Later On

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

Archive for May 7th, 2020

Adam Tooze on our financial past and future

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Tyler Cowen interviews Adam Tooze (audio at the link):

Adam Tooze is best known for his highly-regarded books on the economic history of Nazi Germany, the remaking of the global economic and political order starting in World War I, and his account of how the economic effects of the 2008 financial crisis rippled across the globe for a decade to follow. Recently, he’s become an influential voice on Twitter documenting the pandemic-induced strain on the world’s financial systems.

Adam joined Tyler to discuss the historically unusual decision to have a high-cost lockdown during a pandemic, why he believes in a swoosh-shaped recovery, portents of financial crises in China and the West, which emerging economies are currently most at risk, what Keynes got wrong about the Treaty of Versailles, why the Weimar Republic failed, whether Hitler was a Keynesian, the political and economic prospects of various EU members, his trick to writing a lot, how Twitter encourages him to read more, what he taught executives at BP, his advice for visiting Germany, and more.

TYLER COWEN: Hello, everyone. Today I am speaking with Adam Tooze, the famous historian at Columbia University. I have read all of Adam’s books. I am a big fan. He is well known for his treatments of German history, the history of the financial crisis, and right now, he is covering the financial stresses in our system on Twitter. I very much recommend that you follow him. Adam Tooze, welcome. Thank you for speaking with us.

ADAM TOOZE: Thank you for having me on the show.

COWEN: Let’s go back to the Spanish Flu of 1918–1919. Do you think that Western economies were better equipped to deal with the pandemic, in percentage terms, at that time than they are today?

TOOZE: Well, it’s an interesting question, and it’s an interesting way of putting the question. What’s been striking about the 2020 pandemic is that we have chosen an extraordinarily high-cost route. We have chosen a comprehensive lockdown as the default strategy for dealing with this. As far as I’m aware, no one attempted anything remotely like that in response to Spanish Flu.

At the local level, there were efforts, city by city, but there were no comprehensive national lockdowns. In fact, if you study the economic history record, the archive of that period, the policy decision-making in, say, the Weimar Republic, which I’ve spent some time on — all the minutes of the Versailles Peace Conference — the flu barely figures. It figures in a sense that occasionally a prominent person will get sick, famously President Wilson.

The idea of a kind of comprehensive lockdown as part of a public health response, as far as I’m aware — and of course, this has taken us all aback and has caused us to reflect on what we might have missed in the historical record — I don’t remember it arising anywhere as an option. And we know that the consequences were, of course, dramatic in terms of the loss of life, particularly in what was then the imperial world; the colonies, so-called, in Africa and India.

We’re much more affluent than we were then by an extraordinary . . . It’s very difficult to exaggerate in order of magnitude, broadly speaking, in terms of per capita income. And we’ve chosen a very high-cost route for dealing with the epidemic this time.

COWEN: We had a V-shaped recovery back then, and it doesn’t seem that you’re confident about a V-shaped recovery right now. Which feature of the modern economies is the difference? Is it percentage of agriculture versus face-to-face services, differences in inventory, differences in personal risk aversion?

TOOZE: It’s very difficult to disentangle the different effects here because when you’re talking about the era of the famous Spanish Flu, we’re talking about the aftermath of World War I, which is a huge shock in both the supply and demand sides. There’s huge pent-up inflationary pressure on the demand side and massive disruption on the supply side from the demobilization.

It’s also a period of revolution in much of Europe, which causes huge disruption as well. So if there was a V-shaped recovery there, it was a V-shape that was recovering from many different forces. Then, of course, there’s the savage deflation of 1920–1921, which also hit the global economy and the aftermath of the war and the flu. This time round, I’m definitely in the swoosh camp, modified swoosh.

I don’t, frankly, have a strong set of priors about what a recovery from a collective, simultaneous shutdown of this scale looks like. And I am quite suspicious of the comparisons which treat China as a national aggregate and then say, “Well, that’s our future.” Because even allowing for the exaggerations of the regime’s propaganda there, they do seem to have contained the acute virus pandemic there in one particular province. So we have to be quite careful about making comparisons with the US or Europe where we’ve had multiple Wuhan-style outbreaks.

COWEN: Given the low rate of immunity in most parts of China, shouldn’t we be fairly pessimistic about Chinese recovery right now?

TOOZE: Exactly. Given that even in the Chinese case, we’re saying something closer to a swoosh than a V, the prospects in the West I think are, as I think you were suggesting, quite poor. It’s unclear to me how, as you were saying, a densely packed urban service sector, face-to-face–based economy of a city like New York — how it comes back under a regime of periodic lockdowns and managed social distancing. It’s just a huge experiment that we’re running.

On a potential financial crises in China and the West

COWEN: If there were a Chinese financial crisis coming out of coronavirus, what would that look like? What’s the weakest stress point?

TOOZE: The real estate sector is one obvious one, and some of the highly leveraged Chinese development companies. Evergrande is, I think, most people’s favorite as the weakest link in the Chinese real estate development sector. Our ballpark — a hundred billion dollars in foreign exchange borrowing on its balance sheet. So, an extremely fragile actor.

Whether it’s systemic in the Chinese context is a different question. Whether the collapse in that firm by itself would have a large enough ripple effect is an open question. The shadow banking system, in general, in China is a huge worry. These are the banks which operate outside the mortgage lenders of various types, but also various types of lenders that support local governments.

Then there is the rather horrifying experience of 2015–2016, which is easily underestimated in the West. We were distracted by a variety of other issues at that point. But China went through a really dangerous-looking foreign exchange run in ’15–’16, lost about a trillion dollars’ worth of reserves, which is large even for the Chinese to absorb.

And that’s another model of what a shock might look like, a financial shock. Mercifully being spared that so far this time around, it would be very bad news for the emerging market economies which are closely coupled to China.

COWEN: For dealing with the current financial crisis, what is the statistic you wish we had that we do not?

TOOZE: [laughs] I think the question that is probably on most people’s minds is the weak hands. It’s a great, very pointed question. Is there a single statistic? In ’08, the problem in the end was what are called the weak hands. So, where the risks were concentrated, where the losses were concentrated, where the leverage was, and where, therefore, a run would be very, very damaging.

And I think that’s really — in terms of managing the financial crisis as opposed to the real economic recession, which is coming our way — that’s probably the thing that Jay Powell, and central bankers in Europe as well, are most worried about. Are there actors out there that could be forced into various types of fire sale, which would then destabilize asset prices? I don’t think necessarily there’s one number this time round.

One of the things I think they’re dealing with is . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 5:44 pm

How science fails

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Jim Baggot writes at Aeon:

If you ask a scientist a question about the philosophy of science, there’s a good chance the answer will feature just one or two philosophers. The name of the Austrian-born British philosopher Karl Popper (1902-94) will likely arise in the context of his principle of falsifiability, the ‘demarcation criterion’ that many scientists still use to distinguish science from non-science. A theory is considered scientific only if it makes predictions that can – in principle – be proved wrong. So astrology is not a science because its predictions are typically so vague that they can’t be falsified: they are irrefutable. This is the basis for Popper’s take on the scientific method. Scientists make a series of creative conjectures which they then attempt to refute. They make progress by refining their hypotheses in light of these refutations, and the process begins again.

Meanwhile, the name of the American philosopher Thomas Kuhn (1922-96) will likely be mentioned in the context of his theory of scientific revolutions. In the normal science of every day, puzzles are solved and discoveries are made within a network of accepted foundational theories, or what Kuhn called a paradigm, which is accepted to be irrefutable. Logically, if scientists stopped what they were doing every five minutes, and sought to falsify the basis on which they make their predictions and devise and perform tests, then they wouldn’t get much done. Contrast this with revolutionary science, in which all bets are off and paradigms shift, in a process that Kuhn likened to religious conversion or political revolution. Kuhn argued that such revolutionary scientific change involves not just a change in laws, entities and their mathematical descriptions, but also in the standards by which scientists judge the adequacy of theoretical explanations.

According to Kuhn, what makes astrology different from astronomy is not the irrefutability of the former, but rather the research tradition of the latter and its role in resolving the puzzles of normal science. Confronted with a failed prediction, the astronomer sets to work, checking the data, re-running the calculations, or re-designing and improving instruments. The astrologer has no such tradition, and resorts to arm-waving. Astrology is not science because astrologers don’t do science.

The average scientist’s acquaintance with philosophy tends to be of the passing variety. This is a great pity. Deep-rooted, seemingly intractable problems in foundational theoretical physics – the physics of matter and radiation, space, time and the Universe – have now frustrated progress for 50 years or more. We’re living through a period in the history of foundational physics in which ideas about nature are cheap, but gathering the empirical facts needed to show that these ideas have anything at all to do with the real world has become extraordinarily expensive, protracted and time-consuming, and without guarantee of success. It turns out that this is a period in which Popper and Kuhn can’t really help us. We need to look further afield.

This is particularly true for those foundational theoretical physicists who favour string theory as the new paradigm-in-waiting. In the string theory programme, begun in the late 1970s, the elementary constituents of nature and the forces between them are imagined to be formed from strings or loops of energy. This picture was quickly complicated by the need to assume a fundamental symmetry – called supersymmetry – between matter and force particles, and the need to hide away six extra spatial dimensions in a mathematical structure called a Calabi-Yau shape. Things got considerably more complicated when it became apparent that there are at least five varieties of string theory and an extraordinary number of possible Calabi-Yau shapes, with no means to identify the one relevant to the particles and the forces that make up our universe. The response of some string theorists has been to invoke the anthropic principle: in a multiverse of all possible shapes, we shouldn’t be too surprised to find ourselves in a ‘Goldilocks’ universe constructed from a shape perfectly suited to the evolution of intelligent life.

Other than vaguely ‘predict’ the possible existence of so-called supersymmetric particles (which, to date, have not been found), string theory appears quite incapable of predicting anything at all. It is irrefutable.

Concern that the string theory programme had lost all contact with reality led in 2006 to the ‘string wars’. Popper’s falsifiability criterion was used in an attempt to bring string theorists to account. String theorists hit back, rejecting the diktat of philosophical principles and the views of the ‘Popperazi’. With hindsight, this was a missed opportunity, as the problems with Popper’s criterion have been known to philosophers for some time, and there is a ready alternative that incorporates aspects of both Popper’s and Kuhn’s philosophies. This is Imre Lakatos’s methodology of scientific research programmes.

mong all the most notable philosophers of science, it is perhaps Lakatos who embodies philosophy as lived experience. Born in the Hungarian city of Debrecen in 1922, he studied mathematics, physics and philosophy at university, but his passion was revolutionary communism. Following the Nazi invasion of Hungary in March 1944, Jews in Debrecen were forced into a ghetto, and some 6,000 were subsequently deported to Auschwitz. Lakatos’s mother and grandmother were among them. They did not survive.

Lakatos escaped to Nagváryad (now Oradea in Romania), where he appointed himself the de facto leader of a radical student study group, over which he cast a strong intellectual spell. These young Stalinists embraced a romantic vision of the revolution: they ‘longed to be … hanged several times a day in the interests of the working class and the great Soviet Union’. The group was joined by 19-year-old Éva Izsák. But as she struggled to find secure lodging, Lakatos worried that she would be captured by the Nazis and forced to betray them. He encouraged her instead to commit suicide, in a singular act of revolutionary self-sacrifice. At his direction, she was escorted to a remote part of the Great Forest, where she took cyanide and died. When her body was later discovered, she was not immediately identified.

Following the Soviet victory in Hungary in late 1944,  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Science

What Happened When Health Officials Wanted to Close a Meatpacking Plant, but the Governor Said No

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Michael Grabell reports in ProPublica:

On Tuesday, March 31, an emergency room doctor at the main hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska, sent an urgent email to the regional health department: “Numerous patients” from the JBS beef packing plant had tested positive for COVID-19. The plant, he feared, was becoming a coronavirus “hot spot.”

The town’s medical clinics were also reporting a rapid increase in cases among JBS workers. The next day, Dr. Rebecca Steinke, a family medicine doctor at one of the clinics, wrote to the department’s director: “Our message is really that JBS should shut down for 2 weeks and have a solid screening plan before re-opening.”

Teresa Anderson, the regional health director, immediately drafted a letter to the governor.

But during a conference call that Sunday, Gov. Pete Ricketts made it clear that the plant, which produces nearly 1 billion pounds of beef a year and is the town’s largest employer, would not be shut down.

Since then, Nebraska has become one of the fastest-growing hot spots for the novel coronavirus in the United States, and Grand Island has led the way. Cases in the city of 50,000 people have skyrocketed from a few dozen when local health officials first reported their concerns to more than 1,200 this week as the virus spread to workers, their families and the community.

The dismissed warnings in Grand Island, documented in emails that ProPublica obtained under the state’s public records law, show how quickly the virus can spread when politicians overrule local health officials. But on a broader scale, the events unfolding in Nebraska provide an alarming case study of what may come now that President Donald Trump has used the Defense Production Act to try to ensure meat processing plants remain open, severely weakening public health officials’ leverage to stop the spread of the virus in their communities.

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said the governor explained on the call with local officials that the plant would stay open because it was declared an essential industry by the federal government. Two and a half weeks later, as cases were rising among the state’s meatpacking workers, Ricketts, a Republican businessman whose father founded the brokerage TD Ameritrade, held a news conference and said he couldn’t foresee a scenario where he would tell the meatpacking plants to close because of their importance to the nation’s food supply.

“Can you imagine what would happen if people could not go to the store and get food?” he asked. “Think about how mad people were when they couldn’t get paper products.”

“Trust me,” he added, “this would cause civil unrest.”

In the last two weeks, small meatpacking towns across Nebraska have experienced outbreaks, including at a Tyson Foods beef plant in Dakota City, a Costco chicken plant in Fremont and a Smithfield Foods pork plant in Crete. With the governor vowing to keep plants open, the companies have only in recent days decided to close for deep cleanings as cases have grown to staggering levels.

In Grand Island, two hours west of Omaha, the consequences of the governor’s decision came quickly. The CHI Health St. Francis hospital, which has 16 intensive care beds, was soon overwhelmed. At one point in April, it had so many critical patients that it had to call in three different helicopter companies to airlift patients to larger hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha, said Beth Bartlett, the hospital’s vice president for patient care.

JBS workers felt the strain, too. Under pressure to keep the food supply chain flowing, some of the plant’s 3,500 workers, many hailing from Latin America, Somalia and Sudan, said they were told to report for work regardless. In a letter to the governor last week, Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit advocacy group, said a JBS worker had been told by his supervisor that if he tested positive, he should come to work anyway and “keep it on the DL” or he’d be fired. Some workers who’d been told to quarantine after being exposed told ProPublica this week that they were called back to work before the 14-day window recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even if they felt sick. One worker in the offal, or entrails, section recently fainted in the plant, they said, but was told he couldn’t go home.

Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS, said the company has worked in partnership with local officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and did not influence the governor’s decision to keep the plant open. He pointed to . . .

Continue reading.

Good example of not learning from experience.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 11:33 am

Plant-Based Diets for CVD Prevention

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Andrew Perry, MD, writes in MedPage Today:

ow can cardiologists leverage the teachable moment after a cardiac event into dietary changes? In this episode of the AP Cardiology podcast, Kim Williams, MD, former president of the American College of Cardiology, walks Andrew Perry, MD, through the rationale and bedside pearls on how to talk to patients about plant-based diets.

A transcript of the podcast follows:

Perry: Hi, Andrew here. I hope everyone is staying healthy with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. I’m hoping that what’s been happening here in Washington — it looks like the curves have been flattening — and I hope that starts to happen in other parts of the country as well.

For today’s episode, I’m meeting with Dr. Kim Williams. He’s a professor in cardiology at Rush University in Chicago and the former president of the American College of Cardiology. I met him when he came as a visiting professor to the University of Washington last fall in 2019, where he spoke for grand rounds and to the fellows about plant-based diets. I spoke to him then and he kindly agreed to allow me to interview him for the show. We talk about plant-based diets, the Mediterranean diet randomized control trial from 2018, the PREDIMED study. We talk about how to address vegetarian diets with your patients and he provides a lot of useful tools and tricks and tips for having those conversations with your patients. I apologize. There was a little background noise, but I think you’ll enjoy the show. With that, we’ll get started.


This is AP Cardiology and this is your host, Andrew Perry. Thank you for meeting with me today, Dr. Kim Williams. We’re going to be talking about plant-based diets. To start our discussion, I was going to describe a case that I just saw over at the Veterans Affairs Hospital, where I do my clinic.

This gentleman is in his 60s. He’s male. He’s a former smoker and he presents after having a non-STEMI myocardial infarction a few months ago. He had a stent placed to his mid LAD. His total cholesterol is right around 200 and his LDL is about 140. He’s on dual antiplatelet therapy. He’s on high dose atorvastatin (80 mg) and metoprolol succinate. He’s also on metformin and glipizide for diabetes, and his A1c during that hospital stay was 8.1%.

When I see those patients at the VA — his BMI’s about 30, 31 — one of my questions when I see them is the benefits of plant-based diets and in terms then to how to counsel those patients on adhering to that kind of diet. First off, for patients like this, even for a secondary prevention or even primary prevention, what’s the data to suggest that plant-based diets can improve their cardiovascular outcomes?

Williams: If I can call an audible at the line of scrimmage, I’d like to go back to the case for a moment. He is diabetic.

Perry: Yes, diabetic.

Williams: With an LDL of 140, if he was being treated with the standard of care for a diabetic at risk like he is, using our ACC risk calculator, he would have been on a moderate-dose statin. If he is on a moderate-dose statin and still has an LDL of 140, then he probably has heterozygous familial hyperlipidemia. People argue about genetic testing, but it always brings up the whole rubric of evaluating the rest of the family members — it’s autosomal dominant in most cases — and really aggressive therapy. You might want to go back and tell him. Was he not on a statin to begin with?

Perry: Yes, so that LDL is from the time of the hospital stay where he was not on a statin at that time.

Williams: Oh, so we’d have to discuss with his diabetes doctor the CARDS trial and all of our primary prevention guidelines that would say that he needs to be doing optimum in terms of nutrition, which I’m obviously going to morph over to… but he’s at risk enough probably for a statin, probably not for an aspirin like we were doing 10 years ago, found not to be all that helpful.

But, yes, the underpinning of each of our primary and secondary prevention guidelines is nutrition, risk factor control. It helps with control of the diabetes. It controls the weight that you described, particularly central obesity. It’s very helpful in terms of lowering blood pressure, which increases plaque development, and it lowers cholesterol. It also lowers the C-reactive protein level. It also lowers the trimethylamine in oxide level, TMAO. If people are not familiar with that, please look up those four letters.

If you want sort of vegan propaganda to stop your family members and loved ones from eating animals, look up TMAO from the Cleveland Clinic, and that would be very convincing. But also heme iron. I do know that there are vegan products out there now that have heme iron, at least one, but that was called out as one of the additional chemicals — in addition to cholesterol and saturated fat — that makes it not a good idea for folks to eat animal products.

With all of that as background, with that being the biochemical basis, we don’t have the big prospective randomized trials to take a person with diabetes, for example, and prospectively decrease their cardiac events with nutrition alone or nutrition in combination with optimal medical therapy.

But we have enough large population data that really is observational to say that you are going to lower the frequency of diabetes and you’re going to lower the frequency of cardiac events. I think if we were to look at the absolute trial evidence… this is why our guidelines, by the way, will always give a level II in terms of the amount of literature that supports doing all of the right things with the plants: more fruits and vegetables, more plant-based nutrition, less animal products, lowering saturated fat, lowering cholesterol, getting rid of trans fats, and completely lowering the sodium in the diet.

The amount of randomized trial evidence to make it so that it’s a class I indication, which means their physicians must do this, is actually relatively small. So what do we have? You have the Mediterranean diet that everyone always talks about, PREDIMED trial in 2018. It sort of eliminates red meat to a large degree and still incorporates chicken, or poultry, and seafood, and making sure that people are having at least olive oil or nuts in the diet.

Well, it turns out that even though that’s highly touted as the best diet for Americans by the US News & World Report, the fact is it actually did not decrease mortality at all. Decreased cardiovascular events in terms of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death…

Perry: I think it was mostly stroke.

Williams: It was mostly stroke. That’s the whole point. Our job, in looking at all of the observational data… for example, the NIH-AARP study is the one that called out heme iron, as well as nitrates and nitrites, shouldn’t eat processed meat.

If you look at the JAMA publications from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional follow-up study, if you look at the Adventist Health studies, all of these point to the same idea. That is more plants. Even, by the way, the PREDIMED trial actually had a publication on this where they divided their randomized trial not prospectively, but a post-hoc analysis, divided into quintiles of vegetarianism. The quintile of vegetarianism had a 42% decrease in mortality, not one that was not significant. We have enough quasi-prospective data, a lot of prospective cohorts, all of them saying the same thing.

Now, how do we get that into implementation? Well, you have to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 11:29 am

Countries that learn

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The conclusion of the Atlantic article by Derek Thompson (on how South Korea effectively stopped the pandemic in its tracks) concludes:

. . . I asked Choi how the country had come together so quickly to stem the spread of the disease. “It’s about civic memory, not Confucius,” he said. “We remember MERS. We remember other epidemics. We know this is a marathon. But we’re in a better place because the entire society has been in this game, fighting together.”

As he spoke, my mind turned to vaccination. A live vaccine uses a weakened version of a virus to teach the immune system how to respond to the real thing. Long after the vaccine is gone, the body remembers its immuno-playbook and stands prepared to fight a stronger pathogen in the future. South Korea’s national immune system was instructed and strengthened by previous crises. Other epidemics came and went, but they left behind guidance that Koreans recalled and executed when they were suddenly confronted with the plague of the century.

South Korea’s world-class response to COVID-19 is not the product of religion, or cultural destiny, but rather the result of diseases bested and crises weathered. Unlike the biological response to a pathogen, public policy is not an automatic response, but a deliberate one. South Korea chose to learn. The United States entered this pandemic discombobulated, blunderingand hamstrung by our lack of readiness. Neither history nor contagion will wait for us to catch up. That is the bad news. The good news is that history will go on. And we still have time to learn from it.

Learning from experience is very important. The US does not do that. Indeed, most businesses do not do that. Chris Argyris built an academic and consulting career on studying examples of (somewhat rare) learning organizations to discover how they did it and pass that knowledge on to the vast majority of organizations that cannot seem to learn.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 10:27 am

COVID-19 can mean agitation, delirium, and other neurologic symptoms, doctors are finding

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I earlier linked to a lengthy and interesting overview of where we are now in learning about and fighting Covid-19, and this article in the Philadelphia Inquirier by Beverly Ao points out another possible outcome:

A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, Danielle Weitzer began noticing that a handful of patients at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital who tested positive for the coronavirus were showing psychiatric symptoms, like sudden changes in behavior or personality, agitation, confusion, and delirium.

Weitzer, a psychiatry resident at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, said psychiatric symptoms generally come on gradually. But with COVID-19 patients the symptoms are “very acute, and can become very severe in a matter of days,” she said.

Scientists and researchers all over the world are scrambling to uncover more information about the coronavirus as the number of global cases climbs over three million. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated its list of possible COVID-19 symptoms to include chills, headache, and a sore throat, health officials have not yet included psychiatric symptoms.

Physicians now know that the virus affects the nervous system, said Joseph R. Berger, a professor of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. This can cause complications in the brain for a small number of people. But he said there may be a simpler explanation for the majority of psychiatric symptoms among COVID-19 patients — a lack of oxygen in the brain due to low levels in the blood, a dangerous condition called hypoxemia. (Hypoxemia can cause hypoxia, when organs are deprived of oxygen.)

“The brain … cannot withstand low levels of oxygen,” Berger said. “When the brain is not getting enough oxygen, the patient suffers from hypoxia, which can change the way they think.”

Memory loss, difficulty paying attention, and confusion can be signs of poor oxygen supply to the brain, Berger said. And sometimes, those signs can appear before the better-known physical symptoms of COVID-19, a phenomenon that doctors have dubbed “silent hypoxia,” when pneumonia caused by the virus leads to a form of hard-to-detect oxygen deprivation.

A study of 214 COVID-19 patients in China published in JAMA Network Open last month found that 36.4% experienced neurologic symptoms, which were broadly classified as dizziness, headache, impaired consciousness, and impairments to taste, smell, and vision. The researchers said that patients with severe infections experienced more acute neurologic symptoms.

Berger said that physicians saw similar symptoms during the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2012 MERS outbreak, which both caused respiratory infections.

“This virus, although chiefly a disease that attacks the lungs, can affect people in ways that might not suggest lung disease initially,” Berger said. “The loss of sense of taste, smell, or . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 10:22 am

Posted in Medical

The Role of the Toxic Food Environment in the Obesity Epidemic

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Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 10:04 am

Easy, DIY Perpetual Buttermilk

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I like buttermilk, but I don’t eat much dairy at all any more. Still, I’ve got to try this. From the post at the link:

The proportions to use are 1 part buttermilk, 4 parts milk and 1/8 t. Kosher salt per cup of milk used.  The method is as simple as placing the ingredients in a clean jar, shaking well, and letting the jar sit on the counter for 24 hours.  At that time, the mixture should be thick and smell like buttermilk.  Place in refrigerator to store.

Save some of this buttermilk to make the next batch of buttermilk.  Just keep saving some of the previous buttermilk batch to start the next batch.

I wish you could see how nice and thick this buttermilk is, much thicker than the commercial buttermilk I started with.

Any milk can be used to make this: whole, low-fat (which is what I usually use), skim and even goat’s milk.  To make crème fraîche, stir 2 T. of the buttermilk into 1 cup of cream, cover and let stand 8 to 24 hours or until thick.

In particular, I want to make the crème fraîche.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 9:59 am

The pleasure of a good vintage razor: Gillette 1940s Aristocrat

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After a good prep with the La Toja shave stick and Edwin Jagger synthetic (very like the gen 2 Mühle synthetic used yesterday(, I found my 1940’s Gillette Aristocrat delivering an extremely pleasant shave with a very smooth final result. It made wish I still had my Gillette rhodium-plated President, which was much the same razor overall. So it goes.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 9:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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