Later On

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

Archive for January 21st, 2013

Beautiful straight razor

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The kind of straight razor that makes you want to take up that sort of shaving:

Straight razor

TIM ZOWADA CUSTOM DAMASCUS 7/8″ IN EBONY SCALES

This beautiful 7/8″ straight razor with a slight Spanish Point is made from his hand forged Damascus Steel. A true work of art from the steel to the 1 piece Ebony scales. Comes in a Jewelry quality box.

Zowada Damascus steel is a mixture of 60% O-1 tool steel and 40% L-6 Tool steel. The combination of two tool steels yields a high carbon damascus having a uniform carbon content of 0.84%. This steel will harden to 65 HRC in oil and is especially well suited for salt bath martempering.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Art, Shaving

Gives one a feeling for the values of the Catholic church

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Reported by Victoria Kim, Ashley Powers and Harriet Ryan in the Los Angeles Times. Quite apart from what the Church proclaims, their actions reveal more truly their actual priorities and values. Actions speak much louder and more truly than words.

Fifteen years before the clergy sex abuse scandal came to light, Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and a top advisor discussed ways to conceal the molestation of children from law enforcement, according to internal Catholic church records released Monday.

The archdiocese’s failure to purge pedophile clergy and reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement has previously been known. But the memos written in 1986 and 1987 by Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, then the archdiocese’s chief advisor on sex abuse cases, offer the strongest evidence yet of a concerted effort by officials in the nation’s largest Catholic diocese to shield abusers from police. The newly released records, which the archdiocese fought for years to keep secret, reveal in church leaders’ own words a desire to keep authorities from discovering that children were being molested.

In the confidential letters, filed this month as evidence in a civil court case, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent them from seeing therapists who might alert authorities and that they give the priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal investigators.

One such case that has previously received little attention is that of Msgr. Peter Garcia, who admitted preying for decades on undocumented children in predominantly Spanish-speaking parishes. After Garcia’s discharge from a New Mexico treatment center for pedophile clergy, Mahony ordered him to stay away from California “for the foreseeable future” in order to avoid legal accountability, the files show. “I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors,” the archbishop wrote to the treatment center’s director in July 1986.

The following year, in a letter to Mahony about bringing Garcia back to work in the archdiocese, Curry said he was worried that victims in Los Angeles might see the priest and call police.

“[T]here are numerous — maybe twenty — adolescents or young adults that Peter was involved with in a first degree felony manner. The possibility of one of these seeing him is simply too great,”Curry wrote in May 1987.

Garcia returned to the Los Angeles area later that year; the archdiocese did not give him a ministerial assignment because he refused to take medication to suppress his sexual urges. He left the priesthood in 1989, according to the church.

Garcia was never prosecuted and died in 2009. The files show he admitted to a therapist that he had sexually abused boys “on and off” since his 1966 ordination. He assured church officials his victims were unlikely to come forward because of their immigration status. In at least one case, according to a church memo, he threatened to have a boy he had raped deported if he went to police. . .

Continue reading. In the story at the link there are pop-up passages that show the actual documents referenced.

Of course, some will say that this happened back in the ’80s, but that defense applies only if child molestation was viewed as a benign activity back then. It was not: as the story shows: it was very much against the law, which the Archbishop fully knew.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Law, Religion

Genetics and deodorant need

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An interesting note by Jef Akst in The Scientist:

A single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the ABCC11 gene dictates whether or not a person is likely to stock up on deodorant, according to a study published this week (January 17) in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The variant, known as the rs17822931 A allele, has previously been linked to underarm odor (and earwax type), and now researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have put it to the test. Drawing from data on some 17,000 people taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the team found that people carrying two copies of the A allele are five times more likely to never use deodorant or use it very infrequently, as compared to those carrying only one or no copies of the A allele.

Still, however, nearly 80 percent of white European AA individuals used deodorant. Worse, perhaps, some 5 percent of non-AA, or odor-producing, people did not use deodorant. “This is likely driven by sociocultural factors,” the authors wrote. “On the basis of genotype (and/or dry earwax), this group could elect to abandon the chemical exposures and costs of deodorant use. This represents a potential application of personalized genetics in personal hygiene.”

An interesting aside: there is ethnic diversity at the rs17822931 locus, with east Asians tending to have a higher than average frequency of allele A.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 10:55 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

The Murdochization of the Wall Street Journal

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The news part of the WSJ is gradually falling into line with the editorial page. Soon, I’ll imagine, the WSJ will be the Fox News of newspapers, a sad end for a formerly fine paper (on the news side). Details and examples here—and note the links to earlier examples. The trend is clear.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 10:20 am

Posted in Media

Another mass shooting

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He planned, after killing 5 family members, to go to the nearest Walmart and gun down people until he was killed by police.

Story here, with a fair amount of detail.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 10:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Guns

US drone warfare left out of counterrorism manual

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In reading Natasha Lennard’s article in Salon, several points stand out:

a. The policies governing drone warfare are in dispute:

The decision to exempt CIA drone strikes in Pakistan from the manual (an exemption expected to last over a year) was, officials said, “a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook” after “disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes and other issues.

b. The death toll of our deliberate decision to target drone strikes at targets that will involve civilian casualties (that is, the deliberate decision to kill civilians, not in the heat of battle, but as a simple trade-off in killing some (suspected) militants) is mounting and will eventually, if we continue, go past the number of US civilians killed in the 9/11 attacks—attacks that we thought were horrible because so many innocent civilians were killed. This may (or may not) be a factor in the disagreements cited above, but in any event makes me uneasy: why is so wrong for our civilians to be killed but okay for us to kill their civilians?

John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser who has been nominated CIA director, spearheaded the counterterror manual and led the meetings that decided to exempt the CIA’s Pakistan drone program. As the Guardian noted, “the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that there have been 362 drone strikes in the country since 2004 – 310 of them launched on Obama’s watch. The strikes have killed up to 3,461 people, 891 of them civilians.”

John Brennan was also a major proponent of the program of torturing our prisoners for information. I can’t think of a worse choice for CIA director, but Obama seems to have a soft spot for programs of torture and those who run them. Certainly he’s done everything in his power, even if it breaks the law, to protect them, and now his proposed promotion of Brennan shows clearly where his sentiments lie.

Not mentioned are our drone strikes in Yemen and other countries. I don’t know why those were omitted. The US citizens killed by executive order (including the 16-year-old boy, born in Colorado) were in Yemen as I recall.

Read the whole article.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 9:52 am

Good use of genetic engineering

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As with many technologies, genetic engineering has bad uses (giving Monsanto monopoly control over our food crops and enabling every larger amounts of toxic pesticides and herbicides to be dumped into the environment—though of course from Monsanto’s point of view that’s a very good use, since it drives profits sharply upward) and good uses (creating foods with improved nutritional value, such as golden rice). The use Sabrina Richards describes in this article in The Scientist, on using genetic engineering to combat insect-borne diseases, is a good use:

Insects transmit some of the world’s most debilitating pathogens, including those responsible for malaria, dengue fever, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness. So, naturally, the best way to fight these life-threatening diseases is at their source. Historically, malaria and dengue control strategies have incorporated insect population control using insecticides, but in recent years, researchers have turned to genetic engineering. By developing mosquitoes that don’t carry such pathogens, researchers hope to stop disease spread in its tracks.

After many years of hopeful development, such genetically modified mosquitoes might finally be close to proving their worth. Field tests of genetically-sterilized mosquitoes, targeted at dengue-carrying species, are demonstrating encouraging suppression of mosquito populations, while a variety of genetically manipulated malaria- or dengue-resistant mosquitoes are nearing their chance at tackling mosquito-borne infections outside the laboratory.

Culling insects

Researchers creating genetically modified (GM) insects generally have one of two goals. “I call them the ‘bite, no-bite’ strategies,” said Anthony James, a molecular geneticist at the University of California, Irvine. “Bite” strategies modify the insects in such a way to prevent disease transmission to humans, whereas “no-bite” strategies aim to reduce or eliminate insect populations altogether, by, for example, rendering them incapable of producing viable offspring.

A similar strategy, known as the sterile insect technique (SIT), has been used to successfully shrink populations of tsetse flies, which carry the parasite that causes sleeping sickness. In SIT, male insects are sterilized through irradiation, then released into the wild, where they breed with wild females, but produce no offspring, thereby cutting the size of the next generation. By regularly releasing enough sterile males, officials can drastically reduce the number of disease-carrying insects.

Using genetic engineering could streamline the SIT strategy, said geneticist Luke Alphey of the University of Oxford. In 2002, Alphey developed a method he called RIDL—release of insects carrying a dominant lethal. He modified Aedes aegytpi, the primary carriers of dengue fever, to express a lethal toxin as larvae—but only when not exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline. A diet of tetracycline-rich food allows GM insects to develop normally in the lab, then released into the wild where there is no tetracycline, and progeny inheriting the toxin gene will be killed before adulthood.

The same year, Alphey formed the company Oxitec to implement his modified mosquitoes in the field. To date, Oxitec has collaborated with governments in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia, and Brazil to begin releasing his mosquitoes in dengue-plagued areas. Just last year, they reported 80 percent mosquito suppression in the Caymans, and the Brazilian trial is ongoing.

Alphey and his colleagues at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London are also developing a similar tetracycline-based “no-bite” strategy that renders females flightless. And another collaboration between researchers at the California Institute of Technology and Imperial College London is developing GM males, called “Semele,” which carry a toxin that kills wild females upon mating. These techniques have yet to be tested in the field.

Disease-free mosquitoes

Once a malaria parasite enters an Anopheles mosquito, it takes 2 weeks to complete its life cycle in its host, travel to the mosquito’s salivary glands, and become infectious to humans. This provides a golden window of opportunity for researchers hoping to develop strategies to make mosquitoes more resistant to the Plasmodium parasite—the so-called “bite” strategies, explained Marcelo Ramalho-Ortigão, an entomologist at Kansas State.

Some researchers are developing mosquitoes to express anti-malaria peptides and enzymes that inhibit parasite development, for example. Others, including James, are targeting even earlier stages of infection,  engineering mosquitoes to express mouse-derived antibodies that block Plasmodium from ever invading a mosquito’s tissues.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) are trying a different tack—tweaking mosquitoes’ own immune systems. The few parasites resilient enough to evade a mosquito’s immune system are the ones that transmit disease, but JHU molecular biologist George Dimoupolos suspected that “if we boost [a mosquito’s] natural immune response, maybe we could achieve complete resistance.”

Dimopoulos’s group has already developed transgenic Anopheles mosquitoes that, in the lab, better resisted Plasmodium infection, with little cost to longevity and fecundity, and the researchers are currently working to devise similar strategies to combat dengue in A. aegypti mosquitoes as well. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 9:30 am

Dry-aging steaks at home

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Very interesting and carefully done test. Bottom line: It doesn’t work.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 8:41 am

Posted in Beef, Food

Two-day stubble + Slant-bar razor = BBS face

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SOTD 21 Jan 2013

Today’s shave was exceptionally nice, starting with the lather: my new Omega 10029 Baby Pro boar brush did a very fine job: quick and creamy lather, with the brush holding plenty for the three passes. The brush will get better as it breaks in, but it’s already highly satisfactory.

I ordered some new Honeybee Soaps shaving soaps, and this Sandalwood Musk has a very nice fragrance—and the lather from Honeybee Soaps is always excellent. If you’re interested in a superb soap at a modest price, check out her site: good range of fragrances and pucks are $4.59.

The bakelite slant did its usual fine job, but the blade pulled just a little more than I expected, so at the end of the shave I removed the Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge and put in a fresh Astra Keramik Platinum. So the next shave will be even better.

I love the feel of a super-smooth face, and a good splash of TOBS Sandalwood aftershave added to the pleasure.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2013 at 8:40 am

Posted in Shaving

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