Later On

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

Archive for August 14th, 2012

Count Basie Orchestra with Jimmy Rushing: How Long Blues

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Via Tune is by Leroy Carr. Basie’s piano is really tasteful.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 9:47 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

A few more surprise boxes available

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So far the response to the surprise box contents has been quite favorable. I have made a few more, and if you’re interested, email me at leisureguy.wordpress at gmail and I’ll let you know whether any are available. They cost $30 including shipping, and the contents are varied.

I’m thinking also of doing one of aftershaves only for $50 including shipping, but not sure if that would be of interest. (I did figure out how to pack liquids leakproof, BTW: unscrew cap, take square of plastic cut from a baggie, place it over the top, and screw cap over that, seating it firmly. Glass containers are wrapped in bubble-wrap.)

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 9:01 am

Posted in Shaving

Turning public education over to the private sector: raising costs and lowering effectiveness

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The charter-school movement is, on the whole, a mirage. Sarah Knopp and Jeff Bale report:

“Back-to-school” sales seem to start earlier every year. These days, more than binders and backpacks are on offer. Now, public schools themselves are for sale.

In July, Muskegon Heights, Michigan became the first American city to hand its entire school district over to a charter-school operator [4].

More than 1.6 million American kids attend charter schools, which emerged in the early 1990s. Whatever their original intent, charters are fundamentally restructuring the school system by placing it in private — often for-profit — hands. They’re making teachers and staff work harder and longer for less pay, usually without union benefits or protection.

In May, Philadelphia’s schools announced a plan [5] to close 64 schools and outsource 25 more to so-called “achievement networks” run by charter operators. The goal: that 40 percent of Philadelphia’s children attend charters by 2017. Detroit’s plans [6] are similar.

Restructuring may seem the best option. Urban school districts have long struggled to serve their students. And many of us know firsthand — as former students, teachers, administrators, or parents — that many of America’s public schools require radical change.

Charter proponents claim that their schools are less bureaucratic and more efficient, and thus save taxpayer money. Yet evidence is mounting to show that the opposite is true. When Philadelphia first announced its restructuring plans, the budget earmarked for charters stood at $38 million. By July, that figure was “rounded up” to an astonishing $139 million [7]. Since when is a $100-million cost-overrun a sign of cost-effectiveness?

Moreover, charter proponents argue that competition and choice pressure all schools to perform better. This assumes that schools operate on even playing fields. However, Detroit officials followed their restructuring plans by imposing a contract [8] on teachers that caps class sizes at more than 40 students starting in kindergarten and at a staggering 61 for sixth grade through high school. No school can possibly “compete” under such conditions.

Finally, consider Muskegon Heights. The city hired charter operator Mosaica Education, a for-profit company premised on earning more from contracts to run schools than it pays out in expenses. In fact, Mosaica expects to earn as much as $11 million [9] in its Muskegon Heights deal [10]. That’s roughly the same amount as the current budget deficit that officials gave as the reason to hire this outfit in the first place. Apparently, officials weren’t troubled by Mosaica’s record elsewhere in Michigan — its six other charter schools performed on average at the 13th percentile, according to the state’s annual ranking in 2011 [11]. . .

Continue reading.

Certain institutions should not be operated for profit because of conflicts of interest that undermine the institutional mission. I blogged a few days ago about the completely unnecessary heart surgeries done at HCA hospitals to boost profits; similarly operating schools to make profits—and to ensure that profits continue to increase each year—will destroy the educational mission. These institutions are for the public good, not for private profit.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 8:14 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Roasting your own coffee with a stainless Whirly-Pop

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I had an aluminum Whirly-Pop for years. It worked like a charm, but I finally decided that popcorn was an ill-advised snack for me (carb, fat, and salt) and gave it away. I didn’t even know that stainless ones were available.

And the stainless ones apparently are great at roasting your own coffee beans. Read this Cool Tool review for more info. The review was previously published, but it is new to me.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 8:08 am

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Couples who sleep separately: They’re better off

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I certainly cannot dispute the findings discussed in this Salon article by David Randall. Indeed, I think anyone who tries both methods (sleeping in the same bed and sleeping in separate beds) will agree. In the 6th edition of the shaving book, I mention that frequently one sees strong recommendations for a particular shaving or lathering method or technique from someone who has not tried any alternatives: he simply tried this technique, liked it, and recommends it without knowing (or testing) any other approaches and so really has no idea if his recommendation is optimal.

I believe that same phenomenon also appears in the question of whether couples should sleep together. I would bet that few try (say) sleeping in the same bed for two months, then sleeping in separate beds (and separate bedrooms) for two months, and back again to sleeping in the same bed. But that’s really the only way to know for sure.

The article begins:

The British Science Festival is a pretty big deal in the world of European scientists. An event held annually since 1831, except during times of war, the festival’s history includes the first use of the term dinosaur, the first demonstration of wireless transmission, and an important early debate on Darwinism. One week in late September of 2009, thousands of researchers left their labs and set off for Guildford, the town about thirty miles outside of London where the festival was held that year, to present their latest findings and to gossip about faculty openings. It wasn’t the type of event — like, say, the Oscars, or the Cannes International Film Festival — that tabloid editors circle on their calendars because they expect something big to happen. Yet the minute Neil Stanley opened his mouth, the humble gathering of doctorates transformed into international news.

The kicker was the scientific suggestion that sharing a bed with someone you care about is great for sex, but not much else. Stanley, a well-regarded sleep researcher at the University of Surrey whose gray-thinning hair hinted at his more than two decades in the field, told his listeners that he didn’t sleep in the same bed as his wife and that they should probably think about getting their own beds, too, if they knew what was good for them. As proof, he pointed to research he conducted with a colleague which showed that someone who shared a bed was 50 percent more likely to be disturbed during the night than a person who slept alone. “Sleep is a selfish thing to do,” he said. “No one can share your sleep.”

There just wasn’t enough room, for one thing. “You have up to nine inches less per person in a double bed than a child has in a single bed,” Stanley said, grounding his argument in the can’t-argue-with-this logic of ratios. “Add to this another person who kicks, punches, snores and gets up to go to the loo and is it any wonder that we are not getting a good night’s sleep?” He wasn’t against sex, he assured his audience — only the most literal interpretation of sleeping together. “We all know what it’s like to have a cuddle and then say, ‘I’m going to sleep now,’ and go to the opposite side of the bed. So why not just toddle off down the landing?”

Stanley then turned to the effects of all of those poor nights of sleep, charting a sad lineup of outcomes ranging from divorce to depression to heart disease. But there was hope, he said. Because sleep is as important as diet and exercise, maximizing our rest meant that we would be fitter, smarter, healthier — the sort of people, in short, we would want to share a cuddle with. “Isn’t it much better when someone tiptoes across the corridor for a snuggle because they want to, rather than snoring, farting and kicking all through the night?” Stanley wondered. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 7:37 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

Queen Charlotte and Apollo

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The H.L. Thäter brush produced a good lather from Celestial Woods from Queen Charlotte, but for the third pass I had to reload; not sure why. But in any event it was a fragrant lather and reloading is easy. The Apollo Mikron remains a favorite razor, and with a Swedish Gillette blade it did a fine job in three easy passes. This, as I’ve mentioned before, was a razor I had to learn: when I first got it, nicks were not unusual, but as I continued to use it, they stopped. Clearly I somehow adjusted my technique through experience without ever quite knowing the changes I made.

A splash of Floris No. 89, and I’m ready for a new Tuesday.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 August 2012 at 7:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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