Later On

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

Archive for August 10th, 2022

Fermentation starter started

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Following the steps in this video, I have started the fermentation starter by putting into a 1-pint canning jar:

• about 3 tablespoons organic raisins
• 1″ section fresh ginger root, sliced with the skin left on
• about 3 tablespoons fresh organic blueberries
• 1 Medjool date, chopped
• a section of organic apple, chopped (including the skin).

The video says to let it go for 24 hours at room temperature, then add 1 teaspoon organic cane sugar, go another 24 hours at room and add another 1 teaspoon sugar. Once the liquid in the jar is fizzy and working, cap the jar and put it into the fridge. Then each week, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and let it sit at room temperature a day before returning it to the refrigerator.

To ferment vegetables, use 1/4 cup of starter per 1 quart of vegetables, then add enough spring water to cover as describe in my fermentation post. The video suggests adding 1 tablespoon salt per quart as well.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 8:02 pm

Part 3 of a 4-part story of a psychiatric residency

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Scott Alexander has an interesting essay posted on July 12, 2016:

I’m back at Our Lady Of An Undisclosed Location hospital now as a final-year resident. You wouldn’t think a year would make so much difference, but it does.

Identifying residents by their year is easy. The first-years walk around, deer-in-the-headlights look to them, impossible to confuse with anybody except maybe a patient having a panic attack. The middle-year residents are a little more confident. And then the final year residents, leading teams, putting out fires, taking attendings’ abuse in stride.

(True story – last week an attending yelled at me for not knowing some minor detail about uraemic encephalopathy. Later I couldn’t find the detail he’d mentioned, so I asked for a reference, and he said it had been discovered by one of his friends at the big university hospital where he used to work, but the friend had died before he could publish his findings. I think the attending realized as he was talking that it might have been unreasonable to expect me to know a fact whose discoverer took it to the grave with him, but he didn’t apologize.)

It’s only sort of a facade. 99% of things that happen in a hospital are the same things that happened yesterday and the day before, so if you hang around long enough you can learn what to do, or at least which consultant you can call to make it not your problem anymore. On the other hand, Actual Pathology is still a gigantic mystery. I’m not sure this ever changes. One in every X patients with symptoms won’t have any of the things that could possibly be causing those symptoms, won’t respond to any of the treatments that are supposed to cure those symptoms, and you’ll still have family members and hospital administrators demanding that you fix it right now (and in psychiatry, X is probably a single digit number). All you can do is keep up the facade, put your skill at taking attendings’ abuse in stride to good use, and start learning necromancy so you can summon the one big university hospital researcher who studied it but never got a chance to publish their findings.


Two of the most important things I learned during my third year were “Tell me more” and “[awkward silence]”.

“Tell me more,” works for every situation. Part of the problem with psychotherapy is that you’re always expected to have something to say. As a last resort, that thing is “Tell me more”. It sounds like you’re interested. It sounds like you care. And if you’re very lucky, maybe the patient will actually tell you something more, as opposed to their usual plan to stonewall you and hide all possibly useful information.

I saw something on Tumblr the other day which, despite being about a 9-1-1 operator, perfectly sums up being a doctor too: . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the essay:

And then there’s [awkward silence]. I learned this one from the psychoanalysts. Nobody likes an awkward silence. If a patient tells you something, and you are awkwardly silent, then the patient will rush to fill the awkward silence with whatever they can think of, which will probably be whatever they were holding back the first time they started talking. You won’t believe how well this one works until you try it. Just stay silent long enough, and the other person will tell you everything. It’s better than waterboarding.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 12:26 pm

The lost “Greek” tribe of Alexander the Great

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Paul Raffaele writes in The Critic:

One hundred and twenty-seven years ago, a mysterious Afghan pagan tribe, the Kalash, fled Islamic religious persecution to three secretive valleys in a remote corner of what is now north-western Pakistan. In 1998, when I was visiting Lahore, a Pakistani friend told me that little was known about the Kalash, except that they still lived largely as their people had back in their homeland for more than 2,000 years.

The Kalash, rarely visited by outsiders, claimed descent from Alexander the Great’s troops who had campaigned through their Hindu Kush homeland. In their refuge, they were said to still practice a similar culture and religion to that of ancient Greece, even worshipping Zeus as their paramount god.

In 330BC, Alexander established many cities across what is now Afghanistan — with thousands of his soldiers left to inhabit them, keep order, with his generals to rule them. More than 10,000 of his troops married local women and stayed behind. He gave the cities Greek culture with artists, musicians, architects and artisans. They built outdoor theatres and gymnasiums, and erected countless marble statues of Greek gods.

Nudging the remote north-eastern edge of Afghanistan, the mountain town of Chitral, the provincial capital, was ruled by the ul-Mulk royal family until 1947, when it was swallowed by Pakistan. At breakfast the morning after I arrived in search of the Kalash, Prince Siraj, the grandson of Chitral’s last king, told me that near the turn of the nineteenth century, the entire Kalash tribe of about 50,000 spread across the high mountains of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush bordering Chitral.

Scorned by Afghan Muslims as kafirs, their homeland was a secluded, mysterious place called Kafiristan, or Land of the Unbelievers. That was where Rudyard Kipling set his epic story, “The Man Who Would Be King”, first published in 1888 in Kipling’s collection of short stories, The Phantom Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales. It was later made into a fanciful but entertaining film. Two rogue British soldiers, played by Michael Caine and Sean Connery, travelled to Kafiristan, where the Connery character is mistaken for a god.

So little was known of the ethnic group in 1888 that the Bombay-born Kipling based his story on vague rumour and his fertile imagination. The movie plunged even further from the truth with John Huston, the director, depicting the Kafirs, or Kalash, as resembling shaven-headed, ancient Egyptian priests clad in white robes.

Towards the nineteenth century’s end, the Sultan of Kabul, Abdur Rahman, brutally put down 40 rebellions during his 21-year reign. Following the gruesome example of the invading Mongols five centuries earlier, he built towers formed from the heads of thousands of defeated rebels who dared challenge him.

In 1895, he turned his attention to the Kalash. He decided their presence in his domain, with their free-wheeling, timeless lifestyle — a religion with multiple carved gods, rampant wine drinking, especially at their bacchanalian religious festivals, and exuberant fornication, even sanctioned adultery — was an abomination, a flagrant public insult to Islam, and thus to himself.

“The Sultan ordered all the Kalash to convert to Islam immediately,” Prince Siraj told me, “if not, he would declare a jihad against the Kafirs, and his troops would slaughter, by beheading, all those who resisted — men, women and even their children.”

Invading Kafiristan, he renamed it Nuristan, Land of the Enlightened, and offered the Kalash a simple choice: convert to Islam immediately or die by the sword. Almost all converted. Those who resisted and were captured, were slaughtered.

Siraj alerted me to an account of the massacre in mountain climber Eric Newby’s classic book A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. The prince had the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Books, History, Religion

Pakistan is Bankrupt

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This video is another that takes a look at the economic storm now in progress. Video is from two days ago.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 11:54 am

Free Speech on Trial

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Matt Stoller writes in Big:

Today’s issue is about how a subtle form of speech control works in 21st century America, as seen through two ongoing antitrust cases. The first is a merger trial where the government is trying to block the combination of publishing giants Penguin/Random House and Simon & Schuster, and the second is a lawsuit where conservative video service Rumble is suing Google for monopolization.

In both, dominant firms are trying to gain or protect market power, and in doing so, end up with too much power over the public square. It’s not intentional, but monopoly power fosters centralized control of what we can discuss.

Speech and Concentration Creep

In the 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks star as two business rivals who hate each other in ‘real life’ but connect and fall in love anonymously over the internet. Hanks plays Joe Fox, a tycoon who owns a Barnes and Nobles-style corporate book chain, trying to crush the small store owned by Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan. After a noisy but adorably silly protest, the movie ends with Kelly losing her store, but getting Tom Hanks as a soulmate. It’s a delightful film, a Nora Ephron-written classic.

What’s interesting about this movie from an anti-monopolist standpoint, however, is not the romance, but the politics. The movie is almost aggressively apathetic about concentrations of power. We tend to look at corporate concentration as a relatively recent phenomenon. Big tech emerged in force in the 2000s, that’s when offshoring to China happened in force, and the key major ruling ending monopolization cases didn’t occur until 2004. But here’s a movie showing that almost 25 years ago, before all that, consolidation was so well-known as to be a relatively unremarked central plot element of a popular film.

You’ve Got Mail is also a movie about a specific industry, publishing. Indeed, in many ways, the book industry has been a canary in the coal mine for concentration in the American economy. Books were the very first industry dominated by Amazon, but it isn’t just the retail giant. Every part of the book business, from retail stores to distribution to printing to retail to audio and ebooks to publishing houses, has been consolidating for decades. In the movie Tom Hanks is kind and charming; in real life, Barnes and Nobles used its power over shelf space to act as the industry bully, until Jeff Bezos came along and turned market power into performance art. Then, ten years ago, Penguin and Random House merged, allowed by the Obama administration’s antitrust enforcers. The book business is an increasingly cruel and lawless world, not a romantic one. . .

Continue reading. Interesting stuff.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 11:44 am

This photo triggered China’s Cultural Revolution

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This short video is well worth watching. The Great Chinese Famine’s death toll was staggering (see this earlier post). As China lurches toward another Great episode (as depicted in three recent videos), it’s worth taking a few minutes to see the course earlier taken.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 11:34 am

Omega’s gentle boar brush and Goodfellas’ smile Legione Slant

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The shaving soap this morning is doubly vintage, with “vintage” meaning “no longer available.” First, Mickey Lee Soapworks has closed its doors; and second, Bee Witched, with its beguiling (see what I did there?) honeycomb fragrance, was a one-off and available only briefly.

I’ve been avoiding my Omega 21762 brush for a while because I didn’t much like it the last time I used it, but this morning, when its use was dictated as part of my “gentle brush” series, I loved it once more. That is an example of something mentioned in yesterday’s SOTD post: that we often attribute to an object or experience some attributes (such as “beauty”) that originate within us. An object’s “beauty” does not reside in the object but is contributed by the viewer. That is how the same object can simultaneously be beautiful and not beautiful: Person A sees it as beautiful, Person B does not. Their judgments are more statements about themselves than about the object.

Some attributes, of course, do reside in the object itself and thus do not vary from person to person. An object’s mass, for example, does not vary from person to person. 

I think that the last time I used the brush I perhaps was in a grumpy mood, and when in such a mood, one tends to attribute the mood’s cause to whatever one encounters. It’s a kind of motivated reasoning, which I mention in an earlier post and is discussed in greater detail in this Psychology Today article. In essence, motivated reasoning is what happens when a person has (consciously or not) already become attached to a conclusion and then sees only those arguments that support that conclusion. The brighter the person, the more easily they can find ingenious arguments that lead to that (perhaps unconsciously desired) conclusion.

In this analogous situation, a person who feels grumpy looks at the world through a grumpy lens and sees everywhere reasons to support their grumpiness. 

Because the brush today seems so good, I tried to figure out why I didn’t like it before, and that’s one possibility that came to mind: that I was feeling a bit off, and so things seemed out of kilter (or at least short of kilter).

Another, more pedestrian possibility: I just didn’t fully load the brush in the previous shave. I had some faint memory of a thin lather last time, so today I did an extended loading, well beyond the point at which I would normally stop — and the result was a soft luxury of lather gently applied by a wonderful brush. 

I so much enjoyed the brush today — with the extended loading — that I now think my earlier condemnation was off the mark and had little to do with the brush and much to do with me (mood and loading decision). I’ll use the brush again soon, but a general rule might be that if you find a brush unsatisfactory, try loading it more fully (i.e., longer).

Well-lathered, I picked up my Goodfellas’ smile Legione slant (which strikes me as having an odd name, complete with odd capitalization choices) and set to work. This razor is an excellent slant. It’s very like the Parker slant except with a good handle. Three very comfortable passes left my face perfectly smooth.

A splash of Hâttric with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the shave, and I feel ready for Grocery Shopping Day.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Ceylon Kenilworth: “A true ‘Orange Pekoe‘ size leaf, producing a bright, oaky taste with body and strength.” (The article at the link explains the meaning of the term, which has nothing to do with the color orange.)

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 11:16 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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