Later On

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

Archive for December 30th, 2022

The Swiss cheese infographic that went viral

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That’s the graphic by Ian M. Mackay, “a working Scientist and an adjunct Associate Professor (University of Queensland). I have a PhD in virology, also from UQ.”  That’s from this post that explains the graphic. The post goes through the graphic’s iterative development and is worth reading. Regarding the “final” version — 5.3, shown above — among other comments, he notes:

This version [shown above – LG] also:

  • Elaborates on the type of mask – fitted and N95-or-better
  • Notes the need for science-informed leadership
  • Asks for reporting on virus data (not just SARS-CoV-2; stop hiding public data!) and CO2 levels
  • Reminds us that we are responsible for getting vaccinated and boosted
  • Reminds us to limit risky indoor time if the site is crowded
  • Pleas for paid sick leave
  • Notes the absolute need to keep funding improved vaccines (we need mucosal immunity).
  • Removes the mask from the person as masks are among the layers.
  • Added more misinfo mice because, the world
  • Recognises that virus can get through most layers – but the more layers you have, the lower the viral load you are likely to be exposed to, and a lower infectious dose can mean milder illness which might mean less long-term health damage.

There’s also NY Times article about it.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 11:12 pm

If you do get Covid…

with 3 comments

Note this research report: “Rapid initiation of nasal saline irrigation to reduce severity in high-risk COVID+ outpatients.” I’m buying some saline nasal spray tomorrow.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 9:50 pm

More on the lead-crime connection

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Kevin Drum notes:

Tyler Cowen weighs in today on a study of the lead-crime hypothesis:

These results seem a bit underwhelming, and furthermore there seems to be publication bias….I have long been agnostic about the lead-crime hypothesis, simply because I never had the time to look into it, rather than for any particular substantive reason. (I suppose I did have some worries that the time series and cross-national estimates seemed strongly at variance.) I can report that my belief in it is weakening…

Hmmm. I suppose that a quick look at the abstract of one paper might very well weaken your belief in something if it’s the only thing you’ve ever looked at. Unfortunately, even mild pronouncements from Tyler tend to carry a lot of weight, so I suppose I should comment on this even though I’m sort of tired right now and don’t really feel like it.

But let’s do it anyway! I shall sprinkle exclamation points throughout this post in order to simulate energy and enthusiasm. But I’m afraid it’s going to be kind of long and boring anyway. That’s just the nature of these things. If you want to read along, the study is here.

First, though, just to get this out of the way: I don’t know what Tyler means when he says “the time series and cross-national estimates” are at variance. I’ve looked at both and they seem to agree fine. Time series estimates tend to show that crime goes up and down based on lead levels in the past (i.e., during childhood), while cross national estimates tend to show that the peaks and troughs of crime line up with the rise and fall of leaded gasoline, which happened at different times in different countries. I’m not sure what the variance between these two types of studies is supposed to be.

But let’s move on. I wrote about the study at hand a couple of years ago, and you can read my initial thoughts here. There are a few things to note: . . .

Continue reading.

So far as I can tell, the lead-crime connection is well-established. It’s been observed in multiple countries and connected always with diminution of environmental lead because of a switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline. And given that lead is a potent neurotoxin, the findings make perfect sense.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 6:35 pm

Radio.garden — take a look

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Check out Radio.garden. It was fun hopping around to various places I’ve lived — and they’re surprisingly easy to find on the map.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Media, Software, Technology

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Trevor Noah explains reparations

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Trevor Noah is an awesomely smart person. Watch this (which requires sound).

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 2:22 pm

How fun activities push autistics into the margins

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An extremely interesting column providing insight into how an event that seems fun to non-autistic people is a minefield for an autistic person. Terra Vance writes in NeuroClastic:

Key points:
  • Autistic people and our accomplices regularly repeat the mantra, “This world is not made for us.”
  • This article walks you through a specific experience in the life of an autistic parent of an autistic child to illustrate how the world is not made for us.
  • Enjoyable, fun events we want to participate in can cause distress, trauma, and social exclusion even if they have no obvious catastrophes.
  • The circumstances in this specific article can be generalized to therapeutic, educational, social, athletic, professional, and home settings.
  • All autistic people are different, so the circumstances in this article may not apply the same way to every autistic person.

Recently, my husband signed our child up for a local group wherein girls learn outdoor skills and engage in community and charitable service. She had only attended one meeting and had loved it. The group leaders are elementary teachers, and there were fewer than ten girls in this particular group.

The second meeting was a regional event and did not go so well. What happened was I watched helplessly while my child:

• tried over and over to adapt to something not designed for her,
• hid and fell behind until she became invisible to her peers,
• mustered a superhuman amount of optimism,
• masked away her autistic nature,
• then had the last flicker of optimism snuffed out when she felt like she had failed at being a good, normal child.

And no one else noticed a thing.

This is long, but it’s far shorter than it needs to be for you to know what an everyday experience is like for an autistic child. Or an autistic adult.

I shortened this as much as I could, but if you really want to know what it’s like to be us, you need to put in a shred of the effort we have to invest to exist a day in your everyday life.

Every person mentioned in this story was a kind, well-intentioned person who has not done the work to prevent my child from having her heart broken in perpetuity. You have to learn to get beyond “loving someone with autism.”

Inclusion requires nuanced knowledge.

When autistics say this world isn’t made for them, here’s what they mean

Autistic people often have profound deficits in executive functioning, which means that they do so much work, internally, to prepare for any new situation before they even arrive. Autistic children and adults need enough information to be able to go into an event mentally and emotionally prepared. . .

Continue reading. This is worth reading in full and then thinking about.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Daily life, Psychology

Beets & Leeks after 2 weeks

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A blue bowl holding a small amount of moist shredded beets and leeks after fermentation, the beets still red, the pieces of leek still slightly green.

Generally, I allow 2 weeks of fermentation when I’m fermenting my own mix of vegetables. (But Cultured Carrot Cake in a Jar, for example, does not ferment so long.) I started the current batch of Beets & Leeks two weeks ago, so today I removed the fermentation weights from the jar and put the two jars (3 liters total) into the refrigerator.

I did take a small bowl of the finished ferment to check it out. It is extremely tasty. I think I created a recipe that is worth repeating — well, obviously so, since this is the third batch I’ve made. It has nice crunchiness, some warmth of spiciness without actually being hot, a kind of background sweetness, and a little tang. The flavor is quite good.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 1:10 pm

The Downfall of Andrew Tate Is Deliciously Ironic and Vitally Important.

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Jay Kuo writes in The Status Kuo:

If you’re like many people, the first time you’d ever heard the name Andrew Tate was through reading about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s brutal takedown on Twitter after the former lightweight world kickboxing champion decided rather unwisely to troll her. As it is Schadenfriday, I’ll review the hilariously ironic part of this first before getting into why this actually matters beyond the hellsite of Twitter.

The Tate Twitter Massacre

On Tuesday, Tate, 36, whose Twitter account was suspended in 2017 but had been newly restored to Twitter by his fellow butthurt manbaby Elon Musk, was in the mood to troll an autistic teenage climate activist. You know, just in case anyone had forgotten what a truly horrible person he is. Tate tweeted the following at Greta Thunberg:

Hello @GretaThunberg

I have 33 cars.

My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo.

My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s.

This is just the start.

Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.

For good measure, Tate included a picture of himself refueling one of those vehicles. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 1:02 pm

Old-timey prep, new-timey razor

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Shaving setup photo altered to make it look more like a paining, with small "brushstrokes" of color over all. A brush with a long knot of boar bristles  stands next to a 450ml white tub of J.M. Fraser shaving cream on which rests a modern, blue double-edge razor, lying on its side. At the right is a tall tapered bottle of Lilac Vegetal after-shave lotion by Pinaud.

The day is sunny, a winter pleasure. And, speaking of pleasure, I bought out my tub of J.M. Fraser’s shaving cream and thought the Omega Pro 48 would be the perfect brush for it, nor was I wrong. I loaded the brush vigorously and well. I could use good pressure because over the years the shaving cream has become harder through gradual dehydration. 

The lather, though, was excellent and carried the light lemony fragrance of the shaving cream. My Henson AL-13M is a remarkably comfortable razor, and I enjoyed all three passes, which left my face smooth as can be at the end.

A drop of Grooming Dept Rejuvenating Serum followed by a good splash of Pinaud’s Lilac Vegetal, the oldest after-shave lotion in the world (not this particular bottle, of course, but the recipe), and I was ready for the day, which will include a walk to the library. Library Extension found another book I was looking at, and it’s ready for pickup. 

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Storm Watcher because earlier it didn’t look so good as it does now: “Contains Yunnan and Ceylon. Full-bodied with low astringency, a selection of tea terroirs blended for a brisk, satisfying mug. Slightly smoky with toasted malty notes.”

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Stress as a cause of cultural conflict

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I was thinking more about the article I just now blogged — see previous post — and I had a thought.

In pondering the change WW made back in September 2018, I realized that all the “lifestyle changes” things I read about include a permanent change to eating patterns, to exercise patterns, and — this is what caught my eye, as it were — to stress reduction.

Stress reduction seems invariably to be included in such programs as an explicit component. And I realized mentioned that most people — people who are not yet retired and lead lives of comfortable leisure — do not have the time to cook the sort of meals I regularly consume, nor the time to read in detail about foods and diet (in the sense of the foods one regularly consumes) and the effects those foods have on one’s body and health.

That made me realize that many — most? — people nowadays lead lives high in stress. As I recall my life back in my prime working years, from (say) age 25-45, the stress level I experienced was around, say, 4 or 5 on a 10-point scale. Nowadays, it seems — now that I think about it — that the norm for most is a stress level of 7 or 8.

I’m thinking, for example, of the high-stress life of a MAGA person, who sees threats and conspiracies on every hand and is constantly watching for sneak attacks from liberals and immigrants and people who think wrong. And liberals also live in stress, worrying about the threat of MAGA attacks like Jan 6 and the undermining of democratic institutions. And the stress levels among BIPOC and LGBTQ populations, always high, seems even higher with constant aggressive (and often deadly) attacks from conservatives and even from the police, whose mission supposedly is to protect them.

And almost everyone, liberal or conservative, must deal with economic stress, which will get much worse next year when the Fed’s insane interest rate increases to fight inflation (which has now pretty much ended) start to actually affect the economy. (The interest rate increases have not yet affected the economy, and inflation has already died down — it was a temporary bump from the economic effects of the pandemic — see this post.)

Living in a constant state of stress seems as though it might well lead to obesity (through self-medicating with cheap and ready-to-eat food). And having everyone under great stress might also be a contributing factor to the intensity of the culture wars now raging in the US. It reminds me of the situation when rats in confinement get overcrowded for too long: their society moves into suicidal collapse.

I wonder whether a good portion of the trends we see is due to high and constant levels of stress in a majority of the population. If such high levels of stress were common, then I would expect that stress reduction as a thing in itself would move to the forefront of concerns and recommendations — and that is indeed what we seem to see.

All that is mere speculation, but I will look for research into the question.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 5:49 am

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong, revisited

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I blogged some years back about Michael Hobbes’s lengthy and interesting article on how medical doctors in general get an F on their approach to obesity.

I stumbled over one thing in the article:

For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets.

Since I have found that a whole-food plant-based diet has indeed worked — it controlled my type 2 diabetes, helped me lose weight, and enabled me to discontinue the medications I formerly had to take — his statement did not make sense to me. (And, BTW, it is not just me who has had success with a whole-food plant-based diet in treating type 2 diabetes: see this article.) Moreover, research has shown that the Mediterranean diet is much healthier than the Standard American Diet (SAD).

His statement seemed to me to say “It doesn’t matter what you eat.” And yet we know that eating a substantial amount of ultraprocessed foods — foods manufactured using industrial processes from refined ingredients, including a lot of additives like refined sugar, salt, preservatives, and artificial flavorings and colorings — causes weight gain compared to a diet that focuses who whole foods, including a hefty amount of fruit and fresh vegetables. How can he say that diet does not matter?

The Wife pointed out that diet has two meanings:

  1. Diet can mean “what you eat,” meaning the range of foods that you routinely consume — for example, the Mediterranean Diet, the whole-food plant-based diet, or a vegetarian diet, or in a statement like “His diet includes too many ultraprocessed foods.”
  2. Diet can also mean restricting oneself to a specialized and temporary list of foods for the specific goal of losing weight, with the idea that — once the weight is lost — one returns to their normal eating pattern (i.e., their normal diet, in the first sense of the word “diet”).

Hobbes seems in the quoted passage to be talking about this second meaning of “diet,” but it’s confusing because the Paleo Diet and the Atkins Diet are not temporary diets but are proposed as permanent alterations in one’s eating patterns — that is, they are presented as diets in the first sense.

Perhaps the goal (particularly for the Atkins Diet) is weight loss, but the Paleo Diet is offered as a healthy (and permanent) alternative. Moreover, WW changed its name from Weight Watchers (in September 2018, the very time Hobbes’s article was published) specifically to reflect “its focus on overall health and wellness, and not just shedding pounds.” (CNN) That is, WW moved from being the Weight Watchers diet (in the second meaning: temporary) to being a permanent approach to food (“diet” in the second sense, as a permanent change in the foods one consumes and also considering exercise and other components of the program).

Because “diet” is so ambiguous, the word in the first sense — the range of foods one eats on a daily basis — is now often called one’s “lifestyle,” though that word generally also includes the type of exercise in one’s regular routine and also often addresses stress reduction.

I would have been happier (and understood better) if Hobbes had not written “The first is that diets do not work,” but instead had written “The first is that the temporary restriction of one’s diet in accordance with some fad plan does not work,” which seems to be what he means. And then he should also have omitted from his list those diets intended as a permanent change in eating habits (paleo, Atkins, and WW). When he includes those total and permanent changes in one’s diet, then the reader (at least, this reader) naturally thinks of other basic, permanent changes to one’s eating patterns, like the Mediterranean diet and thewhole-food plant-based diet.

With that exception, his article is straightforward, interesting, and informative. It begins:

From the 16th century to the 19th, scurvy killed around 2 million sailors, more than warfare, shipwrecks, and syphilis combined. It was an ugly, smelly death, too, beginning with rattling teeth and ending with a body so rotted out from the inside that its victims could literally be startled to death by a loud noise. Just as horrifying as the disease itself, though, is that for most of those 300 years, medical experts knew how to prevent it and simply failed to.

In the 1600s, some sea captains distributed lemons, limes and oranges to sailors, driven by the belief that a daily dose of citrus fruit would stave off scurvy’s progress. The British Navy, wary of the cost of expanding the treatment, turned to malt wort, a mashed and cooked byproduct of barley which had the advantage of being cheaper but the disadvantage of doing nothing whatsoever to cure scurvy. In 1747, a British doctor named James Lind conducted an experiment where he gave one group of sailors citrus slices and the others vinegar or seawater or cider. The results couldn’t have been clearer. The crewmen who ate fruit improved so quickly that they were able to help care for the others as they languished. Lind published his findings, but died before anyone got around to implementing them nearly 50 years later.

This kind of myopia repeats throughout history. Seat belts were invented long before the automobile but weren’t mandatory in cars until the 1960s. The first confirmed death from asbestos exposure was recorded in 1906, but the U.S. didn’t start banning the substance until 1973. Every discovery in public health, no matter how significant, must compete with the traditions, assumptions and financial incentives of the society implementing it.

Which brings us to one of the largest gaps between science and practice in our own time. Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 December 2022 at 4:57 am

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