Later On

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

Archive for January 31st, 2023

For police PR flacks, quack lives matter

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Chris Rock has a very telling brief routine on the “bad-apple” trope: “Sure, those five six seven cops murdered Tyre Nichols, but they were just a few bad apples.”

Radley Balko at The Watch points out another trope used to protect cops:

The San Francisco activist and attorney John Hamasaki tweeted out this amusing thread today:

The entire thread includes six stories about cops rescuing baby ducks. Which is a lot!

I’ve written quite a bit over the years about how local media cover police, but until today I was unaware of this particular trope. So I did a quick Google search of my own. And, my goodness. I had no idea!

I found 30 — yes 30 — separate stories from just the last two years before I decided I’d spent enough time on this post. I’m sure a more thorough search would have turned up a lot more.

What’s incredible is not just that so many baby ducks keep wandering into storm drains, but also that there are so often police officers nearby to save them, and that word of these rescues keeps finding its way to a local news reporter. It’s quite the fortuitous string of coincidences.

In any case, please enjoy these 30 stories about police saving baby ducks.

This post is not paywalled, so you won’t be billed.



Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2023 at 6:09 pm

The links among our food, gut microbiome, and depression

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Jessica Wapner writes in the Washington Post about the importance of the gut microbiome, which a whole-food plant-based diet totally supports:

Research has long suggested a link between our diet and our mental health. The gut microbiome — the collective genome of trillions of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract that are created largely by what we eat and drink — appears to influence our mood and mind-set.

But human studies large enough to pinpoint what bacteria matter, if they matter at all, have been missing.

That’s slowly changing. The largest analysis of depression and the gut microbiome to date, published in December, found several types of bacteria notably increased or decreased in people with symptoms of depression.

“This study provides some real-life evidence that you are what you eat,” says study author Andre Uitterlinden, who researches genetics at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Or to be exact, how you feel is closely related to what you consume.

The gut-brain axis

The gastrointestinal system has been featured in brain research for centuries. In the early 1800s, John Abernethy, a popular London physician, held that “gastric derangement” was the root of all mental disorders.

And gastrointestinal symptoms often are reported in people with psychiatric illness. Weight and appetite changes are common among people with depression, from adolescence to older age. Anxiety has been tied to a heightened risk of nausea, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation. The link between food and mood is there even when we reach for macaroni and cheese to comfort us during a stressful time.

Interest in the gut-brain axis has had a resurgence in the past 20 years. A host of studies has pointed to a connection between the microbiota living in our intestinal tract, and our minds, including our memorymood and cognitive skills.

Such research has spawned an industry of probiotics, prebiotics and fermented everything. Scientific names like bacteroidetes and lactobacillus, two of the most common bacteria found in healthy humans, have become household terms.

[The best foods to feed your gut microbiome]

The health trend has gotten a bit ahead of the evidence. Most of the studies linking depression and the gut, for example, have been in animals and studies involving human participants have been small.

Still, the evidence thus far shows a link between the two. In one noteworthy study, entitled “Transferring the Blues,” bacteria-free rats given fecal samples from humans diagnosed with major depression became anxious and disinterested in pleasurable activities. Their metabolism of tryptophan, a chemical connected to depression, changed. But the mechanics behind the microbe-mood pathway — and which bacteria matter — has been harder to uncover.

Bacteria that predict depressive symptoms

This new study moves that needle, largely because of its size. The investigators, led by Najaf Amin, who researches population health at Oxford University, analyzed data from the Rotterdam Study, a decades-long effort to understand the health of the local population.

Amin and her colleagues focused specifically on

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2023 at 3:52 pm

A nice explanation of a Go game

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For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, many people do not yet play Go. But I think even those who haven’t yet learned Go might enjoy this brief video. (And see also: AlphaGo.)

Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2023 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Games, Go/Baduk, Video

The secret to using Dr. Bronner’s shaving cream —and the annual Groundhog Day shaving test

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A shaving brush with synthetic bristles, a white handle, and a red base. Next to it is a tall light-green tube of Dr. Bronner's shaving cream, and then a green bottle with a gray metal cap in the shape of a crown labeled "Royall Spyce."

I mentioned earlier that Dr. Bronner’s shaving cream is a viscous brown liquid — the same formula as his Organic Sugar Soap (ingredients listed at the link). In that earlier post I had some thoughts on how to improve the lather:

The lather was not quite so dense as from some of my shaving soaps, but this is the first shave, so I expect there will be a learning curve — perhaps a bit more soap, and/or a bit less water in the brush, will result in a thicker lather.

Today, I squirted a small amount of the soap/shaving cream into my cupped palm and then brushed it vigorously with the dry brush — totally dry, off-the-shelf dry. I got no lather, but I did transfer almost all the soap to the brush. 

I had prepped my face — wet my stubble well with hot water and then rubbed a tiny amount of Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave over all my beard, massaging it in well, and then partially rinsed with a couple of splashes of hot water — so my face was somewhat wet. I brushed the stubble briskly and this did transfer soap to my face but did not really raise a lather. I did, however, brush well all my stubble, and there was some mixing of soap and water.

Then I wet just the end of the brush — not much — and brushed my beard briskly again, and now the lather emerged, and it was a good lather. It is not so rich and thick as the premium soaps, but it was a decent lather. 

Lesson learned: This requires even less water than does The Dead Sea, the previous record holder for minimal water use. And in this case, “requires little water” does not mean “you can use just a little water,” it means “you must use just a little water.”

Henson Shaving’s AL-13 is a terrific razor, and with this prep I got an exceptionally smooth result. A splash of Royall Spyce mixed with a couple of squirts of Grooming Dept’s Aion Hydrating Gel worked fine as an aftershave. Back in the day, the Royall line was quite the thing. Royall Lyme was the first and the flagship product, and I was very proud of that green bottle on my shaving shelf. 

The tea this morning, Smoky Sakura, is another gift from The Wife’s visit to Paris and another Mariage Frères tea. This is exceptionally good. The Bangkok Love tea is a novelty tea, but this one is a solid and traditional tea, and the cherrywood used in smoking it does give a smoke of a particular flavor.

The Groundhog Day shaving test

Because the subjective time a shave requires doesn’t change much — you’re paying attention to what you’re doing, and if you follow the guidance I’ve offered in my Guide, you are in a state of flow, in which awareness of time is lost. But if you use a timer to get the objective time your shave takes, you’ll find that the time the shave requires dwindles — quickly in the first weeks, but continuing more gradually for quite a while.

graph of a curve that, as you move from left to right, drops quickly and then more slowly.
x-axis: calendar time
y-axis: amount of time shave requires

Graphing time required for a shave against a calendar thus gives a curve something like the one shown on the right: rapid decline initially, slow (but continuing) decline later, approaching a limit. For me, the limit seems to be 5 minutes.  

My suggestion is to time your shave annually, and Groundhog Day seemed a good choice. In your first year of DE shaving, you might want to time your shave monthly.

A few ground rules: While it’s reasonable to set up the shave to standardize the starting position and minimize total time (for example, have the cap already removed from the tub of soap and bottle of aftershave, have a boar brush already soaked and ready), it is not reasonable to rush the shave. Hasty shaving is a mug’s game.

Shave at your normal pace, paying attention and doing a good workaday shave. What you’re looking for is the duration of your normal current shave.  

Here’s a template I’ve used:

A. Prep: describe pre-shave preparation (e.g., pre-shave oil/cream/gel/soap, whether use lathering bowl, shaving soap or cream, hot towel, whatever)

B. Shave: razor and (if DE) blade used

C Post shave: whether alum block used, whether styptic needed, aftershave.

Time: from when prep begins until aftershave applied.

Result: Quality of shave experience and shave result, graded separately


DO NOT RUSH: try to take the same amount of time that you typically do. You’re not going for a personal record, you’re trying to find how long your usual morning shave takes. No haste, no hurry. Enjoy the process.

The payoff is seeing what a difference a year makes.  IT IS NOT A COMPETITION. 

Here’s an example from Reddit a decade ago. If you post your findings as a comment to this post, I’ll link to it a year hence.

Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2023 at 11:43 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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