Later On

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

Archive for June 17th, 2013

And guys wonder why we recommend DE shaving…

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Read this story.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Something is wrong with police attitudes toward citizens

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The NYPD is the poster child of police overreach, but it seems to be happening in many places:

A police offer assigned to guard a school has sex with a 16-year-old girl.

A county sheriff whose jail was a “rape camp.”

A police offers beats up and then takes to jail a diabetic student who fell asleep.

The whole issue of putting police into our schools is discussed in this article.

Of course, the idea is that police will be there for the next mass shooting, but armed guards were present at the Columbine mass shooting and it didn’t prevent the shooting and the deaths.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Education, Government, Guns, Law

How unpopular is Congress? Lice are more popular

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And, of course, I imagine we’ll soon see some trial balloons of lice initiating Congressional campaigns.

Ezra Klein has the article, in which this graph of pairwise comparisons appears:


Congress reached this point by not doing their jobs, shirking their responsibilities, consistently misleading the public, and in general failing the country. In other words, the unpopularity is reality-based and well-deserved.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Congress

How government-run healthcare works if it’s allowed to

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The GOP, of course, will sabotage any effort to make healthcare better for the public and cut costs. The GOP is not in the business of helping the public—it’s mission is to help corporations and the very wealthy, and it spends all its efforts in that direction. But that requires keeping their collective gaze averted from reality, as Robert Frank points out in this NY Times Op-Ed:

LAST month, for the 37th time, the House of Representatives voted to repeal Obamacare, with many Republicans saying that its call for greater government involvement in the health care system spells doom. Yet most other industrial countries have health care systems with far more government involvement than we are ever likely to see under Obamacare. What does their experience tell us about Republican fears?

While in Sweden this month as a visiting scholar, I’ve asked several Swedish health economists to share their thoughts about that question. They have spent their lives under a system in which most health care providers work directly for the government. Like economists in most other countries, they tend to be skeptical of large bureaucracies. So if extensive government involvement in health care is indeed a recipe for doom, they should have clear evidence of that by now.

Yet none of them voiced the kinds of complaints about recalcitrant bureaucrats and runaway health costs that invariably surface in similar conversations with American colleagues. Little wonder. The Swedish system performs superbly, and my Swedish colleagues cited evidence of that fact with obvious pride.

The United States spends more than $8,000 a person per year on health care, well more than twice what Sweden spends. Yet health outcomes are far better in Sweden along virtually every dimension. Its infant mortality rate, for example, was recently less than half that of the United States. And males aged 15 to 60 are almost twice as likely to die in any given year in the United States than in Sweden.

In fairness, those differences result partly from lifestyle. In Sweden, workers are more likely to commute by bicycle than by car, for example, and obesity is far less common. Absolute poverty and income inequality — both associated with adverse health outcomes — are also lower.

But when illness strikes, the Swedish health care system responds efficiently. Managers have exploited economies of scale by consolidating services into fewer but larger hospitals. The American system has also gone through consolidation, but, by contrast, boutique hospitals are also more common here — partly in response to demands from patients with very high-cost health plans. In large hospitals, CT scanners and other expensive diagnostic and treatment machines are in nearly constant use, versus only a few hours of weekly use in some small ones.

Larger hospitals with heavier patient flows also enable their staff to hone their skills through specialization and experience. If you are getting a knee replacement or coronary bypass surgery, you want teams that do scores of such procedures each month.

Doctors in the two countries also face different financial incentives. In the United States, under the fee-for-service model, they can bolster their incomes, often substantially, by prescribing additional tests and procedures. Most Swedish doctors, as salaried employees, have no comparable incentive.

Another important difference is that, unlike many American health insurance providers, the government groups that manage Swedish health care are nonprofit entities. Because their charge is to provide quality care for all citizens, they don’t face the same incentive to withhold care that for-profit organizations do. Thatmore hip-replacement operations are performed per capita in Sweden than in most other countries is almost certainly a reflection of the generous care options rather than of any inherent deficiency in Swedes’ hip joints.

The Swedes also provide drugs and other treatments only when evidence establishes their effectiveness. People can spend privately on unproven treatments, but the government refuses to impose their cost on taxpayers.

IS there a catch? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Government, Healthcare

The Fourth Circuit’s NLRB Smackdown

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It is very important that people not be informed of their rights. Indeed, some effort must be made to keep people ignorant of their rights, else they might exercise those rights, and that’s the last thing on earth we want in a free democracy. That, at least, seems to be the position of the Fourth Circuit and American businesses, as reported in The American Prospect by Tammy Kim:

At the heart of the latest feud between business groups and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an 11×17 sheet of paper that blandly recites the basics of a statute. But depending on whom you ask, the future of labor, the First Amendment, and freedom from state interference are at stake.

On Friday, the Fourth Circuit became the second federal appeals court to strike down the NLRB’s requirement that employers hang a simple poster advising employees of their right to join a union—the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a similar ruling last month. The notice resembled the signs in so many break-rooms and copy nooks that advertise the minimum wage or anti-discrimination and health-and-safety laws. This particular poster, however, enraged groups opposed to organized labor and pulled the Labor Board into extensive litigation. The NLRB had intended the sign to educate workers—most of whom hardly know what a union is or what it means to organize for better conditions. But opponents saw the poster requirement as federal activism and argued both that the Labor Board lacks authority to take such a proactive measure and that the notice tramples upon employers’ free speech.

The saga began in 2010, when the NLRB, a federal agency, proposed the “notice-posting” regulation. The rule would apply to the 6 million private employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)—the 1935 law governing the balance of power at work. A business’s failure to post the sign would constitute an “unfair labor practice” and serve as evidence of anti-union animus in any possible ensuing hearing. Given that employees were not notified of their rights, they would also be able to file a complaint with the Labor Board beyond the standard six-month statute of limitation. Like other workplace notices, the poster was intended to play both a symbolic and practical role.  “Very few of the workers we’ve worked with learn about their rights through postings. Of course there should be postings, but more important is enforcement,” said JoAnn Lum, director of the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS), a worker-advocacy center.

After receiving more than 7,000 comments from the public, the Board finalized the poster rule. Shortly thereafter, several business groups—including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF), which aims to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation”—filed separate but similar lawsuits arguing that the poster exceeded the Board’s statutory authority to craft rules.

For these entities, the poster represents a world they hope to avoid: Not merely one of unnecessary regulation or informed employees, but one in which the Labor Board feels empowered to take action. Some employers fear what it portends. “There’s a list of horribles I can go through, but [the Board] could go so far as to require collective bargaining, to impose unions coming on to the company premises to do interviews, to do anything of that nature,” said an attorney for the Chamber of Commerce during a March 19 oral argument. Bill Messenger, a lawyer at the NRTWLDF, explained, “The Board was trying to become a rulemaking agency, which it never has been. It has always been an adjudicatory or quasi-judicial body.”

In court, business entities made the additional, unprecedented claim that the Board’s notice posting infringes on employers’ First Amendment rights. The federal government should not force employers to speak at its behest, they argued. “It’s the employers’ private property. It’s the citizens’ private property. So where does the government get off commandeering their space?” said Glenn Taubman of the NRTWLDF. Employer groups have previously contested other posting requirements, such as those under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act—but never before using a First Amendment argument. . .

Continue reading. Here’s the poster that businesses really don’t want their employees to see because then the employees might know their rights, and that is bad, bad, bad, in the eyes of the GOP and corporations.


Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 12:34 pm

You don’t know what America will look like in 2043, and neither does the government

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Ezra Klein has a good column on the absurdity of doing precise projections of the US economy a generation (30 years) from now:

Now that the 10-year budget problem is (poorly, counterproductively) solved, Republicans are faced with a bit of a problem: How do they keep justifying an agenda based entirely around debt fears now that the debt doesn’t look so scary?

The answer they’ve come up with is to change the timeline so the debt looks scarier again. Rather than judging the budget over the next 10 years, they want to judge it over the next 30. The problem, as Jonathan Chait points out, is that no one knows what will happen to the budget over the next 30 years. Imagine projecting the economy of 2013 in 1983. Even the best model would’ve missed the Internet revolution and the rise of China and India and the 2008 financial crisis, not to mention the two Iraq wars.

To put it another way, a central insight of conservatism is that the government isn’t very good at predicting the future, and then is slow or even unable to respond when its predictions prove incorrect. If you think the government can usefully forecast the economy 30 years into the future, then that should unlock a deep confidence in the merits of central planning.

But I wouldn’t advise it. Washington’s forecasts aren’t very good over five years, and they’re only vaguely plausible over 10. Over 20 or 30 years, they’re basically useless, as this New York Times graph shows:


Those light blue lines flitting off into nothingness? Those show what Washington thought would happen to the economy. The thick, dark line shows what did happen to the economy. And these errors are off of five- or 10-year forecasts. Thirty-year forecasts would mainly be useful for the lols.

Which isn’t to say Republicans are wrong to worry about the long term. We know our demographics are getting worse and our health-care costs are likely to climb (if at a slower rate). But what we need to address aren’t 30-year forecasts. They’re 30-year policies. And that’s what we’d have in a budget deal: Policies like chaining CPI and capping tax deductions and raising Medicare premiums for higher-income retirees all grow in relatively predictable ways over time. They save much more money in years 10-30 than in years 0-10, in fact. If our budget problems gets bigger in 2023, well, so are the polices we passed to deal with it.

But we don’t have a budget agreement. Republicans won’t agree to new tax revenues and so there’s no deal. Instead, we have sequestration, which, according to the law, disappears entirely after 10 years. If you’re worried about year 25, in other words, you should hate sequestration.

I’m getting to be a bit of a broken record on this, but repetition is called for: We’ve “solved” our deficit problem in the worst possible way. But we don’t need a useless 30-year budget forecast to know that, and we definitely don’t need one to fix it. We just need to look at this graph of the next 10 years:


As you can see, I have helpfully annotated this chart. The deficit falls fast — too fast — in the next few years. That’s a headwind against the recovery. Then it rises again through the rest of the decade. So we’re making our jobs problem worse while we’re supposed to be focusing on jobs, and making our deficit problem worse when we’re supposed to be focusing on deficits.

What we need is a deal that supports the economy now and puts in place smart cuts, reforms and tax changes to put us on a sounder footing for later. Instead, we’ve got a deal that hurts the economy now and probably hurts the economy in the future, too. We don’t need a 30-year forecast to tell us that.

The problem is that the GOP really does not want to improve the economy and the country so long as we have a Democratic president—or at least so long as we have Obama, though I don’t think another Democrat would be acceptable—hell, even many Republicans are unacceptable to the GOP. So the GOP will obstruct and sabotage every measure that might improve things in the hope that if they bring the country to its knees, people will embrace their principles and reject Democrats. The problem is that the GOP does not now seem to have any principles. As soon as Democrats adopt a program or position that the GOP supports, the GOP immediately rejects it. We’ve seen that repeatedly.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 12:18 pm

New oval roasting pan

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This just arrived. I love kitchen toys, and this looks just right for roasting a chicken leg or two.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 11:08 am

Posted in Food

Bakelite slant & Coconut shaving soap

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SOTD 17 June 2013

Very nice shave today, though it took a little extra work—so the Astra Keramik Platinum blade that I used was replaced at the end of the shave with a new Swedish Gillette blade.

First, the pre-shave beard wash with my current Jlocke98 solution. I got the bottles for the variants, but the pumps were shipped separately and won’t arrive for another two weeks. They’re coming from Illinois, but 2 weeks seems like a long time. Probably just a conservative estimate (i.e., wildly wrong).

Next, a good lather from [Mystic Water]( Coconut shaving soap using my Vie-Long horsehair brush. I did not get the very thick lather I recall from D.R. Harris, so I have a tub of D.R. Harris on deck for tomorrow so I can compare. But the lather certainly did the job.

The bakelite slant was its usual efficient self, within the limitations of the much-used blade. Three passes and then a little buffing to achieve BBS.

A good splash of Saint Charles Shave’s Refined aftershave, and the week begins.

Written by Leisureguy

17 June 2013 at 10:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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