Later On

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

Archive for August 12th, 2012

Juan Cole: Top Ten Differences Between White and Non-White Terrorists

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Juan Cole is an expert on the Mideast and has offered valuable and insightful commentary on events there. I think he nails the differences between white and non-white terrorists pretty well:

1. White terrorists are called “gunmen.” [3] What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists.”

2. White terrorists are “troubled loners.” Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.

3. Doing a study on the danger of white terrorists at the Department of Homeland Security will get you sidelined by angry white Congressmen. [4]Doing studies on other kinds of terrorists is a guaranteed promotion.

4. The family of a white terrorist is interviewed, weeping as they wonder where he went wrong. The families of other terrorists are almost never interviewed.

5. White terrorists are part of a “fringe.” Other terrorists are apparently mainstream.

6. White terrorists are random events, like tornadoes. Other terrorists are long-running conspiracies.

7. White terrorists are never called “white.” But other terrorists are given ethnic affiliations.

8. Nobody thinks white terrorists are typical of white people. But other terrorists are considered paragons of their societies.

9. White terrorists are alcoholics, addicts or mentally ill. Other terrorists are apparently clean-living and perfectly sane.

10. There is nothing you can do about white terrorists. Gun control won’t stop them. No policy you could make, no government program, could possibly have an impact on them. But hundreds of billions of dollars must be spent on police and on the Department of Defense, and on TSA, which must virtually strip search 60 million people a year, to deal with other terrorists.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Terrorism

Time Machine working again

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I took my nonfunctioning Time Machine—it wanted to do a fresh backup and ignore the 157 GB of files already on the backup drive—to the Genius Bar, and the solution is as I thought: erase those files, make sure the drive is no designated as my Time Machine backup drive, and do an initial new backup (having the full capacity of the 1 TB disk available) to start afresh. The Genius at the Bar did the basic set-up, which I probably could have done, but I was taking no chances. I was in and out in ten minutes, and the back-up at home took less than two hours. So now I have a fresh back-up and all is well.

Good news is good, I find.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Strange: Mountain Lion Notes suddenly understands single-space

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Any sufficiently advanced technology seems like magic, Arthur C. Clarke famously said—and at the very least a mystery. Notes, which yesterday refused to allow single-spaced lists, today quite happily lists single-spaced. I changed no preferences—not that they are offered, in fact—but somehow it got the idea.

OTOH, Time Machine is not functioning right—refuses to recognize the previous back-up files and wants to start anew. Not a serious problem, but I’m calling on the Genius Bar. Worst case, I can just delete the existing files on My Passport and begin a totally fresh back-up, but I would like to know what’s going on (see first paragraph).

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 9:43 am

Posted in Technology

Amazon search glitch

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To find the 6th edition of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving on Amazon, you have to include “6th edition” in the search phrase; otherwise, the search shows only the out-of-print versions. I contacted Amazon, and they said to call back tomorrow. :sigh: These start-up issues are why I don’t like the revision cycle.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 7:59 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

A sober look at investing from the founder of Vanguard

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Interesting article by Jeff Sommer in the NY Times:

VANGUARD, the penny-pinching mutual fund company founded by John C. Bogle, has become a colossus. Its index funds — once derided for not even trying to beat the market — are now the industry standard.

And after at least six heart attacks and one heart transplant, Mr. Bogle has managed to witness this triumph. “It’s all a kind of a miracle,” he says in a booming baritone. “It’s really nice that I’m able to see this happen in my own lifetime.”

With this kind of medical history, any other man of 83 might simply enjoy his success. But not John Bogle. He is still on a mission, as outspoken as ever and nearly as vigorous — thanks, he says, to the heart of a younger man. He’s not done yet.

“It’s urgent that people wake up,” he says. Why? This is the worst time for investors that he has ever seen — and after more than 60 years in the business, that’s saying a lot.

Start with the economy, the ultimate source of long-term stock market returns. “The economy has clouds hovering over it,” Mr. Bogle says. “And the financial system has been damaged. The risk of a black-swan event — of something unlikely but apocalyptic — is small, but it’s real.”

Even so, he says, long-term investors must hold stocks, because risky as the market may be, it is still likely to produce better returns than the alternatives.

“Wise investors won’t try to outsmart the market,” he says. “They’ll buy index funds for the long term, and they’ll diversify.

“But diversify into what? They need alternatives, bonds, for the most part. What’s so frightening right now is that the alternatives to equities are so poor.”

In the financial crises of the last several years, he says, investors have flocked to seemingly safe government bonds, driving up prices and driving down yields. The Federal Reserve and other central banks have been pushing down interest rates, too.

But low yields today predict low returns later, he says, and “the outlook for bonds over the next decade is really terrible.”

Dark as this outlook may be, he says, people need to “stay the course” if they are to have hope of buying homes or putting children through college or retiring in comfort.

He is still preaching the gospel of long-term, low-cost investing. “My ideas are very simple,” he says: “In investing, you get what you don’tpay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”

Still, because the market and the economy are deeply troubled, it’s time for action on many fronts, he says: “We’ve really got no choice. We’ve got to fix this system. All of us, as individuals, need to do it.”

That’s the message of his latest and 11th book, “The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation” (Wiley & Sons, $29.95). It offers a scathing critique of the financial services industry and updated guidance for investors. “A culture of short-term speculation has run rampant,” he writes, “superseding the culture of long-term investment that was dominant earlier in the post-World War II era.”

Too much money is aimed at short-term speculation — the seeking of quick profit with little concern for the future. The financial system has been wounded by a flood of so-called innovations that merely promote hyper-rapid trading, market timing and shortsighted corporate maneuvering. Individual investors are being shortchanged, he writes.

Corporate money is flooding into political campaigns. The American retirement system faces a train wreck. America’s fundamental values are threatened. Mr. Bogle remains a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist but says the system has “gotten out of balance,” threatening our entire society. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” he says, quoting Winston Churchill. Now, he says, it’s time to try something else.

He advocates taxes to discourage short-term speculation. He wants limits on leverage, transparency for financial derivatives, stricter punishments for financial crimes and, perhaps most urgently, a unified fiduciary standard for all money managers: “A fiduciary standard means, basically, put the interests of the client first. No excuses. Period.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 7:57 am

Posted in Business, Government, Law

How a Corrupt Dietitians’ Group Has Taken Over Nutrition Advice in America

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Extremely interesting article by Ari LeVeaux at Alternet:

When Steve Cooksey was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a registered dietician advised him to eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Rather than follow that advice blindly, Cooksey read the available scientific literature and decided to do roughly the opposite of what he’d been advised. He proceeded to lose 78 pounds on a high-fat, low-carb diet that was nearly absent of processed foods. Cooksey’s blood-sugar level dropped into the normal range, and he was cleared by his doctor to stop taking insulin.

Three years later, Cooksey remains slim and healthy, but now finds himself with a different sort of diet problem, thanks to a letter he received from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. It accused him of practicing nutrition counseling without a license, and threatened to charge him with crimes that could result in jail time if he refused to make changes to his blog, [3].

The legal basis for the letter is a North Carolina law known as the Dietetics/Nutrition Act. It’s one of 47 state laws that criminalize the giving, by “unlicensed persons,” of nutritional advice regarding a medical condition. Such laws are in place largely due to lobbying efforts by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the professional organization that represents the nation’s registered dietitians. (Until recently, AND was known as the American Dietetics Association.)

The North Carolina law claims its purpose is “to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare and to protect the public from being harmed by unqualified persons by providing for the licensure and regulation of persons engaged in the practice of dietetics/nutrition.” But internal memos recently leaked to Forbes via AND members concerned with the direction of the organization paint a different picture of its purpose: “Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTRs) face a significant competitive threat in the provision of various dietetic and nutrition services.”

The document goes on to explain that laws like North Carolina’s can be enforced only if somebody files a complaint against a violator, and encourages RDs to file complaints against unlicensed persons practicing nutrition counseling.

According to Judy Stone of the Michigan Nutrition Association, the Michigan Board of Dietetics and Nutrition used a similar tactic in 2006 to “prove” to legislators the need for a licensing law to protect the public. It ran a contest in its newsletter to encourage submissions by Michigan RDs of undocumented anecdotes of harm caused by non-RDs.

“People have to choose what they eat every day, many times a day,” Stone told me by phone. “Nutrition knowledge has traditionally been handed down by family, and healers in the community. If a husband says to his wife, hey, I think granola is bad for your blood sugar, he is giving nutrition advice about a medical condition. Where do we draw the line?”

In addition to protecting the interests of its registered members, AND is also beholden to corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Hershey’s, General Mills, and other makers of the kind of processed foods that Cooksey, and many others, have recovered from illness by quitting. Coca-Cola sponsors continuing education courses that RDs can take to earn the credits they need to maintain their certifications. This relationship between food processors and AND sets up a conflict of interest that hinders AND’s ability to protect the public health, Stone told me.

She recalled a recent collaboration between Hershey’s and the then-ADA, in which “Hershey’s paid RDs to set up and speak at house parties, during which guests would be taught how to use Hershey’s products as part of a ‘healthy diet.’ “

Samples of smores, product coupons and recipes were given out. This was followed by the RD providing the hostess a complimentary consultation, for which the RDs were paid additionally by Hershey’s. “Hershey’s also set aside $500,000 to pay RDs up to $250 to provide one-hour consultations to consumers who applied online for a coupon to receive one at no charge to them.” . . .

Continue reading. I would say that this group and its stance represent a threat to public health. They should be shut down forthwith.

UPDATE: In comments, I suggest that one possibility for the bizarre recommendation of a high-carb diet for a diabetic may have been a reducing diet that Dr. Dean Ornish developed for heart patients that has extremely low (<10%) fat levels, moderate protein levels, and thus (necessarily) high carbohydrate levels. The diet, combined with exercise and meditation, has proved successful in reducing heart disease, and an ignorant or thoughtless dietician may  have thought of it simply as a weight-reduction diet (ignoring the specific disease that diet targets) and thus recommended it to a type 2 diabetic who needed to lose weight—but who, as a diabetic, must also rigorously limit intake of carbohydrates, particularly simple starches. Since the Ornish diet was well-publicized and indeed proved successful in treating heart disease, it seems possible that thisis how such a diet could have been recommended to a diabetic.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 7:42 am

Risks associated with shaving pubic hair

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Body-grooming has become popular among the younger crowd, and shaving the pubic region seems more common than I realize—and probably more risky than the shavers realize. This article at outlines the risks and why the practice is questionable.

Written by Leisureguy

12 August 2012 at 7:39 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Shaving

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