Later On

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

Archive for February 3rd, 2011

Louis Prima (author of Sing Sing Sing)

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Ina rare clip of his involvement in The Jungle Book:

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV

Sometimes, happiness is for bozos

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Interesting article in Science News:

In a midtown-Manhattan psychotherapist’s office, a new client adjusts his floppy, glow-in-the-dark shoes and nervously tugs at his multicolored shock of hair before starting to talk.

You might recognize me, doc. I’m Bozo. Bozo the Clown.

The circus is in town? How’d you get here today — cannon shot?

Spare me, doc. This is serious. I’ve lost my happiness. I’ve still got my pensiveness. But who wants to see a pensive clown? I need to be happy — make that slap happy.

You have a painted red smile plastered on your pasty face. You look menacing, not happy. No one smiles that much. You look like Bozo the Serial Killer.

That’s harsh, doc. Put yourself in my size 150s. Happiness is a job requirement for me. I can’t do my job when I’m having nightmares about kids asking me to make balloon animals for them.

Don’t you do that all the time?

In my nightmares, all the little buggers want porcupines.

You feel inadequate, I get it. But let’s deal with your happiness fetish. Happiness has its upside, of course. On average, happy people are healthy and satisfied. In real life, though, happiness isn’t appropriate in all situations and fits some people better than others. It’s even possible to have too much happiness. Psychologists presented the latest evidence on the perils of happiness in January at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in San Antonio.

You’re freaking me out. Do you have any Prozac? Cotton candy?

No. And I’m fresh out of Gummi Bears. Gnaw on this: Too much emotional zest can go seriously wrong, according to Yale University’s June Gruber. She studies people with bipolar disorder, who go through manic periods of such intense joy and abandon that they clean out their bank accounts in frivolous spending sprees and otherwise go wild. When not in a depressed phase, people with this condition are always — often inappropriately — primed for happiness. Their hearts race and their bodies generally rev up not just while watching inspiring videos but while viewing neutral or even upsetting scenes, Gruber finds. They cackle with delight when shown videos of their own tortured song renditions on a karaoke machine — the kind of thing that makes most tune-challenged crooners hide their faces in embarrassment.

Unless they’re contestants on American Idol. (Bozo guffaws and squeezes his big, red nose to make a rude beeping noise.)

Context is king, Bozo. Throw a bucketful of confetti into a circus crowd and the audience squeals with delight. Do that in the New York City subway and you’re dead meat. Maya Tamir of Hebrew University in Jerusalem finds that college students who prefer to be happy in situations that call for confrontation do worse in school and feel less satisfied with themselves than their peers who embrace anger when it’s necessary.

I’m Bozo the Clown. Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds and cheer up, put on a happy face.

Don’t ever sing in my presence again. Some people don’t get jazzed by happiness. Consider individuals who score high on a personality trait called . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2011 at 5:24 pm

The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear

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Sounds intriguing:

The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear</>
by Seth Mnookin

A review by Paul Collins

The news in 1998 was as startling as the jab of a needle: Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in new study in the influential medical journal The Lancet, had made a connection between MMR vaccination and the onset of autism.

“My concerns,” he announced dramatically at a London press conference, “are that one more case of this is too many.”

There was something to be concerned about, all right. Recently, the British Medical Journal found that Wakefield, who had undisclosed financial interests in discrediting the MMR vaccine, had forged patient records to get his results.

But for many, the news comes too late. In the years since Wakefield’s incendiary report, vaccination rates tumbled — Ashland is now one of the country’s least-vaccinated cities — even as studies disproved Wakefield’s theory, and even after Wakefield himself was struck off the British medical register for ethical violations. And slowly but surely, long-vanquished diseases like whooping cough and measles returned to stalk the land again.

Seth Mnookin‘s The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear is the tale of a modern tragedy — though first you must inoculate yourself against Mnookin himself. He begins by noting fussy anti-vaccine rhetoric among the sort of people who “drove Priuses and shopped at Whole Foods.” It’s a silly characterization, even if true; the very people who need to read this book may toss it aside instantly.

And that’s a shame, because The Panic Virus becomes a devastating indictment of a dangerous mass delusion — and a disturbingly profitable fraud. Mnookin reveals the long history of a conflict that harks back to the 1720s, when Cotton Mather was firebombed for advocating vaccinations. Alarmist TV reports in the 1980s, bearing titles like “Vaccine Roulette,” proved scarcely less crude. The result, combined with fraudulent research bearing the imprimatur of The Lancet, is a damning parade of lazy reporters, incompetent doctors and opportunistic politicians.

But then, every decade has its charlatans. Why, one might ask, do they now have better soapboxes and bullhorns?

Much blame lies squarely upon my own profession. I’ve worked in British journalism enough to be unsurprised by this creeping realization as I read Mnookin’s story: that the vaccine panic is best understood as the monstrous offspring of the London press’ baffling aversion to fact-checking.

But, as Mnookin notes, there’s plenty of blame to go around America, too: A wave of cutbacks in the industry “has led to the jettisoning of science reporters.” The result, placed in the hands of untrained reporters, has been a disaster for the public’s understanding of public health issues. Panics make for good stories, but terrible policy — while quietly successful efforts get no press at all. This, Mnookin warns, “encapsulates one of the most vexing paradoxes about vaccines: the more effective they are, they less necessary they seem.”

All along, the press — and even this valuable book itself — has also missed a fundamental moral question. But it’s one that, as the father of a 12-year-old autistic boy, I have long had to confront head on. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that Wakefield had been right. The implicit calculation made when a parent subsequently refuses vaccinations for their child is this: The risk of my child’s death is better than the risk of a disability.

This is an appalling philosophy.

Look: Even if a vaccine could cause autism, in the absence of a better formulation I’d still give it to my son. His disability is not a fate worse than death. And more to the epidemiological point — it is also not worse than your child’s death.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2011 at 5:18 pm

Morning report

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194 lbs today: less than 20 lbs to go. No Nordic Track though: I am panicking about class—I feel like I’m terribly behind. But I’m getting into the language-study rut.

I’ve been here before, when I was learning Esperanto. And apparently I did learn it pretty well: when I reach for a word (the word for "week", for example), my unconscious promptly delivers "semajna" instead of "semana". But we had a talk (my unconscious and my conscious), and he promised to behave.

I acquire vocabulary by talking to myself and more or less constantly reviewing flash cards I make. I prefer to make my own, since I can direct them to my particular weaknesses and needs, and I learn as I make them and as I review them.

I use three colors of rubber bands: green for those I know (review once ever few days), yellow for those I’m fairly sure of (review every few hours), and red for those I don’t know: that are new or that somehow stump me (temprano is was in that category). Those I review constantly.

The Wife is back, so all’s right with the world, except poor Molly has acquired quite a few mats while The Wife was gone. I trimmed out one, hence the bald spot on Molly’s neck. But she’ll soon be well-groomed once more.

The Wife has her own GOPM now, and last night I made one with tempeh for the protein, and that works very well indeed. In fact, this is probably my best tempeh success.

Back to the cards now. Blogging will resume after class (after 2:30 pm Pacific time).

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2011 at 8:16 am

Auspicious shave (I hope)

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An extremely pleasant shave today, which I hope bodes well for class today. This morning the Omega boar (Pro 49) delivered abundant lather (three passes easily with one loading), and the iKon was simply wonderful. I had the thought while I shaving that this would be my desert island razor: the one to have when you can only have one. I imagine that the next great shave with some other razor will change my mind, but this razor is very hard to beat because it is comfortable and does not nick (at least not for me).

A splash Mr. Sidney’s aftershave, and I’m back to studying.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2011 at 8:07 am

Posted in Shaving

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