Later On

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

Archive for July 22nd, 2014

The Link Between Carbs, Gut Microbes, and Colon Cancer

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I feel better and better about my LCHF diet. Read this article in Pacific Standard by John Upton:

Colorectal cancer is a scourge of modern times, killing 50,000 Americans every year. It’s responsible for a heavier death toll than any other cancer besides lung cancer and, when it comes to women, breast cancer.

And new research, which was published last week in Cell, has provided insights into the dangerous link between colorectal cancers and modern diets heavy in wheat, rice, and other complex carbohydrates—diets that became possible with the advent of agriculture.

University of Toronto scientists led research that suggests a common type of gut-dwelling bacteria breaks down carbs into certain metabolites that can lead to cancer. These metabolites appear to cause cells that line the colon to divide and proliferate rapidly, forming polyps. These polyps, which can grow into a cancer, are the abnormal growths that your doctor is probing for when they subject you to a colonoscopy.

The scientists found that they could protect specially bred mice from the cancers in two ways. In some mice, they used targeted antibiotics to kill off the clostridia bacteria that convert carbs into the metabolite butyrate. In other mice, they reduced the amount of carbs in their diets.

“We know it depends on bacteria, and we know it depends on carbs,” says Alberto Martin, an associate immunology professor at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the study. “This is the part of the study that’s still not solid, but we think that butyrate is somehow fueling the hyperproliferation of colon epithelial cells.” Other metabolites of carbohydrates might also be involved, he says. “It would be naïve to think it’s only butyrate.”

The phyla of bacteria . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 3:16 pm

Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block

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Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Feds seek to air consumer finance complaints

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Jeff Horowitz reports at The Big Story:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has heard from hundreds of thousands of consumers who feel wronged by banks and finance companies. Now the agency wants the public to hear from those consumers too.

On Wednesday, the bureau proposed allowing consumers to publish online the details of their complaints against lenders and financial service providers. Those narratives would augment the bureau’s consumer complaint database, which lists complaints about checking accounts, credit cards, student loans and other financial products. If consumers choose to make their complaints public, the companies involved would then be given a chance to write a public response.

“By proposing to share people’s stories, we are giving consumers an opportunity to be heard by the entire world and not simply by a government agency and its officials,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in remarks prepared for a Thursday event in El Paso, Texas.

The consumer bureau’s current database simply lists the company being complained about, a general subject matter like “deposits and withdrawals,” and whether the complaint has been resolved. By adding the narratives, the bureau believes it will help consumers determine where to take their business and identify systemic problems. A similar complaint reporting system is already in place at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which seeks to identify dangerous products from appliances to toys.

Consumer groups were elated by the bureau’s proposal, which Ruth Susswein, a deputy director at Consumer Action, called “essential for consumers to protect themselves.” Banks have complained bitterly about . . .

Continue reading.

This is excellent news—indeed, the complaints from the banks show how good it is. And as we saw in the previous article, making Federal databases open to the public whenever possible can help mitigate fraud and bad practice.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:13 am

Why Are Obstetricians Among the Top Billers for Group Psychotherapy in Illinois?

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The simple answer is that Medicare was not reviewing its billing data and seemed to have little interest in stopping fraud.  Charles Ornstein reports in ProPublica:

A few years ago, Illinois’ Medicaid program for the poor noticed some odd trends in its billings for group psychotherapy sessions.

Nursing home residents were being taken several times a week to off-site locations, and Medicaid was picking up the tab for both the services and the transportation.

And then there was this: The sessions were often being performed by obstetrician/gynecologists, oncologists and urologists — “people who didn’t have any training really in psychiatry,” Medicaid director Theresa Eagleson recalled.

So Medicaid began cracking down, and spending plummeted after new rules were implemented. In July 2012 the program stopped paying for group psychotherapy altogether for residents of nursing homes.

Yet Illinois doctors are still billing the federal Medicare program for large numbers of the same services, a ProPublica analysis of federal data shows.

Medicare paid Illinois providers for more than 290,000 group psychotherapy sessions in 2012 — more than twice as many sessions as were reimbursed to providers in New York, the state with the second-highest total.

Among the highest billers for group psychotherapy in Illinois were three ob/gyns and a thoracic surgeon. The four combined for 37,864 sessions that year, more than the total for all providers in the state of California. They were reimbursed more than $730,000 by Medicare in 2012 just for psychotherapy sessions, according to an analysis of a separate Medicare data set released in April.

“That’s not good,” Eagleson said when told of the Medicare numbers.

Medicare’s recent data release has led to a string of analyses showing how waste and fraud is inflating the nation’s bill for health care. This work has echoed the findings of ProPublica’s investigation last year into Medicare’s prescription drug program known as Part D, which had fewer barriers to waste and fraud than other government health care programs – and was making less effective use of its own data.

Of the Illinois ob/gyns billing for group psychotherapy, . . .

Continue reading.

Some of these physicians should face criminal charges for fraud and also lose their license to practice medicine.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 10:09 am

Hedge funds seem to operate from a scam mentality

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Pam Martens reports at Wall Street on Parade:

Only one word comes to mind to describe the testimony taking place before the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations this morning: Machiavellian.

The criminal minds on Wall Street have twisted banking and securities laws into such a pretzel of hubris that neither Congress, Federal Regulators or even the General Accountability Office can say with any confidence if the U.S. financial system is an over-leveraged house of cards. They just don’t know.

According to a copious report released last evening, here’s what hedge funds have been doing for more than a decade with the intimate involvement of global banks: the hedge fund makes a deposit of cash into an account at the bank which has been established so that the hedge fund can engage in high frequency trading of stocks. The account is not in the hedge fund’s name but in the bank’s name. The bank then deposits $9 for every one dollar the hedge fund deposits into the same account. Some times, the leverage reaches as high as 20 to 1.

The hedge fund proceeds to trade the hell out of the account, generating tens of thousands of trades a day using their own high frequency trading program and algorithms. Many of the trades last no more than minutes. The bank charges the hedge fund fees for the trade executions and interest on the money loaned.

Based on a written side agreement, preposterously called a “basket option,” the hedge fund will collect all the profits made in the account in the bank’s name after a year or longer and then characterize millions of trades which were held for less than a year, many for just minutes, as long-term capital gains (which by law require a holding period of a year or longer). Long term capital gains are taxed at almost half the tax rate of the top rate on short term gains.

There are so many banking crimes embedded in this story that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the one most dangerous to the safety and soundness of banks: extension of margin credit.

Under Federal law known as Regulation T, it is perceived wisdom on Wall Street that a bank or broker-dealer cannot extend more than 50 percent margin on a stock account. But since the banks involved in these basket options called these accounts their own proprietary trading accounts, even though the hedge fund had full control over the trading and ultimate ownership of profits, the banks were justified (in their minds) with thumbing their nose at a bedrock of doing business on Wall Street.

We learn from a footnote in the Senate’s report that hedge funds have gamed Regulation T further. The report . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 9:55 am

Posted in Business, Law

Church Lawyer Details Cover-up Claims on Sex Abuse

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How the Catholic church betrayed its parishioners by helping pedophiles, explained by a church lawyer in an ABC  News article:

A canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.

Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt’s archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment.

Haselberger said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry. She said she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct. She resigned last year.

“Had there been any serious desire to implement change, it could have been done quickly and easily with the stroke of a single pen,” Haselberger wrote in the affidavit, released Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney Jeff Anderson. “The archbishop’s administrative authority in his diocese is basically unlimited.”

The archdiocese has for years pledged it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which lays out a series of requirements — from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments. Archbishop Harry Flynn, who led the Minneapolis archdiocese until retiring in 2008, was an architect of the 12-year-old plan.

But Haselberger said she discovered in 2008 that the archdiocese hadn’t conducted background checks on most priests since the early 1990s. When she drew attention to the lapse, she said she was told to eliminate references to the date of background checks in a form pledging a priest is suitable for ministry. . .

Continue reading.

I do not think Catholic officials in the US are excused from obeying the law, but many seem to act as though that were true. If you read the complete article you will see that Catholic officials quite deliberately broke the law because they thought it was “better for the Church” to keep pedophile priests (some of whom were paid extra) in the Church.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 9:46 am

Posted in Law, Religion

Quick-Roasted Chicken With Mustard and Garlic

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I made this recipe last night, and it was quite tasty, cooking the chicken in my large cast-iron skillet. I did spatchcock the chicken, and I follow the video (linked in the post) and remove the breastbone as well, which makes the chicken fall naturally into two halves. The ingredients:

1 (4 lb) whole chickens, giblets and liver reserved for another use
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon salt

It was extremely tasty. My own chicken took 37 minutes, not 30 minutes, so I advise you to use a meat thermometer to determine whether it’s done.

Spatchcocking a chicken is easy if you have good poultry shears.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

The language impulse

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In looking through the book The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, by  Frank Wilson, Iwas struck by this passage:

Earlier in this chapter, I quoted Harlan Lang’s explanation of the phrase “the arbitrariness of sign.’ . . .

While I was in San Diego in 1973 I ran into Ursula Bellugi, a psycholinguist whom I had met before. She took me to her lab, where there were some deaf people signing. While I watched, she translated into English what they were saying. It took me some time to absorb what she had shown me; Ursula explained that sign language is not a code on English—she said, “It seems to be a language. There are rules for making up words and rules for making sentences out of the words, but the rules have to do with space and shape—it’s an entirely different way of doing language.”

I was really stunned. It was like being told there’s another ocean that you had never heard of. After a few days of looking into it and digesting it, I began to realize that this meant that language was not about speaking and hearing, which had always been my assumption. It meant that the brain had the capacity for language, and if you can’t put it out through the mouth, you put it out through the hands.

This was a revelatory moment of the kind that does not often come so accidentally to people in Lane’s circumstances. When Bellugi showed him her deaf signers and shared her opinion that sign, as they demonstrated it, had to be a real language, it meant the language generator in the brain must be indifferent to the form and medium through which its messages are transmitted. Are we using Fed Ex? UPS? Who cares? It’s just a messenger service! Nobody knew or even imagined that this might be the case until 1960, when William Stokoe first proposed that sign language had a grammatical structure in the visual-spatial mode comparable to that of spoken language.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 8:57 am

Posted in Books, Science

BBS with ATT

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SOTD 22 July 2014

I just received the Above The Tie razors I ordered—the 7-piece straight-bar set: two handles, two caps, and 3 baseplates (M – mild, R – regular, H – heavy-duty (?)).

But first the prep. I did try the Jlocke98 formula with Clearly Natural’s liquid glycerin soap, but it is not nearly so good as with Dr. Bronner’s.

The lather is the wonderful Cyril R. Salter French Vetiver, one of my favorites, and the Vie-Long badger+horsehair brush did a very nice job. The badger+horsehair brushes look sort of grey to me, but I’m colorblind so it probably doesn’t count.

The razor itself was wonderful. Under the cap you can see the machining that was done, and this one—I used the R head with the longer handle—definitely belongs to the “mild-aggressive” category: extremely comfortable on the face, while extremely efficient at removing stubble: three passes to BBS.

The handle feels good, and the end has a definite “knob” feel because of the depth of the section just above the knob. I’m very happy with the razor.

A good splash of Stirling Vetiver, and the day proceeds.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2014 at 8:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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