Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
Don’t use the shampoo bar as a shaving soap. Any all-NaOH soap will not produce a proper shaving lather. You may be able to shave with it, but it is far from ideal.
A shave soap needs a large percentage of long-chain fatty acid content (preferably from direct addition of stearic acid or use of soy wax which is mostly tristearin) These produce dense creamy lather with small bubbles. Many artisan shave soap makers include a few percent coconut, but I feel it does more harm than good, encouraging big fluffy, unstable bubbles with high water content.
A good shave soap also needs some, but not a lot of unsaturated fats. Too much makes the lather slimy and unstable. Shea butter, mango butter, beef tallow, lard, castor, and avocado oil are the most-used sources of these. All but the last one also deliver stearic/palmitic acid content in addition to oleic and in the case of avocado, linoleic. They also deliver unsaponifiable content that makes for great post-shave feel.
The last condition for a shave soap is that it needs to be made with KOH lye. Generally between 60 and 100% of the lye content is KOH with the rest being NaOH. This produces a soap with higher water solubility. Without this, the soap will produce overly light fluffy lather that lacks necessary cushion. An ideal lather is dense, opaque, and gloppy and composed of extremely small bubbles. It contains much less water than you might expect. Finding the sweet spot is definitely part of the learning curve when starting to wet shave.
Because of the stearic acid normally used, shave soap generally has to be made as hot process since it turns into pasty, chunky glop as soon as lye is added. I have not tested it, but if using soy wax, it should be possible to run it as a cold-process.
“Taboos in the Shave Soap World”
-Olive oil and Bentonite Clay. There is a persistent bit of bad advice from soapmakers that adding bentonite clay to normal cold process soap makes it shave soap. This is a horrible idea. While bentonite clay can be responsibly used in a well-formulated shave soap to enhance slickness, it will in no way transform a normal bar soap. Since most small soapmakers have olive oil as their primary ingredient, it’s gotten a bad rap. It is absolutely possible to use it as a source of unsaturated fats in shave soap but it will be 10-30% of the batch and not the bulk of it. Plenty of stearic acid is needed to balance the performance.
-Melt & Pour. Several crafter/artisan oriented soapmaking supply companies resell melt and pour bases from SFIC, one of which is notably marketed as shave soap. While it isn’t the worst shave soap in the world, it is very mediocre and best avoided.
This is a pretty decent but not optimized starting place if you’d like to make your own shave soap: http://www.modernsoapmaking.com/the-best-wet-shaving-soap-recipe/
So far as I can tell, Franklin Soapworks doesn’t offer a shaving soap.
Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:
What people across Wall Street cannot figure out is why the Board of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank by assets, didn’t sack its CEO, Jamie Dimon, at some point between the bank’s first two felony counts in 2014 and its third felony count in 2015. Or, as two trial lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer point out on their web site, during the past five years as JPMorgan Chase racked up $35.7 billion in fines and settlements for “fraudulent and illegal practices.”
JPMorgan Chase’s abuses of its own customers are so vast that Chaitman and Gotthoffer had to create a Wheel of Misfortune to catalog the scams for ease of viewing by the public.
And here’s the worst part: those are just the frauds that the public is allowed to read about. JPMorgan Chase, along with other notoriously abusive banks on Wall Street, is allowed to force claims against it into a private justice system called mandatory arbitration. This system allows systemic abuses to avoid detection for years because claims made by both employees and customers are ushered into Star Chamber tribunals which lack the judicial protections afforded in a court of law.
JPMorgan Chase must be proud of its mandatory arbitration agreement for its employees because we found it at its web site. These are some of the salient points which show the stark contrasts between mandatory arbitration and a public courtroom proceeding where both the public and the press can observe the proceedings:
Here’s the article (worth reading) and here’s the video (worth watching);
Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:
Last Thursday the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Student Loan Ombudsman released a report detailing the hurdles and outright barriers that college students who took out student loans face when they attempt to get Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. These plans allow student loan payments to be tied to income. The report found that the debt holders are reporting that they are facing prolonged processing delays and wrongful rejections by their private student loan servicing companies. Some facets of the report suggested that student debt holders are intentionally getting the runaround by the outside servicing company. The report noted:
Borrowers report being rejected because their application had missing information or because their servicer lost paperwork, without ever being notified by their servicer or being given a chance to fix the problem. Other borrowers report being rejected simply for checking the wrong box, without being given the opportunity to submit a corrected form. These errors discourage borrowers from restarting the application process, and some borrowers may choose to walk away from their loan, instead of remaining on the road to repayment.
We looked through the actual student complaints on which the report was based. One individual, calling him or herself, American Patriot, posed some important issues. We have excerpted from that complaint letter below. After you read these currentcomplaints, you may want to browse through our related articles listed below to gain a fuller understanding of how many of today’s finest young people have been turned into student debt slaves by the same Wall Street banks that blew up the U.S. economy in 2008 and were then bailed out with more than $13 trillion in cumulative secret Federal Reserve loans, frequently below 1 percent interest, a fraction of what student loans charge:
Excerpts from complaint letter to CFPB from “American Patriot”: . . .
Continue reading. The letter is worth reading.
Justice Samuel Alito seems to have no understanding of the effects of his judicial decisions. When President Obama noted in his State of the Union address that Citizens United would allow foreign contributions to US elections, Alito ostentatiously mouthed, “Not true.” Only, as it turns out, it is true. Michael Hiltzik comments in the LA Times about another Alito contribution, the Hobby Lobby decision that corporations can have religious beliefs that the law cannot challenge:
“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”
That’s how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concluded her dissent to the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision. That’s the case in which the court ruled that businesses have a right to their own religious beliefs, and could use them to flout otherwise generally applicable federal laws — in this particular, the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that businesses provide contraceptive coverage as part of their employees’ health insurance.
The minefield Ginsburg warned about has now detonated. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of Detroit ruled that a local funeral home was well within its rights to fire a transgender employee because its owner had a religious belief that gender transition violated biblical teachings.
Cox’s ruling puts the lie to Justice Samuel Alito’s denial, in his majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, that the ruling would provide a shield for a wide range of discriminatory practices by allowing them to masquerade as religious scruples. “Our decision today provides no such shield,” Alito wrote.
Ginsburg, who was on the short end of a 5-4 decision, knew better. She said there could be “little doubt” that religious claims would proliferate, because the court’s expansion of religious freedom to corporations “invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith.” She asked, “where is the stopping point?… Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage … or according women equal pay for substantially similar work?”
She further cited court precedents holding that “accommodations to religious beliefs or observances … must not significantly impinge on the interests of third parties.”
As it happens, the case before Cox involves all those points. At issue was the firing of Aimee Stephens by R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which she had joined as a funeral director and embalmer under the name Anthony Stephens in 2007. In July 2013, she informed her employer that she would transition to her female identity starting in 2013, living and working as a woman for a year before undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. Within two weeks, she was fired. A year later, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the funeral homes on her behalf.
At first, the case resembled an ordinary sex-discrimination matter. The employer’s defense was that it had a written dress code distinguishing between men’s and women’s working garb, and Stephens had refused to wear men’s clothing. Soon, the funeral homes added a religious dimension, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the same statute underlying the Hobby Lobby case. That legislation was designed to give people a pass on generally applicable laws if they could show that the burdens imposed on their beliefs outweighed the public’s interest. . .
James Fallows’s column of the same title is well worth reading—and includes links worth following.
Bad news for elders in those programs, I would say. While things may start well, the drive to increase profits will inevitably lead to staff reductions and reductions in quality of service, a progression seen repeatedly when private corporations take over government functions (prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care, and the like). Sarah Varney reports in the NY Times:
Inside a senior center here, nestled along a bustling commercial strip, Vivian Malveaux scans her bingo card for a winning number. Her 81-year-old eyes are warm, lively and occasionally set adrift by the dementia plundering her mind.
Dozens of elderly men and women — some in wheelchairs, others whose hands tremble involuntarily — gather excitedly around the game tables. After bingo, there is more entertainment and activities: Yahtzee, tile-painting, beading.
But this is no linoleum-floored community center reeking of bleach. Instead, it’s one of eight vanguard centers owned by InnovAge, a company based in Denver with ambitious plans. With the support of private equity money, InnovAge aims to aggressively expand a little-known Medicare program that will pay to keep older and disabled Americans out of nursing homes.
Until recently, only nonprofits were allowed to run programs like these. But a year ago, the government flipped the switch, opening the program to for-profit companies as well, ending one of the last remaining holdouts to commercialism in health care. The hope is that the profit motive will expand the services faster.
Hanging over all the promise, though, is the question of whether for-profit companies are well-suited to this line of work, long the province of nonprofit do-gooders. Critics point out that the business of caring for poor and frail people is marred with abuse. Already, new ideas for lowering the cost of the program have started circulating. In Silicon Valley, for example, some eager entrepreneurs are pushing plans that call for a higher reliance on video calls instead of in-face doctor visits.
The business appeal is simple: A baby boom-propelled surge in government health care spending is coming. Medicare enrollment is expected to grow by 30 million people in the next two decades, and many of those people are potential future clients. Adding to the allure are hefty profit margins for programs like these — as high as 15 percent, compared with an average of 2 percent among nursing homes — and geographic monopolies that are all but guaranteed by state Medicaid agencies to ensure the solvency of providers.
The goal of the program, known as PACE, or the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, is to help frail, older Americans live longer and more happily in their own homes, by providing comprehensive medical care and intensive social support. It also promises to save Medicare and Medicaid millions of dollars by keeping those people out of nursing homes.
For decades, though, the program has failed to catch on, with only 40,000 people enrolled as of January of this year.
“PACE is still a secret in the minds of the public,” Andy Slavitt, Medicare’s acting administrator, said at the National PACE Association meeting in April. The challenge, he said, was to make PACE “a clear part of the solution.”
Several private equity firms, venture capitalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have jumped into the niche. F-Prime Capital Partners, a former Fidelity Biosciences group, provided seed funding for a PACE-related start-up, as have well-regarded angel investors like Amir Dan Rubin, the former Stanford Health Care president, and Michael Zubkoff, a Dartmouth health care economist.
And no company has moved with more tenacity than InnovAge. Last year, the company overcame protests from watchdog groups to convert from a nonprofit organization to a for-profit business in Colorado. And in May, InnovAge received $196 million in backing — the largest investment in a PACE business since the rule change was made — from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private equity firm with $10 billion in assets under management. . .
Venture capitalists invest for one reason: profit. And they want big profits. It will be interesting to see how the elderly fare.