and a well-known reporter) said there was no choice but to support the pending invasion because maybe Saddam possessed WMDs and opposing the war would brand one as not fully committed to American security. “You’ve got to be for this,” he said.

A few weeks before the invasion, I was doing a radio appearance with another friend who was working for an important newspaper. (He’s now a prominent media figure who has been a passionate foe of Trumpism.) He confided that he was uncertain how to assess the Bush administration’s argument for war. But, he said, since New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was for it, he, too, supported the attack. At the time, Friedman had an odd stance. He believed a war would ignite progressive change throughout the Arab world, though he noted he was “troubled” that Bush was justifying the war by falsely alleging Saddam was allied with al Qaeda. “You don’t take the country to war on the wings of a lie,” Friedman insisted. Nonetheless, this important influencer backed the invasion. I was disheartened to see my friend, a smart fellow and usually an independent thinker, cede his opinion to Friedman. But like many in Washington, he decided that sticking with the herd provided adequate cover.

An aside: Two months into the war, Friedman asserted in an interview with Charlie Rose that the invasion was a necessary response to 9/11, despite the fact that Saddam had nothing to do with that attack: “We needed to go over there basically and take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that [terrorism] bubble. And there was only one way to do it…What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, ‘Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?…Well, suck on this.’”

Suck on this? That was the level of thought that fueled backing for the war.

In the fall of 2002 and winter of 2003, it was tough to counter the fearmongering, magical thinking, and unsophisticated analysis that drove the cheerleading for war. During the run-up to the invasion, I appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show with Bill Kristol, the godfather of the neoconservative movement and a leading advocate for clobbering Iraq. I pointed out that the WMD inspections in Iraq could be useful in preventing Saddam from reaching the “finish line” in developing nuclear weapons. Kristol responded by exclaiming, “He’s past that finish line! He’s past the finish line!” He was saying that Saddam already had his mitts on a nuclear weapon, bolstering the White House’s assertion that Saddam presented a nuclear threat to the United States.

But Saddam wasn’t past any “finish line.” There was no evidence he possessed nuclear weapons. The UN inspectors had so far found no sign of an Iraqi program to develop them. (Post-invasion reviews confirmed Saddam had not been running a nuclear weapons project.) But in those dreadful months before the invasion of Iraq, the proponents of for war could say anything—and get away with it. The day before we jousted on O’Reilly’s show, Kristol declared that . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 8:41 pm

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment

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Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and author of The Second Amendment: A Biography, has a good article — presumably an extract from his book — in Politico:

“A fraud on the American public.” That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum.

Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an individual right to a firearm widely accepted, but increasingly states are also passing laws to legalize carrying weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.

Many are startled to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun until 2008, when District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capital’s law effectively banning handguns in the home. In fact, every other time the court had ruled previously, it had ruled otherwise. Why such a head-snapping turnaround? Don’t look for answers in dusty law books or the arcane reaches of theory.

So how does legal change happen in America? We’ve seen some remarkably successful drives in recent years—think of the push for marriage equality, or to undo campaign finance laws. Law students might be taught that the court is moved by powerhouse legal arguments or subtle shifts in doctrine. The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the Constitution into the mainstream teaches a different lesson: Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political maneuvering. The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree.

The Second Amendment consists
of just one sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today, scholars debate its bizarre comma placement, trying to make sense of the various clauses, and politicians routinely declare themselves to be its “strong supporters.” But in the grand sweep of American history, this sentence has never been among the most prominent constitutional provisions. In fact, for two centuries it was largely ignored.

The amendment grew out of the political tumult surrounding the drafting of the Constitution, which was done in secret by a group of mostly young men, many of whom had served together in the Continental Army. Having seen the chaos and mob violence that followed the Revolution, these “Federalists” feared the consequences of a weak central authority. They produced a charter that shifted power—at the time in the hands of the states—to a new national government.

“Anti-Federalists” opposed this new Constitution. The foes worried, among other things, that the new government would establish a “standing army” of professional soldiers and would disarm the 13 state militias, made up of part-time citizen-soldiers and revered as bulwarks against tyranny. These militias were the product of a world of civic duty and governmental compulsion utterly alien to us today. Every white man age 16 to 60 was enrolled. He was actually required to own—and bring—a musket or other military weapon.

On June 8, 1789, James Madison—an ardent Federalist who had won election to Congress only after agreeing to push for changes to the newly ratified Constitution—proposed 17 amendments on topics ranging from the size of congressional districts to legislative pay to the right to religious freedom. One addressed the “well regulated militia” and the right “to keep and bear arms.” We don’t really know what he meant by it. At the time, Americans expected to be able to own guns, a legacy of English common law and rights. But the overwhelming use of the phrase “bear arms” in those days referred to military activities.

There is not a single word about an individual’s right to a gun for self-defense or recreation in Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention. Nor was it mentioned, with a few scattered exceptions, in the records of the ratification debates in the states. Nor did the U.S. House of Representatives discuss the topic as it marked up the Bill of Rights. In fact, the original version passed by the House included a conscientious objector provision. “A well regulated militia,” it explained, “composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

Though state militias eventually dissolved, for two centuries we had guns (plenty!) and we had gun laws in towns and states, governing everything from where gunpowder could be stored to who could carry a weapon—and courts overwhelmingly upheld these restrictions. Gun rights and gun control were seen as going hand in hand. Four times between 1876 and 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 8:35 pm

Where is Springfield?

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I think of Springfield as the city in Illinois, but most counties in the US think of Springfield in Massachusetts. Some think of one or another of various other Springfields.

This site lets you enter a city name and see which of the cities that share that name come to mind for most people. For example, when I hear “Washington,” I think of DC. Most do not.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good roundup of web browsers

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I use both Opera and Vivaldi, both of which are on the list. Day-to-day, Vivaldi is my choice because of the widgets in its left vertical toolbar: history, calendar, notes, email, web pages, and others. Opera is good when VPN is required (it’s integrated into the browser, and you can turn it on or off). Both Vivaldi and Opera are built on the Chromium engine, as is Chrome, so for extensions you just go to the Chrome Web Store — Chrome extensions work perfectly in both Vivaldi and Opera.

I definitely will take a look at the others in this list from PC Magazine, compiled by Michael Muchmore. The list begins:

Though large tech corporations leverage their dominance to promote use of their own web browsers, you do have a choice in which browser you use. Many of the alternative browsers that aren’t so mainstream offer unique or interesting capabilities, such as greater customization, added privacy, and different browsing tools.

If you’re like the majority of web users, you’re using Google Chrome, which means you’re missing a few very useful features. For example, Chrome offers no reading mode, which you find in many of the alternatives included here. This mode lets you read a news article in a cleaned-up view without all the screaming clutter that adorns today’s web pages (present company included).

Perhaps of greatest importance is that Chrome’s built-in ad blocker doesn’t offer true ad blocking and privacy—only ad blocking that permits its own ad network to function unimpeded. Google has announced that even effective ad-blocking extensions won’t fully work in the future. Several browsers included here let you install plugins that block all ads and tracking. Some browsers in this list go even further, offering turbocharged privacy that includes VPN and Tor encryption.

A big factor in browser choice is customization. Chrome and Firefox offer backgrounds, but Vivaldi takes customization to new levels and Opera features a customizable side toolbar and a tile-based Speed Dial home page for easy access to your most-frequented websites.

Below, you’ll find some alternative browsers that are well worth your consideration. We’ve downloaded and installed them all to assure they work as advertised. If you have a favorite lesser-known browser that’s not listed here, please feel free to add it in the comments section. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 12:30 pm

The Oatmeal Diet for diabetics — a surprise

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The brief video below describes rigorous testing of the oatmeal diet and what those tests reveal. This video is third in a trilogy: first, Is Oatmeal Good for People with Diabetes?; second, How Does Oatmeal Help with Blood Sugars?; and third, Oatmeal Diet Put to the Test for Diabetes Treatment, the video below.

When Greger refers to “oatmeal,” he seems to mean old-fashioned rolled oats. I’m going to try this, but I think I’ll cook up a batch of oat groats (intact whole-grain oats) and see what that does.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 11:50 am

Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli — Sometimes good, sometimes great

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A shaving brush with a black handle and black synthetic knot next to a tub of shaving soap with a brown label oon which is shown a drawing of a frontal view of a bison's head, rendered as as a network of straight lines with the planes in tones of brown and tan. Next is a small rectangular glass bottle with gold cap and a label that shows a straight razor hovering above a fleur-de-lis and carrying the name of the maker, Chatillon Lux, and the fragrance, Yuzu/Rose?Patchouli.

This morning I got a good hit of the Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli from Declaration Grooming’s Bison-Tallow soap, and it was a delight. Those three fragrances have excellent synergy. Some believe that mixing fragrance notes produces what amounts to olfactory brown sludge, but the right mix transcends the components, producing something better and beyond the individual notes. So it is with Yuzu/Rose/Patchouli, a combination due to the perfumer Chatillon Lux, who produced the aftershave.

This is another 22mm $10 synthetic from Maggard Razors, and it is also an excellent brush. It easily created a fine lather, and the Rockwell Model T felt especially good this morning and produced a perfect result. I was thinking of adding this to the discard pile, and apparently it sensed that, because today’s shave was so fine, in both feeling and result, that I’ve decided to keep it.

A splash of Chatillon Lux’s aftershave lotion finished the job. Chatillon Lux made a particularly good aftershave lotion/toner. I wish he would resurrect the line.

The caffeine this morning is Fantastico’s Sulawesi Toarco Jaya: “Silky, clean, and expressive — Sugar cane, pineapple, nectarine, dried mango, black tea, vanilla.” Very smooth, with not a trace of bitterness.

Written by Leisureguy

22 March 2023 at 10:54 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Spring awakens

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A map of Victoria BC Canada, showing the blooming sequnce by street. "Spring blossoms in the City of Victoria Dark pink usually bloom Feb-Mar, Light pink usually bloom Apr-May"
Trees along a city street just barely starting to bloom.

Back for a walk, still at 2 miles (36 minutes today). The effort required is clearly dropping. It’s a mild and sunny day, and some streets have trees really into blooming. My street — see photo at right — is one that comes into its own in April and some of May.

Very nice to see the back of winter.

Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 4:32 pm

Christmas ferment reprised

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Vegetables for ferment, prior to preparation: 2 red apples, 5 Medjool dates, large ginger root, 1 red cabbage, 1 red onion, a pile of garlic cloves, a bunch of green kale, and 2 large jalapeños
Not in photo due to oversight: 3 small beets

My previous Christmas ferment was so tasty I had to have another go. I’m following my usual method, which now includes more carefully rinsing and scrubbing the vegetables — the three small beets, for example, had been scrubbed with a vegetable brush under cold running water and put on the dish rack to dry, so they didn’t make the photoshoot — but they are in the ferment.

• 1 large piece of ginger root, sliced thinly by hand
• 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
• 3 smallish red beets, coarsely grated
• 3/4 head of red cabbage, slice 1mm thick on mandoline
• 1 bunch curly-leaf green kale, stems removed and minced, leaves sliced thinly by hand
• 2 medium Pazazz apples, coarsely grated
• 1 red onion – halved, then pole-to-pole to make 3 sections of each half, then sliced thick
• a handful of garlic cloves, sliced thick
• 2 large jalapeno peppers, cap removed, then sliced thick by hand

I mixed the veggies as I went, ending with the three beets grated and mixed in. Total weight of ingredients was 2410g (5.28 lbs), so I added 60g fine sea salt and massaged and mixed the mass by hand for some time.

After I had the vegetables softened and some liquid developed, I poured in 1/2 cup spring water in which the starter culture had been hydrating, and mixed and massaged some more.

I packed my two 1.5L Weck jars, tamping the vegetables down well. This time I covered the veggies in each jar with a leaf of cabbage, a suggestion I’ve seen in a few videos. I added a fermentation weight to each jar and enough 2.5% brine made with spring water to cover the weight. Then I put the gasket and lid on each jar, took the photo, transferred to jars to a rimmed baking sheet, and put a large (19-oz) can of beans on each jar. (You could, of course, substitute cans of tomatoes or soup.) I don’t have a fermentation lock for these jars, but the weight on the lid seems to work, and any pressure build-up can lift the lid and burp the CO2.

I’m going to let these ferment for 3 weeks instead of my usual 2 weeks, so the batch will go into the fridge on April 11. I just yesterday had my first serving from the second jar of the fermented potatoes, so I won’t need this batch for a while. The three-jar method seems to work well if you start a new batch as soon as you have two empty jars. 

Update: I always start thinking about the next batch right after I make a new batch. Here are my thoughts now, for a change of pace in color:

• Green cabbage
• Lacinato kale
• 6 Cambray onions (including leaves)
• 1 large red apple
• 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
• Thin asparagus
• 4 jalapeños 
• Ginger
• Garlic


Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 2:38 pm

Aperiodic tiling with a single shape

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A tiling of the plane with tiles of the same shape in four colors: dark blue, light blue, white, and grey.

Periodic tilings of the plane — a pattern repeated indefinitely that covers the plane — are common: the checkerboard pattern using squares, the public-restroom-floor tiling of black and white hexagons, various tilings of equilateral triangles, and so on. And you can force aperiodicity — nonrepeating — on those by using colors at varying intervals. But what about a tiling that is necessarily aperiodic (nonrepeating)?

Craig S. Kaplan in a Mastodon thread writes:

How small can a set of aperiodic tiles be? The first aperiodic set had over 20000 tiles. Subsequent research lowered that number, to sets of size 92, then 6, and then 2 in the form of the famous Penrose tiles.

I have blogged that video before, and it’s fascinating — I just watched it again.

Kaplan continues:

Penrose’s work dates back to 1974. Since then, others have constructed sets of size 2, but nobody could find an “einstein”: a single shape that tiles the plane aperiodically. Could such a shape even exist? 

The whole thread is worth reviewing, and he includes some interesting links.

Alo definitely read this post by Jason Kottke, which goes further into it — and includes this fascinating video:


Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 10:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Math

Solstice for the first shave following the vernal equinox

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A black-handled shaving brush with a cream-colored knot with gray tips stands next to a tub of shaving soap whose label depicts a desert sunrise over a silhouette of three buttes, the sun's rays shown as wide stripes, alternately yellow and gold. "SOLSTICE" is printed in large white letters against the dark foreground. Next is a transparent glass bottle with a black cap that has the same label and holds a clear liquid. In front is an aluminum double-open-comb safety razor.

Yesterday’s shave occurred well before the vernal equinox, which came at 2:24pm local time (PDT). So today’s shave is the first chance to celebrate that event, and my only shaving soap with a solar-cycle connection is Phoenix Artisan’s Solstice, one of my favorites: “Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Rose Absolute, and Benzoin Resin,” a lovely fragrance.

The link above is to the CK-6 formula, but my tub, which antedates the advent of the new formula, is the (still excellent) Kokum Butter formula. If I were buying it today, though, I would get the CK-6 version because that soap is so remarkably good — the palpable benefit to the skin lasts beyond the shave.

Three passes with Phoenix Artisan’s excellent double-open-comb Ascension did a pretty good job, far short of its usual excellence. So I change the blade and did a quick fourth pass, ATG, using the PA Filament slant I used yesterday, since a good slant is unexcelled for smoothness of finish.

I finished the ritual with a splash of Solstice aftershave/cologne to carry the fragrance with me through the day.

The caffeine this morning is Murchie’s Library Blend: “Ceylon, Jasmine, Keemun, and Gunpowder tea.”

Written by Leisureguy

21 March 2023 at 9:23 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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