Later On

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

Archive for December 25th, 2012

Two movies with good entertainment value

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The first is a martial arts film that takes the international award for a poster image that provides a completely wrong impression of the movie: True Legend. It’s actually pretty good, though Michelle Yeoh is sadly underutilized. Still, an enjoyable film.

And now I’m watching the anime Vexille, which I’ve seen before but am enjoying once again.

I’m soon going to watch Jet Li in Fist of Legend again. As I saw the trailer for this and for a Donnie Yen movie (Ip Man, I believe; possibly Flash Point), it occurred to me the connection with Fred Astaire movies: the same effortless mastery of body movement, the same intricate choreography (of dance in the one case, of fights in the other): very similar in many ways. I had already been thinking this, but I saw an explicit reference in the (fun) movie Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie MovieIn watching that, I was surprised at how many names I recognized, how many of the movies I had seen, and my memories of the first time (for example) I heard tutor John Sarkissian describe a Bruce Lee movie he had seen (back in 1971 or so—possibly earlier).

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

I did love my chemistry sets

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In the late 1940’s, from age 7 to about 11, I got a new (bigger, better) chemistry set for Christmas every year. How I loved them! Making, for example, sodium chloride!! Simmering liquids in a test tube. Pouring things together that changed color!! I don’t know that I learned a lot, but boy, did I have fun.

A visit to yesteryear in the NY Times.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 6:49 pm

Meal report

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Roasted rack of lamb: Excellent. It took longer than I expected—thank heavens for my instant-read digital thermometer (mine is ancient, from the days when you could have it in gray, period—but eventually was done. And tasty? OMG. The Crosse & Blackwell mint sauce (which The Wife says they used to make on their own: crushed/chopped mint, vinegar, and sugar, and shake it up) was wonderful—acid really does brighten the taste.

Brussels sprouts were very good: sautéed 4 thinly sliced scallions in chicken fat, then added 2 minced cloves garlic and sautéed for 30 seconds or so, then added thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with some chopped walnuts. Sautéed, stirring occasionally, then a splash of Amontillado sherry, two pinches of salt (after tasting it), and covered over low heat until I deemed it done.

Wild rice was cooked in the leftover juices of the roasted chicken (fat free: I had taken off the layer of schmaltz earlier), which still had some of the sliced onions in it. I had to add a little water to get to 2 cups (for 1 cup wild rice), and I also added a handful of dried cranberries. I discovered that this was the end of the wild rice, so I ordered more. (The supplier at the link is the one I always use.)

For dessert we shall have Harry & David Royal Riviera pears (eaten with a spoon), 1/2 an enormous pear for each, along with room-temperature Gorgonzola cheese. The pears were a gift from The Son and The Daughter-In-Law, and they are terrific. These are the size of a large softball, and they are just now ripe.

A bottle of California champagne-like wine accompanied the meal.

What a feast! I would never have done this for myself—another advantage of living with one’s wife. 🙂

I hope that your Christmas was as delightful as ours, and I wish for every reader a happy and prosperous new year.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 6:36 pm

Christmas photos

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Our Christmas decoration:

Xmas fan

The Wife has a good collection of fans, so I got her this one for Christmas functions—and it also serves as a decoration with the fan stand.

And Molly was excited with her Christmas present: some tissue wrapping paper, which she immediately tried:

Molly celebrates new paper

More Molly and paper

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Molly

Stealing credit

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Things that show bad character. Frederick Southwick reports in The Scientist:

When I was a young faculty member struggling to earn tenure, I was denied authorship on a paper that represented a major scientific advance in my field. It is an injustice that I have since learned is pervasive throughout the scientific community, stemming from a hierarchy based on seniority alone. Failing to credit the junior scientists who make many of our original discoveries not only undermines the importance of this younger class of researchers, but actually threatens scientific progress.

Cutthroat science

I had recently taken a position at an Ivy League institution when another junior faculty member showed me a micrograph of a macrophage containing intracellular bacteria. I immediately noticed an electron-dense material near the bacterial cells, which I suspected might be actin filaments of the host cell. I agreed to test this hypothesis, and using a fluorescent actin stain, found that, indeed, many of the bacterial cells had actin filaments on one pole. “Could this bacterium be harnessing the host’s actin to move within cells?” I wondered aloud to my colleague.

A month later I brought additional data confirming my findings to my collaborator’s office, where I noticed a paper on his desk with the bacterium’s name and actin in the title. He and a senior professor were listed as the authors, but I was not. “Where’s my name?” I asked. He noted that he and this senior professor had decided to perform their own electron microscopy studies, and were submitting their findings to a prestigious journal. “You’re welcome to publish your work separately,” he suggested.

Despite the fact that he and I had initially discovered the association between this bacterium and actin filaments, because my data was not included in their final manuscript, I was excluded as an author. I was being considered for tenure over the next year, and thought that protesting further might jeopardize my chances. But the loss of credit also had the potential to harm my advancement. In the end, I decided to remain silent, and published my paper 6 months after theirs.

The discovery of the role of actin in bacterial movement within cells subsequently led to a burst of new research and major advances. Their paper, the first to be published on the association of actin and the bacterium, has been cited 765 times. Coming second, my paper has received far less attention, with 233 citations.

Twenty years later, I still don’t trust confiding new findings to other researchers. My takeaway lesson was that the safest strategy was to divulge my results only after they were accepted for publication. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Science is too often a cutthroat venture, with publications as the currency for measuring one’s success. But with everyone keeping their findings secret until they have been approved by the peer-review process, aren’t we slowing the course of scientific discovery? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Science

The GOP’s problem with reality

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The GOP has a number of positions and policies that conflict with reality, and the response from the party has been an extraordinary effort to suppress any reports of the reality. It’s such an odd reaction—to be honest, I don’t understand it, but it’s clear. For example, Kevin Drum points out in Mother Jones:

In 1995, when Congress’s Office of Technology Assessment insisted on preparing reports that were occasionally inconvenient for Republicans, Newt Gingrich knew what to do: he eliminated the office. In 2005, when an annual government report showed an increase in global terrorism, George Bush knew what to do: he stopped publishing the report. When the Congressional Research Service released a study earlier this year concluding that tax cuts had no impact on economic growth, the GOP caucus knew what to do: they insisted that CRS withdraw the study. For similar reasons, Republicans routinely attack the CBO, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Government Accountability Office, and, most famously, the BLS when it reported a drop in the unemployment rate just before this year’s election.

But hey—at least the federal government can still study gun violence. Right? In JAMA today, Arthur Kellermann and Frederick Rivara set us straight:

The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center….the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out….Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC’s website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.

When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

These are not the only efforts to keep important health information from the public and patients. For example, in 1997, Cummings et al used state-level data from Washington to study the association between purchase of a handgun and the subsequent risk of homicide or suicide. Similar studies could not be conducted today because Washington State’s firearm registration files are no longer accessible.

The conservative war on reality continues apace. If you don’t like what’s happening in the real world, simply defund anyone who tries to report on it. Mission accomplished!

Via Austin Frakt.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 12:27 pm

Another shooting and killing of strangers

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This one is the man who set a house and car on fire to bring firefighters, whom he shot. Here’s the story in the NY Times. I imagine the NRA will call for firefighters to be armed henceforth: “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” etc. All the well-worn tropes that will push more gun sales, which seems to be the NRA’s mission.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

Cool jewelry

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I was looking for shaving-brush knots (the bristle part, which some buy to put into their own handles for a DIY brush), and I happened across this intriguing site. (The site design is primitive, so much clicking and exploring is needed to find things: navigation made difficult.) From the site:

Golden-knot ring

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 10:50 am

Posted in Daily life

Christmas-Day shave with a sub-$50 kit

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SOTD 25 Dec 2012

Recently I posted a recommendation for a sub-$50 beginner kit, and I thought I’d shave with it today. I am pleased to report that the shave was excellent and that one of a “settler” mindset might well stick with this kit indefinitely: it works, it works well, and a settler would be happy not to have to explore further. (“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”)

I got quite a luxurious lather with the Ecotools and the Arko shave stick. That soap really does make a good lather. Some may not like the fragrance, but few fault the lather. And the brush held loads of soap, plenty for a four-pass shave, though I do but three.

The “silvertone” razor is light, but it does a good job. I used a Kai blade and got a BBS shave with no problem or special effort.

The sample of Bulgarian Rose with Lemon aftershave, from SaintCharlesShave.com, is a great pleasure, and her samples are a great way to test aftershaves.

Altogether, a very fine shave from a sub-$50 kit.

Written by Leisureguy

25 December 2012 at 10:13 am

Posted in Shaving

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