Later On

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

Archive for March 29th, 2015

Drink notes

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Lately I’ve been enjoying of an evening a Bourbon Manhattan on the rocks (a true Manhattan uses rye and is served straight up), using Bullett Bourbon, Fee Brothers Peach Bitters, and Dolin sweet vermouth. The peach bitters are noticeable and excellent. Fee Brothers have quite an assortment of bitters:

I will warn you that the Lemon Bitters will attack the plastic dropper cap and make it come off, so a “dash” becomes “half the bottle.” Be careful.

Amazon, for the adventurous, offers the complete set. They’re also good in lemonade, gin and tonic, highballs, and other drinks, as well as on fruit salads, etc.

The list above fails to include Boker’s style Cardamom Bitters, an essential ingredient for many Pre-Prohibition vintage cocktails. And, of course, I’m not even mentioning Berg & Hauck’s Bitters, though they, too, are available from Amazon. And of course you can find Scrappy’s Bitters… and many more. Bitters constitute a little world of their own.

Written by Leisureguy

29 March 2015 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

More from Pilots and Doctors on the Germanwings Crash

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James Fallows has had more responses on the crash:

Following this initial item on what could, and could not have been foreseen about the Germanwings murder/suicide, and this followup in which professional pilots talked about shortcuts in modern training systems, more response from aviators and others:

1) “If you had a mental issue, there’s only one drug the FAA would allow you to take. That drug is alcohol.” From a professional pilot:

Add me to the extensive list of pilots you’ve heard from, regarding the Germanwings tragedy.  I agree with the people saying we only can blame ourselves, wanting cheap airfare and safe airlines, all while paying pilots nothing.  I personally have avoided working for the airlines, having figured out that the charter and medical flying seems to have a better quality of life, better pay over the life of the career, and more job security…

When it comes to prevention of accidents like this, I honestly don’t know what can be done.  I don’t believe having two people in the cockpit at all times would have prevented this specific instance; the guy was willing to take a lot of lives with him, what would the flight attendant standing in the doorway have been able to do to prevent that?

Many of your writers have mentioned the new ATP rules… [JF: higher flight-time requirements before pilots can be considered for flight-officer jobs] but I don’t see a solution in arbitrary flight times and educational achievement.  The European model, where pilots are hired and trained by the airline from the very beginning does seem more sustainable in my opinion, compared to the US model where pilots end up in excess of $100,000 in debt before they can even think of getting a job.

The person who pointed out the adversarial process of the FAA medical hit the issue right in the nose.  Until recently, depression alone was enough to keep you out of the cockpit, stabilized treatment regimes and doctors letters be damned.

To put it bluntly, if you had a mental issue that could be helped with medication, the FAA would allow you to take one drug that didn’t require reporting and documentation. That drug is alcohol.

2) On the tensions built into the medical-examination system. Another reader:

One pilot quoted in your piece wrote:

“The system gives pilots an incentive to cheat themselves out of the best quality of care. Any arrangement that promotes an adversarial relationship between doctor and patient compromises medicine.”

I fail to see how the relationship between doctors and pilots can be inherently anything other than adversarial.  There is no upside for the pilot when a pilot currently holding a health certificate sees a doctor.  The best result for the pilot is the continuation of the status quo.  The worst result is the suspension or ending of his career.

I hope most pilots would face this periodic career peril with a moral sense of duty to passengers and therefore will be honest and forthright in any medical exam and would promptly disclose to their employers any relevant medical condition. However human nature shows us that a meaningful percentage of pilots will conceal medical conditions or at least be very strategic in how the are examined (choosing a physician known to be lenient, seeking private diagnosis and treatment, etc.)

Thus it seems to me that the solution to this unique situation is not a more treatment-oriented system, which doesn’t address the conflict inherent in the situation.  Rather, the solution is to recognize that pilots are unique in that they must be highly skilled and physically and mentally healthy, while being entrusted daily with hundreds of lives.  Thus pilots should be required to give up their medical privacy to the degree necessary to ensure that all relevant medical facts are available to regulators and to their employers.

3) On the alcohol issue. From a doctor: . . .

Continue reading. Very thought provoking. A letter from later in the column:

It is implicit in your argument about airline cost-cutting (although it wasn’t explicitly stated) that flight crew pay must also be an indirect factor. The Colgan Air flight 3407 crash in Buffalo in 2009 is a case in point. The co-pilot had an annual salary of $16,200.

Tim Cook got a pay package worth $378 million to run Apple; if your iPhone doesn’t work, you send it back. But in some cases with commuter airlines, your life is literally in the hands of an overworked and undertrained flight crew member who makes McDonald’s wages.

A great illustration, à la Milton Friedman, of how the free market infallibly puts the right monetary value on services (snark).

Written by Leisureguy

29 March 2015 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

The Pope Is a Christian!

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Gary Wills is a thoughtful and good writer. His essay in the NY Review of Books:

At a recent I talk I gave about Pope Francis, a man asked me, “Why do more non-Catholics like the pope than Catholics do?” He was wrong, of course. A Pew poll two months ago found that 90 percent of Catholics like what the pope is doing—and the number is even higher (95 percent) among the most observant, Mass-attending Catholics. The percentage of non-Catholics who view the pope favorably does not get above the 70s.

Yet the question was understandable. There is a perception of great resistance to the pope in his own church. This is largely the product of noise. Extremists get more press coverage than blander types, and some Catholic bloggers have suggested that the pope is not truly Catholic. They are right to be in a panic. They are not used to having a pope who is a Christian. They call Francis a radical because he deplores the sequestration of great wealth for a rich few and deprivation of the many poor. But Francis is a moderate. Jesus was the radical: “How hard it will be for the wealthy man to enter the kingdom of God….It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23,26). In the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31), when the rich man (Dives) calls for succor from hell, Abraham, holding the poor man (Lazarus) in his bosom, answers: “All the good things fell to you while you were alive, and all the bad to Lazarus; now he has his consolation here, and it is you who are in agony.”

Some right wing Catholics would haul Dives up and enshrine him in the one percent of rich men who trickle wealth down on the rest of us. They are also descendants of those Pharisees who tried to keep people away from Jesus because “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2). The modern Pharisees try to refuse the Eucharist to politicians who do not meet their doctrinal tests. Pope Francis’s response to this patrolling of the communion line is in his major statement so far, The Joy of the Gospel (No. 47):

The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.

Which position would Jesus agree with? We find the answer in the Gospel of Mark (1:17), where Jesus says:

It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick; I did not come to invite virtuous people, but sinners.

Pope Francis describes the church as a ministry to wounded people:

I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal the wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds.

Some “traditional” Catholics also see the church as a battlefield; but they go out after battle to shoot the wounded. They are typified by hierarchs like Cardinal Raymond Burke, who says Catholics who remarry outside the church are like murderers, living defiantly in public sin. Or like Cardinal Salvatore Cordileone, who issued a guide for teachers in the Catholic schools of San Francisco, requiring them to oppose—in the classroom and in their private lives—abortion, contraception, artificial insemination, same sex marriage, adultery, fornication, masturbation, and pornography. He also installed a water system in the overhang at Saint Mary’s Cathedral to soak homeless people who were trying to sleep there. Every hour or half hour, for 75 seconds, the pipes would gush down on those below and flush them away like human refuse.

Contrast that with the reaction of Pope Francis when he found that homeless people were sleeping at the entrance to the Vatican piazza. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 March 2015 at 10:26 am

Posted in Religion

A skateboard without the board part

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From this NPR story:

Written by Leisureguy

29 March 2015 at 9:10 am

Posted in Techie toys, Toys

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