Later On

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

Archive for March 3rd, 2020

A professional’s Go Bag

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From Why Is This Interesting?:

Chris P. (CP) and Brady M. (BJM) are WITI contributors and former Special Forces soldiers: Brady was an Officer (18A MOS) and Chris was a Weapons Sergeant (18B MOS). The notoriously tough Green Beret training pipeline and real-life deployments put them in some unfriendly places, and we asked them to write about what average people should be thinking about when it comes to disaster preparation. It’s important to move from the “crazy prepper” stigma into widespread awareness of what to do when things go bad, quickly. Here’s a list of very pragmatic things to do and think about, from two guys that know. – Colin (CJN) 

Brady and Chris here. In Season 3 of The Simpsons, Moe Szyslak, the neighborhood bartender, steals a secret cocktail recipe from Homer that includes cough syrup. It makes his bar amazingly popular, but he’s required to both keep the recipe secret and bring in enough cough syrup to serve his growing customer base. When some regulars spy him wheeling cases of medicine into the back of the bar, he deflects attention telling them “Heh…I got hooked on the stuff in the service!”

This is how I explain some of the admittedly odd things I still do after leaving the Army almost ten years ago—I got hooked on them in the service. One of the biggest habits I still have is a tendency towards over-preparing for emergencies. This manifests itself as carrying around a survival kit and a small med bag most of the time. Like your grandparents who keep calls short because of long-distance phone fees, I got this habit from painful survival school lessons and working overseas in rough neighborhoods.

The truth today is that, as a people, we have become remarkably dependent on technology. Try getting around without your smartphone and debit or credit cards for 12 hours and see what I mean. What this has created is a massive vulnerability—it means that if something like our power grid were interrupted and large urban areas went dark for days, it could become really difficult for everyone around you to get by. The worry is that if this happens a dense urban population could begin to panic, making things much worse. The best option often could be simply leaving as soon as possible for a spot not so tightly packed until things get better. Doing this would require an individual to be prepared in advance for that departure. “Never have anything in your life that you can’t walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you spot the heat coming around the corner” is a good piece of advice if you want to avoid a bad situation.

Why is this interesting?

Thirty seconds flat means you need to pack what’s needed and keep it where you can easily reach it and hit the road. Having the right stuff in the bag is key—a “go-bag” makes it easy because you’ve planned ahead of time and don’t have to think. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. A simple backpack. Keep it low key, camo or military webbing on the outside signals that you’ve got a backpack full of survival kit, and we don’t want that. Nobody at work is going to wonder about the dingy Jansport you keep stuffed under your desk.
  2. At least one durable, full water bottle. This can also make an airtight container for some of your water-sensitive kit as well as good for drinking water. Chris uses Nalgene. Brady uses Kleen KanteenPurification tablets or a purification straw are a must as well.
  3. Gorilla Tape. Don’t buy any other brand. To save on space and weight, we just wrap a few feet around the water bottle. Good for a hundred uses, repairs, bandages, cordage, etc.
  4. A Multitool. There are plenty of bladeless options out there that are safe for work. The pliers, scissors, and screwdrivers have a million uses. I got issued the Gerber MP600 back in 2003 and it’s all I’ve used ever since—it’s a great balance of simplicity, durability and the ability to open one-handed. (BJM)
  5. A Knife. “A Knifeless Man Is a Lifeless Man,” as the Faroese Proverb goes. This is much less as a weapon, and much more as the ultimate utility. A knife is a tool that can make other tools. Choose one that holds an edge and is still easy to sharpen. I’ll make your search for the best blade simpler by recommending a Mora knife—they’re incomparably inexpensive, come scary sharp and the Scandinavian grind means they’re much simpler to sharpen than others. Level II preparedness: Get a sharpening stone and learn how to sharpen. Could save your life one day.
  6. Flashlight. We strongly encourage you to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Daily life

A big batch of Other Vegetables

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I included kohlrabi. I couldn’t remember where I found it, but I tried one market after another and finally found my local source. It’s a cruciferoous vegetable, good raw or cooked.

My batch of Other Vegetabls also includes:

4 spring onions, chopped including leaves
10 cloves garlic, chopped small
2″ ginger root, minced
2″ turmeric root, minced
2 beets, diced
1/2 Nante carrot, diced
4″ daikon radish, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeño, chopped
6 cayenne peppers, chopped
1 bunch broccolini, chopped
4 cups chopped domestic white mushrooms
1 small can no-salt-added tomato paste
1.5 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1.5 tablespoons dried majoram
1.5 tablespoons dried mint
1.5 tablespoons tamari
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or sherry)

I cooked that together until it was done, then had 1/2 cup with hard winter wheat (intact whole grain) and De Puy lentils. Very tasty. And (as you can tell) plenty left for other meals.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 4:10 pm

The Son’s Game Design department at Bradley University: #8 in the world

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So says Princeton Review:

And, in other family news, my walk today was 2.582 miles at 3.48mph: 00:44:34.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 2:36 pm

Texas closes hundreds of polling sites, making it harder for minorities to vote

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White supremacy is alive and well in Texas. Richard Salame reports in the Guardian:

Last year, Texas led the US south in an unenviable statistic: closing down the most polling stations, making it more difficult for people to vote and arguably benefiting Republicans.

A report by civil rights group The Leadership Conference Education Fund found that 750 polls had been closed statewide since 2012.

Long considered a Republican bastion, changing racial demographics in the state have caused leading Democrats to recast Texas as a potential swing state. Texas Democratic party official Manny Garcia has called it “the biggest battleground state in the country”.

The closures could exacerbate Texas’s already chronically low voter turnout rates, to the advantage of incumbent Republicans. Ongoing research by University of Houston political scientists Jeronimo Cortina and Brandon Rottinghaus indicates that people are less likely to vote if they have to travel farther to do so, and the effect is disproportionately greater for some groups of voters, such as Latinxs.

“The fact of the matter is that Texas is not a red state,” said Antonio Arellano of Jolt, a progressive Latino political organization. “Texas is a nonvoting state.”

On a local level, the changes can be stark. McLennan county, home to Waco, Texas, closed 44% of its polling places from 2012 to 2018, despite the fact that its population grew by more than 15,000 people during the same time period, with more than two-thirds of that growth coming from Black and Latinx residents.

In 2012, there was one polling place for every 4,000 residents. By 2018 that figure had dropped to one polling place per 7,700 residents. A 2019 paper by University of Houston political scientists found that after the county’s transition to vote centers, more voting locations were closed in Latinx neighborhoods than in non-Latinx neighborhoods, and that Latinx people had to travel farther to vote than non-Hispanic whites.

Some counties closed enough polling locations to violate Texas state law. Brazoria county, south of Houston, closed almost 60% of its polling locations between 2012 and 2018, causing it to fall below the statutory minimum, along with another county. In a statement, Brazoria county clerk Joyce Hudman said the closures were inadvertent, and that this would not happen again in 2020.

A Guardian analysis based on that report confirms what many activists have suspected: the places where the black and Latinx population is growing by the largest numbers have experienced the vast majority of the state’s poll site closures.

The analysis finds that the 50 counties that gained the most Black and Latinx residents between 2012 and 2018 closed 542 polling sites, compared to just 34 closures in the 50 counties that have gained the fewest black and Latinx residents. This is despite the fact that the population in the former group of counties has risen by 2.5 million people, whereas in the latter category the total population has fallen by over 13,000. . .

Continue reading.

It’s rigged.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 12:05 pm

Is basic income a good idea? The evidence from around the world

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Marcia Gibson writes in The Conversation:

The idea of giving everybody an unconditional, regular income has become increasingly popular in the last few years, partly because employment has become less secure and people fear that increasing automation may cause job losses across many sectors.

There are many arguments for and against basic income. Some are concerned with fairness and justice, but many are based on competing ideas about the potential effects. Some argue people would stop working and become dependent on payments, while others believe it would free people to spend time on useful activities like volunteering or caring, and that many wouldn’t work less because they wished to earn more or simply enjoyed it.

The only way to find out is to run pilot studies and measure the effects. To be sure that the effects are accurate, any study would have to meet as many of the criteria for a full basic income as possible: payments must be unconditional, cover the basic cost of living, and not be affected by other income. It is likely that effects would be different if basic income was universal and permanent, but pilot studies are usually small and short term.

People might be more likely to change the amount they work if the payments were not due to stop in two or three years. If everyone received payments, it could cause changes at a higher level. For instance, if people worked less, employers might have to increase wages. It is very difficult to measure these “spillover” effects if only a small number of people receive payments.

This means it is extremely challenging to design a study which could provide the evidence needed to decide whether basic income is a good idea. There are no programmes which meet all the criteria, but there are studies of schemes that meet some of them. We sought to find and objectively interrogate as many examples as we could. The programmes had to regularly give people money with no conditions attached, and meet at least one of the other criteria. They also had to be conducted in upper-middle or high-income countries.

Basic income-style schemes

We found eight programmes (or “interventions”) in North America and one in Iran (below). There were 27 studies on these, which included data on employment, education, health and social outcomes such as crime, as well as some evidence of spillover and higher-level effects. Some payments were universal and permanent, although not enough to cover basic living costs. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 10:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Top Economists Study What Happens When You Stop Using Facebook

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Cal Newport writes at Study Hacks Blog:

In the most recent issue of the prestigious American Economic Review, a group of well-known economists published a paper titled “The Welfare Effects of Social Media.” It presents the results of one of the largest randomized trials ever conducted to directly measure the personal impact of deactivating Facebook.

The experimental design is straightforward. Using Facebook ads, the researchers recruited 2,743 users who were willing to leave Facebook for one month in exchange for a cash reward. They then randomly divided these users into a Treatment group, that followed through with the deactivation, and a Control group, that was asked to keep using the platform.

The researchers deployed surveys, emails, text messages, and monitoring software to measure both the subjective well-being and behavior of both groups, both during and after the experiment.

Here are some highlights of what they found:

  • “Deactivating Facebook freed up 60 minutes per day for the average person in our Treatment group.” Much of this time was reinvested in offline activities, including, notably, socializing with friends and family.
  • “Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular in self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety.” The researchers report this effect to be around 25-40% of the effect typically attributed to participating in therapy.
  • “As the experiment ended, participants reported planning to use Facebook much less in the future.” Five percent of the Treatment group went even farther and declined to reactivate their account after the experiment ended.
  • “The Treatment group was less likely to say they follow news about politics or the President, and less able to correctly answer factual questions about recent news events.” This was not surprising given that this group spent 15% less time reading any type of online news during the experiment.
  • “Deactivation significantly reduced polarization of views on policy issues and a measure of exposure to polarizing news.” On the other hand, it didn’t significantly reduce negative feelings about the other political party.

This study validates many of the ideas from Digital Minimalism (indeed, the paper even cites the book in its introduction). People spend more time on social media than they realize, and stepping away frees up time for more rewarding offline activities, leading, in turn, to an increase in self-reported happiness and a decrease in self-reported anxiety.

The main negative impact experienced by the Treatment group was . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 9:52 am

Fix Your Gut to Lose Weight and Improve Health

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Sedar Tuncall has an interesting story in Medium:

Currently, there are two big camps of obesity research. One camp subscribes to the calories-in-calories-out model of obesity, whereas the other camp believes in the carbohydrate-insulin model. What if there was a third explanation?

Did you know that we have as many bacteria as the number of human cells? (1)

We have a 50:50 partnership with the bacteria living in our body and it is not a far-fetched idea to think they call some of the shots.

Even though bacteria reside everywhere on our body, the vast majority is in our gut. We already know that gut microbiota plays a role in digestion, vitamin production, and immune system. What is recently being discovered is the role of gut microbiota in obesity.

Is it possible that our gut microbiota decides our weight? If so, what can we do to change it?

Infants get introduced to gut microbiota during birth. Babies born naturally get their gut microbiota from the mother’s vaginal canal. Additionally, they get bacteria from breast milk and as they grow up, from the environment and foods they eat.

Majority of gut bacteria belongs to one of two main types of bacteria. They are called Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. The ratio of these two bacteria seems to be different in obese and lean people. (2) Obese people have a higher Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratio than lean people.

Why does this ratio change and what can we do to reverse it?

Even though the gut microbiota can be affected by genetics, geography, and environment(3), other factors such as the method of birth(4), breastfeeding(5), antibiotic usage(6), and diet(7) can also change the bacterial composition.

Most research on gut microbiota is done on animals. These studies confirm that following a high-sugar, high-fat Western diet increases the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio in mice(8).

What about research on humans?

Human studies show that lean people have a much diverse bacterial population compared to obese people. (9) Furthermore, when the gut microbiota of these people was transplanted to mice, obese people’s bacteria made the mice obese, whereas lean people’s bacteria made the mice lean. (10)

Interestingly, obese mice didn’t consume significantly more food than lean mice. One explanation for this would be that “obese bacteria” harvest more energy from the foods compared to the “lean bacteria”. (11) . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and the footnotes cite the research studies whose findings support what he writes.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 8:53 am

Donald Trump in his own words

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Four quotations, pointed out by Kevin Drum:

  • Why he denounces the press so much: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
  • How he gets away with lying so much: “Look, you just tell them and they believe it. That’s it: you just tell them and they believe. They just do.”
  • Why he can say and do anything he wants: “I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?”
  • On revenge as the central focus of his life: “If somebody hits you, you’ve got to hit ’em back five times harder than they ever thought possible. You’ve got to get even. Get even.”

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 8:41 am

What Happens When Pregnant Women Eat More Animal Protein

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Dr. Michael Greger blogs:

Are high-protein diets during pregnancy healthful or harmful? That question was answered about 40 years ago in the infamous Harlem Trial of 1976: a “randomized controlled trial of nutritional supplementation pregnancy, in a poor black urban population in the United States.” The study, which I discuss in my video The Effect of Animal Protein on Stress Hormones, Testosterone, and Pregnancy, “was begun when protein was commonly assumed to be deficient in the diet of the poor.” Had researchers actually analyzed their diets before they started, they would have realized that this wasn’t true, but why let facts get in the way of assumptions? So, the researchers split poor black pregnant women into three groups, each receiving one of the following treatments: (1) an extra 40 grams of animal protein a day, which is essentially a couple cans of Ensure, (2) an extra 6 grams of animal protein, or (3) no extra protein. Then they sat back and watched what happened. The high-protein group suffered “an excess of very early premature births and associated neonatal [infant] deaths, and there was significant growth retardation” in the babies who survived. More protein meant more prematurity, more deaths, and more growth retardation, which you can see reflected in the chart at 1:00 in my video.

What’s more, animal protein intake during pregnancy has been associated with children becoming overweight later in life and getting high blood pressure. The “offspring of mothers who reported eating more meat and fish had higher systolic blood pressure” in adulthood. This was part of another failed dietary intervention trial in which mothers were advised to eat a pound of meat a day. The increased weight gain and high blood pressure may be due to the obesity-causing chemical pollutants in the meat supply, as I’ve discussed in my video Animal Protein, Pregnancy, and Childhood Obesity, or the animal protein-induced rise in the growth hormone IGF-1. Or, it could be due to a steroid stress hormone called cortisol.

As you can see in the chart at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 8:34 am

A Mickey Lee soap with an unfortunate name

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I bought this soap when Mickey Lee announced that they were closing their doors (because of a promotion and more responsibilities in his regular job). I had avoided because there was something about the name and the cheesecake image that repelled me. But since the shop was closing and it was a big soap in his line, I went for it.

I understood why I disliked the image — it hearkened back to the calendars that were hung in men-only workplaces like mechanics’ shop — but I couldn’t say why I disliked the name. This morning I realized that it’s because the name has a definite Handmaid’s Tale vibe: that a woman can and should be controlled by a man, with the almost explicit promise that using this soap and aftershave will give you control over the woman’s sexual desire.

It’s the control thing that bothers me. I’m all for women having sexual desires — I have them myself — but the idea that a man can (and should) control of those desires is repellent (as is the thought that a woman can manipulate a man).

Altogether — name and image combined — “Panty Dropper” hearkens back to the sexist 1950’s, a time well left behind.

So, with that off my chest, how does the soap and fragrance perform? The soap is a regular Mickey Lee soap, which works well enough. I don’t like it so much as Drunken Goat, but it’s okay. The fragrance is, for me, meh — but then I am not the sex to which the fragrance is aimed, I suppose.

I will say that I again enjoyed the texture and feel of the badger brush, this one (a Rooney Super Silvertip) not quite so resilient and “crunchy” (for lack of a better word) than the Rooney Finest I used yesterday. More badger brushes in the coming days.

The RazoRock Mamba is a fine stainless razor, and it easily delivered a BBS result in three passes. A splash of the aftershave, and the day is launched — sunny and clear: a walking day.

Written by Leisureguy

3 March 2020 at 8:31 am

Posted in Shaving

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