Later On

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

A brief history of Scientology

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Very interesting article in Jacobin by Jon Anderson.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Business, Religion

Michael Rosenblum: “Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected”

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Michael Rosenblum writes in the Huffington Post:

Donald Trump is going to be elected president.

The American people voted for him a long time ago.

They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to Pawn Stars and Swamp People.

They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley to Naked and Afraid.

They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to My 600 Pound Life.

They voted for him when CBS went from airing Harvest of Shame to airing Big Brother.

These networks didn’t make these programming changes by accident. They were responding to what the American people actually wanted. And what they wanted was Naked and Afraid and Duck Dynasty.

The polls may show that Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton, but don’t you believe those polls. When the AC Nielsen Company selects a new Nielsen family, they disregard the new family’s results for the first three months. The reason: when they feel they are being monitored, people lie about what they are watching. In the first three months, knowing they are being watched, they will tune into PBS. But over time they get tired of pretending. Then it is back to The Kardashians.

The same goes for people who are being asked by pollsters for whom they are voting. They will not say Donald Trump. It is too embarrassing. But the truth is, they like Trump. He is just like their favorite shows on TV.

Mindless entertainment.

Trump’s replacement of Paul Manafort with Breitbart’s Steve Bannon shows that Trump understands how Americans actually think. They think TV. They think ratings. They think entertainment.

We are a TV based culture. We have been for some time now. The average American spends 5 hours a day, every day, watching TV. After sleep, it is our number one activity.

More shockingly, we spend 8.5 hours a day staring at screens – phones, tablets, computers. And more and more of the content on those devices is also video and TV.

If you spend 5 to 8 hours a day, every day, for years and years doing the same thing it has an impact on you. For the past 40 years we have devoted 5 to 8 hours a day staring at a screen – every day. And we haven’t been watching Judy Woodruff. We have been watching Reality TV shows. That is what we love. That is what we resonate to. The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

The French may love food, the Italians may love opera. What we love is TV. We are TV culture. It defines who we are.

In the 1950s, early television was allowed, with many restrictions, to be an observational guest at political conventions. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Election, Media, Politics

An example of how continuous surveillance can work

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Very interesting video showing how “Google Earth with TiVo” can work.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 1:17 pm

The Carolina Reaper is the hottest chile in the world: as high as 2.2 million Scoville units

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A jalapeño is 15,000 Scoville units. Chau Tu reports in Science Friday:

The first time Ed Currie tasted the Carolina Reaper, a fire-engine red chili pepper the size of a golf ball, “it knocked me to my knees,” he says. “I was very surprised.”

Currie, who’s the founder of the PuckerButt Pepper Company and cultivator of the Carolina Reaper, says he wasn’t trying to create the hottest pepper in the world. His initial aim was to produce a pepper packed with capsaicinoids, a family of compounds that has been used in pharmaceuticals such as arthritis creams, and that Currie had heard might be useful in treating cancer or heart disease (any solid proof of this remains elusive, though Currie is optimistic).

But capsaicinoids are also what make chili peppers hot. Of those compounds, capsaicin is the most common.

Cliff Calloway, a chemistry professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina, says the capsaicin molecule looks like a key, with a round end and a tail coming out of it, and acts like one, too. “It kind of fits into these little nerve cells in your tongue,” he explains, and when that happens, you perceive the sensation of heat. “So even though it’s not really a chemical burn, like getting burned by a match or a flame or anything like that, your nerve cells get the signal from the capsaicin ‘key’ to make them think that they’re getting burned,” says Calloway. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Food, Science

Why the U.S. must move away from private for-profit prisons

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Clint Smith writes in the New Yorker:

People who have spent time in prison say that it is difficult to adequately convey what it means to have someone else in full control of your movements—when you eat, when you sleep, where you go, and how you get there. But when control is combined with a profit-making business model, it takes on a different character.

The absurdity of privatizing prisons, institutions whose purpose is to rehabilitate, so that their economic motivations no longer match up with their social missions, has for years been at the forefront of conversations regarding criminal-justice reform. During the Democratic Presidential primaries, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders promised to end the use of private prisons if elected. Then, last week, the Justice Department announced its plans to phase out their use in the federal system. The government had concluded, as Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in a memo to federal officials, that these prisons, contrary to the private-prison industry’s claims, “do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

The Justice Department’s decision will directly affect only thirteen federal facilities, which, taken together, house approximately twenty-two thousand of the country’s hundred and ninety-three thousand federal prisoners. But those numbers do not fully reflect the influence that private prisons have had on the broader criminal-justice system. After the private sector first entered the world of incarceration, in 1983, a handful of companies quickly began to exert a disproportionate amount of power in shaping the American prison landscape. Private-prison companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying legislators in state capitals and in Washington, D.C. As Adam Gopnik reported in this magazine, in 2012, Corrections Corporations of America (C.C.A.), the largest for-profit prison company in the United States, has said explicitly that changes to drug laws and sentencing, as well as immigration reform, would hurt its business. A 2005 annual report from C.C.A. states:

Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. . . . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.

The distorted incentives of the for-profit prison industry have even managed to find bright sides to undisputed social problems like unemployment. In 2008, one industry executive wrote a letter to shareholders saying that he believed the demand for prison beds would increase because people being released at the time would have a more difficult time finding jobs as a result of the recession, thus increasing their likelihood of ending up back in prison. The higher the recidivism rates, the more beds that are filled, and the more beds that are filled, the better for a for-profit prison. That said, not all private prisons have to worry about recidivism rates: some of their contracts at the state level guarantee them a certain number of prisoners. Four years ago, Harley Lappin, the chief corrections officer of C.C.A. and the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, offered states a deal: the company would buy state prisons (the money could help plug state budgets) in exchange for twenty-year contracts and guaranteed ninety-per-cent occupancy. A 2013 analysis by the privatization watchdog In the Public Interest found that two-thirds of private-prison contracts in the country include occupancy guarantees and stipulations that taxpayers cover the cost of any empty beds.

The U.S. prison system, over all, disproportionately affects black and brown people, but people of color are overrepresented to a greater degree in private prisons. Chris Petrella, a doctoral candidate in African-American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, has written that this overrepresentation can be directly attributed to contractual provisions that “implicitly exempt private prison companies from housing certain types of individuals whose health care and staffing costs disproportionately attenuate profit margins. Health and therefore age tends to serve as a proxy for race without any explicit reference to it.” For example, black males between the ages of eighteen and nineteen are ten times more likely to be in state or federal prison than white males of the same age, and, because these young people tend to be healthier than their older counterparts, they are more likely to be incarcerated in a for-profit prison. Older prisoners are more expensive for prisons to house because they tend to require more health care over time. According to Petrella, private prisons attempt to keep older and sicker prisoners out, because the more they have to spend on an elderly prisoner’s health care, the more it cuts into their profit margin per inmate.
For-profit institutions also tend to be more violent and to provide fewer opportunities to prisoners for education and rehabilitative treatment. For years, activists have been asking a basic question: If getting an education while incarcerated has been proved to reduce recidivism rates, then what incentive does an institution that makes its money keeping people in prison have to provide any sort of educational programming? The private-prison company’s ultimate responsibility is not to the imprisoned, or even to the non-imprisoned—it is to the shareholder.
Of course, even in government-run prisons, private companies operate in a number of capacities. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 12:34 pm

Was Paul Weiss an Appropriate Law Firm to Investigate Sex Charges Against Roger Ailes?

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

On Monday, Andrea Tantaros, a Fox News host, became the latest in a growing drumbeat of voices charging Fox News with tolerating and condoning a hostile work environment for women that “operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny,” according to the lawsuit Tantaros filed in New York State Supreme Court.

Tantaros charges in the lawsuit that she was sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, who recently stepped down as Fox News CEO, while he ran an intimidation campaign against her through his public relations department. This is the second lawsuit to be filed against Ailes by Fox News women in as many months. In July, Gretchen Carlson went public with similar charges against Ailes in a high-profile lawsuit. According to the Washington Post, Carlson’s lawyers have received reports from more than 20 women that “they were harassed by Ailes during his long career in television, dating as far back as the mid-1960s.”

One of those women, Laurie Luhn, went on the record with Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine. Luhn told Sherman that “she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that executives at Fox News had known about it and helped cover it up, and that it had ruined her life.” Sherman reported that he was able to independently corroborate key details in Luhn’s account as well as viewing a $3.15 million severance agreement that was paid to Luhn in exchange for “iron-clad nondisclosure provisions.”

“Iron-clad nondisclosure provisions” is the stock and trade of Wall Street powerhouse law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which has been handling fraud charges against the serially charged Wall Street bank, Citigroup, for decades. (See our previous report on Paul Weiss here.) Paul Weiss was brought into the Ailes matter to conduct an internal investigation by Fox News parent, 21st Century Fox.

Paul Weiss also has a history of being charged with corporate bias in the way it conducts those internal investigations of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment claims. Two such charges have already emerged against Paul Weiss in the Ailes/Fox News matter. On August 2, Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast reported that an attorney for former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue had released a statement criticizing Paul Weiss over its internal investigation. The attorney, Bruce Schaeffer, stated the following: . . .

Continue reading. There’s more that’s worth knowing, and there’s this concluding editor’s note:

Pam Martens, the co-author of the above article and Editor of Wall Street On Parade, worked for two major Wall Street firms for 21 years. During that time, from 1996 through 2001, Martens challenged Wall Street’s mandatory arbitration system and the sexual assaults and sexual harassment of women facilitated under that system in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in a case titled Martens v Smith Barney in which she originally served as lead plaintiff. The settlement fashioned by plaintiffs’ attorneys and Paul Weiss was deemed so conflicted by Martens that she withdrew from the settlement and never profited, by even a dollar, from the settlement or any subsequent payment from the parties.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

Glycemic effects of various foods on a teaspoons-of-sugar scale

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Sugar equivalents

The interesting graph above is from this post at DietDoctor.com. The post begins:

For people with diabetes, it’s not the carb count of a food that matters most, but how much it affects blood sugar levels. So how bad are different foods compared to, say, spoonfuls of sugar?

That’s something that Dr. David Unwin has focused on teaching his patients, with great results, according to this new paper.

Take a look at the picture above. A serving of potatoes has a similar effect as 8 teaspoons of sugar, and rice is even worse. Meanwhile eggs (a low-carb staple) was like 0 tea spoons.

So what happens to Dr. Unwin’s patients on a low-carb diet? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 11:30 am

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