Later On

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

Archive for January 1st, 2023

Stay home if you can; wear an N95 mask if you can’t

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The new Covid strain is on a rampage, and following a season of parties and group functions, we are going to see a new wave arising. Jessica Wildfire writes on Medium:

There’s a new variant spreading, called XBB.1.5.

Experts have nicknamed it the Kraken.

Technically, it’s still classified as a subvariant of Omicron, just like everything has over the last year. That’s looking more like a political decision, not one based on actual science. Anyway, this thing is a beast. Cell recently published a profile of XBB.1.5 titled, “Alarming antibody evasion properties of rising SARS-CoV-2 BQ and XBB subvariants.” Here’s their assessment:

Together, our findings indicate that BQ and XBB subvariants present serious threats to current COVID-19 vaccines, render inactive all authorized antibodies, and may have gained dominance in the population because of their advantage in evading antibodies.

They describe the differences with this variant as an “antigenic leap” similar to Omicron from last year. Even if you got the bivalent booster, you’re more vulnerable to breakthrough infections. This thing has already gained dominance in northeastern states. It’s gaining ground throughout the rest of the country. It spreads faster than anything we’ve seen so far. It’s on track to become the dominant variant in a few more days, if it already hasn’t. Hospitalizations have already started shooting up in places where the Kraken dominates.

Hence the nickname.

Nationally, hospitalizations have already reached where they were back in February. We’re starting another huge wave.

We’re less prepared than ever.

In fact, the entire world just recently held an orgy of superspreader events with zero precautions. We threw holiday parties while antibiotics shortages were hitting every corner of the world.

Finally, we’ve seen conclusive evidence that Covid causes lasting damage to your immune system, even in mild cases. It explains the surge in children’s illnesses. Some of my local children’s hospitals are at 100 percent capacity.

The news isn’t talking about it.

A thread by Jeff Gilchrist breaks down all the ways in which this virus targets and down-regulates your immune function. As one researcher says, they’ve found . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 January 2023 at 8:49 pm

Ex-Capitol police chief: FBI, DHS, Pentagon failed on Jan. 6

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Carol D. Leonnig has a scathing article (no paywall) in the Washington Post that begins:

In a new firsthand account of the frantic efforts of Capitol Police officers to protect Congress and themselves from an armed mob on Jan. 6, 2021, the department’s former chief blames cascading government failures for allowing the brutal melee.

The federal government’s multibillion-dollar security network, built after 9/11 to gather intelligence that could warn of a looming attack, provided no such shield on Jan. 6, former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund writes in a new book. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and even his own agency’s intelligence unit had been alerted weeks earlier to reams of chilling chatter about right-wing extremists arming for an attack on the Capitol that day, Sund says, but didn’t take the basic steps to assess those plots or sound an alarm. Senior military leaders, citing political or tactical worries, delayed sending help.

And, Sund warns in “Courage Under Fire,” it could easily happen again. Many of the factors that left the Capitol vulnerable remain unfixed, he said.

In his account, Sund describes his shock at the battle that unfolded as an estimated 10,000 protesters inflamed by President Donald Trump’s rally earlier in the day broke through police lines and punched, stabbed and pepper-sprayed officers, outnumbering them “58 to 1.”

Sund said his shock shifted to agony as he unsuccessfully begged military generals for National Guard reinforcements. Though they delayed sending help until it was too late for Sund’s overrun corps, he says that he later discovered that the Pentagon had rushed to send security teams to protect military officials’ homes in Washington, none of which were under attack.

Sund reserves his greatest outrage for  . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

1 January 2023 at 8:36 pm

Making a change for the better

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Any day is a good day to start a change for the better, but certainly New Year’s Day is often selected as a kickoff date — partly, as Derek Simnett points out in the video below, because that allows one who is not yet ready to make the change to postpone the effort until the day arrives. If one is interested in making a change, the best day to begin is “today,” whatever day that happens to be.

I made a comment — rather a lengthy comment — on the video:

Terrific video, and I think a courageous video. I had a few thoughts while watching.

1. You mentioned that one should focus on what they gain from a change, not on what they lose. I wanted to add an enthusiastic “Amen!” I found that this mistake often arises because in prospect (before the change) the things one gains — the benefits — are not vividly known (that is, not yet experienced), in contrast to the things being given up, which are familiar, well-known through experience. In this situation, listening to those who have already made the change — your suggestion that one should seek what in effect are mentors — is particularly important, because those people can describe the gains as they have experienced them and thus make the gains more vivid for the person contemplating the change. It’s the classic barrier: the old way is familiar (the devil one knows), and the new way is terra incognito (the devil you don’t). This is the first hurdle one must overcome to change.

2. A change requires practice and mistakes are part of learning. People who postpone learning to play the piano until they can play a piece perfectly never learn to play at all. When making a change, I think it’s best to view the setbacks/mistakes one makess at the start NOT as “failures” but as “practice.” When learning to sink free throws, you’re going to miss a lot at first, but those misses provide information that helps you improve if you think about the misses and learn from them how to adjust what you’re doing. In fact, those misses are exactly how you get better IF you learn from the misses. — An excellent book in this regard is “Changing for Good,” by Prochaska et al. (There are several books with this title, so check to be sure it’s the one by Prochaska and colleagues. has inexpensive secondhand copies.) He describes the 6 stages of change and the essential tasks that must be accomplished at each stage to move successfully to the next. The change he initially focused on was quitting cigarettes, but the lessons he learned apply to change more generally.

3. Besides addictions, one sometimes wants to break a habit (because it is unproductive or even harmful), and habits are hard to break — which, of course, is why good habits are so useful. And as you point out, an effective way to break a bad habit is to adopt a good habit in its place. The sequence I have experienced in breaking a habit is that right after I do the old thing, I remember I wasn’t going to do that. Then the next stage is that I remember AS I do the old thing that I’m not doing that anymore. Then I remember just before I do the old thing, and I don’t do it. At that point, the habit is broken, but there’s a final stage in which it no longer even occurs to me to do the old thing — I sort of forget about it. (I quit smoking cigarettes decades ago, and now the thought of a cigarette never occurs to me, and in fact, smoking a cigarette now seems a peculiar thing to do: “You make some plant leaves smolder and then inhale the smoke? Weird.”)

4. You alluded to this, but I had not at first realized how powerful it is. It is that small changes in daily habits act like compound interest: any individual day doesn’t seem to deliver much, but continuing the practice for weeks and months compounds the effect and leads to BIG changes. On the negative side, this is how one slides into addiction. On the positive side, it is how big improvements are achieved. My exercise is Nordic walking, and initially, I focused on duration and speed. I ultimately learned that those are not so important. What IS important is *consistency*. If I walk some each day, duration and speed will take care of themselves. Over time, I start to enjoy the walk more, and I find I am walking longer and faster just because you’re enjoying it. Consistency is the key. Once you have that, the compounding effect delivers the goods.

Again: great video. Thanks for putting it out there.

Regarding habits — specifically, forming good habits — I do have this post, as regular readers know. The post includes some downloadable PDFs to help the effort along.

Written by Leisureguy

1 January 2023 at 2:38 pm

There is no worker revolt

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Another interesting post by Kevin Drum, which begins:

Earlier this week, the cranky and long-retired founder of Home Depot belched out his considered opinion about the state of today’s youth—by which he apparently means anyone under the age of 70:

Nobody works, nobody gives a damn….”Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work — I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid.”

There is, needless to say, no reason to take this even remotely seriously. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal sprang into action to declare a trend. “Where have all the go-getters gone?” it asks.

What follows is excruciating. They actually printed this, for example:

“The passion that we used to see in work is lower now, and you find it in fewer people—at least in the last two years,” says Sumithra Jagannath, president of ZED Digital, which makes digital ticket scanners. The company, based in Columbus, Ohio, recently moved about 20 remote engineering and marketing roles to Canada and India, where she said it’s easier to find talent who will go above and beyond.

Since the onset of the pandemic, several employees have asked for more pay when managers asked that they do more work, she says. “It was not like that before Covid at all,” she adds.

Employees asked for more pay when they were asked to do more work! How intolerable. So the company shipped their jobs overseas.

This is followed by a few more anecdotes, including one about . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 January 2023 at 5:20 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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