Later On

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

Archive for December 16th, 2022

US conservatives are at a higher risk of mortality

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The cause is stubborn willful ignorance. Akilah Johnson has a lengthy report (no paywall) in the Washington Post. It begins:

As the coronavirus pandemic approaches its third full winter, two studies reveal an uncomfortable truth: The toxicity of partisan politics is fueling an overall increase in mortality rates for working-age Americans.

In one study, researchers concluded that people living in more-conservative parts of the United States disproportionately bore the burden of illness and death linked to covid-19. The other, which looked at health outcomes more broadly, found that the more conservative a state’s policies, the shorter the lives of working-age people.

The reasons are many, but, increasingly, it is state — and not just federal — policies that have begun to shape the economic, family, environmental and behavioral circumstances that affect people’s well-being. Some states have expanded their social safety nets, raising minimum wages and offering earned income tax credits while using excise taxes to discourage behaviors — such as smoking — that have deleterious health consequences. Other states have moved in the opposite direction.

Researchers say the result of this growing polarization is clear: The nation’s overall health profile is going from bad to worse. Americans can expect to live as long as they did in 1996 — 76.1 years, with life spans truncated by higher rates of chronic illnesses, deaths in childbirth and covid.

“I’m not doing this research to be partisan, simplistically supporting one party or another,” said Nancy Krieger, a social epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a co-author on one of the two studies. “This is about looking at the behavior of different actors, some of whom have a lot more power than others to set standards, make demands and allocate resources.”

Krieger said it is fair for people to ask their elected officials, “Are you doing what you should to protect our health?”

Harvard researchers analyzed data on covid-19 mortality rates and the stress on hospital intensive care units across all 435 congressional districts from April 2021 to March 2022. They also examined congressional members’ overall voting records, how they voted on four coronavirus relief bills, and whether the governor’s office and legislature of a state were controlled by one party.

The study, published this month in the Lancet Regional Health-Americas, found that the more conservative the voting records of members of Congress and state legislators, the higher the age-adjusted covid mortality rates — even after taking into account the racial, education and income characteristics of each congressional district along with vaccination rates.

Covid death rates were 11 percent higher in states with Republican-controlled governments and 26 percent higher in areas where voters lean conservative. Similar results emerged about hospital ICU capacity when the concentration of political power in a state was conservative.

The findings cannot be explained away as features of the economic and social conditions of the people who live in various congressional districts, Krieger said. This is “somehow above and beyond the demographics of the district [that members] represent. It’s suggesting that there is something going on through political processes associated with the political voting patterns of elected officials,” she said.

Public policies — along with public opinions about masks and vaccines and a constellation of other factors — helped change the nation’s pattern of covid mortality.

A Washington Post analysis of covid data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from April 2020 through this summer found the age-adjusted death rates for covid shifted. Early in the pandemic, communities of color — especially Black people — disproportionately bore the burden. But by mid-October 2021, that pattern had shifted, with the death rate for White Americans, who form the core of the Republican base, sometimes eclipsing that of other groups.

And still, the unequal burden of death and disease transcends covid: A chasm of inequality puts communities of color at higher risk of chronic conditions that leave immune systems vulnerable — a reflection of systemic racism, public health experts say.

“Too often, public health and medical behavior is understood to be individual-level behavior. Politicians behave. Institutions behave,” Krieger said. “If your congressional representative is encouraging you to wear masks or not wear masks, those are very different messages.”

The division in American politics has grown increasingly caustic and polarized, but it wasn’t always this way.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, there were major investments to . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 7:30 pm

Christmas Beets

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A kind of stew-fry with the ingredients listed in the post — red and green dominate the color.

I had two beets left over from making the ferment, and I decided to use one immediately. I made up a recipe using what I had on hand, and it ended up with a red-and-green color scheme, overall, so: Christmas. It also serves as an example of a stew-fry — a cross between a stir-fry and a stew. (I’ve not heard of this category, but it makes sense to me.)

I used my 12″ MSMK nonstick skillet, which has a lid. I first drizzled into the skillet about

• 1-1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Then I prepped the veg, adding them to the cold skillet as I went:

• 1 beet, diced small
• about 6 oz Du Puy lentil and Kamut wheat tempeh, diced small
• an ample handful of gai pan mue, chopped (The link says “mui,” my store says “mue.”)
• green leaves from the top of a leek, rinsed and sliced (left over from ferment earlier)
• 1 spring onion (a young onion, bigger than a scallion, with a definite bulb), chopped
• 5 medium-large mushrooms, halved and sliced
• 2 red Fresno peppers, sliced including core and seeds
• 1 small orange bell pepper, chopped
• about 1.5″ thick ginger root, minced
• about 2 tablespoons dried marjoram (very high in antioxidants)
• about 1 tablespoon La Chinata smoked Spanish hot paprika (tastes good)
• about 1/2 cup low-sodium veggie broth
• good splash of Red Boat fish sauce
• good splash of Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar
• about 1/2 teaspoon Windsor iodized salt substitute
• about 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste

Three young onions, leaves slightly trimmed, bulbs just starting to form, bound together as for a supermarket.

I turned the heat to medium and covered the pan. When the liquid was simmering, I turned the burner to 225ºF for 25 minutes. I stirred occasionally, and after 10 minutes I added:

• about 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Extra whole grain is good, plus I wanted the oats to take up and thicken the liquid. The onion I used is like those in the photo, and the store calls them “BBQ onions.” It’s certainly not the season for spring onions, at least not in the Northern Hemisphere, and the bulb of spring onions is somewhat larger.

As usual, I was guided by thinking of the templates provided by Greger’s Daily Dozen and Heber’s color palate. Gai pan served as both greens and a cruciferous vegetable.

It was tasty, and I have enough for 2-3 more meals. 

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 5:42 pm

Beets & Leeks ferment once more

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Ingredients for a ferment set out on a cutting board: 7 long skinny leeks, 1 fat carrot, a good-sized ginger root, 4 red beets, 5 red Fresno peppers, 6 Medjool dates, 1 Honeycrisp apple, 8 large cloves garlic.

I do love Beets & Leeks as a ferment. I made my first batch just because I like saying “beets and leeks,” and the recipe was improvised. The previous batch (my second, more elaborate than the first) was excellent, so I’ve kept an eye out for some good-looking leeks. On Wednesday I found some — long and rather skinny, but lots of white. Pictured above is the full cast for this batch:

• 7 skinny leeks — sliced thinly by hand; the top leaves are saved to use in cooking
• 8 large cloves of Russian red garlic — sliced by hand into thickish (~2-3mm) slices
• 1 Honeycrisp apple — halved vertically, then sliced on mandoline into 1mm slices
• 1 large red onion — sliced on mandoline, first into 1mm slices but that’s too thin, so then 2mm
• 5 red Fresno peppers — sliced by hand, including core and seeds
• 6 Medjool dates — pitted and chopped by hand
• 4 beets — I used only the two largest beets, and I grated them on a coarse grater
• 1 Nantes carrot — coarsely grated
• Ginger root — about half what’s shown, sliced on mandoline into 1mm slices

I mixed as I went, following what I’ve learned through experience. (See this post for summary of lessons learned.) Below you see it the veggies after being prepped — on the left, after being mixed with a spatula; on the right, after adding 55g grey sea salt and massaging. As you can see, after salting and massaging the veggies are considerably wilted. After massaging the veggies, I found I had tight-fitting leek rings on several fingers.

Why 55g salt? The total batch in the bowl weighed 3531g, and the bowl is 1135g, so I had 2396g (5.3 lbs) veggies. I decided on a 2.3% salt mix, and 2.3% of 2396g is 55g (55.108, but come on). 

I had put my starter culture in 1/2 cup spring water to rehydrate when I was about halfway through prepping the vegetables, so it was (presumably) now awake and active. After I felt the veggies had been sufficiently mixed and massaged with the salt, I poured in the starter culture water and massage some more to ensure the culture was dispersed throughout the veggies.

Two jars side by side, filled with red chopped vegetables.

I still had some Brussels sprout and red cabbage ferment in the 1.5-liter Weck jar in fridge, so I transferred the ferment to a 1-liter jar and washed out the Weck. I don’t have a fourth Weck (two are busy with the Christmas ferment), but I do have a 1.5-liter widemouth canning jar. 

The 5.3 lbs of veggies fit the two 1.5-liter jars quite well. I put a fermentation weight in each jar and added 2.3% brine to cover, then put the lid on the Weck and a fermentation airlock on the canning jar, as shown.

This batch will be ready New Year’s Eve — a celebratory batch. And then I’ll have 6 liters of fermented vegetables on hand, which should last me a good while.

God bless us, every one!

And it’s wonderful! — again

I had some of the finished batch. This is really an excellent recipe, always tasty (and fun to say).

The details of the outcome are in a later post, but the photo at the right gives you a good idea of the colorful appearance of the finished ferment.

This is the one I would enter at the county fair.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 3:27 pm

Misinformation mongers

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This academic paper has some fascinating diagrams. (Download the PDF below and scroll down — or read through — to see the diagrams.)

Kate Starbird ( posted on Mastodon:

In June (2022) my team published research introducing a dataset of 100s of false, misleading, & unsubstantiated claims that sowed doubt in election 2020, and identified the most influential accounts in the spread of those claims. Folks on the right have called this a “watchlist” & blended it into some conspiracy theory about a “censorship cartel’. Nope. Just an analysis initiated by PhD students, using their freedom of speech to call out the lies that led to January 6.

The abstract reads:

This paper introduces and presents a first analysis of a uniquely curated dataset of misinformation, disinformation, and rumors spreading on Twitter about the 2020 U.S. election. Previous research on misinformation —an umbrella term for false and misleading content—has largely focused either on broad categories, using a finite set of keywords to cover a complex topic, or on a few, focused case studies, with increased precision but limited scope. Our approach, by comparison, leverages real-time reports collected from September through November 2020 to develop a comprehensive dataset of tweets connected to 456 distinct misinformation stories from the 2020 U.S. election (our ElectionMisinfo2020 dataset), 307 of which sowed doubt in the legitimacy of the election. By relying on real- time incidents and streaming data, we generate a curated dataset that not only provides more granularity than a large collection based on a finite number of search terms, but also an improved opportunity for generalization compared to a small set of case studies. Though the emphasis is on misleading content, not all of the tweets linked to a misinformation story are false: some are questions, opinions, corrections, or factual content that nonetheless contributes to misperceptions. Along with a detailed description of the data, this paper provides an analysis of a critical subset of election-delegitimizing misinformation in terms of size, content, temporal diffusion, and partisanship. We label key ideological clusters of accounts within interaction networks, describe common misinformation narratives, and identify those accounts which repeatedly spread misinformation. We document the asymmetry of misinformation spread: accounts associated with support for President Biden shared stories in ElectionMisinfo2020 far less than accounts supporting his opponent. That asymmetry remained among the accounts who were repeatedly influential in the spread of misleading content that sowed doubt in the election: all but two of the top 100 ‘repeat spreader’ accounts were supporters of then-President Trump. These findings support the implementation and enforcement of ‘strike rules’ on social media platforms, directly addressing the outsized role of repeat spreaders.

Here’s the PDF of the report:

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 1:02 pm

Free speech basics

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XKCD has an illuminating comic strip:

Comic strip by XKCD, with a figure in successive frames saying:

Public service announcement: the right to free speech means the government can't arrest you for what you say.

It doesn't mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit,
Or host you while you share it.

The 1st amendment doesn't shield you from criticism or consequences.

If you're yelled at, boycotted, have your show canceled, or get banned from an internet community, your free speech rights aren't being violated.

It's just that the people listening think you're an asshole,

and they're showing you the door.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 12:18 pm

Manslaughter Case Has a Strange Twist: Tesla That Killed Couple Was on Autopilot

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So I wonder whether Tesla will be criminally liable. Victor Tangermann reports in Futurism:

A provocative manslaughter case is about to kick off in Los Angeles later this month, involving a fatal crash caused by a Tesla vehicle that had the company’s controversial Autopilot feature turned on.

It’s the first case of its kind, and one that could set a precedent for future crashes involving cars and driver-assistance software, Reuters reports.

We won’t know the exact defense until the case gets under way, but the crux is that the man who was behind the wheel of the Tesla is facing manslaughter charges — but has pleaded not guilty, setting up potentially novel legal arguments about culpability in a deadly collision when, technically speaking, it wasn’t a human driving the car.

“Who’s at fault, man or machine?” asked Edward Walters, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University, in an interview with Reuters. “The state will have a hard time proving the guilt of the human driver because some parts of the task are being handled by Tesla.”

The upcoming trial is about a fatal collision that took place in 2019. The crash involved Kevin George Aziz Riad, who ran a red light in his Tesla Model S, and collided with a Honda Civic, killing a couple who were reportedly on their first date.

According to vehicle data, Riad did not apply the brakes but had a hand on the steering wheel. Perhaps most critically, though, the Tesla’s Autopilot feature was turned on in the moments leading up to the crash.

Riad is facing manslaughter charges, with prosecutors arguing his actions were reckless.

Meanwhile, Riad’s lawyers have argued that he shouldn’t be charged with a crime, but have so far stopped short of publicly placing blame on Tesla’s Autopilot software.

Tesla is not directly implicated in the upcoming trial and isn’t facing charges in the case, according to Reuters.

A separate trial, however, involving . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

Tertius meets Stetson

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Shaving setup phot with a filter that adds background colors and a brushstroke texture. A shaving brush whose hand is the tricolor of the Italian flag: vertical bars of green, white, and red; a tub of shaving soap whose cover shows three thee Spanish conquistadores mounted on horses, foot soldiers following, and to the right a bottle of Stetson aftershave. In front is a double-edge razor on its side, chrome, with a fluted handle.

As always, I began my shave with a tiny smidgin of Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave, and at the current rate of usage this tub will easily last two years and perhaps three — and even though the amount I use is small, the effect it has on the quality and pleasure of the shave is noticeable. Highly recommended, though you might have to search his stockists if his site is out of stock.

Ariana & Evans make an ultrapremium shaving soap, and the quality of the lather is wonderful. This morning the leather note in the soap’s fragrance came through clearly, smelling like a fine saddle.

Fatip’s Testina Gentile lives up to its name: extremely comfortable but withal highly efficient. Three passes and no trace of stubble remained.

After a final rinse and drying my face, I first applied a tiny squirt of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum to my face and massaged it in, then a good splash of Stetson Classic. It’s a grey day, but the shave brightens it considerably.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Hatley Castle Blend: “Black tea, green tea (including Jasmine).”

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2022 at 11:28 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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