Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other: Saturday Chum Stew

userpic=schmuckThis has been the second very busy week in a row. I’ve accumulated a number of articles, but there are no coherent things, but lots of things I want to comment upon. So let’s get started with this news chum collection:

🏥  Sexism in the Emergency Room. The Atlantic had a fascinating article that I certainly believe: Doctors Tend To Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously. It is sad to think that this type of sexism still exists in the medical profession, but it does. There are fewer research projects to see the effect of medicine on women, and often a woman’s complaint is dismissed as hysteria (and by the way, if you don’t know the origin of that word, you should — it’s relevant). In this article, a woman almost dies because the doctors don’t believe her complaint about serious pain.

💏 Contributions of the Yiddish Theatre. As my daughter is busily studying Yiddish at UC Berkeley, news about Yiddish tends to catch my eye. Here’s an article about how the first lesbian kiss on stage was in a Yiddish theatre production. Specifically, the 1923 English-language production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, at the Apollo Theater on 223 West 42nd Street, presented the first same-sex kiss in the history of Broadway, leading to the entire cast’s being arrested on obscenity charges. Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s Indecent, having its world premiere at the Yale Rep in New Haven this month, is a delightful, unexpected, and surprising play about Asch’s play.

🎭 To Review Community Theatre? An article in the On Stage Blog has prompted some interesting discussion. Its question: Should theatre reviewers review community theatre, and if they do, should they give an honest assessment? A fascinating question: after all, these are not professional actors, so should we hold them to the same quality standards? They are often true amateurs, and the directors are equally amateurs. Personally, I tend to agree with the VC On Stage Blog: I review honestly, but try more to couch my review as constructive criticism (how to improve, instead of “Bob stunck”).

🏊 A Hole in the Ground, Filled with Water. With the current drought, there’s more an more interest in demolishing pools. It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve thought seriously about. Pools can add to the value of a house, and in general a pool actually uses less water than a lawn. But they can leak easily — I’m pretty sure our pool has a leak somewhere in the piping deep underground that feeds the pump (I have to add water weekly). But the cost of removing the pool can be quite high — multiple thousands of dollars to remove the decking, break up the shell, etc. If it costs only an extra $50 to add water per month, it is cheaper to add water. Never an easy question.

💳 American Express in Trouble. Here’s a fascinating article about the woes of American Express: Specifically, the loss of their US contract with Costco is a big deal, no matter what they say. Amex no longer has the prestige it once had, and its higher fees often make people less likely to accept it. They can hang on, but they may be going the way of Diners Club over time.

💊 The Cost of Generics. By now, our insurance companies have drummed it into our heads: Buy generics, it is cheaper. But as we’ve read in the news, the cost of generics is actually rising, often thanks to greedy manufacturers. Who is that hurting? Small pharmacies, who are finding that their insurance reimbursements do not cover the cost of the generics. This means, due to insurance contracts, they often lose money on generics. Welcome to screwed up health care in America.

🔯 Holocaust Revisionism. This week, we had an interesting example of Holocaust Revisionism… from an Israeli leader, who proclaimed that Hitler didn’t want to kill the Jews — it was an Arab idea. Dr. Deborah Lipstadt — who was my professor for a number of Jewish Studies courses at UCLA including ones on Zionism and Antisemitism — wrote a very good rebuttal and analysis of Netanyahu’s statement. (if that link doesn’t work, go here, and then click on the article). As Dr. Lipstadt noted: “Netanyahu, however, did not paint [the Grand Mufti] as a supporter of this genocide. He credited him with coming up with the idea. There is a vast difference between the two. Historians continue to debate who originated the idea of the Final Solution. No serious historian, however, has ever laid the decision at the feet of the mufti. These are scary days in Israel. Arabs, some of whom have been incited to act by religious and political leaders, have stabbed, hacked, and stoned Jews. Others have mowed them down with cars. This inexcusable barbarism does not, however, legitimate rewriting of the past.”

🍕 Feeding the Addiction. I really try to avoid becoming an addict. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am addicted to Afrin, but that’s a different story. This week I learned I really am an addict. So, here’s goes. My name is Daniel, and I’m addicted to Cheese.  Yup, a new study has shown that Cheese Addiction is real. Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins that play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element. The LA Times drilled down even deeper into the study, and concluded: So the decision to call cheese crack is entirely yours. And if the University of Michigan study makes you feel better about eating a quesadilla for lunch and half a cheese board before dinner, so be it.

🍷 Liquid Refreshment Andrew Ducker over on LJ alerted me to this article, which is related to a different type of food addiction. Yes, there are people who feel better after drinking blood, but no they are not vampires. The article is an interesting study of sanguinarians  — real life “vampires” and their communities.

💥 I Feel The Earth Move. Everyone started to run scared in LA after an article from NASA saying the chance of a major earthquake in the San Gabriel Valley is 99.9% in the next two years. But then again, Dr. Lucy Jones disputes the findings.  Specifically, a yet unpublished study from seismologists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab predicted with 99.9 percent certainty that we’d get a 5.0 quake sometime within the next couple years. They were 35 percent certain that it would be even bigger, registering at 6.0 or worse. However, Dr. Lucy “Earthquake Lady” Jones, a seismologist who works with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on earthquake preparedness, noted that the claim that it’s such a high probability is made in a paper by one individual group of researchers, and the paper doesn’t document how they came up with that number so it’s impossible for us to even evaluate whether or not the statement has any validity, because they didn’t say why. She also noted this is not an official NASA claim, and pointed out that a lot of us might not even be able to feel a 5.0 quake. What’s more likely? Dr. Jones says a more likely figure is a 2 percent chance of SoCal getting a big quake—7.5 or greater—each year. But there is a certainty that eventually be a big one, so it also helps to be prepared.

💺 The First Jumbo Jets. Airline Reporter had an interesting exploration of Delta Air Lines and their first jumbo jets: the 747-100s. Delta ended up settling on the DC-10s and L-1011s, and of course, now uses different jumbos. The article provides a great insight on why airlines order what, and what happens to an aircraft after it is no longer needed.

🍏 They’re back. Yay. Pippins are back in markets. Get them while you can.


At Last, The Stew: Tasty Links in a Simmering Sauce

Observation StewAnd finally, some tasty news chum stew, which has been simmering in the bookmarks for a couple of weeks:



The Friday Cleaning of the Links

Friday lunchtime. Time to clean out the accumulated links that don’t fit anywhere else:


Me Doth Think They Exaggerate

Headline on CNN: Rain, quake prompt evacuations in Southern California

The truth? With no mudslides threatening, evacuation orders lifted in three Yorba Linda neighborhoods

The quake? Sayeth CNN: “Concerns grew Wednesday morning, when a 3.1-magnitude earthquake struck. Though it was not strong enough to be felt, officials felt that it might increase the odds of a landslide, Alders said.”

3.1?!?!? That’s a truck hitting a median out here. We don’t even stop our conversations for those.

(Grrr. What does Atlanta know about earthquakes.)


Donkeys, Elephants, and Gustav

Next week is the Republican Convention. It is also when Gustav is expected to make landfall near New Orleans. Some musings and observations on the same:

There are pluses and minuses in this for John McCain. On the plus side, he won’t have Bush and Cheney speaking at the convention… always a good thing not to have that reminder there. It is also pushing news of that pesky Obama off of the news media. On the minus side, it is going to shorten the convention’s agenda, pomp, and pagentry… meaning there won’t be as many speeches praising McCain/Palin and berating Obama/Biden.

So what is Obama doing during all of this? Campaigning, of course. However, he does plan to enlist his support network to raise funds and find volunteers for those affected. He has no plans to visit the area, because he doesn’t want to get in the way of aid efforts. McCain is travelling to the area. Obama’s opinion: “I’m assuming that where he went that wasn’t an issue. We’re going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we’ll probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible.”

Meanwhile, throughout all of this, Sarah Palin is still trying to figure out what a hurricane is. After all, they don’t have them up in Alaska. As for the storm surge, she believes that Bush was right to send the extra troops to Iraq even with the blowing sand.

Here is my suggestion for the two camps: Have a friendly competition. Encourage their supporters on each side to donate funds, blood, and other requested supplies to the American Red Cross. Have them register which campaign they are supporting. Irrespective of who wins the poll, those in the disaster area will ultimately win.


Just Tell Yourself It’s An Adventure

Well, that was fun.

Magnitude 5.4 – moment magnitude (Mw)
Time Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 11:42:15 AM (PDT)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 18:42:15 (UTC)
Distance from Chino Hills, CA – 4 km (3 miles) WSW (240 degrees)
Diamond Bar, CA – 7 km (5 miles) SE (135 degrees)
Yorba Linda, CA – 8 km (5 miles) NNE (16 degrees)
Pomona, CA – 12 km (7 miles) S (184 degrees)
Los Angeles Civic Center, CA – 46 km (28 miles) ESE (104 degrees)
Coordinates 33 deg. 57.3 min. N (33.955N), 117 deg. 45.9 min. W (117.765W)
Depth 13.6 km (8.5 miles)
Location Quality Good
Location Quality Parameters Nst=095, Nph=095, Dmin=9 km, Rmss=0.34 sec, Erho=0.3 km, Erzz=0.6 km, Gp=25.2 degrees
Event ID# ci14383980

Here at the ranch, on the fifth floor of A1, it was a long strong shaking and rolling motion. I’m an LA native, and I went under the desk (but I know how this building was built). They evacuated the building with relative smoothness (those drills did pay off), and we just got cleared to come back in.

According to my wife, in Northridge, there was also shaking. She said some cracks reopened (time to get out the spackle), and we might need to get the flashing redone around the chimney to ensure things are watertight. I’ll do a more thorough inspection when I get home, but I don’t expect anything major there.


Smokey Bear says: “Don’t Play with Matches”

Remember the “Buckweed” fire last week? It charred more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes in the Santa Clarita area? Do you know what started it?

According to the LA Times, a boy playing with matches. A Fire Department spokesman didn’t identify the boy or where he lived, but did note “Arson investigators interviewed the young man, and he acknowledged he had been playing with matches and accidentally started a fire.”

He has been released to the custody of his parents. I’m guessing he won’t be sitting down for a while. At minimum.

Somehow, I sense that this story will morph into a cautionary children’s tale about why you shouldn’t play with matches.


Rating the Papers

Living in Los Angeles as I do, I’ve been following the fires with interest. During the day, this has primarily been through the local media. Some observations:

In terms of other media, as usual, KNX 1070 and KFWB 980 have been the radio stations of choice. TV is interesting. Variety has a good article noting how stations moved things around. KNXT (oops) KCBS-2 and KCAL-9 switched off coverage, as did FOX-11 and MY-13. When one went to primetime, the other did news. Others shuffled off programming (either news or entertainment, as appropriate) to secondary digital channels. I think this is a new trend, and may end up being a good thing after the digital TV switch. It certainly shows the benefits of media consolidation in markets, something I would have never thought of.