Later On

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

Archive for August 8th, 2012

Tons of spam

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Is it just me, or does it seem as though the volume of spam is way up of late. I’m now VERY glad that I have SpamSieve. Without that, I would be overrun.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Daily life

Fragility of modern technology

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This morning I noticed that my MacBook’s batter was at 28% and falling, though it was plugged into the house current. But the little green LED on the connector was off, so no charge going. This could be a power adapter problem (transformer failure) or a motherboard problem or probably something else.

I made an appointment at the Genius Bar (first chance was tonight), but then took computer and cable to the store, figuring I could easily test whether it was the power adapter. And a very nice guy helped me—took me to one of the demo MacBooks, removed the power connector from it and attached it to my Mac, and the green LED lit up at once. So clearly a power adapter problem. New power adapter is $61 plus tax, but he comped me one, which I greatly appreciated. But it does tell me how easily things can go awry and how much is locked up in this computer. I have Crash Plan but I believe I also need local backup on My Passport.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Technology

Interesting blender comparisons

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I saw the America’s Test Kitchen video that gave top marks to the Kitchenaid blender, and since it was considerably less expensive (and in general performed better) than the competitors, I bought it. Now I find that it has durability issues.

Read the current recommendations here, but be warned: they are damned expensive.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 10:28 am

Posted in Food, Technology

Fish GOPM a success; pork next

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The Wife liked the fish GOPM I made, though I forgot to include the lemon. But there’s always next time, and I’m thinking of this, with layers as usual from bottom up:


Shallots or leeks, chopped
garlic, minced
1/2 c rice
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
8 oz pork (boneless chop, fat trimmed away, cut into chunks)
5-spice seasoning
lemon, cut into slabs, peeling cut away, then cut into chunks
pine nuts
mushrooms, domestic white, sliced or chopped
celery, chopped
red bell pepper, chopped
yellow crookneck squash, diced (lengthwise slabs cut into strips the cut across: easy) or sliced
Brussels sprouts: mostly chopped, but three simply cut in half (to see how well they cook)

2 Tbsp Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Mustard
2 tsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sherry

Layer in 2-qt cast-iron dutch oven, cover, cook at 450ºF for 45 minutes.

A layer doesn’t take much, BTW. For example, 4 mushrooms is generally plenty. The total amount of vegetables is good, but any one vegetable makes a layer quickly. One medium-to-small crookneck squash will make a layer, for instance.

Two meals.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 8:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, GOPM, Recipes

Lionel Hampton: How High the Moon

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From this morning, Lionel Hampton, master of vibes—well, percussion in general, it seems—plays with the Gorni Kramer Orchestra on Italian television in 1961. Hampton’s grunts as he plays must have been the bane of many a sound engineer, but he always seems to do it.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 8:47 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Bias in scientific findings

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Two articles in The Scientist discuss bias in scientific findings, often the result of a conflict of interest—and, interestingly, disclosing the conflict of interest does not help but can worsen the bias. The first article, by Lisa Cosgrove, discusses the issue in general and provides good examples of bad results—for example:

Decades of research have demonstrated that cognitive biases are commonplace and very difficult to eradicate, and more recent studies suggest that disclosure of financial conflicts of interest may actuallyworsen bias. This is because bias is most often manifested in subtle ways unbeknownst to the researcher or clinician, and thus is usually implicit and unintentional.   For example, although there was no research misconduct or fraud, re-evaluations of liver tissue of rats exposed to the drug dioxin resulted in different conclusions about the liver cancer in those rats: compared to the original investigation, an industry-sponsored re-evaluation identified fewer tissue slides as cancerous and this finding affected policy recommendations (water quality standards were weakened). (See also Brown, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 13–28, 1991.) This example is just one of many that points to a generic risk that a financial conflict of interest may compromise research or undermine public trust.

Read the whole thing. The findings are disturbing and show the distorting effects of financial ties on ethical/legitimate behavior.

The second article, by Hayley Dunning, discusses off-label drug use and shows again the distorting effects of financial incentives. The article begins:

Directly promoting drugs for purposes outside those approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so-called “off-label” use, is illegal for drug companies. However, it is not illegal for physicians and scientists to discuss off-label use with colleagues, deliver lectures, and author peer-reviewed studies. But according to a new study, published today (August 7) in PLoS Medicine, only 15 percent of physicians and scientists involved in such promotion adequately disclosed relevant relationships they maintained with pharmaceutical companies in published studies.

“The major finding is both unsurprising and disturbing,” said public health researcher Susan Chimonas of Columbia University, who was not involved in the study, by email. “The current disclosure system is woefully insufficient.”

The study, led by physician scientist Aaron Kesselheim of Harvard Medical School, looked at the publications of scientists and physicians named in prosecution cases against drug companies involved in illegal marketing of off-label  drugs. Complaints, which were filed with the US Department of Justice by whistleblowers under the US False Claims Act, named scientists and physicians involved in off-label promotion, though they were not punished by the process.

Kesselheim and his colleagues scanned the literature for publications that covered the drug for which the complaint was filed, diagnoses or diseases treated by the drug, or mentioned other medications or alternatives in the same therapeutic class. Of 91 physicians and scientists named in complaints, 39 of them authored a total of 404 related publications. The majority of these authors acted as a paid speaker for the company that had developed and marketed the drug, while others wrote review articles, acted as advisory board members, or received support funds.

However, despite the close ties between the researchers and the drugmakers, only 62 of those 404 related articles (15 percent) had adequate disclosures, with the authors discussing fully the nature of their relationship with the company. The majority of other articles had no disclosure statement at all or had disclosures that did not mention the drug company. . .

It is evident that our healthcare system has been corrupted by financial conflicts. The unneeded heart surgeries in the (profit-making) HCA hospital chain, which I blogged two days ago, is just one aspect of that corruption. These articles show how pervasive the corruption has become. There is a clear pattern of misbehavior and it is not being addressed in any systematic way. Indeed, with those involved not being held accountable, the behavior will continue and worsen.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 8:44 am

Violet morning

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Geo. F. Trumper’s Violet shave soap has a lovely fragrance for a cool, sunny morning. The Vie-Long horsehair brush worked up a fine lather—I follow the practice of loading the brush until the bubbles are small. With the fine fragrance, I took my time lathering, which doubtless helped the shave.

This is iKon’s second model, an extremely comfortable open-comb that provides a wonderful shave, today with a Personna 74 tungsten-steel blade (74 being the atomic number of tungsten, aka wolfram). Three very smooth passes, then a splash of TOBS Eton College aftershave.

In other shaving news, I made the 5th edition unavailable this morning—it will take a day before that takes effect—and released the 6th edition—and that will take a week. So for a while, the book will probably not be available. I’m told that the listing for the 6th edition will come on-line piecemeal: first the listing and price, later the cover image, later the reviews, and so on. The new edition is 182 pages, and the price remains the same. Currently it is available only as a book: no Kindle yet. (It was hard enough just getting to this point.)

Written by LeisureGuy

8 August 2012 at 8:19 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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