Later On

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

Archive for January 14th, 2013

Disable the Java plug-in in your browser NOW

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Read this post for instructions and links to the reasons why. Quickly, now!

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Software

Building calming spaces

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Interesting article by Roger Ullrich in the NY Times:

IT should come as no surprise that violence in mental health facilities causes psychological and often physical harm to health care workers and patients. What’s shocking is how prevalent it is.

Globally, a third of all patients admitted for psychiatric care are involved in violent incidents, according to a 2011 analysis by researchers at King’s College in London. In Sweden, where I teach, it’s estimated that more than half of psychiatric care staff members are exposed to physical violence each year, an experience mirrored in many other countries.

Efforts to reduce violence in psychiatric hospitals have focused on identifying potentially aggressive patients through clinical histories and improving staff training and care procedures. But these approaches, while worthy, are clearly not enough. While definitive numbers are hard to come by, the incidence of violence in care facilities appears to be going up.

Research suggests, however, that there’s an effective solution that has largely been overlooked: designing hospital spaces that can reduce human aggression — to calm emotionally troubled patients through architecture.

Currently, questions about design at psychiatric care facilities are viewed through the prism of security. How many guard and isolation rooms are needed? Where should we put locked doors and alarms? But architecture can — and should — play a much larger role in patient safety and care.

One prominent goal of facility design, for example, should be to reduce stress, which often leads to aggression.

For patients, the stress of mental illness itself can be intensified by the trauma of being confined for weeks in a locked ward. A care facility that’s also noisy, lacks privacy and hinders communication between staff and patients is sure to increase that trauma. Likewise, architectural designs that minimize noise and crowding, enhance patients’ coping and sense of control, and offer calming distractions can reduce trauma.

Thanks to decades of study on the design of apartments, prisons, cardiac intensive care units and offices, environmental psychologists now have a clear understanding of the architectural features that can achieve the latter — and few of these elements, if incorporated into a hospital design from the outset, significantly raise the cost of construction. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 2:34 pm

Sounds like a useful iPad app

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Take a look—it’s a Cool Tool.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Software

Federal prosecutors abusing their power: Medical marijuana division

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I believe another example is the “revenge” prosecution of Aaron Schwartz because they were angry about his (completely legal and aboveboard) creation of RECAP as a free alternative to PACER for access to public-domain documents. But to the case at hand. You may recall that Obama and Eric Holder promised that there would be no prosecution of medical marijuana efforts that were in compliance with state laws. That turned out to be a flat lie—one that they are not being called out on firmly enough, IMO. Read this latest example by Adam Nagourney in the NY Times:

Matthew R. Davies graduated from college with a master’s degree in business and a taste for enterprise, working in real estate, restaurants and mobile home parks before seizing on what he saw as uncharted territory with a vast potential for profits — medical marijuana.

He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.

But in a case that highlights the growing clash between the federal government and those states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, the United States Justice Department indicted Mr. Davies six months ago on charges of cultivating marijuana, after raiding two dispensaries and a warehouse filled with nearly 2,000 marijuana plants.

The United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, a 2009 Obama appointee, wants Mr. Davies to agree to a plea that includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, calling the case a straightforward prosecution of “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.”

At the center of this federal-state collision is a round-faced 34-year-old father of two young girls. Displaying a sheaf of legal documents, Mr. Davies, who has no criminal record, insisted in an interview that he had meticulously followed California law in setting up a business in 2009 that generated $8 million in annual revenues. By all appearances, Mr. Davies’ dispensaries operated as openly as the local Krispy Kreme, albeit on decidedly more tremulous legal ground.

“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison. “If I had believed for a minute this would happen, I would never have gotten into this.

“We thought, this is an industry in its infancy, it’s a heavy cash business, it’s basically being used by people who use it to cloak illegal activity. Nobody was doing it the right way. We thought we could make a model of how this should be done.”

His lawyers appealed this month to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to halt what they suggested was a prosecution at odds with Justice Department policies to avoid prosecutions of medical marijuana users and with President Obama’s statement that the government has “bigger fish to fry” than recreational marijuana users.

“Does this mean that the federal government will be prosecuting individuals throughout California, Washington, Colorado and elsewhere who comply with state law permitting marijuana use, or is the Davies case merely a rogue prosecutor out of step with administration and department policy?” asked Elliot R. Peters, one of his lawyers. . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: I just sent (via the contact form on their websites) the following message to US Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and my US Representative Sam Farr, with the subject “Outrageous prosecution of Matt Davies”:

I am writing to object to the outrageous prosecution of Matt Davies by the DoJ. Mr. Davies, in accordance with guidance from President Obama and AG Eric Holder, ran a medical marijuana operation in strict accordance with California state laws, relying on their promise that such activities regarding medical marijuana and done in accordance with state law would be allowed.

Obviously the word of Obama and Holder is worth nothing. Their prosecution of a man operating a legal operation by state law, and in accordance with the guidelines and promises of the President and the Attorney General, is now being viciously prosecuted.

This is an outrage. I might expect something like this from the likes of Ed Meese or John Ashcroft, but Holder? He allows the Finance Industry to do whatever it wants and lets it off with little more than a wrist slap, but a guy actually OBEYING the law—Holder can’t wait to send him to jail.

I grow ever more disgusted with this administration. Please do something to help Matt Davies—and to help Californians using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

You can read the story in the NY Times at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/us/14pot.html?hp&_r=0&pagewanted=all

UPDATE 2: Just sent the same message to the Department of Justice: askdoj@usdoj.gov

UPDATE 3: Open letter from Molly Davies to President Obama—well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 12:04 pm

Interesting medical note: How etanercept is aiding stroke victims

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The Sun Sentinel has an interesting article:

A single injection, then a five-minute wait.
That’s all it took for hundreds of stroke and traumatic brain injury patients nationwide to reverse years of debilitation. Now they’re walking more steadily, reading more easily, concentrating better, speaking more clearly and regaining use of once-rigid limbs – long after giving up hope that their bodies would ever respond.
The 25-milligram shot at renewed independence is the brainchild of Boca Raton, Fla., physician Dr. Edward Tobinick. His patented method for delivering the anti-inflammatory medicine etanercept to the brain is getting notice around the world as a “radical breakthrough” in the treatment of chronic neurological dysfunction. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 11:22 am

Posted in Medical, Science

Things the restaurant host(ess) doesn’t tell you, but are good to know

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Mike Reis provides some very interesting pointers at Serious Eats:

Restaurant hosting is a difficult job. As members of the League of Underappreciated Workers, they join audio engineers, bus drivers, and registered nurses as those who are only acknowledged on the rare occasions that they screw things up. It’s a rough go, and hosts and hostesses are expected to do it all with a smile on their face lest they publicly suffer the wrath of the dreaded Yelper.

What’s going on behind those smiles at the host stand? Service with a smile is the name of the game, but find out what the hosts are really thinking. I spoke with several hosts at restaurants all over the country to get inside their heads. They all wished to remain anonymous, but here’s what they want to tell you:

1. On OpenTable

OpenTable is more than an online reservation-making service—all restaurants you see on the website are required to use the company’s proprietary floor management system, which means leasing hardware and using OpenTable-specific software. What the service offers, beyond the obvious ease-of-use benefits to restaurant-goers, is a solid platform within which the host or hostess does most of their work.

And while the conveniences of OpenTable are helpful on both sides of the host stand, there’s a big secret most restaurants are afraid to tell you: they’d rather you not use it. Reservations made through OpenTable cost the restaurant a dollar per guest, which stacks up quickly over the course of a night that might see several hundred guests coming through the doors. Further, not all available reservations can be seen on the site; restaurants often hold tables back from the site when they suspect they can fill them with phone reservations, saving them from OT’s service fees.

In short, always try first to call in your reservations.

2. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 11:06 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Treasury Nominee Jack Lew Retained Citigroup Foreign Investments After Joining Obama State Department; Public Kept In Dark

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Obama keeps nominating these shills for Wall Street (others: Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, et al.) for his cabinet. He really seems to be in the tank for Wall Street—all that campaign money does get repaid. Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade writes:

It has been previously reported that President Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Jacob (Jack) Lew, earned millions in salary and bonus from Citigroup in the brief two and one half years he worked there. That should not come as a surprise to anyone.  Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin left his post as Treasury Secretary in 1999 to join Citigroup and was paid $120 million over the next eight years for non-management work.

Citigroup is the mega bank the Securities and Exchange Commission charged with lying about its financial condition while Lew worked there in an executive position.  Citigroup went from lying about its finances in 2007 to cumulatively requiring over $2.51 trillion in Federal Reserve loans, TARP capital and Federal asset guarantees to remain afloat during the financial crisis. During Lew’s stint at Citigroup, July 2006 through early 2009, Citigroup lost 85 percent of its shareholders’ value.

A review of documents submitted to the U.S. Senate Budget Committee for Lew’s confirmation hearing on September 16, 2010 to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget indicates Lew’s financial ties to Citigroup continued long after he joined the Obama administration. The public is being kept in the dark about the extent of Lew’s winnings at the Citigroup casino and its heads we win, tails you lose dealer tables.

One section of the documents (see link below) refers to “Business Relationships” and indicates that Lew had been a limited partner from 2007 through the date of the hearing on September 16, 2010 in the CVCI Private Equity Fund. There is nothing in these documents to enlighten either the Senators or the public that CVCI is an acronym for Citi Venture Capital International, a unit of Citigroup investing billions in foreign companies in hopes of making its limited partners very wealthy.  (A limited partner in a private equity fund is synonymous with being an investor in the fund.)

During the 2010 Senate Budget confirmation hearing of Lew, Senator Bernie Sanders lost patience with Lew for avoiding direct answers to the questions posed.  Lew performed the same maneuver in his written disclosure document to the Senate when asked about conflicts of interest which should have revealed his continuing investment in private foreign deals at Citigroup.

When asked “Will you sever all connections with your present employers, business firms, business associations or business organizations if you are confirmed by the Senate,” instead of stating that he remained a limited partner and investor in a multi-billion dollar fund buying up stakes in foreign companies, Lew gave a decidedly non-responsive answer, writing: “If confirmed, I will remain an employee of the US Government.”

When asked to identify all investments and financial relationships which might pose a conflict of interest, Lew gave this carefully crafted legal dodge: . . .

Continue reading. Obama should be ashamed. But I fear he is nominating this guy because of his Wall Street partisanship: part of the payoff.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 10:55 am

The Dunbar Number

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It’s 150, of all things. Read this (fascinating) article in Bloomberg Businessweek by Drake Bennet for an explanation. The article begins:

A little more than 10 years ago, the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar began a study of the Christmas-card-sending habits of the English. This was in the days before online social networks made friends and “likes” as countable as miles on an odometer, and Dunbar wanted a proxy for meaningful social connection. He was curious to see not only how many people a person knew, but also how many people he or she cared about. The best way to find those connections, he decided, was to follow holiday cards. After all, sending them is an investment: You either have to know the address or get it; you have to buy the card or have it made from exactly the right collage of adorable family photos; you have to write something, buy a stamp, and put the envelope in the mail. These are not huge costs, but most people won’t incur them for just anybody.

Working with the anthropologist Russell Hill, Dunbar pieced together the average English household’s network of yuletide cheer. The researchers were able to report, for example, that about a quarter of cards went to relatives, nearly two-thirds to friends, and 8 percent to colleagues. The primary finding of the study, however, was a single number: the total population of the households each set of cards went out to. That number was 153.5, or roughly 150.

This was exactly the number that Dunbar expected. Over the past two decades, he and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked. Anthropologists studying the world’s remaining hunter-gatherer societies have found that clans tend to have 150 members. Throughout Western military history, the size of the company—the smallest autonomous military unit—has hovered around 150. The self-governing communes of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect similar to the Amish and the Mennonites, always split when they grow larger than 150. So do the offices of W.L. Gore & Associates, the materials firm famous for innovative products such as Gore-Tex and for its radically nonhierarchical management structure. When a branch exceeds 150 employees, the company breaks it in two and builds a new office.

For Dunbar, there’s a simple explanation for this: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 9:00 am

Japan shows the way

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Interesting Krugman column this morning on how Japan, which led the way into stagflation, now is showing the way out:

For three years economic policy throughout the advanced world has been paralyzed, despite high unemployment, by a dismal orthodoxy. Every suggestion of action to create jobs has been shot down with warnings of dire consequences. If we spend more, the Very Serious People say, the bond markets will punish us. If we print more money, inflation will soar. Nothing should be done because nothing can be done, except ever harsher austerity, which will someday, somehow, be rewarded.

But now it seems that one major nation is breaking ranks — and that nation is, of all places, Japan.

This isn’t the maverick we were looking for. In Japan governments come and governments go, but nothing ever seems to change — indeed, Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister, has had the job before, and his party’s victory was widely seen as the return of the “dinosaurs” who misruled the country for decades. Furthermore, Japan, with its huge government debt and aging population, was supposed to have even less room for maneuver than other advanced countries.

But Mr. Abe returned to office pledging to end Japan’s long economic stagnation, and he has already taken steps orthodoxy says we mustn’t take. And the early indications are that it’s going pretty well.

Some background: Long before the 2008 financial crisis plunged America and Europe into a deep and prolonged economic slump, Japan held a dress rehearsal in the economics of stagnation. When a burst stock and real estate bubble pushed Japan into recession, the policy response was too little, too late and too inconsistent.

To be sure, there was a lot of spending on public works, but the government, worried about debt, always pulled back before a solid recovery could get established, and by the late 1990s persistent deflation was already entrenched. In the early 2000s the Bank of Japan, the counterpart of the Federal Reserve, tried to fight deflation by printing a lot of money. But it, too, pulled back at the first hint of improvement, and the deflation never went away.

That said, Japan never had the kind of employment and human disaster we’ve experienced since 2008. Indeed, our policy response has been so inadequate that I’ve suggested that American economists who used to be very harsh in their condemnations of Japanese policy, a group that includes Ben Bernanke and, well, me, visit Tokyo to apologize to the emperor. We have, after all, done even worse.

And there’s another lesson in Japan’s experience: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 8:50 am

Glorious shave

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SOTD 14 Jan 2013

Truly exceptional shave today, and I’ll be running an experiment this week.

Following the shower, I rubbed a small dab of The Shave Den’s Pre-Shave Balm into my beard. This seemed to work once or twice before when I tried it, but then it didn’t seem to work, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing different. So I decided another week on, week off, another week on experiment was in order. It certainly seems to be good stuff—from the description at the link:

Our unique, and highly rated preshave balm has a warm, rich scent of sandalwood and oakmoss.

Ingredients; Shea Butter, Lanolin, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Vitamin E, and fragrance

When I then washed my beard with the glycerin soap (right now I’m using Whole Foods 365 glycerin soap), I didn’t try to really wash my beard but more to lay down a light layer of soapy lather by rinsing lightly, and then I immediately applied the lather.

The Ecotools brush has zero problem in loading from the Mitchell’s Wool Fat shaving soap. I do not wet the soap beforehand—seems completely unnecessary to me: I wet it with the wet brush when I start loading the brush. Vigorous and brisk brushing for about 15-20 seconds at most, and I bring the brush to my wet, washed beard and brush briskly and firmly to bring up the lather. Because the Ecotools is so soft, firm brushing feels quite good, and I think it’s the combination of firmness and brisk action that produces the interesting lather I get with this brush.

Perhaps because it’s so enjoyable, I notice that I prolong the lathering when I use this brush, which may help contribute to the quality of the shave. At any rate, after three passes with the Merkur 37G (now out of production) holding a Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade, I had a totally BBS face. It felt terrific even when I rinsed it, and it feels terrific now.

A good splash of Pinaud Coachman aftershave, a gift from a reader, and I’m ready for the day.

Absolutely no trace of razor burn and again no nicks—will I ever be able to test that Clubman styptic?—and while I cannot be for sure that the Shave Den’s Preshave Balm was a significant factor—well, that’s the point of the 3-week-test protocol. (BTW, she does offer a menthol version of the balm as well.)

Written by LeisureGuy

14 January 2013 at 8:34 am

Posted in Shaving

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