Later On

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

What’s up with my blogging

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A reader wrote inquiring about the change in pattern of my blogging (less frequent) and about the spareribs recipe I posted (do I still follow a whole-food plant-based diet?). I thought others might be wondering about that, so here’s what’s up with me on those accounts.

Blogging and its interruptions

My decision to acquire fluency in Esperanto has required a fair amount of time — here’s my current regimen. That post includes some detail on the reasons for the regimen.

The time spent in study means fewer blog posts. However, I now have the bit in my teeth and am determined to achieve fluency.

Whole-food plant-based diet

I still follow this diet, but my family and (I suspect) many of my readers do not, though certainly my family and I hope my readers do emphasize the consumption of fresh vegetables (including leafy greens), dried beans, intact whole grains, fresh fruit, berries, and nuts and seeds, and minimize the consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs — and try to avoid refined and “product” foods.

Still, I like food, and when I see a recipe like the St.-Louis-style spareribs (riparaĵo laŭ la stilo “St. Louis”), a recipe that is interesting, sounds tasty, and is easy, I post it for my meat-eating readers. Indeed, I might eat a rib or two on a special occasion, but certainly I continue now to follow a diet that is almost exclusively whole-food and plant-based. If I don’t, my blood glucose goes up (since I no longer take any medication for that — or for high blood pressure, since I also have cut out added salt).

I do think it’s a good idea to cut out refined food (e.g., refined sugar and foods that contain it, ultra-processed foods, fruit juice) and move toward whole foods, and to minimize one’s consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs, for the reasons explained in Dr. Michael Greger’s book How Not to Die and his more recent book How Not to Diet. But I figure you can read those and decide for yourself based on the research findings he points out.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2020 at 10:25 am

Milestones of a child’s life

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I have a new grand-nephew and I was thinking about some important post-birth milestones. These are from the parents’ point of view, since the first two are not milestones the child recognizes in any conscious way:

  1. Starts sleeping through the night
  2. Able to feed self
  3. Potty trained, diapers discontinued
  4. Able to dress self
  5. Able to pick out clothes to wear
  6. Starts school
  7. Able to read books for own entertainment
  8. Able to write for own entertainment (e.g., diary)
  9. Able to cook and prepare meals
  10. Able to select good food at the market (e.g., produce, fruit)
  11. Puberty
  12. Gets driver’s license (optional in some locales)
  13. Starts voting (in locales that allow it, assuming vote not suppressed)
  14. Self-supporting
  15. Has children, repeating cycle (optional)

Obviously this sort of list varies by culture and often by sex (cf. touch typing, smartphone acquisition and skills, bar/bat mitzvah, christening, first communion, quinceañera, first recital, first speaking part on-stage, various graduations, et al.).

What would you add?

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2020 at 10:22 am

Posted in Daily life

Algorithm-governed interactions are often convenient, sometimes enraging, and occasionally dangerous

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Here’s an example of the enraging sort. The comments on YouTube for this video are interesting:

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2020 at 9:33 am

iKon DLC slant and Stubble Trubble Up & Adam

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The Omega 20102 boar-bristle brush is quite nice, and I love Stubble Trubble’s Up & Adam: espresso and vanilla — what’s not to like.

Although the Diamond-Like-Carbon coating makes the head almost invisible against the black background — I should have placed the razor atop the tub — it did a super-nice job this morning: a lovely, smooth result. I’ve learned the best angle (handle far from face) and preessure (extremely light) for this razor and it now works extremely well for me. The current coating iKon uses, the B6 coating, is even better than the DLC coating.

A splash of Spring-Heeled Jack — another coffee fragrance, with a wonderful dry-down — and here we are teetering on the brink of July.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2020 at 9:27 am

Posted in Shaving

Entire pro softball team quits in disgust over general manager’s tone-deaf tweet

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The general manager should be fired and banned. Here’s the report.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 June 2020 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games

Salt & Pepper Ribs: Easy-Peasy

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Recipe for Salt & Pepper Ribs includes the video below, but is printable at the link. (He serves it with All-American Barbecue Sauce.)

And the sauce:

Written by LeisureGuy

28 June 2020 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

A black man makes a good point about Joe Biden

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Written by LeisureGuy

28 June 2020 at 8:33 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Instant nostalgia: The Nostalgia Machine

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Try it. Pick a childhood year.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 June 2020 at 7:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Music

Sharp disconnect between President Trump’s words and actions

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Heather Cox Richardson points out some things that Trump supporters must ignore or edit out of their consciousness:

The Trump administration did not respond until almost 5:00 this evening to last night’s astonishing news that Russian operatives had offered bounties on US soldiers during the Afghanistan peace talks, and that the administration had been briefed on this development back in March and had chosen not to respond. The story was broken last night by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and confirmed today by the Washington Post.

Trump himself did not engage the story at all, although he had plenty to say today on Twitter. Late in the afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany finally said in a statement that Trump and Vice President Pence had not been briefed on the “alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence at the time, Richard Grenell, who had no expertise in intelligence before taking the post, today denied knowing anything about the story.

Is it possible that intelligence officials knew that Russia was paying militants to target US and allied troops and they chose not to tell the president, vice president, or acting Director of National Intelligence? According to Ned Price, a national security expert who worked at the CIA for eleven years and who left rather than work for Trump, the answer is no. “That’s virtually inconceivable,” he wrote on Twitter. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham seemed to agree. “Imperative Congress get to the bottom of recent media reports that Russian GRU units have offered to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region,” he tweeted.

That was not the only story the administration denied today. Trump also pushed back on the story that the Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act. “Now that the very expensive, unpopular and unfair Individual Mandate provision has been terminated by us,” he tweeted, “many States & the U.S. are asking the Supreme Court that Obamacare itself be terminate so that it can be replaced with a FAR BETTER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE…. Obamacare is a joke! Deductible is far too high and the overall cost is ridiculous. My Administration has gone out of its way to manage OC much better than previous, but it is still no good. I will ALWAYS PROTECT PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS.”

But the administration is in court right now trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act, along with its protection for people with pre-existing conditions. And while Trump ran for president in 2016 on the idea that he would replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, the Republican Party has never offered a replacement bill.

There was a lesser story, too, where what the administration said did not square with what actually happened. Yesterday, Trump tweeted “I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced. The arsonists, anarchists, looters and agitators have been largely stopped….”

Today, Trump spent the day at his golf course in Sterling, Virginia.

And then there was a huge story where reality crashed into ideology. Today, the U.S. set another record for coronavirus cases, with 44,782 new infections. This is the fifth daily record in a row. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nevada all set new daily highs. Trump has consistently downplayed the severity of the pandemic, urging governors to reopen their states and restart their economies. Governors in Florida and Texas, who had been aggressive about reopening their states, have backtracked to slow the spread of the virus. “If I could go back and redo anything,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) said, “it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars….”

Meanwhile, New York, which had been the epicenter of the virus, has dropped its new infections from almost 10,000 a day to just 673 cases statewide, and is about to enter a new phase of its reopening plan.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CNN’s Chris Cillizza that Democrats like him had a fact-based theory about how to beat coronavirus infections: keep the state closed until metrics showed the virus was receding. Republicans, in contrast, thought: “We can reopen quickly and we can handle the virus because it will go away, or we will have a vaccine.”

Cuomo pointed out that the coronavirus highlighted the difference between reality and a narrative based in ideology. “A virus has a rate of increase and a number of deaths either goes up or goes down,” he said. “The number of people going to hospitals goes up or goes down. It’s not subject to debate because the hospital bed is either empty or it’s full, we either bury people or we don’t.”

“We tested both theories,” Cuomo told Cillizza. “We have the evidence. It’s numbers. It’s irrefutable. Why don’t we pause and recognize the undeniable reality of the situation?” “There are no Democratic facts and Republican facts,” he said. “There are just facts.”

—-

Notes: . . .

Continue reading. The notes are links to supporting documentation.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 June 2020 at 7:43 am

Five myths about policing

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Alex S. Vitale, professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and author of The End of Policing, writes in the Washington Post:

In the wake of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended such reforms as implicit-bias training and an increase in officer diversity — an approach that is now shaping much of the official response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But the public conversation about valuing or “defunding” the police is rife with erroneous assumptions about the institution. Here are five.

Myth No. 1 – Police spend most of their time fighting crime.

Pop culture portrays police largely as elite detectives, intensely focused on tracking down the worst of the worst: drug kingpins, serial killers, child kidnappers. An analysis published in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior found that 66 percent of the crimes depicted in three popular TV police dramas were murder or attempted murder. And Attorney General William P. Barr claimed in a speech at a Fraternal Order of Police conference last year that, “We are fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society.”

But police mostly spend their time on noncriminal matters, including patrol, paperwork, noise complaints, traffic infractions and people in distress. An observational study in Criminal Justice Review shows that patrol officers, who make up most of police forces, spend about one-third of their time on random patrol, one-fifth responding to non-crime calls and about 17 percent responding to crime-related calls — the vast majority of which are misdemeanors. About 13 percent of their workday is devoted to administrative tasks and 9 percent to personal activities (such as eating). The remaining 7 percent of the time, officers are dealing with the public, providing assistance or information, problem solving and attending community meetings. A 2019 Vera Institute of Justice report found that fewer than 5 percent of arrests are related to serious violent crimes.

Myth No. 2 – A diverse police force leads to better policing.

After the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, observers commonly noted that the Ferguson police department was substantially whiter than the population it policed. Both the Justice Department’s 2015 report and local activists called on the city to recruit more officers of color. Similar proposals have surfaced in recent weeks: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has emphasized hiring “more black and brown officers” and “making sure that the police department actually reflects the community at large.”

Yet numerous studies show that the race of officers has no effect on the quality of policing. Having more diverse police forces does not reduce racial disparities in police killingscitizen complaintsvehicle stops or arrests to maintain order. A 2017 Indiana University study did find some modest improvements related to diversity, but only in a very small number of big-city departments; the rest of the departments in the study showed worse outcomes as diversity increased. While some recent research shows minor advantages to having more diverse police departments, the overall trend remains negative, in part because institutional pressures on black officers require that they not show any deference to black citizens. “It’s a blue thing,” writes Michigan State University criminal justice professor Jennifer Cobbina.

Myth No. 3 – Implicit-bias training can root out racism in policing.

This was one of the central planks of the Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Racial disparities could be addressed by trainings designed to root out unconscious and unintentional bias. The Justice Department and private foundations have disbursed millions of dollars to local police departments to give this training to their officers. This month, Texas announced that it would require every police officer to receive implicit-bias training.

This training assumes that the problems of race in American policing stem from discretionary decisions by individual officers, driven by unconscious prejudice. But law professor Jonathan Kahn has shown that the research basis for this training is flawed. While implicit bias appears when you group large numbers of people together, it doesn’t show up consistently at the individual level, which is how police officers usually interact with the public. More important, advocates of such training have not proved a connection between the scoring on bias tests and actions in the world. They also lack evidence to support the effectiveness of the training to influence officer behavior.

Such training also fails to address American policing’s explicit racism problem. Officers have been associated with white-supremacist organizations, have made racially offensive postings on social media and have exchanged racist texts and emails; they are also represented by union officials who often defend officers’ racist conduct.

Myth No. 4 – Community policing empowers communities.

Advocates of this approach argue that the community should bring concerns to the police, developing joint strategies for resolving those problems, which gives cities and neighborhoods more control over crime-fighting. According to one of the movement’s founders, Robert Trojanowicz, this arrangement “empowers average citizens.”

Research shows that police give up little power in this process. University of Washington professor Steve Herbert, evaluating community policing in Seattle, found that the police were actively involved in deciding who constituted the “community,” systematically excluding voices critical of law enforcement. Similarly, a 2019 study in Los Angeles showed how officers made their own decisions about who was a legitimate community actor: For example, . . .

Continue reading.

This shows why experts and scholars are needed: without their input, people fall prey to common errors, false assumptions, guesses, and bias.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Law Enforcement

1 in 200 Men Are Direct Descendants of Genghis Khan

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That Genghis! Here’s the article.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Science

Tagged with

Tallow + Steel Dark and the Gillette Heritage

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Tallow + Steel makes excellent shaving soaps and aftershaves. They tend to move on with their fragrances without having a stable core of permanent products, so you go with what you can currently get, knowing that it will be good. Thus one ends up recommending the brand rather than any specific product (which will be around only for a little while). I very much like yesterday’s Grog and also today’s Dark, whose fragrance profile is shown on the label in the photo.

Phoenix Artisan’s Starcraft, made a very nice lather. I have three of their synthetic brushes, and in terms of my own preferences, they rank (high to low) Green Ray, Solar Flare, and Starcraft. They also offered the Rocket, a 26mm (!) brush, which I quickly passed on: just too big for me, though the guy who got it likes it a lot. I’ve not tried the Peregrino, but it looks good to me.

Gillette apparently view Edwin Jagger as their Heritage, since they have an Edwin Jagger clone (if not, indeed, an actual Edwin Jagger head that they have OEMed) on a current version of an old Gillette handle (one that, alas, lacks a knob to provide a secure grip in the ATG pass). The result today is an extremely smooth finish — really an excellent shave.

A splash of Dark aftershave, and the weekend gets underway.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2020 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Information from the past, carried by an object

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Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Belt manlift: Anyone else remember these?

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A department store in Ardmore OK had a belt manlift when I was a kid, and we used it. It was better than an elevator because weight time was minimal: it ran continously — you just stepped on as it ascended (or descended: one side went up and the other down) and when you got to the floor you wanted, you just stepped off, much like using an escalator, only vertically instead of at a slant — and it took up much less room than an escalator and even less than an elevator. Of course, if you want to ascend (say) 30 floors, an elevator is faster, but the departments store in question was only three or four stories.

The one in the department store was more polished: wooden step, wooden handle.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Daily life

Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says

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And I just started (re)reading Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon. Wonder what Trump thinks of his good buddy Putin now? Charlie SavageEric Schmitt, and report in the NY Times:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

An operation to incentivize the killing of American and other NATO troops would be a significant and provocative escalation of what American and Afghan officials have said is Russian support for the Taliban, and it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops.

Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia’s so-called hybrid war against the United States, a strategy of destabilizing adversaries through a combination of such tactics as cyberattacks, the spread of fake news and covert and deniable military operations.

The Kremlin had not been made aware of the accusations, said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “If someone makes them, we’ll respond,” Mr. Peskov said. A Taliban spokesman did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Spokespeople at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The officials familiar with the intelligence did not explain the White House delay in deciding how to respond to the intelligence about Russia.

While some of his closest advisers, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have counseled more hawkish policies toward Russia, Mr. Trump has adopted an accommodating stance toward Moscow.

At a summit in Helsinki in 2018, Mr. Trump strongly suggested that he believed Mr. Putin’s denial that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election, despite broad agreement within the American intelligence establishment that it did. Mr. Trump criticized a bill imposing sanctions on Russia when he signed it into law after Congress passed it by veto-proof majorities. And he has repeatedly made statements that undermined the NATO alliance as a bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the delicate intelligence and internal deliberations. They said the intelligence has been treated as a closely held secret, but the administration expanded briefings about it this week — including sharing information about it with the British government, whose forces are among those said to have been targeted. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 1:09 pm

CRISPR gene editing in human embryos wreaks chromosomal mayhem

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CRISPR is not so precise as we’ve been led to believe. Heidi Ledford writes in Nature:

A suite of experiments that use the gene-editing tool CRISPR–Cas9 to modify human embryos have revealed how the process can make large, unwanted changes to the genome at or near the target site.

The studies were published this month on the preprint server bioRxiv, and have not yet been peer-reviewed1,2,3. But taken together, they give scientists a good look at what some say is an underappreciated risk of CRISPR–Cas9 editing. Previous experiments have revealed that the tool can make ‘off target’ gene mutations far from the target site, but the nearby changes identified in the latest studies can be missed by standard assessment methods.

“The on-target effects are more important and would be much more difficult to eliminate,” says Gaétan Burgio, a geneticist at the Australian National University in Canberra.

These safety concerns are likely to inform the ongoing debate over whether scientists should edit human embryos to prevent genetic diseases — a process that is controversial because it creates a permanent change to the genome that can be passed down for generations. “If human embryo editing for reproductive purposes or germline editing were space flight, the new data are the equivalent of having the rocket explode at the launch pad before take-off,” says Fyodor Urnov, who studies genome editing at the University of California, Berkeley, but was not involved in any of the latest research.

Unwanted effects

Researchers conducted the first experiments using CRISPR to edit human embryos in 2015. Since then, a handful of teams around the world have begun to explore the process, which aims to make precise edits to genes. But such studies are still rare and are generally strictly regulated.

The latest research underscores how little is known about how human embryos repair DNA cut by the genome-editing tools — a key step in CRISPR–Cas9 editing, says reproductive biologist Mary Herbert at Newcastle University, UK. “We need a basic road map of what’s going on in there before we start hitting it with DNA-cutting enzymes,” she says.

The first preprint was posted online on 5 June by developmental biologist Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute in London and her colleagues. In that study1, the researchers used CRISPR–Cas9 to create mutations in the POU5F1 gene, which is important for embryonic development. Of 18 genome-edited embryos, about 22% contained unwanted changes affecting large swathes of the DNA surrounding POU5F1. They included DNA rearrangements and large deletions of several thousand DNA letters — much greater than typically intended by researchers using this approach.

Another group, led by stem-cell biologist Dieter Egli of Columbia University in New York City, studied embryos created with sperm carrying a blindness-causing mutation in a gene called EYS2. The team used CRISPR–Cas9 to try to correct that mutation, but about half of the embryos tested lost large segments of the chromosome — and sometimes the entire chromosome — on which EYS is situated.

And a third group,

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 10:49 am

Posted in Science

And the flood gates open: US Covid-19 deaths jump — UPDATE: False alarm.

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Apparently it doesn’t work to simply deny that Covid-19 is a problem. The denial does allow the US not to address the problem, particularly in states that still believe President Trump and his minions like Mike Pence, but that denial has a price:

Kevin Drum updated the chart to remove the jump. He notes:

UPDATE: I originally showed a sharp uptick in deaths, but it turns out this was because New Jersey reported a whole bunch of “probable” deaths all at once on June 25, which caused the spike. I’ve now corrected for that and the chart shows roughly the same plateau that we’ve had for the past few days.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 9:57 am

Today is Tau Day: Celebrate!

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For more information, TauDay.com.

And see also:

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 9:34 am

Posted in Math

The inscribed-rectangle problem

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For more about this, see Kevin Hartnett’s article in Quanta.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 8:54 am

Posted in Math

Tallow + Steel Grog and a better razor

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Tallow + Steel’s take on bay rum is always a pleasure, and the Phoenix Artisan Green Ray — like the Solar Flare, just a little large at 24mm — did its usual excellent job. I think it’s a handsome brush, and it feels very nice on the face.

Yesterday’s Feather AS-D1 was the first premium (and premium-priced) razor I got, and it is a first-class instrument all the way, from the packaging to the stainless-steel construction. The Dorco PL602 I used today is flimsy in comparison, and it was packaged in the common cardboard back with a plastic bubble you see in every discount store in the world.

That said, in terms of feel and performance, the Dorco outshines the Feather. Not that the Dorco is better overall — for one thing, the plastic seems to get brittle as it ages and eventually the threaded stub of my earlier one snapped off. But purely in terms of comfort and efficiency, the Dorco is, in my experience, better — not only better than the Feather AS-D1, but better than a great many razors.

A splash of Grog finished the job, and here we are today, after so many years.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2020 at 7:50 am

Posted in Shaving

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