Later On

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

Archive for March 8th, 2018

Kim Jong Un Finally Gets His Wish

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 9:31 pm

America Is Giving Away the $30 Billion Medical Marijuana Industry

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The subhead is good:

Why? Because the feds are bogarting the weed, while Israel and Canada are grabbing market share

Josh Dean reports in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Lyle Craker is an unlikely advocate for any political cause, let alone one as touchy as marijuana law, and that’s precisely why Rick Doblin sought him out almost two decades ago. Craker, Doblin likes to say, is the perfect flag bearer for the cause of medical marijuana production—not remotely controversial and thus the ideal partner in a long and frustrating effort to loosen the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chokehold on cannabis research. There are no counterculture skeletons in Craker’s closet; only dirty boots and botany books. He’s never smoked pot in his life, nor has he tasted liquor. “I have Coca-Cola every once in a while,” says the quiet, white-haired Craker, from a rolling chair in his basement office at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he’s served as a professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture since 1967, specializing in medicinal and aromatic plants. He and his students do things such as subject basil plants to high temperatures to study the effects of climate change on what plant people call the constituents, or active elements.

Craker first applied for a license to grow marijuana for medicinal research in 2001, at the urging of Doblin, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies(MAPS), a nonprofit that advocates for research on therapeutic uses for LSD, MDMA (aka Ecstasy), marijuana, and other psychedelic drugs. Doblin, who has a doctorate in public policy, makes no secret of his own prior drug use. He’s been lobbying since the 1980s for federal approval for clinical research trials on various psychedelics, and he saw marijuana as both a promising potential medicine and an important front in the public-relations war. Since 1970 marijuana has been a DEA Schedule I substance, meaning that in the view of the federal government, it’s as dangerous as LSD, heroin, and Ecstasy, and has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

By that definition, pot—now legal for medicinal use by prescription in 29 states and for recreational use in eight—is more dangerous and less efficacious in the federal government’s estimation than cocaine, oxycodone, or methamphetamine, all of which are classified Schedule II. Scientists and physicians are free to apply to the Food and Drug Administration and DEA for trials on Schedule I substances, and there are labs with licenses to produce LSD and Ecstasy for that purpose, but anyone who seeks to do FDA-approved research with marijuana is forced to obtain the plants from a single source: Uncle Sam. Specifically, since 1968 the DEA has allowed only one facility to legally cultivate marijuana for research studies, on a 10-acre plot at the University of Mississippi, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and managed by the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.

The NIDA license, Doblin says, is a “monopoly” on the supply and has starved legitimate research toward understanding cannabinoids, terpenes, and other constituents of marijuana that seem to quell pain, stimulate hunger, and perhaps even fight cancer. Twice in the late 1990s, Doblin provided funding, PR, and lobbying support for physicians who wanted to study marijuana—one sought a treatment for AIDS-related wasting syndrome, the other wanted to see if it helped migraines—and was so frustrated by the experience that he vowed to break the monopoly. That’s what led him to Craker.

In June 2001, Craker filed an application for a license to cultivate “research-grade” marijuana at UMass, with the goal of staging FDA-approved studies. Six months later he was told his application had been lost. He reapplied in 2002 and then, after an additional two years of no action, sued the DEA, backed by MAPS. By this point, both U.S. senators from Massachusetts had publicly supported his application, and a federal court of appeals ordered the DEA to respond, which it finally did, denying the application in 2004.

Craker appealed that decision with backing from a powerful bench of allies, including 40 members of Congress, and finally, in February 2007, a DEA administrative law judge ruled that his application for a license should be granted. The decision was not binding, however; it was merely a recommendation to the DEA leadership. Almost two years later, in the last week of the Bush administration, the application was rejected. Craker threw up his hands. He firmly believed marijuana should be more widely grown and studied, but he’d lost any hope that it would happen in his lifetime. And he had basil to attend to. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 2:21 pm

Hundreds of Canadian doctors demand lower salaries. (Yes, lower.)

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And that’s what I like about the North. (Apologies to Phil Harris—see below.) Amy Wang reports in the Washington Post:

In a move that can only be described as utterly Canadian, hundreds of doctors in Quebec are protesting their pay raises, saying they already make too much money.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 700 physicians, residents and medical students from the Canadian province had signed an online petition asking for their pay raises to be canceled. A group named Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public (MQRP), which represents Quebec doctors and advocates for public health, started the petition Feb. 25.

“We, Quebec doctors who believe in a strong public system, oppose the recent salary increases negotiated by our medical federations,” the petition reads in French.

The physicians group said it could not in good conscience accept pay raises when working conditions remained difficult for others in their profession — including nurses and clerks — and while patients “live with the lack of access to required services because of drastic cuts in recent years.”

A nurses union in Quebec has in recent months pushed the government to address a nursing shortage, seeking a law that would cap the number of patients a nurse could see. The union said its members were increasingly being overworked, and nurses across the province have held several sit-ins in recent months to push for better working conditions.

In January, the situation was encapsulated in a viral Facebook post by a nurse in Quebec named Émilie Ricard, who posted a photo of herself, teary-eyed, after what she said had been an exhausting night shift. Ricard said she had been the only nurse to care for more than 70 patients on her floor; she was so stressed that she had cramps that prevented her from sleeping, she added.

“This is the face of nursing,” Ricard wrote, criticizing Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, who had deemed recent health-care system changes a success.

“I don’t know where you’re going to get your information, but it’s not in the reality of nursing,” the nurse wrote. She later added: “I am broken by my profession, I am ashamed of the poverty of the care that I provide as far as possible. My Health system is sick and dying.”

Ricard’s post has since been shared more than 55,000 times.

“There’s always money for doctors, she says, but what about the others who take care of patients?” said Nancy Bédard, president of Quebec’s nurses union, according to Global News.

Meanwhile, in February, Quebec’s federation of medical specialists reached a deal with the government to increase the annual salaries of  . . .

Continue reading.

And the Phil Harris reference:

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 2:16 pm

Fred Meyer’s wonderful lemon discovery

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Chris Shott writes in Taste:

Most Americans don’t recognize the name Frank N. Meyer, but many are familiar with the fruit that bears his name. The Meyer lemon is a specialty-citrus sensation. Just ask Martha Stewart, who has more than 100 Meyer lemon–specific recipes and related content on her website. Or the U.S. Postal Service, which in January officially enshrined the fruit’s special place in American culture with the unveiling of the two-cent Meyer lemon stamp.

Long thought to be a simple lemon-orange hybrid, the Meyer lemon is now believed to be a cross between three of the original citrus species—citron, mandarin, and pummelo—based on a 2016 genetics study led by French scientist Franck Curk.

The unique orange-tinted lemon has a higher sugar-to-acid ratio than the average waxy yellow supermarket variety, making it especially well suited for cakes, pies, and pastries galore. “It has more sugar, it has more juice, and it has that distinctive flowery character that dessert chefs really love,” says grower Lance Walheim, whose company, California Citrus Specialties, was among the first large-scale suppliers of the Meyer lemon, beginning in the mid-1980s.

In California, where it flourishes, ripening in the Central Valley generally from November until March and even year-round along parts of the coast, the Meyer lemon is emblematic of the local foodways. That close association can arguably be traced to Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse, where California Cuisine pioneers Alice Waters and Lindsey Shere showcased the fruit in numerous recipes and played up its local roots. “Although common in California backyards, they are just beginning to be commercialized,” Waters wrote in 1999’s Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. “Ask your friends or relatives in California to send you some.”

The Meyer lemon, of course, is not native to California. It came from China, specifically the tiny village of Fengtai, near Peking. That’s where Frank N. Meyer, one of the first Westerners to trek across China’s vast interior, noticed it back in 1908; the short potted plant produced a notable amount of fruit for its size. “The fruit is large, very smooth, and thin skinned, very juicy, only slightly sour, and is practically seedless,” Meyer wrote of the discovery. He also discovered that wealthy Chinese would pay as much as $10 for a single fruit-bearing tree. If that was the case, he figured, then perhaps one day wealthy Americans would do the same.

It was his job to think about such things: Meyer worked for the U.S. government as an “agricultural explorer,” traveling across Asia in search of better food, like some early-20th-century Anthony Bourdain. The fancy lemon that bears his name is one of some 2,500 types of plants—including multiple varieties of peach, pear, plum, and persimmon, to mention only a few of the p’s—that Meyer picked up during his four long missions to the Far East, braving all kinds of harsh conditions and violence along the way.

Meyer was something of a celebrity back in his day: Major newspapers chronicled his exploits and printed dashing portraits of the full-bearded explorer sporting his trademark sheepskin coat, hunting boots, and walking stick. The Washington Postonce called him “the Agriculture Department’s Christopher Columbus,” while the Los Angeles Times praised him for “doing the impossible, getting along in impossible places and with impossible people.”

But Meyer’s extraordinary life was also relatively brief: It ended tragically in 1918, when the 42-year-old explorer vanished from a ship en route to Shanghai. A fisherman later found his body floating in the Yangtze River.

One hundred years after his death, Meyer is a forgotten hero in the country he gave his life to provide with bountiful never-before-seen consumables. But his once-obscure lemon has become a cultural icon, lending its floral scent and mellow flavor to everything from gourmet desserts to beauty products. It’s perhaps a fitting legacy for Meyer, an eccentric plant lover who believed in reincarnation. But it’s also a fragile one. Despite its recent popularity, the Meyer lemon is now in danger of falling victim to its own success, much like the man who discovered it.

Frank Meyer might not be considered a Founding Father in the pantheon of American food heroes, but he played a fascinating role in the sweeping transformation of the U.S. food system and the government’s active efforts to make that happen.

Consider, for example, Meyer’s work with the soybean. . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more.

Later in the article:

Meyer was one of a half-dozen explorers scouring the globe for new and hardier things to grow under the direction of long-serving agriculture secretary James Wilson. Their combined efforts yielded a lot of what we eat today, including avocados, figs, and mangoes. But Meyer’s unique personality, combined with the tremendous difficulty of his assignment, . . .

Later still:

Back then, most Western travelers to China rode around in servant-carried sedan chairs. Meyer preferred to walk, usually with very little company: a guide, an interpreter, and occasionally an assistant. For protection, he carried a loaded revolver and a bowie knife. The blade came in handy during an attempted mugging in Siberia, when Meyer stabbed one thug in the belly, sending his attackers scurrying. The incident later made the newspapers, enhancing the explorer’s mystique.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 1:02 pm

Cook beef tendon for the broth

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I blogged recently about cooking some beef tendon. As noted, I used this recipe (though it’s easy to find others). Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole beef tendons rinsed well
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1-inch ginger root coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 star anise — just ONE! (they’re powerful)

Procedure is:

  1. Line the bottom of the slow cooker (or a pot, if you’re using the oven) with parchment paper.
  2. Arrange the beef tendons in the paper-lined pot. Pour in 1/4 cup soy sauce. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise and peppercorns. Pour in just enough water to cover.
  3. Cover and cook the beef tendons on HIGH for about eight hours, or on LOW for about 12 hours. I used a 200ºF oven and cooked the tendons in a covered pot for 12 hours.
  4. Scoop the beef tendons from the broth and cool (do not discard the broth; you can add it to soup).
  5. Cut the beef tendons into bite-size pieces and arrange on small plates.
  6. Mix together 1/4 cup soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, as much or as little chili oil as you like and just enough sugar to create a good balance of flavors.
  7. Drizzle the sauce over the beef tendons.
  8. Serve your Chinese-style beef tendons at room temperature or heat in the steamer for a few minutes. Sprinkle scallions and fried garlic before serving.

The sauce ingredients:

The point of this post is step 4, and specifically saving the broth from cooking the tendons. I used a fine mesh strainer to strain the broth into a saucepan. It was about 5 cups, and I put it in the fridge and sort of forgot about it. Yesterday I checked on it. It had just a very small amount of fat on top—not even enough to cover the broth—and the broth had jelled to a consistency that was quite firm—much firmer than, for example, Jell-O. I think the broth gel would bounce if you dropped a ball of it on the floor (but I didn’t test the idea).

I took off some of the fat and heated it until the gel dissolved and the broth was hot, added juice of a lemon and a good dash of Tabasco, and had a cup. Delicious. And I figure it was pure protein: no carbs from the ingredients and (as noted) very little fat.

So if you make this, definitely save the broth. I bet it would make a great soup.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 11:08 am

Posted in Beef, Food, Recipes

Maggard 22mm synthetic, Eufros Violette, Baby Smooth, and New York

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Eufros soap (by JabonMan in Spain) makes quite a nice lather, and the violet fragrance was quite welcome on a cold morning in late winter. I do like the Maggard 22mm synthetic brush: a very nice size, and knot at exactly the right density, comfortable handle, great performance: what’s not to like.

The Baby Smooth is a top-notch razor, as good as any razor I own and better than most. I highly recommend it, especially after this morning’s three-pass shave: total smoothness, not problems, easy shave.

A splash of New York aftershave from Parfums de Nicolaï, and the day begins.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2018 at 10:40 am

Posted in Shaving

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