Later On

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

Archive for September 24th, 2015

Anyone have a favorite Welsh rabbit recipe?

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I’m sort of in the mood for a good Welsh rabbit. You sure don’t see it much in restaurants, though we did see it in a restaurant in Victoria BC.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Food

Problems at Volkswagen Start in the Boardroom

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James Stewart reports in the NY Times:

There is a long tradition of scandal and skulduggery in the auto industry, but few schemes appear as premeditated as Volkswagen’s brazen move to use sophisticated software to circumvent United States emissions standards.

That such a thing could happen at Volkswagen, Germany’s largest company and the world’s largest automaker by sales — 202.5 billion euros last year — has mystified consumers and regulators around the world. But given Volkswagen’s history, culture and corporate structure, the real mystery may be why something like this didn’t happen sooner.

“The governance of Volkswagen was a breeding ground for scandal,” said Charles M. Elson, professor of finance and director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. “It was an accident waiting to happen.”

The company, founded by the Nazis before World War II, is governed through an unusual hybrid of family control, government ownership and labor influence. Even by German standards, “Volkswagen stands apart,” said Markus Roth, a professor at Philipps-University Marburg and an expert in European corporate governance. “It’s been a soap opera ever since it started.”

Volkswagen’s recent history — a decades-long feud within the controlling Porsche family, a convoluted takeover battle and a boardroom coup — has dominated the German financial pages and tabloids alike. This week, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung compared Volkswagen’s governance to that of North Korea, adding that its “autocratic leadership style has long been out of date.” It said “a functioning corporate governance is missing.”

Until a forced resignation this spring, the company was dominated by Ferdinand Piëch, 78, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and the father of 12 children. He reigned over Volkswagen’s supervisory board and directed a successful turnaround at the luxury brand Audi before taking the reins at its parent, Volkswagen, in 1993. Mr. Piëch set the goal of Volkswagen’s becoming the world’s largest automaker by sales, a goal the company achieved this past year. He stepped down as chairman in April after unsuccessfully trying to oust the company’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, who himself was forced out this week.

One measure of Mr. Piëch’s influence: In 2012, shareholders elected his fourth wife, Ursula, a former kindergarten teacher who had been the Piëch family’s governess before her marriage to Ferdinand, to the company’s supervisory board.

Although many shareholders protested her lack of qualifications and independence, they have little or no influence. Porsche and Piëch family members own over half the voting shares and vote them as a bloc under a family agreement.

Labor representatives hold three of the five seats on the powerful executive committee, and half the board seats are held by union officials and labor.

Of the remaining seats, two are appointed by the government of Lower Saxony, the northwestern German state that owns 20 percent of the voting shares. Two are representatives of Qatar Holding, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which owns 17 percent of Volkswagen’s voting shares. Members of the Piëch and Porsche families hold three more seats, and a management representative holds another.

Outside views rarely penetrate. “It’s an echo chamber,” Professor Elson said. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Business

The Connection Between Cleaner Air and Longer Lives

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The reason the criminal fraud VW committed is so important that it killed people. Kevin Drum, using available data, estimates the death toll from the higher pollution of 11,000,000 cars to be 4,000 worldwide. (One hopes that’s high enough to trigger criminal prosecutions of individuals responsible; recall that GM’s concealing the problem defective ignition switch caused 153 deaths according to Reuters, and not only were no GM employees prosecuted, the company itself got what amounts to probation. So car companies have to kill many people for individuals to be held responsible for committing a crime. Usually the company can simply write a check, though to be sure the amount of the check may be relatively large.

But did the pollution actually kill people—that is, caused them to die before they otherwise would have? Yes, according to this article in the NY Times by Michael Greenstone:

Back in 1970, Los Angeles was known as the smog capital of the world — a notorious example of industrialization largely unfettered by regard for health or the environment. Heavy pollution drove up respiratory and heart problems and shortened lives.

But 1970 was also the year the environmental movement held the firstEarth Day and when, 45 years ago this month, Congress passed a powerful update of the Clean Air Act. (Soon after, it was signed by President Richard Nixon, and it was followed by the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Water Act, making him one of the most important, though underappreciated, environmentalists in American history.)

Since that time, the Clean Air Act has repeatedly been challenged as costly and unnecessary. As a fight brews over President Obama’s new use of the law to address global warming, it’s worth re-examining the vast differencethe law has already made in the quality of the air we breathe, and in the length of our lives.

Numerous studies have found that the Clean Air Act has substantially improved air quality and averted tens of thousands of premature deathsfrom heart and respiratory disease. Here, I offer new estimates of the gains in life expectancy due to the improvement in air quality since 1970 — based on observations from the current “smog capital” of the world, China. (To learn more about how this was calculated, click here.)

For several decades starting in the 1950s, China’s government gave residents in the northern half of the country free coal for winter heating, effectively creating a natural experiment in the health impact of pollution. My colleagues and I recently compared pollution and mortality rates between the north south of China and calculated the toll of airborne particulate matter, widely believed to be the most harmful form of air pollution, on life expectancy.

Applying that formula to E.P.A. particulate data from 1970 to 2012 yields striking results for American cities.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 4.15.14 PM

In Los Angeles, particulate pollution has declined by more than half since 1970. The average Angeleno lives about a year and eight months longer. Residents of New York and Chicago have gained about two years on average. With more than 42 million people currently living in these three metropolitan areas, the total gains in life expectancy add up quickly.

But some of the greatest improvements occurred in smaller towns and cities where heavy industries appeared to operate with few restrictions on pollution.

In 1970, the Weirton, W.Va.–Steubenville, Ohio, metropolitan area had particulate concentrations similar to current-day Beijing. A child born there today can expect to live about five years longer than one born in 1970.

More than 200 million people currently live in places monitored for particulates in 1970 and today. (The E.P.A. focuses on the most heavily populated or polluted areas of the country, which is why these calculations exclude approximately 115 million people.) On average, these people can expect to live an additional 1.6 years, for a total gain of more than 336 million life-years. . .

Continue reading.

VW really was responsible for killing people; we just don’t know which ones.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 4:18 pm

The Inevitable Rise of the Internet of Shipping Containers

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An interesting development indeed. I wonder whether it will extend to vehicles—trucks carrying shipping containers and cars carrying people, so that those will be tracked 24/7 as well. Tim Maughan reports at Motherboard:

The shipping container has become the ubiquitous mechanism of logistics, its generic shape and size an iconic symbol of globalization itself. By standardizing how cargo is packaged and moved, it has streamlined costs to an extent that has transformed global economics.

The container, and the vast infrastructure of trucks, ships, and mega-ports that move them, have reduced shipping costs and times enough to transform where industrial manufacturing and agricultural production can be located. It’s because of containers that pretty much everything you consume—from electronic gadgets to bananas—can be manufactured or grown where the labour costs are lowest, and shipped halfway around the world to you without it impacting how much you pay for them. It’s the shipping container that has tipped the global economic balance, allowing the economies of nations like China and India to explode.

But with millions of boxes circulating the world everyday, making sure they get from point A to point B has become a hugely complex problem, and one that’s increasingly managed by computer networks and algorithms rather than people. At present, containers are tracked via a complex system of identification numbers and barcodes, which allow them to be checked in and out of ports and other distribution hubs, or on and off flatbed trucks and vast containerships. But apart from these connecting points, the individual container is largely off-grid and dumb, unable to be monitored or contacted by those who depend on its cargo being delivered safely or on time. It opens up a whole barrage of security holes and opportunities for the system to be exploited.

This might be about to change, and, surprisingly, it could be thanks to the once-popular smartphone maker Blackberry. By plugging each lowly container directly into a network, Blackberry wants to make sure they can never be lost, misused, or hidden. It wants to make them aware of their location, its surroundings, its status. It wants to make containers smart.

In an interview with Indian Express, the president of Blackberry’s Technology Solutions lab Dr. Sandeep Chennakeshu revealed a new, as-yet unnamed device—a 20mm weatherproof box that can be used to retrofit existing containers and hook them up to the network.

“You can fix it to containers that carry highly valuable goods” he explained, “and since it has GPS, sensors and a cellular modem it can measure temperature, humidity pressure and movement. It can also figure out the location, if someone has opened the door, and cargo levels in the container and send the data securely to the cloud.”

What makes the self-powered box revolutionary is its claim to have a battery with a five-year lifespan, meaning that in theory it could be installed in any existing container, instantly turning it into a monitor-able, controllable, data collecting node in the already incredibly complex supply chain network, and one that understands more about its status than the humans that put it there.

This may sound futuristic, but it’s already started happening. As generic, interchangeable, and ubiquitous as they seem, the reality is that not all containers are created equal. Last year I spent a week on a Maersk container ship as it travelled between the mega-ports of the China sea.

I was first introduced to ‘reefers’: containers outfitted to be advanced climate-controlled, computer monitored micro-environments, plumbed directly into the ship’s power supply. Used to move everything from food to pharmaceuticals, the reefers on the cargo ship I rode were mainly carrying fish meal—processed fish guts used for fertilization and feeding cattle, exported from Chile and headed to China—one of the few items to flow that direction through the supply chain in large quantities.

The reefers highlight the changing role of human crew in what is an increasingly automated system. Unlike the other containers on the ship, which were little more than anonymous boxes to human eyes, their contents, origins, and destinations unknown, the reefers presented one of the few direct responsibilities the crew had for looking after their cargo.

It was the crew’s duty to ensure they constantly had power, were maintaining the right temperature, and to repair them if they malfunctioned. But even then the crew’s relationship to the reefers was heavily mediated by technology: not only are the reefers smart enough to know when something has gone wrong, but they’re picky about who they tell when it does. Connected directly to Maersk’s global network, when something fails, they don’t tell the crew directly, but instead call home—thousands of miles back to the company’s computers in Denmark, who in turn relay the message to the ship’s captain, who then tells the crew what to do.

These containers seem to have more agency in the decision-making process than the humans on the ship, something starkly illustrated by how painfully slow internet access was out at sea. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

Pope lays egg in addressing the issue of child rape by church officials

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Pam Martens has an interesting column on this. From the column:

. . . The Pope’s laundry list of criticisms of where society is off the rails includes rising poverty, homelessness, income inequality, and climate change but the Pope appeared yesterday to want to push the rape of children by “men of God” into the same dark shadows for which the church has now become notorious. The Pope’s sole reference in his address at St. Matthew’s to the horrific acts upon children by Catholic priests and the bishops who shunted the priests from parish to parish to perpetuate the abuse, was this:

“I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice. Nor have you been afraid to divest whatever is unessential in order to regain the authority and trust which is demanded of ministers of Christ and rightly expected by the faithful. I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.”

Commenting on the “pain” of the bishops and their “courage” was met with outrage by victims of the abuse. Barbara Blaine, President of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), released a statement noting that it was bishops who “enabled horrific crimes,” and that only four have resigned. Blaine said further:

“Virtually none of the other US clerics, (out of thousands) have ever been punished in the slightest for protecting predators, destroying evidence, stonewalling police, deceiving prosecutors, shunning victims or helping child molesting clerics get new jobs or flee overseas.

“And no one in the entire US Catholic hierarchy, despite 30 years of horrific scandal and at least 100,000 US victims, has been defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even publicly denounced by a church colleague or supervisor, for covering up child sex crimes, no matter how clearly or often or egregiously he did so.”

Blaine was particularly incensed that the Pope claimed that “such crimes will never be repeated,” stating that “such crimes are happening right now, all across the world.” She said the Pope had confirmed their organization’s worst suspicions, that he, like his predecessors, “will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis.”

Dennis Coday, a reporter for the independent National Catholic Reporter, echoed some of the criticism, writing: “I have to wonder where is the forthrightness we have come to expect of Pope Francis. At the very least he could have used the words ‘clergy sexual abuse of minors.’ This oblique reference will do nothing to assuage the fears of victims’ advocates who believe Francis is more public relations manager than crisis manager when it comes to sexual abuse.” . . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 3:05 pm

Interesting look at the environmental legacy of the VW fraud

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James Surowiecki has an interesting column in the New Yorker:

It took a few days, but the inevitable happened Wednesday: Martin Winterkorn, the embattled C.E.O. of Volkswagen, stepped down in the wake of revelations that his company had equipped eleven million diesel-engine cars with software explicitly designed to cheat on emissions tests. The cars were set to recognize when they were being tested and, if they were, to abruptly begin emitting far less nitrogen oxide than they would on the road. Winterkorn had initially tried to ride out the scandal, and there’s no evidence (so far) that he knew about the software cheating. But, given that this was not, as in most auto-industry scandals, a case of a defective part but rather a deliberate corporate effort to deceive consumers and regulators, it was impossible for him to stay on, particularly given his reputation as a hands-on, technically adept micromanager: he either did know or should have known, and, in either case, he has to bear the blame. Winterkorn’s departure, though, will do little to relieve the pressure on Volkswagen, or to save it from the travails to come. This is one of the more remarkable corporate scandals in history, and by the time it’s over the company, which at the moment is the world’s largest automaker, is likely to be a shadow of its past self.

Volkswagen’s lies to consumers and regulators weren’t tangential to its business: instead, they were crucial to how it marketed its diesel cars, at least in the United States. Diesel has always been a tough sell in the U.S., where the technology is associated with the dirty, clunky engines of the nineteen-seventies, and where fuel economy (typically a strong selling point for diesel) tends to matter less to consumers than it does in Europe. Volkswagen’s solution to this problem was to trumpet a “new era of diesel,” featuring engines that were cleaner than ever. The headline on a 2008 BusinessWeek article summed up the pitch: “This Is Not Your Father’s Diesel.” Improvements in diesel technology had made it possible for diesel engines to run cleaner than ever before. But the assumption had been that there was a trade-off: making diesel cleaner would also lower a car’s fuel economy and/or its performance. Volkswagen promised customers that they didn’t have to make these trade-offs. They could, for a relatively modest price, get a high-performing car with great fuel economy (and, therefore, lower CO2 emissions), while also releasing less of other pollutants. It sounded too good to be true—and, for Volkswagen, it was. (BMW and Mercedes made a similar case for their diesel cars; neither has been implicated in the emissions scandal, though.) Volkswagen did deliver the high performance and the fuel economy but did so, it has now become clear, only by disabling the emissions controls, which meant its cars were pouring hundreds of thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.

In that sense, Volkswagen’s actions are oddly reminiscent of (while obviously far more serious) the classic “Seinfeld” episode in which the characters become enamored with a new frozen yogurt that’s incredibly tasty but still somehow “a hundred percent nonfat.” The principle is the same: you can make a lot of money by promising people that they can have all the pleasure and none of the guilt. As Newman says to Jerry, “This yogurt is really something, huh? And it’s nonfat! I’ve been waiting for something like this my whole life, and it’s finally here!” Needless to say, the frozen yogurt turns out to be full of fat.

The centrality of Volkswagen’s deceptive promise to its marketing strategy in the United States is precisely why the stock market’s reaction to the scandal has been so dramatic. While the stock rebounded slightly on Thursday, it’s still down almost thirty per cent from when the news broke. It isn’t just the cost of fixing the emissions problem that’s the issue—it’s possible that, because the emissions controls are already in the cars, the only fix that will be needed will be a software patch that, in effect, disables the cheat. Nor is it just the fines, though those could be huge, and will presumably be the biggest ever levied against an automaker. (The Environmental Protection Agency, which helped uncover the scandal, can fine the company up to thirty-seven thousand dollars for each of the four hundred and eighty-two thousand cars Volkswagen sold in the United States with the software.) There will also be class-action lawsuits, and the possibility that Volkswagen might have to compensate owners for the full value of their cars. Whatever patch Volkswagen offers, after all, won’t make the cars run just the way they did—in fact, it’s likely to make them run worse in terms of performance and fuel economy. That means, in effect, that the cars Volkswagen said it was selling were not the cars it actually sold. It would be very surprising if this doesn’t end up costing the company many billions of dollars. (It has already set aside more than seven billion, which may be conservative.) And the hit to its reputation, especially in the United States, will be long-lasting.
While the scandal is a disaster for Volkswagen, there’s a good chance it’ll end up being a boon for the environment, since the fallout from the controversy will hurt not just the company but also diesel technology itself.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 3:01 pm

Cool interactive graphic shows when you’ll die (more or less)

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Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life

Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back Pain

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I’ve commented before on how knowledge is lost, the canonical example being the secret of the Stradivarius stringed instruments (e.g., violins, violas). Michaeleen Doucleff at NPR has an article from last June about an interesting example of knowledge that our own culture has lost:

Editor’s note, June 10: We have added an acknowledgement of several sources that Esther Gokhale used while developing her theories on back pain. These include physiotherapy methods, such as the Alexander Technique and theFeldenkrais Method, and the work of anthropologist Noelle Perez-Christiaens.

Back pain is a tricky beast. Most Americans will at some point have a problem with their backs. And for an unlucky third, treatments won’t work, and the problem will become chronic.

Believe it or not, there are a few cultures in the world where back pain hardly exists. One indigenous tribe in central India reported essentially none. And the discs in their backsshowed little signs of degeneration as people aged.

An acupuncturist in Palo Alto, Calif., thinks she has figured out why. She has traveled around the world studying cultures with low rates of back pain — how they stand, sit and walk. Now she’s sharing their secrets with back pain sufferers across the U.S.

About two decades ago, Esther Gokhalestarted to struggle with her own back after she had her first child. “I had excruciating pain. I couldn’t sleep at night,” she says. “I was walking around the block every two hours. I was just crippled.”

Gokhale had a herniated disc. Eventually she had surgery to fix it. But a year later, it happened again. “They wanted to do another back surgery. You don’t want to make a habit out of back surgery,” she says.

This time around, Gokhale wanted to find a permanent fix for her back. And she wasn’t convinced Western medicine could do that. So Gokhale started to think outside the box. She had an idea: “Go to populations where they don’t have these huge problems and see what they’re doing.”

[Added June 10] So Gokhale studied findings from anthropologists, such as Noelle Perez-Christiaens, who analyzed postures of indigenous populations. And she studied physiotherapy methods, such as the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method.

And the original post continues …

Then over the next decade, Gokhale went to cultures around the world that live far away from modern life. She went to the mountains in Ecuador, tiny fishing towns in Portugal and remote villages of West Africa.

“I went to villages where every kid under age 4 was crying because they were frightened to see somebody with white skin — they’d never seen a white person before,” she says.

Gokhale took photos and videos of people who walked with water buckets on their heads, collected firewood or sat on the ground weaving, for hours.

“I have a picture in my book of these two women who spend seven to nine hours everyday, bent over, gathering water chestnuts,” Gokhale says. “They’re quite old. But the truth is they don’t have a back pain.”

She tried to figure out what all these different people had in common. The first thing that popped out was

Continue reading.

The article includes an interesting sidebar:

Esther Gokhale’s Five Tips For Better Posture And Less Back Pain

Try these exercises while you’re working at your desk, sitting at the dinner table or walking around, Esther Gokhale recommends.

1. Do a shoulder roll: Americans tend to scrunch their shoulders forward, so our arms are in front of our bodies. That’s not how people in indigenous cultures carry their arms, Gokhale says. To fix that, gently pull your shoulders up, push them back and then let them drop — like a shoulder roll. Now your arms should dangle by your side, with your thumbs pointing out. “This is the way all your ancestors parked their shoulders,” she says. “This is the natural architecture for our species.”

2. Lengthen your spine: Adding extra length to your spine is easy, Gokhale says. Being careful not to arch your back, take a deep breath in and grow tall. Then maintain that height as you exhale. Repeat: Breathe in, grow even taller and maintain that new height as you exhale. “It takes some effort, but it really strengthens your abdominal muscles,” Gokhale says.

3. Squeeze, squeeze your glute muscles when you walk: In many indigenous cultures, people squeeze their gluteus medius muscles every time they take a step. That’s one reason they have such shapely buttocks muscles that support their lower backs. Gokhale says you can start developing the same type of derrière by tightening the buttocks muscles when you take each step. “The gluteus medius is the one you’re after here. It’s the one high up on your bum,” Gokhale says. “It’s the muscle that keeps you perky, at any age.”

4. Don’t put your chin up: Instead, add length to your neck by taking a lightweight object, like a bean bag or folded washcloth, and balance it on the top of your crown. Try to push your head against the object. “This will lengthen the back of your neck and allow your chin to angle down — not in an exaggerated way, but in a relaxed manner,” Gokhale says.

5. Don’t sit up straight! “That’s just arching your back and getting you into all sorts of trouble,” Gokhale says. Instead do a shoulder roll to open up the chest and take a deep breath to stretch and lengthen the spine.

Take a look at the photos in the original article, particularly the photo of the Greek statue that shows good spinal alignment.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 12:32 pm

Prehistoric fish invented the enamel we use in our teeth

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Karen Kaplan reports in the LA Times:

The enamel that covers your teeth originated in an unlikely place: on the scales of ancient fish.

Scientists say they figured this out by examining the fossils of long-dead fish, as well as the DNA of a range of creatures alive today. They make their case in a report published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in our bodies, made almost entirely of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals. It protects our teeth when we chew and shields them from pain when encountering things that are very cold or very hot.

Nearly all four-limbed creatures have enamel, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. So do so-called lobe-finned fish, some of which evolved to walk and live on land.

Some types of primitive fish had similar kinds of tissue covering the exterior of their bodies. And some had enamel-like substances both on their exterior and on parts of their teeth. The genes needed to make all of these hard tissues are largely the same, and most are clustered together in the genome.

By comparing the teeth and outer skeletons of various groups of fish, the researchers determined that enamel first arose in fish that had skeletons made of bone. (Other fish, including sharks and rays, have skeletons made of cartilage.)

Then the scientists turned their attention to a fish species called Psarolepis romeri, which lived in present-day China roughly 445 million to 420 million years ago. This fish intrigued them because it was one of the oldest species known to sport enamel.

However, the researchers wrote, the one part of the fish where enamel was conspicuously absent was their teeth.

Psarolepis makes clear that a single species can have enamel on some parts of its body but not others. With that in mind, the scientists turned their attention to another prehistoric fish called Andreolepis hedei.

Andreolepis, which lived around the same time as Psarolepis, has been a puzzle to scientists. Specimens have been found with enamel on their scales but not on bones in the skull. Some researchers have argued that these specimens must represent two separate kinds of fish. But the example of Psarolepis means that Andreolepis could be a single species with enamel on its scales, but not elsewhere.

Pulling it all together, the study authors concluded that “enamel originated on the scales, before colonizing the dermal bones and finally the teeth.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 11:20 am

Posted in Evolution, Science

Taking Blood Pressure Drugs at Night May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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Interesting finding reported by Dennis Thompson at HealthDay:

In surprising new research, experts report that the timing of taking your blood pressure medicine could have a big impact on whether or not you develop type 2 diabetes.

Specifically, the Spanish researchers found that taking blood pressure medications at bedtime rather than waiting until morning may cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than half.

People with high blood pressure tend to suffer from a phenomenon called “non-dipping,” in which their blood pressure does not substantially decrease during sleep as it does in healthy people, the researchers said in background information.

In an initial study, the investigators found that “non-dippers” tended to have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with people whose blood pressure decreased normally during sleep.

A follow-up clinical trial by the same research group revealed that taking high blood pressure medications right before bed helped lower a person’s sleeping blood pressure, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

For every 14-point decrease in a person’s average sleeping systolic blood pressure, they experienced a 30 percent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, said lead author Dr. Ramon Hermida. Systolic pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading.

“The results from our prospective study indicate lowering asleep blood pressure could indeed be a significant method for reducing the risk of developing [type 2] diabetes,” said Hermida, who’s a professor of medicine at the University of Vigo in Spain.

So, how are these two very different diseases connected? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 11:14 am

Edwin Jagger old head = Merkur 34C head, so far as I can tell

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SOTD 24 Sept 2015

A very fine shave today, with a scotch-fragranced shaving soap: Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n’ Scottish. The description, from the link:

Masculine, strong and incredibly intense. Plenty of genuine Scotch whiskey, pure sheep wool fat with the peaty-smoky fragrance of burnt oak.

It’s definitely an Islay scotch. (And I only recently learned that the “s” is silent in “Islay,” like the “s” in “isle” (which is what it means—and indeed is what it is pronounced like if you pronounce the “e” in “isle” like an unaccented schwa: IL-uh, with the “i” being long.))

Despite the strong and present fragrance, it is rinsed away with the lather, so the much lighter fragrance of the Bathhouse aftershave is all the fragrance I have now.

I used two razors, the Georgian Edwin Jagger (an older EJ, from before the their new head design) and the Merkur 34G. I read early on that Edwin Jagger had at that time the same head as the Merkur 34C/G, and simply repeated that knowledge until the idea was challenged by arbarnes on Wicked Edge (see this thread for the discussion).

He pointed out that the 34C is a two piece razor, but that seems irrelevant: the head is manufactured and then the baseplate is (permanently) attached to the 34C handle. (That is, the baseplate and handle are not manufactured as a unit.) And since Merkur provided unplated heads to EJ (which did their own plating, or had it done to their specifications), they presumably would not break down assembled 34Cs, but ship the heads before attachment.

Another point is that the EJ cap’s threaded post is substantially different from the threaded post on the 34C cap:Two caps
So certainly the cap differs between the two razors, due to the 34C’s two-piece design requiring a threaded post that can reach the internal tightening shaft. So in that sense, the caps are different.

But, as arbarnes points out, the key fact is the head geometry—that is, the overall shape of the head as it holds the blade and presents it for shaving. The length of the threaded stud is irrelevant to that, and as you can see from the photo below, the head geometries are, so far as I can tell in holding the razors side by side together, identical: Comparison

Unfortunately the focus sort of escapes me, but I think the shot is clear enough so se that the razors are at the least quite similar. When you inspect them in person, they definitely can been seen to have thee same head geometry.

So it seems to me that the old Edwin Jagger head, sourced from Merkur, used the exact same design (so far as head geometry is concerned) as the Merkur 34C/G.

In the meantime, I have contacted Edwin Jagger and asked them which Merkur head they previously used, but so far no reply—and, indeed, I may get no reply. But I have new confidence in the proposition that the head Edwin Jagger used was the same design (in terms of head geometry, if not in the length of the threaded stud) as the head of the 34C. This was called the Merkur Classic head.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2015 at 10:32 am

Posted in Shaving

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