Later On

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

Archive for October 16th, 2016

Two election posts, one on Trump and one on Ryan

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Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Settlement Debate Flares Again in Israel

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Isabel Kershner reports in the NY Times:

Israel’s long-smoldering debate over Jewish settlement in the West Bank reignited on Sunday with a fierce exchange between the government and a human rights organization that touched on broader arguments over definitions of patriotism and the very character of the country.

The latest cross-fire of accusations began after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Saturday that he would push for legislation to bar Israelis from volunteering for national service with B’Tselem, an organization that focuses on allegations of human rights violations againstPalestinians in Israeli-occupied territories.

On Friday, Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, addressed a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council devoted to a discussion titled “The Settlements as the Obstacle to Peace and the Two-State Solution,” referring to the internationally endorsed goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The session was initiated by the Palestinians and requested by five countries, including Egypt, a regional ally with which Israel signed a peace treaty in the late 1970s.

Most of the world considers Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that were conquered from Jordan in the 1967 war, to be a violation of international law. The Palestinians demand those areas as the heart of a future independent state, and continued Israeli building there has been a constant source of tension between Israel and the United States.

Mr. Netanyahu’s pronouncement was largely symbolic: Only three volunteers from a program for 18-year-olds exempted from compulsory military service on ideological, religious, health or other grounds have applied to perform national service at B’Tselem in the last seven years. Amit Gilutz, a spokesman for B’Tselem, said no other volunteers were in the pipeline. He described Mr. Netanyahu’s ban as “spin” and “a distraction from the actual issues.”

Yet it underscores the rawness of the political divide in Israel over the fate of the territories it seized nearly 50 years ago, the work of nongovernmental organizations that oppose the occupation, and the wedge that Jewish settlement there drives between Israel and the rest of the world.

“Anything short of decisive international action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation,” Mr. El-Ad told the Security Council. Living under Israeli military rule in the West Bank, he said, “mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence.”

Israel officially considers the West Bank disputed, not occupied, and it annexed East Jerusalem in a move that was never internationally recognized.

Mr. Netanyahu denounced B’Tselem and Americans for Peace Now, a sister organization of the leftist Israeli Peace Now group, on Facebook. He said they had “joined the chorus of besmirching Israel” and had repeated “the mendacious claim that ‘the occupation and settlements’ are the cause” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 4:14 pm

Why Walmart didn’t work

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In a comment in the NY Times, I give my take on the reason:

The problem with the Walmart model is that their model goes through fuel too fast—or, in another metaphor, you can shear a sheep many times, but skin it only once. Walmart was siphoning too much money too quickly out of the community, so (naturally enough) pretty soon there’s a great shortage of money: people don’t make much so they don’t buy much, so local merchants don’t make much and (a) don’t buy much and (b) lay people off, which exacerbates the problem: a vicious circle, the obvious solution to which is to take better care of the demand side: the basic infrastructure of our economic life became as neglected and decayed as as our physical infrastructure, and for much the same reason: refusal to invest in ourselves—or, rather, not having the money to invest in ourselves because it is so rapidly being siphoned off: see above.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

An NFL statistic that would be interesting: Concussion count (player/team/records/etc.)

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I’m sure the data are available, and it would be interesting to see such things as whether a team’s win rate and concussion count are positively correlated. Or not. And which team leads each league in concussion counts. All-time record number of concussions—player, team (all seasons), team (one season), by salary level, and so on.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games, Medical

Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor’s Onion Pie, modified a bit

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A savory pie that makes a nice snack. The original recipe is here; the version below reflects various changes I made.

  • 3 large onions, finely sliced – I did a Neapolitan thing: one red onion, one yellow, and one white.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 eggs – I use jumbo, but extra-large would do
  • ¾ cup heavy cream or sour cream

My diet preference is low-carb (less than 50g net carbs a day, and closer to 30g than to 50g), so I just omitted the crust altogether. It’s just (high-carb) filler.

Sauté the onions in butter and bacon fat or olive oil until they are tender and translucent.

Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add the flour, and cook for just a few more minutes, then turn off the heat. Let it cool a while. Take a break.

Whisk the eggs with the (heavy or sour) cream, and mix well with the onions, then pour the mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350ºF until the egg mixture is set, about 35 minutes with jumbo eggs.

Experiment with adding crumbled Gorgonzola or Blue cheese with the cream.

It makes a lovely savory pie, and the 8×8 pan easily produces 9 pieces, 3×3, with the center piece a special treat. I like the look the red onion adds, the red bits seeming like random mosaic over the surface of the pie, which comes out a cream color. I used bacon fat and sour cream this time and like the pie. I’ll try olive oil and heavy cream next time.

I particularly enjoy it because:

  1. It’s a dark, cold, windy, rainy day. A warm treat would be nice.
  2. It sounded perfect for a teatime treat, and I like savory more than sweet.
  3. I had all the ingredients on hand—I love it when that happens.

Well worth the minimal effort.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 3:18 pm

Why the Taliban and other fundamentalist sects dislike education

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Precisely because it educates: opens new perspectives, increases knowledge, imparts respect for reason, etc. This story is a perfect example.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 1:06 pm

National The drug industry’s answer to opioid addiction: More pills

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Ariana Eunjung Cha has an interesting albeit infuriating article in the Washington Post:

Cancer patients taking high doses of opioid painkillers are often afflicted by a new discomfort: constipation. Researcher Jonathan Moss thought he could help, but no drug company was interested in his ideas for relieving suffering among the dying.

So Moss and his colleagues pieced together small grants and, in 1997, received permission to test their treatment. But not on cancer patients. Federal regulators urged them to use a less frail — and by then, rapidly expanding — group: addicts caught in the throes of a nationwide opioid epidemic.

Suddenly, Moss said, investors were knocking at his door.

“As clinicians, we wanted to help palliative patients,” said Moss, a professor and physician at University of Chicago Medicine. “The company that bought our work saw a broader market.”

Today, Moss’s side project is hailed as the next billion-dollar drug. And the once-disinterested pharmaceutical industry is bombarding doctors and the public with information about a serious, if previously unrecognized, condition common among the millions of Americans who take prescription painkillers. They call it “opioid-induced constipation,” or “OIC.”

The story of OIC illuminates the opportunism of pharmaceutical innovators and the consequences of a heavily drug-dependent society. Six in 10 American adults take prescription drugs, creating a vast market for new meds to treat the side effects of the old ones.

Opioid prescriptions alone have skyrocketed from 112 million in 1992 to nearly 249 million in 2015, the latest year for which numbers are available, and America’s dependence on the drugs has reached crisis levels. Millions are addicted to or abusing prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, from 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died in the United States from prescription-opioid overdoses, which have contributed to a startling increase in early mortality among whites, particularly women — a devastating toll that has hit hardest insmall towns and rural areas.

The pharmaceutical industry’s response has been more drugs. The opioid market — now worth nearly $10 billion a year in sales in the United States — has expanded to include a growing universe of medications aimed at treating secondary effects rather than controlling pain.

There’s Suboxone, financed and promoted by the U.S. government as a safer alternative to methadone for those trying to break their dependence on opioids. There’s naloxone, the emergency injection and nasal spray carried by first responders to treat overdoses. And now there’s Relistor, the drug based on Moss’s work, and a competitor, Movantik, for constipation.

In colorful charts designed to entice investors, numerous pharmaceutical makers tout the “expansion opportunity” that exists in the “opioid use disorders population.”

Indivior, a specialty pharmaceutical company listed on the London Stock Exchange, sees “around 2.5m potential patients, the majority of whom are addicted to prescription painkillers,” as opposed to illicit drugs such as heroin. Another company, New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals,highlights “growth drivers” for the market, noting that millions of additional Americans not yet identified are also likely to be dependent on opioid painkillers.

Analysts estimate that each of these submarkets — addiction, overdose and side effects — is worth at least $1 billion a year in sales. These economics, experts say, work against efforts to end the epidemic.

If opioid addiction disappeared tomorrow, it would wipe billions of dollars from the drug companies’ bottom lines.


A potent product

From a profit-making standpoint, opioids are a potent product. Chronic use can cause myriad side effects that usually are mild enough to keep people taking painkillers but sufficiently uncomfortable to send them back to the doctor.

Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, said this domino effect can turn a patient worth a few hundred dollars a month into one worth several thousand dollars a month.

“Many patients wind up very sedated from opioids, and it’s not uncommon to give them amphetamines to make them more alert. But now they can’t sleep, so they get Ambien or Lunesta. The amphetamines also make them anxious, paranoid and sweaty, and that means even more drugs,” said Kolodny, who also serves as chief medical officer to Phoenix House, a nonprofit organization that offers drug and alcohol treatment in 10 states and the District.

Women, in particular, are ideal customers [probably should say “victims” – LG] . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2016 at 8:51 am

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