Friday, January 18, 2013

CD, A Treatment, and an Analogy

An email from MK, slightly edited...

I believe that Science will lead us forward through our problems. Clostridium Difficile is a nasty infection that, once it takes root, grows rapidly and weakens the organism; it is difficult to eradicate. The public finance analogy is obvious.

Here is an effective treatment for C Diff reported today in NEJM:  Basically, instead of tidy white antiobiotic pills, they flush the patient's GI tract with a mixture of poop. Donated poop, from other people. And they do it through the nose ("nasoduodenally").

I pray--oh, how I pray--that an equivalent cure could be administered to our overlords.

MK, I'm with you.  I propose that if Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are unable to agree on a budget that addresses the deficit, that large quantities of other people's poop be flushed through their nostils.  We have a new cure for "Congressional Difficile."

He's not just a RINO anymore

Bravo to the unnamed South African rhino who brutally gored a tourist last week.

A "game park owner", taking the picture of his clients, a city couple, urged them to get "within feet" of a pair of rhinos in order to get a better shot. What the wife got was a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

With apologies to Chris Rock, that rhino didn't go crazy, that rhino went RHINO, and now he's not a RINO anymore.

Picture of RA Radford?

KPC friends.

I need a picture of RA Radford, author of "Economic Organization of a POW Camp," for the new Learn Liberty video on exchange.

Anybody?  He was an economist at the IMF, Richard A. Radford, and died in 2006.  All I can offer is the satisfaction of knowing you served the cause, and a cite on the Learn Liberty web site.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

KPC Readers: The BEST

KPC readers are the best, the very best around.  The sharp-eyed MK saw this, and just knew right away it was KPC-worthy.


Waning infestations of [pubic lice] have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair -- part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,” said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

Clipping, waxing and shaving the groin destroy the optimal habitat of pubic lice. The practice has helped spur sales of depilatory products for companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc. (RB/). 

...About a block from New York’s famous Fifth Avenue shopping strip, women in fur coats and Louis Vuitton handbags are filing in and out of a beauty salon on a recent Friday afternoon. They perch on metallic silver and red floral sofas in the reception located in a Midtown Manhattan office building, waiting for a woman dressed in white to escort them to a waxing room.

The shop run by Jonice Padilha and her sisters Jocely, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia may be ground zero in the war on pubic lice. Growing up in the Brazilian coastal city of Vitoria, the sisters, like other women there, routinely waxed their pubic hair off to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach.

In 1994, they introduced the waxing technique at the J Sisters nail salon they opened in 1986. Things exploded from there, Padilha said.

About 200 clients a day, including celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, come for treatments ranging from complete hair removal to custom designs. Regulars returning every four weeks pay $75 for a Brazilian. Men of all ages and sexual orientation are going for the “Sunga” wax, a $90 treatment in which all pubic hair, including on the testicles, is removed.  Hygiene and comfort are key reasons customers keep coming back, she said.

“It’s like a freedom,” said Padilha of the salon’s signature bikini wax treatment. “When we started the salon 26 years ago, we never thought it would be a success.”

Nor was it expected to aid in the fight against pubic lice, she said.  “Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.” 

1.  First of all:  Sunga wax?  Good God.
2.  Is the Obama admin going to outlaw waxing?  Suppose, for the sake of argument, that pubic lice really do become so scarce as to endangered, and that waxing really is the reason.   As MK put it, in an email:  "When the last pubic louse is gone from Mother Gaia, we will all be the poorer for it."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Culture that is Germany: "Why he threw a puppy at the Hell's Angels isn't clear"

In our "Not the Onion" tradition, a little story of a young man who had a bad day.  I submit that the sentence underlined below is the single greatest sentence has appeared in a new story since...ever.

A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.

The man drove up to a Hell's Angels clubhouse near Munich, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy.  He dropped his shorts and threw the dog at the Hell's Angels, escaping on a bulldozer from a nearby building site.

He was arrested later at home by police. The 26-year-old is said to have stopped taking depression medication.

After making his getaway on the bulldozer, he had driven so slowly that a 5km tailback built up behind him on the motorway.  After driving about 1km, he had abandoned the bulldozer in the middle of the motorway, near Allershausen. He continued his journey by hitchhiking.

"What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear,"  a police spokesman said.  The puppy is now being cared for in an animal shelter.

To be fair, this does give some credence to the German practice of gun control. If psychopaths are reduced to throwing puppies instead of spraying lead...maybe a good thing.  Still, when puppies are outlawed only outlaws will have puppies.

Standards Too High? We didn't almost die.

It is a truism that faculty parties are perhaps a bit boring and staid, not very fun.   But perhaps my standards are too high.

In Amsterdam, it looks they will use a more sensible standard from now on.  "Sure, it was boring.  But least hundreds of us didn't almost DIE from food poisoning..."  Story.

Vacations, too, I guess.  Here is the LMM's account of our Tuesday night here in Chle, from an email to our sons.

We think Dad got food poisoning.  Not sure if from breakfast yesterday or dinner last night.  He didn't eat lunch, was saving for a big dinner.  He was fine all day, walked to restaurant, not far. He had some bread, butter, some of that tomato/onion thing. [Ed:  She means pebre.]  I had tomato salad, plate of tomatoes with no skin.  Dad had plate of avocados, said was feeling bad before he ate it  but ate it.  He ordered corvina (?) with the fried egg on top and french fries. [Ed:  Corvina a lo pobre, something one would only have if REALLY hungry.  But I was.  Until 30 seconds later, I wasn't.]  When it came, he said he wasn't feeling good, didn't eat a bite.  I had chicken and mushrooms, this not as good as night before, was in cream sauce.  He waited while I ate.  Said felt really bad, I told waiter in terrible Spanish to hurry with the check that dad was sick.  

He came over, dad paid, got up and fell straight back, passed out cold.  Two waiters came running, I screamed, only two other people in entire restaurant, they came running over, everyone speaking Spanish, I have no idea.  Dad came to, said he felt better, could walk back to restaurant.  Said he thought low blood sugar, felt this once before in 1986 while at Dartmouth.  They said we should go to hospital.  Dad said no.  They said they would get a driver.  (think it was one of the employees).  Three people walking us out, including the chef with his tall hat on.  Walked down stairs, Dad passed out again.  Hit head on stairs.  Had a constable there, she called ambulance.  Dad came to briefly on his back, and immediately spewed vomit like a whale..  Waited for ambulance, took us to ER.  Everyone speaking Spanish and I'm lost.  

To ER, took us right in.  Took vital signs, all good.  Thankfully doctor spoke English.  Young guy, had Calvin Klein T shirt on and Adidas sweatpants.  About my height, dark hair, eyebrows.  Think this was about 10:30 or 11:00.  Gave dad IV for fluid.  Took a while, real run down hospital but all nice and try to be helpful.  Dad not feel well, not a very comfortable bed he was in, back hurt (probably from the fall)   His stomach was upset but he didn't tell them he felt like vomiting again, thought they might keep him overnight.  Customer service lady from hotel came to hospital, named Trinidad, she spoke English.  Gave us her number to call if needed anything, arranged for cab back to hotel.  Went to fill out paper work and pay. Dad had left his driver's license at hotel, had only taken pesos and credit card.  They told me charge was something like 13000 pesos.  Went to give them credit card (we are low on pesos, another story). They said only took cash, I said I didn't have enough pesos.  They asked for dad's ID, told them we didn't have it.  They then said it was free, no charge.

Waited 30 min for cab.  Got back to hotel, dad went to bathroom in hotel lobby and threw up again, all over.  Told hotel people, they were very understanding, Trinidad had told him about dad's experience.  Dad felt lot  better after that.  Took hot bath.  To bed, was shivering, Got him extra blanket, fluids.  He fell asleep.  I stayed up to about 2:30 reading to make sure he was ok.  He slept fitful.  He got up to try to have breakfast, had two bites of toast.  Then back to bed all day.  I went out to get more water, gingerale, gatorade, soda crackers.  Made dad drink liquids.  He just got showered and we just left the room for a bit so they can change sheets.  Won't be going out to eat tonight!!

Okay, so that was bad.  But the LMM went down for dinner at the hotel restaurant, had an omelette.  Three hours later, she was dizzy, feeling faint, and driving the porcelain bus herself.  She is still up in the room, and is not well at all.  I feel better today, not completely better, but better.

Anyway, now we'll have a new standard for vacations also, like the faculty at Amsterdam.  "Did you have a good vacation?"  "Sure, it was GREAT!  Not once did we pass out in the street, surrounded by workers and police, and send them all running when we puked like a whale!"  By that standard, I hope that all our future vacays are improvements over the last 36 hours.

Nod to Anonyman.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Restraining Order From Wal-Mart

A fun little urban-legendy RO from Wal-Mart

Dear Mrs. Denner,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behaviour and may be forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr. Denner are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House-wares to go off at 5-minute intervals


Monday, January 14, 2013

A short movie of the Concon beach

Took this out of the hotel room window.  Pretty great stuff.  Water right up to the rocks at the foot of the hotel.  Beaches within waking distance, but the hotel has huge windows, making the whole room feel like a balcony.  Cloudy until early afternoon, but then bright fierce sunshine.  Nice.


A picture from our walk yesterday, at the beach in Concon.  The LMM sits and looks out over the biggest patch of "nothing but water for 14k kilometers" in the world.  There is nothing west of here except New Zealand, unless it´s wet and salty.

You can see the hotel there on the right.  Lots of little beach kitsch stores and shops nearby, but the immediate area of the hotel is pretty rocky and natural.

Death Star Petition

At least some sign of humor.  Gratifying.

Nod to Anonyman.

Inequality, Inequity, and Solidarity

What do Americans know about inequality? It depends on how you ask them

Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson
Judgment and Decision Making, November 2012, Pages 741–745

Abstract: A recent survey of inequality (Norton and Ariely, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 9–12) asked respondents to indicate what percent of the nation’s total wealth is — and should be — controlled by richer and poorer quintiles of the U.S. population. We show that such measures lead to powerful anchoring effects that account for the otherwise remarkable findings that respondents reported perceiving, and desiring, extremely low inequality in wealth. We show that the same anchoring effects occur in other domains, namely web page popularity and school teacher salaries. We introduce logically equivalent questions about average levels of inequality that lead to more accurate responses. Finally, when we made respondents aware of the logical connection between the two measures, the majority said that typical responses to the average measures, indicating higher levels of inequality, better reflected their actual perceptions and preferences than did typical responses to percent measures.


Income inequality and solidarity in Europe

Marii Paskov &Caroline Dewilde
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, December 2012, Pages 415–432

Abstract:  This paper studies the relationship between income inequality, a macro-level characteristic, and solidarity of Europeans. To this aim, solidarity is defined as the ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’. We rely on a theoretical idea according to which feelings of solidarity are derived from both affective and calculating considerations – we derive competing hypotheses relating the extent of income inequality to these ‘underlying’ motivations for solidarity. Using data from the 1999 European Values Study (EVS), we apply multilevel analysis for 26 European countries. Controlling for household income and a range of macro-level characteristics, we find evidence that in more unequal countries people are less willing to take action to improve the living conditions of their fellow-countrymen. This is true for respondents living in both low- and high-income households. According to our theoretical framework, this finding suggests that, at least when measured in terms of ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’, feelings of solidarity seem to be influenced more strongly by affective, rather than by calculating considerations.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ayer, Santiago! Hoy, Concon!

Got in to Santiago yesterday, Saturday.  Spectacular day.  Had lunch at one of my favorite places, El Galindo; had humidas and Kross #5.  Then a delightful dinner at Tiramisu, and helados and coffee at Fragola.  Spent the night at the Tulip Inn, in the Cuarto Matrimonial (!).  Having not slept the previous night of plane travel, we were not as "matrimonial" as the honeymoon suite would normally require.

Today, to Concon, and the Radisson Concon, right on the water.  Will likely have dinner at one of two intriguingly named restaurants:  "Aqui Jaime" or "Donde Jacobo?"