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Lev Osherovich
Specializing in the general
Specializing in the general

Lev's posts

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An expose of the very dodgy business of shmurah matzah-- like everything involving Black Hats, it is ultimately a racket, not a spiritual practice.

_Trying to figure the business of shmurah matzah is like watching Elijah’s cup for his sip; now you see it, now you don’t. Shmurah matzah, as with its autumnal cousin, the esrog, is spiritually exquisite, yet its pricing is as inexplicable as a Middle Eastern bazaar or voodoo economics. People in the know tell us that the matzah is too often made by non-unionized workers, transients and migrants. Even experts in the kosher business have no idea what the workers are paid. The ingredients are nothing but flour and water. The only real yet limited expense are the rabbis who watch (shmurah means watching, or guarding) the matzah from the time of the harvest. (Machine matzah is usually watched from the time of milling). It is hard to imagine a product with cheaper ingredients or cheaper labor. And yet, Chabad’s most affordable shmurah exports, which come from Kfar Chabad in Israel and in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, sell here for $12.99 and $14 for one-pound boxes. But on the shelves of several Brooklyn kosher supermarkets this week, non-Chabad shmurah matzah sells for $19, $23, $32, even $40, sometimes $50 a pound. A five-pound non-shmurah machine-made package of Streit’s is $11, or $2.20 per pound._
Hand-Made Matzah: an education.

This is an industry, and like anything else?

Rife with controversy...

Fascinating, too.


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This delightful performance turns Beethoven's heroic funeral march into a happy funeral rumba.
And now something just for fun: The second movement of Beethoven's Symphony no. 7, transformed into a Rumba.

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David Frum -- a surprisingly sensible conservative -- has this "I told you so!" essay about GOP's foolish attempts to repeal Obamacare:

What happens now? What happens now is that—a few bitter-enders aside—Republican politicians, especially in the states, begin the slow and belated process of entering the next era of health-care politics. Contrary to Paul Ryan’s bleak vision of a political “tipping point” after which the nation declines into “dependency and passivity,” Americans will continue to find plenty to argue about—and possibly more than ever.

How generous should health coverage be? What should be done to control costs? Who should pay, and on what terms? To what extent should citizens be free to impose the cost of their unhealthy choices upon others? Conservative-minded people will converge on one set of intuitions; progressives on another. It’s possible to imagine a Republican health-care politics that rejects the ultra-redistributionary approach of the ACA and instead argues that since all benefit from health coverage, all must contribute to its costs via some kind of broad-based tax. It’s possible to imagine a Republican health-care politics that emphasizes cost control over benefit provision. It’s possible to imagine a Republican health-care politics that incentivizes providers and insurers to achieve better outcomes at lower prices. It’s possible to imagine a Republican health-care politics that resists socializing the burden of addiction, obesity, and other unhealthy behaviors. It’s possible to imagine a Republican Party that cares about the details of health policy and is not satisfied with poorly informed hand waves toward outworn party shibboleths. It won’t happen soon, perhaps—but the sooner the better.

However, Frum is too optimistic about GOP's ability to make rational choices about healthcare reform. I expect no meaningful changes for ACA during the (hopefully) two years these bozos will have at the helm.

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Washington Post's Bob Costa got a surprise call from Delirium Tremens today, acknowledging the demise of the GOP "repeal and replace" plan to eliminate Obamacare.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. Instead, he is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.

The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.

I fear that DT is exactly right here --- Obamacare is heading for collapse and the Democrats will take the blame for it. However, the "beautiful deal for the people" that he's talking about would have to be a single payer system, which I doubt GOP will ever consider. 

A very surprising result reported in Nature by a UCSF team --- in mice, the major site of origin of platelets is the lung, not the bone marrow.

By directly imaging the lung microcirculation in mice8, we show that a large number of megakaryocytes circulate through the lungs, where they dynamically release platelets. Megakaryocytes that release platelets in the lungs originate from extrapulmonary sites such as the bone marrow; we observed large megakaryocytes migrating out of the bone marrow space. The contribution of the lungs to platelet biogenesis is substantial, accounting for approximately 50% of total platelet production or 10 million platelets per hour. Furthermore, we identified populations of mature and immature megakaryocytes along with haematopoietic progenitors in the extravascular spaces of the lungs. Under conditions of thrombocytopenia and relative stem cell deficiency in the bone marrow9, these progenitors can migrate out of the lungs, repopulate the bone marrow, completely reconstitute blood platelet counts, and contribute to multiple haematopoietic lineages. These results identify the lungs as a primary site of terminal platelet production and an organ with considerable haematopoietic potential.

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Thorsday afternoon project for the Volvo 245T -- rear lighting.

I spliced broken hinge harness, restoring power to the license plate lights (required by law, supposedly). Alas, the rear windshield wiper still doesn't work, so will need to troubleshoot the relay, etc.

Also installed an LED center brake light. Thanks, +Daniel J. Stern​ -- it was Hella easy and now my car is "safer."


2 Photos - View album

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RIP Eugene Garfield, inventor of the much-used and much-maligned ISI Scientific Citation Index:

_Garfield also launched The Scientist — a monthly magazine for life scientists — together with indexes in the social sciences and humanities, and services that alert researchers..._

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TIL Michael I of Romania is still alive!

He is the last surviving monarch or other head of state from the Interwar period. Although often called the last surviving head of state from World War II, this ignores the childhood reigns of King Simeon II of Bulgaria and the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.


Michael had lunch with Adolf Hitler twice, once with his father in Bavaria in 1937, and with his mother in Berlin in 1941. He also met Benito Mussolini in 1941, in Italy.

I wonder if any other living person has shared a meal with Hitler?

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The Wall Street Journal has never liked Delirium Tremens. Now, the squarely Establishment Republican editorial team is openly calling out his chronic lying as a threat to American security and credibility.

If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.

The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.

Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. Sean Spicer—who doesn’t deserve this treatment—was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.

That bungle led to a public denial from the British Government Communications Headquarters, and British news reports said the U.S. apologized. But then the White House claimed there was no apology. For the sake of grasping for any evidence to back up his original tweet, and the sin of pride in not admitting error, Mr. Trump had his spokesman repeat an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally.

The wiretap tweet is also costing Mr. Trump politically as he hands his opponents a sword. Mr. Trump has a legitimate question about why the U.S. was listening to his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and who leaked news of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. But that question never gets a hearing because the near-daily repudiation of his false tweet is a bigger media story.

FBI director James Comey also took revenge on Monday by joining the queue of those saying the bureau has no evidence to back up the wiretap tweet. Mr. Comey even took the unusual step of confirming that the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia.

Mr. Comey said he could make such a public admission only in “unusual circumstances,” but why now? Could the wiretap tweet have made Mr. Comey angry because it implied the FBI was involved in illegal surveillance? Mr. Trump blundered in keeping Mr. Comey in the job after the election, but now the President can’t fire the man leading an investigation into his campaign even if he wants to.

All of this continues the pattern from the campaign that Mr. Trump is his own worst political enemy. He survived his many false claims as a candidate because his core supporters treated it as mere hyperbole and his opponent was untrustworthy Hillary Clinton. But now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.

This week should be dominated by the smooth political sailing for Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the progress of health-care reform on Capitol Hill. These are historic events, and success will show he can deliver on his promises. But instead the week has been dominated by the news that he was repudiated by his own FBI director.

Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.
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