Later On

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

Archive for December 2017

A must-read: “My Vagina Is Terrific. Your Opinion About It Is Not.”

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Jen Gunther, an obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in California, has a column in the NY Times that describes the power of memes:

There is a rash of men explaining vaginas to me.

That is what I have decided to name a collective of mansplainers. A murder of crows, a parliament of owls, a rash of mansplainers. In medicine a rash can be a mild annoyance that goes away and never returns. A rash can also portend a serious medical condition, even something malignant.

There have always been a few men here and there explaining vaginas to me. I have suffered fools eager to use pickup lines about being an amateur gynecologist, detailing their imagined superior knowledge of female anatomy and physiology. Men who think sitting beside them at a bar and smiling — because if you don’t smile, you get told to smile — is an invitation to tell you how they will make you scream and moan.

I know that many other women have had their vaginas explained to them, because for the past 25 years my career has been dedicated to treating vaginal and vulvar problems. I have listened to women with completely normal exams weep that they have been told that they do not smell or taste correctly. That they are too wet, or too loose, or too gross.

These women all shared something: They were told these things by men. While I admit this is anecdotal data, my years of listening to secret shame about healthy vaginas and vulvas seems to suggest it is largely, if not entirely, male partners who exploit vaginal and vulvar insecurities as a weapon of emotional abuse and control.

But it was the Vicks VapoRub that put me over the edge. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 December 2017 at 11:46 am

Now Is the Time to Be a Deficit Hawk

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Very interesting post by Kevin Drum.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 December 2017 at 11:38 am

How We Know It Was Climate Change

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Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth system science at Stanford, writes in the NY Times:

his was a year of devastating weather, including historic hurricanes and wildfires here in the United States. Did climate change play a role? Increasingly, scientists are able to answer that question — and increasingly, the answer is yes.

My lab recently published a new framework for examining connections between global warming and extreme events. Other scientists are doing similar research. How would we go about testing whether global warming has influenced the events that occurred this year?

Consider Hurricane Harvey, which caused enormous destruction along the Gulf Coast; it will cost an estimated $180 billion to recover from the hurricane’s storm surge, high winds and record-setting precipitation and flooding. Did global warming contribute to this disaster?

The word “contribute” is key. This doesn’t mean that without global warming, there wouldn’t have been a hurricane. Rather, the question is whether changes in the climate raised the odds of producing extreme conditions.

Hurricanes are complicated business. While there is evidence that global warming should increase the frequency of very intense storms, their rarity and complexity make it difficult to detect climate change’s fingerprint.

It is therefore critical to examine all of the contributing factors. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, these include the warm ocean that provided energy for the storm; the elevated sea level on top of which the storm surge occurred; the atmospheric pressure pattern that contributed to the storm’s stalling over the coast; and the atmospheric water vapor that provided moisture for the record-setting precipitation.

In examining these factors, scientists are deeply skeptical: We start with the assumption that each condition arose by chance, and then require a very heavy burden of proof to reject that assumption (analogous to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases).

The first step is to ask whether historical changes have been observed in any of the factors. For example, ocean temperatures have increased in recent decades. Applying the same statistical techniques used in engineering, medicine and finance, we can analyze whether those increases have changed the odds of achieving this year’s warm temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

But identifying a trend doesn’t tell us the cause. For that, we run controlled experiments using computerized climate models that simulate conditions in previous decades, with and without the variable of human-generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By comparing those experiments with historical weather data, we can quantify how likely an event is with and without human-generated warming. Based on previous warm years, we can expect to find that human-generated warming influenced this year’s ocean temperatures.

We also know that global warming is increasing the moisture in the atmosphere, meaning that a given storm can produce more precipitation. Analyses by Kerry Emanuel of M.I.T. and others since the storm show that global warming makes heavy rainfall during storms like Hurricane Harvey more likely.

Further, Hurricane Harvey’s stalling over the coast was critical for the record rainfall. The exact meteorological causes are complex, but the pattern of atmospheric pressure across North America played an important role. We have found that global warming increased the odds of the pressure pattern that contributed to the 2010 Russian heat wave that killed more than 50,000 people. We can likewise look back at pressure patterns during past hurricane seasons and examine whether global warming has altered the odds of patterns similar to Hurricane Harvey’s.

In addition to the heavy rainfall, storm surge contributed to coastal flooding. When hurricanes make landfall, low pressure and strong winds push water onto land. By increasing the mean sea level, global warming has “raised the floor” from which storm surge occurs. As a result, a storm is more likely to cause extensive flooding. Sea-level rise tripled the odds of Hurricane Sandy’s flood level in 2012. A similar analysis can be applied to the Hurricane Harvey storm surge.

So, what role did climate change play in Hurricane Harvey?  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 December 2017 at 8:55 am

Netflix Original “Bright” well worth watching

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Gritty fantasy and police movie with good comic touches. (Will Smith is a star, so naturally.) Not a serious movie, but an enjoyable movie, and exploring extended racism.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2017 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

John Portman, Architect Who Made Skylines Soar, Dies at 93

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Robert McFadden writes in the NY Times:

John Portman, the architect and developer who revolutionized hotel designs with soaring futuristic atriums, built commercial towers that revitalized the downtowns of decaying postwar American cities and transformed Asian skylines from Shanghai to Mumbai, died on Friday in Atlanta. He was 93.

Mr. Portman’s family announced his death. No cause was given.

One of the world’s best-known and most influential architects, Mr. Portman, over a half-century, redefined urban landscapes in the United States. He built the Peachtree Center in Atlanta, the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, the Renaissance Center in Detroit and scores of hotel, office and retail complexes in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Fort Worth, San Diego and other cities.

His buildings often evoked oohs and aahs from the public, but were not always a hit with critics, who called them concrete islands, self-contained cities within cities — serving their patrons yet insular, even forbidding to outsiders. But by combining architectural talents with the savvy of a real estate entrepreneur, Mr. Portman was hugely successful and a rarity among contemporaries: both an artist and a tough businessman.

In the 1960s and ’70s, his signature hotels — skyscrapers with escarpment atriums, cantilevered balconies overlooking interiors big enough to contain the Statue of Liberty, whooshing glass elevators, waterfalls, hanging gardens and revolving rooftop restaurants — offered thrilling antidotes to the standard lot of dreary hotel lobbies, claustrophobic box elevators and shotgun corridors lined with cells for the inmates. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2017 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Daily life, Memes

Good quotation in “The Amber Compass”

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Beginning of chapter 18:

O that it were possible we might

But hold some two days’ conference with the dead.

— John Webster

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2017 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Books

Toasted-sesame-oil mayo

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Just made a batch of mayo, using 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil with enough olive oil to make 1 cup, following this method. I thought about including 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari sauce, but decided not to this time. I did use two anchovies, but I skipped the 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (though it might be interesting to use 1 tablespoon Chinese mustard).

Very tasty, very easy, very quick. It’s unclear to me why people buy mayonnaise in the store, especially if you read the ingredients.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 December 2017 at 11:59 am

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