Later On

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

Archive for January 21st, 2023

Repeated Covid infections cripple your immune system

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Here in Victoria, most people seem unconcerned about Covid, even though an extremely infectious variant is active: XBB.1.5. I wear an N95 mask when I am indoors in a public space (eg, grocery shopping), but most people do not. Local Facebooks are hostile to any mention of mask mandates. The provincial public health officials stay silent and out of sight.

And yet Covid is dangerous. Jessica Wildfire writes at OK Doomer:

The mainstream news is spending a lot of time on Germany’s recent decision to scrap mask mandates on long train rides. There’s another story they probably won’t cover just yet, but it’s far more important. As German health minister Karl Lauterbach recently said during an interview with the Rheinische Post, multiple infections with Covid are causing “an immune deficiency that can no longer be cured.” He refers to studies, most of which I’ve gathered here.

There’s overwhelming evidence now that Covid infects and hijacks your immune cells. Researchers are still learning the details, but the takeaway is clear. Even just a couple of bouts with Covid can hamper your immune system for a long time, maybe permanently. It leaves you vulnerable to all other kinds of viral and bacterial infections. It leaves you open to fungal infections too, and those are especially dangerous. So the experts who tried to warn everyone were right the whole time, and the message is leaking out.

It’s a big deal.

The world is only just beginning to see the truth, as we trudge through a winter that makes the last two look almost pleasant.

This recent news from Germany slams the last nail in immunity debt’s coffin. It was a short-term fiction, meant to explain away one bad winter. It can’t explain what we’re seeing with children dying from strep throat and global shortages of basic medicine. Our politicians and their corporate media are out of lies. They were having to recycle old ones. They hauled out their Covid minimizers again to try and convince us we’re “overcounting” Covid hospitalizations and deaths.

I don’t think it’s working.

As many of us predicted, the true scope of the damage is becoming self-evident to the millions of people now getting sick constantly. Nobody cares how we’re counting hospitalizations and deaths if Strep throat and other common illnesses now pose an imminent threat to their lives. It doesn’t matter what you’re in the hospital with or for if we’re out of antibiotics and painkillers.

Basically, the gig is up.

Lauterbach has broken the silence on a major catastrophe. This is the first time a major public health official has acknowledged the severe damage Covid does to the immune system, not to mention Long Covid.

Until now, western leaders have said nothing about this problem. It’s good that Lauterbach is coming forward. Of course, someone was eventually going to have to acknowledge it. The constant waves of illness and sudden death were becoming too obvious to ignore. The anti-vaxxers were exploiting it for their own agendas. They were starting to get aggressive again. They even harassed Pfizer’s CEO on the street. Our leaders had no choice. They could either come clean about the true damage Covid is doing, or face mobs of angry conspiracy theorists.

It’s worth pointing out that Lauterbach just returned from The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, where the world’s elite go to hang out and trade world domination plans. As #DavosSafe showed, all the billionaires are availing themselves of every possible technology to reduce their risk of catching Covid. They’ve been lying to everyone.

Lauterbach’s remarks are just the beginning.

Over the next several months,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2023 at 7:16 pm

Layoffs don’t make sense, but most corporations are not learning organizations

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Corporations generally will focus on technical improvements to their products and ignore improvements to their organization — their focus is to improve what they make, not what they are. Chrys Argyris devoted his career (and some very interesting books) to trying to figure out why organizations did not learn and develop ways that would enable and even encourage organizational learning to occur.

Two recent articles — one from Stanford and one from Harvard — point out that layoffs do not work.


On the Stanford University website, Melissa DeWitt writes:

As layoffs in the tech sector mount, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is worried. Research – by him, and others – has shown that the stress layoffs create takes a devastating toll on behavioral and physical health and increases mortality and morbidity substantially. Layoffs literally kill people, he said.

Over recent months, tech companies have been laying workers off by the thousands. It is estimated that in 2022 alone, over 120,000 people have been dismissed from their job at some of the biggest players in tech – MetaAmazonNetflix, and soon Google – and smaller firms and starts ups as well. Announcements of cuts keep coming.

What explains why so many companies are laying large numbers of their workforce off? The answer is simple: copycat behavior, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Here, Stanford News talks to Pfeffer about how the workforce reductions that are happening across the tech industry are a result mostly of “social contagion”: Behavior spreads through a network as companies almost mindlessly copy what others are doing. When a few firms fire staff, others will probably follow suit. Most problematic, it’s a behavior that kills people: For example, research has shown that layoffs can increase the odds of suicide by two times or more.

Moreover, layoffs don’t work to improve company performance, Pfeffer adds. Academic studies have shown that time and time again, workplace reductions don’t do much for paring costs. Severance packages cost money, layoffs increase unemployment insurance rates, and cuts reduce workplace morale and productivity as remaining employees are left wondering, “Could I be fired too?”

For over four decades, Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior, has studied hiring and firing practices in companies across the world. He’s met with business leaders at some of the country’s top companies and their employees to learn what makes – and doesn’t make – effective, evidence-based management. His recent book Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance–And What We Can Do About It (Harper Business, 2018) looks at how management practices, including layoffs, are hurting, and in some cases, killing workers.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why are so many tech companies laying people off right now?

The tech industry layoffs are basically an instance of social contagion, in which companies imitate what others are doing. If you look for reasons for why companies do layoffs, the reason is that everybody else is doing it. Layoffs are the result of imitative behavior and are not particularly evidence-based.

I’ve had people say to me that they know layoffs are harmful to company well-being, let alone the well-being of employees, and don’t accomplish much, but everybody is doing layoffs and their board is asking why they aren’t doing layoffs also.

Do you think layoffs in tech are some indication of a tech bubble bursting or the company preparing for a recession?

Could there be a tech recession? Yes. Was there a bubble in valuations? Absolutely. Did Meta overhire? Probably. But is that why they are laying people off? Of course not. Meta has plenty of money. These companies are all making money. They are doing it because other companies are doing it.

What are some myths or misunderstandings about layoffs?

Layoffs often do not cut costs, as there are many instances of laid-off employees being hired back as contractors, with companies paying the contracting firm. Layoffs often do not increase stock prices, in part because layoffs can signal that a company is having difficulty. Layoffs do not increase productivity. Layoffs do not solve what is often the underlying problem, which is often an ineffective strategy, a loss of market share, or too little revenue. Layoffs are basically a bad decision.

Companies sometimes lay off people that they have just recruited – oftentimes with paid recruitment bonuses. When the economy turns back in the next 12, 14, or 18 months, they will go back to the market and compete with the same companies to hire talent. They are basically buying labor at a high price and selling low. Not the best decision.

People don’t pay attention to the evidence against layoffs. The evidence is pretty extensive, some of it is reviewed in the book I wrote on human resource management, The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First. If companies paid attention to the evidence, they could get some competitive leverage because they would actually be basing their decisions on science.

You’ve written about the negative health effects of layoffs. Can you talk about some of the research on this topic by you and others?. . .

Continue reading.


In Harvard Business Review  Sandra J. Sucher and Marilyn Morgan Westner discuss what companies still get wrong about layoffs:

Today it’s difficult to read the news without seeing an announcement of layoffs. Just this week, Morgan Stanley announced it will reduce its workforce by 2%, Buzzfeed said it would cut headcount by 12%, and PepsiCo said it plans to cut “hundreds” of jobs. The same is true at Redfin (13%), Lyft (13%), Stripe (14%), Snap (20%), Opendoor (18%), Meta (13%), and Twitter (50%). So many companies have initiated layoffs recently that tech and HR entrepreneurs launched trackers like TrueUp Tech and to dedicated to monitoring the staff reductions across the tech sector.

Traditionally, employers resort to layoffs during recessions to save money. Companies continue to cling to the idea that reducing staff will provide the best, fastest, or easiest solution to financial problems.

I’ve studied layoffs since 2009. In 2018, I wrote an article for HBR that explored how the short-term cost savings provided by a layoff are overshadowed by bad publicity, loss of knowledge, weakened engagement, higher voluntary turnover, and lower innovation — all of which hurt profits in the long run.

What’s Different About Layoffs Today

Those findings haven’t changed in the last four years. What’s different now is the larger social landscape in which today’s layoffs are unfolding. To make intelligent and humane staffing decisions in today’s economic turmoil, leaders must first understand three recent trends.

Word travels faster.

In the traditional pre-pandemic office environment, news of a reduction in force might have spread as workers saw the upset faces of their colleagues emerging from an unexpected meeting with their boss.

Today colleagues may be dispersed, but a single Slack or Teams message can simultaneously and instantly alert tens of thousands of employees around the world to news of a layoff. Whether companies want it this way or not, communication is simultaneously internal and external, spreading from employees to social media, journalists, and trade media that serve specific industries and the people who work in them.

Corporate decision-making is under a microscope.

Businesses have always needed to justify their actions, but today corporate reasoning is subjected to wider scrutiny in both traditional and social media. This is especially true in tech, whose products and services are deeply embedded in our daily lives and whose leaders have achieved celebrity status. A quick glance at any social media platform will reveal that customers are quick to share their strong opinions about the strategies companies pursue.

Stories about horrific layoffs have always been dismayingly easy to find. I once heard about a company that divided employees into two groups. One room was filled with people who were told they were losing their jobs. Just next door — and so loudly it could be heard — were the survivors, who were being told: “You are winners! You are why we can do even better!”

Today, poor treatment of employees looks short-sighted and is contrary to companies’ own interests. In the past, a company’s decision to eliminate positions may have been protested by a small group of labor rights advocates. Today, thanks to social media, anyone can challenge workforce reduction decisions, and ask, “Can’t they see that no one will want to work for a company that does that?”

The pandemic showed that companies have other options.

In the early months of the pandemic, some companies announced mass layoffs. But not everyone — Marc Benioff publicly pledged that Salesforce would make no “significant” layoffs for 90 days, and asked other companies to commit to doing the same. Many companies, including Starbucks, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley assured staff that, barring a performance issue, jobs were secure through the end of 2020. Other CEOs made similar temporary no-layoff pledges to help stem workers’ anxiety.

These companies announced a different approach, including . . .

Continue reading.

I was thinking about why corporations and other organizations find learning difficult, and some ideas occurred to me:

  1. They often are led by ambitious people whose focus has been on achieving their goals, with little time or effort spent in understanding themselves. Thus they lack awareness of their weaknesses and often of their actual motivations. They dismiss therapy, meditation, and self-knowledge as “touchy-feely” and continue on like a bull in a china shop in their personal relations.
  2. Ego often undermines effort. For example, it is not rare for CEOs to tolerate no dissent and get rid of anyone who challenges their ideas or plans. The result is that an organization starts to drift with the CEO’s dreams and ideas until it crashes onto the rocks of reality (cf. Twitter). This is a specific instance of problem 1.
  3. Some CEOs are interested purely in self-aggrandizement and have as their goal to loot the organization,  to extract as much wealth from it as they can even though the organization is destroyed. This is how private-equity firms tend to operate. They do not intend for the organization to learn since in their view it is merely wealth fodder.
  4. A weak corporate culture means that new managers set new directions so that the organization does not build on prior experience. 3M has had a strong corporate culture so that new managers have a definite direction and set of principles, and those are refined and revised through experience, with the lessons learned passed down to the next generation of managers. A prosperous company with a strong culture can be destroyed when new managers destroy the culture — cf. this post on private equity and Anchor-Hocking (incorrect link fixed).

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2023 at 2:57 pm

Can Fermented Foods Boost Mental Health?

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I eat fermented vegetables frequently. They’re delicious and they also have health benefits. I ferment my own (because a) it’s much less costly and b) I can make up my own combinations), but certainly there are some excellent fermented foods you can buy — like Wildbrine krauts.

Drew Rams, MD, writes in Medscape (and there’s a video at the link):

Do six glasses of kombucha a day keep the psychiatrist away?

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Brain Food vlog. I’m Dr Drew Ramsey. I’m on the editorial board of Medscape Psychiatry and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. I’m also the founder of the Brain Food Clinic.

These days I’m eating a lot more fermented foods and talking about them more often with my patients. That’s partly due to a great study from Wastyk and colleagues at Stanford School Medicine, titled “Gut-Microbiota-Targeted Diets Modulate Human Immune Status,” which was published last year in the journal Cell.

All of us in mental health are increasingly thinking about inflammation and the microbiome, and how those impact brain health and mental health. This is an important study for us to consider in that regard, so I wanted to make sure you heard about it.

Fibers vs Fermentation

Over 17 weeks, investigators conducted a two-arm intervention. In one arm, they took individuals from eating about 21.5 g of fiber a day all the way up to 45 g of fiber a day. In the other arm, they increased the amount of fermented foods that individuals were eating, including things like kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi. At the beginning of the study, these individuals were eating about 0.4 servings of fermented foods per day, which they increased all the way up to 6.3 servings of food a day.

Should we be eating that much fermented food? Well, the results of this study were quite interesting.

Let’s talk about the fiber group first. As so many of our patients are moving toward plant-forward or plant-based diets, they’re eating a lot more fiber. In general, that’s a great idea and one that we often consider key to having a good, healthy, diverse microbiome.

But it turns out in this study that that’s not exactly what happens.  . .

Continue reading.

That Stanford research report linked to above is also worth a look.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2023 at 1:13 pm

10 things you may not know about carbs

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The title is from the BBC article, and the first thing listed is indeed something I had not known:

1. The Cracker Test

A quick and easy test to do at home to see how many carbs YOU should be eating.

Geneticist, Dr. Sharon Moalem has come up with a really easy test you can do at home to find out how much carbs you should eat. Try chewing on a cracker until it changes in taste to become a bit more sweet, or it may be some other flavour taste. If the taste changes in under 30 seconds then you probably process carbs OK – under 15 seconds is pretty good. But if the cracker hasn’t changed taste after 30 seconds, then Dr Moalam thinks you should be eating a lower carb diet, because your body isn’t as good at processing them, which can lead to weight gain and health problems. How does this test work? Well there’s an enzyme in your saliva breaks down starch into glucose sugar molecules – which is why the cracker can often tastes sweet. Dr Moalam’s theory is that the more of this enzyme you produce, the better you are at processing carbs.

2. Microwaving and freezing food will turn bad carbs into good ones

You can turn ‘bad carbs’ into good ones – Scientists have discovered that cooking and cooling turns refined ‘bad’ carbs – into resistant-starch foods, which your gut bacteria will love! And it’s even better if you re-heat things like pasta, rice and potatoes – and make sure everything, especially the rice, is piping hot – this further increases the resistant starch content. So pop last night’s lasagne into the microwave the next day for a more guilt free way to eat carbs – our bodies only take around half the calories from this food than they do from refined carbs. In effect resistant starch feeds our gut bacteria, rather than us.

3. It’s ok to eat bread!

But switch from mass produced to rye bread – Most mass-produced bread is full of easily-digested starch, which only reaches your small intestine, before dumping glucose into your blood. But Rye Bread uses wholegrains, which contain resistant starch and makes it all the way to your large intestine, where your gut bacteria is waiting. But do check the sugar content, because some mass-produced brands of rye bread add sugar to counteract the bitterness of the wholegrain.

4. The best way to eat bread – . . .

Continue reading.

I learned a few years ago that refrigerating a starch after cooking at it will convert much of the cooked starch (easily digested) into resistant starch (a dietary fiber). I now routinely refrigerated beans, grain, and purple potatoes after I cook them and before I eat them. Moreover, a raw potato is all resistant starch: zero net carbs. That’s one reason I ferment raw potatoes. (Another reason is that they are crunchy tasty in a salad or added to a stir-fry.)

Later in the list is a comment that a low-carb diet is good. In my experience, a diet low in refined carbs is good, but a whole-food plant-based diet, although high in carbs, works perfectly well even for those who, like me, have type 2 diabetes. The key is whole plant foods, which are high in carbs — particularly dietary fiber — but don’t raise my blood glucose levels much at all. For example, fruit, including berries, are high in carbs, including sugar, but they also have a lot of fiber — so no problem.

I do have to be careful with potatoes, rice, and corn. I don’t eat corn and I eat very little rice, and when I do, I eat black rice (an intact whole grain). The potatoes I eat are raw (and fermented) or purple and refrigerated after cooking. (Purple potatoes are good for blood glucose levels.)

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2023 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Ousia, great razor, exceptional tea

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Shaving setup: shaving brush with white bristles and orange handle next to a tub of soap with a painting of the interior of a brightly-lit cathedral and the name "Ousia." To the side of the tub is a transparent bottle of Pashana aftershave with a black cap and amber liquid half-filling the boltle. In front is a double-edge razor made of dark grey plastic, lying on its side.

The brush this morning is my Yaqi Cashmere, whose 19mm knot of very fine synthetic bristles does feel on my face a bit like cashmere. The soap is Grooming Dept Ousia: “Fennel, Crystallized Mandarin, Ginger, Immortelle, Tobacco, Vanilla, and Vetiver.” As the name suggests, it is a divine fragrance — and the lather is the wonderful lather of Kairos SE (the tallow formula with lamb tallow and emu oil).

The razor is the Dorco PL602. I ordered a supply of them from Sam’s Beauty. Although the listing does not identify them as the PL602, I clearly recognize the razor. 

WarningOnce you place an order, Sam’s Beauty will send you spam endlessly, so use a one-time email address for this order. I have Spam Sieve as a spam filter, and it has now been trained to recognize the email from Sam’s Beauty as junk and divert it directly to the Junk folder. Their “unsubscribe” does not work, nor do they respond to an email request to be removed from the list.

Despite the problems with the noxious advertising, IMO this razor is very much worth getting. It is adjustable in the sense that you can loosen it up to a quarter turn to increase efficiency, although for me it works fine fully tightened. It’s a two-piece design. 

Three passes did a perfect job, and a splash of Pashana aftershave with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel finished the shave. Great start to a somewhat gloomy day.

The tea this morning really hits the spot: Murchie’s London Afternoon: “Fragrant rose petals are interwoven with smoky Lapsang Souchong, sweetened with creamy vanilla and a touch of bright bergamot.” I especially got the lapsang souchong and the rose, and I’m sure the vanilla helped.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2023 at 11:54 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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