Later On

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

Archive for December 17th, 2019

Why increasing your fibre intake can add years to your life

leave a comment »

This article by Leslie Beck in the Globe & Mail was published last February, but it still applies. She writes:

If you don’t make a point of eating lots of fibre, it’s time to start. According to a recent analysis of studies conducted over the past 40 years, doing so can add years to your life.

And the sweet spot, it seems, is about 30 grams of fibre each day.

The fact that fibre is good for you isn’t news. Previous studies have linked a higher fibre diet to protection from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.

The new research, commissioned by the World Health Organization, combined 243 studies to analyze the impact of fibre intake on premature death and the risk of a diet-related diseases. It included 185 observational studies and 58 randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific evidence. All in, 4,635 adults were enrolled in the studies.

The findings were published last month in the journal The Lancet and suggest high-fibre eaters have a 15- to 30-per-cent lower risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cardiovascular-related death compared to people who eat much less fibre.

Study participants whose diets contained the most fibre also had significantly lower body weights, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

The researchers found similar results for higher intakes of whole grains, an important source of dietary fibre.

HOW MUCH FIBRE?

The Lancet analysis revealed that consuming 25 to 29 grams of fibre a day was protective, but the data suggested pushing past 30 grams could be even more beneficial. Canadians consume, on average, a meagre 14 grams of fibre each day, one-half of the amount needed to guard against chronic disease.

The research investigated naturally occurring fibre in whole foods, not isolated fibre added to foods or supplements.

Fibre-rich whole foods retain much of their structure in the gut, which helps promote satiety and weight control. [I was surprised to find that my whole-food plant-based diet (which is naturally high in fibre) is more satiating than my low-carb high-fat diet, which was high in fat and protein — because I thought fat and protein was the key to satiation. It’s not. – LG]  Fibre in the gut also reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream and slows the rise in blood sugar after eating.

Once in the colon, fibre is digested by gut bacteria. By keeping your gut microbes in a healthy balance, fibre is thought to have wideranging beneficial effects including protection from colorectal cancer.

HOW TO GET IT

To consume 30 g of fibre a day, you need to eat whole grains, vegetables and fruits every day.

Replace refined (white) grains with whole grain versions. Choose 100 per cent whole grain bread with 2 to 3 grams of fibre a slice. Look for breakfast cereal with at least 5 grams of fibre for every serving.

Serve whole grains at meals as a side dish or toss them into salads and stir-fries. Try freekeh (14 grams fibre a cup), farro (10 grams a cup), bulgur (8 grams a cup), quinoa (5 grams a cup) or brown rice (3.5 grams a cup).

Bulk up your meals with vegetables. High fibre choices include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, snow peas, green peas, Swiss chard, carrots, eggplant and sweet potato.

Enjoy fruit at breakfast, for dessert and as a snack. Blackberries, raspberries, kiwi, prunes, figs, pears, apples, apricots, mango and avocado are fibre-rich.

Eat more plant-based meals with beans and lentils (12 to 16 grams a cup) or edamame (8 grams a cup).

Try the following ideas for fibre-packed meals and snacks. Aim for 10 grams of fibre every meal. . .

Continue reading.

I easily consume 55g-60g of dietary fibre a day, just from eating whole, plant-based foods.

See also the post “How much fiber should you eat every day?” by Michael Greger, MD.

Refined foods are generally low in fiber since removing fiber is a common way of refining foods (cf. fruit juice: no fiber, even though whole fruit has good fiber).

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 4:48 pm

Google’s Dangerous Monopoly-Based Foreign Policy

leave a comment »

Matt Stoller writes in Big:

Today I’m going to write about Google’s exceptionally dangerous decision yesterday to de facto cut off Turkey’s access to Android phones.

Google has told its Turkish business partners it will not be able to work with them on new Android phones to be released in Turkey, after the Turkish competition board ruled that changes Google made to its contracts were not acceptable…

The regulator had asked Google to change all its software distribution agreements to allow consumers to choose different search engines in its Android mobile operating system. The probe was triggered by a filing by Russian competitor Yandex.

What is interesting about what Google did to Turkey to stop an antitrust suit is that it’s exactly what the U.S. government ordered Google to do to Chinese giant Huawei to address national security concerns.

So why did Google do what it did? And why is it so dangerous?

In July, I noted that the most effective antitrust enforcers in the world in the tech sector are Russian. This is, in part, because there’s an existing search engine in Russia – Yandex – that indexes Russian language content as well or better than Google does. So there is existing competition already to protect. Google tried to kill Yandex using an explicit strategy to leverage desktop search dominance into mobile search dominance

Here’s how I described it.

In 2008, Google experimented by building its first Android phone. The company eventually settled on a strategy of having original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Samsung use Android as the brains of their phones. The price was irresistible: zero. Google gave away Android, and starting in 2012, gave away their app store known as Google Play. This pricing strategy was wildly successful. Global Android phone usage hit 1 billion users in 2014, and 2 billion by 2017. Android and Google Play are immensely valuable parts of the phone. Android offers the phone function, and Google Play and its service layer lets third party apps operate on a phone. The ‘free’ price and high functionality of the operating system was a compelling pitch. Google rapidly gained share everywhere. In Russia, at the beginning of 2011, Google had less than 20% market share of the phone operating system market. By 2012, it had over 50% market share, reaching 80% by 2013.

It worked. Here’s a chart showing how Google was able to gain on Yandex using this tie.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia could have let competition die, which is what competition enforcers tend to do these days. Instead, the enforcers made Google stop tying its Android mobile operating system to its search engine. The result was… competition. Google’s market share gains stopped, because they were about a tying regime and not quality or pricing improvements.

One might be skeptical of the Russian antitrust enforcers, except the Europeans found Google guilty of the same violation. It’s just that the European remedy didn’t work because the EU was slower at reaching a verdict, there really wasn’t a similar Yandex-style competitor, and EU competition chief Margarethe Vestager allowed Google to design its own remedy. (Vestager has acknowledged this failure and says she’ll try to be more aggressive, which is good.)

What’s interesting is that Yandex isn’t just good at indexing Russian language content, it can also index the Turkish language. This means it could be a strong competitor in the Turkish market. And what do you know, Yandex filed a complaint with the Turkish antitrust authorities over anti-competitive tactics.

Google’s response wasn’t just to use the legal system to fight for its rights, but then ultimately obey the law. Instead, Google said it was willing to ‘work with’ Turkey, but as a partner and not as a corporation working within a sovereign nation. It simply said it doesn’t like Turkey’s law, and so it will stop providing Android phones for an entire country. In other words, Google has a private sanctions regime against smaller countries.

There’s something of a parallel to what Google is doing to Turkey, and it’s . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 3:44 pm

Kentuckians Who Still Don’t Have Broadband Because the Former Governor Chose an Investment Bank Over Experts

leave a comment »

It’s a terrible thing to have a chief executive who is incompetent. Alfred Miller of the Louisville Courier-Journal reports in ProPublica:

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration repeatedly ignored expert advice before embarking on KentuckyWired, the massively over budget statewide broadband project that will leave rural residents waiting months, if not years, for the improved internet access they were promised, a new state audit says.

The report, released Monday by state Auditor Mike Harmon, says consultants and outside lawyers warned Kentucky officials more than four years ago that negotiations with the Australian investment bank Macquarie Capital could lead to a higher price tag and fewer protections for the state.

It also confirms a joint Courier Journal-ProPublica investigation that revealed a flawed bidding process and projections that oversold the amount of federal funds available for the project.

“The evidence of how pitiful it is is just continuing to trickle out,” state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican who chairs the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said in an interview after the report’s release. “Those of us who were paying attention knew this six years ago. That’s why I’ve tried to get the thing stopped ever since.”

In the report, Harmon recommended that state officials be required to document reasons for ignoring expert advice in future negotiations. He also said penalties for violating state bidding policies should be included and enforced in contracts.

KentuckyWired, the state’s ambitious plan for providing enhanced internet connectivity to rural residents, has been plagued by delays and cost overruns since the project began. It is now two years behind schedule and could cost taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next 30 years, according to the state’s auditor.

The auditor’s report suggested such problems could have been mitigated had state officials heeded expert warnings from July 2014 to September 2015, the period between when they first sought bids for the project and when they reached a final agreement with Macquarie.

Macquarie did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Gov. Andy Beshear said the state’s top official had not yet reviewed the audit, adding that he looks forward to “further briefings.” Beshear, who was sworn in this month, is the former governor’s son.

Jim Baller, a telecommunications attorney, was one of the experts who told the state it should be more cautious in negotiations with Macquarie, a company known for organizing big infrastructure projects around the globe.

Concerned about the cost of Macquarie’s services, state officials sought to narrow the scope of the company’s work.

Negotiators decided that the state would take on the time-consuming and expensive task of obtaining regulatory permits for the project and that it would seek permission from KentuckyWired’s main competitors, AT&T and Windstream, to hang fiber from poles.

Baller and Maryland-based CTC Technology & Energy, consultants hired by the state to assist in the process, warned that such an agreement could end up costing the state more money.

“Macquarie is expert at negotiating agreements that minimize or eliminate its own financial risk,” CTC officials told the state in a December 2014 memo.

Baller said he feared such agreements would force the state to compensate Macquarie and its partners for any delays in obtaining permits.

“This stuff really scares me,” Baller wrote in an email on July 14, 2015, according to the audit. The report does not specify to whom the email was sent, and Baller did not respond to a request for comment.

State officials moved forward despite the warnings.

In September 2015, shortly after signing the deal with Macquarie, officials realized they couldn’t persuade AT&T and Windstream to cooperate promptly, the auditor said. Those delays and others forced the state to pay Macquarie and its partners $93 million in penalties as part of a settlement that was finalized in February 2019.

Officials also dismissed concerns from CTC about relying on federal money to fund the project, according to the auditor.

A plan to boost funding for the project with federal money intended for school internet service was “too good to be true,” a CTC executive wrote in May 2015. The CTC executive was not named in the report.

“I have concerns about how optimistic these projections are,” the executive wrote, adding that the state “would presumably hold the risk in the event that these funds did not materialize.”

They were right to be concerned.

The Courier Journal and ProPublica reported in September that Macquarie hired Frank Lassiter, the husband of Beshear’s cabinet secretary, Mary Lassiter, as a consultant.

Lassiter’s company, HealthTech, assured state officials that Kentucky could obtain federal funds designated to improve internet access in schools for the project. The company produced a report suggesting millions of dollars were readily available from the federal government to offset construction costs for building the network. The Lassiters, through their attorney, Guthrie True, have denied any wrongdoing.

The state later learned that KentuckyWired wasn’t eligible for the program, and the federal funds never materialized.

The state auditor also expressed concern about a “deeply flawed” bidding process that created a back channel for negotiations with Macquarie, bypassing the state employee who should have been the main point of contact.

Negotiations between Macquarie and the state were led primarily by former Deputy Finance Secretary Steve Rucker, according to the report. He died in 2016.

Those negotiations scrapped the language in the initial bid that laid out the expectations for the project. Attorneys with the law firm Polsinelli, which the state hired to consult on the public-private partnership, repeatedly told the state that the change would cause it to lose protections previously required of all bidders.

Bernard “Deck” Decker, then the interim head of the state agency in charge of overseeing KentuckyWired, said in an official response that was included in the auditor’s report that Finance Secretary Lori Flanery’s office did not have the legal authority to waive policies that govern the bidding process.

Decker was fired last week by the governor. No reason was given for his dismissal. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 2:35 pm

The Moral Mirror Journal

leave a comment »

This post has received a fair number of hits recently, which led me to revisit it and (inevitably) to revise and extend it, and one idea that struck me (which is now incorporated into the post) is the use of a third-person-point-of-view journal as a moral mirror. To quote from the new version of the post:

I think when people of wealth act corruptly a sense of “I deserve this” comes often to mind, which again shows the danger of relying only internal cues (the sense of deserving it) and ignoring the actual behavior — the objective action (embezzling funds or whatever). The focus on the reason they’re doing some immoral or unethical act (the reason being generally some combination of “I deserve this” and “they leave me no choice”) blinds their conscious judgment about what they’re doing.

Before doing the actual act, it’s good if you’ve made a practice of observing your behavior objectively, as others might view it. It’s helpful in developing this skill to keep a journal written from the point of view of an on-looker, a journal that ignores entirely your internal monologue of reasons and judgments. Record in the journal only the behavior and words that a person at your shoulder would witness. This works best if you write the journal in third person, referring to yourself as “he” or “she,” which maintains some psychic distance and makes it easier to enter the mindset of being an outside observer. Such a journal can act as a moral mirror. Just as a wall mirror lets you see your appearance as others will see it, the journal of your actions (without including your internal rationalizations and justifications) enables you to view your behavior as others will view it.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Daily life

Are Fortified Kids’ Breakfast Cereals Healthy or Just Candy?

leave a comment »

You know the answer already, right?

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 11:23 am

We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones:

I’ll take a wild guess that you don’t need any convincing about the need for action on climate change. You know that since the start of the Industrial Revolution we’ve dumped more than 500 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere and we’re adding about 10 billion more each year. You know that global temperatures have risen 1 degree Celsius over the past century and we’re on track for 2 degrees within another few decades.

And you know what this means. It means more extreme weather. More hurricanes. More droughts. More flooding. More wildfires. More heat-related deaths. There will be more infectious disease as insects move ever farther north. The Northwest Passage will be open for much of the year. Sea levels will rise by several feet as the ice shelves of Greenland and the Antarctic melt, producing bigger storm swells and more intense flooding in low-lying areas around the world.

Some of this is already baked into our future, but to avoid the worst of it, climate experts widely agree that we need to get to net-zero carbon emissions entirely by 2050 at the latest. This is the goal of the Paris Agreement, and it’s one that every Democratic candidate for president has committed to. But how to get there?

Let’s start with the good news. About three-quarters of carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for power, and we already have the technology to make a big dent in that. Solar power is now price-competitive with the most efficient natural gas plants and is likely to get even cheaper in the near future. In 2019, Los Angeles signed a deal to provide 400 megawatts of solar power at a price under 4 cents per kilowatt-hour—including battery storage to keep that power available day and night. That’s just a start—it will provide only about 7 percent of electricity needed in Los Angeles—but for the first time it’s fully competitive with the current wholesale price of fossil fuel electricity in Southern California.

Wind power—especially offshore wind—is equally promising. This means that a broad-based effort to build solar and wind infrastructure, along with a commitment to replace much of the world’s fossil fuel use with electricity, would go pretty far toward reducing global carbon emissions.

How far? Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that by 2050, wind and solar can satisfy 80 percent of electricity demand in most advanced countries. But due to inadequate infrastructure in some cases and lack of wind and sun in others, not all countries can meet this goal, which means that even with favorable government policies and big commitments to clean energy, the growth of wind and solar will probably provide only about half of the world’s demand for electricity by midcentury. “Importantly,” the Bloomberg analysts caution, “major progress in de-carbonization will also be required in other segments of the world’s economy to address climate change.”

This inevitably means we have to face up to some bad news. If existing technologies like wind, solar, and nuclear can get us only halfway to our goal—or maybe a bit more—the other half would seem to require cutting back on energy consumption.

Let’s be clear about something: We’re not talking about voluntary personal cutbacks. If you decide to bicycle more or eat less meat, great—every little bit helps. But no one who’s serious about climate change believes that personal decisions like this have more than a slight effect on the gigatons of carbon we’ve emitted and the shortsighted policies we’ve enacted. Framing the problem this way—a solution of individual lifestyle choices—is mostly just a red herring that allows corporations and conservatives to avoid the real issue.

The real issue is this: Only large-scale government action can significantly reduce carbon emissions. But this doesn’t let any of us off the hook. Our personal cutbacks might not matter much, but what does matter is whether we’re willing to support large-scale actions—­things like carbon taxes or fracking bans—that will force all of us to reduce our energy consumption.

Solutions depend on how acceptable these policies are to the public. To get a rough handle of what a significant reduc­tion means, the Nature Conservancy has a handy app that can help you calculate what it would take to cut your household carbon footprint in half.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 9:41 am

The marvelous Fendrihan Mk II and my terrific Plisson European Grey

with 4 comments

The Plisson European Grey has a very pleasant feel on the face — more textured and grainy than the smoothness of a synthetic or a silvertip badger, but still quite pleasant and present: the feel is like that of a micro-massage.

This is the old (i.e., good) Floris formula. I have no idea of the state of the soap these days, but this one is excellent.

And the Fendrihan Mk II again impressed me with its very pleasant feel in the hand — the handle is extremely nice — and its comfort and efficiency on the face. I totally enjoyed the shave and the result was as smooth as anyone could ask.

A good splash of Floris No. 89 aftershave — reputedly beloved by James Bond — finished the job.

The photo rendition above seemed suitably wintry, but for the traditionalists:

Written by LeisureGuy

17 December 2019 at 8:18 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: