Later On

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

Archive for September 24th, 2022

The unspoken reason women leave the workforce

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Terry Weber, CEO of Biote, has an interesting article in Fast Company (no paywall):

It’s no secret women are leaving the workplace in record numbers. Millions of women are now gone from the workforce compared to pre-COVID-19, and while men are rapidly recouping lost jobs, women are returning to the workforce at a much slower rate.

The most commonly cited reason is sky-high childcare costs, caregiving responsibilities, and pressure or burnout from juggling multiple obligations. Analysts are eager to point to the many reasons that would cause women, specifically, to leave the workforce. And yet they continue to leave one reason off the list. 

The Taboo of Menopause in the Workplace

Currently, up to 20% of the U.S. workforce is affected by menopause symptoms.

And unlike women who leave the workforce because of childcare challenges, women who struggle with menopause symptoms rarely find established company guidelines, support, or a sympathetic ear.

As a female CEO in male-dominated industries for most of my career, I can almost see the eye-rolling. How can this be a severe issue when you’ve never heard anyone say menopause was their reason for ending employment?

Working in the life sciences industry, I’ve heard directly from patients whose lives were being upended by menopause symptoms but didn’t think to seek medical help until their symptoms became too disruptive at work.

But that is only the beginning. Once someone decides to seek help, an alarming number of health care providers are uncomfortable treating menopause or unfamiliar with the variety of symptoms that hormonal imbalances can cause. Even when women do seek medical care, they are often . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 8:05 pm

Could a Heineken ad from 2017 actually hold the key to reducing partisan animosity?

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Rob Walker writes in Fast Company (no paywall):

Partisan and ideological divides in the U.S. and elsewhere seem to deepen on a daily basis. What can be done about it? It turns out, a beer ad may actually have an answer.

This suggestion isn’t as wild as it might sound. Very serious and wide-ranging recent research from Stanford, of all places, cites a memorable Heineken commercial from a few years back as part of a potential intervention the researchers judged to be particularly effective at reducing “partisan animosity.”

We’ll get to the ad, below, but first, the back story. Last month, Robb Willer and Jan G. Voelkel of Stanford’s sociology department, in collaboration with scholars at a number of other universities, published a “megastudy” designed to identify “successful interventions to strengthen Americans’ democratic attitudes.” The resulting paper, running to more than 200 pages, covers a lot of ground, assessing 25 proposed online interventions like quizzes, interactive experiences, and videos (chosen from hundreds submitted), and comparing their effectiveness in a range of such categories as helping remedy antidemocratic attitudes and counter support for political violence.

Called the Strengthening Democracy Challenge, the project ran for three years and involved 32,000 American “partisan” participants. As Fast Company previously reported, the results varied, but showed flashes of promise. The research also drew some broader conclusions, noting how some strategies worked to address certain problems but not others, underscoring the need for further research.

But unexpectedly, as some observers on Twitter noticed, the top-scoring intervention in the category of reducing partisan animosity among study subjects was an exercise that involved watching a Heineken ad from 2017, titled “Worlds Apart.”

Clocking in at four and a half minutes—very little of that time referencing the beer brand in any way whatsoever—it’s practically a short film. It involves three pairs of ideological opposites who have never met: a right wing, antifeminist white guy and a lefty, feminist woman of color; a climate-change denier and an environmental activist; and a trans woman and a man who says that being trans is “not right.”

Each pair is left alone with some tasks to complete (building simple furniture), and little alternative but to talk, answering some prepared questions. They’re evidently given no guidance, and the “experiment” (to determine whether there might be “more that unites than divides”) is not explained to them. After building a preliminary bond,  . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall) 

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 7:38 pm

The Antitrust Shooting War Has Started

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Matt Stoller writes in BIG:

In the big tech-financed DC-tip sheet Axios four days ago, Dan Primack asked and answered an important question. “Who’s afraid of Joe Biden’s antitrust enforcers?” he queried. “Fewer people than last month.” Primack was responding to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division losing an important merger challenge between UnitedHealth and Change Healthcare, as well as the FTC losing a similar case. And while advocates want more cases, his colleague Ashley Gold noted, “it’s not clear who benefits if losses start to stack up.”

Then yesterday, news came out about another Division loss in a sugar merger. Both the UnitedHealth and sugar case were heard by Trump-appointed corporate judges, and I’ll get into that. More broadly, just what is going on? What do these losses mean?

For most Europeans, the first eight months of World War II were a snooze fest. Unlike the first world war, little but bureaucratic chatter seemed to happen for almost a year after Germany and the U.S.S.R. invaded Poland in September of 1939. This changed in May of 1940, when Germany attacked France and the low countries, winning much of continental Europe in just six weeks. But until then, those eight months were anti-climactic for the many peoples who were expecting, as they had experienced a little over twenty years earlier, mass slaughter.

This period came to be known as ‘the Phony War.’

Since the beginning of the Biden administration, we’ve had something of a Phony War around antitrust. Lots of chatter, bureaucratic shuffling, procedural motions, document demands, Congressional testimony and campaign ads. Calls to break up Google and Facebook and Amazon, do something about consolidation in health care and groceries, private equity and so forth. But limited shooting.

Over the past month, the antitrust Phony War has ended. What looked like little action was bureaucratic ramp-up. Lina Khan was hired to run the Federal Trade Commission and finally given a working majority five months ago, Jonathan Kanter was put in place at the Antitrust Division, and the Biden administration laid out a whole-of-government competition policy framework. Now it’s time for the shooting war, with the ebb and flow between the anti-monopoly movement and the bureaucratic and institutional obstacles in government and the judiciary.

The start of the conflict is easy to miss, since big dramatic actions, like breaking up Google or Amazon, haven’t happened. For instance, Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher, who are important opinion leaders, made the case on their influential podcast Pivot that Lina Khan has so far delivered nothing, either big or small, on big tech. And there is some merit to this pessimism. Both agencies have suffered stinging court losses. These include defeats in criminal wage fixing cases, and merger challenges against Illumina-GrailUnitedHealth-ChangeAltria-Juul, and U.S. Sugar-Imperial Sugar.

But in other areas, corporations are changing their behavior and markets are becoming more open. So to overlook the accomplishments is imprecise, just as it would be wrong not to concede some real setbacks for anti-monopolists. To decipher this set of affairs, I’ll lay out the good, the bad, and the ugly as the shooting starts.

The Good: Markets Are Becoming More Open

First, let’s start with the good, which is, from my perspective, the resurrection of dormant antitrust law. The agencies had 14 mergers blocked or abandoned in the last year, in important areas such as refrigerated shipping, hospitals, semiconductors, retail, and the defense sector. In some, like aerospace, these merger challenges reshaped an entire landscape. Still, blocked mergers, while they stop things from getting worse, only indirectly address the broader concentration crisis.

There’s a lot more than mergers. This summer, the Federal Trade Commission announced three different cases around firms trying to make it harder to repair their products, fruits of advocacy by the ‘right-to-repair’ movement. None of them targeted Apple, but Apple, like other big firms such as Microsoft, has begun to change the design of its products in response to this changing legal environment. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. In the section on The Bad, Stoller links to this video:

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 3:18 pm

The importance of duration in cardio/aerobic exercise

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I have learned (and blogged) that the key to a fitness program is purely consistency. If I walk daily, I will gradually increase both speed (important, as noted in this post) and duration, just because I have more energy and feel like it. 

I just remembered why duration is important. Ken Cooper MD talks in his book Aerobics about the training effect, which results in improved lung capacity, stronger diaphragm, stronger heart, greater volume of blood, increased density of the capillary network, and so on — all the systems that support the effort increase in strength and capacity.

He found that the training effect did not really kick until (a) your heart rate reaches the aerobic, and (b) you maintain that rate for about 15 minutes. At that point, the training effect starts to occur.

This means that going for a walk in which you get 15 minutes of aerobic exercise doesn’t do much good. And that is probably why my fitness seems to have started improving more rapidly when I went from a 26-minute walk (11 minutes of training effect) to a 36-minute walk (21 minutes of training effect) to (for the past two days) a 46-minute walk (31 minutes of training effect).

At any rate, I find that I am less tired now, after my 46 minute walk, than I was after my 26-minute walks. (Of course, I have now been training longer.)

But again: speed and duration come naturally so long as one walks consistently, which I take to be 6 days a week. (Cooper also emphasized the importance of at least one day off each week — his recommendation is to do aerobic exercise at least 4, and at most 6, days a week.)

Here is the patter of my exercise for this year (left chart) and this month (right chart).

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 1:09 pm

Zodiac killer identified at last?

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Aaron Gell’s article in Los Angeles Magazine is pretty convincing:

The Hawaiian rainforest where Gloria Doerr has lived since 2017 is a sort of magnet, she says, for people who are running away from something. But even there, in the shadow of an active volcano, sometimes things catch up with you.

For Doerr, 70, it happened this past April. She was spending a tranquil afternoon at home when she learned that her late father, Paul Alfred Doerr, had been linked to one of the most notorious murder sprees of the twentieth century. Her son had stumbled on a podcast interview with Paul’s accuser, Jarett Kobek. An internationally best-selling novelist based in Los Angeles, Kobek had written a whole book, How to Find Zodiac, about how her Dad might just have been the maniac who more than fifty years earlier had terrorized the Bay Area with a string of cold-blooded and seemingly random killings.

By the time she’d finished listening to the podcast, Doerr, a retired real estate agent, was in shock. If this writer had only bothered to pick up the phone and call her before lodging his accusation, she would happily have told him that her father, who died of a heart attack in 2007, while far from perfect, to put it mildly, could be a charming, quirky, and voraciously curious man—a member of Mensa and an early proponent of organic foods.

In the following days, Gloria mentioned the situation to a few close friends, who thought she might have a libel case. She even reached out to an attorney. Though she was reluctant to pay $17.95 for the book, a friend ordered her a copy.

Paul Doerr is hardly the only suspect in the case—far from it. Among the rogue’s gallery of other presumptive Zodiacs are a house painter, a former schoolteacher, a sports car dealer, a theater operator, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. “There are probably 50 or 100 suspects named every year,” sighs Richard Grinell, the former postman who runs the website Zodiac Ciphers and has been following the case for a decade. In October, a self-described “national task force of seasoned investigators” called the Case Breakers pointed to a brand new Zodiac suspect. Their theory was quickly debunked, but not before Fox News picked up the story, leading to hundreds of credulous media reports.

Gloria’s father, in other words, was in good company.

The killer, who is linked to a series of late-1960s attacks in the Bay Area, employed a shifting MO: Often he shot his victims, but on one especially macabre occasion, clad in an executioner’s hood, he tied them up and used a knife. Though he mostly attacked young couples around Vallejo, he also murdered a cab driver in San Francisco. Officially, he is believed to have killed just five and severely injured two, but his modest body count has been far outstripped by his well-tended mystique, bolstered by a sinister handle and a practice of firing off letters to the media and other authorities, often including mysterious ciphers and signed with a crosshairs logo.

Perhaps his greatest cultural contribution, if one can call it that, is having popularized a tone of smug superiority that attention-hungry outcasts, both fictional and real—from Hannibal Lecter and the Riddler to the aforementioned Ted Kaczynski and a substantial subset of 4Chan dwellers—have sought to emulate ever since. Meanwhile, his cryptic puzzles brought a seductive element of interactivity to crime-solving (a married couple decoded his first cipher over breakfast in 1969) and prefigured the citizen-sleuth movement along with its twisted progeny, 9/11 trutherism and QAnon. That might explain why his modest murder spree managed to inspire so much media coverage, including documentaries, a David Fincher film, a bottomless podcast playlist, an array of websites and forums, and enough paperbacks to stock a small, very grisly library.

And now, a new book had been added to the shelf, and Gloria’s father was the main character.

* * *

Bald-headed with a sprinkling of gray facial hair, Jarett Kobek, 43, is best known for his acerbic 2016 novel, I Hate the Internet. But he has dabbled in research-heavy crime stories: subjects of his dozen books include 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, murdered Florida rapper XXXTentacion, and homicidal “club kid” Michael Alig.

He co-founded his publishing company, We Hear You Like Books, in 2015, after I Hate the Internet failed to land a deal. The book went on to earn a rave in the New York Times, sell more than 100,000 copies, and spawn a dozen translations. “I have seized the means of production,” Kobek says now. “I can just fucking do anything I want. Like, if you want to publish a gay-porn novel with a giant golden cock on the cover”—a reference to William E. Jones’s I’m Open to Anything—“who’s gonna stop you?”

Kobek stumbled on Gloria’s father by accident. Initially, his goal was to write about misinformation and conspiracy theories, about how speculation clots into history. But he didn’t want to write about the “plandemic” or crisis actors or, least of all, Donald Trump.

Instead, he imagined that with 50 years of hindsight, a look at the misbegotten hunt for Zodiac—how professional detectives and armchair sleuths alike had fallen victim, time and again, to a kind of mass delusion, settling on one suspect after another based on often threadbare coincidences—would help explain just how we got here. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 11:40 am

Coconut and peach to start Saturday

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Grooming Dept Chypre Peach — “Citruses, Maillette Lavender, Rose, Peach, Osmanthus, Spices, Amber, Oakmoss, Leather, Labdanum, Vetiver, and Patchouli” — uses the Kairos (tallow) formula. The soap seemed soft this morning as I loaded this Plisson HMW 12 with its horn handle (a very nice brush, I will say). It was easy to produce a fine lather, and with the Edwin Jagger razor shown, three passes left my face perfectly smooth.

The aftershave is The Shave Den’s Coconut Lime Verbena aftershave milk, with a striking and pleasant fragrance. No Hydrating Gel this time, since the aftershave itself is designed to aid the skin.

All in all, a fine start to the weekend.

The tea this morning is not a blend but a varietal: Murchie’s Assam Tippy Golden: “A dark, rich tea with full-bodied, malty flavour, with a hint of sweetness and a silk smooth finish. Assam teas are especially good where water conditions overpower more delicate teas.”

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 8:46 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

US hospitals are failing their mission (unless their mission is to gouge as much money as possible)

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I’ve had interactions a couple of times with a hospital here in Canada. Once I thought I might be having a heart attack. I called 911, was advised to chew an aspirin (faster absorption), and was picked up and taken to the hospital by an ambulance. (I learned then that going via ambulance has the advantage that you are taken directly into the emergency ward — no waiting room, no stopping at the desk for an interview.) I got an ECG, blood was tested for presence of proteins that indicate heart stress, and everything was fine. I was not having a heart attack, and I returned home, feeling a little sheepish. Total cost: $85 for ambulance. The question of paying the hospital never came up because we don’t do that up here (or in other advanced countries).

The second time was more serious: I got a pacemaker installed and spent three days in the hospital, two in the intensive care unit. Total cost: $3.50 for parking when The Wife picked me up.

In the US, home of hypercapitalism, the situation is different, as shown by two front-page reports in the NY Times today. Here are the two articles (no paywall):

They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay.

How a Hospital Chain Used a Poor Neighborhood to Turn Huge Profits

Hypercapitalism is highly profitable for a very few — a wealthy very few — but the overall effect on the public and the exploited workers of those companies is horrible.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2022 at 7:35 am

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