Later On

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

Archive for February 20th, 2016

The grand Pajandrum himself, with the little round button at top

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I’m trying to remember where I first came across this:

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

The author is Samuel Foote; the circumstances of the composition are described in Wikipedia at the link:

When he found himself out of work in November 1754, Foote rented the Haymarket theatre and began to stage mock lectures. Satirizing Charles Macklin‘s newly opened school of oratory, these lectures created a sort of theatrical war, especially when Macklin began to appear at the lectures himself. At one particular lecture, Foote extemporized a piece of nonsense prose to test Macklin’s assertion that he could memorise any text at a single reading.

Wikipedia further notes, “This introduced the nonsense term “The Grand Panjandrum” into the English language and the name was adopted for the Panjandrum or Great Panjandrum, an experimental World War II-era explosive device.”

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Writing

It doesn’t work to put pharmaceutical companies on the honor system, responsible for judging safety of their own (revenue-producing) drugs

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The FDA uses an honor-system approach to determining the safety of pharmaceutical drugs, having the corporations that produce the (revenue-producing) drugs responsible for deciding whether the drugs should be sold or taken off the market. The conflict of interest involved in this approach could not be more obvious, yet the FDA apparently believes this is a sound approach. (I imagine it is a decision driven by financial necessity: Congress, heavily reliant on corporate money, is reluctant to adequately fund government regulatory agencies to do their jobs: corporations do not want to be regulated, and they pay legislators to stop regulation as much as possible.)

Marie McCulloough reports in

Before he died early last year of pancreatic cancer, Stephen T. Johnson filed a lawsuit against Merck for not telling him his disease might be a side effect of taking Januvia, the company’s blockbuster diabetes drug.

The 63-year-old Philadelphia police officer knew his life was at an end, but he wanted the product labeling changed to warn other diabetics.

“He worked his whole life. He didn’t need the money,” said his son, Stephen T. Johnson Jr., also a Philadelphia police officer. “But he felt it just wasn’t right” that patients weren’t informed.

A federal judge in California disagreed. In November, Judge Anthony Battaglia threw out more than 744 failure-to-warn lawsuits filed around the country against the makers of type 2 diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics. He ruled that the companies, including Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co., and Novo Nordisk, were shielded from state court claims because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have refused to let them add pancreatic cancer to the labeling. The case is on appeal.

Soon after the ruling, the companies, worth a combined $4 billion, petitioned to collect $408,000 in legal expenses from the pancreatic cancer patients or their estates.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, including Max Kennerly in Philadelphia, are fighting back, saying the companies are not entitled to reimbursement and are just trying to scare off future litigants.

Meanwhile, the important question of whether incretin medications cause or contribute to pancreatic cancer remains unsettled, three years after the FDA announced an investigation. It is another example, critics say, of the limits of a regulatory system that relies on companies to ferret out the safety problems of their own products.

Diabetes has become a worldwide scourge, and use of incretin drugs – alone or in combination with other diabetes medications – is on the rise. In the United States alone, more than three million diabetics took the top five incretins in 2013, according to an estimate from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham. Almost half of them took the top-seller, Merck’s Januvia.

This drug group is growing – with nine approved compounds and counting – as are its possible uses. Incretins are in testing for Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, heart failure, and reducing cocaine euphoria in addicts. Novo Nordisk’s Victoza has already been approved, as Saxenda, for weight management in obese adults. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 10:44 am

Striking photo-essay on how a Florida community turned itself around

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Fred Conrad has a very interesting essay in the NY Times, but the photos accompanying it are even more powerful. The essay tells the story that informs the photos:

When ­Morris A. Young was elected sheriff of Gadsden County, Fla., in 2004, he inherited a community caught in one of the deepest cycles of violence, poverty and incarceration in the state. Soon after taking office, he began an unusual collaboration with local officials and churchgoers to turn things around.

The county’s schools superintendent, Reginald C. James, also took office in 2004. Alarmed by the low graduation rates in the area — just over 40 percent that year — he established an alternative school for struggling students. Smaller classes and more support helped keep them in classes and out of trouble. Under his supervision, the graduation rate has increased to more than 65 percent.

“I think the sharp decline in juvenile crime is directly related to the improvement of Gadsden County schools,” Superintendent James said.The critical piece was creating the alternative school. You need to give kids more than a second chance. They need multiple chances to be successful.”

To address the crisis of young offenders lost in the criminal-justice system, Kathy L. Garner, the county’s first African-American female judge, insists on hearing all of the juvenile cases in her jurisdiction. Arrests have gone down since 2004 by about 75 percent. “I’m a daughter of the soil,” she told me. “When these kids come into my court, they know who I am. They know where I grew up.”

One of Sheriff Young’s first decisions was to hire Jimmy Salters, a . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 10:37 am

Kevin Drum: “On Second Thought, Maybe Bernie Sanders’s Growth Claims Aren’t As Crazy As I Thought”

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Kevin Drum takes another look at the Friedman analysis of the Sanders policy proposals.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 10:13 am

When the prosperity gospel encounters death

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Kate Bowler has written an impressive column in the NY Times:

ON a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.

I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.

But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.”

I am a historian of the American prosperity gospel. Put simply, the prosperity gospel is the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. I spent 10 years interviewing televangelists with spiritual formulas for how to earn God’s miracle money. I held hands with people in wheelchairs being prayed for by celebrities known for their miracle touch. I sat in people’s living rooms and heard about how they never would have dreamed of owning this home without the encouragement they heard on Sundays.

I went on pilgrimage with the faith healer Benny Hinn and 900 tourists to retrace Jesus’ steps in the Holy Land and see what people would risk for the chance at their own miracle. I ruined family vacations by insisting on being dropped off at the showiest megachurch in town. If there was a river running through the sanctuary, an eagle flying freely in the auditorium or an enormous, spinning statue of a golden globe, I was there.

Growing up in the 1980s on the prairies of Manitoba, Canada, an area largely settled by Mennonites, I had been taught in my Anabaptist Bible camp that there were few things closer to God’s heart than pacifism, simplicity and the ability to compliment your neighbor’s John Deere Turbo Combine without envy. Though Mennonites are best known by their bonnets and horse-drawn buggies, they are, for the most part, plainclothes capitalists like the rest of us. I adore them. I married one.

But when a number of Mennonites in my hometown began to give money to a pastor who drove a motorcycle onstage — a motorcycle they gave him for a new church holiday called “Pastor’s Appreciation Day” — I was genuinely baffled. Everyone I interviewed was so sincere about wanting to gain wealth to bless others, too. But how could Mennonites, of all people — a tradition once suspicious of the shine of chrome bumpers and the luxury of lace curtains — now attend a congregation with a love for unfettered accumulation?

The riddle of a Mennonite megachurch became my intellectual obsession. No one had written a sustained account of how the prosperity gospel grew from small tent revivals across the country in the 1950s into one of the most popular forms of American Christianity, and I was determined to do it. I learned that the prosperity gospel sprang, in part, from the American metaphysical tradition of New Thought, a late-19th-century ripening of ideas about the power of the mind: Positive thoughts yielded positive circumstances, and negative thoughts negative circumstances.

Variations of this belief became foundational to the development of self-help psychology. Today, it is the standard “Aha!” moment of Oprah’s Lifeclass, the reason your uncle has a copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and the takeaway for the more than 19 million who bought “The Secret.” (Save your money: the secret is to think positively.) These ideas about mind power became a popular answer to a difficult question: Why are some people healed and some not?

The modern prosperity gospel can be directly traced to the turn-of-the-century theology of a pastor named E. W. Kenyon, whose evangelical spin on New Thought taught Christians to believe that their minds were powerful incubators of good or ill. . .

Continue reading.

By all means, read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 10:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

Cool dance

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Take a look.

A short film made by Dominique Palombo follows a young man expressing himself in dance, parading the streets of Paris. We follow this man while he moves to the music, feels every beat and rhythm, and lets his body move. Not only are his movemens exciting, the music he dances to is very playful in nature. “N’arrete Pas” translates to Don’t Stop and we watch as he constantly is in motion throughout this short film.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 7:59 am

Posted in Music, Video

Wolf Whiskers, Exotic Elemi, and the Above the Tie R1

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SOTD 2016-02-20

A wonderful shave once more. Man, I do like my morning shave as much if not more than my morning iced coffee and roasted bacon.

The Wolf Whiskers handle shown is both attractive and extremely comfortable, and the Plissoft knot does a fine job while feeling luxuriously soft on my face. Meißner Tremonia’s Exotic Elemi has a wonderful fragrance that indeed seems exotic, and the lather it makes is extremely nice.

Above the Tie’s R1 baseplate is just right for me, and I very much like the knurling on the Atlas handle shown. I have tended to bemoan the handle’s shortness, wishing it were 1/2″ longer, but today I thought, “The handle is what it is. Get over it and learn to use it.” The revised attitude—accept the handle and make the most of it—enabled me to enjoy the handle, and I find that it works fine. The fly in the ointment was not the handle, but my internal attitude.

Three passes and a perfectly smooth (and trouble-free) result: the R1 will not work for everyone, but by God it works for me.

Today’s Chatillon Lux Champs de Lavande sample is one that I probably should have used yesterday, with Meißner Tremonia’s Lavender de Luxe shaving soap, but there will be more shaves and more opportunities to pair the two. It has a simpler scent profile than the others—lavender, ylang ylang, rosemary, bergamot, and black pepper—and has a very nice fragrance indeed.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 February 2016 at 7:25 am

Posted in Shaving

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